Back to the Future with Tiina Raikko
The current pandemic has not only marked consumers and brands, it also challenged research and insights professionals to rethink current practices and approaches. What’s the impact of COVID-19 on how we organize consumer research? What’s the role of DIY research activities? Is there an increasing need for foresights versus insights? How will the past months shape the future?
To answer these and other questions, we connected with client-side researchers for a series of ‘Back to the Future’ interviews, to hear their take on the future of market research. In this particular interview, Stijn Poffé, Business Director InSites Consulting Australia talked about the rise of digital, DIY and future-facing insights with Tiina Raikko, Director of Fuel Consulting and an experienced insight professional in the Australian FMCG market.
#1 The future of MRX is digital-only
Q: How has COVID-19 accelerated the digital transformation of the MR industry?
“That’s a very bold statement! I think if you would have asked me this six months ago, I would have said definitely not. But I think the experience of COVID has really changed how all of us think about digital. There’s been a huge acceleration in digital research, particularly qualitative research. But will it only be digital in future? I still think that there is a space for real personal face-to-face interaction. From an insights professional point of view, it’s important to build consumer connection and empathy between your marketing team and consumers. It’s one thing to talk online or to talk on the phone, but when you can be in a room with somebody, it’s a different type of conversation. Apart from research, we also want the marketers – who are immersed in the details and day-to-day business of their product – to sit back and talk to real people. That kind of connection remains really important.
There will be people going back to face-to-face qual again, and there will be good reasons for doing that. But I think having jumped the hurdle of trying it out (online qualitative research) makes people realize they don’t have to get in their car to drive to a venue, but they can just log in from the privacy of their own home. All the convenience that comes with this online world makes it easy to get people into this space.”
# 2 The rise of DIY
Q: Will COVID-19 lead to more in-/ outsourcing of research tasks?
“DIY is prompted by two things. One is a lack of budget, or a reduction in budgets, and thus the increased need to look for ways to make research cheaper. And the second is of course flexibility: if I’ve got access to a platform and I can write a survey right now and launch it right now, cutting out the agency saves a lot of time, right? And flexibility and costs are things that have always been an issue.
For me, DIY is an opportunity to do more with less. DIY research doesn’t replace everything that we did before, and having our own DIY platform doesn’t mean that everything we used to do in full service we now do ourselves, absolutely not. I’m not interested in the complexities of running my own tracking study. I’m not interested in trying to do a strategic choice model or any of those sorts of things. For me, a DIY platform is an incremental cost. But the return on investment is huge because you end up doing a lot more things that you wouldn’t have paid an agency to do for you.
The other thing that it does is; it means that because you’re doing more things, your ability to bring research into the day-to-day with your marketing team or your innovation team to really make it part of the regular conversation and the regular thinking is there, working into real-time decision making. That is fantastic.”
# 3 The need for foresights
Q: Generating foresights has become as important as creating insights?
“What’s interesting about this whole idea is that you need to look at trends to see how things are evolving and forecast into the future, not just kind of talk about what’s happening now or what happened before. When budgets are tight people become very ‘now-centric’. They have to spend the money on the things that are important now and must take decisions now. That doesn’t mean that looking into the future is no longer important. But it means many do not spend so much on the bigger picture of the future. Because we are looking forward into a recession, the companies I work with often look back, not forwards, because they feel they are closer to the past. There’s no question that we should be looking to the future. Yet, often the impulse is to not go that far when things are a little bit shaky.”
In summary, Tiina is convinced that COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital market research. As many professionals were ‘forced’ to use it, they also rapidly discovered the benefits and convenience of going digital. DYI allows to give an instant answer to marketers’ day-to-day questions, while at the same time bringing the business closer to consumers.