Information and communication technology has not only revolutionized how people communicate, but has also changed customer behavior, decision making, brands and market. It is difficult to imagine Market Research today without advanced tools and software solutions for capturing, analyzing, interpreting and visualizing results. But working with the new tools and understanding their strengths and weaknesses in a project context is not something that can be learned in an abstract fashion. With the “Prosumer Decision Labs” we are building project workshops in which students and graduates get the opportunity to work with state-of-the art market research technology, with a particular focus on the merging of "consumer" and "prosumer" that is leading to new offerings and behavior changes. Under guidance from experts, they apply the tools to business questions in real markets – from qualitative research and surveys to social media analysis and quasi-experimental approaches. Additionally, the labs can be used to run behavioral economics experiments and innovation workshops.
Especially in fast-moving environments of developing and emerging markets, it is important to have such an experimental laboratory in order to understand different paths of development. Market research in Kenya or China does not merely follow the established trails of industrialized countries. Instead, these countries are leapfrogging whole technology generations like fixed-line phones or desktop PCs. Emerging markets also often develop surprisingly elegant solutions using a “fast-and-frugal innovation” paradigm. If the objective is to not only observe but truly understand the development in Africa and Asia, one should engage with their culture and market mechanisms and be prepared to take new paths also methodologically.