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Julie Kurd

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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

Optimizing Your Conference ROI

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Aug 02, 2018

attending a conference (Resized)

With tightening travel and professional development budgets, I've adapted an earlier blog post about making the most of your conference experience. Conferences are expensive and so your company wants to know what’s in it for them.

And while of course you need to prove the ROI, you also need to think about it as "WIIFM" ("What’s in it for me”) to squeeze every valuable ounce out of your conference experience and delight your company.

With the US insights community’s largest industry conferences (TMRE and CRC) right around the corner, let’s talk personal branding and ROI:

  • Block off your office calendar during the days of the conference. Activate your out of office message and be sure to mention that you’re WORKING offsite all day.  It is really a crime against your boss and company to be dialing into staff meetings or writing emails from your hotel room when you mutually agreed that you’d be learning at a conference. The conference ROI of you missing the conference because you were sitting in your hotel room…it’s not pretty.  Thank your boss/peers/staff for this critical professional development opportunity as appropriate and promise the right person at your company a brief ROI summary (more later).
  • Highlight the agenda prior to the conference. Map out which sessions you want to attend. When there are several tracks running concurrently, I circle my agenda with all the sessions I want to see and then go back and refine when I’m actually at the conference. Sometimes the same (or similar) session is held at two different times during a conference so you don’t have to make tough tradeoffs. Or sometimes the keynote has a working session and after their opening presentation, so you could hear them twice or try something new.
  • Plan your elevator pitch and ask: Whether you’re reserved or chatty, you’re going meet a lot of new people at conferences, so make sure to prepare your elevator pitch:
    1. “My name is ___ and I work for ___, the makers of ___. In the coming year we’re focused on improving our ___, and for that reason, I’m here at the conference to learn more about ___.” 
    2. Here’s an example: “We just finished up a big customer journey project, which will help us drive the right messages to the right people at the right moments.” You can follow up with something like: “In the coming year we’re going to do a lot of messaging optimization and concept testing to bring those moments into focus by segment.” That’s your hook, and your reason for the conversation you’re having.   
    3. Next comes your question. You’ve offered a bit about what you do, but who are you talking to?  If they are a peer or competitor, ask, “How about you?”  That’s it.  You need to bring this information back to your company.  If they are a supplier of research, ask, “How would you approach this if you were pitching to me?” 
  • Recap at least three sessions in writing so you can talk specifically about the cases during a future lunch and/or meeting:  Don’t just return to the office and proclaim, “the conference was great; I learned so much.” Listen fiercely and write down who spoke, what they said, how they presented. Take something forward that you can apply in your own career. Why was that session useful?  Did the speaker talk about a new technique? Did they present in a style that you want to mimic? Did they talk about the world of tomorrow in a way that’s accessible to you, can you bring it to life back at your company? Once you finish writing and are back home, how can you mention that session 3x, so it sticks in your active memory and changes something about your habits? 
  • Make a few new acquaintances (and connect on LinkedIn):  You want to keep actively learning and building your professional network, so connect on LinkedIn with speakers and conference goers. One of our F100 clients recently told me, “I’m painfully introverted so I just go to the sessions.” And while of course I understand, it’s vital to us all to expand our network, from a peer, collaborator, and employee recruitment perspective. Let’s always be learning together.
  • Bonus tip—take a photo of yourself with one of the famous speakers and share it with your CMO: OK, you don’t NEED to do this, but you need to come up with one visual representation of you broadening your horizons at the conference. If you’re speaking, get a photo of you while presenting (any of us will take it… just ask).  If you’re attending, snap a picture of your favorite speakers or in “Booth City” where you’ll meet a number of suppliers.  Share your photo with your company so they can experience your effort (and visualize you learning vs. at the pool). If relevant to you, even consider sharing it on LinkedIn or Twitter because a picture tells a great story (and gets a lot of likes!)

Are you heading to CRC or TMRE? If so, reach out and let’s connect while there!

Julie is an inspired TMRE Sponsor, participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter, interested in your stories; follow her on LinkedIn.

Topics: conference recap, professional development