Top research and civil society associations dispatch open letter to plea for the establishment of an extraordinary multi-disciplinary expert group
Amsterdam, 19 July, 2016
ESOMAR – the world association for market, social and opinion research, together with 8 associations representing civil society and research, has dispatched an open letter calling on the European Union (EU) institutions to redouble efforts towards more citizen-centric and evidence-based policy- using opinion and social research to assess and evaluate possible future scenarios after the Brexit referendum.
“In order to support and guide any upcoming negotiations with the UK and future EU decision-making process, it is now more critical than ever before to conduct extensive research into the will, and aspirations of the European electorate,” highlights Finn Raben, Director General of ESOMAR, author of the open letter.
The letter highlights the importance of establishing a true and comprehensive understanding of citizen needs and aspirations both in the United Kingdom and the rest of the EU and underlines the role that research can play in uncovering how to better communicate with constituencies about the complex and long-term issues facing Europe. The signatories are calling the European institutions to take these following steps:
- Establish a cross-party and multi-disciplinary expert group composed of academics, experts from research and civil society organisations, and representatives of the EU institutions, to consider the implications of the referendum.
- Issue a call for tender to conduct comprehensive and wide-ranging social research by researchers that abide to the principles of accepted codes of conduct governing market, opinion, and social research.
- Work with the expert group to evaluate and build possible strategies to follow through on the referendum, and even, to formulate possible negotiation strategies (for both sides) on implementing Brexit.
“This initiative, supported by 9 associations, underlines the broad support from both the research community and European civil society to understand more systemically why Europe is failing to inspire its citizenry, what it needs to do to reconnect with all its constituencies. We have to go beyond business as usual and only Brussels can take that first step to position research to help it tackle that disillusion,” adds Kim Smouter, Head of Public Affairs and Professional Standards at ESOMAR.
The open letter is to be supported by a #CitizensFirst social media campaign, individuals and organisations wishing to support the key recommendations of the Open letter can formally register their support by visiting ESOMAR’s website where the open letter and a form to register support has been set-up. The webpage is located at: http://www.esomar.org/citizensfirst.
ESOMAR is the world association for encouraging, advancing and elevating market research worldwide.
WAPOR – World Association For Public Opinion Research
SYNTEC Etudes – Le syndicat représentatif des professionnels des études en France
CEV – European Volunteer Centre
ECAS – European Citizen Action Service
EFC – European Foundation Centre
ENNA – European Network of National Civil Society Associations
FEDRA – Federation of Regional Growth Actors in Europe
In the final part of our series on memory bias, we listen to the thoughts of an expert panel from IIEX,
A Millennial’s Attempt At Understanding Research About Her Own Generation – #ResearchAboutMillennials
By Giulia Gasperi
Ever attended a conference presentation feeling like you were in a Discovery Channel documentary about yourself? If so, you’re probably a Millennial.
Millennials have been placed in the world’s biggest petri dish, by a landslide. The Google search query “Research about Millennials” unleashes roughly 21,300,000 results – that’s 100 times more sources than what lurks behind the search term “Research about GenX”.
Unable to resist the idea of exploring a virtual landscape almost as vast as habitable Planet Earth, I wrote this blog post to start a conversation with you on the broader topic of Research By/About/For/Through/[insert preposition of your choice] Millennials.
I invite you, my fellow researchers, thinkers and Discovery Channel Docu-stars of the Millennial Generation, to help me untangle some of the seemingly contradicting insights related to Millennials. You can do so by casting your vote for different sides of my story in polls sprinkled throughout this post, and by sharing your thoughts in the comment box at the bottom. I look forward to collecting your opinions to tie them into upcoming stuff in my Research X Millennials content series.
Out of hundreds of stats, this one is probably my favorite. As contradictory as it may sound, it perfectly summarizes what happens when you stuff billions of consumers into the same, enormous petri dish. And it begs the question: if they don’t consider themselves a Millennial, then what do they identify with, exactly? Curious to hear your thoughts on this.
1/ Millennials vs older generations
On the fence? Let’s review a few arguments in favor of either schools of thought.
So what? A solve to this divide in opinion proposes that Millennials follow the same life trajectory as previous generations, but with more stops along the way. Their path in life is a snakes and ladders game: less linear than before, a jumble of milestones that result in a more complex journey into adulthood. The differences between “Say” and “Do” are dictated by external factors, such as the economic climate they live in.
A more complicated life journey has repercussions on many aspects of life. Because “Millennials in the workplace” was one of the biggest themes in my 10-Google-page crusade. I decided to take a closer look at this aspect.
2/ Millennials in the workplace
Here are some more stats for both sides of this argument:
|They have not significantly impacted dynamics in the workplace||They have significantly impacted dynamics in the workplace|
They make their own career decisions: they are less influenced by parents or friends than generally expected.
They rely on others for career decisions: Top 1 approach to seeking employment is to be referred by a friend, relative or other connection
So what? This was my Aha! moment:
- While the Economist and CEB Global agree that 51% of Millennials look for jobs elsewhere, compared to 37% of GenX, CEB adds that 53% of Millennials find internal opportunities desirable, suggesting that Millennials are not Job hopping – they’re Experience hopping.
- Why is that? My speculation leads me to think that companies are still looking for the right loyalty triggers to help Millennials stick around. For example:
- 63% believe their leadership skills are not being developed
- Hiring managers today choose to hire more and more freelancers because of their fit with current workplace realities – e.g. the ability to put a supplier to work immediately, scaling employment in a way that mirrors business priorities and accessing specific skills.
In a way, Millennials are thus left with no other choice than to adapt to a more dynamic workplace:
- 79% consider quitting their regular job to work for themselves
- 82% believe starting a business today is easier than it has ever been before.
What looks like a chicken vs. egg argument essentially implies that businesses could do a better job at bridging the gap to ensure a new generation of business leaders is created.
Unleashing loyalty and answering the question “what’s in it for me” is just as important in the Millennial workplace as in other aspects of their lives.
To unleash their loyalty, we need to look at what drives it and better understand Millennial Values and Attitudes.
This shifts the conversation into my third and last monologue/debate.
3/ Millennial Values & Attitudes
Hail The Stats!
|Individualistic & Me-Minded||Inclusive & We-Minded|
They are comfortable in their home nest: 60% eat with their family 4-5 nights per week, 85% mention parents are their best friends
A few thoughts as to why we are so divided on this. The easiest approach is to fall back on the good old “we can’t bundle billions of people together” argument. This article looks at how Millennials choose where to live, and states that while 42% want to stay near their families, 41% decide where to live based on their job and career decisions – that’s an equal share on both sides of the value spectrum. Different people have different priorities, and being a Millennial doesn’t change that.
I’d be ok with that, was it not for the stat about trust, which caught me off guard. How can Millennials be socially minded and distrusting at the same time?
- Less than 1 in 2 Millennials trust experts (e.g. doctors, financial advisors) to convince them of the merit of a brand (vs. 61% non-Millennials)
- 53% say they don’t trust anyone with financial guidance
On the opposite side of the spectrum,
- More than 1 in 2 Millennials trust websites and digital/social media advertising (vs. 33% non-Millennials)
- 60% want their banks to be a partner or friend
Next to this, Forbes argues that Millennials integrate their beliefs in causes of their choice, for companies they choose to support.
They are on the constant search for authenticity, for political and ethical truth.
Millennials are trying to shape their own way of navigating a reality sprinkled with corporate scandals, the fall of many long-standing financial institutions and the dot-com bubble burst. Disillusionment turns into learning experiences, and learning experiences turn one-track minds into multi-faceted chameleons.
Sometimes, the explanation lies on both sides of the spectrum.
Embracing their complexity can help us move closer to Millennial audiences and find new sweet spots to engage with them.
I mean us. 🙂
Enough from my end for now – curious to hear what you think, and specifically, what you believe this means for other big Millennial Labels, like “Shareconomy” or “The Wired Generation”.
Share your comments below!
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.
The day research stopped feeling like research
By Bianca Vucescu
In both quantitative and qualitative studies, quality is a hot topic. Fraud prevention is a first step in increasing the quality of research, yet how can we know beforehand if a real participant will offer us the insights we are looking for? We keep talking about data health and data cleaning. And while it’s still a mandatory practice, what if we didn’t have to dedicate any time and energy on this? What if participants would continuously provide high-quality data in research studies? What if we could attract and engage consumers for the long term?
I hear a lot about so-called ’professional participants‘, those who aim to qualify for as many surveys as possible, are driven by extrinsic motivation and give the ’correct‘ answers rather than to provide honest feedback. This affects our industry but also our clients, who take decisions based on this ‘dishonest’ feedback. But then again, aren’t we the ones who reap this behavior based on what we sowed? Aren’t we the ones who offer points, vouchers or other monetary rewards and as such encourage the ‘professional participant’? I am not saying that (monetary) incentives cannot be a part of ‘sustainable’ research, but we should strongly consider what else is valuable to people. It’s not always about money; who can put a price on experience, knowledge, entertainment, involvement or impact?
Our world is becoming increasingly fast and snappy and when conducting research, brands need to align with this reality. We cannot longer conduct endless surveys and expect people to pay attention, when we all know that the attention span is decreasing, especially amongst the younger generation. Looking at the social media landscape, we see that visual apps (like Instagram, Snapchat) have the most rapid usage growth. Isn’t that a clear indication that surveys have to follow the same path? We have to realize that what is considered as boring in ’real life’ will also be perceived as boring in research studies. Let’s not forget about how we can use technology to improve research results, get better insights and shorten the length of surveys. Neuro-marketing tools for research like facial coding, passive meters, implicit measurements, virtual reality, gamification tools can be integrated in research to achieve better and richer insights without overwhelming participants with explicit questions.
What if brands had a dedicated network, built and managed differently than today’s panels, which they could access for research as often as needed?
That’s exactly what a ’Sustainable Consumer Connection’ is: a network of relevant people who are intrinsically motivated to interact and express opinions about specific topics or brands.
The way we sample influences the human experience, so one goal while moving forward is to do so based on the people’s interests. If I feel strongly about a topic or product, I will be more likely to participate, pay more attention during the research and give my honest opinion. This will result in quality insights for the researcher. Research studies should be a positive brand touch point experience for participants. There is nothing worse than asking someone for a drink and while they are waiting to send them a message saying ’Thank you for your interest, but I would rather have a drink with someone else; so no more screen-outs and quota-fulls. Technically, one could argue that studying intrinsically motivated people does not generate random samples. That’s correct, but at least their responses are valid internally and reflect reality. In all honesty, most of the research we conduct is not as representative as we think.
Looking at the young generation, our future participants, they want to be involved more than ever, make an impact and be treated like the intelligent humans that they are. They don’t want to participate in surveys which contain questions that sometimes seem pointless to them. We encourage them to participate in research in order to shape the future of brands and products but they rarely actually know what the impact is of their contribution. Youngsters are curious and we need to feed that curiosity. So why not share with them how their input effectively impacted the future? Isn’t that an incentive which will motivate them to participate in future research?
To sum up, market research should no longer feel like market research! It should be an experience that everyone would like to take part in because it is fun and interactive, they learn something new and can help with the creation of new products.
Future research has to be in line with the traits we see in the future generation: use top-of-the-line technology and be short, snappy, visual, entertaining, relevant to the consumer. This will lead to a win-win situation, where a research activity is not only engaging but also results in fresher and more powerful insights for us researchers.
Rather than trying to keep up with the present, market research should be ahead of times. We need to accept that the old way of gathering sample is not sustainable, so let’s put the consumer at the heart of our business, empowering them and giving them the level of importance that they deserve.
Bianca Vucescu is Senior Media Buyer at InSites Consulting and one of the participants in ESOMAR’s Corporate Youth Programme.
By Finn Raben
John Donne, a famous 17th Century English poet, prophetically wrote:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
The past few days – even with the diversionary activities of the Home nation rugby tests and of course, the European soccer tournament – might have provided a moment of calm reflection on the implications of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, but if anything, the reverse has been true….with impacts on both sides being far greater than were ever envisaged:
- The silence from the winning camp has been deafening, apart from some inflammatory remarks made in the EU….but a plan to move forward? No.
- The appearance of some quite vitriolic, and aggressively xenophobic behavior;
- A number of “Leave” voters now publicising their regret at having voted so…
- The lack of leadership from the Conservative camp, and the implosion of the Labour camp;
- The clear message that both the financial “benefits” as well as the “reduction” in immigration promised by the Leave campaign, is unlikely to be feasible;
- An explosion of anger, disappointment and dismay on social media from the generation who will have to live with the decision, one example of which can be read here.
- The very valid challenge from Scotland, Gibraltar & Northern Ireland as to why they should support a decision which is in direct opposition to the wish democratically recorded in their respective regions?
Increasingly, it is suggested that the electorate were not aware of these ramifications (or their magnitude), at the time of the vote; it is also being suggested that the referendum “morph-ed” into an anti-immigration vote rather than a more balanced assessment of whether people wanted to stay in the EU or leave it. Were people aware of the degree of political chaos that would ensue? Probably not.
So, the old rules have changed.
There now exists a political vacuum as neither the government nor the opposition appear to have a plan to address it.
The EU are being minimally sympathetic, as in their view, the decision is clear, and they wish to prevent a further spread of uncertainty, which is both the financial markets’ single biggest enemy, as well as the “tremor” that now rocks the very foundations of the EU, quite articulately put by The Guardian.
Clearly, the political class are guilty of substantially underestimating the strength of emotion/opinion of the electorate, which further suggests a lack of understanding on the politicians’ part of their constituents’ wishes. Furthermore, the respective campaigns did not make the political implications sufficiently clear to counteract the emotive arguments….so where to now?
Well, simply put, now – more than ever before – is an “ideal” time to do some really extensive research into the will, and aspirations of the electorate.
Good research has always been an invaluable tool in guiding and assisting key decisions – be they for companies, governments or societies.
A true and comprehensive understanding of the electorates wishes would now be invaluable to both sides of the House – as well as both sides of the Channel – as it would provide evidence-based guidance to all of those who have the responsibility of building the new political architecture within the context of Britain’s referendum’s result.
If I had a voice, I would strongly recommend the establishment of a fully cross-party joint committee to consider the implications of the referendum, to conduct a wide-ranging piece of social research, and from there, to build possible strategies to follow through on the referendum, and even, to formulate possible negotiation strategies (for both sides) on implementing Brexit. Research has always been the cornerstone of informed decisions – so why not now ?
Finn Raben is ESOMAR Director General.