By: Keri Hodnik and
Liz Williams, Euromonitor International
The Market Research Event, TMRE, is an annual conference
that seeks to unite both clients and vendors, positioning itself as the only
event in the world with twice as many client side participants than any other
industry event of its kind. This year, it was held in Boca Raton, Florida, and
covered a wide range of topics, including: People; Tools, Tech, and
Methodology; Innovation, Macro Trends; Customer; Omni-Shopper, B2B /
Health&Wellness; and Partnerships. TMRE hosts a broad array of speakers,
from CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies to Neuroscientists that seek to decode the
mind of the consumer.
The theme of the entire event was ‘Command the Boardroom’,
which focused on how to bring the eyes and ears of the consumer into the
boardroom itself. The presence of the Consumer Insights function is not only
needed to energise the boardroom on the importance of the ever changing
consumer, but it is crucial in representing the big ideas that drive business
With that theme setting the stage for the event, the
following four trends emerged from the speakers:
Better understanding the inner workings of the consumer was
a common theme at this year’s TMRE Conference. Zoe Chance, Author of ‘Better
Influence’ and Assistant Professor of Marketing at Yale School of Management,
led a keynote on Mastering Influence & Persuasion.
Chance was driven to leave the world of corporate marketing
to understand behavioral economics after observing a repeating trend: companies
often put a lot of time, money and energy into using data for business
decisions, but in the end, would use their guts anyway. Why is that?
Chance went on to explain the difference between System 1
and System 2 decision making. These are better known as the unconscious and
conscious mind, or as she called them: ‘Alligator Brain’ and ‘The Court’. The
unconscious mind is fast, it’s intuitive and it’s automatic. On the other hand,
the conscious mind is slow, deliberate and effortful. Most of us believe that
we’re making decisions with The Court, but Alligator Brain kicks in far more
often than we care to realise.
Rather than trying to ineffectively engage consumers’
conscious mind, Chance suggests that instead we should be working to peak the
Alligator Brain with her 5 key forces of influence:
- Labelling: giving a name to the behaviour that you wish to
encourage or discourage.
- Ease: ‘Alligators are lazy’; companies like Uber, Tinder and
Amazon are great examples of how to make it as easy as possible for consumers
to take action.
- Attention: creating open loops, or Moments of Truth (as
coined by P&G), both stimulate curiosity since we as consumers have an
insatiable want to close the loop.
- Scarcity: loss aversion is a powerful motivator and can be
roused by communications such as limited time, limited quantity and
- ‘Hot Potato’: when forced with resistance, give it back as a
problem to solve. If someone says they’re not interested, instead try asking:
‘You’re not interested’? as a way to promote deliberate decision making.
The subject of the conscious versus unconscious mind was
revisited again by David Eagleman: Neuroscientist, Author of ‘Incognito: the
Secret Lives of the Brain’ and Host of PBS’ ‘The Brain with David Eagleman’.
In his talk on ‘Emotion, Motivation, and Reputation’, he
explained that there is an enormous gap between what your brain is doing and
what your conscious mind is actually thinking. ‘Everything about your cognition
is happening incognito,’ Eagleman said. The implication of the unconscious
brain being the core driver of decision making is that asking consumers
questions about their decision making process is irrelevant.
Neuroscience can tell us a lot about the driving forces
behind the consumer path to purchase. Eagleman explained that there are three
networks in the brain: one for price point, one for pleasure and one for how
the decision itself is viewed:
- Valuation: everything is judged in context. Saving $10 on a
pair of headphones has a higher consumer response than saving $10 on an iPhone,
despite the benefit being equal. We as consumers do not actually know what we
want until we see it in context.
- Emotion: despite our want to believe we are rational and
unbiased, our actions prove otherwise. For instance, did you know that humans
make harsher decisions if in a fowl smelling room?
- Social: Eagleman explained that ‘people are wired to
understand companies the same way they understand people. Breaches of trust
travel fast and are un-erasable.’
DIY Research was a key theme for one of the tracks at the
event, focusing on how and when to ‘be scrappy’ with research. DIY research is
a cost effective alternative to outsourcing solutions that allows you to
analyse research results in real time. As Andrea Stokes, the Senior Director of
Consumer Insights at Marriott International, said in her session titled, ‘Cheap
and Cheerful DIY Research’, it’s important to know when it makes sense to
pursue DIY research and also when it makes sense not to:
5 reasons to go DIY:
When you need it fast
When you have an easily accessible customer
When the question is not a $20,000+ question
When a question can be answered by consumer
feedback alone, meaning that advanced analytics and modelling are not required
When you have only 60 minutes of your
5 reasons not to go DIY:
When the ask is complex
When more than one translation is needed
When data will help to defend or prevent a large
When the CEO needs to make a business case to
the Board of Directors
When research is needed for crisis management
Some of the tools that Stokes suggests to aid in DIY
research are software, such as survey software and an insight community
platform through which to conduct your research. Mobile devices like iPads and
smartphones make data collection fast and easy, while tools such as excel or
other data visualization programs like Tableau are essential for storytelling.
Last, all that is needed is you (and maybe a videographer to capture the
MILLENNIALS AND THE
FUTURE OF RETAIL
Any Channel, Anytime, Anywhere: Today’s consumer is very
busy with little downtime, always on the go, always carrying their phones and
always connected to the internet. Consumers are looking for a more convenient
and seamless way to shop given their busy lifestyles. Many businesses realize
this and are changing to fit consumer’s needs by providing seamless easier ways
to shop. Several examples include:
Sephora Flash ‘ Sephora’s new stores that allow
consumers to purchase an item online or through the app and pick up in store
the following days
Charity Wait ‘ an app that allows consumers to
donate to a charity in order to skip a line at their favourite restaurant
Shyp ‘ an app that allows consumers to ship out
postal packages without having to visit the USPS store. The consumer arranges a
time for pick-up and Shyp will pick up the box and send it to the nearby post
Task Rabbit ‘ an app that offers a personal
assistant to complete your tasks that you have to do throughout the day, making
your day more efficient
Customized Products: Even though consumers are on the go,
they are still making specific decisions on what they are purchasing. Consumers
are looking for more personalisation and customisation in their lives and they
want it to be easy.
Ugg has made it easier for consumers to try on shoes by
providing them with an interactive floor mat that allows them to picture what
the shoe would look like on
Break Free of Demographics: Consumers want to break free of
demographics. They are looking for more of a new wholesome look which basically
means retailers should start positioning products as being non-gender.
Many large tech gurus such as Facebook even have a difficult
time capturing all types of consumer market research data. Companies like
Facebook capture any shopper data on mobile phones and desk top data but are
not able to see what is happening outside of their own space. Facebook
expresses that it is important to capture all channels of shopper insights to
understand the full data set for the ever changing consumer.
Facebook has found that through their internal data numbers,
consumers tend to have a purchasing pattern per omnichannel. Many consumer turn
to mobile to shop for categories that are less expensive, perhaps because it
doesn’t take much thought or commitment to purchase these items that might be
used every day. However, consumers tend to turn to their desktop for categories
that are more expensive which may be due to internet connection worry or being
able to see the product on a larger screen.
What Facebook is unaware of through internal data is
in-store shopping habits. This type of data may help companies like Facebook
understand what brand elements trigger market behaviour, what is going to drive
consumers to make purchases in store, what the importance of labels play when
shopping in different channels and how can they measure behaviour of a shopper
on each channel.