Presenters: Dyna Boen, Managing Director, Escalent; Jamin Brazil, Chairman, HubUX; Lisa Wilding-Brown, Chief Research Officer, InnovateMR; Simon Chadwick, Managing Partner, Cambiar; Dan Coates, President, YPulse; Lynnette Cooke, Global CEO, Kantar Health; Steve Schlesinger, CEO, The Schlesinger Group; Ari Zelmanow, Director, Analytics, Research & Insights, Panasonic; moderated by Melanie Courtright, CEO, Insights Association.
Transcript Courtesy of Focus Forward & FF Transcription
Melanie Courtright: Hello, everyone. Really glad to see you online today. Thank you for joining the Outlook for Insights from our IA Laureates Part 2. I want to take a quick moment to thank Fieldwork for sponsoring our Q1 Town Halls, a wonderful company member and sponsor of the Insights Association. Thank you very, very much for your sponsorship. And they'll also be participating with us in our new event, the Y Event, which will be in March, all about the power of why people do the things that they do in qualitative, so very exciting. If you're not familiar with the IPC Program, IPC has three levels. It's the IPC Principal. It's IPC is the replacement for PRC. IPC Principal is three years of industry experience and pass an exam, which is 100 multiple choices questions based on the MRC block, the MRC body of knowledge. You can also take the University of Georgia's MRI course as a way to not have to take the exam. For the Master level, ten years of experience, and there is 150 multiple choice questions. When you have these designations, it shows that you really comprehend the core body of knowledge that goes along with being a principal or a master market researcher. And then, our laureates, who we're celebrating today. Our Laureates Program is similar to the MRS Fellow Program out of the UK. These are recognized experts and intellectual leaders. They're peer nominated. They went through a nomination progress, or process. Many of them don't even know who nominated them. And then, they go to the Education Committee for approval. They are ambassadors and role models. They are inspiring with their speaking, writing, and contributing to the community dialogue. Hopefully you know all of these people, and if you don't, you should get to know them. They eagerly accept this role. These people on this call are willing to spend time with you, answer your questions, be a resource to you. And they worked in the insights and data analytics industry for at least 12 years, and some of us with our gray hair, you could tell it's a bit longer than that. So I am so honored to know each and every one of these people. Really quickly, who we have on the call today for the second half of our Laureates Program is Dyna Boen from Escalent, Jamin Brazil from HubUX, Lisa Wilding-Brown from InnovateMR, Simon Chadwick of Cambiar, Dan Coates of YPulse, Lynette Cooke, Kantar Health, Steve Schlesinger of the Schlesinger Group, and Ari Zelmanow of Panasonic. Welcome everyone. Before we get started, just one more quick note. If you are on this – Nope. I'm going to save that for the end. So the way we're going to work this today, I'm going to stop sharing. The way we're going to work this today is that I'm going to ask one question of each of our laureates, we'll go in an order. And then, I'll ask another question and we'll go in reverse order. We're going to start with Lynnette. So you guys know, Lynnette's having a little bit of video problem, but I know that she can be heard. So, Lynnette, we'll have you up first. Thinking about what the greatest risk for insights for 2021. You're up first.
Lynnette Cooke: Well, thank you, Melanie and Insights Association, for this opportunity to join you and my industry colleagues. Perhaps my biggest risk is just figuring out how to keep my video going after a year of all these video calls. But hopefully you can hear me. These are great questions. And as I started to think about what I think the greatest risk is for our business or any of our clients, it's hard to answer that without recognizing what happened in 2020. And that was certainly a time when we all learned what it meant to be agile. If we thought we knew what that meant beforehand, we certainly learned truly, it was the true test of how fast we could pivot, even though most of the time I didn't know where I was pivoting to or toward or what was going to happen next. And in those moments of unprecedented challenge, we were all required as business leaders to respond with unprecedented change. So, for our industry, everybody on the phone call, I can see from the chat and the people who are here, this will resonate with you, that you had to figure out how to redesign the way we communicate with one another, how we gather information. What's important, when we think about the risks for this year, I think, at least for when I think about the business that we're in, we have to remember that these data, they eventually inform insights. So we've changed drastically how we're gathering those data. So we have to make sure that we're contextualizing the insights. That's our biggest risk, is are we ensuring that our – Or one of the biggest risks, that the recommendations are based on what I keep saying is contextualized insights. It's not something new. Years ago when big data started to be a part of every conversation, we were also discussing, well, how do we contextualize those insights? But I think coming off of 2020, we can't ignore the fact that everything changed. We have to interrogate the data through a new lens because consumers have drastically been affected in the way they communicate and commerce and every aspect of that term. So we need to keep pushing ourselves because we've never analyzed consumers through a global pandemic. And I feel like it's our responsibility to make sure that we push ourselves and maybe even try to poke holes in the research that we're conducting, and saying, "In today's world, after 2020, after all the unprecedented changes that we've implemented into our business, are these insights – Are we looking at them through the right lens? Are they contextualized insights?" Otherwise, we run the risk of providing ill informed advice potentially, when we're launching and promoting brands. So, again, it's not a new word. It's not a new – It's not new for us. But I think, looking through a completely new lens of post-COVID. A year ago, we kept saying, "Well, when we go back to normal." This is normal, so we have to redefine how we contextualize those insights.
Melanie Courtright: I love that. Thank you. Not just contextualizing for COVID, but there's a lot of change in the world, so all of the context going on around that, around us. I love that. Thank you. Simon, you're up next.
Simon Chadwick: Thank you. And thank you to the Insights Association for putting this great group together. I'm following on from Lynnette. I think there is a danger that I see, or a risk that contextualization of insights may actually be lost in some organizations, particularly those who are of the opinion or have been convinced that behavioral data is everything, the transactional data is everything. We have all the data in house, let's just interrogate the data without actually going and trying to look, not only at the why behind it, but also the narrative context that exists behind consumer behavior and consumer choices and social behavior and social choices. So, and I had heard from a number of companies that that's the sort of direction that senior management tends to be looking at, which is just saying, "Why do we need all these researchers? We've got the data. We've got data analysts." And that would be a huge, huge, huge mistake. I think another thing that has happened during 2020 is that, finally, the insights function in many companies – Not those that are questioning the reason why, but those that actually really have embraced insights at the center of their response to the pandemic and to change – In those companies, the insights function is finding itself very much at the center of strategic decision making. And they, the center of senior management attention. We've always been talking – From 30 years ago, I can remember being at a conference where clients, heads of consumer insights, were bemoaning the fact that they didn't have a seat at the table. And that conversation has gone on and on and on. We do have a seat at the table, at least in many organizations now. And I think we've got to avoid losing that strategic relevance as we go forward. We can't slide back to being a line cost item. So I think there is a need for a considerable amount of planning and measurement of the impact that we're having, so that we can actually market and improve that to the organizations for which we work. I am constantly worried about quality issues in the industry, and I think we – This is something that we too often talk about but skate over. I talk to a lot of people in the industry all the time, and I ask them, "How – Are you worried about, for example, the quality of your sample? Or how do you think quality of sample is generally?" And generally – They say, "Generally, it's terrible." And I then say, "Well, what about yours?" "Ours is fine." So I think we need to really readdress the whole issue of quality in what we do and ensure that we don't go too far down the direction of good enough, move on. So those are my primary concerns, I guess, going into this new year and new era.
Melanie Courtright: Really good. Thank you. Applying intellect to the data, losing our seat at the table by missing this opportunity we have in front of us, and continuing to quantify the – What quality means. And I love that. Dyna, you're up.
Dyna Boen: So, as I think about the industry, I think about it in two spaces. So Lynnette talked about the insights and the data that we deliver to our clients, but I also think about the business of market research and being a leader in the industry and how we run our own companies. So I have to think about both every day. And so, from that standpoint, I would say I'm very much in the proceed with caution. You guys know me, I'm an optimist. I'm a Pollyanna. I'm always looking at the bright side. But I think that this year, while I remain bullish about growth for clients and for our industry – And I'm at a research services company, Escalent's Research Services – I think I'm bullish about growth. I'm bullish about a recovery. But how bullish am I? Sort of like, it's a – I'm wearing yellow today, it's appropriate. Flashing yellow lights, right? So proceed with caution. Right? So, if we're optimistic, it's trying to manage our businesses forward for 2021 and for the future and being forward looking, and what do we need for the future, while being cautious about what we can expect in the business of market research, how much of a recovery we'll see on the qualitative side, which clients – As I think about the insights that we deliver, it's around tech, it's around consumer, it's around telecom. And, depending on what space you're working on, which domains and verticals you're in, some of your clients saw extreme growth last year, and others saw serious budget cuts. So you've sort of got this, in tech, there was a lot of growth for all the reasons we know. We're all digital, everything's gone digital. Our shopping has gone digital. Digital, our meetings have gone digital. So, for all the obvious reasons, we saw lots of growth in tech. But if you've got clients that are in the hospitality side and travel, we saw the polar opposite of that. So I believe in my – At my being, my positive being, that there's going to be recovery this year. But I don't see us getting all the way back to 2019. And so a lot of my concern is what is the recovery? How much is it? Where do we see it? And how do we help our clients through disruption?
Melanie Courtright: Yeah. No, that brings us back to some of the earlier conversations we had last year about scenario planning. We were scenario planning for the downside, but I think we also need to scenario plan for the recovery side, and have lots of different scenarios that we're working. Maybe we'll have a scenario planning conversation again soon. Thank you. Ari, you're next, and then Steve.
Ari Zelmanow: Yeah. So I think if COVID has shown us some things about our industry, it's that we have some work to do in articulating a clear value proposition of what we offer. So, and clear messaging, and presenting some sort of point of view and value. We, as an industry, in many businesses are still seen as a cost center instead of a revenue generating function. And so the problem is is when something like COVID hits, what should happen is the businesses should be like, "We need to figure out how to sustain and thrive in this. And market research can help with that." And then – And I think that we've kind of – We have to do a better job articulating that value. We are, as an industry, still pretty fragmented. So, if you think about the different functions, we always talk about market researchers and consumer insights. And then we think about this dichotomy of qual and quant. But the reality is is with technological advancements, we have UX research, CX research, consumer analytics, all of these different functions. And each of them are trying to bite for the same pie, when we all should be working together to generate insights, valuable insights, for the business. At Panasonic, we have a combined insights team that serves as the single source of truth for customer, market, technical, and business data. And I think that's what we have to drive for as an industry. In going back to the concept of contextualized data, we can't live and thrive in a world where we generate some insight and don't look at the other parts of the system. Insights don't happen or things don't happen in a vacuum. They happen as part of an interrelated system. And, so, that's kind of where I think it is. And so, I would challenge everybody to develop these mission statements for their business and start positioning themselves. We have to think – We, as providers of market research and insights, have to position ourselves and this industry as a business partner, not as a service provider. And when that happens, I think we'll be able to overcome some of these biggest risks.
Melanie Courtright: That's great. I was following a LinkedIn conversation about, what's your word for 2021? And mine was impact. Measure and prove impact. And Simon and I have spent lots of time talking about impact. And I've heard a lot of brands say they have to prove impact to their board, and they need their partners to prove impact to them. So we have to work as an industry on these mission statements, and actually measuring and proving impact in the work we do. Great. All right. Steve, you're up.
Steve Schlesinger: Thanks, Mel. Good to be here with everyone. So I think I'm going to take a little bit of what others said, but weave it a little differently. So when I think of '20, and then '21, I think the easy word is change. It's this idea that in '20 we survived, and in '21, we probably need to change. But when I think about change, I think about it a little bit in an accelerated fashion. So, if you think of the concept of evolution, evolution is all about change. But when you really look at evolution over time, there are stresses that get put on, whether it's society or environment, that really create accelerated changes in evolution. And we've just gone through one, and it's a significant one. So when you think about, we've survived through '20, now we're moving into '21, how do we accommodate and adapt to those changes and those stress points? And then ultimately, to what Dyna said is how do we think about risk? How do we think about caution? I actually am a bigger believer of taking more risks during this time, really taking advantage of this. You know the old consulting statement, which is never let a good crisis go to waste. And it's really true. I think we have an opportunity for those who have the appetite and potentially the strategy to really take advantage of this and look at it as a place where we can really look to move forward faster. And this is not just a good thing for us individually or for our businesses, but frankly it's a really good opportunity for our industry as well. You talk about a seat at the table. You talk about marrying different data sources and how people are going to work over time, and I think we're at that point now where, hopefully, things will accelerate and we'll have a bigger seat at the table, and we'll be more relevant with our clients. So that's the way I'm thinking about it as I move forward. And I actually encourage others to think the same way.
Melanie Courtright: Yeah. I love that. From survive to change through intentional risk taking. That's great. Thank you. Let's see, Jamin, and then Lisa, and then Dan. And we'll reward the ones at the end by getting to go first next time. So, Jamin, you're up. Wait, you're on mute.
Jamin Brazil: Normal. So thank you so much for the opportunity. Piggybacking on Steve's point, our industry, especially on the qualitative side, has been forced to convert from in person to digital. This has been a super hard shift. Recently, I had an interview with Oliver Sweet, who's the Head of Ethnography at Ipsos. In January 2020, he functionally did zero in the way of digital. He would say that he even thumbed his nose at digital ethnography. By March, they were doing zero in person. So it is a tectonic shift for him. So they started that new study, which some of you may have heard of, CovidWatch, where they follow 30 different households from around the world. And so, during that time, he found that digital actually offered a totally new view into the participants' lives that he had not discovered. He found that in some – One case specifically, there was a mom who was sneaking out so that she could have a cigarette, just to be able to cope with her anxiety. Another example, there's a dad who was waking up, having night terrors because he was just so stressed about the financial situation of their household. And he would never have had access to those insights had he been using the traditional ethnography in person approach. And so for me, I think digital has offered us a totally different set of insights. And in this context, I'm really worried – And I think the biggest issue or fear that I have for our industry is that we, as things open up, that we go back to the easy mode or the way that we have historically been gathering insights because it's just kind of what we know and it's familiar. And we'll stop flexing this muscle of digital, because I believe that only through leveraging both qualitative and – In person and digital, then that offers us a complete view of the consumer.
Melanie Courtright: That's great. I mean, we're thinking about that at the Association too. We've had people say that one of their fears is that we'll go back to an only in person. We all want to go back to in person events, but no one wants to go back to only in person events because of the democratization of conference content that's happened, and getting the conference content into the hands of project managers who can't go to an event. So we can't slip back into what is comfortable and known. We have to continue to push ourselves. That's really good. Thank you. All right, Lisa.
Lisa Wilding-Brown: Yeah. This is great. And it's great to see all of you guys and gals, and thank you so much, the Insights Association and Melanie, for spearheading these awesome town halls. I try to go to as many as I possibly can because it's been so insightful, but also like I was saying earlier before we jumped on, it's kind of like a good therapy session, so I appreciate that opportunity to share perspective. I mean, this – These last few months have just been incredible. There's been so much change, so much uncertainty that's come about among consumers, and yet our appetite for faster answers has become insatiable. And we at the same time don't enjoy the budgets we might have enjoyed back in 2019 or 2018. And I think there's other things that are really compounding the issue, the issue of the lack of connectivity. I mean, I would do anything to see you all in person, literally. And there's been so much social distance that we've had to integrate into our lives, so that's really I think strained our ability to effectively communicate. But what I've seen over the last few months is just incredible flexibility. This space, the industry we operate in, I think our nature, our inclination, is to be fairly risk adverse, even with the rapid deployment of online and technologies. And we see that a lot in the sample space, where I spend a lot of my time. There's been kind of a big movement towards employing more technological strategies to source and recruit and to deploy sample into studies. But as a general kind of framework, I think we want to sort of test but verify and trust but verify and do all those things. And so I think there is sort of this kind of risk adverse component that exists within our industry. But this year, we got yanked. I was reading a thought piece from ESOMAR recently. And one of their researchers or thought leaders had said, "It feels like we got yanked into a digital evolution." And I thought that that was really pretty impactful. And I've just – I've seen a lot of flexibility, a lot of creativity. We've seen a lot of, like you were saying, Jamin, traditional qualitative, face-to-face interviewing transitioning online literally overnight. Loads of new partnerships and collaborations that, quite honestly, I probably wouldn't have had if there hadn't been a pandemic. And so I think that's something we can celebrate. And I think there's been a real growth in creativity. I'm also observing a lot of clients moving more into the DIY area of the business, and greater openness to do DIY. We've seen that just on our side. So I think that, overall, there's a collective tolerance for creativity and change like I've never observed. But I still have some worries. And touching on Simon's point, I am incredibly worried about the quality of our insights. Last year was very, very busy for cyber fraud. And we've seen this historically. We saw this come out of Venezuela. We've seen it come out when the recession hit in '08 and '09. Any time there's economic hardship, it motivates people to behave badly and to do things that are nefarious in nature. And our industry is not impervious to it. And anyone that says that they are impervious to cyber fraud is being completely disingenuous. And so quality of sample to me does not rest squarely on the shoulders of sample providers. I wish it did, but it doesn't. It can't work that way. I think it really involves how we're looking at what's happening before, during, and after, and following across the entire life cycle of that. And related to that, it's about participant experience. It's not just about sourcing samples, also about the survey instruments that we're developing, and how are those designed to think about the participant experience? Because I liken them a lot. I've done this before, or said this before, that participants are like the polar ice caps. Once they're gone, they're gone. And we need, I think, as an industry to do a better job thinking about quality and contextualizing quality, not just when it comes to cyber fraud, but how we're engaging participants. And then the last risk, Mel – I'm sorry, I'm going to go really quick. The last risk that has me kind of up at night is the lack of federal regulation around privacy and incentivization. So we have CCPA, and now this new law, AB 2257, which essentially qualifies survey participants in California as true workers and eligible to earn minimum wage at a prorated rate based on length of interview. And Mel, I totally applaud you and the Insights Association for everything that you're doing to try to work in earnest to reverse this law. But I really, really hope that Washington is able to work at the federal level and pass balance laws so that we don't have to go chasing and operationalizing state-by-state laws because that's going to be really, really difficult for our industry and pose a risk for the quality of our data.
Melanie Courtright: Well, those are definitely the top three on the advocacy agenda brand Insights Association, AB 2257, national privacy law, and then other threats around tax and CCPA. So I've said Amicus brief more in the past couple of months than I ever said it in my whole life. So thank you for that. And I also love the concept of talking more as an industry about total survey error, looking at the polling, looking at quality, looking at all of our research. We tend to see something wrong and we go straight for one aspect of it. I want to open the conversation up this year again about total survey error, net representation error, and measurement error, and build models around understanding all of it and the layers of bias. Anyway, I'm not supposed to be talking, you guys are. Off to Dan.
Dan Coates: Great. Thanks so much, Melanie. And listen, I want to thank everybody for being here. I'm a little sheepish about this whole laureate thing. I fortunately had the ability to figure out who nominated me and had a conversation with him about it. Turns out that you have to be careful what you say. The little things that you say along the course of your career can inspire people in directions that you hadn't anticipated. And so, you definitely can sometimes be held accountable, both in a positive and a negative light. So to my nominator and to the IA, I thank you. But listen, when I think about what risks face the industry, I'm way more bullish than Dyna is. We are going to have an exploding industry economy moving forward. The Roaring Twenties was a direct result of the Spanish Flu in 1918. We're not going to be able to keep up with what happens next. And so, I would ask all of us, have we made the most of this opportunity to sharpen our blades, reformat our businesses? We've been nonstop since the pandemic struck. At first, I'd say that we were leaning into the impact of the pandemic on young consumers. And I'm really proud of what we did. We gave away three months worth of syndicated research to anybody that was interested. And a client of ours, Kim Spaid at Kraft Heinz, said that we weren't the only ones. She said that she'd never felt so well informed so cheaply as for the first few months of the pandemic, as all of us curious researchers leaned in hard to what was going on and try to really decode the change that was occurring. All of my team have been run through MRI courses through the course of the pandemic. We've invested more in product than we have in the last three years combined. We are not going to let this pandemic go to waste, and we're going to emerge from it stronger than ever before. I agree with what Lisa said, we're a fairly conservative industry. In some ways, you want your banker, you want your market researcher to be kind of button down and sort of doing their job diligently. But at the same time, I just say that look in the mirror, ask yourself, have you made the most of the downturn? And the good news is, is that if the answer's no, there's still a little bit of time. We were all sure that it'd be back to normal by the end of 2020. Turns out that just having a vaccine isn't enough. Turns out you've got to administer it, which takes time. All macro economic sort of analysis is telling us, by June we're going to be back to normal. So you've got a little bit of time. You've got the next few months to make sure that you've prepared yourself as well as you possibly can for what happens next. And buckle up and hold on, it's going to be a wild ride.
Melanie Courtright: Yeah. That's great. I love it. So you guys, we're halfway through, and you've heard about contextualizing, applying intelligence to the data, keeping our seat at the table, quality and quality metrics, total survey error, and making sure we're in quality, proceed with caution but take the right risks, articulate a clear value and have a mission statement, from survive to change. I mean, seize the moment, take the moment, take advantage of the moment. And we're only halfway done. So now we're going to move on to the opportunities. And we're going to go in reverse order. Dan, thank you for being willing to go last, now you get to go first. When you think about opportunity for insights, what is one of the things that maybe is being overlooked or downplayed? How do we seize it?
Dan Coates: Yeah. So it's very clear to me, from my position in the industry, that data is the new sex. Everybody's interested in data. Everybody's interested in insight. And we're in an enviable position. I don't know about the rest of you, I've been at this for about 30 years. When I joined, market research is what you did when you weren't cool enough to be a marketer. Now it's just the opposite. Marketing is sometimes where you land if you don't have the sort of skill set for market research. And so, definitely would say that the opportunity for us all is to up skill, to take what we're doing and learn a little bit more. There's such a – And we've got such great people on this webinar. Simon has been beating this drum for a while, if you're not sure where to go and up skill yourself and where you can add more value to the industry, just read anything that Simon's ever written over the last two years. He'll give you a map. Jamin is constantly helping us understand what's going on on the fringes of our industry, the cool innovations, the technologies, the places where data is going to be available from, where it hasn't been available from before. We've got just an abundance of opportunity. And just like market researchers, conservative lot that we are, we sit and stare at our navels and wonder why we're not more valued. I've got to tell you, power is all around us. Just pick it up off the ground and run with it, it's there for the taking. And so, terms of opportunities, they're – The Insights Association with the IPC, here's a clear pathway to make sure that you've got yourself in a position to succeed moving forward. I'm also on the Board of the Market Research Institute International, as are many of our other leaders here today. And there's some really clear, in the course of a weekend, you can learn some new skills that will put you in a completely different place when The Roaring Twenties kicks into gear. So just, I think the real opportunity for our industry is to go ahead and bring ourselves up another notch, take ourselves to a new level, and ride the tide that's about to lift all of our boats.
Melanie Courtright: That's fantastic. So important to think of ourselves as products, in our space especially, we are a product and we have to keep our product marketable every day. We have to evolve our product life cycle as a personal product, just like we do manufactured products. So really good, thank you. Lisa, you're second.
Lisa Wilding-Brown: Awesome. Dan, I have to say, I'm loving your energy. And this session is getting me totally pumped up. I'm getting – And I've maybe had too much coffee, but I really love the message. And like I said, there's been so many bright spots, even though we've had to go through this terrible pandemic. And I think one of them, Mel, starts with you. I think, if you think back to sort of the typical conference circuit, and a lot of you guys I would see at these conferences over and over and over again. And that's great. I love seeing you in person. But I think a lot of researchers, young researchers, entry level researchers, never get that opportunity to go to conferences because they're the last in the door. And typically those opportunities are reserved for salespeople or C level executives or thought leaders in this space. And so, this last year, what's been really interesting with all these different virtual events and webinars is this democratization. And so people that typically wouldn't have those opportunities now are getting those opportunities to really upgrade their skills, get exposure. And so I'm really loving that. And I really hope that we continue to take that strategy and that path forward. And Mel, I remember way back when, I'm going back early 2000s, you and I were at a conference. And I was a young fledging researcher at the time. It was, what, my very first conference that I ever went to. It was in Europe, in Dublin actually. And I was so nervous because I didn't know anyone there. And I remember sitting at the very, very back of that dark ballroom, and looking at speakers on stage, and saying, "Someday, that's going to be me. I'm going to be on that stage. I'm going to be helping push that industry forward." But what happened at that show was that Melanie sat down next to me. And she said, "Hey, I'm Melanie. What's your name?" And so I would just encourage – I'm kind of giving myself chills here. I would encourage everyone out there, you're a thought leader if you've been in this space and very established for a long time. It's time to give back and really connect with younger researchers and be that individual for them and hold them up and give them opportunities. But I think one area that I'm really focused on, in addition to what I talked about around quality, because I think there's a lot of work to be done there, is multicultural insights. The events of last spring really heightened awareness and put a spotlight on the lack of diversity in our industry and in our samples. And I think there needs to be more work and more attention put on multicultural insights, because right now a lot of research is not given an active, pronounced voice. So I would encourage the research community, look at the way you're designing your studies, the quotas that you're implementing, making sure that you're oversampling for diverse cohorts, so that they do have a voice in the data and you're not relying on having to weight an entire population's perspective. Because that in my mind is completely irresponsible. And so, we've – My company, Innovate, helped to found a new organization called the Multicultural Insights Collective. And it's a group of about ten researchers, industry veterans from all different backgrounds, very diverse backgrounds, and also expertise and abilities and disciplines. And we're really trying to move this topic forward. It's not about just tweeting support to Black Lives Matter, it's really about – Because to me, that's very performative. It's very shallow. And I think a lot of brands and consumers are watching and listening and need some guidance. And I can see that happening in the industry. We need to come to a place where there's understanding of the nuance across the different groups and their understanding of the language of diversity and really building universal vernacular to connect all of us. So I think that that is an opportunity, and I really hope that we don't lose sight of it because I think it's incredibly important.
Melanie Courtright: Yeah. No, fantastic. And as you know, we have the IDEA Council at the Insights Association, and it literally has two work streams. One on the profession, how do we get a better pipeline of candidates into the profession to diversify our talent? And the other's on the work, the product. How do we better – How do we improve our work product? Love that. All right. Jamin. You're on mute.
Jamin Brazil: I really want to piggyback on something Ari said, because I think this is something, for the last 25 years as I've been a part of market research, that we tend to – We have a little bit of an Eeyore syndrome. And what I mean by that, not to take it down, but get research to the table. And as he framed it, it's the new sex. Which maybe it's more like an old married couple's than – But the – My point here is, there's so much excitement and enthusiasm for people to – By executives to leverage data insights. And now is the time. It is now, and it will be tomorrow, and it will be for the near future, because they want data driven decisions. But when I started my career, we were looking at a 95 percent significance in order to say, "This was meaningful." And now executives are saying, "We just need 60 percent. I just want to be able to beat the odds on a consistent basis with my data driven decisions." So this to me is the – This is our opportunity to be able to ingest ourselves into the decision making process of organizations, and also into the lives of each other. And that's the other thing that I think digital is enabling us, is an opportunity to connect that we just couldn't before. We couldn't afford it. We couldn't afford the time to get on a plan and the money to spend on hotels. And now we're connecting for free on a regular basis, one-on-one. And I mean, I have an invitation with two of our panelists to attend a virtual cocktail hour, which we would never have been able to do a year ago. That would've just not been feasible to spend time – Quality time together because, yes, drinking creates quality time, right? It just wasn't possible. And so I think we have to lean into that. It is our day to connect with one another, and we have to seize that. And it's also our day to make sure that we're infused in the decision making processes of the business.
Melanie Courtright: Fantastic. Thank you, Jamin. All right, Steve.
Steve Schlesinger: Well I think what we've learned today is that drinking is important. We've also learned that data is the new sex. So I think that this has been actually a very successful panel.
Melanie Courtright: Better than data's the new oil. I like data's the new sex. It's great.
Steve Schlesinger: Things that come to mind to me are surely what Lisa said. I think how we think about respondents and collecting data and information, I think we have to get that right. I think we've been talking about it for decades, and I still don't think we do it right. We don't put enough thought and respect into it. And that engagement is critical for us to continue to have the information that we're providing to our clients. The other thing I think about too with opportunities is the fact that sometimes we just spend too much time looking in the same places for them. I think we don't spend enough time opening up sort of our eyes and our perspective to other industries, to how other things are being disrupted. And that narrow focus really sort of – We start believing our own BS. And I think there's a lot of risk in that. I think about a company like mine that has spent decades building a business, and then I think about other companies that have come along and have mirrored the same growth in less than a decade. And how does that happen? And it happens because they found something that's disruptive. They've found something that's unique, that all of us haven't found. And I think that's the miss. Whether it's serving clients or it's partnering properly or it's building the right tech, but I really think a lot of those answers sit outside of our industry. And I think we need to do more looking and searching and actually sharing those insights with each other. I think it'll create a lot more power and actually give us that seat at the table eventually.
Melanie Courtright: Yeah. That's fantastic. I mean, I remember hearing someone say that they literally asked their company what they would do if the internet died tomorrow. I mean, just asking ourselves really hard questions and causing it to force us to be – To get uncomfortable enough to start thinking of new ways to – right?
Steve Schlesinger: Yeah. That word uncomfortable is such a great word because – We've been talking about this a lot lately, and it's really about, how do we go through the year feeling uncomfortable? We owe that to ourselves. We owe that to our teams. We owe that to our clients. And frankly, too many times we wind up just going back to what is the usual.
Melanie Courtright: Wonderful. Yep. Thank you. Ari.
Ari Zelmanow: Yeah. So, if I could sum up the biggest opportunity, I think it's positioning. And yes, with all the talk, you guys are probably thinking I'm talking about the Kama Sutra, but I'm not. What I'm talking about is positioning in terms of how we're perceived as an industry. So positioning, we think in terms of, we say we're insights providers, and so everybody believes it. But that's not the way positioning works. Positioning lives in the mind of the consumer. I'll say it again because I think it's so important. Positioning lives in the mind of the consumer. And so just because we say we're insights providers, that doesn't mean that the people that we're offering service or insights to know what that means. And we have to really – We have to do some work to understand their perceptions, so we could help mold their perceptions to get a seat at the table. So, what I think about the opportunity for positioning is the – It's the opportunity to convert from service provider to valued business advisor or partner. When you have a legal problem, you think, "I'm going to go to a lawyer." When you have a medical problem, you think, "I'm going to go to a doctor." When you have a data problem or a understanding customers problem, who do you go to? And we need to be thought of as that person. So everybody that's seen me speak at a conference will know that I love the Godfather. And I always talk about Tom Hagen. He is the consigliere to the Don. He's the advisor. He is the person that, when there's a question, the Don goes to to get those answers. And that, to me, is where the opportunity lies. It lies in us positioning ourselves as experts. So I hear us talk about data and these other things. Well, just because – I can't tell you how many times I've seen this. Just because people think they can write a sentence, they think that they can conduct interviews. Well, it's asking questions, right? It's just asking questions. Or, "Hey, I can use a calculator, I can do statistics." And we're talking about sampling. And it doesn't work that way. It is an expertise. And we have to educate through positioning our consumers of insights to what we do and the value we add. And when we do, we will have a seat at that table, and we will be seen as senior advisors. We'll switch from being cost centers to valued profit centers for the business. And that to me is the opportunity coming out of this.
Melanie Courtright: Great. Thank you. Really quick commercial break. We have three more people, and we probably have time for one really good question. So, if you have a really good question, drop it into the Q&A pod. Dyna, you're up.
Dyna Boen: Thank you, Melanie. Oh my gosh, you guys, there's so much to unpack here. So the first thing is, I think sex has always been in style, so I'm just saying. But maybe it's even more in style now. We're probably going to come back from this with a baby boom, right? So, right? Like I'm betting on it. And so, but I will say that I think data's always been in style, it's just that we're going to come back with a lot of demand. And I think that's what everyone's saying they're bullish about. There's going to be a lot of demand for data because companies are going to want to inform the evolution of how consumers were behaving in 2020 and how they're going to be changing their behaviors as we come out of this. It's constantly evolving. But I was talking to someone yesterday about just the change in the industry. So my background is almost entirely start-ups in the industry. I've always been online and digital. And through time, when I started in the industry, it was in San Francisco at Market Polls, we're a start-up. We had no clients in San Francisco. We had none. We had to go to the Midwest because the people that were investing in market research, that believed in it at the core of their brand, were brand building companies like General Mills and P&G and the big CPGs. Fast forward to today. There's a time in my career where my insights community was – I always had to get on a plane to go visit them, so Midwest or New York. Today, in San Francisco and in the Bay Area, there is so much demand for insights. And it's everywhere. And it's an amazing thing to see. If you think about hiring in our industry and things that I'm excited about, Facebook can't hire enough insights people for what they need. Google cannot hire enough insights people for what they need. I could go on and on. LinkedIn, they're all kind of trying to steal from each other because they need more insights people because they've got so much data and they're trying to understand consumer demand all over the place. What I have seen in terms of sort of the seat at the table, and I talked about this a little bit last year in the GRIT report, is to Ari's point, the role of the insights leader and the people that are my clients and brands, are – Is changing. So at one time, it's very much, you're an insights leader, you're an influencer. You use the data to influence marketing decision making. But today, it's much more about being a driver of marketing decision making. All these companies, they just – Digital advertising is taking off, for example. So really understanding beyond consumer insights, and I call it going beyond the PowerPoints. How are you activating? How are you making that PowerPoint come to life and activating it in your digital insights? And so, people on the brand side that are friends of mine, clients of mine, colleagues, people I learned from, they're telling me that they need to be bilingual now. They're making that transition from just consumer insights and sort of being a specialist here to having to – Their marketing counterparts are depending on them to give them the insights to help them with the digital piece. So, just a thing I wanted to mention of what I've seen and kind of where I see the insights world going, so couldn't agree more with what Ari is saying. But I want to come back to the year of transition. And we talk about it from our companies. We lead companies. We're thinking about the success of our companies. And so, there's been a lot of retooling of companies. And when we think about times like this, innovation comes out of times like this, new thoughts, because we're solving new problems. And so you see new companies emerge. We'll see that in the next year. Well, Jamin and Simon may already be seeing them. I advise a couple small start-up companies. These new companies are emerging out of this time to solve new problems for our industry. But what I think is more interesting is that we're an industry of people. All of us are people. And consumer insights is delivered by people for people. And what I think has been really cool is the retooling of people. We've seen so much movement in our industry this year. Some of it was forced movement because a bunch of companies did layoffs. They did budget cuts. And so people were forced to change and retool themselves. And we also see people that chose to change. They said, "I don't want to do this anymore." They're reevaluating their lives, and they're like, "I don't believe in this company. I don't believe in their ethics. I don't believe what they stand for. I'm making a change for different reasons." So we saw forced change and we saw chosen change. And through all that, everyone is really retooling who they are. And so I think it's going to be really cool to see how the people change, the people evolution is going to impact the cultures of all of our insights companies on the brand side and on the supply side. And as a leader at Escalent, as a leader in the industry, as a mentor of young women and men, but young women, and just as part of our community, I'm so excited. I'm so excited about the positive change. It's be the change you want to see in the world. And so for all of us, the cool thing – And I know Melanie's like, "OK." Is just, is being the supporter of those positive changes we want to see in the world, whether it's pay parity, gender equality, racial equality. Be that person making those decisions behind the scenes, and we are going to come out of this time with so much positive change in the cultures of our industry to become the drivers of insights, to become that.
Melanie Courtright: Really good. Thank you. Simon.
Simon Chadwick: One of the problems about going close to the end is that everybody has pretty much said everything and said it very articulately. It was interesting at about the halfway mark, Ari sparked a big conversation off in the chat when he was talking about insights being a revenue generation function, not just a line item or a cost item. He also talked about not being – Having the role of counsel. And then he went on later to actually change that to consigliere, which makes it even more sexy. And I spent a lot of time in Italy, consigliere is a very up there thing. So, but we are counsel. We are drivers. I like that word, Dyna. We are becoming drivers of business decisions. And hopefully better business decisions and better decisions for society as well. And what I would like to see – And I'm very hopeful of because I'm seeing a lot of it right now, is that we do indeed measure that impact, where I'm seeing a lot of major companies really now committing to impact measurement. And, not only to impact measurement, but to communicating effectively that impact throughout their organizations and throughout their businesses, because it's only then that the CFO of a business or a company will realize that this is one of the greatest investments that they could possibly make. The return on the research investment is phenomenal. And so we've got to really shout that from the roof tops and become less shy about doing so. So I'm hopeful about that. I am so grateful to Lisa for bringing up diversity because that is something, I think, that we can really push very hard on in 2021 and beyond. But it's, we cannot slide back into just talking about it. We have done a huge disservice to marginalized populations, in this country and elsewhere, by not including them in research because we're too lazy or it costs too much. Now is the time to include them in the sample, as Melanie said, and include them very much in the talent that we hire. Final point. We at Cambiar, we produce an index every year on the amount of new money coming into the industry called Capital Funding Index. Since 2011, there's been about $25 billion that's come into this industry, which was unprecedented. I went into the analysis of 2020 data on this expecting to see a slow down. What I saw instead was a doubling, not only of the amount of money, but also of the number of deals that were done. So to Steve's point, we are seeing those people from outside the industry coming in. There's a huge new crop of companies that are being founded, out of them, one in ten will become viable competitors, viable providers, and they'll be bringing yet new technologies into the industry. So, if that's one indicator, it shows that we're very, very much alive and we're still very sexy. Thank you.
Melanie Courtright: Yeah. Thank you. All right, Lynnette, you're up to wrap us up, and then we'll do a quick question.
Lynnette Cooke: Like Simon said, going last, there really isn't anything novel to add. I will also say thank you to Lisa for bringing up diversity, and maybe just a practical example that I could share is why I believe through insights, we do have the opportunity to change the world and make it better. And that, that isn't just me saying all the right words because that's what we should be saying as business leaders. But I'm particularly proud of what we're doing at Kantar Health when we use our data to inform programs aimed at social determinants of health. And that's where we're trying to reduce that gap in affordability and access to healthcare. Maybe it's not directly the studies that we're doing, there is a long journey, as we know as researchers, between the data we collect and whether it becomes an insight, in my world, whether it actually ever influences the development of a product or something with public policy. But knowing that we're providing insights somewhere in the complicated healthcare ecosystem where we live in our business, is still incredibly gratifying. And what I would want for everybody on this call to hear is a reminder of what I think Dyna said, was we are not influencers. We are drivers. So figure out what is the thing that you're most passionate about, and find a way to position the work that you do, either overtly or somehow re-purposing it to continue to figure out, what can we do to change, drive that change?
Melanie Courtright: Wonderful. Thank you. Really good. So, Brian Wood asked the one question that I'm going to ask you guys to think about. And it is – We've been talking a lot about value adding and keeping our seat at the table. And he thinks we need to think about and talk about, what are the drivers of that value add? What does that look like? Is it to show your ROI? Is it, so examples of driving the business, what is it? And I'm going to – I'm actually going to start, if that's OK with you, because I am. And then if you have an answer, just sort of raise your hand and let me know. But for me, it's about delivering an insight or intelligence to the business at the time when they need it that helps inspire action and that can then be proven to have measurable outcome. So, or said a little differently, the right answer at the right time that inspires the right action and has the right outcomes. So when you do that, oftentimes as an industry, I know we might have the right answer, but it takes us too long or we get the answer wrong or we do it, but we don't tell a good story and we don't inspire action, and then we can't – We don't have anything we can measure. And so what do you guys think though? What is it from your perspective that is about keeping our seat at the table? Simon, and then Dan.
Simon Chadwick: I think you got it right. I would go further, which is that it's no longer about delivering those insights that inspire action. It is about working with the stakeholders involved in senior management to ensure action. Simon Chadwick: And then circling back, and looking at the results of that action and measuring ROI on what the results were, over what would have happened if nothing had been done. So ROI on research or on insights is not about ROI on the cost of research, it's actually the change in the business over the previous state, and what was the result of that?
Melanie Courtright: Great. Dan? And, then, we'll wrap up, unless somebody is just burning.
Dan Coates: Great. In this year, we've had great volatility. Volatility is awesome for our industry. Why? Because people need to make better decisions in times of great volatility. And so my answer would be better decision making.
Melanie Courtright: That's great. All right. Well, thank you all very – Go ahead, Dyna. Yep. Go ahead.
Dyna Boen: I was just going to say, just again sort of observing people and career development and keeping that seat at the table on the brand side, is that I think we have great market research in our industry, and then they become – For whatever reason, they step into a position of leadership. And they've been traditionally good at the insights and the work of insights, but then at a brand, they're now in charge of the insights team. And so I think as an industry, we can help them prepare for that step, because suddenly you're in charge of having a seat at the table and developing a function. And you go from, "I do really great research on projects," to, "I need a strategy. I need a strategy and tactics to run an insights team, to advocate for all these people who now report to me, and how do I do that in an organization that is making mobile phones or yogurt or whatever it is, whatever it is that product, that company does." And so I feel like maybe there's a way to think about, how do we help people prepare for that step up on the brand side, so.
Melanie Courtright: Wonderful. Thank you. Well, just, Lisa, for you, Eugenia Archetti is asking about the multicultural efforts, and then – So you might want to try to respond to her. But I'm going to just give you a couple of closing slides. We have a virtual town hall for those of you between jobs on January 26th, these are free. Please let people know, anybody who's in the job hunt, there's people on the call who are hiring. Also, here's just a reminder of our upcoming events this year, and another thank you to the Fieldwork, and just a thank you to each of you, each of you laureates, for doing that. I'm going to stop sharing again. Thank you so much for today. It has been inspiring. Again, Steve, Ari, Dyna, Lisa, Dan, Simon, Lynnette, and thank you very, very much for being here. And I know that we lost Jamin, but thanks to Jamin as well. So have a great weekend. Thank you all very much. We'll be seeing you again.