A report from the MRSI’s 26th Annual Conference

By Umesh Kumar 

I recently had the pleasure to attend the Market Research Society of India’s 26th annual conference, whose theme was “Looking Beyond”. Today, in an era of obsession with data, this metaphor can be well applied to the market research industry. With the advent of Technology and Big Data, the researchers & marketers of today are on a journey…a few are flummoxed or just plain aloof. Others are fretful about the change that will follow. Some fear about their ability to cope with the challenges. But those who can look beyond are fascinated by the opportunities that lie ahead.

To set the platform for the seminar, Mr. Sanjoy Datta, Head of Marketing Research, ITC Ltd and MRSI President laid emphasis in his opening speech on “Looking Beyond” the comfort zone and challenging people to thrive in a data deluge – hence, the tagline Data, Data, Everywhere. He went on to say, how people socialize, consume knowledge and entertainment, spend their money and time is changing & we must align with them. Consumer Centricity i.e. understanding consumer needs and placing them at the heart of your business is not optional anymore. It is mandatory !

The key note “Looking Beyond, Seeing the unseen…” was an address by Mr. Deep Thomas, CEO of Tata Insights and Qants. He confirmed that with ever-increasing data volume, velocity and complexity, organisations are in danger of drowning in a data deluge and as a result being deprived of insights. But, with the advent of Big Data Technologies, it is now possible for businesses to leverage this deluge and generate real business insights.

All of the sessions produced some very interesting papers, but from an ESOMAR perspective, let me focus on 3…..


There were five papers in this session, all of which represented works that had been submitted and presented at ESOMAR events (APAC and Congress) by Indian researchers in last 2 years.

Ms. Ritanbara Mundrey, Head – Consumer and Customer Insights, Nestle India presented her research paper “Slow Burn To Fiery Flame”. This paper illustrated how a combination of traditional & non-traditional research methods can amplify the quality of insight beyond the ability of regular primary research.

Mr. Pravin Shekar, Head, Krea eKnowledge Pvt. Ltd presented his research paper “Stay AGILE to stay RELEVANT”. He focussed on how agile research is helping the researcher reinvent. The need for speed is leading to Just-in-time and Rapid research – which deliver results within hours!

Mr. Sandeep Dutta from TNS India presented his research paper “Domestic Dudes”. His paper explored the mindset of an emerging consuming class: the married millennial men, who unlike their fathers, are much more adept at domestic matters!!!.

Ms. Shibani Nayak, Senior Manager, MTV, Viacom18, India & Ms. Sushma Pachawati, Vice President, Third Eye, India presented their research paper on “The Selfie Project”. They felt the need for studying identity has never been as critical as it is in today’s world, as alignment to this multi-faceted identity is guiding consumer decisions today.

Last but not least were Mr. Jayadevan Ambat, Associate Vice President, Third Eye, India, Mr. Prithvi Raj, Associate Director, Nielsen India & Ms. Sushma Panchawati, Vice President, Third Eye, India who presented their research paper “MIN(D)ING THE TRANSIENT” – Through a study they did for Google, they established a case for marrying mindfulness techniques, big passive data and immersive and longitudinal qualitative techniques to complete the narrative around every single moment.

All of these papers are available from the ESOMAR members library – or through ANA! – so do take the time to read them – they are very worthwhile!


The second session I would like to refer to was this one – designed to showcase a couple of International Speakers who had presented interesting papers in ESOMAR conferences.

Mr. Rupesh Patel, Audience and Portfolio Controller, Sky, UK presented his paper on “Big Data and Research Data: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship”. His paper detailed how a reverse segmentation of its customer base, mapping survey data onto existing database fields, enabled Sky to successfully tailor and target its referral scheme to different customer groups.

Dr. Bob Cook, Head of Innovation & Inspiration, Firefish Ltd spoke on the topic “There’s a new money in town: developing and defining a global brand purpose with PayPal.” This session covered the challenge/mission for PayPal to develop an entirely new brand positioning and strategy to address the needs of people across the globe who are currently underserved by money and financial services & how this mission of reconnecting people with their money came to life across the world bringing them great success.

Again, these papers are also available to ESOMAR members!

Award winners: From L to R Sanjoy Datta – President MRSI Manish Makhijani – Managing Council MRSI Satyakam M – Ma Foi Analytics Pallavi Lal – IPSOS Nidhi Bhatnagar – Nielsen Global Operations Sandeep Arora – ESOMAR Representative for India

Award winners (from left to right):
Sanjoy Datta – President MRSI
Manish Makhijani – Managing Council MRSI
Satyakam M – Ma Foi Analytics
Pallavi Lal – IPSOS
Nidhi Bhatnagar – Nielsen Global Operations
Sandeep Arora – ESOMAR Representative for India

Lastly, we cannot talk about the MRSI conference without making mention of the Dr Lalit Kanodia Award, launched in 2013 by Datamatics in association with both ESOMAR and the MRSI. The award recognises and rewards innovators who have introduced breakthrough technologies that support and improve the quality of Insights. An independent jury selects the winner based on a series of criteria, but the most important of which is that the solution should already be functional and operational!

This year, the award went to Ma Foi Analytics and Business services, for their Artificial Intelligence powered ‘virtual market researcher’ called MetaFore!! Congratulations to Ma Foi !!

Because of the overwhelming response this year, the jury also wished to recognize….
First Runner Up: The Input Operations team at Nielsen India – For developing Quality Control Tower (QCT), an alert based system that provides a complete virtual and real time view of the Data Collection process; and..
Second Runner Up: IPSOS India – For developing IPSOS Applife, a simple and flexible platform for qualitative research where different types of responses can be captured through a variety of media.

Umesh Kumar is Vice President & Head – International Research Division and ESOMAR Council Member