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OPINION12 September 2012

Marketing chiefs have their say on MR, and more


Marketing chiefs from Kraft, Coke, SunTrust and Hyatt discuss the value of research, and future trends to watch out for, at the Esomar Annual Congress.

It’s always interesting to hear what your clients think of you. So it was no surprise to see the auditorium filled to capacity for the pre-lunch panel session hosted by Communispace at Esomar’s Annual Congress yesterday, featuring marketing chiefs from some major brands offering their take on what’s great about research and what still needs work.

The panel was:

  • Barry Calpino, VP of breakthrough innovation, Kraft Foods
  • Wendy Clark, SVP of integrated marketing communications and capabilities, The Coca-Cola Company
  • Rilla Delorier, EVP, chief marketing and client experience officer, SunTrust Banks
  • John Wallis, CMO and global head of marketing and brand strategy, Hyatt Hotels

On the big data revolution…
We are flush with data. It’s not about keeping that separate but making that research available to every part of the business. Big data is massive. Our most important relationship outside of marketing is with IT. This will be a huge part of our business in the next few years.
RD: With all the data available, the real challenge ahead of us is how we get that to make sense to all brand stakeholders and at the same time comply with the data protection laws we are bound to.

On research reports…
Research is about dialogue with the industry. It’s not about bundles of PowerPoint slide decks and long reports to read and interpret. I hate PowerPoint. What I really need is for a quick snapshot of what the research found, but this should really go deeper than just the basics. The insight we want is feelings, life impacts, roles we can play out in our messaging and how to maintain brand advocacy.
BC: I agree. I don’t need a large presentation to understand what insight tells me. The best researchers both inside and outside of my company are the ones that bring the best balance to the table by being strong at supplying evidence for the whole organisation. We want to disagree with our partners. It’s a good thing to have disagreements and be able to have a beer to resolve these afterwards. It builds confidence that we are getting the best business case for our brand.

On what they cherish about research…
I cherish having partners who understand the assets our brand values the most and what can help the brand relate to customers more. I cherish the research partners who invest their energy and emotion in our business.

On how research needs to flow through the entire company…
We’re at a critical point now where everything we do as a company needs to make a difference to the people who use it. Insights for us need to be communicated across all of the company and be used by every consumer touchpoint to make a positive difference. Getting buy-in from other teams in your company means you are doing your research job well because they recognise the value of it.

On crowdsourcing…
The days of controlling messages are over, you have to work with your customers. Having said that, I am not going to hand my proxy to them. We are simply working with them all the way and focusing on the concept of storytelling. Emotion drives compelling breakthroughs and that’s what we want to deliver as brands. Lady Gaga is our competition on Facebook. We’re emulating her and her “superfan” approach in our social media strategies.
BC: It’s about tapping into the emotions of fans to create new and compelling ways of increasing brand advocacy. When consumers feel they are working with you to enhance their relationship with the brand, they will reward you.

On accepting mistakes…
I endorse the flawsome model – being awesome with flaws. It makes you more human.

On the blurring lines between planners, management consultants and researchers…
It’s more efficient to use researchers to do the research than management consultants, but we often need the in-depth pie charts that the consultants really specialise in from a business point of view.
WC: Planners are already storytellers, they’ve skimmed the treetops. Researchers aren’t necessarily delivering style over substance.

On how research should grow…
The approach the industry should take can be summarised as ‘think big, start small, then scale appropriately’, or else the danger is you might scale the wrong thing.
RD: What we need now is for research to go beyond just responding to what’s been asked and come back with more.