Mar 152014

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.


Jan 022013

There are currently a wide range of discussions and blog posts talking about 2013 and beyond (you can join an interesting example in the #NewMR Linked group).

In my opinion (and the opinion of plenty of other people too), 2013 is going to be a big year for Asia. This will partly be in comparison to the poor state of the European economy and the challenges in the USA. However, Asia is making its own future. Many of the economies in Asia Pacific are growing strongly, the pool of talented researchers and research users is growing, and there is a tremendous energy about the way people do business in the Asia Pacific market in general, and in South-East Asia in particular.


From a personal point of view I am certainly putting my time where my mouth is. In October/November I was in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. In 2013 I am going to be in Asia Pacific more than any other region (other than home). In terms of meetings and sessions already booked in January to April 2013 I am going to be running workshops in India, Australia, and Hong Kong, and giving presentations in Australia, India, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam – I hope to add mainland China, probably Shanghai to that list.

NewMR is going to be increasing its focus on Asia in 2013, so stay tuned for more information – for example we are a media partner of the MRMW conference in Kuala Lumpur, in January, where I will be chairing one of the two days. My work colleagues at Vision Critical have clearly come to the same view about Asia Pacific, with offices in Australia, Hong Kong, and Japan, and with new offices just about to open in Singapore and Shanghai.

Of course, it can’t all be work, so I spent (part of) New Year’s day in the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) viewing their 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT7), which is where the picture comes from – after all there is a chance that there is more to life than market research!

What are your thoughts? Is 2013 going to be a big year for Asia? Is the term Asia or Asia Pacific meaningful, or should we be talking about China more than the rest?

Nov 252012
Picture of Hong Kong

I am about half way through my current tour of Asia, I have been in Singapore and Hong Kong and fly to Tokyo tonight. During my time here I have split my time between events and one-on-one meetings with clients and agencies. I am convinced that the next leaps forward for NewMR will come from Asia.

There are several reasons why I think that Asia will be the next factor in accelerating change:

  1. Hunger for change. One theme I am hearing from agencies and clients from China, Korea, Singapore, etc is a real desire to move forward, to get away from the static idea of surveys and focus groups and to embrace better alternatives. The interest in ethnography, semiotics, Big Data, neuroscience, social media, and communities is immense. Most of the sessions I have been booked for have been sold out.
  2. The complexity of the market. In Asia the languages are more complex (more complex for computers that is), and the variations within are greater (for example in China the gulf between what is possible in a Tier 1 city like Guangzhou and a Tier 3 like Weihai, or a Tier 4 city like Chaozhou is immense – but even Tier 4 cities have more than one million people). In tackling these problems, with greater software flexibility, with more emphasis on mobile, and by reaching into areas where the internet is more likely to be via an internet café – the platforms are going to take the next leap forward.
  3. The structure of markets. In Asia many markets are relatively small by European and North American standards. In the West the typical way to start a new project is to start in USA, or UK, or Germany, and then roll it out to more countries as it proves its worth. In Asia many of the requests we get are to start with, say, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong – because between them they have a big enough budget. But this means being innovative in terms of costing, project management, and project deliverables. This innovation is going to help market research globally.

I am convinced that Asia will be the fulcrum for the next advance in MR and I intend to be here to be involved and to learn from it. I will be back in January for Merlien’s Insights Valley conference in Malaysia and for ESOMAR’s APAC conference in Vietnam in April, and I suspect pretty regularly for the foreseeable future.

At the Festival of NewMR we have some great papers from Asia, most of which have global relevance – it is time for the world to, once again, start learning from Asia.