It's becoming an Op4G tradition – each January we predict the market research trends for the year ahead. Last year, among other forecasts, we projected the dominance of online research, the growing demand for instant responses, and mounting interest in blockchain. We also named health, e-sports, and cannabis as likely research topics (reflecting the COVID-19 pandemic and popular coping strategies).

So what is in store for 2022? We consulted our experts in market research and consumer insights. Based on shifting demographics, the social milieu, and prevailing trends, here are our top predictions for the year to come:

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Diversity is rising in the United States, along with calls to recognize, appreciate, and accommodate America’s diverse peoples. For many brands, this is not just a moral imperative. It is also a way to attract and retain clients from minority groups with sizable purchasing power. For example, the Black and LGBTQ+ communities account for $1.6 trillion and $1 trillion in buying power, respectively. But in order to message to minorities, brands first need to understand them. Thus, in 2022, we expect more market research on these populations. This could take the form of more minority panelists, more questions related to race, and/or greater emphasis on minority voices in analysis reports.
  • Gen Z and Millennial Research: Young Americans are an attractive market segment. They often act as early adopters, influencing purchasing trends. They are also a “critical entry-point for brands seeking to establish long-term brand loyalty." They can have high levels of disposable income, particularly if supported by parents. And now, for the first time ever, more than half the U.S. population are Millennials or younger! For these reasons, Op4G predicts that brands will be even more determined to understand America’s younger generations in 2022, translating into more youth-targeted (and youth-friendly) market research studies.
  • Data Privacy: In 2021, tech titans like Apple and Google made a number of major privacy changes. Perhaps most notably, Apple eliminated tracking by default (users must now opt-in to being tracked across the web) and Google phased out support for third-party cookies (which collect information like online habits, previous visits, and search history). In 2022, market research companies will continue to grapple with these changes. They will seek out other, less intrusive research solutions to obtain opted-in consumer data, such as through user-generated content (see “social listening” below) or market research panels.
  • Social Listening: According to Pew Research, an astounding 7 in 10 Americans visit social media sites – and often more than once a day. This has made social media a favorite tool for promoting businesses. But in 2022, we expect an increase in businesses leveraging social media for another important purpose: social listening. Social listening involves monitoring the conversations of current or prospective clients on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. It allows businesses to gather real-time feedback on their brand/products/services (or those of competitors), identify relevant influencers, and develop messages that are likely to resonate. While social listening gained prominence in 2021, Google search statistics suggest that its popularity will continue to rise in the year ahead. Market researchers can assist brands in this area by analyzing social listening data and providing actionable recommendations based on insights. 
  • Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Research: In 2022, many businesses will look to save money amidst the fragile economic recovery. At the same time, new tools will empower them to conduct market research in-house. Combined, these factors will likely lead to more DIY market research. But beware! Compared to the work of established market research firms, DIY research is often basic (as tools allow little customization), time consuming, and vulnerable to pitfalls (like survey bias). This can result in low-quality data and, by extension, low-quality insights. 
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): We said it in 2021 and we’ll say it again – AI will transform market research in the year ahead. AI-powered search engines will allow researchers to identify the best respondents across multiple databases. Language processors similar to Siri and Alexa will review massive quantities of verbal feedback (e.g. from interviews) to identify key trends and findings. Algorithms and machine learning will “make market research faster and cheaper, cutting down project timelines from weeks and months to hours and days." The possibilities are almost endless!

As we embark on this new year, we hope our predictions will help your company stay ahead of the curve. Perhaps you’ll be able to streamline research, improve data quality, tap into new data sources, or better understand key demographics…only time will tell! But one thing is certain: Op4G will be here to offer guidance and support. 


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