Research Association New Zealand is the result of the merge in New Zealand of the Market Research Society (MRSNZ) and the Association of Market Research Organizations (AMRONZ) which took place in 2013. The merge created a tremendous opportunity to advance the causes of the industry under a single, re-energized, industry body. Recruiting Board Members, Executive Committee members, strategic partners etc was greatly aided by the merge with people feeling inspired and wanting to be part of it. By 2017 the situation had changed somewhat and the mood between the Board and members had shifted to one where some members began to express frustrations that our association wasn’t delivering what members really wanted and needed. That maybe we hadn’t lived up to the promise of the merge. Like many associations globally we were dealing with declining revenues, lower event attendances, shrinking sponsorship budgets and a member base increasingly demanding an association that embraces new ideas and ways of doing things, despite strained budgets. The Board bravely embraced the challenge and embarked on a course of member engagements to better understand what was needed and how members wanted that delivered. In summary:
  1. Depth Interviews with various members and stakeholders
  2. Quantitative Research with the whole member base
  3. Facilitated Design Workshop with invited participants
  4. Presentation of findings and Recommendations at Annual General Meeting
At the 2018 AGM we presented what we felt was a good representation of what members were looking for and would ensure that the Association could continue to meet their needs. This version was largely rejected by attendees as trying to satisfy too many competing priorities and not brave enough with respect to the future of government, business and the industry. So back to the drawing board we went. To help us with our deliberations we met with a couple of other association CEOs to better understand how they were grappling with challenges not dissimilar to our own. One of those was particularly helpful in that we were able to much better express our purpose and vision as a result of that meeting. And once we cracked that chestnut everything else got easier. The key insight that drove much of our thinking was that an association of volunteers with very small budgets would always struggle to provide more than a small number of member services eg Conference, Awards, Learning Events, Code of Practice, Complaints Committee etc. But that we could use our resources to empower members to pursue their own shared interests. We saw our purpose in that context being to “Champion Insights Genius”. And this led us to develop a new member value proposition being “To Connect, Promote and Advance the Powers of Insight”. We have been careful to shift the emphasis away from the delivery of a range of services and move more towards facilitating initiatives that members can take up (or not!) that members are mainly driving. We are doing this under the guise of Special Interest Communities that we call HUBs. We support members to create HUBs and then promote those to other members and non-members so that they can collectively pursue their areas of special interest. This all sits under our vision which is “A smarter NZ through superior research, data, insights, knowledge, alliances and actions.” Members welcomed the Board’s revised strategic plan with open arms this year and we used our August Conference to kick off under the banner of “NEW HORIZONS, Exploring the Frontiers of a Changing Landscape”. We have a lot to do and a long way to go but we are confident that the new Purpose, Vision and Member Value Proposition will give rise to exciting innovations and opportunities for the membership as we head into the 2020s.