How research and insight markets itself as an industry and how it markets its products – insights – to clients have been a hot topic of conversation in recent years, but how does this look going forward?
In the final feedback from our panel we see two consistent themes – a better outward facing image and a more engaging approach to client management – appear, whilst reminding us that ‘methods’ may be terminology of yesteryear.
By Katia Pallini
One of the popular formats at conferences are panel discussions; and although their start is always interesting, for some reason I always get lost along the way (you possibly have similar experiences). Keeping the entertainment level high during those discussions is a true challenge.
This is why Best of ESOMAR – Belgium wanted to try out a new format during their event which took place last Thursday December 15. The concept? Well, you could label it ‘the court case for research statements’. The audience was divided into two camps functioning as the lawyers – for each statement, one side had to come up with arguments ‘pro’, while the other side represented the ‘defense’. After both sides presented their arguments, the jury took the floor (in this case represented by three people from the client side, namely Kornel Muller from Unilever, Stan Knoops from IFF and Koen Van Parijs from Esploro), where after the judge (in this case Finn Raben, ESOMAR Director General) summarized the discussion and declared who won the round.
I must admit that, when they first introduced the concept, I secretly regretted being in the room. I joined the session expecting to sit back and relax and listen to a thought-provoking discussion. So at first the thought of playing an active role in a debate scared me off a bit. But let’s zoom in on one of the arguments presented at the event: “Are robots and AI taking over the research industry?”
Ray Poynter recently mentioned in an article that “AI will replace the worst (approximately) 75% of market research”. Linked to that, a study by Oxford University states there is 61% chance that the market research analyst jobs will be taken by robots in the next 20 years. So what were the arguments of our ‘lawyers’ with regards to this statement?
The lawyers supporting the statement reassured that the time where AI plays an important role in our industry is coming, today already the computing power and capabilities of AI are outperforming our wildest dreams and therefore the question is not if but when.
Those countering the statement argued that marketing research will always need a human touch, that the human interpretation is irreplaceable. Some of the arguments put forward were that computers have no emotions and thus will not be able to understand them and that they would fail in bringing depth and creativity to the table.
The latter was countered by the defense lawyers. They argue that researchers are often misled by emotions, so AI will allow to get an objective view on things. The lack of creativity was countered with examples of robots that are creating art work. The ‘pro’ camp also emphasized the fact that the self-learning capabilities will allow robots to grow and developed their skills.
So what was the jury’s verdict? Although they felt both sides presented interesting arguments, they were convinced of the fact that computer and robots will color our industry. I quote: “it’s coming and it will keep on coming, we can’t stop it”. Furthermore, the jury emphasized the fact that the benefit we get from it all will depend on how we take this forward and grasp this change. We do however need to be careful to not jump on the bandwagon just for the sake of automation; we will always need to focus on the objective we are aiming to achieve.
The judge’s wrap-up was clear: automation will come and it will bring the industry both time and cost efficiency. It will be a business opportunity yet will not be as perfect as we might like to think. People will always need to add value to the table.
I think this perfectly wraps up a very relevant and interesting discussion. AI will bring new opportunities to the table, there will be a shift in how we spend our time and it definitely will impact our role as researchers. In my opinion, it will become increasingly important to understand what our strengths and unique points as humans are and to identify gaps where these can make a difference when collaborating with AI. Understanding and adapting our strengths alongside AI’s growing capabilities will bring research to the next level. Our jobs will change, not disappear. Whether it’s in the shape of a physical robot or not, AI will become our partner in crime to define the future of research.
Besides this statement, the next discussions were linked to the statements “will we still measure people’s opinions with the abundance of data in this world” and “will we, researchers, focus more on activating insights than on collecting them in the future”? And with regards to the format, let me say this: although I was a bit scared and hesitant at first, this format beats the panel discussion big time. I hope to enjoy more of these in upcoming conferences.
Katia Pallini is Content Impact Manager at InSites Consulting.
Finally the African Market Research community found its place on the busy agenda of conferences being organised all over the world!
16 and 17 February 2007 are the dates when the African Market Research Association (AMRA) will be officially launched at the AFRICA Forum 2017 to be held in Johannesburg (South Africa).
This first Africa Forum is organized by AMRA and event partners AMISE in Morocco, MSRA in Kenya, NiMRA in Nigeria, SAMRA in Southern Africa, and ESOMAR World Research: it will set the African Agenda for market research (including social research and opinion polling).
It will be a moment of celebration! The programme which has been developed by a group of experts representing the event partners will demonstrate excellence and inspiration throughout the two days of activities.
Four undeniable reasons for joining the Africa Forum
- Be part of History: the Africa Forum will mark the official launch of the African Market Research Association (AMRA). Being there will be of significant importance for marking this historical moment!
- Shape the Future: the launch of AMRA means that you can help shape the agenda for the African Market Research community: a key resource for the industry in Africa and for those who look at Africa as the place to grow their business. The Africa Forum will be the catalyst for the future of the Market Research industry in the continent!
- Build your Africa Network: research agencies, clients, advertisers, service companies coming from across Africa and the world will be there and will be eager to network, make new contacts, meet colleagues and share experiences – This is indeed a unique opportunity to have the very best of the Market Research industry representing the African continent all in one place. How can you resist the temptation of being there!
- Share and Learn: …and finally…the Africa Forum programme will ignite sharing of innovations and contribute to the body of knowledge in Africa.
To celebrate the journey ahead, an impressive line-up of African and international speakers awaits delegates at this once-in-a-lifetime two-day event
Opening speaker Berenike Ullmann is Vice-President, Consumer and Market Knowledge, for Procter and Gamble IMEA (India, Middle East and Africa). She is a champion of consumers and expert in research and African life. She has spent more than 30 years doing consumer understanding work in China, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe. Berenike will be sharing her thoughts about the transformation of consumers and markets and hence of research needs, using examples from Africa, China, the Philippines and other emerging markets, for inspiration.
Swaady Martin is the founder and CEO of the SWAADY GROUP, a woman-owned social enterprise; transforming African agricultural commodities locally to contribute to the reversal of the African commodity trap. The group’s pioneer brands, YSWARA and AKRAFO, are perceived amongst Africa’s leading luxury and premium brands and are present at recognised luxury retailers in 15 countries in Africa, USA, Europe, Middle-East and Asia. Swaady has received recognition and numerous distinctions and awards from big names such as Forbes, Oprah Winfrey and Aljazeera. She is also the author/creator of the “Luxe Ubuntu” concept, an inclusive luxury business model providing economic value and meaningful income to all the members of the supply chain, who participate in the production of luxury products.
Storytelling is one of the most important techniques for presenting research, and storytelling is a strong African tradition that cuts across African cultures, and Africa should be leading the way globally, when it comes to storytelling. Gcina Mhlophe has been writing and performing on stage and screen for over 20 years. She is South Africa’s favourite storyteller, and maintains that storytelling is the information technology of yesteryear. “For as long as there have been people in the world, there have been stories – long before all the great respectable sciences were known to us”. Gcina feels that the well-known traditional tales of Africa have worldwide appeal, as they recur in different versions in many other parts of the world. Gcina’s writings have been translated into German, French, Italian, Swahili and Japanese. She has received awards from BBC Africa, the Edinburgh Festival, Sony, London Open University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, amongst others.
More than 30 carefully selected presentations will cover topics such as
- African client perspectives
- Digital research
- Technology and research in Africa
- Neuro marketing research
- The future of the insights function
- Research and corporate decision making
- Professional standards
- Opinion polling in Africa
- Socio-economic classification systems
- The challenge of sampling and weighted data in Africa
- Motivating research participation
- The marketing of market research
- Young Africans and the future of Africa
- Intercultural consumer understanding
- Using social networks for research
ESOMAR is proud to be an AFRICA Forum 2017 partner. We look forward to supporting AMRA and ensuring that the Africa Forum will become an established appointment in the calendar of market research professionals in Africa and beyond.
This is your chance to be part of history: visit www.africanmra.org for programme details and to book – space is limited!
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