Reasons To Be Cheerful: 6 Ways Research Has Changed For The Better

Last week BrainJuicer Labs Content Director Tom Ewing presented the opening keynote at the AMSRS (Australian Market And Social Research Society) conference in Melbourne. This is a very edited summary of what he talked about!

Keynotes at market research events often have a rather depressing air – constantly stressing the research industry’s need to change, to become more like consultants, or technicians, or entrepreneurs, or else face extinction. Those doomy prescriptions have one thing in common: they assume that research can’t change, or is slow to do so. But it can. In the fifteen years I’ve been in the industry, research has changed enormously and that change is ongoing.

My AMSRS keynote was a celebration of that change, and of an industry with a marvellous capacity to change and adapt. It’s not about the future of research, but its present – the day-to-day reality of forward-thinking research companies. As Ian Dury put it in his song “Reasons To Be Cheerful”: “Yes yes my dear / perhaps next year / or maybe even now”. Why wait?


I talked about six main changes I saw happening in research. Continue reading

A Research Christmas Carol: Chapter Three

Continuing our special festive story! In part one, data-obsessed insight manager Ebenezer Brand was visited by a ghost telling him to change his ways. In part two, a second visitor warned him against looking at claimed, not real, behaviour. But there are still two visitors to come…

When his second visitor arrived, Ebenezer Brand was midway through a rather uncomfortable dream about a board meeting and a missing pair of trousers. His mumbled apologies to the CEO began to be drowned out by insistent, repeated phone alerts.

Brand rolled over sleepily, looked for the rectangle of screenlight in the dark of the room, and picked the device up. “74 new Twitter alerts?” he murmured, “But…. I’m not on Twitter….”

“That’s your problem!” said a friendly voice. “No Twitter. No Tumblr. Are you on Medium? Have you heard of it?”


Brand blinked in befuddlement. Standing over his bed was a young man, very tall with a shock of dark hair and a pair of blaring red trousers. He also held a phone in his hand, but there was a tablet in his other hand and a third device glowing softly in his breast pocket. LEDs pulsed on a wristband, and he had what looked like a memory stick attached to his glasses.

“Ghost of Research Present,” said the vision cheerily. “Let’s go. Things to show you. Must be quick. Get changed.” Continue reading

Research Is Doomed! (Part 759)

Every few months one of the business sites publishes a piece having a go at market research. Usually these articles are a heady mix of dramatic predictions, weirdly dated assumptions about what researchers do, and – let’s be honest – a few sharp truths.

This one, in Forbes, is no exception. The gist is that “Big Research” is going to get kerb-stomped by “Big Data”, so the piece combines its downer on research with a bouncy optimism about the infinite powers of big data. I’m not going to go through it point-by-point, and anyhow plenty of other commentators have outlined where big data and research fit with each other. But this line stood out.

“What possible similarity is there between a person in 1972 and today in terms of how they respond to an ad?”

1972 fashion

1972 – too remote to matter?

What indeed? Let’s start with biology, psychology, emotions, how they make decisions, the fundamental needs they might be trying to fulfil… but no – in a world transformed by technology none of those things matter. Continue reading