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


Jun 092014

Today I had the pleasure of taking part in a panel discussion with Lenny Murphy and Simon Chadwick, ably chaired by P&G’s Greg Rogers, as part of the Canadian MRIA’s annual Conference in Saskatoon. Only one of us, Greg, was actually in the room, or indeed in the country. Simon, Lenny and I all joined via webcams (Simon and Lenny from the USA, and me from the UK).

I look forward to hearing from the audience what they thought, but I really enjoyed it (find out more about the Conference via Annie Pettit’s blog). Virtual events are not unusual, indeed NewMR was perhaps the first to pioneer them in the market research space. And, I have dialled into events in the past, typically when something has gone wrong with the plans (for example clouds of ash grounding planes). But this was the first time where I joined a panel where all the guests joined by webcam, intentionally.

I hope that face-to-face conferences will remain a core part of how the MR industry goes about its sharing, learning, and networking – but I think remote speakers and panels could be a growing part of the picture, especially as the technology gets better, and as we get better at using it.

In terms of content, my 4 key points were:

  • The MR industry has changed much more than most people recognise, the rise of mobile, the move to insights, and changes in the client context are signs and causes of change.
  • Most big data investments are going to fail over the next 18 months. CMOs whose projects work will perhaps be rewarded, but the majority, who projects fail, will surely suffer.
  • Marketing and market research are going to increasingly merge, and this is going to cause tensions.
  • My advice for somebody entering our industry? Find something to be really good at. If you are great ethnography or data, at reporting or semiotics, at methodology or facial coding you will find a good place in our industry.

And, of course, the panel all agreed that Canadians are very nice people, but also the home of some great researchers and some great innovations.

May 172014

Next month I will be in Atlanta as one of the co-chairs of IIeX USA. If you can attend one of the IIeX events (in Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Southern Hemisphere) I strongly recommend it.

Business is changing, society is changing, and consequently research is changing. If you hope to be enjoying work in five years then you need to have a plan for how you are going to stay relevant to clients and customers.

Why IIeX?
Most conferences and events have their purpose, AAPOR explore the methodological boundaries, MRMW advance the cause of mobile market research, the trade bodies provide coherence and shared learning for the members of the industry. IIeX has a very different purpose, in my opinion. IIeX represents the contested future, a set of different visions pitched in dialogical conflict. IIeX is not curated to find the best, or the most likely, or the most thought through. IIeX presents the superposition of differing waves of innovation, investment, and imagination.

To give you a taste of what I mean, here are some of the highlights you can see in Atlanta (June 16 to 18)

  • Clients agitating for change: Sion Agami from P&G, Ryan Backer from General Mills, Eileen Campbell from IMAX, Roberto Cymrot from Coca-Cola, Claudia Del Lucchese from Mondelez, and Laura Flessner from Pfizer.
  • Big thinkers and heavy hitters: Simon Chadwick, Melanie Courtright, David Bakken, Fiona Blades, and Mark Earls author of Herd.
  • Innovative suppliers: Steve August from Revelation, Stephen Phillips from ZappiStore, Tim Bock from Numbers, Siobhan Dullea from Communispace, Andrew Reid from Vision Critical, and Carol Fitzgerald from BuzzBack.
  • Alternatives: Me, Elina Halonen, Tom Anderson, Adriana Rocha, and, of, course, Lenny Murphy

But this is just a small representation of the many, many speakers, workshop leaders, and exhibitors. Hear why brands like Dell, Deloitte, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Groupon, Campbell Soup, The Weather Channel, AOL, Bloomberg, and Philips Consumer Lifestyle are asking for change, and understand their perspective of the future.

Don’t come to Atlanta expecting answers. Come to Atlanta to find out what the questions are and come to Atlanta to start making the connections that will engage you in the future of market research.

My presentation is on New Skills for a New Era, addressing the need to change. My workshop will use gamification approaches to explore futuring techniques. You can find out more at and if you use the code NMR20 you will get a 20% discount.


May 142014

Guest Post by Ilka Kuhagen, Co-founder of Think Global Qualitative and founder of IKM, see her LinkedIn profile by clicking here.

The QRCA Global Outreach Scholarship is a wonderful opportunity for qualitative researchers outside the US, UK and Canada to experience a QRCA annual conference. One Scholarship is awarded to a qualitative researcher in the early stages of their career, while the second is for a more senior practitioner who is well established in the industry.

This year’s recipients will have the opportunity to come to New Orleans from 15-17th October 2014.

QRCA is currently seeking candidates for two 2014 Global Outreach Scholarships:

  • The Foundation Scholarship is awarded to a qualitative researcher who is relatively new to qualitative research, but is already establishing a career path in this field. For instance, they should have developed some experience of moderating group discussions and IDI’s and of analysing the results.
  • The Advanced Scholarship is intended for a qualitative researcher who is already well established in their career, but wants to expand and deepen their knowledge of methods and techniques, and to maximize the value of the projects that they plan and execute for their clients.

The Scholarships cover the cost of conference registration (valued at up to US$1,425) and offer up to US$1,000 to cover travel expenses to the conference. QRCA’s Annual Conference provides exposure to the latest in qualitative thinking and techniques, and is an invaluable opportunity for international qualitative researchers to extend their network of contacts around the world. In addition the recipients are given free QRCA membership for the remainder of 2014 if they are not already members.

Full information about the Scholarships, including specific details about the qualifying criteria and application process, is available at or can be obtained from Darrin Hubbard at The closing date for applications is Friday 30 May 2013.

Full information is available on QRCA’s website at – The form to apply can be downloaded by clicking here.

On the website you can also watch the video (short version or in full length) with the two winners from 2013 by clicking here.


May 102014
MRMW London 2013

I am lucky enough to be invited to take part in a wide range of market research events, including those organised by the trade bodies, by specialist conference groups, and by innovators. For many years many market research conferences had been getting more and more similar, and less and less interesting as they sought to play to a wide audience.

However, in recent times that has changed, and one of the best examples of the change is the MRMW (Market Research in the Mobile World) series of conferences, organised by Merlien. I have been lucky to be involved in several of the MRMW events and I think what they offer is:

  • Focus, the MRMW events focus on mobile, this has helped develop the industries focus on developing new mobile approaches.
  • Series, the MRMW has several events a year and the series dates back to 2010. This has created an ongoing dialogue. Ideas are developed over time, rather than assuming they will appear fully fledged.
  • Global, the MRMW conferences are held in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. This enables the series to draw on regional strengths, and then take those strengths to new markets.
  • Innovations, for a small organisation Merlien have been very successful in introducing new faces and ideas, for example David ZaKariaie the founder and CEO of Glassic who brought copious sets of Google Glass for attendees to experience.

Chicago, May 27-30
The next MRMW is in Chicago, May 27-30, click here to find out more. Unfortunately, I can’t be there, but my hot picks from the agenda are:

  • The session on where investments are going in mobile MR, with Simon Chadwick.
  • The market research on trial session, with Dan Foreman.
  • Google Glass, from gimmick to tool, with David Zakariaie.
  • Device agnostic research, with Zoe Dowling.
  • Privacy and engagement – how far can you go, with Reg Baker.

I look forward to watching their contributions by video reply – check out the MRMW site to access their videos.

If you can’t make Chicago in May, perhaps you can make Berlin in September and/or Cape Town in November – the call for papers for both of these events is still open, so consider presenting something.