MR industryWould that be a trade association (e.g. ESOMAR, CASRO, The MRA, ARF, IIR, QRCA, etc.)?  Can we name an association that clearly speaks for a majority of researchers?  No, they’re all too myopic.

If a single association doesn’t speak for MR, what about thought leaders?  In my opinion, the vast majority of thought leaders are suppliers (e.g., Jeffrey Henning, Tom Anderson) or blogger/journalists (e.g., Lenny Murphy, Bob Lederer, etc.)

The problem with thought leadership originating from suppliers or journalists is that it doesn’t emanate on a high enough level to effect change.  The MR industry has its own caste system with corporate researchers viewed as the top of the food chain.  Well then, what corporate researcher leaps to mind as a recognized thought leader?  Would anyone gather more than single digit recognition?  My expectation is the top candidate would receive about as much brand awareness as George Pataki.  I had forgotten that Pataki was running for President until he held a news conference to announce he was dropping out.

Speaking of a splintered industry, why do we still hang on to the term “The Market Research Industry” when significant portions of our reach/spend have nothing to do with marketing?

Does anyone care that market research and marketing research are actually two different disciplines?

Until we find a unified voice and successfully advocate for our industry, we will continue to rely on brick & mortar focus groups and ridiculously lengthy surveys.  In other words, we will reactively give corporate clients what they ask for instead of proactively offering alternatives that are more in touch with a 21st Century reciprocal society.

We can offer more.  We can be creative and strategic.  But first we need to speak up for ourselves.  We need to be the guardians of our own future.  And that means speaking with one voice.

For example:

  • Instead of a survey well after the actual shopping experience, how about offering customers a five question mobile survey when they enter your store, with a discount waiting at checkout?
  • Instead of passively asking customers what they think of a new concept, how about asking them to create alongside your R&D team?
  • Instead of a 45-minute tracker survey, we can answer all the “what’s” via behavioral data so that a much shorter survey focuses exclusively on the “why’s” of consumer behavior.

I don’t think it’s the inertia of existing business models that is limiting our ability to change.  I think it’s an absence of leadership. Real change will take place when we can collectively speak for our industry.   Until that happens, we’ll just keep yapping to ourselves.

 

Kevin Lonnie