Many people have great ideas, but not all good ideas have demand in the market; research is the only way to learn if the ideas can be executed. Research has always been the key when starting new projects; companies try to figure out their targets everyday and marketers have been trying to think like a customer in order to compete with others in the same industry.
In traditional marketing research, people hand out forms and “ask” people to fill in the information; gathering primary data this way not only can cost companies a fortune, but the data might not also be accurate.
I’m sure you have been asked to fill in annoying forms, most people don’t really take forms too seriously. In psychology, human beings always tend to avoid giving too much information to others (although you try).
Thanks to social media! data is everywhere these days, you just have to know how to get it, where to get it and how to analyse it. It’s like having hidden microphones on everyone around the world (of course without violating privacy policies), and listening to them at the same time about one single thing.