A digital, social and mobile revolution is under way, and it’s disrupting traditional marketing and altering the ways consumers engage with media, shop, browse, buy and tell others about their experiences. The change is profound, happening fast, and will continue to force change upon the business of market research. Themes from this year’s GRIT Report highlight the impact on our industry: speed, new platforms, and the quest for insights in a sea of data.
- Researchers recognize the need for speed. Business is moving fast and we need to see consumers, brands, categories and markets in real-time to provide optimal guidance for competing and winning in this complex world.
- As new platforms, especially in the social and mobile realms, increase in their ubiquity, marketers and researchers must seize new opportunities and respond to the constraints of the new media and platforms.
- We are not short on data sources but must do a better job deriving meaning and value from the available data.
Adapt, don’t scrap
These issues echo the vision and strategy conversations we’re having at LRW and with clients. In fact, I recently learned that the new VP of Consumer Insights at a global packaged goods company is considering dropping major tracking programs in favor of social media monitoring. He felt his traditional tracking program had grown too slow, unwieldy and costly.
While I don’t think social media can ultimately replace much of what we do, the underlying sentiment rings true. Today, a CMO in Chicago can see social media feedback from consumers in Brussels minutes after they share their experiences, but it can take months to deliver “consumer feedback” in a global brand-tracking program. Data now flows instantaneously, causing traditional approaches to appear stale and awkward. Traditional tracking looks like a taxi cab in an UBER world. We must adapt!
I offer a new vision for brand and ad tracking based on these principles:
- Tracking must connect companies to the voice of their customers in real-time, 24/7 via nimble software accessible by phone, tablet and computer.
- It must integrate data from digital and social sources to understand the new consumer journey.
- It must integrate mobile and traditional survey feedback with text analytics to bring structure to the consumer voice in real-time.
- Automation must reduce costs such that we can get much MORE data, analysis and consulting for the same cost.
A little dust on the bottle
This vision led to the development of our new BX offering, which we will be highlighting at IIeX North America. BX has grown from an innovation pilot to an industry-changing offering in 24 months. We built it with one of our best clients who spends $500M on marketing and promotions annually. Together we have taken a dusty, clunky brand and advertising tracker and turned it into a robust marketing and brand feedback system.
BX has already changed the way the client does business, even as it continues to evolve and improve. The company’s CMO, a onetime critic of his marketing research department and brand-tracking program, now considers himself a proponent. Just last month, insights from BX drove recommendations to the Board of Directors.
Setting up for success
Along the way, we’ve learned that change is neither easy nor free. It requires BOLD leadership because there are trade-offs with the status quo.
It requires a shift in mindset from studies to “data systems”. More thinking, clarity and decisions must be moved UP FRONT in the process to design the system to meet marketing objectives.
A large data system requires some trade-offs, mostly between short-term flexibility and medium to long-term power.
Data systems such as these require investment in infrastructure. Like many systems, they cost more in Year 1 for savings and benefits in Year 2 and beyond. The industry requires real leadership to fight through the structural and economic barriers to change on both the client or supplier side. But I believe that this, and approaches like it, are the future of our industry. The yellow taxi will forever be iconic. But as the nostalgic stand street side with their hand in the air, the ready among us will zoom past in UberBLACKs.
- Los Angeles, California
- LRW is known for translating deep human understanding and sophisticated data analytics into business success for its clients.