Alina Serbanica

Bucharest, March 23rd-24th, 2014. A beautiful and sunny spring day, an “art-nouveau” venue in Bucharest, Romania and an enthusiastic audience of approximately 100 participants representing more than 15 countries – most of them delighted to be part of this event as being for the first time in Bucharest, with the aim to explore the old part of the city, to discover the local Romanian cuisine, and ready to experience the third edition of the ESOMAR CEE Research Forum while looking to explore the answers to questions such as”

“How different and similar is the CEE region in comparison to the rest of the world?”

“How is market research playing a pivotal role in breaking boundaries and facilitating a new cultural and business mind-set for the region?”

Michael Koch (Founder and CEO, Kalon Group, USA), opened the Research Forum as keynote speaker. His passion and love for the CEE region, in particular for the IT capabilities countries like Romania and Bulgaria can bring into the research industry, made all participants think about the pivotal role this regional high technology intelligence should play in moving from provider to innovator, and transforming the CEE region to a leader in the digital revolution we are living.

The ESOMAR CEE Research Forum journey let the audience discover and experience interesting research cases studies, providing all participants with meaningful insights.

  • Psychological variables can be stronger than demographic ones and lead to unexpected consumption patterns, significantly changing the way the client has to position its brands/products and the way it is communicating to consumers.
  • Cultural heritage can induce a unique consumers perception, reaction and behaviour to different stimuli (advertisements, promotional campaigns), a point of differentiation for the CEE regions as opposed to Western ones.
  • Deconstruct the client business should be a rule followed by all researchers. There is a high expectation for better understanding of the clients’ business, to better anticipate their needs, and to better consult the client for the decision making process. This is the crucial step forward that researchers must take to deliver outstanding research outcomes and become research masters.
  • Market research is not about just listening, there is not one way to collect data and communicate – this is the right time to let consumers step in, literarily and virtually! Consumers have a lot to talk about, they want to be partners in the research, they want to express in a more vocal way the opinions, thoughts and ideas they have about products/services, brands and their needs and expectations. Consumers are no longer passive, waiting for companies to create and invent the products/services. Consumers make the choice to be part of co-creation, are innovative and can drive business environment beyond the journeys experienced so far. Structural collaboration with consumers in Central and Eastern Europe is the reality, is the present.
  • Be creative! Market Research industry should be more self-confident in proving to its clients that our new methodologies and innovations are effective, bring more powerful mechanisms for business boost, and take both clients and consumers into a new era where the digital revolution is present. Technology reshapes our way of accessing respondents and interacting with different segments of the population, our way of thinking and analysing the data, which is no longer “the data”, it has become big data, has multiples aspects and with different angles of interpretation and understanding.

CEE region is not so different from the rest of the world. This is an area where the digital revolution is flourishing thanks to the increase in mobile devices and technology availability and presence. This has led to high interest from consumers and allows them to play a creative role in re-inventing consumption patterns and behaviours.

Words like digital, mobile, social community are well-established words in the researchers’ vocabulary and important ingredients of respondents day-to-day lives. There is no doubt that we are living in the age of addiction to digital and mobile. The question is: Are we well balancing the digitalisation with the basic values of our lives, as we consciously accept the high technology to step in?

Alex Drozdovsky (Creative Strategic Lead – BBDO Worldwide, Russian Federation) provoked the CEE Research Forum audience with a new concept: Digital detox – the ultimate guide to switching off! One simple big envelope – brown recyclable paper – inviting the audience to place in all the mobile devices they have and to take a short break without checking emails and without chatting on the social communities participants are heavily engaged with. Experience the effect of detoxification as a positive and needed change from time to time.

Will be this a new trend in the industry: to track, monitor and measure people digital behaviour by taking on board a new dimension – the digital detox – besides the passive measurement and all the other fascinating experiences digital and mobile brings? The CEE Research Forum let the audience take away this question mark and be creative to invent new methodologies to answer.

A respectable conference never ends without rewarding the key contributors to its content and success. The ESOMAR CEE Research Forum made no exception to the rule and disclosed two awards nominations for this Forum edition:

The Best Paper Award (voted by the ESOMAR CEE Research Forum Program Committee):  Brand Growth 2.0 – The Only Global Language in a Local Dialect – Raluca Raschip, GfK Romania, Romania.

The Best Presentation Award (voted by the CEE event’s participants): Telling visual tales – The Role and Condition of Data Visualisation in the MR Industry – Mateusz Galica, TNS Polska, Poland

The most important take away from the Forum is that the research industry continues to have new provocations to find answers to the different questions marks arise. One important outcome is that the Eastern European countries, while preserving their own identities, have become more connected to Western Europe and the rest of the world thanks to new technologies and social media developments.

Borders are vanishing in the digital space where hyper-connected consumers are on the rise. And Market Research industry will continue to be part of and key contributor to this journey.

Alina Serbanica, ESOMAR Representative Romania – Committee Chair, Senior Vice President, Ipsos Group