Building on the first two articles in this series, the present article summarises three specific challenges which call for reform within the Market Research industry in South Africa. These are: a significant lack of appropriate insights skills, the absence of suitable frameworks for continued professional development and a subsequent lack of scientific rigour in insight outputs. The present article concludes the discussion by presenting suggestions in terms of enabling and supporting the reform necessary to keep the Market Research Industry in South Africa sustainable, future-proof and relevant.
challenge 1: a significant lack of appropriate insights skills
The diversity of academic backgrounds of market research professionals in South Africa, and a lack of relevant formal qualifications available to specifically practice as a market research professional, point toward the necessity of establishing firm academic foundations for applied training in market research. Great progress can be made by formal discussions between industry stakeholders, the South African Market Research Association (SAMRA) and tertiary institutions, which should aim at formulating a comprehensive, yet focused curriculum for qualification as a market research professional. Formal tertiary qualifications in Market Research should be supported by a targeted marketing and awareness campaign which will assist in positioning this career-choice as a well-established and respected profession.
Challenge 2: the absence of suitable frameworks for continued professional development
The next suggestion relates to the important roles that the market research industry (suppliers), users of market research (clients) and SAMRA can play in shaping, regulating and upholding market research as a an appealing career choice and profession in South Africa. A great need exists for greater collaboration and sharing between these three key stakeholders.
At present, a suitable platform or forum that enables critical conversations to take place between these stakeholders does not exist. The aims of this forum are manifold but should cover the following aspects:
- Find solutions to issues such as establishing best practice charters and auditing market research outputs to ensure adherence to pre-determined standards
- Put forth frameworks for continued professional development and accreditation, whilst ensuring that adequate opportunities are created for aspiring market researchers to undertake intensive market research internships
- Drive the advancement of agile methodologies that provide insights grounded in rigour
- Establish shared knowledge and databases that provide competitive advantages to members
- Develop the necessary strategies to ensure the sustainability of the market research industry
challenge 3: a subsequent lack of scientific rigour in insight outputs
The pressure on the South African Market Research industry is rising with respect to the delivery of cost effective, agile methodologies which yield measurable impact on businesses.
While many large corporate organisations are building internal research and insights capabilities to reduce costs, others are approaching a variety of different consulting firms to provide research. As an industry, our competitive edge should be highly skilled, professional researchers that heed the principles of research that produce scientific rigour, yet be agile and flexible enough to support the increasing demand for rapid insights. Indeed, reform of the South African Market Research industry cannot be successful without the involvement of the various stakeholders previously mentioned. So, the question now becomes: who is in the best position to further set the course for this urgent need for change?
Monique Schehle, Consumer and Market Insights Manager at MMI Holdings
Monique thrives in helping brands fulfil their strategic mandate, through insights which support and enable appropriate strategic planning. Monique has held various key research positions in the market research industry. Monique joined MMI in 2013 and has since been a key influence in multi-brand, customer, product and strategic research that is underpinned by a deep understanding of the consumer.
Pieter J. Rossouw, Market Research and Consumer Insights Manager at MMI Holdings