Jean Green has been involved in the South African marketing research industry for the past 48 years. An honorary life member of the Southern African Marketing and Research Association (SAMRA), she has served as chairman, as well as in most portfolios on the council. She is currently retired but continues to run her website - Marketing and Research for Africa (marfa.co.za) - for which she writes a column (Green Piece) commenting on the industry. Email .
Jean Green has been involved in the South African marketing research industry for the past 48 years. She has served as chairman of the Southern African Marketing and Research Association (SAMRA), as well as in most portfolios on the council. She is currently an honorary life member of SAMRA and a member of AQR.
She was a pioneer of qualitative research in South Africa, bringing experience and techniques from the UK. She worked with Wendy Gordon and Roy Langmaid - two leading international qualitative researchers - over a period of years, collaborating with them in a training weekend in SA in the 1980s.
Jean has run several interactive workshops in qualitative research, bringing international researchers to this country to share their experience and expertise with SA researchers.
Jean's training courses have been well attended for the past 25 years. These have been run both for her company and SAMRA. She also does report writing and proof-reading of reports and proposals.
She is currently retired but continues to run her website - Marketing and Research for Africa (marfa.co.za) - for which she writes a column (Green Piece) commenting on the industry.
I have had a good deal of admiration for Chris Moerdyk over many years. What a disappointment to read his comments on focus groups. He appears to be completely out of touch with what focus groups achieve, how they should be run and used and how much information and insight can be gained from them I give him this, however, that clients these days - those who commission focus group studies - appear to have amongst them a large number who display a complete lack of understanding of what groups can achieve, how projects using them should be briefed and that 'focus groups' per se is not the only methodology available to qualitative researchers. Such clients persist in interfering in the planning and executing qualitative studies to such an extent that the researcher ends up having to stick to a "questionnaire" that sometimes runs to 8, 10 or even more pages complete with notes on how long each section should be allowed in the discussion. It sounds to me that these are the types of groups that Chris has been watching! In a paper written for the Association of Qualitatve Researchers in the UK, Roy Langmaid, world renowned and highly successful qualitative researcher, and a good friend of mine, expressed exactly how I feel. "I have growing concerns about what we have allowed qualitative research to become – and indeed I fear that we may be collaborating in sowing the seeds of destruction of our own industry. "I fear we are moving away from people. We are going online or we are using topic guides in which the product, service or advertising gets much more attention. Research today is more about products than people. "There are several contributors to this growing distance between researchers and respondents but let me mention just the following five: 1. The bureaucratization of research. There are standard procedures, venues, processes, and templates for analysis, presentation and reports. All in all it adds up to a kind of PowerPoint World; slick and quick yes, but authentic – I don't think so. 2. The DIY Factor. As research became better known and more widely accepted, it acquired a kind of "anyone can have a go" character. After all, we all have conversations don't we – why shouldn't your clients" questions be just as useful as yours? 3. The unspoken benefit we get from not having to do groups face-to-face in out of the way places. If you can moderate the group from your desk, in front of your PC, you don't have to go out of your way to be with people – and neither do they. Surely everyone wins? Even the esteemed client can tune in from his desk and welcome the fact that his bill is smaller. However, as a climate for deep inquiry, it feels remarkably like the pretending in Mad Men that we saw way back there in the early 60s. 4. The continued shortage of advanced training and expertise for qual researchers. To my knowledge there is only one advanced training and there should be more. Do researchers appreciate the limitations to disclosure created by professional relationships – the type you initially get when you pay people for their attendance and participation? Do they know how to move from professional to personal, even private? What are the tools and processes you need? How much do researchers know about the psychodynamics of groups – aspects of group process that are always present and, unless raised into consciousness, will drive the group from the background? 5. If your qualitative work is about simple cause and effect relationships, these things may not concern you: but most is not. Most decisions and choices are derived from an interplay of observable and private reactions and understanding the dynamics of this relationship is often at the centre of a research brief, as it is at the centre of a decision to buy or not. Herein is the nub of the matter, to truly understand how choices and decisions are made it's necessary to experience both surface and beneath to figure out how they stand in relation to each other. It is the deeper stuff that is far more likely to determine behaviour, so without it our answers are bound to be superficial and insubstantial – a growing criticism of qualitative work that most of us are not doing nearly enough to rebut. If we don't do something about it our proud nail will be flattened and the world will walk over it without noticing we are there. Herein lie the seeds of our destruction. Roy Langmaid 2012
Roy Langmaid Roy Langmaid is one of Europe's leading consumer psychologists with a career spanning forty years. The founder of Co-creation in the UK in 1991, Roy has pursued a passion for innovation and his contribution has been recognised by awards and a Fellowship of the Market Research Society.
Jean Green's reply to SAMRA Prof Adre Schreuder Chairman Southern African Marketing and Research Association P O Box 1713 Randburg 2125 RE: OPEN LETTER TO SAMRA Dear Adre
Many thanks for your considered reply to my letter to SAMRA.
I have no desire to enter into an acrimonious correspondence on the issue which is causing so many in the research industry so much concern.
I have taken note of all the points you have raised and while I do not agree with all of them I do see your point regarding several of them
At no time did I suggest that SAMRA should be prescribing fees or payment policies to suppliers or research users. Yet I do think that if there are concerns about important issues it is quite appropriate for a Life Member to raise them.
I believe that the situation regarding the payment of a percentage of a project fee on confirmation has reached a stage where it can be regarded as scandalous. I am pleased that SAMRA is concerned about challenges facing the industry, yet I am not aware of what kind of steps are planned to face and solve those challenges.
I have been writing and speaking and challenging members, Council, clients on this issue for at least the past 12 years. When there was a strong movement towards the qualitative research community breaking away from SAMRA and forming their own association along the lines of AQR in the UK it was I who strongly fought against this and voted for the formation on a QSIG within SAMRA.
I don’t wish to dwell on how long it took to actually get such a SIG formed. I have been part of that group since its inception and, in fact, wrote the guidelines to be used by members. I have supported Marna and Jani wholeheartedly and have been one of the very few members who contribute to the group on Facebook.
I am, indeed, aware of Marna’s move as she personally let me know about this. I sent a letter of congratulation and good wishes to Elna Smit whom I believe to be a very good choice for the position.
I couldn’t agree with you more that we need to bring practitioners back into the SAMRA fold. I do what I can to encourage people to join – or rejoin – SAMRA. Unfortunately, there is a perception, right or wrong, that SAMRA is not supportive of its members – particularly qualitative practitioners. The ongoing saga of poor recruiting never seems to be grasped and dealt with. The recent recruiter training days were not as professional as they could have been and, in my opinion (as well as certain others), did not play the role they were intended to play and did not solve any of the issues of poor recruiting.
To return to the question of payment of 50% – 60% of fees on confirmation of the project. I did contact Grant Lindhorst on this issue some weeks ago and had the following reply: “You raise a valid point! I am hoping to address the members of the user forum soon, and I will definitely raise this point. It will be good to get their feedback on how best to tackle this issue. I am of the opinion that the research industry should become tougher on clients and sing from the same hymn sheet regarding the upfront payment. However to try enforce and maintain this will be a mammoth task. Not all suppliers share the same sentiment”.
Thank you for inviting me to suggest how SAMRA could assist. You make the point, correctly, that monies not paid to interviewers or other sub-contractors is a breach of the Code of Conduct. The only suggestion I have at the moment is that SAMRA give some thought to how members can be expected to avoid breaching the Code when their clients are breaching the contracts that come into being when they sign off a proposal which clearly states that a percentage of the fee is due on confirmation of the project. If practitioners of all sizes could be persuaded to stick to the contract themselves by not commencing a project until the up-front payment is made the problem would be solved!
I am attaching to this letter some examples of mail that has been sent to me about this situation, which may perhaps assist you in understanding the problem on the ground.
I have tried not to be confrontational in this letter. People who know me know that SAMRA is important to me and that I continually encourage membership for all who qualify. Obviously, years of being ignored on certain issues such as a QSIG and payment of up-front fees agreed to by signing off a proposal as well as the awful situation with recruitment has somewhat affected my perceptions. Kind regards Jean
Jean Green. Hon Life member, SAMRA.; Member: QRCA; Member: AQR
[Jean Green] I have been in the practice of qualitative marketing research for the past 48 years. During all this time, it has been virtually unknown for many companies to pay 60% of the required fee on confirmation of a project. Now that we have a Consumer Protection Act in this country, isn't it about time that we considered taking those who break the terms of a contract to court in order to get recourse? And shouldn't SAMRA be advising and assisting us in this?