In 1948, 29 people met in Amsterdam; a meeting which would go down in history as the first ESOMAR congress. This year, almost 65 years later, more than 1 000 market researchers and interested parties met, in the same place, to devote their time to current topics.
„Impact – Research Reloaded“– this year’s motto of the ESOMAR congress was a real challenge. The goal was to discuss how market research influences companies, businesses and society in 2011 and what role it can play in the future. The event itself was well organised and took place in a hall on the premises of the former gas plant. The unofficial part was played out in the hotel bars and clubs in the vibrant city of Amsterdam, which hosted the congress with excellent hospitality.
On the other hand, the programme and its contents were rather patchy. A mixture of informative lectures and some not altogether contemporary presentations were held. The podium discussion about our core theme, online sampling, which I had been looking forward to with anticipation was particularly disappointing: the numerous interested spectators were hardly give any answers to their pressing questions about the potential of data collection from online panels. Instead of tackling new themes such as smartphones and social media or common challenges like survey fatigue and panel frustration, the discussion ran into a thicket of topics such as data protection, state restrictions and personal anecdotes.
My conclusion: As the world’s biggest convention of market researchers, the ESOMAR congress is a wonderful platform for the personal exchange on a global level. At no other branch event is it possible to meet such an illustrious host of like-minded researchers. This get-together is inspiring and entertaining. This year, the congress did not live up to its postulated claims of being a podium for the scientific interexchange and as impetus for the worldwide market research branch. We should expect more for the future.