The final day of ESOMAR’s Congress 2013 with a few sore heads around the conference after the annual ESOMAR Gala Dinner and awards the previous night. With the presentations pared down to a single room on the final day of Congress we kick off with the BIG FUTURE session, specifically looking at research in Generation Y followed by BIG DATA, TAKE NOTE looking at big data in presentations with a musical context.

After the final break of the conference we continued with the 3 best projects in the Research Effectiveness Awards and finished with the Congress Awards and the closing keynote, World Chess Champion and author Garry Kasparov.

BIG FUTURE - The Next Generation - Lucy Davison

The last morning dawns sunny and bright in Istanbul and remarkably, after a rather late night, a large number of delegates have arrived early to find out about the ‘next’ generation (although they make up a large proportion of the audience itself). First up is Christian Kurz from Viacom with his massive global study of Millennials “The Next Normal”. This huge study is the broadest ever global exploration of Millennials, taking in 15,000 people across 32 countries in 19 different time zones.

But who are the 2.5 billion Millennials? Put simply and for the purpose of this study, the different generations were defined as follows: Boomers, born from 1943-1960; Generation X from 1961-1981; Millennials or Generation Y born from 1982-2003; and ‘Post Millennials’ (let’s face it Generation Z sounds a bit final!) born from 2004 to now.

Now, it has always been interesting to me that the dates used to define these enormous population groups vary in the way they do (am I a Gen X or a Boomer? I have been both in the past) and, rather like Chinese horoscopes, can everyone born in that 20 year period really share similar characteristics? It was the job of this session to convince me that they do – and that having that information helps make good marketing decisions.

The 20 years from 1982 to 2003 were times of huge change – from Madonna to Lady Gaga, Gorbchev to Putin and Indiana Jones to Avatar. But perhaps most importantly and of biggest impact is technology which has empowered them and created a culture of sharing – summed up in Christian’s presentation by the 3 C’s; Millennials create, curate and consume.

We found out that the single most important concern for Millennials is the economy – the impact of the global crisis has been far reaching and is of more concern than terrorism and natural disasters. But in spite of this the generation is also very happy, optimistic and positive. And it is spending time with friends and family that makes them happy. Success is defined as being happy/being part of a loving family. They describe themselves as curious, sharing and connected, tolerant and able to adapt quickly to change. A vox pop of some of the British participants supported this view of a generation more ‘we’ than ‘me’.

The results can be seen on: At this point although I had been entertained by strong visuals and a good presentation, I was not convinced of the marketing value of such a broad study. But next up was Joeri Van Den Bergh from InSites Consulting and his client Erkan BalkanJof PepsiCo Turkey with their paper “Think Big and Connect to the Max”, a study of Generation Y and used to reinvigorate the Ruffles potato chip brand in Turkey. Could they convince me?

In this paper we zoomed in on Turkish Millennials – 25 million people or a third of the population aged 15-34 years old (so, those born from 1979 – 1998; a different definition from Viacom’s whose Millennials were born from 1982 – 2003). We started with a pop quiz using glow sticks to cast our votes. As with the Viacom study, PepsiCo found this is a social generation, very involved with the planet and with family. In Turkey, most Millenials think Istanbul is the world’s coolest city (cooler than New York and Paris) and they are proud of their heritage and the success of local brands like jeans brand Mavi.

Now to Ruffles – the biggest potato chip brand in Turkey. The brand communication was all about living life to the max, transforming lives in fun and engaging way. But Ruffles was facing major shifts in its consumer base with technology changing how consumer engage with brands and the core target also growing up, getting married and having kids. Was the brand positioning still relevant?

The team immediately realised that doing standard consumer immersions face to face was not the best methodology for the digital consumer as it meant unplugging them from their devices. In another groovy video we found out about the online community they set up and integrated with social media behaviour monitoring. The research was brought to life with great impact involving consumer immersion exercises and ideation workshops. Engagement throughout the project was extremely high internally and externally the team able to keep stakeholders stimulated – such that at the end of the project they did not need to brief the ad agency as they had been so involved. As a result Ruffles developed a new positioning, a new ad campaign was launched using local soccer stars and a new tone of voice was implemented on social media. I was glad to see how the research had been applied but not convinced that this route could not have been uncovered with a smaller study.

During questions we discovered that poor Generation X is squeezed between Baby Boomers still in control at work and impatient Generation Y snapping at their heels. Thinking of Gen Y s self-indulgent or lazy is a misconception – they just work in a more flexible tech enabled way.

And finally we got a question about what Viacom did with the results (a rolled out version of Jersey Shore in UK and Spain, a way of revealing a new cast member for the UK show using SnapChat).

These were a fascinating couple of studies, well presented in an engaging and entertaining way, but as a marketer I am left confused by what to do with all this enormous (but not really BIG) data.


Not every presentation I’ve seen at this year’s ESOMAR Congress has been exceptional, but there’s been a noticeable degree of care in creating sessions that provide useful contrasts and connections. This final-day panel on music and big data was a case in point. In a way, the case study presented by Soundcloud’s Nadines Giulish and On Device’s Alistair Hill was a perfect demonstration of the metaphor put forward by TNS’ Will Goodhand and Mornington Media’s Oliver Nelken.

Now, in the panel, the metaphor came second – quite rightly, because Goodhand and Nelken’s showmanship would have been almost impossible for any standard case study to follow. So what was the metaphor? At heart, they said, what big data means for market research is what the synthesiser meant for music: a shift from a particular instrument delivering a particular sound to a machine that can synthesise any input to produce any output.

Throughout the presentation Nelken – a musician and video producer – handily and often hilariously demonstrated Goodhand’s points using the impressive range of gear he had set up stage left. And, to be honest, his synthesised trombone and guitar – following their real equivalents – didn’t sound that similar to the originals. But maybe that’s the point: as researchers we’re the musos listening out for authenticity. Our clients are keener on a big tune that gets them moving.

Whatever the case, when synths first came in existing musicians threw a fit – rather like big-data-phobes are now. Rockist pronouncements like “No synthesisers were used in the making of this album” adorned LP sleeves while the public voted with their dollars and feet. But, as Goodhand pointed out, synth pioneers from Kraftwerk to Jarre were generally very accomplished musicians, because while a synthesiser CAN do anything you want, actually getting it to DO those things is considerably harder.

This is the heart of the music analogy – synthesisers presented a new way to manipulate music, but they did not replace musicianship. Similarly, big data is about manipulating data sources – “80% of big data work is in cleaning it up”, as Goodhand pointed out – but to actually produce high-quality output requires skill.

It’s a lovely new analogy, but is it a new insight – or just another “the machines can never replace us” comfort blanket for researchers? The jury may still be out on that – Goodhand did enough to suggest that TNS at least have a decent handle on this stuff. But explanation and persuasion wasn’t exactly the point of the show. Almost alone among the conference’s presenters, Goodhand and Nelken realised that if you want people to remember your idea, delighting them is often a better route than convincing them.

I’ve not even mentioned most of their crowd-pleasing tricks – the collective “big data” song (unlikely to trouble your local nightspot); Goodhand’s research-as-musical-theatre turns, and the double-act chemistry he and Nelken had. Like great live music, that stuff doesn’t transfer easily to prose: writing about it is like dancing about ESOMARchitecture. Let’s just say that this was the most appealing, inventive and just plain fun presentation all week.

Those of us who did want a demonstration of Goodhand’s argument could rewind 20 minutes to Soundcloud’s slot, where the platform for music discovery and sharing described how it had used research to supplement and enrich its existing data. The data problem they shared was a familiar one – the volume, variety and velocity of data firms now deal with makes crunching it very intense and connecting its dots extremely hard. And like many tech firms raised on data, Soundcloud had tons of it but no real knowledge of its market or audience to make that data useful.

With the right research, though, the missing pieces would not just be helpful by themselves – they would transform the context of the rest of the data. The obvious route to use was mobile – not only is an awful lot of listening done by mobile device, but it would let Soundcloud collect valuable details of motivations and consumers’ everyday lives. Via mobile specialist On Device, the company was able to collect audience data via brief surveys, then link their survey IDs to their Soundcloud usernames to monitor behaviour – all with the most explicit permission, of course.

The fruits of this permission were obvious in the profile of Cyra, a real Soundcloud user and creator – most active listeners also create content on Soundcloud. Looking at Cyra’s actual profile brought her far more to life than a traditional research pen-portrait would have (Soundcloud used one to show her audience, increasing the contrast).

The big data synthesiser piece Soundcloud and On Device were composing was a layered one. First of all information from a participant’s basic profile – how many followers, and so on. Then a layer of behaviour – what she listened to, how often, and when. Then finally the research layer – her competitor use, her listening diaries, and so on. That let them create a very useful outline of the audience for someone like Cyra – their daily listening routines, and the emotional connection they feel to music.

It’s no surprise some of the first “synthesiser” type projects around are coming from firms like Soundcloud – tech start-ups who are more familiar and comfortable with big data than they were with ‘big research’. Congress this year had many themes, but one was certainly the ever-increasing drumbeat of tech and start-up culture moving into our comfortable space. This brings with it some negatives – presentations that are ill-disguised sales pitches – but also excitement and a new attitude. Soundcloud’s motto, “Move fast and break things to level up”, is quintessential tech culture, and we need to come to terms with that thinking. As Goodhand and Nelken put it, “Let’s face the music and dance”. But let’s also hope firms like Soundcloud are our dance partners – companies already data-rich who are now looking for the right answers.

TALENT CONTEST - ESOMAR Research Effectiveness Award - Elina Halonen

Fidorka re-launch in the Czech Republic:  How combination of traditional and co-creation research techniques engaged collaboration and inspired successful relaunch
Jaroslav Cir from Perfect Crowd and Jiri Michal from Mondelēz International
started the session by telling the story of relaunching a traditional Czech chocolate brand, Fidorka. As the brand had been decreasing in popularity in recent years, the big question was how to restart brand growth. Instead of simply testing materials that marketing was producing, but here the market research function wanted to actively drive the change. While co-creation and collaborative techniques were new to Fidorka, they used them to open up the research process and bring creative consumers inside it. They engaged key stakeholders within the organisation and created cross-functional teams for building a more innovative new positioning for the brand.

As a result, Fidorka changed its advertising from the existing romantic style to a funnier one with a new, more playful brand positioning: “playful inspiration for impish pranking”. This also acted as a catalyst for cultural change within the organisation – employees started to prank each other! They created TV ads with the best director in Czech Republic, launched a Facebook page as well as creative POS solutions such as speaking shelves and provocative PR claiming the product’s shape was being changed.

Did it work? Fidorka not only grew its revenues by more than 12% and gained the share of market as well as receiving several awards for its advertising. What could market research learn from Fidorka? We should be willing to accept more risk and try to control things a little bit less, as well as relying more on intuition instead of data – while there may soon be software for everything, nothing can replace intuition and emotions. We should also try to work less in in silos and strive for more collaboration and use consumer insights to align cross-functional teams.  Finally, we should become more open and have courage to adopt new methods and processes such as building a different type of relationship with the advertising agency, letting consumer insights drive the process from beginning to end.

Knorr – what’s for dinner?
Next up was Manish Makhijani, Unilever who was presenting on behalf of his Canadian colleagues. Knorr, Unilever’s largest food brand, was facing severe challenges in growing the business in a market with competitors launching new innovations, consumers constantly looking forward to deals due to a large number of promotions and no budget for above the line support.

To address these challenges, Knorr started looking into how people plan for their meals and how they do their grocery shopping: they found out that 89% of consumers have dinner at home at least 5 times every week, but only 35% have their meals pre-planned before heading to the grocery store. In other words, most of them don’t know what they’re going to make for dinner while shopping for groceries and therefore make meal decisions in the meat and produce aisle. Based on these insights, Knorr developed a program based on meal-planning, which included out-of-aisle displays with recipes and products near the fresh food in stores, along with digital support on the brand website. As a result, they saw a dramatic rise in sales (40%) and participating retailers: in addition to six leading grocery retailers in Canada, the program is now being rolled out globally.

What makes this case study special is that the whole program was based on shopping insights and research was embedded in every stage of its development from the exploratory stage through to validation and finally optimisation. After the initial stage, the approach was validated between with in-store trials, complete with control stores that were matched on size, location and shoppers. In addition, Knorr also conducted a pre-post tracking study to gauge awareness of the program and levels of purchase of related products which proved that in-store program drove awareness and equity for the brand without doing any above the line advertising.  Finally, they used research to optimise the concept by modifying variables in terms of location, size and content of find the one that created the best lift. Most importantly, the initiative was integrative as it engaged multiple departments from consumer insights to shopper insights and analytics as well as bringing retailers on-board by driving sales for complementary products.

Leveraging Predictably Irrational Decisions: The incredible potential of counter-intuitive marketing strategies
Last but not least, Florian Bauer from Vocatus AG and Rüdiger Peters from L’TUR Tourismus, a market leading supplier for last minute holidays in Germany. L’TUR is operating in tough conditions: last minute holidays is market under price pressure with consumers demanding great holidays with low prices. A central feature of the website is that it tells customers if a competitor is offering the same product at a cheaper price, which may seem strange when you first think about it. However, we only see it as irrational because we assume humans think rationally – like Mr Spock from Star Trek. We also think this way about market research as it makes our work less complex, removing the need to ask about anything beyond product and price assessment.

However, the ascent of behavioural economics is now starting to show us that we need to do much more than what current tools like conjoint do if we truly want to predict consumers decisions. One such way is understanding the consumer’s psychological decision profile which includes their motivations, cognition, interests, assessments, knowledge and behaviour – based on these we can create decision typologies. Vocatus’ research has identified five consumer types that differ in their consumption behaviour: for example, Bargain Hunters are focused on price and discounts, Risk Avoiders who are extremely wary about being ripped off whereas Indifferent Buyers couldn’t care less about price if they can satisfy their current need, and one consumer can display different types in different categories and sectors.

Applying the typology to L’TUR’s customers, Vocatus saw that not all of them were bargain hunters, nor behaved very rationally. Even if the displayed competitor price was cheaper, some of the consumer types still saw them as a better option: for example, Risk Avoiders are suspicious of cheap deals as they might be poorer quality, and the display of competitor price is a signal of fairness and subsequently a guarantee of fair quality and service if they purchase from L’TUR. By applying the decision making typology to their customers, the company has achieved a 70% conversion rate with less people leaving the website and more people looking at the product details. Most importantly, applying the research allowed L’TUR to create growth in a declining market. Quite deservedly, this paper subsequently won the talent contest!

Closing Keynote - Thinking Big: Innovation in Decision Making, Garry Kasparov - Erika Harriford-McLaren

Legendary Chess player and author, Garry Kasparov closed the ESOMAR Congress with a keynote address echoing a sentiment that ran through the event – we must take risks and through those risks the real innovation and developments will come.

Kasparov, world-renowned chess strategist and champion, politician and author, believes that when it comes to innovation, we have done very little since the 1960’s that has significantly changed our world.  He noted how internet technology was already being explored in that era and that the space race between the Russians and the US created technology such as gps and mobile.  He attributes much of the current failure to innovate to a growing risk aversion due to a preference for cautious incremental development versus a drive for real break-through innovation.

A natural storyteller, Kasparov gave an excellent example to prove his point.  If Magellan or Balboa had sought venture capital today for their voyages, do you think they would get it?  They had no map, their plans and strategies were uncertain and their was no known ROI to be calculated.  We all know the answer, and the story illustrates perfectly how we have allowed an aversion for risk, even if the gains in the long term could be huge, to breakdown our intuitive entrepreneurial and exploratory natures.


Garry Kasparov

Kasparov believes that we have become risk aversive because of several factors.  First, we have failed to recognise that decision making is as distinct as DNA and that no matter what our undergraduate and graduate level courses tell us, there is no one blanket solution.  We need to focus on our intuition and train it like a muscle. By recognising the value that intuition can bring we will see even more unique and valued innovations coming from the garage versus the board room. Secondly, he believes that over time priorities have shifted.  Innovation in the 1960s was driven through the space race and the cold war, but as socio-economic issues took over, that led for little time or money to invest in innovation as had been done before.  Hence the gap from the Apollo moon landing to the iPhone.

Overall, he cautioned everyone to not fall victim to intellectual self deception.  Trust your gut and take the time to evaluate whether losing something is worth the larger gains you may receive. Quoting Picasso, Kasparov noted “A nation that does not meet the demands of science and technology deserves no place on the path towards development.”  A cautious warning for an industry such as ours that is becoming more and more affected by the impact of the growing digital world.