Tom De Ruyck : Winner of the “4 Under 40” Marketing Research Emerging Leader Award

To annual habit, the AMA Marketing Research Council gives away 4 Marketing Research Emerging Leader Awards to people in the market research industry. Tom De Ruyck, Senior R&D Manager at InSites Consulting, is one of the lucky winners this year. The shortlist of winners also included Tom Anderson (Anderson Analytics), Nick Harrington (Procter & Gamble) and Kristin Luck (Decipher).
Criteria to win the award were:

  • Demonstrate commitment to the industry and advancement of Marketing Research
  • Are passionate leaders who have a high potential for collaboration and succes.
  • Are under 40 years of age at time of nomination (the award is also referred to as the 4 under 40)

Last Wednesday Tom and the 3 other award winners were guests of honor at the 2010 AMA Marketing Research Conference in Atlanta. Following the award, Tom De Ruyck was interviewed by the American Marketing Association :
AMA : Tom, describe what you do in a few sentences.
Tom De Ruyck : “At InSites Consulting I am responsible for Research & Development in the area of online/interactive qualitative research, especially research communities, co-creation methods and mobile market research. Next to that, I am specialized in research on social media and ‘web 2.0’ topics and how clients have to adapt their marketing strategy towards this new reality.
I am a frequent speaker at (research) conferences in Europe, a blogger on new research techniques & have published several academic/white papers on topics like buzz research, research communities and online qualitative.
Last but not least, I am president of BAQMaR (active in Belgium and it neighbor countries), a new generation research association, that has ‘making research COOL again’ as its long term mission. We do this through organizing conferences and meet-ups, next to sharing content through our blog and social media platforms.”
AMA : Give us the top 3 characteristics that have contributed to your success
Tom De Ruyck :

  • Passion: I believe that being passionate about what you do is the most important thing there is. It’s really the starting point of success.
  • Forward thinking: try to be ‘on top of things’: the latest trends within the industry, new technologies. Dare to experiment and challenge the status quo of market research, dare to do things differently and try to anticipate to future problems!
  • Openness: being open to new ideas and collaborations is also an important one. Collaborate with clients, with academic institutions… even with competitors! Experiment and share your success AND your failures with the rest of the industry. It is together that we will build the future of our profession!”

AMA : What are the 3 things, which you believe will have an impact on the future of marketing research?
Tom De Ruyck :

  • Measuring emotions: gathering implicitly measured and biometric research data and fuse it with data from other, more traditional, methods will be one. More and more, scientists, marketers and researchers are aware of the fact that we not always know what we do and why we do it. In order to close the knowledge gap, these new data sources are a NEED!
  • Listening to new data sources and mixing them: there is more and more data available: client dbases, online conversations scraped from the web… We need to mix these new sources with existing ones. We need to learn to look at the available data first and only ask additional questions if it is really necessary, because research participants as we know them today are becoming an endangered species.
  • The empowered consumer: it will become key to involve the empowered consumer in research projects and give him/her a very active role. We need to bring co-creation methods/techniques and crowd sourcing into almost all the research projects that we conduct. It is not just an opportunity; it is something that the contemporary consumers expect from us!”

AMA : If You Could Change One Thing About Marketing Research What Would You Change?
Tom De Ruyck :
“One thing that we need to get rid of as soon as possible is our image of being a boring and unsexy industry/profession. If we want to compete for the best talent – something we need to because there is a trend towards becoming management consultants – we NEED a COOL image. And there is a huge opportunity right now: show that we experiment with new techniques, that our industry is on top of things, that we are able to shape the future together with consumers… Industries that are in transformation, that are innovating are always more challenging and inspiring to work in!”
AMA : The 3 Pearls of Wisdom/Advice that You Would Give to Someone Starting out in the Industry are…
Tom De Ruyck :

  • Dare to speak up from your very first day in the office: it is not because you are young, that you have nothing to say! On the contrary: you probably have better skills in terms of social media usage than your more experienced trainer. Use that talent to experiment in that area of research that is of growing importance to the industry.
  • Dare to think! And if you have an idea, do not keep it for yourself… Share it and try to get it implemented. Try to get other people on board and remember that it takes failure in order to have success.
  • Spread the word: get involved in (inter)national research associations and get to know other people within the industry: it will broaden your perspective and provide you with fresh inspiration! And finally, it gives you to opportunity to spread your passion for the profession…”

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