BOCA RATON, FL: Market research firms must solve some pressing problems relating to panel recruitment or risk being overtaken by players in the tech and social space, an executive from Anheuser-Busch InBev has argued.

Charles Guilbeau, vp/strategy and insights at AB InBev, the brewing giant, discussed this subject at The Market Research Event, a conference held by the Institute for International Research (IIR).

"Consumer samples are becoming a really scarce resource," he said. (For more, including how the company has started tackling this problem, read Warc's exclusive report: Why marketing research is falling flat: insights from Anheuser-Busch InBev.)

The primary issues cover consistency, geographical specificity and adequately representing multicultural cohorts in panels.

For AB InBev, which owns brands like Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois, and any enterprise seeking to get to know shoppers, these failings hamper attempts to understand current and potential customers.

"The quality issues that I feel we've encountered as an organisation, actually I feel I've encountered more of in the past five years than I have in the previous ten before," Guilbeau said.

Resolving those shortcomings is urgent both to ensure standards remain high, but also because there now exists a multiplicity of other players that might realistically steal their business.

"The marketing industry needs to address this challenge before somebody else does. There are others who could address this," said Guilbeau.

Among this group are "search providers who have access to much bigger samples of consumers; social-media providers who also have massive access to databases; mega online retailers … can probably figure this out".

Equally, however, clients might begin dealing with this matter themselves, Guilbeau suggested to the conference audience.

That, he continued, is especially true for "clients who have large databases or access to large databases, or clients who feel they can deliver better quality another way".

Data sourced from Warc