SampleCon 2021: The Consumer Insights Industry, Together Again


The market research sample industry’s first large in-person event in months, SampleCon 2021 hit it out of the park with a fantastic location in sunny California and a great venue with many outdoor spaces for meetings and activities. Our team said that the environment alleviated any residual concerns that some may have had about being back in a social, face-to-face situation.

There was also unanimous agreement among everyone we spoke with: it was awesome to see so many colleagues, clients, and partners in person after such a long hiatus! As with SampleCons of the past, this year also provided solid networking opportunities for consumer insights professionals.

A few key themes around market research sample emerged during the conference program and discussions, including how various company leaders are approaching supply strategies in the changing marketplace.

Market research supply chain constraints

It was refreshing to hear others acknowledge U.S. supply constraints across the industry, as was the willingness of people to spend more time understanding what is driving the issue. Reasons cited ranged from Covid-19 induced reductions in acquisition budgets to trends amongst respondents who find that old-fashioned survey design is no longer keeping their attention. The onus is being placed on the supplier to help solve these issues and complete studies.

Market research respondent engagement

The reoccurring issue of respondent experience was also the subject of many conversations. Alluded to just above, survey design continues to be a challenge. It is at least partially up to suppliers to encourage clients to write better and more engaging surveys, and (as one of our attendees put it) “that will make life easier for everyone.” Beyond survey design, the industry as a whole needs to start humanising respondents, making a concerted effort to treat them not just as a number, but as an individual with unique characteristics and a unique lifestyle.

Hiring and talent in the consumer insights space

In addition, there was significant emphasis on hiring, retaining, and developing talent in the consumer insights space, both in the conference session and in informal conversations. With employee shortages across a wide number of industries, the market research industry is also feeling the pressure as companies continue to grow and seek solid talent, which many are saying has been extremely difficult to find. It makes sense for our space to focus on this important topic, especially as the way we work has shifted – perhaps permanently – due to Covid shutdowns. Leaders are changing the way they approach employee relations in this environment, learning to put more trust in their teams and manage individuals with an authentically empathic approach.

Matt Hynes, our Executive Vice President of Global Supply, teamed up on the afternoon of day two to take the stage with InnovateMR, JD Power and Associates, Dynata, and Tap Research. This power panel discussed “The Supply & Demand Landscape” and was well-represented on both sides of the market research sample equation.

Key players in the sample space showed a large presence at SampleCon, focused on goals ranging from unveiling new technology to reinforcing relationships with both other suppliers and, of course, buyers. We all came together strongly to help shape the conversation around the evolving nature of market research sample and the challenges we are all facing. #wearecint

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