1) What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the market research industry?
The blur between on and off-line consumers behavior – in many consumption categories, it is now necessary to analyze both situations jointly to truly understand how the consumer is making buying decisions
2)What direction does market research seem to be trending toward? Any particular field or method which seems to be picking up speed?
If there was one word I would use to describe where market research is going it is “convergence” – quantitative and qualitative, online and offline, survey data and transactional data, traditional research and social media listening, etc. We have taken our program in this direction as well, and this convergence is also reflected for us at the school level – we are a school of “Human Sciences and Technology” – that converges behavior, communication and technology in the service of driving business results.
There are a number of hot topics / fields in market research:
o Attitude segmentation (demographics no longer a valid indicator of consumer behavior, customers are choosing many brands without any regard for demographic conventions)
o Passive research (observation, ethnography social listening, etc.)
o Neuromarketing / Neuroscience (like last year and the year before!)
3) What has been the biggest change in the market research industry in the past 50 years?
Some would argue online research (PC, mobile, tablet, etc.) but I think, more fundamentally, the increased access to more relevant information from different sources that tell a holistic story (traditional research data, transactional data, social media data, web data, etc.)
4) Are landline surveys and other traditional methods still viable in today’s tech-shaped world?
Yes, there are many parts of the world where they are indispensable. In addition, there are some targets who may not be tech-savvy to access online. Even further, there are certain topics you might want to discuss face-to-face due to the complexity of the material (i.e., criteria to choose insurance policies) or due to the advantage of developing rapport between interviewer and interviewee (i.e., immigration, crime, etc.).
5) Do you think brand managers today are utilizing the full potential of market research when it comes to concept testing and product development?
In general, large brands do a good job of going through the standard process defined for their company regarding concept testing and product development. However, there exists an opportunity to integrate more creative steps, especially in the concept stage, to ensure that creativity is not stifled a priori.
In addition, some large service companies (i.e., telecom, financial services, energy, etc.) have a long way to go in this area and could well learn from adapting what has been done in FMCG/CPG for many years.
6) Professor Daniel Kahneman’s recent book Thinking Fast & Slow talked about the difference between system 1 and 2 thinking, and how it affects respondents’ answers. Do you agree with his differentiation?
Very few people would argue that this differentiation exists in human beings. In terms of market research, I think the key issue is understanding when and why some people react subconsciously while other reach consciously to the same stimuli (e.g., a TV ad) and how to incorporate this in the findings and analysis.
7) Qualitative or quantitative research: Do you have a personal preference?
Depends on the objective – my personal preference, if timing and budget allows and there is alignment with the objectives, is to integrate them to help make better decisions.
8) If you could invite any one advertising/marketing/business (living, dead, real, fictitious) person to a meal, who would it be and why?
Tough question! Probably David Ogilvy – the “inventor” of modern advertising as we know it today. Not many people know that he was tremendously influenced by the 10 years he spent at Gallup (1938-48) and that he applied the consumer behavior and marketing research guidelines he had acquired to help the British Secret Service during WWII at the UK Embassy in Washington D.C.