Reviewing Market Research Summit – May 2016

11 May 2016 | Research & Business Knowledge

"How must those responsible for driving insight innovate in order to be relevant, both to the modern lives of consumers and the changing structures of the business organisations we serve?"

This is the fourth year of the Market Research Summit.  Set up as a collaborative forum for clients, agencies and industry suppliers, this year's theme was 'how to make market research relevant to the modern world'.  Claire Labrum and Karen Cooper went along to the two day conference to report on the event. 

Day 1:  Report by Claire Labrum 

Prior to being invited to represent the ICG at the event, I have to admit that I wasnt really aware of the Market Research Summit or what role it has in the conference calendar.  First impressions were good – the sparkling, purpose built conference facility in the heart of the city was welcoming, as was the registration table crammed full of delegate badges awaiting collection.  Sadly, many of them remained on the table – although in fairness the rooms did seem to be reasonably busy.  The whole tenor and approach to the conference was clearly client focused.  The session titles were designed to move beyond 'pure' market research, using this as a platform to discuss the generation and application of insight for, and within, client organisations. 

In the nature of any conference, the papers were a little hit and miss in terms of quality and (ironically!) insight.  A couple that I saw felt downright awkward – either trying to be too clever by half (and in the process losing focus and relevance to the topic) or by simply rambling through a list of techniques and resources with no structure or clear objective. 

The organisers tried to innovate with the agenda with mixed success.  The client-only and agency-only sessions seemed like a good idea in principle, but the agency topic lacked any real pull with many people simply skipping the session.  I also liked the idea of 'streaming' the afternoon sessions into broad subject areas with each containing three mini presentations (modelled after the TED talks).  However, logistically it was awkward to jump between rooms in the time allowed (and given the inevitable different run lengths in each room), and some of the presenters needed stronger guidance as to how to manage this type of session.  A good idea, but perhaps too ambitious and needs some refining – reduce the number of rooms and provide stronger (stricter?) guidelines and rehearsals for the presenters.  I also came across audience feedback systems for the first time which was excellent – and one that I would recommend as a great tool for capturing in the moment feedback and encouraging audience participation. 

For me, there were three sessions worthy of note, all for very different reasons. 

Firstly, a session on Bayesian Network Modelling – as a quallie, I expected to be totally bamboozled by this but the speaker, Mick McWilliams was excellent, interspersing the complexities of quantatitive with examples that brought this to life even for me!  This is a relatively new technique that overcomes the main issues inhernet in traditional regression based key drivers analysis.  By using 'joint probability hypercubes' (now that is a phrase I never thought I would ever need to use!), the dual issues of multicollinearity and being able to account for the indirect/ interactive effects of different factors are solved to give the total 'net' effect of a factor on the desired outcome.

The second paper was looking at the power of storytelling.  As you would expect, the speaker, Richard Addy, was entertaining and informative.  Startlingly, six out of ten researchers lack confidence re storytelling, and only 6% of C-suite executives always take action as a result of the research undertaken.  He gave several useful tips which will help bring presentations to life and create a more memorable audience experience, but underlying all of this was the need to think more about the underlying structure and flow of the presentation to create a natural and engaging narrative.  He suggests organise it into three main 'buckets' – situation, complication (or jeopardy) and resolution – and then applying his six step plan.  To summarise:

  • Use emotion to create impact – 95% of decision making is subconcious and emotional (Gerald Zaltman) so use this  – intensity adds emotional power
  • Decide who the central character is (you, the respondents, the client company, the audience etc) and consistently speak with this voice
  • Take the character on a journey with some jeopardy – this makes it more engaging and interesting
  • Generate material to create impactful stories by doing background work on the stakeholders, harnessing existing knoweldge, unearthing insights etc
  • Apply the storytelling structure by using a storygram (example shown here – sorry about the quality!)
  • Be clear and brave about pulling out the business implciations – and invest time in developing these recommendations 

The third paper looked at an emerging approach to predicting markets.  Presented by Justin Charlton-Jones of Blinc, this methodology is based on giving people real money and asking them to 'bet' on an outcome – is this concept/ idea/ event likely to be a success or not?  This effectively harnesses the self-interested intelligence of the crowd, and takes an outcome based approach divorced from the individual (i.e. what do you think will happen vs what will you do personally).  Examples of how powerful this could be included accurately predicting who would be prime minister after the last election (as opposed to asking people how they personally would vote).  An intriguing methodology about which we will no doubt hear much more in the future.