This year I went along to the MRS Impact Conference in London. It was a great opportunity to hear about some of the latest research being conducted by some great client-agency duos and immerse myself in issues faced by researchers and marketers.
So what did I learn…?
‘We live in an increasingly risk adverse, self-orientated, toxic food environment, where dancing girls are used to drive engagement.’
Let me explain …
An increasingly risk adverse society – The Future Foundation agency gave an engaging presentation focused upon the ‘death of risk’. Whilst people glamorise risk-taking behaviour, very little actually takes place in today’s society as adventurous risks are frowned upon. The O2 ‘Be more dog’ campaign uses this insight to meet adventurous desires whilst acknowledging our underlying safety consciousness.
An increasingly self-orientated society – Will Self was a guest speaker and mused on the transformation from ‘society as a whole’ to ‘individuals as a whole’. This was brought to life through research from Britain Thinks for McDonald’s. They identified the rise of ‘Team Me’, owing to a Trust Deficit created by various scandals e.g. horse meat/politicians expenses, Squeezed Briton with the rise of payday loans/food banks etc and Networked Briton as digitalisation and the rise of social media lessen human interaction. McDonald’s used these insights to redesign restaurants to cater to the needs of all visitors.
Toxic food environment – Weight Watchers and Flamingo research discussed the factors which stack up against those wanting to lose weight. These include a rogue food invasion with more food available in more places, our hyperactive culture where we are mentally exhausted and the rise of fluid & arrhythmic lives. Weight Watchers have used this research to generate strong PR and promote their expertise to customers.
Dancing girls make TV more engaging – ITV track viewer engagement through a mobile app, to gain naturalistic data with no mediation effect. When they saw that engagement was fading for a pre-test episode of ‘Mr Selfridge’, they added more dancing girls to keep viewers watching!
‘Taking part in research gets your voice heard’
Whether it is politics or deciding which new flavours of crisps should be launched, if you’re a survey respondent you have a direct effect on the decisions made in the world. For instance, opinion polls were used by the British government to help decide whether to engage in military action in Syria. If you want to have your voice heard, then being a survey respondent is actually a relatively powerful means of doing so.
‘Researchers should do more to engage respondents and make our data richer & more reliable
Surveys run the risk of being boring and soulless. The danger is that such surveys create similarly boring and soulless data! But it doesn’t have to be this way. As researchers we should be working hard to ensure that respondents are engaged, in order to obtain richer insights. I know that when I complete surveys myself, I’m more engaged when the context is set, when colour is used appropriately, when movement is added to questions, when questions are designed to relate to me personally and when things are not repetitive. There’s lots we can do as researchers and at Marketing Sciences we are constantly reviewing our survey methods to increase engagement.