FEATURE22 June 2020

Liz Nelson in seven

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In the latest of our In Seven series, we speak to Liz Nelson, who founded and chaired Taylor Nelson Sofrès from 1965 until 1992. She has held several prominent positions, including chairman of the Marketing Group of Great Britain. She is also founding patron of the Archive of Market and Social Research. The MRS launched the Liz Nelson Social Impact Award in 2019.


1. What’s been the biggest change for women in the industry since you started your career?

I never found any anti-female attitudes from the day I went into market research at Mars. I don’t know why; it could be that interviewers were all women or, more likely, that – during the war – market research was done by government departments and they were female statisticians.

2. What was the main challenge you faced in the beginning?

Dealing with banks – we needed capital to start. The people who helped us most were Clarks shoes. I was doing a lot of research for them and they just switched to paying the new firm rather than the old firm. The banks were tricky; they asked a lot of questions. They hadn’t a clue about market research. There was an ignorance of the whole profession, and that’s changed.

3. What’s your view on the influx of private equity into market research?

I think the private equity business is ...