As ESOMAR marks its 70th anniversary, we are using our annual appraisal of the industry’s performance to look behind the headline growth figures at the forces that have shaped – and are shaping – both the work we do and the reasons we do it.
The GMR shows that global market research revenue grew by 1.8% in 2016, taking total global turnover to US$45.442 billion.
By Jackie Mold
For me, ESOMAR Congress is an opportunity to keep up-to-date with the MR industry trends and to identify potential vendors. Add to that all the fun networking opportunities and you have an excellent mix for a 3 day industry conference.
Having attended the event for the last four years, I was expecting a busy three-day event, and sure enough, it met all my expectations and more.
Before arriving on Sunday, I like to plan my time to help ensure I manage to get the most out of Congress. So I read the program and do a quick research snoop on the speakers. As always, there is a lot going on, it can be difficult to decide which presentations to go to, and I almost prefer the all-in-one room option that is used for the keynote speakers, as this takes away the “umm what room shall I go in to” overload factor.
On the Monday morning many were expecting a lively start to the day and we certainly got that with a wonderful magic show. ESOMAR always seems to have an element of glamor for me, which is an added bonus. This was followed by a wonderful welcome by Joan Burton, Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister), Ireland.
Over the next three days I managed to hear and see all the speakers and presentations that I had highlighted. I spoke to vendors and I networked like a partygoer at a festival.
During coffee breaks there was a lot of chatter about the industry trends and what we all felt was happening, and still lots of talk on what we are doing with big data (still not sure!). For me, a trend I want to see happening is the effective use of various devices capable of collecting data. Yes, we all know we have the mobile option, but we really do need to shorten the questionnaires. It was good to hear that this is an area that seems to be seeing some improvement.
One presentation that did make me think was: Watching the Devices: do we watch video differently on smaller screens? This presentation demonstrated how we consume media in 2015, and how viewing on mobile devices has changed our relationship with programmes. We were shown how we watch and how our brains are reacting, which is a fascinating insight for researchers. I was astonished at the way our viewing options have increased, but it seems large uncluttered screens are still the best for advertising, and we pay more attention to programs shown on traditional TV, because there are fewer distractions!
In previous years I have been able to pick out my favorite presentations, but this year the standard was so high I found myself leaving saying “that was the best” on at least four occasions. There were also remarkable keynote speakers. Listening to Sir Ranulph Fiennes talk about his amazing explorations and endurance made me feel very humble. His almost comic routine to tell his story made his talk highly entertaining. We also heard from an inspiring young man named Jordan Casey. This was a follow-on from his presentation last year and he gave us an update on what he has been up to in the last 12 months. His latest project, Kids Code, is an online game that uses puzzles to teach children how to code – how smart is that?! – and he has accomplished this at the ripe old age of 15!
ESOMAR always manages to have a great party and this year the dinner event was superb. There was plenty of bubbles on arrival at the beautiful building of Royal Dublin Society. The Irish drummers and dancers gave the night a real Irish Craic feel, and by the end of the night there were a lot of people on the dancefloor all strutting their stuff and looking pleased with their age, era or country- appropriate dance styles. We even kept the craic theme going at the end of the night on the buses on the way back to our hotels with an impromptu singalong!
I left this year’s ESOMAR worn out, but full of ideas and inspiration. I met up with friends and contemporaries from all over the world and I made new contacts, some relevant and some not, but all worth a chat.
Bring on New Orleans 2016!
Jackie Mold is general manager Europe at Ugam, a global leader in managed analytics for retailers, brands and market research firms.
By Christoph Welter
‘Creative, collaborative, cool!’ Three buzzwords and a rallying call to frame this year’s gathering of the qualitative research community under the ESOMAR banner.
Creative! Collaborative! Cool! Paris must have seemed like the perfect location to underpin this conference with a sense of confidence and verve. Now, the day begins with the question of how to switch into working mode at all after the events of last Friday. Yet, the room is full of people, 20 out of 22 presentations will go ahead over the course of two days – it’s an amazing outcome of delegates showing their support for Paris and France and their resolve to come together, to exchange thinking, to share and connect in a difficult time.
On a personal note, I feel that with the recent events, one question looms somewhat ominously: What does the research industry have to offer in creating a better tomorrow? Qualitative researchers in particular are known as people’s people, as empathisers and engagers: Can we use this skill, as an industry, to bring about positive change on a societal level?
But let me come back to recapping Day 1 of the conference. Stephanie Davies from Laughology (UK) provided a fantastic opening keynote that not only talked delegates through the transformative power of laughter and humour, she actually engaged everyone right in it! There was cheering, hugging, and lots of laughing. In doing so, she made a pristinely simple and convincing argument for fun and humour in the business world. Moments of happiness release Dopamine, Serotonine, Oxytocine and Endorphine, which in turn are proven to facilitate learning. And humour is a way of making sense of the world that prompts positive connection. What more motivation do we need to allow more fun at work?
Now, is that an appropriate way to start a conference after the recent tragic events? Let me explain my resounding YES, by drawing the connection to the second talk of the day. Vivek Banerji of Insight Dojo (UK) talked about ethnographic research into post-traumatic growth. He showcased how chronic pain patients transform struggles, creating a positive outlook on their life – and how the insights from this research helps to create a framework for healing that can be applied to patient-support programmes on a larger scale. It also provided something of a therapeutic moment for delegates in the room.
In the afternoon sessions, the presenters took it upon them to further fill the conference motto with life. Els Dragt and Pernille Kok-Jensen of MARE Research set a highlight with their talk on trends within Generation Y. Not another Gen Y talk I hear you say? Well, the MARE ladies showcased how to do it right! They provided 4 cultural practices replete with examples that showed how Gen Y is engaging with the world in a different way than previous generations. And then they went and asked how these practices might impact on how we do research. A successful exercise in learning from perspective shift – by the way, exactly the crucial lever that qualitative research has in impacting business.
A creative breakout session then saw delegates come up with their own ideas on trends in society. Although both the task framing and the working material left something to be desired, everyone rejoiced in the opportunity to switch from listening into doing mode. One team even went ahead and turned one of their members into a ‚universal human‘, plastering him with snippets from magazines and covering him in stickies. It is these moments that bring to life the motto of a conference like this – and we need more outlets for creativity at conferences in order to balance and make sense of the onslaught of inspiration through talks.
Speaking of onslaught – I noticed that presenters tried to cram a lot of content into their presentations and more often than not it was great content indeed. But we need better economics of messaging: paring down content to essential takeaways and more storytelling to bring these alive.
Andrew Vincent and Helen Clark from Waves Research (UK) gave a great example of framing their own key message so as to make it sticky. Their opening statement that we live in a post-quantitative world immediately caught on Twitter – beyond the confines of the conference delegates. Their talk also pointed towards the greater topic of relevance: What is all that being ‘Creative, Collaborative, Cool‘ good for? Contextual face-to-face qualitative research is growing more important the more clients are dealing with massive data sets – speaking about the power of qual to act as sensemaker in a complex world.
Sensemaking was then also the focus (sic!) of Shoba Prashad’s (Drshti Research Services, India) talk, where she used the analogy of vision disorders like myopia and hyperopia to create a framework for different analysis biases and how to overcome them – I can easily imagine that this is a paper worth checking out for training young qualitative researchers.
Over the course of the day, the Programme Committee chaired by Graeme Lawrence from Join The Dots (UK) also provided timely reminders around the identity of qualitative research and the value it provides to business. I want to single out three points: Anne-Sophie Damelincourt (Blue Lemon, France) made the case for research as an artform, Graeme reminded us of the need to treat people like people, and Anita Black (The Magnetic Collective, USA) encouraged researchers to be like magpies – to seek out inspiration everywhere and bring it back into our nests.
At the end of Day 1, my mind goes back to that question of what the commercial qualitative research industry has to offer in creating a better world. During the day, Phillys MacFarlane provided a short overview of training, charity and philanthropy activities provided by the ESOMAR Foundation throughout the world. It is one possible connector.
Christoph Welter is Strategy Director at Point Blank International. He is also the official ESOMAR Global Qualitative 2015 blogger.
By Adam Warner @
And so here we are. Slightly groggy, a little tired and delicate, welcome to day 3 of the ESOMAR Congress.
Yesterday afternoon, to ensure I was appropriately suited and booted for the ESOMAR Awards Dinner, I sent my blog to the editor before seeing the final keynote of the day. But Peter Lovett, Dance Psychologist at Hertfordshire University (Herts represent!) gave such an engaging session it’s worth mentioning today. Exploring the benefits of dance in encouraging divergent thinking, and in the social situations, it genuinely showed that there was more to dance than many think.
The ESOMAR Awards Dinner was also last night which was a lot more formal than last year’s Congress Dinner, which would have pleased many returning delegates this year. I, however, had a bloody excellent time last year in Nice, but I think I was in a minority. All in all, it was good to see the ESOMAR awards get a bit more stature this year, the highlight of last night being to see Joy Uyanwune, pick up the Best Representative Award for her work in Nigeria.
But fast forward to today in room 1. Today room 1 was all about the good market research can do in cultural and social research. Although it was a shame to miss out on the The Business Value of Visuals sessions in room 2, it’s the social research that, to me, really does demonstrate the value in market research.
Yesterday, Matt Taylor of Twitter made a shout for changing what we communicate, as an industry, to the public and specifically graduates and potential researchers. This was a key point for me over the week. And today, the highlight was the content we should be using to promote the industry.
Millennials are not going to be interested in hearing about how, through research, Coca-Cola increased their profits by an extra few million, or sold more Coke in Brazilian favelas. In fact, I don’t want to hear about that, that’s the ugly side of market research. And as Samantha Bond talked about yesterday millennials want “morals not money”. The Social Impact and Impact of Social session this afternoon is exactly what we should be communicating, in particular the award winning Belief, Intent, ACTION! paper, showing us the real positive impact research can make. Forget polling, forget taking commercial papers and clients to university visits – this should be the public face of market research.
Anurag Vaish, Jeff Mulhausen, Katie Plocheck, Maaya Sundaram, Maria Eletskaya, Ram Prasad, Sema Sgaier, Steve Kretschmer and Timothy Sweeney talked us through an incredibly challenging study in Africa that addressed male circumcision in the region, hoping to avert 3.4 million new cases of HIV by 2025. This is research that saves lives.
After lunch the thread continued with the When Democracy Fails to Deliver from WIN/Gallup and Ireland and Same-Sex Marriage: Predicting Social Change, with Aengus Carroll and Eric Meerkamper of RIWI, which showed how innovative survey techniques were used to guide the strategy of the successful Yes campaign for the Irish marriage equality referendum. Again, a powerful story of how research can be used for significant social good.
We finished the day with two keynotes Panti Bliss, a gender discombobulist, and “the world’s greatest explorer” Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Two very different keynotes to end the Congress, but equally as fascinating.
Ranulph Fiennes in particular held the room with easy charm. While at first glance seemingly dry at the fore, you have the hilarious tales of a man of incredibly strong character fatalist who talked to us of the importance of teamwork and resilience.
Both Panti and Ranulph are national treasures in my book.
And that was it for Congress 2015. All that was left was for ultimate MR double act Finn Raben and Laurent Flores to sum up and sign out. There’s been a hashtag doing the rounds all week -#imaproudmarketresearcher. I didn’t mention it before because I bailed out of the session that featured it, I do hate audience participation after all. But it does well to sum up the event. This is not the first Congress, or the last, that will have an undercurrent of celebrating the work of the industry in order to promote it to a wider audience and ensure the growth and the security. For me, ESOMAR Congress 2015 showed that there is the will and the content behind it to make a strong push to improve the public perception of MR. You just need someone to take responsibility and take action.
Adam Warner is one of three RWC bloggers, reporting straight from Congress 2015 onsite.
Adam Warner is Communications Manager at Keen as Mustard.
By Ben Taylor
Last month I returned to the UK from a very productive and inspiring overseas trip to Singapore, where I was attending the 16th edition of ESOMAR’s annual marketing and research Asia Pacific event. It was a busy couple of days, with a lot of interesting, groundbreaking and inventive ideas to absorb from a multitude of speakers from all over the globe. Collectively, there seems to be a real buzz about the future of market research, especially its expansion into Asia.
Before I go into discussing the key takeaways from the conference, allow me to quickly note some of the standout impressions I’ve been left with. What struck me the most is the consensus among delegates that there is a growing “need for speed” within the sector. This is reflective of changes in the wider world: the “speed of now” that is characteristic of the 21st century demands fast results. Researchers have to get quicker.
The other trends I picked up on were around research projects that are more international in scope (which are increasing in popularity and relevance). There were insightful discussions highlighting, for example, the importance of cultural considerations, as well as talks on the fascinating yet complex nature of language from a globalised vantage point and how this impacts on researchers.
I’ve had plenty to think about since the event and it has me more enthused than ever before about the direction the sector is heading in. If you want to know more about what to expect, then stick with us and read on. These are my highlights.
The Internet of Things
As a species, we are more connected than ever before. The pivotal moment came in 2008 when the number of connected devices overtook the number of people on the planet for the first time. In 2015, 25 billion connected devices are in existence. By 2020, that number could be as much as 50 billion.
Welcome to the world of the Internet of Things (IoT), which, in its most basic form, represents the digital ecosystem that connects most things to the internet. The implications for researchers is that they now have access to data that was previously unavailable. Consider cars, by way of example. You will be able to benefit from a wealth of information that was either difficult to gather or impossible to get hold of – mileage, performance, quality of driving and geo-location.
Other industries, like insurance, are already feeling the impact of IoT. Is market research ready for this? It appears not. From the conversations I’ve had, it appears that the industry has been slow to act. Venture capital is flowing into tech innovators and not traditional market research operators – if the latter wants to compete they have to reshape their business models, engage with analytics companies and adopt digital-first strategies.
The future of insight
Insight processes are being influenced by the growing importance of speed. For example, a talk delivered by SKIM noted that in the very foreseeable future, insight generation processes – and tools – will be completely automated. This will be the standard way of working and not the exception, meaning quick delivery times will be a prerequisite, not a differentiator.
This is especially the case in Asia, where consumers are mostly mobile natives – they have, in effect, skipped the whole PC-era. This advanced state offers researchers a unique and real-time source of data, meaning that they can, more rapidly, engage, collect and analyse sources of information and then quickly deliver results to their clients.
How quick? I heard examples of market testing projects that reduced project times from six weeks to six days. That extraordinary compression in the workflow requires a lot of mutual trust, transparency and planning between all stakeholders, which, if you’re involved in international studies, isn’t easy to organise with traditional methodologies. You have to be open to new technology.
Getting there first
The idea of supply and demand is shifting, with the latter growing in importance. In short, consumer power is increasing and it has more sway. If you look at trends in Asia, brands that want to successfully launch breakthrough innovations quicker and with more reliable returns, need to be better informed. Asian consumers, for example, don’t want to buy more products – they want better products.
Market researchers are tasked with finding this insight out markedly faster than ever before. To achieve this, they are adopting iterative and agile processes – as opposed to one that is consecutive – which allow them to speed up the research process and enable small incremental improvements before reaching a breakthrough concept.
Coca-Cola’s partnership with ZappiStore and SSI was a great study into how this philosophy of “fail fast and learn quickly” can deliver outstanding results in days, even hours. When compared to offline approaches, such as focus groups, the results of reactions to advertisements was consistent. Crucially the 4-7 days of time savings from using an agile methodology translates into allowing Coca-Cola’s creatives to fine-tune and optimise their copy.
Other time-busting methods, as discussed by MMR Research Worldwide and MobileMeasure, include carrying out mini-panels via mobile messaging apps. The example they gave was WeChat, China’s most popular social platform and the fastest growing in the world.
Why is it advantageous? For one, it has a massive user base (450 million at the time of writing in China alone). And two, given that they already have the app installed on their device, it allows for easy, direct access to respondents. Short, interactive survey formats are perfectly suited to mobile devices and researchers are also harnessing WeChat’s instant messaging capabilities to do real-time qual work with participants that give follow-up consent.
To give a sense of how effective this can be, the pilot study on WeChat saw a 60 percent higher completion rate than equivalent mobile apps. With these hugely popular social platforms consuming ever growing chunks of people’s lives, a well-executed strategy on mini-panels ensures you remain one step ahead of your competitors. Once again, the need for speed and “insight immediacy” is driving this new trend.
Culture and language
In recent years, behavioural economics has become something of a hot topic within market research, with the sector the latest to be taken in by this increasingly important if not fashionable discipline.
A paper I read by The Irrational Agency, titled Globally Irrational, Locally Rational? and a Masterclass at the event examined the cultural relevance of behavioural economics within Asia. Here’s where it gets complex, something we, as a language service provider know all about when helping researchers localise for multi-market studies.
Here’s the context. You have to localise all surveys and then appropriately translate responses to ensure data is correct. If you don’t, somewhere along the line, errors and misunderstandings are going to emerge. In a similar way, with behavioural economics, where 90 percent of psychology research comes from evidence in the West, how can you be sure that similar theories will apply in Asian cultures? Cross-cultural research into decision making is limited so the next best alternative is to look at measurable differences between cultures.
Another fascinating and related talk came from Pete Cape, director of global knowledge at SSI. His paper I Speak, Therefore I Am? chimed with me, which is no surprise given the context was to do with language. As the blurb for the talk stated: “If you think your brand message is the same in translation, then it’s time to think again.”
SSI looked at trying to quantify the phenomenon of bilingual people thinking differently depending on the language they are speaking at the time. In this instance, they looked at to what extent do members of the Chinese diaspora who live, study or work in an English-speaking country, answer differently when thinking in Chinese or English?
Moreover, how does the context of their environment – they live all over the world – influence the approach to both languages? SSI posed a lot of interesting questions, concluding that answers were more similar when doing the study in Chinese and more similar to other respondents in the same country when in English. As a follow-up to this work, a Chinese co-collaborator could help to offer a greater cultural interpretation of the results.
Exciting times ahead
The world has, since the bells rang in the start of the new millennium, changed significantly. The nineties, still recent in memory, look very dated. We’ve moved on leaps and bounds in every respect, most notably in technology.
Market research has gone from strength to strength, with the start of the 21st century witnessing a remarkable upswing in interest in the sector, thanks in large part to globalisation. It has been further boosted by the expanding interest in working with and in Asian countries, with many international enterprises keen to capitalise on economic growth in this region.
However, against a backdrop of technological change, this hasn’t been easy for all concerned parties. Multinationals have had to rethink their brand identity and approach, while market researchers have had to adapt their research techniques. Right now, in 2015, we find ourselves in a more informed position, but with much more work still left to do “to get it right”. As ESOMAR’s APAC event showed, the sector is responding. It doesn’t have all the answers yet, but it is certainly asking the right questions.
This piece was originally published by Language Connect.
Ben Taylor gained a 1st class degree in Mathematics from the University of Bristol and worked as an investment banker with Deutsche Bank before co-founding Language Connect at the age of 23 with his wife Iwona. Today, Language Connect works with over 100 market research companies globally. It supports their international research studies with specialist language and technology solutions available in more than 150 different languages. www.languageconnect.net