Reflections on the 2022 ESOMAR Congress: People, quality (and equality), trends and more!

ESOMAR Congress 2022 in Toronto was worth the wait, with fantastic networking, educational sessions that pushed us to innovate and evolve, and research that's making a difference.

Our conference team - Group Services Director, Horst Feldhaeuser; Regional Engagement Director, Keri Vermaak; and EVP of Client Development, John Bird - recently returned from the ESOMAR Congress in Toronto - the first Congress in three years. It was fantastic to connect face-to-face with some of the leading minds in the insights and market research industry. The sessions were inspirational, sharing new innovations in the space, plus grappling with evolving issues like data quality, diversity and inclusion, and new methodologies. Plus, with ESOMAR celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, there was a welcome celebratory air during every part of the four-day event. 

Some of our reflections from the conference include:

  • It’s all about people. With the boom in B2B SaaS businesses in the insights space, a lot of attention has been focused on tech & tools, and not enough on people. It’s people that truly make a difference. Technology simply can’t replace the value we have as insights professionals provide. People + technology is the winning combination.
  • Focus on all. The industry needs to be far more holistic, delivering what is in the best interest of all - us, our customers, our community, and the environment.
  • Our time is now. With the ability to actually deliver on the promises and potential of big data / data-driven decision making, there has never been a more important time to be in insights. We have the tools at our disposal to demonstrate our ROI, which gives us a seat at the table.
  • Questions matter. Organizations are finally starting to focus on asking the right questions, rather than those that help them hit internal KPIs. By redesigning our surveys, we can get better engagement, deeper insights, and greater outcomes for customers. When that happens, the KPIs look after themselves.

We do have to acknowledge the brilliance of both starting and ending the entire conference with dance performances. Kicking off the conference was an invigorating contemporary Indigenous dance by Toronto's Red Sky Performance dance troupe; and we ended the conference with a keynote address by award-winning choreographer, dancer, movement director and speaker, Esie Mensah, who concluded her presentation with an original dance performance. (Of course, there was some less impressive dancing in between these two bookends - attendees like us hitting the floor at the Gala Dinner and Dance.) 

In addition to some fantastic networking with new and existing friends, colleagues, clients and partners at the conference’s many happy hours and breaks, the educational sessions were outstanding. With a theme of “What if..” the conference was positioned to answer some pressing questions such as “What if research could change the planet?” and “What if research can solve the most complex issues in society?” A panel on combating fraud in the industry included anonymous video interviews with real-life fraudsters explaining in detail how they tricked the systems - fascinating!

The sold-out Women in Research luncheon was especially exciting this year because they unveiled the third wave in a gender parity study, conducted every five years. While many of us would have hoped that more progress had been made over the last five years, it was clear that at least the conversation is more elevated and awareness has grown around this issue within the market research industry. Work-life balance has been affected by the pandemic, specifically for mothers, but women are slightly more satisfied with their jobs than they were in 2017. The pay gap persists, actually widening by $5,000 in the last five years, with senior-level women making $13,000 less than men per year. This topic is definitely something the industry should be monitoring and companies must put solid practices in place to promote equality across the workforce.

To top off the ESOMAR experience for our team, our own Horst Feldhaeuser was named as part of the Insight250 list during the awards ceremony at the conference. This list celebrates the worldwide pioneers, leaders and innovators in market research, data-driven marketing and insights. Please join us in congratulating him! 

All in all, we were thrilled to be back at ESOMAR Congress, and can’t wait to attend next year’s event in Amsterdam. 

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