As The Insight Show and MRS Impact draw to a close for 2017, the ZappiStore team leave inspired by some amazing thought leaders, who quite openly and frankly, discussed how to prepare for the future of market research – from the skills and techniques needed, to the very definition our continuously evolving industry.

Storytelling at The Insight Show

As the research process becomes increasingly automated, Stephen Phillips set a limit for the capabilities of technology. He spoke about how storytelling cannot be easily replicated by a machine and will always be key to communicating insights into action. Speakers from the Aura Conference shared their advice on mastering this art form, from harnessing body language in presentations to structuring content in an engaging way for your audience.

Stephen Phillips (hosting the Aura Conference), Richard Newman, Jonathan Williams

What to call market research?

At MRS Impact, the very name of the ‘market research industry’ was brought into debate, as a growing range of methodologies and technologies become available to researchers. Panelists questioned if the term was marketable to young people and if interchanging with ‘market intelligence’, ‘analytics’ or ‘consumer insight’ even made a difference to the bottom-line at all!

Dr. Dan Nunan, Sanchia Templar, Virginia Monk, Corrine Moy 

Keeping up with the disruptors

Research can be a slow process. But what’s worse is when marketing and product teams recognize this and skip stage-gate feedback in order to react to market signals, only to encounter the huge costs of a failed product launch.

Our next set of panelists showcased how they had been able to collect feedback at speed and agreed that while creativity is king in innovation, that creativity often shows little correlation to successful output. If anything, it can be really expensive if feedback from consumers is not taken onboard to create iterative progression.

Nick PyeChristina NeshevaChris Jackson, Ian RalphTom Benton, Rufus Weston, Chris Leo, Tim Britton

Can automation coexist with elicitation?

Automated research is often faster, cheaper and in some ways better than other methods of elicitation – presenting an exciting opportunity for the market research industry to expand. But how far should this process go and what does it mean for the research profession?

Anjali said that higher-value jobs requiring uniquely human attributes are safe for the foreseeable future, however as the nature of jobs that is changing, many will need to learn new skills.

The panel agreed that automation and elicitation are not necessarily in conflict, and that there will be situations where in-person elicitation will be preferable over an automated tool. Stephen Phillips said that while machines were very good at finding patterns in data, they were very poor at telling the stories behind them – leaving intuition and persuasion as key skills needed for researchers.

Oliver James, John Griffiths, Anjali Puri, Stephen Phillips, Dr. Mariann Hardey

Social media tactics by global brands

Just how do the big brands target consumers on social media? Segmentation and personalization are key to effectively engaging audiences. We saw examples of how businesses pair customer needs with organizational responses and customizing content for each audience to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time.

We also saw a demonstration of Periscope from it’s most popular broadcaster, Alex Pettitt. He made the point that today’s trends show consumers are seeking authentic content and that live video makes it very challenging for brands to orchestrate a high-budget ad in the same way as traditional advertising.


Equality and authenticity

Keynote speaker and feminist author, Caitlin Moran spoke about equality in an increasingly connected world – describing the internet as a new globally shared consciousness in it’s early stages of adolescence and the effect of increasingly polarizing and extreme opinions felt in current affairs.

Ed Balls, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, spoke on day 2 of the conference about the need for authenticity in politics, after a loss of trust in politicians – a point magnified by an announcement on the same day that the UK government would U-turn on a taxation policy that went against their initial campaign promises.

We had a fantastic time at both conferences and learned a lot from some exceptionally intelligent people. A lasting impression for us was that following recent events in politics and observations in consumer behavior, brands now have an opportunity to appeal to authenticity, humanity and honesty – perhaps even by demonstrating vulnerability.

Daniel Evans

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Daniel Evans

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