Welcome to the blog post for the final day of ESOMAR’s Congress 2012 in Atlanta, covering this morning’s sessions are Kyle Nel, Anna Peters, and Erika Harriford-McLaren.

Research 2030: Innovation – From Insight to Foresight - Kyle Nel

Lee Markowitz (Ipsos Marketing) delivered a succinct presentation “What’s a Nice Insight Like You Doing in a Concept Like This? How marketers can avoid wasting good insights on poorly articulated concepts””

First the definition of an insight by Stan Sthanunathan. “Something that is retrospectively self-evident.”

There was some debate at the back end of the session about what the definition of an insight should be, but Stan’s rang most true for me. Lee gave a solid presentation and delivered some thought-provoking insights around insight testing and concept generation. Below are some of the main points.

1. Identify Aspirations of consumers

  • Consumer drivers: functional, emotional
  • Cultural drivers: ethical , aesthetical, cultural

2. Look at the consumer circumstance of use

3. Consumers have two faces

  • The real face of the consumer
  • The projected face of the consumer

4. Uncover aspirations→ uncover gaps

Three different types of insights

    1. Fundamental insights-lead to innovation and communication
    2. Product insights- product ideas
    3. Brand insights- lead to communications and positioning


Research 2030: Transformation – Visions of the Future - Anna Peters

A wise man once said that there are only two things we can be certain of in life, tax and death. However, attending the ‘transformations and visions of the future’ session I’d like to add a third certainly: that the future is surely going to look vastly different from the present and that the market research industry needs to evolve in accordance.

If we don’t, then our certain death will come about a lot sooner than we might have anticipated.

David Smith (DVL Smith) and Elisabetta Osta (Barclays) acknowledged this gloomy version of the future but offered a solution: instead of feeling sad that the traditional role of process driven and methodically-minded Market Researcher is under threat, David presented a compelling case for consumer insight to take centre-stage in organisations. His vision was full of technology, dynamic change, and true consumer understanding. Specifically, he encouraged market researchers to be:

  • Panorama analysts: to see the BIG picture and be the wide angle lens for the organisation.
  • Insight strategists: to be a brave, consultative partner for the business.
  • Insight Entrepreneurs: to do away with liner thinking, and instead use intuition to fill the gaps.
  • Business storytellers: forget simple presentations, and instead synthesise data into compelling narratives
  • Empathetic agents of change: to use intuition and convince the business to act.

Most exciting though is David’s belief that these skills won’t belong just to the market research department – he predicted that the most successful business will be the ones where these core skills are owned by the CEO. Indeed, he argued that by 2030 the best market researcher in the organisation will be the CEO. Of course, this will involve some heavy-duty structural changes for the organisation (a notion that I personally am very passionate about – click here for an extended commentary on this topic). But I whole-heartedly agree with David’s prediction that businesses that don’t take heed and increase the importance of consumers will have a very tough future.

Someone else that agrees with David is Shelly Zalis (Ipsos). Her position is that the future is being driven by consumers; and that consumers are digital, mobile and connected in ways that they have never been before. The implications of these ‘new consumers’ is huge, and particularly huge for the market research industry. With this in mind, Shelly led a war-cry and encouraged us to take a collective responsibility for the future of the industry: to innovate, to think differently, to act iteratively, and to run the risk of failure.

She argued that this is the only way that we’ll be able to keep up with the consumer, and in turn the only way that businesses will be able to succeed in an increasingly competitive market. (Shelly also mentioned hiring 30 year old CEOs; her point being that these youngsters are the only ones who truly get what the digital, mobile, connected world means. And as someone on the right side of 30 I would wholeheartedly agree – and if you’d like me to run your company I would be more than happy to oblige.)

The session was wrapped up by Matt Kleinschmit (Vision Critical). Matt is a fine example of someone who has put Shelly’s advice of innovating and thinking differently into action: for the last few years Matt’s pre-occupation has been on the intersection between research and technology, with a focus on virtual shopping and the best ways to use this rapidly evolving technique to answer his client’s issues.

His work has taken virtual shopping from being time consuming and clunky to being sleek, quick and real-time. Matt’s vision of the future is to use this technology in a way that even more seamlessly links the ‘real world’ with the virtual world. The details of his paper are, of course, fascinating. But for me the benefit of the session was to see how someone in the industry was taking the advice of previous two speakers and making it happen, today.

My View: I fully agree with the notion that the business landscape is changing – to keep up with the changing world of the consumer I’ve seen businesses increasingly demand faster insights, more creative storytelling, and more intuitive thinking. It’s a move away from ‘traditional’ research, but not a bad one. The challenge remains, however, to balance the move from convention without forgetting the rigor that built our industry in the first place.

In short, research may be dead (or at least dying) but long-live consumer insight.


Research Effectiveness Award - Erika Harriford McLaren

Last year ESOMAR created the Research Effectiveness Award in an effort to bring heightened attention to the ROI that research can bring to a business. Now in its second year, this award has continued to attract the best case studies and to bring about awareness of the value that research brings to an organisation.

This year’s finalist have once again succeeded in submitting case studies which highlight how research has accelerated excellence in a commercial capacity.

The first presentation by Joanne Davidson and Joan Young of Colmar Brunton Research in Australia focused on using research to effect behavioural change to lower the rate of drunk driving in South Australia. Using qual and quant research they developed a campaign which used humour and familiar language to capitalise on the finding that young male Aussie behaviour could be changed using the influence they have on each other. They launched the campaign and he results were quite amazing in that they found a 15% increase in drivers driving at or below the speed limit, 14% of drivers planned ahead, while 17% planned other means of transport. In the end the estimated 21 fewer deaths and 28 fewer injuries post campaign and calculated an ROI of 144 million dollars, post 1 million spent on the campaign.

The second presentation was also from an Australian submission by John Berenyi of Bergent and Andrew Hutchison of Treasury Wines Estates. They explored how to increase sales and satisfaction by laying out a store using insights on the way shoppers think and behave. By displaying wines by brand versus by colour or variety, they were able to see a 31% increase in sales and not only improve the shopper experience but also decrease costs related to staffing due to the ease of maintenance of the new layout. By recognising that getting the shoppers attention, they could significantly increase the chance of purchase, they brought both value to the client and the customer.

The last presentation by Florian Bauer of Vocatus Germany and Tobias Trevisan of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung examined pricing in relation to maintaining circulation while increasing ROI. By examining assumptions made by the newspaper, Vocatus found that often managers made decisions based upon “gut feeling” versus doing research and understanding the role of pricing strategy in the decision making process. Assumptions such as justifying higher prices for more pages proved wrong in that mental accounting showed the thicker the paper – the more cancellations ,i.e. there was too much content to digest. By employing behavioural economics and price assessment, they increased profits so significantly that the client noted that “This project was definitely the best investment in market research that the FAZ ever made” and recognised that the ROI was not just immediate but also came from the long-term strategy it gave them to excel through times of crisis.

While all three submissions were outstanding in both paper and in presentation, the International jury, which selected the winner from the previously submitted papers, selected Florian Bauer and Tobias Trevisan as the 2012 ESOMAR Research Effectiveness Award winners.

Congress Awards
Each year at the ESOMAR Congress, we celebrate excellence with a range of internationally renowned industry awards. The winners of this year’s Congress Awards were:

Best Case History Award
Who’s Afraid of Opinion Polls
Caz Tebutt, Tebutt Research, Fiji and Jenny Hayward Jones, Lowy Institute, Australia

Best Methodological Paper
Measuring Emotions Through a Mobile Device Across Borders, Ages, Genders and More
Rolfe Swinton, RealityMine, USA and Rana Al Kaliouby, Affective, USA

Best Paper Overall (The Fernanda Monti Award)
Research in a World Without Questions
Bob Pankauskas, Allstate Insurance, USA and Tom Ewing, BrainJuicer, UK

ESOMAR Excellence Award for Best Paper 2012
Qualitative 2011
Water Wows
Tapping the unleashed potential of mobile phones
Piyul Mukherjee and Pia Mollback-Verbic of Quipper Research, India

Final Keynote – Globalisation Explosion
Quite often of late, researchers have found that what was once the status qou western way of working, has now changed dramatically as strategic styles and economic conditions in developing and emerging nations influences global business more and more.

The closing keynote, Adrian Wooldridge, Schumpeter Columnist and Management Editor of the Economist, UK explored this phenomena in his presentation, “New Worlds of Innovation”. The current globalisation explosion has allowed us to produce goods wherever we want and with the right combination of price and quality. New technologies are driving the change and we can expect to see more according to Wooldridge.

He predicts that in our future we will be living in a more African world, as that continent continues to explode with development and population growth. He sees dependency ratios increasing and causing huge problems for families and welfare states as well as social revolutions such as working women and gay marriage bringing challenges to rising societies whose cultures may be adverse to the idea.

He sees the rise of frugal innovation – delivering value through simplification of both products and processes, as a key driver for success in a rising Eastern-centric world. This echoed strongly the same sentiment of ESOMAR Asia Pacific 2012 Keynote, Chris Jaques of Saatchi and should, in my opinion be taken seriously if one is not already doing so.

For Wooldridge the big 21st Century debate will be who is the best (China vs. India) i.e. rise of Eastern leadership and who will fare the worst (U.S.A vs. Europe). With predictions of China overtaking the USA in 2018 as the world’s leading economy, there is strong evidence that the locus of innovation is shifting dramatically from the rich world to the developing world. With the production of new items at a cost reduction of 70%, 80% and 90% , this will be key in new business growth. The BRICS and CIVETS need to remain on your radar.

So what does all of this mean for us –for the research world. It means that we can expect to our new business partners to be state capitalist, increasing diversified companies (like Tata) and more globalised universities  – all of which will create a new dynamic. We can expect to see more and more crowdsourcing, as the consumer on the ground continues to provide unique cultural and regional perspectives for R&D and strategy that we cannot glean ourselves. And lastly, we can expect more and more disruptive innovation , as artificial intelligence, personalised medical care and 3D printing change the way we think, live and work.

Quite a bit to take in, but I believe we are up to the challenge as long as we continue to engage in global events like the ESOMAR Congress to learn about our shifting world and morphing profession. The ideas, concepts and knowledge exchange that has occurred these last three days between delegates from over 70 countries, will help us keep our finger on the pulse of change and hopefully meet it head on.