Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Kemal Koštrebić, marketing research expert
Market research fair Research and Results, or in German the Markforschungsmesse (it’s not so difficult to pronounce as it seems at first), which is held every year in Munich, is the central gathering place for the German research industry.
Already the first contact with Munich was interesting from a marketing standpoint – my taxi driver, in the late night hours, explained to me how unemployment in Germany is minimal, but that a large number of workers work for mindestlohn, or the lowest salary. Such a salary, the taxi driver explained, is to a large extent spent on (the cheapest) yogurt and doner kebabs, and medication.
However, as we drove we passed next to a plethora of parked Mercedes, BMWs, Porsches …
It’s boring to talk about how a market is a complex thing … more about it in the end of this article.
One of the first presentations I saw at the R&R was by the company Infas 360, which has employed technology to segment every residential property – a total of over two million addresses in Germany. Following a large number of variables (the amount of rent, the distance to the store, the ambulance, the city transport…) allows for an overview of not the cities, not the blocks, not the streets, but every individual address!
They presented how easy it is for a researcher to find that person from the taxi driver’s story, but also the one who parked their Mercedes somewhere. Sometimes researchers need a specific household – of the likes of only a handful in the entire Germany.
As I started with the tech story I will continue down that track. One survey conducted a year or two ago showed that uberization is the greatest fear of managers in established industries. Managers are afraid that an IT company could appear from nowhere, and render them obsolete, practically wiping them out in a matter of months. This trend in marketing research could have been noticed over the last couple of years, and nothing more.
IT companies – from startups to large corporations – have entered the research market, initially mostly as survey platforms, and then as data visualization platforms. Later they tried to grab the biggest most valuable pieces of the market cake, and now their names include complex terms such as CX, analyze, concept, qual, omni … They present what they offer as a “great achievement” that will “solve all the companies’ issues”, while actually in most cases the only thing they can offer is that product or service from their name.
It seems to me that the effects are, however, limited. Knowledge of the market grows with every new project, and technology can be of great help here, but (still) it can hardly replace experienced researchers. Everyone’s mouths are full of customer experience, customer journey, and experience management, but in fact all they are doing are hiding and masking up an ordinary survey platform. The road from a survey platform to understanding of customer journey is a long one.
CX is a buzzword, neuro (unlike previous years) considerably less.
But even more interesting, this year in Munich I’ve noticed an opposite trend – researchers aren’t on the defensive, they are the ones attacking! Several presentations in their titles featured IT terminology, such as agile, cycles, development, actionable … Same as on the other side, the essence is that with this terminology they want to “enter” the IT companies. I don’t think this is a bad thing – on the contrary, it is even commendable, and I myself am trying to do the same thing. Nevertheless, most of the time it was about already known products for consumer insights, just packed differently.
What has been one of the most interesting presentations was a multidisciplinary project to explore the possibilities of text-to-speech and speech-to-text (through audio or video channels) technology in research. I personally prefer a living word, but the limitations and preferences (especially by the academia) towards numbers are relentless. However, here I have also seen proof why living words have the advantage. When orally responding to questions, interviewees produce two-and-a-half more letters than when they are writing! Furthermore, using STT technology, even in closed responses we get much more detailed responses which can be quantified than when we offer “click a, or b” options.
Stands of research companies were also interesting. Bigger companies made less effort, and were mostly waiting for visitors to approach them, so they could show how big they are. Some marketing managers were frustrated because they became part of larger companies, where their creative wings got clipped.
Smaller companies, on the other hand, made effort to grab attention with various games, drinks, broad smiles … in order to gather contacts, business cards, and leads for sales teams. Some of them, like Qualtrics and Kadence, have not only talked about a customer journey, but have designed a customer journey at the fair itself, so the level of interest from the initial “what do you do” or “can you give me more information about this” was raised from the “I’ll ask whatever just to get a notebook” to “how does this work, and how can I leverage it?!”
Let’s go back to presentations. What put me to sleep (on multiple occasions)? For decades now, all conferences have had a number of presentations that begin with “in today’s world you can see and talk to someone who is at the other side of the planet”. No way!?! Really?!
When researchers start talking about complex environments, specific needs … those are the likes that make me often sit next to the exit. Who are they trying to impress? Attention is limited, meaning they are bad researchers because they don’t that, and they waste their time on triviality. I’m not saying the presentations were bad. There were more interesting presentations than the boring ones. But what I do want to say is that I could imagine a lot of presenters from the Balkans who would have far more to offer, but we (often) don’t appreciate ourselves enough.
And the fact that the market is complex is something that even the taxi driver from the beginning of this story knows far to well. Asked “Can mindestlohn get you this BMW?” he replies: “aaaa … no, this is a different world. A different segment of people. They don’t eat what we eat. They buy different clothes. They get medical treatment in the other part of the city. They don’t drink the cheapest yogurt. They don’t eat kebabs.”