By Nino Gogoladze
The role of an ESOMAR country representative is not only about supporting the industry in the country, but also about helping citizens to be aware of specific local market conditions and future prospects.
Georgia is a small, pleasant, newly established post-Soviet country. Can you imagine how big the research sector might be in such a country? The reality is that the research market in Georgia is very small; the first Georgian research company, according to the official data of the Statistics Department, was founded in 1995- IPM Research.
So, where is the source for evaluation of this 20-year-old small market? The country’s economy is in crisis now, struggling to recover from the 2008 Russia-Georgia war; experiencing local currency inflation and low economic growth- all of which affect the research market. The above resulted in a decline in marketing research budgets and increase in political research budgets. There are few truly reputable research companies here possessing the sufficient skills, knowledge and experience, and so the competition is high.
For me, as an ESOMAR country representative, the first goal was to establish good relationships with association members. The dramatic effect of competition often nudged competing companies and professionals to avoid meetings, communication with the same audience, or the chance to share their experience. It was very important to break the ice and offer them a neutral communication format. Thus, my first goal was to encourage the seven current members of the association to become real ambassadors not only of their companies but also for ESOMAR.
At the 2015 ESOMAR congress in Dublin, the representatives’ meeting addressed the reasons for the low involvement of young people within the association and aimed to introduce them to the industry and society of researchers. Everyone agrees that youngsters should be encouraged to join the ESOMAR society, but there is uncertainty as to how to persuade them of the importance of joining. My idea was to arrange a meeting with students in local universities to promote association principles and benefits. Students of the sociology, psychology, statistics, and marketing faculties are the main target groups for meetings in which they hear directly from research professionals who not only promote the industry but also help a new generation to get information about the highest standards in the research industry.
The idea of the communication format helped me to involve most association members within the activities and proved helpful to students because all members of the association fully understand their responsibility to support future industry growth and to take part in the educational process of the next generation of researchers.
After receiving confirmation from key association members: Giorgi Abramishvili (Director, Market Intelligence Caucasus, Licensee of TNS Georgia); Tinatin Rukhadze (General Director, ACT Georgia); Gocha Tskitishvili (Director, IPM Research Georgia) to participate, the first meeting was planned in one of the biggest Georgian universities – Caucasus University. The eagerness of students of the sociology and psychology faculties there was impressive. Four presenters from the different Georgian research companies chose the best practice research projects to present the students, and each member talked about ESOMAR, the benefits they receive and the importance of ethical norms, codes and guidelines for the research industry.
Following that first successful meeting, we planned a second, and started thinking about inviting a guest speaker from ESOMAR to talk about a selected topic. A lack of budget meant that we were limited in options, so I chose to invite a foreign guest speaker from abroad to speak to attendees via online presentation rather than in the flesh. We were fortunate that ESOMAR helped by inviting Dr. Stephen Needel, Managing Partner of U.S.-based Advanced Simulations, to talk via e-conference. The resulting meeting was extremely interesting, informative and engaging and extended from the planned 2.5 hours to 3 hours. A journalist from local newspaper Georgia Today attended the meeting and wrote an article about it available here.
After that second successful meeting, the Georgian ESOMAR members’ group received an invitation from another university to hold a meeting there. It too, proved successful- in fact, we saw even greater motivation from students than in the first. We will continue this good work throughout 2017, and already have another university visit lined up.
Global events are of utmost importance for the information they provide, but small ones can also serve to change local environments and help the research industry’s current and future members. That is our aim and our current mission.
Nino Gogoladze is Managing Director at TV MR GE, Nielsen Television Audience Measurement’s official licensee
By Neda Eneva
How can we ensure our industry and profession keep up with the demands of our time and remain relevant not only in generating insights for our clients, but also in effectively impacting the lives of consumers? Last week Amsterdam hosted the latest edition of the ESOMAR Best of series, bringing Congress presentations to the local data, insights and research audience in The Netherlands. And while there wasn’t an official theme umbrella accompanying the event, there was a clear underlying message – if we wish to stay relevant we need to be able to look beyond the conventional and be brave to experiment.
The event opened with a presentation by Till Winkler from SKOPOS, Germany with an inspiring talk on the need for agile research. Are we truly in sync with the way our clients work? Drawing from his experience in the sphere of UX research, Till showcased interesting parallels between the 4 step feedback loop UX teams work with and fundamentally some of the current core requirements in working with clients not only in UX research, but also beyond. He observed that in the sphere of UX and probably most of the tech-oriented industries, the initiation of change and the generation of fact-driven decision-making have actually shifted towards the UX and tech teams themselves leading to a dynamic change in the way clients overall operate. It is the UX teams that drive the change, Till argued, and as drivers of change how do they operate? In a very agile manner, for example, adopting the popular Eric Ries’ 4 step feedback loop, which places the generation of ideas and their execution prior to measuring and generating insights. Research takes too long and it is too complex, UX experts argue and so there appears to be a gap between the model of “build, test and build again” they execute and the insights-first weighty cycles the market research industry provides. And while the clients have an increased demand for speed and continuous support, as well as high demands for specific expertise because they have fundamentally changed the way they work, is the market research industry adapting itself to their needs? Can we prove them wrong in saying that #mrx is just not worth the time and effort? To answer that, we do not even need to reinvent the wheel, Till argued, instead we could perhaps learn from the way our clients operate. To achieve that, he suggested four key action points. First, utilize technology and more specifically – achieve automation. Make use of new solutions to make your processes faster, easier and even cheaper, which can go as far as change the way you interact with clients to meet their needs. Number two, take control, ‘stop the waterfall’. Have the nerve to pivot and try something new, do not be afraid to adjust along the way. Try and experiment with new tools, such as communities for example, to achieve responsive and adaptive testing and insights’ generation. And third, rethink. And this, Till argued is a key principle in achieving a more agile way of working. What about our own UX? Have WE ensured fluid user experience and full, cross-platform integration or have we forgotten that methodology, while crucial, is only one aspect of the journey of meeting clients’ needs. Agile thinking is not something that we can or should switch on and off, it has to become a core principle in the way we work. And so Till concluded, maybe we do not need to prove UX-ers wrong, bur rather try and think differently and most of all, be brave to experiment, try something new, ask for feedback and adapt going ahead.
Going beyond working with clients and moving on to consumers, the need for adaptive action was also highlighted by the team at SKIM, and more specifically Julia Goernandt, Nijat Mammadbayli and Patricia Domiguez who presented their case-study on millennials as key brand development disruptors. And while many still fail to see the relevance, the SKIM team highlighted in a clear way the importance of this key demographic among consumers. In the US, for example, the team highlighted, there are more millennials than baby boomers and while millennials are transforming the market, brands still fail to rethink how they communicate to this generation effectively. To showcase that, a modified research method is needed in understanding millennials and the way they are adopting new technologies and are adapting consumer behavior to their own models. Julia, Nijat and Patricia presented their global case study showcasing a new research approach and namely conducting a survey on smartphones, and more importantly, asking millennials to respond in a way which comes naturally to millennials. Focusing on the telecom industry, the research addressed what millennials look for when choosing a network provider, the best way to talk to millennials, and ultimately what influences their likelihood to switch or stay with a provider. They adapted the swiping technique using ‘unspoken’ technology, which takes into account both the emotional and rational element in decision-making. The research was conducted across 3 different locations (Atlanta, London and Rotterdam) and across a 24/7 timeframe. And so, the case study paid off as they discovered interesting findings confirming key behavioral features of millennials as consumers. Millennials wish to be connected at all time, thrive to be themselves while having fun, value disruptors and are highly perceptive to visuals. And what does that mean for brands? When addressing millennials, it is important not to forget that they are open to changes in decision-making, value the basics and can be rather volatile. And while this global case study focused and highlighted this one key consumer demographic, it showcased an even more important issue – market research needs to maintain an adaptive approach when addressing different consumer groups and thus needs to adjust its methodology in generating insights accordingly.
The third speaker of the day, Nikki Lavoie, MindSpark Research International, continued the topic of connecting better with our target audiences. Where do we look for answers, she asked. Typically, market researchers adjust their methodologies through new tech or more data, but Nikki offered an exciting and rather revolutionary method – why not draw inspiration through a more cross-disciplinary method? She proposed the use of empathy, namely not only understanding and but also sharing the feelings of other people as a tool to gather insight that we understand and value. Market researchers, Nikki argued, both across the qual and quant, often don’t think twice about how they engage to get them into a focus group, for example. Are we motivating participants the best way possible and even more importantly, do we realize how detached from their experiences we are as researchers and how that potentially affects the insights and conclusions we generate from them. Nikki challenged the maxima of “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, urging market researchers to stop resting on their laurels, suggesting the need to go back to the foundations and shift the focus back to the recruitment process. She contested common motivation techniques, such as financial rewards, arguing that those always offer lower engagement rates and cause additional post factum issues. Using learnings from gamification theory, psychology and behavioral economics, Nikki underlined that understanding and connecting with human motivation is a lot more crucial than researchers often realize and there are a lot of limitations that can be found in un-empathetic techniques such as financial incentives. Trust, Nikki added, is another factor often getting lost in financial incentives. The moment you pay someone to answer a personal question, the relationship changes to an economic one, Nikki explained. To illustrate this, she presented a case study she conducted with a control group and a volunteer group who received different explanations as to why they were invited to participate. With the results showing that the completion rate of the task suggested was higher among the volunteer group, Nikki underlined that our ability to motivate and engage with consumers is limited at present. Are we ready to understand and share their experiences, she asked, to reach true understanding of both their shopping and participation behavior?
The final presentation by Anouar El Haji from Veylinx also focused on drawing inspiration from different fields and going beyond traditional methodologies to measure product value and perceptions. His argument was that we need to make the game as real as possible if we are to expect real insights. It is time for #mrx to go in the direction of introducing ‘skin in the game’ for true measurement of value. The problem with surveys, he argued, is that their hypothetical bias is a result of their fictitious nature. His answer to this – “Ask people to put their money where their mouth is” or, simply put, auctions. At Veylinx they have adopted a form of the Lonely but Lovely Vickrey Auction thus impacting the value by changing the positioning of the product. They set up a product valuation by setting an auction in which each participant has one anonymous vote, with the final price being the highest losing bid. By auctions, Anouar argued, the people that are willing to actually pay for a product are more clearly distinguished from the people that are not. A compelling approach, which certainly answers the call for unconventional approaches to commonly witnessed industry challenges.
And so, from auctions to empathy, from millennials to the need for being more agile, this edition of ESOMAR’s Best Of certainly didn’t disappoint in offering inspiration to the call for change from conventional research workflows. Biggest learning for me? Do not be afraid to experiment and look beyond your field when trying to push the boundaries for better insights.
P.S Did I mention that all the speakers are millennials themselves? How cool is that?!?
Neda Eneva is Marketing and Communications Manager at ESOMAR.
By Wale Omiyale
Earlier this year, we held a seminar in London focusing on the next 20 years of Market Research. Having seen so much change during our own 20 years in the industry, it made sense that a look ahead by the same timespan would deliver some fascinating food for thought.
So, when Lightspeed’s Jon Puleston predicted the future of MR with a single statement – ‘I have no idea’ – I was stumped. If we can’t predict what’s in store in the 20 short years ahead, how can we possibly foresee the shape of things to come in the next century?
Puleston went on to explain the nature of his statement as a demonstration of the challenges our industry faces in making predictions of any kind, and also made some very bold statements about how he expects things may turn out.
But his comments were a great way of shaking up my own thinking. With the dramatic developments we’ve seen since our foundation in 1996, how can we pin down what technologies will evolve to drive research, or indeed if different ways of working will disrupt the ways things stand today?
Solid foundations for growth
Historians say that to make sense of our present and future, we need to understand our past. So, without delving into a lengthy history lesson, perhaps we can more accurately predict how our industry will evolve if we take a brief step back and look at what has gone before.
Market Research as a practice really came into its own in the 1920s, a result of the boom in radio advertising and sponsorship in the US. In this decade, Daniel Starch, widely referenced as a pioneer of the MR practices we still work with today, developed the theory that advertising had to be remembered and acted upon to be effective.
Wale Omiyale is SVP, market research at Confirmit
If you’re an ESOMAR member you can read the full article in MyESOMAR in the digital copy of Research World. If you are not a member of ESOMAR you can join and receive a free copy of Research World 6 times a year or alternatively you can sign up for a subscription of the magazine in our publications store.
By Sally Wu, Steve August, Sjoerd Koornstra, BV Pradeep and Jake Steadman
Who are the individuals who’ve played a role in guiding others into or through the industry? We talk to prominent researchers from around the world and ask: who’s had the greatest impact on your career in research?
By Reg Baker
As our profession evolves into new practices, then so must our ICC/ESOMAR International Code on Market and Social Research. As the ICC/ESOMAR Code is of vital importance to our profession, all ESOMAR members can vote on it in a Referendum, which will be open until 31 October 2016. In this article, Reg Baker, who was part of the project team revising the ICC/ESOMAR Code, addresses one of concerns that came to light in the revision process.
Thus far, the newly revised version of the ICC/ESOMAR Code has been mostly well received by ESOMAR members with one notable exception: use of the word data subject in place of respondent. As one member queried, “What’s that all about?”
There are two answers to that question. The simplest (and perhaps least satisfying) explanation is that data privacy legislation worldwide is migrating toward the use of the term. Given current and widespread concerns about privacy and the increasing use and misuse of personal data linking the Code and the guidelines that support it to the relevant legal concepts and terminology makes good sense.
But, there also is another much more relevant explanation that grew out of the ongoing evolution and diversification of research methods and practices. When the vast majority of research was done with surveys and focus groups—that is, asking questions and recording answers—the term respondent was an accurate description of how individuals participated in research. In some of our recent guidelines we refer to this as active research, defined as “the collection of data through direct interaction with an individual.”
More recently we have seen an increase in the use of passive methods, meaning “the collection of personal data by observing, measuring or recording an individual’s actions or behaviour.” In this context, the term respondent no longer seems appropriate. There still may be an interaction with the individual, for example to gain consent, but there no longer are questions and answers. In this context the term respondent seems odd, and so we moved to research participant, to cover people who take part in both active and passive methods.
Enter big data, or as we describe it in the revised Code, secondary data, defined as “data collected for another purpose and subsequently used in research.” With secondary data researchers generally do not interact with those individuals whose personal data we might acquire and analyse as part of our research, so defining them either as respondents or even research participants makes no sense. Hence the term, data subject, defined simply as “any individual whose personal data is used in research.”
Of course, we could continue to use three different terms, each in their specific context and sometimes in combination. To those of us who work on the teams that develop guidelines, this seems to add complexity without adding value. And so, over the coming months as we go back to update our guidelines to reflect the enhancements in the new Code we plan to use the single term data subject to signal anyone whose personal data is used in research, regardless of how it was obtained.
Reg Baker, Consultant to the ESOMAR Professional Standards Committee and Executive Director of MRII
WHY YOU NEED TO VOTE FOR THE NEW CODE: