5 Consumer Insights Trends You Should Be Acting on in 2020

As we launch into 2020, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that it’s an exciting time for marketers, researchers, and consumer insights teams. Technology and new philosophies are changing the way teams work—and making it that much easier for them to delight their customers and achieve better business outcomes.

More specifically, here are some of the technology developments that—according to Gartner—are changing the way consumer insights teams work:

  • Hyper automation, or the process of implementing automation and fine-tuning it by analyzing, measuring, and monitoring its impact and making adjustments to continuously improve its effectiveness
  • Multi-experience, or the way that new tools are designed for the less-than-tech-savvy users, and that computers now have to learn how to work with people—not the other way around
  • The Democratization of expertise, with new tools that make it easy for run-of-the-mill employees to take on sophisticated analysis and other processes
  • Human augmentation thanks to the rise of wearable devices that are changing the way we interact with technology in the workplace

Each of these developments is at various stages of maturity. Yet, sooner or later, they are going to impact consumer insights—if they haven’t already.

The faster that organizations take proactive steps to incorporate these concepts into their workflows, the better positioned they’ll be to succeed during the upcoming decade.


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More broadly speaking, these developments are some of the driving factors behind several transformative consumer insights trends you should be acting on in 2020. Teams that don’t update their approach are unlikely to enjoy the successes that their more modern competitors experience.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five consumer insight trends that are changing the game. How does your organization stack up?

Trend #1: Multi-experience platforms enable Agile sprint teams

Historically, research teams moved slowly. For the most part, companies relied on full service consultants to conduct research which cost a lot of money, took a lot of time, and made it much more difficult to get the team to truly internalize the research findings.

More recently, organizations are updating their traditional approach using "multi-experience" platforms to reduce their reliance on consultants and create agile sprint teams. These nimble groups are able to conduct in-context research quickly by leveraging technology platforms to learn and iterate in short cycles. They take their learning and immediately incorporate it back into their products, test again, and continue iterating until they are happy with the results.

The reasoning behind the shift to agile research is simple: It helps companies conduct research faster and more affordably, and it helps them build better products and campaigns.

Very broadly, there are three kinds of agile sprint teams:

  • A separate team within the company that is responsible for conducting research sprints
  • An embedded team, where insights professionals assigned to business units conduct research sprints
  • A supported team, which taps external consultants to facilitate the sprint process

Choosing which kind of team is best for your purposes depends on the unique needs of the organization.

Trend #2: Qualitative experiments supplement Hyper automation

At the same time, more teams looking more to qualitative research for behavioral experiments that allow them to get deeper learning that is more predictive of in-market behavior.

For example, a food company was recently trying to roll out a new food service product for restaurants. They built some prototypes and prepared them in a single restaurant to prove the concept through qualitative experimentation. This approach helped create the buy-in to commercialize these new products—and speed the development and roll out across a larger market.

Similarly, organizations are also finding success with A/B testing of product ideas, benefits, positioning and more using social media ads. Using this approach teams can tell which concepts are capturing consumers interest—and then drill deeper with interested consumers to understand who it appealed to and why.

Trend #3: Technology enables DIY Video testing

Video is growing quickly as way for researchers to conduct their own DIY qualitative research. In large part, this is due to technology that makes it easy to conduct and analyze video research from any location, exemplifying the new Democratization of expertise.

Rather than conducting slow and costly in-person research, companies are applying video research using both moderated live video interviews and unmoderated video tasks where consumers can share in-context experiences.

Johnsonville, one of Americans leading sausage makers, recently used Digsite video technology to find out how their customers were using a new product in their own kitchens. The sausage company had a subset of 30 product testers take a video of themselves cooking the product so they could see how customers interacted with the sausages in the comfort of their own homes.

While the survey results were positive, the video research identified two important improvements. First, the team was able optimize the cooking instructions after observing consumers actual behavior. Second, the team identified one of the varieties while well liked, didn't fit the emotional benefit of the product line. Finally, Johnsonville was able to sell-in moving forward with the launch by making the videos available to the team, and quickly creating a clip reel—which got shared all the way up to the CEO.

Bottom line? Conducting a video task or live interview is now fast and easy, enabling teams to get the product and marketing right—every time.

Trend #4: Text messages and chat

While human augmentation is still on the horizon, texting and chatbots are taking center stage in market research. In large part, this is because consumer largely prefer text messages and chat to email.

For example, one study found that email response rates hover near 6% while SMS boasts a much friendlier 45% response rate. At the same time, 95% of text messages are read within three minutes, and most of them are read in less than five seconds. Finally, when Digsite surveyed research participants and asked whether they’d prefer communications via email or text message, 80% of customers said they wanted both or text messages only.

Research technology is implementing text messaging capabilities and chat based technology, so you can ask customers questions quickly—and have them see and respond to them on the fly. This enables you to get a better idea of how people are feeling in the moment—and why they are feeling that way.

Trend #5: Research platforms vs. agencies

As an industry, market research as traditionally defined is on the decline. A slight one, to be sure. But a decline nonetheless.

It’s not because companies are no longer conducting research—quite the contrary. The reason for this stunted growth is that tech platforms are becoming increasingly popular.

In other words, companies are choosing to invest their dollars elsewhere. They’re spending more on technology—and less on agencies.


For starters, data platforms and online research tools enable insights teams to wrap up research much faster, and often take on the logistical hassles of data collection and analysis that used to be done manually by agencies. At the same time, the democratization of data across the organization can help companies become more consumer-centric. And qualitative technology is even helping companies engage with customers regularly and drill down into the specifics as needed.

When it boils down to it, online research platforms have become more efficient and cost-effective than just a few years ago, and they enable teams to conduct rapid research with a more targeted audience.

Are you ready to give online agile research a try?

Making the move to agile qualitative research sprints is easier than you think. With partners like Digsite, your team has access to conduct research themselves, along with consultant support when and where they need it.

For more information on how leading organizations are using Digsite conduct agile research and get better results, check out these case studies.

Ready to discover how agile teams build better products in less time? Get the tactics and techniques you need this year in our eBook, How Innovation Teams Use Agile Research to Build Better Products in Less Time.

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Monika Wingate

Monika Wingate

Monika Wingate is the CEO of Digsite, a leading agile qualitative research technology that makes it fast and easy for teams to learn from and iterate with consumers. She has more than 20 years of marketing, innovation and market research experience, including positions at General Mills, Pillsbury, and the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research at University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a frequent speaker and regular blogger on research topics.