Last week, GreenBook announced the publication of the 14th edition of the GreenBook Research Industry Trends report, based on a survey of 2,229 researchers from across the US, Europe and Latin America. As in past studies, the split was roughly 80% suppliers/20% clients: 1,786 suppliers and 443 clients. The survey asked, among other things, about usage of quantitative and qualitative research techniques.

Quantitative Research

Online surveys continue their growth, rising from 78% of respondents using online surveys in 2012 to 82% in 2013. Mobile surveys showed a similar 4% jump, reaching 27% usage in 2013. Both techniques are cannibalizing CATI (Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing), face-to-face interviews, CAPI (Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing), and mail surveys. Biometrics and neuromarketing, despite the attention received by industry thought leaders, were only used by 5% of respondents.

GRIT 2014 quant research usage

The proportion of overall projects using a particular technique is directly proportional to the percent of respondents using that technique (correlation coefficient of 0.958). Online and mobile surveys make up nearly half (49%) of all quantitative projects worldwide, representing 61% of projects in North America but only 28% of projects in South America and 23% in the Middle East and Africa.

For clients, online surveys represent 52% of their projects compared to 43% of suppliers’ projects, reflecting the ease of bring such research in house with the range of EFM (Enterprise Feedback Management) systems available today.

Qualitative Research

While many focus group facilities are expanding their support for other activities, including mock trials and product testing, researchers still value focus groups more than any other qualitative approach, with 59% of respondents using the technique in 2013, virtually unchanged from the year before. Likewise, IDIs (In Depth Interviews) still maintain their strong appeal.

GRIT 2014 qual research usage

No emergent qualitative technique dramatically increased. However, chat (text-based) online focus groups fell from 25% usage last year to 10% usage this year (arguably that was overreporting in 2012 rather than any significant shift).

As with quant, the proportion of overall projects using a particular qualitative technique is directly proportional to the percent of respondents using that technique (correlation coefficient of 0.962). The top 8 most widely used techniques are also the top 8 techniques as a proportion of projects, in the exact same order. (Please keep in mind that these proportions are a respondent average not an industry average: a respondent who conducted 100 qualitative projects was not weighted differently than a respondent who conducted 10 projects.)

In-store/shopping observations made up twice the proportion of qualitative projects in South America and the Middle East/Africa (~12%) as they did in North America, Europe, and Asia/Oceania (~6%). Focus groups and in-person IDIs were the #1 and #2 techniques regardless of region.

This year’s report includes an update to the GRIT Top 50 Innovative Firms along with commentary from many industry thought leaders. You can freely download the GRIT Report, Winter 2014 from the GreenBook blog.

Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

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Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.