Ready, Set, Action! Insights that Inspire, Provoke and Transform
Our biggest takeaway from the ESOMAR World Congress of Market Research in Dublin: the era of the 150-slide research report is dead! A cheer went out across the land with that one! We are thrilled that the era of data storytelling, integrating multiple sources of data, and socializing findings through the organization is upon us.
Insights: Business Truths that Lead to Growth
Insights take the business in new directions because they make the world more understandable and more predictable. Insights rely on data, but are not limited to primary research with customers. Insights can come from analysis of customer data, employee interviews, observations of the competitive environment, a supplier, a pattern of market place events or elsewhere. The future belongs to those who can both recognize an insight and also make it sticky and game-changing.
Unilever made “inspiration, provocation and transformational actions” the mission of its global market research team. At ESOMAR World Congress, Stan Sthanunathan, the global lead for consumer and market insights, explained how seriously Unilever’s market research team takes this charge.
“Insights are no longer just for market researchers, it’s the job of everyone in the organization. Employees are also consumers, they should be understanding people as part of their jobs”
Activating Insights: Danone and Heineken
Danone is the parent company of Stony Field, Dannon and Happy Family yogurt brands. Last year they completed “Healthy People”, an immersive study in collaboration with Insites-Consulting to understand how U.S. consumers define and practice healthy shopping and eating. The collaboration yielded 14 key insights to share with the shopper insights team who felt the findings were relevant to a broader audience in the company.
To encourage engagement with their findings across the company, the team created an online ‘activation studio’ that facilitated interaction with the data by brand managers, product developers, communications people and others. Key insights were turned into platforms, and memes such as #YOMOMENTS, #YOKITCHEN and #YOLITTLEONES were created for each one. Employees were encouraged to explore, comment on, and share their ideas. In this way, insights became platforms for collaboration.
With impact as its goal, Dannon launched the activation program to all employees and brands. The short-term impact has resulted in many new ideas being brought forward. Longer term, Danone plans to track reach, engagement, understanding and empathy with consumers as potential KPI’s. In this way, they aim to improve the ROI on insights.
Heineken dominates the Irish lager market with a 40% share. Ireland is a small country, with just under 5 million people and just four urban hubs. Each city has its own cultural nuances and represented an opportunity for Heineken to activate its brand with beer drinkers in a unique and relevant way.
Heineken conducted research to discover what made each city distinctive and created three-word idea ‘essences’ for each city. The essence of Dublin is “Cosmopolitan, Social Diversity and Opportunity”. Belfast’s essence is “Freedom, Optimism and Fragility.”
These essences became platforms for co-creation sessions involving the Heineken marketing team and consumers that generated tailored programs for each city. In Dublin, a music-based program called Sound Atlas encouraged consumers to explore and discover live music from around the world, while #OpenYourDublin encouraged drinkers to try new things in familiar settings. In Belfast, Heineken’s Desperadoes brand hosted unique events in formerly taboo settings, such as the “Raid the Jail” event. These programs were conceived in co-creation sessions that encompassed study participants, researchers and Heineken marketers.
The results were described as “game-changing,” with brand sales increasing double digits nationwide and in some cities as much as 64%. The experience leveraging “powerful truth” also gave Heineken’s marketing culture a new appreciation for localized decision-making.
Where Are You on The Journey from Info to Insights?
Is your business getting the most out of its insights? Here are some ways to assess where you are on the journey from static market research to a dynamic “insights engine” valued by decision-makers within marketing and beyond.
- Mission: Does your market research program aim to just inform or does it inspire ideas and action?
- Priority: Are marketing decisions data-led?
- Scope: What proportion of your research is designed to reduce risk of tactical decisions vs. generate fresh ideas and insights about business opportunities?
- Data Sources: Does your company integrate multiple data streams or focus on just primary and secondary research?
- Sharing: How and how often are insights shared in the organization? Who sees the presentations?
- Access: Is your market research locked away in hard copies or on hard drives, or is it available to employees on demand? Who has direct access?
Changing the mindset around market research takes a concerted effort that can yield tangible benefits. Here are four ways to get started.
- Conduct a market research audit – Identify what insights are critical to moving the business forward, then evaluate the types of research are conducted. Which research contributes most to insights? Where are there gaps?
- Foster a passion for insights across the organization –Encourage every employee and every part of the organization to recognize the importance of insights and contribute to generating them?
- Transform market research to an “insights engine”– Ensure each research program includes a plan to ensure findings have impact across the organization.
- Build an insights respository with broad access across the organization– Insights have a ‘shelf life - what can you do to ensure that the most promising insights are socialized, understood and repurposed?