Online Research & Social Media on the International Landscape

AIMRI meets in New York 

As thick fog shrouded the spires of the city’s brightly illuminated skyscrapers and a light mist fell gently on the rush hour traffic in a chilly spring evening that felt more like London than New York, dozens of AIMRI members from across the globe made their way in cabs and on foot to a gleaming 90-story edifice known as Trump World Tower.

Ruth Stanat was the hostess

It was here, in a warm, candlelit, white-marbled apartment overlooking the East River and United Nations Plaza that conference organizer Ruth Stanat of SIS International graciously hosted conference attendees for an enjoyable evening of food, drink and engaging conversation. The numerous exchanges in multiple languages somehow seemed so befitting this neighborhood where the world’s leading diplomats decide the course of international events.

River Club of New York

The following morning (27 April 2012) dawned cool and sunny as the group got down to business in the ballroom of the River Club of New York, an exclusive and historic 1930’s building which once boasted its own marina to serve its wealthy residents. As the attendees admired the historic space and chatted about the ostensibly contentious club rules regarding the dress code for dining and the prohibited use of electronic devices, AIMRI’s first-ever New York meeting commenced with the theme “Online Research & Social Media on the International Landscape.”  

Adapt or risk the obsolescence of your business.

The morning jolt came not from the steaming coffee in the silver urns on the breakfast buffet, but from the seemingly ominous message that punctuated the morning air as delivered by the first three presenters of the day: adapt to evolving methodologies, changing technology and shifting markets or risk the obsolescence of your business.

Three speakers introduce the critical theme

Stephen Bairfelt of Purple Market Research, Leonard Murphy of Greenbook and Marshall Toplansky of WiseWindow sounded the alarm in what almost seemed like perfectly synchronized sessions that hammered on this critical theme. Increasingly smarter mobile devices are creating new ways of conducting research. Peer reviews are gaining credibility while physical location may become less relevant. Clients are requiring research to be completed more quickly and more cheaply while also requesting more sophisticated delivery of results.

The collection and analysis of data from new sources, especially social media, will increase in importance while, at the same time, competition from large (non-market research specific) consulting companies is becoming more common. It will be necessary for researchers to redefine their purpose, provide greater ROI for their clients and adapt to the brave new world of research.

Kathryn Korostoff of Research Rockstar

As the conference attendees contemplated the potential upshot of the new, somewhat daunting reality, a ray of hope shone into the meeting room, Kathryn took the podium and encouraged everyone to ‘think outside the survey’ by engaging in cutting edge methods that may shape the future of the industry. Biometrics, idea management, instant polls, text analytics and webcam research, to name a few, are all methodologies that researchers may want to investigate and, she assured the audience, many of them can be tried through free trials, at low cost or through demos.

Steve Rappaport of Advertising Research Foundation

Steve rounded out the morning presenting a noteworthy study on the perception respondents have with regard to privacy policies and the use of personal information.

Ira Schloss of Thomas Publishing

The afternoon sessions began with Ira discussing an end client’s perspective on what a buyer of market research services is seeking and the importance of offering something unexpected to stand out among the competition.

Steve Gittelman of Sample Source Auditors

Steve followed with a thought-provoking, in-depth analysis of the relationship between data consistency and the engagement of panel members as studied over a period of several years.

The international dimension

The conference wound down with presentations by Federica Sacchi of Lorien Consulting and Monika Matulova of SANEP touching on multi-country online forums and the importance of the internet while Luis Noriega of Netquest Mexico discussed the low internet penetration in certain Latin American markets, the great divergence in socio-economic levels in those countries and the misguided belief that research in Latin America can be ‘one size fits all.’

Top of the Tower restaurant

The day drew to a close in the panoramic Top of the Tower restaurant situated atop the Beekman Tower Hotel, an art deco landmark in New York’s Sutton Place neighborhood. As the sun set in the distance and the city skyline transformed into a sparkling masterpiece of glass, steel and various shades of light, friends and colleagues shared a congenial meal in small groups, warmly chatting and contemplating the future of the market research sector. There was no trace of the fog and mist that had blanketed the city just twenty-four hours earlier; in its stead was a broad, bright horizon full of tangible opportunity.

  

John Labati

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