Market Research and “bravery” are two words rarely associated with each other. Being brave suggests risk-taking, and, so often, market research is used to reduce risk in the marketing industry.
Sometimes, however, we need to take bold steps, to put our money where our mouths are, and to fight for causes in which we believe.
In memory of the late Virginia Valentine who fearlessly brought semiotic analysis to our industry, the Ginny Valentine Badge of Courage Award acknowledges bravery in our industry from individuals, teams and organisations. Now in its 5th year, every award is unique. When John Griffiths and I initially conceived the awards, we realised that the stories we heard defied categorical boundaries. How could fieldworkers’ deaths in Iraq while attempting to share on-the-ground data compare to entrepreneurs risking their houses as collateral or a client succeeding through off-roster innovation? Choosing a Grand Prix “winner” felt inappropriate. Instead, we sought to share these stories of courage to inspire others in our industry.
And inspire us they have. In 2016, there were 6 awards:
- Ilka Kuhagen, of IKM GmbH for fearless qualitative experimentation
- Daniel Fazekas, of Bakamo Social for doing the right thing
- Keri Dooley, of The Garage Group for redefining market research
- Yasmin-Jane Scott of Razor Research for making inclusivity her professional mission
- Annie Pettit, Peanut Labs (Ca), for calling the industry to account on diversity
- The Unilever CMI team, for making bravery acceptable within the industry
In today’s world, innovation in market research is of paramount importance. However, large organisations often hesitate to embrace such changes due to the fear of failure. Under the stewardship of Marie Wolfe, Director for Research Innovation, Unilever has created a culture of innovation by engaging with over 400 start-ups and conducting over 180 pilots. While this might be difficult and risky, the industry cannot move forward without taking on such challenges.
Daniel Fazekas of Bakamo Social uncovered some uncomfortable truths that surfaced in social media upon President Putin’s announcement to build a new nuclear power station in Hungary. Working with Greenpeace, Daniel managed to change the administration’s plan by using social media listening as a force for good and maybe saving lives.
Yasmin Scott joined the market research industry with a brave spirit. While proud of her working-class background and mixed heritage, she has admitted to feeling like an occasionally lonely wolf in an industry of classically educated, middle-class and predominantly white colleagues. She made it her mission to educate her colleagues at Razor Research about the importance of weaving inclusivity throughout their work. She has also voiced her clarion call externally, an admirable and often challenging feat in a world where this topic can be seen as a haranguing or politically loaded mission.
The GBRN challenges us to change our industry for the better. Is it too much effort when we have so much to do? Remember the value of befriending start-ups, challenging Putin and educating our community on inclusivity, and dive in!
President and Chief Experience Officer, MESH Experience
Fiona set up MESH Experience in 2006, following a career in marketing and advertising. With offices in New York, London and Sao Paulo, MESH helps clients, like Delta Air Lines, to make smarter investment decisions taking an Experience Driven Marketing approach. Fiona co-founded the Ginny Valentine Badge of Courage Awards.