Presenters: Reg Baker, US Ambassador, ESOMAR; Merrill Dubrow, CEO, M/A/R/C Research; Vanella Jackson, Global CEO, Hall & Partners; Kathryn Korostoff, President, Research Rockstar; Pepper Miller, President, The Hunter-Miller Group; Charlotte Sibley, President, Sibley Associates; Moderated by Melanie Courtright, CEO, Insights Association.
Transcript Courtesy of Focus Forward & FF Transcription
Melanie Courtright: Hello, everyone. We have a really full schedule and some fantastic people that I want you to hear from, so we're going to go ahead and get started. Thank you very much for being with us today. I'm very excited about this town hall with our first class and first half of our Insights Association Laureates, and talking today about the outlook for insights. So, a little bit of housekeeping, if you – Again, if you have not pulled up your Q&A pod and your chat pod, please do so. We definitely want to hear from you, use your chat for just engaging in the conversation, putting in thoughts. If you have a specific question for any of the laureates, use your Q&A pod for that. That will help us be able to separate questions that we can actually field to these amazing laureates from the rest of the conversation that's going on in the chat window. So this session will be recorded and we will be transcribing it. We'll make that available to you. And, so, it is transcribed by Focus Forward. We're grateful for their continued partnership, transcribing all of these town halls for us. They've done it for us for a while now, and they do an outstanding job, so thank you very much. Our Q1 sponsor for our town halls this quarter is Fieldwork. Fieldwork is sponsoring our – All of our town halls for the first quarter. Thank you very much to Fieldwork for your company membership, for your commitment to the Association and the industry, and for sponsoring this. So, if you're not familiar with the IPC program and the IPC Laureates, these laureates that we have today were nominated by their peers, most of them don't even know who nominated them. They were nominated by their peers, and then their peers filled out a form to nominate them for IPC Laureate Recognition. IPC Laureate Recognition are recognized experts and intellectual leaders. They have agreed to be ambassadors and role models and they have the utmost integrity. They inspire their peers through speaking, writing, contributing to community dialogue. You know many of these faces and this describes each and every one of them. They've eagerly accepted this role of being available to mentor, and they've worked in the insights or data analytics industry for 12 years or more. And, so, they were nominated by their peers, and then they were brought to the Insights Association Committee, IPC Committee, for approval. And these are our first class of IPC – Of Insights Association IPC Laureates. And our second half of this group will be next week. If you do not know about the IPC program, there are two levels before you get to Laureate, and that is IPC Principal for people with three years of industry experience, and there's an exam that is passed. And then there is IPC Master for those professionals with ten years of industry experience and a slightly longer and slightly more in-depth exam to pass. So, if you are interested in the IPC program, you can find the – More information about that at the insightsassociation.org website. So I'm going to next introduce you to our laureates. This first half of our first set of laureates starts with Reg Baker. Reg Baker is a friend of mine and has been very active in advocacy and standards. He is also the US Ambassador for ESOMAR. Our second laureate, unfortunately, was scheduled to speak today but is unable to attend due to a last-minute travel change. That's Michael Brereton from Michigan State University. Michael's very involved with both ESOMAR and with the Insights Association in helping us with market sizing. He's also been very active in standards and best practices and is a recognized academic. Merrill Dubrow, M/A/R/C Research. Many of you, most of you, surely all of you know Merrill Dubrow. Merrill Dubrow is at M/A/R/C Research as its CEO, and he has been a tremendous fan and supporter of the Insights Association and a friend of mine. Vanella Jackson is at Hall & Partners out of the UK. Vanella Jackson is a strong voice for research and for innovation and has been part of the Insights Association and a leader – Sorry, a part of the Insights Association. Hall & Partners is a very strong partner of the Insights Association and company member, and she's been a strong leader and voice in the industry for years. Next, we have Kathryn Korostoff, Research Rockstar, very involved in training and education and has also been a partner with the Insights Association on the IPC program. We have Pepper Miller from The Hunter-Miller Group. I bet some of you don't know Pepper Miller, she's new to many people. She's new to even some of the people on this call, but Pepper Miller is a wonderful advocate for diversity and inclusion. She's very active in insights and in diversity and inclusion and access, and the role of women and ethnic and marginalized minorities in the world. Also, Charlotte Sibley from Sibley Associates. I got to know Charlotte through the University of Georgia's MRII program. She's been very active. Lisa Courtade, who's on our board, also considers her one of her mentors. And, if you know Lisa, if Charlotte helped Lisa, then that was a gift to us all as well. So welcome, this first set of IPC Laureates to our session today. And we're going to dive right in. So let me stop sharing my screen and let you see their lovely faces. We're going to start with our first question, and we're going to start with Vanella. Vanella, welcome. I don't know if there's anything you'd like to start out by saying to everyone, but I'm going to go ahead and pose the first question, what do you consider the greatest risk for insights in 2021?
Vanella Jackson: Well, thank you and very, very glad to be here and to meet everybody and be part of this fantastic event. It's a question about risks. But, before I answer it, I'd like to say I'm incredibly optimistic about the role that insight and data can play right now. Because with so much change going on, keeping close to consumers, to customers, to patients, to the people out there, is incredibly important. And, so, we play an absolutely pivotal role. However, the ground and the pace of change that we're all standing on is shifting all the time, and that makes it quite a very dynamic and slightly scary environment, to be talking with real confidence about what we know about consumers. And, so, my three kind of big risks would be that we only get kind of a narrower and narrower view of what's happening out there, because we're all stuck at home, not really able to see each other. And, so, it's in that increasingly narrow view, we only get fleeting glimpses of what's really going on. So my three risks are that we lose sight of consumers, we lose sight of clients and what they really need and want right now, and we lose sight of each other and the growing, new competitors that are coming along. And, when you think about consumers, so much has happened and the behaviors are changing, their values, what they care about is changing. There's a real shift in all of that area, and we've got to not only get close to them and deeply involved with them, but we've got to keep close to them. And that's an increasing challenge. And, then, our clients are going to be wanting us to predict how that change continues to evolve. And predicting in this highly dynamic market is really challenging as well, so getting that wrong is a risk. And, then, for clients, I mean, clients’ own environments. Their businesses have been disrupted. They're all focused on how they can rebuild, how they can get new competitive advantage, short-term wins. How can they drive growth, but how can they rebuild sustainably for the long-term. And they're trying to do this in an environment where marketing models have changed, where there are new modern marketing that they've got to embrace. And we as an insights community's got to be on top of all of that. So, with a narrowing view of clients’ experiences and clients’ needs, we still have to find a way to be relevant and be able to really impact their decision-making in real time. And, then, finally, competitors. There are so many new competitors. And, of course, what behavioral data can bring to clients to give them a view of customers is really important. New tech companies are deliberately looking to disrupt insight and do it differently. And that seems to be, unless we come together and share insight and knowledge, there is going to be this fragmentation and continued siloed-ness. So, whilst it's a risk, it is also a huge opportunity. But I think, at the end of the day, the real risk is that we fail to impact those decisions in real time and truly inspire our clients. So that would be my quick answer to the question.
Melanie Courtright: I love that. Thank you. Merrill, you're up next.
Merrill Dubrow: Wow, thank you. First of all, Mel, thank you for guiding us during this very challenging time. I can't believe I was nominated to be a laureate. I can't believe I made it to be a laureate. And, frankly, I wish I could spell laureate.
Melanie Courtright: So true.
Merrill Dubrow: Yeah. The reality is, as you guys most know, I'm from Boston. John F. Kennedy is from Boston as well. The famous president once said, "Crisis, if you think about it, the Chinese, it has two symbols for the word crisis. It has danger and it has opportunity." And I think that's where we are right here, right now, right today in this business environment. And, if you think about it, I see Reg Baker, who's been involved with suppliers, huge companies. Vanella's the same way – And I don't know everybody else. But the reality is we have this struggle. Do we become a generalist or do we become specialized, right? The more specialized you were during the pandemic, ugh, the harder you got hit, right? So, if you were a qualitative company, ugh, that was painful. If you were somebody who works specifically in the travel and tourism space, you got whacked. And I think the interesting thing is that you probably have this ‘need for speed’ in terms of all suppliers and all data collection companies to add services and products to their wares. And the reality is, I think the danger of that is – I'm not saying don't do it, but the danger of that is almost, if we all went to our soccer game, right? So, if we went to – My eight-year-old plays soccer, so the ball goes to the right, what happens? Everybody goes to the right. And the ball goes to the left, and everybody goes to the left. The problem is, I just described the market research insights community. Biometrics, we all go there. Eye tracking, go there. Sentiment analysis, go there. Big data, go there. And I think that's problematic. I think what you need to do is you need to think through with your leadership teams and go in the directions that you have the right staff, that you have the right clients, and, frankly, dot, dot, dot, that you can make money at. Because that's one of the main reasons that we're in the industry is that. So the first thing is, really take time and energy to make sure whatever products or services that you're doing, as you analyze, "Am I going to be much more of a generalist?" Because, I think, what's happened with the pandemic is going to force more companies to be more of a generalist. You've got to do it with the right products and services and the right attention. And that's a concern for me, because I think too many people – And we've done it at M/A/R/C. We took three swipes at sentiment analysis, wasted a lot of money, tens of thousands of dollars, and didn't get anywhere. So that's the first thing. The second thing is, one of the words that I – If we all think about a year ago, what were some of the words that we used and phrases we learned in 2020? We learned pandemic. I didn't know what that was. COVID-19, didn't know what that was. Essential workers. Shelter in place. What are we talking about? I never knew any of those words. And the reality is this pandemic has created content. It's the year of content. So we used to have associations, and we used to have conferences for content, and now you've got companies like terrific technology, innovative companies like ZappiStore and Voxpopme who get together and have an amazing summit. You have two industry leaders, Steve Schlesinger and Adam Froman who get together and do Amplify, a 24 hour in a row online conference. My concern is this, it's easy to have content these days. And, if you go on the Quirk's website and you go into the resource section – Thank you, Steve Quirk, and your team. The reality is you'll see that there is 63 research associations there. My fear is, can Reg Baker and Vanella Jackson and the Rockstar and Pepper and Charlotte, can we all support them? Dot, dot, dot. I don't think so. All of us are watching expenses. All of us are watching every dollar, right, Vanella? I mean, come on. Every single dollar is being monitored right now. We have 63 associations. And with all of the content out there that is so easy, I think these associations need to really get together, because I think a number of them are struggling. So that's my second point. It's interesting that I have three points like Vanella does. The third point is, if you're old like me and you only have a certain amount of years left in this great industry, you want things to move slow. Why? Because then we don't have to change our enterprises and our companies and invest in that. The problem is, the pandemic is moving quick. And, as Vanella said so succinctly, it's moving at light speed. The reality is the insights community, if there was a race between the insights community and how fast all of our companies move and a turtle, my money's on the turtle. We all move really, really slow. Too slow. And we need to wake up, all of us, and move very, very quickly and meet the demand of clients and meet the speed that the pandemic has changed all of our customers. Because the reality is every single one of our customers has new clients. And insights needs to play a new role with that. So, Melanie, back to you.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you. Yeah, I've definitely heard from all over the industry that we are – Our methods, our modes, and our insights have to be as quick as the environment that we're measuring, and that's something we need to work on. I think it's a great risk to point out.
Merrill Dubrow: Yep.
Melanie Courtright: Pepper, you're up next. Welcome.
Pepper Miller: Thank you. Thank you so much. Merrill, I loved your introduction about being delighted to be chosen as a laureate and not being able to spell it. I could totally identify with that. I'm really, really happy to be here. Just want to tweak my bio a little bit. I am a specialist, Merrill and colleagues. I really help large corporations understand the value of Black America as a people and as a market segment. And in also doing so, I have the opportunity to speak for other ethnic groups collectively, but my focus is on Black America. And everything I do is about adding value. So when I think about the greatest risk, one of the things that I've seen over and over again is a deficit of empathy. And I'm seeing the deficit of empathy particularly among senior business leaders. I do see a difference among grassroot segments. For example, the Black Lives Matter and George Floyd protest was global. And it was about a connection and people empathizing with the injustice treatment of people in Black America. One of the things that I've observed over the years – I've been doing this since 1995 – is that the senior business leaders, this deficit of empathy comes with not understanding the history of different cultures and groups of people. Lots and lots of insights there, people, in understanding differences. We're taught to not talk about differences, it makes us uncomfortable. We believe it's rude. And, in this climate, we are taught that it's divisive, so that's one thing. The other thing, the reason why we see this deficit among senior business leaders is this unconscious bias. People not realizing that they're biased against other people and having lots of stereotypes about them. And, then, there's the third thing, there's this fear of losing out. If I show any attention to one particular segment, then I'm going to lose out on another segment. So when we think about insights – And I'm not sure everyone even understands the difference between insights and observations, but it does require embracing what you see and understanding someone's perspective that is different from yours. It's about walking in the shoes of other people. And, importantly, it's about conducting research with individual ethnic segments only. The market research industry is notoriously not diverse, not diverse at all. So I am really, really delighted to be here. And one of the things that I often see, particularly in qualitative research, I – The role of the moderator is to make the respondents feel comfortable. And, with black respondents, it's really, really interesting. We not only have to make them feel comfortable, but make them feel comfortable being black and talking about their blackness in the focus group arena. That's where the insights come from. So one of the things I do is I tell people the reason why we're here, black moderator, black group, is because the sponsoring client is interested us and our culture. And I started doing this about 18 years ago because, as the respondents exited the room, they said, "What is this about? What are we doing? Why am I here?" Anyway, I learned and I started asking people at every group, "How many of you have participated in a focus group?" Hands go up. "How many of you participated in a black focus group." No hands go up. It's crazy. And I've conducted groups in 2020 during the pandemic virtually, and I'm still getting that. I'm still getting that. So there's an – It's important to eliminate this deficit of empathy. It's important to bridge the gap of understanding between people who are different from us, not only in terms of skin color, but gender and how people want to identify themselves as well. So there's a lot of work to do. And, at the end of the day, we will not only have more insights for application, we will increase our cultural intelligence.
Melanie Courtright: I love that. Thank you. And, so, the Insights Association has an IDEA Council, inclusion, diversity, equity, access. And there are two work-streams, one on the profession and one on the research. So the people doing the work and the work itself. We talk a lot as an industry about bias in our work set, but we don't talk a lot about bias in our profession, in our staff, in our teams. And, so, we're going to work on that this year. And I agree with you that it's something that we need to think about, and is a risk, not just for 2021, but for the long term, health and effectiveness of our industry. So, Reg, you're up.
Reg Baker: Yes, ma'am. Well, you know at the outset Melanie talked about the fact that we've been friends a long time, I don't think either one of us wants to talk about how long that's been. But one of the great things that's happened here is that I have my perch at ESOMAR. Mel has her perch at IA. And we get to work together again, and in new ways and do different things, and that's really cool. And I'm delighted to see Charlotte here who, like Melanie, I worked with Charlotte when I was Executive Director of MRII. I miss not getting her updates on what the Philadelphia Orchestra is playing this week. But it was a great pleasure to work with her over that period of time. I want to change – Well, one of the things I think we haven't heard yet is nobody's talking about doing more with less, which I think is a huge challenge that we all face this year. But, I also want to talk, I think maybe because I spent most of my career on the supplier side, and there's a lot of – Like, right here, right? All the suppliers talking to one another. And we don't spend enough time, I think, wondering what's in clients’ heads. We talk about that, but I'm not sure we understand it. And back in September, ESOMAR did a survey, a global survey of buyers with support of associations from around the globe, including IA. And we managed to get good responses from 640 people who were basically in client organizations and buyers of research. And one of the questions we asked was we asked them what portion of the work, insights work that they're doing, is internal, as opposed to external. And globally that averages out to about 40 percent. And that's 40 percent of projects, rather than 40 percent of revenue, all right? So a completely different thing. And at least half of them also report that, over the next two to five years, they expect to see that proportion increase. And that, I think, is a really kind of frightening thing for us on the – those of us who work on the supplier side. We also asked them what kinds of projects they're doing inside. At this point in time, a lot of those are the kind of quick hitting, tactical sorts of studies that require quick turnaround. But they're also doing their strategic stuff, which is what we really, I think, wish that we were doing in many instances. It's not as prominent as the short turnaround stuff, but still it's there. And it was interesting that – you know, I was in a – I see Chris Hawk logging in earlier. Chris invited me to one of his sessions yesterday, where I talked about some of these same issues. And one of the things that the people there – There was a surprising number of people who either currently or formally worked on the client side. And one of the things that those people talked about is that, often, there's work that they think an external partner would do a better job on. But they're pressured to keep it in-house because of cost. So this is worrisome. And you think, what's left over for us? And it's things like when people want to do more than simply interview their own customers. It's things when they're looking at more benchmarking kinds of studies, etc., etc. But I think that's kind of a worrisome trend for us. I suppose the other thing that sort of came out in the study was we asked, "How satisfied are you with your current supplier?" And high marks. People gave high marks for the people they were working with. But one area, when you broke it down into the elements of the research that people were not so satisfied with came to presentations, came to explaining and selling to internal stakeholders so that people would take action. And I find that – I've not been an active researcher since I retired from Market Strategies International in 2012, but even then, that's what we were talking about. This is kind of something we've been pursuing for at least the last decade. And the data suggest maybe we've not made as much progress as we need to make. So I think there's some signs here that we've got to look very carefully at what the future holds and recognize that we may have to be really looking very carefully at what kinds of things we can do that clients can't do for themselves.
Melanie Courtright: I love that. Thank you. Charlotte.
Charlotte Sibley: Hi. Good afternoon, everyone. Reg, I'll fill you in on the orchestra. They've started playing again in small groups outside, but what a loss.
Reg Baker: Yeah.
Charlotte Sibley: So I'm really happy to be here. Unlike Merrill, I think I can spell laureate, but when I saw that there were 50 questions and then 150, I don't think I could pass the test to be one. So I'm doubly honored. I spent virtually all of my career on the client side, building and leading integrated market research, competitive intelligence, strategic forecasting, decision science groups. And, now, I look at any market research information from a board of director's point of view. I serve on boards. And it's interesting because I always – Lisa knows, I always try to find some kind of acronym. So I started with the initials insight, or the letters insight and took a few liberties, but managed to come up with some things for each one of the letters. So we'll have to start with the middle of the word insight for the risk. So the I piece, the second I, that's the integration that I see that we're still not doing as well. This is probably more responsibility on the client side to integrate all the data and information that they have. We keep talking about big data, well, we're not doing a great job with small data, let alone big data. And putting it all together to make one source of the truth, if you will, analytics, competitive intelligence, market research. And that takes some special skills and, probably, one person can't do it. But, certainly for teams, and I think from the research supplier side, any help that can be given will be appreciated because, quite frankly, most of the people on the client side are overwhelmed and don't have the deep expertise in market research that we have on this, the agency side. The G is for generalist. And I like the comments about the generalist versus specialization, and I think that's an interesting issue for market research. Deirdre Connelly, who was CEO of GlaxoSmithKline U.S. said years ago – and I liked what she said – "Be a student of your function, your company, your industry, and the world in general." And I think that's some of it too, to bring good insights and good potential impact to be that generalist and understand the context of some of the decisions. I do think, sometimes, we're so narrowly specialized that we might miss some of the broader context. The H is for history. And I find that sometimes we still aren't aware of what we've done in the past. I can't tell you how many times at Bristol Myers Squibb or Pharmacia one of our agencies said, "Why are you doing this study? We did this for you two or three years ago." 35 years ago, when I was at Lipton, my consumer experience, we had every chicken noodle soup product test that had been done for, oh, I don't know, 40 years, in paper files. Now, we've got computer files, but nobody thinks to look at them. So I would remind us to make sure before we start something, think of, "What do we already know? And what do we know we know? And, now, what are we trying to find out?" And the T for the biggest risk, I think, is time. There isn't enough of it. And, certainly – for any of us, and certainly on the corporate side, I think one of the most crucial things is that people are busy just running from meeting to meeting to meeting with no time to think, no time to put all of this together. It used to distress me so much when we would get comprehensive, terrific research reports at four o'clock in the afternoon and be expected to present the next morning at nine. That isn't enough time to get that into your marrow. So, somehow, building in time so that we can really make the best use of all of these results. I think, for most studies, we might use 20 or 30 percent, and then the rest is history or forgotten. So somehow trying to build in that time. I think if we can address some of those risks, we'll have a bigger impact, which is the I, which is the next section.
Melanie Courtright: Wonderful. Thank you. I'm going to remember your acronym when it's all done, so thank you for that. And, then, Kathryn, you're up next. Well, you're on mute.
Kathryn Korostoff: And I think somebody said that in the chat, that's going to be the most popular phrase from 2020 was, "You're on mute." So I think this is really interesting, and people have already touched on a lot of great things in terms of risks. And, so, I'd actually like to elaborate on a couple of things and little bit of a disagreement. So, first of all, I just want to acknowledge, while a lot of the people that I know are on this call are folks who work at research agencies; we also have people on this call who work on insights team on the corporate side. And I think one of the things that we have to be careful about is, yes, while being a generalist when you run a market research agency certainly reduces revenue risk, in terms of career planning, whether you're an individual planning a career that's going to be on the research agency side or an individual who's planning a career on the insights side, I do think that it is a really big decision deciding whether or not you're going to be a generalist or a specialist. And when we say generalist in this context, I also want to point out that being a generalist in this context means that you are going to be pursuing a career where you're really a methodologist, or you're somebody who's going to be the translator between the business problem, in which many different data sources and methodologies are going to be appropriate. That is not an easy skill-set to develop. And, for many people, especially those of us who've been in research for a long time, it requires learning some significant new skills. It is a challenge. So, at the individual's level, being a generalist and being successful at that in your career does require becoming a bit more consultative and becoming more comfortable with a wider variety of data sources and methodologies. I don't think specialist is a bad word, but the expectation for a specialist today is very different. There is, in general, a higher level of rigor expected. And what I find, especially when I have teams coming from insights teams on the corporate side, I find that the team managers that I get to talk to, they are really pushing for their folks to have a very high level of rigor in specific areas. It's not OK to be somebody who's doing survey research and over-relies on five-point rating scales anymore. If you can't talk with confidence and from a place of factual knowledge about why you're designing a questionnaire a specific way, what your scales are, if you don't know what a construct is, you're not going to be at the level that people are expecting from, say, a survey research specialist. And, of course, there are many specialists these days too, so it's not just a quant/qual thing. It's also the specialists by different applications. Are you somebody who can be a specialist on market segmentation, on product testing? And I'd like to intersect this with a little bit of something about what Pepper talked about, which I think is so important. And I have a lot of guilt about this, not to be a stereotype of myself, but we are not a very diverse profession. And when we talk about specialists and things that we need to – that are potential risks for us, a lot of big organizations are making big commitments to diversity. They're making a lot of statements. Their boards are making statements about commitment to diversity and social justice and other things that are important. They are going to need ways to measure these things, because they're making a commitment to be transparent. How are they going to measure this? And, so, if you're a specialist in – Whether it's quant or qual or an application, there's also now going to have to be people who, in our profession, who are also specialists in, how do we actually measure and make this information transparent about things related to racial justice, diversity, gender issues, all of these critically important issues these days. The difficulty and the risk, I think, is that for a lot of us coming from a traditional market research background, we've never done a lot of research. I mean, there are exceptions. But I think for most of us, in my experience, not a lot of us have a lot of experience doing research on things like racial justice and diversity and perceptions of organizations even. How do people – do consumers perceive a company? We've all done brand perception research, but how many of us have done brand perception research that measured things like perceptions around, "Is this a company that does good? Is this a company that's meeting its commitments on racial diversity?" So I feel like there's some risk here because we do need to get ahead of this and we need to make sure that, if we are a specialist, that within our areas of specialty, that we're ready to tackle the topics that are really hot. And this somewhat relates to another issue that I see as a risk. One of the shifts that we saw this year is a lot more research being done with employees. A lot of companies that I work with are doing a lot more employee research than they ever did before. And, sometimes, it's the tactical stuff is, like, "Hey, how's work from home going?" But there's also bigger issues that have happened in terms of how organizations manage and measure employee engagement and satisfaction. I think that this is a really important area of research, so anybody who's in the research field, I behoove you to become familiar with the excellent body of research on research related to employee research.
Melanie Courtright: That's great. Thank you. So, I know there's something for everyone in the six conversations that you just heard. We talked about mergers and collaborations, speed of insights at the speed of the population, inspiring action when you deliver results, collaboration/integration, addressing bias in our teams and our work, history and context. There were a lot of good conversations. And the one about specialization versus generalization, it's got a lot of comments in the chat window. And I know we've talked about being a letter T. And, as a person, and maybe being a letter T as a business too, being wide enough that you have a good grasp of business, while also specializing in an area that is passionate or that you – And, so, there was so much great there. But we need to move on to the next question. And, maybe, we'll take some of these topics and do in-depth conversations about them in future town halls. But let's move on to the next topic, which is, what potential opportunity, given all of this, all the things that we need to work on – And I really hope people take these home with them. Don't stop thinking about them at the end of this meeting. Take these back to the office with them, back to their virtual office and think about them. But, given all of that, what potential opportunity is there for insights that's being overlooked or downplayed, and how do we seize on it? We're going to go reverse order this time, give Kathryn a shot at being first. So, Kathryn, you're up.
Kathryn Korostoff: Thank you very much, Melanie. And then people will be sick of hearing from me, and I'll shut up and put myself back on mute. So one of the things that I was thinking about in terms of things that are being, perhaps, overlooked or downplayed or avoided is something that Merrill touched on before, which is that there's a changing relationship between market research agencies and insights departments. And one of the things that I am concerned about is when I hear my colleagues and friends who work at market research agencies, for example, use the word DIY. To me, the word DIY, I know we don't mean it to be derogatory, but it can strike some folks as derogatory because it sounds like you're not qualified. It's like the snowplow knocked over my mailbox last week, and so I went to Lowe's, and I was like, "I've got to figure out how to get the mailbox back on the post again." So that's DIY. I don't know what the hell I'm doing, I just need somebody to tell me what kind of thing I'm going to have to do to make sure that the post doesn't fall over again. And the truth of the matter is that a lot of insights teams have really up-skilled. In fact, at Research Rockstar training, over 50 percent of our students the last couple of years have actually been from the corporate side, not research agencies. And working with these teams, I can tell you, they are highly, highly skilled. They've really up-skilled. And, so, the folks who are here on the call from the research agency side, I think that you've already probably experienced some pain because of this because, not only is it changing what they're outsourcing versus what they're doing in-house, which Reg talked about, but it also means a higher level of expectation around collaboration. Where it used to be that you could deliver a research report, you were pretty much done. Sure, the client might ask for an edit or two, but it wasn't over and over again. Now there's a lot more expectation about collaboration and iterative processes between the research agency and the insights team. And the people on the insights team are really frickin’ smart and highly skilled. We can't assume that they don't know research. I think that there's this outdated perception that people have that – On the insights teams, that these people are project managers who are glorified purchasing agents. That was true 20 years ago. It is not true now. So I think that one of the risks is really about making sure that we get ready to be more collaborative. And that means, think really tactical stuff. I know it's not sexy, but it means things like when we're planning a project, making sure that our schedule gives us clear milestones and junctures for some of this collaboration so that nobody's surprised. So I think that is something that we have to, again, expect more really great collaboration between research agencies and their clients. Another thing that I do think gets a little bit downplayed is the importance of blended data. A couple of the people talked about the fact that now we don't have to rely so much on self-reported behavioral data anymore because so many organizations now have so much first-party data. And, by the way, I'm using first-party data in the accurate definition of the word. First-party data, that term gets very badly abused. But a lot of organizations have enormous amounts of first-party data, true first-party data these days. And, so, we have to be ready to blend data. Now, that doesn't necessarily always just mean taking your survey data set and appending it with a few variables from a loyalty program or a CRM program. Sometimes it's really about the more qualitative synthesis of working with blended data. But this is something that's a risk for us. If we are just delivering research reports based on surveys, if we are just delivering research reports based on IDIs, if we are just delivering research reports based on ethnographic research, we are increasingly making ourselves dinosaurs. We've got to get into this fact that there is a lot of behavioral data on the client side. We've got to embrace that data and figure out how to bring it into our research reports and our recommendations, otherwise, frankly, we're just out of touch.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you. Great. Charlotte.
Charlotte Sibley: Well, I'll be quick. I've got the I-N-S, which is the beginning of insight. But I cheated a little bit, because I used what I learned from Lieberman Research years ago, the what, so what, and now what? The ‘what’ being the insight and the impact, the now what and the so what. And I think, oftentimes, asking that to help us understand, what are we going to do with this information? How are we going to use it? Let's make sure we're asking the right question, addressing – Actually addressing the right issue. Usually, I found the question that was asked was not really the issue to be addressed. And we had to probe a little bit. The comment that was made about collaboration, I completely agree. Because I think increasingly with employee research, I’ve worked with our HR departments in several companies to make sure that market research was involved in a lot of the employee research because we had a lot of the expertise. And, also, in terms of collaboration, working with consulting companies. When McKinsey, when Bain are brought in, usually, the first place they come are market research departments. And we can be collaborators, we can be hostile. It doesn't help to be hostile. Be collaborators. And that's a greater opportunity to make an impact and make sure that a lot of the data and information involved in companies and from all the research that we've done is appropriately addressed. So I do think it's all about making the impact. If we don't make an impact, we probably will not continue to exist.
Melanie Courtright: Wonderful. Yep. I hear that loud and clear also when talking with clients. And Vanella knows a session we did where they talked about impact. Reg, biggest opportunity that we can figure out how to seize.
Reg Baker: Biggest opportunity or opportunities?
Melanie Courtright: Opportunities.
Reg Baker: I do want to underscore something really quickly that Kathryn said, which is, yeah, DIY's a dirty word now. And we just – Yeah. With customers looking down our nose, but it's just, don't say DIY anymore, especially around clients. But I go back – Want to go back to the survey, what are the challenges clients are facing, and then the obvious answer to your question to rise from that is, what can we do about it from the supplier side? And it really falls into three categories. I mean, really, two categories, I suppose. One is data ethics, confidentiality, all that sort of thing. Second is big data and the tools that you need to use in order to use it effectively. Help them to understand it better. It's interesting, I'm not sure that suppliers really grasp this and really figured out how it is they can participate with clients in helping them to leverage the first-party data which they already have. And so I think that's a real challenge. But the other thing is, people aren't really interested in the shiny tools, client-side people. So when we asked about the shiny tools, chat bots, advances in qual, voice-assisted research, way down the list from these other things that are important to them. And so I think what they're really looking for is they're looking for, I'll call it conventional research, well done, timely, cost effective, with really compelling deliverables on the back end. And I'll stop there.
Melanie Courtright: Very powerful though. Thank you. Pepper.
Pepper Miller: Got so much rich discussion happening here. I love the discussion about, around generalist and specialist. I'm doing well being a specialist, especially in these days. And so when I think about the potential insight opportunities that are overlooked, I think about – And I talk about this man all the time, Neil Golden. Neil Golden was the former Chief Marketing Officer at McDonald's. And in 2009, he spoke at the ANA Masters Conference. And his presentation was leading with ethnic insights. And it was – It was wonderful. For a few years, Neil would bring his team in and ask them, "What are the ethnic insights that we know? And how do we apply those insights to mainstream?" We have learned that when you get it right with ethnic consumers, and in my case, my area's Black Americans, you get it right with mainstream. And that's something that has fallen off the grid. I think Procter & Gamble picked it up a little bit. McDonald's was going forward with it, but when we entered into the age of total market, and in 2009, Barack Obama was the first black president, so there was a perception that the country was post-racial. And so there was no need to then look at ethnic consumers anymore and how they're different but not deficient. And it's still a huge opportunity. When you think about generalists versus specialists – And I love that Kathryn talked about the focus being on methodologies, but the focus can be on different communities, to expand your knowledge about different communities and bring those insights in to your brands. Because when you start building brands with different customers, and speak to them in a relevant way with insights, you are bound to have more loyal customers. If you have more loyal customers, at the end of the day, you would have a positive bottom line. It sounds very simplistic in that explanation, but there's a huge opportunity, again, to lead with ethnic insights.
Melanie Courtright: Merrill.
Merrill Dubrow: Hey, Mel, I'm going to ask for a favor. Instead of one and a half minutes, I need two and a half minutes because I do have a lot to say. So the reality is – I apologize ahead of time. I had the opportunity in November to go to the World Series here in Dallas. Los Angeles took on Tampa Bay, and something interesting there that I thought, connecting some dots, could apply to the insights community. It was a cashless event. Meaning you could not spend cash at the 1990 – at the 2020 World Series. They had reverse ATMs. Meaning that, if you only had cash, you put it in, and a card came out, and then you used it. So if you think about what a cashless society really could mean, it means that they're going to be able to track behavioral data a little bit more. It means that they're going to be able to have a GPS and know where you are. And they're going to be able to offer you special offers instantaneously, where – more so than they can right now. Obviously, it'll increase revenue for banks and some other stuff. But the reality is, where do the insights community sit in, play in? Can we tag on and can we merge and can we partner with and have some type of tool that goes along with that to capture additional data, so is the first thing. They say that understanding customers is especially important in unpredictable environments. I don't know, call me crazy, I think that's where we are today, in an unpredictable environment. And the reality is, about three weeks ago I went to Dunkin' Donuts, as I do every Saturday and Sunday. And Joan, who serves me my little donuts – As you can tell, I'm a health nut. And she asked me something interesting. She said, "Well, would you like to pay with your DD app?" And I'm like, "Hey, Joan, you’ve never asked me that before. Can I ask you why you did?" She said, "Yeah. The general manager came back on Wednesday. And she said, 'You know, we want you to pay with that. We wanted to ask.'" And they're doing that. Coupled with the fact that I've read articles about Home Depot, that they're pushing their loyalty programs. Everybody is pushing their loyalty programs now even more. Why? Because their customers are changing. The reality is that should lead to additional online communities where clients are and we're talking to having much more interest in online communities than ever before. The other thing I want to talk about, an article I read about a month ago, Forrester Research predicted that marketing this year through text activities or emails, we're going to get 42 percent more than we did in 2020. Well, think about what that means. If that means, finally, we're going to have an opportunity to have geo-targeting and geo-fencing into the insights community, where I don't think that's taken off yet. And, if it has, then I'm missing the boat. I think there needs to be some interaction with that. And I would like to see that the insights community somehow owns that part of it. Because, if not, we'll lose that to other people. And if Forrester is right with 42 percent more marketing activities, that means clients are going to be testing more concepts. They're going to be testing receive or reaction. They're going to be testing all of these. And we need to be there to own that. The other thing is that they say you never let a good crisis go by, never go to waste, Sir Winston Churchill said that. So I think we're all scurrying around to move our businesses forward and looking for help from consultants, people like Steve Hanke, who is a guy who does sales and marketing. Or Cambiar with Simon Chadwick is another company that I think, really, there's an opportunity there to really help move all of our businesses forward when we stall a little bit. So, Mel, sorry to take an extra minute.
Melanie Courtright: No, that was great. Thank you. Love the digital marketing measurement opportunity. I think that's very interesting as well. And Vanella.
Vanella Jackson: Thank you. Well, again, three things. My first one is we've got to embrace the changing client agenda. That's got to be critical. And what they want is faster, better, cheaper. They want one connected customer view. And they recognize that there's a changing agenda for their business and brands, which is about being conscious brands that really deliver social impact. So we've got to connect to all of those things. And that means that we have to become architects of the connected technology. And we have to get, as Merrill says, we have to get into connected data. We can't have all this insight in competition with behavioral data. We've got to connect it. I think we should be enabling DIY. Why is that wrong? That's what clients need. We need to be partners in that, and then we need to help them with their strategies to rebuild their businesses and show them the future. So all of those things, we have to embrace the client agenda. The other thing is that we have to become more collaborative, not only with our clients, I think we're working well at doing that, but also with each other. And I think that's the real point of opportunity for us. We're so guilty of saying that we can do everything, rather than just playing to our strengths. And when money's tight, as Merrill says, what we need to be doing is leaning on each other for shared investment, shared innovation. And then, that way, we can take new, exciting ideas to our clients and new ways of working at real speed and with fluidity. And, then, my third point is absolutely we have to reinvent how we inspire and drive visibility of insight inside organizations and deliver real impact. I absolutely agree with Charlotte on that, delivering real impact. And it's really challenging. Everybody is full of doom gloom at the moment around – Zoom gloom. Sorry, Zoom gloom, that's what it is, Zoom gloom. And, so, we have to reinvent ways we can inspire and connect and engage and get that visibility across. And really, truthfully, I think that's the biggest opportunity and desperate need for the insight business, to get out of just thinking about the gathering and the distilling, and let's get into the business of inspiring.
Melanie Courtright: That's wonderful. So, just to summarize for the audience, the opportunities, embrace a changing agenda; data integration; embrace the role of the corporate researchers and what their needs are; DIY and helping them where you can with work they keep in-house and helping them certainly with the work that they send out; truly representative and impactful insights; leading with ethnic insights; mastering the what, so what, and now what; digital marketing measurement; and delivering an inspiring impact. Those are all opportunities that we could together as a community seize better. So this has been wonderful. I know there's something for everyone, both on the opportunities and on the risks, to take it back to their offices and think about and plan for in 2021. We really only have time for one question. And I said I was going to ask you about the importance of certification and what that has meant to many of you and having public recognition of your talents. But I'm going to put that aside because I think the other question that's on here is more interesting, and it's the future of work. Given everything we've talked about right here, and all of you are leaders in different ways, and, certainly, business leaders, what do you think about, quickly, the future of work? How is the future of work changing based on how fast the people are changing, how fast the corporate roles are changing, and how fast the technology's changing? Anybody have any quick thoughts on the future of work? Vanella.
Vanella Jackson: We're obviously going to have a new blended world. But the thing that we're missing is the inspiration from each other and the interaction with each other. And for me personally, I cannot wait to get back to the office, to meet people, to feed off their energy and ideas. And so, ultimately, it's going to be a hybrid model of continued working in this agile way through technology, but let's bring back getting back to people.
Melanie Courtright: Yeah. Who else? Charlotte.
Charlotte Sibley: From a board of director's point of view, we're finally talking about talent management below the CEO level. And this is really critical and, I think, where market research can help. Because talking to employees, what do they want? Do they want to be in an environment with other people? Do they want to work remotely? If so, what do we need to do to help them in both areas? And I think understanding the needs and wants at the corporate level, finally, of employees is really critical. And market research can really help them understand the impact and the insights from that.
Melanie Courtright: That's wonder. Pepper, any thoughts from you on – Especially thinking about the black community and what's going on in the world about the future at work?
Pepper Miller: Yeah. I love the – I love the idea, I don't, who – I think Kathryn brought it up about the interest in online communities. I think that's – When we think about the future of work, there's opportunities there. I love the idea of – I think Reg talked about it a lot, of looking at what a client has, the work that they have already, those behavioral insights. We're not doing more of that and being more collaborative, and being these architects of connecting with technology. I think that's important too. All of that's important with black people because the Internet is not necessarily, when we think about that, for example, the – it's not the equalizer. We still have these people congregating in spaces and places and using technology for their own online communities. And we've got to get in there and understand what's happening, what people are talking about.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you. Merrill, Reg, Kathryn, any last thoughts? Or shall we wrap up?
Reg Baker: Yeah. Let me just – Let me jump in real quick. I think, just so it's not lost, even though it's not a particularly novel idea. We’ve all talked about it, going back to what Kathryn said about the whole specialist, generalist thing. When Melanie, you – I was sitting here thinking, "What's the buzz word? There's a word." And the buzz word is the T-shaped worker, right? And a number of years ago, David Smith and I wrote a piece in which we talked about that teams need to be composed of foxes and hedgehogs. Foxes know many things, hedgehogs know one thing really, really well. And, so, it's not an either/or. It's a team approach that has to be used going forward in order to be able to service clients well.
Melanie Courtright: Yeah. That makes sense. All right. Well, thank you all very, very much. I have just a couple of – Before you go, if you're willing to just drop your LinkedIn connection into the chat box so people can connect with you, or just to tell them, Merrill Dubrow at LinkedIn, Vanella Jackson at LinkedIn, if you're willing to do that. I thank you all very much. I have just a couple of final slides to share with the group before they sign off. Our next Insights Association Laureates Part 2 event is next week. If you haven't registered for that and you enjoyed this discussion, it'll be the other half of the first class of IPC Laureates. Also, our virtual job fair, as you know, Merrill helped us kick this off late last year, and it is continuing and doing very well. So our next virtual job fair is on the 26th from 3 to 4 pm Eastern Time. If you are between gigs or if you are hiring, I hope that you will participate in this, because it's making a difference. Here is a schedule of our upcoming events. And we have a brand new event called the Y Event, about why people do the things they do, and thinking more about human understanding, human connection, and the why behind the things that we see around us. And, as insights professionals, how we can get better at understanding the why. And, then, thank you again to Fieldwork for our Q1 sponsorship. Thank you all very much. Let me stop this one more time so that I can see your faces. And I hope that – Thank you all very, very much for doing this. You're important to the Association, you're important to the industry, and you're important to me, so thank you.
Kathryn Korostoff: Thank you, Melanie.
Pepper Miller: Thank you, my pleasure. It was a great discussion.
Merrill Dubrow: Thanks, Mel. Great job.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you. Bye.
Pepper Miller: Excellent, Melanie.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you.
Charlotte Sibley: Bravo.