We strive to stay on top of what’s happening in the market research industry, and so we attend several conferences each year. One of the conferences we attended this year was The Market Research Event (TMRE) in Scottsdale, Arizona. Before we get into our top takeaways from TMRE 2018 – we must mention the event was star-studded, with not only industry experts but also five-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning, who used football analogies to talk about managing complex team structures!

Our CEO, Jignesh Shah, was one of the speakers at the event, sharing with market researchers how they can test and optimize response rates with the right incentives.

Here are a few of the things we learned about market research at TMRE.

1. The World is Only Going to Get Faster

In her keynote, Confronting Accelerating Change, Beth Comstock, former CMO and Vice Chair at GE, pointed out that, while we may think the world is spinning fast around us now, it will never be as slow as it is today. Change happens quickly in our world, and having the right perspective can help us thrive in this fast-paced environment. She said that disruption should be something we engage, not just respond to.

2. Using Big Data Has Social and Moral Implications

It’s one thing to gather data points, but it’s another to rely on technology to make decisions. Zeynep Tufekci, Techno-Sociologist and Assistant Professor at UNC, Chapel Hill, addressed this in her keynote: The Social and Moral Implications of How We Use Big Data to Make Decisions. Though we often believe that artificial intelligence and machine learning helps us make more objective decisions, that’s not always the case. It’s important to have that human touch to balance the technology to ensure that the decisions have positive moral and social implications.

3. Market Research and Data Science Need to Work Together

While market research relies heavily on data science, too often the disciplines are siloed. The Content Innovation Analytics team at Viacom discussed the value of collaboration between the two in the session MR and Data Science: Collaboration Creates Innovation. Integrating the two can help with product development and marketing strategies.

4. Research Should Have Impact

Crunching numbers and analyzing data is useless if it doesn’t have an impact, according to Yoni Karpen, Research Manager at Airbnb. In his presentation, Becoming the Impact Researcher: A Structured Approach to Storytelling, he discussed the importance of the researcher as an influencer. By seeing the data as a story, researchers can identify problems as well as solutions.

5. Paying Attention to Shopper Preference = Big Rewards

Sometimes, companies make the mistake of thinking they know what their customers want, only to miss the mark. In How Shopper First Thinking Strengthens Partnerships, Jason Smith, Managing Director at Shopper Intelligence, shared how Georgia-Pacific revitalized its paper category simply by listening to customers. We have more access to buyer behavior data than we have ever had, so researchers can leverage it to customize a brand’s offerings based on what shoppers really want.

6. Gen Z is Taking the World By Storm

If you haven’t paid much attention to 18 to 25-year-olds as a customer base, you need to. Sheila Dreyer Van Buskirk, VP of Network Research and Insights at Synchrony, presented Are You Ready for Gen Z? at TMRE. In her presentations, she shared how Synchrony Financial and CMB pay close attention to data to better serve this demographic. Because Gen Z has a different approach to work, shopping, and finances than previous generations, it’s important for market researchers to segment this demographic and determine the best way to connect with it.

7. Market Research Should Be Agile

Market research historically has been a slow-moving entity, but in today’s fast-paced world, it’s imperative that brands learn to be more agile in using the research they gather. In the panel discussion, Supporting Fast Fail Approaches with Consumer Insight, participants discussed ways brands can adopt a “fail fast” mentality to process research faster and apply it to their strategy.

8. The Right Incentives Can Boost Response Rates

One size reward for survey participation does not fit all. Jignesh Shah educated market researchers on how to test and optimize response rates in his presentation, Best Practices for Using Incentives in Market Research. By varying the value and type of rewards, you can better engage participants and see more responses overall.

9. Artificial Intelligence Isn’t the Future of Research; It’s the Now

As technology provides an increasing number of ways to harvest data and assist research, artificial intelligence plays a larger and larger role in market research. Anthony Lambrou, Director of Corporate Strategy & Innovation at Pfizer, discussed how AI can be incorporated into the insights process in his presentation, Deeper Insights: Artificial Intelligence to Uncover New Truths. Because traditional insight-to-action methods are often limited by our human capability to decipher information, AI can dig deeper (and faster) into the data.We learned so much at TMRE this year and got a glimpse into the challenging world of market research.

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