As The Golden Lion at Cannes is much recognized by the world of advertising, the ESOMAR Excellence Award is equally a benchmark for accomplishment in the world of market research. The Excellence Award for the best paper is selected among all the papers presented across all ESOMAR conferences held globally throughout the previous year.

Pia Mollback-Verbic and Piyul Mukherjee of Quipper Research have won the prestigious award for 2012 for their paper Water Wows, which they presented at an ESOMAR conference in Vienna last November. It’s the first time ever that the award is won by an Indian research agency. 

The paper deals with the broad aspects and challenges faced by the market research industry today, when conducting research across different nations and cultural domains. “This paper takes cross-cultural research to a new level, not least by providing a framework that guided the development of the research approach.  They nicely link the specific challenges of the research (e.g., public vs. private behaviors) to at least one of the paradigms for understanding cultural differences”, says a member of the international jury at ESOMAR.  “This paper illustrates far better than most how decision-makers can be misled by what consumers say when in more traditional research when there are cultural sensitivities not accounted for in the methodology”, says ESOMAR Jury. 

The paper argues that traditional 'Western' formulas for conducting Qualitative Consumer Research needs to be tweaked in 'Eastern' markets, and suggests that research professionals must adjust their qualitative approaches to the local culture without simply replicating assumptions and research traditions from 'Western' markets. 

“To optimize the insight mining process and overall research findings, the standard research practices need to be carefully re-evaluated and sometimes flipped or reversed”, says Piyul Mukherjee. “Extensive experience from different markets has taught us about the impact of for example: a collective versus individualistic culture, different levels of tolerance of conflicts and confrontations, and different modes of operating in hierarchical vs egalitarian environments … all having significant impact on how we should execute research” says Pia Mollback-Verbic. 

The international jury from ESOMAR said: “… one of the key strengths of the paper, is the analysis of the five paradigms.  I think this is a real eye-opener for Western managers who tend to think that the consumers they are interested in talking to, are the ones who are "more" Western - a major misconception based on what these authors say.”