OPINION8 October 2014

Five insight issues facing marketers


What are the issues facing insight specialists at the world’s biggest companies? Rob Dreblow from the World Federation of Advertisers highlights five common challenges.

The gathering helped us identify five common priority areas, regardless of sector and market. They were: 

  1. Resource and capabilities. A common thread among market research/ insight directors is that they are being ‘pulled everywhere’. Global insight teams can be surprisingly small, sometimes only five people, meaning they may lack the resource to respond to all the challenges they face. 
  2. Stakeholder adoption. Insights can only help a company grow if these findings are leveraged by colleagues across the business. The experiences of those who came to our meeting was that some of the multitude of stakeholders may only use insights if they confirm an existing point-of-view. 
  3. Global-local, local-global. With global roles it can be a challenge to ensure local markets are effectively supported by the central team. This applies to consumer insights as much as any other part of the marketing mix. The specific task is to make sure that global insights are accepted and used in individual markets rather than being dismissed as irrelevant to them. At the same time, insight directors need to work hard to ensure that key insights generated from local markets are effectively leveraged and applied in other regions.    
  4. Data. Understanding how to effectively organise and use the terabytes of data that companies and media activity now generate, in a way that helps inform insight development, is top of the agenda. An additional challenge is not to fall into the trap of insisting that insights only have credibility where they are backed up by such data.  
  5. ROI solutions. This is a challenge that’s related to data and has long been a key topic across all companies in WFA membership, not just insight specialists. The goal is to deliver a better understanding and improve return on investment – typically through modelling and analytics.

As highlighted in challenge two, the insight specialists (and their teams) don’t just have to come up with insights but also ensure that stakeholders take advantage of what has been discovered or identified as relevant and revealing consumer behaviour.

The meeting participants talked about ways to ensure that their work is adopted by colleagues, for example by using techniques such as storytelling – relating the narrative to stakeholders’ personal lives.

Other approaches included identifying insight advocates across the organisation and using their success to drive uptake in other areas, ensuring that insights were delivered in a timely way, when teams are just starting their planning process as well as putting colleagues in front of consumers or using role play to bring the findings to life.

There were also suggestions as to how technology could be used to bring insights to life, whether it be by setting up webinars to enable colleagues to share insights, or by creating an online sharing platform that allows colleagues to add information such as thoughts, photos and videos to make the insight more vivid and explicit.

The next InsightForum will be held in London in May next year.

Rob Dreblow is head of marketing capabilities at the WFA


1 Comment

6 years ago

I like you insights! Can you please elaborate a bit on point 5) ROI Solutions. How do you propose that one can calculate it in light of Market research industry where heavy investments are being made by companies on their Out of home assets. What sort of modelling & analysis techniques can be proposed to efficiently work around ROI? I would really appreciate if you can give your insight on this one.

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