By Rebecca Heaney
The key takeaways from Day #1 of Congress are conveniently aligned with the highlights of yesterday’s sessions, which impressed on me the importance of remembering that respondents are people – a thought that is completely obvious and at the same time easily and quickly forgotten in our zeal to collect data and deliver insights. In fact, it is commonplace to go through the stages of an entire research project without once ever acknowledging the people that participated in it – focusing instead on sample sizes and representativeness, KPIs and indexes, trends and outliers in the data, insights and implications for business. It’s easy to forget that, as Luke Sehmer pointedly reminded us in one of today’s sessions, the entire market research industry is completely reliant on real people participating in, or at the very least giving us permission to, conduct research. It’s a humbling realization to admit that the participants we so often complain about for not paying enough attention to surveys or not giving us complex enough answers are, in fact, the people we are indebted to.
Without them, market research would not exist, so how can we conduct research keeping participants in mind?
Shorter Surveys, Less Repetition, and Mobile Optimization
As already touched on in yesterday’s blog, mindfully designing shorter surveys and reducing repetition is one approach. In the session titled “Taste the Feeling of a New Brand Tracking Ecosystem”, Clare-Marie Hulsey (of the Coca-Cola Company) presented a case study showing how drastic changes (including asking some questions some of the time, instead of all KPIs all of the time) were made to their large, multi-market brand tracker to make the tracker more respondent friendly with many positive outcomes. Martin Dimov (GemSeek) and Steve Wigmore (Lightspeed) were also challenged with reducing survey length in a large scale project. In their talk “A Quantum Leap for the Research Industry”, Dimov and Wigmore described how they were able to cut LOI significantly by asking respondents to complete subsets of questions (rather than the whole list, resulting in a lot of missing data at the respondent level) and using “Ascription” – a solution that uses data science to predict what the answers for would be and merging those predictions with actual data.
Making Surveys More Interesting and Engaging
While a shorter survey is better than a longer one, we all know that short survey does not equal a good survey. Another approach to designing research with the respondent experience in mind is to make the surveys themselves more engaging. Gamification has been mentioned multiple times today as one way of engaging participants while the use of photos, voice, and videos were discussed in Jason Morris (Millward Brown), Sherri Stevens (Millward Brown), and Stefan Kuegler’s (Lightspeed) presentation, “Respondent Engagement: Investing in Stickiness”. With the variety of technological solutions and platforms available today that make collecting and analyzing digital content relatively easy (many of which are being presented at the Exhibition), these options are becoming increasingly more viable for regular use.
Motivations for Participating in Research
Luke Sehmer and Melanie Courtright (Research Now) and Nikki Lavoie (MindSpark Research International) took a step back from thinking about engaging research design to think about why people are motivated to participate in market research in the first place. In the session, “Clipboards, Calls and Focus Groupies: The public perception of market research and the implications for the future”, Sehmer and Courtright claim that people participate in market research for three reasons: to give back, to get something back, and to give yourself a pat on the back. Drawing on social psychology research, Lavoie explained in her presentation, “Connecting with Consumers: A New Way of Plugging In”, how offering financial incentives (inducing a “to get something back” motivation) can undermine intrinsic motivation for participation and has negative implications for engagement.
The Relationship Between Market Researchers and Research Participants
The theme of one of today’s sessions was “Wow! We’re raising the game: When status quo is not an option”. I think this phrase perfectly describes where we are at when it comes to participant engagement and experience. While there are many compelling reasons to care about the respondent experience and participant engagement (e.g., lengthy, repetitive surveys cost more, take longer to field, and elicit less accurate, and less rich, data), we shouldn’t care only about how these issues affect our bottom line. We need to think about the implications of poor respondent experience on the market research industry as a whole – how each study is one touchpoint that influences how people see the industry and respond to us. The consequences of neglecting the needs of our participants are too important to ignore. We need to start thinking of participants as partners instead of subjects, seeing them as people with context and concerns and lives outside of research, making their needs just (if not more) important as those of our clients, because we, as an industry, can’t survive without them.
Rebecca Heaney, Northstar Research, is one of the official RWC bloggers for ESOMAR Congress 2016.
By Melanie Courtright
The future of the Market Research industry is a frequently discussed topic. And so it should be; we’re a passionate bunch, it’s our livelihood, and there have been a number of pressures on the insights industry in recent years that have thrown up doubts about our future and sustainability. The industry has never been so much in the spotlight. Market research and, specifically, polling have come under increased scrutiny recently in the UK following the 2015 general election, and more recently the 2016 EU referendum and the 2016 US presidential election. Market research is also now frequently cited in PR and marketing campaigns – whether it’s the headline grabbing of the Sun Newspaper whose interpretation of poll data was called into question when it claimed that one fifth of British Muslims had “sympathy for jihadis,” or the use of statistics to support advertising claims.
I won’t go further into these issues as any regular (or irregular) attendee to Congress will understand the threats facing the industry. I see this as one of the reasons why ESOMAR Congress is so special. There is no other opportunity for the global research industry to come together and not only discover the ground-breaking and impactful techniques being used around the world, but also discuss the future of the industry and provide a platform in which to change, hopefully for the better.
At Research Now we wanted to make sure we were part of this discussion, so we were delighted to partner with ESOMAR and embark on the biggest survey to date exploring the public perception of the market research industry. Our aim was to provide some key market intelligence and benchmarking that ESOMAR, and the industry as a whole, can use when marketing the research industry to the public, in particular to ensure the public are aware of the positive impact research has across business and society.
We collected more than 6,000 surveys across four different online and offline research modes, in three major research markets; UK, USA, and Germany. I don’t want to give too many spoilers away of the results. Suffice to say, those in attendance at ESOMAR Congress can hear the key findings on day 1, September 19, in room 1 at 4:40pm. Those not attending will have the opportunity to download the report in the coming weeks or watch ESOMAR TV live on Channel 1 to keep up with the proceedings in New Orleans.
What I can say is the results show there are positives and negatives. Inevitably there are modal differences; online survey panellists have a broad understanding. However, CATI respondents provide some of the most telling data within the report. (There is some fascinating data behind the motivations of respondents, and equally there is some worrying data that looks at how people treat the surveys they are taking.)
That’s all I can reveal at this point. However, it does appear that we are losing the personal connection with our research contributors. This has the potential to be a serious issue for the industry, but we are taking the first step in addressing that. This paper provides a vital insight into the public, those that take our surveys, and those that don’t. It’s the first step in communicating the value of research. And although it’s ESOMAR’s mandate to promote and elevate research on a global platform, it is our responsibility and the responsibility of every researcher to also address these issues.
So, I hope you will join us next week to discover how people really feel about the industry and what we can do to ensure a bright future for the sector.
Register for ESOMAR TV here and tune in to Channel 1 on Monday, September 19 at 4:40PM CST
Melanie Courtright is EVP, Global Products and Client Services at Research Now.
A preview of what you can expect to hear about at ESOMAR’s Global Congress about the practical application of non-conscious measurement.
Meet 5 Millennials in Market Research who have helped shape the ESOMAR Congress 2016 Presentation Program.
They share your passion for Aha! Moments, consumer understanding and data discovery. And the way the Pokémon Go Craze simultaneously amazes and annoys you.
Caroline, Devika, Jason, Katia and Till are Explorers, Thought Leaders and Creators. They also all happen to be born after 1986.
I’ve had the opportunity to catch up with them on topics spanning their favorite apps and festivals, their ESOMAR submissions and their vision for the future of our industry. Enjoy the read and be sure to check out their ESOMAR Congress 2016 sessions (in NOLA or from the comfort of your screens – dates and times outlined below)!
1/ Market Research in 2026
Giulia: Let’s talk about the Future of Market Research. Imagine it’s 2026. What does that landscape look like, compared to today?
Caroline: Tech startups will be using wearable technology to measure actual emotional response in real time. Plus the standard KPIs because they will never truly (and shouldn’t) die.
Jason: There will be a shift in how we measure attitudes towards certain key benefits of a brand or category: from long lists of statements tested quantitatively, to using images and short snappy wording. Deeper insight will be coming from qualitative work.
Katia: MRX will be about smart data integration – where the only thing that we will still end up asking consumers is the why.
Till: We’ll be fully immersed in an environment that allows us researchers to constantly draw the information most relevant to any given ad-hoc research question. Concepts will be evaluated by generating data in an experimental setting (behavior tracking). Data will be interpreted against a broader tracking ecosystem of other relevant data (KPIs). I hope the PowerPoint and Excel era will come to an end in order to give experiments and real work with data more room to flourish.
Did the future of MRX just get “Moore’s Lawyered”?
These visions portray an industry that is not only leaping, but leapfrogging forward, heavily driven by ever-accelerating technology capabilities. Concepts like full automation, virtual reality and symbiotic relationships between human senses and electronic circuits come to mind. Which triggers a spontaneous question: how will we make sense of so much immersive data? Will this make us even more “Data rich and Insight poor”?
From TMI to TMY
Not according to our Millennial Researchers. To temper the threat of drowning in too much information, their visions include additional solutions, like standard KPIs or qualitative work. In essence, we’re looking at a future where the WHATs will be automated, and our job will be to make sense of them and uncover the WHYs.
2/ ESOMAR: start, stop, continue
Giulia: What can ESOMAR start/stop/keep doing to remain/become future proof or consistently be future-generation friendly?
Caroline: Innovation has been a big buzz word for a while now, but I think it is especially important in research – to remain relevant to clients, leadership, and the people we are contacting for sample. A Shark Tank-esque competition for new and innovative research techniques could be a cool way to get innovative ideas flowing (and heard about).
Jason: I guess an easy answer is to continue supporting mobile research. I also agree with the view that attention spans are getting shorter, and therefore chunking of surveys is probably the future (i.e. get Person A to answer Section 1, get Person B to answer Section 2, etc., and then fill in the gaps based on answers from similar types of people).
“Stimulate the conversation on how to turn the industry away from becoming a dinosaur.”
Katia: ESOMAR should keep on giving the stage to Millennials with bold ideas – also from outside our industry. Bring young researchers together more, stimulate the conversation on how to turn the industry away from becoming a dinosaur. I also see an opportunity to stop using the traditional white paper formats – they are often lengthy and could benefit from a snappier, more visually engaging look and feel. This will help especially when presenting points of view and case studies.
Till: ESOMAR should start a crowd funding platform for good ideas and business opportunities by startups who might change the way we do market research. You know, ESOMAR as a VC (Venture Capitalist) or business angel. That’d be something that could help the organization stand out and above all others. And of course… that’s also the future.
Are blurring industry lines a threat to ESOMAR? Or an opportunity?
There seems to be tension between what was and what will be. Business model revolutions in other industries seem to be trickling into the Research reality. We’ve developed the habit of expecting new players to emerge from the most unexpected places.
Rather than considering this a threat to ESOMAR, our team of Millennial researchers sees it as an opportunity to learn, open up and respond to new kinds of stimuli. Just like our favorite brands learn from us and grow with us, so should our industry – and ESOMAR has full permission to helm it.
3/ Market Research across Generations
Giulia: A GenX-er, a Baby Boomer and a Millennial working at the same research agency walk into a bar… What are they ordering? Laughing about or looking forward to? Talking about that bothers them?
Caroline: The Millennial is too busy looking at their phone at first – then they get a craft beer on tap. The bartender overlooks the GenX-er, and the Boomer gets a glass of wine. They’re all looking forward to family moments (Millennial’s friend is getting married to Boomer’s daughter, Gen-Xer has third baby on the way). What bothers them? Pokémon Go across the board.
Devika: I think they’re all worried about different things – the Boomer about becoming insignificant, the Gen-Xer about not settling down and the Millennial about not finding greatness and their own calling.
Jason: I still think that what bothers them unites them: today, probably politics across the board.
Katia: They’d all drink Belgian beer of course – so that’s another thing that brings them together! When it comes to arguments, I’m sorry for feeding the stereotypes here, but I do think Boomers would focus on how rigorous analysis and traditional proven methods are not appreciated enough anymore, while Millennials would be talking about how recruitment and research methods are not in line with today’s reality. And that they’re causing our very own global warming of Panels. And that it’s time for disruptive thinking.
At ESOMAR NOLA, I’d love to put the two people with most and least research experience next to one another to hear their thoughts on our industry: evaluating the past and looking at the future.
“The Boomer is laughing at the Millennial: ‘You guys cannot have everything. Settle down a bit.”
Till: The Baby Boomer is ordering a Whiskey or Gin and Tonic. The GenX-er orders a Beck’s Beer. He’s retro like that. The Millennial doesn’t really know what to order at first so she takes a few minutes to study the menu. She’s torn between a craft beer, the Club-Mate and the new bio coke. She eventually asks the waiter to pick one, because it’s what Kahneman told us to do.
Next, the Boomer is laughing at the Millennial: “You guys cannot have everything. Settle down a bit”. The Millennial tries to convince the Baby Boomer that enough isn’t enough and people can change the world. The GenX-er kind of isn’t participating in the conversation. It seems as if he’s more interested in his second round of beer.
It bothers the others that the Millennial seems to lead the way with new progressive ideas and ways to live and think. And it bothers the Millennial that too many people from both generations are in positions where they decide and make changes based upon their personal beliefs, that are mostly NON-Millennial.
Giulia: Since we’re on the topic – tell me about the last time you heard someone talk/read something about Millennials. Like the first blog post in my Research X Millennials content series (wink wink).
Caroline: Literally every single day. And I don’t mean the figurative definition of literally! Earlier this week I went to a meeting hosted by Delta’s CMO and one of the topics was – you guessed it – Millennials. Someone posed a question asking if we are doing enough to target the Millennial generation.
The answer to that question is a whole different can of worms, but I found his response refreshing. Without getting into the details of what we are/are not doing, he acknowledged that the bulk of leadership at Delta are not Millennials – rather, their kids are. They can try to understand them, but will always be an outsider looking in. While I myself am a Millennial, the majority of people I work are not – including the ones fielding research and writing reports on Millennials. I think recognizing that there will be a disconnect between leadership and an audience segment is the first step to bridging that gap.
Devika: I’d love to share this article that had a great impact on me – it made me better understand myself and why I feel pressured. The article, I feel, accurately addresses the pressures of Millennials – the idea that we can achieve greatness and our need to find it (our calling). However, I don’t agree with the bit where it assumes all Millennials are lazy and looking for shortcuts. I have only seen otherwise.
Jason: I found this Instagram post struck close to home. Millennials like that people view them as different. They like the fact they aren’t expected to get married until 30, and how it’s become cool to be a hippy who travels for the sake of travel instead of buckling down into a career for 40 years straight.
However, they still think it’s edgy to do this and show it off – edgy to be breaking the old paradigm. Your research suggests that Millennials are less trusting of others, and search for authenticity. I would say this lends itself to their exaggerated propensity for travel: they want to ‘stick it to the man’ who they don’t trust and who wants them to work in a suit for a living.
Your research also says they acknowledge and engage in a more dynamic and changing workplace. What is more dynamic then dipping in and out of work, in different countries, and travelling in between? I’m getting tired of seeing travel posts on my newsfeed about ditching materialism and spending money on experiences, all from newly-philosophical 20 somethings who have quit their first office job.
It’s no longer original/authentic to be a travel bug and go to Europe and say you prefer to go off the beaten path. Every path you take will be beaten now.
Millennials have tried so hard to break out of the traditional life-cycle mold that they have created a new mold they all fall into. One where being an interesting individual means to travel a lot, if only for the sake of it. I am one of these people.
“I feel like there is a direct correlation between technology advances and society’s ability to wait patiently.”
Caroline: I thought the impact in the workplace section of your “Research about Millennials” blog post was especially interesting, and was with the majority who voted that they (we) have had a significant impact.
While I agree with the concept of ‘experience hopping’ and the need for more leadership development, I think there is another factor shaping the Millennial workforce – patience (or a lack thereof). I feel like there is a direct correlation between technology advances and society’s ability to wait patiently.
In a world where we’re accustomed to immediate responses and lightning speed internet, it is no wonder that the desire to switch jobs is growing. We see people like Mark Zuckerberg reaching billionaire status by 30 and tech startups earning millions in their 20’s. A drive for success is a common thread across all generations – however it seems that the time expected to achieve success has been reduced – we want to be successful ASAP – and that means moving up in our careers at unprecedented levels.
A promotion a year seems completely reasonable, but that would mean that 5 years out of college we’d all be at the leadership level, and companies are pretty top-heavy already. The best way to move up in many cases is to switch jobs – even if the preferred track is at your current company. The desire to succeed (i.e. promotions & raises) wins out over the patience typically required to move up within a single organization. I don’t think it is driven by entitlement but rather a need to prove self-worth in a world where other people’s success stories are widely broadcast via social media for us to compare ourselves to.
The world is moving faster than ever, and it seems the need to keep up is a powerful driver of Millennial decisions in the workplace.
Till: Here’s an Instagram from my past to make a point. It’s about telling everybody that I’m so international, working in London for 2 days. Taking a picture of a coffee place (which is cool), a hand-written notebook (which shows my deep thoughts) and a smartphone which shows that I’m connected. All of that is topped off by using the perfect filter (color of the cup and the table top) which shows that I’m artsy and know design.
And that is my opinion about my own peers: Making a lot out of little. Giving meaning to everything. Trying to present myself as individualistically as possible.
4/ YOU in Market Research
Giulia: What is your biggest achievement or proudest moment when it comes to your team’s submission for the ESOMAR Congress?
Caroline: My first experience with ESOMAR was as an MMR (Master of Marketing Research) grad student at UGA (University of Georgia) – I remember being so impressed by the vendor booths and speakers so to actually be presenting is a big accomplishment in itself!
Devika: My big moment was having pulled off the study on which we based our paper – it was something new, completely absorbing and difficult to pull off – and completing it and getting the amazing results that we did was a big big high!
But reading the acceptance mail from Congress and finding out that our paper had been selected was an even bigger achievement! And then, to top that, our paper got shortlisted as a finalist for the Best Paper Award – which was the biggest, most exciting and celebrated moment of this entire journey so far!
Jason: Simply being involved. I was the lead analyst in the research our submission is based on, and ‘unearthed’ the key findings. I was proud that I was asked by my very experienced colleagues to read over and tighten the analysis section of our submission.
Till: I’m presenting with my best friend. And we’ve been trying to improve the industry for years and now we get to present our ideas in New Orleans, in the USA. Get to share our thoughts. WOW.
|Caroline Smiley||Devika Johar||Jason Morris||Katia Pallini||Till Winkler|
|Delta Airlines||The Third Eye||Millward Brown||InSites Consulting||SKOPOS|
|The Power of Reflective Content –
A study of spare time and how
we spend it
|Respondent Engagement –
Investing in “sticky-ness”
|The Power is in the Mix –
How smart data integration
will reinvent the (survey) research industry
|User Experience –
Testing in the Digital Age – How agile research
enables our industry not only to
stay relevant but to increase
our business impact
Empire C & D
11:20 – 11:35
17:20 – 17:40
17:00 – 17:20
09:35 – 09:55
Empire C & D
|Curious to learn more? Check out the presentations at the 69th ESOMAR Congress in New Orleans!|
So WHAT: Are we all just afflicted by a serious case of #keepingup?
Market Research is #keepingup with making sense of technology in a way that makes the race of our industry look like an obstacle course sprinkled with Data Rich/Insight Poor traps.
ESOMAR is #keepingup with the fast-moving reality of a changing business landscape, where research/start up worlds/crowdsourcing/big ideas that get big funding could be what propels all of us into the future – if we let it and learn from it.
Others are #keepingup with the Millennial generation. And Millennials? They are #keepingup with the hyped stereotypes (stereohypes?) of their own generation. Or with proving that they are not like the stereotypes. On a deeper level, Millennials are #keepingup with the many success stories surrounding them and appearing on their news feeds every day.
#keepingup might be tiresome and stressful – but it seems like a good way to overcome the inevitable Dunning-Kruger effect that drives generations away from one another.
To be a Millennial Researcher in this world means to live in a kind of hyper-reality, where we find ourselves under the research lens as much as behind it. This creates not only more (self-) consciousness, but also a vision of the future that is coming at us faster, in more colors and less pixelated than ever before.
Bonus: one app and two festivals
Till: I discovered Number26, which is really a banking company that offers a great app that allows me to control my spending, my savings and my overall money transfer process through an app. The app is so easy and with touch ID it makes transferring money to friends (e.g. for a shared dinner) so easy and it happens within seconds. Also it’s free and it’s a really big difference to the classic, old fashioned banks.
Jason: Went to Wireless in London mid-June. Was very fun experiencing how hyped up the crowd got for BBK (most popular Grime group in UK/London) as I am from New Zealand and listen to American hip hop mainly. I have been to a lot of festivals but their set was the craziest I’ve been too. Nearly got enveloped by ~10 mosh pits, thought I was going to pass out from heat at a few points, and was literally too dangerous to record any footage on my phone. Great times.
Katia: every year there is a big festival in Ghent, my hometown, where for 10 days there is music and concerts on the streets of the historic center. It is a yearly tradition for the locals and a must attend for those that are visiting!
Giulia Gasperi is known mostly for her faith in unicorns and love for fun facts. She speaks 5 languages and has resided in 9 countries across 4 continents. Today, as Research Director at InSites Consulting, she inspires top-tier brands all over the world and helps them unlock extraordinary insights from everyday consumer realities. Tomorrow, she hopes to become a ballerinastronaut.
By Christian Kugel
I was chatting with a fellow researcher recently about the state of the industry. Our discussion touched on some of the usual topics – the increasing importance of analytics, the short supply of truly talented people with the right level of experience, and common disconnects between clients and research agencies. At one point, she said something very telling: “The issue is this – I’m supposed to be the methodology expert, and deliver research results accurately and on time, but my job doesn’t end there.” She then elaborated on that comment by describing how in order to have real impact within her organisation, she often needed to wear different hats – sometimes a product developer’s hat, and at other times a sales person’s hat.
I’m sure that feeling resonates with many of us attending this year’s ESOMAR Congress. Over the past several years, the industry has agonised over all the changes we continually face – notably, the pressure for better/faster/cheaper, the rise of big data, and bridging the gap between research and data science. All of those dynamics are certainly true, and they’re also legitimate reasons for anxiety. But I challenge you to name an industry that isn’t facing similar, foundational issues. The reality is that in today’s climate, all industries are confronted with massive disruption and change.
The difference for us, it seems, centers on what my colleague articulates. In addition to being the research experts, who know how to ferret out a consumer insight through rigorous methodology design and data analysis, we are also often expected to simultaneously perform other tasks. Depending on the project, we need to be some combination of storytellers, marketers, product developers, consumer advocates, consultants, and data scientists – while still delivering better/faster/cheaper results. This is what makes our challenge particularly unique and especially difficult.
So, in those moments where the stars align and we get it right, there’s only one thing to say: “Wow!” Think about that last time you saw a piece of work and had that “Wow!” reaction. The kind of work that makes you envious, that makes you wish you had a hand in it. The kind of work that has real, meaningful impact. The kind of work that in hindsight is so incredibly obvious, but took a magical combination of skills and perspectives to generate.
This year at Congress, I invite you to join me for a few days to celebrate and learn from the work that makes us think “#wow.” As you can see, the agenda is packed with an impressive collection, covering different industries, regions and techniques, but they all have one thing in common – the wow factor. I hope that you will enjoy the event, that you will be inspired by the work, and that you’ll take something tangible away from the experience. In fact, I’m willing to bet that due to the sheer diversity of topics and speakers, you will use something tangible you see at Congress within the next two years.
The programme was built to feature an array of how new (and old) challenges were solved, a glimpse into the possibilities of the future, and notable cases of real business impact. Examples include:
- An innovative means for ethnographic research using a food truck
- Agile research techniques aligning to product development cycles
- Stories from challenged emerging markets: Rwanda, Somalia, and Cambodia
- A look at how people spend one of their more precious resources: their time
While presentations is incredibly diverse, the slate of keynote speeches will hopefully cause you to say “Wow!” and challenge you to think differently:
- The result when math and psychology are combined
- Re-imagining market research from a premier business school
- Leadership lessons from a jazz band legend, and
- The unprecedented potential of virtual reality
I am especially excited that New Orleans is the setting for this year’s Congress. It is not only a city rich in history and culture, but also one whose citizens have recently rebuilt in the face of tremendous adversity. For me, the city and its people are pure inspiration. And, it wouldn’t be a proper Congress without an infusion of local culture; this year is no different. We will experience the unique cuisine of New Orleans, its famous jazz music, and even get a taste of Mardi Gras during the awards dinner and ceremony.
Lastly, to acknowledge their tremendous effort in organising Congress and curating its content, I would like to thank the members of the Programme Committee and the professionals at ESOMAR.
Christian Kugel, Programme Committee Chair ESOMAR Congress and VP, Consumer Analytics & Research, AOL, USA
To join the Congress, please visit www.esomar.org/congress – note that the standard registration deadline is 26 August