MOAbouts: The Great debate

Thursday, September 23 was the start of the 2010/2011 calendar year for the MOAbouts, during which a big audience debated about “the future of market research”.
The rules:

  • 1 discussion leader : Tom De Ruyck (Senior R&D manager at InSites Consulting, co-founder of BaQMar);
  • 3 speakers : Rijn Vogelaar (CEO Blauw Research and writer of “De superpromoter”), Jorrit Lang (Market Researcher at ING and company researcher 2009), Maxim Schram (CEO RedesignMe, a bureau for co-creating communities);
  • 3 Buzz themes : DIY research, Social Media Research (SMR), Representativeness

Each theme was presented briefly by the three speakers from the point of view of their respective backgrounds, which resulted in a discussion between the three speakers (and the audience members).
1) DIY research
The use of new, usually cheap research tools such as Surveymonkey, is bringing down the barriers to do DIY (Do IT Yourself) research. Particularly so-called “new style agencies” with a non-technical background are offering technically oriented DIY solutions. What effect does this have on the role of research?
Rijn Vogelaar

  • “DIY research will have an impact on quantitative research whereas qualitative research will keep on growing”
  • “2 types of agencies will remain (focussing either on standardisation or on added value)

Jorrit Lang

  • “The ever-growing use of simple DIY research tools pushes marketers to do more and more themselves, often even without consulting the company researcher’”
  • “The tools are available but a researcher is still required for guidance / interpretation”

Maxim Schram

  • “The rise of “new style agencies” with a non-technical background entails more competition for other agencies”
  • “The role of market research will shift from data supplier to knowledge supplier”


  • DIY research entails both opportunities (more involvement internal organisation) and dangers (garbage in, garbage out)
  • The traditional division of roles will change, cooperation between parties will be of key importance
  • The role of researchers will shift more towards interpretation and recommendation

2)Social Media Research (SMR)
Social Media such as Facebook, Hyves, Twitter, etc. have expanded enormously in the past few years. How should market research handle Social Media?
Rijn Vogelaar

  • “Social media is “huge”, and offers vast opportunities for research”
  • “SMR / online observation will eventually replace the (expensive) trackers”

Jorrit Lang

  • “The playing field of research is changing, boundaries are fading. The new reality requires fusion/blending of techniques)”
  • “With regard to SMR, we are still in the experimental phase (it has a lot of potential but it doesn’t always deliver yet)”

Maxim Schram

  • “Social media research is a powerful tool to measure (trends in) Word-of-Mouth / conversations”
  • “Social media, however, are too transient for co-creation, it requires dedicated communities”


  • Social media is “huge” and offers tremendous opportunities, but it requires a change in our way of thinking, in the tools we use and probably even in the entire way in which we look at statistical inference
  • The new reality requires researchers to be flexible and versatile. Fusion (a mix of methods and techniques) is becoming ever more important.

3) Representativeness
New forms of research such as DIY and SMR usually do not approach representativeness in the same way that traditional research does. What are the risks involved? And what is the solution?
Rijn Vogelaar

  • “Representativeness is an illusion: Superpromotors, and to a lesser extent antipromotors, are the most relevant for research. The average respondent is the least relevant”
  • “Traditional statistics are not sufficient for SMR: there is an urgent need for an entirely new approach towards statistics”

Jorrit Lang

  • “Representativeness = Always (although complete representativeness remains utopian, we have to keep striving for the best possible approach)”
  • “Focussing merely on superpromotors /brand fans is only relevant in certain forms of research (co-creation)”

Maxim Schram

  • “In the world of communities and co-creation, representativeness is of minor importance”
  • “Instead of the average respondent, lead users are the most important target group. Brand fanship is not necessary”


  • For several forms of research, representativeness is not required or even not advisable. For many other forms of research, however, representativeness remains of (vital) importance.

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