3 Key Takeaways form IIEX Atlanta 2017

Nathan Waechter, Associate Vice President at System1, reflects on the IIEX Forum in Atlanta – and highlights 3 key takeaways from the conference.

IIeX 2017 in Atlanta was once again an exciting forum for sharing new ideas and hearing about what topics are trending in the market research industry. While one would expect that hot topics such as machine learning, AI and text analytics were at the forefront, shopper marketing also enjoyed considerable discussion this year.

 

To summarize: a rephrase of the old cliché, “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half in-store.”

 

Three IIeX presentations stood out this year with interesting ramifications for the market research industry in 2017.

 

How we make decisions stays the same

 

J Walker Smith from Kantar Futures gave an engaging presentation on the Future of consumption. He defined the future E.R.A as being one of Experiences, Relationships and Algorithms. In 2017 consumers have started to adjust to new economic and social realities by “Living Large” and “Carrying Little”. He says that in this new economic age we are more willing to spend on experiences verses products. We have built new powerful Relationships amongst smaller tribes and Algorithms will change how marketers and consumers interact with each other.

 

What made this presentation stand out was its predictions and relatively upbeat tone. While the world is changing, J Walker says that people in many ways remain fundamentally the same. A truth that we often advise our clients of: while consumer and product trends shift and change, the underpinnings of how the brain makes decisions stays the same. An understanding of human decision making helps make sense of the world even while societal and consumer trends are in flux.

 

It’s not just about technological solutions – it’s about clients’ business problems

 

The second most engaging presentation was by Mark Earls entitled: After the Methodological Arms Race. Mark is a regular at IIEX, yet his piercing insight continues to introduce new perspectives each time he presents. Mark spoke about the propensity of market research vendors to focus too much on the technological solution they provide instead of trying to understand what clients really need. When we think we should be showing off what makes us distinct, we really should be have a deeper conversation using active listening to understand what our clients pain points are. Often the answer may take us to a very different place.

 

Success Requires Failure

 

Lastly, I’d like to mention my own presentation which focused on the necessity of failure in the process of innovation. The somewhat uncomfortable truth is that success first requires failure. Some of the greatest inventors in history, such as Thomas Edison, failed thousands of times along the way before reaching success. Edison went through 6,000 different iterations of bamboo filament before he found the right type for his light bulb. Failing allows us to learn, to optimize and make something better.

 

Failure, however, is risky for careers. Corporate innovators are expected to consistently produce smash hits that drive profits, share growth and brand equity.

 

What we know is that concept testing and screening solutions (like System1 Predictive Markets) give clients a safe space to fail and learn. I had the honor of co-presenting with Sion Agami from P&G where we presented the story of one of the first Predictive Markets P&G engaged with System1 Research on. Our story with P&G illustrates that it is possible to create a safe testing environment in which it is possible to fail: fail often and learn from failure to drive winning innovation.

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