Today I spoke at ESOMAR Congress in Edinburgh. Here's a shortened version of my speech:

"To those of you who don’t know us , the MRS combines the roles of trade and professional body with that of official regulator for the sector. This means I can find myself up in front of the House Of Lords to be interrogated on political polling or in front of the Financial Services Regulator to be interrogated on political polling. In the latter case the accusation was polling being used to short the markets- all very Wolf of Wall Street!

But we are more than that - ever since we were founded in 1946 we have provided policy advice for institutions such as Efamro, and we work closely with Esomar on many issues such as data.

Our data trustmark - Fairdata – is now used in the Netherlands , Australia and Singapore.

If you study or qualify in market research it is more than likely to be via one of our courses whether directly or white labelled. Our qualifications are universally recognised. I am delighted that this lets us partner with the Girl Effect to qualify young girls in Africa and elsewhere; empowering them economically by giving them a profession.

On the subject of Research for Good, a big shout out to all of you involved in Paragon, launched in London at impact 2016, and winner of our President’s Medal.

Now you join us in turbulent times. I spend my time, like so many people in bewilderment at the Brexit shenanigans over here, and all the political games.

One of MRS distinguished Presidents (mid a slew of government ministers, spies, war, heroes and University Chancellors) was Prime Minister, Harold Wilson who, arguably, endured equally difficult political times. But he was a wily operator - I’m not sure the same can be said for this lot!

Turbulent times means more attention on us via polling - I really don’t envy the pollsters their job this year.

But what with that and the impact of new technology and methodologies we are at a time of supreme risk to perceptions of those of us who call ourselves market researchers.

We have to stand together to be counted and make our case for continuing to grow in the new decade arriving in a few short months.

Indeed, our conference, Impact 2020, for which the call for contributions has just been issued, is called “The New Agenda” and will address understanding, surviving and even capitalizing on the challenges of the next decade. So any of you with any ideas do send them in.

So I finish with a call to arms for all of you.

I believe we need to clearly , consistently and collectively do three things:

Firstly: A re-dedication to skills and professionalism: the only way to differentiate in times of uncertainty  and DIY techniques

Secondly, we need to cohere behind a motivating narrative which explains the nature of our asset  value to commercial growth and public delivery. A narrative that must talk the language of the C Suite and CFO. .

This why we developed Intelligence Capital with the support of our senior client council and Kantar. It frames insight and activation as part of a real and monetizable balance sheet asset.

Thirdly, We must ensure that our sector nourishes its talent and secures the talent for the future.

I urge you all to focus on creating a diverse and inclusive talent base, and to take action now. We have a CEO Pledge for Opportunity and I believe the  opening paragraph is universally applicable:

We believe that a sector that provides insight and evidence needs to be representative of the world it serves, and we are committed to creating an environment where the only barriers to progress are personal choice and professional competence.

Thank you Esomar for this opportunity to address Congress. Welcome to Scotland . I leave you with a present. The BBC and economist Tim Harford got together to list the 50 things that made the modern world. They decided market research was one of those 50. Let’s hope together we can make sure that we can ensure market research is one of those things that shapes the Future World!


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