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15 Oct 2013

Breathing life into our big, brave idea

Part two: Sustainable Research is an innovative idea that could change our entire industry for the better. Following on from our last article on the beginning of our journey in Sao Paulo with PepsiCo, we reveal some of the challenges we've faced on our way

There's a lot of listening and talking and thinking around sustainability in the research industry, but what about the doing? We were frequently asking consumers questions around sustainability. But that was only scratching the surface.  Previously, we described how we embedded sustainability into the very fabric of MESH's business. We have learned a lot during our journey in Brazil with PepsiCo that reaches beyond the nuts and bolts of market research. Here are some of our challenges so far.

Could we balance mutual respect with research objectives?

We couldn't decide whether to reveal to the communities that PepsiCo was behind the initiative. Should we be transparent and risk the validity of the research? How could we hide PepsiCo's name and remain respectful to the communities?

Tell the truth

We decided to firmly root the project in the principles of market research not marketing and keep PepsiCo out of the research. However, we did tell the truth to the community leaders.

How to find trusted community leaders?

We needed to ensure that the benefit went to the communities themselves and that we avoided corruption.

Don't create something from scratch

We worked closely with our clients' corporate affairs department to find contacts who were known and trusted within NGOs. Tap into an existing NGO or community structure rather than create something from scratch.

How to engage the community?

This may be Sustainable Research but the quality and quantity of data from our communities remains crucial in order to create the best possible insights for our client.

Find a community with a natural 'heart'

Tapping into a community with a natural heart where people congregate will make research easier. Speaking personally to members and breaking down the community benefits into bite-sized chunks has also boosted engagement.  

How to change market research for the better?

We believe that Sustainable Research could have a fundamental impact on businesses as well as people's lives. But how does this big, brave idea work in practice?

Think big and start small

We had ambitious objectives - to change market research for the better -  but we decided to pilot in one country and then one region of that country. This was the right decision because so much can change as you learn.

Keep coming back to our blog for more updates and stories on this exciting project.

If you'd like to learn more about Sustainable Research, click below to read "Changing the way we do things for the better" by Ana Alverez and Fiona Blades, a paper presented at ESOMAR Istanbul's Think Big conference

Click here to view the Sustainable Research Paper presented at ESOMAR Congress, September 2013.

Click here to view a video of some of the work being done in Sao Paolo with Sustainable Research Communities.