Collaboration & Agility – Essentials for Future Success?

October 25, 2016

Many have said that mankind’s progress for the past 5 millennia has been driven by three basic motivations:-

  1. Greedy people wanting more
  2. Lazy people wanting to do less
  3. Frightened people wanting to be safe

Today, competition and self-interest, …. taking the easy options when things look too hard, ….and risk-aversion are part of the business world, MR is no exception.

We see three different values necessary for future prosperity; they will change the way we operate, the desired skill sets, and how agencies and clients work together.

essentials-for-success

Agencies, conditioned to compete for everything, will instead collaborate both to win clients’ business and then to service it.

We see idleness as the blind adoption of ‘the method we used last time’…… or ‘quick and dirty’ research used to justify a decision already made. This will be replaced by agility – smart thinking and technology combining with ‘fast and focused’ research to provide competitive edge.

Benefitting from collaboration and agility involves risk-taking – clients and agencies will be in new territory and so be more open not only to sharing but also to experimenting with new, untried methods often covering emerging areas of consumer behaviour. The payoff is potentially bigger gains from deeper insights and understanding.

In determining the desired skill sets we first consider the client imperatives then match the skills to fulfilling the demands of those imperatives.

When it comes down to it, the two main reasons to undertake research are for

  • Enhancement and
  • Innovation

imperatives-values

Amongst the many skills sets available, these four stand out

  1. Integration
  2. Agility
  3. Understanding new brand relationships in a digital world and,
  4. Staying true to the fundamentals

Enhancement is improving the existing brand portfolio by launching extensions, adjusting price, increasing performance –actions to keep the brand competitive by avoiding commoditisation.

It is time-sensitive and demands ‘good’ information speedily delivered. This has driven much of the innovation in mobile and online along with the emphasis on ‘fit for purpose’ research. But you cannot determine if something is fit for purpose unless you have a strong understanding of the fundamentals.

Enhancement demands ‘agile’ skills. Agile research is not just about technology where costs and time are saved then decision making is based on the most recent state of the ‘market’.

Agile research is about being flexible in design and not necessarily following standard methodologies to address common questions. It’s the agility of thinking and framing the issues that generates the potential for a new insight or perspective.

Innovation is a multifaceted challenge, continuously undertaken in a complex and fast moving environment. Recently, in ESOMAR’s Research World, the industry as a whole was criticised for not meeting the demands of innovation. MR was not exploiting new thinking and technology to generate innovative ideas. It was only using innovation for operational efficiency.

The adoption of new and innovative ideas is frequently a daunting task for any researcher, research team, and even research organisation. But by collaborating across the research spectrum, the integration and synthesis of disparate data sources, for example, becomes less of a challenge and more attractive.

So collaboration is a new soft skill but for agencies and for clients. Buyers need to re-engineer their research agency relationships by engendering cooperation where rival agencies can work together without compromising competitive advantages.

Furthermore, if clients demand agile research they need to embrace the increased risk inherent in innovative applications of research methods. Those clients will be rewarded with the best and brightest vying for their business – the top researchers always push to work with the most interesting clients!

David McCallum, 2016

Elements of this blog first appeared in “Partnership, Marriage, Hook-up, or One Night Stand? – Client & Agency Relationships in the Digital Age” by Tomoko Nishi & David McCallum at ESOMAR APAC, Tokyo, May 2016

 

 


It’s a Long Way to the Top – building a research career in the 21st Century

August 25, 2015

Whether you’ve been around almost as long as AMSRS itself or are just starting, we feel you’ll find something worthwhile in Teri Nolan’s and my presentation on the first afternoon of the 2015 AMSRS Conference. With me looking back 30 years and Teri looking forward the same, we’re part of the “Passion of Research” session.bon scott swanston We’ll look at….

Developments in three key areas have impacted the industry and career progression

  1. Consumer markets (from mass markets to targeted one-on-one marketing)
  2. Mass media (from single set households to ‘three screens per person’)
  3. Data depth (from surveys of hundreds or thousands to Big Data, Internet of Things and The Quantified Self)

The researcher’s life in 2020 and beyond

  1. Career expectations and changes in the workplace. Disruptions and uncertainty as opportunities
  2. Varied experiences – Jack-of-all-trades, master of one, or a master of some? Work routines and ‘off the job’ learning
  3. Specialists & Polymaths
  4. Re-engineering & re-branding
  5. More boutiques, specialty agencies, so more roles ‘at the top’ for those in research

Super-Sizing Shopper Spend in Emerging Markets

December 11, 2013

In recent years, in many Asian markets, demographic and economic trends have coincided to create staggering growth for retail chains. Yet, while number of locations and foot-traffic is certainly growing, it is questionable whether this sharp increase in quantity of customers is being reflected in the quality and amount of spend per customer.

Indonesian Convenience Stores: More stores, lots of buzz, lots of shoppers -- but room for more profit?

Indonesian Convenience Stores: More stores, lots of buzz, lots of shoppers — but room for more profit?

One clear example is in Indonesia, where the number of Convenience/Mini-market (CVS) stores have more than quadrupled since 2008. However, a recent study that G&M worked on with Deka Marketing Research clearly reveals that Indonesia’s retailers may be missing out on major opportunities when it comes to attracting and retaining the right “quality” of customers.  It’s our belief that many of these issues are likely to found in other retail chains in other markets, and that part of the fault lies with the kind of research often being delivered to retailers. Here are a few key facts to illustrate what we saw in Indonesia: Read the rest of this entry »


Big Data & Market Research – Distant Cousins or Siamese Twins?

November 11, 2013

I recently attended a 2 day Big Data Summit conference in Sydney, run by Innovation Enterprise. From the show of hands, I was one of two market researchers among the 150 strong audience.

There a number of roles and opportunities for market researchers to play in this arena as from the quality and content of the presentations, it is clear Big Data is here stay, can only get ‘bigger’.

The retail, banking, and utilities sectors were well represented (fmcg was conspicuous in its absence) as was the Government sector with the Australian Bureau of Statistics, CSIRO, and the State of Queensland. The attendees’ profile, based on skill sets, was similar to an MR audience for a similar event but with a quantitative bias and an average age around 8-10 years younger.
big data 3 needs

Sportsbet’s Tony Greubner’s succinctly described 8 factors that would drive future of Big Data. His first three, the variety of sources, proscriptive analytics, and increased scope of application are perhaps the most pertinent (with no 6 “Geek is the new cool” being a favourite with the audience). Tony also highlighted three skill sets in short supply (see picture above) and here is where those with solid MR expertise could contribute. Read On..>


Facial Imaging: The “Big-Data” Solution for Emotion Research?

September 2, 2013

We are entering an era where, thanks to technology like facial imaging, “soft-data” on emotions – traditionally the province of qualitative studies or smaller scale specialised surveys –  will become “big-data” that provides very hard results.

Facial Imaging Embeded & Automatic: nViso API in Cinemax site - 1 million views and counting

Facial Imaging Embedded & Automatic: nViso API in Cinemax site – 1 million visitors and counting

At first glance facial imaging (or “facial coding”) seems like just another variant of Neuroscience testing, but in fact it has some very different features. In earlier posts we’ve written extensively on the results obtained from this technology (e.g. see “Soft-Drinks, Soft-Sell“), but in this post I want to get across the point that the really big news is not so much how well facial imaging measures emotion, but how many people and how much emotion can be measured.  This makes it fundamentally different from hardware dependent methodologies like EEG or conventional survey based methods. Two thought experiments for market researchers might illustrate: Read the rest of this entry »


Emotion, Mothers & Milk: What Emotion Research Tells Us About Conveying Facts To Worried Mums.

August 7, 2013

Nothing resonates so emotionally with a mother as a threat to her baby. Food safety and quality concerns with infant foods have huge impact and, these days, any issue is quickly picked up and broadcast (often in simplified or exaggerated forms) over social media. Rumours spread and reputations sink. In 2008, a Melamine contamination of Sanlu brand baby formulas in China had a major impact on mothers’ perceptions of product quality especially for local brands. As I write, another infant milk contamination issue has hit Asia, this time traced to problems with powder produced by New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra. Coincidentally, AsiaEmotion has been evaluating emotional reaction to Growing-Up milk advertising in Asia, and the results have some clear lessons for those trying to rebuild confidence in the sector. (AsiaEmotion is a large scale, Pan-Asian exploration of Asian consumers emotional response to advertising, carried out by Gordon & McCallum and Cimigo ulitlising nViso’s 3D Facial Imaging technology to directly measure emotions evoked. More details can be found in earlier articles on this site, or at www.asiaemotion.com).

  feihe_facts

(Growing-Up Milk Ad: Experts give Chinese Mums the facts about quality – but puts them to sleep?)

………………. ……………………… ……..      ..  …….. ……………….. ……….. …….. …. … … …..

While the direct health consequences of the current problem seem to likely be limited, the fact that New Zealand has a “clean green” image in Asia and that it supplies milk powder both for its own brands and for other manufacturers means that the impact on reputation and trust may yet affect the whole category. What should a brand owner do under these circumstances? Clearly the first steps, learnt over many years and numerous PR disasters, are apology and transparency. Fonterra’s CEO is in China right now, doing just that. But as the public health problem fades, the issues for brands will become marketing ones: rebuilding trust and reinforcing or reigniting perceptions of quality.

I’m going to focus on a couple of Growing-Up Milk ads from China.One is for a local brand Fei He, seemingly intended to prove it is substantive, concerned with quality, and essentially  as good as “international brands” in all important respects. The other is for Dumex and is aimed at conveying its international status, reputation, and “gold standard” brand heritage. (To see the ads, and the emotive response to them,  you can click on Feihe and Dumex Gold). These commercials can be seen as a response to the earlier Melamine scandal, in that the brand owners clearly see Chinese mothers as needing reassurance about quality and reputation. Both however, appear to have failed to engage consumers, particularly in the key message sequences.  In the current context this matters – over coming months brands are going to have to convey some fairly clear messages about brand quality and reputation.  So what lessons do these ads give us.

Read the rest of this entry »


Instant Noodles in India –Tug of War or Tugging Heartstrings?

July 29, 2013

One of the fascinating things about using Facial Imaging when exposing competitive ads to the same respondents in a single category is that it provides unspoken clues about relative brand positioning issues (as FI does not rely on ‘rational’ recall or post-exposure rating).

 ToW foodles

 A brand with an inherently easy to understand positioning is more likely to get its message across clearly than a brand attempting to make consumers think about the product in a new light. Here, we see an example of an Instant Noodles brand, Horlick’s Foodles, taking on the task of provoking Indian mothers believe that instant noodles can actually be nutritious. It is done in a manner successfully demonstrated in previous posts (telling a story and building towards the main message), but the style of the execution is perhaps a little too dark. So it does not seem to reduce the high level of apprehension when the main ‘nutritious noodles’ idea is brought forward. Maggi, by contrast, takes an easily believable ‘life-saver’ message (that Maggi noodles are there and ready when you really need them) and pushes this in an engaging positive manner connected by a catchy jingle. Clever execution combines with a clear-cut positioning to evoke a strong response that builds positively.

The key lesson is if you are taking on a difficult advertising task such as proposing something that may conflict with common wisdom, the sequence and content of emotions evoked is critical.  Such ads are more likely to lose direction in emotional terms, and need more careful prior assessment. Read the rest of this entry »