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P&G Research Boss Sees Surveys in Retreat

March 22 2011

Survey research will decline dramatically in importance by 2020, with social media listening replacing much of it and adding new dimensions, according to Procter & Gamble research head Joan Lewis, speaking at the ARF conference today.

P&G is one of the world's biggest research buyers and Lewis’ comments carry corresponding weight with many audiences. The consumer giant’s Global Consumer and Market Knowledge Officer was speaking at a panel discussion entitled How Market Research Must Change.

Researchers need to get away from treating methodologies - including survey research itself - like ‘ideologies’, said Lewis, and from the ‘almost dogmatic belief that representation is everything’. She also believes that the rise of social media is changing consumer behavior and expectations, with a knock-on effect on research. ‘The more people see two-way engagement and being able to interact with people all over the world, I think the less they want to be involved in structured research’.

However, survey research will of course continue to be a major area of spend for P&G for some time to come, and standards need to be maintained. According to Lewis: ‘When we're doing it, we need to do it well. It's really been easy for people to take the idea that the world is changing as an excuse to do really poor work. And there's no excuse.’

The Conference celebrates ARF’s 75th anniversary and has been well attended - the delegate total of 1,200 is 30% up on 2010.

Web site: www.thearf.org .

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