Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 401 – What is your Outlook for Market Research in 2021

2020 will be known for many things. Including the rise in the number of podcast. 

Infact, currently 37% of Americans Listen to Podcasts Monthly and in 2020, for the first time, more than 100 million Americans listen to at least one podcast each month.

Today we are going to hear from six podcasters about our outlook for market research in 2021. 

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Jamin Brazil: 2020 will be known for many things, including the rise of the number of podcasts. In fact, currently 37% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly, and in 2020, for the first time, more than 100 million Americans listened to at least one podcast each month. Today, we are going to hear from six podcasters about our outlook for market research in 2021. So, let’s get to know our podcasters. David, let’s start with you. Tell us a little bit about your podcast, Audible Insights.


David Paull: Hey, everyone, this is David Paull with the Audible Insights podcast, from the Insights Association. And this podcast focuses on quick take conversations during industry events, and we also do longer form interviews with industry leaders. We strive to keep everyone up to date with the market research industry, the latest methods and techniques, and trends for the future.


Jamin Brazil: Kathryn, I think you are the only podcaster that I listen to with a thriving video podcast, Research Rockstar.


Kathryn Korostoff: Sure. My name is Kathryn Korostoff, I am the host of Conversations for Research Rockstars. This is a video podcast that I’ve been running for a couple of years, that’s really about advancing the work and careers of market research and insights professionals. Got over 1,000 subscribers and have had some really amazing conversations in this series.


Jamin Brazil: Welcome, Merrill Dubrow. Tell us a little bit about On the M/A/R/C, which launched earlier this year.


Merrill Dubrow: Hi, my name is Merrill Dubrow, I’m the host of the On the M/A/R/C podcast. I just completed my first year with 56 episodes, one episode for every year that M/A/R/C Research has been in business. Each episode is unscripted, uncensored, unrehearsed, with plenty of takeaways from the amazing guests that I’ve had, that have include a mix of professional athletes, insight leaders, and CEOs.


Jamin Brazil: Our next guest is Sima Vasa. Her podcast played an important role in shaping my work.


Sima Vasa: Hi, my name is Sima Vasa, I am the host of Data Gurus. The mission of Data Gurus is to help all of us in the data ecosystem navigate the sea of change. I speak to leaders, practitioners, CEOs, as well as, change agents in the industry.


Jamin Brazil: Stephen is the associate manager, global consumer insights, at Cheerios at General Mills, and one of the only client-side podcasters I’ve come across. Stephen, tell us a little bit about your podcast.


Stephen Griffiths: Hi, this is Stephen Griffiths, I host the Digging for Insights podcast, a marketing and career podcast with advice from insights leaders at companies like Nestle, Ipsos, and General Mills. As a client-side researcher, I focus this podcast on helping client-side and supplier-side folks, get the insights they need to grow their careers and the businesses they work on.


Jamin Brazil: And I’m Jamin Brazil, Happy Market Research Podcast. We’ve had over 300 episodes, and cover four industry trends per year. For each trend, we interview subject matter experts from major brands, including Adobe, Microsoft, and Proctor & Gamble. David, let’s start with you. What is your outlook for market research in 2021?


David Paull: Well, first and foremost, we’re looking forward to leaving 2020 in the rear view. I know all of my friends and colleagues here will concur with that. And we’ve seen a lot of really challenging things happen in 2020. And one of the things that I’m most focused on is really seeing the rebound of in-person research happening – happen really as soon as possible. That’s a part of our industry that’s so heavily relied upon for qualitative research, and while we, and others, have all adapted online, and come up with suitable replacements in the short term, there’s certainly a void of that ability to do in-person research. So, I know what I’m excited about, and anxious to support is the ability to safely and quickly get people back in person, doing in-person qualitative and ramping that part of the industry back up.


Jamin Brazil: Kathryn, you have over a thousand subscribers to your video podcast, what are your predictions for 2021?


Kathryn Korostoff: Some of the things that existed really pre-pandemic, but have sort of been accelerated now. For example, those of us who do survey research, or those of us who do qualitative research, or those of us who do both, that have been sort of accelerated. For example, in the survey research world, I think that professionals seeking success in survey research in 2021, really need to make sure that they have expertise and the skills for the types of survey research applications that seem to be growing the most. For example, in my experience I’m seeing a lot of increase in the employee research. I’m seeing a lot more interest in survey research related to UX and CX applications. Or survey research related to social advocacy measurements. So, I think for survey researchers, just a practical prediction for 2021 is about what areas of research are likely to be hot. And for the qual researchers, I’m going to bounce back on something that David just said, I think that we will see some of the folks who had to pivot to online qual go back to in-person qual to some extent. But what I’m hearing from a lot of my clients, and a lot of my students, is that they’ll never go back to the level of in-person qual that they had before. That they’ve actually, in many cases, even if they were a hardcore in-person qual team before the pandemic, they’ve often said, hey, we actually found out that the online stuff is working really, really well for us. And so, they are unlikely to go back to that same level.


Jamin Brazil: Merrill, 56 interviews in one year is astounding, and it was a bigger pace than I had this year. Especially in this year. Having done all those interviews, what’s your outlook for 2021?


Merrill Dubrow: When I think about 2020, what an emotional year. Being from Boston, I’m going to start by quoting JFK – John F. Kennedy, who once said, when written in Chinese, the word, crisis, is composed of two characters. One represents danger, while the other one represents opportunity. And to me, 2021 is all about opportunity. Without question, everybody’s clients are changing. And insight will be much more important than ever, and I think opportunities in the insight community to finally build products and services around geo-targeting and geo-fencing. Not to mention, I had the opportunity to go to the World Series between Tampa and Los Angeles Dodgers a few months ago, and it was interesting because it was held in Dallas, so they had a bubble. And when I walked in there, it was a cashless event. Meaning that you could not bring cash and pay cash for anything. So, if you were an individual who likes to use cash, and only has cash, for whatever reason, you had to use a reverse ATM. So, basically you would put the cash in, it would spit out a card, kind of like when we went to Dave and Busters. And it got my mind thinking a little bit, are we headed to that cashless society? And if we are, again, how does research and insight play? So, I think there are numerous opportunities that we could talk about for hours and days, Jamin, but I look at 2021 as a special comeback year for insight, to really leverage what’s going on in the business world.


Jamin Brazil: Sima, as one of the OGs in the podcasting space, and 115 episodes, tell us, what do you see as a future of market research in 2021?


Sima Vasa: I’m really excited about 2021. I think the demand for insights could not be greater. We have gone through an unprecedented time of COVID, and we cannot predict what consumers are going to do, or what businesses are going to do. I think with the digital acceleration that many of us were forced to do, we might have been debating prior to COVID, people have made that leap. And technology is a central theme in our industry. I see the democratization of insights, where we’re seeing a lot of agile platforms coming into play, and providing quick-turn research. I see the visualization of data that allows the democratization of insights through large brand organizations in really enabling people to make decisions more quickly and more efficiently. We can’t ignore the topic that we’ve – is always central for us. And that’s data quality and privacy. So, I think there’s going to be bigger conversations around this, and how do we protect consumers, how do we ensure that they feel protected, in participating in our industry? And again, I think technology will play a big part of that. It’s exciting time.


Jamin Brazil: Stephen, as a brand-side researcher, what are you seeing as major trends moving into 2021?


Stephen Griffiths: Trend that I’m seeing upcoming is this change in the way that we’re working, especially on client-side companies. This idea of Agile and experimentation is really starting to take hold, especially when you come from an era like COVID, where everything is changing so quickly. There’s so much uncertainty, it is harder to rely on simulated models as much as it was before. And so listening to what people say they’re going to do, I would say, is even less credible. And there’s really the strong desire to prove it, and put proof in the pudding, right? So, how would you throw something on Amazon to see if it sells? How would you test something on social media to see if there’s real interest? How would you do an actual in-store test, as opposed to relying on claimed measures through surveys, for instance? And so I think those are some of the things this desire to be more agile and to get real-world learning, that is going to continue to be a trend of the future.


Jamin Brazil: As for myself, I think about trends in 2021. And I was talking with a friend of mine, Janet Strandon[ph], and she told me this, or gave me this great quote. She said: “Really get to know all the people you work with, or for. These are your greatest resources for the whole rest of your career.” I think this is exactly what we learned in 2020. For the first time, we saw each other’s bedrooms, backyards, kitchens, and cars. We saw kids running loose while parents were trying to keep things together. We saw businesses close, and we saw jobs lost while we saw other companies and careers thrive. We’re exiting 2020 in many ways richer. Because we’re taking the time to get to know each other, and I believe that we will continue to invest in the asset of relationship, because it is the one thing that is unmovable in our ever-fluid world. I have found a ton of value in the conversations today, and greatly appreciate all the podcasters who were willing to come together. You can find links to their shows in the show notes. From all of us, we hope you have a safe, happy 2021.