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Once upon a time in Market Research…

As an offshoot of the advertising boom of the Golden Age of radio, market research began to be conceptualized…

Once upon a time, when market research was new in Nigeria; when only one bureau offered research services to only one company. Most definitely with many sheets of paper (questionnaires) flying on the streets in search of respondents (quantitative research) and some cassettes yearning to record voices of individual customers (In-depth interviews) or perhaps the collective voices of many who might disagree (Focus Group Discussions). Having a sandwich of highly mechanical quantitative and qualitative research, a research project will no doubt take three to six months.

The monopoly gradually gave room to oligopoly of market research companies in the country. More multinationals had more choices from the few available players. Other forms of research especially social research emerged. Security around the mechanical processes of market research was beefed up with several quality control mechanisms; group interviewing, back checking, spot checking amongst others.

As technology became the order of the day, little wonders how much of a push this gave to research data processing and reports. Several churning of data soon wearied its ambitious audience who began to long for actionable insight and not just data as usual.

Was there really a desktop era in Nigeria? Not exactly. After several years of ‘paperfull’ research, it appears Nigeria skipped the era where desktops provided every households with internet and this gave a further lift to research (an era gallantly experienced in Europe and US for a period).

Today, research in Nigeria has changed dramatically both in offer and consumption. With multiple research agencies of different sizes and capacity, and in severe competition, improvement in research processes as well as output were fast-tracked after the developed countries. Thanks to the internet penetration and digital devices that has turned data collection and processing of data almost completely real time, not leaving out qualitative research that also enjoys the benefit of digitalization in data collection as well as softwares in its analysis. The ever waiting pool of respondents (online panels) has also added to this pace of growth and can now contribute their feedback in transit (mobile data). Several customized and proprietary tools from different companies are very worth mentioning, perhaps posing some level of specializations amidst different agencies and making strategic insight more sophisticated. (www.streaminsightonline.com)

With skintight timelines and close-fitting budget in this digital era, market research has produced a smarter diet, yet a 3-course meal!  It is becoming glaring that we might be heading for an era in which our genetic make-up and other physiology can almost predict all the tendencies of individuals to a survey, predicting all their preferences as a consumer or perhaps the palms of our hands will have infused internet enabled screens. Till then, fingers crossed!

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