Joaquim Bretcha

Joaquim Bretcha

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 2)

You Can Dance in a Hurricane But Only If You Stand in the Eye

Article posted on Greenbook’s blog on May 15th


Editor’s Note: This post is part of our Big Ideas series, a column highlighting the innovative thinking and thought leadership at IIeX events around the world. Joaquim Bretcha will be speaking at IIeX North America (June 11-13 in Atlanta). If you like this article, you’ll LOVE IIeX North America. Click here to learn more.

What were you doing in 2007? What was the focus of your attention? These questions often come to mind while reading Thomas Friedman’s latest bestseller, Thank You for Being Late. In his book, Friedman states that for the record 2007 is not just the year in which Steve Jobs surprised the world with a new device, the iPhone. According to the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, 2007 is the year the world started reshaping. The basis of big data, cloud computing, open source platforms, artificial intelligence, social media, mobility, and the clean power revolution among others began to pick up the pace. Since 2007, the pace of technological and societal change has become faster than ever. The continuous challenge is determining how to adapt. Will change destroy us or will we dare to dance?

We are experiencing three exponential changes accelerating at hurricane-like speeds: The Market, Mother Nature, and Moore’s Law. The Market is a combination of the digitization and globalization of our societies that have moved from interconnected to hyper-connected to interdependent. Mother Nature refers to the climate change, the biodiversity loss, and the population growth. Moore’s Law is the accomplished prediction of Intel’s co-founder by which the speed and power of microchips have doubled every 24 months since 1965. The combination of the three is reshaping the world. Especially affecting 5 realms, which Friedman outlines in his book: Politics, Geopolitics, Workplace, Ethics, and Community. The realm of market research has not been an exception, either.

These changes caught our industry by surprise, particularly in a technological sense. While distracted by the accuracy and representativeness of the online methodology, an explosion of alternatives started to show up. The wind blew tech-driven start-ups, landing them in the market research arena by accident. Companies with no prior knowledge of market research discovered that their solutions allowed our industry to either obtain new consumer insights or a more efficient way of processing information.

In a stark manner, we could say that the technology revolution in the market research world has been led by “outsiders”. This created a technological whirlwind of confusion, filling the air with a mist of buzzwords such as agile, automation, DIY, artificial intelligence, gamification, behavioral data, big data, text analytics, virtual reality, uberization, data visualization… the list goes on.

My role as a member of the ESOMAR council allows me to interact with many players in the industry– many who in fact have some concerns. As the years go by and the changes continually accelerate, insight purchasers mention how traditional market researchers have struggled to adapt. My response has been, “How have you led your research partners in this adoption?” While we still face many challenges, my perspective is that the profession is beginning to see through the technology mist.

Technology has finally come to the center of our industry, into the eye of the storm. There is no longer any doubt that because of digitalization, the palette of datasets is exponentially increasing at the speed of light. We are also taking into account that our respondents are now holistic digital data generators. As a profession, we are learning to harness these changes in order to increase our relevance and fulfill our missions. We will make it through the storm by integrating the capabilities and rigour of traditional researchers and the abilities and algorithms from the digital data scientists. In the end, market research is still about people understanding people. And technology is just the enabler.

The forecast for the future is that change will continue to accelerate before our very eyes. But, by adapting, we can take these changes by the storm to better the industry. Paraphrasing Brandi Carlile’s song “The Eye” (the theme song of Thomas Friedman’s book), “You can dance in a hurricane but only if you stand in the eye”. Our profession will succeed amidst this storm only if we thrive in framing the eye of the hurricane. The eye is the stable dynamic platform from which our enlarged community becomes more relevant than ever before. Let’s dance!

Trust Generation: The Must Have Asset When Dealing With People’s Private Information

Article posted on the GRBN’s newsletter on July 23


Before the first self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, opened in 1916 in Memphis, Tennessee, customers had to give their shopping lists to clerks, who would then pick out the goods. It was a personal interaction in which the clerk developed a deep knowledge of the customers preferences. The act of shopping became to some extent anonymised. The introduction of the scanner on the 26th June 1974 in Marsh Super Market, Troy (Ohio) introduced detailed shopping information at a large scale. Later on, without losing anonymity, shopping lists became more personal again with the introduction of the Loyalty Cards in the 1990s (Kroger, Safeway, Tesco). With Loyalty Cards, retailers were able to establish a personal relationship with customers at a massive scale. Furthermore, a new turn of the screw was brought by e-commerce and predictive model, which use all sorts of individual-specific details.

Until very recently, market researchers have almost exclusively interacted with respondents in a pre-Piggly Wiggly model: a one-on-one relationship between the researcher and the survey participant. Following the ICC-ESOMAR ethics code, personal information is consistently removed. It is very easy to separate personal from declared data and get an anonymised sample for analysis.

However, technology disrupted this peaceful model. Researchers live in the digital world as well as their subjects of analysis. The more our lives get digital the more the data collection must be digital. If researchers want to holistically understand their customers they need to know what they do on their desktops or mobile devices in terms of online searches, browsing or apps usage. Furthermore, data related to their environment such as geolocation or audio detection and matching is also gathered to complement the analysis. Thus, we can say that in the last 10 years researchers have faced the challenges retailers experienced in 90.

Survey and behavioral data complement each other, providing a 360º view of the consumer: opinion and behavior. But they are radically different regarding anonymity. While PII can be easily removed from survey data, it is deeply embedded in clickstream behavioral data (a collection of visited URLs), geolocation or audio detected data. A simple inspection into it makes it possible to identify 85% of the users (“How to protect privacy in Big Data”, ESOMAR 2016). In fact, browsing data from two users sharing a device can be easily separated by simply inspecting clickstream data (“Who is who with behavioral data”, ESOMAR 2017).

The variety of datasets available in the market encourage the collaboration among different companies. The challenge in sharing clickstream data with third parties is to avoid violating individual’s privacy rights, as defined in the GDPR. This intricacy must be tackled from two different angles. On one hand, a refined Machine Learning model must be capable of masking all PII information. And on the other hand, this model can only be successful as long as companies are trustworthy enough to make people as long as share their personal information without hesitation.

Entrevista Talkin18 (Lima, Perú)

Tras mi conferencia de apertura de la Conferencia Talkin18 de Perú, tuve el gusto de contestar algunas preguntas para Mercado Negro



Entrevista en Perú

Entrevista en Perú previa a la Conferencia Talkin18 organizada por APEIM y ANDA Perú

Mercado Negro



Entrevista en la Revista ANDA Perú

Invitado como el Keynote Speaker de la Conferencia Talkin18 organizada por APEIM y ANDA Perú ,  fue un placer contestar esta entrevista



The Mobile World Congress From a Market Researcher’s Perspective

Post published on the Netquest blog on March 15th

Barcelona hosted the annual Mobile World Conference (MWC2018) during the last week of February. For one week, the Catalan city became a showroom of the latest technologies in mobility. What used to be the place for big telephone manufacturers to release their latest features is now a platform for mobile data; data in all its terms: generation, collection, transmission, analysis and implementation.

About 110k people around the globe attended this year’s event. Making the MWC the perfect opportunity for Netquest, as we were founded and are headquartered in Barcelona, to reconnect and meet with colleagues, find out about the latest technology trends and showcase our services and products to companies outside the market research industry.

2018 Looks a Lot Like 2025

Before diving deeper into how the MWC felt like a sci-fi event, I want to share with you some research I did before attending. First, I watched Jodie Foster’s Black Mirror episode “Arkangel”. Second, I read the 2013 McKinsey’s “Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy” report.

Below, are McKinsey’s predictions for 2025, which were released in 2013. According to this report, in 2025 the most impactful technologies that will determine our societies are:


If we look at social media conversations held during the MWC, which were analysed by Brandwatch, we can see the topics the attendees discussed mirror McKinsey’s predictions. But, keep in mind, it’s 2018 not 2025. Looks like we may be moving along faster than anticipated.

BrandWatch Social Media listening on MWC2018

The Star of the Show

The clear star of the MWC was the new wireless technology, 5G. The capabilities of 5G will bring much faster speeds along with lower latency. This will definitely open the flood gates for expanding possibilities for the Internet of Things (IoT), smart homes, 3D, virtual reality and much more. With this 5G announcement, IoT will start to be less of a buzzword and more of a reality. This holds true especially with researchers, with IoT an immense new pond of datasets will provide a more holistic view of consumer behavior.

5G compared to 4G

Driving Full Speed into the Digital Age

While experiencing the entire MWC, it was clear that McKinsey’s list was well represented. In essence the MWC is all about data. It’s a feast of information about data collection devices and sensors, and this year the automobile seemed to be discussed as the most impactful device.

The automobile industry may be the best example of the industrial revolution 4.0. The industry is experiencing so many exciting shifts: a fueling change (electric cars), an ownership paradigm change (rideshare), a driving/experience revolution (autonomous cars), and more. The automobile is becoming a device purely connected to the passenger, which means more data like we’ve never seen before.

The automobile industry is leaving the mechanical era behind and is embracing digital age. As a result, automobiles have and will continue to become immense data generators. Data generated and treated by artificial intelligence and machine learning that will entirely change the experience of mobility.

Automobile is a key star of the Digital space

The Road Ahead for Market Researchers

Transformations of all kinds were exposed at the Congress: From the simplest integration of the smartphone with the car, to the artificial intelligence applied to the autonomous car, to the new mobility solutions combined with air drones.

I believe this is a new opportunity for market researchers. Automobile companies are at their most prominent strategic crossroad since the 1970s petrol crisis. From a market research standpoint, all these new and wide datasets offer a new context to understand consumers and therefore, open new business opportunities. If market research wants to stay relevant in this sector, we must consider our capabilities with the automobile industry.

MR and VR: A Marriage

The other predominant technology shown during the Congress was Virtual Reality (VR). Different manufacturers and service providers discussed this hot topic all throughout the event. To be honest, I have always been a bit sceptical with VR. By the time MWC was over, I was wowed by VR!

There is no question that VR is the perfect match for gaming. But, what about market research? I can recall the good paper presented by Narith Pahn, VP Ipsos US at the Esomar Big Data Conference 2017 in Brooklyn. It was an interesting comparison between how a car clinic is traditionally run versus the one implemented with VR. Astonishingly, results were quite balanced. What made me give credibility to it was that Narith openly shared the current blind spots of VR. This methodology can certainly be very useful for market research purposes beyond car clinics.

Any event that requires a visual context to observe people’s decisions is capable of being conducted with VR: in-store shopping decisions, fashion choices, customer experience, the list goes on.

One week later, I was actually fortunate enough to see virtual reality applied to market research at the Kantar Solutions booth during the Insight Show in London. My good colleague Juergen Van Leeuwen showed me the real application in the retail arena and gave me some context of its applications:

The headset is just a part of it; the most visible but not the most relevant. The most relevant is what happens on the big screen, when we move from a personal to a group experience. Manufacturers and retailers can work on the optimization of a category counting with the visual of VR combined with the complete information of the SKUs and category’s performance (retailer’s data, consumer panel, retail panel, ad-hoc…)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) were some of the underlying elements in all the exhibited solutions for market research. From generic applications to very particular scenarios such as in the field of healthcare and wellbeing to data analysis to geolocation.

Other Notes

To my positive surprise, Privacy, the GDPR, ID securitisation were very present as well as transactions security solutions (Blockchain already showing its footprint that for sure will be incremental). As market researchers, our primary element is the data obtained by our interaction with people. It is in our interest to back and promote a safeguarded digital environment.

In Essence

The Mobile World Congress is a must-attend show. The latest of the latest is exhibited. What is certain is that the MWC is no longer only about devices. It is about Data. Data will be the propeller of the engine of the new economy. This data will be generated from devices and experiences that are far from the traditional market research scope. I left the exhibition hall with this question: how are market research companies getting ready for this data revolution?


The Catalan capital hosts the largest annual mobile show



IIEX Europe: once the hype mist is cleared people are what remain

Published on the Netquest blog on March 5th 2018

An upfront confession: I am writing this post while attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a feast of consumer technology. So, surrounded by high-tech and all its related hypes, my aim is to distill the essence of what we experienced at the IIEX Conference in Amsterdam last week.

The IIEX forum has always focused its programme on showcasing the latest technology applicable to market research. Technology and innovation are the two underlying concepts throughout the event. After some years of mind-blowing technology fever, my conclusion of this year’s edition is that market research professionals have learnt to naturally digest it. Automation has already been acquired in the industry. Under the “agile” mantra, all market researchers are aware that efficiency and speed matter. So, automation is already bought and put in the basket.


IIeX Europe 2018. Amsterdam, February. Presenting the paper “The Retailer, the travel Agent and the Politician”

The second biggest mantra is the combo formed by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. My understanding is that we are getting into it. AI and ML are already being incorporated in the market research toolset. Different solutions were presented or exhibited during the show. Interestingly, an innovative approach to AI was presented: The “Intelligence Augmentation” (IA). Using Florian Tress’ definition, “the general idea is that IA-technology can help teams to find answers to their own questions of interest, to share their knowledge with others, to act upon their insights and ultimately to create a business impact. As IA is empowering human capabilities and easing cooperation, it is the perfect answer to our fear of losing control in an overly technological world”.

The third biggest topic was the DIY culture and the in-house/insourcing policies many end clients are adopting. This process is relevant for the industry and creates many challenges for agencies, providers and the own end client. In essence, the biggest challenge is to know where research value stands and to know who creates this value.

These three main subjects (AutomationArtificial Intelligence/Machine Learning and DIY/in-housing) have been at the centre for a while and a source of thoughtful discussions in past events, magazines, webinars and blogs. The industry is already tackling them, and new agents are emerging.

However, the real novelty was the entrance of Blockchain in the scene. Blockchain commonly linked to Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency, has a potential role for market research. A role linked to the GDPR/Privacy sphere, openness and security of transactions, and as an enabler for people around the world to own and monetize their data. An intriguing thought came to my mind: Shall we start shifting the term consumer for the concept data-generator?

My personal perception is that market researchers are cleansing the hype mist and getting back to the essence: The consumer or, as mentioned, the data generator. Our profession will always be impacted by technology. It will allow us to collect information as never before. This is certain. However, technology without the essence of the purpose of research is nothing. The real value is to count the people’s willingness to participate in surveys or their consent to share their behavioral data or to be observed. People understanding people is the essence of market research. And technology is the enabler. This was the conclusion of my presentation, “The Travel Agent, The Retailer and The Governor” and my summary of the IIEX Conference.

If interested in getting the presentation “The Travel Agent, The Retailer and The Governor. How to Implement Behavioral Data to understand your Customer’s Digital Life”  contact us here.


“Yes, Galileo, yes, it’s moving”

WeDIMM_Galileo tend to overestimate the effect of technology in the short term and to undervalue it in the long term… and digitization impact market research. Some applications may just seem to be a trend, lots of talk but then nothing. Indeed, some of them are but in the midterm, they will be dominant.

Fictional or not, the famous Latin phrase “Eppur si muove” (and yet it moves) from Galileo Galilei when hearing the inquisitorial sentence on him gives me pause to reflect on the insights industry’s transformation fuelled by technology. Similarly, as the change of paradigm experienced by the Renaissance’s Cosmology provoked by the “heliocentric” theory, the extremely fast digitization of our society has introduced us to the dawn of a new Era.

Certainly, under the “disruption” umbrella, any novelty seems to immediately and completely change the marketing and market research industries. It is extremely easy to be blown away by the latest technology; innovation attracts and buries what already exists and it is still useful. Concepts such as “Virtual Reality”, “Wearables”, “Internet of Things”, “Big Data”, “Gamification”, “Eye Tracking”, “Facial Coding”, “Text Analytics”, “Social Media Analytics”, “Sentiment Analysis”, “Automation”, “Data Viz”, “Artificial Intelligence”, “Uberization” and many others seem to be threaten to kill what it’s in place.

I personally believe that this revolution is unstoppable and universal. However, from my perspective, the speed of this revolution and level of shift is paced. Everything is moving, probably slower than initially expected, but getting the engines are ready for a prompt acceleration. When asked about the reason why I see a slower movement than expected, I give two main reasons:

On one hand, the market research industry tends to be risk averse. Only when facing extremely demanding situations, such as an economic crisis, do we rethink our process and methodology and fully embrace change. This slow adoption of new insights approaches has a dual responsibility. Both end clients and agencies are to blame. The first tries not to break historical data or methodologies. The latter either for from a lack of technological understanding or the potentially jeopardising their revenue stream. Both forces combined meads a ‘conservative’ approach to the new and a slow adoption.

On the other hand, global business and the technological environment sets the pace for change. The fast digitization of marketing has enhanced our perception of accessing the consumer. Access in communication (through programmatic advertising) and Social Media being a universal outlet for opinions means that there is a new marketing culture which gives us a different new perspective on what is doable. Today, a marketing professional with no specific background in market research believes that almost everything is possible, easy and cheap.

From the clients’ side, the traditional function of market research is being diluted. Different departments have access to alternative datasets which enrich classical ones. Add to that the technological skills that “millennials” bring to the table and new opportunities for analysis appear in the company and traditional market research departments are bypassed. Research departments are being asked to rethink their function and composition to keep, or even increase, their relevance in the definition of company’s strategy.

On the supply side, we find numerous players that come from traditional market research and are successful in innovating through embracing new technologies. Others, originally from traditional market research as well, offer effective solutions, limited in scope and at a lower price, leveraging the efficiencies provided by smart process automation. Appropriate solutions for a context in which “good enough is good”. To this point, I would like to give light to a very important emerging subject: those tech-driven providers that land up in to the market research arena by accident and find a new and unexpected revenue stream. Companies, mainly start-ups, with no prior knowledge of market research discover that their solutions allow the industry to either obtain new consumer’s insights or a more efficient way of processing information.

And these are the players that I’d like to draw your attention to. These current “outsiders” are here to stay. These newcomers will enlarge the global insights pie, probably on behalf of dwarfing the traditional one. For this reason, I recommend all current players not to undervalue any of the previous mentioned “buzzwords”. With due respect to the omnipresent “Big Data”, I would suggest not to undervalue the concepts of “Automation” and “Artificial Intelligence” applied to the insights industry.

Technology brings unprecedented opportunities to market research. Opportunities to get insights that were not possible before the digitization of our societies or to get the classical insights faster, richer, more efficiently and with a shorter gap between the consumption moment and its analysis. The final objective is constant: to understand the consumer/citizen so that the most apt decisions can be taken. The palette of opportunities is immense. Let’s start by getting rid of the “conservative” tag and let’s grasp the possibilities technology brings us. By doing so, I hope we all will be able to say: “Yes, Galileo, it’s moving. But we are moving faster and we reach further”.

This article was first published in Spanish in the Argentinian magazine DIMM (April 2017)

About the Author

Joaquim Bretcha is an Economist at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and holds a degree in Business from the IESE. A current ESOMAR Council member for the last 7 years he has also created and expanded the International Business Unit at Netquest. Both responsibilities give him the ability to stay permanently in touch with the international community of market research and stay tuned to the latest market developments.


The new ESOMAR Council has been elected. Thanks for your support

The new Council for the term 2017-2018 has been elected.
I am happy to be part of this new team and work to make ESOMAR more relevant. I want to thank all voters for contributing to the good government of the association and very especially to those that have given me their support.
The elected members of Council for the upcoming term are:
Niels Schillewaert (InSites USA – President)
BV Pradeep (Unilever UK – Vice-President)
Pieter Paul Verheggen (Motivaction. Netherlands)
Anne-Sophie Damelincourt (Blue Lemon, France)
Kristin Luck (Decipher, USA)
Joaquim Bretcha (Netquest, Spain)
Pervin Olgun (Barem, Turkey)
Umesh Kumar (Hansa Research – India)
Marcello Sasso (Aimpoint – Italy)

Luisa Ravelo Contreras (Corporacion Request – Venezuela)


ESOMAR Elections 2017-18


ESOMAR LATAM Conference 2016, Bogotá (Colombia)

Dear colleague,

It is my pleasure to run again for the Esomar Council after my first two-year term. While preparing my candidacy, I must admit I have experienced a little joy. The joy of looking at two years back and get aware of Esomar’s and my own evolution.

During this period I have had the great experience of working with outstanding colleagues at the Council and the Esomar staff. This strong team has been capable of drawing a new strategy that has impacted on many layers; being the principal one the redefinition of the Code. A new Code that undoubtedly adapts Esomar to the current time.

In the Council, I have personally focused my attention and efforts on two main aspects: Communication and strengthening the link with National Representatives. Both have given me a much broader view of Esomar, its needs, challenges and diversity of members.

As a result of combining these “on the ground” experiences along with the Council and Esomar staff’s interaction, I have been able to draw the proposal that you can find below.

Hoping to renew your trust on this new election, I thank you in advance for your interest in my candidacy and I wish to count with your support. All the best,



 It should be agreed that we are not living an era of change but a change of era; a new era driven by digitization. Still at its initial phase, digitization has already transformed our societies and, therefore, our industry.

The need of understanding people’s opinions, desires and behaviours in their different roles is higher than ever. At the same time, it’s becoming more and more complex.  The consumer/citizen comprehension requires a more holistic approach and the good command of new sets of data.  Likewise, the means to collect this data evolve at a very fast pace propelled by technology evolution.

This context sets many challenges to our industry, consequently to ESOMAR as one of its key players. The core one, from my perspective, is to show the value and self-worth of Market Research.  And more concretely, we need to:

-  Help our current members to successfully adapt to this new context by delivering the most appropriate information and education programs, providing the most useful tools and creating excellent networking opportunities.

Get bigger, get more members from the broad MR landscape, becoming relevant to everyone involved with data-driven marketing strategies. The new ICC/ESOMAR International Code opens our scope and allows us to embrace all related activities.

- Keep being the advocate of the Industry in front of the international and national legislators helping the other worldwide associations in all the industry’s auto-regulation initiatives.

- Support the Youth; promote the attractiveness of our sector.

- We are global and diverse. It is important to seize the different stages of the industry’s according to the different countries’ evolution. I believe that one of the main roles of ESOMAR is to facilitate the convenient spread of best practices and help the least developed countries upgrade their status.

- We are local. The real activity takes place at a local level. A relevant presence in each and every country is key as it is the role of our National Representatives.

These are, in brief, my main beliefs of the role of ESOMAR and the direction we should keep taking. In fact, these are the essential guidelines the current Council has undertaken in the last 2 years. I totally embrace them and would love to continue promoting them in the next term. On this occasion, I bring my international experience reinforced with a much better knowledge of the association and its members.

PS. I want to thank the public support of:

- Julia Helena Carrillo. Country Manager Ipsos Ecuador.

- Jérôme Sopocko. Founder Askia. United Kingdom.

- Jean Michel Lelievre. CEO and Founder Interlink. France.

- Macarena Estévez. CEO and Founder Conento. Spain.

- Susana Marquis. Directora Susana Marquis. La investigación que inspira.

- Joachim Ritter. Head of Market Analytics Roche. Germany.

- Shinichi Hosokawa. CEO GMO Research. Japan.

- Martin Oxley. Managing Director Buzzback Europe. United Kingdom.

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