Reflections from IIEX: Agility in Research is No Longer an Alternative Approach

Myself and several members of our team recently had the opportunity to attend IIEX North America. Over the course of two and half days and countless sessions, a clear theme began to emerge. Agile research – also referred to as iterative, always-on, or on-demand – is no longer a mere concept but instead a necessary reality for brands and their insight organizations.

Why is that? In many of the companies represented at the conference, insights teams are still smaller than they once were, and budgets continue to be on the decline. But rather than get hung up on having to do more with less, these organizations are framing it in terms of doing more differently. They are looking for ways to work within the constraints they have, while still delivering what their business stakeholders need. This can mean different types of studies, different types of vendor partners, and even different ways of looking at existing research.

The idea of agility in research also relates to another focus of the conference, which was helping insights teams gain or regain their seat at the table. In order to do this, these teams are putting more of their focus on providing tangible impact on the business, and this is achieved by delivering meaningful, actionable recommendations. To keep pace with business partners and deliver the data needed to inform the decisions they are being asked for every day, many are finding that good enough is better than perfect and that multiple small-scale studies that build upon each other are better than one or two longer ones. Said one insights manager during a presentation, “Good, bad or otherwise, I just need data in a week.”

On a similar note, one client panel, comprised of representatives from a technology company, media network, and two CPGs, was unanimous in the idea that ROI, which has been a hot topic at conferences in years past, is also now measured in terms of business outcomes. “It’s about accountability, not research dollars,” said one of the panelists. “Did the data we provided help retain customers? Drive activations? Support all the cross functional groups we work with and help them meet their goals?”

In light of these shifts, how can we as industry partners support our client brands in the quest for faster, more efficient research? Much as corporate insights teams have shifted their thinking, we need to do the same, looking for ways to streamline our own processes to meet the need for the right insights at the right time.

20|20 Research Recognized For Innovation

I’m thrilled to share that 20|20 Research has been recognized as one of the most innovative suppliers in the world, according to the just-released GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) report.  We’ve been included on the list every year since the survey’s inception, this year ranking number 17, up three spots from our 2016 rank.

The GRIT Report identifies the top 50 most innovative research providers and provides data on other key industry trends as determined by a survey of nearly 3,000 research industry professionals worldwide. This year’s report demonstrates that now, more than ever, clients need research suppliers that can deliver insights faster and easier than ever before.

I am so proud of the work our team has done to support our clients and meet this need over the last year, delivering a number of enhancements to our existing solutions, like QualBoard, as well as rolling out innovations and new technology, such as Ethno360. And of course, some of the credit for this amazing recognition must be attributed to our joining forces with iModerate late last year.  Their smart, curious team, and their unique technology and approaches, have been a great addition to the 20|20 family.

Many thanks to our clients for always supporting us, our team for the excellent service they continually provide, and to the other suppliers on the list for helping us all raise the bar for the research industry.

Here’s to continued innovation!

Trends: The “6 Cs”

Will you ride them or be swamped by them?

 

Michael Tchong describes himself as an Innovation Consultant and Trend Analyst.  He is the founder of UberCool and an experienced global speaker.  I had the opportunity to see him present at the Insights Association’s NEXT Conference last week.  He outlined three trends that resonated with trends we at 20|20 are seeing in the market.  I’m calling them the “6 Cs.”

1. Connectivity – always on, always connected to everyone

2. Convergence – technologies coming together (think smartphone)

3. Convenience – “If it’s not easy, I don’t want to mess with it.”

4. Control – “I want the FREEDOM to do my own thing.”

5. Customization – “It’s about what I want. It’s not about what you are offering.” 

6. Compression – less time, more multitasking, reduced attention spans, instant gratification

If these trends are even close to true, they signal nothing less than a revolution in the research industry.  We will see a massive shift in power and influence.  The research industry as it exists today cannot survive in an environment where the “6 Cs” are true.  Such an environment is toxic to the research industry of today.

So what are the implications?  What are you and I doing to meet this challenge?  Are we willing to change or are we basking in the rut of comfortable research and known cash flows?  What are you doing to evolve or even revolutionize this business of research?

I am convinced that these trends are right.  I’m also convinced that they will rock our industry.  The only question is, “Who will be riding these trends and who will be swamped by them?”

20|20 Launches Ethno360

As researchers, we want to hear and see everything. The more immersed we are in a person’s experience, the more insight we will gain. That’s why I am excited to announce the launch of our latest solution, Ethno360.

By leveraging advanced 360-degree camera technology for in-home ethnographies, shop-a-long experiences, meal preparation studies and more, Ethno360 will provide deeper insights and a more authentic user experience than other digital ethnographic technologies, which are limited to what respondents are willing to show and share.

For example, if a participant is prepping a meal in their home, Ethno360 allows you to see not just what is in front of them but the entire space around them. In a supermarket, you can view not only product choice selection but also the surrounding influences. Ethno360 captures the complete story of various consumer experiences in richer detail and allows you to uncover more meaningful information.

To showcase the technology in action, we’ve put together a brief example, which you can view here.  Within the video, you’ll be able to click and drag around the screen to explore the full 360 degrees.

Reflections and Learnings from the Quirks Event

A couple of weeks ago I returned from the bi-coastal experiment called the Quirk’s Event. One was held in Irvine, CA, and one in Brooklyn, NY.  I attended them both.  The consensus among attendees seemed to be that the Brooklyn event was stronger, but maybe this is because it is the older sibling to the new Irvine event.  Even so, Irvine gets the award for most exciting since the hotel lost all power on the conference’s final day, even though it was a beautiful SoCal dKermitay without a cloud in the sky.  Maybe the Californians were just being “green.”

Even without power, I heard a few things that made me stop and take note around the evolution of brands, the pace of business, and the keys to product development.

BRANDING

Some thought-provoking quotes on branding.

  • “Has the world changed more rapidly than your model?” — Amy Levin, Benenson Strategy Group
  • “What is the important (to the customer) benefit that only you can enable?”  Corollary, “First, talk to the customer, then talk internally.”  — Lori Laflin, Cargill
  • “One of the top 3 reasons people trust brands is because of their vulnerability or reciprocity” — Baileigh Allen, BrandTrust

SPEED

Speed, it seems, reigns supreme.

IBM shared details about their “Always On Intelligence Program.”  This program is driving their transformation “from a project-driven to a program-driven information system with continuous feedback.”  Reported results at IBM, “providing engaging insights at the pace of business and improved client perceptions of IBM.”  Think about the implications of this if this radical thinking becomes industry standard.  It will change everything.

Meanwhile, “We conduct fast turn concept testing all the time” was a comment from Simone Schuster of Dannon – further confirmation that we live in world where we want information, and we want it now.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

At its core, product development is about understanding the consumer. Jenni French Cyrek of Microsoft shared five questions that product managers should ask.

  1. Where are the gaps in the customer buying and use process?
  2. Where do important needs and low satisfaction intersect? That is opportunity.
  3. What concepts actually work for the customer, not the company?
  4. What is a strong value proposition for the market?
  5. How to improve the product over time? Match survey and behavioral metrics.

Hats off to the Quirk’s team for taking risks and trying some new techniques.  Maybe the West Coast event will grow to be as good or better than the Brooklyn event.  Regardless, they have re-invented a tradeshow/conference format that works. I admire smart risk-takers.

I plan to be in Brooklyn next year. The jury is still out on Irvine.  However, I might be swayed by the prospect of a few days in SoCal in February.

 

 

How can you get a more complete view of the customer? Hybrid research.

As companies engage in a never-ending battle for share of mind and wallet, every new piece of insight has the potential to provide a competitive advantage. As we explore in our latest white paper, the companies that win are those that have a 360-degree view of their customer – and there is no better way to gain a more complete view than by blending research methods in a hybrid approach.

What exactly do we mean by hybrid research? In its simplest form, hybrid research simply means mixing methods. Most commonly it involves adding a qualitative element to the end of a quantitative survey. With all the tools available today, this can mean an online discussion or webcam interviews after a survey to explore certain ideas or capture feedback in the consumer’s own words. It can mean blending in-person research with online journaling, or in-home usage testing with social media.  Really, the possibilities are endless based upon your specific objectives.

Whatever blend of approaches are selected, the goal should always be the same – to give the insights some flavor, add some nuance, capture that coveted voice of the customer. Hybrid research provides this critical layer of humanity, the “why” behind the what, and it has the power to do so without derailing timelines and budgets.

To read more about hybrid research approaches, and how they can provide more comprehensive insights, check out our white paper Today’s Hybrid Research: It Might Not Mean What You Think It Means. In it, you’ll also find examples of studies that have successfully employed mixed methodologies. Happy reading!

20|20 Acquires iModerate. Prepares for the Future.

The research landscape is rapidly changing.   Change is not coming, it is here.

We cannot sit still and expect to thrive in the transformational era shaking our industry.  Technology is creating a revolution in how we gather, analyze and use data to make marketing and strategic decisions.  Competitive pressures and faster internal processes are dramatically shortening timelines.  We as an industry must answer the call to continually develop new methods to deliver meaningful information faster and more clearly than ever before.  Innovation and transformation cannot be a one-time event; it must be on-going.

imoderate_logo_2c-1In the spirit of continuous transformation, this week 20|20 announced its first acquisition in 30 years by bringing iModerate into the 20|20 family (press release here).  Like 20|20, iModerate is a service-first technology company with a strong brand and experienced staff.  But iModerate also brings new capabilities and a renewed sense of energy and forward thinking.

iModerate is overflowing with smart, capable people who understand research.  They will challenge us to see the 20|20 products and services with new eyes.  20|20 will challenge them to see the iModerate products and services from a different perspective as well.  Together, we can focus a broader array of services on solving a wider range of the problems vexing our clients.

In the end, joining these two companies will give our clients a stronger partner to help them solve problems faster and with better information than ever before.  Business is accelerating; the tools available to all researchers are multiplying; clients must have partners they can trust with the tools they need to solve problems faster than ever before.  These trends, and others, are driving the industry’s transformation.  20|20 and iModerate will continue to serve our clients with innovative, insightful solutions that produce answers to the questions that drive their business.

We at 20|20 welcome the iModerate staff and solutions to the family.  The future will be challenging, but together, we are ready.

20|20 Marks 30 Years in Research 

On September 22, 1986, two young guys hung out a shingle with the goal of establishing a research firm focused on the delivery of outstanding research and a commitment to building relationships through superior client service. Today, that company, 20|20 Research, has grown to include 140 employees across three offices, serving nearly 4,000 clients around the world.

We have won our share of awards through the years, from fastest growing company in Nashville to “most innovative” to excellence in building design.  But 20|20 is simply the sum of its people…and ours are the best.  Some are songwriters by day and recruiters by night.  Some have logged more than 20 years with the company.  Several are continuing their careers with other research firms or corporate research departments.  All contribute to the culture of mutual respect and caring that make 20|20 a special place for the last 30 years.  I’m proud to be associated with these people.

As we mark our 30th anniversary, I want to offer my sincere thanks to our clients and our partners.  Without your support, we would not have reached this historic milestone, and all the other milestones along the way.

To our employees, too, who continue to support that original mission of providing the highest level of research expertise and client service.  I salute you.

In fact, I was recently asked what I am most proud of when I think back over the last 30 years.  In that time, we’ve gone from two guys with an idea to a worldwide leader in research technology.  But it isn’t our platforms, services or innovations that give me the greatest sense of pride.  It’s the company and our culture.  Throughout the years we have changed what we do and how we do it, but we’ve never fundamentally changed who we are.  At our core, that is a caring company focused on service.  And I honored to be a part of it every day.

Thanks again to everyone who has supported 20|20 and made these 30 years possible.  Our success is yours. Here’s to the next 30!

20|20 and Resource/Ammirati Partner for Mobile Award

This week, 20|20 won the 2016 Award for Best Mobile Qualitative from Market Research in the Mobile World (MRMW).  We are honored to be recognized.  The MRMW Awards celebrate excellence in market research and those who contribute to achievements in mobile market research.  The awards were presented July 19 at the MRMW North America Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

We also want to recognize our partner Resource/Ammirati for being willing to take a risk and try something new.  The winning project was conducted in partnership with Resource/Ammirati, a digitally focused creative agency. They approached us to assist with a study centered around baking, with the goal of tapping into the motivations of the modern baker.

20|20 used the QualBoard® discussion platform and QualBoard®Mobile™ app so that respondents could use pictures and videos to document their time in the kitchen throughout the week-long study. With the app, participants were able to upload an unlimited amount of media, which not only led to greater in-the-moment feedback, but also much more detailed insights into their experiences. So much so, in fact, that the findings were contrary to what was expected before the project began and resulted in completely different messaging for the creative work after the fact.

In accepting the award on behalf of 20|20, my colleague Isaac Rogers said it best, “Thank you to our clients for their willingness to take risks with us.” After all, the best innovations and forward momentum for the market research industry are born out of these sorts of partnerships.  It is through close collaboration and a willingness to try new things that we can uncover unmet needs and address them with new approaches.

So thanks to MRMW for the recognition, to all of our clients who support our innovation, and to the team at 20|20 who put so much effort every day into supporting our clients.  And, a special, heart-felt thanks to Resource/Ammirati for stepping out to partner with us to try new and revealing techniques.

To read more about the 2016 MRMW Awards and the other honorees, please click here: http://na.mrmw.net/blog-post/winners-of-the-2016-mrmw-mobile-research-awards-announced

 

America Speaks: A little fun with the GOP Presidential Candidates

We at 20|20 had a little fun last night.  While the Republican Presidential debate raged on, we did a poll of Americans to see what they thought about the candidates in a more “tongue-in-cheek” way.  Here is what 2000 Americans had to say last night to 5 burning questions with a little commentary tossed in for fun.

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