OPINION4 March 2016

Blade Runner vs. Blair Witch – the paradox of using video in research

Opinion UK

Filming customer feedback can be an effective tool but as clients want better quality, is an accurate view of the customer being lost asks Andrew Wiseman.

Video interview film_crop

As technology continues to develop it is enabling the insight community to understand the choices that consumers make in more ways than ever before.

The use of behavioural analysis, ‘always-on’ customer communities and consumer neuroscience allows us to really get under the skin of the things that matter for brands. At the same time, we are living in an era where consumption of video content has rocketed, and clients increasingly want to see their research findings presented on film.

The result is that some insight organisations have added in-house design teams to ensure findings are delivered to clients with maximum impact.

It’s long been known that capturing customer feedback on film to support a key finding from primary quantitative or qualitative research is effective. And technology has developed to make it easy to record soundbites using a smartphone and to provide these to clients along with a short summary of what they need to do to improve performance.

Over time, therefore, we might rightly expect that any verbatim question in a survey could be replaced by a show reel of short videos, that succinctly explains the customer viewpoint on a specific business issue.

While the content created such techniques is hugely useful, the key issue for many clients appears to be getting this content into a format that is more ‘Blade Runner’ than ‘Blair Witch’ in its production style.

Video vox pops are, by their nature, real, unedited consumer views, recorded in a number of locations and situations, based on when a research participant is conducting the research task at hand. Conversely, the technological expectations of clients are swiftly moving to a space where video content for the boardroom, investors and office receptions needs to be highly polished and slick – something that video feedback in survey isn’t designed to be.

To meet the need for professionally-produced videos, some insight organisations have added in-house design teams. Herein lies the crux of the challenge: ensuring that ‘real’ customer feedback can be incorporated into organisations’ decision-making processes without becoming sanitised or, worse still, biased, through the overproduction of such content.

The insight community needs to become more vocal about what the purpose of video is in the context of a research programme. Of course, creating more professional content for the boardroom can be achieved, but typically at a cost that the research team is unwilling to bear. Moreover, they aren’t the right people to be managing video production.

Fundamentally, our role as insight professionals is to accurately represent the customer in the boardrooms of our clients, and not to create brand promotional videos. As such, the positioning of respondent video should be more in the style of Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick, and less Ridley Scott.

Andrew Wiseman is managing director at ICM Unlimited


1 Comment

8 years ago

Blade Runner is what the board (and everyone) wants to watch, so that's what we're giving them. That's style, not content. As long as we stick to our jobs of curating insight and content, and appropriately and accurately representing the customer, then I say style and substance can happily co-exist. Keep Blade Running!

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