The IIR Technology Driven Market Research Event was, as anticipated, thought provoking. I’ve since been reflecting on and mulling over the noteworthy highlights, questioning what left the biggest impression on me.
Nearly all of the presentations and panels showcased the steady progress we are making towards openly embracing new and innovative ways to employ technology from a market research perspective. The shift toward a new MR framework that is characterized by data oceans, narratives, and methodological agnosticism was described by Leonard Murphy during the opening State of the Industry update was well received as attendees dug into two full days of action-packed technology.
While much of what was presented has been widely available for several years now, it was the client case studies that so poignantly depicted more widespread acceptance of what used to seem far too difficult to implement quickly, cost-effectively and reliably. Olga Patel of Nestle did a wonderful job of simplistically illustrating how eye tracking technology could be applied to researching shopper behavior and product package design. The ease with which she spoke about her experiences made the potential angst of leaping off the ledge and embracing that type of technology feel like child’s play. Many technologies highlighted in the presentations are perfect examples of evolution. ESPN and Vision Critical discussed using a ‘feeling-based’ dial test to test the emotional drivers of content appeal. The dial is designed to allow a respondent to choose which emotion they are feeling at that moment rather than forcing them to rate appeal on a one-dimensional scale. This is a good example of why being a technical practitioner isn’t simply being first to the market; it is about being best in market.
What perhaps lingered most from all I experienced is best summarized as I stood in front of my brand spanking new washer and dryer this morning. Technology as a whole is fantastic – the way of the future – but unless you are willing to make an investment in wholeheartedly embracing it for all it can be, the final outcome will likely be only marginally better. The laundry initially coming out of my new dryer didn’t look all that different until I took the time to learn how to effectively navigate the computerized control panel and steam the nagging wrinkles out. It was only at that point that the investment was fully recognized and seemed like something I should have done long ago.
As market researchers we still have a long way to go. There are lessons we’ll learn about new technologies and methods at inopportune times but we will be better for them. This event was a good step in pushing everyone out of their comfort zone and providing proof of concept. Who will emerge as best in market is a much more interesting question to ponder and one that no doubt will be revealed over the course of the coming months.