By David Pritchard @drpritch
After being treated to a brief, but dazzling, magic show, the conference was officially opened on a high note of Irish patriotism by Richard Colwell (ESOMAR Representative for Ireland). What followed was an excellent address given by Susan HayesCulleton, demonstrating the undervalued, but fundamental reliance on Market Research and Insight to driving better economic and financial decision-making. Rounding out the first session, Chris Fanning, CEO of SSI named the 2015 SSI Quest Award winners, demonstrating the industry’s need to better focus on respondent management and survey design.
Following lunch, we embarked upon the meat in the day’s sandwich. I was to spend the afternoon in Room 2, listening to speakers on subjects core to the way that our industry operates. Clearly, I was excited.
I always look forward to seeing Annie Petit of Peanut Labs presenting – her style is involving and compelling, and she is not afraid of challenging many of our industry’s long-held beliefs. Today Annie was taking aim squarely at Big Data, without referring to the much-lauded ‘teenage sex’ metaphor. She set out to debunk 10 major myths about the role that Big Data and data analytics can play in the research industry, and absolutely succeeded. Her overarching view is that while Big Data can be useful, it does not live in isolation from, and cannot ever usurp traditional research. As an added bonus, Annie’s ‘pop quiz’ winners were rewarded with Pop Tarts and maple syrup, causing some major envy in the crowd!
Annie’s session merged perfectly with that of the later session from United Healthcare and Gongos, demonstrating how they have successfully integrated analytics and market research to deliver a more customer-centric strategy. It was their view that these two differing aspects of our industry should not need to live in isolation, as they often do. In fact, by involving and correctly motivating internal stakeholders, it’s possible to bring both disciplines together to mesh the what/where/when with the why, generating better insights.
The presentation from Netquest, University Pompeu Fabra Barcelona and Wakoopa proved to be a major eye-opener for most attendees. Seeking to challenge the research industry’s reliance on claimed behaviour, they posit that consumers’ brains are not correctly wired to accurately recall the information that researchers use to support big decisions. The presentation focused on a group of Spanish consumers whose web browsing was tracked over a period of two months. When prompted to recall the five most recent site visits on their smartphone, 60% couldn’t even correctly name a single one! Scary indeed, and we look forward to the next phase of their research, helping to better understand what is driving this.
Potentially the most frightening and enlightening session of the day was presented by Unilever, discussing the need to change the way that we treat respondents. “Market research may be the only industry in the world where being a professional is a bad thing”, Unilever suggested. The session took a fun turn when the presenters invited two ‘professional respondents’ from the crowd to discuss some of the pitfalls and tricks to being a regular research contributor. They gave frank and honest appraisals of their ‘role’, including how they can sometimes take part in upwards of three pieces of research a week, and how they are able to trick qualitative recruiters. However, on the upside, both were positive about the role of market research in giving them a platform to contribute to business ideas and share their opinions. Both were also positive about the ways that agencies are able to make research more interesting and engaging for respondents, particularly when they are in an entertaining cohort. However, while entertaining and light-hearted, their feedback did shine a light on an awkward part of the industry, prompting the audience to confront some slightly difficult questions.
David Pritchard is one of three RWC bloggers, reporting straight from Congress 2015 onsite.
David Pritchard is Client Development Director Network Research.