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.
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 Alieke Stubbe
Every day we interact continuously with technology by using our smartphones, wearing activity trackers and being online every single moment of the day. Thanks to this, we get smart notifications and real-time information. Think about Google Calendar that tells you exactly when to leave for work based on real-time calculations. My Garmin tracks my activity every day and I just love the fact that I can follow my own activity and optimise my daily behaviour via a personal app.
Technologies enable us to do things we could not imagine a few years ago, but there are still some issues today. First of all, it’s not a seamless experience. We need PIN codes and passwords or have to carry extra devices, which can be rather messy. Overall, nothing is really connected and this creates a very fragmented experience. Secondly, the most important and biggest issue, it’s a blind spot. We don’t always know when we are disclosing information or what will be done with it. We have no control over our own information!
Imagine we could “uberize” the whole idea of data collection: what if humans could leverage and exploit all the data they are collecting anyway? Just like pretty much everyone can drive a car, what if everyone could make value of their own data? Moreover, how can the market research industry benefit more from technology and consumers’ addiction to track just about everything? How can we combine the value these technologies bring consumers with our need to collect data?
In comes the chip: a non-painful chip implant that can be (de)activated by the chip carrier every month. A chip so smart that it captures your behaviour, the brands you use, your emotions, moods, thoughts and attitudes. A chip that can connect with your debit card, smartphone, car and even your home security system. A chip that uploads all data in real time. All these metrics are tracked and can be used anonymously for commercial purposes (like in traditional market research).
And what’s in it for you, the chip carrier? The chip provides you with the ultimate personal coach! You can set personal goals according to your weight or your activity level. You can get personalized working schedules, spending alerts and so on. Companies can offer you customized services and products based on your data (e.g. bank accounts, insurances, etc.). And all this very conveniently and seamlessly. Above all, you are the one in charge of your data, you decide when you want to share your personal information and to whom.
Think about it, no more self-reported data, no more ad-hoc set-ups, no more ‘annoying’ questionnaires. Think about real-time human data and having access to everything consumers do, think and feel. This way we can move from researching to monitoring. Furthermore, we can forget about looking at the what, who, how and when questions; the chip will tell us everything. The only thing we still need to figure out is the WHY, why do consumers do what they do?
So what do you think? What would you want in return for sharing everything you do, think and feel? How much would you want for having a (market research) chip implanted in your wrist, tracking every movement? What price would you want for giving up your privacy? 10 000 euro a year? 500 euro for every month you share your data? Would you have your studies paid in exchange for sharing all your data during those studies? What would be a fair transaction between research agency and participant?
Alieke joined InSites Consulting as a Qualitative Research Consultant, after completing a Master’s degree in industrial psychology & human resources and a Postgraduate degree in marketing management. As part of the InSites Consulting Technology & Services team, she is currently working for a range of local and global clients. With this idea on the future of market research she was rewarded with the Febelmar Young Talent Award at the annual Febelmar Congress in Brussels.
By Finn Raben
Firstly, a BIG thank you to Judith Passingham CEO, Ipsos Interactive Services (Global), Ipsos, UK, Eric Meerkamper President of RIWI, Canada and last but by no means least, Knut Asrud CEO of Norstat, Norway – who joined me to try and define what the next generation of research agency would look like! My thanks too, to all of you who were on the webinar, and your questions…some of which have hopefully been captured below.
I found this a fascinating discussion, and in many ways, highlighted a lot more questions than we had time to discuss. That said, I did come away from our discussion with four themes that I think are worth bearing in mind, as well as a fifth point that is consistent with the discussion we had a month ago on the next generation of researcher…..
- Reports about the death of data collection are wildly exaggerated.
One of the more interesting themes we hear quite regularly these days, is that data collection is “dead”, the theory being that because everyone can produce information, data collection is no longer necessary.
I think this discussion proved that this proposition is pretty groundless, as no matter what data you access, curate or analyse, the data will still have to have been “collected” at some point, and in that collection process, there are “good” ways of doing it, and “not so good” ways of doing it…the key is being able to understand what methodology (and thus what data) is “fit for purpose” for the project at hand.
The more interesting point was that everyone was of the opinion that data collection is no longer a linear process, and it now MUST be a device agnostic process – particularly as we see technology advance at an ever-increasing rate.
- Rigour more important than ever
Following on from that point was again, the consensus view that “more” data doesn’t automatically mean “better” data, and that “big” data doesn’t mean “complete” data.
Indeed, in this era of data proliferation, “rigour” is actually more important than ever before, as we do need to be able to determine “provenance”, as well as “quality”, so that we use the right data to support our project and not just all data.
Some time ago, ESOMAR started to communicate the concept of “smart data” as opposed to “big data” – i.e. determining that information which is pertinent to the question in hand, rather than just the entire data set. In this process, the researcher’s skill in being able to determine provenance, quality and relevance are second to none – and will remain a key feature of the research agency of the future.
- Proprietary intelligence is essential
On the basis of having the skill to determine the quality, provenance and relevance of information, the panel were also agreed that the research agency is best placed to compete on data knowledge & intelligence….but equally acknowledged that not all do so.
The view was expressed that if research agencies are just seen as service providers, then our perceived value will decline further….we do need to include some form of proprietary intelligence into our work, to distinguish ourselves from just a commodity information provider.
This does NOT necessarily mean “black box” technology – as we have seen that a lack of transparency does not sit well with clients or users – but rather suggests that we need to include a greater element of opinion, or commentary, which acknowledges our breadth and depth of experience in assessing and applying insights from data.
Some years ago, prior to the acquisition by WPP, TNS had a series of corporate exhortations, one of which was (and I paraphrase), Be Brave – express an opinion….I think this is more true now than ever before.
- The market WILL punish mediocrity.
The threat of commodity – and thus mediocrity – is lethal.
If you cannot discuss provenance and relevance, if you cannot express an opinion based on the evidence, and if you cannot substantiate either a question or an answer, then we become a commodity service… to be selected simply on price, and to suffer from continuing “cost-efficiency” pressures.
- We must shout louder about what we do…
As we discussed in our last webinar, we do not do enough to communicate the quality of our work, or the value of what we bring. Yes, we make mistakes – but so does every company.
To quote from the film “Rocky” : “it is not about how many times you can get knocked down, rather it is about how you get up each time”.
There were lots of other themes that we touched upon, including D.I.Y., data science, the disintermediation of elements of the research process, etc etc….I can’t cover them all here, but rest assured we will get to those, in the coming sessions!! In the meantime, I look forward to your thoughts on these themes..
Thanks again to everyone who participated in this discussion…I can’t wait for the next one, and what it will put forward!!
A reminder for your diary:
The future of market research webinar series- The Client vision
Finn Raben is Director General at ESOMAR.