Kudos to CASRO for putting on yet another great Annual Conference. About 300 marketing research leaders gathered in LA last week to discuss key industry and business management issues. The theme was the balancing act required between “rapier-like” focus and expansive, prescient vision. Valuable perspective was provided by some of the industry’s great innovators while blue-sky inspiration came from creative thinkers inside and outside of our field.

Here are just a few “random” and interesting thoughts shared with us by various speakers…

  • The future is like ketchup: you wait for it, and wait and wait…until it comes at you all at once – usually faster than what you can handle.
  • From Steven Covey’s Urgency vs. Importance quadrant map, we know management tends to focus on things that are urgent regardless of importance over things that may be less urgent but far more important. And since management tends to spend their time on what’s urgent, they typically “feed problems and starve opportunities”. This is just one reason it is difficult for process-oriented incumbents to be innovators.
  • Our industry needs to move from a “data collection plus” mindset to a full solution mindset, recognizing that some market research solutions will have no data collection component to them at all. That requires a paradigm shift from paying for interviews to paying for knowledge or insight. Kind of like moving from farmer to chef!
  • We should recognize that the drivers of industry change aren’t coming from the average corporate research client; they are coming from their management and leadership. Our job as research partners is to help them navigate these changes successfully, while positively impacting their organizations.
  • There’s plenty of data – corporate researchers are starved for help in making sense of it for their management.
  • What passes as wisdom is often just pattern recognition.

And finally – a great sign for the future of our industry…  the rise of graduate degree programs specializing in one or more facets of Market Research. Big name universities including University of Georgia, North Carolina State, University of Michigan, Michigan State, University of Wisconsin, and Rutgers University are just some of the schools offering fully enrolled programs of study in Market Research.