Interview by Market Research News (English)


“It’s vital that we transform our industry now, not in 10 years’ time!” - Interview with Anne-Sophie Damelincourt, candidate for President of Esomar.

In a few weeks’ time, Esomar, the world’s largest market-research community (with nearly 6,000 members in 140 countries worldwide), will elect its new President for the 2021-2022 term. Both candidates are women: American Kristin Luck, founder of ScaleHouse; and Anne-Sophie Damelincourt from France, founder of Blue Lemon Insight & Strategy. What’s driving the French candidate? What is her vision and what are her priorities for the industry and for Esomar? She fielded these questions from MRNews.

MRNews: You’re bidding to become the President of Esomar for the 2021-2022 term. It’s an ambitious step, demanding great commitment. What prompted your bid?

Anne-Sophie Damelincourt: It felt like the obvious thing to do but it no doubt stems from a combination of factors. I’d already been elected three times as an Esomar Council Member, and I’ve been Treasurer since 2019. So, I have a very good understanding of our organisation, but also of the industry and the profession, which I chose because I’m passionate about it. I have huge confidence in Esomar’s resources and members, but I also feel a real sense of urgency. It’s imperative that we transform ourselves now – not in ten years’ time! Esomar’s great strength is that it’s a global organisation. We must use this reach to help shape the future and be the leading actor in the industry’s transformation.

How would you summarise your view of our industry? What are the main aspects of your analysis?

It’s often said, and rightly so, that our data and insight-based industry is undergoing profound change. This change isn’t recent, but the current crisis has accelerated the pace. Our market is also distinctive in being highly fragmented and therefore difficult to define, as we discussed not long ago. It spans data and technology players as well as far more traditional operators. These two worlds lack interaction and mutual understanding, which stirs many fears. As a global organisation in the sector, Esomar must, in my view, chart a course and be at the cutting-edge of innovation. We must assist all of our members – whether individuals, companies, brands or institutions – during this period of change, with an approach built on anticipation.

Another key aspect of my analysis is that our members have a vastly different experience of the association depending on the country where they are located, ranging from France to China, Chile to Nigeria. For some, Esomar is a very remote proposition, both geographically and in terms of the benefits it provides. Things are starting to change thanks to digital, but we need to do much more. All over the world there’s a strong need for connection, support, training, knowledge and accreditation.

What are the key policies you want to drive forward for Esomar?

We really must reinvent ourselves, fundamentally rethink our model, and reposition ourselves in line with market dynamics. To do this, we must open up and step outside our comfort zone to regain our role as a leader, and to support change. Of course, there’s no question of erasing the past, but we must urgently address these transformations and adapt to them.

I have built my campaign message on three pillars: Open Up, Elevate & Celebrate.

The top priority is to embrace the Data and Technology world, to Open Data, and to our profession’s countless disciplines such as Artificial Intelligence, Customer Experience, Behavioural Economics, etc., and to create or recreate our connection with the sector of so-called traditional Marketing Research. This openness must also emphatically include the human dimension. Let’s open up to everyone! As a global trade association, we have a duty to be more accessible and closer to our Members, with greater agility and flexibility, in order to represent a richer and more diverse community.

My second message is about Excellence and our expertise. We are experts in Data and their interpretation, and in behaviours and their ethical application to decision-making, in accordance with data-protection rules. So, let’s showcase this added value. Let’s work as close as we can to the client’s decision-making process.

And lastly, let’s be proud of ourselves! We’re very shy and modest compared to other sectors, such as communication. We don’t talk enough about our talents, about the roles we play in decision-making in companies and society, or about our expertise.

What do you want to continue with and/or amplify? And what clean breaks do you aim to implement?

I have worked very closely with Joaquim Bretcha, Esomar’s current President. We’re both passionate people. Joaquim has endeavoured around the world to build Bridges between people, regions and practices across our profession. I’m a great believer in this, and my message is ultimately very similar. However, I think that we must push harder for the Technology and Open Data transition. This is essential for our industry.

In essence, as I have mentioned, it’s imperative that we recast the association’s business model, which in my view no longer fits today’s world, individuals and organisations. Esomar was founded in 1947 to primarily offer methodological standards. This no longer makes sense.

I would like the association to become more open, more accessible, simpler in how it works, and to better reflect today’s world and the people and organisations it represents.

What kind of president will you be?

Above all, I will be a President who’s like me (laughs). I will live my values – openness, availability, accessibility – and bring commitment and energy, providing the necessary driving force. I will channel all of my determination into this adventure. I’m also a great believer in the vital quality of adaptability – a prerequisite in today’s world. The list of candidates is extremely varied and rich, and I’m sure we will do tremendous work with the new team. The word “team” really means something to me. I am very keen for this presidency to be about not just one person but about fantastic teamwork, serving everyone.

Do you have a special message for the French community?

I’d like to say a big thank you to all the people who have supported me since the start of my adventure on Esomar’s Council, and who have confidence in me. I send a special message to our Representatives Isabelle Fabry and Ketty Faivre Chang, who are both doing a superb job. My thanks to everyone for your dedication to our Industry and for your commitment – which are both crucial if we are to successfully deliver this transformation!

Interview by Thierry Semblat

This article is translated and reproduced with the kind permission of