Designing tomorrow’s insights: 4 trends in research design

Our Chief Platform Officer, Annelies Verhaeghe, shares her take on how you can engineer research activities for impact.

Woman writing
Woman writing

Annelies Verhaeghe

09 August 2023

2 min read


Marketing research used to have a single focus on rational thinking by capturing people’s thoughts and beliefs. But this is not enough. Understanding human behaviour is complex, and it’s rather by mixing different perspectives that we can get a 360° view and understanding. In this blog, I’ll share four trends to revamp your research design and engineer research activities for impact.


#1 Closer to the moment of truth

In-context activities will allow us to gain insights to improve in-market performance. At Human8, for example, we are looking at technologies like geofencing, NFC or even sound capturing to drive in-the-moment research. Integration of activities with other data ecosystems like CRM databases or social media data will become the new norm. This will move research to the here and now.


 #2 Always-on and in-sync

In this VUCA world (i.e. Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous), brands need to remain ‘in sync’ with the changing consumer reality. Having a group of consumers help companies to be their eyes and ears will be crucial. This will drive the need for activities which lower barriers for people to self-report, either by adapting research activities to run on natural channels like WeChat or Instagram, or by creative crowdsourcing activities that facilitate consumer-insight spotting.


 #3 Need for speed

The speed of activity execution has become a hygiene factor. Although the numeric nature of quantitative research allows for automation, I think the big transformation will happen in qualitative research, where we will aim for deep yet scalable insight generation. Generative AI will drive this evolution by supercharging data and insights.


 #4 Consumer Connect initiatives

Finally, it takes two to tango, especially when wanting to become truly human-centric. I believe we should develop a new type of activity that stimulates internal stakeholders in digesting, experiencing and acting upon insights – bringing consumers and internal stakeholders together. Today, we are already conducting video call sessions aimed at evoking consumer empathy – our Consumer Connect program. But moving forward, I’m convinced we should engage internal stakeholders in activities with augmented or virtual reality to truly bring consumer stories to life.


“Insights should be one of the most critical business functions, we must re-invent it”, dixit Indra Nooyi, former PepsiCo Chairman and CEO. The need to put insights at the heart of all marketing decisions is core in driving company growth. Steered by this need to show a ‘return on insights’, I expect that research activities will be engineered increasingly for impact.


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