This week, I had the privilege to attend the Quirks Event in Brooklyn. While I speak with clients and prospective clients on the phone every day, the event provides a great opportunity to talk with them in person, as well as to attend some of the learning sessions and network with other industry suppliers.
From the conversations and presentations, a few key themes seemed to emerge.
Without doubt, researchers are continually looking for ways to do things better and more quickly. This has been a trend for a few years now, as our businesses are moving faster than ever and more questions are coming up that research needs to address. Gone are the days of a carefully planned research calendar – or at least one that doesn’t also allow room for ad hoc needs as well. A lot of the conversations on this topic centered around how to approach things a little differently, to act faster without sacrificing quality. Fortunately, in this age when we have a myriad of digital tools in our tool belts, this can be accomplished by focusing on the core need, the critical question to answer, and then applying the most efficient approach. As one presentation put it, what matters most is being confident in the results and being on time, so it’s up to us as researchers to identify the solution that can most effectively accomplish this – and to adjust it each time, since what worked for one need may not be best for the next.
Closer to the Consumer
Another key topic was the idea of really getting inside the heads of the consumers. This should be expected, of course, since research is fundamentally about understanding your market. But the emphasis this year was on true understanding and building longer term learnings. As a result, the idea of communities or more regular interactions with a core audience, as well as frequent outreach for smaller questions, was discussed frequently. As we live in the age of the customer, with a greater focus on their needs and their experiences, the conversations focused on how to go beyond the surface, often by mixing methodologies or bringing the consumer in early and often in order to build truly meaningful understanding that drives action and improves product or service offerings.
Bright and Shiny vs. Tried and True
Of course the role of artificial intelligence, automation and big data continued to be hot topics of discussion for our industry. For the last couple of years, we have all wrestled with understanding the role these will play. What was interesting to me though, is that the presentations and case studies showcased during the event often focused not on the new, bright and shiny, but on tried and true approaches. What made these case studies so compelling was how the approaches we all know and love, those that are battle tested, were applied in new combinations. With a little creative thinking about how to combine and structure them, our arsenal of proven methodologies continues to yield impactful results.