Friday, October 25, 2013

Live from #TMRE13: Day 3 Recap – Malcolm Gladwell, Insights into Action, and Becoming a Research Force to be Reckoned With

-Cross-posted from The Market Research Event Blog-

We made it folks! The third and final day of #TMRE13 was a great one, and by this time most of you are on planes, trains or in cars heading back home. Consider this your travel reading.


The day kicked off with a truly Nashville-style surprise – a musical introduction by Tim McNary, lead singer of the band McNary. Our first keynote session was an esteemed panel comprised of Timothy de Waal Malefyt from the Center for Positive Marketing at Fordham University, Kathleen Vohs from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, and Catherine Havasi of the MIT Media Lab, and moderated by Katy Mogal of Jawbone. The discussion focused on integrated thinking and the intersection of behavior economics, data science and anthropology. The discussion covered a lot of ground but a key takeaway was how important context is in ethnography, and how context, creativity, confusion contradiction, and conflict (5Cs) lead to ethnographic insights.


Next up was a man who really didn't need much introduction, judging by the market research fanbase on Twitter. Malcolm Gladwell, renowned author of BlinkThe Tipping PointOutliers, and most recently David and Goliath focused on “the inverted U curve” and how all too often we’re focused on one part of the curve but not the other, if we even know the curve exists. We need to take a step back and sometimes do some meta-analysis to see the bigger picture. 

Gladwell also focused on the “won’t” vs. the “can’t” – there are often not enough incentives for people to say “I have enough” and he posited that perhaps capping spending for healthcare or capping R&D budgets could actually solve problems. He also highlighted that there’s also not typically a dearth of information, often “we don’t need more information, we need more action.”  There's an entire other post here on the blog regarding his talk, so I'll move on, but I want to give you a sense of some of the other talks.  But to give you a sense of the popularity of Gladwell's talk, the #TMRE13 hashtag reached 144,392 impressions in 14 minutes of his talk – wow!


The day was just beginning! Soon after Gladwell’s talk I attended “Upping Your Seat at the Table” given by Aaron Fetters of Kellogg's. Fetters feels that the “seat at the table” is waiting for us, and that businesses generally have a desire for insights to play a bigger role. In order to snag that seat we need to expand our sources of knowledge and view of where insights come from (social, CRM systems, loyalty programs, etc.), build and foster the right skills on your team, and create services and solutions that really fuel brand growth. He advocates putting research and analytics in the same working group (something we've done as well that has been very successful). 

The key soundbite from the session was that we as researchers need to “learn to walk from the computer room to the board room” – essentially speak both languages, from stats to storytelling in order to communicate to both teams and drive from insights to action.

Next up, Dorothy White and Leigh O’Donnell of Mars Petcare shared some concrete examples of how to evangelize and amplify insights throughout the organization. Their framework included to-do’s for every step of the project, from performing executive interviews and aligning objectives, methodology and logistics before project kickoff, to testing for surprises and prepping for action during the project, to polishing the message and “workshop ‘til you drop” after the results are in.

Finally, the last session I attended was one of the best of the conference, given by Kate Pomeroy of Pernod Ricard USA focusing on “Converting Insights into Action.” It was a rollicking presentation that covered everything from salt licks to bottle service, from body shots to Portlandia all wrapped up into an insightful presentation with some actionable takeaways on how to craft compelling insights, look for the tension, challenge beliefs and behaviors, visually bringing research to life, and becoming a cultural force to be reckoned with (create a workshop culture and a strong research ‘brand’). Pomeroy said: “The worst thing you can say to me is that I’m ‘the research person’ and the best compliment would be ‘you create value.’”

I hope you all enjoyed your time at #TMRE13 and came away with some actionable insights, lots of business cards, and some new friends! It’s been my honor to tweet and blog the conference for you, and I hope to see you all back next year at #TMRE14 in Boca Raton.  I’d love to stay connected with you - you can always find me on Twitter and at my blog.  Safe travels back home! 
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