I recently sat down with The Future of Consumer Intelligence 2014
speaker Kimberly Cason, Senior Consultant, Marketing Research, American Cancer Society, Inc. We are fortunate to have her share her critical insight with our FOCI community before the event kicks off in two weeks. This year, FOCI explores the emerging role of decision science and the convergence of knowledge points – insights, foresights, social science, marketing science and intelligence with technology as a central driving force and profound connector.
We are barraged by information – and within this sea of data we must remember to think of the problem we are trying to solve and how we can we use this convergence of information to better understand people. Translating the new “understanding” into future opportunities means that the role of a researcher is changing. FOCI accelerates disruptive innovators in the research space and pushes people to take risks, to think outside of traditional research methods and insights gathering and explore new and alternative tools and technologies. FOCI will bridge the gap between what people say they are going to do and what they actually do.
Here is what Cason had to say:
IIR: A big theme of this year’s conference is ‘humanization of data.’ Why do you think understanding PEOPLE (not consumers) presents an opportunity for strategic action?
Cason: Marketing has moved to a custom-level. When you walk into the Nike store, you get greeted by name and they know how many steps you’ve taken that day (if you are a user of their gear). We have to move with it or risk putting ourselves into extension by not providing relevant insights.
IIR: How is technology not only changing how we do things, but also how we understand the world, business, and people?
Cason: Technology is so engrained in our lifestyles that not only our purchasing behavior is deeply impacted by it, but also our personal lives ‘ how we communicate with family and friends, even. How we integrate (or choose not to integrate) technology into our lives defines us internally and externally, shaping our own personal brands. Even where we choose to engage defines us.
IIR: How has the role of ‘the researcher’ changed?
Cason: There is an entirely new set of skills required to manage the holistic picture. I’ve become versed in Google Analytics, for example. There are entire semesters of information I’ve had to learn as the field evolves. Social media wasn’t even on our radar when I was in grad school (in 2005).
IIR: Describe a situation where you’ve taken a risk or thought outside the box of tradition market research methods. How did that benefit your business?
Cason: I love the quasi qual/quant methodology that allows you to gather large amounts of qualitative data using survey tools. (Hot Spot message testing, for example.) These methods allow us to collect the data in one week compared to 6 if we used a traditional focus group recruiting and interview strategy. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, of course, but these methods allow for a disaster check when time isn’t on your side.
IIR: Where do you see the emerging space of marketing science and role of data scientists in the next five years?
Cason: We have always been story tellers. Now, we have to tell the story not only from the driver’s seat of the car we’re in, but within the context of the entire freeway ‘ all the other variables that come into play’is there traffic, what’s the weather like, are other drivers distracted, how reliable is the car, how far to the next exit, etc.? It’s no longer useful to bring one methodology to the table when presenting the whys behind our results. We have to look at all the influential factors and determine which are relevant.
IIR: How has the increasingly connected consumer affected market research?
Cason: It’s a huge opportunity for us! Those that can turn down the noise and find the nuggets of meaningful data will go far.
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