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The 3 Key Themes from IA Annual 2022 – Data, Sustainability and Diversity

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Owen Jenkins, Scott Harmon, Kim Hunter, and Lauren Davitt participating in a panel discussion on sustainability at IA Annual 2002
(from left to right) Owen Jenkins, Scott Harmon, Kim Hunter, and Lauren Davitt

 Behaviorally was honored to be part of the celebration of meaningful impacts and contributions of the research industry to the collective goals of our clients at the Insights Association’s Annual Conference in Philadelphia last week. Lego, Meta, Walmart, Novartis, and Southeastern Grocers were amongst the brands and retailers showcasing work from the last year, along with many more supplier side presentations highlighting innovations and trends. Some key themes emerged from the sessions, including:


Artificial intelligence is more than hype in the quest to unlock data insights.

Numerous sessions touched on the importance of AI not just as hype but as an invaluable tool for parsing large datasets to mine for insights.

Postmedia’s Basil Hatto (VP, Data Science, Audience Development & Analytics) leveraged AI research to analyze the sentiments and lifestyles from 138,261 Canadians to understand the motivations of the elusive younger subscriber, who often prefer free news sources. By using AI, they were able to understand the needs of the younger generation, pivot their marketing overnight, and keep improving dynamically.

Southeastern Grocers optimizes the customer experience by leveraging Conversational AI to engage with each consumer in dialogue within their online feedback forms.

A cautionary tale that came through in many of the sessions dealing with AI highlighted the challenge of managing the quantity of data that AI produces. Speakers warned that it can be overwhelming and that you need a data partner who understands the meaningful correlations and their implications for your business. A Partner who can cut through the noise to yield actionable guidance.

And why do we need tools like AI? Numerous sessions dealt with the sheer amount of data that is available to insights professionals and the sad fact that just because there is a lot of data – it doesn’t equate to more valuable.

These sessions highlighted the importance of human interpretation and the ability to synthesize the data, wrestle it into submission, and mine it for those nuggets of insights that are strategy “gold”! This is what Gina Pingitore (Head of Research at Facebook’s Meta) referred to when discussing that there needs to be a clear “Return on Data” (ROD).

LEGO Group’s Cory Cunningham (Senior Manager, Global Insights) gave us another example when he unpacked what the future of family fun truly means by leveraging longitudinal datasets. LEGO saw that the definition of “fun” has changed dramatically in the past few years – for both adults and children.

Adults, for example, crave more self-care and light-hearted fun. By leaning into these insights, LEGO was able to cater its product development and messaging to this growing consumer segment.

At Behaviorally, we have a fair amount of experience with large data sets and the analytics to make sense of them. But even our own AI-driven solutions – like Flash.AI™ for packaging optimization and Flash.PDP™ for optimizing image conversion on online PDPs only delivers value because experienced humans with decades of experience in shopper marketing can understand the contextual implications.

Slide saying "Sustainability" from a panel discussion at IA Annual 2022

Be sustainable today for a better tomorrow.

Examples from the conference demonstrate Sustainability is not just a buzzword but a commercial imperative that is increasingly part of the consumers’ decision tree when considering their many brand options.

Bimbo Bakeries’ Daniel Samuel Perez (Consumer Insights Manager – Innovation) spoke about how their company strives to be leaders in Sustainability. They view it to be an obligation to protect and serve the planet for future generations. Their sustainability efforts center around all aspects of the product, including product & ingredient development to the packaging the product comes in. Research plays a significant part in their messaging around these commitments and how to land it through all their shopper marketing.

Owen Jenkins, Scott Harmon, Kim Hunter, and Lauren Davitt participating in a panel discussion on sustainability at IA Annual 2002
(from left to right) Owen Jenkins, Scott Harmon, Kim Hunter, and Lauren Davitt

The joint Behaviorally & Protobrand session on Sustainability – is a continuation of our We Better Behave! Series – highlights the role of insights and brands in the challenges of achieving and communicating Sustainability. In the panel discussion, Scott Harmon of Church & Dwight (Director of Innovation) and Kim Hunter of GSK Consumer Healthcare (Customer Strategy Manager) discussed the necessity for brands to address Sustainability in credible and authentic ways that drive consumer choice. Brands that don’t take this seriously risk losing future generations – of both talent and shoppers.


Diversity as a key driver of the MRX future.

There were other tracks and presentations of equal significance, but a highlight was showcasing the many diversity initiatives being pursued by bands and agencies alike. Representatives from Escalent and InsightsNow presented ideas close to our own hearts around the ways to make survey demographics questions more inclusive, and the Idea Council committee member, Bianca Pryor of BET Networks, explored the journey to making insights organizations more diverse with Aspen Finn’s Julia Eisenberg. The conference also highlighted a new program called the IDEAtor Fellowship, funded by members of the Insights Association community and intended to make substantial commitments to developing diversity in the insights community.

Want to learn more about these themes and how we can help you in your journey to applying a behavioral lens to data, Sustainability, and diversity? Reach out to us here.

The Author

Lauren Davitt is a Vice President at Behaviorally, partnering closely with clients to help drive business outcomes. She is passionate about using best-in-class behavioral techniques, the latest thought leadership, and gaining a true understanding of the consumer to enhance the shopper journey and its touchpoints. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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