Sheila is an international marketing specialist with particular experience in the market research software marketplace. She has worked for over ten years in high-tech multinational organizations – including SPSS, Toshiba and Xerox. Sheila has been a meaning associate since 2003.

I’m hoping that Santa is going to stuff my stocking with a case of champagne and one of those glittery, sequined dresses that are all over the shops this year.

Apart from that, I’m wondering if he has the power to make the following magically appear in my office over Christmas:

1000 names and email addresses

I’d like 1000 names and email addresses of senior market researchers from around the world.  At meaning we conduct an annual online survey about market research technology and every year it becomes a little bit harder to achieve our goal of 230 completes, which should not come as a complete surprise since as the survey has pointed out in both of the last two years that ‘falling response rates’ is the top challenge the industry faces.  This means that one of my personal top challenges is building en ever longer list of people to invite to take part in the survey.

In my gift-wrapped Christmas box of sample, I’d particularly like some from France because, even though we translate the questionnaire into French, for some reason, our response rate in France is far lower than everywhere else. In 2008, 7% of our French sample completed the questionnaire, whereas in other countries this figures was typically between 10 and 20%. And I’d also like to ask Santa for Japanese sample because we quite simply never get enough of it!

And why bother Santa with this awesome task, when we have panel  providers, I hear you cry. Aren’t they ideal for wheedling out those hard-to-find groups? Yes, but this is just too specific even for them.  The thing is, our survey is about trends and issues in the use of market research software, so while we are happy for the IT boss, the Research Director or even the CEO to complete the questionnaire, it is no use if the HR, Finance or Marketing Manager participates (since they have nothing or very little to do with MR technology issues). We have had some success with panel providers in the past, and believe me, they have certainly tried hard, but the number of completes they brought in, while extremely valuable, never quite matched their effort.

A new piece of tabulation and charting software that hasn’t yet been written

Talking of our annual technology survey, I don’t know if elves are good at programming, but I would really like a new piece of market research software that produces a few cross tabs and publication-ready charts without having to endure a week of blood, sweat and tears to create them.

Once we have finished the fieldwork, Tim Macer and I have an annual battle with Microsoft Excel, which we do always win, largely thanks to Tim’s superior level of skill with the aforementioned package.  We have tried some market research specific packages, but have always fallen back on Excel because that’s what we have to provide the charts in to the various publishers… To be honest, Excel is not setting the bar very high, so maybe Santa’s little helpers can come up trumps.

So, champagne, a sparkly dress, 1000 names and email addresses and some brand new software. I think that is a modest wish list.

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