This week I had the privilege of attending and speaking at my first Quirk’s Event! It was so refreshing to be around people who know exactly what I do and the language I speak. I had way too much fun during my time in Brooklyn geeking out with fellow researchers over data visualization and NPS scores. Throughout the event, I attended sessions on a diverse group of topics and had many conversations, but one common thread was consistent – telling a comprehensive consumer story.
Cross-disciplinary insights are not just valuable; they are essential to telling a comprehensive story. All data is limited. For example, quantitative research gives us only the “what” and “who” when it comes to our research projects. Qualitative research gives us only the “why” and the “how.” Thinking about data sources, a brand’s metrics and analytics help researchers hone the target audience and uncover general trends, and it is primary research (like surveys and focus groups) that allow us to test hypotheses. All methodologies and data sources have limitations, but it is our job as researchers to cross-pollinate to form integrated insights. These integrated insights provide multiple angles to uncover a unified, comprehensive narrative.
Agility over Accuracy
If some of you are shocked by this point you are not alone. I grappled with this phrase when I first heard it. I saw the word “agile” in at least ten sessions during the conference. Agility, speed in process, is something that is growing within market research. I attended a session where an Insights Director from a CPG brand shared how he shifted to an agile framework for his team. This means that he now works on 100 “pulse check” quick studies on customers rather than the 4-5 major research projects he worked on before. Agile research values numerous touchpoints with consumers rather than delivering the most accurate, polished research plan. These touchpoints are generally integrated, such as a short quant survey with open ends or video interviews. Agile research is committed to a constant, comprehensive consumer story.
Stories over Results
And finally, one key topic that was covered at the conference is how important it is to present clients with “stories” rather than “results.” As researchers our strength is winnowing down data and addressing trends and patterns for our clients in the form of stories. Whether the story is told via interactive dashboard or oral presentation, it should be memorable and provide evidence of the impact of research on business decisions.