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To Become A Great Market Researcher Start In B2B!

Young people seeking to embark on a successful market research career should put B2B firmly in their consideration set. Here's why.



Editor’s Note: Most of my career as a researcher and running research companies was focused on B2B; probably 70% of the projects I was involved with fell into that category, and of course nowadays all I do is B2B-related, albeit B2B within the market research industry itself vs. other sectors. So when I heard ESOMAR was doing a B2B Research Forum right here in Atlanta on October 14th I was excited. I don’t see many events focused exclusively on B2B as a topic (although there are tons of events focused on specific niche B2B sectors), and since much of Pharma, Healthcare, Financial Services, Tech, and other sector research spend is devoted to B2B focused research it’s a topic that deserves more attention.

Dr. David Smith, Director of DVL Smith Ltd UK wrote the below post in support of the ESOMAR event, but it serves as a great reminder to us all of the importance of this often underlooked aspect of research.


By Dr David Smith 

The beginning of market research was characterised by pioneering industrial – essentially B2B – studies that explored organisational behaviour.  After leading the way in market research B2B then took a back seat to the rise and rise of consumer research.

Since then, in some ways B2B has often been seen as the poor relation to consumer research.  But in this article our message is: young people seeking to embark on a successful market research career should put B2B firmly in their consideration set.

Why? Well because all of the seven skill pillars that you need to become a great market researcher will be quickly acquired if you cut your teeth in the B2B environment.  Everything you will be learning and doing will give you the core strengths around which to build a highly successful career.

Let’s look at each of these seven pillars and outline why B2B researchers are often at the heart of these core skills.

  • Pillar one: Being a problem crystalliser – someone who is ‘able to nail the true business question’

Highly effective market researchers quickly acquire the skill of identifying the key business question. They, given the complexities of many business-to-business scenarios, know the importance of making sure they are working on the right problem in the right context.  They quickly learn how to avoid the trap of working on the symptoms of the problem.  Specifically they learn how to develop the confidence to engage key stakeholders early in the process so they get to the heart of the business question.  Learning how to master the complexity of many organisational, industrial and business-to-business challenges makes other consumer environments seem comparatively more straightforward. 

  • Pillar two: Talking to the right people in the right way – being able to set up a fit to purpose research design

It could be argued – and I realise this is a slightly controversial point – that in many consumer research scenarios these days the discipline of ensuring we have represented our ‘population of interest’ with a robust sample has, shall we say, become rather pragmatic.  There has been some drift from the methodological principles that once characterised robust, valid and reliable research.  But in B2B research the more traditional hard disciplines of knowing how to identify a sample of enterprises and establishments – and key decision-makers within establishments – remains an important core skill.  Knowing how to carefully pinpoint the target audience and reflect this in the sampling process remains vitally important.  In a business-to-business interview if your goal is to explore the intricacies of the buying process for complex, expensive equipment, you need to be sure that you are talking to the right person – there is no way to improvise around this.

  • Pillar three: Joining the dots, knowing how to synthesise multiple data sets and see the big picture

Right at the very beginning, well before the arrival of Big Data, business-to-business and industrial researchers had recognised the importance of piecing together the multiplicity of available evidence into a compelling narrative that told the business story.  So B2B researchers have always been adept at synthesising data. They have been able to piece together different types of government data, market surveys, expert opinion, financial data and a host of other statistics in order to understand complex business questions.  In short, industrial researchers, in my opinion, are at the leading edge in terms of how to synthesise data and relate this to answering a business question. 

  • Pillar four: Understanding what makes people ‘tick’ – getting to the heart of what drives and changes behaviour

It is true that there was a phase in the history of business-to-business research where there were a number of naïve explanations of how organisational decision-making processes work.  These placed far too much emphasis on the rational, and not enough on the emotional, element of the decision-making process.  However over the last 20 years there has been recognition within the B2B community that emotion - in much the same way as for consumer choices – plays a massive role in many B2B decisions.  The adage ‘in a straight choice between emotion and reason, emotion wins’ is not just true of FMCG purchases, but of business decisions.  This applies whether we are referring to decisions about the type of parcel carrier to use, right up to major investment decisions about which IT systems to pursue and so on.  The experienced B2B researcher knows how to get to the heart of the emotions in play and is skilled at getting a rich understanding of how the human mind works in highly complex organisational decision-making scenarios.

  • Pillar five: Understanding the business world – knowing about the structure of markets and how to focus on priority issues

Being able to apply research to drive business growth is of course a core market research skill.  And arguably business-to-business researchers are particularly skilled at applying insights about customers and markets to drive growth.

For example, in the business-to-business world over the last few years there have been massive strides forward – at least in the UK – in understanding the world of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).  No longer do we apply a clichéd stereotypic view of this very complex sector. Today business-to-business experts have a rich understanding of the variations within this sector. They are able to identify the gazelles – the fast growing businesses, and have also built a clear understanding of what truly lies behind outstanding entrepreneurial behaviour.  In short, B2B researchers have a close affinity to entrepreneurialism.

  • Pillar six: Influencing, persuading and having a ‘Point of View’ – being a ‘Trusted Advisor’

Today the emphasis for many consumer researchers is on making the transition to being a trusted business adviser.  We are talking about someone who is able to communicate the killer evidence, and constructively influence senior stakeholders in often complex decision-making scenarios.  In the world of business-to-business research teams have been successful in building a close relationship between themselves and senior stakeholders.  So for a number of years they have been at the forefront in demonstrating how researchers can work more closely with key stakeholders.

  • Pillar seven: Providing strategic foresight, being an opportunity seeker and helping to create the learning organisation

The idea of customer insight professionals helping their companies become a learning organisation is high on the agenda.  The goal is to ensure the customer insight function works as a catalyst for change.  They need to constantly monitor the customer landscape and alert senior management to trends and developments to which they need to respond in order to shape a successful future.  Again in the business-to-business sector, the closeness of the relationship between the research team and the stakeholders – and the way B2B agencies work with their clients – has for many years been an exemplar of insight being the eyes and ears of the organisation.

So if you want to quickly master the marketing intelligence craft and be able to add value during the next chapter of the market research story then newcomers might want to consider B2B research.  This provides a great opportunity to fast track your skills in the above seven core areas.

David Smith


If you’re interested in ESOMAR’s B2B Research Forum in Atlanta on the 14 October you can find out more and register here.


Big Brands vs. Makers Movement: Opposites Attract

How can big brands leverage the Maker Movement’s inventions?


 By Dr. David Forbes 

“Power to the People” takes on a whole other meaning when applied to the Makers Movement. This diverse and growing group of smart, independent entrepreneurs is using its ideas to create innovative products with tools from 3-D printers to microcontrollers and sewing machines. Startups like Quirky and Kickstarter provide access to help turn these concepts into real-life products. Unsurprisingly, in the past few years, the Makers Movement has caught the attention of big brands trying to tap into the work and success (and maybe buy out a great idea or two). It’s a tricky business though: making sure that small can translate to large authentically—and that’s the rub.

A key to understanding the relationship between big brands and makers is knowing who the movement is comprised of. While diverse in demographics, they tend to have some qualities in common: educated, independent yet collaborative, distrustful of corporate America, tech-savvy, and natural-born tinkerers. They have a strong online and offline community fueled by the sharing, bartering economy of the Internet, along with in-person events and forums, not to mention publications, blogs, and the like.

So how can big brands leverage the Maker Movement’s inventions? Not only can these products and idea acquisitions breathe life and revenue into aging or stagnating companies, they can perk up and amplify brand perception–but again, it has to be done authentically.

A company’s brand “bookends” are everything when it comes to the buying public: the attitude, or brand personality, and amplitude, or what the company is good at doing, has to be in perfect harmony to resonate with consumers. In other words, I believe that for a Makers Movement product to be a good fit for any large company, there has to be a strong tie between what the brand promise is on both sides of this equation.

Take GE, which has a vibrant program geared at the Makers Movement. They host and fund all sorts of ideas from inventors, providing them with the tools and materials they need to launch an idea. GE, in the public’s mind, stands for innovation and that’s why this connection works. Or Levi’s, which has the word “authenticity” virtually chiseled into their brand. Thanks to a rich history infused with imagery of the gold rush and hand-sewn denim, Levi’s is primed both for the right brand attitude and amplitude to take on artisanal-crafted furniture. Stereo receivers? Not a great fit.

Then there is the irony factor for big brands and the Maker Movement: Sure, there may be an instant brand connection between the corporate monolith and the smaller maker, but what about the reality of large company mass production? Does the product then lose its integrity if it’s made on an assembly line? That’s where the delicate tightrope can get stretched between the corporate values of big brands and the custom, small-scale production ethos of the Makers Movement. On the other hand, while the Makers Movement might get backlash on perceived hypocrisy of the “corporation”, they’ll get the benefit of the marketing megaphone of a big brands—often not attainable otherwise.

I think the point of the Makers Movement is to enliven a culture of craft-making and tinkering, of creativity and community. Like most products, there will be a tipping point of success. The question is whether these entrepreneurs want the thrill of creating and continuing to produce in small batches or believe any other way is selling out.


Who is Winning the Game of Devices? Mobile vs. Desktop

According to the latest statistics, Mobile traffic to websites will overtake Desktop by March 2017 based on the current rate of growth.

10ZiG Technology has launched a new interactive tool that tracks Mobile vs Desktop traffic online using data from live Google Analytics profiles. According to their latest statistics, Mobile traffic to websites will overtake Desktop by March 2017 based on the current rate of growth. This dovetails nicely with other projections from various sources and certainly aligns with the data being reported by online survey platforms regarding their ever-increasing mobile participants.

This obviously has huge implications for research and should add additional emphasis to the push to adopt new mobile-enabled methods as well as to adapt existing modes to a mobile form factor. Unfortunately I think as an industry we’re still lagging behind where we need to be, but perhaps this will help the cause.

The Game of Devices uses Google Analytics data from initially 10 websites to track the % split of online sessions made using a Desktop, Mobile or Tablet device on a weekly basis from 2010 onwards. The sample websites are B2C and B2B companies that specialise in finance, marketing, retail, tradesmen and technology across North America, Europe & Australia.

Here is the interactive dashboard and thanks to 10ZiG Technology for allowing me to repost it here. Click on the dashboard to scroll down; there is a lot of information here that should prove to be interesting for you.

10ZiG Game of Devices


Another Look At The Top Influencers In Market Research

We noticed some of the comments here on the blog to previous discussions about influence rating with great interest. Our response is: Yes, Frankie, Kristin Luck is Influential. And so are Betty Adamou, Katie Clark and Diane Hessan.

social network


Editor’s Note: Recently Ray Poynter conducted an experiment to understand the role and definition of influence in the Twitterverse among market research professionals. That was an exercise that generated a lot of interest from the research community, and now our friends at LRW have thrown their hat into the ring using their own proprietary influence model.

So what does this tell us?  It’s seems that there is no clear cut model of measuring influence today, but it’s important that as an industry we understand the various approaches and work to develop some standard “common core” on what denotes influence.

Here is LRW’s take on the matter. It’s good stuff!


By The LRW Team

We noticed some of the comments here on the blog to previous discussions about influence rating with great interest. Our response is: Yes, Frankie, Kristin Luck is Influential. And so are Betty Adamou, Katie Clark and Diane Hessan.

We start with a hat tip to Ray Poynter and Lenny Murphy for bringing the subject of influencers and social media analytics to surface via the August 19thblog post, “Who are the Top 25+ Market Research Influencers on Twitter?”  We wholeheartedly agree that to serve as good consultants, researchers must remain abreast of new data sources that can be used to help companies with their marketing challenges.

At LRW, we’ve partnered with some of the leading technologists in the fields of network and influence analysis, who began their work while active in the US intelligence community tracking terror networks.  Together we offer these thoughts on measuring social media influence, in the spirit of enriching the discussion started a few weeks back.




  1. Understanding the dynamics of social influence is critical for the modern marketer.

Modern marketers must understand and master the art of social influence if they hope to leverage word-of-mouth social networks to their advantage. Identifying and converting online influencers may sound simple, but it requires both analytical and marketing prowess. The reward for influencing the influencer is more effective and efficient brand and product messaging.

Imagine the marketing goals of an independent film studio launching a period piece set during the Civil War. Taking a segmented approach, the marketing team would target and engage key influencers across a set of special-interest networks on the web, such as Civil War aficionados, Lincoln enthusiasts, independent film devotees, and fans of the lead actors. With these influencers on board, the filmmakers could extend both the reach and credibility of their marketing efforts.

  1. When analyzing influence, think in terms of networks, not keywords or counts.  

Kristin Luck and other influencers made our list because they are deeply connected to and influence the conversation in the market research network, though they do not always hashtag their remarks.  Keywords and hashtags are a great place to start analyses, but shouldn’t define the network or limit the analysis. Letting the network go wide and then pruning back irrelevant connections provides the most accurate view of linkages and conversations representative of a given network.

In kind, don’t be fooled by counting techniques. High followers don’t necessarily mean high influence. There was only one courier between Bin Laden and the rest of al-Qaeda. Furthermore, if Justin Bieber tweeted under the #MRX hashtag about market research, few of his 54 million followers would care. Followers ≠ influence.

  1. Use tools that offer Google-esque understanding of influence networks.

As our technology partners frequently point out, Google changed the face of the search-engine business by employing a sophisticated algorithm that dealt with networks’ complex centrality issues. More relevant search results followed. The same principle holds true for influencer searches: the better the algorithm, the more relevant the results.

Marketers who want to effectively and efficiently get their message out will target social media influencers to bring attention to and shape the conversations around their products, brands and solutions. To do this successfully, they need sophisticated tools and thoughtful partners to help them sort through the noise around the subject…because gaining influence isn’t about luck.


Nice Was Very Nice Indeed! ESOMAR Congress Review

The ESOMAR Congress had the advantages of good weather, the friendliness of the people in Nice, great restaurants in the town, a good agenda, a great exhibition, and over 1000 delegates from over 70 countries.



By Ray Poynter

Some locations make conferences better, and Nice (in the south of France, just a few miles from Monaco and Italy) is one such location. The ESOMAR Congress had the advantages of good weather, the friendliness of the people in Nice, great restaurants in the town, a good agenda, a great exhibition, and over 1000 delegates from over 70 countries.

The key takeaway, for me, from ESOMAR Congress was optimism and a lack of angst. This year there was none of the woes and worries that have been common in recent years. There were no widespread wails on the topics of DIY, management consultants, Big Data, lack of relevance, sampling problems, and economic decline.

The main thrust of the papers and presentations was “look at what we can do”:

  • Using new stuff to deliver research results – particularly behavioural economics and new qualitative approaches.
  • Collaborating in new/better ways, with customers, with other suppliers, and with clients.
  • Drawing on new sources of inspiration, in particular the arts.
  • Showing how research can deliver actionable results.

One of the key features of Congress was the emphasis placed on new talent, including the expanded role of the students, the young researchers, the talent competition, and the soap box sessions. One of the stand out sessions was a keynote from 14 year old Jordan Casey who is the CEO of two start-ups, in the tech space.

For me the best moments included:

  • Didier Truchot, the founder of Ipsos, sharing his thoughts on the future of research, intertwined with the story of how he built Ipsos from a startup to one of the five largest agencies in the world, blending insight, honesty, and humour.
  • Christina Nathanson from MasterCard, showing how a variety of research approaches had helped keep their ‘Priceless’ campaign fresh and successful.
  • Jon Puleston and Hubertus Hofkirchner using an interactive section to bring predictive markets and the challenges of predicting to life for the audience.
  • Annelies Verhaeghe and Natalie Malevsky showing how to make research more inspirational, making it more widely shared in the organisation, and therefore more impactful and useful.
  • Vivek Banerji gave a great illustration of how to turn pharma research into insight.
  • Coca-Cola’s Vanessa Oshima and Tobias Wacker from BrainJuicer gave perhaps the bravest presentation, showing how they had completely messed up a project in Japan, using Digividuals. The story was unusual in its honesty, but it did have a happy ending as on this occasion the agency were given a second chance, and it went much better the second time.

From a personal point of view, one of the highlights was the launch of our new book “The Handbook of Mobile Market Research”; followed by two sessions of book signing.

Of course, not everything was perfect, there were rumblings about the food (or lack thereof) at the dinner on the Tuesday night, the air conditioning for the AGM seemed to break down, making the attendees emerge looking like they had been in a sauna, and the soap box was perhaps in the wrong place. But when you put on a show as big as Congress, running from Sunday to Wednesday, with that many moving parts, there are going to be some challenges.

Next year ESOMAR Congress is going to be in Dublin. Dublin is a great location for Congress because a) people love going there, and b) it is small enough to create a real buzz (two advantages it shares with Nice). If you have a big story to tell, a project that has delivered value, or a great example of learning from failure, then Dublin will be a great place to tell that story.



Didier Truchot addresses a packed meeting room at ESOMAR Congress


AMSRS 2014: Context Is King Down Under

The AMSRS 2014 event was a roaring success – a shot of optimism and energy for the industry, as shown by the very busy Twitter feed that managed to hit the Top 3 trending Twitter topics in Australia on both days.


By Tom Ewing

In an ever more international industry, great research events need to balance the local and the global. They have to be a showcase for awesome local work and an opportunity for networking and catching up with friends and rivals, but at the same time they need to reflect a business that is changing rapidly across the world. Some of the most enjoyable events I’ve been to achieve this balance – a strong flavour of a specific research market, combined with content that tries to move the worldwide research conversation forward.

The AMSRS (Australian Market & Social Research Society) annual conference is one of these events. It handles the balance of local and global in a unique way, inviting a set of international keynote speakers to showcase their latest work and introduce themes, while running parallel sessions and panels showing off work that speaks to Australia’s unique cultural mix and distinct research issues.

Here’s where I have to declare a sizeable interest – I was at this year’s AMSRS in Melbourne as one of those international keynotes, and I am enormously grateful to the AMSRS for their kindness in inviting me to come and give a talk. The theme I chose was “Reasons To Be Cheerful” – an optimistic keynote celebrating our industry’s capacity to change and adapt. Too many conference speakers nowadays harangue the research business, preaching that it needs to change – which is condescending and tiresome for the thousands of researchers who already have changed the ways they look at things.

If you’re flying to the other side of the world, I reckoned, you need to put on as good a performance as you can once you get there. It felt like the other keynote speakers agreed. Fiona Blades of MESH talked about her agency’s pioneering work in tracking brand experiences via mobile in the 00s, and how that’s led to her current work bringing research know-how to the work of mining social data for insight. Leigh Caldwell of The Irrational Agency introduced the audience to a goals-based model of the unconscious mind and was entertaining and bullish about research’s prospects of measuring it directly. Betty Adamou of Research Through Gaming wowed the conference with the lavish research games she built to get below the surface of young people’s attitudes to privacy and sharing. Caroline Hayter of Acacia Avenue filled us in on how qual research is adapting to behavioural economics, training us to spot the linguistic “tells” of heuristics in everyday speech. And finally Joel Rubinson of Rubinson Partners gave a bracing update on the world of digital media and advertising in a personalised and programmatic era.




What did these six speeches have in common? Context. From the paradata created invisibly by a research game, through the predictive power of context to serve you ads, to the goals you unconsciously pursue, uncovering the hidden context of behaviour quickly emerged as a genuine theme. From a personal perspective, this was extremely refreshing. Recent interest by researchers in behavioural economics is occasionally dismissed as a fad, and while “big data” has passed the fad stage, it’s often seen as too vast a topic to get to grips with. But both these subjects are facets of a “contextual turn” in research, away from direct questioning and towards handling large existing data sets and looking at the environment decisions happen in. The AMSRS conference felt like it happened in a world where this contextual turn wasn’t something to be debated or fought over, but something that formed the bedrock of the event.

That didn’t just come across in the keynotes – the theme came through in the local papers too. With three separate, paper-packed tracks there was a lot to take in. My personal highlights included a paper by Betfair and The Lab on user experience of the Betfair smartphone app. UX is a booming field at the moment which rarely gets enough credit in research events – Betfair’s method involved real-time recordings of app use, capturing location and background audio as well as on-screen activity. This gave a really full picture of behavioural context. Where the presentation really shone for me was in its candour about the snags of using new technology in research. All too often tech innovation as presented as a simple, “plug-and-play” process at conferences. In reality, anyone who has ‘enjoyed’ the unique combination of research deadlines, third-party technologies and real-time research participants will know that smooth sailing is very rare. The Lab offered excellent tips on creating more resilient innovation: practise tasks, technological stress-testing and constant expectations management.

Another favourite was Derek Jones of D&M Research, exploring whether and how a context of abundance changes people’s enjoyment of everyday pleasures. Does someone with music downloads at their fingertips enjoy it as much as their equivalent 40 years ago saving up for a vinyl LP? Do digital pictures feel as exciting as getting film developed? Intuitively the answer for many older people is no, and D&M expected to find as much when they did a cross-generational study of enjoyment and perceived scarcity. But in fact the modern, convenient, digital world of abundance is generally more satisfying and enjoyable than previous eras of scarcity – the nostalgic aura created by our own happy memories makes us predict newer things will be less enjoyable than they are.

Other well-received papers I didn’t see included Penny Burke of QPMR talking about using “conflict groups” and other discomfort tactics in qual. If you bring people together who disagree and force them to communicate, the resulting friction can be an invaluable and revealing source of insight. Paul Vittles of consultancy firm instinct and reason talked about his life-saving mission to use an understanding of behavioural context to transform suicide prevention – an idea he’s also presented at TedXSydney. Other presentations had a distinctively Australian feel – a country with high population growth and migration rates, whose culture increasingly bridges European roots and Asian proximity, is better placed than most to address the topic of the ‘global citizen’, which Hall & Partners presented research on.

Not every presentation was gold – a couple of them suffered from an excess of “buzzword bingo”, with abstract calls for disruption matched with windy appeals to authenticity… but that’s true of every conference. All in all the AMSRS 2014 event was a roaring success – a shot of optimism and energy for the industry, as shown by the very busy Twitter feed that managed to hit the Top 3 trending Twitter topics in Australia on both days. It was a really friendly event – being greeted after your presentation with “FAN-bloody-TASTIC, mate!” makes a welcome change from the usual London “I, er, liked your talk.” It had great food. And half its speakers were women – which shouldn’t be a rarity, but is. If you get the chance to attend, you should. And IIEX, which is bringing its unique conference approach to Sydney this December, should realise it faces perhaps its toughest local competition yet.


Brain Scans, Cultural Popularity And Sample Sizes

A new study demonstrates how a small sample of brain scanned participants can predict popularity at the cultural level. Why is neuroscience such a different – and often better – ball game?



Editor’s Note: The business of market research is changing rapidly, and nonconscious measurement techniques are growing ever more important as a class of consumer insight techniques. Nonconscious methods are an area exhibiting rapid cycles of innovation and growth. Certainly adoption has been slow for a variety of reasons, but the impact across many categories has been high. In today’s post one of the preeminent applied neuroscientists in the world today, Dr. Thomas Ramsoy, gives a bit more insight into why this is such an important and topic and what traditional market researchers need to understand about the science behind the techniques.

We think this is such an important topic that we’re launching a unique one day event in November that is designed to advance the conversation and increase collaboration among corporate clients, market research consultants and technology providers.

Save the date for the Nonconscious Impact Measurement Forum (#NIMF) on November 6th! Brought to you by GreenBook and the Burke Institute, NIMF is an intensive day of learning and collaboration around the business impact generated by the dynamic and growing field of nonconscious measurement. You will learn the business case for and be inspired by nonconscious measurement methods, including applied neuroscience, implicit approaches, behavioral economics techniques, biometric measurement and holistic nonconscious models, and have the opportunity to test out many methods being discussed for yourself!

Today’s post is a great lead in for the type of bigger conversations that will be happening at NIMF.


By Thomas Ramsoy

One of the key criticisms and concerns one hears towards applied neuroscience and neuromarketing is the sample size. Is it really valid, let alone representative, to test 40 people? In traditional methods, such as surveys, interviews and even focus groups, the number of test persons tested usually runs in the hundreds or thousands. In applied neuroscience tests we usually see test of around 100 people in nation-wide samples. In studies in mobile settings, we can see test with as few as 40 people. Surely, that is a problem?

Maybe the reason that applied neuroscience is not testing hundreds or thousands of people is that it will be too expensive or too hard to scale? Testing a single person with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (or fMRI) often costs something like $2,000. Even with other methods such as EEG (electroencephalography), although the price can be down to $100 per person or lower, it may be hard to scale, since every person you test simultaneously requires a full hardware and software setup.

Things have changed dramatically. In several neuroscience studies, it has been found that neuroscience measures can predict behaviour. Even in studies using very small samples, neuroscience can predict not only individual choice, but effects at a cultural level. For example, in a recent study by Dmochowski and colleagues (Dmochowski et al., 2014), brain responses of only 16 participants could predict effects at the cultural level. By using EEG, the researchers developed a novel method that assessed how consistently the brain activation was across the group. Higher group consistency to TV series and commercials was related to both higher social activation (the number of Tweets) as well as stated reference (Nielsen rating).

Other studies have found a similar pattern. In a study by Berns and Moore (2012) the researchers went back to older fMRI data in a study of responses to music. Here, they found that activation of a deep brain structure – the nucleus accumbens – predicted whether the music had become a massive cultural hit, far better than self-reports from the same people. These and other studies have hinted that there may be some common brain activations in a group that is representative for how a whole culture will respond.

So the criticism towards applied neuroscience on sample size is erroneous, and the concerns are unwarranted. One part of the problem with these attitudes is that they assume that traditional research methods are the golden standard. Think of it this way: in traditional methods, each person contributes with only a few data points, as given by their answers. Furthermore, traditional methods only assess measures that a person is privy to, and is willing and able to share. In neuroscience measures, an fMRI scan divides the brain into 3D boxes (voxels) of an approximate size of 3x3x3 millimeters, thus measuring in several thousands of voxels across the brain. Each voxel value is assessed about every other second, and thus a test lasting 20 minutes provides a raw data value of 2.1 million data points per person. In EEG, we see that each electrode samples the signal with a millisecond resolution. This signal is then divided into several frequencies (e.g., alpha, beta, delta, gamma, theta), and therefore a single person can contribute with an order of magnitude more in data power than in fMRI, with 60 million data points or more per person. By merely contrasting the data load of traditional methods and applied neuroscience, we can see that we’re in a completely different ball game.

Crucially, neuroscience measures do not only assess a limited set of responses that a person has conscious access to. These measures provide deep insights into what people are attending and missing; how consumers’ emotional responses occur within milliseconds after seeing a message, a brand or a product; and how particular motivational responses drive attention, desire and ultimately choice.

Today, the scientific foundation of applied neuroscience is unparalleled, and continues to grow both in our insights and application. For those who employ and adapt these methods (with the premise that they are used correctly) consistently see an improved understanding of their consumers, increase their communication effects, and thereby increased their revenue.

Today, it is fair to claim that the obstacles for adopting applied neuroscience now lies not in the science or the methods, but within the market research industry.



Berns, Gregory S, and Sara E Moore. “A Neural Predictor of Cultural Popularity.” Journal of Consumer Psychology 22, no. 1 (2012): doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2011.05.001.

Dmochowski, Jacek P, Matthew A Bezdek, Brian P Abelson, John S Johnson, Eric H Schumacher, and Lucas C Parra. “Audience Preferences Are Predicted by Temporal Reliability of Neural Processing.” Nature communications 5 (2014): doi:10.1038/ncomms5567.


CASRO Transformation Spotlight: Gongos Research – Putting the “H” in Transformation

For Camille Nicita and her strategy team, transformation is a process that is integral to Gongos. It is the result of committing to become the next best version of itself and taking steps toward that goal every day.
Payday Loans Now Company


 By Jeff Resnick of Stakeholder Advisory Services

camille1For Camille Nicita and her strategy team, transformation is a process that is integral to Gongos.  It is the result of committing to become the next best version of itself and taking steps toward that goal every day.  Gongos is a HIPP place to work, and HIPP is an important element that makes transformation possible.   HIPP stands for humanistic, intelligence, passion and pride and it is the core of the Gongos culture.  As Camille explains, humanistic is the encouragement and support of others; a communal pride in unleashing excellence and innovation.  Combined with high impact strategic planning, it is the essence of the transformation story at Gongos.   Let’s dig a little deeper.

It’s all about the right people doing the right things.   According to Peter Drucker, “whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”   At Gongos, that decision was to focus on people.   This is not to say clients are less important.  In fact, the reverse is true.  But without the right people, put in the right place in a culture that truly values and supports them, clients will never experience what every client wants from its partners – insight, excellence, commitment and the ability to continually add value to the relationship.  Over the past 20+ years, Gongos has honed its ability to identify individuals who will thrive in its culture.  Once the right people are in place, Gongos works very hard to keep them.

Effective strategic planning provides the road map.  The strategic planning process dates back to the early days of Gongos.   The process begins with a 10 year envisioned future and then establishes three-year goals  that  are broken into annual goals and specific quarterly tasks necessary to meet those goals.  While this isn’t rocket science, most companies fall down on the execution of the strategy – Gongos does not.  Discipline is essential. Answering the question “What should the next best version of us look like?” is essential.    Staying true to their purpose, culture, foundation and core values during the process is a mandate.  According to Camille, transformation isn’t revolutionary, it’s evolutionary.

Know who you are and what you stand for.  Stick to it.  Decisions about how to grow are always filtered through Gongos’ four core competencies:

  • Identifying and synthesizing “aha” moments for clients
  • Communicating insights effectively and persuasively
  • Identifying, developing and retaining top talent
  • Smart innovation

Any new business decision designed to help the company grow must further support these competencies.  One example is the launch of O2 Integrated.  As Gongos saw the market research industry changing, they took a step back and asked the question “Is there a way we can combine our core competencies in different ways to create new and better value for our clients?”  O2 Integrated is more consultative and heavily decision sciences driven with a focus on fusing disparate data sources including primary research, third party and enterprise information to help solve higher order business challenges for clients.  The development of the capability enables Gongos to play more heavily in what it is defining as the decision intelligence arena – an important strategic focus for Gongos and one that is helping client organizations to develop the capacity to gain and apply wisdom that inspires great consumer-minded decision making..  O2 is a natural fit as it leverages all four core competencies – it helps to develop more “aha moments,” provides insight necessary to communicate the “aha” moments and helps to retain top talent as this is an area of intense interest.  Clients see it as helping them make more intelligent business decisions and reinforces their view that Gongos is an innovator and a firm they can partner with long-term.

Be fully transparent in communication.  It is the bedrock of trust.  According to Camille, you can never communicate enough, although this was a hard-learned lesson.   When the strategy team realized it had an issue relating to the understanding of why O2 Integrated was so important, Camille and her team took three months to execute an internal communication plan including a great deal of face time – from one-on-one meetings to town halls.  The focus of the message was reinforcing the overall Gongos enterprise vision, purpose and core values and how O2 fit in.   Leadership linked forces shaping change in the market research arena with their decision so everyone fully understood.  The time was well spent with staff members who were once apprehensive now asking what they could do to help Gongos move forward and make O2 a real success.

Does it work?  The proof is in the numbers.  The company experienced 12% organic revenue growth in 2013 and has charted 70% five-year revenue growth, matched with 70% full time employment expansion.  Do employees thrive in the environment?  They must – employee retention was at 94% in 2013.  It’s not the result of revolution, it is the result of an organization committed to evolution.

Gongos continues to experience success which emanates from the core values, culture and purpose that were the foundation of the company from its inception.  While John Gongos, the founder, is no longer with us, I’m sure he is smiling at the success of the company and very proud of the entire team that made it happen.


ESOMAR Congress: Finding a Role in a Crowded Space

Reflections on the role of face-to-face events in general and ESOMAR Congress in particular.



By Ray Poynter

I have the good fortune to be the GreenBook rep at the ESOMAR Congress in Nice this year. The ESOMAR Congress is one of the international research highlights of the year – which this year also saw the launch of my new book, The Handbook of Mobile Market Research.

I will write more in another post about some of the events from this year’s Congress. But in this post I want to reflect on the role of face-to-face events in general and ESOMAR Congress in particular.

ESOMAR Congress is the leading global event in its niche, and this year over 1000 delegates from more than 70 countries gathered in Nice to celebrate research, to network, to enjoy good food and wine, and learn more about what is happening in research. food

Perhaps the key word in the previous paragraph is niche. These days, successful events need to meet specific needs. The days of offering a general conference and expecting large numbers of attendees are gone. For example the IIeX series of events have been successful because they meet a need that relates to new, busy, and entrepreneurial people, often with a penchant for tech. This year’s ESOMAR Congress is successful because it meets the needs of its niche, and because the niche is quite big.

What is the ESOMAR Niche?

The key characteristics of the ESOMAR niche are:

  • International. If you want to be known as an international researcher you need to be associated with ESOMAR and its events. Note, this is different from just wanting to sell international; it is also about creating and maintaining international networks of suppliers, peers, and clients.
  • Grounded in the confluence of academic learning and the canon of established market research thinking. The papers at ESOMAR tend to focus on new material which is based on what has been published before and/or on academic thinking, applied to current or future research needs.
  • The ‘club’. Many people go to ESOMAR Congress (and other ESOMAR events) because they want to. They like the people, they like the social side, the good food, the wine, the parties, and the continuity of relationships over many years.
  • Classy. ESOMAR’s audio visuals are some of the best around, the locations are great; the presentations are typically very well prepared and very visual. Congress is definitely classy.

Talking about the benefits of the event to a delegate who had travelled all the way from Australia to Nice produced the following observation:

“I find I always get one or two really useful ideas that help me develop my business. Some events might offer a window on the future, some events might offer a comprehensive view of a method, or technology, or vertical. ESOMAR may offer fewer ideas, but often bigger ideas, and typically ideas that are already in use somewhere in the world, which can make them quick to apply”.

This means that ESOMAR Congress is not for everybody. For example: it is not for

  • Low budget companies – it is not a budget option – but getting a paper accepted and staying at a cheaper venue make it much more affordable.
  • People focused on their domestic market.
  • People who do not really see themselves as part of the market research community.
  • People who come across as sales people (sales people are welcome, but they need to adapt their approach).

The Future?

This year’s ESOMAR Congress is shaping up to be a great success. Good presentations, good keynotes, a good exhibition, in a great location, with masses of people from over 70 countries. If Congress keeps developing in the current direction it will continue to thrive, in the way Wimbledon, the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House, and the Super Bowl thrive. It is a place where lots of people aspire to be.

However, we are all aware that there are new arrivals on the scene and Congress cannot rest on its laurels. ESOMAR can and should keep trying new ideas on the fringe, it should keep working at bringing in young people, people from adjacent industries, and more clients. But it should ensure it maintains its lead on its core proposition, i.e. as an international, aspirational destination. If you are an international researcher, then attending ESOMAR Congress means you have ‘arrived’.





Visualize Your Data With Storytelling

This article reviews the presentation possibilities that are now available using modern data presentation platforms, and outlines some common mistakes when moving from PowerPoint to an online reporting process.



Editor’s Note: Visual Storytelling is an immensely important topic in MR that doesn’t get nearly the level of attention it deserves. There isn’t a single client that I know who isn’t clamoring for concise, engaging, and impactful reporting. In fact, I know one very large global CPG company that is looking to shift all of their reporting to video; they would like every report to come as a mini movie! So much of the business of MR is based on mass production and standardization that it’s been challenging to focus on the need to identify new tools, human capital, and business models to support a richer, more creative set of deliverables. Luckily, those are all relatively easy solutions to implement, especially on the tool front. Many new platforms are available on the market to help shift away from simple charts and graphs to more interesting visualizations; here is a list of many to look at if you are interested.

Included in that list is the offering from today’s guest poster, Rudy Nadilo of Dapresy  (Here’s a plug: Dapresy is the real deal, and I like it so much that GreenBook and Gen2 Advisors have a license so we can use it for our own visualization needs).  In today’s post Rudy draws on the experience to lay out some very pragmatic and focused suggestions on how to incorporate visual storytelling into your reporting regardless of what tool you use.

It’s all great advice and provides MR organizations with a foundational “how to” list to begin migrating from the tyranny of SPSS/Excel/Powerpoint to a more creative solution.


By Rudy Nadilo

In my daily work, I see a clear trend. The research buyer is looking for better and more effective ways to present survey results to their organization. Their motivation is simple. They need to extract more value from their investments in data collection by getting more stakeholders in their organization involved with and acting upon the data.

This article reviews the presentation possibilities that are now available using modern data presentation platforms, and outlines some common mistakes when moving from PowerPoint to an online reporting process. The following are some of the things to keep in mind to increase the value when presenting data online instead of using PowerPoint or Excel.

Don´t Replicate PowerPoint Online

A very common mistake is trying to replicate PowerPoint reports online. PowerPoint is linear while a modern dashboard reporting tool allows one dynamic slide to literally replace hundreds of PowerPoint slides. The magic behind this capability is something called dynamic filters. A dynamic filter is a dropdown menu placed on top of a web-based dashboard. When clicking the menu, the user gets a list of different alternatives to select. Selecting a filter dynamically generates the view of the data based on the selected criteria. For example, a typical tracker deployed in PowerPoint might have hundreds of slides for countries, regions, brands, salesperson, etc. All of these can simply and easily be replaced with a dynamic filter.

Don´t be Bound by the Limitations of Traditional Reporting

It is critical to change your thinking to capitalize on the benefits of a dashboard tool. We are so programmed by years of using PowerPoint and Excel it is easy to be bound by the restrictions of these tools. They are static, linear and iterative. For example, with online reporting, a few clicks allows you to add benchmark values to a report. Or, imagine you are reporting on customer satisfaction and want each manager responsible for a group of customers to compare his results with the average or best-in-class results from other managers. With traditional reporting, producing this volume of reports is labour intensive, time consuming and cost prohibitive. With dashboard reporting technology, it is very easy to accomplish and results are dynamically generated through hierarchical access rights to the data. These hierarchical access rights are another benefit of a modern reporting tool, which makes it easy to create user- unique views for each user or category of users.

A dashboard tool offers the ability to select a variable in your data and configure the system to create a unique report for each instance of this variable. Let’s say you have a variable called “Customer Type,” and that variable has the associated values “Standard Customer,” “Important Customer,” “Customer to be Developed.” It is very easy to first create a dashboard for all customers and then, with a click, create a unique view for each type of customer. The dashboard tool will automatically create one unique report per customer type.

A Dashboard Tool will Never Fully Replace PowerPoint

Another common mistake is to believe that the dashboard will be the single channel for an organization to use when consuming data. This is normally not the case. People still want to have a PowerPoint deck for a variety of reasons. A dashboard tool is used to efficiently deploy results to the organization so team members can explore and understand results. These users then need:

  • The ability to download the full online report to PowerPoint for making their own notes and to be used in combination with other slides.
  • The ability to pick and choose individually filtered results from the dashboard and save them as a customized “story” that can then be downloaded to PowerPoint.

Providing the user the ability to custom-filter their specific results to be viewed online or downloaded to a PowerPoint is an essential capability.

Use a Combination of Infographics, Dashboards and Charts and Tables

Use infographics to tell your story. A dashboard tool must provide full functionality to visualize data in free form.The picture below is a good example of a way to visualize data from a set of important metrics.

dap1A well-designed dashboard provides an engaging experience for the report user and allows non- technical users to appreciate and explore the results.

Using infographics creates initial interest and will engage your audience. By clicking on the infographic, the users can drill

down further into the result. Combining infographics with an engaging dashboard will solve these information requirements. A dashboard is normally a report with more comprehensive information compared to an infographic. In my experience, it’s best to use an infographic as a door-opener and then follow with a set of dashboards like the image below.




Note the filters on top of this dashboard allow the user to generate 300-plus unique views.

When designing a dashboard, you normally cover the requirements for the majority of your users in terms of information sharing. But for those who want more, you can create added value by building up a set of traditional charts and tables for details.

These views are good to use when the need is to find complex and detailed patterns based on the findings made in either the infographic or dashboard view. The image below is one good example of a more comprehensive view.




But don´t forget to consider specific heavy users: data analysts, category managers, product managers, etc. In almost all information deliveries, you have a few users that want to have the ability to interact with the data on a table level. It is recommended to include an online cross-tabulation and charting tool as part of your information delivery.




Views Depend on User Type

The most common – and deadly – mistake when moving from PowerPoint to online reporting is the desire show everything to everyone. But the expression “less is more” should be the rule of thumb in this situation. It is important to scope out the dashboard and get the user organization to agree on what the various user groups should see. It is best to limit the majority of the users’ access to only part of the information portal – ideally the sections that show results as infographics.Then, allow line or middle managers access to dashboards and traditional reports. Finally, only allow a few people from an expert group access to the cross-tabulation tools.

Finally, and most importantly, make sure your dashboard tool retrieves the data and calculates the data from the same data source and in the same manner.You don´t want to end up in a situation where you get different results for the same query.

Happy dashboarding!

Rudy Nadio is president of Dapresy North America, Inc. He can be reached at rudy@dapresy.com.