PMRS ushers in new ‘definitions’

Faced with a worrying trend of losing business and possibly credibility to novice market researchers, the association representing traditional market research companies and professionals recently opted to welcome those apprentices into its fold.

Faced with a worrying trend of losing business and possibly credibility to novice market researchers, the association representing traditional market research companies and professionals recently opted to welcome those apprentices into its fold.

The Toronto-based Professional Marketing Research Association (PMRS) has approved an ‘expansion of the nature of the organization’ to include new members with non-traditional expertise or backgrounds, says Ivor Thompson, president of PMRS. A committee has been established to determine a new member strategy (change the bylaw to allow the expanded definition of members), and for working with other industry organizations representing similar interests and members.

‘The explosion in technology is allowing more and more people to do a market research survey using the Internet. Groups like data miners and CRM people – even traditional management consulting firms – are getting more involved in doing traditional market research surveys,’ says Thompson.

This growth of data mining has encouraged many companies to take much of their customer tracking and data gathering in-house, through efforts such as loyalty programs – ultimately taking business away from traditional data gatherers. At the same time, the demand is up for market researchers who can analyze that data and figure out what it means.

In 2000, in an effort to look at the impact of data mining and Internet surveys, a committee was set up by the PMRS. One of the first reports to be issued by the Futures Committee showed that data mining ‘is increasingly replacing more traditional forms of research and also presents risks in terms of standards and best practices,’ as well as potential for lost revenue for custom research companies.

Still, it’s an opportunity for the PMRS to bolster its membership beyond the 1600 it currently has across the country. And new members must be guided by the same standards and practices as traditional market research firms belonging to the PMRS – allowing the PMRS to maintain best practices and standards across Canada’s $650-million market research industry.

‘What does a CRM specialist stand to gain? Industry education and the chance to meet and work with the professionals in the market research industry to gain a better understanding of the practice of research,’ explains Thompson.

‘A lot of people think you just send out a survey, call up a hundred people, or put something up on the Internet. This is about bringing an educational process to them.’ BJ