Do You Hear The People Sing?

The Future of…..Consumer Insight
– by Andy Morris, Chief Innovation Officer, YouGov plc

The early years of the 21st Century saw a revolution in the consumer research industry as face-to-face and telephone research became less prevalent and online started to dominate.

The shift to online brought many benefits – better sampling more honest respondents, more user-friendly questionnaires, not to mention being more cost-effective – but the real power of panel-centric internet research remained ungrasped……

As an industry we took advantage of the benefits but we carried on doing a series of one-off surveys. We connected some data but only at a fairly superficial level.

This is not the future of market research.

The next stage of the revolution is here and it means continuous connected multi-layer data.

It means knowing not one thing or ten things or even 100 things about consumers but tens and hundreds of thousands of things.

It means that we now have a longitudinal relationship with respondents, that the age of the ‘intercept’ is over.

It means that the data you need has already been collected, it means that that data can have hitherto impossible levels of richness, it means that market research is joining the rest of the wold in the 21st Century.

It is not big data but connected data – the confluence of big data and structured data.

At YouGov we’ve created what we call The Cube, an enormous and ever-growing store of consumer data organised in three dimensions: on the first axis, around two hundred thousand respondents; on the second axis, every question clients need to understand consumers and their media usage – and this includes long-tail data on thousands of TV programmes, publications and online media; and the third axis is time, allowing clients to evaluate progress every day and to spot trends as they emerge.

You could see it as an en-vogue understanding of the ‘age of consumer’, the largest connected data set ever produced or at the most simplistic level the biggest survey ever created.

That depends on your point of view.

What is clear is that we know over 120,000 pieces of information about over 210,000 people (that’s just in the UK) and that we are adding every day to both the amount we know and the numbers we know it on. That data has always been there but now we can connect it.

What does this mean?

That most times clients have questions we already have the answers and that when we don’t the new questions that are asked can be enriched with the incredible amounts of data.

You can think about it like the TV revolution – in the past you would work out when a show was on, limited yourself to what was available and plan to be able to watch it. Now you can turn on your Smart TV and choose virtually any show that has ever been on. You no longer have to plan or wait, you can watch what you want went you want.

In the same way you used to have to plan a research study, it took time and you were limited to the little amount you could cram into one survey (whilst inevitably overburdening and infuriating your respondents). Now virtually everything you need is readily available on tap, the questions have been asked, the data is collected, it is connected to hundreds of thousands of other data points. You don’t have to plan, you don’t have to wait.

You just turn to the YouGov Cube and pull out the data that you need when you need it.

– with thanks to the author, Andy Morris, Chief Innovation Officer at YouGov plc