The ARF Conference kicked off this morning in NYC. The conference is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Once the program advanced past the first hour of the obligatory ARF history, it has been interesting and provocative in a “big picture” sort of way.
I was especially interested in several quotes from the morning sessions. Here are quotes as best I could record them along with a few comments from the cheap seats.
“The researcher’s role is to provide provocation and inspiration that drive the transformation and actions that generate growth” – Stan Stanaunathan, VP Marketing Research & Insights, The Coca-Cola Company. How many researchers consider themselves provacateurs or drivers of any transformation? Not many, in my experience.
“In 2020, companies that define themselves as ‘fieldwork’ will no longer exist.” – Joan Lewis, Global Consumer and Market Knowledge Officer, The Procter & Gamble Company. Hmmmm….I wonder what the MRA has to say about this?
“If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance a helluva lot less.” Joe Tripodi, EVP and Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer, The Coca Cola Company. Researchers are notiously slow to change. End-user companies like Coca-Cola are pushing research companies to find new business models that embrace new technologies and new realities. Those that embrace these challenges have a chance to thrive. Others run the risk of following the dinosaurs.
“In our qualitative side and ethnographic side of our business, we are developing people who can understand our customers more deeply and provide value to clients.” – Eric Salama, Chairman and CEO, Kantar. There is a definite theme that the true value will be placed on people who can understand various types of data and relate the story of the customer back to the decision-maker. Analytics are fine, but the true value will be transformational insights, however they are attained.
“Researchers need to be able to tell stories to motivate organizational change.” – Joan Lewis, Global Consumer and Market Knowledge Officer, The Procter & Gamble Company. Ms. Lewis went on to pan researchers as focused on methodology and findings that bore people and have little impact on decisions. Subtlety, throughout presentations, the value of qualitative continues to come through as presenter after presenter stresses the need for stories, understanding, understanding motivations, etc.