“Surveys are dead! Long live surveys!” We’re now living in the “Big Data” era—a world of voluminous, high velocity, and increasingly varied data sources. Surveys have been the “work-horse” of market research for nearly a century, but long lead times, small sample sizes, declining participation, and rising costs are making it far more difficult to conduct good surveys today than in the past.
Recent headlines from political polling fiascos in the U.S. and abroad have added fuel to the fire, raising serious doubts about whether accurate information can—and should—still be collected through interviews with a sample of the population. The reality, however, is far more complex. While alternate information collection techniques, such as analysis of social media, GPS, SKUs, sensor data, and the like, are being used today to supplant surveys in many cases, they cannot tell us “why” the same way as simply asking the question of a respondent.
And for most (if not all) clients, “why” still matters.