Future Talent Meets The Industry

ESOMAR Innovate & Qualitative 2010

Carolina Serra Name: Carolina Serra
Nationality: Spanish
University: Ramon Llull University - Blanquerna School of Communication, Barcelona, Spain
Title of course/programme: Programme: MSc. in Production and Cultural Communication

How do you see the market research industry evolving and how can you contribute to it?

As we all know, advertising is an activity that changes every day. New technologies have radically changed not only the discipline, but also all the actors involved in it, such as: targets, (communication channels, products, requirements, means of communication, etc).
Due to this fast-changing environment, market research has been forced to evolve and adapt to the new needs of the system. Both techniques and the profiles of those involved have changed, especially in the last ten years.
We could say that market research is the collection and the analysis of information on world companies and markets.
From my point of view, companies have taken quite some time to realize but have finally discovered the benefits of this powerful tool. And it is that the information necessary to establish different policies, objectives, plans and strategies best suited to their interests can be obtained through market research.
I think that results in Spain are growing favorably. According to the report drafted by AEDEMO (National Association of market research company) in 2009 research in Spain businesses grew almost 1per cent in 2008 compared to the previous year. This means a net of 537 million euro investment in research activity.
With regard to the methods, the situation in Spain is as follows:
First, techniques consist of quantitative research such as personal interviews, telephone interviews, postal interviews, or online interviews.
In second place we find qualitative techniques, such as in-depth interviews or focus groups.
Finally, in third place we find desk-based research techniques.
If we take into account these information, it emerges that Spain occupies a strong position in Europe and that evolution has in general being good. However, we must not forget that there is a very serious economic crisis and that companies are cutting their budgets in research and communication. Therefore, market research is a major challenge: it needs to prove that it is a very useful tool and that companies need it to overcome the economic crisis.
From my humble opinion, I believe that I can provide historical data about the communication activity. The subject of my doctoral thesis discusses the origins of advertising in Spain, especially about the first agent of advertising. This involves a review of all the techniques used by companies and all the services offered by agencies. In many cases, looking back and going through the above formulas can be very useful. Understanding the logical evolution of an activity help to better understand and improve current and future work.

What are, in your opinion, the necessary skills for market researchers in the present environment?

I think it is a fascinating activity that most importantly focus on consumers and, especially, their interaction with the world.

  • The required skills for researchers are: Observation capabilities: must be very patient
  • Sensitive: must understand and appreciate things that other people don't see.
  • Analytical skills: need to know how to use the data collected , interpret them and generate insights and knowledg
  • Innovation approach: has to find new formulas and new ways of combining data and information.

What I think is missing is more research on how customers, especially young ones, use the Internet and social networks. I think we should study and analyze all customers’ transactions, regardless of the network.
Therefore, if we just consider online media, I think that we are losing a large part of very important data for companies. If the study is partial, the results will also be partial, and therefore the success of the company will also be partial. And, certainly, this is not what the company wants or needs.
Therefore, advertising companies can provide successful solutions acknowledging and adapting to the deep changes that research is undergoing due to the development of new technologies, a new economic climate and the globalization of markets.

How do you see your career unfolding and what are your aspirations?

I have just started my doctoral thesis. At the moment I'm at a stage of research and data collection. What surprises me is the antiquity of many advertising techniques and marketing tools/solutions/methods (?), already used many years ago and still in use.
It often seems that what was used in the past is now already out of fashion. However, if we look closely, we see that very often things are small evolutions of the foregoing. Therefore, it is very, very important to analyze in detail the history of an activity to understand it better and, especially, to keep evolving.
Regarding my aspirations, I would like to devote to teaching. I am currently collaborating with the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) and in the future I would like to be able to work in the University full time.

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