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Truth & Transformation: Acitvating Research to Lead Growth



It’s was a great day here in Atlanta at the AMA Marketing Research Executive Forum. Chairperson Kelley Styring and the AMA have put together a great model for developing an engaging and highly interactive 2 days of brainstorming and collaboration to implement a culture of change in MR. The collective brainpower at this event is impressive to say the least; it was a bit of a dream come true to have so many senior client-side and supplier-side researchers gathered together for an open exchange of information in order to help co-create the future of market research.

Starting off, Phillip Chambers, SVP of Global Insights for PepsiCo set the bar high and established the tone for the conference. He gave a marvelous presentation on the current state of the industry, the challenges facing us, and a path forward for MR to be reinvented to actually deliver real impact and ROI. For a complete record, check out the Twitter stream for hashtag #amamref.

Each speaker was simply fantastic, offering their own experience on making research strategically important within their organizations and outlining their vision of what the insight function will look like in the future. These were “no holds barred” presentations with a group of industry leaders at the top of their games working to effectively define the future. Anyone who missed this missed something very special!

The conference format is broken into 3 modules, with a team of client-side researchers presenting on each of the core issues involved in that module. Here is the line-up of speakers for each section:


Module 1: Truth and Relevance

Phillip Chambers, VP Consumer Insights, PepsiCo

* Daniel Marcu, VP Research, IFC/Sundance

* Gayle Lloyd, Director of Market Research, Batesville Casket

* Murli Bulwuswar, VP Insights and Innovation, Farmers Insurance


Module 2: Truth and Context

Kate Wittington, Director of Guest Insights, Target

* Jason Platt Zolov, Manager of Market Research, HBO

* Karin Kricorian, Director Domestic Parks and Resorts, Disney Theme Parks

* Michelle Adams, Frito Lay


Module 3: Truth and the Culture of Change

Ravi Parmeswar, VP Global Consumer Marketplace Insights, Citi Group

* William Neafsey, Manager- Market Research, Ford

* Kevin Hawkins, Manager of Enterprise Research and Analytics, Fedex


After each section, the attendees split into 3 groups and develop a series of activation items to begin the process of establishing a framework for guiding the transformation of the industry. It’s an exciting and intensely collaborative process, and everyone in attendance on the first day was raving about what a great format it was, myself included.

The key points that emerged for me were:

  • Research has been commoditized and is often considered irrelevant
  • Client-side researchers are working hard to position MR as a strategic driver of growth
  • Many of the traditional methods used by MR suppliers are not effective and don’t serve the needs of clients
  • It’s all about data aggregation, synthesis, implications and outcomes
  • Emerging technologies like social media, mobile, neuromarketing, etc… can deliver what traditional MR does not
  • Clients want to understand the true drivers of behavior and decision making at all levels in the real world, not via the artificial constructs that is the standard process in MR

There certainly was more said and shared, but I want to save that for the overall context of the event tomorrow. Trust me, it’s really good stuff!

Today will be the final module and closing Keynote by Charles Blow, NY Times Columnist.

I’ll post again after I digest the whole event with all of the key takeaways. For now, congratulations to the AMA and event sponsor KL Communications for creating something truly special and relevant!

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