Posts Tagged ‘SMR’


Here is something to chew on as you start to wrap up 2010 and hopefully have already begun thinking about 2011.  I want to know your thoughts as well, so please share!

The walls fall down:

Researchers are finally going to get sick of talking about this qual/quant divide.  So many blended advancements will also help to break bricks and create a universal language which we will call understanding.  That is, understanding the consumer first as a person (More on that in a bit).

Another barrier that will continue to deteriorate in the 2011 is this MR silo.  It’s inefficient and quickly becoming a barrier to the almighty Understanding…at least in achieving it in an effective and efficient means.  MR is going to be a facet of the entire communications/customer relationship mix.  Those walls between marketing/advertising/PR/etc. are coming down too.  MR will follow.  Communications, driven by the consumer, are too fast to have completely segregated teams trying to keep up.  That gap between the marketing and MR teams will diminish rapidly, and it’s okay…I promise!

Consumer is King:

We’ve gone through content, the message, the medium, and a bunch of other manifestations of king, but the true focus will be on the consumer, and not as a customer….as a person.  Panel/sample providers will focus on better knowledge of them.  Researcher/moderators will focus on better relating to them.  Companies/brands will focus on treating them and communicating with them in better formats.  B2C, B2C, C2C, it’s all the same when you drill down to the basics of humanity….unless you sell to robots.  People have wants and needs, they are rational and irrational, and people work with and buy from people they like.  Are you likeable?

V=[(R+T)/A]-P:

It looks confusing, but it isn’t.  It’s about value.  It always has been, and always will be!  Value equals Relevance and Timeliness over accountability, minus price.

Expectations of relevance are extremely high, and will continue to grow even higher.  The digital persona provides a high-level of detail about our lives, wants and needs.  As people, we expect communications to be tailored and relevant, it will be researchers’ jobs to translate and interpret into digestible and executable bites.

Timeliness is redefined.  People expect faster results from Companies, Companies want faster results from MR and MR wants faster support from its suppliers.  Nothing will change that.  It’s do or die.  Embrace the tools that serve as a life vest because the storm is coming.

People want that same level of highly tailored relevance every time they interact and engage a brand.  They expect the brand to be accountable, and they will find someone else if the brand falls short.

Price is not irrelevant; it’s just not the most important piece of the pie.  Sometimes the reduction in price/monetary value is not a cheapening of status, but more-so a re-balancing and association with relevance and overall worth.  Consumers will pay more for greater value in return.  With the advancement of transparency through social media there are just less places to hide.

Under the Influence:

This whole rise of interest in the influencer model is not a fad.  Influence matters and the way in which people obtain, sustain and utilize influence will be highly studied by companies and researchers.  Do you have influence?  What is influence?  How do I get it?  What do I do with it?  How do I measure it?  Figure out the answers to those questions, because your clients are going to ask you for them.  Researchers will need to know how to identify, relate to, understand and utilize influence in the world of communication.

Hybrids:

I’m not talking about cars.  I am talking about the blend between what we call traditional and new, in-person and online, and quant and qual.  After the walls come down, we build new ponds where ecosystems consisting of appropriate blends and mixes of these variables exist in not only harmony, but synergy.  Many researchers talk about the ideal projects where clients approach them with a problem in need of a solution, rather than a request in need of a bid.  Well, I fell like you will have your chance 2011, are you ready?  We will need to know the full plethora of research solutions and how they best apply to providing specific solutions to client problems.

Mobility:

The smallest of the “three screens” is going to be the most important in 2011.  If you look at the formula for value I portrayed above, then it’s no surprise that mobile devices have a huge play in 2011.  We have only scratched the surface of what we can do with mobile.  Get ready for amazing advancements in 2011!

Leadership and Collaboration:

We’ve talked about influence, now let’s talk leadership and collaboration.  We have driven to such specialization in today’s world that in order to keep up, things are going to have to do a bit more consolidating in order to be most effective.  I see smaller companies being incorporated into bigger ones and several companies who are smaller and more specialize teaming up to go after bigger wins and offer more complete solutions.  It’s not really a surprise; it’s history.  If you are seen as a leader in the space your role with clients will evolve in 2011, from leading individual projects, to more of a consultative partnership with clients (this is a good thing!).

Collaboration on the consumer side of things is not too much different.  We’ve made enough mistakes in collaborative design and crowd sourcing that in 2011 we will maximize its efficiency and effectiveness.  It’s really not that different of a total concept from what he have always done in MR.  As researchers, our job has revolved around crowd sourcing ideas, concepts, feedback etc.

This list does not serve as an exhaustive list of changes to expect in 2011, and I may even post some additional thoughts at a later date.  But, I think it gives us something to think about, and discuss as a starting point.  What do you think?  What is missing?  What points do you argue?

Thanks for stopping by!

I sit here in the CLT airport on a short layover before my flight home to Dallas and my mind is still on info overload from the past few days.  This was my third time to attend the QRCA Annual Conference, and it will definitely not be the last!  In my opinion, attending the annual conference is one of the biggest member benefits for QRCA members.  The amount of education, networking and fun that occurs over three days is amazing.

QRCA has played a tremendous role in my market research career.  In 2007 when I joined D. Gustafson & Associates, Dave asked me to start early (Friday instead of Monday) so that I could attend the Philadelphia Chapter’s QRCA meeting.  That meeting was my first day on the job as a qualitative researcher, and the beginning of several close friendships.  The way in which QRCA’ers come together and share in mentoring and collaborating is something of a rarity in the world of professional organizations.  I know many preach of collaborative spirit, but with QRCA, I can honestly say I look forward to connecting with friends every conference…..it just happens they are also qualitative researchers!  Some of my first projects, upon starting Spych, have come from QRCA friends and I know this is true of many other members as well.

This spirit of collaboration was very strong at this year’s conference, and the topic of many sessions, like the one by Carla Essen and Amy Winstel.  The positive outlook for qualitative research relies heavily on the notion of collaboration and community.  The only way we can evolve the industry in a timely fashion and keep it on the forefront of the innovation spectrum is to collaborate and work together to educate and help mentor our quali peers.  I had great conversations with Renee Murphy, Kendall Nash and Lynn Greenberg about the need to educate our QRCA peers and industry colleagues on the world of Social Media Research, and to help position QRCA as a leader in the scene.  A few folks even brought up the topic at the Town Hall meeting yesterday afternoon, and expressed interest in helping out.

One of my favorite aspects of this year’s conference was seeing the continual growth of “young” researchers!  I say “young” because as I explained at the conference, “young” to me is young in age, young at heart, young to the industry, or young in the organization.  If you’re interested in joining the newly-formed QRCA Young Professionals Shared Interest Group let me know!  We are looking for mentors and those with experience and knowledge to share with our youngsters as well.  Kendall and I were VERY excited to have over 20 people attend the YP SIG dine-around on Wednesday night!  It was a huge success, and I hope it is a true indication of what is to come from the group!  There is a huge need to help educate others about qualitative research, and perhaps the YP SIG is a great way to do so.  Also, a huge shoutout to our International Scholarship Winner, Sophie Van Neck, from Belgium.  She was also in attendance at the YP SIG dinner, and has done some extremely interesting research work.  Get to know her and thank her for adding to the talented young researcher pool!

Going forward, I hope that after next year’s conference I can report about having the biggest conference in the history of QRCA.  I really believe this is possible, and hope that everyone will spread the word.  QRCA is a MUST for researchers that live in the qualitative space.  You will not find a source of information, education, friendship, and partnership related to the industry of qualitative research, as compelling as QRCA.  It has made me a better researcher, a better mentor, a better educator, and a better business owner.  I have made friendships with other QRC’s that I know will be ever-lasting, and I know that the organization will continue to provide these values to its members.

See you in Vegas for the 2011 QRCA Annual Conference!

It’s not a secret that in the craziness of the current economy many companies are going “broke”.  But, there is a currency in which our beloved industry operates upon that truly comes before money.  That currency is called trust, and recent articles and statistics that have surfaced make me worry about the overall health and liquidity of our nation of researchers.

Jeffrey Henning recently wrote a great and enlightening post titled “Consumers Don’t Want to Hear from Social Media Researchers, Unless…”, where he shared some interesting findings from a recent surveying of people about their desire/lack of desire for researchers to utilize their social media-based opinions for market research.  The results were basically on the side of …no…but the more interesting and disturbing part was the “why” (I know, my quali is showing ..via Jim Longo) behind those findings.  In all seriousness, the most interesting part, or shall I say most disturbing part, was why they were against market researchers utilizing those opinions and comments.

The majority of responses fell into two categories of “Market Researchers will willfully misinterpret their responses” and “Fear of researchers getting it wrong through incompetence”.  Take a deep breath, pull your tongue from the bottom of your throat and bite it for just a minute while you ask yourself….do they have a point?

Say it ain’t so, or question the credibility of the findings, but the fact is that those feelings are present in the population, and there is something that makes people feel that way.  Is it really the representative majority of folks, who knows, but there is a population that exists.  The more important question is are they validated in their concern?  Are they over-reacting?  Why do they feel that way?

If people cannot trust us then what do we have to offer, other than an incentive, to trade them for their time and opinions?  There are implied “conditions of satisfaction” that exist between us, and the folks we speak to in front of the one-way mirror.  Somewhere along the way, our beloved industry has lost some credibility, at least in a small population of people.  Hard to swallow that medicine?  Yeah, it was for me too!  Instead of questioning the credibility of the statements and the size of that population, let’s do the more important thing…figure out how to gain that trust back from everyone!  Because, from other recent things I have seen, it is not just respondents that have voiced these concerns.  I also saw an interesting video of the head of insights for VW, Steve Gatt, speaking on video about our industry not being “up to scratch”.  Do you believe this is true?  If you know me personally, you know that I am a huge advocate for the future of our industry and want nothing but the best for all of our fellow colleagues and clients.  So, I ask you, what do we do to grow and encourage trust with everyone regarding the quality of work our industry represents?  What do we do to position ourselves as the keystone to successful marketing and advertising, the building blocks for new product development and the key player in providing value to our clients?

I’ll start:

1)   Think of the customer/consumer/respondent as your client – go where they are, listen and respond to their needs and then communicate those needs and wants to the companies and brands that are interested in them.

2)   Add your value on top – less journalistic and more strategic consultation is the way of the future.  Do not lose the neutral unbiased edge, but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and showcase your expertise.

3)   Embrace change – Be smart and approach the future with open arms and open minds.  Remember every angry person is a frightened person who is afraid of some loss.

4)   Embrace technology – Whether you are a research noobie or a veteran of our industry, good research is good research, and technology does not change that.  You are relevant and provide value, just learn the new buttons to push in the new environment and execute the same core principles that market research is founded upon.  (this statement does not suggest online will fully-replace in-person, Twitter is the new focus group,  Facebook is the new market research, or any other outlandish statement of the kind)

5)   Embrace collaboration and possess humility – Collaboration is the key to the future, both for us and the companies and brands that we assist.  Know your strengths, focus on them, and partner up to shore up your weaknesses.  Not EVERYTHING we do is extremely proprietary and secretive.  Remember, as the tide rises, so do all of the boats.

I love the market research industry, and I know many of you who do as well.  It’s a compelling time for change and growth, so who will lead the way?  What would you add to the list?  What would you remove?  How do we fill the reserves of trust equity and build an industry that is greater than ever?  Do I sound like a cheerleader?  That’s ok, because I know I stand in a crowd of others equally as loud.  Insert thoughts below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Ben