Research Innovation at Net Gain 8

Downtown Toronto - including the Rogers Centre, CN Tower, and banking district - in late summer.

At the end of January, Canada’s Market Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA) presented the eighth annual Net Gain conference. This one-day conference explores cutting-edge trends in the market research industry.

This year’s conference included presentations on mobile market research, the growth of automation in research, customer communities, and behavioral economics, among others.

My summary of the day is below, including a video of some presenters giving their thoughts about the day.

Memorable lines:

  • Bernie Malinoff: Better, faster cheaper is here to stay
  • Eric Meerkamper: All data is wrong, it’s just a question of how wrong it is.
  • Tom de Ruyck: Incenting respondents with money is so 2010.

Highlights from the conference:

  • Mark Michelson and Caroline Fletcher both spoke about the role of mobile devices in market research. Michelson spoke broadly about the changes mobile technology had brought to market research, such as improved ways to conduct research and more enjoyable research for respondents, while safeguarding respondents’ rights. Fletcher spoke about self-ethnography, using smartphone apps to have respondents to film their everyday lives to capture things such as private moments and pain points. The research deliverable becomes an 6-8 minute film, and is much more successful in engaging clients than a PowerPoint presentation.
  • Bernie Malinoff spoke of the need to use newer technologies when necessary for clients, instead of not using them because they are emerging. Malinoff suggested that the threat to individual researchers is not from other researchers, but from new technologies such as Google Consumer Surveys. Further he indicated that researchers needed to adopt a new skill set to be able to better serve their clients.
  • Tom de Ruyck mentioned that companies need to truly listen to their customers, and be agile to respond to what they hear. Not helping customers do this would result in researchers missing the biggest opportunity ever. One way to be able to listen to customers is to create a community that is listened to by all departments in the client company.
  • Annie Pettit provided an overview of behavioral economics, which has been recently re-popularized in market research. Pettit went on to show that behavioral psychology has been used for over 100 years, and is not actually the new field that some have suggested.
  • Eric Meerkamper and Grant Miller spoke about the technology they used to randomly select respondents on the Internet called Random Domain Intercept Technology. Doing so, among other things, bypasses government censoring and allows them to conduct research for such situations as political polling in Iran.
  • Frank Graves and Anne Crassweller spoke about how EKOS’ random recruit IVR had helped NADbank conduct research using a less expensive method than traditional CATI, while still including hard-to-reach segments such as younger respondents.
  • Jeffrey Henning estimated that 80% of work in survey research that took place in 1987 was manual, though since then the amount of automation has grown dramatically, leading to a corresponding drop in manual work. He projected that by 2018 80% of the work would be automated.

Links to posts of individual presentations can be found below:

Paul Long (@paul_long) is a market researcher and occasional blogger at He tweets about research innovation, tech and social media.


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