David Smith – Candidate for ESOMAR Vice-President & Council

 Posted by on September 22, 2014  ESOMAR  Comments Off
Sep 222014

I would welcome your support in the upcoming Council Elections for the following three reasons:

It is a time of considerable change and I believe my experience and vision will benefit the role ESOMAR can play in fashioning our transition to an exciting new future.

I have been an ESOMAR member for over 20 years, and during this time I have been very active in working on various ESOMAR initiatives. But I have only been a Council Member for the last two years and I believe my continuing involvement with ESOMAR at this time would be beneficial to the industry.

Specifically, as we transition to the next era in our history, my experience, leadership and vision will be helpful to ESOMAR.

I am keen to continue the work I am undertaking on behalf of ESOMAR to make our industry attractive to the next generation of talent.

One of the key roles I have played on the Council over the last few years has been working with universities and others to showcase the attractiveness of the marketing intelligence industry as a career.

You might be interested in the findings of a survey I undertook on behalf of ESOMAR to identify the skills our industry will need going forward. These will appear in an upcoming issue of Research World.

I would like to continue this work to make sure that we are recognised as great industry offering fantastic opportunities to young people who want to help improve the quality of decision-making in the public and private sectors.

I can be relied upon to apply my energy and commitment to the industry and make things happen on behalf of ESOMAR Members from around the world.

In my time on the ESOMAR Council I have realised that having a vision, being a thought leader and having considerable experience of the industry is important. But being successful on behalf of ESOMAR essentially comes down to having a good track record of getting things done. It requires a passion for the industry, but also being a starter/finisher who is able to step up to the plate, take on initiatives and follow through. I promise to get things done on behalf of ESOMAR Members from around the world. Together we can create an exciting new future for our marketing intelligence industry.

The way the election works is that you need to cast one vote to elect me to Council, and cast a separate vote for the Vice President post (votes are not transferred across from the Vice President election to the Council Member election or vice versa).

In sum, I can guarantee I will work on your behalf to ensure we create a vibrant marketing intelligence industry that attracts young talent and continues to make a fantastic contribution to professional decision-making.

To see other notes on the ESOMAR elections see here.

Navin Williams – Candidate for ESOMAR Council

 Posted by on September 22, 2014  ESOMAR  Comments Off
Sep 222014

I have had the privilege of being at the helm of market research’s adoption of technology for close to 20 years. Having worked across some of the world’s Market Research leaders across the disciplines of Media, Consumer (IMRB, RI & Nielsen) & Retail (Nielsen), I have spent the better part of the last decade championing digital and mobile adoption for the enhancement, evolution and continued relevance of research in today’s rapidly changing world.

I have been fortunate to have co-written “The Handbook of Mobile Market Research” and the University of Georgia’s MRII curriculum “Mobile Marketing Research” and to be part of ESOMAR’s “Mobile Monitoring Group”. I am also a frequent speaker at conferences (ESOMAR, GSMA, MRMW, MobileMonday, etc) in addition to lending my time to Universities and Schools introducing mobile market research to students and professionals.

As an ESOMAR Council Member I will support and work with my fellow council members, while ensuring the ESOMAR Council is held at the highest professional standards. I would contribute in the following areas:

  • Knowledge – To be at the forefront of promoting technology adoption to improve the quality of insight and consumer understanding.
  • Educate – To share and impart best practices around the latest technology adoption amongst market researchers and interest groups.
  • Synergy and Growth – Bring together multiple thoughts and learnings and share across the globe. Grow ESOMAR and research standards in the APAC and developing world.

I am a keen contributor to ESOMAR:

  • Member of ESOMAR since 2011
  • Currently part of ESOMAR’s MOBILE GROUP – 2014
  • Contributed to ESOMAR’s “Answers to Contemporary Market Research Questions – Mobile Chapter” – 2013
  • Contributed Articles and Opinions (interviews) for ESOMAR RESEARCH WORLD Magazine since 2011

Like mobile has entwined itself into the fabric of humankind, I look forward to being part of the movement and force behind ESOMAR being part of the fabric of the growth and value ESOMAR brings to both its members and industry.

To see other notes on the ESOMAR elections see here.

Danielle Todd – Candidate for ESOMAR Council

 Posted by on September 22, 2014  Uncategorized  Comments Off
Sep 222014

I firmly believe we need a progressive and representative ESOMAR Council to reflect and champion the wonderfully diverse global industry of mr and all it entails!

I am a fresh young researcher determined to engage future talent, drive new ideas & thinking as well as ensure ESOMAR reflect our diverse & creative market research world!

After completing an MA(Hons) in Geography and an MSc in Social Research, both at the University of Edinburgh, I joined TNS in my first market research role in 2012. Since joining, I have built experience and expertise managing a client base encompassing both Innovation and Product Development and Brand & Comms accounts. My work on various accounts has led to fantastic client feedback leading to numerous awards within my company for my strong client-centric and growth-led impactful work.

In 2013, I was selected as a finalist in the ESOMAR Young Research of the Year competition for my paper on the necessity of gender diversity to profitable business performance. Since then I have published an article for Research World Connect on the important of diversity in redefining success. I have also organised and spoken at the UK-based Women in Research event. I have spoken at IIEX and WARC Conferences on several topics including Big Data and the use of respondents in market research. I am also a member of the MRS R-Net committee, organising and hosting social and speaker events for young researchers in the industry. Through this avenue, I also help run a mentoring scheme for young researchers finding their feet. Most recently, I came runner-up in the Kantar Measure of Inspiration Awards, for my achievements across ESOMAR, MRS, WIRe and within my company.

Since beginning my career in market research I have actively and consistently sought out ways to shape thinking in both my company and within the wider industry. I believe that we are a diverse and rapidly evolving industry with a multitude of methods, ways of thinking and strengths at our disposal. It is currently a very exciting time to be involved in the research and information industry, and it is vital for the future of our industry to uncover and promote new talent, new ideas and new markets to push the boundaries of our expertise and understanding. If elected to Council, I intend to:

  • Drive new strategies to engage young researchers with existing ESOMAR activities and publications
  • Influence the growth of platforms, venues and ways that provide the opportunity for diverse young talent to explore new ways of thinking, new methodologies and new ideas
  • Therefore ensuring that events and publications reflect the diverse range of opinions of all genders, and all areas of the globe

I am passionate about driving real change for real people through tirelessly promoting innovation, fresh talent and ensuring equal representation for all.

Vote Danielle! #newtalent

To see other notes on the ESOMAR elections see here.

Pravin Shekar – Candidate for ESOMAR President

 Posted by on September 22, 2014  Uncategorized  Comments Off
Sep 222014

A recipient of American Marketing Association’s “Emerging Leader in Marketing Research” 4Under40 Award, I have close to two decades experience in the world of research.

In my MR journey, I have traversed many roles: Field interviewer, Project manager, KPO/Analytics to Research & Insights! An entrepreneur since 1999, I have steered companies to multi-million dollar growth.

I bring energy, positivity and a CAN DO approach to all initiatives that I am involved with.

See more at www.pravinshekar.com & LinkedIn provide additional information.

Below is my personal statement for this election as well as my 3 point agenda.

As an ESOMAR Council member/Treasurer and Representative, I have been very active in promoting the cause of research and ESOMAR.

As the President, I will channel my entrepreneurial energy for the following key points:

  • SERVE THE MEMBERS: Increased engagement, focused custom events, client round-tables and organized meet-up/networking sessions
  • STRENGTHEN OUR PROFESSION: Expand the horizons of ESOMAR and bring all relevant stakeholders together. Work with like-minded partners globally to lobby, protect the profession from restrictive legislations and advancing the case of marketing research.
  • SECURE THE FUTURE: Making “Youth” the center-stage of initiatives: Focus on young researchers/students and promote MR as a career of choice. Being more inclusive (Geo, New-tech, Innovations)
  • “Market” Marketing research: An imperative need!

A CAN-DO entrepreneurial DRIVE is the need of the hour. To make ESOMAR stronger. To propagate the word of research.

You can see a 2 minute video statement from me here.

I look forward to your support for my candidacy to be the next President of ESOMAR (and the first from Asia!).


As an ESOMAR member, India Representative, Treasurer and Council member, I have been a very active promoter of research, standards and a global-local connect. I continue to organize conferences, events (client/agency-side) and deliver lectures aimed at researchers as well as students.

My contributions include:

  • ESOMAR Council-Member & Treasurer 2013-14, 2011-12
  • 2013: Cycling 1000 Kilometers in 8 days to raise funds and awareness for the ESOMAR Foundation
  • 2014 Dec*: Running a 50K Ultra for the Foundation
  • Programme Committee: Qualitative 2013, APAC 2011, Congress 2011
  • Council responsibility: Introduced recognition/awards for Country Representatives
  • ESOMAR Project Team member: Guidelines on Research via mobiles| Professional Standards Committee Overseer
  • Organized seven national ESOMAR events (2009-2014)
  • Speaker: ESOMAR Congress 2010, Research-Idol Congress2009, Leisure 2006
  • Panel Discussion: APAC2013, APAC2010, APAC2008, Qualitative2007
  • Promoting the cause of ESOMAR and MR at educational institutions/associations across APAC


  • Invited speaker/workshop-leader at various national association conferences: TMRE (USA), AMSRS (Australia), MRSS (Singapore), MRSI (India), TMRS (Thailand), BaQMar (Belgium).
  • Management Committee: Market Research Society of India(2013-15)


To see other notes on the ESOMAR elections see here.

The ESOMAR Elections

 Posted by on September 22, 2014  ESOMAR, NewMR  2 Responses »
Sep 222014

Every two years ESOMAR holds elections for its President, Vice President, and Council. The people who hold these roles have a tremendous amount of power to shape what happens to ESOMAR. A progressive group can really move ESOMAR forward, a less useful group can hold it back. Some of those elected in the past 20 years have been fantastic, some average, and some seem to have been in it for the status and the travel.

If you are an ESOMAR member, I would urge you to vote in these elections, to get the sort of ESOMAR you want. My feeling is that we need a group of people running ESOMAR who are less “white men”. The first criteria should be the best people for the job, but I think that ideally between one-third and two-thirds should be female, and that between one-third and two-thirds should come from outside Europe/North America – and I will be casting my votes accordingly.

How The Voting Works
The election is using a form of STV (standard transferable vote). This is one of the fairest methods of voting and the elector only needs to think about one thing “Put your most preferred candidate 1st, your next most preferred 2nd, etc”. Your second choice has no impact on the result for your first choice. You second choice is not used unless either A) your first choice is eliminated, or B) your first choice is elected. Your 3rd choice is not used until your second choice is elected or eliminated. If you use fewer choices you do NOT help your preferred candidate. The only way to help your most preferred candidate is to put them number 1.

The election is being run by ERS (the Electoral Reform Society) who are probably THE best people for this sort of job. The email voting links should be arriving very soon and voting closes October 20th – but don’t delay voting, voting early is the best way to remember to vote!

The Candidates
All of the candidates have their details available on the MyESOMAR website. But, since the election is of interest to a wider audience, NewMR has invited candidates to post up to 500 words about why they are standing for election. The responses are below.


Proof that people can make a difference

 Posted by on September 20, 2014  Uncategorized  Comments Off
Sep 202014
Christina, Dan, and Maren – fellow riders in Thailand

I have just spent an amazing afternoon in a Thai orphanage and later had dinner with the staff and children from Home Hug at Yasothon. Please read the whole of the following quote.

“In the late 1980s as the AIDS epidemic swept through at-risk Thai communities, Mae Thiew witnessed the impact on the children. There were those who were left orphaned as their parents died and children who were born with HIV and were abandoned. Mae Thiew quickly moved to provide a home for the children to meet their medical needs and to provide an environment free from discrimination. Support for Mae Thiew has fluctuated over the years and at times she was left without the resources to meet the children’s most basic needs. She often witnessed children dying on a weekly basis. On one day alone she buried three children who had succumbed to illness. After learning about Home Hug in March 2010, the Hands Board agreed that it would be wrong to allow the children to continue to struggle. The Board had provided food and medicine to Home Hug ever since. Not one child has died at Home Hug since Hands became involved in March 2010. Home Hug Yasothon is home to 65 kids. You can see a video of Mae Thiew talking about the home here.”

That quote is from the Hands Across the Water charity’s website. The charity, working with partners and Mae Theiw, has moved the home from a situation where children were dying regularly to where none are dying, and where they are flourishing, getting their medication, attending schools, and setting out on a life with a real future. The changes to Home Hug include installing kitchens and good sanitation, key factors in both happiness and health.

Riding 500KM in Thailand
The reason I was visiting the Home Hug at Yasothon was that I have just finished a 500KM sponsored ride in Thailand, organised by a great organisation called Hands Across the Water (and facilitated by Tour de Asia). I was on the ride with four colleagues from Vision Critical (Christina, Dan, Maren, and Mike) and by the time the last few donors pay their pledges we will have raised about $30,000 for the charity between the five of us – note you can make a donation via this link. There were also 8 riders from OYOB in Melbourne, two ride guides, Peter Baines, and a support team – and it was a great experience meeting and riding with them.

When I signed-up to take part in the ride I was dreading going to the orphanage. Riding 100KM a day, cycling in the heat of Thailand, raising thousands of dollars, paying my own costs for the event, and getting to and from Thailand all seemed straightforward. But I expected the visit to the home to be challenging – my experiences as a councillor in the UK had certainly been challenging.

However, I was wrong, very wrong, the visit was a joy, it was uplifting, and it reaffirmed my belief in the ability of all of us to make a difference.

Home Hug
As we arrived at the home, 16 weary cyclists, in cycling gear that was none too clean, we were met by a cheering throng of really happy, really normal, really well looked after children. The building was great, the grounds were great, and the children were fantastic. Home Hug is not somewhere that is ‘making do’, it is not somewhere where unwanted children are being ‘contained’ (which is the case in some places in the world), it is somewhere where lives are being built.

You can read more about Home Hug at Yasothon, and about the other homes that Hands Across the Water supports, via this link.

Hand Across the Water
Hands Across the Water shows that individuals can make a difference. Peter Baines, the founder, is making a massive difference, the Thai partners are making a massive difference, and everyone who rides or donates is making a difference. Please read more about Hands Across the Water. Read what they are doing for young people in need and/or at risk in Thailand, and think about whether you can do something to help them – perhaps take part in a ride yourself? You can read more here.

What Next?
During the ride, Peter shared his vision for one of the new projects for Hands Across the Water. At the moment many of the children in their care are left their by mothers who are HIV positive and working in the sex trade. The children are born with HIV and the only way they are going to get the care they need at the moment is in a suitable home.

However, Peter wants to create options for the mothers to leave the sex trade, live with their children and learn a trade, to break the cycle of abuse, poverty, and disease. This means suitable accommodation, facilities, and support – which means money.

My three thoughts
I would like to share three thoughts that this trip has brought to the front of my mind:

  1. We all need to recognise that we can make a difference. Maybe we can’t make the scale of difference that Peter Baines and Khun Thiew have made, but we can all make a difference. It is too easy to look at a big problem and feel that we can’t help fix it.
  2. Giving money is fine, and we should do it, but in our comfortable lives we can get too distant. This ride in Thailand has been a bit of a slap in the face for me. I had misjudged Thailand, I had misjudged the orphanage, and I had misjudged the power of actually meeting the children. We all need to get more involved. If I had just sent money, that would have helped, but I wouldn’t have changed.
  3. It probably doesn’t matter too much which charity you get involved in. You can help fight cancer, look after homeless people, volunteer through something like Oxfam, or get involved with Hands Across the Water. Don’t try to weigh up one charity against another – when the chance comes to do something, take the chance and get involved.

Here are some of the riders in our group taking a break as we made our way 500KM across Thailand. Over the trip the riders got to know each other, find out about Thailand, and learn plenty about themselves too. At the start we were riding, mostly, as individuals, by the end of five days were riding much like a team. At Home Hug we were treated to a super meal and a show from the children. Fishing for catfish with the children in the grounds of Home Hug, Mike Carr is being given help and instructions. The riders, children, and staff enjoying a dance after the dinner at the end of the ride – Christina still wearing the garland given to her by the children. The VC Team the night before the ride, Maren Delap, Mike Carr, Christina Hoffman, me, and Daniel Alexander-Head.

I’d also like to thank all of those who sponsored us. At the moment it looks like the five VC riders will have raised about $30,000 – but we are still hoping to raise a little bit more – you can help via this link.


Sep 112014

Guest Post by Betty Adamou of Research Through Gaming, who was a keynote speaker at this year’s AMSRS Conference in Melbourne.

Let’s face it, Market Research conferences aren’t a place we normally associate with a few laughs (from the stage, it’s different off stage!), but not only did the AMSRS provide delegates with two comedians (one of which was a Market Researcher) but we also had presenters using humour to make some valid points.

These giggle-inducing moments were in the opening talks; Tom Ewing of BrainJuicer keynoted about Reasons to be Cheerful with his ever-present-on-Twitter co-presenter buddy ‘Old Man CrossTabs’ (@OldSchoolMRX on Twitter, if you’re interested in following) who would chime in every now and then during Toms talk with some words of wisdom, but was used to provide a stark contrast between the expectations of ‘Old MR’ (personified by Old Man CrossTabs) and ‘New MR’, brought to life through BrainJuicer case-studies and examples.

The next talk included a flying lettuce through the slides, meant to highlight to power of subliminal messaging and subconscious decisions. Interestingly, the presentation which included a flying lettuce in Leigh Caldwell’s talk didn’t make me want to choose lettuce for lunch, but did act as a trigger so that when I saw lettuce, I thought of Leigh’s talk, and subsequently, the Irrational Agency (where Leigh is a partner).

One of the stand-out presentations for me was by Daniel Bluzer-Fry presenting a case-study carried out with Betfair using mobile and, for the first time, focussed on user experience. However, this wasn’t testing the respondents’ experience of the mobile research methodology, no, it was to improve the experience users had of the BetFair mobile site, however the logic behind user centred design resonates strongly with why design is so important in research applications, be it online surveys, mobile surveys or online communities. During the panel discussion, I referenced this talk as a highlight and why savvy design-thinking for surveys is so important.

Conference talks aside, we were all absolutely spoiled in a perfectly paced conference program; as a delegate, I had enough time to hear the details I needed to calm my curiosity in all talks, without feeling rushed about.

And I know all conference committees care about their conference program and speakers, but the AMSRS had clearly placed a huge amount of effort into ensuring that varied, relevant, innovative and robust talks where chosen for presentation over the two days.

The other highlights I had were not actually talks; I enjoyed hearing about the Better Surveys Project spoken about by Peter Harris from Vision Critical. The project is a three-year study which aims to publicise a series of experiments to evidence the need of particular best practices to educate the industry on better survey design and execution. It is fantastic to see this kind of initiative in our industry and well done to all involved in that project!

The other non-talk highlight was a tribute to a researcher who had sadly passed away; John Young from Colmar Brunton. I know this may sound terribly morbid of me to add this as a highlight, but please hear me out: we so often hear about innovative methodologies, great case-studies and new technology which helps us help clients do things better, cheaper and faster, but this tribute reminded us that at the heart of all these developments and great work are researchers with passion, spirit and who genuinely care about other people, and their jobs as market researchers. It really brought the humanness of what we all do back home for me.

Another highlight was the award ceremony, presented by the researcher-turned-comedian, Sam McCool and a huge congratulations goes out to all the winners.

As a regular conference speaker, I always hope to hear and see great things on the stage and off the stage; AMSRS didn’t disappoint and I would definitely go back, even as a non-speaker. Thanks AMSRS for a fab event!


Sep 052014

It’s that exciting time of the year again – ESOMAR Congress is on its way and the team at ESOMAR HQ are hard at work making sure the 67th annual ESOMAR Congress will once again provide the very best in content and business opportunities.

As ESOMAR President, for me Congress is a highlight, not only because of the opportunity to meet and greet researchers and clients from all over the globe. Congress is the highpoint of our industry’s event calendar and offers the perfect platform for bringing the ESOMAR community together by holding the Annual Global Meeting (AGM). During the AGM, we report on the successes of the organisation, hear feedback from our members, and vote on any important changes to the Society.

This will be my last AGM as ESOMAR President. And even though it is tinged with sadness in that respect, I am looking forward to communicating the great advances ESOMAR has made throughout the year.

And here are some of the biggest updates… ESOMAR Corporate membership continues to grow steadily, and while I am writing this post we have 282 organisations that have joined the ESOMAR community. It has been a great pleasure to welcome companies such as GfK, Tetra Pak, Hall & Partners, Kadence International, Electrolux, Confirmit, and of course many more, into the fold of Corporate Membership. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that we, as a profession, can be represented as a single united voice to legislators and lawmakers around the world. Corporate Membership is a key element in ensuring the industry can carry on self-regulating, always pushing to do the very best work with a strong commitment to ethical practice.

The ESOMAR Foundation also continues its successful journey. For those unaware, the ESOMAR Foundation was set up in October last year with the aim of channelling the strength and resources of the market research industry towards social good. Its projects aim at helping local charities and supporting researchers in need, local education initiatives, and research for the non-profit sector. In its first 12 months, the Foundation has provided over €60,000 to local charities. This year we have also launched a training programme in Myanmar to help deal with the lack of training opportunities in the county. I urge you to find out more about this wonderful initiative and how you can help by visiting the ESOMAR Foundation site.

ESOMAR and our fellow market research associations all have similar mandates, despite sometimes wording them differently. We all strive for promoting and supporting the industry, determined for it to be as strong as it can be. That’s why for ESOMAR it is incredibly important to reinforce and maintain strong relationships with associations across the globe. In the past 12 months, we have had the opportunity to present global updates at local association meetings in Australia, Japan and Korea, sponsor events in Thailand and Singapore, and hold joint events in Bulgaria, Belgium, Spain and Finland.

Working closely with local associations helps us better understand the needs of researchers in those regions. Combined with a greater use of live streaming ESOMAR events, we are now also able to share knowledge and important industry discussions to more professionals than ever before, regardless of location and circumstance.

Last but not least, one of the most important aspects of this year’s AGM will be the announcement of nominations for the ESOMAR Council and Presidential elections. Serving as President for an organisation with such rich heritage has been an honour. My fellow council members and I have been give an unique opportunity to assist the association in its good work, and influence the future of our industry by shaping the strategic direction of the Society. My term has also provided me with an insight into the breadth, depth and range of the activities ESOMAR conducts daily and the opportunity to contribute to business, philosophical and social debates both inside and outside the industry. So although my term is ending, I am looking forward to continuing the work and supporting the new President as the ex-officio Council member.

And so, the old guard must make way for new blood. I hope I’ll see some of the younger generation of researchers and research clients apply for nomination this year. In my travels over the last two years I’ve been staggered and delighted at the passion and integrity of the younger generation of this profession. Having a representative and diverse ESOMAR Council can only be an asset to the industry.

If you decided that running for Council wasn’t for you, then please don’t forget to vote In October. ESOMAR is only as strong as the Council and the members that vote for them. So make sure you engage with the nominees, ask them questions, understand what they can do for you and the industry as a whole. Every vote strengthens the organisation and, consequentially, our profession.

If you are at Congress this year, don’t be shy, come say hello to any of us at the Council or any of the ESOMAR team and give us your opinions on ESOMAR, the Congress, or your thoughts in general on the industry. If you are unable to attend, then please also feel free to e-mail me directly at d.foreman@council.esomar.org.


Sep 032014

Last week I posted an article looking at the decline in survey research, which included some data from ESOMAR and some predictions.

This week, ESOMAR posted the latest Global Market Research Report and it includes some interesting figures on data collection modes. Figures which are broadly in line with my predictions.

The table below is mostly a repeat of the one I included in my previous post. It shows the data from the ESOMAR reports for 2007, 2010, and 2013, along with my forecasts for 2016 and 2019.

In this version, I have added the data from the 2014 ESOMAR Global Market Research report at the bottom.

Surveys 2014
Note, the ESOMAR data refer to the final figures for the previous year, so the 2014 report is based on the completed returns for the whole of 2013.

The decline in research spending on projects where the data was collected via surveys, from 53% in the 2013 report to 48% in 2014, is a very large drop and is even faster than implied by my predictions. The ESOMAR Pricing Study would suggest that some of the drop is due to falling costs for online research and a continued switch to online from face-to-face and CATI. However, the ESOMAR Global Market Research report also highlights the growth of non-survey alternatives.

The change in other quant is broadly in line with my predictions, and the 1% change in qual could be more wobble than message. The climb in Other is, however, large, and larger than my prediction, and is one of the drivers of the fall in survey research as a proportion of the total. The key elements in Other are desk research and secondary analysis and are an indication of the move away from data collection to analysis.

BTW, if you are interested in this topic you might want to read Jeffrey Henning’s riposte, Surveys A Century From Now.


Sep 022014
Coloured Rhino

One of the most frequent lamentations at market research conferences relates to the boardroom. Market researchers are not well represented in the boardroom and many seem to think this is proof of our weakness as a profession/industry. However, I think this is mistaken, I think that market research should only rarely be involved in boardroom decisions, and indeed that majority of what we do should be tactical not strategic.

Boardrooms are not places where many decisions are taken, and those decisions tend to be about issues such as mergers and acquisitions, accounts related issues, strategic decisions about estate management, strategic decisions about issues such as outsourcing etc.

The management of companies is not, typically, achieved at the boardroom level; it is provided by the managers and the specialists. Market research is at its most powerful when it is integrated into the wider knowledge base and information system of the organisation, and this integration happens best when done by the people working with the information, not externally, and not at a level too senior to understand the complexity.

Similarly, most companies make 1000s of tactical decisions for every strategic decision. If a company is making a large number of strategic decisions, they are not actually strategic, they are more likely to be panic. Market researchers certainly want to be involved in the strategic decisions, we have a lot to add and they tend to be interesting projects. But the bulk of the industry should be focused on the tactical if it is going to grow and be profitable.

If we look at the ESOMAR Global Market Research report we can see that the continuous projects account for the bulk of market research spending by clients, including audits, market measurement, customer satisfaction, brand and advertising tracking, usage data. All of this data is used strategically occasionally, but it is principally used to manage the delivery of services and products – i.e. it is used tactically. Ad hoc research such as product testing and ad testing are, in most cases, tactical. A company makes a strategic decision to launch X new products a year, the NPD, the pre-testing, the testing, the comms testing, the monitoring of sales and advertising are all (mostly) tactical. Of course, we would encourage a company to review its tactical data to gain inputs to its strategic thinking, but that is in addition to using the data tactically.

Am I talking about me or about the industry?
One of the reasons I think the MR industry gets confused about whether its core target should be the boardroom or senior management, and about whether its bread and butter should be strategic or tactical, is down to the opinion leaders in market research. Most of the opinion leaders are more strategic than tactical, they personally do more big picture work, and they do less testing whether the font on the pack should be serif or sans serif.

I worry that too many people who do the big thinking (or who try to do the big thinking) are generalising from their own particular. If the market research industry were to focus on the strategic and the boardroom, to the exclusion of the tactical and the everyday, the market research industry would be much, much smaller, many people would have to lose their jobs, and another business sector would need to do the tactical research that clients need.

The importance of the tactical and practical
The ability of some market researchers to focus on the strategic, to offer consultancy services, rests on the scale of the market research industry and its reputation for measurement, independence, and relative objectivity. The stars in our industry are there because of the field managers, the interviewers, the programmers, the operations staff, the coders, and research executives that facilitate the scale of the MR industry.

Yes, let’s keep developing the consultancy services, let’s keep trying to garner a bigger role in strategic decision making, let’s embrace insight management, but let us also keep developing the tactical, the practical, the everyday. We need a parity of respect for all aspects of the market research profession.