Businesses need to know and understand the consumers. However, it is challenging to navigate customer information in today's increasingly digitalized world. Various technologies have been developed to keep up with the proliferating customer data, and ResTech, short for research technologies, is the next step.
ResTech is the umbrella term for tools that help businesses target, find, and understand the necessary consumer data to develop the right strategies. Considering how people continuously interact with the rapidly increasing number of brands online, ResTech can take many forms. From AB Testing & Optimization to Social Media Listening and Analytics, ResTech enables businesses to learn in-depth information regarding their customers.
Due to their lack of technological access, traditional research methodologies are often limited by the scope of their reach. With such research, the only systematic way for businesses to get information about consumer opinions is through direct contacts, like surveys, interviews, focus groups, or polls—when the customer is willing to share the information through highly dictated communication channels.
ResTech, on the other hand, knows that everyone is constantly interacting or reacting to a brand. All these consumer actions are valuable data. And, it is ResTech’s job to discover, organize and present these action data to businesses in manners that aid in business strategizing.
In 2022, a business requires both traditional research methods and ResTech to succeed. In fact, conventional research and ResTech companies are also aware of the necessity for an intertwined approach. Many traditional research companies are acquiring promising new ResTech businesses and vice versa. For instance, Talkwalker acquired Nielsen Social; Ipsos acquired Synthesio Synthesio; and, Brandwatch acquired Qriously. It is only natural for rooted conventions and novel ideas to merge to find the goldilocks solution.
Traditional research is disruptive. In such cases, customers become hyperaware of the circumstances and either feel pressure to give valuable data and answer in misleading ways or choose to give passive answers to get it over with without causing trouble. This hyperawareness, combined with the well-known unreliability of self-reported data, renders conventional research methods essentially useless compared to ResTech.
ResTech finds the customers in their natural habitats—so to speak. When online, people often share their opinions about a brand of their own volition or interact with the business without the pressure of being in direct contact, which means these reports are more natural, and, thus, more reliable, than the ones traditional research methodologies obtain. Most of these behaviors are even beyond the consciousness of the consumers themselves.
Traditional Research is typically carried out after the customers finish their interactions with the business, which means that customers can only respond in retrospect —as far as they can remember how they felt. If their customer experience was seamless up until one little hitch, they might only remember that low point and grade the experience accordingly. However, a traditional researcher must assume the customer is completely honest. Thus, faults of short-term memory might give false impressions about the realities of customer experience.
By observing customers' behaviors throughout their journeys, ResTech presents a well-rounded data set regarding people’s behaviors before, during, and after their interactions with a business. This way, the companies can see how the opinions and actions evolved during the customer journey and know how to improve themselves.
Typically done over surveys, polls, and questionnaires, traditional research limits original ideas and possibilities for improvement. It backfires in terms of gaining innovative ideas about the service or product because customers can only react to what they are given. And, since traditional research depends on asking very specific questions to prevent any misunderstandings, the customers aren’t given much, to begin with.
ResTech collects a variety of data and paints a holistic picture of how consumers react to specific stimuli so that brands can understand where changes of all scales can be made to improve business. This process leads to a broader range of possibilities in regard to innovation.
The last question that comes to mind is how ResTech differentiates from Martech and Adtech. Simply; research comes right before marketing and advertising process. So if you're about to launch your new campaign, you will need to understand the ups and downs of your audience, their motivations, consumption barriers and how to reach out to them. ResTech will help you do that easily, without waiting the results for months.
It goes without saying, the landscape of ResTech is multifarious. Faced with various ways to acquire and interpret diverse forms of data, ResTech is divided into four major categories.
These two categories of ResTech are often outsourced by companies who want to gain insight into the status of their businesses regarding the bigger picture and receive guidance regarding the direction they should take.
MRAs typically utilize an in-house team of researchers to formulate and produce customized tools that measure consumer behavior. The experts at the MRAs also collect and process these data to inform businesses constructively.
On the other hand, Market Consulting Firms comprise consultants who are experts in specialized fields and utilize an assortment of agencies to oversee a panoramic process of data collection for a business.
Some Market Agencies & Consulting Firms on ResTech Landscape 2021
These platforms consist of tools that use different methods to gain information about consumer behavior from people’s interactions with a brand. For instance, the most widespread of all research platforms, Full Stack Survey Platforms, are customizable tools that allow researchers to design and implement surveys on a wide scale.
Meanwhile, the up-and-coming Agile Research platforms are tools used for quick insight and on repeat to remain alert while making decisions. These platforms help experts maneuver rapidly while creating a solid strategy by creating a feedback loop that continuously informs.
There are also specific CX, UX, and Employee Experience Research platforms that collect, measure, and analyze information from an individual’s interactions with a brand to find the strong and weak points of experiences. These platforms inform businesses on various levels, like customer service, product management, and marketing strategies, and help them better the experiences they provide.
On the one hand, Market Research Platforms involve highly technical tools like AB Testing & Optimization and Eye Tracking that can provide objective data. On the other hand, these platforms can gain both quantitative and qualitative data from long-term digital observations via Brand Tracking, Syndicated Insights, and Community Research insights.
Some Market Research Platforms on ResTech Landscape 2021
Analytics and Visualization implementations are powerful tools that identify and present the key points businesses should be focusing on. These platforms commonly rely on data science and statistics to prioritize knowledge and actions.
The two major applications of these technologies are Text Analytics and Social Media Listening & Analytics. These two turn language and interactions into quantitative data to impart a clinical understanding of trends, brands, and consumer behavior patterns that can be used in competitor analysis, consumer profiles, brand tracking, trend monitoring, crisis management, and so on. There is also Visual Analytics, in which common patterns in visual media are converted into applicable data.
Some emerging research technologies turn exceptionally subjective opinions into manageable insight. Sentiment Analysis and Content Categorization evaluate qualitative information through statistics and data patterns.
Then, there are Dashboard, Visualization, and Infographic platforms. These platforms that display information in discernable formats are invaluable for businesses because they can help clarify messy data and make patterns more perceptible.
For practical insights that involve texts, there are SEO and Keyword Search platforms that inform businesses on the details of consumer search habits that may be useful in fueling product development and creating marketing strategies.
Some Analytics & Visualization Tools on ResTech Landscape 2021
Sample & Fielding platforms are resources that help businesses find audiences to be observed and analyzed while interacting with their brands. Global Audience platforms have the broadest scope of all by dividing the world into four main regions for research: North America (NA); Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); Asia Pacific (APAC); Latin America (LATAM). In contrast, Regional Audience platforms focus on smaller regions and provide more esoteric data.
Then, there are more intentional and strategic sample & fielding platforms, like Market Makers and DMP/Identity. They optimize the resources and objectives of research by combining the ideal tools and audiences to pair with the given study. With these matches, research becomes optimized, and the results are precise and accurate. In some cases, Expert Networks can provide audiences specialized in specific fields, depending on the brand's target consumer, for instance.
Some platforms help manage these audiences. Quality platforms measure how appropriate an audience is for particular research to determine a suitable audience or decide on the reliability of an outcome. In line with the aforementioned Text and Social Media Analytics, Behavioral Analytics gathers data on consumer behavior and translates this information into observable knowledge that can be applied to business strategies.
CRM combines quality and behavioral analytics by providing firsthand data from actual customers and analyzing it into operational categories. And, as icing on the cake, Loyalty platforms help businesses reinforce positive customer behavior through rewards systems and promotional incentives.
Some Sample & Fielding Tools on ResTech Landscape 2021:
This comparison is not to say traditional methods are now entirely archaic but to show how ResTech is the next step in the evolution of research. The transformation of traditional businesses to online ones has been ongoing for the past decade. Nowadays, brands consider their online presence at least as valuable as their offline existence and even, in many cases, invest more in the former.
While companies are transforming their business, marketing, and advertisement strategies according to both traditional values and technological developments, it would be naive to expect differently from consumers. People’s online and offline behavior can paint different pictures since we are less conscious of our online actions. However, combining the two would reveal a customer profile more transparent and valuable than ever before. So, the ideal solution is a healthy combination of Traditional Research and ResTech.
The future of ResTech is bright because it is the only solution that can provide what businesses need to stay afloat in the flood of customer data that is being produced nowadays. The already ever-increasing output of consumer information has accelerated due to the lock-downs and other measures against the Covid-19 pandemic when people’s only contact with the world was through online platforms. And, while traditional modes of research are failing to keep up with customer needs, ResTech is constantly finding new ways to help businesses not only manage but also thrive with big data.
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