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.

 

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 272013
 

Posted by Hannah Mumby, Sales and Marketing Executive, Vision Critical, UK

Having chosen to study Marketing and Advertising at university, I wasn’t prepared for the compulsory market research module. I faced every seminar with dismay as my classmates and I dreaded the endless dry statistics and spread sheets. The projects set were dull, the teacher unenthusiastic and applications to real life situations minimal. It didn’t take me long to form negative opinions about market research – research was boring, irrelevant and involved a lot of number crunching. Here lies what I consider as the most significant threat to market research. Too many people are put off by a job in research due to the same misconceived perceptions I had.

What I failed to realise, along with many others, is how varied research is and how far it is from the impression I had been given at university. I had no idea at the time how nearly everything we consume – from the adverts we see and the products we buy to the prices we pay for them – has been a direct result of customer insights. Research is impacting everything around us and influences thousands of business decisions, so why is it still so often recognised as being dull and uncool?

Over the past couple of years, two key themes have become apparent. The first theme is that many people in the industry seem to have ‘fallen into a research role’. Like myself, a number of colleagues and peers I speak to had no intention of following a career in research. Research opportunities are vast and varied, local and global, from online to offline, quant to qual. Because of this, I believe there are endless opportunities for people to ‘fall’ into a research role. Whether leaving university with a degree in Mathematics, Business, English or History, the roles of a researcher are so varied; it means there is something for everyone. But with research industry often being perceived as being ‘dull’ or ‘boring’, why would people want to actively pursue a career within the field?

The second theme, is the increasing importance of young researchers to the industry. As a relatively new graduate, I appreciate the significance of encouraging those who are at the start of their career- they are enthusiastic and keen to learn whilst not yet restrained by bad habits and entrenched ‘best practices’. Change is both inevitable and necessary in the research industry. This is a great industry for young graduates to unleash their creative side. Of course, they should be given guidance but at the same time, we should harness the enthusiasm of young researchers to increase innovation, imagination and passion within the industry. The world and research, are changing fast, so we need more people who are willing and able to develop new skillsets and to embrace the attitudes of next generation researchers.

Both these themes highlight a key opportunity for the market research industry. If the industry was marketed better, if it was taught well at university and if its importance was communicated more widely in the media, people would be more likely to actively pursue a career in a research role. We should be not only encouraging young researchers, but promoting research much more actively at an under-graduate level. University courses should highlight the importance research plays in businesses and showcase the range of creative techniques and methodologies that research uses. If I had been made more aware of research at university, I would have been much more active in pursuing a role in the industry.

We need to inspire people to want to join the industry rather than just fall into it by chance, and then encourage them to demonstrate their passion in a creative and innovative way. Research provides something for everyone, it enables you to make a difference to businesses and customers around the world, but if young people don’t realise this, how is the industry ever going to get the talent and recognition it deserves?

Click here to read other posts in this series.

Mar 222013
 

This week’s MRS Conference in London was one of the best events I have been to in the last year, generating lots of material to think about. There was a great mix of thinkers from the industry, ideas from outside market research, discussion, and good networking. The conference was true to its theme of the ‘Shock of the New’. The only weakness that I think is worth mentioning, because it is a reoccurring problem, is that there was too little international content. If the UK is going to command a position as an innovator, it needs more input from outside the UK, IMHO.

Key elements, for me, included:

The limitations of Big Data
The panel discussion, including great contributions from Lucien Bowater from BSkyB and Mark Risley from Google, emphasised the current limitations of big data in terms of the sorts of problems that market research is asked to answer. Big data approaches work best when there is a clearly defined, narrow question, and sufficient resources to find an answer. In many cases, market research is being called on to answer a more general, less well defined problem. Lucien, more than once, made the plea for research to tell him where to dig, i.e. provide a broad answer to a broad problem, and then he can apply more detailed techniques.

The panel also drew a marked distinction between real-time data collection (good) and real-time analysis (often not good).

What market research can learn from crowdsourcing
The photo, from the MRS website [http://www.mrs.org.uk/janefrost_archive/blog/386], shows a panel discussion of four practitioners of crowdsourcing, being moderated by me. Although market research has long used some aspects of crowdsourcing, it was fascinating and useful to hear how:

  • • The People Who Share are creating a sharing economy, disintermediating traditional channels, and freeing up value by promoting sharing.
  • Transcribe Bentham are mobilising volunteers to contribute to an academic and literary project by helping transcribe the millions of words hand- written by Jeremy Bentham into a digital format, which has obvious implications for how market research might seek to tackle coding and tagging the mass of unstructured information they are gathering.
  • PeopleFund.it represented the world of crowd funding. One interesting point made by MD Phil Geraghty was that putting an idea into crowdfunding, and lettering the best ideas rise to the top, is a direct alternative (sometimes) for market research.
  • IdeaBounty showed how brands can access the creativity of the masses, and disintermediate agencies, by creating a platform where people can aim to win bounties by offering solutions to brands. Of particular relevance to market research was all the work IdeaBounty have done on IP, very relevant to areas like insight communities.

What market research can learn from art
The closing speaker on the first day was UK artist David Shrigley [http://www.davidshrigley.com/]. For me the main message was ‘be braver’, if we have an idea we should present it, without seeking to build lots of safety nets or excuses, just present it. Shrigley shared a large number of his drawings and some of his videos with us. The one for Scottish knitwear brand Pringle was especially eye catching and memorable; you can see it here.

What market research can learn from science?
The BBC broadcaster and professor of physics Jim Al Khalili gave a great closing presentation to the conference. Amongst the themes he covered were the dangers of paradoxes, showing that we can trap ourselves with faulty logic. He also highlighted the degree to which scientists have to deal with uncertainty, and the limits to what can be known. By contrast to his modern view of science, most market researchers either seem to reject science or have a primitive 1920s approach to science based on proving ideas, as opposed to basing their approach on ‘falsifiability’. Check out Al Khalili’s views on whether we have free will.

Scenario Planning is still less common than it ought to be!
My colleague Niamh Tallon and I ran a workshop on futuring, trendspotting, and cool hunting. Many of the slides I used were taken from a workshop I ran in 2002, however, the news seemed as fresh to market researchers now as it was then. I will come back to this on a future occasion.

Unintended benefits
I found some of the sessions useful, but not in the way that the people presenting intended. For example, the sight, sound and emotion session contained several reminders that a little learning can be a dangerous thing. For example, more than one speaker in the session (IMHO) over-interpreted findings from other disciplines. Indeed this session created a bit of a buzz in Twitter as people highlighted errors, and created the desire to have a NewMR session focused on exploding MR myths. You can read more about the Explode-A-Myth session here.

Nov 272012
 
Click here to read in Japanese – 日本語

Yesterday in Tokyo I attended two events (one run by the JMA and one by JMRX – sponsored by GMO Research) and a client meeting, and one specific question arose at all three. The background to the question lies in Japan’s experience with MROCs (in particularly short-term, qualitative research communities). Although some companies have been very successful, several others have not, and some clients are beginning to be worried about MROCs.

So, the question I was asked three times was “How do you create a good MROC in Japan?” By the time I had spoken to three audiences I had refined my answer down to three clear points:

  1. Good recruitment. A short-term, qualitative MROC (e.g. one month, 60 people) needs to be based on the right people. These people need to be informed about what they will be expected to do, they need to understand how to access the MROC, they need to be engaged with the topic (they might love the topic, hate the topic, be curious about the topic, have recently started using it, or perhaps have given it as a gift – but they need to be engaged).
  2. Good moderation is essential. Conversations do not just happen, they are the result of good introductions, good questions, good probing, and interesting tasks. Too many clients want to get onto the serious questions too quickly. But, just like in a focus group, trust and understanding has to be built first. The moderator should agree with the client a clear community plan, showing how the research needs will be met during the project.
  3. Good analysis. Some research agencies simply tell the client what the people in the MROC said – this is not helpful, the client can read that themselves. Listing out and counting what was said in an MROC is not analysis. Analysis looks at a) what did respondents mean, and b) what should the client do.

I was very pleased to see at the meetings copies of my book (The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research) in Japanese (translated by GMO Research). Hopefully, the meetings we are having here and the book will help make all of the Japanese MROCs as good as the best ones.

It was very helpful to be accompanied to all of my meetings by Shigeru Kishikawa, the head of the newly opened Vision Critical Japan office and a great expert in MROCs in Japan.

Of course, the answer to the question how to run a good MROC in Japan, is also true in London, New York, Singapore, Helsinki, and everywhere else.

For more information on new research techniques, people can also check out the online conference happening next week, The Festival of NewMR.


Below is a translation of this article into Japanese by Mr. Ryota Sano, Chief Executive Officer, TALKEYE INC, ESOMAR Representative for JAPAN

日本でMROCを成功させるためには?

昨日、私は東京で、二つのイベント(一つは日本マーケティング協会主催、もう一つはGMOリサーチのスポンサーによるJMRX)と、クライアントとのミーティングに出席した。どのミーティングでもある特定の質問が出たことは興味深い。その質問の背景は、日本におけるMROCの経験(特に、短期間かつ定性的リサーチコミュニティー)に求められる。何社かは(MROCで)大きな成功を収めているものの、他の会社はそうとは言い難く、その結果、いくつかのクライアントはMROCに対して不安を抱き始めている。
もうおわかりだろう。いずれの会議でも異口同音に受けた質問は、「どうやったら日本でよいMROCを実施できますか?」であった。三つの会議で聴衆に向かって回答をすることにより、その質問に対する私なりの答えを三つのポイントに収斂させることができた。
1.リクルートが大事 短期間かつ定性的MROC(例えば、1ヶ月、60人規模)は「正しい」対象者から構成されている必要がある。対象者は「彼、彼女らが何をすることを期待されているか」をよく聞かされている必要があり、MROCへのアクセス方法を理解している必要があり、テーマに関与している(engaged)必要がある(彼・彼女らはその話題が好きかもしれないし、嫌いかもしれないし、興味を持っているかもしれないし、その商品・サービスを最近使い始めたかもしれないし、プレゼントとして送ったかもしれないが、いずれにしても彼・彼女らはテーマと結びついていなければならない)。
2.うまいモデレーションが必須 会話は自然には始まらない。会話はよい導入、よい質問、よいプロ−ビング、面白い課題の産物である。多くのクライアントは小難しい質問に始めから入りたがるが、グループインタビューと同様に、まずお互いの信頼関係と理解を得ることから始めなければならない。モデレータは、リサーチプロジェクトにおいてなにが知りたいのかを確認しながら、明確なコミュニティ運営プランについて事前にクライアントと同意しておくべきである。
3.価値ある分析 リサーチ会社の中には、単純にMROCで対象者が何を発言したか、だけを報告する会社もあるようだ。しかしこれではクライアントの助けにはならない。なぜなら単なる発言録ならクライアントも読めるからである。MROCでの発言された単語をリスト化して、それを数えるのは分析とは言えない。分析とは、イ)対象者の発言が意味するところを捉え、ロ)クライアントがどうすべきなのかを考察することである。
イベントで私の本(The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research)の日本語版(GMO社翻訳)を見ることができたのはたいへんうれしいことであった。東京でのミーティングおよび私の本が、日本のすべてのMROCが世界の最高水準に近づく手助けになることを願ってやまない。
新規開設されたVision Critical東京オフィス代表であり、日本のMROCのエキスパートである岸川茂氏にすべてのミーティングに同行いただいたことはたいへん心強かった。
もちろん、日本でよいMROCを運営する心得は、ロンドンでも、ニューヨークでも、シンガポールでも、ヘルシンキその他世界のどこでも通用するものである。 新しいリサーチ手法に関する情報がもっと欲しい方は、来週開かれるオンライン会議The Festival of NewMRもチェックしてみて欲しい。