What are the challenges facing insight research and insight professionals right now?
I spend a lot of time speaking to insight leaders and brand owners. Almost every one of them is battling with two linked-but-distinct challenges:
1. The ongoing, long-term structural shift in the relationship between brands and consumers.
Once upon a time – when access to information (of all kinds) was limited – brands acted as gatekeepers, informing customers about what they should buy, and why.
Social and technological change has turned that relationship on its head. Consumers now have the information, choice and confidence to make their own decisions.
The result is that the marketing function has transformed from one of control to collaboration. That means the insights brands need – and the way they’re gathered – has changed as well.
Today, it’s more critical than ever for brands to understand who their customers are. To retain relevance in a diverse, choice-led marketplace – and to tailor your brand to the demands of consumers – it’s vital to know:
- How and why consumer choices are being made
- How consumers are using the products/ services they buy
- How these products or services fit into the wider context of their lives.
2. The 'big pause' caused by the pandemic.
People are good at adapting their behaviours to the situation in which they find themselves. Right now, consumers (and brands) are reacting to the constraints of the pandemic and the rhythms of ‘normal’ life are on hold. The trouble is that we are collectively unsure about:
- When the fall-out from the pandemic will end
- How the future will look
What does that mean for insight leaders? It means that brands are – more than ever – looking to you for answers. It also makes it harder to assess which trends will continue and which will fall by the wayside.
In order to get answers, you should look to understand how people are feeling, what they value and their priorities. While behaviours will shift in response to changing living conditions, values and priorities tend to endure for longer. They will give you the best guide to what consumers might want from your brand.
Plus, understanding how people are feeling - and what their priorities are - will help to guide the way you communicate with them. That communication is the foundation for successful collaboration between your brand and your customers.
How can you deliver the best, most impactful insight?
1. Sweat what you already have and know
Most brands are sitting on mountains of data - including transactional, customer experience (CX) and satisfaction, social and web analytics. If it’s well-structured then it can be brought together and analysed in a meaningful way that generates efficiencies and new value.
Much of the research that brands do, such as using trackers and campaign evaluations is siloed. By centralising the research, valuable new insights can be surfaced and used to drive forward decision-making across all parts of the business. Combining this information into one dashboard should be a business aim.
2. Standardise your insight-gathering
By standardising your approach, and the KPIs and benchmarks that you use, you can automate and speed up your insight gathering and research ten-fold. Start by gaining clear agreement and commitment among your team on how to sample, design research and report that research.
3. Invest in agile, qualitative research
Qualitative research is the data-backed way to gain genuine insights into what people are feeling; what matters to them and what they’re looking for. Well-designed and executed research will recruit the right people, ask the right questions and produce the insights you need. For the most agile approach:
- Opt for a research sprint. Dive deep into smaller groups over shorter time periods, bring the human story to the table and then iterate and test the insights you’ve gained against new metrics.
- Use a research community. This is another quick way to gather feedback from your intended audience or customers. Online research communities also offer the added benefits of being able to:
- Engage audiences around the world
- Enrich your feedback with one-to-one video interviews
- Immerse your teams with the every day lives of consumers via mobile ethnography.
4. Use the right tech
There is plenty of tech that supports you to gather insights, fast:
- Analytical tools and dashboards
- Tools to capture and analyse video at scale
- Automated visual reporting.
If you are choosing a DIY research tool, the benefits are:
- There are lots of them on the market
- They are easy to use
- They are a cheap way to get your data.
Just be aware: there are associated risks. If you don’t ask the right question of the right people, you risk getting the wrong answers and going down the wrong track.
Want our help? Further’s team of research and design thinking experts can guide and deliver your research using a range of tools and methods to fit your needs, why not get in touch