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A Vision of the Future of Marketing

April 30, 2013

scaleMcKinsey & Company just released this compelling report entitled “The coming era of ‘on-demand’ marketing”. It is thought-provoking and basically rings true for me. This vision of “on-demand” marketing is driven by big data and the article is a call to large companies to begin establishing the data collection systems that will enable them to effectively invest in and execute a full range of “touch points” as their customers interact with their brands. I particularly appreciate the infographic labeled “Scenes from the future of on-demand marketing” (which is just past the opening section), that provides an example of the many touch points resulting from a typical consumer purchase.

I plan on reading this report at least a few more times to develop an understanding of the role Next Step Consulting plays throughout this evolution. Overall, I am confident that companies will always need to understand the needs and desires of their customers while conceiving new products, as well as testing their “user-friendliness” while they are being developed. I believe that big data will help to identify general needs and directions for new products but expect that qualitative research will continue to be the best tool to flesh out the details indicated by the statistical trends.

I estimate that currently at least 80 percent of my projects relate to new product development and initial marketing preparations. But once a product is established in the market, is there a role for qualitative market research throughout the process of “on-demand” marketing as envisioned by McKinsey & Company? From my perspective I see many opportunities related to gauging the nature of each touch point. I know that I receive far more survey requests than I used to after I make a purchase or interact with customer support personnel. My guess is that this type of immediate, ongoing and relatively inexpensive type of testing will be the norm of the future. I would also guess that online communities and panels might become increasingly important as companies follow the mood, needs and desires of their “tribes”.

Of course, time will tell. The report also emphasizes the need for consumers to trust and cooperate with companies in terms of providing and allowing the use of personal data. No doubt there will be a direct link between the need for qualitative research and the quality and reliability of the information gleaned from big data.


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