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Will AI really take over market research jobs?

Mr Adhil Patel (MDI), Director of Research Africa

In an age where developments in AI are becoming exponential, is any industry truly safe? While much has been said and shown about the power and breadth of artificial intelligence, questions persist about its potential to fully replace human roles in market research. This presentation delves into the nuanced interplay between AI technologies and market research professions.

Introduce the 'In-Depth Interviewer Bot': Presenting the 'In-Depth Interviewer Bot' as a pioneering solution designed to bridge the gap between traditional in-depth interviews and digital survey methods.

Timothy Treagus

The core research problem lies in the existing gap between the need for rich, nuanced insights and the inherent constraints of cost, time, and resources commonly faced by market researchers. Traditional in-depth interviews provide valuable context and depth but are often resource-intensive in terms of personnel, travel, and logistics. On the other hand, conventional digital surveys prioritize speed and scalability but frequently lack the qualitative depth to uncover the 'why' behind consumer opinions and behaviours. This tension is particularly marked within Africa and similar developing economies.

Rethinking Return on Investment: Measuring Social Value.

Lings Naidoo, Director at Redflank


To present an alternative way of measuring return on investment, especially when a purely monetary return is not appropriate or is challenging to measure.

Can We Feel Our Way to Strategy? A Neuroscientific Argument in Favour of Using Intuition In Sense Making.

Jani de Kock and Sonja Klopper, First Person 

"We should embrace risk and apply our intuition." Neil Govender (Heineken) during a panel discussion moderated by Lebo Motshegoa in March 2024. We found this comment highly intriguing and slightly controversial to make to a room of data scientists. We would like to critically evaluate the plausibility of this statement.

Finding new ways to engage with generation z via chat-bots.

Jacqui Horsley - Head of Business, MMR Research, Africa and the Middle East
Brett Marshall -
Qualitative Research Executive, MMR Research, Africa and the Middle East

Explore the efficacy of chat-bot-based research engagement in deciphering the values, preference, and emerging purchase drivers of Gen Z consumers across the diverse consumer landscape of South Africa. Our investigation focuses on the key fast-moving goods (FMCG) categories, where brand relevance and resonance with this generation are paramount. Can a chat-bot-based research approach serve as a robust way to gain meaningful insights into the deeply nuanced Gen Z cohort? By leveraging advances in technology and AI, we seek to empower brand and product owners in their pursuit to establish and sustain relevance with this dynamic demographic.

Shaping better business decisions with deeper consumer connections.

Kunal Panja, Regional Research Lead and Insight Alchemist by profession and automotive enthusiast by choice                                                                                                                                                                Simba Chakaingesu, Consumer Insights Manager (Nutrition) at Unilever 

Saberah Gumede, Senior account manager at Borderless Access

The research data from consumers always comes with a time lag and hence there is a delay that happens with respect to brands in taking actions on the ground with respect to promotions or activations. There is a need for research also to evolve and hence Unilever wanted to shift gears towards having consumer connects in an agile and tech-based un-intrusive way that will help them proactively tune their on-ground marketing strategies. Borderless Access in partnership with Unilever will showcase how creating consumer connectedness in a tech-based and agile way has helped Unilever research teams and other stakeholders across business units to consistently deliver consumer-centric decision-making faster and deeper to drive impact.

Beyond the Funnel: Gen Z’s journey towards authentic engagement.

Luan de Wet, Chief Client Officer, Ask Afrika: 

This session aims to explore the relevance of the marketing funnel when targeting and conducting research on Gen Z and to discuss how the path to purchase for this generation is not as linear as for previous generations.

Bridging the Gap between ESG Goals and Consumer Concerns.

Ms. Maria Petousis, Executive TGI & Benchmarks, Ask Afrika: South African Realities


In today's global business landscape, the integration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies has become imperative for companies striving for sustainability and societal impact (Daugaard & Ding, 2022). However, this paradigm shift towards responsible corporate practices requires careful consideration of local contexts, particularly in developing economies such as South Africa's. This session aims to delve into the complexities of formulating ESG strategies tailored to the socio-economic realities of the South African market.

Fried, Flavoured and Fabulous

Margaret Constantaras - a highly respected market researcher in South Africa, known for her expertise in both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, and her strong ethical standards


The fast-food sector is experiencing rapid growth globally, driven by changes in consumer lifestyles, increased household income, and a preference for convenience (Gabriel, 2001; Rahkovsky, Jo & Carlson, 2018). This surge in demand has intensified competition, making customer retention crucial for success (Ha & Jang, 2012). To adapt to this dynamic market, fast-food restaurateurs must continually refine their strategies and offerings (Petzer & Mackay, 2014). However, there's a gap in understanding customer loyalty (Slack, Singhj, Ali, Lata, Mudaliar & Swamy, 2020). Economic, political, and cultural differences influence consumer behaviour (Sharma, Singh & Aiuyb, 2020), warranting context-specific research.

Balancing act: How researchers and clients can co-navigate the fine line between stability and evolution in tracking studies

Anneri Venter, Human8 (previously Columinate)
Bronwyn Penny, Human8

The process of updating a tracker study is a tricky navigation for both research agency and client. As researchers we have a duty to continuously evolve our approach to ensure that it is always relevant to its context while also safeguarding the continued value of past waves’ results. As clients, this comes with the responsibility to negotiate these changes and the impact they will have on KPIs and strategy – an especially sensitive conversation if bonuses are tied to these KPIs. Having successfully navigated this journey with our clients in changing the analysis approach of a 12-year running syndicated tracker, we wish to extend our learnings with the industry at large and put forth our contribution to the best practices of updating trackers.

The session will build on the best practices as researchers to updating tracker studies, and will also guide researchers and clients alike on how to co-navigate the tricky process, protecting the current relevance of the tracker, the integrity of past results, and stakeholder relations and buy-in.

Raising the bar: from sustainability to regeneration.

Anneri Venter, Business Director at Human8 & Marlé Mans, Senior Research Team Director at Human8

If the entire world lived like South Africans, we would require 2.4 planets to sustain our lifestyle. Furthermore, South Africa itself would need 3.8 times its own land area to fulfil the demands of its residents on nature, and 9 out of 10 people in South Africa are seriously worried about the future of our planet. Additionally, 91% of people in South Africa feel brands need to take responsibility to help safeguard the future of our planet and make a positive change. The time to act is now. But the question is: how and where to start? While we’re conscious of the future we aspire to and the kind of world we want to live in, we often feel powerless to make a change and we need frontrunners who dare to challenge existing norms and lead with a fresh perspective. Are you as an individual and brands alike ready to raise the bar and become a leader by example for positive change?

A new interpretation of consumers, as people.

Jan Wegelin, Managing Director, MarkData (Pty) Ltd

Often in a research setting, consumers are introduced to a product, service or concept to understand their perceptions, views, comments and likelihood to purchase, among other aspects as part of the research brief. In this study we propose to switch the process around by first understanding the consumer, or potential consumer and then introduce the product, service or concept among like-minded individuals. The research problem: We know people are different, why do we mostly cluster people based on external identifiers such as age, gender, race, life stage or location when it is possible to cluster consumers as people, based on the way they think, operate, and behave to segment the research participants based on like-mindedness?

AI’s replacement of the researcher.

Shaun Fourie, QuestionPro Account Director
Co-presenter - Kendall Rynders, CUETA, Owner


In the current landscape of research, the integration of AI tools has opened doors to unprecedented accessibility, empowering individuals without formal research backgrounds to engage in the process. However, alongside this accessibility comes a pressing need to address the challenges it presents. One primary concern is the potential for unqualified individuals to conduct research activities without the necessary expertise, posing significant risks to the integrity and validity of research outcomes.