ESOMAR congress – the future of market research is not that scary

Posted on Posted in Experiences

Since the venerable ESOMAR congress (the 70th edition) took place in Amsterdam this year, all of us at Coders Co. got a chance to visit it. My turn was on Wednesday, the closing day of the conference. The disadvantage of visiting on the closing day was that everybody seemed to have a hangover after the great birthday party on Tuesday. Some of the booths even went unmanned for long whiles. The advantage was that I got to attend the client panel and then to hear the closing notes of the ESOMAR leaders.

The general mood is that the market researchers are scared, even if they won’t say it aloud on the stage. Nowadays there is so much consumer data available and mining it became so fashionable that the market researches are scared that their clients will turn to their data-science departments for market insights, rather than to market research agencies.

Personally, I don’t think they have that much to be afraid of, but they do need to get a bit more advanced technologically, and they need to do some explaining to their clients. Mining your own customer data for market insights is a great idea, but there are some important limitations:

  • There is inherent bias in the data. After all, we’re dealing with data from a self-selected sample: people who are either our customers or are for some reason interested in our brand. But what about people who could be our customers, but are not? What about the competitors’ customers? Market research agencies can fill this gap by collecting data from well-designed, unbiased panels.
  • Expertise is hard to find. A good data scientist is a true unicorn. She not only needs solid math/statistics background, technical/programming skills but also good understanding of subjects like consumer psychology, marketing, etc. Only the largest brands will be able to employ these people in house. The rest will have to turn to ‘shared’ data-scientists, that is, to agencies. Market-research agencies are very well positioned to fill this gap, all they need to do is to hone their data-science skills and get their technology up to speed.

So what I would do, if I was a market-research bureau?

  • First of all: get more data. Not only by letting my panelist fill out surveys, but also by using software like the one from Wakoopa, to collect passive-metering data.
  • Get more advanced technologically. Automate reporting. Get great tools to process your data.

And a little bit of a commercial break: Coders Co. can help market researches to get onto a higher technological plane. We have Rax, which is great for processing passive-metering data. And we also have a lot of experience with setting data-processing pipelines and dashboards. So, if you need some help, just give us a shout.