16
Nov

Change is in the Air (and not Just for Market Research)

Change is in the air (and not just for market research)

By Richard Clarke, Vice President, Key Global Partners  |  Vision Critical

2016 has been a year of enormous change.  As I sit here on November 9th 2016, change is something that everyone is contemplating in the US and throughout the world and the implications of this change is yet to be realized as to the impact on our daily lives; regardless of if you perceive this change to be good or bad.

This change comes on the back of Brexit on June 23, 2016 which again created enormous ripples of change and anxiety throughout the world and economies.  When Brexit occurred and as a British Citizen who has been very lucky to travel the world for both business and pleasure, I was sitting in Hong Kong watching from a far the implications of that decision and that change and wondering what it would mean for all of us.

I have since moved back to the US and I am considering all that has happened this year, most recently the U.S. presidential election. I have viewed this through a different lens – a professional lens. So what can we learn from these major societal changes that have occurred in 2016?  As someone that has been engaged and involved in Market Research on a global level for 21 years it has been fascinating to see how many “polls” have gotten 2016 “wrong” (or supposedly so).  What is the impact on market research and polling and the trustworthiness that we as an industry are perceived to provide to the world; how will this affect my livelihood?

What I realize the lesson for me is this year, is that the only constant is change itself and we should not be surprised by these supposedly big upsets.  In 2016, we have seen this and it reaffirms a belief that I have that in this modern day of hyper connectivity, big data and always-on consumerism; we as people and brands need to stay engaged and connected with the people and brands that matter most to us – not just measure numbers and pay lip service to listening – but truly engage in an ongoing dialogue.

As things change and while we try to predict what is going to happen, we as people, brands and businesses can’t and don’t always get it right.  Therefore, the necessity for engagement and relationships is key to be able to adjust and learn as the world changes around us – if we are not engaging with people and establishing an open dialogue, then we risk not getting the right answers.  Listening, connecting and having people buy in to what we as brands are doing translates into results and actions and ultimately loyalty – this can only occur from the establishment of two-way dialogues where both parties talk, ask questions, listen and ultimately establish mutual trust and shared value.

Clients and users of the research industry have the opportunity to do just that; we have the opportunity to not just ask questions (poll people), but actually listen, engage, and collaborate to establish a shared value for all parties involved.  This is the concept of what Insight Communities are – establishing a two-way engagement with customers to drive change and action, not just measure.

Perhaps the key is not just asking questions but connecting with people. And as researchers and marketers that is our role – to connect with individuals and consumers, understand them and create shared value that drives action and outcomes.

If 2016 has taught us anything, it is the necessity to adapt (and change) in this new world and not to be shocked by the unexpected.  For research and for our clients we have to adapt away from just asking questions into a world of engagement where we enable change for our businesses through shared values and collaborative approaches.

It has reminded us that we as businesses need to put our most important stakeholders, our customers, firmly and squarely in the center of what we do – enabling an ongoing dialogue to impact the change and growth that we as businesses want and need to see.  If we don’t, we risk being irrelevant and passed over because we make assumptions – is that a risk any of us wants to take in a world where the only constant is change?

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Richard Clarke is VP of Key Global Partnerships at Vision Critical, working with Morpace on expanding communities and their reach for Morpace clients.