September 22, 2017

5 Takeaways from ESOMAR Congress 2017


Two weeks have passed since the 70th anniversary edition of the ESOMAR Congress. Time to look back and reflect on the five key learnings.

In the 70 years that ESOMAR has been around, the research industry has changed a lot. However, the speed of change we are facing now is much higher and will be more disruptive than ever before. Vanessa Oshima from Nike and Anneke Quinn-de Jong from Philips explained it spot on in their sessions. Vanessa: “We tend to look back and keep on doing things in the old way, but the old way is the past. We now have to embrace all the new opportunities that are out there.” Anneke from Philips states that “the past years, a parallel world has been created next to our industry, offering smart and cheap solutions to capture consumer feedback a bring insights. DIY research and technology companies are very active in this parallel world.” Taken together, this means that innovation cycles are shortened and companies are looking for agile, cost efficient and better solutions to innovate better. Our industry must give a clear answer to this demand.

So, what are the five upcoming changes we are facing as an industry?

  1. Big Data & Data Science are increasingly entering the industry. They will help to link all available data internally and externally and get more valuable insights. There is a lot of information out there – especially at client’s side – which is not used to the fullest. Data science can help connecting the dots and get more out of the available data.
  2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning. We have seen quite some nice cases at the ESOMAR Congress in which machine learning not only helped predicting consumer preferences but also predicted whether respondents would be engaged enough to participate in a survey. AI and machine learning will allow us to innovate faster and help companies to be more efficient and do more efficient research.
  3. Short questionnaires & engaging interactions! Other resources than traditional surveys will be used to capture people’s behavior and attitudes. Think about passive measurement, secondary data and open source data. Of course, this will also impact the way we collect opinions. We need shorter, easier and more engaging questionnaires that ensure the respondent’s participation.
  4. Emotive measurement. Biometric and implicit measurements will help to get a better understanding of emotions and consequently help to increase impact on the unconscious consumer. Measurement devices will be less intrusive and less costly. Chip implants will be the ultimate way of tracking people and their emotions.
  5. Contextual research. There is a lot of progress in the use of Virtual Reality for measurement. We have seen quite some cool cases that successfully used VR to bring context into play. Not only the higher end VR, in which contexts are created to interact with stimuli, but also 360° VR photos and videos show a lot of potential because of their cost-effectiveness.

Consequences for market research(ers)

In short, the amount of available data and insights will grow exponentially. Consequent to this, researchers will play a new role: we are in pole position to judge which information is relevant for a business. We have the experience to be able to link data from these new sources (big data/machine learning) with consumer studies and other available information. We will select and combine the available data to make sense of it, keeping in mind business issues.

To keep up with all the changes we must closely collaborate with other industries and experiment to see how we can integrate them into our industry. This means: learn fast and fail fast. Accept failure and move on. And maybe the most important take-out: change will never be this slow again. Embrace it.

In the video below, Wim Hamaekers shares his 5 key takeaways from the ESOMAR Congress: