As part of a series of interviews with the “Great and Good” in Marketing Research, entitled “Looking Backwards, Looking Forward”
Nico Jaspers, CEO and Founder of Dalia Research in Berlin, talks to our very own Sven Arn.
Sven: First off, what’s the story behind Dalia, in a nutshell? Why Dalia, why Market Research?
Nico: When we founded Dalia, we were really fascinated by the thought of reaching billions of smartphone users to ask them questions and produce answers on a massive scale and in real-time.
We sensed that if you change the underlying unit economics of producing survey data, you really open the door to a whole new world of information – from better understanding real-time changes in consumer attitudes to measuring e.g. house prices in smaller emerging economies or predicting migration movements and political backlashes … the possibilities are really endless!
It was only after a year or so that we realised that many of the things we were thinking about were traditionally called market research – this is how we ended up in this space:)
Sven: As a start-up, what are your top-of-mind impressions of the market research industry? Be honest!
Nico: It took us a while to navigate our way through the industry and my impression is that market research is currently in a mid-life/identity crisis.
On the one hand, it powers strategic decisions at all levels and thus has an impact on global economic and political activity like no other industry. Researchers are justifiably proud of this!
On the other hand, the way the industry delivers its products is often highly inefficient, innovation is largely absent and the cost structure of doing market research means that a large share of the market is underserved. In other words, the industry provides all the conditions for startups like us to flourish!
Sven: Anything in particular we all need to get better at in your view?
Nico: There are tons of small things that could be done better and these are frequently addressed at international conferences (though with surprisingly little impact), from embracing mobile to adopting new data analysis methods, delivering results through dashboards, better storytelling, more attention to client needs etc.
But the most important thing the industry needs to do is to become proud of itself again! We produce the knowledge that powers the world’s economy … this is something really amazing and we should more actively communicate this.
Sven: How do you see the future for research?
Nico: Everything that can be automated will be.
So the industry will split into (a) hyper-efficient & automated data generation and analysis dominated by tech and data firms, and (b) high value-add consulting services that create meaning and insights out of information. Companies need to choose in which space they want to (can) be – I don’t think it’s possible to be in both (this would be like McKinsey wanting to become Google or vice versa).
We already see that in our daily work: we’re currently interviewing well over 6 Million people every month across over 100 countries – the power of technology is truly amazing. But all this is worthless without someone coming up with the right question that gives me the answer to my problem, and no machine will ever be able to do that.
Sven: Thanks so much, Nico!
About Dalia: Founded in Berlin in 2013, Dalia (DaliaResearch) was named as IIEX’s “most innovative market research startup in Europe” in 2015, Planung & Analyse’s “Newcomer of the Year” in 2016, and the “6th fastest growing startup in Germany” for Gründerszene’s 2017 Growth Ranking.