OPINION26 April 2013

What clients want


Research buyers are challenging suppliers to address their unmet needs. We pick our favourites so far, ranging from data visualisation to category disruption.

But not all their demands are met – and often it’s the most difficult ones that are left untended, waiting for a solution that might never come.

Our friends over at GreenBook are hoping to go some way towards resolving that. Lenny Murphy, the blog’s editor, kicked off the Insight Innovation Challenge earlier this month, inviting research buyers to answer the question:

“What is your most pressing insight-related business need that currently is not being addressed by your supplier partners?”

There’s already been a sizeable response on the co-creation site hosting the answers, but if you want to have your say, you’ll need to do so before the challenge wraps up on 30 April.

Afterwards, agencies will get the chance to suggest solutions to the most popular challenges, with a select few then invited to pitch their solutions on stage at the upcoming Insight Innovation Exchange conference in Philadelphia.

Here are our favourites so far:

Can art meet science?

Data now seems to be available from all possible sources – social, mobile,web and behavioural – and insights are possibly sitting as PowerPoint decks. However one of the biggest challenges is the ability to synthesise thisdata/insight and present this so that you can get your message across to even a novice user. The need is to have data visualisations move beyond just pie charts and bar charts – we should be able to make data tell a story.

Real time, cross-channel media exposure measurement

Nielsen, comScore, Arbitron, etc. have dropped the ball on cross-channel and cross-platform media measurement. Why has no one created a mobile app that will allow real-time measurement of media exposure? If Shazam can recognise songs, how hard can it be to recognise brand messaging via digital signals and record online exposure accessed via mobile devices? C’mon people, there is no need to have panels and set-top boxes anymore, let’s use the devices that almost all consumers globally have with them 24/7 and get real metrics.

Better concept evaluation methodology (tried them all)

Most of us have tried the standard quant concept evalutations that every vendor offers as unique (but ultimately are similar) and they help us get slightly above average product offerings. Yet, these same concept evaluations often fail badly when we have a innovative product that consumers don’t fully understand yet. I’ve seen $1 billlion-plus ideas succeed in market that failed in typical quant evaluations and these stories do terrible things for the research industry’s reputation. There must be a better way, can you create it?

We have 3D printing, why not 3D imaging?

3D printing is great for quick product prototyping, but why isn’t there a solution to do rapid scanning of real objects and spaces (like store aisles!) and do rapid 3D virtual mapping? It would be incredibly effective for concept testing in my business.

Show me what categories are ripe for disruption and why

Businesses both large and small are always on the lookout for categories/fields that are ripe for disruption (e.g. Netflix disrupting video rental, Napster/iTunes disrupting the music business, Mapquest disrupting maps, TurboTax disrupting tax preparation). Each of the fields that were disrupted likely have some common consumer complaints/frustrations/pain points. What are the categories that are ready to topple next? Why? What are the pain points? I’m looking to understand the deep needs/desires of those categories that make the category ripe for disruption so companies can focus their energy there and ultimately better serve consumers.


8 years ago

There's an opportunity for more research to be aligned with System 1 / impulsive thinking instead of rational over-thinking. Too much research relies on consumers to tell you in great granularity what they don't really know well for themselves: how 25 different attributes relate to a purchase.

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7 years ago

It seems to me that apart perhaps from the real-time cross platform media measurement (which I am sure is on its way), the reason the other wishes have not been granted is that they would almost certainly be deemed unaffordable by those asking for them! If clients want new and different approaches, they should invest in (small) market research companies that have the leadership, vision and quality researchers to make it happen or be willing to pay a premium rate for their research, which very few clients are prepared or able to do. Perhaps the time is right for a client side organisation and the MRS to create a fund enabling small/medium sized agencies to create new solutions, ultimately ahead of client demand!

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