Making research relevant and what ails current readership studies came under the scanner at the Indian Newspaper Congress 2009. The session discussed research studies that have been the bone of contention for the Indian print industry for many years now. The panel reiterated the fact that the industry, though united, had not found collaborative solutions for this issue. The way forward is not in continuing to complain, but in working together to resolve the issue.
The session was moderated by Praveen Tripathi, Chief Executive, Hansa Consulting. The panelists included AS Raghunath, print media consultant; Rahul Kansal, CMO, BCCL; Sandeep Nagpal, MD, Stratagem; and Premjeet Sodhi, Senior Vice President, Initiative, Lintas Media Group.
Praveen Tripathi noted, “Indian bodies such as the INS are looking at how best to guide the research system for the best benefit of the print medium. But there are some very important questions that we need to look at so that we benefit from it, and not be the victims. Is print research hurting the growth of Indian newspaper industry? How do we reorient research data?”
AS Raghunath noted, “There are no proper explanations or detailing in the surveys that come out. All that is done by the research agency is that amalgamating these numbers together, and mailing them across. It is a one-way communication. It is important that if there are changes, they should be point out and explained to the data users.”
To this Rahul Kansal, responded, “There is a lot more than can be fixed in research and we need to come at a consensus for that. There are so many unanswered and unexplained questions. Why should we have two research agencies? Or 500 brands? Who undergoes research? What is the need for a 45-minute long questionnaire? Eventually, what do we have to do with so much of data? Each of this can be defined but not at the cost of your primary job.”
He added, “We need to make sure that research is more tamper proof. The readership surveys have a huge task ahead of them to get their credibility back.”
Sandeep Nagpal was of the opinion, “As the print media industry, can we honestly say that the industry is concerned about what the research agency is doing? Picking the research agency’s fault for inadequate data or any other shortcoming is by now lame to me. It is a fact that the more one uses data, the better its quality would be. If we keep ignoring research and its requisites, this problem would become a monster one day. We need to use research in the right way, and I don’t think we are doing that at all in the current situation.”
Premjeet Sodhi emphasised on the fact that, “Research is one of the components that help us in building our businesses. But how we use this research is completely up to us and that is the more important bit any way. We cannot blame research to build or destroy our businesses. I am not saying that research doesn’t have to be changed but we have to think through and then decide whether it is sustainable for the changing times.”
He further said, “Currently, the research is very uni-dimentional, the focus is only on the numbers. We need to reorient, sit and discuss what should we do to make the research work better.”
The event partner was Encompass.