By Jack Miles

Monday 7th November saw Lightspeed GMI host an evening of presentations that showcased the best of the UK’s contribution from the recent ESOMAR Global Congress.

Although ESOMAR’s UK reps Lucy Davison from Keen As Mustard and Crispin Beale of Chime Insight & Engagement introduced the evening as a simple putting together of presentations with no consistent theme, by the end, a central key theme had in fact come through.

Presentations were given by Luke Sehmer of Research Now, Emma Kirk of Join The Dots and Alex Wheatley of Lightspeed GMI and collectively they educated the audience on 5 over arching areas:

E is for…..Entry Point

Fundamental to the future of our industry is our ability to continually get people to participate in research. A multi-market study by Research Now highlighted that key to this is to gain participant trust with regards to how we use their information. Failure to do this will result in resistance to share sensitive and accurate information. To avoid this, we need to be more open with our code of ethics and our industry’s purpose.

E is for…..Engagement

Once we garner public participation, it is important we engage with them in relevant and meaningful ways. Central to this is ensuring questions are asked in a sensitive way and in the context of relevant behavior. It is not just how we ask questions that can improve participant engagement, but the mediums we use to answer them also need considering. Emma Kirk highlighted that whilst 6 million emojis are used a day by brands and consumers, they are lesser seen in research. To engage with participants properly, we need to use their language/images – as an industry we are failing to do this.

E is for…..Empathy

When we engage with participants we must do so in an empathetic way. First and foremost we have a duty of care with regards to how we use participant data. In an age where the general public are more wary than ever regarding how information is used and cyber crime is on the rise, communication of how we safeguard sensitive information has never been more important. We also need to show more empathy towards cultural interpretation in terms of how we interpret the modern consumer language that is emojis. If we want to use the same language as consumers we need to be wary that vast geographical interpretations exist.

E is for…..Educate

Across all of these areas, research practitioners have a responsibility to educate key audiences – research buyers, the general public, potential future talent – about a number of areas. This education remit spans how we should treat participants of research, the reality of what we do, engagement methods and the problems posed by how we ask questions. Doing this will not only increase the knowledge of what we do among our key audiences, but also position the deliverers of this education as subject matter experts.

E is for…..Entertain

From comedic research related hash tags, to humorous emoji usage, to laughter inducing IAT output on Trump, the ESOMAR UK Meet-up delivered a very light hearted, but educational, evening. The wider implication of this is that research can entertain an audience and this is important as we face an ever-growing battle to engage senior business decision makers. Is the next chapter of client engagement to entertain them in an educational way? Given that ‘data-tainment’ is an existing method of fan engagement in the sports world, it is a real possibility.

Across all of these areas, a common theme – one that is very simple, yet of great importance – stuck out for me. Despite the world going data and technology crazy, we are a people business. How we attract, engage and empathise with participants is the nucleus of our industry. Whilst how we educate and entertain them are our battlegrounds for future success.

By Jack Miles

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