Danielle Todd shares with us how she experienced ESOMAR Congress 2015 in Dublin as a young researcher. This is the second of a 3-piece blog series.
Day Two of Congress, with the ‘Future is Now’ session, Young Researcher Awards and even more revelations, very much focused on the future of our industry. Before the sessions began, I spent the morning really absorbing all the exhibitor hall had to offer. The booth marked ‘Researching a career’ drew my eye immediately. A project borne of out cross agency collaboration between MRS, Chime Insight & Engagement and ENI, and being steered by several researchers like Caroline Bates and Mark Hirst amongst others, who are passionate about utilising and promoting great talent. With this stand nestled among the hard fought for supplier stands, I get the very strong sense that ESOMAR is keen to ensure both attracting and nurturing new talent is high on their agenda as well. Indeed, the fact that my running for ESOMAR Council last year, as a young researcher (with less than 2 years experience in the industry) was even possible, is testament to how passionately ESOMAR feels about encouraging young researchers to help shape their industry. What other profession gives you that opportunity?
Today’s presentations kicked off with what may be my favourite of the whole Congress: ‘Future Gaze’ by two brilliant speakers from InSites Consulting. Katia Pallini and Annelies Verhaeghe talking about GenZ. This generation demands more visual communication and InSites nicely represented their world by introducing their topic via a music-pumping video to wake up the audience. We learnt this generation rebukes the traditional ways of both experiencing the world and working. GenZ exists across multiple platforms, communicates instantly, processes multitudes of data immediately and therefore are able to deliver insight more quickly than ever before.
What does this mean for research? The formal briefing moment will disappear. GenZ favours instant form of social engagement, striving for individualisation and personalisation through all parts of their lives. This GenZ has finally shed the shackles of previous generations, binary definitions of gender or work/life balance are obsolete. Luckily for us, InSites left us with some learnings we can borrow from this generation in our work now. We can make surveys snappier, shorter, more engaging; we can be smarter about integrating data as well as presenting findings in more visual way. Surprise and delight our clients, deliver something they don’t expect.
Ernest Collings of MESH was up next with 20 predictions for 2020: shocking revelations about the future. I thoroughly enjoyed Ernest’s session for two reasons; he admirably chose to do his session in a PechaKucha format (which is a challenging feat for even the most seasoned speakers) and he presented bold predictions for the future. Keen not to steal Erny’s thunder – you should read the paper – the two revelations I found most pertinent were:
- In the future, we won’t interview people, we will interview things – as technology advances, becoming more personalised to deliver to our needs, it means our smart and connected devices will know more about us than we do ourselves. Mining this data could lead to rich understanding without a single in-depth interview or survey taking place!
- There will be a new path to purchase from your car to your living room. Now we will research, widen or narrow our consideration set, and purchase all on various connected devices wherever we are at that time.
I was inspired to see several younger researchers not only speaking, but presenting in engaging and highly visual ways. We hear often how this generation are digital natives but they are research natives also; they naturally consume a wide range of data from various sources, are apt story-tellers and look perfectly at home on the stage. As ESOMAR knows well, we need more of this sort of thing at Congress!
The theme of the brilliance of junior talent continued, with Insights 2020 presenting their findings. They told us that hiring the right talent is a key focus for our insights and analytics industry. It is vital to ensure teams have the right mix of people and skills to survive the future. We will need to be more agile and think and work across multiple platforms; young talent will be more naturally predisposed to think in this way.
Leading nicely on from the focus on key talent, we had the ‘career in revelations’ session led by Caroline Bates, Liz Norman, Jake Steadman of Twitter, Kristin Luck, Emily Kettle, Facts International and Chris Wallbridge, Thruth.
Chime Insight and ENI have collaborated to produce some great research (check out http://researching-a-career.blogspot.co.uk/, for more details) based around understanding and addressing the challenges we face recruiting talent to our industry. This presentation gave us the next step on how to solve this problem. We learnt that attraction, outreach, access and mentoring are four key pillars of producing the stars of tomorrow. Especially close to my heart was Kristin Luck discussing mentoring, and in particular the Women in Research mentoring scheme. As an enrolled mentee, I can testify this programme has been invaluable to me in navigating my career. I meet with my mentor, a senior client side researcher with a wealth of experience, around once a month to discuss all things positive and negative, both in my personal life and my work life. I always leave these Skype calls, meetings and dinners feeling armed with great advice, tips and encouragement to face any problem and achieve any goal. Go to www.womeninresearch.com for more information.
This session ended with a call to action. For all senior researchers to step up and commit themselves to visiting one university to demonstrate how great our industry is, or mentoring one junior to help keep funnelling great talent into the industry we all love.
Next up was the Young Researcher of the Year Award, with Samantha Bond, Arindam Mohanty and Brett Ao. Samantha was up first taking us through the revolutionary global movement Millennials are instigating in the workplace. This generation wants to work for themselves, prizing personal fulfilment rather than simply monetary gain in their careers. Samantha warns us that to attract these great minds to any agency, we should offer freedom and fluidity in the workplace, as is it important to recognise this workforce is looking for a way of life, not simply a job.
Arindam Mohanty then weaved a beautiful and enchanting story around the intergenerational stories that can unfold on the Indian railways. Through the transience and anonymity of the railways, we have a window into stories we wouldn’t otherwise see. Through this ‘ethnography on wheels’ we can map the scale and depth of the Indian experience.
Brett Bo ended the session by teaching us of the importance of a holistic understanding of the snack category in such a diverse country such as China. In this country, a snack can be anything ‘small’ and ‘scattered’, so how do you launch a successful new product? Cultural understanding. Brett demonstrated how in order to ‘boss the category’ we must first understand the culture behind it.
I applaud anyone who puts herself or himself forward as a Young Researcher nominee. As a former finalist, I understand the pressure and nerves of presenting in front of a room full of experts, but I was champing at the bit for our finalists to take their thinking that one step further. A key theme of Congress was that this industry belongs to the stars of tomorrow, with their digital acumen and connected ways of thinking. While all presentations were very interesting, and extremely well delivered, I was keen to hear if Samantha took her thinking one step forward to her own career; perhaps trialling some new ways of working in Northstar to channel this Millennial mind-set for the benefit of her own company. Or if Brett applied his rich cultural understanding to helping a brand launch a new snack in China. For me, Arindam was a worthy winner, surprising and delighting us with both beautiful storytelling and revelations. Congratulations to all brave and talented finalists!
The day was rounded off with an awards dinner, held in the historic and beautiful Royal Dublin Society. A room filled with champagne, Irish drumming and dancing as well as a wonderful three-course meal for hundreds of market researchers from 75 countries. Hats off to ESOMAR for a flawlessly organised and executed evening!
Danielle Todd is Senior Research Executive at Relish Research
Danielle Todd shares with us how she experienced ESOMAR Congress 2015 in Dublin as a young researcher. This is the first of a 3-piece blog series.
Sunday morning on the Stansted Express, I found myself filled with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Excitement because, as a young researcher, I have the privileged opportunity to attend my industry’s equivalent of Mecca. I can immerse myself in the latest thinking, connect with industry thought leaders, and draw upon collective decades of experience that will inevitably help shape and refine the way I work. Apprehension because I’m a nervous flyer and there was a 50/50 chance I wouldn’t get on the plane! But the pull of ESOMAR Congress, and prescription medication, helped ease me into that plane seat, and boy am I glad it did! As I entered the Convention Centre in Dublin on Sunday, my apprehension melted, leaving only curiosity, intrigue and reverence as I returned to my (sort of) homeland to enjoy the delights of ESOMAR Congress 2015.
Congress unofficially kicked off with a number of fascinating workshops on Sunday. This served as a reminder of our desire as a profession to constantly strive for betterment. We are eternal students of human behaviour! SSI hosted an interactive session based on optimising the mobile research experience not only for the respondent but in order to ensure data quality. For example, by simply transplanting the online survey experience on to mobile, we risk both these aspects, with questions not appearing properly, scales disappearing and text being misread during the survey experience. SSI warned us if respondents can’t find the correct answer, they give the closest answer they believe ‘will do’, and we don’t want to encourage that kind of survey taking! It was heart-warming to see, whenever audience participation was required in this sessions, no matter seniority or background, you could find tables full of experts from all the over the world debating the staples of our industry, such as survey design. To see researchers consistently willing to critically scrutinise how we work, and re-evaluate best practice, is encouraging and energising to a junior researcher.
Entering the main exhibition hall, you’re immediately impressed and awed by the sheer ingenuity of the exhibitors. Brightly coloured stalls are manned (and womanned) by smiling suppliers, keen to both press a drink into your hand and spark a conversation. Industry titans, such as Dan Foreman, Kristin Luck and Annie Petit mingle through the room, greeting old friends and equally happy to make new ones. The most striking thing for me is how earnestly people in market research enjoy each other’s company. The mood in the room is one of genuine happiness and anticipation of what’s to come. I for one am excited!
ESOMAR Congress Day One
Congress officially opened by paying humble respects to the host country – and one of the greatest countries in the world, although I may be biased – with reminding us of Irish ingenuity and inventiveness. A nation known for their comradery, passion and work ethic, Dublin is indeed a particularly fitting location for a market research conference. Andy James, magician and Irish entertainer of the year, had the unenviable task of rousing a room full of market researchers, who may or may not be somewhat fuzzy from the night before. The theme of ‘revelations’, revealing things that are not yet realised, was the focus for this year. The range of speakers and topics touching upon literature, history, politics, economics and business showed us how what we do overlaps with so many areas of life. Susan HayesCulleton, The Positive Economist was the first keynote speaker who surprised us with the fact that Facebook is valued at almost $2 billion. That’s more than Disney! During the Fireside chat with Unilever’s Stan Sthanunathan and BV Pradeep, we learned that we check our smartphones 150 times a day. Why? We’re hungry for information. We’re hungry for data. As people, we want instant understanding of our world. Yet, we are told the world will never be this slow again. As researchers, we need to adapt, to upskill and to race even faster into understanding this ever-changing world. For Unilever, this means double the impact in half the time and cost. I wholeheartedly applaud their ethos that ‘done is better than perfect’.
Next we learnt of Three’s challenges in creating viral advertising, with John Kearon of Brainjuicer and Tom Malleschitz from Three. For Three, their Eureka moment in embracing their brand truth came from really understanding their customers and their love of sharing via the internet. And #danceponydance was born! For Three, it is about surrendering to feeling, and delivering on the emotional element of the advertising.
Christene McCauley from Added Value and Izzy Pugh of Diageo also uncovered some home truths to help understand how to make Diageo appeal to both men and women. As Diageo learnt, you don’t become a cultural icon if you ignore 50% of the world, and understanding how brands fit into people’s experiences helps brand live more authentically in people’s lives.
Another session that really stuck out for me was Kristin Hickey and Vangelis Skouras of kubi kalloo velations on the participant experience. Understanding and bettering the experience for those we research is always on the agenda for market researchers but seldom have we seen such sobering evidence as to just why it is so important. We know better engagement reduces dropout rates, and ensures better data quality, but what about honesty? 12% of respondents say they were less than 100% honest in their responses, 24% say they don’t always say the truth and 44% of people think that other people lie during research. Particularly concerning is that 19% said they lied to recruiters and 21% said recruiters asked them to lie! To drive the point home, two ‘professional respondents’ gate-crashed the stage to tell us that they didn’t feel like they’re lying. They take the decision themselves as to whether they should be involved in the research or not!
What can we do about this? Get participants more involved, more engaged and help them feel valued as part of the project. Once participants were more engaged, they spent twice as long on open-ended answers, providing more considered responses. So let’s show how fun our industry is! Demonstrate the passion in our work, engage participants and improve data quality in our projects.
Danielle Todd is Senior Research Executive at Relish Research
This is the second of new RWC blog series on employability of young people. With these pieces and as a young researcher, I will try to pass on my insights and experience aiming to give a guideline to all young professionals who are seeking information on how to start their career in the field of market research.
Market research is a field offering unlimited potential for organisations or companies that wish to deliver value for its members or clients. Research reveals the state of an organisation, its industry and competitors positioning, what the members or customers expect from it, what the general public is looking for. However, it seems society is not aware of the true value and contributions market research brings. The same problem applies to the general youth, with the next generation of professionals not being exposed enough to the industry thus failing to understand its importance.
While some young people are aware of the existence of the industry, they are not aware of the actual possible applications, the industry sub-areas, innovation opportunities and value of research. I believe the source of this awareness problem lies within the education system and the penetration of market research representatives in the academic world. Young professionals are not made aware properly by their academic institutions about the industry. Market research is rarely taught as a core module in universities and usually only in some marketing degrees. I personally studied a management degree in a prestigious university but I was never taught any core market research module. I was never exposed to the field by the time I had my first trainee position in the marketing industry.
Due to its wide range of relevancy, I do think that market research should be taught in various modules, ranging from psychology to business and information systems, where students from different disciplines can find a pathway in this multidisciplinary industry that provides opportunities for various career directions. Furthermore, the number of Master’s programmes available in the field globally is only 37, from which 6 are online programs and only 3 are in Europe (Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium)1. Thus, it is pretty straightforward that greater effort to incorporate and boost market research exposure to universities needs to be put. Ideally, this should be made not only from the side of industry organisations but also from the side of research companies aiming to attract the best talents from different disciplines at an early stage.
In my opinion, industry organisations and research companies should make an effort and go talk to university students as frequently as they can. As a young professional now but also as a student I was often attending corporate talks and events held within the university to inform myself. I was curious to find out about new areas, new activities and professions, getting to know people from the industry. I was often approaching speakers after the presentation, asking for more information about a topic that grasped my attention or for professional advice. I highly valued these conversations because I knew that they represented direct insights from the industry. I still remember talking to a writer and industry expert in a university event, about the potential of the topic he addressed while presenting and ended up having a wonderful conversation about new social behaviours and the role of companies in the new landscape. I highly valued this conversation that inspired me to drive my career towards an understanding of behavioural actions.
It is essential to approach more students and raise awareness of the industry within the academic institutions through career events, internship programmes and scholarships at an early stage of the students’ academic career. Moreover, it is important to find the appropriate touch-points of content exposure and communicate the industry’s insights and innovation through library and other study materials. I intuitively believe that research companies can play an important role in promoting the industry by, for example, giving classes with their practices in the academic programs. Whenever I was taught a university module by a professional, I learnt about the actual applications, going beyond theoretical models that reflected real work practices that I was able to use in my professional career.
From a young professional’s point of view, being taught about real-work practices by business professionals is an invaluable experience. This approach of bringing businesses to school should be adopted not only in marketing degrees but generally in all related disciplines, such as psychology, statistics, information systems, neuroscience, economics, media and journalism.
Another way to boost awareness of the industry would be to launch a certification programme affiliating with some academic institutions. Thus, graduates can finish their studies with some extra skills in the resume (market research skills) that would be appealing for every potential employer in the wider research related community. Despite raising awareness and providing industry training to young potential MR professionals, such programs would facilitate the hiring process for both sides: students are certified with knowledge even if they have studied something completely different, e.g. information systems, and companies are ensured they are taking on board the right talents that are already properly exposed to industry standards.
As it stands today, I am convinced that the market research industry is not correctly communicated to the next generation of young researchers. Young people are not exposed enough to the industry through their academic institutions. It is absolutely critical for industry organisations and research companies to identify all the effective touch-points to approach new talents in various fields ensuring they can capture the future research innovators and business leaders.
- Degree Programs in Marketing Research and Market Research. Quirk’s marketing research media. (http://www.quirks.com/directory/Marketing_Research_Degrees.aspx)
Helene Protopapas is IE Business School graduate student in Market Research & Consumer Behaviour. Connect with her via @elenaprot
This is the first of new RWC blog series on employability of young people. With these pieces and as a young researcher, I will try to pass on my insights and experience aiming to give a guideline to all young professionals who are seeking information on how to start their career in the field of market research.
Market research is a very popular subject nowadays as it seems to be a fascinating career pathway due to the variety of the professions and backgrounds you can follow and originate from. But do you know exactly what it means to be a market researcher? What are your responsibilities and tasks? Is it profitable? Can you progress easily and have a successful career? All these questions are issues that all young professionals face in the launch of their careers.
In our day and age, and especially among the younger generations, when questions are being raised, we reach out to the easily accessible source of all knowledge and insight – the Internet. Have you ever googled market research? Open a new tab and just try it! As you can see for yourself, the top results are from sources such as Wikipedia, Marketresearch.com (reports and analysis), entrepreneur.com and others.
Imagine now we are in 1985, when Google and all the other search engines did not exist. You are interested in market research and you want to find more about surveys. What do you do? You ask your teacher, colleagues or any other friend or relative that is more expert in the area to explain what the best practices and their experiences are.
Let’s come back to 2015 now. 30 years later with all the opportunity and connectedness the Internet offers you can have an answer for almost everything you inquire on. However, a problem remains that even today the information you can reach is segmented and on a massive scale from corporate websites, organisations or magazines. It is of course important to have an overview of the industry, but do these websites know you personally? Can they explain properly what you are looking for? Do they know if market research fits you and if you fit market research? The answer is not yet! Maybe we will see this form of fully personalised interaction in the future but for the moment, we need to accept that you can only get general information and if you are looking for more personal answers you should look for more personal interactions.
What do you do then? Ask the expert! Ask your teachers, ask a person that you know within the industry, but a person that knows you as well. This person can even be the older brother of your enemy classmate, but even then, start from your own social circle and then expand exploring. You need to speak to people within the industry and whether you like it or not, this is the only way to find out if market research is for you. Talking to people and expressing your interests is never translated into begging, as many young professionals believe, due to high unemployment in most European countries, for example. On the opposite, asking for information and advice in order to find out what the area offers and how the area can benefit from you is healthy. It’s a two-way relationship between organisations and individuals where both parties give and take knowledge and value. However, this is a relationship that not a lot of young people seem to understand, thus ending up compromising with less satisfactory offers. Most of the young think that they don’t have sufficient knowledge compared to well-experienced professions, underestimating their capabilities to create and add value. This is a perception that has been created due to the way businesses handle their responses to young professionals. Endless hours of job hunting and preparation for a cruel 30mins interview that leads to a rejection, promising job offers that turn out lacking in opportunities, etc.
How to speak to the expert
So the first step is to find the starting point: the connecting link with someone who can introduce you to the area of market research. Once you are there, what is next? The content. What do you ask? How do you know from the discussion if market research is for you?
Once you have the contact, ask for an informal call or meeting, to discuss the field giving you the chance to ask questions and of course to introduce yourself, explaining your interests. Prepare before the actual meeting/call, a list of questions. For a higher quality discussion you can even prepare yourself asking ‘your friend’ Google about emerging trends and the importance of market research in the economy. Try to stick with credible sources and organisations, such as ESOMAR to avoid misleading and invalid information from non-professionals. You can just write down without much detail whatever catches your attention. After a while, questions will start popping up on their own. The more you read the more questions you will have, and the more questions you have the more fruitful the conversation is going to be.
When you go to the meeting, ask for key sectors, specific areas and activities, key players and most importantly what it means it be a researcher. How it feels, what they daily tasks are, how flexible it is and what is the potential in each area. It is very important to get the feel of ‘walking in a researcher’s shoes’ before you actually decide to get on this path. Attempt to ask for a visit at the company’s offices (if this is not part of the first meeting) where most probably your contact will show you around and explain to you more of what each person in the company does. By the end of the visit you will have an idea of whether or not market research is for you. If you have the luxury to have more than one contact, benefit from it and try to meet up with all of them. It will be interesting to see several different sides that will give you a more holistic view of what market research as an industry and profession is really about.
This is the best route to find out at a preliminary stage if market research is for you. This is the process I personally follow for every topic I am interested in and want to dig in more, after many years of following blindly all the information that was marketed to me.
I hope my post provided some food for thought and motivation to make you start doing actionable steps towards a successful career. If you are interested in the topic, please stay tuned for next month’s post. Do you have thoughts, comments or questions? Join the conversation at @RW_Connect.
Helene Protopapas is IE Business School graduate student in Market Research & Consumer Behaviour. Connect with her via @elenaprot