Monthly Archives: September 2011

Latest ESOMAR Market Research Report Finds Global Industry Rebounding, Evolving

Market research was a $31.2 billion industry last year, which was a 5.2 percent increase over the previous year, according to the latest Global Market Research report from ESOMAR.

The biggest area for growth: Latin America’s market research industry grew 13.9 percent, but still represents only 6 percent of the total market. While the report says this growth was stronger than anticipated, it makes sense given the general sentiment that emerging markets like Brazil will be key to economic recovery. (Hey, where there’s growth, there’s a need for MR!)

Every other world market (Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Middle East/Africa) also saw increases, but all in the single digits.

Like past reports, this one found that Europe spends the most on research, followed by North America, then Asia. The $31.2 billion breaks down like this:

• Europe: $13.1 billion
• North America: $10.6 billion
• Asia: $5.1 billion
• Latin America: $1.8 billion
• Middle East and Africa: $573 million

To view the full report, you have to pay up, but ESOMAR’s preview does a nice job of giving us the big picture.

New Study Looks at Future of Corporate Research

What’s the role of today’s corporate researcher and how will that change as we enter the next decade? That’s the question the folks at Cambiar Consulting set out to answer when they surveyed 160 corporate researchers for their “Cambiar Future of Research Study.” They presented the findings at the AMA Research & Strategy Summit in Chicago earlier this month. If you missed it (we did!) the highlights from the study are also posted on the company’s blog. There’s some great insight about the future as well as current state of corporate research. Here are some of the findings that stood out the most to us:

• One-quarter of corporate researchers expect that the leading research company in 2020 does not exist today.

• Researchers believe that growth in MR spending will be driven from outside the USA/Europe.

• Only 25 percent of corporate researchers are very satisfied with their jobs. The main reason? Their companies don’t see them as “thought partners.” Most have “in the trenches” roles: “They are brought in too late, treated as order takers or have business teams that want to control information,” explains Cambiar.

Cambiar also surveyed research company execs and are planning to release those findings next month. It should be interesting to see where those results overlap with these.

In the meantime, do any of these findings jump out at you?

What We Learned at ESOMAR Congress

The following is a guest post from Steve Henke, 20|20 president, who was in Amsterdam earlier this week for the ESOMAR Congress. Here are his thoughts from the last two days of the conference:

Days 2 and 3 at the ESOMAR stayed busy… though everyone seemed to get a later start on these days. Clearly, many of the delegates were taking advantage of the evening social activities and just Amsterdam itself (which, by the way, is an incredible city!).

What we heard in the booth stayed consistent with the the first two days… “We’re interested in online qual and know that it’s time to get involved.” In fact, when I got back to my office this morning, there were already several messages from attendees at the Congress – anxious to get started with us!

Interestingly, the content of the Congress didn’t really reflect this sentiment. There were only a couple sessions covering either online qualitative research or mobile qualitative research. I thought that was odd. The hot topic was gamification – using game-playing to engage participants at a higher level. Seems to me a little like putting the cart before the horse.

But all in all, it was a good and valuable 4 days. Next year’s Congress will be held in Atlanta. We’ll see you there.

20|20 Research Celebrates 25 Years; Has It Really Been 25 Years?

Twenty-five years ago today, 20|20 Research was born. Two of us started in an 8×10 office. Our desk consisted of two two-drawer file cabinets with a piece of plywood across the top, on which we placed our one IBM PC with a whopping 10 MB hard drive and a green screen. We had three metal folding chairs, one for me, one for guests and one for the Okidata dot matrix printer. It made quite a racket in that metal chair. We were two young guys with little more than a dream to build a qualitative research firm and the willingness to give it a go.

Over the years, we have flirted with disaster several times. Making payroll was not always a sure thing. I remember on several ocassions waiting on the mailman on payday hoping that he will bring enough for payroll. He always did.

It’s hard for me to believe that we now have three facilities operating 11 focus group rooms plus an online qualitative research business that is considered a leader in the industry and doing work in 45 countries.

As with all organizations, the key to survival and success is people, and 20|20 has been blessed with the very best. They are amazingly hard-working, dedicated and caring. We still have at least five employees with more than 20 years with 20|20.

To all of the 20|20 employees over the past 25 years: Thank you for taking such great care of our clients, building deep friendships with one another and making 20|20 Research a great company and a great company to work for.

Each 20|20 office is celebrating our 25th Anniversary from 4-7 p.m. on September 30. You are invited. Please RSVP to Melanie at 615-777-2020.

The Incredible Shrinking Middle Class and Its Effect on Research

Goodbye middle class.

The vast middle class that has dominated our economy since WWII is shrinking rapidly. The research titans who once grazed on research focused squarely on the large number of “average” consumers will have to re-think their strategy and hone their segmenting skills.  A Wall Street Journal article this week detailed how P&G is introducing more product extensions aimed at the upper and lower ends of the economic ladder. The days of huge volumes of household products commanding a higher prices based on quality claims are slipping away. More and more consumers are buying on price; that requires a strategy re-think for the largest CPG firm and the largest research buyer in the world.

As P&G goes, so goes the research industry. What are the implications of P&G gaining more of its revenues from price-competitive products?  First, researchers will need to understand the lower-end market as well as they have come to understand the middle class market in the past 40 years. Second, and maybe more ominously, margins must be lower in price-competitive categories. With lower margins but constant pressure from shareholders, will P&G spend as much on research? If P&G research spending declines, what are the implications for the industry?

So, a significant shift in income distribution could have dramatic implications. It’s a lot to ponder. But for now, you will have to excuse me.  I’m off to Dollar General to do a little shopping.

Observations From Day 1 of ESOMAR

The following is a guest post from Steve Henke, 20|20 President, who is in Amsterdam this week at ESOMAR Congress.

Today was another very busy day for us… with a slew of researchers visiting our booth all day long. Isaac Rogers and I had a blast!

A few observations:

1. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, nearly everyone who has stopped by the booth has had no experience with online qualitative research. The good news, though, is that their sentiment is that they need to know about it. Contrast that with ESOMAR in Athens last year when there was more of the “We’re not ready for it yet” feedback. The fact is, they know it’s coming and they need to get on board.

2. While 20|20 has an array of online research software platforms to fit most any need, the two that seem to be generating the most interest here are QualAnywhere for mobile qualitative research (a great platform for those countries with low Internet penetration) and QualLaborate, a new addition to our Qualboard platform that provides for true qualitative concept testing and image mark-up.

3. Larry Gold from Inside Research came up to me and said that 20|20 was “infamous!” Concerned, I asked why he said that. His response was that we had quickly grown to become a worldwide leader in online qualitative research. It was kind of nice to hear that – unsolicited – from someone outside the company.

Our ESOMAR contact told me that they had well over 1,000 registered delegates for this event! That’s great news.

The only bad news so far… no info on where next year’s ESOMAR Congress takes place. Stay tuned…

Day 0 From the ESOMAR Congress in Amsterdam

The following is a guest post by Steve Henke, 20|20 President, who is in Amsterdam this week for the ESOMAR Congress.

Like most of the events in our industry, the first day always seems to kick off with a cocktail reception in the exhibit hall. (By the way, that’s NOT a complaint!) But unlike many first days, today we’ve been very busy in our booth. Three things were very interesting to me.

1. There’s no question that ESOMAR is THE international event in our industry. I didn’t keep track of everyone who visited the booth, but here’s a sampling of the countries that did stop by – Romania, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Japan, India, Egypt, UK, US and Argentina.

2. Doing online qualitative research is still outside the norm for nearly everyone who visited us. And in many cases, they had virtually no knowledge of online qualitative and the various online research software platforms available. That tells me that there is still a lot of change to come to research outside of the states.

3. One of our platforms, QualBoard, has some international brand recognition. It was mentioned by several of our booth visitors as a product they had at least heard of, if not had it recommended by a colleague in the industry.

Isaac Rogers and I are excited for the full conference to start tomorrow – to see what topics become the real crowd favorites… and for the throngs (I hope!) that will drive to our booth.

How to Use Online Qualitative Research for Co-Creation

This week Jim Bryson mentioned to me that he loves the moment when a researcher first discovers how a 20|20 Technology platform can expand their ability to create meaningful insights. These researchers often are reluctant to try new methodologies, so the “aha moment” is particularly revealing and invigorating. Recent experiences have shown how the new QualLaborate concept evaluation tool can be used in Qualboard for co-creation to generate those “aha moments” researchers long for. The new how-to we’ve posted in the 20|20 Research Learning Center will explain how to use online qualitative research tools for co-creation.

Developing new products with consumer input has long been considered one of the best ways to develop new products. The underlying presumption is that consumers are better at creating products for consumers than marketers are. But companies haven’t always been eager to use the methodology, mainly because it has been a tedious and expensive process typically conducted at a location that is convenient to the product development team but not to the vast majority of consumers. Not anymore, though, thanks to online qualitative research. Read the full article to see exactly how it works.

The article is the first in a new series. We’re planning to outline how to utilize online qualitative research tools for at least three other methodologies. Check back soon for the next installment.

JC Penney Controversy: Another Case of ‘Qualmonella’?

By now, you’ve probably heard about the JC Penney controversy over the girl’s shirt that reads “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” The store has since removed the merchandise from their stores and issued an apology, but people are still shaking their heads in dismay. How could anyone think this was a good idea?

Tom Ewing, who writes the Blackbeard Blog, thinks he might have the answer: It’s another case of “qualmonella,” or consumer insights served up a little too raw. First of all, what a great term, right?

Ewing suspects that the idea for the shirt “came straight from a ‘consumer insight’ about girls’ ideas about work, school, self-esteem.”

“Give the girls what they want!” they probably exclaimed, while telling the designer to add more hearts and twirly-birds to the shirts. But what if (gasp!!!) teen and pre-teen girls have no concept of corporate responsibility?

Enter the importance of common sense and good research.

So what does this teach us about consumer insights? What is the role of the researcher when the market says something contrary to the values of the corporation? Should you never take qualitative insights in the raw? Should you always have a check and balance? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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