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FEATURE1 January 2010

60 Second Soapbox – Sue Burden

IFF research director Sue Burden wants the industry to focus on respondents by cutting out long, boring surveys, and thinks we should focus more on understanding motivation

The product I’m excited about at the moment is…
A light bulb, believe it or not. Philips has understood that some of us want to do our bit for the environment, but that fluorescent bulbs either don’t fit in some of our existing fittings or won’t work with dimmer switches. So they’ve introduced the Eco Classic, a hybrid that saves at least 30% on energy. It grasps the realities consumers actually face and offers a genuine solution.

A client I’d like to get my hands on is…
Any ones that have a telephone centre as a major part of their consumer interface. In so many cases a great communications campaign is let down by poor quality when it comes to direct contact. The answer is more investment and research to help the call centre staff in their training and their understanding of the importance of their role. Communications from the consumer point of view are indivisibly joined up. It all counts and so it all matters.

An idea I wish I’dhad is…
eBay. It not only enables me to collect 1950s design icons but is the source of some amazing success stories, like the man with cerebral palsy who makes a few hundred pounds each month trading on the site. He values the fact that, with eBay, he competes on a level playing field. When I worked on their tracking I was impressed with the way all the executives themselves traded on eBay and understood their brand intimately from a user’s point of view – something that has contributed to their success.

A campaign that grabbed me recently is…
The M&S ‘food pornography’ campaign still gets my attention – really fantastic food photography that makes me feel hungry, reinforcing the brand values that the product genuinely delivers. The “Dine in for two for £10” offer has also been a brilliant and much copied marketing approach where the understanding of changing consumer realities has brought M&S business success.

A campaign that needed more research is…
Another one from M&S, funnily enough. A recent a press ad compared their prices to the Waitrose Essentials range, where Waitrose prices were actually on a par with or lower than those at M&S. This sort of advertising also feels emotionally very far from the happy world created with Twiggy or photography of glorious food. I wonder if they spoke to dual M&S and Waitrose shoppers to understand why they were shopping in both and which comparisons would be meaningful?

One thing this industry could use more of is…
Understanding of motivation. This underpins so much of what we are seeking to discover in market research. In communications, it is not just about creating ads that are noticed but ones that convey critical information in the right tone of voice to help influence the consumer towards a goal they share with the advertiser – a fascinating area for us to explore.

One thing this industry could use less of is…
Over-long questionnaires. I know I’ve been guilty of using questionnaires that are far too long myself, but bored respondents just don’t deliver quality.

In five years’ time we’ll all be talking about…
How out of date we were in 2009.

And the one thing never to forget is…
Let’s give respondents the respect they deserve – they are the basis for all that we do.

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