Digital market research: Exploring strengths and weaknesses compared to traditional methods

Digital market research has become the standard in many of today’s project designs. Nevertheless, traditional methods still have their merit, says Marissa Bell, Global Insights Manager at Reddit. In her upcoming talk at the virtual Insights Extravaganza 2023 conference, Marissa will compare digital market research and traditional methods – and share advice on how to best choose the right solution for your end goal.

IE2023: Without giving too much away – what is the core message of your talk and what would you like delegates to remember?
Marissa Bell talks digital market research
Marissa Bell, Reddit

Marissa: Gone are the days when the only way to glean an insight was by manually finding participants for a survey, or hosting an in-person focus group. We now have digital “focus groups” in the form of social media threads, and it is possible to accumulate a global sample of thousands of people for a survey in less than an hour.

The issue is no longer collecting the insights but choosing which source and methodology is the most impactful and persuasive for the overarching takeaway. This conundrum of too many options across the digital and traditional spectrum will only continue to grow. In my discussion, I explore the strengths and weaknesses of traditional and digital forms of qualitative research. I’ll include guidance on how best to evaluate each method to play to each of their strengths, depending on what the researcher’s end goal is.

IE2023: What motivates you to join the Insight Extravaganza conference and what are your expectations?

Marissa: Insights as a function is highly specialized and sought after within my company. While I lead a team of extraordinary Insights experts and researchers, we are more often than not the subject matter experts in the room. Cross-pollinating the latest cutting-edge techniques, methodologies, and approaches among other subject matter experts is invaluable. It encourages those in the field to improve the craft from the collective knowledge share. There will be new ideas shared, which will spark another’s creativity for an even better approach. Collaboration is at the center of evolving the field of Insights. The phrase two heads are better than one rings true here.

IE2023: How do you envision the future of market research and insights, and where do you see the industry heading?

Marissa: The Market Research field will need to adapt to effectively study and glean insights from people where they are in their day to day. The introduction of social media research, in the qualitative & quantitative sense, is a perfect example of how we need to adapt to different sources of data that illuminate the human experience. People spend their lives on various social media platforms, engaging and sharing different types of perceptions and behaviors. By effectively marrying slower, more nuanced traditional research approaches, with the vast source of social data at our fingertips, we can tell a more nuanced story behind our conclusions.

This same idea can apply to the next repository of human text, behavior, and perception. Whether that is integrating search text put into AI models or heatmaps within a VR landscape into our methodologies, we need to continue to be diverse and current in what data sources we include in our research.

IE2023: What in your opinion is one very true and one very false stereotype of the industry?

Marissa: Start with the false and end with the true. A false stereotype I have experienced in the industry is that Insights are interesting data points or behavior changes, but do not inform change for a business. When in fact, most researched behavior or perception change will directly impact businesses across verticals. Our job as an industry is to make sure the business implications are clear for every insight and piece of research shared. The “so what?” is the most important part of the work.

As for true stereotypes, I’ll take the flip side of my false. You always know you’re going to get something interesting or surprising when you meet with an Insights expert. They know about changes in behavior or shifts in the industry before anyone else does.

IE2023: What is the best advice that you have received on your journey in this industry?

Marissa: The best advice I’ve received is to never tie your ego to a research project or insights work. Every idea can be made better, and by remaining objective in your work, you enable space for your peers to push your ideas and projects forward. Never hold too dear to an idea, takeaway, or approach. Be willing at all times to utilize a different approach or idea, as long as it improves upon your original approach. This level of flexibility and openness allows you to produce the best possible work and becomes a lightning rod for collaborative creativity.

IE2023: Apart from digital market research, what should delegates talk to you about at Insight Extravaganza – do you have any particular personal interests, hobbies or extracurricular activities and engagements?

Marissa: I am an avid traveler with a suitcase packed at all times. I advocate how WFH and travel can improve our research by expanding our perspectives and understanding of global cultures. I’ll be visiting every country in Europe by the end of next year! Additionally, I enjoy reading epic fantasy series that have far too many pages to be natural. Finally, I love to cook and would love it if you sent me your go-to recipe to impress family and friends. I’m looking to expand my repertoire.

IE2023: Marissa, thank you very much. We look forward to hearing more about digital market research at Insight Extravaganza 2023 this July!

Read more from Marissa Bell and our other speakers in our blog covering Market Research Stereotypes at:

Speaker banner Marissa Bell, Reddit

IE banner
Avatar photo

Jens Cornelissen

Jens Cornelissen has been writing for over two decades – initially for general newspapers in his home country Germany. After receiving an MA degree in Communications, he joined a new media start-up in Amsterdam as consultant on new media technologies and country editor for two daily newsletters. In his current day job, Jens runs the global conference division for Merlien’s dedicated marketing research events. Jens is a trained journalist with a BA in Journalism from Westminster University in London and has authored several media industry reports and articles on mobile and media technology.

View all posts by Jens Cornelissen →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *