Tag Archives: #marketresearch

Marriotts’ VP of Consumer Insights on The Challenges and Wins of Personalization

“The next time you are at a restaurant, at a ballgame or even on vacation, your social media posts may be being watched by a number of Fortune 500 companies.” Jessica Golden, CNBC

“The once-ubiquitous social media ‘war rooms’ that sprung up around big events like the Super Bowl are becoming a thing of the past. Instead, brands are now battling to make sense of real-time data on a daily basis ‘ not just the big occasions.” Grace Caffyn, Digiday 

“If it’s not on social media, it didn’t happen.” Vanessa Saw, Digital Executive Marriott’s Creative and Content Marketing department. Hotelexecutive.com.

Simon Hudson, in Marriott Takes Social Media Listening to a New Level tells us that “50 to 60% of customers look(ing) to social media recommendations for products like travel.” So it makes sense that companies like Marriott International are watching our posts and setting up “war rooms”. The Research Insighter spoke to Cathy Hartman, the Vice President of Consumer Insights and Advisory Services at Marriott International to ask what sort of insights Marriott is acquiring, and how they’re putting them to use for their customers.

The Research Insighter: 
“Personalization is the new ‘normal’ imperative in marketing these days and is something that everyone seems to be struggling with. This notion about being able to leverage data for personalization at every touchpoint is something that you certainly have been pursuing. How are you going about this? What is most important to you?”

Cathy Hartman, Vice President of Consumer Insights, Marriott International:
“Our guiding framework is to identify the right person with the right message at the right time. Much easier said than done.

The first step is identifying that right person. We’ve learned to use our data to identify travelers with the greatest potential value to our portfolio. Now, Marriott values every guest that comes to our site or enters our properties, but from a marketing perspective we need to be really smart to be efficient with our marketing efforts. So, we’ve developed ways to actively identify these individuals who are high-potential value, seek them out and engage them given their potential profitability to our portfolio.

A behavioral segmentation initiative enabled us to accomplish that first step and it also helped us to begin to tackle that second objective, as well…that ‘serving up the right message’. Using our data smartly, we can learn so much about our customers and what is relevant to them, not just what we want to say to them.

So, from travel purpose to brand propensities we can learn so much from just taking a look at the data that we have or can acquire through third parties. That ends up really being a win for the customers, as well as us. Our customers are receiving increasingly relevant, meaningful offers and we, then, earn a higher return on investment.

We have also been tackling that third piece ‘ that right time ‘ by studying the customer journey. So, how the customers engage with us or our competitors at every step of the travel journey, what behaviors are important for us to shift at each stage in this journey and how can we leverage data to help drive those shifts. The answers to those questions have helped us to weave it altogether to really deliver that right message to the right person and at the right time.”

The Research Insighter:
“What is innovative that is interesting to you? Is there anything shiny and new out there that has your interest or attention?”

Cathy Hartman, Vice President of Consumer Insights, Marriott International:

“There are some things that are shiny and new. A couple come to mind that we have been increasingly leveraging.

First is just new ways to be listening to the consumer in real-time. Marriott has recently launched multiple war rooms, if you will, for social listening. Our studios are called: ‘M Live’ and we are able to ‘ in real-time and in the presence of not just our insight representatives, but also marketing strategists and agency partners ‘ monitor conversations that are happening in real-time that we can then leverage for real-time marketing activations. It has turned into a really powerful technique that we are able to utilize to just be in the center of conversations.”

The Research Insighter:
“You mentioned real-time activation. How new is that? What does that entail?”
Cathy Hartman, Vice President of Consumer Insights, Marriott International:
“The power of M Live, we’ve found, is to be able to really engage in the real-time dialogue with what people are saying. So, instead of forcing a conversation, instead of just deciding: ‘We want to say this message to people at this time’, we listen to what is going on with consumers and what they are talking about and then we can infuse ourselves into that conversation. Again, this makes what we’re saying more relevant and it enables us to get that permission to talk with them in a way that they might not otherwise be receptive to.

For example, when Pok??mon Go recently came out and took the world literally by storm, we looked for ways to get engaged in this conversation, as well. Once we identified this quickly rising trend, the team developed in activation and once we identified this trend, we identified ways that we could become part of that conversation.

Specifically, the gentleman who was the first to find all of the Pok??mons within North America, we identified a way to send him to remaining continents in order to find the missing Pok??mon and round out his set. It’s a fun example, but it’s an example of becoming part of the conversation where we don’t even need to put money behind these messages because people then pick up the story and do the sharing for us. It’s a fun and interesting way to become a part of these real-time conversations.”

The Research Insighter:
“What are some of the key challenges you’ve run into specifically around personalization? How are you using research to address them?”
Cathy Hartman, Vice President of Consumer Insights, Marriott International:
“That’s a great question. As strange as this may sound, a key challenge is actually having too much data. It’s almost overwhelming. Where do you start? The deeper you go into data-driven personalization, the more changes an organization needs to make to its marketing strategy. 

So, if you personalized a segment or a person within that segment or to a specific touchpoint that the person within that segment is interacting with, each of these levels requires personalized content to make it real. That’s literally a tsunami of strategic content and needs. All of this needs to be planned and produced by someone.

What we’ve learned to do is use research to identify our North Star or those metrics our marketing efforts need to move in order to claim success. That is what is going to help us ensure we stay focused and on track with all of our efforts.”

Don’t miss The Market Research Event this October 17-20 where Cathy Hartman and many more of the most influential market researchers in the world will share their insights on everything from apps to big data as they apply to market research.

A Market Researcher’s Wish List: 5 Experts Weigh In

Market research companies employ over 35,000 people in the United States and the industry is doing well, with year-on-year revenue growing. The market research industry is even bigger in Europe – which accounts for the largest share of Global market research revenue. Positive numbers aside, market researchers face a great deal of pressure in a rapidly changing marketplace. In some cases the tools simply don’t exist to monitor completely new consumer behaviors and habits, in other cases there are tools available, but choosing which data is important becomes a whole new challenge. When The Market Research Event asked several market researchers what was on their wish-list, the answers ranged widely – from technology to time to more stringent standards for market research agencies. Here’s the rundown of the top market researchers’ wish lists.

Juliann Ng, Vice President, GfK Canada

“Everyone is looking for faster and cheaper and good enough. So it’s less about a specific technology and more about new approaches and processes that enable near-instant insights, accessible at their fingertips at any time. With the tremendous amounts of primary, secondary, and transactional data now available, being able to fully leverage and integrate these data sources into a coherent and digestible format is another common wish!”

Juliann Ng will speak at The Market Research Event. Her session is called: Four Client/Agency Relationship Types and Optimizing Connections for Growth.

Tom De Ruyck, Partner, InSites Consulting

De Ruyck is very desirous of the newest and most advanced technology options for market research. He wants: “Artifical Intelligence moderation of online qual; AI analysis of online qual; Virtual Reality stimuli for research and VR solutions for reporting of insights”.

Kristin Luck, Founder Luck Collective & Women in Research

“My wish is that, as an industry, we continue to look for innovation in unlikely places. Innovation doesn’t ‘belong’ to small companies, or tech companies or firms just breaking into the research space. #MRX pros are data scientists by trade, living in a time (unlike any time we’ve experienced before) of unparalleled access to data. With a little creativity and critical thinking, each of us, regardless of the research role we play, is capable of creating breakthrough methods.”

Ray Poynter, Managing Director of The Future Place, Founder and Chair of NewMR, Director, Vision Critical University

“I’d like to see a standardised professional qualification in MR, with specific options for Qual and Advanced Quant. I would like the trade bodies to help clients separate the game changers from the snake oil salesmen. Lastly, I am looking forward to using more and more AI.”

Jeffrey Henning, President, ResearchScape International

“The biggest thing I need from a marketing point of view is more time, more time to experiment, more time to investigate new marketing methods.”

Kristof De Wulf, Co Founder & CEO, InSites Consulting

“Getting people positively addicted to consumer insights. Despite the fact that the market research industry has embraced novel and relevant ways to generate new consumer insights, insight activation is unfortunately poorly developed in most organizations. As insights are useless unless used, let’s start turning consumer insights into company-wide memes!”

Don’t miss The Market Research Event this October 17-20 where some of the most influential market researchers in the world will share their insights on everything from apps to big data as they apply to market research.

IBM’s James Newswanger on The Power of Twitter Data for Corporate Decision Making

Late last year IBM entered into a partnership with Twitter which their Senior Research Manager, Corporate Social Analytics James Newswanger describes as combining “the best of Twitter with the best of IBM”.  The Research Insighter sat down with Newswanger and asked him for an update on what sort of data and research IBM was working on with Twitter. Here’s a brief excerpt from the video interview, which you can watch in its entirety here.
James Newswanger first explained to The Research Insighter what IBM’s partnership with Twitter entails. “They give us full firehose access. We apply IBM’s Deep Insight through Watson computing analysis to help them find more meaning in their data.”
The Research Insighter: “What kinds of information are you looking for?”
Twitter analysis is “much more than 140 characters”
James Newswanger: “Past the 140 character text there are 150 metadata elements that tell you info about the Tweeter. You can find out how many followers the person, organization or in some cases spam has. This is extremely useful in identifying people who are most influential; it’s also used to identify spam.”

Newswanger discusses IBM’s own internal usage of Twitter data

James Newswanger: “In one quarter we get 500K tweets that mention IBM that need to be analyzed. Some of it is spam about products we are no longer making, some if it is robotic churn when people use #IBM in their Tweets to get attention. You have to clean data before you start analysis.”  

With a clean data set it’s easier to determine the story

Newswanger continued: “Once the data set is cleaned, you have to determine what is the purpose of the engagement. If we’re looking to identify influencers, we’ll be paying attention who is followed, who are they following. You also want to identify what keywords are being used in association with your key interest ‘ say it’s IBM for example.”

The Research Insighter: “Is there any other data that you’re looking for?”

James Newswanger: “Location. Knowing where a person is proving to be extremely useful. The amount of posts a person makes. The amount of activity they do, the amount of retweeting a person does indicative of their activity. We look at their description. That’s very interesting when we get into personality analysis.”

Twitter analysis is not just for marketing and brand equity anymore

The Research Insighter: “IBM recently issued an Institute for Business Value report called Beyond Listening. Can you tell us a little about it.”

James Newswanger: “It attempts to take a step forward past text analysis for marketing and brand analysis only. Social business analysis has moved into the fundamental operations of a firm and to some extent the strategy making of a firm. Things like supply chain, HR, every element of a firm now can figure out a way to use social. We give examples of how different companies are using Twitter to unearth a different level of business analysis. That’s proven to be particularly valuable to the C-Suite.”

The Research Insighter: “How would that work? Do you have any examples?”

James Newswanger: “Here are two of the most interesting examples:

Influencer identification. Many people use Twitter analysis to identify who they choose (or who they won’t choose) to be a product endorser. People also use Twitter information to decide who to invite (or not invite) to events as advocates.

Most companies sponsor events where they specifically target some people who are active socially. You see this a lot in fashion. In addition to a traditional magazine editor, you’ll see a whole barrage of bloggers and Twitter folks assigned to the front row because they’ve become important.

Supply chain. The other area that’s particulary interesting is supply chain. Companies are using Twitter to identify where people are, supplying things that are relevant to their inventory. For example, right now, the flu. If people tweet about being sick, colds or ‘where should I run to the store to get a cold medicine’.”

We’re excited to say that James Newswanger will be speaking at The Market Research event, and on a very timely topic: “Town Hall: The State of Election Polling”.

If you’re interested in hearing more from IBM and other technological innovators in the market research industry, don’t miss the world’s leading market research event TMRE happening in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida October 17-20. Got any comments on this blog? Make yourself heard – Tweet to us at @TMRE!

5 Reasons Wearable Tech Has Become A Crucial Tool for Market Researchers

This month Jason Davies wrote for Huffington Post Canada: ‘Not so many years ago the idea of monitoring blood sugar levels on your watch, checking your email via glasses, or using a winter glove to pay for a cup of coffee seemed like the impossible. But rapid growth in the Internet of Things and innovations in wearable technology have made all those things a reality.’

It looks like wearable tech has finally hit the mainstream. What does it now mean for market researchers? Here are the top five ways market researchers can use wearables to solve key problems, compiled from market research bloggers and other experts in the industry.

  • Integration of data to see the complete picture. One of the major challenges in market research right now is figuring out which data sets are important, and stringing multiple sets together to tell a story. Even with all the software available, market researchers still find gaps in the data and difficulty telling the whole story. Cathy Harrison, Project Director for Forbes Consulting had this to say about wearables and new technologies to MarketResearch.com: ‘Some of the most exciting technological advances in marketing research involve the integration of multiple data sources, permitting a holistic view of the person or situation. Unconscious motivational-emotional data can now be integrated with passively collected data, such as biometric measurements via wearable devices or smartphones, and social media or other digital data. Market research will continue to evolve as we shift toward creatively combining new data inputs and developing models that lead to more meaningful insights and practical applications.’  

  • Real world data is more authentic. Medical market research agency GKA explains in their blog: ‘Wearables remove the need for a researcher to be physically present; for example, ‘always on’ head-mounted displays that send a live stream of video and audio could transform the way we understand both the behaviour of patients and healthcare practitioners. In healthcare market research, smart wearables have the potential to give companies far greater insight into how a patient uses a device or their attitude to their medication or how a doctor reaches a diagnosis, for example.’ In fact Bob Relihan, Senior Vice President of C+R Research sees wearables changing not only the way we track consumers, but the methodology of how we track them: ‘If consumers want to track and monitor themselves and they have the technology in the near future to do that seamlessly, insight professionals should be able to tap into that stream of self-reflection. But in this world, the consumer and the response are one; we will be less able to ask direct questions. Rather, we will need to align what consumers are “tracking” about themselves with the questions we might want to ask.’

  • Wearables can allow you to get to the ‘whys’ not just the ‘whats’. Adam Rossow, CMO of iModerate had this to say at the MarketingProfs blog last year: ‘For the marketer, wearables provide research without “doing” research, which allows you to layer on other enlightening methodologies, including qualitative questions, without it being too much. Beyond that, you can get a total picture of the customer journey that’s clear and concise. You can discover where someone was before and after he or she visited your store or restaurant, as well as how much time was spent in each place. Perhaps even how his or her heart rate changed as the person moved from location to location.’ .

  • Get closer to real-time brick and mortar data. 92% of retail purchases still happen in retail stores. Market research helps brands to know what’s going on with that brick and mortar data. Wearable tech, such as the way consumers are paying or otherwise interacting with products in the store can allow researchers to collect data in real-time and at a deeper level, providing brands and retailers much more thorough insight.

  • It will bring advanced neuromarketing research out of the lab and into the real world. Readwrite wrote in their Neuromarketing Primer late last year: ‘As more companies seek to study the phenomenon (neuromarketing), wearables will become an important tool in gathering the necessary data to inspire the desired reaction from a target audience.’ Neuromarketing expert Darren Bridger had this to say to readwrite about wearables increasing in use for market researchers: ‘I see neuroresearch tech at a point analogous to computing in the late 1970s: poised to move from being a big/expensive lab application to something more accessible to a far wider range of organizations.’

By 2020, the typical U.S. consumer will have eight wearables - that’s less than 4 years away! Are you incorporating wearable tech into your market research strategies?

Don’t miss The Market Research Event this October 17-20 where some of the largest companies in the world will share their insights on everything from apps to big data as they apply to market research.

Market Research and the Pharmaceutical Industry: Immersion in the Customer is Key

The pharma industry is going through a crisis right now that’s not dissimilar from the crisis the market research industry is experiencing – dramatic and sudden change and upheaval. Amy Marta, Principal of ZS Insights writes: ’15 years ago, pharmaceutical companies brought many products with tremendous value to the public, but a lot of those products are going generic. Not all new products are providing improved benefits or better outcomes than generics that are less expensive.’ Upheaval has come to the market research industry in the form of incredible changes in the way we’re measuring consumer consumption and engagement now that digital has become so ubiquitous.

“It’s about integrating all that information together”

Susan Kavnik Senior Director within the Healthcare Practice at Point B, a Management Consulting Firm, had this to say in her article Applying Lessons from the Retail World to Health Care: ‘As patients put on their consumer hats they are expecting the same level of service they would receive in retail environments.’ The article advises that patients’ perspectives have changed, and healthcare (and in our case pharma) needs to evolve or risk losing customers. Much of this involves figuring out the right channels to reach consumers and providing the content they need.

Amy Marta of ZS Insights echoes Kavnik’s sentiments as far as customer-centricity: ‘The proof of a good research organization is in how researchers do their jobs’they’re immersed in the customer. They’ve learned about customers over time, and learned about them through different research approaches. They use ethnography, social media, secondary data, and a whole host of other information. It’s about integrating all that information together.’

But how to do all this as the research becomes ever more complex, and as Marta notes, research budgets in the pharmaceutical industry are being shrunk? Marta advises that less is more. She writes: ‘I prioritize research relative to the business issue at hand, and recognize there’s already a base of knowledge to leverage. I need to work with my clients to elicit what they already know to be true versus where there are genuine, relevant gaps in knowledge.

The best companies realize they can recycle. It’s not a word you hear a lot in research; it essentially comes down to knowing what you know. It’s going back and reflecting on prior research’customers generally don’t change that quickly. There’s information that you spent $200,000 to discover a year ago. The first step should be going to see what you can extract from that research. If the research was well designed, capably executed and synthesized skillfully, it’s likely that there are findings and insight that are still valuable to you today.”

Marta continues: ‘The industries that do market research the best, like consumer packaged goods, have set the standard and established their market research organization as king’they’re contributing a tremendous amount of momentum for the company. Their industry is driven by market research.’

The Market Research Event this October 17-20 in Boca Raton, Florida will have several market research representatives from the pharmaceutical industry sharing their insights on everything from apps and digital health (Janssen) to qualitative segmentation (Noven Pharma). Other pharmaceutical companies with representatives scheduled to speak include Eli Lilly and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Carol Cunningham and Oliver Hayward: Disrupting Market Research Through Innovation

The Next Gen Market Research 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. In 2015, NGMR teamed up with Women in Research (WIRe) to encourage their members to submit nominations. What happened was unprecedented – not only were there a huge number of submissions, but over 58% of them ended up being from women. Two winners of this highly competitive race were interviewed by The Research Insighter – you can see the full interview here. Each gives their strategy and motivation for doing what they do every day. Not only is their work completely innovative, it is also apparent that they do what they do out of a passion for their customers and even for the greater good.

Carol Cunningham VP of Consumer Insights and Business Strategy, BET

Carol Cunningham, Vice President of Consumer Insights and Business Strategy for Black Entertainment Television (BET) won the prestigious Individual Achievement Award. Cunningham’s work exemplifies “insight” as she applies a combination of sophisticated data and analytics skills, over 20 years of practical experience and sociological expertise about our current society to her strategies.

Carol Cunningham: “I think a lot of what I am doing at BET is about stealth innovation. Really focusing on being a change agent. I am probably one of the unique people who sits at the intersection between big data and also insights, I do a little bit of both.

My primary goal is to make sure that I give dimension to the African American consumer, change perceptions and sometimes stereotypes. We do it through a variety of different things, we have a lot of quantitative research studies that we do. Everything is to find out and probe and figure out who these consumers are, why they’re important, why they’re impactful, for any business to embrace. At the end of it we’re really trying to help people understand them a little bit more intimately.’

When asked what the greatest challenge Cunningham had in her role, her answer was surprising. (It isn’t bringing the right data together to tell the story which seems to be the number one problem most market researchers face.)

Carol Cunningham:
“I think one of the biggest challenges we have is that we have to constantly go in and educate people about who this consumer segment is, what they represent, how they can actually keep your business in the black if you really focus on embracing them.
A lot of what I end up doing is helping people see them beyond what they know.
So we will do studies on the color of beauty because one of the things that we know is that African Americans really do have their fingers on the pulse of what’s hot, what’s next and what matters. And they really are cultural catalysts and we need to have people understand that more.”

Oliver Hayward, partner at Global brand consulting agency Hall & Partners received the NGMR award for Innovative Research Deployment. If you haven’t heard of Hayward’s innovative work and you’re a market researcher  – well you may have just had all your prayers answered. While it has become a highly valued skill set to be able to actually figure out what data to put together in this “new world” of market research, Hayward is a few steps ahead of the rest. What Hayward is developing is a way for you to not only not have to dive into hundreds of spreadsheets, but you don’t even have to do the powerpoint anymore (which Hayward half-jokingly asserts no one reads anyway.) Here’s Hayward to more articulately describe what The Hub will do for the market research industry.

Oliver Hayward: ‘I look after a platform called The Hub; it’s a digital tool for helping our clients and researchers. It helps our clients who are drowning in data. We believe there’s a lot of value to be gained from ‘small data’ the data you already have within your organization. Our mission is to help our clients manage that data, spend less time chasing data and more time on extracting the valuable layer of insight.

I am excited about the notion of storytelling. A lot of tools do a very good job of helping people get to the story but don’t do a good job of helping them tell that story. Our main focus for next year is around journalism, helping people within the platform publish well written engaging short copy stories that can engage people across the business. We know in reality people don’t open big powerpoint reports, and one of the challenges our clients have is getting their stakeholders to look at the data, let alone use it.” So basically what Hayward is developing is a complete report you can give to stakeholders that will both show and explain the market research data, in story form. You can keep an eye out for this to come to fruition here.

What these two innovators have shown is not only an expertise in their field, but a drive to push the limits of what market research is and can do for business.  Want to learn about more disruptors in market research? 2016 NGMR winners will be announced at TMRE this October!

Extinction or Revolution? How Market Research Can Excel in this New World

The Research Insighter caught up with David Boyle, the BBC’s EVP of Insights at our last TMRE event, you can watch the video here. Their lively discussion addressed the seemingly insurmountable difficulties the market research industry is facing right now, and offered some pretty concrete solutions.

The Research Insighter: “At TMRE 2015 there were some pretty big words thrown around, revolution, extinction… what do you make of all this with regard to the state of the market research industry today?”

The market research industry is certainly dealing with some scary stuff right now.

David Boyle: “Some big scary words… I think there are some serious challenges (for market researchers) from a number of different directions: New data sources resulting from digital engagement competing for business leaders’ attention, and people are doing research themselves with new tools such as: Survey Monkey, Google forms, social media analytics and data. The core work you’ve been doing for years is being competed against with all these new supposedly insightful data sources.
Everyone’s talking about big data or data science, it’s the topic of investment and where the future lies. So that’s what’s getting managers’ attention. There are very real risks for market researchers and the market research community.”
The Research Insighter: “How is this manifesting itself in your world at the
BBC? Obviously media is the probably first and hardest hit by all of the disruptive technologies to date.”

Step one to “overcoming the peril”? Ask the business question you are trying to solve for.

David Boyle: “I think the 1st step is to ask what the business question is that you are trying to solve for? This is key to overcoming the peril. Let’s get really clear. If you trying to monetize TV consumption, sure the Nielsen ratings are ‘the currency’. If you are trying to understand the reach of a brand in broader terms, it is not the data you should be using, it’s only part of the puzzle. You have to define what you mean by ‘brand engagement’ and therefore which are the data sets you want. If you’re trying to understand interest in the show that is not monetized ‘ who’s interested in the show but not watching it.
We see piracy for example, in some countries, it’s a pretty clear signal of interest in the show. We don’t see that interest reflected in TV ratings. We have to find an alternate business model by which we get the show to those people in a monetized way. That demand is by definition not in the ratings. It depends on what business question you are trying to ask. Starting from a business question and saying ‘what data is available to help me answer that question’? ‘What’s the best data I should use’? not ‘what data do I have handy’? and then solving the business problem carefully.
The Research Insighter: “How has this surplus of information affected how you operate as a market researcher?”
David Boyle: “You need people with skills and time to pull together multiple data sources and tell a story across that data source. Piracy, research, social media engagement and TV ratings for example. In the old world, market researchers would have a product they worked on, maybe the brand tracker, that was their expertise. They’d report the brand tracker results with great pride and then they’d run the next brand tracker. It’s no longer the world we live in.

That person now has to also take into account consumption, unmonetized consumption, social media engagement. That person has to tell a rounded story about what’s going on with that brand. Telling a story data source by data source is no longer useful to us as a business. That’s a slightly different skill set. The question for market researchers is: do people who run brand trackers have the skills, permission, encouragement and time to do rounded storytelling instead of being product focused. My opinion is yes, but they’re not always given the permission or time.”

Key things for the market researcher to be successful: Time and Permission

The Research Insighter: “Has your department adjusted to this change with relative ease or has it been painful?”
David Boyle: “I don’t think it’s been easy for anybody to adapt to, least of all me. The instinct is to pull out a relevant data source to answer a question but you’re only giving part of the answer, you probably don’t have all the data sources you need at your fingertips.
If I am doing research I need to reach out to the measurement person and coordinate delivery of the right data, the financial person to tell if the revenues match, the social media analytics person to see what’s going on in that world…

Suddenly I need five or six people in the room before I can answer the question, and I probably need to have a discussion or debate to tease out the different stories coming from the different data sets. The coordination and teasing out the answer is really tough but it can be done, it must be done.
Therein lies for me a big part of the reason why this jeopardy, this peril that market researchers face can be overcome. Market researchers by nature have the skills. Given permission, time and the confidence to say ‘I am not going to answer this with the brand tracker, I am going to gather the right people, and pull the right data together and tell you a more rounded story’. Market research can excel and excite people even in this new world.” 

We’re excited to say that David Boyle will be speaking at the 2016 The Market Research event, his talk is entitled: The Client Vendor Tug of War: How to Handle the Balance.
If you’re interested in hearing more from Boyle and other technological innovators in the market research industry, don’t miss the world’s leading market research event TMRE happening in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida October 17-20. Got any comments on this blog? Make yourself heard – Tweet to us at @TMRE!

From the Early Days of the Internet to Crowdsourcing, Market Research Innovator Olga Diamandis Shares Her Journey

The Research Insighter spoke with market research innovator Olga Patel Diamandis this spring, and Diamandis gave a fascinating personal historical perspective on how technology has changed market research since the 1990s. You can watch the entire video here.

Diamandis began their chat with an explanation of her background: ‘I’ve spent over 20 years in research and innovation. I started at Procter & Gamble where I received very classical training in research methodologies and I progressed into an insights and innovation role, that’s where I was at the end of my eleven years there. I moved to Nestl?? to their strategic innovation unit to head up the insight function there. Most recently I was at Mars and then Mattell (she’s now at Smuckers).”

The Research Insighter: ‘Taking stock of the research landscape today, the field and the industry are in the throes of some pretty dramatic changes. Where do you see the greatest challenges and opportunities? What are you watching and paying attention to?”
Olga Patel Diamandis: ‘The market research industry is going through tremendous changes right now; a number of them driven by the exponential growth in various technologies: social media, digital, computer programming, machine learning, artificial intelligence, crowdsourcing, you name it.
This is something that’s very new to all the researchers who are more used to traditional techniques. So I think the biggest challenge for us as researchers is to adapt to that and take the opportunities that all these challenges are bringing.”

The Research Insighter: “Can you give an example of a technological or methodological innovation or novel approach that you put to work for you?”
Olga Patel Diamandas: “Information technology is driving a lot of these changes. At Mattel – we built a crowdsourcing platform, (creating) that was not possible 5 years ago. We had a community of loyal consumers participate in it and provide their ideas and comments to us.  
Crowdsourcing as agile, immediate and reliable market research
We ran several challenges where we asked them to help us develop a brand – ‘Little People’ line, looking for our next characters. (Crowdsourcing) took much less time than it would have in a traditional market research approach. The results came from our very involved consumers, and we knew right away that they would resonate.”

Unless you adapt you are not going to move forward
The Research Insighter: “How was this experience for someone who was classically trained in market research?”
Olga Patel Diamandis: “I learned to adapt over my career. I realize that unless you adapt you are not going to move forward. I am fascinated by all the changes and opportunities that technologies are bringing. And our consumers are changing too because of these technologies. That are affecting their lives.

Market researchers are curious by nature
We researchers are curious by nature, we have to be, that’s how we derive those insights.
When we talk about innovation, it’s important to understand that we’re not just talking about products and services. We’re talking about innovation in our research methods. We cannot do the same thing over and over and expect different results. We have to adapt as the industry adapts.
The Research Insighter: “There’s a lot of resistance to change in quarters of research. What would you say to those in the market research industry who are skeptical or hesitant to adopt some of the new emerging areas that are quite outside our comfort zone, and …a bit scary such as artificial intelligence?”

In the late 1990s, critics were quite skeptical about the internet in market research
Olga Patel Diamandis: “Going back to the late 1990s when the internet came to be… As market researchers we talked about how it would be impossible to run an online questionnaire, there’s so many things that could be wrong with it.
You don’t know who the respondent is, you don’t know how robust the program or is if the results are same as pencil and paper or telephone. I remember we were at Procter & Gamble and we deliberated for three years whether the internet was something that could be used.
We started to run mega survey studies in two ways, online and our old way.

The data did not match.
People respond online in a much more truthful way, they are more themselves.
We adapted, but it was not easy to change our attitude towards it.
My advice is we have no choice we have to adapt, changes are coming and we can’t prevent them from happening.”

We’re excited to say that Olga Patel Diamandis will be speaking at The Market Research event, and on a very interesting topic: the future of food as it relates to dogs and humans.
If you’re interested in hearing more from Diamandis and other technological innovators in the market research industry, don’t miss the world’s leading market research event TMRE happening in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida October 17-20. Got any comments on this blog? Make yourself heard – Tweet to us at @TMRE!

David Eagleman’s Neuroscience Research On How Consumers Perceive Brands

Neuroscience has been tapped to help brands understand consumer purchasing decisions for several years now, with methods from healthcare and academia such as EEG and biometrics applied to study the motivations of consumers. Marketing insights company Nielsen, for example, even has a branch devoted to neuroscience called Consumer Neuroscience headed by Harvard Medical School neuroscientist Dr. Carl Marci. But what have market researchers actually learned from all these efforts that can help brands?

Our brains seek shortcuts that eliminate the need to think. Photo: Ryan McGuire
Some very interesting research results have come from a Baylor College of Medicine study. A team of neuroscientists presented 40 subjects with vignettes of actions taken by both humans and corporations to monitor brain scans of their responses. This research originally stemmed from the inquiries into the legal implication of ‘corporate personhood’ and fact that the American legal system has extended the rights of individuals to corporations and held corporations, as a collective unit, liable. Funding for this work came from the ‘Initiative on Neuroscience and the Law’.

Our Brains Use Different Areas to Process People and Objects

The study went like this: The vignettes given to the participants showed actions that were positive and pro-social such as donating money, neutral such as purchasing office equipment, or anti-social such as law breaking. There was also a control of vignettes about inanimate objects such as fruit or an ironing board. Baylor College’s website reported: ‘When participants made judgments about people, specific areas of the brain involved in social reasoning became active. In contrast, when participants reasoned about an object, activity in these areas was diminished.’ 

The Human Brain Experiences Corporations as People
The study found that people essentially used similar parts of the brain to understand corporate and human behavior. This study which originally had to do with law has applications to how consumers relate to brands ‘ if they’re using similar parts of the brain to understand corporate and individual human behavior, they’re essentially equating brands with people! You can read the entire paper ‘Are Corporations People Too‘? written by Mark Plitt, Ricky R. Savjani and David M. Eagleman here.

Companies Need to Work on Reputation, Loyalty and Trust

This study gives some radical insight into how people view brands; one author of the study, David Eagleman, says it tells us that companies need to work on reputation, loyalty and trust. We’re excited to say that Eagleman, host of PBS’ The Brain and NYT best selling author will be at The Market Research event this October. Eagleman’s talk is called: ‘Emotion, Motivation, and Reputation: What Matters to the Mind of the Consumer

Got any comments on this blog? Make yourself heard – Tweet to us at @TMRE!

Artificial Intelligence: Is This The Future of Market Research and Consumer Insights?

We already know how artificial intelligence has been affecting marketing, with everyone from Netflix to Under Armor utilizing data to improve customer experience, but how exactly can market researchers hope to use AI? And apart from all those hip and trendy businesses using it that we hear about ‘ are there really any implications for non-tech related companies?

Artificial intelligence indeed has implications for market researchers in every industry to predict shopper behaviors such as: what and how much customers will buy, what they will pay and how they will engage (customer retention) once they’ve purchased a company’s products. Roger Perowne wrote in ResearchLive this month: ‘(We need) Technology targeted at understanding how and why we make choices and decisions, not just navigating us to a shopping aisle.’ Well that technology is here and it’s artificial intelligence. The beauty of AI is that it gives us so much more than purchase data from brick and mortar and online stores but can incorporate shopper intent, regional patterns, comparative data from other industries and more. Here are a few examples where AI is being used for consumer insights.

Improving Customer Engagement with AI

Insurer and finance company United Services Automobile Association (USAA) uses an AI product built by Intel’s Saffron that matches patterns of consumer behavior to predict how customers might contact them, and about what products they will have inquiries about. This allows USAA to plan customer service staffing as well as be more personalized in their communications ‘ leading to cost savings for them and better experiences for their customers. 
AI’s not just about science fiction and robots. Photo: Ryan McGuire
Predicting Consumer Demand with AI Sales Forecasting

Analyst Greg Maczka had this to say on Quora about the future of qualitative research and product development: ‘AI will have a much greater impact on actual, real life analysis which will eliminate the need to set up elaborate and unrealistic testing situations in the first place. And that’ll be the future of market research.’ The company easyJet is already in that future, with predictive analytics helping them plan flight destinations and times as well as the food and drink items they serve on their flights. Their Head of Data Science Alberto Ray-Villaverde spoke with Future Travel Experience early this year: ‘According to Villaverde, the difference between analytics and AI is that the former has been about diagnostic capability and looking backwards, whereas the latter is focused on predictive capability, which can help organisations better understand and plan for the future.’

Price optimization Using Machine Learning

Companies such as Vendo, Daisy Intelligence, Fractal Analytics and Blue Yonder have begun to apply artificial intelligence to pricing. What exactly does dynamic pricing software do? Here’s a description of what Blue Yonder’s software does: ‘monitor(s) internal (sales history, real-time demand) and external data (weather, public holidays, school holidays, competitor pricing) leading to the optimal price point for any product’ continuously tests and measures the response to price changes by analyzing interactions between that price change and subsequent changes in demand.’

Airbnb began to use machine intelligence when they realized what a difficult time their customers ‘ typically amateurs in such matters ‘ were having figuring out how much to charge to rent their homes. Airbnb created their own in-house software tool which offers their customers a very unique form of dynamic pricing, offering them pricing tips based on changing market conditions as well as custom pricing based on the various characteristics of their listings. You can read the very interesting story of how they designed and tweaked their internal AI pricing software here.

So there you have it, artificial intelligence is no longer science fiction, and it’s not just something reserved for trendy Silicon Valley companies. AI is on a mission to clear out the error-prone focus groups and disjointed data to bring real-time, relevant insights to market researchers and marketers.

If you’re interested in this and other technology innovations in the market research industry, don’t miss the world’s leading market research event TMRE happening in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida October 17-20. Got any comments on this blog? Make yourself heard – Tweet to us at @TMRE!