Research News South Africa

Conference identifies trends in market research industry

At the Market Research in the Mobile World conference, held recently in London, two South Africans presented papers to the international audience.

Jan Hofmeyr, of TNS Global, gave a keynote presentation that was deeply critical of the state of the traditional market research industry worldwide. In addition to listing its shortcomings, he also made strong recommendations about what needed to happen to restore the credibility of the industry.

He called the existing model of market research 'broken'. "Traditional market research is too slow, too expensive and not useful enough. The future of research is in the mobile space. Cellphones are by far the best device for collecting tracking data, providing much faster and more dispersed samples. Traditional researchers need to embrace both smart and feature phones, especially in emerging markets, and adapt their research techniques accordingly if they want to catch up with where research is headed."

Conference identifies trends in market research industry

Research in emerging markets

Shirley Wakefield, CEO of local consumer insights company, Pondering Panda, was also a speaker at the conference and delivered a presentation on research in emerging markets. She reported the outcome of the company's research programme into the mood of young South Africans, an integral component in understanding the propensity of consumers to receive marketing and advertising messages.

"What became clear at the conference was that the very challenges we face in emerging markets such as South Africa have lead to an exceptionally high level of innovation and creativity in research, from questionnaire design to data collection, cracking many of the problems global research companies have been struggling with for years. It's important to realise that South Africa is blazing a trail for global companies to follow when it comes to mobile research, and it's fantastic to receive such a ringing endorsement of how we're approaching research from an industry guru such as Jan Hofmeyr," she says.

Among the insights she presented in London were those drawn from the company's recent project in partnership with the Department of Basic Education and UNICEF. For the project, the moods of school learners across South Africa were tracked over time. It was found that there was a correlation between the support learners had (such as access to a quiet study environment, assistance with homework, and good teachers) and their confidence about their performance in upcoming exams.

Supporting learners

Learners who felt supported were both more confident and less stressed than those who did not feel supported. These findings are helping to identify learners who are most in need of support, as well as the form of the support that will be most beneficial.

Its success is attributed to the fact that interviews are conducted via cellphones. People across the socio-economic spectrum have cellphones, which are with them at all times, ensuring a high response rate.

Because respondents feel relatively anonymous, their answers are more candid than they would be in traditional interviews conducted by a fieldworker and global studies have proven that the stability and reliability of mobile research comes out tops, when compared to other traditional research methodologies. As all information is input digitally, a rapid analysis of the data is possible, allowing for a fast turnaround, at a reasonable cost.

Let's do Biz