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Most Predictions Are Wrong, So Let’s Keep Making Them

The researcher and author Philip Tetlock has been researching predictions since the 1980s and has concluded that most predictions fail, that most experts do worse than a chimp with pin (i.e. worse than chance), and that predictions more than a few months out are particularly flaky. If you are interested in the topic of predicting and forecasting then I strongly recommend his book Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, which illustrates the problems and shows why and how some people do better than experts. But despite the dismal record of most forecasters and predictors, we continue to make predictions, especially at this time of the year. Indeed, I recently published my “Five Market Research Trends for 2017” and was pleased to see that over 4000 people had read it. Why Predictions Can Be Useful I firmly believe that making predictions, and urging other people to make predictions, can be a really useful exercise, despite the poor track record that predictions have. In order to assess the ways predictions can be useful, we need to separate the different categories and motivations for forecasts and predictions. So, here are seven categories/motivations – and the benefits they can bring. 1 The Planner […]

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How did my predictions for 2016 fare?

I have just published Five Market Research Trends for 2017, covering issues that I think will be important over the next year. So, it seemed only fair to look back to this time last year to see how my previous predictions performed. A year ago I published “My Predictions for 2016”, which contained nine predictions. Here is an assessment of how I think those predictions performed. 1) Bigger Legal Problems for Facebook and Google. This has been true in the sense that they have faced a growing number of court cases, especially in Europe, along with investigations into their poor records in terms of paying tax. However, the problems they have faced have not markedly impacted their ability to grow or make money. 2) Automation. We saw lots of movement on Automation in 2016 and that trend looks likely to continue into 2017 (check out the NewMR Debate on Automation being held as part of the Festival of NewMR). 3) Surveys will continue to suffer. This is a slightly tricky one to judge. Each year for the last few years (according to the EOSMAR Global Market Research Report) surveys have become a smaller part of the total research mix, but […]

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Five Market Research Trends for 2017

At this time of year our thoughts turn to what will excite and challenge us in 2017. Here are my five top picks. Automation This has been one of the key trends for the last couple of years, although much of the action has been out of sight; taking place in the operational backrooms of clients and agencies. Earlier this year, Lenny Murphy and I published a report on Automation, and I see little reason to change our view on the scale and direction of change. Automation is going to underpin most success stories over the next few years. At its best it will reduce costs, increase speed, and provide an opportunity to provide more evidence-based decision making. In some cases automation will result in a less good product, but in may cases the standardisation will enhance quality, as will the ability to provide relevant answers at the speed and cost needed and the ability to scale things up. Insight Finding Data is getting cheaper and more abundant, but techniques for finding the story in the data have barely moved forward in the last thirty years. That is beginning to change, as evidenced by the popularity of our series on […]

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Want to know more about Behavioural Economics?

This week, NewMR broadcast four webinars on Behavioural Economics (BE) – as part of our Research Innovation event. If you want to expand your knowledge of the theory and application of BE then you might find these presentations useful. Stephen Paton, Behavioral Economics – Is that a wolf at the door or opportunity knocking? In this 16 video Stephen give a great overview and introduction to BE and where it fits in the research picture. Leigh Caldwell & Lizzi Seear, Behavioural economics gets real: with behavioural conjoint In this 21 minute video Leigh and Lizzi start by making the case for implicit measurements and then go on to show, via a Holiday Inn case study, how conjoint analysis can be updated using behavioural economics. Colin Ho, The Connection Between Big Data and Behavioral Economics In this 14 minute video Colin shows how BE can be used as a lens when working with Big Data. Raj Sandhu, Behavioural Economics: Marketing’s latest shiny new thing, or a tipping point? In this 17 minute video Raj highlights the need to evaluate implicit measures and goes on to show how BE can be applied to the development and evaluation of snack foods. Note, the […]

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Why Are Communities Taking Over The Insights World?

OK, let’s start with a clarification, when I say taking over the world, I mean they seem to be everywhere (like Starbucks or Uber) not that they have become masters of the world (as in War of the Worlds or Invasion of the Body Snatchers). For the last few years the GreenBook GRIT report has reported that, along with mobile surveys, research communities are the most widely adopted new research approach – making them more mainstream than new. This year’s ESOMAR Global Market Research Report shows that research communities account for about 5% of total global market research spend – that’s one dollar out of every twenty, and my own experience with most service brands, IT and information companies, most retailers, most media companies and many manufacturers is that in many verticals, using one or more research communities is the norm. Why? Why in a little over ten years have research communities gone from innovative idea to almost being ubiquitous? That is the topic of a webinar I am taking part in on December 14 with Dan Fleetwood of QuestionPro (click here to find out more), but here are a few thoughts. Because it was Possible: Back in 1999 the […]

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An Introduction to Market Research Tables – Request for Feedback

Most market research textbooks (for example Malhotra) do not really cover the sort of tables we use in market research. The main reason being that there is almost no academic justification for the way we market researchers use tables. We tend to use data that ought not be in tables, frequently use the wrong types of statistical tests, and our tendency to cross everything by everything is more like a fishing expedition that a scientific evaluation of hypotheses. However, whatever the rights and wrongs of the issue, tables are probably the most widely used tool in commercial market research. A few years ago, I wrote some notes on how to use market research tables and I currently updating my notes with the intention of publishing them as a book or at least as an eBook. I have reached the first draft stage and would really appreciate some feedback. In particular I am looking for feedback from: People who are unsure how to use tables – do these notes help? What else would you like to know? People who use tables regularly – what have I missed? What is wrong or inadequately correct? People who supply tables – what have I […]


Having a look at 1Q.com – a mobile-based survey service

Last week I had was invited to have a play with the 1Q.com system, an innovative and new alternative for market researchers and marketers. 1Q.com is a panel, currently with a North American focus, that operates via consumer’s phones. Like a growing number of new survey and micro-survey options the 1Q.com platform is very DIY. You can log in, specify the sample, the questions you want to ask, pay with a credit card and launch a survey, all within a few minutes. The system also allows geo targeting. One feature of the platform is that it pushes clients, strongly, to use very short surveys in two ways: 1. The pricing model is per question, per participant. So, 1 question to 1000 people costs the same 2 questions to 500 people. This is likely to make people think hard about how many questions they need. Further questions can be asked in the future to people who take part in surveys, via the DIY platform – this can be done in a way that creates a virtual panel of your own. Market Research And Marketers? For a few years now I have been predicting that marketing and market research will become more […]

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Driverless Taxis – sneaking up in plain sight

For me the concept of the driverless car exists in my mind as two contradictory elements. Firstly, it exists in my science fiction loving mind, as a key element, along with jetpacks, hover cars, and everybody being slim enough to wear lycra. Secondly, I am aware that there are test driverless cars on public roads all around the world, especially the Google ones in California – a current reality. I am wondering if other people are similarly suffering from this double vision and whether it is obscuring their perception of how close we are to massive changes in society. In the same way that the gradual growth of digital assistants such as Siri has infiltrated our daily lives without any large-scale sense that we are living in a world we thought of as science fiction relatively recently, and one that is rapidly changing. My thinking about driverless taxis and the curious lack of excitement about them was kicked into higher gear by the recent announcement that a driverless taxi service has been launched in Singapore by Nutonomy (read more here). OK, it is from only one destination and there will be a safety driver in the car – but it […]


Are ESOMAR’s Plans for Three-year Terms a Threat to Member Interests?

UPDATE! ESOMAR have announced that, because some people are concerned about the change and the limited discussion so far, they are withdrawing the plan for a vote on three-year terms and in the words of ESOMAR President Laurent Flores “instead, we will open up the debate to seek more input from you – our members.” Well done ESOMAR! This is exactly the way a member-centric organisation should respond! ESOMAR is proposing to changes the rules about its governing body, the ESOMAR Council, with a motion to be put to its AGM later this month and then to conduct a referendum. In general I support most of the recent changes ESOMAR has made and I look forward to the new codes of conduct – but I am not sure the new rules for electing the governing body will be good for members. The Current Situation The ESOMAR Council is made of 8 directly elected members, plus the President and the Vice President and the previous President. At present elections are held every two years and all of the positions serve two years, except for the President who has two as President and then stays on for two more as Past President – […]

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3 Key Problems that Hold Innovative MR Companies Back

There are three key challenges for any company trying to operate at the cutting edge of market research and insights: Money – until the revenues come in there are bills to pay, and without some money coming in it is often hard to gain investments. Awareness – you may have a great product or service, but you need a lot of people to be aware of you before you get a good flow of business interest. In the early days you might find you need 100 people to be aware of you to get 1 person interested in talking to you, and you might need to talk to 25 people who are interested to sell a single project. Feedback on your idea – you might think your idea is great and that it solves a key business problem. However, you will be unaware of what many other companies are doing, especially in other countries. Claims that you are the first to tackle X or Y or Z can make you look pretty silly if the people you are speaking to are familiar with other solutions. Using IIeX to tackle these three problems There are lots of ways of tackling these […]