By Jackie Lorch
This year, ESOMAR and SSI share milestone anniversaries.
ESOMAR is celebrating 70 years as the international research association, promoting the value of research and providing ethical and professional guidance to its members.
SSI marks 40 years of partnering with researchers to help them get reliable, accurate data for their research. From its roots creating the first-ever commercially available telephone sample to today providing multi-mode access to millions of respondents across the globe and a range of other research services, SSI has seen many changes in its four decades.
Anniversaries are a good time to look back at where we’ve been – and ahead to where we’re going.
MR of Days Gone By
The basic goal of market research has always been finding the right people, asking them the right questions and understanding their answers. In the 1930s, Daniel Starch was a research pioneer in on-the-street surveying to gauge the effectiveness of ads in newspapers and periodicals.
Gallup took Starch’s methods a step further with “aided recall;” withholding ads and asking respondents to rely on their memories of ads they had encountered and where they had seen them. Today we recognize that relying on recall is far from optimal. It is very difficult for someone to remember what ads they have seen or which products they bought and how much they paid.
Focus groups and in-person interviews allowed researchers to spend more time with respondents, but a big leap forward in research came with the arrival of commercially-available random digit telephone sampling in the 1970s. This is when, some would say, our industry perfected the art of calling people during dinner!
Phone technology made finding and surveying people easier and cheaper, but the rise of call-screening, mobile phones and number portability (so that one’s area code no longer identified where someone lived) made phone methodologies more challenging and expensive to execute.
Online research arrived in 2000. Online self-completion survey research was faster and more cost-effective than using live telephone interviewers. But the industry made few changes to questionnaires to accommodate this new method, and without an interviewer to encourage and clarify, there were quality challenges in the early days. More recently, lower response rates and respondents’ preference for giving their opinions on their cell phones has created challenges for this methodology too.
Market Research Today
Technology continues to transform research, and the pace of change is increasing, even for an industry that has been notoriously slow to change and adapt. Today, researchers are finding new and innovative ways to use mobile to engage with respondents: apps, geo-location, and in-context diary feedback among others.
We still have much to learn. Some of the biggest challenges facing researchers today are:
- Getting people to give us their opinions: We must make the respondent experience central to our research efforts.
- Maintaining trust in research data quality: We have made big strides in using technology to prevent fraud and identify inattention but we must continue to work to ask the right questions and let people answer them when and where they choose if we are to get the richest, most accurate data.
Delivering insights at the speed of today’s business: Using technology to automate many aspects of research will allow researchers to focus instead on what they do best: identifying the research problem, crafting a solution and telling the story. And automation can help researchers do this faster and more efficiently than ever before.
Demonstrating value and staying relevant: If business people can now ask their own questions and do their own analyses using DIY tools and dashboards, how does research earns its keep and demonstrate its specific value to customers?
Market Research of the Future
Where is market research headed next? In the next decade or so:
- Much of what we do today with human labor will be done by machine.
- We’ll ask a fraction of the number of questions we do now and use secondary data to understand much of the “who, what, when and where.” This should make for a shorter, easier and more pleasant experience for the people who give us their opinions.
- People’s attitudes to sharing data will evolve. This, along with data privacy legislation is likely to significantly impact the data we can access. Today people are concerned about how their personal data is stored and used, but they still use social media, play location-based games, and automate their homes with app-based devices. Will privacy concerns outweigh convenience or fun at some point? Advances like implanted microchips will push the envelope.
- The Internet of Things: Smart devices in private homes are just the beginning. Cities like Barcelona are already using smart, networked technology like street sensors and LED lights to anticipate citizens’ needs and reduce energy waste and pollution. How can we tap into the vast number of networked objects to better understand and anticipate people’s needs – without being overly intrusive and seeming “creepy?” Balancing convenience against the risk of intrusiveness will be a major challenge.
- Biometrics and neuroscience. The ability to easily track activity via biometrics, and to measure emotion by understanding changes within the brain is in its infancy, and has many potential uses in research. Will it become commonplace to tap into people’s brains to predict their behavior more accurately than simply asking them?
Regardless of how we find the people and collect the data, the fundamentals – knowing who we want to understand better and what we want to know from them, then correctly interpreting their data – will remain. Getting reliable data about how humans think, feel and behave is a timeless need.
Jackie Lorch is VP Global Knowledge Management, SSI
By Alexander Shashkin
The Second Russian Research Week (www.researchweek.ru) was conducted in Moscow and other Russian cities in March 13-17, 2017. The event gathered over 4000 participants, including research suppliers, clients, media, government, NGO’s, and students. 18 different events were held during the course of the week under the umbrella topic of ‘Future’. Researchers discussed the future of society for the next 10-20 years as well as the future of sociological and marketing research itself. How such instrument and technologies as big data, online panels, face recognition, virtual shopping environment, geomarketing solutions and many other will change the research that we know today?
Finally the African Market Research community found its place on the busy agenda of conferences being organised all over the world!
16 and 17 February 2007 are the dates when the African Market Research Association (AMRA) will be officially launched at the AFRICA Forum 2017 to be held in Johannesburg (South Africa).
This first Africa Forum is organized by AMRA and event partners AMISE in Morocco, MSRA in Kenya, NiMRA in Nigeria, SAMRA in Southern Africa, and ESOMAR World Research: it will set the African Agenda for market research (including social research and opinion polling).
It will be a moment of celebration! The programme which has been developed by a group of experts representing the event partners will demonstrate excellence and inspiration throughout the two days of activities.
Four undeniable reasons for joining the Africa Forum
- Be part of History: the Africa Forum will mark the official launch of the African Market Research Association (AMRA). Being there will be of significant importance for marking this historical moment!
- Shape the Future: the launch of AMRA means that you can help shape the agenda for the African Market Research community: a key resource for the industry in Africa and for those who look at Africa as the place to grow their business. The Africa Forum will be the catalyst for the future of the Market Research industry in the continent!
- Build your Africa Network: research agencies, clients, advertisers, service companies coming from across Africa and the world will be there and will be eager to network, make new contacts, meet colleagues and share experiences – This is indeed a unique opportunity to have the very best of the Market Research industry representing the African continent all in one place. How can you resist the temptation of being there!
- Share and Learn: …and finally…the Africa Forum programme will ignite sharing of innovations and contribute to the body of knowledge in Africa.
To celebrate the journey ahead, an impressive line-up of African and international speakers awaits delegates at this once-in-a-lifetime two-day event
Opening speaker Berenike Ullmann is Vice-President, Consumer and Market Knowledge, for Procter and Gamble IMEA (India, Middle East and Africa). She is a champion of consumers and expert in research and African life. She has spent more than 30 years doing consumer understanding work in China, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe. Berenike will be sharing her thoughts about the transformation of consumers and markets and hence of research needs, using examples from Africa, China, the Philippines and other emerging markets, for inspiration.
Swaady Martin is the founder and CEO of the SWAADY GROUP, a woman-owned social enterprise; transforming African agricultural commodities locally to contribute to the reversal of the African commodity trap. The group’s pioneer brands, YSWARA and AKRAFO, are perceived amongst Africa’s leading luxury and premium brands and are present at recognised luxury retailers in 15 countries in Africa, USA, Europe, Middle-East and Asia. Swaady has received recognition and numerous distinctions and awards from big names such as Forbes, Oprah Winfrey and Aljazeera. She is also the author/creator of the “Luxe Ubuntu” concept, an inclusive luxury business model providing economic value and meaningful income to all the members of the supply chain, who participate in the production of luxury products.
Storytelling is one of the most important techniques for presenting research, and storytelling is a strong African tradition that cuts across African cultures, and Africa should be leading the way globally, when it comes to storytelling. Gcina Mhlophe has been writing and performing on stage and screen for over 20 years. She is South Africa’s favourite storyteller, and maintains that storytelling is the information technology of yesteryear. “For as long as there have been people in the world, there have been stories – long before all the great respectable sciences were known to us”. Gcina feels that the well-known traditional tales of Africa have worldwide appeal, as they recur in different versions in many other parts of the world. Gcina’s writings have been translated into German, French, Italian, Swahili and Japanese. She has received awards from BBC Africa, the Edinburgh Festival, Sony, London Open University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, amongst others.
More than 30 carefully selected presentations will cover topics such as
- African client perspectives
- Digital research
- Technology and research in Africa
- Neuro marketing research
- The future of the insights function
- Research and corporate decision making
- Professional standards
- Opinion polling in Africa
- Socio-economic classification systems
- The challenge of sampling and weighted data in Africa
- Motivating research participation
- The marketing of market research
- Young Africans and the future of Africa
- Intercultural consumer understanding
- Using social networks for research
ESOMAR is proud to be an AFRICA Forum 2017 partner. We look forward to supporting AMRA and ensuring that the Africa Forum will become an established appointment in the calendar of market research professionals in Africa and beyond.
This is your chance to be part of history: visit www.africanmra.org for programme details and to book – space is limited!
By the ESOMAR USA Representatives
Although North America was unable to retain fastest growing market for research for a second year running, the overall market size has increased by almost 20% according to the latest ESOMAR Global Market Research report. But, while the overall market growth figure may have implied a slowing down, the market measure has expanded to include two additional new sectors, giving the region a net growth of 0.5%. Following on from this we asked the ESOMAR representatives in the US about the challenges, opportunities and trends in their market.
Did someone say mobile? Again?
As this series of articles continue, having looked at the LATAM, APAC an MENAP regions, we do indeed see the same patterns emerging, even more so in a developed market such as the United States. It’s of course, the conversation about mobile and internet penetration rearing its head again. Jackie Lorch, Vice President, Global Knowledge Management, SSI USA, comments, “With online penetration approaching 90%, online is the go-to data collection methodology, and don’t even think about fielding a questionnaire that can’t be completed on a mobile phone.” Yet, although this knowledge is commonplace, it doesn’t mean the industry has caught up yet. With US smartphone penetration near 60%, survey participants are increasingly choosing to take surveys on mobile devices. Lorch observes, “The industry has not made it a priority to put participants first and design mobile-friendly questionnaires. Likewise mobile in-the-moment research presents wonderful opportunities to interact at the moment of decision-making with video or image capture. Yet we have largely failed to engage.”
This sentiment is echoed by Melanie Courtright, EVP, Products and Client Services, Research Now. “The biggest challenge is learning how to evolve for mobile devices — the questionnaires themselves have to change, and we are really struggling with moving fast enough in America.” Although the market research world might be lagging behind, there are big opportunities here, comments Courtright, “Biggest opportunity is in automation of basic research types so that through standardization we can integrate other forms of data better and spend more time on interpretation and make decisions more quickly.”
While the rest of the world might have an inbuilt stereotype of Americans (can anyone blame them, Donald Trump anyone?) – it couldn’t be further from the truth. Lorch comments, “Most of the stereotypes you have heard about America are exaggerations. Most Americans enjoy foods other than burgers, fries and buckets of cola and many are well-informed about and interested in other countries in the world!” Indeed, Courtright observes, “The US is very diverse, both in business and with consumers. It’s like many small countries grouped together, so to try and approach it as one market is not possible.”
The US shouldn’t be treated as one country – this is a population of almost 319 million people, spanning across more than 9 million km. That’s a lot of people, can we really expect them to have the same thoughts and opinions? Lorch expands on this further, “Different geographies, attitudes and cultures can be found within its borders. You’re likely to find doing business in the fast-paced, intense, “in-your-face” culture of New York City different from the more laid-back, proudly non-conformist, technology-driven Northern California, for example. Street signs you may see along the way help tell the story!”
Very visible in the US, but not just limited to here, is a major new societal trend that will impact research – fragmentation – in almost every aspect of modern life. Lorch notes, “From people’s time and attention, the data sources they use, their digital device habits, to the diversity of their beliefs, lifestyles, attitudes and interests. Institutions in the media, government and communities that used to help define large groups among the population have largely vanished to be replaced by customisation of the individual experience to a massive degree. As society fragments, are our traditional research taxonomies relevant anymore? We still group people by age, by ethnicity, by geography, in ways that haven’t changed for generations. We should instead consider life stages, and new attitudinal groupings as ways to better understand the consumer. This is equally true for B2B research where titles, responsibilities and purchase patterns are changing rapidly and we need to target based on the reality of today’s job functions and responsibilities.”
There are many trends impacting on America, and indeed society at large, none more so than technology. Lorch comments, “The idea of technology as not just enabler, but also driver of our business is a phenomenon noted by Unilever’s Stan Sthanunathan. Technology has made research more efficient, and improved its quality for companies who have invested in it. Now technology is doing more: actively directing where research will be and go in the future. It is taking over many research tasks that humans used to do. The challenge is that powerful technology and the expertise to run it is usually only available to the larger players, so many smaller enterprises need to find a new raison d’etre, or risk being swallowed up.”
Big data and the internet of things will also shape the future of market research, but we first need to get over the problems. “The practical and operational obstacles in the way of getting value from all the data now available are not trivial, yet the potential rewards are massive. If we can overcome the obstacles, research can use big data to answer the what, when and where questions and surveys to get at the why and what next – resulting in shorter, more interesting surveys and more accurate factual data.”
And a further trend to look out for, comes from Courtright, who comments, “A trend we’re seeing is definitely privacy and what that means in a world of cookies and meters and observational data collection. And in turn, society’s reaction to those practices, along with their expectations of transparency and responsibility.”
How to do business here
While we know we need to let go of those stereotypes of Americans we seen in the media, how do we do business here?
Lorch has some sound advice, “Americans are informal and direct in business dealings and make decisions relatively quickly – so don’t be afraid to ask for the business and discuss specifics like delivery times and costs.” But, don’t mistake that good old American positivity for success. “A positive attitude is much admired in the US, so even if someone tells you they’re “incredibly excited” about meeting you and hearing about your product it doesn’t mean you’ve made the sale!” observes Lorch.
So what have we learnt about doing business in the United States? Don’t treat this country as one…
Special thanks to Jackie and Melanie for this article.
Jackie Lorch, Vice President, Global Knowledge Management, SSI USA
Melanie Courtright, EVP, Products and Client Services, Research Now
By ESOMAR APAC Representatives
This is the second piece from a regional analysis created by the ESOMAR Asia Pacific Representatives. For Part 1, click here.
Demands and expectations
When conducting research in Cambodia, the challenges are visible when it comes to collecting a representative sample. Remoy comments, “With limited infrastructure, research covering rural and remote areas in Cambodia is expensive. There is no telephone registry and Internet penetration in rural areas is still low, the only way to conduct national representative studies is through household surveys. The implication of this is that people representing a significant proportion of the population is often excluded from the sample because of limited budgets. This is a problem if generalisations are made based on non-representative samples.” It is also more time-consuming to conduct interviews in rural and remote areas, coupled with a high degree of illiteracy, makes the overall task harder, observes Remoy. The same is also visible in China, where Zhang notes, “Urbanisation and population mobility increases the difficulty of collecting a representative sample of the market.”
In Vietnam the overall demands and expectations of clients has increased drastically, observes Matthaes, “The term ‘better, faster, cheaper’ is creeping into the lexicon of marketers nationwide. This places a strain not only on resources but on the bottom line. This undoubtedly puts pressure on market research agencies in an already competitive industry.”
Likewise, the same is happening in New Zealand. Horst Feldhaeuser, Group Client Director at INFOTOOLS, comments on the surge in need for cheaper and faster insights. “Clients don’t seem to mind where those insights come from, e.g. traditional MR, social media, big data etc – this is both a challenge and an opportunity for our industry,” he remarks. And similarities are also visible in Vietnam, Matthaes comments, “anything digital, mobile, which addresses the issues of speed and cost has opportunity here, although clients are still tied to traditional methods, which will require time and proof to remedy.”
Susan Burrell, Head Of Research & Client Insight, Standard Chartered Bank, Wholesale Bank Client Research and Service Excellence comments on the pressures of Singapore being one of the most connected societies in Asia and globally. “In an era of “always on” how do we avoid simply adding to the noise? How do we ensure that we cut through in a way that is relevant to our clients? As well as winning the next transaction, we also need to ensure that we are creating the long term value that builds a real relationship with our clients.”
China is seeing an increase in competition within the market research industry. Gloria Jun Zhang, CEO of Horizon Research Consultancy Group & Chairman of Horizon Elab, comments, “There is intense price competition in the market research industry, this impacts on the quality of fieldwork, and further results in decreasing the quality of data.” Competition is also high in Vietnam. “For a developing country such as Vietnam, the research industry is actually quite developed and highly competitive, with over 40 agencies vying for a relatively small piece of the pie,” notes Matthaes. “Thus, unless you are willing to invest significant funds into development of specific industry relevant syndicated products or services, with a national reach and a true technological advantage, do not waste your time on Vietnam. However, overall retail measurement, supply gain evaluation and speed and scale of economy research is the way of the future and any product or service which can address these gaps would be welcome.”
Growing competition from IT organisations and analytics companies is having an impact on the market in India. Arora, comments, “There is a lot of ancillary competition to the MR industry such as the IT organisations, and Analytics companies, who work with global end-clients on enhancing their data, analytics and technology platforms. And, it’s not difficult for most of such companies to acquire MR expertise, to start a commanding position in the market research and technology space, which is where the new age MR is headed to. Simultaneously, there is a huge pressure on MR managers in India to utilize the current existing data, instead of commissioning new researches.”
An increase in DIY research platforms is leading to more competition in Indonesia. “There are a growing number of companies using free online questionnaire software, which is directly competing with the traditional market research industry,” comments Harry Puspito, President Director at Marketing Research Indonesia. Whereas in Sri Lanka, there is not so much a problem with direct competitors, rather the drive to make brands see the relevance of market research. Madurasinghe comments on this lack of awareness, “There is a low awareness of the market research process, making it difficult to justify costs. Additionally, there is a need for the industry to convince the corporate sector about the importance of scientific research to back their decisions.”
When it comes to competition in New Zealand, Feldhaeuser comments on how the country is seeing a different problem entirely. “More clients are commissioning overseas companies to conduct market research within New Zealand, even the New Zealand Government – begging the question why?”
In India, new directions come with the shift to the digital age. “The MR industry in India is currently going through a metamorphosis, a tectonic shift! The key challenge is that most of the MR agencies are not able to unlearn their previous business models, and are lost in their road-map to the new-age digital MR”, observes Arora. “MR users are also in a state where they are not able to let go of their previous ways of functioning (conducting surveys, brand-tracking, etc) while adopting the new models of data collection (through social media for example) and integrate with existing enterprise data (through CRM, ERP, etc).”
Growing technology and new advances in China have seen an increase in e-commerce that will impact the traditional MR business. Jin Chen adds that this is one of the key trends currently impacting China, “Online consumer insights and precision-marketing will be the next new market to research in China.”
Singapore is witnessing an increase in companies seeking to grow their businesses within the region or globally, observes Burrell. “Some Singapore-based buyers operate within global MNCs. Many research firms have amazing knowledge within their global organisations, so the opportunity for them is to find smarter ways to bring that expertise into Singapore for the benefit of local buyers and Singapore-run projects. Don’t get distracted by internal wrangling over revenue sharing, do a great job for your clients with all your resources, because when you do that you can be sure that you will win the next project, and the next.”
For Indonesia, opportunities lie with the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community, “The AEC will mean that Indonesian consumers will be the largest consumer segment of an integrated regional market. Therefore, understanding Indonesian consumers will be a priority for regional ASEAN-based clients, as well as international clients looking into entering ASEAN as one market”, comments Hribernik.
Likewise, in Thailand there is also growth within the market research industry due to AEC, comments Griffin. “The AEC also gives more Thai companies the desire to expand their business overseas and we see more Thai companies wanting to conduct research in neighbouring countries. Thailand has the potential to become a hub for South East Asia and this will demand a research industry that can comfortably execute work on a larger scale than previously seen.”
Differences are abundant
It seems fairly obvious to say, each country within APAC has its own individual complexities. Feldhaeuser echoes this sentiment, “New Zealand is not Australia,” an often misconception of these two neighbouring countries. “You need to understand the subtle differences apparent in New Zealand – the best way, use local agencies when conducting market research, as they truly understand the market.”
Sri Lanka suffers the same comparisons with that of other Southern Asian countries. Madurasinghe observes, “Although Sri Lanka is situated in South Asia, it is quite different to other countries in the region, such as its economic and quality-of-life indicators.” Yet here lies opportunity, Madurasinghe describes the country as the perfect test market, “Sri Lanka is a great test market for anyone wanting to try out new things – a good stepping stone to the vast Indian market. Historically it’s been a market to test out modern technology e.g. Cellular GSM, 3G, 4G to market testing of e-commerce websites.”
India is another market full of diversity, comments Arora. “First of all, the Indian market is very unique. We have a high number of languages and unique socio-cultural regions – 57 of them! That is why I would suggest going with a credible local partner, who understands the abovementioned socio-cultural and market-led nuance.”
What many reps agree on, is the need to contact local expertise when carrying out research within APAC. Hribernik tells of three pieces of advice when doing business in Indonesia, “Look for reliable local partner(s) with a strong local network, ensure access to the right talent, patience and thus willingness to invest into the long-term and not the short-term.” Hosokawa observes the same in Japan, “Building a Japanese consumer base is a little tricky for overseas companies, it is better to have an alliance with a local company – this would be the safest strategy.”
Echoing this sentiment of “local” matters is the research culture in Singapore. Burrell, comments, “Local matters to many large research buyers in Singapore. You need researchers who grew up within the local culture, who understand the local context, who have the ability to deliver sometimes difficult research findings in the right tone of voice and language to help the insights to be understood and so to drive change. So the push to internationalise needs to be balanced with the need to remain locally connected and relevant.”
Doing business in APAC
Gloria Jun Zhang discusses doing business in China, “The business environment here is complex, issues are complicated, mixed and correlative to each other. It is necessary to understand problems comprehensively, and provide innovative and practical solutions rather than simply follow traditional models.”
And in terms of suggestions for doing business in India, Arora comments, “The existing space is already too crowded, look for a vertical-level or competency level niche. A one-inch-wide-and-one-mile-deep strategy would be the best fit in current market dynamics.”
For Cambodia, Remoy comments, “I would encourage potential investors to go in with a long-term perspective. There has been substantial growth but much of it has been disproportional; it will take time before we see a significant increase in the purchasing power in rural and remote areas, which constitutes 80% of the population. The implementation of inclusive growth is essential for Cambodia to move to the next level.”
In Myanmar, Schimpl comments, “There is no quick dollar to be made [in Myanmar]. You need to have a longer-term perspective and be ready to invest – not just money but also time to train staff. If you come with a flexible and open mind, you will see the many opportunities Myanmar has to offer.”
And in Singapore, Burrell comments on the three C’s – Connections, Competence and Curiosity. “Find out who you know that can help you with introductions, act as a reference client for you, etc. Have an area of competence, something that you know how to do and a track record of success that brings new value into the local market. And arrive with your curiosity on full beam, ask lots of questions, be prepared to adapt to the local environment, be ready to learn as well as to teach.”
So what have we learnt about the APAC region? Time to take advantage of the increased connectivity and smartphone penetration and the time has never been better to invest in those smaller growing APAC markets, too.
Many thanks to the authors:
Jin Chen, CEO, Greater China Consumer Search Group, China
Gloria Jun Zhang, CEO of Horizon Research Consultancy Group & Chairman of Horizon Elab
Horst Feldhaeuser, Group Client Director, INFOTOOLS
Marita Schimpl, Head of Marketing Research at Myanmar Survey Research
Susan Burrell, Head Of Research & Client Insight, Standard Chartered Bank, Wholesale Bank Client Research and Service Excellence
Ralf Matthaes, Managing Director at Infocus Vietnam
Craig Griffin, ESOMAR Representative, Thailand
Sandeep Arora, Sr. Vice President & Global Head (Research & Analytics Solutions) at Datamatics Global Services Ltd
Karl Johan Remoy, Research Consultant at G:LAB
Harry Puspito, President Director at MRI (Marketing Research Indonesia)
Nico Hribernik, Managing Consultant, SINUS consult
Himalee Madurasinghe, Chief Executive at Lanka Market Research Bureau (Pvt) Limited