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The100: Clients vs agencies, reality checks, and pillow fights 


Is there a better combination than when something is both useful and fun? Didn’t think so. 

That’s why we asked a few of our researchers (who have walked the hallways of Cadbury, Kraft, Mondelez, Fonterra, PepsiCo, Unilever and Alberto Culver) to discuss some topical research related questions. Kind of like an advice column for consumer research, but in video form (surprise).

First up, they’re debating how and why discussion guides should differ between methodologies. Watch here, or listen here. A couple of highlights:

Research will answer the objective, the guide doesn’t need to answer the objective. And the research is the holistic process of us doing that analysis and pulling everything together.

Sometimes the actual most important learning of the study is the fact that nobody brought up this thing that you thought was so important.

Have you got a conundrum that you’d like our researchers to answer? Email me

Great minds and all…

Turns out we weren’t the only ones talking about asking less questions in Discussion Guides. 

Nick Graham, Global Head of Insights & Analytics at Mondelēz, has been explaining the benefits of giving respondents space for discussion (08:37):

The critical shift that we made is we just stopped asking questions […] And what we really wanted it to do was to give the space to the people we were talking to, to tell their own story and to discover and to find the serendipitous insights that you wouldn’t necessarily know where to look for.

Or as Martin Weigel once noted: 

We could let people talk about what actually matters to them, not just answer the questions that matter to us.

Nick also said that we’re at an inflection point in Market Research (05:06):

We need to create the space for this slow, deep data and slow deep research that really gets at the heart of what drives and what motivates human behavior […] If you can pair those together with that big fast data, that is the unlock to get us to those really breakthrough, really powerful insights.

Are you remaining relevant?

Tom Goodwin says, marketers have never seemed more removed from reality

The latest study to highlight this is called the Brand Lighthouse Effect. It found that: 

Marketers are almost twice as likely to pay attention to branding than consumers.

So that’s why you think no one cares about your brand. Because, well, they don’t. 

Faris, wry as ever:

If brands were truly customer centric or obsessed or whatever:

– There would never be a line at the airport 

– You would never have to wait on hold when you call

– They wouldn’t shrink product sizes to maintain profit margins

– They would never buy back shares.”

So the big quandary is this: 

  1. If we know there is a problem,
    (in that there is a lack of understanding of people, of marketers being distanced from reality.)
  1. Which has a direct monetary impact on the business,
    (i.e. we’d make more money by designing things people actually want.)
  1. And we know how to fix it 
    hello there 😉

  2.  How come we are not fixing it at every opportunity? 

Talking beer, boilers and baked beans

It’s been lovely hearing all these big hitters in the world of advertising extolling the value of the Qual research that they used to do in their formative years. 

Last week we featured Martin Weigel who started his career as a qualitative researcher, before heading into the world of advertising as a planner (reminder: Weigel worries that planners have lost that direct contact with consumers; that there is no substitute for a face to face with a consumer). 

And this week we have the mighty Jim Carroll humbly remembering his younger years, travelling around the UK, talking to consumers, and discussing the power of verbatim: 

When we presented our findings, I tried to impress my Clients with my insight, analysis and eloquence. One day I realised that the Clients were not that interested in my intellect. They were, however, fascinated by the occasional direct quotes that I inserted into the debrief. Suddenly they looked up and leaned in. These verbatim statements put the consumer in the room – unfiltered, unmediated, unvarnished. When subsequently we were able to video respondents, the effect was enhanced still further.

If you’ve been unable to listen to consumers this week, here’s something to flex your empathy muscle: 12 teenagers on what adults (that’s you) don’t get about their lives.

Agency/Client relation ships in the night

There have been some excellent articles written about agency/client relationships – from client behaviours that need to stop (Gareth Turner, Head of Marketing, Weetabix), to what your clients wish you knew (Hannah Slapper, BBH) to clients and agencies coming from completely different planets (Paul Thomas, Asahi).

I’m writing something on this subject, using all these references and more. As such, I’d love to interview a few of you and get your thoughts on it (on or off the record). Any takers out there? Just email me. Much obliged.

Pillow talk

The Amazing World of Sport series in the Guardian is eye-widening: who knew pillow fighting was a sport? If there isn’t a pillow fighting bar opened up in London’s trendy Shoreditch by the end of the year, I’ll be surprised. 

Plus ça change?

Billie Eilish won an Oscar a few weeks ago – you might have missed it 😉 It reminded me about my favourite video of the year (every year): Vanity Fair repeating the same interview with Billie. They’re in their 5th year now. Have a watch when you have the time. I loved it.  

Until next time – and don’t forget to let me know if you’re up for an interview on the client/agency thing.