[ISC 2015 attendee Mary Aviles agreed to share her personal notes from conference sessions. Whether you're looking for a refresher from sessions you attended or to glean a few insights from sessions you missed, I think you'll find her take-aways helpful. -Jess Forrester]

Opening Keynote: Better & Faster by Jeremy Gutsche

Key takeaway: cross-pollination of activity across industries is essential for cultivating new ideas for our clients and ourselves. Strategic planning and our own marketing are activities with which most market researchers struggle. Jeremy’s homework questions are a perfect tool for facilitating our own strategic conversations. [I actually plastered these all over my office walls last week.] Strategic advancement is a discipline that demands your time.

  • Jeremy spent a decade studying chaos. [What a great gig!]
  • It used to be that Fortune 500 companies stayed on that list for ~75 years. That has declined to 15 years; COMPANIES ARE NOT INHERENTLY STRUCTURED TO ADAPT.
  • Takeaway from the Robert Lange origami story is that you can have phenomenal success when you marry what you love with what you’re good at.
  • Opportunities come from making connections between fields that other people don’t realize.
  • Profit = the place where hard work and overlooked opportunity overlap.
  • Be insatiable. Your competitors are lazier than you think.
  • Innovation has become overwhelming so how do you filter to find and act on opportunities?
  • Jeremy’s upbringing and career "path" (reading magazines from every industry, etc) demonstrate that EVERYTHING is a learning opportunity.
  • Excellent examples from Ugly Doll and IDoNowIDon’t creators for finding opportunities others don't see and capitalizing on them. [FYI, I just sold my wedding ring on IDoNowIDon’t. Thanks, Jeremy!]
  • You’re prewired to repeat and optimize the things that have worked in the past rather than disrupting this to truly innovate. "Your corporate culture can be the key to your own destruction."
  • Dedicate a portion of every week to growing your business.
  • Fascinating discussion of Zara’s leadership and business model…good study in agility.
  • How much time do you spend hunting?
  • How many ideas do you let die?
  • How often do you stray from past successes?
  • Where could you over deliver to DELIGHT?
  • Tough Mudder and Water Utility examples perfectly exemplify what can happen when you look for opportunities and/or embrace disruption
  • Don’t fight an unstoppable force, REDIRECT
  • What do people hate about your industry? 
  • Companies follow rules/policies/standards and that makes them predictable
  • Check email for a reminder of Jeremy's private trend reports for MRA.
  • Two specific trend documents from Trendhunter to investigate further: data security and boomers

ConsumerCam: Better Point of View Recording for Breakthrough Insights by Julie Knox & Alex Johnston

Key takeaway: though we don’t do ConsumerCam, there were helpful tips and tricks in this case study. The underlying theme is to find and use a video recording device that is very user friendly and enables the participant to be the most at ease, thus better replicating as closely as possible a ‘real life’ situation.

  • Pairing behavior economics theory with on-person technology, POV recording
  • Client = Tesco, UK market leader in grocery, but under attack by disruptive competitors like Walmart and Aldie & Little (sp?)
  • Discussion of Behavioral Economics (system 1 and system 2); "most decisions happen quickly without much thought"
  • System 1 = instinctive, fast, unconscious; system 2 = reflective, rational, slow, self-aware)
  • "Cognitive misers" = default to S1, behavior comes first, unreliable witnesses (can’t explain motivation)
  • S2 tried to explain what S1 has done
  • Approach: 
    • Id S1 biases
    • Get closer to behavior via glasses (source glasses from private investigation tech company, unbranded)
    • Harness BEs interpretive power
  • Research identified six behavioral biases and tendencies
  • Priming insight: Tesco has the opportunity to set the right tone for the whole trip, first impressions prime the whole experience, Whole Foods are the best at being inviting in their entrance (make it inviting)
  • Mission focused insight: shoppers are goal-driven; means that the customer can ignore what they see as irrelevant (GREAT user video of the search for salad dressing in the salad aisle…user thought salad, then dressing, so having the dressing located in the middle meant they overlooked it four times)
  • These videos are particularly effective at opening senior leadership’s eyes

QRCA: Apples for Oranges: How Trade-Offs Drive Consumer Decision Making by Tom Rich

Key takeaway: Qualitative market research analysis is far more efficient and rigorous when frameworks are employed to organize data artifacts. Tom offered a great framework for analyzing/segmenting qualitative data results by trade offs.

  • Trade-offs are actually complexly nuanced transactions
  • Framework:
    • Currency 1: time (temporal, experience)
    • Currency 2: energy (wattage, skill, hassle)
    • Currency 3: money (price/value, affordability)
    • Currency 4: performance (intrinsic quality, execution/hedonics, measureable performance criteria)
    • Currency 5: self-esteem (knowledge/personal abilities, possessions/wealth, affiliation, altruism/sacrifice, nurturing, moral/ethical superiority, control, uniqueness/individuality, ability to add value)
  • The only way to gain insight into self-esteem is qualitative research
  • Strong brands drive self esteem, strong brands appreciate in value AFTER purchase
  • Tom’s framework begins with the identification of choice sets
  • In his Keurig example, their pitch changes based on the target consumer’s competitive set

Keynote: Good Enough by Dan Hill

Key takeaway: Despite Dan’s evaluation of the automated means of coding/analyzing emotion, manual facial coding is still the most accurate method. You can’t use S2 to get at S1. He did suggest using facial coding to aid in/matched to verbatim analysis. This has immediate applications in our work that we are very interested in pursuing. 

  • Iceberg image = 98% of our decision making is S1, the part of the iceberg that’s under water
  • The emotional brain is 10x more active than the rational brain, it’s 5x quicker than the quickest cognitive reaction
  • Sentiment analysis software is still only 56% accurate w/caveats
  • EEG is challenged by cognitive load
  • Charles Darwin was the first scientist to study facial coding
  • Facial expressions are universal. Even a person born blind emotes the same as the seeing. It’s hardwired.
  • Automated facial coding solutions are only 34% accurate.

Keynote: Innovation, Technology and the Future of Marketing Research by Ashish Soni

Key takeaway: Though it’s almost impossible to accurately predict in this era of rabid change, smart market researchers should see the technology writing on the wall and arm themselves with the skillsets that align with technology advances. When asked what skillsets would be most beneficial, Ashish suggested 1) studying the basics of data science (studying, cleaning, processing data) and 2) teaming up with data scientists.

  • Ashish invests in companies that cannot be easily cloned. 
  • His organization exists at the nexus of deep insights, big problems, and deep technology.
  • There were 30,000 start-ups launched in 2014. This will grow exponential in the next 5-10 years.
  • He defines our current place in history as "Innovation’s Cambrian Moment"—in other words, at a significant inflection point in technological advancement.
  • Machine intelligence is next huge leap in technology innovation.
  • He highlighted four data aggregation sources: Gnip (embedded in DiscoverText/SurveyMonkey), RescueTime, Twitter, and DataSift.
  • He advises market researchers to "know all the sources of data out there." 
  • The future of market research will be applying computational social science.
  • Psychological observables are an emergent result of multiple transactional processes.
  • Be prepared for whatever the next thing is to come.

QRCA: Using Online Communities by Jane Mount

Key takeaway: Recollective is a platform worth investigating as a possible alternative to Revelation. They have a back end that allows for easy on-the-fly analysis and the front end enabled participant co-creation.

  • CVS Health was the client and they enjoyed over 80% engagement.
  • The project was 100 members, four-months, two distinct segments
  • Getting to know the community was the key to driving consistent, long-term engagement.
  • Incentives were delivered through the existing CVS loyalty program.

The Use of Empathy in Market Research by Tom Bernthal

Key takeaway: Kelton is a consultancy rooted in journalism. They’ve been very successful at positioning themselves as insight-based storytellers. We admire this position because it validates our own (journalism and literary editing backgrounds). 

  • Data disconnects companies from consumer experience and emotion.
  • "Business is empathy kryptonite."
  • Insights are the engine to developing empathetic brands.
  • "What you do doesn’t matter if your customers don’t find out about it," thus your communications strategies cannot be overlooked.
  • Great brands come from the head, the heart, and the gut. "We were a brand built on guts and we don’t want to lose that in our market research."
  • Tom’s specific tips:
    • Make room for emotion.
    • Dare to be wrong & challenge what you know.
    • Explore the ordinary.
    • Zoom in/zoom out. (Iterations of qual informing quant.)
    • Don’t let the facts kill the story.
    • Tell a story your audience can hear.

Keynote: Why Social Media "Likes" Say More Than You Might Think by Dr. Jennifer Golbeck

Key takeaway: Social network and predictive analysts/data scientists like Dr. Golbeck have no problem making predictions. All they care about is whether they are predicting accurately. They are NOT looking for causation. It’s a different kind of market research, but she believes there is room for both. If we can feed the right information into her algorithm development in the upfront, that should improve her overall accuracy. 

  • The top four predictors of high intelligence on Facebook were likes of science, thunderstorms, The Colbert Report, and curly fries.
  • The top predictor of low intelligence was "I love being a mom." 
  • This is likely influenced by homophily [(i.e., "love of the same") is the tendency of individuals to associate and bond with similar others. The presence of homophily has been discovered in a vast array of network studies. - Wikipedia]
  • "You can’t hide from social media inferences. They are based on statistical patterns that you are not even aware of."
  • Social dispersion = "Dispersion measures not only mutual friends but the network structures that connect these friends together. 'Low dispersion' – the quality that was associated with couples – indicates not only that two people have a large number of mutual friends, but also that these mutual friends knew one another." (via http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/social-dispersion-the-facebook-factor-that-predicts-relationships--and-when-they-will-end-8913372.html)
  • Comments during Q&A: People feel invaded when online activity tracking follows them around the Internet based on past online activity; Simon Chadwick says there could be a strong negative impact for brands that do this.

[Missed a session due to client call and engaged attendee discussion. ]

The Future of Music: Artists, Brands, and Millennial by Yvette Quiazon & Meredith Worrilow

Key takeaway: music consumption is changing because of the influence of streaming services like Spotify. Tastes have broadened; multiple generations are listening to the same types of music because of this exposure. However, again because of the sheer volume of choice, curation has become both critical and a currency. Curating is important. Taste has become a social currency. It’s like mix tapes have gone global. Artists are finding that they have to embrace a more holistic approach to the business. Like market researchers, they must be more than one thing. Brands are finding that consumers are hungry for unique experiences. They must continually look for a means of making access special.

  • Two lifetimes would not be enough time to listen to the entire Spotify catalog.
  • Access means that eclectic tastes are now the norm.
  • Curating is important; listeners find it easy to fall into the “Spotify hole” (inadvertently spending three hours listening to/exploring music); the increase in quantity has resulted in a decrease in quality. 
  • Direct to fans has overtaken the traditional record label distribution model.
  • Vinyl sales are up 27%--true fans want something to hold; they want to create a lasting music artifact; they want authentic experiences whereby they can feel a connection with the artists; live event sales are up.
  • Fans think it’s cool when brands have "street cred," they want to see brands getting behind/supporting the artists in authentic way; rather than a broad approach brands should be cultivating a distinct aesthetic.

QRCA: Ask the Right Questions to Create Smarter Hybrid Projects by Katrina Noelle & Janet Standen

Key takeaway: Good instrument design should be collaborative with partners and vendors. Katrina & Janet compared and contrasted various qualitative methods. However, rather than demonstrating hybrid approaches, it seemed like what they were discussing was multi-phase research. Typically, hybrid would refer to research conducted at the same time using the same or very similar questions but with various methods (simultaneously). 

Keynote: Demographic Shifts Are Moving Your Markets by Joel Kotkin

Key takeaway: three demographic groups are shaping the future: Seniors, Millennials, and Immigrants. Opportunity cities are those that can accommodate middle class families. Contrary to popular belief, the suburb is not dead. Growth is occurring in suburbs and exurbs. City centers and the closest suburbs to cities are experiencing decreasing populations largely due to families moving in search of better schools. Small municipalities with access to hospitals, community colleges, and large airports are most attractive to seniors. There is a tremendous battle for amenities to attract Boomers in small towns.

  • Despite rumor/media to the contrary, Millennials say want to retire in the suburbs, likely because this is based on their own upbringing, which reflects the idea that they’ve reached adulthood when they settle down in the suburbs.
  • Silicon Valley is going to need to relocate (and this exodus has already begun with many companies moving to Utah) in order to attract young talent to a location where they can afford to live. 
  • Boomers should actual be subsegmented into two groups: Young Old and Old Old.  The former is over 60, still active and can drive and the latter is over 85 and in assisted living.
  • Boomers have the vast majority of wealth in their own right and stand to inherit the wealth from the Silent Generation (their parents). 
  • Immigrants are much more likely to start a business than native born.

Adobe: The Five Most Disruptive Trends in Technology for 2015 by Mark Asher

Key takeaway: This session contained several very interesting practical applications of trends like Mobile, the Internet of Things, Big Data, and Virtual Reality. These were highly inventive examples with the potential to create/improve relationships between brands and consumers.

Research on Research: Creating Real Business Impact by Manila Austin & Angela Ritcey

Key takeaway: insight professionals need to spend more time synthesizing, interpreting, and marketing insights in order to enhance their perceived value among clients. We need to improve our ability to look across data sets and sources. We need to embrace diversity of perspective. Our methodology choices should inform our ability to consult to the business. "Insights are perishable," thus we need to improve our agility and understand the importance of timely insights. As insight professionals, our job is to provoke action. Insights have the power to move people/businesses to act.