Tag Archives: Strategy

Infusing Cultural Thinking Into Your Business Strategy

This post was originally
published on Kelton
Global’s blog

Understanding culture is crucial for any business that wants
to stick around long term. But culture is a challenging thing to grasp at the
organizational level because it’s big, amorphous, and ever-changing. To
co-opt an idea popularized by the philosopher Karl Popper, culture
operates more like a cloud than a clock: a swirling and
continuously evolving mass that can’t be accurately defined in a single
Businesses, on the other hand, have a comparatively ordered
structure. They tend to want to use clock-like approaches to tackle the cloudy
cultural challenges at hand. This yearning for measurement and simplicity comes
through in questions like:
When does a trend ‘officially’ become mainstream? If we decide to adopt this tone of voice or design, will
Millennials buy our products? What color signals ‘edgy’?
Many crucial aspects of business benefit from structure, but
this ordered approach won’t help businesses to solve their most pressing cultural
challenges. In the cloudy reality of cultural phenomena, linear cause and
effect and simple divisions of reality seldom exist outright.

Take, for instance, the ever-changing cultural dialogue
around masculinity. There are literally thousands of new images and messages
being shared every day ‘ some of which challenge the more traditional
assumptions, and some of which reinforce them. In the middle, brands like Target
are incorporating a softer, more fluid, set of cues in a traditional ‘patrizate-friendly’
way. In the world of consumer values and brand perceptions, far more of the
challenges that we face are ‘cloudy’ than we might imagine.
Grasping the deeper cultural dialogues around things like
masculinity, femininity, fun, beauty, style, and the like will be
impossible if you’re looking for machine-like predictability or linear cause
and effect. The best problem-solving approaches blend technical, linear
‘clockwork’ thinking with creative, lateral ‘dynamic’ thinking. While a
thorough initiative is best guided by a bona fide Cultural Insights researcher
(shameless plug), there are some things that an organization can do on its own
to infuse cultural thinking into the strategic mix:
1. Pay attention to
the fringe
If a competitive brand feels fresh and new in the category,
they’re likely tapping into something that we can learn from’ even if they’re
small in comparison. The fresh ideas in the category now are
often candidates for its future, especially in quickly-changing categories like
food and beverage, consumer tech, and retail. 15 years ago, how many of us
brushed off the idea of health(ish) fast food?
Action Step: Include ‘extreme’
consumers in your qualitative research, and look at the edgier elements within
your category, including crowdfunded ideas.
2. Use Cultural
Insights for early and exploratory initiatives
Use Cultural insights early on to challenge some of the
entrenched ideas around how your category or brand is working. Then, explore
these hypotheses in subsequent research. For example, if your brand refresh
involves looking at emergent ideas in beauty, use CI at the outset to
come up with a range of territories, and then use consumer insight and
co-creation work to nail the best iteration for your brand.
Action Step: Incorporate Semiotics and Trend Analysis
into your research mix at the outset, expanding the number of ideas in play.
3. Harness
‘Expectation Transfer’
Consumers grow accustomed to certain norms in one category,
and the expectations for these norms are slowly demanded of, and adopted into,
other categories. This phenomenon, known as Expectation Transfer, can
cause categories to disrupt not only their own verticals, but others that
feel ripe for reconsideration. Leverage expectation transfer for your brand by
staying extra observant of shifts in other verticals, and adopt them before
they become a standard to stay ahead of competitors.
Action Step: Widen your scope (in landscape analysis
& consumer research) to more than just your category. Try to intuit what
these brands have captured about the consumer, and incorporate that into your
4. Find natural
places to impact the conversation
In ways that are often hard to measure, brands have the
potential to influence the wider cultural dialogue just as much as they reflect
it. Don’t wait for a good idea to be fully entrenched in the
mainstream ‘ or your category ‘ before acting on it.
Action Step: Look to make public stances in ways that
bring your brand’s point of view & key equities to life, and be bold in
defending those views.
5. Use social
listening to inform hypotheses
The Internet itself is a highly organized system, but the human
activity that takes place on the Internet is much more of a churn.
Leverage powerful social intelligence platforms to make the cloud-like swarm
seem a little more clock-like.
Action Step: Set up a social listening dashboard
following key sentiments and influencers (but be sure to avoid the pitfall of
seeing it as a measurable stand-in for the complexities of the real cultural
Culture operates more like a cloud than a clock: a
swirling and continuously evolving mass that can’t be accurately defined in a
single snapshot.

With so much to see, hear, and read, culture is
absolutely fascinating on both an organizational and personal level. By
simply reframing how they think about culture and using the available insight
tools in accordance with this new way of thinking, brands can get ahead of the
curve and fully understand where their consumer is headed.

Free Webinar: Virtual Reality – The Key to Understanding Shopper Decisions

In the CPG and retail industry, analyzing shopper decision
trees are important for both strategic and tactical decisions. Traditionally,
they’ve either been created from historical purchase data (household panel
data, for example) or attitudinal surveys (card sorting, attribute rankings, or
But that is no longer the case! Virtual reality has changed
the way shopper research is done. Traditional methods are integrated with data
from virtual shopping simulations, providing a deeper understanding of both the
attitudes and behavior of the shopper.
Join InContext Solutions’ Rich Scamehorn and Liz Cox for
their webinar to learn the latest trends and applications of virtual reality
research, and how virtual technology is allowing retailers and manufactures to
optimize assortment and eliminate traditional decision tree barriers, such as:
Hard-to-track categories (e.g., instant
consumption products, products without UPC codes)
Hard-to-track channels (e.g., Liquor stores,
Low purchase frequency categories (e.g.,
cosmetics, consumer electronics)
Retailer-specific data 
Occasion-based decisions
Register for this free webinar here: http://bit.ly/1LvvQgP
Liz Cox, Group Vice President, Insights, InContext Solutions

Scamehorn, Chief Research Officer, InContext Solutions

Liz has a passion for turning data into insights for
clients. Prior to joining InContext Solutions, Liz spent over 25 years in
shopper and consumer insights roles at IRI and Ipsos. Liz is now bringing
together her primary areas of expertise, virtual testing and shopper decision
trees, into an exciting new research offering. Liz holds a MS in Marketing and
Strategic Management from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management.
Rich co-founded InContext Solutions in 2009, and serves as
Chief Research Officer. He has over 20 years of market research experience, and
began his career at Rockwood Research and Market Resource Associates, two
start-up research suppliers. He moved to the client side with Tennant and
General Mills where he introduced virtual store testing as a faster, cheaper
method providing great cost savings to the company. Rich holds a bachelor’s
degree from Macalester College in mathematics and a master’s degree from the
University of Minnesota in statistics.
Save you seat for
this webinar: http://bit.ly/1LvvQgP
Want more on this topic? Attend OmniShopper International
next month to see InContext Solutions present a session called, ‘The Latest
Trends and Applications of Virtual to Research.’ OmniShopper Intl is taking
place November 14-16 in Paris France. AS a valued member of our LinkedIn
community, you get $100 off the conference rate when you code OMNIPARIS15BL.
Learn more or register here: http://bit.ly/1W2eIG7

The OmniShopper International Team 

This Week In Market Research: 4/20/15 – 4/24/15

Getting The Most Out of Big Data: Without proper governance, companies are likely to lose out

From Big Data To Big Bets: Food science and examining the data

10 Hottest Digital Marketing Stats Of The Week

Raising Your Content Marketing: 4 Keys to improve your game

How To Make Your Marketing Meme-tastic: Engaging with your consumers

Applying Marketing Tactics To Fraud Detection: Stopping fraud and the fees that come with it for retailers

Bankrupt Aereo Will Have To Pay $950,000 To Broadcasters From Supreme Court Decision

5 Ways To Use Data To Inform Social Media Marketing Strategy

How Intent Data Leads To More Personalized Marketing: Ensuring viewers will respond with delight

Learning From Marvel: Three things marketers can learn

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.

Customer Experience Conversations: Maxwell Luthy

Today, the customer experience (CX) landscape is drastically changing with the explosion of new and emerging technologies affecting the customer journey. With all of this change, it is now more important than ever to understand what it takes to create a strategic customer experience program.
That’s why we recently sat down with Maxwell Luthy, director of Trends & Insights at Trendwatching.com, to discuss the state of CX today and what’s in store for the future. Luthy is speaking at the upcoming Total CX Leaders Conference 2015 this spring in Miami.

This year, the two-day conference brings together thought-leadership to focus on higher level thinking around the strategic alignment of customer strategy, technology and business aspirations. Linking data driven behavior to business results, designing next generation customer experiences and measuring the impact of your customer programs is the difference between great and greater.
Here is what Luthy had to say:
IIR: What is the best customer experience you’ve had?
Luthy: Like many people, I clearly remember my first Uber. Beyond the convenience, value for money and seamless payment, the highlight for me was when I stepped out of the vehicle at my destination and saw the app’s prompt to rate the driver. It was easy to do and the journey was fresh in my mind. I particularly love how the drivers are also able to rate passengers. There are legitimate concerns about discrimination as a result of the ratings, but putting the responsibility back on to the customer to be a pleasant and punctual passenger is genius.
So much today shows how consumers are increasingly empowered in the brand-customer relationship. It’s nice to see a little power back in the providers’ hands! The customer experience benefits from both parties’ involvement in the two-way rating system. Without sounding too idealistic, drivers and passengers may become more courteous to each other around the world.
IIR: What is top of mind for you regarding customer experience in 2015?
Luthy: One of the major themes we’ve witnessed at Trendwatching.com, is how consumers are taking expectations that were cultivated online, offline. Customers who’ve grown accustomed to the personalization, customized experiences, dynamic pricing, and transparency of the online world increasingly demand those perks in the real world. Many of the trends that we track reflect this shift.
Brands must use customer data (with permission), new technologies, and old-fashioned, people-powered customer service to make sure the 2015 customer experience is personal, painless and contextualized across all channels.
IIR: What is your prediction for where customer experience is going this year and beyond?
Luthy: One way that many of the fastest growing startups around the world are providing superior customer experiences is by employing ‘peer armies.’ By utilizing a network of peers who aren’t traditional employees, businesses are able to provide local, personalized services at a national or even global level. That’s how Instacart affordably delivers products from its customers’ favorite stores in one hour. Peers can even be utilized to provide authentic product reviews, Made, a UK-based furniture e-tailer allows shoppers to view photos of products in the homes of customers who’ve already bought them. The shoppers who’ve uploaded the photos are proud of their homes and happy to improve the customer experience for others.
Another trend we will see more of is ‘honest flexilibity.’ This is where brands are honest about the limits of their product or service (they communicate it clearly to customers), yet they are as flexible as possible with their efforts to find a solution.
A great example is from BMW, who knew people hesitate to purchase an electric car when they suffer from ‘range anxiety’. In other words, what if I need to do a long journey and the battery runs out? Rather than skirt around the issue or use marketing to allay the concern, they created the ‘Add-on Mobility’ program, where those who purchase the all-electric BMW i3 can register to access other, gas-powered BMWs should they need one. This trend is exciting because firstly, it taps into the new reality that brands must be honest and open about their limits, because in the digital era consumers find out everything. Secondly, it reflects how flexible they have to be to meet consumers every increasing expectations.

Want to hear more from Luthy? Don’t miss his keynote session, ‘Key Consumer Trends to Kick Ass With’Now!’ at Total CX Leaders Conference 2015 this June in Miami. For more information about the event or to register, click here: http://bit.ly/1wDWAqv

Mobile Marketing is Vital for Customer Experience Success

The emergence of cross-channel and omni-channel strategies have been a vital tool for many retailers to engage with consumers across different platforms. Some companies have embraced these strategies and created a retail experience that gives their customers the same experience whether it be on a smartphone, laptop or in person. However a recent study carried out by Altimeter Group has found that a lot of companies are still not utilizing mobile strategies as a customer experience in itself but merely as part of the retail journey.  
The research found that the companies with poor mobile marketing strategies have low budget and poor staff allocation for their mobile initiatives. Mobile is treated as a ‘bolt on’ to their already existing digital initiatives. Consumers are learning quickly to function in an increasingly mobile world, with one-third of shoppers using mobile exclusively, and over half seeing mobile the most important tool in the purchase decision process. 90 percent of consumers still move between different purchase platforms in order to accomplish a goal, with an average of three screen combinations each day. Having to move from mobile to laptop to make a purchase may lose customers to other retailers who allow purchases and a great customer experience via mobile.
A survey by Tecmark in October of 2014 found that in the UK (where 53.7 percent of the population use a smartphone) the average user carries out 221 functions every day on their smartphone, compared to 140 on desktop or laptop computers. Statista estimates that by 2018 there will be 220 million smartphone users in the USA alone. Figures like that are a huge indicator of the necessary shift towards better marketing approaches for mobile.
One example of a company with an excellent mobile strategy that is easy to use and seamless across devices is Amazon. The mobile app has the range of items available on its mobile platform as it does on tablet or laptop computers. It is incredibly easy to use and if a customer wishes to start a shop on their phone and then want to access their basket on another device the basket contents can still be accessed. The seamless transition across all devices makes the customers experience incredibly easy.
Altimeter Group reached out to 20 leading mobile strategists and executives from companies such as Zappos and Mastercard in order to find out what they believed were the best plans for implementing a strong mobile initiative. They found that the secret to mobile success lies in developing the digital and mobile strategies individually whilst also bringing them together in order to deliver an integrated customer experience.   
Companies need to truly understand the needs of the customer’s digital experience and the role that mobile can play then they can proceed in designing their mobile platform. Mobile strategies should not just be a bolt on to the rest of the digital strategy but a customer experience in itself. By first understanding the customer they can then create better experiences for them and better turnover for themselves.

About the Author: Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at hkempe@IIRUSA.com.

Can You Think Like Google and Amazon?

What would Google or Amazon do if they purchased your company?  What would happen if they entered your industry?

We are proud to Introduce DISRUPT, a unique one day strategy accelerator,  taking place on December 3rd, 2014 in Chicago, at the offices of Leo Burnett.

DISRUPT brings together executives across disciplines to uncover the major forces impacting the B2C world. Our intelligence lead Dr. Hitendra Patel in combination with our expert industry facilitators will help you create a future action plan to adapt to industry disruptors, and ensuring your business remains relevant, by rethinking your current business model and unveiling areas for growth. 

Visit the website for more information: http://bit.ly/1pUkAMU
This Strategy Accelerator will help you:
  • Learn how to apply powerful techniques of disruption to help your business stay at the leading edge
  • Uncover how these strategies work and, more importantly, what tactics you need to employ to achieve strategic disruption
  • Leave with an action plan tailored to your business that will help you lead your company through creative disruption into competitive advantage.

View the full agenda here: http://bit.ly/1pUkAMU
Meet your Intelligence Lead:

Dr. Hitendra Patel
Managing Director, IXL Center
Chairman of the Innovation and Growth Program, Hult International Business School

Dr. Patel has helped over 50 global companies and their executive teams build innovation capabilities and get innovation results. He has helped drive innovation transformation initiatives at companies like Johnson Controls, Hewlett Packard, LG, Alibaba.com, CEMEX, Cadbury, Verizon, and P&G. He understands how to make innovation real from the top-down and bottom-up in complex and large organizations. Read his full bio here: http://bit.ly/1oQ2vEU

Join us as we prepare you for the future of your business.




Live from #TMRE14: Under Armour – Serving Consumers from Day 1

Cassie Lopez, Senior Manager of Consumer Insights at Under Armour, discussed how her company evolved to serve consumer needs at TMRE 2014.

“Click Clack” means nothing to the average person but for anyone’s who’s ever played football, it’s the last sound you here before you enter a stadium.

They started with the basics, focus groups, brand tracker, and implementation. They received some mixed reactions to their newly launched consumer insights team.

As a market researcher  you have to market your research.

Create Relevance:

Consumer need

Keys to Success:

Build a network: ambassadors, determine “areas of influence,” align projects with key needs
No big reveals: don’t spring negative findings on people
Treat suppliers like teammates: establish culture fit
Know your audience: compel them to respond immediately
Prioritize: align the strategic leaders

Create a rolling resource for ad hoc requests…but be discriminating


Valerie RussoFormerly a senior copy editor at Thomson Reuters, a research editor at AOL,  and a senior web publicist at Hachette Book GroupValerie M. Russo is editor at large of The Front End of Innovation BlogThe Market Research Event BlogThe World Future Trends Tumblr, the Digital Impact Blog, and also blogs at Literanista.net. She is the innovation lead and senior social media strategist for the Marketing and Business Strategy Division of the Institute for International Research, an Informa LLC., and her poetry was published in Regrets Only on sale at the MOMA Gift Shop. Her background is in Anthropology and English Literature. You can reach her at vrusso@iirusa.com or @Literanista.

The Rise of the Visual Web: Why Quality Data Visualization Is Crucial

Cognitive psychology tells us that humans are wired to favor visuals over text. We process images faster. We remember visuals better. We find well-designed visuals more credible. And when credible images engage us, they trigger emotional processing that leads to creativity and higher-quality decision-making.

All of these things’speed, recall, credibility, engagement and quality decision-making’are critical to the delivery of market research insight and to a company’s ability to turn insight into strategies and actions.

The Rise of the Visual Web

The rise of the visual web is one factor fueling the growing popularity of research portals as a means for delivering insight and managing actions. Brands are increasingly turning away from static reports in favor of the engaging, interactive and often beautiful digital reporting that research portals offer.

Research portals are essentially one-stop shops for digitally driven and integrated data storage, reporting, action management and insight development. Market Strategies has been designing and delivering research portals since the 1990s. Over time, dramatic improvements in web-based technologies have led to increasingly sophisticated portal offerings, but the core functions and benefits of portals have remained largely unchanged. These include:

  • A central hub for research program activity. 

Portals integrate and report on studies across your research program. Dashboards create high-level views of summary metrics while scorecards, heat maps and filters allow users to drill down into increasingly detailed information, ending with individual responses. Portals also support document storage, sample management, quantitative and qualitative analyses, graph creation, file exporting and synthesis with Big Data.

Each dashboard view is built to your company’s needs, incorporating your brand’s color palette and key brand elements. A dashboard view can contain high-level, cross-study metrics or key metrics for a specific study, contingent upon each user’s role and permissions.

  • Interactive, user-customized reporting.

Web pages within the portal are dynamically rendered and populated based on each user’s particular permissions and roles in the organization. This helps each user receive the most relevant messages of the day, focus on what is most important in their role and drill down to a role-appropriate level. Interactivity takes many forms, including filters, ‘clickable’ graphics that drill down into additional detail as well as analysis, graphing, exporting and sharing tools.

The above example uses a graphic filter based on geography to allow corporate-level users access to views of the total company, regions, districts and metros. Tools for zooming, clicking, dragging and dropping map sections help users quickly identify and drill into the area of interest.

  • Action management tools. 

Also known as ‘closed loop’ or ‘hot alert’ systems, portals also frequently support customer experience management activities. Such a system automatically notifies managers when action is needed, such as when a customer provides a low satisfaction rating on a survey. Management tools for routing alerts, managing follow up, quantifying the total action in the system and monitoring results are included to ensure customer feedback is addressed in a timely manner.

Beyond research value, survey responses serve as critical touch points that identify opportunities to rescue damaged relationships before they become lost business. The closed-loop feature in the Market Strategies portal provides the flexibility and sophistication to support all levels of Alert Management.

  • Real-time results. 

As data are received and cleaned, they are automatically uploaded to the portal and reflected in status reports. This is a useful option for managing sample and quotas, monitoring trend lines and supporting timely action management.

The Bonus of Quality Data Visualization

Portals help businesses understand and focus on customers. When the powerful engine that supports portal functionality is coupled with an engaging interface, your portal becomes a critical tool not only for researchers but also for executives, managers, strategy teams and your front-line staff. All stakeholders are armed with the insight needed to understand what’s important, manage action in the system and align activities to meet goals.

What’s more, portals increase efficiency by mitigating the need for researchers to create endless report versions for different stakeholders, as this is handled by the defined roles, permissions and dynamic population functions of the portal.

Well-visualized data deliver complex messages to users in a quick and stimulating way. When well visualized data are delivered via an interactive portal, they are often better received than traditional research reports for several reasons:

  • Speed. Portal visuals are specifically designed to make a point quickly without requiring lots of reading or sorting through flat tables of numbers.
  • Relevancy. Role-based filtering within the portal ensures the data each user sees are highly relevant.
  • Engagement. Portals can lead to greater insight and understanding because users have the ability to interactively explore the data and drill down in the path that’s most natural to them.
  • Retention. Users remember the data because they can share existing or new insight that they personally develop within portal applications.
  • Accessibility. Users can access insight and data where and when they want because portals are accessible via computer, tablet and smartphone.

Dawn Palace is a Vice President in the Communications Division at Market Strategies International. She draws on more than 20 years of experience in market research and integrated marketing to help clients address their needs for business intelligence and transform insights into improvement strategies and marketing campaigns with measurable ROI. 
Dawn has helped clients create and launch brands, segment markets and deploy CRM programs, develop and launch new products, measure and optimize the customer experience, and improve employee engagement. Dawn received her doctorate and masters’ degrees from Wayne State University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. Her passions outside of work include food, wine, volunteer work, and spectating at her children’s sporting events.

Adapted and republished from the original here by permission of the author.
Market Strategies’ portal team includes specialists in data visualization and information design who deliver an engaging, company-branded interface to meet the needs of any research program.  Read how they partnered with AAA to improve its customer experience program, which included delivery of a customized research portal
We invite you to join Mark Willard and Mary Lee of AAA for ‘Revolutionizing CX: How AAA Turned Satisfied Customers into Loyal Advocates‘ at TMRE 2014 in Boca Raton (2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 21 in Room ‘Estate 1′). 
We’ll share how a new measurement program and a built-in, closed-loop system revolutionized AAA’s member experience program and empowered employees across the organization to make immediate and lasting improvements in customer experience. 

The Era of Brilliant Alchemy: Data Anthropology

“Show me the numbers,” it’s often said. After all, data IS proof. But data is nothing without context, without a story, the whole story.

As a small child, I was fascinated by historical remnants of societies long gone, Pompeii, Masada, Taino, Aztec… Who were these people? What did they care about? What happened to them? How different were they from you and I? Or were they just like me? 
Anthropology is Dead
It was this intriguing idea of shared commonality/humanity that fascinated me in such a way that for the rest of my schooling, I became of student of the sciences and eventually undertook anthropology as a major course of study. It was there that I found myself being forced to make a choice between the softer qualitative analysis of my studies and the harder quantitative data. I found myself in a quagmire, I could write an ethnography report like nobody’s business, I loved being in the lab and visual data, but inputting spreadsheets made me queasy. Today this dichotomy isn’t as clear cut.
I’ve always been interested in technology, art and design but back then I didn’t have any real interest in marketing. So it’s rather curious for me to see the progression of marketing and business strategy and digital rapidly encroach into a blend of art and science. The era of Big Data demands scientists to organize and identify patterns and other findings quickly and effectively from quantitative data but it also demands an astute anthropological approach to share narratives about the role of the findings in people’s lives. 
Back in my school days, I was told over and over again, that anthropology was one of those dead end majors, were you either teach until you are gray-haired or you spend your career begging for funding, because the market for anthropologists outside of academia was minuscule.
Long Live Anthropology
Today we see in-house anthropologists at Google, Microsoft, Intel, Sandia National Labs, as well as at design, software and analytics, and market research firms the world over, not only exploring cultural insights but also aspects like usability through a social science lens. Pretty sweet for such a “withering” science…
What has happened is that the world we live in today calls for brands and business to not only understand their consumers and clients’ needs and desires but to also deeply comprehend their place, their context in their world, their zeitgeist, and their particular experience and connect that to their offering. Empathy is key.
Dataclysm & The Era of Brilliant Alchemy 

The other day, I received a review copy of the book Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) written by Christian Rudder, cofounder of OkCupid, whom you may remember used to share all those nifty reports based on findings from mining OKCupid member behavior. 
One of the cooler things that struck me about the book’s angle is that “Data scientists have become the new demographers” and we are living in a time of a “brilliant alchemy, in which math is made human and numbers become the narrative of our time.” True story.
Live long and prosper


Valerie RussoFormerly a senior copy editor at Thomson Reuters, a research editor at AOL,  and a senior web publicist at Hachette Book GroupValerie M. Russo is editor at large of The Front End of Innovation BlogThe Market Research Event BlogThe World Future Trends Tumblr, the Digital Impact Blog, and also blogs at Literanista.net. She is the innovation lead and senior social media strategist for the Marketing and Business Strategy Division of the Institute for International Research, an Informa LLC., and her poetry was published in Regrets Only on sale at the MOMA Gift Shop. Her background is in Anthropology and English Literature. You can reach her at vrusso@iirusa.com or @Literanista

The American Cancer Society’s Kimberly Cason On the Future of Research

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.
Want to hear more from Kimberly in person? Join her at Future of Consumer Intelligence 2014 in Los Angeles, CA in a few weeks. She will be presenting in a session entitled, ‘Award-Winning, Top-Tier Research on a Budget!’ 
** As a reader of our blog, you get an exclusive 15% discount on your FOCI 2014 pass. Use code FOCI14BLOG when you register: http://bit.ly/1mvqyD0**
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, 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.