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From validating to understanding: Why measuring insights strenght is not sufficient

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In today’s business reality, decisions cannot be based on random, uncontrollable factors such as luck. The same goes for the assessment of which insights to take on in the innovation funnel. In this fast-moving environment the risk of failure is greater than ever. Figures reported by the Doblin Group show that 96% of all new product introductions and innovations fail to return their cost of capital. The current market space requires brands to validate each step of the entire innovation process, starting with the validation of insights.

Considering the importance of validating these insights for the innovation process, the need for accuracy is more present than ever. Can insight validation through surveys reclaim its position to provide consistent and rich data for decision-making by capturing the complex consumer reality, while at the same time increasing the engagement level?

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From validating to understanding: Why measuring insights strenght is not sufficient

  1. 1. In today’s business reality, decisions cannot be based on random, uncontrollable factors such as luck. The same goes for the assessment of which insights to take on in the innovation funnel. In this fast-moving environment the risk of failure is greater than ever. Figures reported by the Doblin Group show that 96% of all new product introductions and innovations fail to return their cost of capital (Marsh, 2012). The current market space requires brands to validate each step of the entire innovation process, starting with the validation of insights. What to expect
  2. 2. Consumers are social animals and our decisions are colored by group thinking or herd behavior (Earls, 2009). The majority of consumer decisions are taken in a social setting. Nevertheless, we do not take this social dimension into account in survey research. We keep on conducting surveys in an individualistic setting, where participants are asked the one question after the other without being able to connect and reflect with other participants. 1 From insight to innovation Consumers are bad witnesses of their own behavior. Survey research traditionally taps into the so-called ‘system 2 thinking’ of our brain. Nonetheless, the entire thinking behind behavioral economics and the work of Daniel Kahneman (2011) show that our decisions are mainly taken quickly, automatically by the so-called ‘system 1’ side of the brain. Therefore we need to tap more into implicit attitudes and procedural knowledge in our surveys. The majority of consumer decisions are taken in a given context or occasion. It is important to grasp the contextual background consumers are in when making certain decisions. We need to get a better understanding of the variations in consumer behavior depending on the consumer situation or context. 1 2 3
  3. 3. Survey research copes insufficiently with the complex reality of consumer behavior. Decisions are influenced by a number of dynamics and it is important that surveys mirror these different aspects in order to provide valuable input for the decision-making process. Considering the importance of validating these insights for the innovation process, the need for accuracy is more present than ever. Can insight validation through surveys reclaim its position to provide consistent and rich data for decision-making by capturing the complex consumer reality, while at the same time increasing the engagement level?
  4. 4. A PARADIGM SHIFT Today, consumers expect to go beyond simply ‘responding’. Yet the foundation of survey research, as Pete Comley (2006) describes, is a parent/child relationship between researcher and participant. The sole role of participants is to respond to a researcher’s questions, without allowing them to return with a question themselves. Therefore the time has come for us to allow participants to play a more active role in research and become an empowered partner. This empowerment starts with creating an engaging survey experience for participants by fostering feelings of autonomy, competence, relatedness and value. In research we can identify three supplementary collaboration modes between researcher, brands and consumers: listening, doing and co- creating. These collaboration modes can be plotted against a second dimension representing the inter- consumer relations or interactions. Theories such as Herd’s make us realize that we are more socially determined than we think. We need to move away from solely looking at the individual respondent and to start recognizing the value of consumer interactions. This is where our second dimension comes in, a continuum going from ‘individual’ to ‘connected’ in 3 phases: me, crowd, group.
  5. 5. Figure 1. Research collaboration framework By combining both dimensions, we can identify a framework with twelve quadrants (see Figure 1). Traditional insight validation research primarily focuses on one single cross-point in this framework, namely ‘individual’ and ‘asking’. Yet we can benefit greatly from going beyond this single- box thinking. This does not imply that we should completely let go of asking questions to participants; that will still remain the core of insight validation research. However, combining the different collaboration modes will allow us to better uncover the underlying dimensions of an insight strength and better capture the complex consumer reality behind an insight.
  6. 6. 7 CLOETTA CASE STUDY
  7. 7. Cloetta is a leading confectionery company founded in Sweden in 1862. Cloetta owns some of the strongest brands in the market (e.g. Läkerol, Jenkki), all with a long heritage. Cloetta’s goal is to build a solid foundation of consumer understanding as the key to success for break-through and break-out innovations in fun yet rather mature categories such as candy, chocolate, chewing gum and pastilles. Insight validation research is firmly embedded in their innovation process as it helps the Cloetta team decide which insights to take forward in their innovation funnel. Their quest for consumer understanding translates into the need to understand why certain insights underperform and how they could be optimized. 1 Project background
  8. 8. In order to assess the impact of this new approach, we split-ran the survey. Some participants got a traditional insight validation survey whereas others got the enriched version containing some new engaging tools and a ’Village’ dimension. The research approach is based on our new survey thinking where we go beyond asking questions and apply the principles of the self-determination theory to better engage participants. 2 Project methodology After the main survey, participants were invited to enter “The Village”, a second optional survey dimension where engaged participants could take their collaboration with the Cloetta brand a step further. After having filled out the survey, the participants had the choice to opt in for this part where they could connect with other participants and participate in some additional contextual tasks. The Village is a platform consisting of different buildings, each containing a different task-based element.
  9. 9. Figure 2. Cloetta project framework This insight validation survey thus went beyond the traditional single-box thinking of ‘individual’and ‘asking’. The different tools in and after the main survey can be plotted on our framework (see Figure 2). The survey still consisted of various research questions assessing the strength of an insight, yet on the individual dimension we also introduced some task-based exercises. Next to that, the introduction of The Village allowed us to involve the crowd through the social dimension embedded in these tools. More detailed information on each of these tools is available in the next section.
  10. 10. Next to the traditional questions and key performance indicators measuring the insight strength, we introduced some new tools in the survey: 3 Project approach IMPLICIT MEASUREMENT TOOL Through emotional measurement, we map the emotions which are triggered by an insight as well as their relative emotional positioning. Knowing the emotional space claimed by an insight is powerful information for ideation, concept development, future communication and brand activation. To map this, we used our implicit association tool. This tool allowed to understand which emotions are natural, potential or limited. Through a action-based exercise, we avoid stated responses and over- rationalizations. This implicit measurement exercise allows plotting all emotions on two dimensions: (1) the percentage of participants linking the emotion to the insight and (2) the time required to press the space bar, resulting in four quadrants (see Figure 3).
  11. 11. NATURAL ASSOCIATIONS POTENTIAL ASSOCIATIONS NICHE ASSOCIATIONS LIMITS These are spontaneous emotions; the majority of participants link the emotion with the insight within an above-average reaction time. These emotions are triggered only amongst a few participants, yet the reaction time is above average. These emotions are highly associated with the insight; they do however require some reflection (response time is below average). Few participants link the emotion to the statement; the reaction time is below average. Figure 3. Implicit Measurement quadrant FREQUENCY REACTIONTIME
  12. 12. One of the key performance indicators when testing an insight’s strength is relevance. Relevance can be driven by personal identification or by peer identification. Traditionally we measure identification using a stated question in which participants are asked to indicate on a 7-point scale to which extent they identify with the statement. This question is then followed by an open-ended question, asking them to elaborate on their response. In the new survey set-up we took this a step further by showing participants the results of this question - including their own answers and the answers of other participants up until that point in the survey. We asked participants to interpret and explain the results using their own background and knowledge as a reflection point. This ‘crowd interpretation’approach puts them in a co-researcher role. After having filled out the survey, the participants could opt in for ‘The Village’where they could connect with other participants and further collaborate with the Cloetta brand. The Cloetta Village consisted of five buildings: Lounge, Ideation, Picture Shop, Internet café and Gallery (see Figure 4). RESULT SHARING TOOL
  13. 13. The Lounge (1) is the most central building of the Village where participants can connect with one another, start a discussion on topics created by the researcher and even post topics of their own. This is where participants can connect with one another, the researcher and the Cloetta team. In the Lounge we introduced three featured topics where participants could introduce themselves, give feedback on the survey and share their advice with the Cloetta brand. This introduction topic enhances the feeling of being visible as a consumer. Not only did we introduce Cloetta as a brand in this topic, we also openly shared the objectives of the research. The latter encourages consumers to provide valuable feedback to help a brand. Apart from these featured topics, participants could create their own posts related to the research topic, which allowed them to discuss and interact with other participants. This open social space helped to gain additional insights as it provided us with answers to questions we did not even ask. 5 1 2 4 3
  14. 14. In the “Picture Shop” (2) participants were invited to participate in 5 tasks by uploading pictures and reflecting on these. Such a task-based element allows to get a better understanding of the consumers’ context. The different tasks are inspired by observational and ethnographical research: consumers are asked to explore their environment, observe their own behavior by taking pictures and reflect upon them. In the Gallery (5) building, participants could view the work of others, ‘Like’ it and comment on it. In the Ideation building (3) participants could brainstorm and share ideas on three topics related to the insights tested in the survey. Besides posting their own ideas, participants could see what other people posted and ‘Like’ it or comment on it. This idea sharing allows involving participants in discovering the solution space. The output of this exercise is the creation of ‘idea cards’, which combine a consumer idea with an inspirational visual that can be used in future ideation or concept writing workshops. In the Internet café (4) participants created the Facebook page of the typical person who would identify with one of the key insights tested in the survey. The participants could create this persona by uploading pictures, adding socio-demographic information and a description of that person’s interests. In the Gallery (5) participants could view the reviews of others, ‘Like’ them and add reviews themselves.
  15. 15. The additional task-based elements lead not only to more data, but also to better data. These findings show that by involving consumers in an interpretive role, we can gain a greater understanding. The reason behind these findings can be explained by additional research conducted by Balcetis and Dunning (2011). The contextual output from the new tools and challenges, composed of consumer visuals, stories and ideas, allowed us to add more sensing and understanding to the research results. In the Internet café participants were invited to create the Facebook page of the typical person who would identify with one of the key insights. This exercise resulted in different Facebook personae. The most recurring personae were hard-working women in their late 30s with a nice career and young children. They were visualized by images like a 7-armed woman (see Figure 5) - returning home, checking her e-mails, feeding the kids, running the household. 4 Research findings IMPACT FOR THE RESEARCHER
  16. 16. Figure 5. Persona matching the survey data In addition, the involvement of consumers in shaping the consumer space (Ideation tool) and the possibility to share their advice and feedback allowed us to shape very tangible recommendations for future improvement or product ideas.
  17. 17. A first key benefit for Cloetta was the addition of contextual understanding to the validation process. This new survey approach helped Cloetta get a sense of why certain insights perform better than others and how they could be optimized. The task-based elements in The Village allowed for Cloetta to grasp the contextual space behind a consumer insight and identify cultural differences. The consumer-generated visuals and stories helped bring these differences to life. By sharing the results of the identification KPI we gained 66% of additional learnings, especially regarding some subtle wording of the insights. Consumers explained for example how some words should be avoided, helping Cloetta to understand how they could rephrase the insight and increase its potential. Next, the open conversations and discussions in the Lounge gave Cloetta a feel for the spontaneous conversations and topics linked to the insights areas. IMPACT FOR CLOETTA
  18. 18. 5 To conclude Traditional insight validation surveys should thus be enriched with engaging tools and tasks that allow us to grasp the contextual space behind an insight and help form tangible recommendations for improvement. The quest to uncover high-potential consumer insights will never end. Yet the calculation of an insight’s strength score is not enough. The goal should be to enrich this validation process, so that it helps us understand how certain insights can be improved and optimized and why others should be ignored. Insight validation therefore is more than gathering those go/no-go decisions; it is about gaining an understanding as to why certain insights perform well and others do not.
  19. 19. References • Balcetis, E. & Dunning, D. (2011). Considering the situation: Why people are better social psychologists than self-psychologists. Self and Identity, 1-15. • Earls, M. (2009). Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature. Wiley. • Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4299-6935-2. • Marsh, L. (2012). 8 ways to ensure your new-product launch succeeds. Retrieved January 6, 2014, from http://www.fastcompany.com
  20. 20. Katia Pallini Survey Innovation Manager InSites Consulting Mechtild De Bruin, International Knowledge & Insights leader Cloetta Annelies Verhaeghe Managing Partner InSites Consulting
  21. 21. Thank you! @InSites marketing@insites-consulting.com www.facebook.com/insitesconsulting www.slideshare.net/InSitesConsulting

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