Sue York

NewMR Curator

Sue is the chief curator of NewMR and is a regular host of Radio NewMR.

My first MR impressions: Where is the youth?

 Posted by on May 23, 2014  Uncategorized  2 Responses »
May 232014

Guest post from Jack Ramsay, Creator of

As a new face in market research – some would say a fresh face – I was flattered to be invited to write this blog post by Ray Poynter. What I’d like to share are my first impressions of this industry. And first of all, I’m going to be honest with you: I stumbled into Market Research.

It’s a confession which I hope won’t lose me any respect, but it’s the truth and has motivated me to take the steps which I have done within the industry to date.

My first impressions of Market Research were that of being overwhelmed. It was a steep learning curve. There were experienced heads everywhere I looked, professionals that been in the industry for years; masters of their craft, with limitless expertise. Another first impression was that of the distinct lack of young people in the industry, which led me to wonder how I could make a mark and why this was the case. I found reading white papers and industry related books only took me so far and frankly found the amount of information out there was hard to digest. No, the only way to understand market research was to get into the researcher’s world.

Using online Google+ hangouts as a tool, I began to approach and interview thought leaders in the industry before big research events. Nothing can replace face to face interaction, but logistically online tools were cheaper, quicker and allowed me to get directions and become educated in the field. With Google+ linking to YouTube, I was able to build a catalogue of interviews and, receiving a healthy amount of views, it occurred that there was an audience for these videos. Before long The Merlien Institute gave me the opportunity to do live interviews at a large research event and meet the industry top dogs face to face. It was a thrill, and so the YouTube community was born. Eight months and four events later, the community has grown nicely. Albeit still in its infancy, I feel confident it will continue to expand and to attract interest from those around the research globe, coming to share insight and expertise. A hub of innovation.

But I’m not totally selfish. I have not started the community and written this blog post to just talk about me and about my goal of better understanding the industry in which I work. I want market research to be more accessible for young people. I’ve found this to be a common topic in the research world, and it appears a question that has not yet been answered: How do we attract more young blood into the industry?

Upon posing this question to the research world I found the response astounding. Generation X demanding why there is a lack of millennials in the industry and wanting to support in any way they could. I certainly don’t have the answers, but I do know that YouTube reaches more US adults aged 18-34 than any cable network, as well as mobile making up almost 40% of YouTube’s global watch time. So what better space to access the younger generation?

The reason for this blog post is to invite you to become a part of the YouTube community, as well as to watch the upcoming ‘Young people in MR’ online discussion in June, where I will host a bunch of hungry MR experts, as well as young grads hoping to enter the industry, thrashing out this issue. See you there!

May 192013

1 It’s not your classic textbook
This book focusses on the questions that are part of the everyday practicalities of market research, the advice you don’t typically get from a textbook – the type of advice researchers would ideally have a mentor or more experienced colleague to ask – unfortunately not everyone has these support networks.

2 The contributors are practitioners
The content has been prepared by a team of experienced researchers, so the advice is relevant for researchers who are talking to clients, writing proposals, managing projects, developing questionnaires, analysing data, reporting results, etc.

3 A great resource for the generalist or research all-rounder
(Thanks to Sue Bell for emphasising this point.)
Many conferences and events, social media forums, and journals focus on specialist areas. This book, doesn’t cover everything, but aims to give a solid grounding on the basics, written and reviewed by experienced market and social research industry heavy weights who know what you need to know.

4 A balance between traditional and new techniques
The book covers the traditional areas – questionnaire design, qualitative, pricing research, B2B – as well as the emerging techniques, for example, communities and social media research.

5 A variety of views of expressed
In some areas of our profession there is not a consensus view – particularly in new and rapidly developing areas. This book highlights areas where consensus does not exist and presents the differing viewpoints.

6 The Client perspective is explored
Special attention is paid to one of the key relationships in market research, that of client and research provider, with an emphasis on the points of tension.

7 A Global Perspective
Unlike some textbooks, which focus on specific markets or regions, this book recognises many researchers are operating in international markets and also the issues and challenges faced by those working in markets with different levels of economic and technological development.

8 Ethics, Laws, Codes and Guidelines
As could be expected of book put together by ESOMAR, the book explains in simple and clear terms why we have these and how to fit them into everyday research.

9 Advice for both new researchers and more experienced researchers who are new to a topic
Thanks to Phyllis Macfarlane for emphasising this point.

10 It’s great value, at 20 Euros (including postage and packaging)
And, if you like it so much you want to bulk order for colleagues, clients, or students – better prices are available via ESOMAR!

Join us at the book launch
On Wednesday, 22 May, ESOMAR and NewMR are holding a virtual book launch, where contributors to the book will explain the book’s mission, its content, and more about how you can be involved. Click here to find out more details and to register to attend.

So what do you think?

Declaration of interest, I am one of the Editors and Curators of the project (as was NewMR’s Ray Poynter) – Sue York

Thoughts on Validity

 Posted by on September 9, 2012  Uncategorized  No Responses »
Sep 092012

Recently Kevin Gray asked, in the LinkedIn NewMR group, “When you hear a claim that a marketing research methodology is “valid”, what does that mean to you?” The question elicited a range of views and here is a tidied up version of my thoughts.

My feeling is that we need to start not with science or the theory of research methodology (both passions of mine BTW), but with what the users of research want and need the research to deliver. I think that what a research user means by valid is that what the research tells her/him is true*, that the results do not exclude important information, and that the information useful.

In my experience, much of the criticism of market research focuses on the second two criteria, i.e. that research does not include everything that the user needs to know and that the information is not sufficiently useful. Much of the drive towards new research (e.g. mass mobile ethnographics) is driven by a desire to produce findings that are more complete and more useful.

The tests for qual and quant in terms of complete and useful are very similar.

*The BIG problem with my definition is the reference to ‘true’. The traditional quant epistemology (positivism) held that absolute truths can be established, and that information that was not reliable (i.e. replicable) and not consistent with a theory was not valid. Quant research has established a family of validities, ranging from face validity at the weakest end of the spectrum i.e. does it look right) through to construct validity (is it consistent with theory and can it be tested).

Move the clock forwards, past Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn, and into post-positivism and we see that research has had to soften its definitions. Most quant researchers accept that when measuring and researching human feedback and society there can be no absolute truth. The reflexivity of the researcher, the biases of observation, and the feedback loop in human systems mean that there are no absolute truths, just associations that for a period of time are useful. In modern market research the term valid tends to be used in a sense closest to Convergent Validity – i.e. to what extent does a method produce results that are similar to ones that it is supposed to be similar to (e.g. predicting sales).

Qual research occupies a much wider spectrum, in terms of epistemology, than quant research. There are post-positivists who aim for something similar to quant researchers, i.e. replicable research that predict real world events. There are naturalists who liken themselves to 19th Century botanists, as opposed to 20th Century physicists, who seek to accurately describe what they see, even though they can’t explain the underlying mechanisms. However, there are various modern schools who reject the notion of objective truth completely, who typically seek to create a narrative that is credible and useful.

Whenever methodology and theory is discussed, somebody (or several somebodies) chime in with comments that say clients do not want to know about methodology or even that clients do not care about methodology. Whilst I am sure that only a minority of clients want to delve into the minutiae (although I have dealt with three clients who have PhDs in the area and who were very interested), I am sure that most clients want to know that the research they are buying/using is in some sense ‘fit for purpose’, i.e. that it is likely to ‘work’. This means somebody has to be interested in methodology, somebody has to put the hard yards in, so clients don’t have to.

If you want to join the debate on validity, why not visit Kevin Gray’s discussion on LinkedIn? []

Welcome back to the NewMR Blog!

 Posted by on September 9, 2012  Uncategorized  1 Response »
Sep 092012

The NewMR blog returns from its sabbatical today. We envisage that the blog will host a wide range of content, but it will be focused on the theme of NewMR. The NewMR blog will be a place where we can present more detailed thinking on industry and NewMR topics; complement our LinkedIn discussions; discuss themes and learnings from our events in more detail; and put forward provocative thoughts about where the industry is (or perhaps should) be going.

We are interested in your thoughts on what you like to see in the NewMR blog and we are looking for guest bloggers. If you have specific suggestions about topics you think we should cover or if you would like to guest blog or contribute in any other way please let me know at