Jonathan La Greca

VP, Strategic Growth

The 2019 Insights Innovation Exchange (IIeX) in Austin demonstrated just how quickly the market research industry is evolving.

In debriefing with our clients, partners, and industry colleagues following the conference, five themes emerged.

Below you’ll find all of those themes supported by different points of view from leaders in our industry.

If you’re interested in accessing or participating in similar events and curated content moving forward, let me know so that I can ensure you are a part of the Brand Builders Community that connects over 200 marketing and insights leaders in over 12 countries globally.

Theme 1: Pay attention to your respondents and augment your research journeys with innovative technologies to get to better insights

  1. There are concerns about the limitations of online sample providers, yet the largest online sample providers had a huge presence at the conference and seem to be very active and growing. There are also seem to be great advances in technology and behavioral science to solve for this concern. – John, Home Away
  2. We are now in an era where technology can remove a lot of inaccuracy of stated and claimed data by using technology to verify where they actually went and biometrics and psychometrics to truly understand how they really felt – Brad, Exxon
  3. There is a need to augment the stated survey responses that can create inaccurate predictions with approaches that get at non-conscious associations, as well models from previous data to ensure that the new current research has accurate predictive capability – Rob, CIBC
  4. There is an increased use of crowdsourcing in many different research applications – Ben, Merck
  5. There is an importance to consider the needs of your respondent set, including how respondents with accessibility issues encounter your survey – Rob, CIBC
  6. There is a need to solve the accessibility bias. The Microsoft talk said “solve for one, extend to many” – Jennifer, Mars Wrigley
  7. Survey design needs to be better thought through for accessibility, speed, and relevance to different audience groups – Angela, Jamieson
  8. As you are developing a brand strategy, you need to think beyond your own marketing biases and think about it with a diverse lens from the views of a wide variety of consumers. It is important to design your study to take account for any biases and ensure it represents multiculturism and important cohorts, given that Gen Z is now the new Millennial – Muriel, Parmalat

Theme 2: There is a proliferation of innovation and technology, but it is becoming overwhelming to navigate it all

  1. There are so many more opportunities to apply automation, tools, and platforms to simplify the insights process and maximize the impact of your studies – Kevin, Cadillac Fairview
  2. Times are changing very quickly, bringing both hope and fear. There are certain aspects of the research process that are being dismissed (“I don’t need another focus group”) or being automated. What this will all mean for the future of insights is still to be determined, but it is great to see so much innovation in the industry, even if it is hard to muddle through all of it at times – Jennifer, Mars Wrigley
  3. There has been explosive growth in terms of innovative tools and methods in the market research industry. It can be overwhelming for client-side researchers to sift through the tools and determine which business challenges they address. Greenbook does a great job of bringing together innovative thinkers to one place to create inspiration and allow for ideas to be exchanged – Joseph, Mondelez
  4. The amount of new technology, automation, and predictive tools that exist through start ups and niche tech companies is overwhelming. Many of these suppliers are emphasizing the importance of understanding both System 1 and 2 thinking processes – John, Home Away
  5. The explosion of new technology solutions are making it overwhelming for client-side researchers and it is important for them to carefully consider how they will build out their next-generation technology stack and partner with the leaders in each discipline that can solve their unique business challenges in a way that is faster, better, and cheaper – Dave, Voxpopme
  6. There is a LOT of clutter in terms of what vendors are offering. It is so much easier to work with approved suppliers, so to break through that clutter, you need to really bring something new and different to the table and be able to communicate in a distinct way – Kim, Purina
  7. Speed and cost combined with strong methods and analytics along with high-end human capital are table stakes in a market that is more cluttered than ever. It’s the unique combination of these capabilities that will lead to break through insights – Ryan, Zappi

Theme 3: It’s not just about but being faster and cheaper, it’s about combining technology with human capital to be become “faster, leaner, and smarter”

  1. Quoting Kathryn from Kimberly Clark, “being agile, doesn’t mean speeding into a brick wall” – Jennifer, Mars Wrigley
  2. It’s not just about getting cheaper and faster you need to think of ways of becoming faster, leaner, and smarter. You can also apply automation, tools, and platforms to avoid spending resources learning what you already know – Kathryn, Kimberly Clark
  3. Business partners are looking to insights leaders to do things faster and cheaper, but insights leaders don’t want to sacrifice quality. New tech/data platforms need to be full service and go beyond just the technology expertise and need to deliver research expertise as well. Do it yourself platforms are great to quickly answer some business questions, but partners in that space need to ensure it doesn’t feel like more work for already busy insights leaders – Kim, Purina
  4. As agile and speed are now the new norm, there is increased focused on rigor and quality, which is fundamental to our industry. As such, there is an opportunity for more collaboration with academics to bring more discipline to technology and research – Joseph, Mondelez
  5. Looking back over the years, it seems that certain trends have consolidated and become even stronger, whereas others have evaporated like foam. Some of the trends that have consolidated and strengthened include the importance of agility, integrating information from multiple sources, and creating actionable insights that drive impact. There is less talk about big data and more talk about machine learning and artificial intelligence. The biggest opportunity is to continue to integrate technology with the strategic thinking of humans. The need for deeper qualitative analysis and consultant skills will be more important than ever – Guido, Lexia
  6. There is a lot of data, tech and service offerings. There are still few answers as to how to create insights organizations that see these three pillars holistically and in a turnkey way to address business needs quickly without a human on the other end holding their hands – Ken, Zappi
  7. As insights generation becomes more automated and democratized, such as using machine learning to spot trends or patterns in responses, there is an opportunity to free up white space to better know and understand our consumers, while leaving time to do more thinking about the why and the so what that go beyond the what the data show – Kathryn, Kimberly Clark

Theme 4: We need to get closer to – and truly understand – our consumers

  1. When answering a business challenge, avoid the surface level trap and ensure you go deeper to truly understand the why behind consumer behavior – Joseph, Mondelez
  2. Despite all the great advances in machine learning, analysis, and automation, there is still an underlying need to spend time observing consumers – Steve, Nestle
  3. There are so many innovative advances that allow us to gain insights in new ways. These include a focus on system one thinking and tools to measure system one response, using biometrics and facial mapping to assess ad response, and mining social data to gain insights on trends. It is important to immerse yourself in these innovative methods. – Karen, Home Away
  4. Not all research labeled System 1 measures what it is intended to – Steve, Nestle
  5. As we move to more non-conscious techniques like biometrics and psychometrics, are we at risk of losing out on some of the authentic one-to-one conversations that have fueled our strategies and communications – Angela, Jamieson
  6. There is a lot of excitement about artificial intelligence, but you need to understand how it will add value to your project and ask yourself if the AI has enough ‘training’ to give you accurate outputs – Muriel, Parmalat
  7. There is a recognition of the depth of insight that comes from qualitative and technology is allowing us to scale these respondents. This can be extended beyond research into marketing through ‘user generated content’ (UGC), especially among Gen Z as they can provide verbatim, audio, images, or video easily – Cherie, Colgate
  8. It’s easy to get carried away with business and technology, but you need to come back to empathy and the consumer problems you’re solving – Michael, P&G

Theme 5: Communication is more than half the battle

  1. Distilling insights so that you can communicate them in a compelling way that drives action within an information-saturated organization. Story videos are key enablers of this – Hagar, Clorox
  2. Communicate insights in a simple, familiar, concise, and easily-processed way to drive action – Kathryn, Kimberly Clark
  3. There is a difference between storytelling and selling stories. – Jennifer, Mars Wrigley
  4. Creating effective communications through the development of personas is not limited to outbound marketing and sales functions, insight leaders can benefit from applying these principles for their communication and sell through of new ideas and methodologies with to internal stakeholders – Shelly, Detroit Pistons

Thank you to all the industry leaders that shared their key takeaways to make this summary possible.

The proliferation of new technologies and innovative methodologies is incredibly exciting and also can be overwhelming at times. In the spirit of the third theme about human capital, the raw talent and capability of the people within our industry gives us great hope about the future.

The key is to remember why we are doing this in the first place, which is in line with the last two themes of truly understanding our consumers and then interpreting those insights in a simple and effective way that allows our stakeholders to leverage those insights into a competitive advantage and make the world a better place.

Don’t forget to message me if you’d like to be a part of the Brand Builders Community to access more insights from and network with top marketing and insights leaders globally.