ESOMAR LATAM 2016 - A True Celebration of Research

By Finn Raben

Colour, life, vitality and a remarkable sense of community have long been hallmarks of our Latin American regional conference, and this year was certainly no different!! But whether it was the magic touch of Bogota, or the remarkable input of a truly wonderful Programme Committee, this year’s conference had that little bit of “gold dust” that made it a little bit extra special….

As both a regular conference-goer as well as conference organiser, I am perhaps a little more difficult to impress than others, but two things struck me about this year’s event…..

  1. ALL the presentations had something interesting to say; from an initial review of the programme, I wanted to listen to each of the presentations, and every single one of them delivered!
  2. There was NOT A SINGLE note of “doom”….too often, presentations are prefaced by notices of the demise of sampling, or the death of face-to-face interviewing, or the continual abuse of online participants, or…whatever!!

These presentations were all noticeable in that – where relevant – they addressed these issues from a positive perspective, offering optimistic alternatives (based on experience), and thus each paper was a ‘celebration’ of what we CAN, and ARE doing. Bravo LATAM 2016!

Sony, HBO, Avon, Subway, Coca-Cola, Mondelez, Merlin Teleco – to name but a few – were all exponents of this celebration of research. Innovation was everywhere, from the Poken system (more than 3000 interactions with people, AND 3000+ interactions with the touchpoints), this was a great success; the livestream which we estimate had more than 400 viewers online, ensuring that the great presentations were broadcast to a much wider audience than just those in the room; and a very special mention must go to Trendsity of Argentina, for organizing a wonderful piece of theatre, beautifully stage-managed as an interpretative allegory of their paper. It was brilliant, and brought the house down!

Netquest – as our regional partner and Gold Sponsor – ensured that we all had a wonderful networking evening on the first night. In fact, the evening was such fun that I believe certain revelers went on singing in their hotel bars until early the next morning! – Thank you, Netquest, it was a very special evening – as always!

And last – but by no means least – I would also like to acknowledge the wonderful students we had with us. We cannot mention our students without acknowledging SSI, who make it possible for us to have the students with us…but being able to invite the next generation to these events, and showcase what we do, is an incredibly important part of what we do; but don’t just take my word for it….let me quote an extract from a note by one of the students, Valeria Velasquez de Grieff :

Good afternoon, Finn!

I was a student facilitator at ESOMAR LATAM 2016 in Bogotá, Colombia. First of all, I’d like to thank you again (it will never be enough) for giving me this life-changing opportunity. ESOMAR provided me with a unique insight of the world of market research. It showcased the great opportunities available in the industry and moreover, it was a bridge to interact with remarkable professionals and more importantly, incredible human beings I probably wouldn’t have otherwise met.

The event was from start to end in every single aspect –logistics, service, content, interactive exhibition, networking breaks and cocktail evening-absolutely amazing! Great participants, topics and high quality presentations from giant such as The Coca-Cola Company, Facebook, HBO Latin America, Subway, Twitter, Unilever, PepsiCo. I especially enjoyed the fact that it was truly a regional event with more than 25 speakers from 15 countries. Regarding the programme’s content I found the -Global Trends and Regional Realities- along with DIGILATAM (Entertainment, TV and Mobile) very interesting sessions.

Today I can say that I’m part of the few lucky people out there that have lived such an enriching experience. Since ESOMAR (and it has only been a week), I do feel a difference. I’ve grown in a professional way, but more importantly, in a personal way. Apart from gaining first-hand insight about the latest endeavors and consumer trends globally, and getting exposure to the top companies in this field, I built valuable contacts and friendships. I guess the only thing missing was having more time to enjoy this journey.

So thank you for taking the time to know us. Thank you for supporting the young talent, for believing in us as the future of the industry, and for showing us the beauty within market research as a career. Thank you for the overall experience, the knowledge, the trust, and all of the fun!

Finally, in terms of the “impact” of these conferences, allow me to relate two other incidents….

  • Towards the end of the conference, a lady was introduced to me – Gricelda Pineda – who is starting up her own business; she was convinced to come to the conference by one of the PC members. She wanted to meet me to thank ESOMAR for providing such inspirational content; so much so that she had now revised her business plan, AND had met a number of additional, potential clients, who represented real business opportunities. Needless to say, we were thrilled to hear that our event can support and inspire a start-up business to that extent.
  • We were also delighted to have someone in the audience who had been a student ambassador two years ago in Argentina; since completing her studies, she has returned to Colombia and now works in the Marketing and PR department of Porsche – another lovely success story!

So, if you are in the region, or are planning to be in the region, we would be happy to see you at LATAM 2017 – location details to be confirmed shortly – it is a true celebration of research, in a wonderfully vibrant and innovative region.

Finn Raben is Director General at ESOMAR.