About the author: Christian Dössel is blogging about market research in German language here and here. After having worked for TNS, TBWA\ and other strategy and market research agencies he now holds the position of Senior Research Director at MM-Eye in Hamburg / Germany with special responsibilities for MM-Eye's new media and online research approaches.
Recent research shows that market research is increasingly affected by a positioning problem.
For example the current Green Book Research Industry Trends Report mentions the fact that the proportion of those who describe the importance of market research as declining, has increased within six months by 20 percentage points.
Only every second expert assigns a rising or at least constant importance to market research. All in all it seems that perception of the relevance of market research suffers.
The reasons for this development are manifold. In addition to external factors such as the financial and economic crisis there are also some internal factors to be identified.
In general declining relevance is a consequence of lacking clear added values. That's valid for brands as well as for companies, and this is also true for market research. On the one hand this can be explained by the constantly increasing number of competitors for market research. Boundaries towards other players such as consultancies, advertising or strategy agencies become fluid. On the other hand, fueled by the increasing importance of the internet, technological service providers play an increasingly important role.
One of the most striking examples for this is the rise of online research communities. Different to for example a representative CATI-survey an online community project is not naturally located in the area of market research competence. It often happens that the marketing itself, supported by IT and technology department / supplier, puts on such projects. Consequently classical market research role models and thought patterns are questioned.
Requirements concerning market research therefore are constantly changing. It becomes increasingly difficult for the industry to keep up with the pace of developments and to find the right positioning.
Someone who has accepted this challenge is IIR USA, the organizers of this year's "The Market Research Event 2011" in November in Orlando. This conference has it all, a first glance at the program (which you get only when you specify name and e-mail address) is sufficient piece of evidence for that.
From my point of view the combination of diverse and interesting topics makes the TMRE 2011 very attractive. Nine different tracks - from "Market Research & Leadership Insights" and "New Tools & Breakthrough Methodology" to "ROI & Measurement" show the full spectrum of recent challenges and how one can deal with these new approaches, innovations and ideas.
While promising "connecting to the best insights from around the world" the TMRE helps in positioning market research and to re-strength, win back or even expand relevance.
And this is something where we all can benefit and gain a lot.