In the 2011 GreenBook Research Industry Trends, many notable trends within the global market research industry have been revealed.

The annual survey focuses on research technology, anticipated staffing characteristics and skill sets and changes to marketing research methodologies and business models. Additionally, the report investigated spending levels, the overall levels of optimism vs. trepidation and how the industry perceives and is reacting to change. So what did it uncover?

More Demand Drives Social Technology Adoption

Among the 1,008 respondents, representing full-service providers (43%), academic researchers (23%) and research clients/buyers (16%), the survey showed that overall, spending and demand has increased over the past year and will continue to grow in 2012.

To help them meet the increasing demands, marketers have expanded their skill sets to include new and emerging technologies. Among the top new technologies and technologies being used are online communities (35%), data mining (32%), social media analytics (29%), text analytics (22%) and mobile research (at 21%).

Current technologies being used by market researchers

Current technologies being used by market researchers

What is particularly telling is that research shows that social media analytics, online communities, data mining and mobile and text analytics will continue to grow in 2012, with client-side researchers showing the most adoption, while suppliers lag behind.

Projected usage of emerging techniques in 2012

Projected usage of emerging techniques in 2012

The good news? Marketers are finally getting the message that they need to be more strategic with their business initiatives. Yet when it comes to accepting that the proliferation of mobile in consumers’ lives, most marketers don’t necessarily believe that all broadly based consumer studies should include data collection using mobile devices.

On a five-point scale (anchored at the low end by “Wildly Exaggerated” and at the high end by “Spot On”), respondents were asked to give their opinions about various statements.

On a five-point scale (anchored at the low end by “Wildly Exaggerated” and at the high end by “Spot On”), respondents were asked to give their opinions about various statements.

A Need for Social Media Experts?

New research technologies and strategies will inevitably lead to a change in staffing and company culture. For the first time, the GRIT survey asked about the changes expected in the kinds of people working in the respondent’s organization in the future. Across the board, the need for more social media experts is equally strong, whereas there is a stronger anticipated need for marketing strategists, business strategists and data integration experts on the buyer side, compared with a greater need for data collection experts, multi-lingual employees and sociologists and anthropologists on the supplier side.

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The Future of Market Research is Changing

Taken separately, they are nothing more than interesting factoids. Put together, however, they show a social media technology evolution among market researchers. While significant change is anticipated, the industry seems to view it all as an opportunity rather than a threat. From changing expectations about the skill set needed for tomorrow’s marketing researcher, and the types of people who will be hired in tomorrow’s research organizations, there is much to be optimistic about.