Last week Cheskin Added Value announced that it has hired Martin Cerda as Strategic Director of its Intercultural Practice. Cerda’s move took many in the multicultural research and marketing industry by surprise. For 22 years Cerda led and owned Encuesta Inc., a leading Hispanic research firm. His decision to join Cheskin Added Value, a WPP owned research practice, highlights the changing dynamics in the research industry. As importantly, it reflects the way the Hispanic research and marketing industries are evolving from, in Cerda’s words, a “less integrated approach to a holistic and more synergistic view of the marketplace where Latinos are better recognized for influencing, shaping, and changing the entire U.S. consumer landscape.”
In the following interview, Cerda talks about the dramatic changes he sees in the research industry, his new role at Cheskin Added Value and the future of Encuesta, Inc.
Portada: “What was the main driver for you stop having your own Hispanic research firm?”
Martin Cerda: “As you can imagine, it was not an easy decision but was well thought out after a thorough assessment of our company’s long and storied run and the direction the research industry is heading. The primary reason for taking this important step is that I want to continue to build on my 25 year career in the area of U.S. Hispanic research, however simply put…navigating in the new mainstream is going to require a big ship. Specifically, I need more and better resources, increased scale to execute new and emerging research methodologies, and want to be part of a multidisciplinary team that can deliver the sophisticated research-based solutions that decision makers today require.”
Portada: Is there any way a small research company can survive in the U.S. Hispanic market?
Martin Cerda: “The answer is yes, but it all depends on how you define a small research company. Encuesta, Inc. in its peak three years ago was one of the largest independent U.S. Hispanic research companies in the industry employing 13 full-time research staffers and a field team of over 100 field interviewers all working as part of a vertically integrated team with sophisticated in-house resources to deliver traditional quantitative, online qualitative and ethnographic research. Given the current state of flux, I don’t think that a company that size can make a go of it and deliver the high level of research services required by decision makers today when media, marketing, and advertising are more complex compared to say 5-6 years ago.”
Portada: Can you provide examples of what is required today versus 5-6 years ago?
Martin Cerda: “For example, developing proprietary research tools that are proven and can be deployed quickly and cost-effectively will require the know-how and backing of a large organization. Specifically, fast used to mean taking a week to deliver results, now overnight or even real-time results are expected. Furthermore, tools that are predictive and take advantage of leading edge science and technology are fast becoming the norm. Cheskin Added Value is part of Kantar and WPP and in my new role I hope to make the most of their knowledge of the consumer marketplace and resources.”
Portada: How did you contact Cheskin Added Value? What is going to happen to Encuesta, Inc.?
Martin Cerda: “I approached Cheskin Added Value seeking employment after resigning my position and divesting myself of my interest in Encuesta, Inc. Moving forward, Encuesta Inc. will be employee-owned and led and has changed its scope of services to be a field service offering data collection services for large scale social science and media/opinion research fieldwork projects including CATI (telephone) interviewing, online panel recruitment, and address-based sampling support.”
Portada: What will your role at Cheskin Added Value be?
Martin Cerda: “My primary role at Cheskin Added Value as Strategic Director within the Intercultural Practice will be to serve clients on day-to-day quantitative research activities and provide support in the areas of business development and thought leadership initiatives.”
Portada: What are the main challenges for the Hispanic research industry and how are you going to try to meet them?
Martin Cerda: “I see the U.S. Hispanic marketing and advertising industry moving quickly from a siloed, less integrated approach to a holistic and more synergistic view of the marketplace where Latinos are better recognized for influencing, shaping, and changing the entire U.S. consumer landscape. Consumer insights will provide a better framework for deciding when to use either an inclusive or targeted strategic approach. Cheskin Added Value is well ahead of the curve in their understanding of this process and I am excited and privileged to be a part of their team.”