The Market Research Event 2012 – More Pioneers, More Tough Questions


While attending The Market Research Event in November, I heard several talks that inspired me to look at the bigger picture of what research and marketing can be. One of those sessions was lead by Columbia Records’ Vice President of Strategic Marketing, Elliot Lum.

The question he posed was quite simple. Can we distill the power of music in advertising to better grasp its return-on-investment (ROI)? I was struck by this presentation in two ways.

1. Frontiers Abound

I believe one of the things that bogs researchers down in their day-to-day trade is dealing with issues that feel ‘old hat’. Great, another conjoint study on packaging or price elasticity. Awesome, yet another study on an issue we’ve resolved about 7 times this year. We’ve all been in that low spot of feeling like there has to be something more ambitious and fresh to explore not only for our own edification, but our clients as well.

One thing you might want to do is look for those new frontiers of research to step into. You could start by creating a list of areas or topics you would research if you had an infinite amount of money and time to do so. What you do? Where would you start? Why would you choose that specific topic? The danger of operating under the premise that we’ve seen and done it all will only lead to complacency and a general lack of creativity that research now demands. So what is it? What’s the new frontier you’re going to go after?

2. Tough Questions are the Best Questions

Another area Elliot inspired the audience with was asking tough questions and collaborating to find solutions. He had done some research in the area of measuring ROI for music in advertising, yet the research wasn’t exhaustive and left plenty of room for further digging.

Next he stepped down from the podium and just asked the crowd “what would you do next?” Some great answers were shared, but you could tell that everyone’s wheels were turning ninety miles an hour on how to attack this research problem. The tough questions and difficult research issues that are easy to shy away from are the ones that often produce the richest insights and deepest innovation.

What are the tough questions your organization needs to know the answers to? There may be no formal infrastructure for getting to that answer, but that’s okay – because you’re a pioneer.

Blaze your own trail and others will follow.

About Josh Pelham

Josh Pelham is a currently a Manager of Research at AMG Strategic Advisors, the research and strategy division of Acosta Marketing Group. As a career researcher, Josh has worked for both large and small research firms from the supplier side. He enjoys working with creative and innovative thinkers, as well as sharing his thoughts and observations on marketing, research, and design.


  1. Thanks for this Josh!

  2. sorry for the ultra late reply, but you’re welcome!


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