Aug 142014
 
Godzilla

One of the questions I get asked most often is “What’s hot in market research?”. I will be broadcasting my update as NewMR lecture next Wednesday, August 20, (you can register for it here).

But here is a sneak peek into what is hot, still hot, bubbling under the surface, and not so hot.

Still Hot
It is important when looking at the ‘new stuff’ not to ignore stuff that has been around for a while, but which is still growing in market share, importance, and usage:

  • Mobiles in traditional research. Mobile is a big and growing part of CATI, online surveys, and F2F – this trend has a long way to go yet.
  • Communities. Communities (including Insight Communities and MROCs) have been the fastest growing major new research approach for a few years now, and this is going to continue.
  • DIY. We hear less about DIY these days, that is probably because it has become normal, this sector is growing, both in terms of part of being a key part of existing MR and partly because it is growing the scope of market research.

Hot!
These are three of the items that I think are the hottest topics in MR, in terms of their growth and potential. All three of these are going to be game changers.

  • Beacons. For example iBeacons, which use geofencing and allow location-based services (including research) to be offered in much easier and more practical ways than is offered by methods such as GPS.
  • In the moment research. Research using mobiles and research using participants to capture information as people go about their normal day, including qual, quant, and passive, is making research more valid and sensitive.
  • Micro surveys. The most high profile micro (or nano or very short) provider is Google Consumer Surveys, but there are a variety of other providers, such as RIWI. Also, Beacons, In the Moment, and Communities are all leveraging Micro Surveys.

Bubbling
These three are going to make a major impact soon, but not quite yet.

  • Text analytics. The technology is not quite here yet, but when it clears the last few hurdles it will hit market research like a freight train – for example shifting the balance from closed questions to open questions, and finally driving more value out of social media discourses.
  • Web messaging. Apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, and Line are growing faster than anything else globally. A few people are looking at how to leverage these for market research, and more will follow.
  • Research bots. One of the key factors limiting the use of social media, communities, and the use of video is the requirement to use people to do the moderation and analysis. Bots (software applications short for robots) are going to change this and open a new, vast range of options.

Not So Hot
These three are all interesting niches, some people are making a good living from them, but they are not scaling in a way that makes a difference to most brands or researchers.

  • Facial Coding. It answers some questions, but is limited in terms of its range of uses, delays, scalability, and cost.
  • Webcam qual. The benefits are usually too small and the resistance from potential participants are too high to make this a generally useful approach.
  • Social Media Research. Whilst social media research, especially monitoring, has become essential, it has not grown into what was expected.

What about?

  • Big Data
  • Behavioural Economics
  • Gamification
  • Smartphone ethnography
  • Neuroscience
  • Geotracking
  • Wearbles
  • Quantified Self
  • Biometrics

Want to know where these items fit in this picture? Tune in to our webinar next Wednesday, 10am New York time, which is 3pm London time. Click here to register.


 

Jul 252014
 
The customer relationship

Most companies claim to be customer centric, but when you look at what they do you will see that the customer is all too often treated as a cross between an outsider and an enemy – someone to be persuaded, entrapped, or smooched, not somebody in true partnership with the brand or organisation.

I think there are two reasons why so many brands talk about being close to customer while at the same time failing to achieve it:

  • They don’t realise that doing it right can make the business more profitable and more sustainable – so they just talk-the-talk.
     
  • They don’t know how to operationalise a relationship with tens of millions of customers – so they don’t try.

I think both of these positions are wrong and I have set out my observations and findings about how some companies are truly putting the customer into the decision making process in a new (short) book. In the book I highlight cases and show the tools they are using and the rewards they are achieving.

The four main points I make are:

  1. 1. Customer engagement comes in three layers, Listening, Crowdsourcing, and Co-creation – and the best companies do all three, using a variety of tools and approaches. Companies as diverse as Molson Coors, Kimberley-Clarke, SingTel, and Avianca are all using multiple strategies to sit side-by-side with customers.
  2. 2. Research from the likes of IBM, Aberdeen, and Forrester show that customer involvement can increase revenue and profits.
  3. 3. With the rise of the collaborative economy, for example Uber, AirBNB, and Kickstarter brands cannot sit above the fray, they need to be part of the answer or they will be part of the problem.
  4. 4. In the past brands and companies had product differences, but in most cases these have been eroded. The final competitive advantage for a company lies with its customers – not with the product or the service, but with what customers can help create and sustain. However, the overarching message from all these cases and examples is that brands have to mean it, they can’t just talk about involving customers, they have to believe in it and they have to make it happen.

If you’d like to read the full book you can download it from the Vision Critical website (in exchange for handing over a few details about who you are).
 

Jul 162014
 

Sometimes when I run a workshop or training session people want detail, they want practical information about how to do stuff. However, there are times when what people want is a big picture, a method of orientating themselves in the context of the changing landscape around them. Tomorrow I am running a workshop for #JMRX in Tokyo and we are looking at emerging techniques, communities, and social media research – so a big picture is going to be really useful to help give an overview of the detail, and to help people see where things like gamification, big data, and communities all fit.

So, here is my Big Picture of NewMR (click on it to see it full size), and I’d love to hear your thought and suggestions.

Big Picture

The Big Picture has five elements

The heart of the message is that we have reached an understanding that surveys won’t/can’t give us the answers to many of the things we are interested in. People’s memories are not good enough, many decision are automatic and opposed to thought through, and most decision are more emotion that fact. Change is needed, and the case for this has been growing over the last few years.

The four shapes around the centre are different strands that seek to address the survey problem.

In the top left we have big data and social media data, moving away from working with respondents, collecting observations of what people say and do, and using that to build analyses and predictive models.

In the top right we have a battery of new ways of working with respondents to find out why they do things, going beyond asking them survey questions.

In the bottom left we have communities, which I take as a metaphor for working with customers, co-creating, crowdsourcing, treating customers and insiders, not just users.

The bottom right combines elements from the other three. ‘In the moment’ is perhaps, currently, the hottest thing in market research. Combining the ability to watch and record what people do, with interacting with them to explore why and what they would do the options changed.

Thoughts?
So, that is my big picture. Does it work for you? What would you add, change, delete, or tweak?


 

May 302014
 

Guest post from Peter Harris, EVP & Managing Director, Asia Pacific at Vision Critical, Australia.

Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series.


I am not sure when it started but social media has completely revolutionised how I consume information, connect with friends and family, research topics within the industry and keep on top of who is doing what. That is not new news for anyone but when I think back even 3-4 years, I see it has all changed.

I no longer carry industry magazines to and from work trying to keep up with who is doing what, I rarely talk to recruiters and use linked in to keep track of people’s movement, to advertise positions and to see what my clients and competitors are up to. I can also see which of my competitors and prospective clients are researching us!

For me, social media has not been a distraction to work but a big aid. We have used @VC_APAC and @visioncritical to help build our presence in Australia and now across the Asia Pacific region. It’s so much easier to offer thought leadership on niche subjects now via social media and also to research what’s hot and what’s not across the profession. I also think it’s easier now just to post a paragraph or two on a topic vs waiting to be asked or submitting a long article which may or may not be accepted by an editor. For me, social media really has allowed our brands voice to be heard in the marketplace and the amount of content is not limited by an editorial committee or peers.

I see people managing their social media in different ways. I personally tend to use Facebook for personal stuff and everything else for business but often the two blend in together. It probably says something interesting about me that compared to many work colleagues I am not very social media savvy but to my friends and family see me as a social media addict.

The only way social media has been a negative for me personally is that I read a lot less non-work books these days as there is always so much to read/keep updating with. By the way, I don’t blame SM for that, it’s up to me to manage my time, but it’s just so tempting, AND ALWAYS ON.

Would you like to share your take on social media via a blog post on NewMR? We are happy to review suggested posts, ideally about 300 to 600 words. Send you suggested copy to admin@thefutureplace.com.


Mar 152014
 
HK

Last week I wrote about my week in Singapore, with Vision Critical and MRMW. This week I exchanged the warmth of Singapore for the distinctly more chilly streets of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo.

Monday and Tuesday were spent in Hong Kong, with my Vision Critical colleagues and, one of our key partners in the region, ABN Impact. Monday focused on meetings with clients and prospects and on team training/briefing sessions.

On Tuesday morning ABN Impact put on a great insight community event at the JW Marriott. The speakers included Bashuli Sane from Cathay Pacific and Mike Sherman (ex-SingTel) who wowed the audience when they shared how insight communities were bringing the customer into every aspect of the decision making process – I gave an introduction to communities presention, helping fill in the broader picture of what an insight community is and how they are built, managed, and developed. The market in Hong Kong is quite developed and the Q&A session focused on practical issues, such as recruitment, language (e.g. working in English, simplified Chinese, and traditional Chinese), and incentives.

Wednesday morning saw the Vision Critical roadshow in Shanghai, the guests of the Mandarin Oriental, and in the company of three partner agencies (Added Value, WIMI, and Morpace). Communities are at a much earlier stage of development in mainland China and the Q&A focused on how best to create insight communities in such a large, dynamic, and developing market. One of the thrills of the trip was taking the Maglev train out to the airport, travelling at 300 KPH (over 180 mph).

Thursday and Friday saw a shift from China to Japan, with two days spent with Seven Seas, the partner in Tokyo for Vision Critical’s technology and services. We managed to squeeze in meetings with personal care brands, communications companies, media companies, social media providers, and automotive companies. Japan is a highly developed but slightly cautious market. A large amount of research is online, short-term MROCs are common, and it seems to me that the time is right for many companies in Japan to reap the sorts of benefits that companies in China, Singapore, New Zealand, and Australia are already experiencing.

The week finished with the 42nd meeting of JMRX, a really fun bunch of Japanese researchers who are committed to exploring new research. MR stands for market research, X for excellence, and J for Japan. This was my third appearance and my theme was a review of the key insight trends – communities, mobile, big data, text analytics, and social media. I was then followed by Noriyuki Ikeda who presented on co-creation, innovation, and social media. The amazing success of JMRX is largely down to the support, energy, and passion of my good friend Shigeru (Shiggy) Kishikawa.

At the end of two weeks, four cities (Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo) I am struck by three key factors:

  1. The energy in this region beats anything I have seen in Europe and North America – things are changing faster here than anywhere else.
  2. Asia is not a country! The differences between all four of the cities I have visited over the last two weeks are immense. These differences are something that researchers need to take into account when tailoring research for each country.
  3. The key to research success in Asia is service, but since different countries have different preferences, the definition of service and expectations about what is included in the basic package needs to vary from country to country – as does the selling and delivery process.

Now I am off to Auckland, Melbourne, and Sydney, which will complete this trip to the APAC region – but I have started planning my next trip, which I think will be a longer trip.

 

Mar 082014
 
Marina Bay Sands

This post is written as I reach the end of the first week of a three week Vision Critical trip to the Asia Pacific Region. For the last few years I have been spending about ten weeks a year in the APAC region, typically spread over three or four separate trips – because I am convinced that this is where much of the future (especially in terms of commerce, marketing, and insights) is being made.

Singapore Client Round Table
I arrived in Singapore Monday evening and the week got off to a flying start with breakfast with my Vision Critical colleagues from Sydney and from our newly opened Singapore office, followed by a meeting with the CEO of Indian partner, Majestic and lunch with an insight community client, Google. The afternoon was devoted to a client round-table meeting where several of Vision Critical’s clients gather to hear a keynote presentation (from me on this occasion) and then spend time sharing their learning with each other. This event was hosted by Google in their superb offices overlooking the Marina area, with key contributions from SingTel, Sony and others. Client roundtable sessions are a great way for clients to share their experiences with insight communities.

MRMW – Market Research in a Mobile World
Wednesday and Thursday was the APAC incarnation of MRMW, the leading global series of conferences on mobile market research, organised and promoted by Merlien. The keynote presentation was given by SingTel’s Melissa Gil, talking about how their three Vision Critical Insight Communities (Indonesia, Australia, and Singapore) provide them with rapid and cost-effective insight into digital consumers. One of the key points that SingTel made was that the speed and usefulness of the insights they produce mean that the SingTel insights team are involved in meetings and decisions at all levels of the business.

One of the key topics at the Conference was the evolving data protection picture in Asia and on the Tuesday Sue York from the University of Queensland (and curator of content at NewMR) moderated a panel on Data Protection, with Derek Ho (Senior Counsel from MasterCard), Dan Foreman (President of ESOMAR), Martin Tomlinson (Vice President of the Market Research Society of Singapore), and Stephen Jenke (Global Head of Data Collection at Kantar). The key points being made was that the picture on Asia was developing quickly, rules are becoming more onerous, and different countries have different rules.

Google Ray

One of the high points of the Conference was a presentation by David Zakariaie of Glassic who had brought ten sets of Google Glass with him to the event and who co-ran a session with me looking at the technology and the opportunities for market research to utilise this technology. Other key elements of the conference included: using feature phones as well as smartphones, utilising automated techniques for facial coding, video processing, and image processing (in all three cases the main theme was limited, but impressive, success), and moves towards geolocation and geofencing.

Effective Presentation Workshop
On the Friday I ran my “Secrets of Effective Presentations” workshop, which seemed to go down really well. I love workshops in multicultural situations as I am sure I learn as much as the attendees. Some of the secrets of creating and giving great presentations are global, but having a group from a wide range of countries (in this case Singapore, Cambodia, Saudi Arabia, and Australia) and with people who have a variety of first languages (and with a mixture of clients, suppliers, and academics) means that nothing can be taken for granted.

Key Singapore Takeaways
Compared with Europe and even with North America, Singapore embodies a ‘can do’ attitude, where the expectation is that tomorrow will be better than today, and that we are on a rapid path to a better, more technical, more insightful, richer society. Singapore also embodies the strength of cultural diversity. Most meetings with clients include people from a wide variety of countries. In order to get to Singapore, and in order to do well, most people have something special about them, and this tends to be blended to create something greater than the parts.

 

Dec 232013
 
The material below is an excerpt from a book I am writing with Navin Williams and Sue York on Mobile Market Research, but its implications are much wider and I would love to hear people’s thoughts and suggestions.

Most commercial fields have methods of gaining and assessing insight other than market research, for example testing products against standards or legal parameters, test launching, and crowd-funding. There are also a variety of approaches that although used by market researchers are not seen by the market place as exclusively (or even in some cases predominantly) the domain of market research, such as big data, usability testing, and A/B testing.

The mobile ecosystem (e.g. telcos, handset manufacturers, app providers, mobile services, mobile advertising and marketing, mobile shopping etc) employs a wide range of these non-market research techniques, and market researchers working in the field need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches. Market researchers need to understand how they can use the non-market research techniques and how to use market research to complement what they offer.

The list below cover techniques frequently used in the mobile ecosystem which are either not typically offered by market researchers or which are offered by a range of other providers as well as market researchers. Key items are:

  • Usage data, for example web logs from online services and telephone usage from the telcos.
  • A/B testing.
  • Agile development.
  • Crowdsourcing, including open-source development and crowdfunding.
  • Usability testing.
  • Technology or parameter driven development.

Usage data

The mobile and online worlds leave an extensive electronic wake behind users. Accessing a website tells the website owner a large amount about the user, in terms of hardware, location, operating system, language the device is using (e.g. English, French etc), and it might make an estimate of things like age and gender based on the sites you visit and the answers you pick. Use a mobile phone and you tell the telco who you contacted, where you were geographically, how long the contact lasted, what sort of contact was it (e.g. voice or SMS). Use email, such as Gmail or Yahoo, and you tell the service provider who you contacted, which of your devices you used, and the content of your email. Use a service like RunKeeper or eBay or Facebook and you share a large amount of information about yourself and in most cases about other people too.

In many fields, market research is used to estimate usage and behaviour, but in the mobile ecosystem there is often at least one company who can see this information without using market research, and see it in much better detail. For example, a telco does not need to conduct a survey with a sample of its subscribers to find out how often they make calls or to work out how many texts they send, and how many of those texts are to international numbers. The telco has this information, for every user, without any errors.

Usage data tends to be better, cheaper, and often quicker than market research for recording what people did. It is much less powerful in working out why patterns are happening, and it is thought (by some people) to be weak in predicting what will happen if circumstances change. However, it should be noted that the advocates of big data and in particular ‘predictive analytics’ believe that it is possible to work out the answer to ‘what-if’ questions, just from usage/behaviour data.

Unique access to usage data
One limitation to the power of usage data is that in most cases only one organisation has access to a specific section of usage data. In a country with two telcos, each will only have access to the usage data for their subscribers, plus some cross-network traffic information. The owner of a website is the only company who can track the people who visit that site (* with a couple of exceptions). A bank has access to the online, mobile and other data from its customers, but not data about the users of other banks.

This unique access feature of usage data is one of the reasons why organisations buy data from other organisations and conduct market research to get a whole market picture.

* There are two exceptions to the unique access paradigm.
The first is that if users can be persuaded to download a tracking device, such as the Alexa.com toolbar, then that service will build a large, but partial picture of users of other services. This is how Alexa.com is able to estimate the traffic for the leading websites globally.

The second exception is if the service provider buys or uses a tool or service from a third party then some information is shared with that provider.

A complex and comprehensive example of this type of access is Google who sign users up to their Google services (including Android), offer web analytics to websites, and serve ads to websites, which allows them to gain a large but partial picture of online and mobile behaviour.

Legal implications of usage data
Usage data, whether it is browsing, emailing, mobile, or financial, is controlled by law in most countries, although the laws tend to vary from one jurisdiction to another. Because the scale and depth of usage data is a new phenomenon and because the tools to analyse it and the markets for selling/using it are still developing the laws are tending to lag behind the practice.

A good example, of the challenges that legislators and data owners face is determining what is permitted and what is not, are the problems that Google had in Spain and Netherlands towards the end of 2013. The Dutch Government’s Data Protection Agency ruled in November 2013 that Google had broken Dutch law by combining data together from its many services to create a holistic picture of users. Spain went one step further and fined Google 900,000 Euros for the same offence (about $1.25 million). This is unlikely to be the end of the story, the laws might change, Google might change its practices (or the permissions it collects), or the findings might be appealed. However, they illustrate that data privacy and protection are likely to create a number of challenges for data users and legislators over the next few year.

A/B testing

The definition of A/B testing is a developing and evolving one; and it is likely to evolve and expand further over the next few years. At its heart A/B testing is based on a very old principle, create a test where two offers only differ in one detail, present these two choices to matched but separate groups of people to evaluate, and whichever is the more popular is the winner. What makes modern A/B testing different from traditional research is the tendency to evaluate the options in the real market, rather than with research participants. One high profile user of A/B testing is Google, who use it to optimise their online services. Google systematically, and in many cases automatically, select a variable, offer two options, and count the performance with real users. The winning option becomes part of the system.

Google’s A/B testing is now available to users of some of its systems, such as Google Analytics. There are also a growing range of companies offering A/B testing systems. Any service that can be readily tweaked and offered is potentially suitable for A/B testing – in particular virtual or online services.

The concept of A/B testing has moved well beyond simply testing two options and assessing the winner, for example:

  • Many online advertising tools allow the advertiser to submit several variations and the platform adjusts which execution is shown most often and to whom it is shown to maximise a dependent variable, for example to maximise click through.
  • Companies like Phillips have updated their direct mailing research/practice by developing multiple offers, e.g. 32 versions of a mailer, employing design principles to allow the differences to be assessed. The mailers are used in the market place, with a proportion of the full database, to assess their performance. The results are used in two ways. 1) The winning mailer is used for the rest of the database. 2) The performance of the different elements are assessed to create predictive analytics for future mailings.
  • Dynamic pricing models are becoming increasingly common in the virtual and online world. Prices in real markets, such as stock exchanges have been based for many years on dynamic pricing, but now services such as eBay, Betfair, and Amazon apply differing types of automated price matching.
  • Algorithmic bundling and offer development. With services that are offered virtually the components can be varied to iteratively seek combinations that work better than others.

The great strength of A/B testing is in the area of small, iterative changes, allowing organisations to optimise their products, services, and campaigns. Market research’s key strength, in this area, is the ability to research bigger changes and help suggest possible changes.

Agile development

Agile development refers to operating in ways where is it easy, quick, and cheap for the organisation to change direction and to modify products and services. One consequence of agile development is that organisations can try their product or service with the market place, rather than assessing it in advance.

Market research is of particular relevance when the costs of making a product are large, or where the consequences of launching an unsatisfactory product or service are large. But, if products and services can be created easily and the consequences of failure are low, then ‘try it and see’ can be a better option than classic forms of market research. Whilst the most obvious place for agile development is in the area of virtual products and services, it is also used in more tangible markets. The move to print on demand books has reduced the barriers to entry in the book market and facilitated agile approaches. Don Tapscott in his book Wikinomics talks about the motorcycle market in China, which adopted an open-source approach to its design and manufacture of motorcycles, something which combined agile development and crowdsourcing (the next topic in this section).

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is being used in a wide variety of way by organisations, and several of these ways can be seen as an alternative to market research, or perhaps as routes that make market research less necessary. Key examples of crowdsourcing include:

  • Open source. Systems like Linux and Apache are developed collaboratively and then made freely available. The priorities for development are determined by the interaction of individuals and the community, and the success of changes is determined by a combination of peer review and market adoption.
  • Crowdfunding. One way of assessing whether an idea has a good chance of succeeding is to try and fund it through a crowdfunding platform, such as Kickstarter. The crowdfunding route can provide feedback, advocates, and money.
  • Crowdsourced product development. A great example of crowdsourcing is the T-shirt company Threadless.com. People who want to be T-shirt designers upload their designs to the website. Threadless displays these designs to the people who buy T-shirts and asks which ones people want to buy. The most popular designs are then manufactured and sold via the website. In this sort of crowdsourced model there is little need for market research as the audience get what the audience want, and the company is not paying for the designs, unless the designs prove to be successful.

Usability testing

Some market research companies offer usability testing, but there are a great many providers of this service who are not market researchers and who do not see themselves as market researchers. The field of usability testing brings together design professionals, HCI (human computer interaction), ergonomics, as well market researchers.

Usability testing for a mobile phone, or a mobile app, can include:

  • Scoring it against legal criteria to make sure it conforms to statutory requirements.
  • Scoring it against design criteria, including criteria such as disability access guidelines.
  • User lab testing, where potential users are given access to the product or service and are closely observed as they use it.
  • User testing, where potential users are given the product or given access to the service and use it for a period of time, for example two weeks. The usage may be monitored, there is often a debrief at the end of the usage period (which can be qualitative, quantitative, or both), and usage data may have been collected and analysed.

Technology or parameter driven

In some markets there are issues other than consumer choice that guide design and innovation. In areas like mobile commerce and mobile connectivity, there are legal and regulatory limits and requirements as to what can be done, so the design process will often be focused on how to maximise performance, minimise cost, whilst complying with the rules. In these situations, the guidance comes from professionals (e.g. engineers or lawyers) rather than from consumers, which reduces the role for market research.

Future innovations

This section of the chapter has looked at a wide range of approaches to gaining insight that are not strengths of market research. It is likely that this list will grow over time as technologies develop and it is likely to grow as the importance of the mobile ecosystem continues to grow.

As well as new non-market research approaches being developed it is possible, perhaps likely, that areas which are currently seen as largely or entirely the domain of market research will be shared with other non-market research companies and organisations. The growth in DIY or self-serve options in surveys, online discussions, and even whole insight communities are an indication of this direction of travel.


So, that is where the text is at the moment. Plenty of polishing still to do. But here are my questions?
  1. Do you agree with the main points?
  2. Have I missed any major issuies?
  3. Are there good examples of the points I’ve made that you could suggest highlighting/using?

Nov 292013
 
By Peter Harris, Managing Director, Vision Critical Asia Pacific.

I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few MR and Marketing Industry conferences in Australia, North America and Asia over the past 12 months. As always, these conferences are designed to scare the living daylights out of marketing and research professionals. They are highlighting how much things are changing, that consumers are more empowered than ever, that technology is the driving force, that clients are demanding more, faster, for less, and the fast flowing giant river of information (big data). In short, they are driving home the fact that the Revolution is on, i.e. “If you don’t like change, you will like relevance less”. In general I think this is right. But each of us has a chance to make a difference.

As a global profession, our biggest opportunity and biggest threat will be defined and determined by how much we ourselves are willing to be flexible in a digital driven world. We need to find ways to keep up with change and feel comfortable in a land where we don’t know what is around the corner. It’s hard for many MR professionals to do this (as we love to be in control and understand) but we need to try.

It’s cliché now to say the world is changing quickly, but it is. MR is driven by speed, agility, ROI, obtaining answers using multiple data sources and real time reporting. The biggest threats I see for MR in this world include:

  • Ignoring or not letting new players/experts into our tent so we can learn and collaborate from and with them. We also need to co create the new privacy world, convince governments of the benefits and ensure all players follow the rules otherwise we all risk being shut out in a world where customers do want a say in how things are.
  • If we continue to be obsessed with representative samples in a world where this is virtually impossible to achieve and do not take advantage and find ways of using new sample sources that are well profiled.
  • If companies continually try and make all of their money on fieldwork, surely with b2b sample sources like LinkedIn, improving customer databases and the growth of insight communities the days of high margin fieldwork are short-lived.
  • If we don’t change our approaches to contacting people so that we fit more into their lives, vs. interrupting them. Our contact with customers, consumers, citizens needs to be shorter, more engaging and we need to give back once they share with us.
  • If we fail to highlight and monetise our real expertise which is organising and analysing customer or consumer responses (however they are collected) and uncovering real answers to business problems and this doesn’t mean simply what was stated. We know it is about understanding what was meant.
  • If we don’t take advantage of the benefits that technology solutions can bring to MR.

There are however many exciting opportunities to balance out the threats including:

  • Making the most of mobile and new forms of sample to understand in the moment and how people live.
  • Leverage technology to understand the unconscious, reduce time, be able to deliver more for less and more frequently and develop longitudinal sight of customers over time that helps us put the pieces together as to why things happen.
  • Find ways to tell more stories that highlight ROI of MR investment and the impact of getting a customer voice into the organisation.
  • Work more cooperatively and develop trust between clients/agency and between agencies that can complement each other.

I’m extremely positive about our profession’s future and most global studies say that MR professionals want to change. Consumer empowerment and putting the customer at the centre of decision making is a shift, not a fad, so in simple terms the market is heading towards us, and we need to be flexible as we continue to evolve.

Click here to read other posts in this series.

Nov 242013
 

To help celebrate the Festival of NewMR we are posting a series of blogs from market research thinkers and leaders from around the globe. These posts will be from some of the most senior figures in the industry to some of the newest entrants into the research world.

A number of people have already agreed to post their thoughts, and the first will be posted later today. But, if you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to submit a post. To submit a post, email a picture, bio, and 300 – 600 words on the theme of “Opportunities and Threats faced by Market Research” to admin@newmr.org.

Posts in this series
The following posts have been received and posted:

Sep 112013
 

By common consent, research communities seem to have been the fastest growing new research approach over the last few years (a view that was supported by the latest GRIT report). Indeed, in some sectors, such as media, brands are beginning to worry about being the last to adopt the idea of having meaningful and on-going conversations with their customers.

However, given the speed that the area is moving, there are a variety of definitions and concepts being used. For example, one hears talk of MROCs, consumer consulting boards, and community panels, to name just three. My preferred term is insight community, and that is the title I have used in my latest book “Insight Communities – Leveraging the Power of the Customer” [a PDF version of the book can be downloaded from here]. The book has been produced by Vision Critical University and I’d like to record my thanks to them and all of those who have helped review material and helped source the many case studies used in the book.

The book is a short read, but covers key elements such as: short-term versus long-term, large versus small, and branded versus blind. The book is packed full of examples and case studies from organisations such as NASCAR, Discover Communications, CBS Outdoor, Diageo, Banana Republic, Avianca, and Cathay Pacific – covering Asia, North America, Latin America, Europe, and Australia.

As well as being an online book, professionally produced bound copies are available from Vision Critical’s London and Sydney offices.

Given the topic of communities is such a dynamic field, I’d love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas about research communities, where they are going next, and the ideas expressed in the book.