How to Choose Market Research Conferences

How to Choose Among Market Research Conferences

Market Research Conferences are Proliferating

It used to be there were just a few major market research conferences every year. The decision about which ones to attend was pretty easy.

Not anymore. Market research conferences have proliferated in a big way.

Why? In a word – money. The conference business is big business. Well run, a conference can be hugely profitable.

In one sense, that’s a good development. After all, more conversation in the industry means ideas more forward more quickly.

On the other hand, it’s sort of like when sports leagues dramatically expand the number of teams – the talent (which let’s face it, is finite) gets spread out more and more thin. Some of the content presented at market research conferences these days is pretty weak. More than you might think.

Furthermore, give some thought to the types of people who will be attending. There a relatively small number of “conference rats” (I mean that in a nice way) who seem to show up at every single event. At the same time, there are some people – many people, in fact – who practice market research every day but rarely if ever get to go to conferences. You are more likely to find the latter at smaller, local events.

How to Choose

The bottom line is today there are too many market research conferences; here’s advice for choosing among them, whether your goal is to learn or to sell market research services.

  1. Put your market research conference objectives in writing. It’s important to put pen to paper here (or fingers to keyboard). Your objectives may sound something like this: “learn more about discrete choice conjoint,” “network with other corporate researchers,” or “find possible mobile research vendors.” If you are selling market research services, your objectives may include things like, “meet research end-users in the pharmaceutical industry,” “see what the competition is up to,” or “learn about the latest trends in online panel research.”
  2. Make a list of market research conferences that may help you meet your objectives.  With the increase in the number of events, there has been an increasing amount of specialization. Different conferences can have vastly different objectives. See below for a list of places to look.
  3. Drill down. Have a close look at the conference websites and promotional materials and some will fall off the radar quickly.
  4. Talk to people who have attended in the past. This step is indispensable.
  5. Estimate the costs of attendance. Now is when you should factor in the costs. Why? You’re better off going to one great conference than two crappy ones. Here’s a valuable tip – more than one conference will waive your attendance fee if you agree to blog for them.
  6. Make your reservations and get excited!

Where to Look

As promised, here is a places to start looking when you are generating your list of possible conferences.

Insight Innovation Exchange
MRA National
MRA Chapters

These events are highly research-focused, but it is also a good idea to consider other conferences that have good mind-stretching content for researchers, such as:

SXSW Interactive

Why Not Present?

Finally, don’t underestimate the value (both personally and professionally) of being a presenter at a conference. If you are speaker you will only be paying for your travel and accommodations, not the conference attendance fee.

It’s not as challenging as you might think to get a slot, especially if you have great content or a compelling case study to share. This is especially true if you work for a market research end-user rather than a market research consultancy. However, start working on it now, because conference speakers are chosen many months in advance.

For speaking slots, consider the market research conferences listed above, but also consider non-research conferences (including industry vertical-focused conferences) who could use a research perspective.

Good luck!

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About Dana Stanley

Dana is the Editor-in-Chief of Research Access.


  1. Shubhabrata says:

    I can’t find a single call for paper !!


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