Best PracticesMarket Research

Is It Helpful or Just Mean to Point Out Flaws in Market Research Conference Speeches?

Market Research ConferenceI recently attended the ESOMAR conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This was my first ESOMAR event, and I can tell you that the organization knows how to run a professional, content-rich market research conference. I saw excellent speakers, met amazing new contacts, and even the written conference materials were first-class.

So is it mean for me to critique their speakers? Or as someone who is passionate about prompting market research best practices, is it just good, healthy “tough love”?

On Friday, September 28th, my article critiquing two keynotes was published in the Greenbook blog.

Here is a sample of the critique I wrote:

“One of Ms. Turkle’s (an ESOMAR keynote speaker) key points was that people feel as if, “I share, therefore I am” and that this is a pervasive driver of online communications. People who share online can get constant feedback, and this shapes their preferences for communication modes.  Of course, to market researchers, this is not a bad thing—as it means we can now observe a lot about how people think and feel (and want to be perceived) through online research methods. It also raises challenges: how do we know what aspects of online communications are actual versus aspirational? And when does that matter, or not matter?

However, while she segued some brief research examples to reach a more culturally disturbing conclusion that the quality and quantity of conversations is eroding, she seemed rather quick to point to online communications as the root cause of all evil. Her conclusion that “communications get dumbed down” did not seem to be fully supported by the research she described, which left me questioning her conclusion…”

At a market research conference, when should we nod politely and when should we point out what appear to be errors? Incomplete arguments? Confusion between correlation and causation?  As a market researcher yourself, do you find such critiques helpful?  Any feedback here (using comments) or via email (KKorostoff@ResearchRockstar dot com) are most appreciated.



Kathryn Korostoff

Kathryn Korostoff is founder and lead instructor at Research Rockstar. Over the past 25 years, she has personally directed more than 600 primary market research projects and published over 100 bylined articles in magazines. She is also a professor at Boston University, where she teaches grad students how to analyze and report quantitative data.

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