One of the popular calls to action for the research industry at the moment (apart from the tedious and constant talk of gamification) is that as researchers we should be more like ad planners
Ad planners, the argument would have us believe, offer greater value by seeing the overall strategic picture while researchers just come along report back some findings and off they go without much awareness of the bigger picture or the implications this may bring
I have thought about this long and hard and I would simply answer this by saying I think a good researcher does all a planner does and in many cases much more, it’s just we don’t even acknowledge this or get others to value our role
I think a good market researchers skill set should include:-
Insight awareness – this means the uncovering, contextualisation and strategic consideration of what your researched topic is telling you
An ability to say what the implications are to a business – the so what and the what next
Skilled at writing concepts, ad scripts and insight stories – in order that you can help shape, craft and define the real consumer need in a well thought out and actionable way (we are the gatekeepers to ‘real’ consumers and we should empower companies to speak in consumer language in the stories they form)
Project management – the ability to ensure everything runs smoothly, on time and adapts to what you find out as you go along
Engagement with the project even after the debrief – be on hand to give an opinion, express feelings and also help develop creative pieces after the results are handed out
I’m not saying all researchers always engage in these 5 key practices above but they very well should (indeed there are quite a few other skill areas in addition to these as well)
But I think that as ‘guardians of insight’ the MR world is extraordinarily bad at promoting self and self-worth and having the confidence to demonstrate we can do all of the above
So my call to action is let’s go and show the doubters that we can be as effective as a planner (and dare I say it, even better)
I’m fairly surprised that, as an industry, MR cannot seem to agree on the definition of what a true insight is
Mat Shore has posted a challenge to the LinkedIn community to define what an insight is and there are literally hundreds of posts, all slightly varying from one another about what an insight is
For an industry that (should in any case) stresses clarity of communication, a single voice of the consumer in propositions and distinct positioning to our clients we are incredibly bad at defining what an insight is and this can often mean not delivering defined, useful and inspiring insights of our own
So this blog post really is challenging everyone out there to share what they think is the definition of an insight – what makes something more than an observation or reportage of fact?
For what it is worth I think Mat Shore provides a good starter for 10 on this…he defines an insight as
‘a revelation about what our target customer does and why they do it. This allows us to talk to them in a more convincing and emotional way about why we can best meet their needs’
I believe that emotional element to be critical (which will not surprise any of you who read this blog)
So please email me email@example.com, tweet @streamresearch or leave a comment here if you have your own thoughts
As Mad Men emerges onto our TV screens again in the UK after too long away I was reminded of a stand out moment from the entire series, something that really has stuck with me from the moment I saw it
It reminds me once again of something we always see in consumer research – talk about the end benefit, the emotional connection and the use case scenarios. The technology part of how it works really can wait until later
PS I hope this YouTube clip is ok to use on my blog, will happily take down if it infringes any copyright etc
I still believe that focus groups are one of the best ways of generating insights, testing ideas or exploring issues and, despite the fact that TV programs such as The Apprentice are doing their best to destroy the true value of ‘focus groups’ with their mind numbingly awful representation of what they are, most researchers out there still agree
But we should be going further (and on a more regular basis) now, we should really be looking to make focus groups more collaborative between client, agency and respondents wherever we can
By this I don’t mean co-creation workshops – these have a time and a place – but I do mean 3 simple steps / options that could be built into almost any project
1) Client interaction – at the end of the group instead of going in and asking the watchers ‘do you have any questions’ why not actively ask them to come into the room and let the respondents ask them questions. This often results in fantastic insight because they ask questions on subjects they don’t understand (showing communication issues), or will bring up other points that need to be addressed as part of the bigger picture
2) Watching the watchers – have part of the group, usually towards the end, where the client team comes into the group room and the respondents go behind the mirror. The watchers are suddenly watched, the points discussed in the groups with the respondents is then debated with the client team and finally everyone is brought together to come to a conclusion
3) Vox Pops – at various points in the groups have respondents leave the room and speak to one of the watchers one to one. This can be on various points of interest in the group that have emerged
Again, the innovation MR commentators out there will say there is nothing new in this post. That’s probably true but as with all research it is a call to be flexible, thoughtful and empowering (for consumers and clients alike) within the methodologies we employ
On a recent trip to New York (my first in about a year) I decided to get reacquainted with the city even though I have been there a mind boggling 56 times before (I do count). I Walked here, stopped for a coffee there and observed pretty much everywhere. It was a good couple of days.
In doing these 3 things I started to gather an important picture of how New Yorkers actually use their mobile tech devices while out and about. I could see the brands they own, what they were looking at and what they shared with others. In short I was immersing myself in their culture for a couple of days before my fieldwork started. It was 2 days very well spent.
You see what I am saying here is nothing new, revolutionary or clever but it is becoming increasingly rarely done these days – stepping back and watching the world. I’m always in such a hurry to get to the facility, do the groups and get back on the plane home (I stress this in case my wife is reading this knowing that she is looking after the baby as I ‘swan’ around New York). But you know what I shouldn’t hurry, I should take a day to be curious, I should spend a few hours outside of the facility with ‘consumers’ as it arms me with such important contextual understanding of what real consumers do in real spaces.
There is so much talk of innovation in research techniques that sometimes we forget the fundamentals; great research is about understanding how people react and behave in the real world
So I now have a renewed agenda and I pledge to do 3 things every time I have groups to do (and I did this in London this week and it works just as well in your own backyard as it does elsewhere)
Arrive early to your destination – a day if an international project, a few hours if in your home city
Visit the key places that are relevant to your group discussion – coffee shops are a must for almost any subject you can imagine but otherwise shops and specific parts of the city work well
Record notes of what you see. Even if not directly relevant to that project it may well be relevant further on down the line. With notes collect artefacts – flyers, pictures, brochures, newspapers – all will help you put together a cultural picture of the place you are in
I am an advocate of ethnography and always have been. Since 1998 I have both trained in and trained others on how to conduct anthropological methodologies. There is nothing new in what I say here. But I now have a renewed vigour and sense of ethnographic worth. And you know what, (re) discovering something makes you feel great!
Over the last 12 months here at Stream Research we have been working with Philips to create the CitiScape range of headphones
Part of the brief was to co-create the headphones for our urban target consumer. What has emerged at the end of this process are CitiScape stories that are front and centre of the go to market strategy
We think Philips have done a wonderful job taking the insights from the co-creation sessions and translating them into the following videos – this is a genuine example of what great co-creation methodology can result in
See what you think (genuine respondents telling their stories)
Ever wanted one resource that provides succinct and easy to remember definitions of terms, ideas and concepts? Mat Shore at OutsideIn has written a great innovation dictionary and asked me to contribute some definitions to the Market Research page.
My contribution is below. If you would like a full copy of the dictionary (or even debate some of the definitions I have given below) then please get in touch on Twitter @streamresearch or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The key learning: simplicity rules and tools that are built around end-user needs truly empowers creativity
2 Inspired ways of creating stories
I blogged about this already but I am excited by storify, such a great way of collating, collecting or crafting a story for yourself or for others to follow…researchers download now or visit the website for more, if nothing else the stories created already are an invaluable tool
Why? I’m not totally sure but it shared a personal approach with people rather than simply tweeting or rehashing an existing story or POV. So the learning, if you have something to say that is personal, driven from your own philosophies and beliefs more people will probably take note of that (whether they agree or not)