Over the last few years, hardly a week passes without news of yet another innovative marketplace “disruption”. Lately, marketplace disruptions seem to be bursting forth more often and on a grander scale. Most notable: the recent, surprising announcement of Jeff Bezos’s bold move to purchase and incorporate Whole Foods into the Amazon mega-enterprise. The announcement kicked-off a rapid succession of speculations and opinions on business objectives and potential scope of disruptions to follow.

There are now expectations of high-end platform disruptions not only from Amazon, Walmart, and other major online and retail channel enterprises, but also from other verticals.

“Time Compression” Impact of Digital/Social Media

At RTi, we have been keenly aware of the impact of the digital lifestyle, its compressive effects on time, on consumer purchasing behavior, and on the successful implementation of survey research.

Social media and other digital channels are key pathways for engaging and surveying consumers. But the universality, speed and omnipresence of the medium has inadvertently led to an unintended disruptive reality of its own:

Digital media experience increasingly creates and imparts a “rushed” environment and sped up behavior in all life facets, including:

  • Social and commercial engagement
  • Shopping and purchasing dynamics
  • Leisure activities
  • Entertainment
  • Food preparation and consumption patterns
  • Brand communication
  • and Survey Research

Time compression, and with it, impatience with participation in survey research, is intensifying with each new generation.

  • Millennials (Gen Y) “grew into” more frequent engagement with a widening array of digital communication avenues than preceding generations.
  • The next generation, “Digital Natives” (Gen Z) are the first generation born into and raised in a digital environment…the “constantly connected” (often referred to as “millennials on steroids”). Digitals are even more time-compressed than Millennials.

MR Surveys:  Challenges/Opportunities

In this new reality, historically proven survey research methods are becoming increasingly challenging, or even inappropriate for today’s time compressed, constantly connected consumer targets, especially Millennials and the initial wave of Digitals. Consumer Insights professionals and marketers should expect the time compression effects and shorter attention spans to manifest more broadly and intensify as more Digitals come of age in the mainstream.

Surveys need to be optimized to successfully and effectively represent, engage, and gain relevant insights from Millennials and emerging Digital consumer targets along with more mature consumers. What does that mean? Simply, that development of more efficient tactical and strategic survey designs are crucial for time compressed, shorter attention span targets.

Recommendations to Accommodate Your Time-Compressed Respondents:

Reduce Actual Survey Length

  • Aim for concise, to the point survey language. Lengthy question language and instruction should be avoided.
  • Keep screening sections limited to qualification essentials. Complex, lengthy screeners can dampen respondent enthusiasm before they even get to the main interview sections.
  • Consider conducting shorter but more frequent survey research (“ABM”… always be measuring).

Creatively Engineer Survey Experience to Reduce Apparent Survey Length

  • Use creative, fun survey modules and gamification to increase respondent engagement, enthusiasm, and attentiveness.
  • Include brand logos, animation, emojis, photos, color, video clips, etc. to boost interest and engagement.

Incorporate Advanced Analytics to Make Efficient Use of Your Limited Time with Respondents

  • Leverage analytics to avoid lengthy, tedious attribute rating lists, especially when the multiple brands, concepts or value propositions need to be evaluated.
  • For example, consider advanced analytic designs such as MaxDiff, which are not only less tedious and more time-efficient for respondents, but also yield more effective and powerful analytics and insights.

The status quo must always be challenged. The digital era and its new inhabitants must be considered as we continue to seek actionable business answers for our clients.