Brazil and Latin America is currently undergoing a huge transformation. A growing middle class has meant the region is fast becoming an important emerging market for global brands and represents unprecedented growth for local brands. In March Greenbooks and Gen2 Advisors presented their first Insight Innovation event in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Caio Casseb, Alessandra Garrido and Daniela Baronni of Scoop & Co in Brazil were there on behalf of RW Connect to give their first hand opinion on what the event could offer them as local researchers.
Caio Casseb, Alessandra Garrido and Daniela Baronni
The IIEX SP was held in São Paulo, on March 25th and 26th. It was composed of two full days of lectures and discussions on the evolution of the market of research globally, and more specifically in Latin America. The event was one of the biggest international research forums to take place in Brazil, and was marked by the presence of suppliers and customers from around the world.
The discussions were extremely relevant considering the current situation of market research in Brazil and the rest of Latin America, where this area, more than ever, needs to evolve. Even though the event didn’t bring many answers, it managed to introduce a shock of novelty and show the importance of rethinking (and imagining) in the way we’ll conduct research from now on, in the face of new customer needs, the presence of “empowered consumers”, the immensity of available data and the constant presence of technology as a way to capture data. Most participants left the event with the certainty that chaos is the new reality.
We spent those two days attending lectures, participating in discussions and talking with participants in order to create a summary of what was addressed at the event and an analysis of how everything that was discussed can impact the day-to-day market research in Brazil and other countries in the region.
Here we reflect on some themes and issues discussed during the conference:
More than online or offline: no-line
With the internet boom and the hit of the “must-do-everything-online” hurricane, the market of research faced the sudden arrival of the so-called “online methodologies”. In response, many companies began to divide sectors, professionals and methodologies between online and offline, and some companies even started specialising in online surveys.
The statement “There is no-line”, from Suzana Pamplona, invites us to reflect in the aftermath of the craze of “must-do-everything-online.” Is on-line/off-line really a division of thoughts, methodology, sectors and even companies? Or, indeed, is what really benefits us today the numerous choices of capturing information, coming from consumers (primary) or any other source (secondary)?
In this new scenario, the role of the market research professional becomes even more important. It is essential to connect the research objectives with methodologies that are technically correct – the target being studied, information, stimulus material, market and price – so that the media (online or offline) of all phases of the research are correctly recommended.
The conclusion clearly indicated by Suzana is that it doesn’t matter if we use online, off-line or even a mixture of both. In times when the role of a market research professional is similar to the role of a consultant, ready-to-use and rigid methodologies or pre-set media may fail to transform quality information into knowledge for our customers.
Big data, data sources and the importance of observation
The large volume of information that is generated by consumers throughout their digital life was much discussed at the event. Every click, every post, every tweet: anything and everything can be collected, measured and analysed.
It’s not just the volume of data available that is impressive, but also the speed with which it is created. It is estimated that 90% of the data available today was created in the past two years. It is a constant and exponential growth.
The presence of big data is so strong that it is gradually changing the classic way of conducting research. The act of “listening and watching” is taking the lead, leaving the “ask” in a secondary position.
However, big data presents us with new questions and calls for a more in-depth discussion. How do we intelligently leverage this huge amount of data in order to show us the business reality of most Latin American customers, how to present the data so that customers see value, and how to combine big data with other sources of research information in an inspiring and relevant way.
In the end, the deep discussion on the topic raised more questions than answers, which is no bad thing, because it is from big questions that good ideas eventually evolve.
Are online communities an evolution of group discussion fora?
Much was said about online communities and consumer panels at IIEX. Presentations like Leslie Townsend’s and Niels Schillewaert’s were quite inspiring. After the euphoria that comes with a revolutionary methodology, this was a time of reflection on what works and what still needs to be adjusted.
It is clear that this research channel is here to stay, not only for its agility, but also because, for some profiles of consumers (especially young ones), this is a channel that seems to make much more sense.
We cannot, however, say which group discussion is better: online or offline. “There is no ‘line’ anymore.” Each methodology has strengths and weaknesses, and it is up to businesses and customers to discuss the best communication channel for each project. The decision will depend on the purpose of the project, budget, and deadline, but mainly on the understanding of which type of channel will make consumers feel more comfortable to be able to contribute to the discussion and results of the research.
New ways of gathering information
The increasingly diverse ways of seeking information is an issue that neither leaves room for doubt nor depends on the purpose of each project. This is a real change, which is here to stay and needs to be incorporated into the daily routine of market research professionals. Whether for impact on cost, accuracy, reliability, quality, speed or comfort, the various ways to gather information needed for market research projects should be known by companies, whose primary role becomes to act as curators and connectors of information.
There were numerous questions that were not raised during the IIEX forum, but certainly crossed the minds of the audience. In a world where there is too much information, how should we start looking? Where should we look? What should we prioritise? We believe in three basic principles to guide us as to what and where to look for information.
Planning what to look for should always be the starting point. Since we cannot look at all available information, having it clear what questions must be answered can help us to focus on the information we really need.
The consumer is everywhere. From cell phone apps and social media to purchase reviews, the consumer has gained voice on the internet and is happy with it. Rather than ask, we need to listen to consumers in places where he is at ease and comfortable to speak his mind.
The consumer’s context. The context in which the consumer is inserted also matters – a lot! Available information such as cases of success and failure of brands that marked people’s lives, culture, politics and debates are available on the internet and can also be an important connection in building knowledge.
Engaged consumer = inspiring research
Many speakers talked about a concept that is key to research work, but which, in the midst of so much technology-driven thinking, tends to be forgotten; the importance of connecting with consumers in a real and intimate way and engaging them to contribute more to research projects.
Creating experiences for consumers is one of the best ways to extract their best opinions and ideas and thereby deliver truer insights for clients. A group of motivated consumers can help to replace many consultants out there.
This view of consumer engagement shows us the importance of conducting more playful research, with the use of game techniques, and the value of qualitative consumer communities (smaller, more focused) compared to large consumer panels.
“Do it Yourself” research: is this the way?
During IIEX, we witnessed the final round of the “Insight Innovation Competition”: the presentation of the business idea finalists (chosen by the participants themselves on the event’s website) to the panel of judges.
What caught our attention was that the winning idea was a “do-it-yourself” research tool, with which customers do not need a specialised partner to conduct their online research. Some questions crossed our minds: are research companies being seen only as an access to consumers? Would companies prefer to access consumers directly without intermediaries?
Thinking about the value chain concept, we believe that this type of initiative can separate market research into two categories:
On one side are the research companies that really add value to the business and therefore become strategic partners of their customers. As Ana Claudia Alvarez, from PepsiCo, said: “Much more than suppliers, we need partners to help us think.” And on the other side are research companies that will not survive if tools like this become widely used.
Consumers can’t talk straight about emotions; we need to find other ways to measure them
Market research becomes extremely important in times when, rather than rational understanding of what our customers think, one must go beyond statements to understand emotions, the unconscious. In some cases, the simple act of positively evaluating a commercial or a product concept is not enough to identify whether there was a change in consumer behaviour.
The use of neuroscience, face recognition, emotional ethnography, and neuromarketing has helped us to have more information, as aptly said by David Forbes (Mind Sight), on the consumer reactions that reveal themselves after the recognition of the theme, but prior to intellectual reflection about it, thus unveiling consumers’ hidden desires and needs, in order to create value for brands.
So, are there projects in which conscious information from consumers are not important? This point was well answered by Cristina Balanzo (Walnut Group) when she stated that in order to form more robust and assertive recommendations you need to connect and contextualise conscious and unconscious information from consumers.
Caio Casseb, Alessandra Garrido and Daniela Baronni are all founders and partners at Scoop&Co in Sao Paulo, Brazil