MRS Conference 2019 – Day 1

15 Mar 2019 | ICG News & Announcements

MRS Conference 2019 – Day 1

Renata Castro took on the challenge of being the ICG's roving reporter for Day 1 of the MRS conference 2019.  Here are her views and impressions of the day…

The central topic of this year’s conference was the augmented thinking, how new skills, technologies, disciplines and tactics, when effectively applied, are empowering insights.  Day 1 transported us to a world where we can combine research with unexplored areas from advanced technologies to simply rethinking the way to analyse data.

Jane Frost, CEO of The Market Research Society (MRS), talked about the importance of the work of the MRS to make UK the leader of the world of research during her welcome speech.  Following that, Stan Sthanunathan the conference patron and EVP consumer & market insights for Unilever, encouraged the audience to take the opportunity to network.

In the first keynote, Bruce Daisley, the author of “The Joy of Work”, in a very pleasant way made us reflect on our productivity at work.  He pointed things that we have created in an attempt to improve our work but ended up being the complete opposite.  He invalidated 4 concepts that ruined the work, concluding that the following factors are extremely relevant: 1) psychological safety – the feeling that we can admit our mistakes; 2) our brains find creativity in looseness and not being overscheduled; 3) contrary to what we thought, open plan offices is the enemy of us getting our work done – it reduces conversation and increases emails, workers are constantly interrupted and 4) companionate love – the feeling we have when we are surrounded with people who enjoy their company – makes people feel more energised, motivated and confident in their jobs.  Finally, he gave us very good tips to fix the work: turn off your notifications; reclaim your lunch – give youself a break; rethink your meetings – reduce the number of people, make it more productive; and believe in the power of human synchronisation – do things to feel more connected to each other like have face to face conversations and laugh with colleagues.

Julie Kollman, chief research officer for Kantar presented in the session about intelligence capital a study that shows that successful businesses are responsive businesses.  Data and insight have to be at the heart of responsive intelligent organisations.  It is time to stop asking how much to spend and start asking how much to invest, if they want to grow share, find new revenue sources, become more agile and improve their ROI.

Considering small research agencies, less data, more people who understand their business and needs, procurement as a barrier, were some of the points that came up during the debate on how to change this conversation, where we had from client-side Google, Asda and Samsung.  They agree that research agencies are increasingly helping clients and the conversation has already changed between agencies and clients.

Augmented Reality is transforming the way we experience the world.  Greg Ivenov from Google, Dr Carl Smith from Ravensbourne University and Jennie Roper from Kinetic presented different ways to see the world from another perspective.  Google Lens searches and take actions on what you see and the examples are really impressive.  Some companies have already seen opportunities to use AR in advertisement – check this Pepsi Max ad on YouTube: – although cost is still a barrier for most.  But how market research can benefit from that?  In a quick talk with Jennie after the debate, she said that in terms of research we can use AR for measurements and compare experiences.  She also mentioned retail, fashion and design as potential fields for research and reiterated what she had said during the debate: it is just to recognise the opportunity, if it is cheaper, better and faster, it can be a great way to do research.

Second keynote with Helen Thomson was amazing and made us rethink the way we understand people’s minds.  How often do we question our perception of the world?  She said that there is no normal brain and presented stories about extraordinary brains.  A man who thinks he is a tiger. Another who feels the same sensations as other people – their pain, sensations, emotions… and he decided to be a doctor, to use his condition to benefit his life.  Very interesting and reflexive time.

Another great time with Reverend Richard Coles, interviewed by Alison Camps during the last keynote of Day 1.  He spoke about his career, church, politics, youth, sexuality and music.  His advice: “start living the life you want to live already”.  If you are interested in the details of this conversation, I recommend you read the article about this interview at

Finally, I turned off my notifications when started writing this review and not sure if I will turn it on again, it is a really good feeling.  Thank you very much for reading and excuse me, but I am going to reclaim my lunch 😉