ESOMAR at 70: Still Moving Forward with a Spring in its Step

The ESOMAR Congress is traditionally the biggest event in the MRX industry. It’s a festival, celebration, and innovation hotspot for the data, research and insights professions. This year’s event touched on all three, and I left feeling energized for the future, while also infused with a healthy dose of realism. The theme of this year’s conference was “Visionary”. This is something we are usually pretty good at…looking ahead to the future. However, we often get bogged down simply talking about the future, without taking action. As such, a common sub-theme emerged at the conference: “Implement and move on”.

Here are some things that stood out.

Pop Stars

Popular culture always provides a wealth of material for creative research approaches. Taking a cue from this, Northstar London and Jaguar Land Rover presented some innovative and refreshingly creative brand research exploring target customers. They drew upon “The Apprentice” reality show concept as a way to both explore differences between audience groups and deliver results to internal stakeholders. While this was an elaborate approach, undoubtedly supported by a substantial budget, it was a great example of how we should look to the world around us and draw upon such for research.

Mr. Roboto

AI is coming. We’ve heard a lot of about it in broader news cycles, and the conversation is now apparent within the market research world. Richard Bordenave of BVA France delivered a wonderful vision of 2027, with his “AI Alice” presentation. His encouraging message was that robots aren’t going to take our jobs in the future; instead they will help us shine.

To Err is Human…

“Don’t be afraid to fail”, said Plastic Whale’s Marius Smit. Sage advice that we should take to heart. Fear of failure is often what keeps us talking and not doing. At a conference earlier this year, a speaker noted that “failure is dangerous for careers”. But in reality, failure is part and parcel of innovation, learning and moving forward. Indeed, the persistence we gain from failure ignites a passion to make things better.

Embrace the Haka

As I look forward to next year’s ESOMAR Congress, I hope to hear more about people’s successes and failures. Both are continual reminders that we work in an industry driven by people first and technology second. In the meantime, practice the Haka, prepare to take on the battles and look ahead to ESOMAR 2018 in Berlin.

If you would like to read more, Jenny Karubian wrote excellent summaries of all days of the event on the ESOMAR blog.

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