Listening: The Digital Age’s Biggest Gift to Marketers?

Today, market researchers have access to an incredible amount of readily available consumer opinion. This is great news–right? Not so fast.  Listening to the endless stream of informal chatter has become a leading trend in consumer research, but according to AdAge many marketers view “listening” as more of an added expense than a valuable tool.

According to Steve Rappaport, ARF knowledge solutions director, “tuning in to the millions of people freely sharing their experience with brands in ways that are relatively easy to track isn’t anywhere near ready to replace the old system of ‘asking’ i.e. survey research…” Although listening is an invaluable instrument for market researchers, numerous kinks have yet to be worked out.

ARF president Bob Barocci points out that listening isn’t taking off right now. In fact, market researchers list several problems: budgetary, organizational, statistical reliability, undetermined ROI and legal issues. While researchers need to spend more on the budding research technique buzz tracking, they cannot afford to spend less on the established method survey research. “So the single biggest opportunity in the history of consumer marketing lays dormant,” laments Borroci.

Although an ear to the blogosphere is undeniably valuable for the future, it is clear that companies like ours, with expertise and success in survey data collection, still have a key place in the world of market research. If researchers successfully work out the kinks in listening, how will the marketplace evolve?

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