The culmination of about 18 months of work, the Boards of Directors of CASRO and MRA voted unanimously to combine the two organizations and create a new association for the future: the Insights Association. Combining the resources of CASRO and MRA will create a consensus marketing research and analytics advocate to represent the research and analytics industry and profession with one unified voice. RTi’s CEO, David Rothstein, currently serves as CASRO Board Chair and answers your questions about the merger:

Why do we need a consensus marketing research and analytics advocate?

Marketing research as a practice and as a business has been changing rapidly. We believe CASRO and MRA must evolve, too. We’ve had a good run: more than 40 years for CASRO, nearly 60 for MRA. CASRO was formed to meet the association needs of research businesses. MRA was formed primarily to meet the association needs of individual researchers. More often than not, these needs overlap. The missions of CASRO and MRA are synergistic and complementary, but also sometimes duplicative.

How did this all come about?

Early last year, leaders from CASRO and MRA began to assess and discuss the wisdom of combining the two organizations and leveraging their histories, resources, and agendas to more effectively benefit our industry and profession through the creation of a new association. While both CASRO and MRA certainly could each continue to operate independently, there is a greater goal and responsibility to maximize benefits for our members, the profession, and the industry. Saying goodbye to the CASRO and MRA associations we’ve all known for most or all of our professional lives is difficult and for some, filled with emotion. However, the associations exist to serve our industry and profession. The CASRO and MRA Boards have been extremely mindful of focusing on what is best for our members vs. what is best for CASRO or best for MRA.

If MRA served individuals and CASRO corporations, how will that play out in the Insights Association?

Membership in the new association can be either Organization-based or Individual-based. Organization memberships include a set of business benefits similar to the current CASRO offering, geared towards supporting company growth and profitability. Individuals not affiliated with an Organizational member may join as an Individual member and gain access to benefits focused on the person and his/her growth, similar to the current MRA offering. One new, and very important benefit is that all employees of Organization members will automatically have access to individual member benefits.

Will all members have access to the same resources or will there be some restrictions on the two types of memberships?

What’s so exciting about the Insights Association is that it is all upside! Organizational members will have all the benefits they previously received through CASRO, with one new and very valuable benefit in that employees of Organizational members will have access to individual member benefits – including the ability to join local chapters. Individual members will have access to all the benefits they previously received through MRA.

What’s in it for me?

From very early on in the discussions between MRA and CASRO, the advantages to be gained through merging the associations were quite clear:

Greater Resources – Two heads – and wallets – are usually better than one. Combining the Boards, committees, staffs, budgets, human and financial resources, etc., will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of previously separate organizations pursuing similar goals.

Enhanced Benefits – The products and services of the two organizations are largely complementary. Although some benefits will be unique to some members, many additional benefits will be available and common to all; the combined membership products and services menu will provide greater benefits to both CASRO and MRA members.

Stronger Representation – You and your organization will benefit most from the advocacy efforts of an industry consensus association rather than segmented, parallel efforts that have not been completely coordinated and resourced. Across the board, but especially in government affairs in the international, national and local arenas, one stronger voice representing the industry will most effectively protect our interests.

An Advanced Code – At the heart of who we are is our Code of Standards. Both CASRO and MRA have a set of professional standards that our members are required to follow. In the new association, these will be combined, expanded and updated to reflect a changing research landscape. Actively enforced, the Code will deter “bad actors” while also providing a defense against excessive, unnecessary regulation.

Vital Chapters – MRA’s Chapters, which curate local education and networking opportunities, are seen as tremendous assets to the new organization. We know these local events and organizations will offer knowledge, skills, relationships and support for many members of the Insights Association.

What about conferences – will they be combined as well?

Central to the Insights Association will be the development of a strategy and implementation plan for conferences to support specific markets and audiences and to address critical topics affecting the many facets of the industry and profession. These conferences will focus on both the business and the practice of research. With that strategic imperative, by leveraging the “best of” from CASRO and MRA and eliminating any past duplicative efforts, the Insights Association will be better able to compete with the for-profit conference producers who do not reinvest their profits back into the industry for our collective benefit as non-profit associations do.

What’s next?

If approved by our members, the new Association will launch with 15 voting members on its Board of Directors, representing a remarkable set of research qualifications and broad representation of our industry, including corporate researchers. The new Board will be chaired by Simon Chadwick, managing director of Cambiar and an iconic research visionary, with the vice chair being Rob Stone, Ph.D., CEO of Market Strategies International who serves on MRA’s Executive Committee. You can find the full list of the board and committees as well as their qualifications here.

When will this be finalized?

The results of the voting will be announced on September 26th. Assuming the vote passes, CASRO and MRA will work closely for the remainder of this year and the Insights Association will begin operations on January 1, 2017.

We have a large number of professional associations in the marketing research industry. Even with this proposed merger, there are still a lot of overlapping associations. Do you see more consolidation in the future?

Our goal is to provide broad, meaningful, and unduplicated benefits for our members and to provide a unified voice on issues that require a strong and consistent point of view. Therefore, the Insights Association would be open to the idea of bringing in other associations that also represent our industry.

What do I do now?

For more information about the Insights Association, click here.

If you are an MRA member or a CASRO principle representative, and you haven’t yet voted, I encourage you to do so now. You should have received an email from your association with a unique voting link. If you didn’t, or no longer have the email, contact your association to have it resent so you can have your vote count.

Any final comments?

As an active member of CASRO for 20 years, I will admit that like many, I will be sad to see the era of CASRO end. However, I am very excited about the dawn of the Insights Association and how powerful and empowering the new association will be for our industry and to our members. The Insights Association is what we need now and going forward to effectively represent, advance, and grow the research profession and industry.

If you haven’t yet voted, I hope you’ll join me in voting for the merger!