connections management news

May 2016
Vol. 15, Number 4

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
SIG News
Member News
monica zinchiak
Monica Zinchiak

From the President

New Kids on the Market-Research Block

Monica Zinchiak,

This month I will be asked to represent and speak for QRCA at the MRA Insights and Strategies Conference. I will be joined by other esteemed organizational leaders including Rob Stone, Secretary of the MRA Board of Directors; Jude Olinger, Director/ CASRO; and Paul Allen, Vice President/PMRG. The panel host will be Scott Baker, Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the MRA.

As I prepare for being part of this panel, I realize the proposed topics of discussion are all-important and meaningful to QRCA. Among them are: competition, technology, changing landscapes, methodologies/study design, data use, talent, and workforce changes. All of these topics could fill an entire hour of discussion and all are worthy of more time than can be devoted in the 60 minutes allocated. I find myself being drawn into two of the topics more than the others — talent and workforce changes, which are so well-connected.

Workforce changes and training new talent have been on my mind for the past few years. I think the state of the industry presentation at our 2013 annual conference by Merill Dubrow, M/A/R/C Research, put this front and center for me. Like all of us, I was once the young new kid on the block, full of fresh and “far out” ideas of how to work in this industry. Relatively young when I set out on my own, just 33 years old, I had a healthy passion (or you might say obsession) for the Internet and finding ways to use a dial-up connection and a chat room to speak to consumers. I sometimes called myself an online evangelist and shared my experiences with anyone who wanted to learn about this new methodology. That turned out pretty well for me in the long run, though it’s no longer a newfangled tool.

The evolution of our industry has both increased and decreased competition; and I am not just talking about the “Internet of research” either. Thanks to the 2008 recession, we have seen end-clients change the structure of their internal research departments and the requirements from external research providers. Independent quallies were affected greatly by these client policy changes/demands and many were forced to change their business structure or move into someone else’s business structure to continue working in this industry.

It just might be that these new structures are friendlier to younger researchers getting their start in the industry. I believe these new structures have resulted in new openings and opportunities for the next generation of new kids on the block. The current talent and future leaders of our industry have more entrepreneurial drive than previous generations, more sexy technology to work with, more academic achievements, and also more introductions into the qualitative world of research — although these openings look very different than they did only eight to ten years ago.

QRCA has a lot to offer the future leaders of our industry and these future leaders have a lot to share with QRCA. Let’s keep this in mind as QRCA once again offers the Young Professionals Grant. Please recommend this wonderful opportunity to all the young talent that crosses your path this year. The Young Professionals Grant is the opportunity for 10 enthusiastic young qualitative research professionals, 35 years or younger, to have free registration to the QRCA Annual Conference in Los Angeles, CA this coming January. More information is coming to the QRCA website.

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Shannon Thompson
Shannon Thompson

Action! From the Board

[QRCA Executive Director Shannon Thompson has prepared this report of the Board meeting held April 25, 2016 on behalf of Corette Haf while she is enjoying a post-Vienna-Conference cruise around the Mediterranean.]

Five of the nine QRCA Board members were able to attend the Worldwide Conference in Vienna. This provided an opportunity for the Board to meet and discuss ongoing QRCA business. The focus was on the value of membership and how to continue to increase that value for our members and to promote the member benefits so that they are widely used and understood.

Board members also met on April 25 for their monthly conference call; some highlights of that meeting include:

  • Approving a contract for CCM, a marketing company from New York, to assist the Marketing Committee in finalizing the QRCA rebranding that was based on research done by the committee in 2015 and presented to members in Orlando. Specific deliverables will include recommended website changes (tagline, headline, content), brand standards guidelines, and messaging recommendations.
  • Acknowledgement of the excellent job that Susan Abbott, Kendall Nash, the Worldwide Conference Committee and staff did in implementing such a wonderful event in Vienna.
  • The creation of the 2016 Nominating Committee with Manny Schrager as the Chair. This important committee is tasked with finding candidates to run for the 2016-2016 Board of Directors.
  • Acknowledgement of Nicki Brunner for her excellent work in leading the process of designing a standing conference logo that can be used for both Annual and Worldwide Conferences going forward to enhance QRCA’s brand. Logo options have been narrowed down to the top two options, which will be reviewed by CCM.
  • Approving Lynn Greenberg as the new Chair of the Sponsorship Committee. The Board is excited to have Lynn in this role — and just in time to jump into planning for the Annual Conference in Los Angeles, January 18-20.

Gratitude that Amy Savin has stepped into the GreenBook liaison role for IRCom. She is promoting the discount that QRCA members have been offered to attend the IIeX Conference in June, and the QRCA cocktail party for members who attend the event.

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Jay Zaltzman
Jay Zaltzman

Getting to Know Your Board

Jay Zaltzman,

Hi everyone! I'm writing this on the plane as I make my way home from the Worldwide Conference in Vienna. The conference reminded me why I love the QRCA: the organization is full of wonderful people who freely share their knowledge. I learned a lot at this conference; the theme of "transformational thinking" really delivered! Some tidbits:

  • I'm going to replace the "brands as people at a party" exercise, with asking participants to think of the brands as a food, since food is sensory and a rich source of metaphors. In the research done by Rebecca Bryant, Tone Graaten, and Ilka Kuhagen, that approach provided a great deal of richness (e.g., chocolate representing something you're tempted to over-use, steak as a guilty pleasure).
  • Nikki Lavoie gave a thought-provoking presentation about incentives and how, in some cases, participants may be more motivated to participate in research WITHOUT a financial incentive!
  • And perhaps most exciting: it seems that qualitative research is becoming more important than ever. While quant is competing with myriad data sources ("big data"), companies are finding they need qualitative to make sense of it all. Now THAT'S encouraging!

  • ...and that's just the tip of the iceberg! I'm still going over my notes. I really learned a lot!

OK, since this column is called "getting to know your board," a little about me: my business, Bureau West Market Research, is mostly qualitative. I do work in a wide variety of fields, but especially high-tech (including usability research), and financial. Personally, I love travel, and would have been a travel agent if I could figure out how to make a living doing that! I've always wanted to do research in the travel field; and, lately, I have been getting more projects in that area. I sometimes oversee international research; and, last year, I had the opportunity to go to China and Japan to oversee and view some focus groups there. I love when I get to do that!

I recently decided to add public speaking to my business. Many of you know that I love to speak at our conferences; and, now, I'm trying to go beyond research conferences and become a paid keynote speaker at other conferences. I've been focusing on the area of customer experience (which was my topic at the Vienna conference), since that seems to be a strategic approach that isn't widely known outside the tech category and large corporations. I also think customer experience research is an area where qual researchers can add value. Let me know if you'd like me to give the presentation at your chapter — I'm looking for opportunities to practice!

I hope to see you soon... either at a chapter meeting or at our next conference in Los Angeles in January.

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