Monthly Archives: September 2009

Trends Changing the Market Research Landscape

From: ESOMAR Global Market Research 2009

This research report included an examination of the trends directly affecting the MR industry, and blurring the boundaries between the MR industry and adjacent sectors.  Therefore the competitive set is changing for MR firms.  Here is a quick summary of 6 identified trends that effect our companies and our future.

  1. Changing Client Needs:  Clients are re-evaluating their spending patterns and experimenting with new sources of information such as free survey sites and web analytics tools rather than traditional research methods and suppliers.
  2. Changing Skill Sets:  Advisory and consulting skills are growing in importance as researchers are increasingly called upon to draw conclusions and provide advice based on their findings.  Therefore, research firms now often face new competitors such as management consulting firms.
  3. Technology Developments:  Rapidly advancing technology opens up new sources of information and new research methods enabling researchers to expand their services and creating niches for new companies.
  4. New Players:  Players outside traditional research are using their brand awareness to enter the market with rival research offerings (e.g., Google Ad Planner).
  5. Consolidation:  Consolidation causes some brands to disappear while others morph and change shape to adapt to new opportunities creating a constantly shifting landscape.
  6. New and Emerging Markets:  More global firms are expanding their operations in developing markets.  New players in emerging markets are introducing new techniques that are changing the shape of the industry.

Maine law restricts research with minors

MRA released a warning about a new Maine law that restricts information that can be passed from one company to another regarding minors.  The law could severly limit the ability of bona fide research companies to conduct research among consumers under 18.

Here is part of the MRA press release.  There is also a video link explaining the law.

As CMOR explained in their August Legislative Update, Maine’s LD 1183, the Prevent Predatory Marketing Practices Against Minors Act, prohibits the sale, offer for sale or transfer of health-related or personal information about a minor if that information is personally identifiable, was collected for marketing purposes without verifiable parental consent or will be used for “predatory marketing” purposes. The law came into effect on September 12, 2009.

“Researchers everywhere should check their data sets and research plans to ensure they comply with the strictures of this new law. Although the Maine Attorney General has said she will not enforce the law, any violator is still potentially open to private civil suits, including those sharing data between companies as part of the research process,” said LaToya Lang, Counsel for CMOR.

The full press release and a video link can be found at:  

How big is qualitative anyway?…quantitatively speaking

ESOMAR Global Market Research 2009

Ok, I know we are qualitative and are supposed to hate numbers.  But, don’t you ever wonder how big our industry is?  Don’t you ever want the numbers?  I do.  So, I looked it up in the recently released ESOMAR report.  Here are the numbers.  Its quantitative but hang in there.  I’ll keep it short!

Here are the global numbers:

  • Global Research Spending:  $32.462 billion
  • Percent Qualitative Spending:  14%  (9% group, 3% IDI, 2% other)
  • Global Qualitative Spending:  $4.545 billion

Now here are the numbers for the top 5 countries (Total spending, % qualitative, Total Qualitative Spending) in millions.

  • United States ($8,866, 15%, $1,330)
  • United Kingdom ($4.154, 10%, $415)
  • Germany ($3.334, 7%, $233)
  • France ($3.042, 15%, $456)
  • Japan ($1.643, 15%, $246)

Add these up and you find that the top 5 markets in the world account for $2.68 billion in qualitative spending or 59% of the world’s qualitative spending. 

QualBoard 3.0: We’ve come a long way baby

 The late 1990s saw the dot-com boom leading to the dot-com bust of early 2000.  Not to be left in the dust, online qualitative research made its first forays into the online world.  First came chat based focus groups.  They were fairly rudimentary but served a purpose to engage people online from various geographies.  Next, came online bulletin boards that also engaged people but introduced longitudinal qualitative as a research methodology.

In 2000, I connected with Ted Kendall, then a client at US West in Denver and now with TripleScoop.  We discussed the developing online platforms and decided that the bulletin board methodology had the greatest potential.  We formed and developed its flagship product, QualBoard in 2001.

For several years, acceptance of online qualitative was very slow.  After struggling with acceptance, was dissolved and 20/20 Research absorbed the QualBoard platform.  20/20 rewrote the platform and re-introduced it to the market.  Still, adoption was slow and resistance to text-based qualitative was high.

About two years ago, acceptance began to build significantly.  Understanding of social media was growing so that researchers began to understand that people can communicate effectively online.  Researchers began to realize that online qualitative is not designed to replace face to face interviewing but to complement it.  They realized that online adds capabilities and benefits not available with face to face.  Online earned a place in the qualitative toolbox.

The online qual industry has grown dramatically and 20/20’s involvement has grown as well.  In addition to QualBoard, we now have QualMeeting (webcam interviewing), QualAnywhere (mobile texting), QualJournal (journaling/blogging) and QualLab (usability testing). 

On September 10, 20/20 Research introduced QualBoard 3.0.  The third generation of QualBoard is head and shoulders above anything we have done in the past and leads the industry in ease of use and advanced features specifically for qualitative research.  We are proud of the software and the capabilities it brings to the industry.  For a demo go to: and click on the green button. 

The QualBoard 3.0 introductory press release is here:—launches-qualboar.html



The Internet: It’s Not Just Information Anymore

The world wide web is gaining on television as American’s entertainment venue of choice.  The Conference Board released its quarterly Consumer Internet Barometer showing that 25% of American households watch TV online.  This is up from 20% a year ago. is gaining ground quickly with collections such as “The Office,”  “America’s Got Talent,” and “Saturday Night Live.”  The report also states that 80% of consumers log on to the Internet daily for entertainment as well as communication and work.  You can see the press release at:

The implications for qualitative research are numerous.  Here are a few:

  1. Advertisers will continue to flock after consumers and will continue to transition to the Internet.
  2. Research will follow advertisers and become more Internet based.
  3. Consumer technology becomes more capable with online video enabling additional use of video for online research and face to face research.
  4. Online research becomes more natural for participants and clients.  It also becomes more necessary to match the research design to the medium.


Research Industry on the Rebound?

The research industry appears to have hit bottom in the 2nd quarter and may be on the rebound.  The Marketing Research Association (MRA) has released their Research Industry Index (RII) for the second quarter.

The composite index is up slightly to 86 from 84 in the first quarter but still down from 94 in the first quarter of 2008.  The survey is based on a composite score from 211 research respondents.  The research showed a slight uptick in companies reporting increases in booked revenue, proposals and operating margins.Staffing levels remained flat.

This study also focused on the use of online methodologies.  For qualitative, these respondents reported 14% of their qual projects are online.  The report did not provide a definition of an “online project.” 

Of all research respondents (qual and quant), 35% have not moved online while 25% said they moved online several years ago and 40% said they moved online recently.  Those moving recently were most likely to cite cost and time savings as their primary reasons for doing so.  They were most likely to cite sample bias as their most serious concern.

In all, a good report.  Lets hope the third quarter shows a significant and long-lasting rebound.

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