This month, we catch up with Keat Long Lim, Managing Director at InsightAsia Malaysia to learn more about what the Malaysian team get up to on a day-to-day basis. He also shared with us some of the latest updates in Malaysian market research.
What is a day in the life of Keat Long?
The first thing I try to do each morning - if there aren’t any client meetings - is to clear my email. I prioritise emails by assessing what needs to be looked into first on that day and what can wait until a little later. On some days, this can take a fair bit of time!
Next, I like to follow up with colleagues on priority deliverables and status updates, reviewing necessary documents to decide what needs to be done next. This applies to various functions throughout the company.
The beauty of technology and how we are all set up at InsightAsia Malaysia is that I don’t always need to physically be in the office to do all of that. Whether I’m on the road, waiting for a client meeting to start or at home in the evening after my family have gone to bed, I can always be connected to work through my devices.
Every day, I always try to find some time to read. There is so much going on out there which fascinates me, and that isn’t necessarily to do with market research or even Malaysia. Lately, I am particularly interested in technology like FinTech and Blockchain.
When it comes to work/life balance… I find this separation impossible throughout the day. This is largely because work is a huge part of my life. And in my personal life, work exists because, aside from the obvious monetary benefits, it gives me meaning and purpose.
How long have you been at InsightAsia Malaysia? Have you noticed any changes since you first started?
I’m in my sixth year now… gosh, how time flies!
Most noticeably, what has changed since I started here is scale. When I first came on board, I had to build the Quantitative Research team from the ground up. We now have a team of 37, including both quantitative and qualitative specialists working within Malaysia as well as regionally, for a very diverse range of Malaysian, Regional and Global clients.
These are exciting times; for example, Su who leads our expert Qualitative practice is tackling multi-country studies for Asian clients looking at market entry and brand development regionally. We increasingly regard ourselves as Asian market research experts, not just Malaysian research experts.
Like the recent move over in Vietnam, we moved from our initial location to a more prominent business district in KL Sentral, almost tripling our floor space, and quintupling our staff strength!
What is your favourite thing about your job?
The entrepreneurial aspect. There is (almost) full autonomy in how we run things in Malaysia.
What have you learnt since working at InsightAsia Malaysia?
A key thing I have learned is that there is no status quo.
We’ve had to invent and re-invent ourselves quite a bit, adopting new technologies and improving our ways of thinking along the way. Ultimately, this has had a positive impact on the way we operate, which in turn translates to efficiencies which we pass on to our clients.
What’s been going on at InsightAsia Malaysia lately?
We’ve been conducting a lot of research in the area of food services, exploring new flavour profiles, Out-Of-Home consumption and much more!
Which kinds of research to you find to be most effective?
All research should be effective… otherwise we would advise the client not to do it in the first place! At InsightAsia, we offer a variety of proprietary research techniques, and the best method depends entirely on the individual client and their goals.
The research cases which are most fun to me personally are the ones that are highly strategic, like segmentation-type studies. These typically involve working hand-in-hand with multiple agency partners, together with the client, to bring recommendations to life.
Whether it’s quantitative or qualitative is irrelevant. It’s about bringing solutions to our clients.
Outside of work, what is it like to live or stay in Malaysia?
Contrary to popular belief, we have four seasons too: hot, hot and humid, rain, monsoon rain.
And if you aren’t careful, you could find yourself gaining over 5kg over one weekend – the food in Malaysia is THAT good!
Are there any challenges when carrying out research in Malaysia?
One of the key things to remember about Malaysia is that we are not a homogeneous society like some countries are. We are a multicultural society, so ethnicity is a really important variable, because opinions and perceptions can sometimes differ very greatly depending on who you talk to in the country.
Another thing to consider is that while online research is slowly gaining traction here, it is not always the most representative method. Although it can often be the easier or more convenient approach to use, whether or not it is the most effective really depends on the target group. Using the wrong approach for a certain target group can mean the data you get at the end of the day isn’t reflective of what’s happening out there in the market – and that’s the last thing we want!
Thanks Keat! Is there anything you’d like to add before you go?
InsightAsia in Malaysia is made up of and led by Malaysians that have been born and bred in Malaysia. We know Malaysia, with all its diversity and nuances.