Monday, 17 September 2012

ESOMAR congress: the buzz

This is a summary of some of the buzz I picked up at the ESOMAR congress.

There were 3 dominant phrases I heard over and over again at this years ESOMAR congress: big data, social and story telling...

Big data: I estimate that nearly 50% of the presentations I sat through mentioned the term big data in one context or another. Taking over from the term "mobile research" which has held the number one slot of market research buzz words for the last 2 years. Despite this we did not exactly see many presentations demonstrating the execution of big data mostly its use came in the form of a warning sign to the industry that big data is about to engulf us all and change all the rules of engagement and encouraging new competitors in our market research space.

Social: One of the most prominent nouns used by market researchers at the ESOMAR congress, the word social seems to have become detached from the word media and has taken on a life of its own. It has now been attached to the word research and survey so we heard mention of a social survey - one that uses the language of the consumer.

Story telling: We were told over and over again that incites are not enough, as an industry we have to become better story tellers. We were also challenged to ask the right questions. We were told that agency planners are better story tellers and management consultants ask better questions and if we could do both of these things better we could "wop both their arses"

Behavioral economics the star of the show

Behavioral economics was undoubtedly the star of the show though. Papers exploiting the idea picked up best paper award from Tom Ewing @Brain Juicer, and best case study from Florian Bauer and for my vote best presentation from Kevin Kary @Affinova.

All 3 demonstrated the impact of thinking about the behavioral psychology of answering questions in survey and how rational or irrational it can be and if you can account for this you start to see a completely different picture in the data you are gathering.

Tom Ewing in his most eloquent style showed how turning off peoples rational decision making process allows them to measure the impact of more emotional decision making processes. Florian Buaer ground breaking pricing research demonstrating that unless you take into account the behavioral psychology of pricing when conducting price research you will under estimate how much you can push up prices - which I am slightly concerned that if the whole marketing industry cottons on to this it could trigger global hyper inflation. Affinova identified a big whole in existing concept development work, that when we evaluate choices we forget about whether or not we would purchase any of the products at all. By plugging this gap through a change in the way they asked the question they were able to far more accurately predict the the success of new concepts.

Other observation...

Constant connectivity/Welcome to the new normal: There were many observations made at the congress about the changing relationship between brands and consumers. With an abundance of easily accessible data and consumers taking over the brand message through social feedback mechanics we are moving from a push relationship with consumers where we spend millions feeding them information through advertising and branding to a pull relationship where consumers go out and get it on demand. This requires totally different thinking about how to position brands.

Customer-centricity: On the back of this, there was a lot of talk about placing the customer at the heart of decision making and we commonly heard phrases like customer centricity, customer facing, Empathetic relationship with customers, How we are engaging with customers every day of the conference. Clearly the market research industry has identified that the custom is now king, not to say that it has not always been, but now it is a nye on dictatorship!

Iteration/beta test norm: Consumers expect products now to evolve and expect this to happen rapidly. There was a lot of talk about this idea and how it is changing how we think about developing products and researching products, in a sense these two things are becoming merged. Consumers buying experiencing and reporting back their opinions on product are now part of the product development cycle. The mantra seems to be get your product out there and see if it flys, if not iterate.

Google: The no.1 brand on everyone’s lips this year was Google, perhaps because of the entry into the market research sector with a research offering, but also because they epitomise the big data players moving into the little data market place.

The rise and fall of prezzi:  Over the last year seen the rapid rise an rapid fall of the use of prezzi.  Prezzi dominated the last few conferences I went to but only a couple of uses at Congress. Perhaps we all got fed up of feeling sea sick?

A few new buzzwords:

This conference was bit light on new buzzwords but here are a few I picked up on:

Flawsome: this was the best one, mentioned by of Wendy Clark Coca Cola, flawsome means awesome with flaws. The idea that great should not get in the way of good, that consumers are getting used to beta testing product and should not let perfection hold you back, in fact a slightly flawed querky concept can give a brand more humanity.

Innernet: kids spending more time inside consuming the internet

Outernet: how the internet is now being used outside as part of our everyday lives 

Super abundancy: the prevalence of data and easy access to information in this digital world

Now: News is old hat! It frames the idea of information in the past tense. We don't want news any more we want to know what is happening NOW!!! The time delay between events happening and us as consumers finding out about them has gone done to zero. With Twitter and live streaming, news is dead, long live NOW.

Invent Forward: A "reinvention" of the word reinvent

Phrases I heard used to describe our function as market researchers:

Insight intrapreneurs: mentioned 3 times

Agents of change: being the agent of change was a common call to action

Business story tellers: we don't deal insights any more we have to tell stories

Data synthesizers: the future of market research in the world of big data

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