Data Brokers: Shadow Industry, Privacy Flashpoint, Research Problem

By Marc Dresner, IIR

I attend a lot of research conferences and I’ve
noticed that when the subject of privacy comes up, people frequently check out’laptops
open, fingers wander to phones, sometimes eyes even roll’

I attribute this to the fact that
heretofore privacy has been pretty much a non-issue for researchers. Arguably
no other industry adheres to more rigid privacy standards.
The problem, however, is that we live in a
world where data are no longer rare, and researchers obviously aren’t the only
ones who trade in information nowadays.

Experts and authorities warn of a ‘Big
Privacy’ backlash in response to Big Data collection
Experts and authorities from a variety of
fields and sectors’from public policy to data security’warn of a mounting ‘Big
Privacy’ backlash in response to passive Big Data collection.
And if you’ve not been paying attention to the
public discourse on privacy of late, perhaps it’s time to start, because the outcome of
this debate could affect consumer research.

Flashpoint: Data Brokers
Where there’s a Big Data and privacy
concern, you’re increasingly likely to hear “data brokers” mentioned.
I’ve been surprised by the number of
researchers who’ve told me they haven’t heard of this $250 billion industry,
especially since so many of our companies (or our clients, if you’re a research
firm) do business with them.
Data brokers collect information about
consumers from public records and private sources and sell it to marketers.

The chief complaint against
them is that they often do so without people’s knowledge or consent. 

It’s also a relatively unregulated space, which coupled with the perceived lack of transparency’some call it a ‘shadow
industry”makes people uncomfortable.

Now, these aren’t shadowy guys in sunglasses
lurking in alleyways hocking hot dossiers under their trench coats (although
that’s how they’re increasingly depicted).

They include big, well-known names like
Acxiom and Equifax, as well as a lot of smaller companies you may not have
heard of.
Like any industry, there may be responsible
and not-so-responsible actors, but it’s the
possibility
of the latter that’s captured the attention of regulators and
the media.

The collection and use of consumer
information by marketers is being characterized as somehow sinister or potentially dangerous

What’s especially troubling here is that the collection and use of consumer information by marketers, in general, is being increasingly characterized as somehow sinister or at least potentially dangerous to people.

Consider…

  • CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ aired a breathless segment on data brokers back in March that made admirable use of government surveillance anxiety in the wake of the NSA/Snowden scandal to scare the heck out of the viewing audience.
  • The FTC issued a report May 27 calling on Congress to regulate data brokers (with only a slightly less ominous tone than the ’60 Minutes’ episode).
  • A subsequent commentary about data brokers published online by the Wall Street Journal’that bastion of left-wing conspiracy nuts’went so far as to compare Big Data to the Nazis’ use of IBM punch cards to identify and round up Jews and enemies of the state. (The lead sentence of that article: ‘Adolph Hitler used Big Data.’)

There’s more where that came from,
but you get the idea.

Data brokers have come to represent a
‘threat’ to personal privacy that has already catalyzed a backlash

Data brokers have come to represent a ‘threat”whether
real or imagined’to personal privacy that has already catalyzed a backlash.

Notably, concerns about data brokers have begun to figure into international relations.
The EU has pushed for
suspension of the 2000 Safe Harbor agreement with the U.S. over alleged breach
of consumer privacy by data brokers, and earlier this month, the Center for Digital Democracy filed a complaint with the FTC alleging the same.
The debate is even reportedly spilling over
into the Transatlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.
As noted, the FTC has already pushed
Congress for action. It’s not unlikely that we’ll see such calls intensify
domestically.
I’ll also point out that many articles on the subject either don’t trouble to distinguish between
or’as is the case with the ’60 Minutes’ coverage’conflate research companies
and data brokers.

This needs to be taken seriously.

It’s time for the research industry to engage, before the court of public opinion renders a verdict that may not serve the common good.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.

Research Insighter Video: How Research is Evolving at Kellogg

In this episode of TMREtv’s The Research Insighter, Aaron
Fetters, the Director of Insights and Analytics at the Kellogg Co. is
interviewed. Fetters discusses what is wrong with the status quo in research
and he shares his insights on how research is evolving. This episode is brought
to you by The Market Research Event (TMRE).

Explore:

  • Voice of the Consumer:
Fetters talk about the need for researchers to step up and
representing the consumers or else they will be forgotten.
  • Rapid Change:
Consumers change so rapidly that is hard to keep up. Things
such as media habits and food preferences can change overnight.
  • The Bigger Picture:
The importance of creating partnerships with suppliers and
starting to behave as the brands is discussed by Fetters.
About the Author:
Ryan Polachi is a contributing writer concentrating his
focus on Marketing, Finance and Innovation. He can be reached at rpolachi@IIRUSA.com.

Inside the Annual TMRE EXPLOR Award and NGMR Disruptive Innovator Award

TMRE 2014 is a proud host of two of the market research industry’s most prestigious awards: The EXPLOR Award and NGMR Disruptive Innovator Award, which recognize outstanding and innovative work in the market research industry today.  I recently sat down with Tom Anderson, Managing Partner, Anderson Analytics ‘ OdinText and Chuck Miller, President, Digital Marketing & Measurement, LLC (DM2), discuss the awards and why TMRE keeps them coming back.
So, where did these prestigious awards begin?
Back in early 2007 The Next Generation Market Research networking group was founded – the first market research group of its kind created to address the stagnant slow moving situation at the time. The group mission stated, ‘The market has changed, the customers have changed, why should consumer insight be the same’? 
‘Initially, it was a group for those of us who wanted to use more advanced analytics and work across different and larger data,’ Anderson explained. ‘As time went on, and everyone started talking about ‘Innovation.’ the group actually played quite a different role as well. Many of the members are very senior and experienced research folks, and while welcoming new techniques and methods from the data and text mining fields for instance, we also wanted to vet these new techniques being suggested to make sure they were methodologically sound and actually useful.’
Today, with more than 20,000 members, NGMR remains a resource for these types of discussions, and NGMR Disruptive Innovator Award celebrates not just Innovation for the sake of Innovation, but Innovation that truly is disruptive.  The award recognizes companies and individuals that have demonstrated outstanding leadership as change agents and made significant contributions to harnessing disruptive innovation to drive research industry progress. This year’s winners will receive a complimentary pass to TMRE and the opportunity to present the winning case study during this session.
‘This is an award by researchers for researchers, and it’s not just about innovation for the sake of innovation, it’s about sound innovation that makes sense for our field,’ said Anderson.
For the past 15 years, EXPLOR has been a showcase for research innovation, highlighting some of the best research in our industry. According to Miller, over the years the winner has been an approach that was ahead of its time, but they would eventually embrace ‘ such as insights gathered through a mobile diary.  Other times it highlighted groundbreaking work that was meaningful to the client but that hasn’t become mainstream ‘ such as assessing consumer behaviors using GPS enabled shopping carts.  ‘In all cases, EXPLOR gives us exposure to great research creativity, and generally a glimpse of things to come,’ he explained.
Today, The EXPLOR award recognizes breakthrough innovation in technology as applied to market research.  This award is a case study competition, so it highlights a real-world research problem and solution.  According to Miller, case studies must be formed around a client-driven business problem, then demonstrate how the client and supplier team applied new techniques to deliver insight.  So, EXPLOR is less about using a cool new tool, and more about how innovation solved an important problem for a client organization. This year’s winner will receive a complimentary pass to TMRE and the opportunity to present the winning case study during this session. This year, the EXPLOR Award is brought to you by DM2. 
Anderson and Miller value sound innovation and want to reward it, but they also realize that the word ‘Disruptive Innovation’ can mean a lot of different things, and they can’t really tell how disruptive something will be until it’s been around for a while. They favor individuals and companies that have demonstrated that they can be useful and widely adopted, but also like to see brand new software and methods and try to give them the benefit of the doubt while scrutinizing them under the methodological lens.
So, what does winning one of these prestigious awards mean for a company or an individual? There are many nominations each year, so even being selected as a finalist is something to be proud of, according to Anderson. ‘In a competitive industry such as this, it’s obviously beneficial to point to an award like NGMR as a sign of distinction. Last year a prominent market research blogger even referred to the NGMR award as ‘The Nobel Prize of the Marketing Research Industry.’
People are always thankful EXPLOR provided them an opportunity to share their passion about a tool or technique, or their company as a whole, according to Miller. ‘The award can call attention to very deserving employees to help them advance their careers, but at the end of the day I know these people are more driven by their passion around innovation ‘ and the desire to do things that have never been done.’
For this year, nominations are open and Anderson and Miller have already received a couple of interesting submissions. Unfortunately, most submissions come in during the final week, which does not give them any time to request additional information from an applicant if needed. If you are considering applying, you are encouraged to apply early.  Additionally, the committee members each evaluate and rate several submissions, so they also encourage visuals or videos etc. if available. 
‘The hardest thing is selecting one single winner in one of our three categories, when there are two or three individuals or firms that are close,’ explained Anderson. ‘That’s why we do encourage people to resubmit the next year. We have had winners who won the third time/year around!’
Two things excite Miller about the EXPLOR award on an annual basis. ‘First, I really enjoy discussing with the judges all of the creative applications people are using in our business today.  It’s always a broad array of techniques used to address a variety of business problems, which is fascinating,’ he said. ‘Second, and more importantly, it’s really exciting to see the winning team receive recognition for the great job they’ve done.  Generally there is some risk-taking involved as they’ve applied creativity to solve a problem, so it’s great to see their work validated and their efforts rewarded.’
Each year Anderson participates in TMRE because to him, TMRE is the largest marketing research event with the biggest key notes and venue, which has continued to be the logical home for The Nobel Prize of Marketing Research.  In addition, the post award break out session with the winners, which this year will be moderated by a known industry disruptor and entrepreneur, Kristin Luck, President & CMO at Decipher and founder of WIRe (Women in Research).  
According to Miller, TMRE is a great forum for the EXPLOR Awards because it brings together the highest caliber client and provider-side researchers. 
He added, ‘These folks are the change agents in their organizations who can benefit from exposure to leading-edge research innovation.  It’s great that TMRE and the EXPLOR/NGMR awards push our industry forward in this way.’
All EXPLOR Award and NGMR Disruptive Innovator Award entries must be received by September 8, 2014. For award submission details, click here: http://bit.ly/1pxBUKR
To register for TMRE 2014 this October in Boca Raton, FL click here: http://bit.ly/XM1S2P

About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 

Inside the Annual TMRE NGMR Disruptive Innovator and EXPLOR Awards

TMRE 2014 is a proud host
of two of the market research industry’s most prestigious awards: The EXPLOR Award and NGMR Disruptive Innovator
Award
, which recognize outstanding and innovative work in the market
research industry today.  I recently sat
down with Tom Anderson, Managing Partner, Anderson Analytics ‘ OdinText and
Chuck Miller, President, Digital Marketing & Measurement, LLC (DM2), to discuss the awards and why TMRE keeps them coming back.
So, where did these prestigious awards begin?
Back in early 2007 The Next Generation Market Research
networking group was founded – the first market research group of its kind
created to address the stagnant slow moving situation at the time. The group
mission stated, ‘The market has changed, the customers have changed, why should
consumer insight be the same’? 
‘Initially, it was a group for those of us who wanted to use
more advanced analytics and work across different and larger data,’ Anderson
explained. ‘As time went on, and everyone started talking about ‘Innovation.’
the group actually played quite a different role as well. Many of the members
are very senior and experienced research folks, and while welcoming new
techniques and methods from the data and text mining fields for instance, we
also wanted to vet these new techniques being suggested to make sure they were
methodologically sound and actually useful.’
The NGMR Disruptive
Innovator Award
Today, with more than 20,000 members, NGMR remains a
resource for these types of discussions, and NGMR Disruptive Innovator Award
celebrates not just Innovation for the sake of Innovation, but Innovation that
truly is disruptive.  The award recognizes
companies and individuals that have demonstrated outstanding leadership as
change agents and made significant contributions to harnessing disruptive
innovation to drive research industry progress. This year’s winners will
receive a complimentary pass to TMRE and the opportunity to present the winning
case study during this session.
‘This is an award by researchers for researchers, and it’s
not just about innovation for the sake of innovation, it’s about sound
innovation that makes sense for our field,’ said Anderson.
For the past 15 years, EXPLOR has been a showcase for
research innovation, highlighting some of the best research in our industry. Other times it highlighted groundbreaking work that was
meaningful to the client but that hasn’t become mainstream ‘ such as assessing
consumer behaviors using GPS enabled shopping carts.  ‘In all cases,
EXPLOR gives us exposure to great research creativity, and generally a glimpse
of things to come,’ he explained.
Today, The EXPLOR award recognizes breakthrough innovation
in technology as applied to market research.  This award is a case study competition, so it
highlights a real-world research problem and solution.  According to
Miller, case studies must be formed around a client-driven business problem,
then demonstrate how the client and supplier team applied new techniques to
deliver insight.  So, EXPLOR is less about using a cool new tool, and more
about how innovation solved an important problem for a client organization. This
year’s winner will receive a complimentary pass to TMRE and the opportunity to
present the winning case study during this session. This year, the EXPLOR Award
is brought to you by DM2. 
Anderson and Miller value sound innovation and want to reward
it, but they also realize that the word ‘Disruptive Innovation’ can mean a lot
of different things, and they can’t really tell how disruptive something will
be until it’s been around for a while. They favor individuals and companies
that have demonstrated that they can be useful and widely adopted, but also like
to see brand new software and methods and try to give them the benefit of the
doubt while scrutinizing them under the methodological lens.
So, what does winning one of these prestigious awards mean
for a company or an individual? There are many nominations each year, so even
being selected as a finalist is something to be proud of, according to
Anderson. ‘In a competitive industry such as this, it’s obviously beneficial to
point to an award like NGMR as a sign of distinction. Last year a prominent
market research blogger even referred to the NGMR award as ‘The Nobel Prize of
the Marketing Research Industry.’
People are always thankful EXPLOR provided them an opportunity
to share their passion about a tool or technique, or their company as a whole,
according to Miller. ‘The award can call attention to very deserving employees
to help them advance their careers, but at the end of the day I know these
people are more driven by their passion around innovation ‘ and the desire to
do things that have never been done.’
For this year, nominations are open and Anderson and Miller
have already received a couple of interesting submissions. Unfortunately, most
submissions come in during the final week, which does not give them any time to
request additional information from an applicant if needed. If you are considering
applying, you are encouraged to apply early. 
Additionally, the committee members each evaluate and rate several
submissions, so they also encourage visuals or videos etc. if available. 
‘The hardest thing is selecting one single winner in one of
our three categories, when there are two or three individuals or firms that are
close,’ explained Anderson. ‘That’s why we do encourage people to resubmit the
next year. We have had winners who won the third time/year around!’
Two things excite Miller about the EXPLOR award on an annual
basis. ‘First, I really enjoy discussing with the judges all of the
creative applications people are using in our business today.  It’s always
a broad array of techniques used to address a variety of business problems, which
is fascinating,’ he said. ‘Second, and more importantly, it’s really exciting
to see the winning team receive recognition for the great job they’ve
done.  Generally there is some risk-taking involved as they’ve applied
creativity to solve a problem, so it’s great to see their work validated and
their efforts rewarded.’
Each year Anderson participates in TMRE because to him, TMRE
is the largest marketing research event with the biggest key notes and venue,
which has continued to be the logical home for The Nobel Prize of Marketing
Research.  In addition, the post award
break out session with the winners, which this year will be moderated by a
known industry disruptor and entrepreneur, Kristin Luck, President & CMO at
Decipher and founder of WIRe (Women in Research).  
Kristin Luck,
President & CMO at Decipher and founder of WIRe
According to Miller, TMRE is a great forum for the EXPLOR
Awards because it brings together the highest caliber client and provider-side
researchers. He added, ‘These folks are the change agents in their
organizations who can benefit from exposure to leading-edge research
innovation.  It’s great that TMRE and the EXPLOR/NGMR awards push our
industry forward in this way.’
All EXPLOR Award and
NGMR Disruptive Innovator Award entries must be received by September 22, 2014. For
award submission details, click here:
http://bit.ly/1pxBUKR
To register for TMRE
2014 this October in Boca Raton, FL click here:
http://bit.ly/XM1S2P

About the Author:
Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the 
Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print
journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and
technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs
including 
Next Big DesignCustomers 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld
and World Congress for Business Analysts
, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,.
She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where
she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She
can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 

Inside Insights: Nick Drew

Next up in our Inside Insights interview series brought to
you by Consumer Insights Canada, we
sat down with speaker Nick Drew of Yahoo Inc. to discuss strategic insights and
Canada’s consumer culture.
Consumer Insights Canada is a conference focusing
on the power of insights to inspire smarter decision making and shines a lens
on shopper and consumer behavior in Canada. Whether you’re looking to break
into the market for the first time, or just deepen your relationship with
Canadian consumers ‘ this is your must-attend event. 
Here’s what Drew had
to say:
IIR: What makes
insights ‘strategic insights’?
Drew: What makes
insights valuable is that they’re actionable ‘ it’s the ‘therefore’, or ‘and
so’ part. People use their mobile phones a lot these days’ is an insight.
‘People use their mobile phones a lot, and look for mobile coupons. Therefore”
is a valuable insight.
IIR: How are
shopper insights unique in Canada compared to the rest of North America?
Drew: As a
European, it’s fascinating working in North America. It sometimes seems that U.S.
insights and marketing have a ‘we are the world’ approach; Canadian insights
and marketing in comparison can sometimes be more about ‘we’re different’.

So, where brands in the U.S. obviously focus on the US, and
see their work in the US as being a good indicator for the rest of the world,
insights and marketing in Canada is based on the idea of Canada being
different. It’s why we see the Canadian flag (literally and metaphorically) on
so many marketing campaigns, and why research has to have that Canadian sample
to really be valuable in Canada.

IIR: How do you
see mobile affecting the future shopper in Canada?
Drew: Technology
isn’t just with people all the time; it’s an unconscious part of people now.
There’s very little conscious thought in the decision to look online for
reviews for something; and it’s instinctive now for a significant proportion of
shoppers to look online for pricing when making a big purchase.
Although Canada doesn’t yet have the level of ‘showrooming’
seen in the UK and US, as ecommerce grows more sophisticated here, people will
become more demanding, and their devices will play vital parts at every stage
of the path to purchase.
If you’d like to hear more from Nick, don’t miss him present
at Consumer Insights Canada. he event is
taking place this September 29-October 1, 2014 in Toronto, Canada. For more information about the event and to
register, click here: http://bit.ly/1pHpNKF

About the Author:
Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and
print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing,
and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs
including Next Big DesignCustomers 1st, Digital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business
Analysts
, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,.
She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where
she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She
can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 

Exclusive Interview: Using Consumer Insights to Make Smarter Business Decisions

In our next episode of the Inside Insights Podcast series brought to you by Consumer Insights Canada, I am fortunate to sit down with Consumer Insights Canada keynote speaker Kelly Harper, who is the Director Customer Experience Learning at BMO INSTITUTE FOR LEARNING, to discuss how the power of consumer insights help to make smarter decisions in business.
Harper goes into how important customer experience is when it comes using customer insights to make the best business decisions possible. You need to think about what type of experiences your organization is giving your customers.  Your consumer insights allows you to understand what is broken in your current experience you are delivering and what is really important to the customer ‘ what are those elements that you have to get right each and every single day. Consumer insights will help you identify and keep track of what is most important to the customer.    
Consumer Insights Canada is a conference that showcases the local Canadian culture in its storytelling. With new entrants like Target Canada, rapid changes in technology and increasingly discerning customers, the Canadian retail industry is in a constant state of change, challenging players to adapt strategies and tactics to remain relevant.  This conference was created for our insights community that focuses on the power of insights in motivating smarter decision making and shines a particular lens on the local flavor of shopper insights in Canada.
Check out the full interview here: 

If you’d like to hear more from Kelly, don’t miss her keynote session, ‘How to Embed a Culture of Customer Experience in your Organization’ at Consumer Insights Canada on Tuesday, September 30th at 10:15 am. The event is taking place this September 29-October 1, 2014 in Toronto, Canada. For more information about the event and to register, please visit our website: http://bit.ly/1khTaTJ

Research Insighter Video: eBay on Predictive Insights and Futuring

Gireesh Joshi discusses the future of insights at eBay with Marc Dresner, Senior Editor and Special Communication Projects Lead at IIR USA, in this episode of TMREtv’s The Research Insighter brought  to you by The Market Research Event (TMRE).

In this video, we showcase:

  • Driving Business Strategy:

Solving the problem of improving customer retention.

  • More than Surveys:

Taking surveys at face value is not that helpful because survey takers tend to rationalize what they think or what they want you to think.

  • Eliminating Rationalization:

Using the surveys to combine with behavioral data allowed them to create a model instead of relying on the consumer to tell the truth.

About the Author:

Ryan Polachi is a contributing writer concentrating his
focus on Marketing, Finance and Innovation. He can be reached at rpolachi@IIRUSA.com.

Your Fall 2014 List of Must- Attend Events in Market Research, Insights & Trends

Reset that compass. It’s time for you to get outside those office walls and recharge your work. Are you looking for deeper understanding of your customers wants, needs, and values? Are you looking for more innovative tools and techniques to conduct more meaningful market research?

You are in luck! You will get a deeper understanding of what drives consumer behavior with new innovation research technologies to connect with consumers in a meaningful way at Consumer Insights Canada this September as well as at IIR’s four upcoming research events this fall!

The team behind the World’s Best Insights Event – The Market Research Event, and Shopper Insights in Action introduce The Consumer Insights Canada Event. Bringing the caliber of actionable content, inspiration and peer-to-peer networking you have come to expect to Canada. This is a 3-day experience focused on the power of insights in motivating smarter decision making.

Consumer Insights Canada 
September 29-October 1, 2014
The Ritz Carlton, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
#CICanada
Unlock 15% Off Discount Code: NACI14BL

Check out our other research events taking place this fall:

The Market Research Event 
#TMRE14
October 20-22, 2014
Boca Raton Resort & Club, Boca Raton, Florida
Unlock 15% Off Discount: TMRE14BL

The 14th Annual International Shopper Insights in Action Event 
#Shopper360
November 3-5, 2014
Sheraton Grand, Edinburgh, Scotland
Unlock 15% Off Discount: ISHOP14BL

Foresight and Trends 
#FT14
November 11-13, 2014
SLS Hotel Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, CA
15% Off Discount: FT14BL

The Media Insights & Engagement Conference 
#MediaInsights14
February 3-5, 2015
The Westin San Diego, San Diego, CA
Unlock 15% Off Discount: MEDIA15BL

We hope to see you at our research events this fall!

Inside Insights: Susan Williams

Next up in our Inside Insights interview series brought to
you by Consumer Insights Canada,we sat
down with Consumer Insights Canada speaker Susan Williams, Senior Director,
Strategic Insight, The Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited, to discuss strategic insights and Canada’s consumer culture.
Consumer Insights Canada is a conference focusing
on the power of insights to inspire smarter decision making and shines a lens
on shopper and consumer behavior in Canada. Whether you’re looking to break
into the market for the first time, or just deepen your relationship with
Canadian consumers ‘ this is your must-attend event. 
Here’s what Williams had to say:
IIR: What makes
insights ‘strategic insights’?
Williams: Strategic
insight implies it impacts business thinking and decision making in my opinion.
We can get a lot of insight from data, but turning that into actionable results
is the strategic part.
IIR: What is the
key to using the power of consumer insights to make smarter decisions in
business?
Williams: I can’t
think of any business where the client/consumer/guest is not a critical part of
a business success. Ensuring you are relevant, in tune, and in touch with your
consumer through quality consumer insights is key. 
IIR: How are
shopper insights unique in Canada compared to the rest of North America?
Williams: The act
of gathering consumer insights is not unique, but there are a lot of similarities,
but many differences as well in the results. It is important to understand the
geographies and influences that impact behavior in different markets. Geography
can sometimes limit accessibility to certain types of services or products. We
see differences in attitudes towards technology even across the country in
Canada, and compared to the US there are additional differences. In some of the
work we have done we have seen a greater emphasis on value as well in Canada
vs. the US. It is important to note as well, the makeup of the Canadian
consumer is different in some ways multiculturally than the US consumer -
especially in terms of ethnicity. All of this stresses the importance of
ensuring relevancy in any market that you go into.
IIR: Where do you
see the shopper culture in Canada 5 years from now?
Williams: Technology
is and will continue to shape how people shop. Accessibility, transparency,
access to information and how this translates into relevant shopper experiences
of the future. Ecommerce is a way of life, although not as developed as in the
US and other countries, online browsing/accessing information and pre-shopping
will continue to grow in Canada.
IIR: What’s your
advice on effective ways to reach Canadians on the path-to-purchase?
Williams: Understand
their consumer journey and purchasing influences relevant to your category or
product. Clearly ensuring a seamless omnichannel experience will be important
as ensuring that the right type of communication and information is conveyed at
the right time. Just because some technology exists, it doesn’t mean that it is
always relevant to your shopper. Get and know your shopper.
IIR: What’s the
best part about shopping in Canada?
Williams: Increasing
selection and choice in retail. World class brands are now entering the scene
providing one of the most exciting times in consumer choice and shopping in
history. Our geographies as well provide significant cultural experiences from
one part to the other.
IIR: How is
technology empowering the always-on shopper today?
Williams: Pre-shopping
is big and continues to grow. Social media, technology in general is everywhere
and mobile phones are the shopping vehicle of the future. Everything is now,
information is accessible, and the shopper is in control.
IIR: How do you
embed a culture of customer experience in your organization?
Williams: This is
a key foundational platform for our organization currently. The value
proposition is about the experience as in many cases the product can be
replicated. It is lead from the top, and needs to form a part of the corporate
strategy. We are all in a learning stage. Ensuring that consumer insight is a
key component of this journey is critical.
IIR: What is the
future of Big Data?
Williams: Big
Data always existed, but it has now been reinvented with the introduction and
mass of digital behavior statistics. This will continue to grow and become more
and more relevant but faces many challenges. If companies haven’t figured what
to do with “small data” how will “big data” solve their
problems. What still remains to be a critical component of any data digging
exercise is to ensure that there are people that know what to do with that
data, and develop the right questions to lead the analysis . It is also
important to make sure that in a lot of cases, big data is very powerful and
creates stories and impacts of initiatives, but doesn’t always tell you why?
Still important to keep the dialogue going with shoppers to marry the behavioral
data with consumer insights. 
IIR: How do you
see mobile affecting the future shopper in Canada?
Williams: Mobile
is the future. Eventually, mobile payments will be the norm. It already is
growing at a rapid rate. It means that information has to be faster, relevant
and connected to technology. People are now shopping ‘in the moment” and
mobile is enabling that.
IIR: What have
you learned about millennial shopper insights in Canada?
Williams: It is
important to make sure that we don’t just create a broad brush and group people
into large categories. However, some key influences of this generation are that
millennials grew up on technology. It means it is already part of their behavior
and they will continue to expect this in everything you do. They may be seen as
fewer brands loyal, and because technology enables it, expecting rate of change
of products, brands, services to evolve quicker.
IIR: Why is it so
important these days to connect with customers in virtually every channel of
this multichannel world?
Williams: It is
the omnichannel experiences. Shoppers expect it, and they chose how to
communicate with you. Understand however which channels are most relevant for
your shopper and your product and ensure your messaging is tailored within. It
doesn’t mean eliminating channels however, just understanding the role that
they play within your brand.
If you’d like to hear
more from Susan, don’t miss her session, ‘Leveraging
Big Data for Mall Merchandising Mix Decisions’
at Consumer Insights Canada
on Monday, Sept 29th from 1:30-3:00 pm. The event is taking place this
September 29-October 1, 2014 in Toronto, Canada.

For more information
about the event and to register, click here: 
http://bit.ly/VgCSPv

TMREtv Video: The State of Brand Insights and Engagement in Market Research

Market Research is undergoing a transformation, engagement and insights are key to successful data capture that can truly become a catalyst for impact within your company. This video medley shows a medley of key
points from thought leaders throughout the event from 2013. This video is brought to you by TheMarket Research Event (TMRE)

Explore:

  • Time Wasters & Gamification:
One billion people spend at least one hour playing a video
game every day.

  • Transforming Problem Solving:
‘Design thinking is one of the most critical components for
leadership.’
  • Devices and Tech Innovation:

In 1975, we spent 16 hours a week in front of a screen, last year
it was 44 hours.

About the Author:

Ryan Polachi is a contributing
writer concentrating his focus on Marketing, Finance and Innovation. He can be
reached at rpolachi@IIRUSA.com.