by Madhumita Chakraborty and Mukesh Kumar – both will present on 11 September during the 70th ESOMAR Congress
Not unlike Hollywood, a young Marketing professional and a Market Researcher meet, fall in love and get married. And when they kiss and lightning strikes, their souls exchange bodies. What follows suit is a comedy of errors as the “non –believer in market research” soul of the marketer has to reside in the body of researcher’ and the “… but the data says” soul of the researcher switches to the body of the marketer.
By Rebecca Heaney
Congress Day 0: The Future of Market Research
Although not technically the first day of Congress, Sunday offered the opportunity for ESOMAR Congress delegates to attend workshops on a variety of topics that served as an excellent introduction to Congress, starting the week off strong with intriguing, thought-provoking, and challenging topics that face the market research industry today. At first glance, the two sessions I attended titled “The Impact of Social Research”, hosted by Gunilla Broadbent (President of the ESOMAR Foundation) and Phyllis Macfarlane (from Gfk and ESOMAR Foundation Treasurer), and “The Future of Mobile Survey Research”, presented by Roddy Knowles and Luke Sehmer from Research Now, seemed to have little in common. However, the messages of both sessions were largely concerned with the future of market research and both concluded with a compelling reminder to always keep human beings – people, not respondents, data, dollars, or numbers – in mind in the research we do.
The Need to Improve
“The Impact of Social Research” session is premised on the understanding that, as market research professionals and human beings, we have a moral obligation to use our skills and expertise to give back to those who are less fortunate, particularly in developing markets. There is widespread agreement that the market research industry has a lot to offer in the “making the world a better place” space and while there are many in in the industry who are making a difference in a number of different ways, there is clearly much more that we can do.
On a completely different topic, a compelling argument for moving toward fully mobile optimized online surveys was made by Ruddy Knowles and Luke Sehmer, with statistics showing that 40% of respondents in the US are completing surveys on mobile devices (a finding that is mirrored in other countries beyond the US) and research showing that those who prefer to complete surveys on mobile devices rather than personal computers are different in terms of attitudes as well as demographics. However, while it is common knowledge in market research circles that an increasing number of individuals want to complete surveys on their mobile devices, the amount of truly mobile-friendly surveys (in terms of thoughtful questionnaire design, not just technological capabilities) really hasn’t increased much in the past few years.
In both cases, there is widespread agreement – there is no one on the other side of the issue. We all know we should do more to give back and make a positive difference in the world and, on a slightly less solemn note, make it easier for people to do surveys on their smartphones. So why don’t we?
The Need for Change
In the discussion of social research, the tension between what we, as market researchers want to do and what we, as service providers, are hired to do is noted as a common barrier to doing more. Particularly for NGO’s, donors tend to be results-focused, pushing for “hard numbers” rather than “softer outcomes”, and often drive the agenda for how dollars are spent. With so much pressure to get the greatest return on investment, market research plays a more limited role, often restricted to program evaluation, and many feel that it is brought in too late in the game to make a real difference. Many want to market research brought in earlier, in the design or pre-design stages, to help understand they “whys” and be part of the innovation cycle. However, market research costs money, and many donors aren’t interested in spending more on research. If we want to be able to do more to help in the public sector, educating and persuading donors and stakeholders about the value of research is a critical first step. In this case, it is not only the behaviour of the people we are studying that we are hoping to change, it is the thinking and behaviour of those we work with that we also seek to alter.
In the case of mobile survey research, the greatest barrier to change is ourselves. Technology has advanced fast enough to keep up with the demand for mobile access, but the way we think about survey design has not. We, as researchers, have become entrenched in traditional questionnaire design and are failing to adapt to the new ways that people want to interact with us. Knowles and Sehmer argue that we need revamp our thinking, start from the beginning, and consider what it’s like to complete surveys as a respondent – as a person. How would we answer the survey? How would we want to be asked the questions? How would we want to answer them? How can we speak to people like people? Knowles and Sehmer argue for using “humanized writing”, with the goal of making surveys more conversational in nature.
The Need to be “Human-Focused”
For me, the two sessions combined can be boiled down to the idea that market research, at its heart, is all about people. It’s about human beings. Whether our goal is to increase patient compliance or increase response rates, it’s about the human experience and giving people a voice. Sally Panayiotou (TNS BMRB) captured this sentiment when she said “the most important step is bringing it back to the people” but I think Knowles said it best in his closing statement, “the future of market research depends on a ‘human-first’ (and ‘mobile-first’) approach – we have to design research (and mobile) with people in mind.” While it may be challenging, it’s important not to lose sight of what research is for.
Rebecca Heaney, Northstar Research, is one of the official RWC bloggers for ESOMAR Congress 2016.
What happens when you infuse interviews with a healthy dose of Ping Pong spirit and add a sprinkle of Millennial curiosity? We’re setting up a fun social experiment to find out!
#ESOMARping is a spontaneous interview series where one person answers a question, then asks their very own question, without knowing who will answer it.
There is absolute freedom in what question to ask – as long as it somewhat pertains to Millennials (because #pong! Duh!).
Check out some of our first submissions here to get started!
#ESOMARping is going live on Friday, September 16th, 2016 and will continue for the duration of the ESOMAR Congress in New Orleans.
How do I #ESOMARping online?
Check out the ESOMAR social feeds on Twitter and Instagram and look for the #ESOMARping hashtag. Pick a question to respond to, record a quick video on your phone and upload it with the same hashtag! Make sure you mention the handle of your interviewer in your post!
How do I #ESOMARping at the ESOMAR Congress?
Look (out) for Giulia or swing by the ESOMAR TV Studio or the #YES Lounge.
Or tweet #ESOMARpong at @giuliagasperi with a meeting location and she will come find you and record your #ESOMARpong video with you!
Why would I do this?
The better question would be: why not?
It’s a fun way to share your ideas, network and learn about others’ opinions all at the same time. Nerdy bonus: it doesn’t just shed light on how people answer a question – but also on what questions they ask!
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.
In our latest ‘Countdown to Congress’ piece, we preview a snapshot into the lives of Gen X.