MRA enlisted several researchers attending the Corporate Researchers Conference in Dallas last week to report back summaries & insights from the conference sessions. This report is on “Research Transformation:  Building a Center of Research Excellence” by Jeremy Murrell,  Director, Center of Research Excellence at Brown-Forman. 

Mr. Murrell has developed a Center of Research Excellence at Brown-Forman.

First challenge was to determine the role the center was to play within the corporate structure.

  1. Standardization of all marketing research (MR) tools, analytics and procedures.
  2. Needed to have a rapid response, thus the creation of a library of customized questionnaires to serve all the business units
  3. Knowledge of new technology and new techniques
  4. Knowledge of corporate management. Had to break down all internal silos and share information with all departments and teams

“When bringing new things to life, start by looking for the small wins. Everything we do has to add value.”

  • Immediate impact
  • Faster turnaround for projects
  • Less $$ spent on MR, as units and departments were “not re-inventing the wheel” and getting sound input and advice from the Center
  • Enabled the leveraging of vast amounts of internal data and provide a “Big Data” resource for the entire company.
  • The center provides evaluation of new MR tools and their use.  Avoids outside units getting distracted with “new shinning tool” syndrome.
  • The long term advantage has been that the center will ask the tough questions and provide the guidance to the same brand teams.
  • They view themselves as “Knowledge Managers”.  It is a struggle, as it is still a fragmented process, much like herding cats.
  • Mr. Murrell views the center as a one stop shop for all internal clients and external agencies. Their role is to serve not only MR but all the various disciplines that can impact business intelligence.
  • Curiosity is key to being a “star” marketing researcher at Forman- Brown
  • Centers like this need the full support of those in the C-Suite.

How do you measure success for this team?  Everything must be faster, stronger and smarter. There is a balancing act between the mandate  that is given and the influence that is provided.