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Julie Kurd

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IA CRC - Be The Change

Posted by Julie Kurd

Fri, Oct 25, 2019

Maybe a lack of curiosity CAN kill the consumer insights professional. Speakers at the Insights Association’s Corporate Researcher’s Conference choraled symphony of voices around the concepts of exploration, trust, and curiosity. With the click of a button, Microsoft’s Anne Sedgwick and Anil Damodarans’ voices were transcribed into real-time closed captions as they shared how humans and AI make “a great orchestra.”

Here are some other key takeaways from the conference:

  • Unpacking Curiosity, by Alison Horstmeyer:  We live in a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous), began Alison Horstmeyer in her “Unpacking Curiosity” presentation. Alison asked each of us to pick a photo and answer key questions. My picture was a bike leaning on a tree on a beautiful autumn day. She asked what happened the minute before this picture was taken. She asked what will happen in the next minute. She asked what the most significant thing in the photo is and what the key emotions are. Throughout the session, she motivated exploratory behavior in us, asking us to be resilient, curious, and open. Thanks to her exercise, I could see more opportunities to cultivate openness and ideational fluency, through continuing to venture out of our boxes through: 1) active exploration, 2) engaged inquisitiveness, 3) openness to experience and 4) stress tolerance. She described the value of P.R.O.B.E. or Presence (open ended, listening), Reframe (‘how might we…’), Openness (“tell me more”), Bravery (resilience), Experimentation (attempts in learning).
    CRC blog quote #2 oct 2019
  • Google: “Puppy or Not a Puppy,” by Elizabeth Merrick May: In a world where the market research industry typically statistically tests at a 90% confidence, Elizabeth challenges us with a simple question: puppy or not a puppy? Using this example to describe algorithm training in machine learning, she talked about how in a world of disruptors and disruption, we need to always think about the payoff. Don’t let the world mire you in decisions with minimal downside. Incrementality requires one set of decisions. Leaps require new models. Which is worse to be wrong about: deciding in favor of something that is actually bad or deciding against something that’s actually good?  We can underfit our models (too simplistic to really explain the variance), overfit (add too many options into the possibility so we don’t risk excluding…this makes it hard to replicate). She said a typing tool with the least number of questions yielding the most ‘accurate enough’ output is the one to go with. She challenged us to not over-define things…after all, there’s a downside to being thorough. She encouraged us not to pursue ‘right’ but instead to pursue the ‘right’ amount of ‘wrong’ by setting a risk-based approach. Although pup could be a dog or a seal, ultimately, we are looking for the right amount of wrong.Twitter Mattel blog quote oct 2019 (4)
  • Taboo Discussions and Peer-to-Peer Self-Moderation, by Melissa Spencer, Merck and Kim Bowers, Brado: Want to know about emotional and functional barriers to diagnosing and treating Alzheimer’s? STDs? Topics that Merck and Brado were noodling on included the elephant in the room…was it possible that the qualitative moderator impeded their authenticity by their very physical presence? Could they possibly launch self-moderated, consumer-to-consumer (C2C) discussions? They tried it. And they spoke about how C2C is messy, but the potential payoff exceeded the risks, so they recruited consumers, and, for Alzheimer’s, they asked that person to recruit a few friends for the ‘friend’ groups. They asked these groups to hold ‘book club’ style sessions in their homes, and to videotape it. For the STD discussion, they found that C2C ‘stranger’ sessions—recruited on a guide, and then brought to a facility—worked best.
  • Influence In the Age of ML, by Eric Solomon: Can you embrace curiosity, and the need to experiment? Eric shared the magic that can happen at the intersection of emergent technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and human psychology. If you believe that superintelligence is possible, that intersection shifts the way we tell and consume stories. Eric showed us advertisements that were created by AI, such as this ad by McCann for Clorets gum; And, on watching, tweeting and other behavior, I must have shifted Google’s algorithms, because I got served up the coolest, craziest ad. Does emergent technology disrupt? That girl be a tomboy.

PostScript:  Jeffrey Henning presented the new Insights Professional Certification program which will launch in 2020. The IPC, is an upcoming @InsightsMRX program, backed by @BurkeInstitute, @CambiarConsults, @ResearchRocks, @Rivainc and the @MRII_UGA and includes 5 new topic certifications (IPC Analytics, Practitioner, Qualitative, Quantitative and Specialist). Click here to learn more.

Julie KurdJulie Kurd is the VP, Business Development at CMB.

For more insights, please follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Topics: conference recap, growth and innovation, Market research, Artificial Intelligence, professional development

IIeX 2019: Insights Innovation and Inspiration

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, May 02, 2019


From left: Tom HC Anderson, Jamin Brazil, Steve August, and Julie Kurd

This year’s IIeX Conference at the beautiful University of Texas at Austin was a whirlwind tour of what’s next in insights. The content was exceptional across the board, and because others have offered terrific recaps, I’m going to just focus on three other reasons why this conference is such a success:

1. Data Scientists and Data Citizens

One question on my mind is the role “Citizen Data Scientists” will play in democratizing big data—what is the right mix of data scientists to data citizens in the game we are all entering?

I got to see this play out in real life when Anuraag Verma and Aaron Davis of Alpha let us conduct a hands-on experiment to customize the machine learning classifier on their converseon.ai platform.

The engaging experiment became even more fun when Annie Petit (@lovestats), a colleague whose PhD credentials, super intuition, and talent we all admire and I, a curious data citizen (hint: NOT a scientist) approached the algorithm training in very different ways. 

I quickly started focusing on hand coding only the negs to pos where appropriate, where Annie reported proceeding with a balanced approach. At the first level, my trainer number and hers were both over 94%, but the proof is in the model score after it's validated against a larger holdout set of data and machine learning enters the scene. It turns out, the F1s were all fairly well clustered except for a winner (screen name “Kermit the Frog) who was higher than the rest. Our industry needs our data scientists, but the data citizen may yet play a role.

2. Founders on Hand

 I’ve never met more company founders in a 3-day span. Some had their pitch down to 120 seconds, and others, deep in love with their product, were a little less polished but often just as fascinating.  There were so many, to name them would mean slighting someone, but let’s give a few companies I learned about who actually presented or were in the ‘meet the startups’ sessions:

  • ScalehouseIdentify which parts of your business are primed for scaling and growth @kristinluck and @jaranderson
  • FocalCast–CEO Devin Turner @focalcast talked about his live focus groups and interactive stimuli that work on any device, anywhere in the world
  • Adrich’s Adhithi Aje, founder and CEO @adrichtech talks about her thin sticker type IoT sensor that goes on your product, so you can track (with permission) the usage of anything from salad dressing to industrial equipment.
  • @collaborata founders talked about their product being for a buyer who only has $10k left in their budget and they can then pool that extra cash with others for some foundational deep dive research that costs maybe more like $100k but is funded like a multi-client.

3. Voices of the Industry

The IIEX is the most exceptional mix of industry amplifiers and emerging thought leadership, and I participate in a lot of conferences.

  • First, Jamin Brazil was on hand conducting podcasts throughout the sessions. His podcasts were casual and straightforward, the true sign of a master. He even demonstrated live to us with Amy Snow. During the 8-10-minute podcast, we learned that she outlived a terminal diagnosis, has two kids, was a founder of Kelton, built the team at Wonderful, and founded High 8, a firm that occupies the space between traditional research and a consultancy.  Subscribe at the Happy Market Research Podcast. Thanks, Jamin!
  • Greenbook’s Lenny Murphy (@lennysim) and team including Dana Stanley (@danamstanley) and Gregg Archibald (@greggarchibald) brought together an intense mix of amplifiers and founders. Follow this influential bunch on Twitter, including Jeffrey Henning (@jhenning), Tom Ewing (@tomewing), Steve August (@steveaugust), Jamin Brazil (@jaminbrazil), Annie Petit (@lovestats), Reg Baker (@thesurveygeek), Tom Anderson (@tomhcanderson), Kristin Luck (@kristinluck), Jackie Rousseau-Anderson (@jaranderson), Roddy Knowles (@roddyknowles). And if you're not already, you can follow me at @julie1research.

Topics: conference recap

Quirk's Chicago 2019: The Ten Quirk's Q-mandments

Posted by Julie Kurd

Fri, Apr 05, 2019

Quirks 10 Q-mandments 2019

We attend conferences to meet colleagues, present our latest and greatest, and learn more about new methodologies and approaches.

I’m just back from this week’s Quirk’s Chicago Event with its top of the line content, and I’m ready to recap some memorable moments from the conference.

This being a Quirk’s Event, here they are organized by the "Ten Quirk’s Q-mandments":

Thou shalt be...

1. Interesting

Walgreens and Verve presented “Big Data and Small Qual: Amazing Best Friends.” Andrea Golightly presented the evaluation of MedExpress (Key Research question: Is MedExpress a good complement to work with Walgreens Pharmacy?) In the big data phase, they assessed how a partnership would affect equity, traffic, and sales at Walgreens. They reviewed scanner, panel, social media, day parts, categories, and customer cohorts to size the opportunity. The findings yielded that they generally met expectations. Next, stakeholders asked: why isn’t the prediction even better? They conducted “small qual” through their Verve panel. Through open-ended online qual, they found consumers noticed the parking lot was busier than usual, so they'd drive past the Walgreens/MedExpress. 

2. Effective

Mark Garratt from In4mation Insights spoke about how companies need to use Social Media Data to predict new product success. He explained that social data projects take >1M unique posts to predict sales if they can align the words, sentiment and the motives. For example, to sell vegan organic food, a company needs to see certain tipping points of particular words, sentiments, images and motives.

3. Relevant

Nestlé talked about applying agile principles to achieve product innovation success.  In this presentation, Dawn Ferfolia, Innovation at Nestlé, and Molly Wright, from GutCheck, talked about how they used flexible agile solutions to drive faster time to market, spur collaboration, and drive iteration, reflection and optimization. We even tasted a product, a chilled power bar that resulted from this pipeline change.

4. Honest

Joel Benenson spoke on how the rules from the political war room can also be applicable to brands. The presentation clearly described how vital it was to stay on point. First, it’s essential to know what the campaign is really about. He went on to say that for politics and for brands, our greatest strength is usually our greatest weakness. We need to understand our competitive framework, that values matter (ours and theirs), and we need to have principles before policies. He said if we want to position ourselves, it’s critical to know it’s about more than just a horse race. Winning brands and winning leaders define winning on our terms; and we know the voters we need to win. His research delved deeply into the attitudes and beliefs of the base.

5. Engaging

 Jonathan Williams from Discover.ai talked about how brands can use AI on more open-ended tasks (vs. close ended, rule based, logical questions such as “Why do people like chess and how do we get more people to play”).  As a proof point, he explained how they helped DeBeers use research to reinvigorate diamonds as symbols of love in today's world. Although diamonds are forever, they are losing to other luxuries as a category among Millennial and Gen Z.  This research yielded 15 springboards or hunting grounds, including the notion that diamonds are a sign of commitment, creating a wow moment, and being responsible, ethical, and earthy, etc.

6. Memorable

Modeling the many paths to purchase to improve marketing efficacy involves delving into the adjacent field of biology for LRW.  They’ve used a DNA sequencing-like statistical analysis to figure out similarities and differences between journeys. Much like a small change can drive the DNA sequence to create a frog vs. a bird, the sequencing helps differentiate the journey. Once journeys are established, they create profiles. In a case study they presented (brand was omitted), LRW found seven fundamental journey groupings (price driven, relationship driven, website driven, offer driven, location driven, digital driven, security driven) and tied these to economic potential and the messaging most likely to drive intended behaviors.

7. Prepared

We learned about the three phases of data democratization from Debbie Fischer of AFI and Kristi Zuhlke CEO of KnowledgeHound. According to them, data democratization means making data and insights available to the broader organization. Millennials make up 35% of the nation’s workforce and expect to Google or use something like Knowledgehound to figure things out on their own. AFI says they’re growing from data adolescence to data maturity and encourage others to “cross over”.

8. Visual

RealEyes and EmotionAI work with Sunil Soman from Warner Entertainment. Together they conducted a branded content study of 20 videos and 20 thirty-second ads. They analyzed videos through both passive measures like attention (volume and quality) and emotion (feelings), and active measures such as sentiment (automated analysis of response after viewing content) and survey (ask specific pre- and post to gain extra layer of insight). This work helped guide more relevant advertising targeting. Finally, their goal was ultimately to help create and distribute meaningful content.

9. Accessible

Insights Strategy Group presented on why Gen Y and Z value happiness, friendship, money, being well-liked and dating. These age groups strive to have enough money to live the lifestyle they want to live, find a job they actually like, and express feeling helpless about what’s going on in the world. Both Gen Y and Z report happiness as their number one goal, unchanged from 2013 to 2019. They also report a 27% decline in valuing being well-liked and a 39% drop in valuing who they are dating/married to as they aged from 2013 to 2019.

10. Considerate

And of course, it’s not all about the presentations. CMB sponsored the Exhibitor’s Lounge to help provide our market research and insights industry peers with a place to work, eat, rest and talk during the conference. There, and in booth city, we met and reconnected with suppliers, friends, colleagues and partners.

What were some of your highlights from Quirk's Chicago? Let us know in the comments below!

Topics: conference recap

2019 Quirk's Event Brooklyn: Behavior, Identity, and Agile

Posted by Julie Kurd

Tue, Mar 12, 2019

Quirk's BK creative

If you’ve just returned from The Quirk’s Event Brooklyn, summarizing the most inspiring content can help prove the ROI for attending. If you missed the show altogether, we’ve also got you covered. Here are three key questions and insights to share with your team:

  1. How will we incorporate behavioral analytics into our work this year and beyond? Chatting with Netquest at their booth or listening to Jay Steffey speak about Amazon customer behavior would’ve told you passive metering has come a long way in the last two years. Suppliers have begun consolidating (e.g., Netquest bought Wakoopa) to increase their offerings and give clients a clearer picture of what their consumers are doing. For example, DISQO (formerly Active Measure) has an unprecedented panel of about 150,000 desktops that provide real insight into consumers’ digital behaviors. From event-focused metrics (e.g., product search, view, ad exposure, etc.) to sub-events (e.g., add to cart), DISQO taps into consumer behavior at scale. Whether you’re in FMCG or the financial services industry, combining survey data (what someone reports they did) and behavioral data (what they actually did) provides a new and exquisite area for interpretation—a more holistic view of what your customers are doing and why.
  2. Are we evolving beyond traditional starting points in studying consumer identity? Understanding consumer identity is critical to unlocking key insights and Millennials and Gen Z are helping us evolve beyond traditional modes of thinking about identity. Julie Arbit of VICE Media and Ally Aleman of Insights Strategy Group shared insights from a deep dive into Gen Z—a generation living in a world of constant choice thanks to technology. This inundation of choice impacts their identity, passions, careers, and relationships. As society moves towards acceptance of gender identity as non-binary and Gen Z’s values and beliefs diverge from traditional concepts (e.g., family, “9 to 5” job), how will your brand fare in 2019 and beyond?
  3. How will we be (and stay) agile at our companies? Agile was another hot topic at The Quirk’s Event. While companies have their own interpretations and implementations of agile, fundamentally this approach can help brands keep pace with changing consumer behaviors. Companies like Verizon and DellEMC—who are in highly disruptive and everchanging industries—can get smart and iterative insights at quick speed. DellEMC’s Stephanie Woodstrom, Dynata’s Zahara Malik, and Verizon all shared how implementing agile gets them fast reads on promotional offerings, products, and more. It’s important to note, though, that agile methods don’t mean sacrificing data integrity for speed. It’s about being smarter and doing things in an iterative way, so it becomes turnkey and efficient.

What was your favorite session at Quirk’s Brooklyn? Most inspiring speaker? What are your “must sees” for Quirk’s Chicago next month? Comment below!

Topics: conference recap

CRC 2018:  How to Engage Today’s Corporate Research Buyer

Posted by Julie Kurd

Wed, Oct 10, 2018

To kick off the Corporate Researchers Conference, a panel of experienced corporate researchers spoke in earnest about what they value in their ultimate research partner. What they value and look for coincides with the “TUFA” strategy that every supplier should practice when building relationships with prospects and clients.

TUFA (them, us, fit, action) is the playbook for real business to business partner relationships that F500 clients yearn for. TUFA involves understanding them (the client/prospect), highlighting what of your research consultancies may be useful to them given their context, demonstrating the business fit between the two companies, then understanding the actions and positive impacts of a successful partnership. 

 Here’s a summary of what we heard:

  • Them. Each of the panelists begged suppliers to please understand their business, products, their goals and direction. Account intelligence is the basic blocking and tackling and it’s important to really understand the client/prospect before attempting to persuade them you’re the right fit. Corporate researchers are inundated with requests for meetings every day and their time is precious. What’s in it for them? For example:
    • Kelly Bowie, insights leader at Guardian, said to please know what lines of business Guardian is in before calling on her. 
    • Amy Basile, Sensory and Consumer Insights Manager at Little Caesars, simply said, “Know my brand and know how to spell it.”
  • Us. Corporate researchers schooled suppliers in what they hear from every Gold Top 50 research company: you are a full service, primary market research firm with exceptional execution, advanced analytics, compelling storytelling, and are innovative and global. As the panelists added to the buzzword pile, the audience collectively groaned.
    • Colette Thayer from AARP challenged the concept of “full service.” If you’re strong at statistics, modeling and sampling, are you also really excellent at writing? Know your firm’s strengths and highlight appropriately as they relate to your clients’ needs.
    • Cole Horton from EA says, “Don’t fake it.” Researchers supporting EA need to fully understand games and need to obsess about gaming themselves. He added, “Don’t overpromise and please be honest if you can’t do something”—citing a time when a supplier wasn’t able to do basic skip logic in the research design but wasn’t upfront about it.
  • Fit. Identifying the best fit requires understanding the client/prospects’ business and understanding our own unique value proposition. Some of the corporate researchers believed not much has changed in terms of turnaround times in the last 10 years. Understandably, they want better and faster for less money because they’re being pushed by stakeholders.
    • Colette from AARP says it’s a huge risk and time investment for a corporate researcher like her to onboard a new research partner, so she wants proof the marriage will likely endure. For example, she asks to see a sample report or other exemplary evidence the investment is worth her time and resources.
    • Amy Basile from Little Caesars said business fit can be as simple as, “Be sure you can connect me to real customers who patron my brand in a cost-efficient way.” She cited challenges that come with panel sourcing, for instance.
  • Action is what happens next.
    • Kelly from Guardian says that while an insights partner might feel like they’re doing all the work, it’s her team that’s bringing the insights to life at the company. Don’t underestimate that side of the partner equation and the importance of business activation.
    • Cole from EA wants research partners to get beyond the basics—to take on a proactive and consultative role and “bring the outside world in.” He acknowledges it’s hard to find and tell a story that is new and actionable, but actionability is the key to moving forward.

There were valuable lessons to be learned from this corporate research panel. Fundamentally, they want research partners (not suppliers) who truly understand their business, can clearly communicate the business fit, and provide an action plan/next steps.

CRC image for blog

What stops a supplier from meeting a buyer's needs? An inability to execute on the fundamentals!

For more on TUFA and the approach, please connect with our partners at IMPAX.

Julie Kurd is the VP of Business Development at CMB and will be at TMRE next week in Scottsdale. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn before the conference. 

Topics: conference recap