In my last post I promised some short updates on the just-concluded ESOMAR Congress in Athens. Then my family and I set off on a driving vacation around the Peloponnese where thoughts of MR and the Congress quickly drifted away. I was reminded of this when the morning's email included a note from a colleague passing along the results of a survey that ESOMAR conducted prior to the conference using a predictive markets methodology. The survey offered 12 methods associated with "the new MR" and asked respondents (581 ESOMAR members) whether they would buy or sell shares in each method. The big winners: Netnography, Co-creation, MROCs, and Mobile. The also-rans generally attracted a third or less of the investment in these top four. At the Congress there were papers describing still more methods that were not included in the survey!
Seeing this brought back the unease I felt in Athens. As I noted in my previous post, the conference theme was built around the twofold challenge of the pressures on MR brought by a faltering global economy and the uncertainty about how the practice of research will evolve. For better or worse we have had for generations some pretty standard ways of collecting the facts our clients need to make better business decisions and we differentiated ourselves mostly by our analytic finesse and insight-generating abilities. Now all of that has changed. Those traditional methods are now in whatever stage comes after being "under fire" and the candidates to replace them are counted in the dozens. "Fractured" is a word that keeps coming into my head.
There is an old saying that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not to their own facts. That doesn't seem to apply to MR like it used to. In a very real sense this is a very exciting time, more exciting even than the emergence of online 15 or so years ago. But I am the sort who likes clarity and right now the future of MR is anything but clear. I can't imagine how our clients must feel.