Sunday, September 26, 2010

ESOMAR Congress Overview: Pravin's take

Key Takeaway:
1.       MR is getting democratized. We can’t run away from it (Case in point: DIY research).
2.       Be open to push the boundaries of research (Mass ethnography-DigiViduals, Nielsen Life 360)
3.       Have the consumer at the heart of what you do!

The conference started earlier for me, with the ESOMAR Representatives meeting organized by Helen Parker. The meeting was well attended with a lot of new Reps added to the mix. Gunilla and Finn opened the discussion followed by an update from Kathy Joe. Jennifer Granger then presented the Global Market Research report. Though the MR spend dipped for the first time in a few years now, there is hope! And positive signs! A lively discussion was chaired by David Smith and a bunch of us threw in queries, suggestions and action items. Finn Raben mentioned that ESOMAR wants to go more local in spreading research standards and in propagating research. To this effect, I am confident of a regional forum for us to plan local events (meetups, workshops) with shared costs and sponsors. (Pictures at 

Ask the experts session was a new introduction this year and gave an opportunity to interact one-on-one with experts (Semiotics, Neuroscience, WOM). I went to the discussion with the ESOMAR President Gunilla Broadbent who provided an overview and responded to queries. 

The welcome reception was packed and the highlight was the official launch of Ray Poynter’s book (Handbook of Online and Social Media Research). Relevant and much-need for students and young researchers. I am sure this will be a big hit across universities in APAC as well. I have known Ray for quite some time now and it was an honour to buy his autographed book at the Congress. The reception was followed by the e-Rewards and the Askia parties! – great to have fun and network with fellow researchers from around the globe.

The sessions at the Congress seemed packed and all the ones I wanted to attend seemed to be planned at the same time in parallel halls! Hence, I missed a few of the talks (amd am only covering those that I attended). The interactive session on DIY (chaired by Andre Linden) was followed by presentations from David Bakken and Richard Thornton. The lively debate/discussion before and after the speaker sessions was well planned out. DIY is considered a major threat by the traditionalists and democratization by others! Incidentally, David’s paper (Only the paranoid survive) won the best paper at the Congress.

Helen Parker (ESOMAR) assisted me in organizing a country-lunch and it was good to meet and discuss with fellow Indian researchers about the conference and action points.

Post-lunch, it was the Pecha Kucha session where I was a speaker as well. Rapid-fire 20-second slides and smooth flow marked this session. The message from Patrick Young on the need for storytelling to present results resonates with relevance.

I liked the “What the buzz!” presentation by Kristin Hickey, especially the need for researchers to get a grasp of the brand buzz, differentiation from clutter and its measurement – in a social media age. From the paper: “Brand BUZZ is new to marketing and therefore needs its own definition, set of measurement tools and understanding.”

Research Superstar – as always was to ensure the research community drops the ‘serious/conservative’ veil and takes a dig at ourselves. Very good performances by Sophy, Richard Casper and Will Goodhand; and Will won the crown on the second day. As a part of the jury, Simon Chadwick, Adam Philips and yours truly had a ball as well.

Digital Ethnography in FIFA 2010, the multi-modal approach paper by Dave King and Hala Matowska. This project has pushed earlier thresholds for methods and overall complexity. A study across multiple screens (TV, Internet and Mobile) with a diary study built in (420 South Africans provided with BlackBerry phones).

Science-Fiction: Another paper I enjoyed was John Kearon and Peter Harrison’s Online segmentation for insight generation. Parts of the paper sounded like science-fiction to me, except for the fact that these were live projects (with real clientsJ).  In this huge and diverse web, how can individuals or segments be identified? Insights generated? This is the basic premise of the paper and John delved into Sentiment analysis and netnography as key modes for answers. DigiViduals was a BrainJuicer product that was demo-ed – online robotic researchers searching social media sites for pictures, references, songs, blogs etc to create a persona! An example of mass ethonography as one of the ways forward!

The Talent Contest: It was a pleasure to listen the young researchers: Hannah, Catherine and Abhishek Sharma. All three of them were impressive in their own way. Such an event serves as encouragement to younger researchers and assists in the creation of a grassroots movement – to bring more into the fold of marketing research.

Finishing keynote: Paul Marsden was the speaker and my TOM response was “Bodybuilder”!. He spoke about simplifying research….and the fact that research is prevalent and a part of our everyday decision making process. We just need more glamour!

All in all: Lots of new faces. Younger researchers in attendance. And new messages/methodologies!

All this bodes well for research and I look forward to work towards more local events for research – and of course, the APAC conference in Melbourne next year.

Pravin Shekar
kreator-in-chief, krea
ESOMAR Representative for India

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sampling in the ICE age

A report by Teresa Lynch, mrweb

Sampling in the ICE Age

A number of the world’s biggest online sample providers have announced they are working together with the market research SaaS company Imperium on a system which prevents respondents answering the same category of interview too frequently. Members constitute around 50% of all sample available globally, so what effect will the move have on those who are ‘in’ and those who are ‘out’?
The Imperium Category Exclusion (ICE) User Group is not a closed shop - it’s open to any panel providing company. Nevertheless we’d expect to find differences in the views of someone very much ‘in’ - say, Marshall C Harrison, Founder and CEO of Imperium - and someone who is currently ‘out’, in this case Pravin Shekar, kreator-in-chief at Indian consumer panel firm Krea.
Both are basically agreed that ICE is a very good idea. Harrison explains that the new initiative is in addition to the software services Imperium already offer not only to sample providers but also full service agencies and end user companies. These include branded products which variously de-dupe sample by digital fingerprinting, check respondents demographics against other databases (currently only in the US) and capture users' online experience of web sites. ICE is an extension of the first of these which utilizes the same digital fingerprinting technology to identify respondents who have completed an interview in a specific category (for example home shopping or health insurance) within a given time period. Marshall does envisage companies which use ICE advertising to their own clients on their web site that they 'are certified by ICE'.
So will this become some sort of 'kite mark' to which other companies must subscribe? According to Pravin Shekar, 'The panel business does not have too many distinct long term points of differentiation....therefore this move towards digital a good one to get the base standards in.' However he also makes the point that there ought to be an industry standard (perhaps the long awaited CASRO one) rather than firms favouring one product offering from one company. He also mentions other companies involved in the same type of offering such as Peanut Labs with their OptimusID product; and advances the idea that digital fingerprinting also has some 'local issues with PII and intrusion of privacy'.
Marshall is confident that Imperium is 'cognisant about privacy rules and regulations' and that their clients are 'conscious of the law' in relation to any product they would use in conjunction with their panel. And it is hard to see how checking that people are who they say they are and have completed the interviews they say they have need infringe their rights in any way when all panels are run on a strictly 'opt in' basis.
Will some companies feel pressure to join this new initiative? And what are some of the 'local issues' that maybe a higher authority such as CASRO or ESOMAR should address? We'd be interested to hear your view.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

One Missed Call: A new language in itself!

What do you think is the most common method of communication among the youth today?

SMS’, Mobile phone calls, Facebook messages, Orkut scraps, MMSs, Voice mails all are losing out to a mode which does not even figure on the list.

How does one contact the friend who’s inside his house when you are standing outside but you don’t want to waste a call on it as well? Yes, you guessed right, you give him a missed call. This highly popular mode of communication now figures among one of the constants of teenage life. How do you know if your girlfriend’s dad is around or not? You give her a missed call and if she gives you one back, it’s safe! This is a foolproof method as it eliminates risk and at the same time is pocket friendly.

How else is it used? There are much better examples as well. What do you do when your money runs out and you need back up? There is only one eternal saviour at all those times (and if you are at college, those times do come, often!!). That individual is called Dad! And how do you contact him? Of course, you give him a missed call and he will call you back, as is his duty to. Almost the whole lot of students at university never ever call home. They always give missed calls and the poor folks at home have to call back.

This rapidly increasing segment of the mobile using population has users among the senior population as well. Grandpas and Grandmas are also giving missed calls to their middle aged wards to get them to call back. And if you think that’s all you are gravely mistaken. How do you get your friend in the other row to look at you when you want to share a private joke about the professor? You give him a missed call and he will promptly turn and look at you.

These are just a few examples of how a simple thing such as a missed call influences the life of a teenager (and a wider diaspora as well). There may be other instances where the missed call is used and of which we might have no idea at all.

If such is the situation, how do we know what a teenager thinks, what he might use at what stage and what he might shun? What is evident from such phenomenon is that a one size fits all just doesn’t work across all parts of the population.

Therein lays the challenge for the researcher!

Sairam Krishnan
krea: An India-centric Online research firm with a focus on Healthcare, Youth and Mobile.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What does the Indian Youth think about the current state of education?

It’s admission season once again and colleges and universities across India are heavily advertising to attract quality students to their doors. Again, the courses heavily in demand are engineering and medicine. But what do the young people themselves feel about it? Are they satisfied with the current system in India?

In India, what has to be understood clearly is that the opted field of Education is not just a choice taken by the student, but by the whole family establishment. India still retains a close knit family structure, where the decision making authority is rested heavily with the elder in the family. Here there arises a situation where the student’s personal views take a backseat to what the family sees as the best option. And this best option is a result of alarming peer pressure, common in Indian society and most of the time; the student is not even consulted during this process. The options given might be just which college do you want to join and which course. The decision that the student must take up engineering is considered foregone and not even worth asking the student.

Says Priya(name changed), a 12th grade student from Trichy, who will take up engineering at a private college this year “There was never a talk at home regarding what I was going to do after school. Everyone at home expected me to join engineering and so I will”. When asked if she was interested in engineering she says “I’m a biology student and have no idea about it.” She is a budding guitar player and is part of a band. What is possible if this girl studies music and pursues what she is good at? We will probably never know.

Many people realise after their engineering or medicine, that this was not what they wanted to do. And a career change is not optional, but inevitable for such people. Vinoth(name changed), an entrepreneur in Pondicherry had the same dilemma. Unable to complete his engineering, simply because he never really liked it, he let go of it and now runs a successful BPO in his home town. “I always wanted to be a businessman. So, when I knew this wasn’t going to work out, I immediately started my business and I’m doing pretty well.”

But there are also rebels, meaning students who opt out of what the society forces upon them and do what they want to do. Gayathri(name changed), from a Private University in Tamil Nadu, studied chemical engineering for a year before she realised that she wanted to be a journalist. After two months of convincing her family, she now studies Mass Communication at the same University. This is what she says. “I knew what I wanted to do and I did not want to be caught up in doing what everyone else was doing for the sake of it. I had to struggle a bit to convince everyone but it was worth it”

Hence it is no surprise that Krea found that 97% of our Facebook respondents feel that our educational system should be improved. The respondents consisted of a sample of young Indians who form part of Krea’s Facebook page "I am like this ONLY". The poll reveals the general mood of the younger Indian generation.

What is notable here is that India still produces the world’s most brilliant workforce.

Imagine what we’d be like if we tweaked our educational system just a bit more!

Sairam Krishnan
An India-centric Panel research firm with a focus on: Healthcare, Youth, Mobile

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cint and krea form a strategic alliance to harness the power of India

Press Release: 06 May 2010

For immediate release:

Market research technology and solutions provider Cint enters into a strategic alliance with Indian-research agency krea. With this synergy, krea shall represent and leverage the Cint Panel Exchange (CPX) to service Indian clients. Cint’s technology will be exclusively used to recruit new panels and increase the overall supply available to clients for sampling.

Krea shall work with clients and partners to build new panels, either through converting their existing customer databases into research access panels or by building panels from scratch in the Cint Panel Exchange (CPX). Representing an Indian panel size of 50,000, krea is aiming high and looking at garnering significant market share in nascent India.

Krea is the only firm in India providing advisory panel services on a BM3 framework – Build, Manage, Maintain and Monetize. Such research access panels can be used by partners for conducting research on their own customers whilst providing an opportunity to offer an in-depth -profiled panel for research.

Richard Thornton, Global Sales Director at Cint, commented: “We are extremely excited about this alliance and see krea as the ideal partner for Cint in India. Through the local expertise of Pravin Shekar and his team, Cint will be able to tap into this increasingly influential and emerging market. It is our goal, through krea, to support this growth and drive online research by bringing our innovative technology platform and solutions to Indian clients. The krea culture and philosophy fits in very nicely with our own and because of this we are delighted to make this announcement.”

kreator-in-chief Pravin Shekar commented: “There is a burning need to bring innovative solutions to the marketplace and the need for a collaborative approach. Krea’s objective is to redefine traditional modes of conducting research and utilize technology to its utmost potential. Online and mobile panels are the way to go as India is a growing market. India is at No.4 in the world’s top 20 for internet usage while Mobile tele-density has already crossed 50% of the total population*.

Cint is a very able partner constantly striving to bring in new technology solutions. With this partnership, krea is looking at leveraging on Cint’s technology base to build panels in the Healthcare, youth and mobile space.”

Krea is also aiming to lower the overall cost of doing research by using automated solutions like Cint’s unique intuitive sampling algorithm for managing tracking study fieldwork, Cint Automated Tracker (CAT). This is set to bring much needed transparency to the online research and sampling process.

About Cint

Cint hosts the first online panel marketplace – Cint Panel Exchange (CPX) – offering access to multiple providers through a self-service interface. By partnering with companies worldwide Cint has built a network of over 500+ panels reaching 3 million individuals in 40 countries. Cint’s SaaS platform offers world firsts like Cint Automated Tracker, for saving time on managing trackers, and the Cint Direct Sample plug-in where through an API other platforms offer access to the CPX, giving their users instant access to online sample. Headquartered in Stockholm, Cint has offices in Europe, North America and Australia.

About krea

krea stands for 'energy/action' and creates India-specific online and offline panels; specializing in Healthcare, Youth and Mobile samples. krea works with partners to create Advisory panels, online communities and supports the entire research process: from design, panel management, fielding through to reporting.

krea's USP is in leveraging the online/mobile convergence and a mixed-mode approach to connect with the Hard-to-reach population.

krea is the Go-to place to connect with India.

For further details, contact:

Sathish Somasundaram

VP-Client Services

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Does the Indian Youth face an Identity Crisis?!!!

Westernization versus tradition, haves versus have-nots & young versus old; Indian youth are torn between these divides which also prevents them from forming a united front.

The have-nots are deeply affected by poverty, which affects their ability to organize a protest. This group comprises the majority of Indian youth, with the haves numbering in the minority.

Both groups are exposed to mass media advertising and the have-nots are subjected to unsatisfiable cravings that lead to violence and crime. The haves indulge in self-destructive behavior that include taking drugs.

Youths are also frustrated that they are contributing economically to their country’s growth, but not given a say in the form this growth it should take; hence there is a feeling of unfulfilled political identities.

The Indian youth seem to want the best of both worlds; they want to see themselves as similar to their Western counterparts, but they also want to retain a certain ‘Indianness’.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Educated youth are harbingers of the new era of democratic values and torchbearers of a developed nation

A World Values Survey conducted by the World bank recently showed that the proportion of people aged 18–24 who identified themselves as "very" or "rather" interested in politics was around 50%, an increase of 15% since 1990.

Youth indirectly means freshness and Youth in Politics gives a fresh start to Politics and this freshness has already been felt in the Indian politics by the vibrant youth such as Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Vadra, Milind Deora, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Agatha Sangma and Sachin Pilot. Three cheers to Indian Youth.!!!

Let’s make the world a better place to live in.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Disease of Affluence – the healthcare and youth connection

There were days when heart disease and diabetes used to hit people in the 40+ age bracket.

Now, with the advent of the IT age in India, combined with disposable income and significant change in lifestyle, the 'diseases of affluence' strike early. From the 25+ age bracket in some cases.

Obesity, hypertension, heart-attacks at 30 send clear warning signals that 'all is not well' and rightly so.

With a young India, it is imperative to get a handle on things and go beyond stating the obvious (eating habits, lack of exercise, sedentary jobs, etc). This is where research steps in to connect the healthcare and youth segments - to assist firms in unearthing insights.

A healthy India helps create a health(ier) world!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Who is 'the' young Indian?

The young Indian today is someone who is net-savvy, very well informed of the technological advances. He / she is open to communicate both with acquaintances and strangers.

He/she is an active participant in the democratic process, wants to see India as a developed nation rather than move away from the problems that the country faces. Where the previous generations looked at things from a negative perspective, the Young Indian looks at it as an opportunity – to work towards finding a solution for the problems at hand.

Not many may be fashionistas, but the young Indians definitely have a lot of choice in terms of their accessories- mobiles, ipods, netbooks, perfumes, clothes…..( yes in that order too!!!). He /she likes to party hard and work equally hard - if not - harder.

The young Indian also has the caring, nurturing angle to his/her persona- the willingness to volunteer and spend time for the less-priveleged.

Who is the Young Indian?- it is YOU- fun-loving, caring, enterprising, nurturing, introvertedly extrovert…..and so much more.