After interviewing over 350 market research professionals among both brands and agencies, I’ve learnt that the number one issue they all face is storytelling. Mitchell Atchison, an insights professional at one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms, talked about the importance of reducing the research into a repeatable story.
I think the biggest issue that comes to mind is communication synthesis. As market researchers, we’re used to dealing with a lot of data, but I always have to remember that a majority of my audience, if not all of my audience, doesn’t have two things:
One, they don’t know the data to the degree that I do because I spend as much time as what I do with the data; I have a trained market research background. So my audience just in most cases doesn’t have that.
Second, my audience doesn’t have the time to digest all of the data that I’m used to dealing with.
So I truly believe that my task as a market researcher is to make my market research and make the data matter to them.”
How good is your market research report? A way to measure it is, “What is the story your audience will tell?
Most of the time, our insights reside in a PowerPoint. However, here are a few other ideas you can leverage to help add some punch to your presentations…
Creating highlight reels:
This gives a face and voice to your insights. There are many free tools you can use such as iMovie, which will do a decent job of enabling you to stitch together a few video testimonials.
Running a Tufte-style meeting:
This one is my favorite. Originally, I heard about this from Amazon, which has famously banned PowerPoint in favor of a six-page paper. People show up to the meeting where they are presented with the report. Then they read it quietly to themselves for the first 10 minutes of the meeting. The remainder of the meeting is spent discussing the implications.
Standing around a poster/print outs:
Stephen DiMarco, Chief Digital Officer at Kantar, hosted me for their 2019 Digital Transformation seminar. Their keynote was done by the head of Disney’s Innovation group. He used a flip chart instead of PowerPoint. After he presented each page, it was tacked to the wall for later reference. After he was done, people stood up and walked around the hung pages to discuss.
Have stakeholders code interviews:
There are several tools you can use such as Excel or Dovetail. Split up into groups and have everyone involved in the project code a few open ends. Be sure to use the same set of codes. Then, talk about the definitions of the codes. The point isn’t about being right on the coding…it is more of emergence into the data of your stakeholders.
Getting back to the basics also came up a lot. In our interview with David Garcia Pawley, the director of European countries for Consumer and Market Insights at Samsung, he makes a case for executives to make time to do part of the research. Not as a passive observer or consumer of the report, but as an active part-time agent in the field.
I think that the biggest change we need to do from a brand’s point of view, we need to get out a lot more, a very basic thing. But I think the trend is research, but I think that should never be a substitute for common sense. And I think what I find in many organizations is that we’re all stuck inside offices and we don’t go to the point of sale enough. We don’t speak to consumers informally enough. I think we need to get out. Even self-moderating, I mean this is not against real research Institutes who do with professional moderators, but I think it’s interesting in several of organizations I’ve been to, I’ve even given training on teaching marketing departments on how to moderate. What I mean by moderate – how to ask a question, how to listen to consumers. And I think it’s good for clients to actually be able to sit around a table or go shop and go do shop-along. A lot of the ethnographic research… That’s been there for ages, but I think we need to do a lot more of that. Rather than just read things, it’s actually getting out and talking to people, listening to people. It’s not so much inventing new things, but going in some cases back to basics to learn about those things.
I’ve had several conversations with brand researchers who tell me their execs are asking to be included in the interview process. In fact, the head of consumer insights for the Cereal Partnership with General Mills and Nestle told me her CEO makes times every quarter to visit customers.
It has never been more important that brands build empathy with their customers. Getting the insights is only half the battle. Connecting the insights to the decision-makers is the other half. MRII has courses and experts that can help! I hope you’ll give them a look if you are scaling up your team or yourself.
Have a great rest of your day!
As the previous CEO of FocusVision, Jamin Brazil was the first to bring to market a combination of qualitative and quantitative technologies that are used by 75% of the Fortune 100, and more than 3,000 companies globally. Prior to FocusVision, he pioneered online surveys, founding Decipher, a top survey platform in 2000. Today, he is the CEO and co-founder of HubUx, a technology company focused on user experience (UX) and market research (MRx) insights software; and is the host of the Happy Market Research Podcast, the number one market research podcast, as well as MRx News, a daily 2-minute podcast about UX and MRx trends and news. He joined the MRII board of directors in January, 2020.