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Insights: The Needle In The Haystack



By Kevin Lonnie

I’ve been doing a bit of musing lately on where our industry is going and the metaphor that comes to mind is the “Needle in the Haystack”.

Historically, the vast majority of the MR revenue model has been driven by data collection. The CPI or cost per interview was typically 80% or more of the total research cost.  Heck, even qual pricing was driven by the number of groups.

Basically, as suppliers, our motivation has always been to deliver more! More data, more groups, “more” was where the money was. Haystacks of data!

Now our industry is moving to a business model based on discovering elusive needles in the haystack.

Of course, we didn’t have much choice in all this.  Clients are realizing they can get all the data they want cheaper and faster through Big Data or even Google Surveys.   So that’s turned our business model on its head.

OK, no more data collection haystacks, now we’re in the business of discovering game changing insights (A.K.A. finding those elusive needles).

Let me add some further delineation.  I see the need for two distinct types of needles.  And for the skill set to provide each, I see that falling out across our traditional separation of quant jocks versus qualies.

Our quant jocks will be asked to tame Big Data. Everyone is going to have access to the same data, but that doesn’t mean they’re all going to be able to mine it for insights. Understanding data relationships and providing a holistic viewpoint will become the realm of the new quant jock, or should I say, Data Scientist, which is a spiffy upgraded title, don’t you think?

The other source of game changing needles will come from customer co-creation.  I think this will become the new qual.  Instead of running concepts past consumers via groups, you’ll invite your most passionate customers into an iterative, co-creation process.  Customers will be happy to engage in meaningful “quid pro quo” exchanges with the brands they trust.

So there you have it, no more haystacks, now we are seekers of those most elusive needles, Game Changing Insights!

needleThe quant jocks will apply their skills to barnyards of big data and unearth the hidden intricacies that lie within.

The qualies will take the lead in customer co-creation, allowing the customer’s inspiration to be woven into the ideation process.

And the one thing all successful MR firms will have in common is a unique ability to discover and deliver those elusive needles.

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