5 Market research trends you need to know in 2024

You can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed keeping tabs on the latest global market research and insights trends of 2024, but businesses won’t be so lenient.  

Remember the pandemic? Bottom lines reflect how quickly companies adapt to evolving target markets in an ever-changing world. Market research is now fuelling company strategy and new growth opportunities more than ever before. Budgets are tight. But demand for the most accurate and cost-effective market research insights is on the up. Perhaps AI and real-time data analysis are key. Perhaps they are remarkable hype. 

Enough questions. Let’s look at some data-driven answers.  

Our blog post will show you why you don’t want to be left behind 2024’s top five market research and insights trends, with their dependence on developing technologies. We dive into:  

  • The Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Generative AI (GenAI) explosion 
  • Online digital market research to gain understanding at scale 
  • The swing to real-time market research 
  • The demand for more accurate data  
  • The hot research metrics for 2024  

We’ll also check out how market researchers fare against their global counterparts. And, as the proof is in the pudding, we will ultimately catch a glimpse of how some market researchers are being rewarded for staying ahead of the curve.   

Market Research Trend 1: The AI and GenAI explosion  

And yes, it is an explosion. So much so that the UK market research and insights industry is not keeping pace. Highly skilled individuals are needed in market research, and a third of researchers are outsourcing to find them. 

But let’s face it, after a decade of deploying machine learning, we would expect to see some of the best examples of AI-in-business to emerge from the data-busting market research sector. It is crucial to the industry.  

Current volatility paradoxically causes companies to want more information than ever to navigate an uncertain world. They want to anticipate market shifts, not just respond to them. They want to be aware of any fleeting gaps of opportunity in their market before their competitors jump in.  

62% of researchers across 14 industries globally agree that their company now depends significantly on market research and insights.   

Tech Solutions: The AI systems most of us know are where machine or software systems make autonomous decisions normally requiring human intelligence. It acts, creates, evolves, or changes. While AI-powered tools are ever advancing in terms of speed, traditional market research is slow and unreliable. AI can identify trends faster than humans but still needs the human touch. It can take over the repetitive and tedious tasks, and frees up the market researcher’s time to add strategic value to initial insights.  

The time-saver means AI can also help bridge the skills gap, freeing researchers to upskill and train teams. AI is primarily for automation and improved efficiency. Check out 9 best AI market research tools. 

GenAI is the gamechanger. It is able to produce new content (text, images, audio, synthetic data or other media and computer code) based upon input training data, in response to prompts. Unlike previous deep learning models, Gen AI can process extremely large and varied sets of unstructured data, and multi-task. 

Large Language Models (LLMs) fall under its broad concept. They more specifically process huge amounts of existing information to understand, summarise, generate and predict new content. LLMs include Chat GPT, Bard, MetaAI, Meet Claude, GitHub Copilot and Stable Diffusion. They are distinguished by their ability to have a conversation with a user. Some would argue that GenAI’s automated AI predecessor has simply provided cheaper, faster research results at the cost of quality. But GenAI is starting to revolutionise the market research industry. Not only does it deliver faster and cheaper, but it can deliver better insights.  

Market Research Trend 2: Online digital research provides deeper understanding at scale  

 Consumers spanning all demographics now expect online conversations and digital interactions.  

Tech Solutions: Online platforms, social media listening and unstructured data analytics are crucial. The demand to collect qualitative data remotely continues to grow. Open-end text-based questions and online discussion boards are on the increase. Check out 17 market research tools you should be using including the basics like Google Trends and Facebook Insights.  

 Market Research Trend 3: Demand for real-time market research  

Even the most successful brands lose market share as soon as new market entrants start to put them in the shade. Agile research is key for market researchers to provide instant, real-time responses, and a speed of insight that allows companies to react almost instantaneously to consumer’s changing sentiment. Studies are shorter and more frequent. Consumers are reached remotely via mobile devices. Companies can make incremental decisions and tweak their messaging, while participants benefit from convenient, accessible market research surveys that are quick and easy to complete. 

Live customer experience (CX) data is also becoming increasingly accessible to understand the market and its needs rather than wants. Why use a survey to ask clients about their experiences when data about customer interactions can be used? Touchpoints link to chatbots, kiosks, robo-advisors, and other tools that clients – especially younger ones – want to engage with. Observational research techniques of CX also eliminate the purchasing value-action gap: consumers don’t always do what they say.   

Tech Solutions: At the top of the range, AI-powered platforms can interpret video feedback at scale across market segments, and summarise key themes and make actionable recommendations. AI-driven conversations with data can provide even deeper insights.   

Whereas AI is based on historic learning, GenAI can adapt to what might be rapidly changing data, as when consumers give unpredictable responses because of the sudden rise of a preferred competitor. GenAI can provide real-time analysis and prediction to inform real-time response strategies for messaging and mitigating risk.  

Market Research Trend 4: Demand for more accurate data 

The market research and insights industry prided itself on providing evidence to inform company strategy. But it has been dogged by issues in the past. Wording of survey questions can provide unreliable answers. Bots and GenAI like ChatGPT responding can further skew data as companies demand high-quality insights and outcomes to make the right strategic decisions. Removing nearly half the survey responses as inauthentic raises justified questions around the validity of what is left.  

Unsurprisingly, more than a third of researchers sampled globally indicated that they would find an automated data quality solution to identify poor quality responses extremely helpful. 

And experts agree: research agencies have been treating respondents poorly for decades. Many young adults no longer want to respond, further frustrating the quest for the holy grail of true insights and answers.  

Tech Solutions: AI-driven survey reviews can avoid biased questions producing inaccurate data. AI can pinpoint double-barrelled questions and readability issues. AI tools can also scrub through sizeable amounts of research data, cleaning out speeder respondents and nonsensical answers. 

Conversely, there is the emergence of AI-generated ‘Intelligent Personas’ or ‘synthetic data’. AI models are trained from high quality and regularly updated client datasets, and used knowingly as alternatives to asking human alternatives. Responses have been found to be accurate and ideal for providing rapid answers in more onerous research projects. GenAI used in that way could actually prove invaluable in tackling the existential risk that data fraud poses to the market research sector. 

Market Research Trend 5: Hot research metrics 

The need for sustainability and corporate responsibility metrics is expected to surge in 2024. In 2023, 42% of companies incorporate these metrics, compared to just 26% in 2021. Consumers increasingly want to align with companies that contribute to environmental and social solutions, and balancing profit, planet and people can be a valid business strategy. Globally, 80% say they ‘make an effort’ to buy from companies that support causes important to them. A word of warning though: consumers don’t always do what they say, so research methods should be chosen carefully.  

Global differences in market research trends  

Success comes when marketing aligns with culture, and the same can be said for the cultural shifts in global market research. Each region is currently responding at different rates to global market research and insights trends.  

Market research trends across EMEA  

The £9 billion UK research, insight and analytics industry is the biggest market research market in Europe, second only to North America.   

Market research trends across APAC 

Qualtrics surveyed over 3,000 respondents across 14 countries. 

APAC leads the pack with 58% of market researchers using AI regularly, compared to EMEA and LATAM not far behind at 51%.  

Market research trends across the Americas  

North America bottoms out with only 32% of market researchers using AI regularly. But it’s trending upwards at the highest rate for exploring new technologies.  

LATAM tops the chart in digital with 90% of market researchers conducting half or more of their qualitative research online/remotely. 

How market researchers are using AI and why 

The Market Research Society (MRS) features market researchers embracing both AI and the GenAI opportunity: 

2CV: Incorporated AI tools into writing processes for inspiration and editing, used AI and machine learning to gain efficiencies in survey open end coding, created customer AI agents to conduct quality assurance checks on survey data, used AI to speed up video editing via transcripts, used chatbot surveys with conversational AI and projective questioning abilities, used GenAI probing on open-ended questions within online surveys, used GenAI-art tools to create visual representations of verbatim input. 

Audience Strategies: Leveraged GenAI and ChatGPT to support on process enhancements, drafting and editing to allow more time for strategizing; learnt how to ask the best questions of GenAI in order to gain insights informing a foundational understanding of a market and audience. Patterns and trends were uncovered that might not have been immediately evident, leading to more effective audience segmentation recommendations. 

MMR: Combined GenAI and 30 years of deep product and sensory experience to launch their first Sensory Chatbot to meet consumers on their mobile wherever they are. AI-powered human-like conversation proved to be responsive and curious about the customer’s sensory experience of the product in real time. 

Ipsos: Their Data Liberation platform’s new AI feature enables users to automatically generate data table commentary. The platform can create editable PowerPoint slides, and users can generate commentary for hundreds of slides in seconds. AI will generate slide headlines. LLM translators will also draft reports in multiple languages at the click of a button. Coding data using LLMs will also enhance users’ capabilities to analyse open-ended verbatim survey responses, and interrogate data in a more agile way.  

Nexxt Intelligence: Used knowledge management software Market Logic and Lucy with integrated GenAI. Users can ask natural language queries, and AI will interrogate all the knowledge held by the organisation. Secondly, combining LLM capabilities and advanced computational power mean researchers can query specific key factors driving users to choose competitors over their brand. The analysis was provided in seconds rather than days.  

Market research trends summary  

Market researchers globally give speed and the ability to provide faster analysis and insights as their top reason for using AI with market research. But GenAI is the real gamechanger. Several researchers featured here discovered that GenAI generated new insights that had not been evident to them before. They are still learning and experimenting. But they already realise that the chasm bridged is in the powerful combination of quantitative research at scale with qualitative insight. The market research and insights world is progressing at an unprecedented rate. And those that cannot provide strategic direction based on high quality data and insights will neither drive revenue nor grow markets. Market researchers were the first to lead the way in qualitative research. They are ideally poised to be at the forefront of GenAI, and they cannot afford to be left behind.  

Next steps: 

Explore reducing manual research work by leaning on AI automation. 

Conduct a skills audit. 

Target which AI is best AI BEST Framework for GenAI: How and when to build AI into your research processes  

Check out ethical and regulatory data challenges 

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Therese Collingridge

Content Author

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