Last week, my colleagues and I attended GreenBook’s IIEX NA 2022 event in Austin, TX, held on April 19-20. It was great to be back in my beloved city, Austin and fortified with a belly full of BBQ and Voodoo Doughnuts. I was eager to see colleagues and clients and soak in all the conversations and new learnings from the presentations.
Tech Innovations that Serve a Purpose
If there was one theme that stuck out to me, it was the need for pragmatic business solutions in MRX that deliver beyond tech hype and buzz words. We heard a lot from research agencies striving to help clients make critical decisions that will drive their C-Suite objectives, particularly given the radical changes in consumer behavior because of the pandemic. The attendees I spoke with were hungry to learn about tech solutions with a practical purpose that will elevate their ability to respond to the need for greater speed and efficiency in evidenced-based decision making, the rise of digital retail, and the need to be resilient in the face of uncertainty.
Michael Lancor (Vice President of Analytics and Insights Accelerator) of Procter & Gamble talked about how digital technology is rapidly changing how we develop insights and completely disrupting the industry. He admonished the audience for his presentation that the insights industry needs to:
- Up our Research Quality Game: Getting rid of bots, fraud, speeders, and cheaters
- Change the economics with iterative learning through AI and machine learning
- Integrate platforms that work for the customers needing always-on insights versus one-off projects
- Upskill in technology tools that deliver pragmatic value through the utilization of AI, virtual reality, automation, and more
Some social media platform companies, including YouTube, Reddit, and Pinterest, presented in Austin and demonstrated research tech shouldn’t end with DIY survey tools. They all discussed how people browse the internet to understand what is coming and that passive tracking can be a valuable tool for forecasting and even identifying opportunities for product innovation as the world goes increasingly digital.
Our own team, including Scott Brill and Ruben Nazario, showcased the latest tech-enabled innovations from Behaviorally’s eFluence™ division, featuring an AI-enabled image recognition platform that enables e-commerce marketers to optimize product visuals to increase online retail conversion. A tech innovation for sure, but one with the practical purpose of increasing efficiency and sales in this exploding retail channel!
Don’t Forget that Consumers are Humans too!
Perhaps counter-intuitive in a conference so full of examples of “res-tech” and new digital tools to uncover insights into consumer behavior, numerous speakers emphasized the need for maintaining a “human” focus. Shane Findlay (Director of Design Research) at RBC discussed how they built personas to understand their consumers’ decisions and behaviors, particularly to uncover motivations for choosing to interact in person in a local bank branch versus those customers more inclined to only use the mobile apps. TR Snyder (Senior Customer Experience Insights Analyst) of Safelite presented the importance of customer experience to celebrate the wins but also to find areas of improvement for their customer’s journeys. Nick McCracken (Strategic Research Manager) of Ford Motor Company also presented the importance of utilizing human-centered research to innovate, citing examples in their F-150 and Mustang lines.
Nadia Masri (Founder & CEO of Perksy) and Maria Vorovich (Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer) of GoodQues presented the importance of writing and creating surveys that people want to complete. Tapping into the preferences of respondents, their interactive, visual platform increases the number of responses as well as more thoughtful replies, allowing the development of more thoughtful reports that weave in data-driven storytelling.
Telehealth company Hims & Hers described utilized many of these same tactics when researching sensitive topics, including sex. Numerous presentations spoke of “casting a moderator” that respondents would relate to and want to open up to on certain topics. Men will be more likely to talk to another male about erectile dysfunction. Moms want to talk with other moms about sensitive topics, and a single woman will be more prone to inform another single female of the same age about her trunk full of sex toys!
At the end of the day, we are all humans, and these speakers reminded us that we all need to treat respondents with that in mind.
Behavioral Science is at the Core of Insights
Behavioral Science remains a core principle behind most research practices. Will Leach (CEO of Triggerpoint and author of “Marketing to Mindstates”) presented with Jason Jacobson (Director of Consumer Insights of Woodside Homes) about the importance of using behavioral science to radically change how they built their homes around the consumer’s subconscious mindstates. No matter what consumers say, shopping for a home is a very emotional purchase. (I could relate; I know when I bought my condo, I may have broken down crying a few times.)
Melina Palmer (behavioral scientist and CEO of The Brainy Business) and Greta Harper (Diplomat at Maker’s Mark) were part of the live podcasting track, which was front and center this year at IIEX NA. They talked about understanding the mindset of shoppers during lockdown to help create behavioral “nudges” to make it easier for shoppers to support the local bar and restaurant industry by driving traffic and sales during these unprecedented times. By understanding the shopper’s mindsets, Marker’s Mark was still able to thrive despite a major consumer channel being hit hard.
Melina also did a podcast with Sarah Wilson (Director of Human Experience Research) at Walmart about how they used behavioral science techniques to get consumers to comply with goals such as contributing to a circular economy with Zero Plastic Waste Initiative or choosing products worth $20 billion sourced from women-owned businesses. By utilizing behavioral science to uncover the habits of consumers and the barriers to making sustainable choices, they were able to create key moments to influence the consumer’s journey to choose options that are better for their communities and the environment.
GreenBook created a conference experience that was in many ways familiar, even though it has been over two years since we have been together in person. But it was also new, with new ideas, new entrants into the market research space, and new ways we can all strive to deliver real value to our respective clients.
Janice Lai is the Marketing Director at Behaviorally and leads the Company’s marketing efforts globally. She has been with the Company since 2010 after escaping law school and has a passion for decoding the consumer journey as she is a self-described shopaholic, especially online shopping. Janice has lived in New York City, Hong Kong, New Jersey, and most recently relocated to Phoenix in 2021 with her partner and two pups. Fun fact: she also holds a degree in Mortuary Sciences.