A Shift to Longer Duration, Online Research Communities

Just before the new year, Ramius quietly celebrated the first anniversary of our Recollective software’s commercial launch. That first year was an incredible learning experience for the Ramius team and we continue to gain a tremendous amount of feedback from our customers and prospects on each and every project. Everything that’s been shared with us contributes to improvements in the software, supporting services and helps us to envision how to innovate Recollective into a vital online platform for research and insights in the months and years ahead.

We’ve seen a shift over this first year in project size. We initially found a typical study involved approximately 50 participants and most often lasted for one or two weeks. As the year progressed, the typical number of participants remained at a similar level but we found the study duration extended to one month or longer. On many occasions we also saw that Recollective was being used in a sequence of projects. Sometimes, this involved numerous phases of online qualitative research, all done on Recollective. Other times, Recollective served as the online qual platform in a study that preceded or followed quant work. We also saw a number of very large continuous communities launched on Recollective, used by agencies to provide their brand clients with as-needed consumer insights.

We were interested to understand this shift and whether it was as a result of the platform maturing, the market evolving or simply our customers becoming more comfortable using Recollective. 
Not surprisingly, after looking at all the projects we completed and talking to many of our Recollective customers, this shift appears to be a result of all of those reasons.

At launch, the platform was most easily understood and categorized by researchers as being from the bulletin board family. Accordingly, early projects were often designed as short bulletin board studies. As the year progressed, we saw research designs incorporate more activity-based approaches as researchers learned how to take advantage of Recollective’s activities and tasks engine for immersive research exercises.

Towards the latter part of year one, our market research agency partners were able to pitch and win more community-oriented engagements with their clients based on Recollective. When asked, they indicated it was partly due to there being more community-projects available and their confidence in the platform strengthening with more features to want to conduct longer studies with increased participant engagement.

FEWER/SHORTER STUDY EXAMPLE

The typical nature of a 50-participant, 2-week Recollective project involves something like insight needs for a client’s innovation and product development processes. The business functions are involved in generating and gathering ideas to develop into a new product or service and will have questions that research can help answer at various times.

It’s a familiar pattern: an agency is commissioned by their client and conducts a study. The agency debriefs the client with findings and the client integrates the new insights into their thinking. Later, as new questions and budget emerges, the client commissions a follow-on project with new questions. Sometimes, a follow-on project may integrate a survey along with Recollective’s qualitative capabilities. Essentially, this kind of project maps directly on to a common process for satisfying marketing research needs by hiring agencies to answer questions via small projects.

A specific Recollective example is a case where our agency partner worked with a global telecommunications company to conduct studies of the lifestyles of its target consumers — the data was useful to the business team as the product concept was being developed. Later, a follow-on project was done to have these same consumers test and give feedback about the actual product but this time feeding back to both product managers and also the marketing team.

LARGER/LONGER STUDY EXAMPLE

To provide an example of how a similar end-client can use a longer-term study, we can stay in the telecommunications industry. A Recollective partner used the software to power an online community / sounding board which was established with 400 US-based customers following interviews and focus groups.

The business focus of the longer duration online research community was to inform its business decisions about streamlining customer service systems and processes. For example, the community was consulted to:

  • identify areas where systems and processes could be improved
  • ensure consistency and excellence at points of customer contact
  • provide insights to help develop new customer support tools, systems and processes
  • test and optimize customer communications

Some key advantages of moving to a longer ranging community approach included:

Ideas from internal and external sources
A continuous community approach supports a customer-centric business. While we saw small projects commissioned to understand a consumer segment or to test product concepts, the community approach is being used even earlier and throughout the various product development process stages with customers being involved early on to suggest product ideas and improvements.

We’ve seen studies that involve panels representative of target consumers to recruitment of samples from among communities of passionate and enthusiastic customers (and, in the example mentioned, customers who were detractors).

From standalone projects to continuous insights
Business units can gain insights faster when they have a ‘sounding board’ of customers to poll compared to the normal process of initiating a new study project (e.g. write business requirements and RFP, select agency, agency recruits, runs study, reports, etc.). Quicker feedback empowers the business function with insights to make better informed decisions, potentially getting to market faster and reducing rework.comm

Research as engagement
In a longer ranging community, insights which resulted in something being actioned by the company help the participant feel that their opinions mattered, bridging the gap between marketing and research by strengthening loyalty and encouraging positive word-of-mouth promotion.

Technology provides a high degree of flexibility by allowing for multiple methods over longer time frames
Modern online research platforms allow for a variety of methods to be used to gather insights. For example, using the social features in Recollective, we’ve seen participants begin interacting with one another in discussion forums and raise questions not even considered by the end client. Then, with more time to interact, researchers are better able to design and execute follow-on activities to test and confirm insights gleaned from discussions and earlier exercises, adding to the overall value delivered to the client.

Of course, these are just some of the reasons why researchers continue to increase the time and participant numbers for their online qualitative studies. We’ll continue to monitor this trend and will share more examples with you as we continue on in Recollective’s second year!

Case Study: Online Communities For Qual Research

It’s December! The days are shorter, the weather is colder and we’re beginning to look forward to the holidays! December is also a good time to reflect on what has happened in the past year and to plan ahead for the new year.

In 2012, the marketing research industry buzz about online communities continued. As commented in the Spring 2012 GreenBook Industry Trends (GRIT) report, “. . . Online Communities are already mainstream”.  While that may be true, the technology to power an online community for insights might not yet be in your toolkit. In this post, I’m going to share what one of our clients learned about online communities in their first foray earlier this year.

In the summer, Ramius partnered with a market research agency and their client, a major grocery retailer. The client was interested to experiment with online communities to understand what the method could bring to their research needs. Since the agency had many years of experience moderating focus groups and online discussions, we collaborated to combine Ramius’ Recollective offering with their expertise to meet the client’s objectives.

The project chosen by the grocer was to understand the big-box store phenomenon: why and how consumers shop there. It involved a national survey of consumers followed by focus groups into which a three-week online research community was incorporated to discern new insights. It meant that the client and agency could compare and contrast their online experience to the traditional focus group method. Some interesting findings came from the project.

Communities afford opportunities for wider exploration of issues

In contrast to traditional qualitative research techniques, in an online community you can expect to be less time constrained and respondents aren’t so limited for how they can contribute. For example, a participant could start their own online discussion thread and get right to the heart of what matters to them rather than wait for the focus group moderator to direct a question to her. In this project, the researchers had a full 3 weeks to delve deeply into responses and discussions to meet the client’s brief, yielding rich data and allowing for more complex analysis.

Variety leads to better engagement

The Recollective platform has a bulletin board function for moderator and/or participant-led discussion. As well, Recollective provides an engine to deliver structured research activities including diaries, mystery shopping, brainstorming, rankings, card sorts and open-ended text and photos. We found that by presenting a variety of activities, the degree to which participants are engaged in the community increases; participants will at least complete those activities well-suited to their abilities, interests and time.

For example, in the mystery shopping exercise, some participants favored video responses – one participant even filmed an interaction with the mystery shopped store manager. Others preferred to contribute feedback in a written form. The learning here was to respect and facilitate the variety of end user preferences to maximize the insights gathered from the community.

Open-ended queries elicit greater depth and creativity of response

The researchers designed an exercise where it asked respondents to use images to express perceptions of a grocery store. Using stock images, they received somewhat expected answers. By allowing the participant to find and share their own image, researchers anecdotally found responses of greater depth and creativity. The answers lead to novel and unexpected paths that could be potential future research topics.

Socializing responses

Recollective has a modern, intuitive design similar to modern social networks like Facebook. This includes “social features” that encourage study participants to interact with each other. For example, it has an newsfeed to shares participant responses with other the wider community which the project found stimulated insightful discussions because there are more opinions and content to build upon.

Recognition and reward

Recognition is a commonly identified community effect that also worked well in a short term community. A “Star of the Week” respondent was singled out, based on response quality, frequency and quantity of contributions. This encouraged and motivated other participants to also strive for such compensation and recognition.

Incentives were used in the study and were associated to the completion of activities. To encourage participant-led discussions, rewards were based on not starting a topic, but that the topic resulted in other participants contributing to the new thread.

Be real with the participants

The researchers added video instructions which made the study a more personable experience for participants. They actually could see and hear the team behind the project. Where appropriate, key findings were fed back to participants who were interested in what the results were.

Apply community-based techniques to appropriate solutions

At the end of the study, both the researchers and clients were impressed with the possibilities of online community-based research. It yielded a lot of information that can lead to other future research topics. Certainly there are some situations that it’s not suited to, but in conclusion we discovered it’s very applicable to:

  • exploratory research projects
  • longitudinal research (multi-phased product development, in-home testing over time, purchase processes, behaviors)
  • testing (concepts, communications, ads, etc)
  • reality checks
  • group ideation, co-creation and crowdsoucing initiatives

For more information on this case study, contact Ramius on salessupport@ramius.net.

Gain Competitive Advantage by Doing it Yourself

With DIY (do-it-yourself) a trending theme among many conferences we have attended this year, not to mention the new and emerging DIY technologies appearing for online research, it’s not surprising that companies are beginning to ask, “what happens when non-researchers collect and analyze data for their own organizations?”

During her presentation at the 2012 AMA Research and Strategy Summit, Nicole Gagnon (Senior Director of Market Research at Thomson Reuters) spoke of how they were empowering non-research staff to conduct in-house DIY research and utilize “one platform” for that would support a new customer-centric business model. She explained about a self-described “aha!” moment during the initial DIY observational study in which the research was carried out by internal staff of various business functions. They were trained and supported throughout the process but most importantly, took ownership of the data. As a consequence, they were able to trust and rely on their analysis to support business decisions.

While it had originally been an experiment, DIY seemed so promising that Nicole came up with a more sophisticated program. With a limited budget, they were able to extend DIY research across her whole division to help produce insights and gain a competitive edge.

In-House Means Ongoing

One of their most successful applications of the DIY research program at Thomson Reuters is with customer service issues. Under the program, Marketing staff can continuously conduct standardized customer satisfaction interviews and surveys to better understand the customer experience. Standardized questions allows for the collection and normalization of data for analysis on a large scale, examination of trends and for future compatibility and use.

DIY research also supports customer retention efforts by segmenting dissatisfied customers through customer service surveys. If the customer is unhappy, the interviewer will ask if they would like to have a representative follow-up. If so, the request is tracked in the division’s CRM system which triggers an appropriate staff member to contact the customer. That simple but vital extra step not only captures business insights but can perhaps save a hard-won customer.

DIY Technology & Training

Something we know for sure at Ramius is that when pushing out any software for use throughout an organization, it requires a mixture of internal support and intuitive features to be a success. So while there’s a legitimate fear that DIY research will provide questionable insights due to a lack of formal research training and experience, at Thomson Reuters employees were not left to their own devices. To support this research process and to manage bias risks, Nicole’s research team (comprising of only four individuals) mentor, support and train the non-researchers on data collection and analysis.

We think that is critical. Nicole’s division found it especially helpful to have role-based rights that had been built into the research platform they used to support an approved research workflow. Studies would never go live until they were vetted by her research team. With a strong research foundation in place, the research technology was then integrated to their CRM system that enabled her division to “close the loop” and share useful insights with the appropriate employees and on an ongoing basis.

Outcomes

So why were we so excited to hear the Thomson Reuters case study at the AMA RSS conference? We think it summarizes very neatly the business value of DIY research. For Nicole’s division, this new system has enabled them to do more, faster and with less. The volume of internal research is up by 400% and they are now doing over 40 annual customer feedback projects involving internal data collection. These projects range from studies that inform product development, win/loss situations and brand or customer service issues. The data and insights collected do not get archived once the project is complete, instead the data and insights become a strategic resource, accessible by anyone in the company and used to make better decisions.

Ultimately, we believe that competitive advantage is gained by the businesses that are best able to quickly respond to customer needs for improved products and services as well as richer experiences. DIY research done on online software (like Recollective) is a very promising approach to get there.

Blink Insight’s Recollective Journey

A past client of mine, who worked in talent management for a Fortune 1000 technology company, once commented to me that it was easier for her to recruit a mid-career engineering specialist than it was to find the millennials who would become her future workforce. The difficulty wasn’t because of any negative stereotype attributed to the millennial generation but it was simply because there was so much competition for the large numbers that she needed to find, hire and onboard. Obviously, this comment was made during a time when the economy was better performing. If I recounted this story to a young person today, I might get a response like: “I’m a recent grad and I can’t find work.” Or, if working: “I’m worried that I’ll be the first one laid off.” In spite of diminished prospects, I’m often impressed with the initiative young people have to create opportunities for themselves to gain useful skills and experiences to ensure they stand out to potential employers.

Earlier this year, Ramius had the opportunity to meet with students of Algonquin College’s Marketing and Business Intelligence Research Program (MBIR). Graduates of this program receive education and training that often leads them to pursue careers in marketing research. Ramius was invited to introduce students studying qualitative research methods to Ramius’ new Recollective software. Their professor wanted to expose them to new technologies and trends in online qualitative research and online communities. Ramius was pleased to have obliged.

Soon after our visit, two of the students developed an idea for a summer research project. They established their own consultancy and named it Blink Insight. With help from their college, they found funding and clients! Ramius became involved, providing the team with an instance of our Recollective software. Where appropriate to their end clients’ research objectives, they made use of our software. We’ve enjoyed working with this team! They are an enthusiastic group that have many ideas about how to well-apply our online qualitative software tools to engage with study participants and distill actionable insights for their clients. They are blogging about their summer project and what they learned at http://blinkinsight.wordpress.com/ — check it out! They are eager to hear and learn from their peers in the MR industry.

Five Questions With Gen Lamorie-Wallace of Phase 5

Gen Lamorie-Wallace is a busy woman. By day, she is an Ottawa, Canada-based Vice President with market research consultancy Phase 5. By night, she runs a restaurant with her chef husband in a trendy city neighbourhood. Sometimes, Gen’s worlds collide and inspiration strikes. For her, it’s when a ‘foodie’ patron pulls out a smartphone and starts tweeting an online commentary about his dining experience. This experience as a restaurateur informs Gen’s belief that market researchers need to understand how our communication culture is shifting and to be able to offer to clients new approaches that mimic this “new normal” for communications. Following her presentation Lessons Learned When Adapting Technology Platforms for Qualitative Research at the recent MRIA QRD Conference, we had a chance to talk to Gen about the forces that are transforming consumer culture and the opportunities for businesses and MR.

How is a business/brand’s relationship with its customers and prospects changing?

Social media has ushered in a seismic shift in a business/brand’s influence and control. People expect to be treated as true stakeholders. The number of people in my Twitter feed that I see talk to or even yell at businesses/brands/government representatives is amazing. There is an expectation from customers for genuine dialogue and for their opinions to matter. And these opinions do matter — social media is a vehicle unlike anything we have seen before that lets customers have a significant influence on what is being said about a business or brand. Social media has made social democracy a reality and exploring a research approach that mimics this keeps us relevant as researchers.

What is “the new normal?”

Well, as an illustration, let’s say I walk into my local Starbucks and I see something I like or dislike. My first inclination is not to mention it to my friend or partner who is physically there with me, instead, I tweet it for all the world, or at least my followers, to see! A culture has developed where it is completely normal to publicize our every thought and observation that was once random or passing at best. And we now do this to the world!

We think the world is interested in this and it is our duty to communicate it to those in our circle, however small or broad that may be. This kind of normal is evidenced by the surging popularity of social media platforms like Pinterest which is essentially an online bulletin board that lets you “curate” and showcase your interests. My Facebook News Feed has surged with Pinterest mentions lately — everyone wants to broadcast their interests and hobbies to each other!

I have also really noticed the use of terms like “curating” and “curator” in casual conversation. In a previous life I worked in museums and these terms were reserved for that profession. Now, we are all curators of our own lives and our natural inclination is to broadcast to those in our circle of followers and beyond.

At Phase 5, we took notice of this “new normal” from a research perspective and came up with a social engagement process that relies on online technology to facilitate a holistic approach to engaging with “stakeholders” in the manner in which they are accustomed to.

Phase 5 has been in the marketing research business since 1991 and recently, launched a new division called Konnex. What prompted Konnex?

Konnex is a research-based consultancy that helps gain intelligence from and connect with audiences through social media platforms. Konnex is backed by Phase 5, which has more than 20 years of experience in research and strategy consulting. Konnex was formed as a sister company to Phase 5 as a direct response to the influence and importance that social media plays in today’s business environment.

We understand the changes to the marketing model that is, more and more, affected by social conversations. We help our clients engage audiences as meaningful stakeholders in important business processes. We offer methodological rigour, deep analytical skills and strategic insight that comes with a research background. The rigour and research background that we bring to the table are key differentiators.

Online social engagement technology platforms bring with them less structure than traditional research approaches like focus groups. Less structure is good from a participant’s perspective but, at the end of the day, having a partner that can apply rigour and traditional research management and interpretation principles is really key. The rigour and strategic insight that we apply to the findings are really what sets us apart.

What has you excited about the future of MR?

The evolution that I continually see. I recently attended a conference in Miami that was focused on social media and research. The industry is not staying still — there is a huge appetite for applying research approaches to this new reality. I think market research has a bit of a reputation for nerdy stats geeks, but it is anything but! Well, at least I think I’m not too nerdy!

It is not just the suppliers either who are innovating — I love the fact that I am getting more and more requests from clients to show them innovative approaches to conducting research. The fluid and interactive nature of some of these new approaches is really neat and the ongoing engagement you get with your participants — who are now our “innovation stakeholders” — is so much more rewarding. I much prefer these experiences to the more traditional qualitative techniques like one-off focus groups or interviews.

What keeps you up at night?

My husband’s snoring!

Seriously though . . . I guess just staying on top of the rapid changes in today’s social environment and always thinking of how this can be applied to our research approaches. As an example, the huge popularity of Pinterest or research industry buzz around gamification has me exploring how our online approaches can mimic these trends.

Thanks to Gen Lamorie-Wallace for taking time to speak with Ramius as part of our new “Five Questions With . . .” blog feature where we profile business partners and thought leaders who challenge and inspire us with their ideas. Disclosure: Ramius is a technology partner to Phase 5.

Recap: Truth, Lies and Ethnography

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the MRIA’s 2012 QRD (Qualitative Research Division) Conference in Toronto where one of the speakers was Dr. Sam Ladner. Sam delivered a presentation entitled Truth, Lies and Ethnography. Think of the talk as being an ‘ethnography 101’ — it was intended to help researchers in the audience learn “What to expect, how it’s done, and when you should do it.”

Sam began by stating that “ethnography is not 100% qual” and that the etymology of the term comes from the Greek:

ethnos + grapho

Where ethnos represents folk, culture or people while grapho refers to writing (or representing). So, one might say that ethnography could generally refer to ‘writing about culture.’

The ‘origin story’ of ethnography continued with Sam contrasting the work of Dr. Bronislaw Malinowski, a Polish anthropologist who focused on cultural research, with the work of Dr. Paul Lazarsfeld, lauded as the founder of applied sociology. Sam’s comparison of their interests and work helped to illustrate the differences between research methods like ethnography and focus groups. While ethnography seeks to understand culture, the researcher in a focus group is seeking more detail about an individual’s decision-making process.

As Sam described this, the pop culture fan in me recalled a Star Trek (TNG) episode which opened with a science team observing an alien village from a hidden vantage point. In that episode, drama ensued as the Starfleet Prime Directive of not interfering with an alien civilization was broken. If this science team were conducting an ethnography, they would be observing the aliens in situ — living among them and “going native” as it were. The science team would be looking at symbols and systems, documenting behaviours and experiences when and where they actually occur, with the goal of understanding and writing about the alien culture. Such observational research differs from a focus group where a moderator defines the research parameters, sets the context in which the research is to be done and takes an active role to guide participants through the inquiry.

Sam has made her presentation available on SlideShare and I have embedded it to the end of this post. You can, at your convenience, review her presentation in its entirety.

One slide that I do want to highlight is the one below where Sam has mapped out scenarios when a marketer might use ethnography. I think this slide will be very useful when working with my own customers and prospects. My clients develop online communities using our software offerings. There they might conduct ethnographies by observing what is going on in their online communities. Or, perhaps they are themselves immersed and directly engaged in the online community with other members. The slide can help a business manager consider the lifecylce stage her product is in and know that ethnography and/or data from ethnography can inform her decisions involving new product development, advertising and messaging development, customer experience improvement, etc.

Thanks Sam for your intro into ethnography!

 

Upcoming: Multicultural Media for Multicultural America Forum

For Americans and Canadians, multicultural consumers are a rapidly growing demographic. Understanding the social lives of such consumers — their values, beliefs, habits and preferences — is of great importance to brands and their marketers. An annual day-long event called the Multicultural Media for Multicultural America Forum will explore this demographic. Presented by marketing research consultancy Horowitz Associates, the March 21st, 2012 conference will focus on “. . . how the concept of community impacts programming, marketing, and advertising geared toward America’s new multicultural audiences.”

One of the new things the conference presenter will be doing this year is to conduct multimodal research to learn about the multicultural consumer who may, more and more, consume media on various platforms. Three reports will be presented during the event:

Viewing the Viewer — an in-home videography of multicultural households.

State of Cable and Digital Media — a quantitative survey of US-multicultural consumers

Consumer Voice Community — This 8-week research online community is focused on the media lifestyles of US-multicultural consumers and how they are adopting to a rapidly changing media world.

For disclosure purposes, Ramius, a technology partner to Horowitz Associates, is pleased to support the Forum with our new Recollective software which powers the Consumer Voice Community.

This new data should foster interesting discussion among the Forum delegates with confirmed representation by media organizations such as NBC Universal, Telemundo, mun2, Comcast, ESPN, Imagina US, History en Español, Ella (MGM Networks Latin America) and TV5MONDE.

Check back to this blog for an upcoming profile of Horowitz Associates and for a conference recap. For those who will be attending the Forum, we look forward to meeting you in New York!

Upcoming: The MRIA’s 2012 Qualitative Research Division Conference

This Friday, February 24th, I am looking forward to traveling to Toronto to attend the MRIA‘s annual QRD (Qualitative Research Division) event: “. . . a full day conference about all things qualitative with speakers, breakout sessions and opportunities for networking.” I note that the event will take place at the Ontario Science Centre, a museum I last visited during my high school years. I hope the organizers will treat us to a Van de Graaff generator demonstration!

I remember enjoying my museum visits because many of the exhibits were live and interactive, which made it an entertaining way to discover and learn new concepts. I am hoping that the QRD Conference, with its tagline — “learn, explore, expand” — will be just as valuable. With Ramius’ latest offering — Recollective —  being (continuously) designed with the help of qualitative researchers, I hope to discover and learn new methods and techniques that I can share with the team. And, coming from a background in social software for online communities, collaboration and innovation, I hope I can contribute some new ideas to the qualitative research community’s discussions on new MR technologies.

Conferences are always about the great people that speak and attend. As a new MRIA member, I hope to have the opportunity to meet and learn from others. I spotted a couple of friends to Ramius on the speaker list: Dr. Sam Ladner of Copernicus Consulting and Gen Lamorie-Wallace of Phase 5 Consulting. Sam’s presentation is entitled Truth, Lies and Ethnography while Gen will discuss Lessons Learned when adapting technology platforms for qualitative research. Please consider checking back to this blog next week — I plan to recap what Sam, Gen and others will be presenting on.

Hope to see you at #QRD2012 !

Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

Congratulations to Candice Seiger, who is the winner of Ramius Corporation’s The Market Research Event (TMRE) 2011 booth iPad giveaway!

During TMRE last week, Ramius ran a draw at our exhibit booth. The deal was for attendees to come say hello to the Ramius team and, before heading off to the next booth, we invited them to drop off a business card for our iPad giveaway. Easy peasy and gimmicky, I know! Tablet and related accessories seemed to be the de rigueur booth contest prizes. That said, the draw was a fun ice breaker and the iPad allowed us to demonstrate how our new Recollective software works out-of-the-box on mobile platforms (HTML5). Thank you to everyone that came by, met one of our team and entered our draw. Candice stopped by with her colleague and, her business card was later drawn!

Candice was at the conference representing Luminosity Marketing*, where she is Associate Director, Research & Client Development. Candice wrote about her event experience at the Luminosity blog in her post The Market Research Event — A Twitter Review.

Candice: Enjoy! We hope you’ll use it to Tweet a picture of the unboxing when the iPad arrives!

 

*Not a current Ramius partner

The Week Ahead: AMA Research and Strategy Summit + Ramius Webinar

A shout-out to the folks attending the American Marketing Association’s Research and Strategy Summit in Orlando, Florida this week! I’ve met and learned from many marketing research professionals having had the chance to attend this conference in 2009 and 2010. Well-produced by the AMA and the event organizing committee, it offers excellent opportunities for networking and conversation among an engaged community of researchers.

(Above: a recap video of AMA MRC 2010)

If, like me, you can’t attend the 2011 Summit in real life, consider following along on Twitter via the hashtags #amaresearch and #mrx. As well, the AMA will be live-streaming a portion of tomorrow’s Summit program! To participate, you can register via MarketingPower.com.

A change this year is to the event name. What had been the Marketing Research Conference is now the Research and Strategy Summit. Why? According to the Summit literature, it’s about “not just doing research, but applying strategic thinking to the research function and how it serves the goals of your company.” Certainly, this name change does reflect the transformation going on in MR.

Coincidentally, Ramius is sponsoring an AMA webcast following the conclusion of the Summit. The webcast is entitled Real Research in a Virtual World and will be kicked-off with an introduction by Leonard Murphy from GreenBook Blog. Those in Orlando this week will get a sample of Lenny’s content as he will be leading a Summit 2011 session only a few hours before our webinar! You can preview Lenny’s recent GreenBook research and findings in his blog post at http://www.greenbookblog.org/2011/09/08/grit-sneak-peek-the-top-emerging-market-research-techniques/  We think it’s interesting stuff!