In mid-November in Paris, with the sombre backdrop of the horrific events just a few days before, delegates from across the globe gathered at ESOMAR’s Global Qualitative 2015 Conference which was partnered this year, for the first time, with AQR.

Its official banner was a celebration of ‘creativity, collaboration and cool’. An early passing quip from the Facebook team about their goldmine of access to people was loaded with truth. It served as an obvious yet valuable reminder that the landscape for collaborating with ‘consumers’ is also changing.

Across the two days, the topic of Millennials repeatedly took centre stage and, in true industry fashion, this was unpacked in myriad interesting ways. A collective effort from crowd DNA and its client, Twitter (winners of the ESOMAR Qualitative Excellence, Peter Cooper Award, for Best Paper), shone light on changing behavior in the new music fandom, the twittersphere, paying tribute to how the mighty retweet holds a higher currency today than the now humbled autograph.

A captivating build to Millennialmania came from the NL MARE team with their paper ‘Curators of Cool’, winner of the Best Presentation Award, which hit bullseye on the art of curation. Their thoughts on a generation of curators evoked the need to consider to what extent this is changing the definition of authenticity, and how brands react in such a hyper-saturated content culture where the effects of years of citizen journalism are being fully felt. All this left us wondering if we are a nation fast becoming so connected, we are unconnected.

An insightful activation study from Danone showcased harnessing cumulative research projects within client businesses to deliver collaborative communities and long standing memes. And, of course, it’s always a pleasure to meet future talent — people already in our industry, defining it for a new generation of participants and clients — and the five students sponsored by ESOMAR to attend the event, giving them the opportunity to mix with the array of consultants and clients.

The closing presentation was by David Davies, Managing Director of Content at Cannes Lions. He shared the key themes of this year’s Festival of Creativity, where clients and key creative industry figures gathered (comms agency leaders but also creatives beyond: Al Gore, Pharrell Williams and Heston Blumenthal among others). His call to uphold creative standards was an inspirational denouement to the Paris conference, an injection of energy and ideas to take back to our businesses for another visionary year ahead.