By Jo Bowman

We talk to clients in three different business sectors on the challenges that they face and which research innovations will help them.

To understand which solutions excite leading researchers, it helps to first appreciate the problems they are trying to solve.

Carlos Fonseca is SVP Marketing Science at Met Life, dealing with increasingly knowledgeable and demanding consumers. “What’s happening is consumers’ expectations of what financial services and insurance should be are not determined by my immediate competition; they’re determined by consumers’ interactions with other industries,” he says.

“I have an iPad interface; I buy my detergent from Amazon, for instance, so the main challenge of this industry is redesigning our value propositions. It’s not just about products and features but also the consumer experience.”

Reed Cundiff is General Manager of the research team within Microsoft’s Central Marketing Group. “One of the largest pressures that we face is the speed at which we have technological innovation and competitive pressure; we need to come to market with new and improved versions of our devices and services,” he says.

“That certainly puts pressure on an insights function, when you don’t have three months to build an insights programme from the ground up … there needs to be a real-time aspect to a lot of the work that we do,” he says.

“One of things that might be specific to Microsoft but probably a lot of other technology companies too is that we aspire to build things for hundreds of millions of people, so the scale at which insights need to be applicable also factors in to how you work with marketing and engineering teams. That’s critical.” Then there’s the challenge of translating the benefits of quite complex products in a way that’s straightforward to end users.

Madhumita Chakraborty operates in a different market, but feels the pressure of time in a similar way. She is Vice President of Shopper Insights and Category Management for PepsiCo India, and is ESOMAR’s India representative.

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