In December last year, research company Roy Morgan closed the doors to its New Zealand offices on Auckland's Swanson Street and let three staff members go in the process.
And although this means that the company no longer has a physical presence in New Zealand, deputy chief executive Hugh Amoyal says that Roy Morgan will continue to service Kiwi clients through its pair of general managers located in Australia.
Amoyal explains that John La Rosa, the general manager of media agencies, and John Ellenberger, the general manager of Helix, will from now on deal directly with clients located here.
"We've had feedback from clients that it would probably be easier for them to deal directly with the general managers here in Australia, so it makes sense," says Amoyal.
The deputy chief executive did however commend the efforts of the former employees Pip Elliott (general manager), Michael Matthews (senior account manager) and Andrew Shaw (assistant account manager), saying that "they all did an outstanding job for Roy Morgan in New Zealand."
Elliot is currently abroad on a ski holiday, Shaw has been appointed a marketing coordinator at New Zealand Wine Cellars and Matthews is still on the hunt for a opportunity, according to his LinkedIn page.
Amoyal went on to explain that the shift in the business was largely attributable to last year's launch of Helix Persona, a data segmentation tool that provides a detailed psychographic and behavioural breakdown of the population by giving users an easily accessible cross-section of the nation’s households.
The only employee previously based at Roy Morgan's New Zealand office to be transferred across is David Owen, who has been shifted across to Sydney to work on the Helix team—however, he moved across several months before the closure of the Auckland office.
"David will be assisting me with looking after all New Zealand clients," says La Rosa.
La Rosa is set to visit New Zealand in March to attend several events at which Roy Morgan will provide additional information on the services that it offers.
"My role will be to service all agencies and clients in New Zealand working closely with the Roy Morgan Helix team," he says. "As you can understand, there will be a lot of cross over between clients using our Helix Persona segmentation, clients using our single source data and their agency using both for strategy and planning."
La Rosa says that feedback about the Helix Persona system has thus far been positive on this side of the ditch, and he plans to make frequent visits to ensure that Kiwi clients are up to date with the various services offered by Roy Morgan.
"We provide our agencies in New Zealand with unlimited training and access to services like Pitch Assistance – which allows them access to all our data for the purposes of a client pitch," he says. "I will also bring a wealth of knowledge, especially application experience, to agencies and clients in New Zealand from all the work I have done with similar clients in Australia – using both single source data and Helix Personas. Not to mention the work we have done embedding Helix into media platforms and working with agencies to better target the consumer."
While both La Rosa and Amoyal are optimistic about the New Zealand side of the business, the likelihood of Roy Morgan's operations continuing here will largely depend on current clients renewing their service deals with the company.
Amoyal says that Roy Morgan is currently in the process of negotiating re-subscription with all previous clients, and says that he has received verbal interest from everyone and that a "100 percent conversion rate seems likely" in terms of clients signing up for another year.
But as is the case in advertising, there are however no guarantees until signatures are penned onto the dotted lines.
This being said, Roy Morgan's investment in the Helix system, and the data granularity that comes with it, does give it a strong bargaining tool in the new media landscape.
As Rob Bree, the general manager of the Research Association of New Zealand explains: "The global research market is going through a time of great change with clients thinking differently about their information needs and the tools available to them. The research landscape is shifting with incorporation of new techniques and technologies utilised to change what firms are doing and the way they do them. Businesses are under increasing pressure to achieve more with less and this is leading to squeezed margins and the consequent need to re-engineer businesses and the services supplied to businesses."
However, Bree goes on to point out that the market is cluttered and that client expectations are growing to match international standards in much bigger markets.
"The New Zealand market is very competitive with a large number of researchers, consultants, data analysts, communications agencies and others chasing a small number of large clients," says Bree. "And those clients are increasingly answerable to offshore owners who want the same efficiencies in New Zealand as they achieve in much larger markets."
So, if Roy Morgan is to get those coveted Kiwi signatures, it will have to demonstrate that its Australian offices are capable of delivering some impressive results, which not only meet the local research standards but also those further afield.