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Thumbs Up for 32nd SAMRA Annual Conference

As the use of digital and online channels continues unabatedly, globally attracting thousands of new users daily, researchers who include these technologies in the ‘toolkit’ stand to benefit hugely. At the same time, the research industry, like all other business sectors, needs to heed increasing consumer demands for accountability, compliance and sustainability.

These were some of the trends and issues highlighted by both international keynote speakers and local presenters of research papers at the 32nd SAMRA (Southern African Marketing Research Association) conference earlier this month.

Hosted at the Riverside Lifestyle Resort on the banks of the Vaal River at Vanderbijlpark, the conference boasted a number of key speakers from abroad, including ESOMAR President Dr Dieter Korczak.  In line with the conference theme of ‘care’ and ‘caring’, ESOMAR pledged €1000 for Africa Food for Thought (

Several other delegates, sponsors and exhibitors also opened their hearts and wallets in aid of the SPCA with generous donations and products.

SAMRA chair Elsa Thirion-Venter lauded their generosity: “The reaction to our call for donations for the SPCA in a time of serious financial constraints was truly heart-warming and I would like to thank each and everyone for all their contributions. Through our efforts we managed to raise R1 500 for the SPCA, while Africa Food for Thought also received a welcome cash injection from ESOMAR, which will help to feed many mouths for several months.”

Other speakers from abroad included Malcolm Evans, founding partner of Space Doctors, who addressed delegates on the issue of sustainability through cultural and semiotic perspectives, and Neil McPhee, MD of Nuance Research, whose paper Putting the (He) Art back into qualitative research, also aptly centered on the conference theme of putting the heart back into the art of marketing research.

Likewise, keynote speaker Nigel Hollis, chief global analyst at Millward Brown, explained how doing good builds strong brands, while Millward Brown non-executive chairman and keynote speaker Erik du Plessis delighted delegates with his presentation on neuro-marketing, or rather ‘neuro-bullshitting’. In another thought-provoking keynote address, TNS innovation and development director Neil Higgs emphasised the need to understand people’s lives and their roles in the research revolution.

Various topical issues with the focus strongly on the role of online and digital in research, were addressed in other conference papers, which won a number of awards that were handed out at the glittering awards evening.

The gold award for the best overall paper went to Elna Smit for her slick presentation Online research communities – the voice of the employee and the ear of the employer.

Adhil Patel and Ryan Versfeld of TNS Global Brand Equity Centre were awarded the silver best paper award for the presentation Mobile Research: iFuture or iFlop, while Khomotso Mathelela of Ask Afrika and Luan de Wet of TGI walked away with the bronze best paper award for their presentation Third World sustainability – saving the rhino vs better education.

The Research International Award for the best contribution to research standards for Africa went to Kenyan-born Julia Gichuri of TNS Research Surveys for her presentation Mobile & Digital in Africa.

In the new category introduced for bright young minds, Khomotso Mathelela and Luan de Wet, and Kelly van der Merwe and Darius Meadon of TNS Global Brand Equity Centre were honoured. Mathelela and De Wet were called to the stage for the third time to receive their commendation as the best first-time speakers.

According to conference chair Kim Larsen, “the annual SAMRA conference once again provided the ideal platform for unpacking and showcasing new ideas and thinking about marketing research within the context of the conference theme.” The impressive list of excellent key-note presentations and research papers left delegates invigorated, with a renewed focus on building the profession and the body of knowledge and expertise that underpins our work,” she said.

Conference delegates agreed that the jam-packed 32nd annual SAMRA conference provided ample food for thought and fertile soil for development and growth.


The following SAMRA Conference Awards are available for the authors/presenters of research papers only:

SAMRA Best Overall Paper, SAMRA Best First Time Speaker, Research International award for the Best Contribution to Research Standards for Africa and Telkom Best User Award.

Award Winners

SAMRA Best Overall Paper – Gold

  • Elna Smit

SAMRA Best Overall Paper – Silver

  • Khomotso Mathelela and Luan de Wet

SAMRA Best Overall Paper – Bronze

  • Khomotso Mathelela and Luan de Wet

SAMRA Best First Time Speaker

  • Khomotso Mathelela and Luan de Wet

SAMRA Voice of the Audience

  • Sanchen Henning

The Research Internation Award for Best Contribution to Research Standards in Africa

  • Julia Gichuri

Bright Young Minds

  • Kelly van der Merwe and Darius Meadon
  • Khomotso Mathelela and Luan de Wet


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