An Event that was not to be missed!
Another Weird and Wonderful World of Field conference has come to an end. This year’s event, held in the heart of Manchester’s Media City, was a truly spectacular occasion with Keynote speeches from Green & Black’s co-founder, Jo Fairley, and a number of other thought provoking talks from across the market research industry and beyond.
The conference began ‘With a Bang!’ as Will Kintish took to the floor to discuss the importance of networking in the business world. He argued that, in spite of the predominance of social media and other forms of communication, it is face-to face interactions which can still be the most effective ways of generating leads and forming new business relationships. Drawing on his years of experience as a business advisor and author, Will provided keen insights and useful tips on the best ways to work a room – an ideal start for the recently acquainted fieldworkers arriving at the conference.
The theme of forging strong networks and developing good business relationships was also apparent in the brilliant talk by James Heaney and Kate Stratton of Razor Research. As clients of many of the attendees at the conference, James and Kate made the case for greater collaboration at all levels of the research industry – arguing that in order to have successful research outcomes, the industry, as a whole, needs to develop a better understanding of the pressures and goals of the others in the supply chain. Whether that’s researchers understanding the work of recruiters or fieldworkers gaining an insight into the rationale behind a researcher’s brief – bridging the knowledge gap can only be beneficial for all those involved.
Daniel Nolan from the E-Word was the next speaker to take the floor. Coming from a background as a content writer in digital advertising, Daniel is now a Managing Director at the multi-award winning digital marketing agency. Taking on the complex issue of Social Media, Daniel explained the importance of engaging audiences with compelling content and using a multitude of platforms to target new markets and demographics. With practical and simple tips, along with his wealth of experience, Daniel made sure that there was something for everyone attending this year’s Weird and Wonderful World of Field.
After a delicious lunch amidst the scenic views from the 7th floor of The Landing, the delegates were treated to an outstanding talk by Karen Schofield from Join The Dots. Drawing on her recent research, Karen explained how companies and brands can use ‘Happiness Theory’ to establish deeper relationships with their consumers and use the innate habit-forming tendencies of people to create sustainable, loyal customer bases in the post-recession marketplace of discount purchasers and savvy shoppers.
This was then followed by Jon Parker, the co-founder of The Bridge, who treated the delegates to a discussion on Usability Testing with an emphasis on how best to engage respondents to ensure consistent and reliable research results.
We were then joined by Paul Simmons of Warner Music. As the Insight Lead within the music group, Paul is tasked with developing projects which provide brand partners and senior stakeholders with meaningful research which presents an image of the customer as a person rather than an anonymous respondent. But in an age of budgetary constraints, Paul has used innovations like Social Media and Whatsapp to engage respondents prior to research taking place. In doing so, Paul has demonstrated that using non-traditional methods of research can actually assist in creating a more three-dimensional picture of consumer behaviour.
The Keynote Speech for the conference was delivered by Jo Fairley. Jo was the co-founder of the hugely successful Fairtrade brand Green & Black’s and has followed that success with the highly praised Beauty Bible – known for its user-based assessments of beauty products. Jo gave an engaging talk which chronicled her rise from journalism in the women’s magazine industry to the force behind an international chocolate brand, credited with putting Fairtrade on the map, as well as answering numerous questions from the delegates about how she maintains her strong ethical drive whilst operating in the highly competitive worlds of food manufacturing and beauty and skincare. It was a perfect speech to round off a day of highly engaging talks and one that was certainly not to be missed.
After a successful day of lively presentations and thoughtful questions from the delegates it was time to unwind and relax. Held in ‘On the 7th’, the exclusive members lounge of The Landing, the conference attendees were treated to a Northern themed night, with live music from Manchester based band, Wired Duo, along with a variety of delicious canapes and events throughout the evening – including a raffle with proceeds donated to the Market Research Benevolent Association. With beer, wine and a lively evening of live music; it was a perfect way to round off an outstanding day.
Had there been any sore heads or cobwebs from the night before then they certainly would have been blown away by the ever-energetic Margaret Zuppinger. A firm favourite at the Weird and Wonderful World of Field, Margaret is the Director of a people development consultancy helping companies and individuals achieve their potential by striving for excellence and increasing motivation. This year’s speech discussed the importance of individuals to assert their own expertise in the workplace, ensuring that their opinions are not only heard, but valued also. She argues that honing these skills are essential to developing resilience and confidence in an ever-competitive and shifting workplace.
Following Margaret were two talks by Neil McPhee of Nuance Research and Dominic Box of Tangible Branding. Neil began by discussing his career, spanning over 43 years as a qualitative researcher, and his current position now as the Founder and Managing Director of Nuance Research. His talk, entitled ‘Research Censorship or just Myopia’, involved a dissection of the research industry and a question as to whether researchers are genuinely seeking new insights from respondents or engaging in confirmation bias which adheres to their preconceived ideas. With numerous examples of both best and worst practice, Neil drew on his years of experience to state that researchers should aspire towards the academia of genuine research as opposed to the self-censorship for the sake of financial gain.
In contrast to Neil’s position, Dominic Box of Tangible Branding took to the floor to examine the phenomenon of DIY research: a growing trend within the industry which sees many companies using the data which they hold on their customers to conduct their own research. Whilst Dominic recognises the need for research expertise in interrogating and interpreting data, he felt, contrary to Neil, that research agencies should assist and facilitate companies to conduct their own research; utilising the wealth of information available to companies in today’s digital world.
Completing the conference was the highly anticipated Recruiter’s Panel. Moderated by Becki Harrison, Director of Acumen Fieldwork, the participants, Wendy Durn (Quality and Development Manager – Research Opinions), Lynne Chapman (Owner, Considered Response) and Gemma Stokes (Founder – Podengo) all took questions from the fieldworkers in attendance. The main topic of discussion was how recruiters and fieldworkers are addressing the changes in respondent interaction with the rise of database technology, social media and instant messaging. In addition to this was a lengthy debate about how the industry should respond to the frequency of fraudulent respondents with many suggestions and possible solutions offered by both the panellists and those in the audience.
As with everything else at this year’s Weird and Wonderful World of Fieldwork conference it was a lively but productive debate; one which gave all those in attendance, something to consider and use moving into the next year.
Keynote Speaker Jo Fairley:
“If you don’t do it, you’ll never know what would have happened if you had done it.”
This was the message at the heart of Jo Fairley’s Keynote address at the Weird and Wonderful World of Field conference 2016. It was a powerful message, one which, she explained, was instilled into her as a young woman when she saw it captioned on a postcard with an image of a man leaping from a diving board. And it’s clearly a message she has taken to heart.
Taking risks has been an integral part in Jo’s life; beginning as a journalist and magazine editor, her move into business began when she found a small sample of homemade cocoa-rich chocolate that her husband had left on his desk. Finding the taste irresistible, Jo set about building an empire which would become the international brand, Green & Black’s, putting Fairtrade at the heart of, not only her own empire, but into the minds of many multinational companies operating today.
Her notion, shared by her friend and mentor Anita Roddick, that to do ‘good business’ you can also ‘do good’, is something which has been integral to many of her other business ventures. She has established a well-ness clinic, The Wellington Centre, in the idyllic town of Hastings along with The Perfume Society and the internationally renowned The Beauty Bible.
The one theme which runs throughout all of her work is how the sensory experience is central to the work that she does, and how, in spite of a keen entrepreneurial streak, she is still deeply committed to improving the lives of others with the work that she does.
Most pertinent to this were the stories she shared about the way in which the Green & Black’s business model enabled farmworkers in Belize to leverage more rights, freedoms and access to self-improvement with the opportunities provided by her company.
She is a truly inspirational woman and her talk gave the delegates plenty to chew on, both intellectually and literally – with a generous selection of her own Green & Black’s chocolate bars. It was a pleasure to have her as this year’s Keynote Speaker and her message of ‘diving in’ is one which many of those in attendance will certainly remember.
Best Paper 2015:
Margaret Zuppinger – ‘Be the Best You Can Be!’
Margaret has long been a conference party favourite amongst fieldworkers. Her passion and enthusiasm, along with her no-nonsense approach to practical problems is unparalleled.
It was no surprise therefore, that, for the fourth year in a row, Margaret was once again the recipient of this year’s best paper award. Her speech was a rallying cry to all those in attendance to be the best person you can be, utilising all of your skills, expertise and assets to make an indelible mark on those around you and celebrate the unique skillset that you bring to any occasion.
‘Where the attention goes, the energy flows’ – a point she demonstrated with her engaging and insightful presentation which, at 90 minutes, never failed to keep the audience enthused and inspired whilst asking key questions, such as, What impression do we want to give? Is this possible whilst retaining individuality and authenticity?
Interacting with her audience, Margaret enquired about how we introduce ourselves, how we avoid letting our job title roll off your tongue and how giving an insightful answer into what you do and the importance of your identity and your company can be the key to your success.
As an accomplished practitioner in coaching, motivation and consultancy work Margaret also encouraged the delegates to restructure their thinking professionally; rather than contemplating weaknesses or shortcomings, focus on goal oriented thinking and strategize for accomplishment and success.
Culminating in a rousing rendition of ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’, Margaret’s talk started and ended on a high, ensuring the delegates were in no doubt as to whom the winner of this year’s Best Paper should be. Congratulations Margaret.
As always, an event like this would be impossible without the support and generosity of our Sponsors. A special thank you to Acumen Fieldwork, iPoint, ESOMAR, RP Translate, Aspect Viewing Facilities, Research Opinions and Hannelius Recruitment.
Additional thanks to Debbie Whittick for sharing her footage of Ed Sheeran, spotted in Media City during the conference and also to Becki Harrison for her photograph of Coronation Street’s Sally Webster, also attending Media City during the conference.
As the economic landscape shifts and the onus on results led research increases, it becomes ever more important for those within the industry to come together and share their experiences, views and expertise at events such as this.
To take part or register your interest in attending next year’s Weird and Wonderful World of Field conference please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com where we will be able to keep you informed on the latest news about this invaluable conference, along with special delegates offers, sponsorship packages and speaking opportunities.