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Five Key Takeouts From IIeX Europe 2018

Highlights from IIeX Europe 2018

IIeX Europe 2018 focused on how researchers are constantly adapting to move forward. The range of speakers and research tools on display certainly provided stimulation and provoked discussion.

It also gave us five memorable takeouts researchers should read to future proof their insight offering:

1. More Popular Research Platforms Are More Powerful

With the proliferation of new platforms designed to help researchers and clients turn projects around ‘faster, cheaper and better’, Stephen Phillips of ZappiStore argued that this didn’t mean all platforms are created equal. He made the case that the value of a platform increases the more customers it has. He used Uber as an example of the power of a strong network, where one or two dominant players push through most of the commerce.

So where does this leave market research platforms?

Steve made the point that the best platforms use a combination of automation – to deliver the ‘faster and cheaper’ benefits and data science and semantics to make the data smarter or ‘better’.

In short, you cannot bypass human experience all together. And the truly powerful conclusion…?

…The more projects you have on the same platform for the same brand, the more data can talk to each other. This provide us with a predictive lens so that you can forecast what might happen in 3 months rather than react to what you have learned using a more traditional ‘rear view mirror’ approach.

2. Crowd Sourcing Is a Powerful Innovation Tool

Unilever’s Karen Sears and Lisa Ohlin from eYeka talked about a recent innovation project for toilet gel Domestos. This is a low engagement category where it has traditionally been challenging to generate new ideas. eYeka worked with Unilever and a large global community of designers and creatives to crack their innovation challenge. From an effectively written design brief, designers from all over the world competed to come up with the winning ideas. In a win-win scenario, the creators of the chosen designs share the prize pool, while the intellectual property got transferred to the client company. What was compelling was the sheer number of ideas that were generated and the originality that can only come from a truly culturally diverse creative base.

3. Everybody Lies

Tony Costella from Heineken stated boldly, that we are complicit in knowing people ‘lie’ in research. This is either deliberate, due to social convention or unintentionally because they can’t remember or simply don’t care as much as we do about the question being asked. He said that conventional polling is broken and that we need to measure behaviour not just ask opinion. However, his tone was optimistic. He argued that “tomorrow is already here” with the mainstream availability of what was a once futuristic sounding toolkit such as Facebook/ YouTube Live testing, Biometrics/Implicit Reactions, Eye-tracking/Facial Coding, Crowd-sourcing, VR, and Machine Learning.

Similarly, he argued that functional silos have blurred and we’re sometimes in the business of impacting consumer behaviour rather than staying neutral. The take out was that if we embrace the disruption we could indeed ‘Have it all’. In other words, the Holy Grail of research that is not only faster and cheaper, but also better.

4. Learn from the Masters

Day two kicked off with an entertaining and informative presentation from Matt Cole and James Mansell of The Moment Content Company. It was refreshing to hear a new perspective, and these film makers brought us storytelling tips from masters of the craft.

Starting with Hitchcock, considered the ultimate storyteller by many, they told us to put the audience one step ahead of the protagonists and to treat them with intelligence. The more inside information the audience has, they argued, the more invested they become in your story. We should also make the audience care where the story is going, about the human story at the heart of it so that they empathise and can relate – as Pixar manage to do with every story they bring us.

5. Utilising your Sensory Signature

The use of semiotics to complement and enhance brand and category understanding is not new in our industry. Semiotic analysis can help make sense of the cultural context that surrounds a brand and help to identify category white space to create differentiation.

Gemma Jones from Space Doctors argued that there is so much more that semiotics can be used for, beyond providing retrospective understanding. The key to brand differentiation and lasting impact, she explained, is to identify a brand’s ‘Sense Signature’. In other words, what meaning it creates at every sensory touchpoint, not just the more immediate tastes and smells of a food product but the sonic feedback you get from interacting with the pack or the feel of the product as you touch it. Once identified and understood, she argued, you will have a powerful toolkit by which to build relevant brand meaning at every touchpoint. That certainly gave us food for thought!

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Anita Idnani

Anita Idnani

Director, Northstar Research Partners