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The Market Research Event

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This Week at TMRE...

This week I had the great fortune to be an "official blogger/tweeter" for IIRUSA at The Market Research Event 2013. 



As always, the conference impressed with the number of researchers (both client-side and agency) coming together to learn what's new in the industry, discuss current challenges, and network with peers.  

I recapped each day of the conference in a blog post for the TMRE13 blog and I've reposted them here as well. Happy reading!

Day 1 Recap

Day 2 Recap


Day 3 Recap

Twitter stream for the event

Eventifier for the event



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Live from #TMRE13: Day 3 Recap – Malcolm Gladwell, Insights into Action, and Becoming a Research Force to be Reckoned With

-Cross-posted from The Market Research Event Blog-

We made it folks! The third and final day of #TMRE13 was a great one, and by this time most of you are on planes, trains or in cars heading back home. Consider this your travel reading.


The day kicked off with a truly Nashville-style surprise – a musical introduction by Tim McNary, lead singer of the band McNary. Our first keynote session was an esteemed panel comprised of Timothy de Waal Malefyt from the Center for Positive Marketing at Fordham University, Kathleen Vohs from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, and Catherine Havasi of the MIT Media Lab, and moderated by Katy Mogal of Jawbone. The discussion focused on integrated thinking and the intersection of behavior economics, data science and anthropology. The discussion covered a lot of ground but a key takeaway was how important context is in ethnography, and how context, creativity, confusion contradiction, and conflict (5Cs) lead to ethnographic insights.


Next up was a man who really didn't need much introduction, judging by the market research fanbase on Twitter. Malcolm Gladwell, renowned author of BlinkThe Tipping PointOutliers, and most recently David and Goliath focused on “the inverted U curve” and how all too often we’re focused on one part of the curve but not the other, if we even know the curve exists. We need to take a step back and sometimes do some meta-analysis to see the bigger picture. 

Gladwell also focused on the “won’t” vs. the “can’t” – there are often not enough incentives for people to say “I have enough” and he posited that perhaps capping spending for healthcare or capping R&D budgets could actually solve problems. He also highlighted that there’s also not typically a dearth of information, often “we don’t need more information, we need more action.”  There's an entire other post here on the blog regarding his talk, so I'll move on, but I want to give you a sense of some of the other talks.  But to give you a sense of the popularity of Gladwell's talk, the #TMRE13 hashtag reached 144,392 impressions in 14 minutes of his talk – wow!


The day was just beginning! Soon after Gladwell’s talk I attended “Upping Your Seat at the Table” given by Aaron Fetters of Kellogg's. Fetters feels that the “seat at the table” is waiting for us, and that businesses generally have a desire for insights to play a bigger role. In order to snag that seat we need to expand our sources of knowledge and view of where insights come from (social, CRM systems, loyalty programs, etc.), build and foster the right skills on your team, and create services and solutions that really fuel brand growth. He advocates putting research and analytics in the same working group (something we've done as well that has been very successful). 

The key soundbite from the session was that we as researchers need to “learn to walk from the computer room to the board room” – essentially speak both languages, from stats to storytelling in order to communicate to both teams and drive from insights to action.

Next up, Dorothy White and Leigh O’Donnell of Mars Petcare shared some concrete examples of how to evangelize and amplify insights throughout the organization. Their framework included to-do’s for every step of the project, from performing executive interviews and aligning objectives, methodology and logistics before project kickoff, to testing for surprises and prepping for action during the project, to polishing the message and “workshop ‘til you drop” after the results are in.

Finally, the last session I attended was one of the best of the conference, given by Kate Pomeroy of Pernod Ricard USA focusing on “Converting Insights into Action.” It was a rollicking presentation that covered everything from salt licks to bottle service, from body shots to Portlandia all wrapped up into an insightful presentation with some actionable takeaways on how to craft compelling insights, look for the tension, challenge beliefs and behaviors, visually bringing research to life, and becoming a cultural force to be reckoned with (create a workshop culture and a strong research ‘brand’). Pomeroy said: “The worst thing you can say to me is that I’m ‘the research person’ and the best compliment would be ‘you create value.’”

I hope you all enjoyed your time at #TMRE13 and came away with some actionable insights, lots of business cards, and some new friends! It’s been my honor to tweet and blog the conference for you, and I hope to see you all back next year at #TMRE14 in Boca Raton.  I’d love to stay connected with you - you can always find me on Twitter and at my blog.  Safe travels back home! 

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Live from #TMRE13: Day 2 Recap – Looking to the Future, Selling the Right Way, FOMO, and Engagementification!

-Cross-posted from The Market Research Event Blog-

Wow, what a day at #TMRE13! The day was bookended by some fabulous keynote speakers, and mid-day we had no less than NINE tracks of sessions to choose from.  From Strategic Planning to Disruptive Technologies & New Methodologies, there was definitely something for everyone offered today.

Kicking off the morning was Jeffrey Cole, Director of the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future who shared results from a study that has been in process for 10+ years, yielding some fascinating insights  and well as sharing his thoughts on the future.  

We learned that FOMO (fear of missing out) is actually a thing. Discussing social networks (including Friendster “which was the coolest social network for about 12 minutes “) Cole feels that Facebook will continue to grow, especially in developing countries, but will survive as “the phone book to the planet” while folks decamp to smaller networks to socialize. Finally, Cole’s advice to brands? “Your learning curve must be steeper than your action curve!”

Next up was Dan Pink, author of To Sell is Human, who right off debunked the myth that we don’t need sales folks.  1 in 9 American workers in 2000 were in sales.  Now? The same, 1 in 9.  However, as Pink shared, our gut reaction when we think “sales” is “a guy in a suit selling a car.”  In fact, when asking research participants to share what came to mind when they thought of sales, the below is what emerged: 



The world of sales has changed – we’ve moved from ‘buyer beware’ to ‘seller beware', so the old mantra of “Always BClosing” no longer holds water. Pink suggests an alternate: Attunement, Bouyancy and Clarity. 

Jumping into sessions, we learned a new mashup word from Randall Janisch of Ford Motor Company – Engagementification - in his talk “Keep it Simple: Simple Innovations in Research Methodology that Go a Long Way.” Janisch focused on innovations from simple ones like making survey questions more visually appealing to more complex or creative methodologies like Ford’s LiveDrive – live, mobile broadcasting (audio/video) so only the moderator goes on the drive along, and the clients follow along in real time online, and can interact with the moderator with questions/prompts. Ford has found this helpful as it removes the reliance on post-drive recall.

The NGMR Award winners (more on that below) were interviewed in a panel discussion led by Kristin Luck of Decipher and Tom Anderson of Odin Text, Anderson Analytics. Key takeaways from the winners included “reverse mentoring – hire folks younger than you as there’s a lot to be learned from them” and “to market yourself in market research you need to be a thought leader – don’t be afraid to take a stand!” 

The keynotes that rounded out the day were from Jeremy Sack, Director of the Pragmatic Brain Science Institute, LRW, and futurist Jared Weiner, VP at Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc.  Jeremy Sack shared his research on stereotyping and how brand stereotyping creates reality.  In order to improve brand stereotypes, “the change effort must feel authentic, the interaction must feel cooperative.” Jared Weiner then took us on a tour of the near future, where gameification will “underpin everything” and where time is simultaneous not sequential, and taught us we should use ‘alien eyes’ to look at things objectively and remove “educated incapacity.” 

Finally, befitting an industry gathering, there were two sets of awards given out today, the EXPLOR awards and the NGMR Disruptive Innovation Awards.  Congrats to the CDC and Mktg Incorporated who snagged the top EXPLOR award prize! Congrats also go out to BrainJuicerInsites Consulting, and Bob Lederer (of Research Business Daily Report fame) for winning the NGMR Disruptive Innovation Awards!

Tomorrow promises to be another busy day of learning and networking...and Malcolm Gladwell! See you all bright and early!   

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Live from #TMRE13: Day 1 Recap: Ensuring Your Seat at the Table, Evangelizing Research, and Thumb Wrestling!

-Cross-posted from The Market Research Event blog-


Hi folks! Each day of #TMRE13 I'll recap key insights from several of the sessions I attended. Follow the blog for daily recaps and don't forget to follow the #TMRE13 Twitter stream for up-to-the-minute updates.

It was a whirlwind first day of #TMRE! Sessions kicked off right at 8:30am (good morning!) and ended with a rockstar keynote by Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken (I recently wrote about her here).  

As many of you know, I'm on the client side and I was pleased that several key client-side themes came up in multiple sessions today:

**We're all looking for "a seat at the table," to prove to our customers (either internal or external, depending on your research gig) that we researchers exist to provide strategic, actionable insights and to help guide strategic insights. As Susan Topel of Centene highlighted in her session "It's Just Not That Hard - Using Consumer Insight for Competitive Advantage" we are not in the job to be order-takers and if you're not being invited to sit at the table, show up anyway!

**As client-side researchers, to be successful you'll need to budget part of your time to evangelizing the research and insights function. If you do your job well, you'll have internal clients asking "what voice of the customer research has been done for this [product launch]" before decisions are made, as has happened to Melanie Wing of Equifax, mentioned in her "The Magical Intersection: How Combining Customer Insights  Competitive Intelligence and Customer Analytics Creates Optimal Business Results" session.

**When you're under the gun for quick turnaround on a project, remember that in addition to going out and getting insights from new data, there may be opportunities to mine your own data to help quantify or bolster those insights. Sarah Ryan of TNS and Ramona Harvey of eBay shared this in an excellent case study of a 3 week + 30k project that yielded insights looking at both existing and new data. 

**Find the right tools and implement some solid process structure in order to be nimble with your research, as there's not always a lot of time to outsource to a research partner. In his session "Lessons Learned from Improving Strategic Market Intelligence Function," Adam Kowalik of Ernst & Young Poland introduced us to the FAROUT framework: future oriented, accurate, resource efficient, objective, usable, and timely. 

Other highlights from today didn't just focus on client-side research. We heard a lot about "reporting" vs. "storytelling" and how to get from one to the next, both in practice, and in perception by your clients. You don't want to become known as the department that just sends out unwieldy reports. For example, in the eBay presentation mentioned above, Sarah and Ramona shared that one of their deliverables for a key project (there were multiple deliverables) was a mobile-optimized infographic sent to their marketing teams that highlighted 5 key insights from the project.  We talk a lot about user expereince in the market research community, and several speakers reminded us to think about your client's user experience with your deliverables.

At the end of the day, Jane McGonigal had us play an epic game of massive multiplayer thumb wrestling to invoke positive "gamer emotions" - thousands of researchers holding hands (well, thumb wrestling) at the end of a busy day!


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Hip, Hot, Happening, and New

Cross-posted from The Market Research Event Blog!  



It order for us to not become stagnant in our jobs and careers, or career, it’s incumbent upon us to continue to seek out the new things happening in our industry. There are lots of ways to do that, from reading industry publications, attending regional association events, watching webinars, reading blogs, being active on social media, and yes national conferences like TMRE.

No matter what sector of the industry we’re in, from qualitative face-to-face interviewing to ‘big data’ analysis, it’s always helpful to hear what other folks are doing.  Not to say that for example if you’re a small qualitative shop hat you’re going to jump into the deep end of neuromarketing immediately. But you never know: 

What your clients may ask (and it’s good to be informed)
What inspiration you might glean from other companies’ projects
What new product or service you might learn about that would serve your company well

I know I know, we only have so many hours in the day and there can be absolute information overload. 

So figure out what works for you to stay on top of the ‘hot trends’ in the industry.  

Maybe it’s booking some time for yourself each Friday over lunch to watch a recorded webinar. 

Perhaps you hold on to your industry publications and those become airplane reading. 

It could be setting up a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day to check the #mrx Twitter feed.  

And, of course, it could be spending a few ‘concentrated learning’ days at an industry conference such as #TMRE13As luck would have it, the savvy #TMRE13 team has created an entire track called “Disruptive Technologies & New Methodologies” so there’s some concentrated learning right there!

Whatever your method, it’s good for you, your job, and your career to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry.  

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