TONY ADEDOYIÑ is the Chief Executive. Officer of Marketing Support Services Limited( one of the early promoters of marketing research business in Nigeria. Adedoyin has experience running over four decades in marketing research. It appears the veteran has seen it all but he’s not tired yet. Some years ago, the industry association, NIMRA honoured him for his role in promoting marketing research in Nigeria. His company, MSSL has worked in many Francophone countries including Mozambique, Niger, Togo, Angola,Ivory Coast among others. In this interview with Research Intelligence Magazine, he shared his experience on the evolution of Market Research practice and the business environment.
How would you assess the evolution of market research, when you started and where we are now?
Research used to be based on human sociology, anthropology, psychology and of course language was important and if you also did not have a background in mathematics or statistics because of Quant you wouldn’t be able to handle it, but now anybody can practice research. A doctor who has interest in research can practice it because research covers every facet of human life. I know a few people who started out practicing law who ended up doing research including bankers and that helps when the research is banking related.n those days, we only had Research Bureau Nigeria Limited which was part of Unilever and then a few others but now Nigeria is moving fast and catching up with the world. My company was registered in 1986 but it was until 1996 that I was able to set up an office. All the while I had been working as a consultant from my house. Most of the big agencies you have today had at one time or the other been joined with foreign agencies, because they didn’t have confidence but now foreign agencies partner more with local agencies because they have been exposed to international conferences through the help of ESOMAR and such conferences would give room for networking.
These days, it is also becoming more expensive to do research. Respondents today see the little gifts handed out to them as compensation for their time and effort as not being commensurate for their engagement and meaningless. In the past, we could buy a radio set for N1000 for respondents but today, respondents prefer to have the cash rather than any gift item you present to them because they believe you must have been paid well for you to source for such information. Also, you have to take care of them and keep them in an air-conditioned room where the client can also see what is going on through the use of a projector or a viewing link.
In the past, communication was a huge problem. If you had need to reach your clients especially if he’s foreign, you would have to go to the NITEL office in Marina to queue up and then gradually it transcended to other forms before fax, and now, with the help of Skype, your client in far way Europe can see and hear you even in the remotest place. So, there has been a lot of progress, you can cover more areas effectively, we also developed new ways of doing research.
Do you think more companies appreciate market research now ?
Yes, they do. In those days, we had Unilever Group and other few top companies, but today smaller companies engage in marketing research. People now understand that they hardly would do anything without marketing research. You spend money on research to avoid the risk of venturing into something that will not be profitable. Marketing research helps companies to know how to channel their strength and save more money. I remember working with a cigarette brand in Senegal called ‘Black cats’ for the African market and somebody said that it’s not visible in the Nigerian market because Nigerians regarded black cats as witches while the Senegalese researchers said the cat was intelligent and so they embarked in sales after the first week, we went back to sample people’s responses and everybody said the name wasn’t good enough and the company lost so much as a result. That is why a research organization must be good and competent and you can hardly do a bad job twice, because when you do it once, that is the end for you. Research agencies are getting better by the day.
Compare Quantitative and Qualitative research. Which one gives clients better result?
Both forms of conducting research are good, but the Americans believe very much in quantitative research and there were people like Mary Goodyear in the mid-70s who was one of the popular people involved in qualitative research. The Americans used to believe that everything had to be quantitative; with qualitative, you can’t go wrong and with quantitative, you are dealing with huge numbers. In those days, people used more respondents because lots of respect was paid to quantitative research. In the 70s in Britain, the change moved towards qualitative because of the involvement of the behavioural scientists – those involved in psychology and physiology.
In qualitative research, what we do is speak to fewer people who are authorities or specialists in an area; you don’t have to be a professor to be an authority. It could be a vocal women leader in a local community who is good with dying of clothes and have groomed people in dying techniques, she is an authority in that field. However, those who believe in qualitative is due to its first hand information nature; you can get in-depth information from your respondents because it involves interviewing for as long as two hours and so it is difficult to hide anything. In those days, when this form of research would be going on, we used to give respondents money to cook and buy drinks and so we would use a home setting to get data unlike these days where everything is done in a business setting and be done quickly.
Also, in those days, during qualitative study, the field work used to take about two weeks or more (depending on the number of groups involved) across selected locations in the country and so it would take another two weeks or more to analyze the result and by the time you would present the results, some of the information might have changed. Even as the reports were done manually, which could take over a hundred pages it included what is called ‘quotable quotes’, so that by the time you are reading, it helps you understand every detail, but then when will a client sit down to read such a volume? Nowadays, what clients want is your power point presentation; they go through it and see your recommendation and way forward. While in quantitative research in the past, you had to be a statistician to deal with voluminous figures, but the advent of technology has made all that easier.