Thoughts from the AQR 2016 Summer Event


I attended the UK AQR ( 2016 Annual General Meeting and Summer Party this week in London. It was a first for me – despite having been a member for a while now, contributed to AQR publications, being based in Germany I had never actually attended an Event, got to know other members – the cost and time investment is higher, and it doesn’t seem absolutely necessary business-wise to “be there”…..time to test that hypothesis, and with this event being free to members, perhaps no better place to start – so I signed up!

I returned energised – it was absolutely worth going. The Event was well attended, around 80 – 100 People present, in the august surroundings of the British Medical Association House on London’s Tavistock Square (

Here’s my take-out:

  1. Qualitative Research is alive & thriving in the UK.

One of the areas I wanted to explore was how UK qual. business sentiment had been affected in the wake (excuse the pun) of the “momentous” Brexit Referendum last week. Well, early days for sure – but it seemed like the seismic political changes hadn’t registered negatively – there was a palpable sense of business confidence or “anti-fragility” in the room.

Most – not all – people I talked to reported positively on their business outlook , AQR Chairperson Simon Patterson informed of an increase of 60 new AQR members in the past 12 months alongside a very busy Marketing agenda, the Company Secretary Liz Sykes reported of a robust financial year, co-operations with other MR organisations were flourishing – Debrah Harding, MD of the the MRS UK Research Society was present as a guest of honour.

All in all, there was a very positive vibe, a sense of momentum  – great for a segment of MR that often gets overlooked in the bigger scheme of things. Perhaps our voices should be heard more broadly.

2.  Continuity – with a sense of Youthful Buzz

Looking across the faces in the room, and listening to the various “thank you’s”  to those who had performed an AQR function, I was struck by how elegantly an Organisation which has been in existence more than a couple of decades has kept itself fresh.

There was a very comfortable sense of a thriving, evolving tradition – lots of Young Researchers were present, chatting comfortably with founding members.

It was impressive and reassuring – if the atmosphere and picture of the AQR evening could be taken as “what it’s like working in Market Research”, then I would imagine that many budding Graduates might listen carefully and re-think their plans to do an(other) internship in a numbers-dominated environment.

3. Face-to-Face is King

As an industry, we increasingly dance to the tune of digital – and in many senses that’s totally right, embracing the opportunites the www. has to offer. Still, I came away with the strong feeling that nothing beats face-to-face. Meeting people in the flesh is simply so much more intuitively rich, it’s more fun, it sticks in the mind far more vividly than digital alternatives – yes, it takes a lot more effort, is more costly, but real-life experiences resonate in a way that digital very seldom does.

There was plenty more that captured my imagination – including the wonderful Fieldwork Event planned for October 2016 ( – at the London Zoo! What a brilliant idea – life is indeed sometimes like a zoo, and we should always be reminded that the act of observation is a two-way thing…..

If anyone is thinking of joining/ attending an AQR event, on the basis of this one I can honestly say: go for it.

Just take your umbrella ;)

Curious, as ever, as to others’ views.



Happy Thinking People GmbH
Blumenstr. 28, D-80331 München
Tel: +49 89 290040 4000
Fax: +49 89 290040 4027

Happy Thinking People GmbH
Rosenstr. 17, D-10178 Berlin
Tel: +49 30 327986 8600
Fax: +49 30 327986 8620

Happy Thinking People AG
Stauffacherstr. 101, CH-8004 Zürich
Tel: +41 44 204 16 26
Fax: +41 44 204 16 27

Happy Thinking People Pvt. Ltd., 201, Sai Nara Building, 21 North Avenue,
Linking Road (Above Kotak Mahindra Bank), Santacruz (West), Mumbai, 400 054
Tel: +91 226 6905400
Fax: +91 226 6905454

Happy Thinking People France SAS
20, rue des Capucines, F-75002 Paris
Tel: +33 1 53 66 60 95
Fax: +33 1 46 27 05 35