One highlight that has been well adopted at TMRE over the past few years is the use of a conference-specific app, hosted by Brella. The app allows conference attendees to connect, ask for meetings and introduce themselves freely to other attendees. The exhibitor hall featured space with close to 40 tables for groups of 2-3 people to meet through preplanned requests within the app. The floor plan was well laid out and the tables were full at every opportunity. Although our attendees enjoyed using the Brella hosted app throughout the conference, they noted that there was not much communication about the app before the conference. Communication prior to the event informing attendees about the capabilities of the app may have encouraged more users to join and network. In addition to a prior announcement, our team mentioned that adding a security feature would take the app usability to the next level. A specific security code unique to the attendee would make the networking more secure.
Overall, the conference was well attended and the quality of speakers and session topics kept the session halls full all week. Here are a few core themes that sessions and speakers focused on:
Products, Platforms and Automation
Automation platforms are dominating conversations about the future of market research and were present in almost every session track at TMRE. Many of these sessions focused on how technology can be best used to shape the future of insights from both a productivity and storytelling standpoint. In the keynote address, Kirti Singh, Chief Analytics and Insights Officer at Procter & Gamble, spoke on how DIY solutions and technology platforms can help elevate your brand. One key takeaway was how his team evaluates the fit of vendors on an annual basis, ensuring they are using the most current methodologies available. Further, Brian Grazer, TV and film producer with Imagine Entertainment, spoke on how access to insights is not just for agencies anymore; anyone who has questions about what humans think about have, to some extent, an interest in research. He has spent time testing movie and TV scripts with this approach, and emerging technologies are making these answers more accessible.
Technology for Productivity
Brands are always on the lookout for new products that are ahead of the curve and can make their lives easier. With continually shrinking budgets and shrinking teams, but the same expected output, they have turned to technologies that can automate methodologies and make the lives of their in-house researchers easier. In the session “Disrupt or Die: How Kraft Heinz & Chipotle are Reinventing Market Research,” Kim Spaid, of Kraft Heinz Company, and Ally Sigmon, of Chipotle, spoke on how speed is everything and they are interested in anything that can decrease the time it takes to reach actionable insights. This was highlighted by Jeff Zarenski, of Dunkin’ Brands, and Angela Smith, of Talking Rain, with more context on how even though departments are shrinking, interest in insights has only increased.
Technology for Storytelling
Numerous presentations spoke on the future of insights as a whole story. Mixing methodologies, qualitative and quantitative, are starting to blur together, leading to an overall data story that brands can use to make better business decisions. One session in particular, hosted by Raj Manocha of Delvinia, highlighted a methodology within Qualitative data collection and showed how they have segmented their respondents and then applied them to Artificial Intelligence models to visualize emotional responses. Using an on screen “model” that would reveal facial expressions, they were able to apply reaction based on responses while reviewing a piece of literature or video. While this may not be a current common application in every boardroom, it is showcasing a great piece of tech that could be applied to more methodologies in the near future.
As 2019 comes to a close, both researchers and brands recognize that change is coming for the market research industry and that legacy methodologies are forcibly on the decline. In an age of faster, easier, cheaper, providers are turning to technology to do more with less all while continuing to deliver quality insights. With this advancement in technology and DIY platforms, companies with shrinking MR departments and independent researchers now have better access to the data they need to be successful. It will be interesting to see what 2020 has in store, but trends suggest continued movement to strive for automated technology and a more holistic research approach.