4 Responses

  1. Simon Chadwick
    Simon Chadwick at |

    A big HURRAH for Laurent and Finn for this call to arms! Many of us in the industry were trained by people – George Gallup, Budd Wilson, Jay Wilson, Phil Barnard, John Goodyear, Tim Bowles (the list goes on and on) – who would be highly confused by this debate around the value of research vs data vs insights. We were taught to speak up on our conclusions and recommendations for business solutions precisely because we had grounded the research we had done in rigour and context, using the right tools to frame the right questions. It’s no different today – as I said in one of my recent editorials, the landscape may have changed but the essential structure (the topography of research) remains the same.

  2. Jane Schek
    Jane Schek at |

    A timely and interesting article. There does seem to be a lot of research bashing at the moment, particularly in the start-up, innovation, business design community. These same people, however, and often in the same breath, preach human-centred design, user-centred development and co-creation. Well, if that’s doesn’t require research, I don’t know what does! We researchers need to take care that we are part of this. Who else has the experience, the know-how and the tools to deliver the data which any human-centered approach requires? As a seasoned qualitative researcher, I know I would definately fail at programming the next big app, and it makes me nervous to watch software developers interviewing “users”, devoloping personas and basing decisions on the outcomes. However, when you sit down with them and explain the difference between asking questions and carrying out a qualitative depth-interview, they are often open to learn and to delegate the data collection to an expert. We should ask ourselves whether the community implementing Design Thinking etc. are actually even aware of the existence of good research and good researchers and what they can deliver. Do we need to speak up here? What do other Esomar members think?

  3. Lucy Davison
    Lucy Davison at |

    Since I joined this industry, research has been a dirty word. But words have the meaning we give them. Rather than changing and floundering around for other words, I totally agree that we need to make the word research mean what it should – inspiring insights, rigorously grounded in context, clearly communicated and with direct and measurable actions. We need to do this by branding ourselves better – both as individual companies and as a whole industry. Well branded companies have clear meaning and benefits, they are confident and consultative and they are able to charge a premium for the added value they provide.

  4. Edward Appleton
    Edward Appleton at |

    Finn, Laurent – great post. Question: is your call to arms really about defending the word “research”? Or is it about coming to terms with a sea-shift in terms of:

    i) data availbility (all around us and increasing thanks to digital)
    ii) ownership (increasing “bypassing possibilities” of the Insights, sorry Research Department, DIY tools etc. )
    iii) Zeitgeist of “doing” (start-ups = do first, learn through that) rather than “investigating” (academic, slow, perfectionist)?

    If we are struggling with a sense of being undervalued, threatened even, we certainly aren’t alone – digital seems to be disrupting so many industries it’s breathtaking.

    Perhaps we are to blame for not having strongly risen to the challenge of making our industry particularly visible and attractive in a positive and sustainable way to eg relevant undergraduate audiences? Perhaps there are masses of successful efforts I’m not aware of – so please correct me if so.

    If we are looking left and right at other professions with which to compare ourselves without becoming rather glum, I don’t think the veterinary or medical professions are necessarily good ones – these are certified professions, like accountancy, and are ring-fenced, rightly so. I’d suggest looking elsewhere for inspiration about what we (individually, collectively) could do to improve our profile – classical music in the UK is perhaps an interesting analogy.

    Classical music is often derided as elitist, expensive, irrelevant; marketing in the UK has been pretty effective over the past 10 years in popularising classical music. I have no figures (anyone help there?) however, the BBC’s The Choir (first aired in 2006, still going…..) seems to have succeeded in capturing the imagination of a much wider audience through TV than had been historically the case.

    Or take a sub-segment of classical music: the popularity of early choral music in the UK – surely a niche category – has come on in leaps and bounds over the past 20 years thanks to imaginative, consistent marketing by the likes of John Eliot Gardiner, Peter Philips and Harry Christopher, to name just a few.

    My take out: MR (insights, consumer intelligence) needs to capture the imagination of key audiences (eg students, younger marketing professionals) differently – and respect that we need to go with the flow of the Zeitgeist….so: embrace key tenets of easiness, fun, rewarding, meaningful, and not overly indulge our inward-looking urges, methodological obsessions that leave many rather unmoved.


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