Editor’s Note: GfK has really stepped up in supporting identifying talent still in school that will help drive the future of research. At last week’s ARF the fruit of this effort was presented to the market research community via the GfK NextGen Award. I wasn’t able to attend the session, but David Stanton of GfK graciously agreed to provide this overview. Congrats to the winners and kudos to GfK for showing true leadership here!
By David Stanton
Among many engaging moments at last week’s ARF Great Minds Awards luncheon, two stand out – perhaps because they serve as bookends on the past and future of market research.
This writer was fortunate to have a front-row seat on the ceremony, which was sponsored by GfK and co-hosted by David Krajicek (CEO, GfK Consumer Experiences North America) and Colleen Fahey Rush (EVP and Chief Research Officer, Viacom Media Networks, and incoming ARF chair).
Across my table, remarkably poised throughout, sat Sarah Cornell and Hannah Esser of Chatham University – the first winners of the GfK NextGen Award, celebrating the best of the country’s undergraduate talent in MR.
After a nationwide call for entries, Hannah and Sarah were chosen from among 30 entrants to receive a $1,000 cash prize – and a trip to New York to attend the ARF Re:think 2012 Conference and present their results in front of the market research elite at the Great Mind Awards luncheon. They waited more than an hour for their debut, and then showed the demanding audience what the next generation of MR has to offer.
Sarah and Hannah’s study – one of three NextGen finalist projects fielded by GfK – looked at a topic that could not be more timely for marketers and researchers: whether “liking” a Facebook page correlates to purchase intent, and then actual spending. Their presentation cleverly featured a cartoon mascot dubbed “Alfred” – “our best friend,” quipped Sarah – who stood in for all Facebook users.
The research showed that, while “liking” on Facebook may lead to an intent to purchase, the correlation to real purchasing is much weaker. Displaying humor, poise, and a winning engagement with their topic, Hannah and Sarah earned a sustained round of applause. So focused were they that the pair almost neglected to pick up their elegant glass prizes and pose for a photo!
(GfK was also very proud to have three of its colleagues take the Grand ARF Rising Star award – Allan Fromen, Asher Hunter, and Timothy Kenyon, who bested a pack of truly talented young people already making their ascents in the profession.)
The luncheon ended with an equally powerful tribute to talent and achievement – the Lifetime Achievement Awards, given to Meg Blair and Rena Bartos. Now 91, Bartos was the first female chairperson of the ARF and had a storied career in MR. As past ARF chair Gale Metzger observed in his tribute, Bartos had to use a separate door from the men when the ARF met at the Harvard Club back in the day.
Bartos opened doors that the next generation of market researchers now strides through with confidence, testing new boundaries and theories in the digital age. Here’s to the courage and foresight of innovators, so clearly on display in every generation of market research talent.