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OPINION20 March 2012

‘Insights should feel uncomfortable’

Anyone who was at last year’s MRS Conference will remember frenzied trendspotter Magnus Lindkvist, and he was back to kick off this year’s event.

Anyone who was at last year’s MRS Conference will remember frenzied trendspotter Magnus Lindkvist, and he was back to kick off this year’s event.

In a presentation that involved Angry Birds, Justin Bieber, pornography and potatoes, Lindkvist tried to pin down what it means to be a market researcher – especially as so many people ‘fall into it’.

One of the biggest trends affecting the researcher’s role has been the move from scarcity to abundance. Food was once scarce and, in developed countries, is now abundant – overabundant, even. Similarly, Lindkvist said, “we have moved from a world where the majority of problems facing organisations had to do with information scarcity, and we’re now dealing with infobesity”.

The internet puts a vast library of information at our fingertips, and yet it doesn’t always leave us better informed (Justin Bieber tops the search listings, not Stephen Hawking), or make our decisions easier. “More information just means more divergence, more contradictions. You get more insecure – what should I believe? What’s going on?”

Digging out insight, then, isn’t necessarily any easier than it ever was. Lindkvist reminded the audience that insights should feel “uncomfortable”. Big ideas that bring about change do not generally meet with smiles and consensus – they meet with controversy and resistance. “Discomfort is the only sure sign that you are really exploring the foggy future that lies ahead,” he said.

And with that, Lindkvist took off his clothes off to reveal a skintight onepiece morph suit in the colours of the Swedish flag. Now that’s uncomfortable.

@RESEARCH LIVE

2 Comments

8 years ago

Insights can be comfortable also - especially if you're doing research on a new marketing campaign, for example, that's been running as an experiment but works well. That's great, confirmatory insight and still valuable.

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8 years ago

But just because an "insight" is uncomfortable doesn't make it valid either ... I've seen that approach taken as well and passed off as being rather avant garde - for example "the global financial crisis never happened" - oh really?

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