The Small Enterprise Blueprint at ESOMAR Congress 2018

By Alex Wilman

With only several weeks to go, excitement is building for ESOMAR Congress 2018. And this year, the event will take place in Berlin.

Although steeped in history, modern Berlin, with its low rents, open attitude and hipster-image, is a hot-bed for start-ups and small enterprises. Indeed, it has been estimated that a start-up is founded every 20 minutes in the German capital.

With this in mind, you could argue that it might seem a slightly strange location to host market research’s most prestigious annual conference? After all, our industry’s client base is predominantly made up of large global companies and brands.

Those of you who work agency-side, I challenge you to stop and think about the types of clients you work for? What proportion of these would you class as small enterprises? What proportion of these have fewer than 50 employees?

Similarly, if you are a client-side researcher, the chances are you work for a company significantly larger than the small enterprises that Berlin has become famous for.

Small enterprises, huge MR opportunity

Small enterprises, defined as those with under 50 employees, account for 99% of all businesses. But crucially, small enterprises also account for a significant proportion of business turnover. In the UK for example, 42% of all business turnover comes from small enterprises. This is a hugely significant slice of the pie, accounting for £1.1 trillion.

Yet, as an industry, we are not engaging these small enterprises correctly meaning we consistently missing out on this immense opportunity.

The Small Enterprise Blueprint at ESOMAR Congress 2018

At this year’s ESOMAR Congress, Northstar will be sharing a blueprint for how to successfully conduct market research for small enterprises. We will be taking the stage with a small enterprise we’ve been working very closely with over the last couple of years, a company called Metfriendly.

Metfriendly supports the finances of the police officers who safeguard London. They are a mutual society operating on behalf of serving and retired police officers, providing unique police-specific financial products to their members. At only 16 employees, Metfriendly can very much be considered a small enterprise.

Challenges and opportunities

Working with small enterprises is not the same as working with many of the larger clients most of us work with daily. Agencies must adapt and learn new ways of conducting research to truly add value to smaller clients.

At Congress, we will use our research collaboration with Metfriendly to honestly examine the challenges that exist for both research agencies and small enterprise clients and demonstrate ways to overcome them. These include:

  1. Understanding a niche sector and audience
  2. Overcoming small budgets and a greater need to justify ROI
  3. Managing a lack of research knowledge and experience
  4. Delivering against broad and boundary-pushing business objectives

But with these unique challenges come some fantastic opportunities for researchers:

  1. A platform for innovative solutions and creativity
  2. Greater access to the business and senior stakeholders
  3. Elevating the role of the researcher to be a trusted consultant
  4. Quicker and more impactful insight-driven actions

A transformative experience for both agency and client

Market research has the power to transform the fortunes of small enterprises, making a real and valuable contribution across many aspects of the business. Northstar and Metfriendly’s collaboration proves this, resulting in significant business changes that are simply not possible when working with larger organisations. Insights were used to deliver change across Metfriendly’s business, from communications, to member engagement, to NPD, to brand positioning.

In addition, working with small enterprises has also had a profound and transformative impact on the way we operate here at Northstar. We learnt new methods of conducting research and collaborating with our clients. Along the way, we transformed ourselves from researchers to copywriters, creatives, and comms strategists. And our experience of working with a small enterprise has changed the way we approach research for many of our larger and more established global clients.

Come and join us on Tuesday 25th September at 9:25 to hear about why small enterprises represent such a huge opportunity to our industry and learn the best way to collaborate with them via Northstar’s Small Enterprise Blueprint.

Alex Wilman, Associate Director, Northstar Research