Simon Chadwick on the MR industry

Simon Chadwick is CEO of CAMBIAR, a change management company.  He is also affiliated with Peanut Labs and is the Editor-in-Chief of Research World which I happen to think is a wonderful publication from ESOMAR.  He spoke at the opening session of MRA’s CEO Summit.  Here is a summary of his comments according to my notes.

In 2009 marketing research will likely see its first contraction since 1982, estimated at 7-9%.  Even with that historic contraction, online research will grow 5% bringing online to a total of about 49% of all research. 


The trend over the past several years has been for research departments and agencies to provide more high level consulting and insights that go far beyond the simple reporting of research findings.  Research managers enjoy this strategic role and will be reluctant to give it up.  Therefore, they will work hard to maximize the dollars they do have to spend on research to be sure it feeds their strategic needs.  Implications of this are:

  • Long time suppliers will become even more crucial
  • More online
  • More qualitative
  • More quali-quant
  • More Communiites
  • More longitudinal studies
  • Even more reliance on syndicated studies

The recession accelerated an industry transformation that was already underway.  “Web 2.0 is a tectonic shift in how we interact with the public.”  Social networking is now the preferred mode of communication for many people and has overtaken e-mail as the most used method of electronic communication. 

Reserachers will now have to consider a new paradigm for research.  No longer will it be a direct Researcher-Respondent interaction.  We are moving to a research model where the researcher talks to the participant and listens in while the participants talk to one another.  This is the essence of the impact of social media and online communications developing today.  We are moving from researchers asking questions to reserachers listening to participants.

When researchers meet participants in their (online) space, we will have come full circle in the interviewing process.  Like the old door-to-door methods, researchers will be on participants’ “turf” conducting interviews in what is likely to be a much more passive, thoughtful and respectful way.

  • The implications of all these trends include:
  • Continued separation of consulting from data collection
  • Profit from value creation, not volume
  • Continued increase in offshoring to reduce costs
  • Industry consolidation based on skills not geography
  • Embracing adjacent industries
  • Innovation at the margins

Simon Chadwick’s presentation was thought-provoking.  I encourage you to use these thoughts as a springboard for how you will interact with the research industry in 2009 and beyond.

Leave a reply