BVM “Supraregional Evening

In the course of the pandemic, Corona has not only catapulted the demand for toilet paper, pasta and respiratory masks to unimagined heights, but also the desire for interpersonal and professional exchange. The “Frankfurters” (Rhine-Main regional group), in the person of regional group leaders Susanne Stahl and Christian Holst, had called and – at the peak – over 180 participants accepted the invitation. The topic “Quo vadis market research – what’s next?” attracted many institute directors and owners to the video conference.

The podium was knowledgeable and competent: Andera Gadeib from Dialego began by reporting that the digitalisation push in market research had enabled her and other purely online researchers to shed the label “online start-up” after many decades and to have finally arrived among the “established”.

Peter Kauz from Statista made it vividly clear to the participants what exponential data explosion means. The “knowledge” of mankind pressed onto CDs would reach 220 times from the earth to the moon and back.

Sven Arn from Happy Thinking People looks back on a 30-year career and emphasised that even today, despite algorithms, AI and Big Data, the decisive added value of our industry is the personal conversation about research results between clients and agency.

Holger Geißler from marktforschung.de began by pointing out that many developments had emerged outside our industry in recent years, but that the companies involved did not see themselves as market researchers and that the professional associations had missed the opportunity to proactively shape an opening into new fields of application.

Christian Holst added sober facts: while the fields of work and application of market research have exploded in recent years, the number of institutes and the number of people employed in the industry have declined in Germany.

Based on these introductory statements, a lively dialogue developed. From the question of whether one will still have a job as a market researcher in 10 years, which clients will demand which kind of market research in the future and how an institute must position itself to be fit for the future. Those who expected a kind of “world formula” as a solution had to be disappointed, of course, in view of time restrictions and the complexity of the topic. Nevertheless, there were many exciting impulses: from better marketing of one’s own performance to the exploitation of new value-added potentials. However, as a participant with three decades of professional experience, it is somewhat cynical to note that we have already had parts of this discussion many years, if not decades ago, so that the question is allowed why the self-marketing and the focus of the work of many institutes still comes across as rather well-behaved and conservative today. The speed of digital disruption will not give the industry another few decades to find its place in the global data and information circus. And no, this question has long since been answered: the “new labelling” desired in the discussion, from dusty market researcher to “consumer insights manager” will at best solve self-esteem problems, but not industry problems.

In conclusion, Andera Gadeib did not miss the opportunity to encourage the participants. Away from risk-avoiding actions, towards an attitude that seeks opportunities and simply “thinks bigger”. Overall, the industry seems to have understood the challenges of the future, so that one participant posted somewhat laconically, but understandably: “Market research is dead – long live market research”. Thanks to the organisers, despite the heavy subject matter it ended up being an inspiring and enjoyable evening, what is still sorely missed is the networking afterwards, so that everyone “could” go back to “their” lockdown at 8 p.m. on the dot.

By Dirk Frank