Last month the annual Insights Association Corporate Researchers Conference, CRC, was held in the Windy City. Amid the buzz of a Cubs Playoffs Series corporate researchers, vendors, CEOs, a Forbes 30 under 30, a Yale University professor, an Atlantic Editor, and experts from General Mills, Airbnb, Anheuser-Bush, and Oath came together to discuss everything from case studies concept testing to how to make dynamic info-graphics.
While each keynote, session, and workshop addressed specific concerns and topics facing MR certain themes emerged again and again – primarily the question of how can brands stay relevant in consumers’ mind on a global stage?
In Derek Thompson’s keynote ‘The Science of Attention, The Myth of Virality, and the Stories of Hits,’ he discussed the modern notion and science of popularity saying that, in fact, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make a hit. Thompson went on to explain that, “people gravitate toward products that are bold, but instantly comprehensible: Most Advanced Yet Acceptable–MAYA.” Thompson also addressed that technology and the connectedness of today are not to be discredited predicting that, “cultural products will spread faster and wider when everybody can see what everybody else is doing. It suggests that the future of many hit-making markets will be fully open, radically transparent, and very, very unequal.”
What would a group of researchers say is the best way to achieve these points? Conducting good research of course! But what is “good” research?
Keynote speaker Judd Antin of Airbnb said the key to good research is assembling a ‘full stack’ team of researchers. Antin clarified that his ‘full stack’ isn’t the technology but instead researches who utilize all methodological approaches from statistical analysis, to ethnographic immersions, and quality survey design. Antin went on to say that good ideas and foundational learnings aren’t the only key to success, but that organizations and researchers must branch out of their own views and biases and include other voices in study design. Inclusion and representation was also highlight of Jodi Harris’ keynote in which she discussed how Anheuser-Bush utilized their brand and Super Bowl ad as a political statement allowing the American staple to gain a new following through a message of inclusion and opportunity.
It wouldn’t be a conference if the M word (millennials) wasn’t discussed, dissected, and analyzed. Ran Zilca of Happify explained in his keynote how the company utilizes it database to understand what millennials look for in a happy work environment. As Zilca listed key wants of working millennials I found it ironic that while again and again there was a desire and want to understand millennials, speakers often joked about “getting interns to do the work” and boasted of being in the industry longer than most millennials have been alive. In order for researchers and corporations to ‘understand’ millennial consumers they must first realize that millennials are not only their customers but their peers and employees as well and incorporate this into research initiatives. In his book Derek Thomas summarizes this perfectly in saying that, “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”