As a human and market researcher, I’m attending The Market Research Technology Event and spent today thinking deeply about virtuality and personas. BrainJuicer demonstrated an entity (for lack of a better term) that takes the idea of personas to an entirely different level, creating human entities compiled from real world data associations. Called Digividuals, these are more than avatars with people behind them, like my dog. Digividuals are composites of data, scraped from the web and triggered by a minimal amount of seed information. This is fascinating to me because it’s more credible as a life form than most personas on Twitter run by actual humans. And, because it’s based in reality, it is more ‘grounded to the earth,’ says John Kearnon, Founder of BrainJuicer.
I like this because each Digividual represents thousands or millions of people just like them and continues to grow and evolve via associations that are dynamic. People are constantly changing ‘ so are Digividuals. Ultimately, if these entities are compiled from their environment, I should be able to introduce something new ‘ a new product, a new advertisement, a new retail concept to this environment, and see if this component associates with the Digividual. How many Digividuals in the cyber space in which they live ‘adopt’ the new product? Virtual Living potentially provides us with a new way to assess product concepts that is more behaviorally based but simulated so faster and less expensive than testing in RL (Real Life). In fact, I’d like to unleash some Digividuals in a Virtual Store and see what happens!
Speaking of RL, there was a fascinating panel discussion on Non Traditional Market Research which quickly congealed around the notion of real time data collection and targeting real time messages in the moment. Allusions to Minority Report were made, as this is the easiest frame of reference for the concept. And there was a call for companies to mirror Pepsico in appointing a Technology Marketing Officer to truly exploit this idea of messages in the moment. On the one hand, this is a great idea. We can deploy timely information when it is actually relevant, like where the nearest Pepsi machine is when the temperature reaches 94 degrees as it is right now in Vegas. But how do brands create resonance?
This is the difference between Technology Marketing Officer and a Brand Champion or CMO. Products are becoming less differentiated in many categories and rely on Brand resonance to urge consumers choose their product over others. If messages are reduced to timely information, creating resonance will be a challenge. So, for now, this is a great way to exploit the equity of a strong brand but it probably isn’t yet fertile ground for building resonance or marketing new ideas that require more than the attention span of a dog to form an enduring connection.
Today’s guest post is from Kelley Styring. Styring is principal of InsightFarm Inc. a market research and consumer strategy consulting firm. She has led insights for Procter & Gamble, Pepsico, Black & Decker and NASA prior to founding her own firm in 2003. Kelley is a published author and has been featured in USA Today, ABC News, Good Morning America, Brandweek, Fortune, Quirk’s Marketing Research and The Market Research Daily Report from RFL Online. She will be live blogging from TMRTE in next week in Las Vegas, April 30-May 2, 2012.