Kantar's Profiles Blog

Connecting Technology, Disconnecting Culture: How Will this Affect Online Marketing Research?

Posted by Ralph Risk on Sep 28, 2015

Technology is changing; devices are providing infinite more ways to connect; but are they creating a disconnected culture?

When I grew up there were no mobile phones, the internet had not been created and our most connected game was a snake eating dots on a BBC Micro. Our life was still about connecting, but without the benefit of ‘devices.’ From a telephone call to face-to-face meeting, any arrangements we made needed to be confirmed, agreed and honoured; there was no option to change on the fly through an email or text. This meant that while it may have been difficult to connect widely, the connections themselves tended to be stronger and more personal.

While we have ever more ways to connect, and can get closer and closer to more and more people, is this ‘connectiveness’ really an illusion? As we move to the hyper digital consumer, are we in danger of forgetting how we used to build relationships? Are we heading for a new dawn of the ‘distance connected’? And, how will these changes ultimately affect online marketing research?

This was recently brought into focus when organising a social get together after work. It was only as I was travelling to the venue, did I realise that I really do not know how many people would actually turn up and how many would cancel or just not bother to join. The real eye opener for me was how I have grown to accept this as normal behaviour, and probably behave in a similar way. Our connected devices have given us an easy out, as in our minds, as long as we ‘tell’ someone then that is ok – even if that is 10 minutes before we are supposed to meet. This got me thinking…

Has it become too easy to ‘accept’ invitations and connections?
Is this trend going to continue until our connectedness is a virtual reality of personal contact?
How will these new behaviours affect our surveys?
How do we re-engage with our respondents once they’ve opted out or ‘cancelled an invite’?

We all know it is increasingly hard for us to engage consumers in research. But what can we do about it? Well, perhaps we need to take a long hard look in the mirror and to ask ourselves, what do we like about how we interact ourselves and what do we really dislike? What would make us engage with us?

In a world of ‘connectiveness’ I think it is still our responsibility to remember that the best connections are ones that involve a little personal risk. We need ensure that we maintain a personal responsibility to engage in our connections and honour them. We need to apply these same standards to our panels, we need to listen and learn. Panellists provide insight into their everyday behaviours – they tell us what they eat, who they talk to, where they shop, what they buy and where they work. Managing the panellist experience is fairly straightforward, as we can craft a streamlined invite process, and create dynamic surveys, but things have changed drastically in the age of connectiveness. We need to engage in a far more personal manner; surveys that emphasize the respondent as an individual will likely be rewarded with loyalty and authentic, real insights.

While we may not change the world, we can ensure that we change our own sphere of influence – and develop better, closer connections for ourselves and for our panellists…as I truly believe that ‘in my day connections were better’ - but we can change that.

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Topics: panelist engagement

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