Read my report from day one of ESOMAR Congress 2012, and browse all of the available papers from ESOMAR Congress 2012.

The second day of this year's Congress, held in Atlanta, started with the announcement of the winner of the ESOMAR Young Researcher competition. Now in its fourth year, the top prize won by Patrick Pfefferkorn (HTP Concept, Germany) for his paper You Won’t Find Me on Facebook. His research explores the potential future development of social networking by drawing from the experiences of non-users and drop-outs, to find out whether these people might be part of a new grass-roots movement to abandon social networking sites.

There were also a lot of new research papers discussed on the day, highlights of which are below.

Celebrating business – going for growth

Brazil is one of the fastest growing economies and global brands are shifting marketing budgets away from developed markets. From Rio to the Rest of the World investigates what this means for market research. Issues and practicalities of conducting research in Latin America are explored, using interviews with clients and agencies as well as showcasing the work done for Pepsico’s introduction of the Gatorade brand in Mexico and Brazil, using online panels and mobile phones to collect data.

Fewer ideas can be communicated or elicited through verbal communication alone. From the Bottom of the Heart shows how the use of images and visual language can reveal subconscious decision influencers in countries like India, where emotions often speak louder than words.

Staying in India, Focus on the Flow of Enthusiasm looks at customer advocacy and the role of ‘Super-promoters’ who share their enthusiasm about particular products, brands or companies and by doing so influence others. Qualitative research with super-promoters (and their friends) helped develop a support plan for these brand evangelists.

Also focussing on customer behaviour and advocacy management is Online Anthropology, which describes how an innovative approach to research helped a telecoms company reverse customer defection rates by identifying those features that increase customer loyalty, shifting the focus from features that simply attract new customers. Successfully stemming the tide of customer departures resulted in revenue gains of $133m. In Money Talks, a major bank (HSBC) used storytelling techniques to unearth customers’ concerns and subsequently offered them co-creation opportunities together with senior managers from to address any negative experiences and unmet needs. Using mobile devices played an integral part in increasing the richness around the stories consumers tell. Celebrating research – evaluating online and neuroscience techniques

Dimensions of Online Survey Data Quality examines the relative impact of survey design, panel quality and cross cultural behaviour on data accuracy. The authors also evaluate the impact on survey results by looking question design (such as grid vs. interactive formats), the importance of demographic balancing, and how these factors vary by country.

No MR conference is complete without at least one paper on Neuroscience, the tool that many hope will eventually tell us how advertising really works. Opening the Black Box is an extensive academic evaluation of how electroencephalography (EEG) combined with eye-tracking techniques can predict advertising effectiveness and likely sales uplift. In all, 39 TV commercial screened during ad breaks in a documentary programme are tested by analysing brain activities at different alpha, beta, and gamma frequency bands.

Celebrating research – taking a closer look at moms

Un-Mommed: Can Moms and Their Families Survive describes what happens when eleven households are deprived of their mothers (who were moved into a hotel for 48 hours). Cameras were installed in the home and the ‘orphaned’ family members were given extra diary cameras and asked to wear biometric bracelets. More like another reality TV show it seems ….

Staying with mothers (or moms) is Babyface: Reading Nonverbal Cues to Measure Infants’ Acceptance of Food Products, a paper that investigates how mothers figure out whether or not their babies like a product and how babies communicate their preferences. Again, mobile phones were used to record infants’ reaction to (in this case) yogurt products. How did mothers cope without the input from market researchers in the years before mobile phones?

Celebrating bravery – the daring side of research

We often forget how difficult (and dangerous) it can be to conduct market research in more volatile regions of the world. Market Research Challenges in Emerging Economies describes the challenges faced by researchers in Colombia, due to social inequality, violence, and poor transport and communications infrastructure. Working under such conditions is a real test of the creativity and flexibility of research agencies.

Social Science Research and Field Work in Afghanistan highlights the dangers confronting interviewers and the courage required to conduct quality research in a country with high security risks, daily violence, corruption, pronounced ethnic, linguistic and gender differences, extensive illiteracy, and powerful religious and cultural restrictions regarding access to households. The author lists some of the solutions to overcome these challenges and establish a culture of research in Afghanistan.

Celebrating research – challenging conventional wisdom

The first paper aims to re-evaluate what we thought we knew about purchase behaviour (Beneath the Surface), where the authors highlight the potential weakness of using aggregate data instead of respondent-level data for segmentation analysis.

Website Versus Traditional Survey Comments compares web-based customer comments with those captured via a traditional survey method. The presentation shows that the two data sources often tell a different story and offers pointers how to get the most from both data sets.

Today’s final paper looked into The History of Men's Underwear, whose purchase, according to the author “is actually a complex mix of function and emotion, of practicality and fantasy … of thousands of years of social history”. All very entertaining, but with a serious point to make. Similarly, as we celebrate the 65th birthday of ESOMAR, we might occasionally spend a little time thinking about history and its influence.