Staying on top of consumer trends is a necessary task for all marketers. By watching what is happening among current and potentially future customers, marketers can gain insights that may affect their marketing decisions. However, while it is very easy to say this, actually having the time and, most importantly, the money to keep up can be a tough task. It is especially challenging for organizations that do not have a dedicated research staff, whose job includes collecting such research. Fortunately, while a marketing organization may not have the time to undertake their own research or the funds to support their own researchers, other options exist.
One way is to tap into inexpensive research sources. As we note in our Low-Cost Secondary Research tutorial, there are many alternatives for finding affordable research, such as information produced by industry trade groups, government sources, corporate white papers and academic research centers. Another option is to find information provided by cause-related groups, in particular, non-profits that focus on specific issues. Many of these not only conduct excellent research, they often offer their results for free. For instance, for information on how consumers use technology, one of the best free resources is the Pew Research Center. Pew offers unbiased research on many areas including studying consumers’ usage of the Internet, mobile communication and other technologies for many years.
A really good example of the valuable information provided by Pew can be found in their latest report titled, Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015, which asked questions of nearly 2,000 U.S. residents. Results provide a demographic view, including gender, age, ethnicity, education, income and residential location, of mobile messaging and social media usage.
For marketers, the report should serve as additional evidence consumers have adopted new behavior. Consequently, marketing strategy for nearly all organizations must consider the impact of these behavioral changes. This is especially important for smaller organizations, such as mom-and-pop companies run by people who are not particularly involved in these technologies. Whether smaller organizations understand it or not, consumer interaction is changing, and organizations need to adapt or face a potentially difficult future.
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