Sunday, November 9, 2008

What will 2012 look like for research?

I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop last month in Montreal discussing the future of market and social research. It was expertly facilitated by a team of young researchers but i am not sure it went far enough. The key future trends that I took out included:

1. more passive monitoring of behaviour
2. multiple data sources being brought together to develop the story
3. the importance of India and China
4. more time on analysis less time on data gathering
5. media, research and advertising working more closely together
6. Consumers to become more demanding and choose when and how they want to talk to us
7. random sampling under enormous pressure
8. client databases will be at the centre of everything
9. blurrred qual and quant
10. Greater demand for ROI and accountability, leading to more effective designs

I am not sure we are pushing it far enough with the above. I think i can safely say that the single methodology is almost gone, but what big shifts are others seeing and predicting for 2012?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Good leaders understand people

There are lots of management and leadership books you can read but this week I saw a great example of good leadership and vision with my own eyes. I visited Port Sunlight in the UK, which is on the Wirrell not far from Liverpool. It is a whole village built by William Lever of Unilever fame to house his staff close to his Soap Factory. Sunlight Soap was one of his brands, hence Port Sunlight.

His view was happy and healthy staff make better employees.Lever wanted his workers to be in decent housing and to have plenty of room. He wanted each house to have a garden and he also wanted to look after their welfare, so medical facilities, insurance, social clubs, churches and other facilities were built. He wanted what was called a ‘garden suburb’ that also had other buildings such as a post office, a bank and a village hall.

This was all good thinking but the really interesting thing was that he suspected his staff liked being inviduals and his master stroke was that he did not build hundreds of homes that all looked the same, he employed teams of architects to design 268 different cottages and homes. How is that for really understanding human behaviour and your staff. It would have been so easy to build a big block of flats but without having to ask, William Lever knew.

This staff obviously loved it, and even though the factory at Port Sunlight now produces detergent instead of soap, Port Sunlight still stands there today as private housing but many Unilever employees still live here. Incredible leadership and vision

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lessons from the current financial meltdown in the US

I am a simple person but I read today an article from Zac Karabell in the National Post entitled "Why AIG Fell" and wonder what lessons our profession can take from this debarcle that has cost tax payers billions of $.

It seems that AIG had floated under the radar screen of the business media because its business model was so complex and opaque that it was impossible to describe simply! Among many of its products was insurance on derivatives built on other derivatives built on mortages (what the hell is going on when something so intangible can be sold so many times?). AIG priced those according to a computer model that no one person cold have written. When default rates and home prices moved in ways no model had predicted the whole pricing structure was thrown out of wack. It seems however the assets being insured only shifted by 10-20% but the cumulative impact has imploded many companies that have been successul for 90 plus years.

So what are the lessons for market and social research?

1. further validation that we need to shape the future not try to predict it
2. lets keep our business models simple and tangible
3. our models need to be clearly understood by users and not masked in complicated science that cannot be clearly articulated and understood by all
4. does this mean black box solutions are no longer appropriate?

Is it time for art and science to merge more closely in market and social research and how?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2008 AMSRS National Conference, Melbourne

I have just spent 3 days at the 2008 Australian Market and Social Research Society (AMSRS) National conference in Melbourne. It was a fansatic demonstration of old and young research professionals challenging each other, with the ultimate aim of creating a more effective product for users of research.

There were many highlights and it truly had an international flavor. A few messages really jumped out that i will not forget easily

1. We need to listen more instead of always asking in todays connected world
2. Film is the new currency
3. Measure, measure, measure
4. Lets consider culture and context more in developing research outcomes
5. Shape the future don’t rely on predicting it
6. Good insights are wasted unless you can tell a compelling story

Another observation I made is that everyone is nervous before a presentation to your peers, even the most experienced speakers.

The 2009 conference will be in Sydney in October.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Networked Individuals

I was introduced to this video on youtube by a friend, mentor and colleague Ray Poynter.

It is 55 minutes but worth the time investment. It highlights the role that youtube has played in linking people like never before. There appears to be a loss of community within society, less trust built between individuals and government or corporates. As humans we crave connections, deep connections with others. Youtube has provided an avenue for many people to create connections we can't seem to establish any more in real life. We are now building our social networks online and these networks are shaping our decision making. The new currency is about how connected or networked you are.

This obviously has massive implications on marketing and communications right now and for market and social research into the future. Over the next month i will be attending the AMSRS National Conference in Melbourne, Australia and the ESOMAR World Congress in Montreal, Canada and I plan to use these forums to develop my thinking in this space via my blog.