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Human after all

GRBN News: “Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind”.

This quotation or ancient Chinese proverb, attributed to Sir Austen Chamberlain in the 1930’s, and to Robert Kennedy in the 1960’s was as true then as it is today. Technology has completely transformed the way we live and will continue to shape our future, from the way we work, do business, travel, provide healthcare, communicate and generally go about our daily lives. But it also struck a chord with me when I think about the real impact these macro consumer trends are having on our industry, an industry I have worked in long enough to remember when the main decision was do you do a paper survey or focus groups.

I truly believe there has never been a better or more exciting time to work in the insight and research industry – there isn’t a brand on the planet who is not trying to develop better products, supply better services, and build better relationships with their customers. We are perfectly placed to help them achieve this, but to do so, must continue to embrace new and innovative ways of working, adopt new technologies, and explore new communication channels to reach and engage younger audiences. Most importantly though we need to move our thinking on from customer centricity to human centricity.

Consumer behaviour has evolved, and we are now in an era of digital based competition and customer control meaning the marketing strategies focused on customer loyalty prevalent over the last decade are becoming less effective. According to the latest research from Kantar Retail, 71% of consumers now claim that loyalty incentive programs don’t make them loyal at all. Instead, people are buying brands who can fulfil their needs in a personal and relevant way. In addition, two of the fundamental ‘p’s’ of the marketing mix, Product and Price are no longer enough to attract people’s money as personalisation and experience are the key differentiators for brands with people willing to pay more for a superior service or experience.

So what does this mean for market research professionals and how do we stay useful and relevant in these changing times?

Well, you can breathe a brief sigh of relief, because the good news is, we absolutely can, providing we adapt and evolve our practices and methodologies to mirror and support these emerging trends. We used to help brands with product testing, brand tracking and market measurement. In recent years this focus has shifted towards helping businesses drive customer centricity and insight led decision making within their organisations – all of which is of huge value and is a step in the right direction. But this is not enough to remain current in the long-term. To achieve this, we need to shift from customer experience (Cx) to human experience (Hx). In order to find out how brands fit into people’s lives we need to treat people as people. We can call them customers when they buy from us, or viewers when they view our content, users when they utilise our services, but we have to recognise that we are all people and brands and services play a small part in our active lives.  People don’t want to be defined by data points, or spoken to like a customer, they want to be engaged with as living, breathing, well-rounded human beings.

We have successfully helped companies listen more attentively to the voice of their customers, we now have to build on this and use our expertise and access to the right data and insights to be the evangelists of human centricity and help them connect emotionally with their customers as individuals, delighting and exciting them with a human touch.

Author: Peter Harris, CEO, Potentiate

The Australian Market and Social Research Society is linked globally to 45 associations through its partnership with the Global Research Business Network (GRBN) and the Asia Pacific Research Committee (APRC). Click here to read about the AMSRS global network. This article and image is originally sourced from GRBN website.


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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.