I’ve been lucky enough to attend many Customer and MR/Marketing Industry conferences around the world, and especially in the exciting and dynamic Asia Pacific region over the past decade (or more).  As always, these forums are designed to scare the living daylights out of marketing and research professionals. They constantly highlight how much things are changing, that consumers are more empowered than ever, that technology is the driving force, that clients are demanding more, for less, and fast-flowing rivers of information (big data). In short, they are driving home the fact that the Revolution is on, i.e. “If you don’t like change, you will like relevance less.” In general, I think there is merit to this theme. But each of us has a chance to make a difference. As a global profession, our biggest opportunity (and biggest threat) will be defined and determined by how much we are willing to be flexible in a digital driven world. We need to find ways to keep up with change and feel comfortable in a land where we don’t know what is around the corner. It’s hard for many MR professionals to do this (as we love to be in control and understand) but we need to try. It’s cliché to say the world is changing quickly, but it truly is. MR is driven by speed, agility, ROI, and obtaining answers using multiple data sources with real-time reporting. In AsiaPac this is exceedingly prevalent. The biggest threats I see for MR in this world include:
  • Ignoring or not letting new players/experts into our tent so we can learn and collaborate from and with them. We need to co-create the new privacy world, convince governments of the benefits and ensure all players follow the rules.  If we choose the alternative, we all risk being shut out in a world where customers want to have a say in how things are.
  • Continuing our obsession with representative samples in today’s ambiguous world.  Not only is it virtually impossible to achieve, but we also miss the opportunity to take advantage of, automated and well-profiled sample sources.
  • Maintaining a closed-minded approach to contacting people. We should align with their lifestyles rather than interrupt them. Contact with customers, consumers, and citizens needs to be shorter.  Strive to be more engaging, and appreciate their time by giving back when they share with us.
  • If we fail to highlight and monetise our research expertise. Our experience in organising and analysing customer or consumer responses (however they are collected), uncovers real answers to business problems and this doesn’t just verify a statement in a research brief. We know and understand the context.
  • If we don’t take advantage of the benefits technology solutions can bring to MR.
There are, however, many exciting opportunities to balance out the threats including:
  • Making the most of mobile enabled societies with new forms of sampling to capture people within a moment and discovering the life they lead.
  • Leverage technology to efficiently deliver more for less, iterate faster insights to develop longitudinal insight of customers over time. Understanding their heuristic decisions helps us piece together why things happen.
  • Find ways to tell more stories that highlight ROI of MR investment and the impact of integrating customer voice into the organisation.
  • Working more cooperatively and developing client/agency trust, as well as collaboration between agencies who complement each other.
I’m extremely positive about our profession’s future across APAC, and most global studies say that MR professionals want to change. Consumer empowerment and putting the customer at the centre of decision-making is a shift, not a fad, so in simple terms, the market is heading towards us, and we need to be flexible as we continue to evolve. Peter_Harris               Peter Harris, President, APRC EVP & Managing Director, Asia Pacific at Vision Critical