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  2. Clear Seas Research
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Marketing Market Research: Finding Your “Secret Sauce”

The key to building a market research agency’s brand is to “find your company’s ‘secret sauce’", but what is it and how do you find it? Insights Marketing Day had an answer.


By Rick Kendall 

I attended GreenBook’s excellent Insights Marketing Day last week. A major theme that ran through the day was that the key to building a market research agency’s brand (whether the agency is one person or 100) is to “find your company’s ‘secret sauce’ – that ability or quality that makes your firm unique and gives potential clients a reason to use you.”

In her excellent keynote presentation, Lucy Davison, Managing Director of Keen As Mustard, graphically showed the trap that many market research firms fall into: The trap of generically describing themselves.  She stressed the importance of finding and communicating that which makes a firm stand out from the others.  “We partner with our clients”, or “Quality is important to us” just doesn’t cut it.  Nobody doesn’t do them.

Great advice – and it was repeated throughout the day.  But, let’s face it, few research organizations really have a unique, brand-building “secret sauce”.   What companies do, methodologically, is pretty much a commodity.  We collect, analyze and report data.  And we all think we do a pretty good job at that.  But saying, “Hire us, because we do that stuff better than the other guys” isn’t the answer because that is pretty much what everyone says.

In other words, while it is simple to say, “Find your Secret Sauce”, how to do it is not so easy.  And, frankly, I came away from the Insights Marketing Day feeling that the ‘How?” question was not really addressed, let alone answered.

IMDAs someone who spent a number of years behind a client desk, my answer to the claim that “We do that stuff better”, was generally, “Oh yea? Then show me.”  In thinking over what I saw as a hole in the Insights program and reflecting on my own client-side experience, however, I realized that the answer had been given – it’s just that no one hung a sign around it that said, “Recipe for Secret Sauce!”

But it was there, hiding in plain sight.  The work an agency produces is its Secret Sauce.  (Unless, of course, you are so big, and been around for so long that your sheer mass pulls clients into your gravitational field.  Those are the few “name brands” who can have as their tag line: “Hire Us and You Won’t Get Fired”.)

For the rest of us, it is about the work we’ve done.  And that was clearly stated by the members of the Client Panel.  “Show me what you’ve done.  Tell me something useful that I don’t know.  That will get my attention.”  Simple.  But not easy.  How do you show potential clients work you’ve done for actual clients – who paid you for it?  How do you give away information without giving away the store? If it is new, interesting and useful, shouldn’t you be getting paid for it rather than giving it away?

Quite simply, it means that the research agency needs to look at every project it does as both a service to the client who is paying for it and as a potential sales tool. It is important to ask about every project, “how can I use this study to provide some useful information to potential clients that will reinforce the image of my firm without violating the trust of the client who paid for it?”  It takes effort and creativity, but it can be done.

These are serious questions without easy answers.  It is hard work to figure out.  And you have to keep figuring it out, because the shelf life of this kind of Secret Sauce is short.  It can go stale before you know it if you aren’t on top of it.

The other hard part about having a Secret Sauce that you have to keep making is maintaining consistency.  What is it about your company that you want the Secret Sauce to convey to clients about you? Answering that is building your brand.  If there isn’t a common theme to your Sauces, they quickly loose their punch.  Again, not easy, but well worth the effort.

The good news is there are more and more ways of getting your Secret Sauce in front of potential clients quickly and efficiently – Email, LinkedIn, blogs, conference presentations, webinars, white papers, etc., etc. etc.  This makes the effort increasingly worth it.


A Cool IIeX Infographic from Netvibes

Our friends at Netvibes just sent this nifty infographic on #IIeX social media activity over and it's pretty darn cool. Consider it an example of a nifty data visualization using non-traditional data!

Yeah, it’s a bit self-centered to post an infographic all about IIeX, but our friends at Netvibes just sent this over and it’s pretty darn cool. Consider it an example of a nifty data visualization using non-traditional data!

Plus we’re in heavy duty planning mode right now for 10 (yes 10!) events over the next 15 months, so it’s nice to be reminded of just how much of a positive impact the IIeX event series have had over the past 2 years.

Thanks to everyone who has helped make it happen and made the IIeX event series such a great experience for all involved. And thanks again to Netvibes for taking all the data collected on their platform and turning it into such a cool infographic!



Jeffrey Henning’s #MRX Top 10: AMSRS and ESOMAR Conference Recaps, and a Traveller Survey

Of the 4,393 unique links shared with the Twitter #MRX hashtag in the past two weeks, here are 10 of the most retweeted...



By Jeffrey Henning

Of the 4,393 unique links shared with the Twitter #MRX hashtag in the past two weeks, here are 10 of the most retweeted…

  1. State of the Nation: Survey for Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust – An Ipsos MORI Omnibus face-to-face survey found that 62% of 2,008 Britons 15 and up believe that government power in Britain is too centralized, 65% would reduce the power of Parliament, and 50% are in favor of a new voting system based on proportional representation.
  2. 7 out of 10 travellers want to enrich their understanding of the world and have unique experiences – Another Ipsos MORI survey, this one of over 50,000 TripAdvisor users, looked at the psychology of travel choices: 71% said “enhancing perspective” is one of their primary motivations for travel choices, with 62% citing “liberation”, 47% citing “immersion”, and another 47% citing “relationships”.
  3. Research that sparks – InSites Consulting addresses the myth that “Only expert users can help us detect insights.”
  4. Why Apple really need to do some qualitative market research – Maya Middlemiss of Saros Research looks at Apple’s U-turn regarding U2 album installs.
  5. Are there 4 different types of data scientist? – Matthew Reaney profiles data business people, data creatives, data developers, and data researchers.
  6. Berlin duo launch a supermarket with no packaging – Leah Borromeo, writing for The Guardian, discusses the launch of an entire grocery store where no foods have packaging, embracing the trends of environmental sustainability and organic food.
  7. AMSRS 2014: Content is King Down Under – Tom Ewing of BrainJuicer recaps the annual conference of the Australian Market & Social Research Society.
  8. Obituary: The Traditional Concept, c.1960 – 2014 – Tom Ewing eulogizes the traditional concept: a victim of faith in a rational, verbal world of decision-making.
  9. Nice Was Very Nice Indeed! ESOMAR Congress Review – Ray Poynter highlights his key takeaways from the most recent annual congress.
  10. Online Dating Stats Reveal A ‘Dataclysm’ Of Telling – NPR interviews OkCupid co-founder and data blogger Christian Rudder, author of the new book Dataclysm.


Note: This list is ordered by the relative measure of each link’s influence in the first week it debuted in the weekly Top 5. A link’s influence is a tally of the influence of each Twitter user who shared the link and tagged it #MRX. Only market research links are considered.


The Top 20 Emerging Methods In Market Research – A GRIT Sneak Peek

This sneak peek from the upcoming GRIT Q1-Q2 2014 Report "Adoption of New Research Methods" section looks at the adoption, by clients and suppliers, of new research methods, and the barriers to adopting new approaches.

GRIT Fall 2014


Editor’s Note: The newest GRIT report is with the designers and will be published around October 20th! As usual. it’s just chock-full of amazing data and insights about the state of the industry that everyone is sure to find useful. Since it’s almost GRIT time, that also means sneak peeks into the findings, and today we have one of the sections that many readers look forward to the most: the adoption of new research methods analysis. This analysis was done by Ray Poynter and Jeffrey Henning based on data collected this summer.

Watch for more sneak peeks, as well as the full publication of GRIT Q1-Q2 2014, right here very soon!


By Ray Poynter & Jeffrey Henning

Adoption of New Research Methods

This section looks at the adoption, by clients and suppliers, of new research methods, and the barriers to adopting new approaches. In evaluating the current picture and changes from the previous year it should be noted that two new research methods have been added to the survey this year: Big Data Analytics and Micro-Surveys.

The data suggest that not much has changed over the last 12 months (with one big exception). The same four techniques head up the list, however, within the detail of the information there are some interesting insights, such as the way that clients seem to be adopting Social Media Analytics and Big Data Analytics more widely than MR suppliers are, and these nuances are explored in this section.

This section also looks at why approaches are not used. The data remind us that no approach is right for every situation, and that barriers can range from not understanding a new technology through to finding an older approach too slow and too expensive.

Respondents were shown a list of new (and newish) research approaches and asked to indicate which they were already using and which they were actively considering. Note, selecting ‘using’ does not mean a technique is necessarily being used heavily. This question provides an insight into what techniques are working their way into toolkits.

It’s official! Mobile surveys and market research online communities are no longer emerging techniques; both are used by a majority of researchers:

56% of respondents have used MROCs, up from 49% in the last survey 9 months ago

The growth in mobile has been even more dramatic, climbing to 64% usage, up from 41% in the last survey.



Judging by its momentum, social media analytics will be the next technique to cross over to the mainstream: usage jumped 10 points to 46%.

Client-side researchers are more likely to have used the following than supplier-side researchers: social media analytics (47% to 36%) and Big Data analytics (39% to 29%). These are areas where the traditional market research industry might be losing market share to external firms. What are suppliers more likely than clients to see as the future of the industry? Suppliers have used mobile surveys, mobile qual, mobile ethnography, webcam interviews, microsurveys, gamification, facial analysis, and virtual reality more often than clients have.

Client vs. Supplier New Method Usage

Techniques that were added to the survey for the first time, with reported client-side usage, are:

  • Behavioral Economics models – 25%
  • Internet of Things/Sensor-based data collection – 12%
  • Wearables based research – 7%

We’ll set an alarm on our Apple Watch for a year from now to see how these techniques are doing.

Trends in approaches in use and under consideration

The chart below shows the approaches in use and under consideration over the last three waves of GRIT.


In Use Trends:

The big news, but perhaps not surprising news, is that mobile surveys are now the top approach, with about two-thirds saying they are using them. This is a jump of around 50% from the previous waves. It is clear that 2014 is the year that mobile arrived in a big way.

In general, all the numbers are higher in the latest wave, compared with the earlier waves. Given that the approaches are selected because they are believed to be growing, this growth is not surprising. The numbers do not, however, reflect volumes of work.

The rest of the list (other than mobile surveys) can be broadly broken into three categories:

  1. under 20%,
  2. 20% to under 40%,
  3. 40% to under 60%.

Those techniques which are currently under 20% are clearly niche at the moment. In some cases this may be their long-term position, for others (such as wearables) it may simply reflect their newness.

The 20% to 40% group reflect approaches that are becoming established in toolkits amongst a range of companies, without yet being ‘mainstream’. This group ranges from gamification at 23% through to mobile qual at 37%. One of the interesting items in this group is Big Data analytics, which is one of the very few items that has not noticeably increased since the previous wave. Perhaps big data is proving difficult to integrate for most research companies, or hard to monetize?

The 40% to 60% group represent mainstream approaches that all researchers should be considering and many should be using. Text analytics and social media analytics have grown their scores well since the last wave. Online communities has been the top scorer in this category for a few years and has again grown the number who say they are using it. Communities have lost their top spot in the list due to the rapid growth in mobile surveys, not because their growth has plateaued.

Under Consideration Trends:

Two phenomena jump out of when comparing in use vs. under consideration

  1. The range is narrow, from 21% considering biometric response to 38% considering big data analytics.
  2. A number of the scores for the most recent wave have fallen from the previous wave, e.g. mobile surveys fell from 41% considering to 26% considering.

The scores for the items at the top of the ‘In Use’ table have fallen in the consideration column because they are beginning to reach natural limits. For example, since 64% said they were using mobile surveys, the number saying they were ‘considering’ had to fall from 41%. The total of using and considering mobile surveys is now 90%. Presumably some of those not using or considering mobile surveys will be organisations that do not use surveys, e.g. some qualitative practices.

The two charts (in use and consideration) together confirm the importance of mobile (not just mobile surveys, but also techniques such as qual and ethnography). The tables also suggest that several approaches are, currently, firmly seen as niche, such as virtual reality and neuromarketing, since they are near the bottom of both the in use and considering tables.

Other emerging approaches

After asking respondents to rate the list of key techniques and approaches, we asked “Are there any other emerging technologies or new research approaches we have not listed you are considering trying out?”

There were about 150 responses to this open-ended question. However, most of these verbatim comments related to items which were already included in the questionnaire, such as virtual reality, social media, biometrics, and big data. However, in many of these cases the wording used in the open-ended response was slightly different, for example “Biometrics” compared with the questionnaire which said “Biometric Response”, or “Social media listening” compared with the questionnaire which said “Social Media Analytics”.

Open-ended responses that were mentioned fairly often and which were not in the list provided by the questionnaire included:

  • Geo/location issues, such as geofencing, location tracking, GPS etc.
  • Working with text and images in ways other than text analytics and social media analytics, such as semiotics and discourse analysis.
  • Variations on ‘mobile’, beyond just “mobile surveys”, “mobile ethnography” and “mobile qual”.
  • A more generalised expression of passive and observational data and analysis.
  • A variety of ‘neuro’ related approaches that people did not feel were captured by the term “Neuromarketing”, for example implicit association and voice analytics (which might also be biometrics).

In the next wave of GRIT we’ll continue to refine this overall section with answer options, and perhaps add some definitions in order to help reduce potential wording confusion.

These responses were not coded and added to the totals since it would not materially impact their relative rankings and would only marginally change the percentages. Overall this modified “other” response is a good way for us to “keep our ear to the ground” as it relates to new models emerging that we might not be paying sufficient attention to.


How to Handle It When You Mess Up on the Project (and You Will)

Posted by Ron Sellers Friday, September 26, 2014, 8:19 am
Everyone blows it. How you handle your failure says a lot more about you than whether you blew it in the first place.


By Ron Sellers

I’m not sure why it’s commonly said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. There’s one more iron-clad, guaranteed sure thing in life: screw-ups.

Your screw-ups.

Well, to be fair, mine too. And your vendors’. And your clients’.

Everyone in the consumer insights business (or any business) is going to mess up royally at some point. Over the years, I’ve seen some beauties:

  • The moderator who showed up right on time in New York when the groups were in Los Angeles that night
  • The analyst who completely forgot to weight the quantitative data when heavy quotas had been used and wrote the whole report with unweighted data
  • The vendor who mistakenly sent one client’s data to another client
  • The client who provided a completely wrong customer list for the recruiting (which the moderator discovered only upon sitting down with the first group and finding out his entire discussion guide was irrelevant to those recruits)
  • The client who remembered to tell the moderator that she changed the group time from 6:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. – at 2:00 that same afternoon

Yeah, the last two happened to me.

You’ve likely already been on the receiving end of some gems in your career, and you’ve probably blown it big time more than once. And guess what? It’s going to happen to you again in the future.

Since everyone screws up at one point or another, what tends to differentiate people and companies is how they deal with their mistakes.

Consider two recent experiences I had with companies messing up. The first is with U.S. Airways. I’ve been an elite customer of this company for 15 consecutive years, usually at Gold level (which is at least 50,000 miles in a year). I even use their credit card, making me another source of significant profit. Recently, trying to book a trip to Grand Rapids through their website, I was repeatedly denied the booking due to an error message. I tried to call them but gave up and went to lunch after 20 minutes waiting to talk to an agent.

After lunch, I tried again online, only to get the same error message. I called the Gold line again, and was on hold for 45 minutes. I finally gave up and booked through Expedia, which cost $275 more than on the U.S. Airways website, and robbed me of a bunch of bonus miles I would have gotten booking directly with the airline.

After the trip, I wrote a lengthy letter to the CEO, complete with full documentation, requesting a refund for the difference and my extra mileage. What I received back was a form e-mail from customer relations stating that they apologized for the inconvenience – nothing more. I replied to the e-mail stating that I was unhappy to be treated in this manner as a supposedly elite customer. Soon after, I received a call from one of their customer service agents, apologizing insincerely for the fact that I was still dissatisfied. I asked for the refund. He refused and repeated the same apology (in the same words). I asked for the bonus miles. He said they “don’t do that” and again repeated the same apology. I told him it was obvious that the company does not value my business. He again repeated the same apology word-for-word. It became obvious I would have received the same bored apology if they had accidentally landed a 767 on my house.

Now, fast forward a couple of weeks to my flight to Lisbon. I stopped by Peet’s Coffee in the Phoenix airport and ordered a hot tea. People who had been in line behind me were receiving their orders while I continued to wait, so I approached someone (who turned out to be the manager) and asked about my order. He checked the order board, took care of me promptly, apologized for the delay, and offered me a free pastry as a further apology. While I declined, I was impressed with the fact that even for an order of less than three dollars, the manager sincerely apologized and offered me a small gift as a further apology.

Two companies screwed up. One sent me a boilerplate e-mail and a bored, insincere apology with no offer to do anything to make things right, even though I’ve given them tens of thousands of dollars of business over nearly twenty years (not to mention over half a million dollars charged on their co-branded credit card). Even if they had been unwilling to give me the cash refund, it would have cost them next to nothing to offer me 10,000 miles as an apology.

The other company offered a sincere apology and attempted to make things right, even though I was one of hundreds of faces they would see that day and I just provided three dollars of business with no guarantee I would ever return. I have a highly negative view of U.S. Airways as a result of how they handled their mistake, and a highly positive view of Peet’s. And, through this blog, thousands of people now get to share in my experiences with both companies.

So how do you handle things when you, your company, or your department messes up:

  • Do you notify the internal or external client, or hope they won’t discover it as well?
  • Do you communicate with the client immediately, or wait until there’s really nothing that can be done to solve the problem?
  • Do you accept responsibility for the problem, or try to find someone else to blame?
  • Are you transparent, or defensive?
  • Do you offer proactive solutions to your client, or just tell them what the problem is?

If you weren’t the individual who messed up but you are in charge of that person (i.e. when your vendor or employee caused the problem):

  • Do you just blame them or do you take responsibility for the problem because you’re ultimately the one in charge?
  • Does someone in leadership personally handle the issue, or is it sloughed off to an underling so the boss doesn’t have to face the unpleasant music?
  • Do you make your client feel you actually care about the problem and about making things right, or just mouth some platitudes and hope they’ll stop bothering you?
  • Do you commit the time and the expense to make it right even if it costs you money, or do you expect the client to help pay for your error?
  • Do you investigate how the problem occurred in the first place and make changes to ensure there’s no repeat incident, or just shrug and figure that sometimes bad things happen?

The starting point for all of this is whether you admit to yourself that you messed up or whether you immediately start looking for excuses or for others to blame. “Yes, that’s a mistake, but the client should have given me the time to do it right.” “The client overcomplicated things.” “The vendor didn’t explain that clearly.”

Since I’m human, when I blow it my natural tendency is to look for an excuse, a scapegoat, and/or a way out – but I make a determined effort to put all that aside, accept responsibility, and make things right. If you’re honest with yourself, it’s ultimately not that difficult to be honest with your boss or your client.

I’ve had vendors mess up royally. The ones I refuse to work with again are the ones who don’t take responsibility for the problem and don’t do everything within their power to make it right – even if they take a financial hit on the project.

I always told my staff that if they come to me with a problem, they have a partner in trying to solve that problem. If I discover the problem myself rather than hearing about it from them, they no longer have a partner – they have a judge. I treat my vendors the same way, and I expect to be treated that way by my clients. How someone reacts when they blow it tells me more about that person than whether or not they messed up in the first place (assuming they don’t make a habit of incompetence).

So when you blow it – and you will – how are you going to handle it? Are you going to be U.S. Airways or Peet’s Coffee? If you’re working with me when you mess up, that decision is largely going to determine whether my respect for you grows…or disappears.


Mobile Qual: Which Solution Is Right for You?

When you're choosing a mobile qual solution, it's important to take many factors into consideration.



By Stephen Cribbett

Over the past seven years, we’ve learned a lot about online qual. We’ve spent time playing with new types of tools, talking to customers about what they find engaging, and looking at a lot of stats and figures to see which strategies get the best results.

One thing that we’ve really come to like is mobile qual; we find that virtually going where consumers go and seeing what they see helps us get close to their everyday lives. And letting your participants capture their experiences as they happen means you can get a great real-time look at how they respond to your tests and other situations in their lives.

Mobile apps have risen in popularity as a means of conducting mobile qual; it seems like every company has an app, from the smallest regional businesses to the largest international corporations. Everyone thinks that they need an app to succeed, but are apps really the best way to conduct your mobile qual?

Here’s what we’ve learned.

Mobile Qual Apps

In the years we’ve spent doing online qual, it’s become clear to us that people value simplicity. You can have the most impressive online system out there, but if it’s too complicated, no one will use it: this means that there are tradeoffs between features and accessibility.

For example, many mobile qual apps have really great features that offer further insights into your customers. You can get geographical information with geotagging, for example, and offline access that ensures customers can always use the app, but there’s a trade-off in offering these features.

One of those tradeoffs is that you need to get users to download and use the app. A recent survey found that 65.5% of US smartphone users download an average of zero apps per month, and only 17% downloaded 3 or more. People download apps that are fun and exciting and, as much as we hate to admit it, they probably won’t find mobile qual apps very exciting. It’s not personally useful for them; while they’re great for us, users don’t get much out of having them on their mobiles.

If they download the app, though, you’ve made significant inroads toward getting customer insight. But to make sure that they open and use the app, you’ll need to remind them. One of the great things about mobile apps is that you can send mobile notifications right to their phones.

Again, we face a trade-off. Notifications can pop up on the second, third, or fourth home screen of an iPhone, making it unlikely that users will see the notifications immediately. And participants who aren’t familiar with app notifications can find them confusing. Obviously, the effectiveness of this strategy depends greatly on the target group of your qual: if they’re tech-savvy, they shouldn’t have any problems with notifications. If not, it could be tough to get this system to work.

Another thing to keep in mind that is rich, sophisticated, interactive apps that are always running in the background are great for engaging participants and gathering insights, but not so great for battery life. There’s a tenuous balance between offering a great user experience and irritating people because their battery is dying all the time. The last thing you want for your mobile qual app is for it to make users angry.

There’s no denying that apps are trendy and cool. But that trendiness comes with costs, and it’s important for anyone considering mobile qual to keep those costs in mind when choosing a mobile solution.

Device-Agnostic Mobile Qual

One one side of the mobile qual spectrum, we have apps. On the other, there’s device-agnostic qual, which isn’t tied to any specific mobile operating system.

Device-agnostic qual systems are all about making it as easy as possible for customers to accessible the qual system. They’re run through a user’s mobile browser, which means it’s not tied to any particular mobile operating system or hardware. It can be accessed from a mobile phone or a tablet, and doesn’t require the participant to download any apps, making entry into the system significantly easier than app-based qual systems.

Of course, the mobile browser approach does create some limitations: the experience generally isn’t as rich as app-based solutions, because of the risk of slow connection speeds and high costs to the mobile processor.

While app-based qual relies on app-based or push notifications, device-agnostic qual uses e-mail to deliver notifications. Email Monday’s ultimate mobile email statistics overview states that, as of last year, 61% of consumers now read at least some email on their mobile, so you can be confident that you’ll get a solid response rate using e-mail for notifications.

In fact, 47% of e-mail is opened on a mobile device, vastly outweighing the 28% of desktop and 25% of webmail. And mobile e-mail opens have grown by 180% in the past three years. Mobile is where the world goes for email, so sending qual notifications via email is a no-brainer.

One of the big disadvantages of browser-based mobile qual solutions is that they cannot provide offline access, occasionally leaving participants with no way to upload information. Fortunately, this is rarely an issue, because most people have mobile data connectivity the vast majority of the time. Even on trains, where mobile reception is particularly dodgy, the average commuter has 3G or 4G connectivity 72% of the time.

There are ways around this, though; for example, our own mobile interface uses data chunking for uploads, which means that if a user loses connection, the upload will continue once the connection is reestablished, so there’s no need to start the upload over from the beginning. While it doesn’t mean we can offer offline access, it does prevent a lot of frustration when a mobile data connection is interrupted.

Choose Mobile Qual that Works

When you’re choosing a mobile qual solution, it’s important to take all of the factors above into consideration. If you’re very concerned about having an app that is complex, rich, and highly interactive, a mobile qual app may be the way to go. This is also true if you absolutely need offline access.

On the other hand, a device-agnostic approach could be more fitting if your audience might not be tech-savvy enough to understand a variety of notification types or is intimidated by apps. Running qual through the mobile browser increases ease of access, as well as exposure via e-mail-based notifications, but doesn’t allow for offline use.

Have you used a mobile qual solution in the past? Was it app-based or device-agnostic? What did you find especially appealing or unappealing about it?


Why ESOMAR Council Elections Matter To Everyone Involved In MR

Because of their reach and influence those who serve on the ESOMAR Council are incredibly important in shaping how that influence will be exercised and the direction that the organization takes. Elections are being held now and here are all those standing for Council positions.



First, just to be clear: I am not a member of any trade organization. I believe I can have far more impact by being an independent voice in the industry.  I do collaborate with just about every trade organization in the world and try to support the good work they all do for the industry.

ESOMAR is one of the organizations I work closely with due to their global reach and continual evolution to try and reflect the changing nature of the research industry. I don’t personally subscribe to the idea that ESOMAR is the de facto global trade body; the MRS and GRBN are global too (and actually larger from a membership perspective), but ESOMAR does have an integrated global event  and media program, which gives them a significant edge in influencing both local and international views on the industry. Because of that reach and influence those who serve on the ESOMAR Council are incredibly important in shaping how that influence will be exercised and the direction that the organization takes.

With that in mind, it’s now Council Election time for ESOMAR so it’s important for everyone, ESOMAR members and non-members alike, to take a look at what’s happening and who’s standing for consideration.

Ray Poynter has an excellent rundown on NewMR.org of his take on the election and links to statements from some of those running. I have reposted that here:


Every two years ESOMAR holds elections for its President, Vice President, and Council. The people who hold these roles have a tremendous amount of power to shape what happens to ESOMAR. A progressive group can really move ESOMAR forward, a less useful group can hold it back. Some of those elected in the past 20 years have been fantastic, some average, and some seem to have been in it for the status and the travel.

If you are an ESOMAR member, I would urge you to vote in these elections, to get the sort of ESOMAR you want. My feeling is that we need a group of people running ESOMAR who are less “white men”. The first criteria should be the best people for the job, but I think that ideally between one-third and two-thirds should be female, and that between one-third and two-thirds should come from outside Europe/North America – and I will be casting my votes accordingly.

How The Voting Works

The election is using a form of STV (standard transferable vote). This is one of the fairest methods of voting and the elector only needs to think about one thing “Put your most preferred candidate 1st, your next most preferred 2nd, etc”. Your second choice has no impact on the result for your first choice. You second choice is not used unless either A) your first choice is eliminated, or B) your first choice is elected. Your 3rd choice is not used until your second choice is elected or eliminated. If you use fewer choices you do NOT help your preferred candidate. The only way to help your most preferred candidate is to put them number 1.

The election is being run by ERS (the Electoral Reform Society) who are probably THE best people for this sort of job. The email voting links should be arriving very soon and voting closes October 20th – but don’t delay voting, voting early is the best way to remember to vote!

The Candidates

All of the candidates have their details available on the MyESOMAR website. But, since the election is of interest to a wider audience, NewMR has invited candidates to post up to 500 words about why they are standing for election. The responses are below.



And here is a complete list of everyone running along with their campaign statements in “tweet form”:



FRED JOHN:  I’d like ESOMAR to lead the shaping of our profession; to increase its global voice & presence, and to continuously grow its client-side representation.

LAURENT FLORES:  Give Back to the Industry, Extend the Value Perception, Impact and Frontiers of Market Research globally, while continuing to grow the ESOMAR Brand and Community.

PRAVIN SHEKAR: Pravin for President of #ESOMAR. A consistent & energetic leader with a vision to Engage, Energize & Elevate MR #mrx.



NIELS SCHILLEWAERT: Help me to widen our professional footprint; bring in more client-side knowledge & expertise, and ensure a continuous influx of youth and innovation!

DAVID SMITH:  I will use my energy to get things done for ESOMAR Members. I will connect us to our new future and continue to develop the industry’s talent.


DAVID BAKKEN: I would like to help ESOMAR – the most resilient advocate of our global profession – promote Professional development, foster innovation & develop new business models 

JOAQUIM BRETCHA: Bridge across continents, experienced in all stages of MR value chain, technological data collector, promoter of the MR value. From Barcelona to the world

OSCAR CARLSSON: With a focus on how we as an industry will embrace new disruptive technologies and still be able to keep high quality and guidance to our clients.

MELANIE COURTRIGHT: Setting the industry pace for online, mobile, and digital MR best practices while eating cupcakes on the beach! Vote for me for ESOMAR Council!

DANIEL CUENDE: Invest more in the relevance of our industry as a key factor for success, ESOMAR is the platform to push the up the bar.

ANNE-SOPHIE DAMELIN-COURT: LET’s KEEP MOVING FORWARD! Would love to keep serving the industry, sharing knowledge and ideas with and for our community.

SHIRLEY EADIE: A digital and mobile research expert tackling research in Africa head on, ready to challenge the status quo and help ESOMAR evolve.

CHRIS FARQUHAR: As Asia has become increasingly important in our profession, and as someone who has worked in that region for 15 years +, I would like to represent that perspective on Council.

RON PAUL GAILEY: As a client, please support me in bringing fresh, new perspectives to Council, while ensuring we do not lose perspective of what has been so successful to-date!

VANELLA JACKSON: I want to champion visibility of what we do at board level, more rapid innovation and experimentation and finding new ways to attract the best talent into our world of data and insight. 

FRED JOHN:  I’d like ESOMAR to lead the shaping of our profession; to increase its global voice & presence, and to continuously grow its client-side representation.

UMESH KUMAR: I’ll help ESOMAR work closely with local associations to create awareness and a stronger platform for members learning, sharing and bringing the industry to a global level.

KRISTIN LUCK: Honored to be running for ESOMAR Council. I look forward to promoting technology innovation, global collaboration & diversity if elected. Don’t forget to vote!

DONALD MAREK: With 41 years of business experience and a worldwide outlook, I will concentrate on ESOMAR’s educational and best practices initiatives, as well as events, having attended 120 conferences on 4 continents.

PERVIN OLGUN: I will actively work on a mission of underlining ESOMAR membership as a seal of top quality research meeting the needs of our clients in this demanding and changing industry.

ELENA ONBRIGHT: If elected for Council, I will work on continuing the acceleration of ESOMAR becoming much more open, democratic and closer to the ordinary member.

PATRICIO PAGANI: #Mrx has a significant role in what it can do in society, but I also think we can do better than we currently are. I want us as an industry to embrace initiatives of using data in collaboration with governments and NGOS.

BV PRADEEP: The current industry meta-morphosis also includes paradigm shift in terms of value migration. I will leverage my experience in shaping this industry to make it more agile and innovative.

PHIL RANCE: I stand for a dynamic, diverse and digital future for market research, and for the sharing of best practice between countries and cultures.

LUISA M RAVELO: I pledge to work to make decision-making through Market Research a more common happening in emerging economies.

JOACHIM RITTCHEN: I want to fight together with ESOMAR to promote the value of our industry and to further develop our framework of rules. Please back me up with you vote!

LUIS SA LUCAS: I would really like to continue giving my contribution to ESOMAR’s successful career, helping to expand the scope of MR activities, beyond the traditional ones: distribution and trade analysis, Point of Sales segmentation & others.

NIELS SCHILLEWAERT: Help me to widen our professional footprint; bring in more client-side knowledge & expertise, and ensure a continuous influx of youth and innovation!

ALINA SERBANICA: My motivation to run for ESOMAR Council member is my commitment to actively continuing to contribute to the organisation’s initiatives.

ALEXANDER SHASHKIN: Vote for open ESOMAR data warehouse, regular technology reviews, more research-on-research and the best case studies!

DANIELLE TODD: Fresh young researcher determined to engage future talent, drive new ideas & thinking as well as ensure ESOMAR reflect our diverse & creative market research world!

DAVID SMITH: I will use my energy to get things done for ESOMAR Members I will connect us to our new future and continue to develop the industry’s talent.

PETER PAUL VERHEGGEN: I look forward to contributing to ESOMAR directing MR developments & bringing together ideas. With 12 years as chairman of the Dutch Market Research Association (MOA), it’ll be a great challenge to continue that on a more international level.

MATTHEW WANG: Dr. Matthew Wang has 20 years MR experience, co-founding research house MAP in Greater China in 2001. He will bring the local insights to our global association.

CHRISTOPH WELTER: My agenda for a high impact research culture: Fusing in unconventional ideas, e.g. from design and tech worlds, and supporting Gen Y to shine.

NAVIN WILLIAMS: By being in the Council I hope to promote both our association and research enabled by technology!


I know many of these folks personally (some are authors right here on GBB or on my short list of speakers at IIeX events)  and am familiar with the rest through various channels. Every single one deserves kudos for putting themselves out there and getting involved to help shape the industry.  It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to “endorse” anyone, so to learn more about the candidates, their statements and the election procedures, you can watch their official election videos or log in to MyESOMAR.

Happy voting!


To Become A Great Market Researcher Start In B2B!

Young people seeking to embark on a successful market research career should put B2B firmly in their consideration set. Here's why.



Editor’s Note: Most of my career as a researcher and running research companies was focused on B2B; probably 70% of the projects I was involved with fell into that category, and of course nowadays all I do is B2B-related, albeit B2B within the market research industry itself vs. other sectors. So when I heard ESOMAR was doing a B2B Research Forum right here in Atlanta on October 14th I was excited. I don’t see many events focused exclusively on B2B as a topic (although there are tons of events focused on specific niche B2B sectors), and since much of Pharma, Healthcare, Financial Services, Tech, and other sector research spend is devoted to B2B focused research it’s a topic that deserves more attention.

Dr. David Smith, Director of DVL Smith Ltd UK wrote the below post in support of the ESOMAR event, but it serves as a great reminder to us all of the importance of this often underlooked aspect of research.


By Dr David Smith 

The beginning of market research was characterised by pioneering industrial – essentially B2B – studies that explored organisational behaviour.  After leading the way in market research B2B then took a back seat to the rise and rise of consumer research.

Since then, in some ways B2B has often been seen as the poor relation to consumer research.  But in this article our message is: young people seeking to embark on a successful market research career should put B2B firmly in their consideration set.

Why? Well because all of the seven skill pillars that you need to become a great market researcher will be quickly acquired if you cut your teeth in the B2B environment.  Everything you will be learning and doing will give you the core strengths around which to build a highly successful career.

Let’s look at each of these seven pillars and outline why B2B researchers are often at the heart of these core skills.

  • Pillar one: Being a problem crystalliser – someone who is ‘able to nail the true business question’

Highly effective market researchers quickly acquire the skill of identifying the key business question. They, given the complexities of many business-to-business scenarios, know the importance of making sure they are working on the right problem in the right context.  They quickly learn how to avoid the trap of working on the symptoms of the problem.  Specifically they learn how to develop the confidence to engage key stakeholders early in the process so they get to the heart of the business question.  Learning how to master the complexity of many organisational, industrial and business-to-business challenges makes other consumer environments seem comparatively more straightforward. 

  • Pillar two: Talking to the right people in the right way – being able to set up a fit to purpose research design

It could be argued – and I realise this is a slightly controversial point – that in many consumer research scenarios these days the discipline of ensuring we have represented our ‘population of interest’ with a robust sample has, shall we say, become rather pragmatic.  There has been some drift from the methodological principles that once characterised robust, valid and reliable research.  But in B2B research the more traditional hard disciplines of knowing how to identify a sample of enterprises and establishments – and key decision-makers within establishments – remains an important core skill.  Knowing how to carefully pinpoint the target audience and reflect this in the sampling process remains vitally important.  In a business-to-business interview if your goal is to explore the intricacies of the buying process for complex, expensive equipment, you need to be sure that you are talking to the right person – there is no way to improvise around this.

  • Pillar three: Joining the dots, knowing how to synthesise multiple data sets and see the big picture

Right at the very beginning, well before the arrival of Big Data, business-to-business and industrial researchers had recognised the importance of piecing together the multiplicity of available evidence into a compelling narrative that told the business story.  So B2B researchers have always been adept at synthesising data. They have been able to piece together different types of government data, market surveys, expert opinion, financial data and a host of other statistics in order to understand complex business questions.  In short, industrial researchers, in my opinion, are at the leading edge in terms of how to synthesise data and relate this to answering a business question. 

  • Pillar four: Understanding what makes people ‘tick’ – getting to the heart of what drives and changes behaviour

It is true that there was a phase in the history of business-to-business research where there were a number of naïve explanations of how organisational decision-making processes work.  These placed far too much emphasis on the rational, and not enough on the emotional, element of the decision-making process.  However over the last 20 years there has been recognition within the B2B community that emotion - in much the same way as for consumer choices – plays a massive role in many B2B decisions.  The adage ‘in a straight choice between emotion and reason, emotion wins’ is not just true of FMCG purchases, but of business decisions.  This applies whether we are referring to decisions about the type of parcel carrier to use, right up to major investment decisions about which IT systems to pursue and so on.  The experienced B2B researcher knows how to get to the heart of the emotions in play and is skilled at getting a rich understanding of how the human mind works in highly complex organisational decision-making scenarios.

  • Pillar five: Understanding the business world – knowing about the structure of markets and how to focus on priority issues

Being able to apply research to drive business growth is of course a core market research skill.  And arguably business-to-business researchers are particularly skilled at applying insights about customers and markets to drive growth.

For example, in the business-to-business world over the last few years there have been massive strides forward – at least in the UK – in understanding the world of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).  No longer do we apply a clichéd stereotypic view of this very complex sector. Today business-to-business experts have a rich understanding of the variations within this sector. They are able to identify the gazelles – the fast growing businesses, and have also built a clear understanding of what truly lies behind outstanding entrepreneurial behaviour.  In short, B2B researchers have a close affinity to entrepreneurialism.

  • Pillar six: Influencing, persuading and having a ‘Point of View’ – being a ‘Trusted Advisor’

Today the emphasis for many consumer researchers is on making the transition to being a trusted business adviser.  We are talking about someone who is able to communicate the killer evidence, and constructively influence senior stakeholders in often complex decision-making scenarios.  In the world of business-to-business research teams have been successful in building a close relationship between themselves and senior stakeholders.  So for a number of years they have been at the forefront in demonstrating how researchers can work more closely with key stakeholders.

  • Pillar seven: Providing strategic foresight, being an opportunity seeker and helping to create the learning organisation

The idea of customer insight professionals helping their companies become a learning organisation is high on the agenda.  The goal is to ensure the customer insight function works as a catalyst for change.  They need to constantly monitor the customer landscape and alert senior management to trends and developments to which they need to respond in order to shape a successful future.  Again in the business-to-business sector, the closeness of the relationship between the research team and the stakeholders – and the way B2B agencies work with their clients – has for many years been an exemplar of insight being the eyes and ears of the organisation.

So if you want to quickly master the marketing intelligence craft and be able to add value during the next chapter of the market research story then newcomers might want to consider B2B research.  This provides a great opportunity to fast track your skills in the above seven core areas.

David Smith


If you’re interested in ESOMAR’s B2B Research Forum in Atlanta on the 14 October you can find out more and register here.


Big Brands vs. Makers Movement: Opposites Attract

How can big brands leverage the Maker Movement’s inventions?


 By Dr. David Forbes 

“Power to the People” takes on a whole other meaning when applied to the Makers Movement. This diverse and growing group of smart, independent entrepreneurs is using its ideas to create innovative products with tools from 3-D printers to microcontrollers and sewing machines. Startups like Quirky and Kickstarter provide access to help turn these concepts into real-life products. Unsurprisingly, in the past few years, the Makers Movement has caught the attention of big brands trying to tap into the work and success (and maybe buy out a great idea or two). It’s a tricky business though: making sure that small can translate to large authentically—and that’s the rub.

A key to understanding the relationship between big brands and makers is knowing who the movement is comprised of. While diverse in demographics, they tend to have some qualities in common: educated, independent yet collaborative, distrustful of corporate America, tech-savvy, and natural-born tinkerers. They have a strong online and offline community fueled by the sharing, bartering economy of the Internet, along with in-person events and forums, not to mention publications, blogs, and the like.

So how can big brands leverage the Maker Movement’s inventions? Not only can these products and idea acquisitions breathe life and revenue into aging or stagnating companies, they can perk up and amplify brand perception–but again, it has to be done authentically.

A company’s brand “bookends” are everything when it comes to the buying public: the attitude, or brand personality, and amplitude, or what the company is good at doing, has to be in perfect harmony to resonate with consumers. In other words, I believe that for a Makers Movement product to be a good fit for any large company, there has to be a strong tie between what the brand promise is on both sides of this equation.

Take GE, which has a vibrant program geared at the Makers Movement. They host and fund all sorts of ideas from inventors, providing them with the tools and materials they need to launch an idea. GE, in the public’s mind, stands for innovation and that’s why this connection works. Or Levi’s, which has the word “authenticity” virtually chiseled into their brand. Thanks to a rich history infused with imagery of the gold rush and hand-sewn denim, Levi’s is primed both for the right brand attitude and amplitude to take on artisanal-crafted furniture. Stereo receivers? Not a great fit.

Then there is the irony factor for big brands and the Maker Movement: Sure, there may be an instant brand connection between the corporate monolith and the smaller maker, but what about the reality of large company mass production? Does the product then lose its integrity if it’s made on an assembly line? That’s where the delicate tightrope can get stretched between the corporate values of big brands and the custom, small-scale production ethos of the Makers Movement. On the other hand, while the Makers Movement might get backlash on perceived hypocrisy of the “corporation”, they’ll get the benefit of the marketing megaphone of a big brands—often not attainable otherwise.

I think the point of the Makers Movement is to enliven a culture of craft-making and tinkering, of creativity and community. Like most products, there will be a tipping point of success. The question is whether these entrepreneurs want the thrill of creating and continuing to produce in small batches or believe any other way is selling out.


Who is Winning the Game of Devices? Mobile vs. Desktop

According to the latest statistics, Mobile traffic to websites will overtake Desktop by March 2017 based on the current rate of growth.

10ZiG Technology has launched a new interactive tool that tracks Mobile vs Desktop traffic online using data from live Google Analytics profiles. According to their latest statistics, Mobile traffic to websites will overtake Desktop by March 2017 based on the current rate of growth. This dovetails nicely with other projections from various sources and certainly aligns with the data being reported by online survey platforms regarding their ever-increasing mobile participants.

This obviously has huge implications for research and should add additional emphasis to the push to adopt new mobile-enabled methods as well as to adapt existing modes to a mobile form factor. Unfortunately I think as an industry we’re still lagging behind where we need to be, but perhaps this will help the cause.

The Game of Devices uses Google Analytics data from initially 10 websites to track the % split of online sessions made using a Desktop, Mobile or Tablet device on a weekly basis from 2010 onwards. The sample websites are B2C and B2B companies that specialise in finance, marketing, retail, tradesmen and technology across North America, Europe & Australia.

Here is the interactive dashboard and thanks to 10ZiG Technology for allowing me to repost it here. Click on the dashboard to scroll down; there is a lot of information here that should prove to be interesting for you.

10ZiG Game of Devices