Editor’s note: Quirk’s conducted a Q&A session with Stéphanie Perrin, manager and commissioner-general, Printemps des Etudes, regarding major trends in MR and the benefits of attending marketing research conferences.
What are some of the major trends or forces affecting the marketing research industry?
Stéphanie Perrin: From my point of view there are two major trends that are affecting the MR industry:
First, market research suppliers are defining the boarders by not only offering new possibilities for brands looking to listen to the market and interact with customers [mobility, social media listening, etc.] but also for the MR industry itself. The industry must embrace multi-device compatibility and methodologies must combine quantitative and qualitative approaches. Creativity and vitality within the industry will ensure MR’s future.
Second, the economic crisis has accelerated the necessity for MR to adapt what it has to offer. Researchers must make more with less people, money and time!
The new challenge for MR is to be the most important part of strategic recommendations and to help companies make business decisions. The impact of market research analysis must be more and more acute.
Are the forces affecting the client-side researchers (those who work in the market research departments of companies like Coca-Cola or Groupe Danone) different from those affecting the research vendors (those who work at market research firms like Ipsos or GfK)?
I don’t think so. The main trends are affecting both sides of MR and the aim is the same for client-side researchers and research vendors: to adapt one’s offerings to the market. For client-side researchers it is important to be connected to the market and – for some – to be consumer-centric. For research vendors, the importance lies in providing time for analysis and to give advice to clients to open opportunities in the market.
There seem to be many more conferences in the marketing research space these days. Why do you think there is so much interest in staging new marketing research conferences?
The marketing research industry is moving. Tools are evolving quickly and it is necessary for professionals to stay connected to the market and to stay in touch with peers. The creation of Printemps des Etudes shows this need to keep in touch with the reality of the challenges of the sector.
For client-side researchers, what are some of the benefits of attending a marketing research conference such as Printemps des Etudes?
Attending a conference opens attendees’ eyes to new approaches and tools, and helps them benchmark new methodologies. Printemps des Etudes highlights innovation and novelties, debates and exchanges.
Conferences such as Printemps des Etudes also help attendees focus on ethical guidelines as well as the European legal debate on personal data, two points professionals must pay attention to in their daily work.
For research vendors, what are some of the benefits of attending a marketing research conference such as Printemps des Etudes?
Research vendors are able to present products and services, showing their know-how. They can meet actual and former customers as well as future ones. It is a good place to launch new products and take the pulse of the market.
I know the conference is not specifically focused on marketing research in France, but can you talk about some of the current topics or trends in marketing research in France and/or the rest of Europe? For example, is mobile research (using smartphones and tablets, etc.) a hot topic in France and the rest of Europe, as it is in the U.S.?
The MR industry in France is very innovative with a good mix of high-level mathematics researchers and qualitative-school followers. But what is surprising is that our French MR influence is sometimes adopted abroad more than in our own country. For instance, French MR client-side researchers are not early adopters of mobile research.
The debate on personal data and the use of data by the MR industry is at a critical stage in Europe. The industry must preserve its field of influence. There is a real challenge to find a balance to protect and to rule the activity.
Other topics include how to connect data with the market, how to make research in real time, how to listen to social media, how to create a relevant and vivid brand and how to analyze consumer behavior.
What makes you the most afraid for the future of marketing research?
Ethics. A new era is here with a new, connected consumer. The borders are not yet built to control the use of personal data, to protect integrity.
For you as the general manager of the event, what are some of the hardest parts of your job?
The hardest parts of my job are the same challenges marketing researchers are facing: anticipating trends and market evolutions. I must always work in advance to present the innovations of the market and identify tomorrow’s success stories. The program committee and the managing committee help me a lot with this.
What are some of the easiest or most fun parts of your job?
Marketing research is an intellectually stimulating filed and each day brings a new tool. It is great to meet different people, work with them and brain storm each new edition. The support of the industry is very helpful. Organizing and creating are two things I am fond of. At the end of a successful event, I never turn down a glass of champagne!