Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 204 – Joaquim Bretcha – 3 Keys To Effective Storytelling In Market Research

Joaquim Bretcha is the International Director at Netquest, a quantitative technology platform with self-reported and digital behavioral tracking providing customer insights in 23 countries. Additionally, he is the recently elected ESOMAR President, Advisor to MindProber, Co-Founder of NGO Health US Nepal and speaker.

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On Episode 204 of the Happy Market Research Podcast, I’m interviewing Joaquim Bretcha, President of ESOMAR.  But first a word from our sponsor:

This episode is brought to you by G3 Translate.  The G3 Translate team offers unparalleled expertise in foreign language translations for market researchers and insight professionals across the globe.  Not only do they speak hundreds of languages, they are fluent in market research. For more information, please visit them at G3Translate.com.


Hi, I’m Jamin Brazil, and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast.  My guest today is Joaquim Bretcha, International Director at Netquest. Netquest is a quantitative technology platform with self-reported and digital behavioral tracking, providing customer insights in 23 countries.  Additionally, Joaquim is the recently elected ESOMAR President. He’s the advisor to MindProber, co-founder of NGO HealthusNepal, and speaker. Joaquim, thank you very much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.  


Thank you, Jamin.  It’s my pleasure.


Tell us a little bit about where you grew up.  


Good.  I was born in Barcelona, and I was born in the late years of the Franco dictatorship.  At the time, Barcelona wasn’t the brilliant city that we know today. You must know that the Spanish Civil War in the 30s, 40 years of dictatorship dramatically cut the evolution of the traditionally prosperous Barcelona.  Very importantly, it shaped the mentality, and it became an undynamic mentality with a complex of inferiority towards Europe. But I was fortunate. I was born in a family that had overcome this closing of borders, both mental and physical.  For instance, my mother at the age of 18 went to U.K. as a babysitter, and she learned English when almost nobody spoke English at the time in Spain. My father, who is a doctor in engineering, after studies he went to Norway. So I was fortunate to be born in a family that always had this international approach.  Indeed, I was conceived in France. My father was working for a multi-national company, and he was expatriated in France. I was conceived there although born in Barcelona but they moved back to France where I spent my first two years of my life. It’s not that my French was from that period, I guess not, because then I had to study.  But it definitely created a mental framework for the family. So I can say that my childhood was a happy childhood in a large, educated family that never transmitted to us this complex of inferiority that was among the Spaniards when looking at Europe, at that time Western Europe.

I was a very curious boy.  I loved to read everything I could, being… Tin-Tin, my favorite comics.  I can tell at the age of 14, I had my first interchange with a French family.  So, the French guy came to my house, and I went to his in Paris and Normandy. I did the same at 17 with a guy from Connecticut.  So he came to our home, and I went to Connecticut for a month. This is something that my two other brothers also had. So I was fortunate enough to have these exchanges and this framework as a family.

As a teenager, I witnessed the entrance of Spain in the European Union in 1986, and this was a total transformation of the country and society.  Suddenly, we got connected to the European market, and the European trends started to reach us at the similar pace as the rest of European countries.  Indeed, the gap of products that we could find in our supermarkets, compared to the ones I could find in our neighbor, France, started to diminish. So it meant we were getting closer to Europe.  At that time, Spain was booming, and the country was receiving a lot of investment. But the fall of the Berlin wall occurred, and then suddenly Spain was not as attractive as it was those years. However, Spain had already been connected to Europe, and it really changed the mentality.  More concretely, more particularly, in l992, Barcelona held the Olympic Games, and it was a success. It really transformed the city and me, being in my early 20s, I was also. A nice way of looking at the world, and I am becoming proud of where we were living and what we were doing in Barcelona.  And it completely changed the mentality of my city and my country. We became international, completely international. So, this gives you the context of my childhood and where I was growing up.


I know that you are – and we talked about this a little bit at the beginning of the podcast – you are connected with Catalan, right?


Yes, I am Catalan, yeah.


And there’s a lot relative to the uniqueness of that culture in the context of the larger EU.  Can you tell us a little bit about what’s that like and how that’s shaped your world view?


Yeah.  Of course, I cannot get into politics, but I just get into cultural aspect.  So, we have our own language and our own culture. Of course, it’s a little one.  Catalan is spoken and understood by – let’s say – 9 million people. So it’s a small language but very active, very active.  It has been preserved throughout many years. Culturally very active in all sorts of cultural fields. It was given me the opportunity of looking at the world from – let’s say – not from a very strong and dominant culture but from a little culture that is fighting for its preservation and striving this multi-diverse, multi-cultural world to be there on the stage.  So it gives me a sensitiveness to all sorts of realities. I’m not looking at the world from a very dominant perspective but from a way that I try to understand the culture of others, how others look at the world, and try to understand their position. So that’s why I love to be in contact with people coming from very strong cultures, very dominant countries and languages as well with all sorts of other origins.


At this point, I really want to pull this out because in a lot of ways, this is relevant to market research today.  Market research as… (I hear lots of different numbers between 40 and 70 billion dollars) but we know as an industry has been not growing in line with, at least not growing in line with GDPs.


No, actually, the last ESOMAR report is that what we understand as traditional market research accounts for 45 billion dollars and, if we enlarge the view and we get into the new scope of market research, it can be like 75 billion dollars.


And so then you broaden that to the utilization of consumer insights, which has just completely blown up over the decade.  Everyone from the intern to the CEO is conducting a survey – at least, it seems that way – given the democratization of access to the consumers through different tools like Survey Monkey or what have you.   So market research in a lot of ways is this very large industry and important industry, and yet we have to have that humble or that view of the marketplace at large to understand how we can fit in and empower and ensure that business decisions are being informed in a correct way.     


Yep, this is, I would say if not the biggest, one of the biggest challenges we are facing now:  In bringing the voice of the people, voice of the customer, in a proper way to the table and being conducted with the right methodologies and the rigor that it merits.


So, in 2000 you joined TNS as the Retail Services Director.  How in the world did you wind up in market research?


Yeah, I think I will join some of the answers you have had so far.  I guess I fell into market research by a natural fall. Since very young, I was always interested in society, in politics, in geography.  I was always interested in understanding the world and people. I’ve always been fascinated in learning new things, learning things about societies.  This is why I studied economics, led by this passion. In the university, I was much involved in a student association called AIESEC. It was a unique international association for students of economics.  I started to get involved into promoting international understanding, education, organizing conferences, and attending international conferences. So, this moved me to my first job; I was hired by the largest FMCG Spanish association.  I was responsible for organizing seminars, conferences; for taking Spanish managers to visit retailers in Europe and the U.S. to learn from those countries how retail was evolving and consumer patterns were evolving. So I became an expert in retail and the consumer understanding.  Then, from this expertise, I was hired by Carrefour, the big retailer to create the first category management department in Carrefour supermarkets. I stayed there for two years. And there was a merger, and I had to be moved to Madrid. I spent there some time. I had been married with Hollis Carelli, my wife.  I didn’t like the outcome of the new company. So, that’s when TNS came and they were looking for a retailer specialist. I had been in touch with them before. When I was at the first job I was mentioning, I was also purchasing research. And I had a relationship with them. I was always interested in trends, in society, in consumers.  And I was coming from being a retailer; so, I thought it was a nice move. And I got into TNS as the expert in retail end-shopper.


What was one of the more difficult or interesting, I should say – one of the more transitions moving into research for you?


Now when I recall it because I did this move twice; I did it again later.  I think the transition at the first moment was to cross the bridge from being a purchaser and the one that has the power and that has the money because I was a retailer.  So I was responsible for negotiating with manufacturers, and I was the one that was deciding what product was being sold on the shelves, and all this negotiation behind. Suddenly, I crossed the bridge and became a provider.  At that moment (I don’t know if now is the same) but at that moment, it was an important change. Being a provider and being a client, that is an important difference. I remember when I was a client, I could take the phone, call whoever it was and they would just show up in my office.  And when I was a client and I was taking the phone and trying to get those meetings and get relevant to clients. So that’s the difference. That’s the important difference at the moment. But of then on a change of that, I could get immersed into knowledge. So, when I was a retailer, it was a lot of management and Excel spreadsheets, analyzing revenues and profits and ROI and negotiating everything.  And then I could do the same but understanding the consumer, understanding from at that moment TNS Worldpanel data, so the consumption trends and so on. What I really got in love with was storytelling. I have discovered throughout the years that I’m a good storyteller. So, I discovered that and I became a quite successful presenter in conferences and speaker. I really enjoyed that way of building stories with data.


Storytelling has been…  I actually have been reflecting on this, and I’m going to be writing a post:  trends that will continue to gain momentum in 2019 both from a technology perspective and also as a skill-set perspective.  One of those trends that I’ve been picking up on from our guests and just observations on the marketplace is storytelling as a skill in the same way that math is skill.


It’s fundamental but it’s not just today.  I mean it comes from the most ancient times.  When you see the paintings in the caves, those people who were painting those buffaloes or those deer, they were storytelling; they were telling stories to their friends and families in the cave.  So it’s been forever and will be forever. We humans, we need this storytelling.


I like that analogy.  I’ve never heard anybody put it exactly like that before.  Of course, I’m thinking to myself that’s like the old school whiteboarding.   


All of us…  When you talk with your grandparents or other people or younger people, everybody likes to listen to stories and then you see that you reach much better to their inside.


Do you feel like we’re as an industry treating storytelling as more of a skill that is learnable and also sellable versus how we’ve done it historically?


I think we have to look at the origins of market research.  I think we have not been that good in showing off our skills, our capabilities, our strengths.  Some of the people that were good at that, for instance, consultants – they have very easily taken the stage on behalf of us.  We have the knowledge and the data, and we have the right people who know how to answer the appropriate questions and join the dots with the data.  So we have all the input to be the best storytellers – and the best storytellers in the world because we have the information and we know how to analyze and make sense of that information.  So we can be the best storytellers. So, from one side, yes, I agree: it’s a learnable skill. But also it comes from your DNA; I mean there are some people that are given and some people that are not so given.  But we have to push people because I think everybody is capable of telling stories. Some will be more graceful; some others will be less, but everybody is capable of telling a story with sense and purpose. I think we have to be less shy and let our creativity flow with the inputs we have.


Beautiful!  So, Netquest has seen…  I’ve been following Netquest really since you guys started or since the company started.  You’ve seen steady growth over years; you’ve been part of it and obviously before as well.  What are two keys of success that other executives and companies can learn from?


OK, I could mention many.  Of course, I wasn’t the founder of the company.  So I could mention many relating to the founder of the company.  I joined in 2009; so, it’s nine years already. I’ve seen all the expansion, and I’ve been part of this expansion during the last nine years.  I would pick two key points. One is the values and purpose, and the other one is perseverance. Values and purpose – we have defined our mission as a mission that we want to create a mirror of society, for society and promote values accordingly.  These values give us guidelines to behave in our daily basis. Particularly when critical decisions arise, it’s when values have a purpose. When particular decisions arise that you can go one side or the other side is when you set the values and say, “No, no.  We have this value. We have to have be current and consistent; so, let’s keep the decision within or according to the value. So we have all these values set in place, and it’s a kind of common culture.

Secondly, perseverance.  Netquest has been a pioneer.  It was born here in Barcelona when the Spanish market was not prepared.  It was created in 2001 as a survey platform for the Spanish market, an online survey platform.  It took some time to make it work. I wasn’t an easy path. In 2005, Netquest created the first digital access panel, and it was launched in a moment in which the Spanish market was not ready for that.  All the questions arose, and all the questions and difficulties were there. But it is a perseverant company and, in the end, we became the clear leaders of the market, and it allowed us to expand to first to LatAm and lately to some other countries like the U.S.  For instance, we have been evangelizing on the online mythology for many years when these markets were not mature like the Spanish market or the LatAm market – many, many years investing in evangelizing, showing how it can be done. We were also the first ones in getting the ISO quality stamp when dealing with samples.  Much before the GDPR and the strict rules regarding how to treat people, we already knew that we had to treat people with transparency and fairness in their system. Most recently, when in 2014 Netquest acquired the Dutch company Wakoopa, which is a company that developed software by which we can track what people do online and mobile, of course, with their consent.  This is the secret of the panel: always the consent and the good information of what they are doing with us. During these last four years we have as well been evangelizing on the digital passive measurement, publishing papers, news cases, handbooks or presenting at conferences in America, Europe, APAC. I personally have presented in North America, LatAm, Europe, and APAC and different cases of how we can track digital behavior of people, how it can be very beneficial for companies to understand the digital space.  So, I would say values and perseverance in the mission that we have.


Yeah, the values…  The word that I really like there is this mirror so that the view back on the person and then understanding if they’re a good fit is absolutely critical.  How have you applied that to your new role or how will you apply that to your new role at ESOMAR?


Well, for me values are very important, and I’m very glad that most lately ethics has come at the front of every discussion.  It’s been also pushed by legislation in a way, but today in this Big-Data world, I’m happy to see that more and more people are demanding to create an ethics framework to deal with the information and to deal with what we people give to the Big Data.  Aligned with the legislation and this demand, for me values and ethics are a must, and it’s something that, as professionals, we have to upstand because it is the way that we can have credibility in front of the stakeholders that we relate to. So, as professionals, as market researchers, ethics must be our main, let’s say, main asset to start with.


So, kind of piggybacking on one or two points:  purpose and perseverance. Perseverance: anytime someone says that word, I think about Ernest, I believe his last name is Shackleton.  Ernest Shackleton is a fairly well-known historical figure. He was the captain of a ship. Anyway, his family crest was “We Conquer through Perseverance.”  I think I’m getting that right. That has stuck with me, and I’ve heard this whatever, maybe two decades ago now. But that has stuck with me through my life.  It’s interesting a lot of people I believe, they give up before they get the payday. And I don’t necessarily mean the payday in a monetary way. It could be just emotional or investment with family and friends.  Thinking it’s about the long game where you have to play towards, not at a play-by-play. Obviously, we… Continuing the analogy, when we’re in the trenches or when we’re playing the game or whatever it is, every play’s important, it moves us down the field.  But we have to understand that we’re going to lose some. It’s about how we consistently show up and then execute every day, year after year, not just week after week, that winds up putting us in a dominant position.


But this is always a difficult moment to assess:  whether you have to persevere or whether you have stop and change your activity.  It’s always difficult to know what’s the right point, but it’s true. Perseverance is important.  By the way, I just checked and it’s Endurance, not Endeavor.


Ah, there it is – Endurance.  Yeah, yeah, endurance. That’s right.  That was the name of his ship. But then, having that view of perseverance, all of a sudden it starts informing your purpose and tying that back to you guys pioneering the ISO certification, which is really important to take the time out.  That’s not something that’s just easy, off-the-shelf. You just don’t write a check. There’s a lot of effort – time and treasure – that’s involved in that certification, especially, I’d imagine, in the early days, and being willing to make that investment because a lot of times there isn’t a direct ROI that’s measurable in the first quarter of that.  You’re thinking about, “OK, I’m going to make this investment, and that’s going to pay off over the next five years as we differentiate ourselves in the market of having this certification and proving that we’re putting our money where our mouth is, and we are quality and a brand that you can trust.”


Here there is a couple of lessons.  One is that because Netquest was not as mature market as U.S. or U.K., the online methodology took more time to be developed.  For instance, maybe in the U.S. and U.K., it was much faster to get nice money from scratch when offering an online sample. So, those companies were making money; so, they were very fast in developing whereas Netquest had a very slow pace, very slow pace.  So it helped the management and the founder to think very well what he wanted as an offer, how he wanted to build this offer. So it resulted that when, for instance, we had to do this ISO quality audit, most of the things that were required we already had them in place.  So our adaption was minimal because the bar had been set so high that we already had almost everything. And it’s been the same for the GDPR. Our transformation into being GDPR-compliant has been very easy because we were already there. We have been very consistent in keeping the bar as high as possible in terms of sample recruitment, sample treatment, and sample quality.


Alright, so you have a lot going on.  I think our listeners picked that up on the intro, right?  You were a council person at ESOMAR prior to your recent election as president. Advisor to MindProber, co-founder of NG0 HealthusNepal.  We should pull out really quick here and talk about your work there in Nepal. What is Health U.S.?


Health Us.


I keep saying U.S.  I apologize.


Oh, no.  It’s exactly what I said when we were branding the NGO.  We were branding that I said, “Look, this can become confusing.  They said, “No, no, don’t worry,” they said. OK, now we have the proof.  [laughs] To tell a long story short: so I have this cousin that was born in Nepal.  He was adopted by one of my uncles. And he came not to Barcelona, but to a town near Barcelona.  He has become a doctor. And at the age of 18, even before, he asked his parents to get back to Nepal and met his original family because he knew he had been not stolen, but he was taken from his town by the rich guy of the town and he had the sense that his family did not know that he was not there.  Effectively, he went with his parents to Nepal at the age of 18; he met his father, that was still living and is still living and his sisters and brothers and it was a shock. So, he was determined to study medicine. So now he’s a doctor. And once he finished the medicine… He had been in this town, which is the most remote area of Nepal, the poorest one, every summer.  He has been saving money. He goes there, and he has been contributing to his original population, additional village, an area. One year and a half ago, I was here Netquest working and suddenly I received an email from him. It was sent to the whole family. It’s a big family. My mother’s family, it’s a big, big family, composed of eight brothers and sisters and all their descendants.  So, we’re very tight family; so, we’re very linked. So, he sent this email, saying, “Hey, I have opened up this solidarity fund-raising campaign. Could you help?” I called him and said, “What are you doing?” And he explained to me. I told him, “Look, we need to formalize it. We need to make it legal. We need to create a structure on that because… I love what you want to do but if you just open a fund-raising page, I think that this will not be that trustable.  So we need to create something that can be trustable.” So we did that. It was in summer 2017; we created the NGO. So it’s his father; one of his best friends that has also a sister, that had been adopted from Nepal, and myself, who are running the association. We started to get members. So far, we have created, the first, let’s say, modern pharmacy in the region. Remember it’s the most poor and remote region in Nepal. So, my cousin is there. He’s treating an average of 40 people per day.  He travels on foot because there are no such ways… I mean you cannot have a car, you cannot have a motorbike. He has to go on foot, and so he travels a perimeter of 60 kilometers, giving service to all villages. We have set up a team. It’s a pharmacy where we’re selling all the medicines. We’re getting money here in Spain, but it’s open to the world. So I open up… I open up the opportunity for people to donate in any part of the world.


And we will include a link to the website in the show notes.  


Oh, thank you.  And it’s very nice because…  Have you seen the movie Lion?  This Indian guy…  Have you seen that movie, Lion?


No, I’ve not.  


So, it’s an Indian guy that also is adopted in Australia.  Finally, he discovers his past. Because he can relate to some memories, he discovers where he comes from.  When he was telling the story, I said, “Look, Mark, you are like the lion, the Catalan lion. It’s the same.  We have discovered your origins, and now you are going there back, which is very hard, I can tell you. He is a doctor here in Barcelona, in the Barcelona region in Catalonia, and he has decided to be there.  Where people in Katmandu, doctors in Katmandu do not want to go there because life there is very hard; he has decided to settle there and help the community. He’s training people to help people. So it’s very, very nice; and even I have involved my kids as well in that initiative.  For instance, every time that he has been here and we have gone to an interview in television, on newspaper or radio, I bring my kids as well. Yesterday, for instance, the largest radio and newspaper in Catalonia published a piece of news about that. And it was nice because yesterday night I was with my elder kid and showed him and he said, “Wow, we did it!”  [laughs]


Ownership, I love that!  What a great view to be able to offer your children, just creating an attitude of gratefulness and thankfulness.  We are where we are, and we have the opportunity to help and contribute. At the end of the day, the roles, the lives could have completely been shifted the other way.  I don’t want to get too much into the whole philosophy or turn this into a weird conversation. But, as soon as we can pick our heads up and look at the rest of the world, we can really reframe our problems and our struggles in much more positive way, I believe.   


Yes, yes, we are in another league; we play another league, and you play in California, you play another league than I play.  And these countries play another league, yeah.


So, with all the things going on, why would you… what was your motivation for running president of ESOMAR?  


OK, that’s a nice question.  Well, running for president has been the evolution of my past four years as an ESOMAR council member.  I have been engaged… I have been participating in different activities. I have contributed to this promotion.  I have been feeling part of the team. And you know that when you better know an organization that is well-run, that is good, you feel more in love, and you feel more engaged; so, I think it was natural step for me to do because I was very much involved and I believe, I believe in the cause.  I would say that maybe the right question would be “What decided me to get into ESOMAR 2014 to the councils first time?” because I must admit at that moment, I didn’t have such a clear idea of what I was enrolling to. At that moment, it was nice; I was participating at this ESOMAR events and I was active there, but I didn’t really know much more about than that.  It took me one year to understand the implications of what ESOMAR activity is: the stakeholders, the variety of memberships, and the real role. It took me some time, but once I learned that I’ve been very much engaged, and I’m a very great promoter of ESOMAR. As I was saying, I believe in what ESOMAR is doing. I believe in what it does for the good of our profession and our industry.  I even say that if ESOMAR did not exist, it should have to be invented. I should have to be created. I have been traveling during these last four years across the market research world. I’ve been in many markets. And I was feeling mature. I was feeling mature to contribute. I was feeling mature to contribute with my vision, my experience, my knowledge, my networking, my energy. So, yeah, I felt it was the time, the appropriate time.  As I see that you appreciate very much the personal touch, I can tell you that running for an international position like this is a life-changing experience. I can tell you I have changed some things inside me thank to the process of running for this kind of election. It’s an experience that I fully recommend to everybody that can have an interest to service such an association.


So, obviously, you have a service-oriented heart, hence, the work with Nepal.  What would you see as one of the biggest learnings entering into this role? I’m actually citing here a YouTube interview that you had where you said, “The surprise I got once in council was how many things you don’t know.”  For me, that’s super-interesting because – I mean, listen – we’ve been doing this for a lot of years, right? And we’ve talked to a lot of people. We have a pretty wide view of the space.


Yeah, but in the end, you are focused on your activity, and you have some objectives to attain.  And you have budgets, and you have this pressure. And, suddenly, you get into an open space where there are many, many different stakeholders, many different actors, and you start to learn from them.  But, most precisely, as I was telling before, I knew ESOMAR mainly by the events, publications, and all this public sphere. Then I realized that the cornerstone of ESOMAR is its extraordinary capability to move the professionals of the industry to self-regulate, to create guidelines, and to stay ahead of legislation because we want to be better than what is expected from us.  For instance, I can tell last week… Last week we were in Amsterdam, and we had this meeting that there was current council plus a new council. And it’s very nice because when you see how the new members start to get the information that we are dealing with and the sort of stuff that we are discussing, all of them are surprised like, “Wow, it didn’t know that ESOMAR was doing as much and so many things and so important” – for instance like all the legislation aspect.  ESOMAR has had a key contribution, a key contribution in the GDPR law. The way it was drafted, it could be very harmful for the market research industry, market research companies. ESOMAR has played a key role in preserving our activity in Europe but also globally because the GDPR law is an inspiration for many other countries. ESOMAR pays much attention to all these moves that this legislation is having across the world. And the learnings that we are having in Europe can be transmitted to the rest of the countries of the world, and it’s something that we want to do because we must teach the legislator what we are doing.  We have to tell them that what we are doing is for a good purpose, that we’re very conscious of the value of the information that we are managing, and that we have to manage it in an ethical way, preserving all the standards. So ESOMAR is doing an exceptional role in teaching the legislator in the favor and the benefit of our activity. You know, kind of iceberg. You know ESOMAR by the events and publications and then get deeper and suddenly you start to discover a whole new world and say, “Wow! If there was not these people doing that, somebody should do that because it’s necessary”.


Yeah, it sounds like applying storytelling, master craft of storytelling on top of this activity would be something that would help the whole industry at large understand actual ramifications of, to your point, GDPR legislation or whatever is going to come down the pipe or is coming down the pipe right now that the rest of us are pretty much unaware of.


Yeah, but it’s again the problem…  It was very nice: last term we started discussing about how efficient ESOMAR is in communicating because there was some criticism:    “Oh, ESOMAR is not communicating properly. The message is not getting right. So we created an audit of the different touchpoints that a member of ESOMAR and a non-member of ESOMAR can get from ESOMAR.  And it’s amazing: I mean the amount of touchpoints that you can get from ESOMAR is impressive. But we live in a world in which attention is scarce, in a world in which we are all impacted by so many messages that it’s very difficult to get messages across.  But, if people could pay this attention to the important stuff, I can tell you that what ESOMAR is doing is very important.


So what is it that you’re hoping to get done as president?


My motto is that I want to reinforce the bridges across practices and geographies.  This would be a sentence to kind of compile everything. I believe that market research is now in a very exciting moment.  Well, you know: you’re constantly talking about that. The digitization of our society has brought a new approach to customers, consumers, citizen, whatever you might call it, understanding.  Today, we have an unparalleled access to understanding what consumers do, think, and feel. As you were saying, everyone can research today and, on top of that, the end-client or the purchaser of research is living its own transformation at a very fast pace.  So, these needs are constantly evolving, and require different responses. So, now, as you were saying before, the traditional market research has seen how the new market research or the digital technology-related insights have appeared. So as professionals, we need to properly manage this digital transformation.  We need to be smart enough to get the optimal symbiosis of traditional research, traditional practices, and those coming from the digital and analytics world. If you allow me, I always like to say that at a certain status ESOMAR could be perceived as a country club. I mean old members coming from the same background and status.   I think that today ESOMAR has to get closer to what they call the Star Wars Intergalactic Cantina, a place populated by humans, humanoids, robots, all sorts of species that contribute to the understanding of humans. Regarding my bridge across practices and my bridge across geographies is, as we were talking at the beginning of this interview…  The world is very big, and there are many realities, and every single market is different. Indeed, in the U.S., it isn’t the same; on the West Coast, East Coast, or the Mid of the country, but there are common traits. Of course, there are common traits but each market has its own peculiarities. I can tell you I’ve been traveling around the globe during these last years and I have seen excellent practices across the globe.  I’ve been attending the LatAm conference for the last five years, APAC for the last eight; I’ve been in U.S. and Europe and some other countries and they are excellent, excellent experiences. I do believe that we have to learn one from the other and increase the awareness and elevate our profession. Lastly, I like to be global and to be local, and I believe we need to reinforce the sense of community, the sense of belonging not only as ESOMAR but also as inside professionals.  As market research professionals, we need to have the sense of unity because it is the way we can – all of us – adapt to challenges that the digitalization of our society is bringing.


It’s going to be fun watching how this unfolds over the next four years.  I particularly like your connection with – I’ll call it – “middle class” is not the right way of saying it but it’s, basically, this flattening of importance, whether it’s U.S. or pick the country…Nepal.  Everybody has a voice; the voice IS important, and we need to understand it so that we can create policy that helps create, give us a better view ultimately of the industry and helps empower the companies, the brands to make good decisions.    


The market is very big, and there are opportunities everywhere.


So this podcast will have about 500, just over 500, insight professionals listen to it, hopefully more. Incidentally, if you haven’t been sharing it, please take time to share it on social.  

As you know, market researchers are full of opinions.  I think it’s pent up in us by the way because nobody asks our opinions.  As much as they do, we’re relaying the opinions of the customer. What is one question you would like the listeners of this podcast – Insight Nations – to answer?  


OK, I try to be provocative; so, my question would be “What is your personal contribution to improve, to elevate the status of our profession?


Perfect.  When this goes live, we’ll be posting this particular question on social.  So, I’m excited about seeing and the feedback and then also it’d be fun to write a little blog post.  Maybe, we’ll co-author that, addressing it.

So, my guest to today has been Joaquim Bretcha.  Sir, thank you very much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


Thank you, Jamin.  It’s been my pleasure.


As always, I appreciate your time and listening.  If you’d be willing, please leave us a review on whatever platform you’re using.  We would love it if you would share this podcast and let other insights professionals know about the great value of our guests.  Have a wonderful rest of your day!


Stay tuned for and HR tip from our previous guest, Mark Ziontz of Automated Insights.  


Passion, agility, and accountability.

First, you got to love what you do.  If you don’t, it’s a job. If you don’t, you’ll be there for a period of time.  I think at the end of the day, you really have to love what it is you’re doing and, by the way, that can extend to who you’re working with, who you’re working for, what is the culture.  But the most basic building block of that aspect is do you believe in the product? Do you believe in what the company does? Do you believe in the mission? I think people in our company get pretty excited about the fact that we help people understand their data, and they see that as a huge problem and they see that as something creating value.  So, I think our people have passion around that as they think it’s a big challenge, and it creates a tremendous amount of value. So that passion, I think, is just vital.

The second one I mentioned was agility, and I spoke on this earlier.  If you don’t like change, if you don’t like having to zig instead of zag sometimes, if you think everything is going to perfectly on your 3–5 year plan, good luck!  That’s not been my experience. I’m always suspect when somebody tells me, “This is my plan. From the beginning, we did it perfectly, and this was our outcome.” And I just smile and I’m polite.  When I look back on everything, many times we ended up in great places, but it certainly wasn’t a smooth road. There were bumps along the way,

And then finally, accountability.  I think it’s accountability to yourself, accountability to your colleagues, accountability to your customers.  And I think that if you have people that are accountable, it also affords you great freedom. It’s freedom for people to work remotely when they want to work remotely.  If they have something in the middle of the day with their kids and they’re going to get their deliverable out that evening, it enables that to happen. You can a trust-based organization when people are accountable.


For me, one of the most impactful parts of business is being passionate about adding value.  That value is added through the continuum of whatever it is that you’re doing. If it’s manufacturing, you could be on the line, but the value is the consistency and high quality of that work.  Additionally, and I think even more impactfully, if you are anybody inside of the company, applying your passion and care for the final delivery it is going to resonate and drive a positive culture.  And if there is a positive culture that exists, that exudes into the customer relationships.

I remember early on with RackSpace, I was customer no. 102, if you can believe that.  They launched with fanatical customer support. That word, “fanatical,” has gone through some iterations since that time.  But, in those days, the interpretation of “fanatical” was really like “This is what gets us out of bed in the morning,” is making sure that you are absolutely taken care of.  They weren’t leading with best, fastest, reliable, etc. All those underpinnings are there from a messaging perspective, but the lead was “fanatical” customer support. And I think that starts, from a customer journey perspective, not when you’re talking with the salesperson but it happens when the customer dials in or sends an email or fills out a web form or tries to find you online.  So passion around what it is you do, a love for that particular task is absolutely critical and, as you deliver on that, your career will advance.

I want to end on a brief story.  One of my best friends, Bobby, he came from Romania and, as a first generation, moved here when he was in seventh grade with his mother.  After graduating from college, got a job working at a box plant, a corrugated box plant. He was working in the assembly line. From there, he had an opportunity to advance his career and start supporting the… by doing janitorial work.  That kind of gave him a little bit of a side hustle opportunity. And he just kicked butt and did a great job, delivering on that part. He continued to advance, moved into accounting, eventually sales, and now he is the, if not one of the top salesmen, on the West Coast for corrugated boxes, which is a truck load of money.  In fact, he makes more money a year than I ever did [laughs] outside of selling businesses. The point is that if you’re passionate about where you’re putting your time and energy, then the by-product, the outcome of what you generate, it will be just 10x what your peers, what other people are applying and it will help propel you to the next thing. 


Thanks, everybody, for listening to today’s episode of the Happy Market Research Podcast.  An absolute privilege! We are honored that you would be willing to spend so much time with us.  I hope you have a fantastic rest of your day. Please, please, please share this episode on the platform of your choice.  If you would just tweet it or if you would take the time to post it on LinkedIn, it would mean the world to us.


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