2006 is an important year for us since it marks a quarter century since the founding of AQR, a not insignificant milestone. A number of events connected with the 25th anniversary are planned — look out for more details of these throughout the year.

It has also prompted us to re-examine our role and strategy as an organisation: what our aims, objectives and goals should be in the short and long term, and what we stand for. We have also updated our logo (did you notice?) to take us forward for the next few years. We intend this new look to provide the basis of a strong visual identity across all printed and electronic media.

Here to serve

In summary, we have defined the AQR’s aims and objectives as serving the interests of our members through:

  • Developing understanding of the commercial value of qualitative research within the wider research community and among market research buyers, marketers, the broader business community and the media
  • Promoting the highest industry standards in the qualitative research community and among market research buyers, marketers, the broader business community and the media
  • Providing inspiring, valuable training courses and conferences
  • Creating forums that facilitate debate and advance research methodology, analysis and consultancy
  • Promoting qualitative research as a career
  • Providing networking opportunities and social events for members

Marketing objectives

Our marketing objectives are, therefore, as follows:

  • To promote AQR as the UK’s principal authority on qualitative research and qualitative research in practice
  • To protect the reputation of AQR and the qualitative research industry
  • To demonstrate that qualitative research offers a real commercial value to the business community
  • To create a unified visual identity and tone across all materials generated by AQR
  • To demonstrate the value of AQR membership to existing and potential members, driving both new and renewal memberships
  • To promote the commercial, networking and social activities of AQR, e.g. conferences, training programmes, directory, parties and seminars among others
  • To develop ties between AQR and other market research associations (AURA, MRS, BMRA), the APG and academia
  • To promote qualitative research as a career

One of the key differences in focus is our desire to promote the benefits of qualitative research to a wider audience than before. The wider business community will be one of the main targets — to promote the benefits and value of qualitative research and overcome any negative baggage it may have.

New initiatives

We have also developed a number of initiatives to reach out to the undergraduate community to promote qualitative research as an active career choice rather than ‘something you just fall into’. This is essential if we are to keep attracting the highest calibre people to our industry. We are particularly pleased to be able to offer bursaries for the first time to deserving graduates wishing to gain a place on our Residential and Non-Residential Foundation Courses.

We are also committed to developing stronger relationships across a range of media both within and outside qualitative research assisted by Red Pear, our PR agency, who have been developing a strategy to make us much more visible as both an organisation and an industry as a whole. We have already had some success, in particular with the ‘State of the Nation’ report. This appeared for the first time in 2005, and attracted some interest from a wide range of different titles. We are planning another version for early 2007.

In addition, we have the welcome return of Trends Day in June, a lunch at the MRS conference in March, and an even stronger presence at the Insight Show planned for October.

The Prosper Riley-Smith Research Effectiveness Award (established in memory of Prosper, a committee member and Chairman of AQR for a number of years prior to his untimely death) goes from strength to strength, attracting more and more entries each year, and becoming the most coveted award in qualitative research. Last year saw it presented at the MRS Awards Dinner for the first time, alongside other major industry awards, significantly enhancing its status and prestige.

Events old and new

Our courses remain a key focus of activity, combining basic skills training for those beginning their qualitative research career as well as offering a variety of new courses to meet the needs of more senior members. Do keep offering feedback on the courses you would like to see, as this helps us to ensure we are providing training appropriate to your requirements.

We will also, of course, continue to provide social and networking activities, such as ‘Not the Christmas Party’ and a summer event, as well as regional networking lunches and events for independents. If you have never been to one of these events before, please be assured of a warm welcome. It can be a little daunting to turn up to an event if you feel you don’t know many people — but don’t be put off!

I’d like to thank once again our wonderful Secretariat team, Rose Molloy and Angela Webb, without whom none of this would really be possible. Their hard work behind the scenes (and on the phone to you all!) helps us put our plans into action. I would also like to thank our Committee, who give up their valuable time to further the interests of the organisation. Thanks also go to Louella Miles, editor of In Brief/In Depth and this Directory, and to Kevin Redfern of Red Pear for his unstinting enthusiasm for promoting the AQR at all opportunities. Finally, I would like to thank you for all you support, and hope to see at one of our events this year.