All (digital) evolutions of marketing and market research are however triggered by a consumer trend. In this series of 4 posts, I will share my thoughts on the evolutions of the past years and the impact on market research. Today, we start with the changing role of market research as an information gatekeeper.
A gatekeeper is a person who controls access to something, for example via a city gate. In the late 20th century the term came into metaphorical use, referring to individuals or organizations who decide if a certain message will be distributed by a mass medium.
The role of the gatekeeper
Newspapers, TV stations, radio broadcasting ... are traditional examples of gatekeepers, filtering information towards consumers. Today, consumers are being kept up to date via the web, social media, their mobile ... companies as Google and Facebook have become today's gatekeepers, defining what is (not) relevant for even a specific individual.
Market researchers used to be such information gatekeepers as well, defining what part of the consumer voice companies got to hear. We collected (and still do so) data via interviews: face-to-face, via telephone or via an online survey. Being heard was a privilege of 8, 12, 250 or maybe 1000 customers, selected by the researcher for participating in consumer research.
Due to the online and mobile evolution, consumers are now able to shout out to the world whenever, wherever they want. The challenge of market researchers is no longer to collect and hear some of the voices, but to isolate relevant from irrelevant ones.
From hearing one voice to isolating the relevant ones (visual: GfK)
In the following posts, we will dig deeper into the impact of "the age of information overload", "the rise of mobile" and "device-switching behavior".