Research Trends: Other Technologies
In addition to the Internet, marketing research has benefited from other technological improvements including:
- Global Positioning Systems (GPS) – GPS enables marketers to track inventory and even track sales and service personnel. GPS is also becoming a common feature of customers’ communication devices, such as smartphones, offering marketers the potential to locate and track customers.
- Virtual Reality and Simulations – Marketers can use computer-developed virtual worlds to simulate real-world customer activity, such as in-store shopping. While this research is mostly performed in a controlled laboratory setting, there are emerging virtual worlds on the Internet (e.g., Second Life) where marketers can test concepts and communicate with customers.
- Tablet Computers – The rapid advance of small, highly portable computers has significantly enhanced researcher’s ability to capture user information during one-on-one research gathering. Developments, including Apple’s iPad and other low-profile computers, allow researchers to capture and transmit consumer response to surveys without the need to request consumers move to special survey facilities. The tablets also enable the consumer to provide feedback on visual issues, such as offering evaluations on advertisements presented on the tablet.
- Data Analysis Software – As we will see in the Planning for Market Research Tutorial, the research process not only includes gathering information, it also involves a full analysis of what is collected. A number of software and statistical programs have been refined to give marketers greater insight into what the data really means. In fact, everyday spreadsheet programs, such as Microsoft Excel, now offer advanced statistical tools that previously were only available with more expensive computer programs.
- Neuro-Research – Companies have begun to explore the use of brain-imaging technology for marketing research. Using such technologies as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors, researchers scan the brains of research subjects as they are exposed to neuro-stimuli, such as imagery and sound, in order to detect the effect the stimuli.