connections conference news

May 2016
Vol. 15, Number 4

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
SIG News
Member News

Save the Date: January 18-20, 2017

Kate Wagenlander Watson,
Jeff Walkowski,

Fresh off the heels of the Worldwide Conference in Vienna, work has begun on QRCA’s next conference. In case you haven’t already done so, block these dates on your calendar: January 18-20, 2017. The conference will be held in Los Angeles at the JW Marriott Hotel, which is located in L.A. Live – a fantastic food and entertainment center in the heart of downtown L.A.

embrace the messYep, we said January 18-20, 2017. This will be a first for QRCA to have its annual conference at the beginning of the year. All prior conferences have been held in September/October. Many members shared that the end of the year is often their busiest time, making it difficult to attend the conference. In response, the QRCA Board of Directors decided to move the conference to a time of year when many members are less busy with projects. A relatively warm city was selected, to provide a break for those who live in cold climates. Since 2003, conference attendance has ranged from around 220 to 280. With this move to a January conference, let’s see if we can break 300 attendees!

The theme of the next conference is “The Power of Perspective.” Los Angeles is the second-largest US city, teeming with people from all walks of life, and representing a melting pot of ethnic groups. In addition, L.A. is the film-making center of the world, where those in the entertainment industry create new worlds for us, enabling us to see the world with new eyes. As QRCs, our role is to better understand and channel the perspectives of our respondents for our clients. We aim to tap into this repository of L.A. talent to sharpen our skills and make us all better QRCs.

Does “The Power of Perspective” have you thinking about an exciting presentation topic — or of someone you think would be a great fit?! The Call for Papers has been issued and the deadline to submit a proposal to present is June 20. That date may seem like a long way off, but it’s actually right around the corner. Don’t delay. Visit the submission page here.

The conference team had a kickoff meeting in late April, and is energized to put on the best conference ever. Here’s a shout-out to members who have volunteered their time and expertise to take leadership positions on the conference committee:

  • Speaker Subcommittee: Kendall Nash and Mark Sumpter (Co-Chairs)
  • Conference Marketing Subcommittee: Casey Bernard and Susan Saurage-Altenloh (Co-Chairs)
  • Roundtables Subcommittee: Lorie Poe and Tom Rich (Co-Chairs)
  • Sponsorship: Lynn Greenberg (Chair)
  • Early Arrivals Dinner: Laura Albers and Julie Smith (Co-Chairs)
  • First Timers/Ambassadors: Beth Preece (Chair)
  • Healthy Connections: Paula Kramer (Chair)
At the time this article was written, we still have a need for leaders of two subcommittees: Dine-Arounds and Session Hosts. If you have any interest in either of these roles, please contact Kate or Jeff.

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PMRG Announces Call for Papers for PMRG Institute Conference

Caroline Volpe,

PMRG (Pharmaceutical Marketing Research Group) has announced the call for papers for its 2016 Institute Conference. The Institute will focus on innovative techniques and technologies, and will highlight the capabilities of members to deliver these to clients’ hands. Discussion will include the increasing role of partnerships and technology, and bringing insight to all projects.

Keynote speakers at the conference will include Jonah Berger, Marketing Professor, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and author of the recent New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On; and Scott Chesney, motivational speaker and president of Raise Hope Foundation.

QRCA members (even those who are not PMRG members) are welcome to submit proposals. More information about the call for papers, including the requirements and what PMRG looks for, can be found here. Submissions are due by 5:00 p.m., EDT on Friday, May 27.

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Edward Appleton
Edward Appleton

Getting Lost in Cultural Context: Notes from the QRCA 2016 Conference in Vienna

Edward Appleton,

Editor’s note: Edward Appleton, a global market research thought-leader and one of the speakers at the Worldwide Conference in Vienna, recently posted a commentary about the conference in several locations on social media. His summary captures the in-person experience so well (and so favorably), that I asked Edward’s permission to make it available, via Connections, to as many members as possible. Attention, Conference Committee: it’s time to take another bow!

I've recently returned from the 2-3 day 2016 QRCA conference in Vienna — my first time to this event, so I was curious if the positives I had heard beforehand would be borne out by reality.

The event was markedly different from other Conferences I have attended recently — Qual360 in Berlin, the IIEX in Amsterdam — in a number of ways (excuse the emphasis on "absence", nothing intellectual or negative intended):

  • no clients;
  • no "parallel tracks" (with all the pressure of missing something that brings);
  • no sales pitches.

Sounds quaint in today's commercially insistent world? Well, maybe we're lacking a bit of that — a context where the sales pitch isn't constantly nudging itself forward for a peep around the "content", and where clients are mobbed during networking breaks.

Yes, it was about networking — in the sense of meeting other qualitative practitioners across the globe (the event was both truly global and well attended, about 120 people there), seeing if there was exciting stuff being showcased, getting a sense if one's methodological toolkit could do with a refresh.

So what did I come away with? Here's what stayed with me.

  1. Bringing Results to Life Differently: Photojournalism and Ambient Music

    Jim Mott and Tom Law of BAMM fame talked about ethnographic work they'd done in Malaysia in some grim-looking industrial areas. They'd captured their impressions in a photojournalist style, very gritty, with lots of haunting pictures, including one of a seriously sad-looking dog staring glumly into the camera.

    They accompanied it with very light musical sounds, less than ambient — and talked over it. No PowerPoint at all. It caught my attention, stayed with me, appealed to the senses.... I was wondering if they were going to introduce the smells of the Malaysian foundries they had been researching, but no ;)

    The message was all about getting lost, "straying off topic" as they put it, how just spending a few more hours gathering images, documenting impressions outside of the narrow research framework could be massively enriching to help clients a thousand miles away sense the usage reality. An inspiring delivery.

  2. Semiotics Is — Probably — Arriving Mainstream.

    Charlotte Hager of Comrecon Brand Navigation, Austria presented a short case on how a print ad for an Austrian insurance company was improved by semiotic analysis.

    It was less the content of the presentation per se that wowed me, more the fact that semiotics made the cut in a global programme agenda — and that the presentation was done by an Austrian as opposed to what one might have expected: a French person.

    I'm sure semiotics has still ways to go to become truly mainstream in MR — demystifying it, sharing some commonly recognised tools that clients can buy into safely, and establishing it as a tool that is the friend, not the enemy, of sensitive creative development.

    Still, it was there on the map.

  3. Qualitative Research Is Growing, Expanding, Changing....

    I've long been a believer in the broader opportunities for qualitative research — leading innovation processes at the front-end, for example, or helping guide brand owners globally to understand cultural contexts and advising them on how and where to tweak their communication approaches.

    This conference demonstrated how "qual" is growing into new spaces:
    • Adopting consultancy roles (as witnessed by the talk I gave, for example, with my colleague Claudia Antoni) in facilitating speed-ideations;
    • Using insight communities for NPD (Oana Papa Rengle, MAPPERS, Romania);
    • Tapping into social media analysis as part of a hybrid qual design (Ilka Kuhagen, IKM, Germany);
    • Applying semiotics for advertising development.

If this is what "market research" is about, then qual is on the pace — certainly an attractive option for graduates casting around for career opportunities.

Overall, I was impressed by the quality of thinking, the willingness to share, no dominance of sponsorship-financed messaging, equal rights being accorded to the independent, smaller operators alongside larger organizations.

If you have the opportunity to attend, and are in the business of qualitative research, then I would definitely recommend it.

Curious, as ever, as to others' thoughts.

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Daniela Sene Grandi
Daniela Sene Grandi

Notes from the ABEP Congress, the Largest Market Research Event in Brazil

Daniela Sene Grandi,

The 7th ABEP Congress theme was “Transformation: What Will Make the World Turn in the Next Decade?” The goal was to bring into discussion the uncertainties and doubts brought about by the “digital revolution,” which has been changing the “how.” People have become protagonists of consumption and public opinion.

There is a need to understand local and global social transformations: what has evolved in our knowledge field to dictate our path in the next decades. With the availability of information — free and vast — in which each person becomes a researcher, what is our industry value proposition, and how can we make it clear, tangible, and seductive?

With these questions and goals in mind, the Congress studied cases of how companies, institutes, and people are taking advantage of this transformational power to set a path for the next 15 years.

We had high-level companies (Ipsos, Nielsen, Gfk, NetQuest, Ibope, Millward Brown, etc.) and industry figures in attendance; so, even though the event was neither sold out nor as large as last year’s, it was a serious gathering of key industry opinion makers.

Both local associations, ABEP and ASBPM, are interested in promoting the QRCA Global Outreach Scholarship and have given us the opportunity to share information about the Scholarship and QRCA.

In 2016, we are working actively with both local associations to promote skills-development and improvement in the competences of qualitative researchers. We may have good local candidates for our 2017 Global Outreach Scholarship Program.

A slide from the presentation of Thiago Graça Ramos from Ipsos Connect GMU.

ABEPpic4Presenter Leandro Karnal, a historian professor from a Federal Brazilian University based in Parana, in the South of Brazil. His presentation was about how much Brazil has transformed socially, politically, and economically.

ABEPpic4 The President of ABEP (Brazilian Market Research Companies Association), Duilio Novaes

ABEPpic4 British trends consultant Chiara Vascotto, who has focused on trends in Brazil and Latin America for the last 15 years.

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