Presenters: Khary Campbell, Assistant Vice President - Research and Innovation, L'Oréal; Jackie Chan, Vice President, Head of Decision Insights Group, Prudential Financial; Lisa Courtade, Executive Director, Department Head, Global Customer Insights, Merck & Co. Inc. USA; Brett Townsend, Director of North America Insights, Elextrolux; Melanie Courtright, CEO, Insights Association (moderator)
Transcript Courtesy of Focus Forward & FF Transcription
Melanie Courtright: Hello everyone. Welcome to today's Town Hall, a Fireside chat with Corporate Insights Department leads from the Insights Association Board. I'm Melanie Courtright. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to host this Town Hall with you today.
Before we get started, a couple of housekeeping items. First a disclaimer. The information we share today is not intended to substitute for legal or financial advice or any type of advice that your business may need. If you need those types of resources and you don't have access to them, let us know and we will try to connect you. Also, the comments that are made by our Corporate Insights leaders represent their own opinions and not those of their companies, and not those of the insights industry corporate departments as a whole. A couple more quick pieces. The webinar will be recorded, and the recording and the transcription will be available on our coronavirus resource page. I'd like to send a quick thank you to Focus Forward for the work that they've been doing to transcribe for us. Thank you very much. I also would like you to know that we'd like very much to hear from you today. If you have your QA pod open or your chat box open in the Zoom platform, you can send a message privately or to the group. You can send them anonymously as well, we would love to hear from you. We have a great agenda planned for today but we will leave time at the end for questions that may come from the group.
So now, before I get started on the results of our COVID survey, I'd like to introduce our presenters to you, our speakers. First, we have Khary Campbell. Khary is the Assistant Vice President of Research & Innovation. Khary, if you wouldn't mind giving a wave. Khary, prior to his role at L’Oréal, he was the Head of Insights for General Mills Yogurt Operating Unit which includes brands like Yoplait and Go-Gurt. He also worked in the vendor sector of market research at Schlesinger's San Francisco office and developing new approaches for WPP Group's New York location. Next, we have Jackie Chan. Hi Jackie. Jackie is responsible for - she's the Vice President and Head of Decision Insights Group at Prudential Financial. She's responsible for providing Prudential businesses with actionable insights to inform and shape business decisions. She directs the design and execution of research programs that address sophisticated business challenges. Before joining Prudential, she led the global syndicated primary research efforts at AMI-Partners, a consulting organization focused on emerging Small-Medium Businesses in IT. Next, we have Lisa Courtade. Lisa Courtade is the Executive Director, Department Head of Global Customer Insights at Merck. Lisa also happens to be the Chair of the Insights Association's Board of Directors. Thank you very much for everything you've done there, Lisa. Lisa leverages insights, analytics, and design to create innovative client solutions to the challenges facing patients, providers, and payers in the delivery of healthcare. She has been called a change agent and an innovative disruptor with more than 20 years of success delivering customer insights and she's also just a really cool person to get to know if you haven't had a chance. Then we have Brett Townsend. Brett Townsend is Director of North American Insights at Electrolux. Brett provides deep transformative consumer insight, consumer opportunities, and marketplace understanding to drive business decisions related to strategic planning, new product innovation, branding, communication, and in-store sales and merchandising programs. Prior to Electrolux, Brett served at Pepsi, Insights Lead for the YUM. Foods partnership. And Brett is also on our Executive Committee for the Board of Directors serving as our Secretary, so thank you very much, Brett.
Before we get into the actual portion of the Town Hall Fireside chat, we promised to share with you the results of our second wave of the member impact survey. As you know, we've done two waves at this point. The first wave was fielded in March 18th to 24th. We had 279 completes broken out across agencies, data collectors, corporate insights, and other. In wave two, we fielded April 3rd through the 6th, through end of day Monday, very early Tuesday perhaps. We had 312 completes, so slightly more. More agencies, more data collectors, slightly fewer corporate insights, and slightly fewer other. Before I present these, I'd like to thank Quester, Infotools, and Gongos for their generous support in fielding, reporting, and analyzing the results.
So in our second wave, what we see is that cancellations/postponements are widespread and members are trying to adapt to a new normal. If you look at the plot to your right, the solid circles represent wave 1 plotted from long-term impact concern and future pipeline project decline, and the dotted lines represent wave 2. You can see that for the most part, the dotted line wave 2 results have moved further into the future pipeline and project decline world, but they have not moved or they've come down in terms of long-term impact and concern. So part of this will be a slightly different mix of people, but it also indicates that there might be some growing hope that this won't have as much of a long-term impact to the viability of their business. We also see compared to wave 1, postponements. Agencies are feeling just as much as corporates. Shifting work, in-person work continues to move online and there is a change in the future outlook, and I'll move through those slides to give you some more detail there.
In terms of cancellations, they are still happening and members are taking steps to manage their cash flow. If you look at this by type of member, the first note for you is that, if you'll recall, in the first wave we asked about cancellations, 0-20 and above 20. We asked that as one group. In wave 2, we broke out 0 and did 0 and then 1-20, so you're able to see what percent of the population actually says 0% or "no cancellations." In total that's about 24%. Corporates are seeing fewer - more people saying "no cancellations" in the corporate space. Certainly, in data collection companies, only 8% saying "no cancellations." Compared to wave 1 and wave 2, the 0-20 total is about the same. What we added in wave 2 was an understanding of layoffs, temporary closing of facilities, and permanent closing of facilities. You can see that 23% are now reporting that they have begun to experience layoffs, higher among data collection agencies. You'll see that broken out for 33%. On the data collection agencies, 22% for full-service agencies and 13% for corporates.
Then we looked at having temporary closed facilities. Now, this temporary closing facilities does not mean that the work's not being done, it may mean a remote work-from-home situation. But you'll see that 55% of corporates, 44% of full-service agencies, and 57% of data collection agencies are reporting some closed facilities. There is 2% who have already permanently closed their facilities. Those certainly are more in the qualitative and in-person side of the business.
Because these numbers are large- a really quick note that if you are a hirer or you are someone who's beginning to look for a job, you've been affected by a layoff, the Insights Association does have a career center and we've done our best to drop some of the rates for posting jobs on our site for those that are hiring, and for those that are searching, it's free. You just go to the InsightsAssociation.org and click on "Advance your career" and you can get access to that. There's a code there to reduce the cost for the job postings. Now, these job postings cost go directly to our partner, so the Insights Association is not attempting to make any income on this, it's simply dropping this in partnership with our partner to make this more affordable, available, and accessible to people.
Going on with the reporting, everyone is experiencing postponements. Everyone's experiencing them pretty much the same. There is a small percentage of corporates - 9% of corporates, 5% of agencies and 1% of data collection companies - who say that they're experiencing none, but for the most part everyone is experiencing postponements in about an equal amount across the types of companies. Again the note here that in wave 1, 0 was combined into 0-20. So you can see the 0% only in wave 2. In this slide, we show the in-person work is continuing to move online and all types of work are being re-examined, particularly quantitative. Members are shifting 80% or more of their in-person work to online. The in-person work can include telephone, it certainly includes in-person qualitative focus groups, in-depth interviews, in-home events, and the biggest example of that is the Census fieldwork being postponed. In wave 2, we added type of work postponed/canceled.
You'll see that mostly quant software and data analytics is at 42%, mostly qual is at 30, an equal parts is at 28%. There's a difference in what corporate is reporting versus what the full-service agencies and data collection agencies may be experiencing based on their expertise. So the corporate number probably most accurately represents the body of work; 41% mostly quant software and data analytics being postponed, 15% mostly qual, and 44% equal parts of both being postponed or canceled. On the sum - on the whole, future work is a bit dimmer right now, the future outlook is dimmer. Although, some corporate members see new hope for growth. If you look at the number of planned studies, 9% of corporates are saying a large decline. That's up from wave 1. 48% are saying some decline. That's up quite a bit from wave 1. 14% say no decline, and 29% say growth at this point. Perhaps we need to dig into this, and as I mentioned, this is 47 people and so we need to really understand how these people might be different from wave 1. But there are- and you'll hear some of this during our Fireside Town Hall today.
There are some agencies that are not seeing large or any declines and corporate departments that are seeing growth. But then you look at the pipeline for the agencies and the data collection companies, again compared wave 1 to wave 2, you see an increase in some decline and a decrease in growth. So for the full-service agencies, 38% a large decline, 46% some decline, 12% no decline, and 4% growth. Data collection companies, 39% large decline, 44% a very large increase with some decline, but some of that came out of the large decline. So it's moving around some right now as people maybe are able to pull work into their pipeline or are able to repurpose some of the projects that were planned to do something else. So a significant divide is emerging among corporate members is emerging - some experiencing growth, some experiencing decline - and I'm sure that has to do with the effect of COVID on their corporate business. So that is a good foundation for the Town Hall and the Fireside chat. Again, we have Khary Campbell, Jackie Chan, Lisa Courtade, and Brett Townsend. So we'll move into the Fireside chat portion and Lisa, I'd like to start with you. Let's begin by asking, what's the one biggest change you've seen in your department as a result of the coronavirus pandemic?
Lisa Courtade: I think the most obvious change has been the dress-code but that's probably not what you're asking about. The team is definitely a lot more relaxed and they're bringing their full selves to work these days because you really can't hide your environment where you are, the kids, the dogs, the husband walking through the background- all of those things are meaning that we're having to be a lot more flexible and a lot more authentic. But I think these are actually good things because what I've seen the team do is really embrace what I'm gonna call "extreme collaboration." They really pulled together. They're connecting, probably more now than we were when we were all physically in the building. Talking to each other, being really flexible around work schedules, around balancing capacity. And helping each other with new tools, new techniques, and bouncing ideas off each other for, "How can we handle going to fields in certain markets, or with certain audiences?" We did a sharing of some teams that have done online workshops, online design workshops with teams, very successfully. So teaching one another and really advancing the function in a time where people, I think, could be paralyzed.
Jackie Chan: I would echo all of that Lisa, and I think from where we're sitting we see reprioritization really as the big theme here. At a very human level, we're seeing a blending of our personal and work lives in ways that we've probably never seen before, and we find ourselves having to reprioritize even our time and figuring out, how do we play various roles throughout the day. Then at a work level, business priorities have shifted - as Melanie shared earlier - and are shifting given the broader context. So the kinds of demand for insights from our leaders and our stakeholders have changed, and we have had to reprioritize our portfolio of work as well. And, given people's headspace, it's being taken up by so many different things these days. We really have to be disciplined and focus only on what is important and has real impact.
Melanie Courtright: Khary or Brett, anything you'd like to add there?
Brett Townsend: I would just say the amount of empathy that we have for our consumer has changed quite a bit. We've always liked to feel that we place ourselves in their place and that we don't think about ourselves but we think about our consumer, but now we're going through what our consumers are going through. So I think just in the discussions that my team has had, just that level of empathy and togetherness that we feel that we're all in this with everyone has changed quite a bit. Rather than being a detached observer and learned person about our consumer, we feel that we're doing a little bit more with them in this case.
Melanie Courtright: That's great. So Khary, Jackie said that priorities have begun to change. How have Insights' priorities changed over the past few weeks?
Khary Campbell: I'd say we've been forced to become very hyper-focused, and I think of anyone who's been in the business for some time, this tends to happen. Whether it's recession in 2008, whether it's your business performance is on the decline or a big competitive move, there are things that will happen externally that force you to become hyper-focused and that's what we're seeing right now. I'd say for where I am in particular, we're doing a lot of upstream early innovation work. So I think the impact is a little bit less. There's certainly still impact, but we're talking things are maybe two or three years out. So you have a little bit of room to make some adjustments and look at some postponements, but even then you start to trim out those things that were going to be nice to have. It could add some context. I think we're all familiar with some things that are more CYA, they're not really going to make a decision, but it's more to have backup plans. So now, we're just having really honest conversations. Is this something that in the state of where we are now - we're not really sure where the end is gonna be - do we have to do this? What are we gonna get out of this? What decision can we actually drive forward? So it's really created a lot of hyper-focused conversation and it's forcing us to do it globally because similar to Brett's point, everyone is being impacted by this. Everyone is experiencing it. So every country, every region of our company - is experiencing the same thing. So it does create that more global prioritization which is certainly an exercise. I wish it wasn't this that was creating the need to do this. I think being hyper-focused is certainly good, but that's where we are now.
Melanie Courtright: Who else wants to talk about how priorities might have changed?
Jackie Chan: I'll jump in. I think now more than ever we have to keep a really good pulse on our target audiences. There's a lot of really good work already being done by different research companies out there to monitor impact on consumers. So really for us, we've shifted some of our time to - instead of doing actually primary research - to synthesizing a lot of the great work that's already sitting out there, and extrapolating what the relevant insights might be for our institution. What it means for our specific businesses. So beyond consumers, our target audience includes employers and institutions that are retirement plan sponsors, financial advisors, and institutional asset managers. So we've also started to do more on understanding how COVID is impacting those audiences and their outlook because there's a little less of existing research on those fronts. In terms of some of the projects that are being held or postponed, I think those are the results- we think the results there may be a little skewed because of current events and any price sensitivity type research. So then there are also those that would not- I think there are some projects that may be unnecessarily clogging our customer communications and headspace, so those are the things that we're also shifting away from.
Brett Townsend: With us, it's provided a really good opportunity internally because a lot of our projects - I know we'll get to this in a little bit - but a lot of our projects have been moved to Q3, Q4, even into 2021. So what it has allowed us the opportunity to do as a team is to lend our expertise and experience to other groups within marketing. So we are helping out our ownership team which is everything post-purchase. We're helping our customer marketing. We're helping our brand marketing team. So it's allowing us to display the versatility that we have and our knowledge of the entire business by being able to work with these other groups and show that we're more than just Insights guys and Insights people. That we're really using our marketing experience and our understanding of how the whole- how Insights works within the entire business structure that we're able to very seamlessly work with some of these other teams. So in that sense, it's been a really good opportunity for our team. Especially for the people on my team to be able to demonstrate their thought leadership in other areas of the company.
Melanie Courtright: That's great. So Jackie, Carol Shay[ph] put a question in the Q&A box. It's similar to one of the questions that we already talked about, so I'm gonna pop to that one for a second. Carol's question was, "How do we think this might impact us post COVID long-term," and, "any sort of major ahas, things that we think might linger?"
Jackie Chan: Sure. So many angles to this. I think thinking about projects that are being postponed, for example, we really appreciate our partners' flexibility to work with us through the reprioritization process, and some that have been willing to step in at a minutes notice for advice and guidance, almost acting as an extension of our team. So I think this is something that will continue to be really important for us as we continue down this economic path. I mean, 16.8 million Americans lost their job in the last 3 weeks. So in this kind of environment, we're really being prudent with our resources. So the ability to tap into trusted pools of resources as demand changes will be very valuable. And I think something else to think about- this idea of presence free or no physical contact. I think people will be more conscious about what really requires physical presence, and this has implications on multiple fronts. The way we work as teams will be changed forever in my opinion. Organizations that were previously less open to remote work would likely have a very different view coming out of this experience. And in terms of research methods, things like digital ethnographies, that might gain popularity along with tools that are powered by natural language processing algorithms to track and make sense of consumer conversations that are happening across social. So those are just some of the things that I'm picking up.
Lisa Courtade: I would add to that Jackie, and looking at Carol's question - and thank you Carol for asking one. I think what we're seeing is that even though the team already had a lot of digital and online and mobile tools, there were always some holdouts both within the Insights team and the commercial teams that there was only one right way, a traditional way of approaching insights. What we're seeing is the greater adoption of those methods, and probably an acceleration to understanding that you don't always have to be face-to-face to be effective. We're even evolving some of those tools as well to say, "How would we take this process that we have that works very well in person, and how do we adapt that to an online platform?" which gives us a greater reach as we think about global and how you connect with audiences or even customer types that may not be able to come to you personally.
Melanie Courtright: That's great. Khary and Brett, how about you guys, any long-term impacts or aha moments from you guys?
Brett Townsend: It's a little - I would agree with everything that Jackie and Lisa have said with the caveat that it's still a little early to tell exactly how it's going to be. A lot of it's going to be determined by the consumers. Are they gonna let us back in their homes if we want to do in-person research again? We're gonna be at their mercy as to whether they want strangers back into their home after all this kinda settles down. I think there's still so much uncertainty about how the economy's gonna recover, and how work is going to go, and how our lives are gonna get back to normal. I think a lot of that is blending into our work as far as just- what is it gonna look like? I agree with Jackie and Lisa, I agree with those ideas and with those philosophies, but I think it's still a little early to say, "This is exactly what's gonna happen, or this is what we're gonna do as soon as what's gonna happen." The only thing I can say is that we're gonna be pretty busy after this all blows over because of everything that's being pushed into the latter half of the year.
Khary Campbell: I'd say the same thing. The moment I think I've got a good grasp on it and can somewhat guess what's gonna happen next, a new piece of information comes out, there's a new development. There's new decisions coming down from a company standpoint. And so but I can certainly see in broad terms, certainly going to be more stuff moving digital online. I think great point by Brett. Certainly we're going to have to see where consumers let us interact and engage with them again. I think us in particular as a beauty company, there are certain categories where-you think about makeup, it requires being placed on the skin. Whether it's testing, there's a lot of times where we're applying the makeup for consumers. Or if you think at retail, think about a department store. The makeup department, there's usually-they're trying on new makeup, they're having beauticians help them. What type of impact is that going to have? And so we're currently thinking through what all those implications can be, and we've had some work or conversations with futurists to try to understand where things can go. But it really is-we're in the middle of the eye of the storm, and so anxiously awaiting and seeing where we can get a good beat on what's going to take place long-term.
Lisa Courtade: So can I build off that, Melanie? Which actually probably takes us to where you want to go next, is that idea of what's growing. And that seems to be a lot of the questions that are coming online, are around what's stopping and what's starting. And even in the survey it showed that a lot of the client side were saying, "We've got an increase in work." And I would say that increase in work isn't just about insights into what the market's doing today. There's certainly lots of trackers looking at consumer sentiment, consumer confidence. But the big question is around foresight. Can we help really look into what the future is going to be, and what are the long-term implications on the business? The short-term ones are actually pretty clear, and becoming more clear day by day, but what does that look like long-term? And I think that's a huge opportunity for departments like ours within our organization to help lead that and help show how we can pivot in that future world.
Melanie Courtright: Exactly right. And it's related to Dan Fitzgerald's comment, if you see it in the box, about new metrics and new baselines. As we figure out the foresight of what's the new normal, we'll have to have new baselines and new metrics around that. And that's in the sort of, what are you starting new and what are you continuing? Brett, do you want to take a stab at that as well?
Brett Townsend: I would agree with what Lisa's saying. We're not doing any COVID research right now, because a lot of other people are doing it, like what Jackie said. And a lot of you are sending updates and trackers, and things like that. But I think after these first few weeks we're all seeing that it's pretty much the same thing. It may just be growing in intensity, but it's the same issues and the same concerns that we could pretty much see early on. So we're not doing anything about the whole coronavirus thing. Really what I'm being asked to do is, what's going to happen after this? What is very much company strategy type work, about when this all blows over, we still have a business to run and we still have company goals and we still have strategic initiatives that have not been moved off the table, and need to continue to go forward. And so the things that we're working on now are those types of strategic-type things that will be, when this is over we still have to operate as a business. If assuming things get somewhat back to normal, then we can't be caught flatfooted having just put all of our focus into what's happening now, where we've lost sight of what's happening. Especially in a company with long lead times, like appliances and technology stuff. We're not a fast-moving CPG-type company, so we have to keep our timelines going in order to be able to develop the things that we're working on. So I would say that everything we're doing now is all future focused.
Melanie Courtright: One of the questions that we've gotten many times, and we get it-we specifically got a request for - not for - CPG and all others, so it's great that we have somebody from financial and somebody from CPG, makeup, and medical. But one of the questions we've gotten a lot is, "Are you guys stopping all research that's not related to COVID?" It sounds like the answer is a definitive no. We're not only performing COVID [CROSSTALK].
Lisa Courtade: No.
Brett Townsend: No.
Melanie Courtright: Can you talk about that, and what your company-or what your philosophy is on research continuity?
Brett Townsend: I've already gone, so one of you guys go ahead.
Jackie Chan: That's right. To Brett's point, there's a lot of-our strategy, there may be some small nuance that we'll need to take into consideration, but there's a broader strategy that's been put into place, and there's a lot of work that we need to do to kind of help drive that forward. So those work doesn't stop. And then I think, echoing Lisa's point, the work now needs to be what does this mean for us in terms of our broader strategy for the future? What may change, and what needs to stay the course. I think those are the kinds of things we're helping to inform with the research that we're doing.
Lisa Courtade: Brian, you made a comment in your question around whether or not we keep doing foundational research, and does it depend on the industry? It absolutely does. It depends on the industry, and it even depends upon the business line within that industry. In some places - you can imagine it doesn't necessarily make sense to do a whole lot of work on cruise lines right now, maybe, or ad campaigns for exotic vacations. You might be looking for something more strategic in those areas, around how those marketplaces change in the future, or what sort of assurances you need to give people. But I'm actually a little surprised about the level of interest that there is in tracking right now, considering that's always a target for, "Why do we need this? Nothing ever changes." I think COVID gives us a really good example of why we do need it, because we're seeing changes fundamentally in how people feel. Now, how much of that is sticky is going to depend, but we have to make really choiceful decisions right now around what types of activities continue, and even what questions are appropriate to ask right now, and to ask of who. If I think about the healthcare business, many of the targeted professionals that healthcare companies would be talking to, whether they're in pharma or in medical or device, they're kind of busy right now. So we have to think about what makes sense in terms of connecting with them, and what we should be asking them at this time.
Brett Townsend: And I'll add something, Melanie, to what I said, is that the strategy work we're doing, we're making sure that it can be adjusted after the post-COVID return to normal. Because I think just like we saw with the recession 10 years ago, there were some permanent behavioral changes that were a result of that, and I can only assume that we will see permanent behavioral change, or at least if it's not permanent, it lasts longer than just a few weeks or a few months. But it will be hard for us to obviously assume any of those post-COVID behavioral change right now, so we're still going ahead with our strategy work, but reserving the right to make adjustments to that strategy afterwards when we do our touch bases, and really get back in touch with our consumers to see what of these current temporary behavioral changes have stuck, what has dropped off, and then how can we adjust to that? So it's always about that flexibility on our side as well.
Melanie Courtright: That's great. This is a good segue into one of the questions we had for a little later, but I'm going to pop it up now. What's, Lisa-because you talked about needing to think about the kinds of research that you do, and the choices that you make. What are the best methods from your point of view to use? We've been asked - Our members have been asking what do we think the best methods are to use to understand what kind of relationship consumers will have with brands in the future post COVID.
Lisa Courtade: Well, if you know anything about me, it's that I tend to be methodologically agnostic. I've always believed that we have to use the method, and flex to meet our consumers where they are. And I think right now we have both a professional and an ethical responsibility, is to be really empathetic to their environment and their situation. If you're a physician or a nurse on the front lines in a really hard-hit area, whether that's in New York or Italy or Spain, if you're just coming out of it in China - what should we be asking them, and how should we be connecting with them? I've seen lots of studies and lots of feedback that doctors are generally willing to engage, but it's got to be relevant and meaningful. So a lot of the questions in considering, do we go live with a project right now is, is this the right time to have this conversation? And what is the right way? Today, most of the right way involves being online. Doing a lot of shorter mobile surveys, or community-based work. We've done some fancier, more involved work as well, but the idea is we don't want to ever put our teams, our partners or our customers at risk. And that's really incredibly important, especially right now.
Melanie Courtright: Khary, Jackie? What do you guys think about the types of research and engaging with people?
Jackie Chan: I mean, I'm with Lisa. Most of our method's agnostic. I think it's what is right for the audience, for the moment, and the context that they're in. I will say, though, I think for me right now efficiency is top of mind. And it's not just efficiency for my team, it's also efficiency for the people that we're trying to reach to get their advice. And there's already ten research companies out there, asking the same set of people the same set of questions. There's really no reason for us to continue down that path, right? So I think a lot of it's echoing what Lisa's saying. What are the right things that we should be asking, and what is the right way to reach out to those people that you're trying to get advice from? So we are trying to do more work with our financial advisors, for example, but I'm not just going to reach out to them without understanding who's already doing that work, so tapping into existing secondary research. Understanding that their time is precious, because they're trying to reach out to their customers to calm them down. So efficiency to me is top of mind.
Melanie Courtright: So we have a few questions here. Let's pivot just a little bit to talk about your partner relationships, and we have a question from Pamela about working with your partners. Khary, what's the best advice you have for partners and prospective partners right now?
Khary Campbell: I think that some of the best things right now are to be forward-looking. So I think a few of us have touched on the fact that everything right now is COVID-focused, very much in the moment. And while certainly we're going to need help navigating this, we need help understanding those implications, and therefore what should we be doing. And so those who can link very specifically, "Okay, COVID's happening. Here are the likely impacts," and then take it a next step further; "Because of this, these are the things you should be considering, or these are the things very specific to your business or your company that we already know," and then showing uniquely how they can help us work through that and help solve those problems or be those partners in thought, that's what's going to be helpful. Because quite honestly, anything that's coming my way right now externally that's COVID-focused, it's too much. It's drinking from the water holes, because not only do we have a lot coming in externally, we have a ton of activity that's taken place internally coming from different parts of the globe. And so for me the thing that's very helpful is if you can say, "OK, this is the situation we find ourselves in. Here is where we think things are going to happen. Here's the direct implication for you, L’Oréal, or for you, Electrolux, and here's how we can help you navigate it. Here are some new things we developed because of this, and the unique proposition we have from it." So I think those are very helpful. And I think, to Jackie's point, efficiency, and so showing us how it can be more efficient, how it can be very much a value add. But again, if you’re coming to me with a thing that's really starting because of COVID, it's going to be hard for me to spend time absorbing that, because I have to constantly be looking for it now and helping be at the forefront for the company, because our marketers, our financial teams, they're all focusing in the moment. And they should, because they're doing that daily interaction with consumers, whereas we're trying to help navigate the future for them and bring them there. Those are things I would say would be very helpful, having been on that side of the table and been the partner before. That's how I would recommend approaching it.
Melanie Courtright: I remember post 9/11 they talked about people being affected by just consuming too much 9/11 media. They were just constantly watching the television, and there were people who really had to undo some of the internal change that happened as a result of just too much consumption of watching that tragedy unfold. While we can't watch with our literal eyes this unfold, because it's more of an invisible tragedy, some of that seems to also be creeping in here with just so much data, so much information. And even here in our business world, I'm hearing you guys talk a little bit about so much information coming at you internally, externally, from partners, from prospects. Are you guys feeling that there's just too much information?
Lisa Courtade: Yes. I was actually going to say, we should turn some of that empathy on your client partners as well because I can't count the number of messages I get. "Since you have a lot of free time," or, "We would love to get together and chat about COVID, or do a round table, or participate in a study, or try out a new method and do a capabilities presentation." I would say my email volume has doubled in the past month, which is just incredible. So a lot of people are being inundated, and we're getting a lot of new demands from the business as well. What I would recommend is thinking about, how do you connect with your clients in a meaningful way to say, "OK, how do we plan together for what comes after?" I know Matt Campion[ph], you made a question about, will there be pent up work? I think that's one of our concerns, is that as work gets postponed and there's things that we really can't find an online way to accomplish, is there going to be ever greater demand in the third and fourth quarter than there is today? And having a plan and sitting down with your key partners to really map out what that's going to look like from a resourcing perspective, from a budget perspective. And be patient, because not all of your clients are going to know. When you say, "Are you going to have budget?" They may be worried about, are they going to have a job? They may be also dong several other jobs at home, like teaching their kids and cooking and cleaning and trying to find groceries, and worrying about themselves or a partner or a relative who's sick. So there are a lot of things that are going on for that person that we need to take into context when we're connecting and asking them those questions.
Melanie Courtright: Brett, what about you? Has anything changed with how you work with and engage with partners?
Brett Townsend: Not really. I agree with Lisa. I don't know if-Lisa, do you have a lot more free time? Because I know I don't. I mean, it's been-
Lisa Courtade: Like, nothing.
Brett Townsend: If anything-
Lisa Courtade: I'm even the tech support in my house. Go figure, me. [CROSSTALK] the land of the lost, right?
Brett Townsend: Yeah. I was going to say, if anything I'm busier, because we have just as much or even more work to do from a professional standpoint, and then as Lisa said, we're helping with homework or things around the house. So I definitely don't have extra time, and yeah, I think the volume of emails I've got has been even more and it's all COVID-related or business development-related, and I'm going, "Man, this is not the time." So I would just say patience, flexibility, agility. Like what Lisa said, not only do we not-I mean, we just, our company - everything is changing. Just like things are changing for you on the agency side, they are changing just as much or even more for us. And things that I have planned for earlier this week have already changed, or things last week have already changed. And if you were to ask me the question about, will there be pent-up study demand for later this year? My guess would be yes, but that could easily change depending on how companies, or my company in particular, how we come out of this and then our priorities doing this. So I could tell you what I think now, but a month from now that may totally change. So I think really just that understanding, and just understanding that any volatility that's going on at your company is going on at ours too, and so pressing us for more information or trying to hit us up for business development, it's not really the time for us to be able to do that. So just patience and understanding and agility. We're still paying our suppliers, we're not asking them to wait on that. But at the same time, we just need you guys to understand the situation that we're in.
Melanie Courtright: That's great. Anyone else on that topic? So Khary, let's move on a little bit. What keeps you up at night right now?
Khary Campbell: Pretty much Netflix.
Melanie Courtright: From whatever standpoint you want; personal, professional.
Khary Campbell: You know what? From a professional standpoint there isn't much that's keeping me up right now, because it's to a point where there's not much that I can really control. Because the thing that's forcing us into this situation, none of us can control. And so I spend a great deal of time during the day working with my team, working with our partners internally and externally and planning as much as we can. But it's also gotten to the place where we feel such great empathy for each other, of saying at some point we need to step back from this, just from a mental health standpoint and an emotional health standpoint. Because we really humanize all of our experiences working as professionals, but also the people we are outside of the office. It's actually allowed me - I'd say the first two weeks were, I was staying up all night. "I don't know what's going to happen. What are we going to do with these different studies? What are we going to do with our team?" But now it's really to a point where you just work smartly and with great empathy during the day, and then at night I'm allowing myself to just step back for a bit, be with my family, and be thankful for the things we do have and that we are able to still do, and most importantly that we're safe and healthy right now. So I think for me that's the perspective I've been able to take over the course, but in the beginning of the first week it was tough, and now it's leveled off a bit.
Melanie Courtright: Jackie?
Jackie Chan: I think that's great, Khary. Focusing on the things that you have control over, and not worry about the things that you don't have control over. I mean, I'm blessed in that I'm somebody who doesn't normally have trouble sleeping, so can't literally answer the question. But I think there are a lot of things on people's minds, right? Like my family's health, my team's wellbeing, the economy, the future of the job market, the small businesses in my town. The list goes on, but I would guess that I'm not unique in that situation. Everyone's headspace is being occupied with a lot of things, and so I think taking the time for self-care is extremely important.
Melanie Courtright: Lisa? Brett?
Brett Townsend: I just - I heard somebody reference the, instead of the freshman 15 it's the COVID-19. And so I'm just making sure that I don't - I stay with my workouts, and don't put on any weight when I go back to - before I go back to the office.
Khary Campbell: 19's not too bad right now. It might be the COVID 30.
Brett Townsend: Between that and hoping people don't find out about the makeshift zoo I've just put in my backyard here with exotic animals. I mean, other than that I've pretty much not - no, I'm with Jackie and Khary. Not too much is keeping me awake other than my family's wellbeing, and seeing what's going to be the next thing.
Lisa Courtade: Well, I must be the outlier.
Brett Townsend: Well, yeah. Other than seeing what's going to be the next clever song parody or meme, or something that people are doing with corona. There's so much of that news going on that I have really appreciated people's creativity. I mean, we've always said that people are pretty creative have too much time on their hands. Well, they really have too much time on their hands now, and so I've seen some really funny stuff out there, corona-related, that I get a kick out of. It kind of lightens my day.
Melanie Courtright: Well, what about you?
Lisa Courtade: It's funny. I had sent a note to my team. I sent them all home on March 12th, which was maybe a little ahead of the curve for some organizations. But I sent a follow-up note to them, because I spent a fair amount of time working from home over the years, and gave them some advice around creating a schedule and keeping to it, even if you have kids and spouses. Making sure you build in breaks, so you get up and go for - even if it's a walk to the mailbox, you've got to - or run up and down the stairs in your own house. You're got to do something that breaks that up. And I was amazed at the number of people who sent notes back that that was a godsend to them, because they had kids making pizzas at 2 in the morning, and playing video games, and sleeping until 1 and then getting up and foraging. And that becomes disruptive for everybody, and it's hard for them to engage. But I think it is important to keep that balance, because there are a lot of things that are on all of our minds in terms of managing our businesses and keeping them healthy, caring about our people from a physical perspective, a mental perspective, a financial perspective, and worrying about our families in addition to getting those studies out and connecting with our customers and understanding what's next.
Melanie Courtright: Well, Lisa, that's a good segue to one of our final questions. What are you - and for each of you, what are you personally doing to stay healthy, balanced and sane? Professional, personal, COVID-related. What are we doing to stay healthy, balanced and sane?
Khary Campbell: I can start. A few things. I'd say with my team, I'm connecting with them as we have to here, with video conferences. I spend the first three of the five minutes giving any type of business pertinent update I need to, and we spend the rest of that hour or so just talking. What are you doing in your house? Or doing tours of each other's houses, and children are hopping on, saying hello, sharing things. We're sharing food recipes. Today - so we usually do it on Friday, but we started two of them realizing that some people later in the day, because the whole family's there it's tough. So I'll hop on a morning one where we'll have kind of a coffee happy hour, and then we're going to have another one later today and I'll join that one. So that's helped a lot from a work standpoint, and I'd say at home it's getting physically active. Just getting online and seeing some of my friends are posting their at-home workouts, and then we kind of do a challenge to each other. Ordered up a few things from Amazon to help, like a jump rope and things like that. But the first week I did fall into that kind of rut of, "Well, I can't go to my normal gym so I don't have to do it this week." But really starting to realize I'm getting up and going to the cabinet every hour, and kind of getting sucked into being on a laptop for eight hours, and that's not good for you. So go stand outside, get some sun, and just finding ways to stay physically active. Those things on the work front and the personal front have been helpful for me at least.
Melanie Courtright: That's great. Jackie, how about you?
Jackie Chan: As much as I love my family, being home all the time with everybody can really start to get to you. So fortunately the weather has been getting warmer, and warm enough that I've been able to get outside for a lot more outside runs, which is something I've always wanted to do more of. So that really helps, in terms of just - it's me and my thoughts, one foot in front of the other, and it's a way to just really stay sane. And then lately I've actually started to take my son with me on these runs, which is great because now he's starting to get a little more healthy. He's eight, so he can run a mile with me and then I drop him off and then I continue on the run. So it's a good way to balance outside time with family time, but family time in such a way that you're not being pestered with, like, "I have questions," because you're just each sort of running and doing your own thing. Parallel play, I think that's worked really well for us.
Melanie Courtright: I think you saw that I said in one of my posts this week that being locked up together is a big test for even the strongest of loves. My husband and I have been married for 30 years, and being nonstop in the house together we start to snip at each other a little bit. So that's great advice, to get outside some. And I know, Lisa, you talked about that, but what about you? And then we'll do Brett.
Lisa Courtade: Well, I'm actually impressed that Jackie got her son to go out with her. My kids look like I'm taking them on a death march if I try to talk them into going out for a walk in the evenings with me. But I do think that one of the important things that I'm trying to take advantage of is having teenage sons who probably aren't going to be here too much longer. They're kind of captive right now. And I think it's important to disconnect at the end of the day, and we either go outside and play a game or we play board games inside if the weather is bad, and it's been a lot of fun. It's like being in a cabin together and everybody just laughing, and I think we need more of that. It reminds you of why we're so stressed out, and what we're really anxious about protecting.
Brett Townsend: For me, just, I'm staying religious with my workouts, getting outside. And similar to Lisa, it seems like we're - my family, we're all very separated during the day, so the sanity comes when it's at the end of the day. We all get back together and we're all constantly doing something together, whether it's going for a walk. We've been playing - we've rediscovered all the board games we have in our closet. We've been doing family movie nights most of the week. And so the first night it took us like 30 minutes to decide what movie to watch, so to solve for that we all write down two movies and put them in a bowl, and then at the beginning of family night a person just - movie night, one person pulls out and whatever it is that's what we watch for that. And, so, it's been fun because we've shown our kids some movies from '80s and '90s that are classics that they hadn't seen. And, then, we've been seeing other family favorites and the new ones that none of us have seen. So, I mean, thank goodness for streaming and for On Demand and all the other things. But that's been really fun. And we just, we talk a lot. We're having meals together. And that very much is keeping the sanity. And, I mean, I know it's different for every family, we're actually really enjoying this and getting a lot closer because of this, and that has really helped the sanity factor, for sure.
Melanie Courtright: And just listening to you guys, just be consumers, be human beings for a few minutes, you can hear the things that are changing in your own lives, and you still have those lingering questions, what's gonna linger? What's gonna go back to a new normal? What's gonna go - what's not gonna be normal again ever? What's gonna stay gone? What's gonna stay in your lives going forward? So thank you all very much. We have a couple of key pieces of information we want to give everyone. And, then, if you have a final word for anyone, I'll give you an opportunity to get that. Just for everyone, next week's town hall is gonna be really important. You've asked for a focus session on the CARES Act, so we're gonna have a focus session on the CARES Act next week. And it will have Howard, as well as Stuart and an employment attorney on there to really talk through the CARES Act, and as well as what it can mean for businesses and employees and individuals. And, then, just a reminder that our next conference is coming up. And you're gonna see really great novel cases from Unilever and Twitter, Colgate, Microsoft, Grubhub, Kimberly-Clark, so really great content coming there. We have some next steps that we remind you of. So we're gonna keep these going for as long as you find them useful. And we still have a pretty full agenda of these coming up for topics that you have asked for. And we welcome your comments. And if your business needs support and we can help you, I just remind you to please reach out to us. Any final thoughts, Jackie, Khary, Brett, Lisa, that are-that you'd like to share with anyone before we thank them?
Lisa Courtade: Well, I was looking at this question from Simon Chadwick[ph] that I thought was particularly relevant, and I think it's good to end on. And his question is, do you believe the status of the insights function in our companies and in the industry will be enhanced when we come out of this? Will the impact be understood and respected? And the answer to that is, if we do this right. If we are reactive, if we are running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cutoff and we're in a panic mode, or if all we're doing is tracking this and admiring the problem, then the answer is, I think we're gonna come out worse than we were coming in. But I think if we can take that leadership role, and not only diagnosing the impact of what's going on, but also having the foresight to lead our company strategically and lead those brands strategically to be successful in the post-COVID world, I think that really elevates the function and what we could be. Because-and I know I said this to you, Melanie, the other day, we've never been in more demand than we are right now because people are looking for insight. So, if we rise to that occasion, I think it puts us in a very different place as a department and as a profession.
Brett Townsend: Preach on, Preacher.
Jackie Chan: That's a mic drop. We should just end there.
Melanie Courtright: Stronger if we do it right. I love that. Thank you. Thanks everyone, have a really great and peaceful weekend. And we're here if you need us, and see you next week.
Brett Townsend: Stay safe.
Khary Campbell: Take care.
Jackie Chan: Bye. Take care.
Lisa Courtade: Bye.