The city famous for inspiring some of the most amazing music and some of the world’s literary greats (not me, as you will soon see) hosted the ESOMAR 2016 World Research Congress.
True to the spirit of the city we heard (and were told) tales of innovation and development in the world of research.
There were many themes of the week. The death of direct questions, the growth of implicit information (of any kind) were some that have been bubbling in marketing circles of late, but below are, in my opinion, some of the highlights….
Australia had a couple of speakers, from Mercer and Simplot (which we from The Lab were a part of). And we had seemingly tapped into a theme that a few other companies seemed to discuss – the idea of creating greater intimacy.
The Lab and Simplot for example, created a study and debrief in virtual reality cameras and head sets. All designed to minimise researcher bias (leaving cameras in people’s homes) and also engage the overall marketing team at Simplot with something more than a deck.
No report. Just virtual reality ethnographic research. Bringing marketers literally into the kitchens of Australians.
More a part of the real world
A great example from Mexico was when Unilever created a food truck to drive around and cook food at different locations. Offering a core menu that they tinkered with to suit different people and different locations.
A great example of the convergence between sales, product development, communications and research. The truck sold product and also evolved the menu as it went around.
It’s an example of the industry ‘loosening the tie’ on experiments and seeing how people react in real world scenarios rather than creating false environments.
We all know the moment. When a person writes an email in a stern tone, but then when you speak to them they are much more casual and comfortable with the topic they wrote about.
The Belgians had a simple build on this idea. Creating a study whereby a client needed to test some communications. The Belgians asked people questions about the communications (online), but then got people to video a short 30-second message to the makers of the adverts.
They found people’s spoken word revealed a more positive take on the communications and evoked the reaction emotionally much stronger than and slightly differently to the written word.
A simple yet potentially important build – especially in the communications development space.
Kantar has taken inspiration from the movie Her and is in the process of creating chatbots. This could be a real game changer. One of the key note speakers talked about the fusion between qualitative and quantitative measures. Chatbots make it possible to talk to lots of people in depth.
These are still in beta mode, and they haven’t applied them just yet, as they struggle to understand irony – thereby giving away they are not human. But watch this space, as chatbots could mix up how brands converse with people and break down ‘data’.
It was nice to see how some work we have been doing for some of our clients is right up there with tech firms in the US. One of the hottest spaces of chatter was around how companies are using social media to define and learn about the people they are interested in.
There are questions about how people curate their online identities. But from Germany, to the USA, to India, social media profiles and interactions between ‘friends’ have been used to create new forms of ethnography and inspiration for communication & gaining cultural context.
Quite often social media research was being complemented with more traditional forms like interviews/depths or online qualitative.
The Congress also highlighted new technology like more system 1, emotions and facial coding as well as neuro technology. There was also data matching companies showing their wares – whereby companies could match the profiles of their web traffic with other databases.
It was great to see that the typically more conservative industry lived up to the ethos of one of the city’s young musicians, Jordan Hernandez: “This is New Orleans, it’s where you try new things all the time”.
Paul Labagnara is a director at The Lab Insight & Strategy
The Lab and Simplot presented at ESOMAR 2016 on the use of virtual reality in research