NEWS19 March 2015

‘The market research industry is lagging behind', says former Camelot CEO Dianne Thompson

News Opinion UK

UK — Former Camelot chief executive Dianne Thompson told delegates at Impact 2015 that the UK’s market research industry is lagging behind other marketing disciplines, a point echoed by her fellow panellists.


In a ‘Client verdict’ session overseen by Impact and editor Jane Bainbridge, Thompson said: “I do think the research industry is lagging a bit behind. The very fact that you talk about people as ‘respondents’, rather than having a dialogue with people, needs to change. The whole role of social media has sped everything up.”

Her point was reinforced by Sue Unerman, chief strategy officer at media agency MediaCom, who said: “I think the world I work in is a lot more agile.” She said that the media industry’s adaptive approach to market research – “designing things, putting them together, seeing how they work” and then tweaking them is “almost anathema to the traditional market research brief”.

For Simon Carter, executive director of marketing at Fujitsu, innovation in market research needed to centre around communication – “how we educate our sales force and account managers and whether we need to use infographics to capture the essence of a piece of insight”.

But Anthony Jones, head of insight at Royal Mail MarketReach, was quick to denounce “innovation for innovation’s sake”.

Thompson was an enthusiastic advocate for “putting different methodologies together”, and is clearly no fan of segmentation.

“Over my career I’ve probably been involved in 10-15 different major segmentation studies,” she said. “They were all very amazing and sexy because we could visualise very well. But in terms of how we could use them, they were useless. They’re great for PR and great for the brand manager to see their customer. But in terms of delivering marketing messages, they were useless.”


1 Comment

9 years ago

All valid points, but like any other marketing discipline it requires ambition from those holding the purse strings and doing the briefing. The current inertia is party because clients often want comparable results to previous work, or that the brief is just too distant from the business problem it sets out to help solve. I don't hold fault with the research agencies, but genuine innovation in this space is quite rare. Unlike the faster moving client businesses or media agencies which are constantly being challenged with reinvention and to find a competitive edge, market research appears 'rather safe'. I'd liken the sector to an intelligent student who doesn't have to try too hard, and was content with a career that wouldn't upset their parents. I suggest more challenging briefs and competitive pitching (not tendering). Where ideas, understanding and approach become the valuable commodity, not just the cost on the bottom line. Time for the inner 'show off' to emerge. (By the way I'm a client who wants to be impressed)

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