Podcast: Imagining a world without market research with RANZ

In honor of ESOMAR’s International Market Research Day, we had Maria Tyrrell and Murray Campbell on our podcast to talk about “What would the world be like without market research?”

In honor of ESOMAR’s International Market Research Day, we had Maria Tyrrell, the managing director of NeedScope International, and Murray Campbell, Director at Baseline Consultancy, on our Now that’s Significant podcast. Both are involved as life members with Research Association New Zealand (RANZ) and they were interviewed by Geoff Lowe, Infotools' Director of Sales.

First, we sought to answer a big question “What would the world be like without market research?” To help us imagine what this would look like, Murray cited his experiences working in places like Cambodia, where government sign-off was required for anything like political polls. This was for a reason – the fate and future of the country was entirely independent of what the people might actually want. This gives a bit of a picture of what it might be like when the voice of the people, the customer or the consumer is not heard. Market research helps to give them a voice. From a commercial standpoint, Maria mentioned that if companies aren’t delivering what people want and need – discovered through proper research – it is incredibly wasteful. They need to find out these needs so they can deliver products and services that people will actually purchase to be successful.

As we dug into this concept a little more, Geoff focused the conversation around three main goals – part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. While there are 17 total goals outlined by the UN, we discussed the following:

#10: Reduce inequality within and among countries

During the discussion, our guests put forth that research helps to achieve this goal by bringing an independent view and a broad view. By accessing a diverse, representative population with the right market research sample, you can start to hear everyone’s voice, even the disempowered may find participating in research as a way to make their opinion heard among leaders. While companies can do things like social media listening, and this can bring valuable data to the table, these kinds of stand-alone approaches may ultimately fail. They can’t fully advise companies on which products and services will satisfy their audiences and, hopefully, make the world a better place. We also touched on political polling and its role in the equality equation, which differs greatly from country to country.

#12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

As an industry, we are leading in this regard in several ways. Many surveys show people believe that companies have a role to play in sustainability, right up there with governments. Companies have responsibility for making the world a better place and as researchers we try to gain understanding of how do to do that in a way that makes sense. Brand purpose is a now top concern and is incredibly important right now, beyond just the concept of "brand" alone. Many companies are beginning to have proactive sustainability practices, although this does play out differently in different cultures. Our discussion centered on the fact that it is not just a matter of the insights that we generate, but it is also the responsibility of clients to take hold of those insights and take action. We can help to inspire clients to be the force of change. This, in turn, leads back to the premise that there is huge potential in the industry for clients to become more invested in the process of uncovering insights, so that they can own them much more deeply. 

#16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

We can provide insights that prove these concepts are necessary. Sometimes these themes can be difficult to resolve, as decision makers tend to be from a different group than the people they are acting on behalf on so some information is lost in translation. The pandemic has proved to us how everyone is different in the way that they think, absorb information and communicate, and “greater platforms of communication haven’t really enabled greater communication.” But companies can and do have a role here, a higher purpose around peace and justice as they advocate for people and make their voices heard. It is market research and even polls that give that voice – we are involved in growing humanity’s understanding of itself so everyone can be better served. In a perfect scenario, research is about rising above the everyday and getting that real illumination of what’s going on and delivering that insight, hopefully, for the betterment of our lives. Having the insight is the first step, and then people need to take good actions based on it. Our role isn’t just to report but to inspire and engage, and help clients activate that vision.

We have additional, in-depth discussions about timely issues around the globe; differences of research done in emerging markets and its role in different cultures; and our role as researchers to share our greater knowledge for decision-making. We closed out by discussing thoughts about where market research is going, or should be going, in the future. For a complete list of the United Nation goals, go here

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