The Future of Market Research: Combining Human Responses, Multimodal Inputs, and AI Analysis

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Marketers today are always seeking new tools to improve strategies and decision-making. Synthetic respondents, especially those powered by generative AI and large language models (LLMs), are among the latest trends. But how do these tools compare to traditional methods and real human responses?

Let’s try to break it down…

Understanding the Landscape

The Shortcomings of Synthetic Data

Synthetic data has its place, especially for quick, large-scale testing. However, it comes with significant shortcomings that limit its effectiveness for deeper insights:

  1. Lack of Human Nuance:
    • Synthetic data is generated based on models and algorithms, which means it often lacks the subtlety and depth of real human responses. It can’t fully capture the complexity of human emotions and contextual factors that influence opinions.
  2. Bias and Simplification:
    • Algorithms used to generate synthetic data can inadvertently reinforce existing biases or oversimplify responses. This can lead to skewed results that don’t accurately reflect the diversity of human thought.
  3. Reliability and Authenticity:
    • Synthetic data is essentially a simulation. While it can mimic patterns found in real data, it doesn’t provide the genuine insights that come from actual human experiences. This lack of authenticity can be a critical drawback when making important business decisions.
  4. Contextual Limitations:
    • Without real-world context, synthetic responses can miss out on the nuances of specific situations. They might fail to understand cultural subtleties, regional differences, or situational variables that real human respondents naturally account for.

Generative AI and LLMs are game changers, offering nuanced, diverse, and contextually aware responses. They bring a lot to the table—speed, scalability, and cost efficiency. But they still lack that human touch, the emotional depth that comes from real-life experiences.

Now, think about gathering real human responses. You get the richness of human nuance and authenticity, but it’s often slow, costly, and not easily scalable. It’s like capturing the essence of a story from different perspectives but with limited bandwidth.

The Perfect Combination

But what if we could combine the best of all worlds? Picture this: human responses enriched with multimodal conversational inputs—think text, voice, and even drawings—analyzed by advanced AI. This isn’t just a blend; it’s a symphony of data collection.

Here’s how they stack up:

FactorTraditional Synthetic DataGenerative AI/LLM-Powered Synthetic DataReal Human ResponsesHuman Responses with Multimodal Conversational Inputs & AI Analysis
NuanceLimitedImprovedHighVery High
Range of ResponsesNarrowWideVery WideExtremely Wide
Contextual AwarenessBasicAdvancedVery AdvancedExtremely Advanced
Speed and ScalabilityHighVery HighLimitedVery High
BiasPresentReduced, but still presentPresent, but can be mitigatedReduced, AI can help mitigate biases further
AuthenticityLowModerateVery HighVery High
ReliabilityVariableHigher, but depends on model qualityHighestHighest
Emotional DepthNoneSomeHighVery High
Cost EfficiencyVery HighHighLowModerate
AdaptabilityLimitedHighHighVery High
EngagementLowModerateHighExtremely High
InteractivityNoneSomeLimitedVery High

The Real Magic: Multimodal Input

Let’s bring this to life with a few examples. 

Imagine you’re surveying an enterprise sales team. Instead of just text responses, you ask them to draw a process diagram for handling leads. They sketch out their workflows, adding notes and annotations. AI steps in and analyzes these diagrams to find patterns and bottlenecks. Suddenly, you have a clear picture of where improvements can be made, all from a few simple drawings.

But it doesn’t stop there. The AI analysis can spot gaps in team alignment and understanding of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). For example, if different team members have varied approaches to the same process, it’s a sign of misalignment. AI can highlight these discrepancies, allowing for focused training to improve team performance and adherence to SOPs. This is crucial for maintaining CRM data integrity. With everyone on the same page, data entry becomes consistent and reliable, making your CRM a more powerful tool.

Or think about product development feedback. Testers not only describe their experiences but also sketch out ideas and speak about them. Multimodal inputs capture nuances that text alone might miss. AI sifts through this rich tapestry of data, highlighting the most impactful insights.

Voice Responses and Emotional Depth

Voice responses add another layer of richness to data collection. By capturing tone and emotion, we can gauge how respondents feel about a topic, providing deeper insights than text alone. For instance, when customers speak about their experiences, AI can analyze their tone to determine satisfaction levels, uncovering emotions that are hard to detect through text. This allows us to understand not just what they say but how they feel, leading to more empathetic and effective decision-making.

A New Way of Understanding

Customer journey mapping takes on a new dimension, too. Customers visually map their interactions with your brand, pointing out touchpoints and pain points. The result? A richer, more engaging view of their experience. AI segments and analyzes this data, helping you tailor your strategies with precision.

In healthcare, the possibilities are transformative. Patients can draw where they feel pain or describe symptoms verbally. AI synthesizes these inputs, providing doctors with comprehensive insights and improving diagnostic accuracy. Imagine a patient explaining their symptoms by speaking in their voice while pointing out specific areas on a diagram. AI can analyze both the spoken words and the visual input to give doctors a more complete picture.

Enhancing Accessibility with ADA-Compliant Intake

Multimodal inputs also allow for ADA-compliant survey designs, ensuring inclusivity. Respondents can choose the method they are most comfortable with—whether it’s speaking, drawing, or writing. This flexibility makes data collection more accessible and comprehensive. For example, a respondent with visual impairments might prefer to give voice responses, while someone with mobility issues might choose to draw or type their responses. AI can then seamlessly integrate these different types of data, maintaining the integrity and depth of the insights gathered.

Educational Feedback

In education, students illustrate concepts they’ve learned or explain problem-solving methods through drawings and voice. Teachers gain a deeper understanding of student comprehension, allowing them to adjust their teaching methods effectively. Imagine a student explaining a math problem verbally while drawing the steps they took to solve it. AI can analyze this combined input to identify areas where the student might need further help, offering personalized insights to educators.


AI can enable us to survey significantly more people by automating the entire process and, more importantly, making surveys more engaging. Through advanced natural language processing, AI can conduct conversations with respondents that feel natural and intuitive. 

This technology allows for dynamic decision logic, where the survey adapts in real time based on the respondent’s answers, creating a seamless and personalized experience. Automated conversations can occur via text or voice, ensuring a broad reach while maintaining high levels of engagement. This scalability, combined with the ability to analyze vast amounts of data quickly, means we can gather comprehensive insights more efficiently than ever before.

Seizing the Opportunity

Combining human responses with multimodal inputs and AI analysis isn’t just the future; it’s a revolution in market research. This approach merges the authenticity and emotional depth of human responses with the scalability and analytical power of AI. By leveraging AI to analyze diverse inputs, we can create highly engaging surveys that yield richer, more actionable insights.

But here’s the key takeaway: the real power of AI lies not in generating synthetic data but in enhancing the quality of our inputs and the depth of our analysis. AI should be used to facilitate more natural, interactive, and inclusive ways of gathering data. It can help us understand human emotions through voice analysis, capture complex ideas through drawings, and ensure ADA-compliant responses, making data collection more comprehensive and inclusive.

Focusing on AI’s ability to enrich inputs and perform sophisticated analysis opens up new avenues for understanding and innovation. Instead of debating the limitations of AI-generated responses, we should be exploring how AI can enhance our data collection methods and uncover insights that were previously out of reach. This perfect combination promises to unlock new levels of understanding and effectiveness in our market research endeavors.

The opportunities are endless, and the journey has just begun. By harnessing AI to improve how we gather and analyze data, we can make smarter, more informed decisions that truly resonate with our audiences. Let’s shift our focus to leveraging AI’s strengths in enhancing inputs and driving deeper, more meaningful analysis.

Ready to revolutionize your market research? Contact us today to learn how our AI-powered solutions can transform your data collection methods and uncover deeper insights.

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A marketing interim leader that creates strategic approaches blending media, technology, data, and storytelling to drive significant revenue for clients.

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