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The art to research spark

There’s an art to getting research to spark. InSites Consulting’s Stijn Poffé and Katia Pallini explain.

Unlocking fresh insights has become a key priority for many marketers and research professionals. Yet, while these insights might be the ‘spark’ that ignites consumercentric thinking, the harsh reality is that many insights simply never leave the research report in which they were initially presented. An insight’s journey typically ends somewhere on a company server, rarely to be touched again.

The core challenge for our industry does not lie solely in unlocking insights but in activating them throughout the organisation.

Increasing the impact of research, and what we could label as the ‘return on insights’, is a matter of getting the right insights to the right people in an impactful way and getting organisations at large to adopt a consumer-centric perspective
in everything they do.

So how can we spark insight diffusion and activation in the organisation? There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach here, it is about applying the creative activation program that matches your audience. Consider the following examples.

Bringing the ‘Club of the Future’ to life
Heineken wanted to design the ‘Club of the Future’, an initiative in which they would co-create with 19 up-and-coming designers and creative consumers around the world. To do this, we set up an online research community with more than 100 clubbers from around the globe. An interactive app-based infographic was built to capture the needs, perceptions and experiences of the clubbers. This app, gathering all the research highlights, served as an inspiration tool for the 19 designers to craft solutions in line with clubbers’ true needs and motivations.

Millennial hotspot maps to spark executives
After running a study on millennials’ lifestyles in 10 capital cities around the world, Viacom wanted to make sure their executives understood these insights and took them to heart when crafting advertising and television formats. For these senior executives to really immerse themselves in the millennials’ worlds, small city guides were created capturing the tips and tricks gathered from the research. When on a business trip, the executives could use these guides to explore the millennial hotspots at their various destinations, experiencing the places their target group recommended for eating, shopping, going out and sleeping. Feedback from Viacom executives, who said that experiencing some of the insights in real life inspired them to take action, proved this initiative was a success.


Activating stakeholders using a digital learning hub
To empower Danone employees to share consumer observations and act upon these insights, we set up an online research collaboration platform, called the Studio, for one of their consumer immersion projects. This Studio platform allowed teams to ‘pin’ insights and research observations, share them with relevant stakeholders and even add new observations and ideas. The platform also allowed access to live updates from the field, where consumer observations were uploaded immediately onto the platform rather than being stored in a report on the company server.

The ‘research insights’ art exhibition
After running an online research program to understand what content their audience are looking for on Pinterest, an offline art exhibition was organised to change the hearts, minds and actions of Diesel stakeholders. This ‘consumer museum’ allowed stakeholders to experience the learnings, interact with the digital content and discover the research insights for themselves.

Inspiring through virtual reality
Together with Philips Sonicare we set up an experiment with entry-level 360° cameras to explore the potential of basic virtual reality technology in research. Research end users could explore the world of their consumer simply by using their own mobile device with the latest version of YouTube. Through their smartphone they could navigate in the consumer’s bathroom and literally observe the consumer insights around dental care from every angle. Instead of merely listening to a presentation, the technology allowed stakeholders to experience the insights differently, thus increasing empathy for the consumer.

Increasing the ‘return on insights’ is a matter of getting the right insights to the right people, in the right format. Gone are the days when the only way to present research take-aways was through Word or PowerPoint. Just like advertisers are continuously exploring new formats to activate consumers, we as researchers should invest in creative research activation. It’s the art to let your research spark.

Authors: Stijn Poffé, Research Director at InSites Consulting Sydney, and Katia Pallini, Content Impact Manger at InSites Consulting

This article also appears in the August-October 2019 edition of AMSRS publication, Research News – Impactful Insights. Check out the rest of the articles in this edition.

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash
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The Research Society is the peak body for research, insights and analytics professionals in Australia. It has a diverse membership of individuals at all levels of experience and seniority within agencies, consultancies, client-side organisations, the non-profit and government sectors, support services as well as institutions and the academic community. As well as over 2,000 individual members, the Research Society has 125+ company and client partners, with the number continuing to grow. The Research Society research professionals and company partners commit to and are regulated by the Research Society Code of Professional Behaviour.