Environmentally sustainable research


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my pecha kucha at the inaugural Research Liberation Front meeting on Brighton seafront in 2007. 20 slides 20 seconds per slide. And the slides advance by themselves. RLF was set up to challenge the status quo in research. We caused a stir when we called ourselves a fringe event at the national Market Research Society event. Noses were put out of join but within 3 years we were credited with changing the content of the conference for good. This presentation is about how research throws away respondents being environmentally irresponsible. And suggests alternatives. The evening was a blast!

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  • This talk is about what’s wrong with market research which prides itself on being environmentally unsustainable
    Recruiting large numbers of respondents and throwing them away afterwards
    In this paper I want to outline why sustainable research will actually produce better findings than we do now. It should make research more accessible to clients than today’s start stop projects
  • The way we practice research is unsustainable.
    Its astounding how wasteful both qualitative and quantitative research is – we may value longstanding client and supplier relationships but where it comes to research we dispose of the respondents within minutes after extracting a fraction of the experience they offer.
    Blind to the reality that respondents like everything else on this planet are a finite resource.
    Who has calculate the wear and tear on customer behaviour of rejecting respondents, of people resorting to fraud to try to be selected – or of the effect on consumer behaviour – first they want you … then if you say the wrong thing they’ll disqualify you
  • There is an ongoing debate about how extensive fraud is. After that last half century of research in the UK, either a significant proportion of the population can be considered damaged goods – they have been researched at least once – there aren’t enough people to go round. Which makes us rather incompetent.
    Or we’re researching the same remnant over and over again. And we pretend they’re brand new when they’re not – which makes us liars then.
    You decide.
  • Clients have become quite vocal about research quality. About the methods we’re using, why they’re being charged so much for more of the same – the same faces turning up in research groups, the quick turnarounds and the usefulness of the findings.
  • What’s bizarre is that technology has made it easy to keep tabs on respondents so slash and burn really makes no sense.
    Actually Internet and database culture makes it possible to sustain relationships building up histories and increasing our knowledge of those we reach– why do we presume that respondents are fraudulent and need to be monitored – why not capture their experience and recruit for continuity and enrichment?
  • Isn’t it time to get real about respondent contamination? Surely we can make allowances for the increasing research experience of someone who has been serially interviewed? The real issue that we only value their contribution insofar as it represents not the individual but a whole group of people. Isn’t it time we chose real relationships pver representative ones?
  • Longitudinal research works on the basis of continuity – quality of relationship is privileged over having dozens of different types of horizontal relationship each of which have to be monitored separately and comparisons made purely by content. With longitudinal research the respondent is much more aware of research as a process and can reflect on it. Respondents can change their minds and say so.
  • There’s a political issue here. We have to give up control. In a recent conversation Claire Goodman Professor of Healthcare Research was describing to me how she was giving control of the tape recording to children. Peer group reviews and ethical committees supplemented by presenting back to respondents – are better than no accountability or feedback at all
  • Why do respondents participate? Well some of the reasons they’ve given me in the past year are the following
    Because they find research interesting and validating –
    Because they’re interested in the product area
    Because they admire the brand.
    Because it’s like a job
    Because meeting other respondents affirms them socially
    Because it’s a great way to meet people with the same interests or who understand them – terminal patients can often prefer to band together -
    The Ciao research suggests that money is really not one of the main motivators for people joining their panels.
    These are all reasons which respondents have given me in the last year about why they are participating – all of which I ignore because all that matters is that I’ve paid them. Only of course its not a payment otherwise the Inland revenue would get involved. So if respondents are not our employees does this mean that we have obligations to them?
  • Not only does the technology make continuity of relationship with respondents possible – it has raged through our businesses flattening them as it has gone through.Now large enterprises manage with a fraction of the vertical layers.
  • Charles Handy predicted the redistribution of employees in and outside work premises but the real culture change is when companies start to open themselves up to involving stakeholder groups who aren’t employees.
    But the democratising of technology has made it possible for unprecedented levels of participation from those who buy and use the products.
    This isn’t necessarily CRM. Customers don’t want a relationship with any old company who has a CRM program – but they may choose to have some form of connection – but they will expect to play an active and sometimes critical role.
  • The Nature of the interactions with different stakeholder groups will be very different. It will be a relationship between equals. They’ll answer our questions but we’ll have to start to answer theirs.
  • Part of the attraction of their involvement will be because they can interact with other stakeholder groups and it will be the job of the company to make this easier and not to try to control it.
  • A consequence is that content is going to become a lot less dependent on paying people to respond. In fact the insider content is going to be the big draw. You don’t keep people interested for months on end with money only.
    The reward for involvement must be continual access and exposure to privileged information - not waiting to be asked questions – respondent is being given things to do.
  • Researchers aren’t going to like this – it was easy fixing a price going to ask the questions and decided who to allow in and which bits to report back to HQ
  • The emerging role will be favour those researchers who function as party hosts or social entrepreneurs. Creating value to the client through the imaginativeness with which they construct and sustain rich communication running in different directions.
  • We are talking about stakeholder panels here. Conducted mostly online. Clients are going to love this.
    Continual access ,
    Ability to hypothesise and check what ifs
    Fast response
    And for perhaps the first time to be able to afford to combine qualitative subtlety with the security of big numbers
  • I don’t believe it will be a problem filling these panels. Because enough people will want to get involved because they value a greater degree of involvement. They are being treated like participants and equals and no longer as disposable respondents.
  • The transition isn’t going to be easy for those researchers conducting adhoc projects. Because the business model is changing. Ad hoc qualitative and quantitative research is set to become narrower and more specialised as huge swathes of research projects are swallowed up inside the emerging client stakeholder panels.
  • There isn’t time to argue both sides of this. But I close with the question is there really an alternative?
    The current model is unsustainable.
    Do we really want to persist with slash and burn
    Continuing with artificial representative adult to child transations when a richer alternative beckons?
    I put it to you that its time we put in some changes from the ground up.
    –the customer is getting smarter – most of the smartness is being discarded by our current interviewing methods.
    the question is really how long the current model is going to be sustainable – do we want to move from artifically anonymous discrete relationships recruited face to face to artificially anonymous discrete relationships on line – we need continuity and quality of relationship
  • Environmentally sustainable research

    1. 1. Environmentally sustainable research John Griffiths www.planningaboveandbeyond.com
    2. 2. Moderators heading back to the agency the way we practice research is unsustainable Omnibus survey
    3. 3. we’ve either talked to just about everybody or we’re talking to the same people…. over and over and over again You decide research industry Incompetent or Mendacious?
    4. 4. clients are voicing their disquiet about the research quality  methodology  sample selection  analysis & interpretation  communication of findings
    5. 5. technology also enables intimacy – so why are we fixated on security? Respondent history Respondent validation
    6. 6. isn’t it time we chose real over representative relationships?
    7. 7. continuity of relationship instead of dicing and slicing market segments longitude vs latitude
    8. 8. yielding control to those whose quality of contribution is central I think this bit is important - shall I switch the recorder on?
    9. 9. why respondents participate Psst its not about money
    10. 10. In the 1990s organisations flattened
    11. 11. Now organisations are opening out      stakeholder consultations joint venture partnerships virtual teams contractors homeworking/hotdesking
    12. 12. I’ll answer your questions… If you’ll answer my questions in return
    13. 13. people often participate in order to engage with other people even if they’d rather talk to each other their contribution is just as valid
    14. 14. content is the emerging incentive       Direct access Expertise Product testing Multimedia participation Equipped to provide feedback Other relevant content via the web They want something others don’t have access to Expect cash to decline in importance as a way to incentivise participation
    15. 15. researchers will have to change their role.. no longer deciding who gets in and whose opinions are worth conveying to the boss
    16. 16. more like party hosts or social entrepreneurs whose intervention makes rich communication happen
    17. 17. Clients will love it Stakeholder panel Share holders Employees Opinion Leaders the new workhorse Customers Prospects • Continuous • Interactive • What ifs • Affordable •Fast response • Qual subtlety • Quant significance
    18. 18. Many respondents will welcome it New role as  Participant  Co- creator  Content generator  Insight hunter Because they value a greater degree of involvement
    19. 19. It will be a painful transition for researchers Dinosaur 1.0 Research 1.0 Dinosaur 2.0 Research 2.0 Ad hoc quant and qual research will become narrower & more specialised
    20. 20. What’s the alternative? More slash and burn • transactional • artificial • representative • adult to child No going back..