60 Second Soapbox

Kate Thompson, Head of B2B Research at McCallum Layton

The product I’m excited about at the moment is …

We’ve finally got round to buying a PVR so we can now record multiple TV programmes at once, pause live TV while I let the dogs out etc etc. And, as the woman on the ad says, ‘eat whenever I want to’. Funny – we always used to eat whenever we wanted to, before. I was obviously doing something wrong.

A client I’d like to get my hands on is …

Anyone involved in the development of eco-town policy. An admirable initiative in theory but one that seems to be being hijacked on a local level for other purposes. It seems odd, as one of many possible examples, that many of the proposed sites for these supposed standard bearers for sustainable living are so far away from major centres of employment that there can’t help but be a significant increase in car use, even if they can persuade the bus companies to add some new routes.

An idea I wished I’d had is …

Dyson’s ball (wheel)barrow. What a brilliant invention, but why can’t you get them any more? Mine finally collapsed recently after years of faithful service, under the strain of too much rockery stone. Went straight online to source a replacement, but can’t find one for love nor money. I might have to re-invent it.

A campaign that grabbed me recently is …

EDF Energy’s TV advertising to promote their commitment to tackling climate change, ‘made from recycled clips’. The laundry detergent manufacturers realised years ago that they would be better off applying a bit of wit to promoting their important but fundamentally relatively uninteresting product – it’s good to see the energy companies going the same way.

A campaign that needed more research is …

John McCain’s run for the White House, perhaps? Regardless of which way I would have voted, I think he had a great deal going for him personally but could maybe have done with a bit more due diligence analysis prior to committing to the merger with the Hockey Mom.

One thing this industry could use more of is …

As far as B2B research is concerned, my own discipline – some new blood coming into the quant fieldforce. The most effective executive interviewers are those with a fair stretch of work and life experience who can add an understanding of how businesses function and how individuals operate within an organisation, to the usual interviewer requirements for great communication skills, consistency, a thick skin etc.

One thing this industry could use less of is …

The other side of the coin – interviewers on B2B studies who do not yet have the skills to communicate effectively with business people, which impacts on response rates across the industry as a whole. We need to be attracting more of the right calibre of individual for this type of work, which in turn will help drive up how business respondents perceive the importance and value of taking part in research.

In five years time we’ll all be talking about …

What a difference the Large Hadron Collider has made to our daily lives. I just love our capacity as a race to come up with fabulous but seemingly obscure projects that the general public either smiles at indulgently or looks askance at (how many schools and hospitals could that budget build? – like the money would go straight to schools and hospitals if it weren’t being spent on trying to find the Higgs boson) and that go on to spawn the most amazing technological developments. Look at the human genome project. And indeed the Internet. Might be a few more than 5 years, come to think of it.

And the one thing never to forget is …

Keep your powder dry, and never turn your back on the enemy – as my Dad used to say. Well, I’ve never forgotten it …

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