OPINION12 March 2010

A small world, and getting smaller


Anna Thomas and Tariq Mirza report on the Swedish Market Research Day 2010.

The Swedish Market Research Day 2010, held in Stockholm, is the most important event in Sweden’s market research calendar. The message emerging this year was that all researchers face the same challenges and there is much to be gained from drawing on international perspectives to solve those challenges.

Andrei Postoaca of Pinastri (a Swedish-Romanian) reminded the conference about the importance of considered action, especially in the face of recession. He decribed two frogs in a bowl of cream – one drowning while flailing about, the other continuing to swim slowly until the cream changed consistency. We’re all striving for the cutting-edge in products and services, but we shouldn’t panic.

His tempered tone was picked up by InSite Consulting’s Anneliese Verhaeghe (a Belgian), who was Esomar’s young researcher of the year in 2009. She talked about a methodology called ‘web scraping’ which makes the qual-quant divide even more fuzzy. Sampling social media data, she helps her clients respond in nearly-real time to what’s going on on the net. The main aim of her approach was to re-use freely generated data to serve a new, pragmatic function.

There was much emphasis on technology throughout the day. The majority of Sweden’s nine million population occupies a large area to the south of the three big cities, so internet, telephone, software and reporting systems are essential. But the recurring theme of these conversations was that gadgetry needed to earn its place. Toluna, for example, delivered an interesting comparative study of the relative research impact of internet phones, email and what you might call ‘mere mobile’.

Swedish business speaker Teo Härén explained why, whatever the creative challenge, people and knowledge matter more than anything. Training people to be more creative is so important – but implementing it can often take several goes and a lot of hard thinking. He compared it to an early steam train, with passengers sitting on top of the carriages as they had sat in the open air of a horse-drawn cart. For Haren, the formula for increasing innovation means drawing more from the resource around you.

The content of the day was good, but it was the tone that really set it apart. This event was a world away from some other conferences where the emphasis is on market domination, leaving delegates feeling they will never be cool or current enough to make it back to the hotel in one piece. The Swedish event felt friendly and human by comparison. In keeping with this, the day saw the launch of the Lonbono fund to help colleagues in developing countries access training and events in the research profession.

It’s a small world, and it’s getting smaller. This year’s event had more contributors and a more international feel than last year. There was a positive sense of collaboration and unity among delegates, all aware that the same problems exist across borders and that challenges will be met not just by working more but by working more together.

Anna Thomas is research director at Define, and spoke at the Swedish Market Research Day on creative methods in qual research. Tariq Mirza is UK business development director of Intellex Dynamic Reporting

1 Comment

14 years ago

Thanks for covering. Would have been fun to be there. I really enjoyed Andrei Postoaca's book. Certainly sounds very international. And Lonbono sounds like a very Swedish idea ;)

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