Caz Tebbutt

Jakarta 11-13 May 2014

In Jakarta in May we celebrated asian creativity at ESOMAR’s annual APAC event; creative by name and creative by nature.  Thank you Ron Gailey and your programme committee team for a fantastic conference and for leading by example.

APAC opened with a sand artist drawing live on stage, which we watched on screen as pictures and images came to life, including the logos of the sponsors.  Dan Foreman asked us if Indonesia is the next big thing, then paused to ask, “is it already?”.

APAC closed with the most amazing program summary I’ve ever seen, with Ron encouraging us all to embrace change and delivering his message in rhyme to his own version of ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ (“I am Ron I am, I am embracing change I am” …. and so on).

In between we witnessed many stimulating papers, and word amongst the audience was that presentations were better than ever before.  We learned to ‘hiss boo’ and ‘hoo hoo hoo’ as a crowd (thanks to the ever engaging and talented Pravin Shekar), we took part in a pub quiz (thank you Jon Puleston), and we got to see John Smurthwaite dressed up in a scientific lab coat, wearing his ‘respondent goggles’ and taking notes with a feather quill.  We took buses to the gala dinner with a police escort to navigate through that incredible traffic, and we ate very, very well at the conference hotel.

Jakarta is an amazing place, boasting the 4th largest population in the world, the 16th largest by GDP and the 29th in research spend. Growth is not just anticipated, it is already happening.  Harry Puspito told us the growth in middle class consumers is driving prospects, and Dawn Herdman convinced us that Indonesian teens are optimistic, energised and negotiating their way through tensions to achieve a balance between modern and global influences and Indonesian culture and traditions.

Alexandre Merza and Xiaoyuan Zheng showed that China is no different, and said mobility (physical, social) is the key to explaining China’s modernisation process.  Their Gen Z is growing up in a hedonistic paradise where everything is laid out in front of them, yet they are searching for stability and find it hard to realise their dreams.  People are getting lost in all of the contradictions from losing their roots and heritage while desperately wanting all that the modern world offers, creating tensions and trust issues.  This negotiation between modernity and tradition, and the role of digital technology in daily life as a facilitating mechanism, has huge implications for us researchers in terms of how we reach people, how we talk to them, what we ask them and how we ask them.

Brand marketers are head of us in some areas.  Satyam Viswanathan showed us how brands in India are using this tension to drive brand resonance and talked about ‘sitting on cultural fault lines’.  Aldo Fajar and Deepak Bengani went a step further and showed us a brand that has been built entirely on these tensions, thereby changing the paradigm and creating ‘truly relevant fashion’ for the conflicted woman of today.  Geeta Lobo and Manjunathu Desai told us than in spite of all of this, mum really is the best cook in the world, as our food conditioning happens at home, thereby giving us enduring links to our traditions and families.

So what should we researchers do in this world of change, negotiation and inner tension?  We must embrace change ourselves.

We could mix up our evaluation tools to keep it interesting, we could include internal stakeholders in our online communities and we could use ‘co-researchers’ selected from our respondent online communities to add perspective (Erica Van Lieven and Tom De Ruyck).  We could use facial coding science (Jay Turcot and Pankaj Jha) or review the facial imaging of happy, surprised and sad shoppers (Farquhar Stirling and Dwinarizki Setyorini).  We could try ‘dramaturgy’ and get our respondents performing for us (Sandeep Dutta and Kavita Rahman Gulati), or we could consider emotional conjoint (Samy Mardolker and Amit Dogra).  Clients want creativity and want research to help achieve it (Joe Wheller, Charles Wigley and Leonardo O’Grady).

One thing is for certain, we must shorten our surveys and make them better for respondents, or they might just stop answering them altogether (if in doubt, put on those respondent goggles!). Thank you to Jon Puleston for that masterclass, and congratulations on winning best presentation.

The mobile, of course, is at the centre of this digitial technology landscape that the consumer now occupies.  If the mobile is changing people’s lives then it makes perfect sense that we MRers need to embrace change to accommodate this.

Our opening keynote speaker from The Coca Cola Company, Cristina Bondolowski, inspired us when she explained that the Coca Cola brand lives on and endures through understanding people, and revealed that a staggering 90% of the increasingly important social media content on the brand is not generated by Coca Cola but by its consumers.  This is a key outcome of this conference – the acceptance that we can now move with the consumer, understand the complexity of consumer life in even more detail and situational context than ever before, all because the consumer carries a mobile and lives at least partly through its technology.

Norbert Wirth and Susie Zeng showed us that data collection via mobiles can be live and is taken in real time, giving great potential to really understand consumers.  In this paper we learned about eating and drinking habits using the mobile for qualitative research.

Andrew Steel talked about using mobile to make big decisions because it captures what consumers feel as well as what they say and do.  Delivering real time product evaluation with pictures showing the context of consumption helped a client to develop new products and new positioning options.

James Burge and Sally Joubert used mobile to go to the State of Origin rugby league with viewers in Australia, and then to the SuperBowl in USA, providing ‘in the moment’ research in place of traditional ad testing.  It was a success, was faster and contributed non-verbals to analysis.  “Are we getting to the end of the beginning of mobile research?”, postured James and Sally.  If mobile is here to stay then surely it is time we stopped saying ‘wow’ and moved the conversation to how we can best stretch and use this digital technology.

Sally Wu and Rob Valsler did just that.  By understanding how mobile is being used they have been able to drive media consumption through innovation.  They told us that mobile is the future of media where ‘Affluents’ are concerned, and anything app based has high appeal because it is perceived as efficient.

Aarti Bharadwaj and Sweta Agrawal shared a banking case study with much better ROI and better performance on all KPIs from digital spend when compared with traditional advertising channels.  The bank doubled its digital spend and saw an immediate impact.

Online shopping is growing and is of key importance to many of our clients.  Kim and Kwon revealed that 87% of smartphone shoppers research what they will buy online, and 60% proceed and buy online.  They used big data to help them form typologies of online shopper journey types, and explained ‘quicktrack shoppers’ and ‘slowtrack shoppers’.  Congratulations on winning the best paper.

Jingyuan Zhao and Whye Loon Tung used remote sensing data from satellite imagery to improve their classification accuracy for a retail audit establishment survey. Imagine a future when that could be done by mobile app.  Geodata and GPS tracking are just two examples of the type of data mobile platforms can offer us already.

Ron Gailey said at the outset that while mobile technology and big data discussions focus on tools and approaches, we must also remember that people are just as important to us; people making connections and associations.  So it was a fitting reminder of the human element when our closing keynote, Tri Mumpuni from IBEKA, gave a heartfelt presentation on social business and the importance of having connections between local communities and their resources.  She talked of empathy and morals and showed us some remarkable projects being conducted in Indonesia.

ESOMAR did its bit, through the ESOMAR Foundation local charities program.  We heard from Bali Kids, an inspiring charity, and had the tremendous pleasure of giving them a cheque for 83 million Indonesian Rupiah through the ESOMAR Foundation (about US$ 7600).

So APAC is over for another year and all of its 300+ delegates from over 30 countries have much to think about.  Our global industry is valued at US$ 39.1 billion and we are recording world growth at 0.7% per year.  The APAC region is remarkably different showing 4.8% growth in 2012.  Imagine what we can do as a region if we truly embrace the change in our industry and look for the future opportunities it will give us.

Perhaps we could all try to apply the 70/20/10 rule that Coca Cola uses; spending 70% of our time doing what we know and doing it well, spending 20% of our time stretching into using new methods to supplement this, and spending our final 10% of our time getting way out of our comfort zone on higher risk, ‘out there’ creative approaches.  The message is to Celebrate Asian Creativity through our own capacity and willingness to embrace change.

Caz Tebbutt is ESOMAR Representative for Fiji and the South Pacific