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Activities and highlights

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Speaker evenings and IJMR lectures

The regular programme of speaker evenings and IJMR lectures continued throughout the year. Topics included ‘Social ethics’, ‘Understanding the Chinese consumer’ and ‘Optimising customer behaviour through behavioural economics’.

MRS Roadshow

Over the Winter and Spring MRS held seven roadshows around the country in the following locations – Leeds, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Birmingham, Winchester and Nottingham. The roadshow focused on GDPR and data protection and new services for younger members.

Special interest groups

ADAN, the MRS Advanced Analytics Network, aims to help identify, develop and disseminate best practice throughout the sector in the general area of advanced analytics. The network had a very popular event in November with speakers from UK and the Netherlands.

In figures

570 attendees at speaker evenings and special group events 610 attendees at regional events

Around the UK

Events were run by existing networks in Manchester, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the South West. The Best of Impact conference returned to The Lowry in Salford for it’s biggest year yet and a half-day conference was held in Leeds in November.

Social events

The 18th annual 5-a-side football tournament took place at Hanwell Town FC in July, with 27 male teams and 7 female teams; the Charity Golf Day in aid of the MRBA returned to Chobham Golf Club; and the rooftop of The Grange St Paul’s hosted another well-attended MRS Summer Party.

Industry Leaders’ Lunch

Jane Frost hosted the fifth annual lunch for agency CEOs and senior client-side professionals during Impact 2017. The 54 invited guests were given a presentation from new President of MRS Jan Gooding.


To mark the 70th anniversary of MRS, seven Honorary Fellowships were announced throughout the year to individuals who had demonstrated the power of evidence in the business, creative and social sectors; these included author and ethnographer Bill Bryson OBE, the Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge MP and Unilever’s Keith Weed. In addition, six other Fellows were presented at the fifth Excellence Awards lunch at The Langham; the Oppies took place in September, celebrating the operational teams and businesses that keep the sector running; and the MRS Awards Dinner returned to Supernova in December, again breaking all previous attendance records with 874 guests.


&more launched this March with over 100 young researchers at Twitter’s offices in London. This was followed by July’s sell out ‘NxtGen branding’ event at Unilever, with a summer party in August. Additionally, &more members continue to be involved in blogging for our website, volunteering as speakers at our University Roadshow and with the MRS Mentoring scheme.

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Professional Development


2,565 individuals received some form of training from MRS, including 1,450 in face-to-face training in our fully equipped training suite.

103 training courses were delivered over 128 days in MRS’s face-to-face training programme, covering research skills and complementary business and leadership skills across all levels of complexity and catering to delegates with different levels of experience. These covered the principal methodologies along with new and emerging techniques to keep the programme as up-to-date as possible.

New courses were introduced on subjects such as sensory evaluation, creative thinking, working collaboratively, coaching and communication, design training, finding the story in data, data science and using R in data analysis.

513 individuals took part in MRS’s flexible online training services, covering both research and business/ leadership skills.

188 candidates achieved the introductory level MRS Certificate via the MRS online exam.

50 days of bespoke in-company training was delivered to 29 different clients including blue chip clients, academia, central government and government agencies and research businesses. 602 attendees were reached with training in this way.

We delivered a series of 12 webinars (a mix of live and pre-recorded) in late spring and again in autumn that drew in 214 attendees across the two series.


MRS Advanced Certificate in Market & Social Research Practice

In this financial year a total of 374 candidates participated in assessment for the Advanced Certificate qualification.

225 candidates were awarded the qualification – a 60% pass rate.

There was candidate representation in nine countries.

MRS Diploma in Market and Social Research

There were 48 unit participations in the June 2016 and December 2016 MRS Diploma assessment rounds with 12 participants awarded the overall qualification having successfully completed all four units.

MRS Certificate in Digital Interviewing Skills for Market & Social Research

Fourteen interviewers from Girl Effect Nigeria commenced the MRS Certificate in Digital Interviewing Skills for Market & Social Research using TEGA methodology to determine the effectiveness of the Oxfam Refugee Resettlement Programme in Maiduguri, Nigeria. The qualification recognises the range of attitudes, knowledge and skills required by research interviewers to conduct effective interviews via handheld technology with participants in market and/or social research projects.

Bespoke training accreditation

Three bespoke accreditations were awarded to employer programmes that map against the MRS Professional Development Framework, including Unilever’s global Qualitative Accreditation.


Plans for the transition of ownership of the Graduate Roadshow from senior practitioners to MRS commenced in 2016/17. 15 roadshows took place delivering to 685 students. The roadshows raise the profile of a career in research and give students an insight into the practical applications of market and social research.


Following a successful pilot the MRS Mentoring Scheme was fully launched in September 2016. The scheme has been well received with 46 partnerships ongoing from launch, with further phases planned.


The MRS CPD programme continues to attract registrations, providing members with a framework to demonstrate their achievements, gain recognition for their professionalism and take control planning their careers.


MRS produces a range of content across numerous print titles and digital channels. This includes peer reviewed academic papers, daily breaking news, and in-depth special reports and video interviews with research leaders.

MRS Delphi Group

MRS Delphi Group is the MRS think tank to the research sector which brings the biggest issues into focus. This year saw the publication of ‘Towards an insight-driven organisation’ – which aimed to define and benchmark the characteristics of an insight driven organisation.

Using data from an online questionnaire for clients, the report was able to create a blueprint that identified the skills, structures, processes and behaviours of a truly insight-driven organisation. The report proved to be the most successful publication from the MRS Delphi Group to date.

MRS continues to invest in the online home of MRS membership. The website provides a single point of access to all MRS services and content, including events and training. The site also showcases annual conference videos, Delphi reports and promotes new initiatives like the new network for young practitioners &more.

Research Live

Marking a new major fixture in research publications, the first annual report for the UK research industry – the ‘Research Live Industry Report’ – was published in January 2017. For the first time a single publication brought together the MRS league tables with expert commentary from sector experts. With a dedicated editorial team, the website continues to be the first port of call for research news and opinion, with a large international audience.

Impact magazine

The quarterly members magazine, Impact, which is also sent to several thousand non-member clients and commissioners of research, continues its unrivalled coverage of the trends, brands and individuals that are showing how research delivers commercial growth. Content is now made available free on registration to This year saw interviews with Byron Sharp, Cilla Snowball and Lyn Goleby, and case studies including Spotify, the Red Cross, Visit Britain and Travelex.

The Research Buyers Guide

The guide continues to be the core reference tool for anyone buying research with over 1,500 print copies sent to vetted client side research buyers. The accompanying website is upgraded every year to better showcase company listings. This year saw significant investment in online marketing and search optimisation – including the launch of a responsive mobile version of the website – to ensure it is the first port of call when looking for research suppliers online.


With representatives from MRS, IPA, Marketing Society and a number of brands including Twitter and Facebook, #IPAsocialworks is a cross industry initiative to improve social media measurement and effectiveness. Two important reports were published this year and the group hosted panel sessions at Impact 2016, MRS Annual Conference.

The reports were:

• Integrated, Not Isolated – using social media data to improve customer insight

• One, Not Everyone – using social media to personalise consumer experiences.

Social media

MRS has a network of influential Twitter handles, LinkedIn groups and Facebook pages which enable engagement with members, individuals and interest groups, and the sharing of important news and content. With a combined reach of circa 48,000 followers across all MRS Twitter accounts, including @researchlive (27,000) MRS continues to be the most influential research media brand on Twitter.

The International Journal of Market Research

Complementing the bi-monthly print publication, which is free to MRS Fellows and Certified members, the IJMR website offers an archive of papers dating back more than 20 years as well as the latest issue, digital first papers and editor-in-chief Peter Mouncey’s topical blog.
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Company Partnership Accreditation

MRS Company Partners saw an increase of 2% in organisations and client side insight and marketing teams becoming accredited during 2016/17. The team continued to strengthen engagement with all areas, especially in the delivery of bespoke standards training and developing bespoke training and professional development training solutions for client side organisations.

The MRS Company Partner Operations Network now has circa 300 members.
The most recent event was at full capacity and focused on preparing for the GDPR and featured a stimulating discussion on dropout rates. The MRS Operations Awards was another highly anticipated event with over 200 people attending the evening.

During 2016/17 MRS continued to develop the qualitative recruitment scheme with AQR. A consultation was begun to review two draft training modules, an Administration Handbook, and a Compliance handbook.

During 2016/17 MRS hosted the first closed doors client dinner uncovering the ‘world of the dark web’.

Fair Data

Fair Data continues to grow and in 2016/17 saw a 14% increase in organisations becoming accredited.

The Fair Data team presented at various events and advised organisations of the upcoming changes to data protection via GDPR and how Fair Data can help. New information including a GDPR timeline was developed and a ‘one year to go’ campaign was targeted at MRS members MRS members, Fair Data organisations and prospects.

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MRS Annual Conference – Impact 2017

The MRS Annual Conference 2017 returned to the Grange Tower Hill Hotel in London. Taking place on 14 and 15 March the conference provided a multi streamed event welcoming over 120 speakers and session chairs.

Keynote speakers included Nicola Mendelsohn CBE, vice president EMEA, Facebook, author and columnist, Caitlin Moran; historian, author and broadcaster Dan Snow; former shadow chancellor of the exchequer Ed Balls; academic, author and broadcaster Hannah Fry and psychologist and author Oliver James.

The conference welcomed over 800 participants from a diverse spread of practitioners across the spectrum of clients, suppliers, specialist, consultants, academics and the wider media.

One day conferences

MRS continued to provide a series of one-day conferences, attracting over 860 attendees over the year. The annual sector conferences, Financial Services, Kids and Youth and Healthcare continued, alongside two new events Travel Tourism & Hospitality and Social Media.

Customers Exposed ran for its third year in 2016/17 once again bringing together 10 speakers identifying 10 trends in modern commerce and understanding. Methodology in Context returned for second year in 2016/17; the conference brought together 10 speakers offering insights into the practice and implications of research methodologies that generate consumer and citizen insight. A new conference Technology and Data Summit was launched in 2016/17 which examined the implications of how technology and data help researchers and brands connect with customers and society.

BIG/MRS Company Partner Service Conference

In 2016 MRS continued the partnership with BIG Conference to deliver the fourth BIG/MRS CPS Conference collaboration. Following the success in 2015 of changing the format from a multi-day residential conference to a one-day event, the conference returned to the May Fair Hotel in London on 30 June 2016.

Standards and Self-Regulation

The MRS Code of Conduct is the basis of the selfregulation framework for the research sector. Our view is that the great majority of members genuinely strive to achieve good standards and meet best practice.

The MRS Market Research Standards Board (MRSB) revised the disciplinary regulations to ensure that MRS’ disciplinary responsibilities continue to be carried out cost effectively and in line with regulatory best practice.

The Board also:

• developed a recruiter accreditation compliance framework to support MRS new activities in this area

• issued new Predictive Dialler Regulations, to reflect the new Ofcom regulations on Persistent Misuse of communication systems, together with a Telephone Research Guidance outlining changes in the UK and the US

• published two new MRS Best Practice Guidance Notes on reading opinion polls and using age bands when researching over 65s. Equipping members and accredited companies to meet new GDPR obligations was a focal point for the standards department during 2016/2017. We successfully:

• launched a GDPR in Brief series on specific data protection topics. This series designed for research practitioners included an overview of the GDPR, a compliance checklist and implications of changes for data processors

• delivered nine individually tailored in-house GDPR Briefings for client side accredited companies in addition to speaking at member events such as the MRS Roadshow and speaker evenings.

We also shared our data protection expertise with a wider audience covering the rail industry, the arts sector as well as exhibition organisers; advising them on the implementation of robust frameworks and systems to reflect forthcoming data protection and privacy requirements.

Refresher training was delivered for members of the Disciplinary Authority on the Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Regulations.

Codeline has continued to be a valuable source of support for research practitioners seeking advice on ethical best practice and legal data protection obligations. Data protection and the impact of the GDPR has been a large part of the Codeline workload over the last year and we expect this trend to continue going forward. Although the number of overall enquiries decreased over the reporting period, the workload itself has increased with more complex and detailed queries being posed by researchers. Telephone advice was provided for straightforward queries. However, we expect the bulk of the workload to be addressed by email and this is reflected in our decision to start reporting only on email queries.
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Highlights of the MRS media campaign 2016/17 included:

• proactive media relations commenting on agreed themes and news stories across broadcast, national and sector trade titles including the Sage and Yahoo data breaches; sharing of personal data between Whatsapp and Facebook; the emergence of new emotion-tracking technologies and their application within market and social research; Admiral’s approach to consumer privacy and creating successful online communities

• further profiling MRS’ expertise on changes to the census and related data privacy concerns with the Financial Times

• providing commercial updates to the research press on the convening of a steering committee for the MRS regional network in Northern Ireland; the appointment of Jane Frost CBE to the WIRe (Women in Research) advisory board; the launch of MRS’ data security toolkit ahead of GDPR; the creation of a specialist MRS mentoring scheme for the research sector; MRS’ partnership with the Richmond Events’ Market Insight Forum; an MRS study examining the experience of interviewers working on random probability (RP) studies and MRS’ annual league tables

• launching the Archive of Market and Social Research (AMSR) and announcing MRS’ 70th anniversary with BBC Radio 4’s flagship consumer affairs programme You & Yours before profiling further with marketing and research titles

• working with Raconteur to develop the second annual special report entitled ‘The Insight Economy’; providing guidance on how businesses transfer the lessons of Brexit to issues around trust, personal data and the consumer

• profiling research from GRBN, Opinium and Dapresy on the decline of trust in government following the Brexit result with marketing and research press

• supporting Paragon and GRBN’s partnership to create a global research database

• launching the Delphi report ‘Towards an insight driven organisation’ with research and marketing press

• arranging for journalist attendance and profiling the MRS awards 2015 and Impact 2016 with a wide range of research, marketing and national media.

Throughout the period 76 positive pieces of media coverage were achieved in the following publications:

• Financial Times
• Harvard Business Review
• City A.M.
• Raconteur/The Times
• BBC Radio 4: You & Yours
• BBC Radio Sheffield
• Ghana News Agency

Marketing and research press
• MR Web
• Marketing Week
• Marketing
• Campaign
• Market Research World
• Research Live
• Daily Research News Online

 Sector press
• Business to Community
• Marktforschung
• IT Pro Portal
• Just-Food
• Market Leader
• igniyte