Best of ESOMAR hits Belgium

As many of you know, ESOMAR is taking an important step to facilitate regional knowledge sharing via the ‘Best of ESOMAR’ local seminars.
Wed 19 May, the Vlerick School of Management hosted the inaugural Belgian chapter and I joined the researchers, marketeers and generally interested observers at the Vlerick ‘Chapel’, hoping to receive some divine wisdom.
For me, the overall message was listen, listen, listen whilst adapting and evolving our techniques as market researchers and marketeers. We need to move beyond the traditional paradigm of posing questions to one of listening and managing Web 2.0 conversations.
The opening session reflected on current challenges facing the MR Industry. Bert Weijters of Vlerick made the sobering observation that our brains are not ‘growing’ sufficiently fast to contend with the data explosion that surrounds us – new methods are needed to counter this inability.
Fittingly, Tom De Ruyck of InSites Consulting brought another analogy to the turn-table, suggesting that ‘we are not analysts…’ – the MR skillset now needs to add the plug-in of ‘DJ skills’.
Our MR ‘DJ’:

  • Selects groovy and relevant sources from all the MR ‘playlist’. When to use which method or data source?
  • Mixes all these together, potentially using new ‘fusion’ techniques of both quali and quant.
  • Of course DJ’s are also sexy and admired and that’s where we (MR) want to be!

It’s about time a Belgian audience got to meet the Belgian ‘ESOMAR Young Researcher 2009’ so Annelies Verhaeghe from InSites presented ‘And they lived happily ever after’ – a clear example of fusion market research within the new marketing paradigm. Using Netnography combined with text analytics, the study attached sentiment and frequency mappings to over 81000 social media postings by elderly citizens to learn that (among other things…..):

  • Don’t call the elderly ‘old’
  • Supermarket experiences need a seniors overhaul
  • TV programmes are too long

Laurent Florès of CRMETRIX finished the session and reinforced the new ‘listening’ and ‘conversations’ paradigm. Brands are still doing too much talking, the ratio of talking and listening is currently 50:1! (a bit frightening…). Laurent reminded us that so much potential market insight is out there amongst our ‘free’ Web 2.0 universe. Both Google Trends and Blogosphere proved good predictors for the 2008 US Presidential Candidate nomination and 2007 French election. The buzz volume of Hillary Clinton’s online discussions suggested her defeat, things got a little more conclusive when we looked at Google images attached to her versus Barack Obama.
Laurent concluded that passive listening is not enough in itself – we need to be conversation managers.
Finally, Niels Schillewaert, Belgian representative for ESOMAR outlined how the Belgian community can better leverage the value that ESOMAR offers its members. Participation at conferences is key, but more importantly submitting papers and sharing learnings. A ‘publish and share’ mentality. Let’s also motivate our dynamic young MR community (with advanced DJ skills). Less than 2% of ESOMAR’s membership is under 30!
So all-in-all a good kick-off for ‘Best of ESOMAR’ in Belgium. Till next year!

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