2016 TMRE Highlights from W5: Part One – Shifts in Consumer Insights

The Market Research Event came to a close last week with a clear message of intent: Command the Boardroom. Keynotes, speaker tracks, and networking conversations evolved around this theme asking, “How do we give research a voice at the executive table?” While there is no silver bullet answer, the overarching response is research does have a seat at the table. The industry buzz words we here time and time again – actionable insights, storytelling, data visualization, activation of findings – has allowed research to move into the boardroom and make impact.

Actively attending the World’s Leading Insights Event takes grit. Four days, eight speaker tracks five times a day, keynotes, and the ever-popular networking cocktail receptions is not for the weak. While it would be impossible to cover all of the highlights of the event, the W5 team wanted to share with you our favorite sessions. This is the first post in a three-part series, 2016 TMRE Highlights from W5.

6 Key Shifts in Consumer Insights: Adopting a Consumer-Centric Approach

Hosted by Jeff Seltzer of Hypothesis, this presentation and panel discussion addressed the need for more empathetic and holistic research insights as we strive to understand the complexity of consumers’ lives. The panel featured Consumer Insights (CI) leaders across a myriad of companies from The Wonderful Company and W.W. Grainger, to ABC Television and NBCUniversal.

To open, the idea of consumer-centrism versus researchers was introduced. Consumer-centrism is holistic, complex, and respectful and challenges researchers to be smarter, more flexible, and open-minded in the questions we ask, the role research plays, and of course, the methodologies we employ.

Six consumer-centric shifts set the stage to open conversation among the CI panel including:


Shifting focus from an ad hoc mindset to a more holistic understanding of what consumers need and understanding how to take those principles and use them to guide teams continuously.


The shift to put the consumer first and understand how to leverage empathy to uncover unarticulated needs through methodologies and deliverables that align with research objectives.


Taking a stand against the need for research as just validation, but instead leveraging it as a method to keep an eye on the future and explore macro trends.


Recognizing research is not just a step, but an ongoing and iterative process.


Embrace the idea that our industry has many different fields. Organizations are looking beyond marketing research degrees to hire people with all types of backgrounds apply multiple perspectives to keep teams fresh and fluid.


Arguably the hardest and most important shift, this addresses the need for researchers to interpret information, not describe it. Write with courage. We are an industry of ‘over-writers.’ To be consumer-centric, we need to embrace this shift and bring a POV.

The panel spoke to each of these shifts and how they have impacted their organization. For example, Kaitlin Everly of The Wonderful Company discussed how their focus over the last year has been exploring how to marry the first two shifts, foundational and empathy, challenging teams to ask, “How do we incorporate emphatic researching into our foundations research initiatives?”

Stella Wilson of ABC Television talked about the shift and evolution of understanding what you are fighting for. Wilson says, “The idea of in-category benchmarking has gone out the window. We are competing for eyeball and time. The old way of benchmarking against your top competitors doesn’t work like it once did. Kindle is now a competitor of ABC.”

It will be interesting to watch how these shifts continue to impact organizations and CI teams, and how they will evolve or be replaced in the next five years. Is your organization aware of these shifts? What are you doing to address them?

Keep an eye out for 2016 TMRE Highlights from W5: Part Two and thank you for stopping by the W5 blog!

Thanks to the panel that included:
Jason Lau, Director, Measurements & Insights, Fullscreen
Stella Wilson, Research Manager, Digital & Strategy, ABC Television
Anna Rios, Senior Director, Consumer Insights, NBCUniversal
Kaitlin Everly, Associate Manager, Market Research, The Wonderful Company
Jennifer Placek, Senior Director, W.W. Grainger, Inc.
Jeff Seltzer, Managing Partner, Hypothesis (moderator)

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