Past Research Network events
Connecting Experienced Researchers

Research Network Spring Evening Meeting 2018

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

The Network held its first evening meeting at the IPA on Monday 19th March. It was a well attended social evening with 50 members and guests who came to listen to a panel discussing the question; “Do we need research, now that we have big data?”

The Panel was chaired by Brian Jacobs an experienced ad man, media and market researcher and author of the popular, and often controversial Cog Blog. On the Panel were:

Claire Aldous, the founder of Emerald Thinking where she heads data planning and analytics. She is an expert in relationship marketing and loyalty programmes.
Fiona Blades, CEO of the MESH research agency, which she set up in 2006, is now based in the New York office. MESH creates syndicated studies that cover all brand touchpoints and incorporate sophisticated qualitative diagnostics.
Paul Gayfor is a Planning Partner at Goodstuff Communications, one of the fastest growing media agencies. He is a strategist advising clients such as Virgin Media, Yorkshire Tea, ITV and House of Fraser.

Each panel member had a five minutes to answer the question after which Brian challenged them with a few thoughts of his own and then opened the discussion up to the audience. He said that he had come prepared with a lot of questions because he was afraid that the audience would not join in. He should not have worried; 45 minutes had been allowed for discussion; it over ran by 15 minutes and could easily have continued for another 45 minutes.

The conclusion was that the role of traditional market research in the insight mix is changing, partly for reasons of cost, partly because big databases can provide so much more detailed behavioural data. To greatly oversimplify a sophisticated discussion, big data is increasingly likely to be used for hypothesis generation, and traditional research methods for testing the hypotheses generated from the big data. The advantage of this approach is that the results fit the data clients understand and are used to working with. Of course the risk of doing this is that the apparent census coverage of big data can mean that factors and trends outside the particular population the big data covers can be missed. There was also a warning about the need for more care in the way data is being used, since initial hypotheses can be very misleading.

Being a Network event, a reasonable amount of time had been allowed before, and after, the panel session for everyone to meet and talk. As a first evening event for the Network, it appears to have been a great success.  Pictures can be viewed in the gallery: Spring Evening Meeting 2018 Gallery.  A full report on the event will be published in the next Newsletter.