What we need to understand humans is an experiential insight eco-system, not just technology

As published in the Greenbook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) report. Considering the adoption of tools and technologies reported in the GRIT study, one may rightfully conclude that analytics are as important as social media, big data and text analytics to reach high penetration among end clients (over 40% in use). But while social media, mobile and other technologies make us data rich, we are still insights poor! The latter is exactly what end-clients want to develop as skills.
This year’s GRIT results suggest there is a high need for training around making sense of data and drawing the attention of executives by means of stories and visualizations. But, therefore, we need to add small and soft data, or consumer context. Luckily, when considering the GRIT adoption numbers again, we see several methods high up on the adoption curve which allow adding consumer context. Communities, mobile ethnography, and mobile in-the-moment surveys can generate extraordinary insights into people’s everyday life experiences. These can provide the rich ingredients needed to build stories and create change in executives’ thinking.

Adding context

In a global community for Dorel Juvenile’s premium stroller brand, Quinny, we sent people on mobile missions to generate context and illustrate their behavior around mobility. By means of these real-life experiences, we discovered that for urban parents their skills for moving around the city were more important than their looks, which was key for repositioning the brand.
In quantitatively validating product concepts for JDE, consumers tested coffee concepts while they were in a specific occasion. Consumers had to prove they were, for example, in the supermarket, having breakfast or on a break by uploading a picture through their mobile. By doing so they unlocked a short survey and evaluated a concept. Consumers who evaluated the product concepts while in a specific moment judged the concepts differently in terms of relevance, usefulness and credibility – which was very helpful for the positioning of the product. Based on a post-product-launch follow up study, we found that the predictive validity of the buying intention of consumers who evaluated the concept while in a specific occasion was much higher than the control groups.
But data remains a means to an end. The end being: activating employees with human insights such that an entire organization centers around the very people who buy their brands. The worst enemy of the best study is that it is ad hoc. Hence, there is a need to focus on the delivery and marketing of insights. We have recently implemented Insight Activation Studios at different companies. A Studio is a corporate social network which both diffuses insights and helps executives collaborate and co-create around human insights.
At Dannon we reached 1/3 of executives with consumer insights, whom we would otherwise never have reached. For these executives, it was eye-opening to experience consumer observations in a very illustrative way and search solutions for it themselves (rather than reading long boring research reports), and it helped reach consumer closeness.

An eco-system

In an ideal world, organizations should build a dynamic experiential insight eco-system in which these components interplay and being inspired by consumers is a habit. It would increase the return on insights and truly bring a company close to humans, rather than focused on internal processes, technology, cutting costs or short term shareholder growth.

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