By Nino Gogoladze
The role of an ESOMAR country representative is not only about supporting the industry in the country, but also about helping citizens to be aware of specific local market conditions and future prospects.
Georgia is a small, pleasant, newly established post-Soviet country. Can you imagine how big the research sector might be in such a country? The reality is that the research market in Georgia is very small; the first Georgian research company, according to the official data of the Statistics Department, was founded in 1995- IPM Research.
So, where is the source for evaluation of this 20-year-old small market? The country’s economy is in crisis now, struggling to recover from the 2008 Russia-Georgia war; experiencing local currency inflation and low economic growth- all of which affect the research market. The above resulted in a decline in marketing research budgets and increase in political research budgets. There are few truly reputable research companies here possessing the sufficient skills, knowledge and experience, and so the competition is high.
For me, as an ESOMAR country representative, the first goal was to establish good relationships with association members. The dramatic effect of competition often nudged competing companies and professionals to avoid meetings, communication with the same audience, or the chance to share their experience. It was very important to break the ice and offer them a neutral communication format. Thus, my first goal was to encourage the seven current members of the association to become real ambassadors not only of their companies but also for ESOMAR.
At the 2015 ESOMAR congress in Dublin, the representatives’ meeting addressed the reasons for the low involvement of young people within the association and aimed to introduce them to the industry and society of researchers. Everyone agrees that youngsters should be encouraged to join the ESOMAR society, but there is uncertainty as to how to persuade them of the importance of joining. My idea was to arrange a meeting with students in local universities to promote association principles and benefits. Students of the sociology, psychology, statistics, and marketing faculties are the main target groups for meetings in which they hear directly from research professionals who not only promote the industry but also help a new generation to get information about the highest standards in the research industry.
The idea of the communication format helped me to involve most association members within the activities and proved helpful to students because all members of the association fully understand their responsibility to support future industry growth and to take part in the educational process of the next generation of researchers.
After receiving confirmation from key association members: Giorgi Abramishvili (Director, Market Intelligence Caucasus, Licensee of TNS Georgia); Tinatin Rukhadze (General Director, ACT Georgia); Gocha Tskitishvili (Director, IPM Research Georgia) to participate, the first meeting was planned in one of the biggest Georgian universities – Caucasus University. The eagerness of students of the sociology and psychology faculties there was impressive. Four presenters from the different Georgian research companies chose the best practice research projects to present the students, and each member talked about ESOMAR, the benefits they receive and the importance of ethical norms, codes and guidelines for the research industry.
Following that first successful meeting, we planned a second, and started thinking about inviting a guest speaker from ESOMAR to talk about a selected topic. A lack of budget meant that we were limited in options, so I chose to invite a foreign guest speaker from abroad to speak to attendees via online presentation rather than in the flesh. We were fortunate that ESOMAR helped by inviting Dr. Stephen Needel, Managing Partner of U.S.-based Advanced Simulations, to talk via e-conference. The resulting meeting was extremely interesting, informative and engaging and extended from the planned 2.5 hours to 3 hours. A journalist from local newspaper Georgia Today attended the meeting and wrote an article about it available here.
After that second successful meeting, the Georgian ESOMAR members’ group received an invitation from another university to hold a meeting there. It too, proved successful- in fact, we saw even greater motivation from students than in the first. We will continue this good work throughout 2017, and already have another university visit lined up.
Global events are of utmost importance for the information they provide, but small ones can also serve to change local environments and help the research industry’s current and future members. That is our aim and our current mission.
Nino Gogoladze is Managing Director at TV MR GE, Nielsen Television Audience Measurement’s official licensee