As generative AI technology continues to advance, its impact on various industries is becoming increasingly apparent, and the market research sector is no exception. In the weeks before and after IIEX Europe, we leveraged our conversational AI platform, inca, to gauge market research professionals’ thoughts about generative AI and its potential impact on their roles and organizations. As IIEX North America approaches this month, with a big focus on generative AI and MRX, it is timely to share this article which sheds light on the results – the hopes, fears, and opportunities that generative AI presents for the market research realm according to our survey participants.
A Competitive Edge for Organizations
A significant 76% of participants believe that generative AI has the potential to improve their organization’s competitiveness in the marketplace. This optimistic sentiment is shared among professionals from client-side, Platform/ResTech/Sample Provider, and agency backgrounds, although there are subtle differences in their perspectives.
Platform-side professionals, for instance, are more polarized in their views, with 18% rating a “very positive impact” but also 12% foreseeing a quite negative impact. In comparison, 12% of clientside and 13% of agency participants anticipate a very positive impact, while only 2% and 6%, respectively, expect a negative impact. Interestingly, clientside professionals are more likely to rate “no impact” at 22%, compared with 15% on the platform side and 17% on the agency side. Our hypothesis is that this may be because client-side researchers consider there are a greater range of macro factors at play which will impact their organization’s success.
Reaping the Benefits of Efficiency, Creativity, and Customer Management
Across the board, participants anticipate a range of benefits stemming from the adoption of generative AI, with the most frequently mentioned advantages relating to efficiency and productivity, creativity and decision-making, and customer management.
One agency professional highlighted the ability of generative AI to streamline processes, saying, “It can enable us to be more agile and deliver more in-depth insights fast. To do qual at scale, using the chat function to probe in volume instantaneously.” On the clientside, a participant emphasized the potential for continuous learning: “AI will help us continuously learn more knowledge about our customers.
AI will be an employee who never leaves the company. No knowledge will be lost in the process of learning.” A participant from the platform / panel sector focused on efficiency gain: “We get asked a lot of the same questions over and over again, which takes time out of our day….AI would allow us to focus more on our jobs (developing content, enhancing products, etc.).”
A Spectrum of Emotions on Personal Impact
We used a projective technique called Treeman, inspired by the Blob Trees model, to help participants articulate how they felt about the potential impact of generative AI on themselves and their roles. We found that participants expressed a mix of emotions and whilst excitement and curiosity about the technology’s capabilities are prevalent, there are also concerns that it could render certain jobs obsolete.
Despite these apprehensions, it is essential to note that the majority of participants expressed excitement and optimism about the opportunities and efficiencies that could be gained from generative AI. Many are curious and eager to learn more about the technology, while far fewer remain uncertain or skeptical.
One participant conveyed their enthusiasm about the future, stating, “Really looking forward to what it will bring to my role, to our industry. We should encourage it and make the most out of it.” Another participant shared their vision for new roles within businesses: “It is the future; let’s go! It opens opportunities for new roles in businesses – they might not realize it yet – but soon, almost every business will need a Lead AI Strategist.”
However, not all emotions were positive. Some participants expressed defensive sentiments, fearing job loss or diminished job value. One junior-level participant admitted, “I’d like to stand on the shoulders of AI, but afraid that it will take my role since I’m at a junior level.” Another participant confessed their reluctance to dive into the technology: “It sounds like too much work to find out how it works.”
Bridging the Knowledge Gap
In conclusion, the majority of market research professionals we spoke to are excited about the potential of generative AI for their personal careers and organizations. However, many feel they lack sufficient knowledge about the technology and may not know where to start, as these quotes illustrate,
“I am mostly excited about the possibility created by AI in delivering what used to be impossible or difficult from research, but in the meantime also wonder what that means to my role as a human insights professional and what skill set has become more and less important to develop further.”
“I am very interested in generative AI in general, and I’m always interested in getting others’ opinions on how they think it will impact our lives, including our jobs. I’m also interested to hear from anyone who has any early actual experience using generative AI in our profession.”
To capitalize on the benefits of generative AI, more knowledge-sharing and training are needed so that researchers and businesses alike can “stand on the shoulders of Generative AI” and make the most out of this groundbreaking technology.
As the market research industry continues to evolve, embracing generative AI could be the key to unlocking new levels of efficiency, creativity, and competitiveness. But, to ensure these opportunities are realized, a greater understanding of the technology, its practical applications, and its potential pitfalls must be cultivated among market research professionals.
We expect the future of market research may to be intertwined with the capabilities of generative AI, and the industry’s ability to harness its power will likely shape the landscape for years to come. As researchers and businesses strive to keep pace with technological advancements, it is crucial that they engage in open dialogue, share insights, and work together to navigate the challenges and opportunities that generative AI presents.
By staying informed and proactive in exploring the potential of generative AI, market research professionals can position themselves at the forefront of their industry, driving innovation and delivering invaluable insights for their organizations. The key to success lies in balancing the excitement and optimism surrounding generative AI with a practical, well-informed approach to implementation and adaptation. The journey may be filled with uncertainty, but the potential rewards for those who embrace the technology and invest in their understanding of it are undoubtedly vast.