IN TOUCH : What do you think?

Or what do you buy? And why? These are the perennial questions of market research – often delivered via phone right on dinner time and often an unwelcome intrusion. Consumer resistance to the exploration of their buying habits or behaviour is one of the biggest challenges currently facing the industry, according to Adrian Chedore, worldwide head of leading market research firm Synovate.
“It’s truly staggering to me anyone is prepared to be interviewed – it’s quite an imposition. The industry has taken respondents for granted, now it’s getting harder to get hold of them so you have to make interviews shorter by using tighter questions or new analysis techniques. Or make it more exciting. You have got to get them interested and that’s challenge.”
A recognised speaker on the global market research market, Chedore was in New Zealand along with Synovate’s Australia/New Zealand CEO Brent Stewart to speak about industry trends at breakfast seminar last month.
He says that in an increasingly connected and complex world, discovering what influences consumer behaviour is also becoming more complex task. The proliferation and range of communication channels is very much part of that complexity.
“The whole concept of how people are influenced is so much more complicated today than even five years ago, let alone 20. And for market research which is all about measuring the influences and getting marketers to understand how to use those influences to move their brands – it all makes our job much more complex as well.”
He says research companies are responding to consumer resistance by utilising different methodologies such as observation, scanner data, ethnographic or cultural studies and online forums or interactive panels. The growing popularity of social networking sites like Facebook or YouTube provides great way of engaging younger people, says Chedore.
“One of the interesting things from respondent viewpoint is that they want feedback about what they are saying to us – they want to know about their cohort as much as we want to know about them.”
A third trend affecting the industry, says Chedore, is change in the nature of clients and the industry’s relationship with them.
“We deal with clients who operate on global basis – who literally have control over everything to do with particular brand around the world – as well as those operating regionally or locally.”
And new phenomenon for market research is the involvement of procurement in the decision to invest. It’s sign of the industry’s maturation that such decisions are no longer left to research departments but are as central to investment decisions as purchasing media space – or office space, says Chedore.
“It’s more professional; it’s seen as an investment for the company – the brand owners recognise the need for research and they want return on that.”
The need to measure value from market research programme holds true in New Zealand as well as globally with government departments in particular taking more tangible, outcomes-based approach.

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