It was a great week at The Market Research Event (TMRE) in Orlando and I had a chance to debrief with some new friends and colleagues about great moments and actionable takeaways. Overwhelmingly, everyone enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell's keynote, but there were some other gems throughout the week.
For me, Matt Britton, CEO of CrowdTap started his talk entitled, "the Amazon-Driven Renaissance of Market Research" with some deep thoughts about generational differences. While maybe some are tired of talking about millennials, he was quick to point out that the youngest one is currently 21. So, in terms of market research, they are certainly different than Gen Z, but he explained how they were so pivotal in making market changes. This major shift was due to the real gravity of how different it was to have the first generation who grew up with the internet. That is a big departure from how our brains were wired. In that respect, it was a watershed moment.
However, the talk was most interesting because, while they are not the current generation we are getting to know, companies are in the awkward spot of not having millennials yet filling out boardrooms or C-suites. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you consider the road paved by Circuit City, Kodak, and Blockbuster et al you might start to understand the danger of not understanding the next generation.
I loved the warning he issued to any brands to be careful about gearing up for the next shift in consumer behavior. His Nostradamus-like prediction involved major changes in brand loyalty. There were a lot of juicy bits, and you can see Matt Britton's presentation for yourself, but suffice to say, when consumers care more about the channel where they buy (I.E. Amazon) then the brand they buy, companies better be ready to pivot.
Adam Alter's talk entitled, "Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked," was thoroughly engaging. I was lucky enough to stop by the Brandtrust booth and met up with Gillian Carter. My reward was his book, Drunk Tank Pink and it's already amazing! The link I provided is not to buy it, but an amazing NPR interview to give you a bit of his genius. Here's the link to buy Drunk Tank Pink.
I've brought together others' thoughts here, so if you were there with us, enjoy the refresher. If you missed, we're sharing our favorite quotes and actionable lessons:
CEO and Growth Strategist
I want to give a shout out to the Women in Research (WIRe) MRX Diversity Champion Award Winner, Denene Jonielle Rodney. It was my great honor to present this award and recognize a trailblazing woman in our industry. This award provides a platform to illuminate those market research leaders who are working to promote diversity.
Denene Jonielle Rodney founded Zebra Strategies, an organization that specializes in research design and focus-group moderating and recruiting. Rodney established her company to help people— from individuals to C-level executives at multimillion-dollar corporations — understand the differences in culture, ethnicity, and socioeconomic experiences that create the different lenses through which we see the world.
President of the North American Division
I loved Malcolm Gladwell's fresh spin on how we look at data.
I made several connections that will help in what we do. This was my first time attending and I found the conference very informative – I’ll be back!
I loved this quote, "Technology should amplify the best of technology and the best of humanity," from Amber Case, Keynote speaker discussing the principles of Calm Technology. Although the presentation was not entirely related to market research, it was incredibly interesting. As technology becomes more prominent in how we facilitate research, this view will be of greater value. No matter how much technology we employ, we cannot allow ourselves to lose sight of the HUMAN at the other end of the equation - the real, fallible, unique, unpredictable, time-constricted, fascinating human-being who is the subject of the research. If we lose sight of creating both research methodologies/technologies which benefit them AND the understanding that insights we gather and act upon ultimately impact them, then we've lost the plot entirely.
There were also so many great quotes from the panel Kristin Luck hosted with the end-clients on communicating with the C-suite. Here are a couple of my favorites:
"Garbage in, Gospel Out" - Marina Kosten, VP Research - International Theatrical at 20th Century Fox. This quote really hit a chord and won as the most tweeted quote from the #TMREvent hashtag on Twitter.
"Don't just deliver findings, take responsibility for how to implement them. If you see an opportunity, own it," said Elizabeth Merrick May, Head of Consumer Insights at Nest. This one was particularly relevant for communicating research findings and recommendations to the C-suite, but it is relevant for business (and life) in general. As a business owner managing a team myself, my rising stars are all team members who can not only identify problems or opportunities but can take responsibility for suggesting solutions and remaining diligent to ensure that the problem is solved.
In addition, the discussion of behavior data, ad tracking and the expansion of quantitative data collection from simply survey responses and profile data points to creating a holistic picture of the consumer, their behaviors, and engagement with marketing and advertising both online and off is heating up. This makes sense in order to add context to quantitative surveys, but we need to be careful that participants are protected and have some ability to take ownership of their own data and who has access to it. An interesting discussion on this topic (outside of TMRE) can be found here - The Forum.
Founder and Chief Marketing Officer
Viacom's presentation on millennials (Millennial Mosaic - Peeling Back the Layers of the Multicultural Millennial) had the most engaging and informative presentation of the conference. Their research on multicultural millennials contradicts a lot of the myths and storytelling around millennials which is built more on white, upper-middle-class stories. Yet, millennials are more racially diverse than any generation before them. By focusing on the multicultural sub-set, Viacom debunked a lot of myths and rooted other millennial-isms in a more grounded context. It was a compelling presentation, chock full of good data, and a clear reminder that one-size does not fit all in this generation.
I think my favorite moment would have to be Malcolm Gladwell's keynote and being able to share with him at the meet and greet. His message of challenging the numbers and really understanding what every piece of information means to brands, agencies, and consumers, was really eye-opening as we easily fall into the habit of taking information as it is without thinking too much of its origins and who creates the information. This quote really summed it up for me, "Identifying the critical variable requires understanding the stories behind data. It requires that we go beyond the blind acceptance of data that seems to be the most useful and predictive."
This was my 5th year of attendance at TMRE. I think that the quality of speakers and opportunities to connect and create business is great and I love the set up of different tracks so you can plan your schedule based on your interest. I also like the wide variety of subjects that expose us to different areas within the market research space including innovations, methodologies or even ideas for collaboration between clients and agencies. I think it provides great learning opportunities.
Vice President of Client Development
I really enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell's presentation. I always think he has an interesting view on how things work, are analyzed, and the workings of the everyday world. I especially liked the college ranking piece when he took a real look at the evaluation process and justified how a large portion of schools are ranked highly because of the focus on endowment and overall reputation but not necessarily on the overall level of academics. Secondly, I thought the correlation was fascinating among students' school ranking and overall performance at all universities/colleges regardless of ranking. His speech was a great reminder that we should carefully investigate the data we are using to make important decisions. In fact, he said it was our civic duty to ask and then ask again.
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