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Thoughts On The Future Of Consumer Intelligence Event

There was an overwhelming theme of the “old” type of market research versus the “new” in which multiple tactics are employed and a myriad of data is available to get to know your customer/target audience in a better, possibly slightly more invasive manner.



Editor’s Note: Join me in welcoming our newest member of the GreenBook Blog author community: Nelie Shah! Nelie is an attorney that shifted her focus to executive-level research years ago and has been on the forefront of focusing on big business issues ever since. I asked her to go to the newest IIR event “Future of Consumer Intelligence” this week and share her thoughts on it for our readers. I think you’ll enjoy her take.


By Nelie Shah   

The Future of Consumer Intelligence conference provided a comprehensive overview of how the market research industry is changing and the challenges companies and brands are facing in dealing with the rapid increase of social and digital media. 

There was an overwhelming theme of the “old” type of market research versus the “new” in which multiple tactics are employed and a myriad of data is available to get to know your customer/target audience in a better, possibly slightly more invasive manner.

Below please find my “highlights reel” of what stood out and resonated. 

“New Qual” Is the New Normal:

Nina Leask of GM explained how she was able to gain valuable insights into design and consumer behavior utilizing respondent self-administered video ethnography. Additionally, Buick gained more actionable insights by probing appropriate touch points via an online chat platform with individual respondents.

Gamification Passes Go:

We all know that traditional survey administration and design is on the decline and consumers want to be engaged, stimulated and even challenged while providing insights and feedback. Thus, utilizing game elements in survey research is becoming increasingly popular and is often successful in returning salient information.

Utilizing gamification techniques to peak the interest of consumers while providing an incentive (points, monetary – real or imitation) promotes a feeling of being invested and, thus, responses are theoretically more thoughtful.  That said, it has been well studied that when playing a game one’s senses are heightened as are concentration and focus.  The natural transition to utilizing this technique to engage consumers in exercises that included recall, associative memory, rapid reactions to stimuli and problem solving while being able to potentially “win” a tangible or even intangible prize is clearly on the rise.  Clearly the amount of time allotted to these exercises is still a work in progress but Bill MacElroy thinks 17-42 minute surveys are feasible.  As a seasoned recruiter and moderator, I would say under 30 minutes is optimally the maximum to maintain someone’s attention for a “survey game” but that’s just my opinion.

Research Tools Applied In Non-Research Settings:

A prime example is a company that presented and I happen to think is quite a genius idea called CrowdMed.  It is a platform that aims to “solve” medical issues that have eluded doctors using prediction market mechanisms. The theory, as espoused by Jared Heyman, is that prediction markets work best when people are betting on something that matters to them or has some intrinsic value.  Essentially, it is a medical diagnosis crowdsourcing site that uses gamification techniques to engage it’s “medical detectives” while also providing some social good.  They donate $1 for every 1,000 points someone “wins” to an organization called Watsi, a global funding platform for patients in serious need of low-cost medical care which enables one to fund high-impact treatments.

Consumers Are Calling The Shots (And They Know It):

Consumers are clearly more vocal than ever and continually demanding of innovative products and services that are relevant and tailored to their specific needs.  According to Henry Mason, transparency is critical and actual corporate social responsibility and sustainability results influence consumer purchasing.  He spoke about crowdfunding and provided examples of several innovative new companies where consumers are invested either financially, emotionally or both.  Check out: Kickstarter the leading platform for crowdfunded projects; Tribewanted where you can invest in sustainable communities and in return for the money you invested you get a discount on a holiday at that location; The China Survival Guide an iPhone app that tracks food scandals across China;  ABN Amro started in 2012 which encourages investment in socially responsible startups; TrackTrips was created to battle express kidnapping in Bogota; and Islendingabok – their tag is “bump in the app before you bump in bed” an app designed to prevent incest in Iceland – now there’s a real problem!

Big Data = Big Questions

Nate Silver spoke about surveying the data landscape and the importance of quality, quantity and observations collected under a wide variety of circumstances. But the big question that seemed to linger throughout the conference is that although the magnitude of data available is rapidly increasing, as are the ecosystems from which a company or brand can extract this information, how does a company/brand measure it and track the direct correlation to an increase in ROI?

TNS uses passive listening and has an app that tracks consumer exposure to ads on tablets and mobile devices that allegedly can provide a direct correlation to an increase in sales.  Digital media can be tagged to gain precise information on exposure across channels but this has to be balanced with the legalities of privacy. That’s the lawyer in me talking.

Many brands (Clorox, J&J, Heineken) are still trying determine how to utilize and link all the data they are mining to exemplify the tangible impact not only on marketing to their target audience(s) but also the direct correlation to their corporate reputation and increased ROI. 

It’s The People That Impact The Bottom Line!

Alex Hunter pointed out that people don’t communicate with brands. People talk to people and the personification of a brand is critical for success in today’s market.  Success equals an increase in revenue and, in reality, money talks. At the end of the day that is the only way to sell this stuff we call market research to the C-suite.

Final Thoughts:

The Future of Consumer Intelligence event was great in terms of providing much food for thought and painting a clearer vision of what the future of research is likely to be focused on. Lots of questions were raised and it will be exciting to see what answers materialize as enterprising companies step-up to start providing solutions.

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