MRS has awarded Phyllis Macfarlane its Gold Medal, the organisation’s most prestigious honour, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to market and social research over a 30-year career dedicated to the sector.

Since joining MRS in 1990, Phylis Macfarlane has consistently championed the power of insight, twice serving as MRS Chair. Across an extraordinary career, her positions have included managing director of research organisation  GfK and chair of the MRS Awards judging panel. She has also published numerous influential papers including The ROI of customer satisfaction research in 2008, which explored the value of having extensive insight into consumer reactions.

As Program manager for the University Cooperation Program of GfK Verein Phyllis efforts in promoting the sector internationally have helped to build structures for insight professionals and students in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, and played an important part in the establishment of the Ghana Market Research Association.

The Gold Medal is reserved by MRS for only the most significant contributions to the sector.  Phyllis will be one of just 17 winners of the award since the award was first introduced 39 years ago. This year’s Gold Medal will be presented at The MRS Excellence Awards Lunch in September 2021, set to be MRS’ first live event since the beginning of the pandemic.

The lunch will also feature the latest MRS Fellowships, a recognition of senior professional status and major contributions to the research and insight sector.  The Fellowships awarded this year are:

  • David Cahn
  • Johnny Caldwell
  • Rob Ellis
  • Richard Ellwood
  • James Endersby
  • Ruth France
  • Dr Peter Furness
  • Derek Jones
  • Claire Labrum
  • Tim Macer
  • Caroline Noon
  • Dr Mark Thorpe
  • Neil Wholey
  • Trevor Wilkinson

Read more about the new MRS Fellows

Phyllis Macfarlane, winner of the MRS Gold Medal, comments: “I shall always be grateful to the careers advisor at London University who said: ‘Have you thought about Market Research?’  From that point on I never looked back.  And what a wonderful industry I joined!  Ours is a sector where there are new ideas and things to learn and develop every day, as well as clever, entrepreneurial and interesting people to talk to and work with.

“Having been given so much myself, by so many, it was a no-brainer to go on to support the sector as much as I could – through training and education, but also through collaboration on lots of committees and initiatives.  Co-operation is where the sector is at its best.  Yes, we can compete, but we can also stand together for the common interest.  Long may it continue!  

“Of course, none of this would be possible without all the people who work in market research, to whom I owe so much gratitude and thanks.”

Jane Frost CBE, Chief Executive of MRS, comments: “Phyllis has been a true role model for the entire research sector across her career, promoting the power of research across the globe.  The support she has given to MRS over the years has been nothing short of phenomenal and we all have reason to be grateful to her.”

“She is a well-deserved recipient of our most notable award.  I am very much looking forward to celebrating with Phyllis and our new Fellows in person at The Excellence Awards Lunch in September, which, in my eyes, will be one of the first signs that normality is returning.”

Tickets for the lunch are £75+VAT for Fellows, £95+VAT for members and £115+VAT for non-members. A waiting list is currently in operation pending further changes to social distancing regulations. To register your interest email

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