Trends and challenges facing market research in Ireland
Luke recently featured a piece in the Marketing People section of the Sunday Independent about trends and challenges facing market research in Ireland..here’s his full piece.
Luke Reaper, Managing Director, B&A
Overview of B&A
Behaviour and Attitudes, or B&A as we are fondly known, has for over 30 years been Ireland’s leading and most innovative provider of market research and consumer insight. We have evolved from being a small ‘boutique’ agency to being the leading Independent agency delivering innovative insight solutions for clients such as; RTE, AIB, Virgin Media, Pfizer, Britvic, Bord Bia, RSA, TILDA, etc.
Recently, we have been in hiring mode, recruiting for example Maggie Matthews from Flamingo in the UK to enhance our Planning and Qual area.
We have over 200+ interviewers nationwide, our own call centre in Ireland and an online research panel (www.acumenpanel.ie), which numbers over 26,000 consumers.
Our aspiration, to Delve Deeper, represents our unique point of difference.
As Managing Director of B&A, I am involved in the day-to-day management of the operation, but like my fellow directors I am actively involved in client projects. Thus, you are as likely to see me conducting a focus group in Mullingar as presenting at a conference. I am also involved in developing strategic partnerships to deliver innovative solutions, spanning both technology and human capital, to our clients.
We are fascinated by the world around us and curious about people, not simply as people and users of products and brands, but in how they interact within their broader cultural surroundings. Understanding this broader cultural context remains as important today as it was over 30 years ago when B&A was set-up; even more so one could argue.
Good researchers need to be fundamentally curious, and we are!
Turning market challenges into opportunities
Thus far, market research in Ireland has managed the challenge of technology innovation extremely well and has knitted it into the services on offer in a truly beneficial manner – advanced modelling, real-time reporting and visual data presentation are now the norm.
Being independent makes B&A fleet of foot, A few years ago we set up the B&A Incubator – representing our commitment to trying new methods and putting investment behind our hunches. We integrate ideas and technologies that have emerged internationally, enabling us to roll-out new approaches such as; shopper pathways in-store, facial profiling for ad testing, AI machine-learning verbatim analysis tools, online qual ethnography, etc.
We partner with all types of organisations, from economic consultants, to data specialists out of California, to real-time CX platforms. This approach is loved by our clients, making their lives easier and guaranteeing enhanced and more actionable insight.
The second challenge is one of credibility. The industry needs to cement its credibility and trustworthiness. Market research does not come cheaply (if it does, watch out!) but its intrinsic value to clients must be based on a platform of full integrity. Recent rumblings about what’s happening in the innards of the tech giants and so called algorithmic manipulation have the potential to cause deep fractures in trust.
B&A’s positioning around quality is crucial. We continue to be hired by those in the know for our quality of work. We invest heavily in people, systems and tech to deliver sound, insightful advice, underscored by quality research.
There are newish trends in the market, and these are now shaping the industry and its future trajectory. Information overload has been a fact of life for some time, and offering buyers of research more information that they need will swamp them.
So the task of researchers has become more sharply honed on two dimensions: Forensic analysis of issues, which is then used as illumination. Thus, the client community is asking for more, but also asking for something different, and, at its zenith, this is distilled into a request for wisdom.
Which leads to the question about the balance between tactical and strategic research in Ireland. The B&A view on this is unambiguous: if the strategic map and landscape is not thought out clearly and comprehended by all, then the tactical stuff is dust in a storm.
This is not to knock research on tactical matters, However, setting aside strategic research on the basis that it is too big, expensive or conceptual can be a costly error.
More advanced thinking on analysis is also a clear trend. For B&A, increasingly the effective measurement of initiative impact and prediction of behaviour depends on understanding the interconnectedness between the business-home-cultural and social components of consumers lives. In conjunction with this, we need to focus more on the importance of understanding behavioural ‘lock-in’ (cited in Axon 2018), where success of initiatives are impacted when consumers are not particularly conscious of their habit-based activities, thereby creating a value-action gap, where their aspiration and value associated with product usage and associated behaviour change is compromised because they are unaware that they have acted in a different way than intended.
The importance of MR for brands
MR has never been more relevant in this fast-paced, every changing world with worldwide competition on the doorstep. Part of the issue for brands nowadays is the lack of consumer insight. It used to be that brands knew more than consumers. However, are the tables turning? Not for those that invest in good quality research and insight.