Why insight is becoming increasingly tough for client-side roles

The insight world appears to be in turmoil which may be leaving many researchers thinking they should pack their bags and go to live on a desert island. Here we look at five reasons why it’s not only challenging agencies but also client side.

1 – Access all areas

New platforms and software programs means data is available everywhere, throughout businesses and we hear on the grapevine that some client side researchers are feeling threatened by the notion of ubiquitous access to data. What this means is there is a greater emphasis on what is done with data.

In other words a greater onus on both interpretation as well as  producing visually arresting presentations to communicate the data to stakeholders. ‘Data artistry’ is how we like to imagine it – it’s about painting the ‘data picture’ which arrests the attention and then lacing it with hidden depths where you can reveal your interpretation.

2 – Supplier magicians

With an increasing number of data sources and new suppliers coming on stream it’s hard to keep up. The old agency behemoths are grinding to a halt and new kids on the block are knocking on your door with their shiny new methodologies. How can you trust them? What is in a brand name anymore? What’s the value of their methodologies?

There’s no silver bullet. Perhaps in a world of chaos we need to revert to the tried and trusted word of mouth. Or bite the bullet and refresh suppliers at regular intervals. The natural tendency is to batten down the hatches but sometimes sticking your head above the parapet pays dividends.

3 – I want it yesterday

The pace of business is not going to slow down. Our whole culture, even outside the commercial sphere is driven by immediacy. So how to persuade your colleagues that you can’t get the same quality of insight in half the time?

We are seeing more of a balancing act going on – what is time critical vs what is insight critical? Arguably you’d say both but it’s worth seeing if a difference can be teased out by project even if it’s marginal.

4 – Can’t pay won’t pay

Budgets are going down or being stretched across a number of data sources. It’s difficult both sides – asking suppliers to quote at a lower price vs. suppliers worrying about losing a project on price.

In fact for many public contracts the bid system still attributes part of the evaluation criteria to price. For suppliers there’s nothing worse than being excluded on price. We think it’s much more fruitful to have an honest conversation between both parties.

5 – Dress to impress

Faced with increasing data access it’s easy to reach for new methodologies that are going to impress stakeholders. But it’s worth double checking is there a real need?

Often all you need is the answer to your insight question – and in any case there’s often not a lot to choose between different agency approaches. In essence the fundamental need is quality thinking delivered with commercial acumen that inspires business confidence. How you get there is less relevant.

Perhaps it’s not quite time to depart for that desert island yet but the insight industry is certainly facing an increasing number of challenges.

What’s your biggest challenge right now? Get in touch for some fresh thinking lindsey@freespiritconsulting.com

Are millennials really the silver bullet?

Having recently spoken to this generation on a number of projects, we were surprised by some of the learnings they shared with us.  Our observations suggest millennials display many behaviours that we wouldn’t typically associate with this generation and show how easy it is to make assumptions based on age that don’t always hold true.

1- Brand loyalty already entrenched

As younger people are growing up faster and embracing consumables more quickly, it figures that brand loyalty maybe formed sooner than we think. There is a suggestion it can start as soon as 14 – 15 years where brands can quickly become ‘cool’ and prompt mass affiliation.

Conversely it seems some millennials feel the notion of blindly signing up to a brand is beneath them. That smacks of the younger generation whereas in their age group, brand choice is very much a part of defining yourself as an adult.

That said there is the dichotomy of claimed and actual behaviour: doubtlessly brands that are ‘in’ carry influence even if millennials don’t want to admit it!  Nonetheless it begs the question as to whether millennials are quite the silver bullet marketeers believe them to be.  Is there also a need to look at even earlier age groups as brand sophistication is evident among the younger?

2- We are more similar than we think

There is an amazing gulf in perception between what millennials think about the older generations and how they actually are.

We were running workshops with groups of people in their early twenties.  The conversation moved towards talking about initiatives that were designed to promote social welfare. One respondent carefully initiated a story with the preamble ‘there’s this rapper right called Snoop Dog…’ Obviously it was assumed that people beyond the millennial generation would not know the rapper let alone like them. I  actually confess to being quite a fan and yes I am not a millennial!

There are studies supporting the notion that the generations are merging in terms of attitudes. The US commentator Gina Pell noted that age is no longer a key driver in attitudinal differentiation and age gap friendships are flourishing.

Are we at risk of assigning this generation a whole range of assumed behaviours that actually may be replicated in other age groups?  Admittedly some aspects are unique to this generation but are we missing some close parallels with other generations in our bid to focus on the differences?

3- Tight purse strings

There is a real sense of the world-is-not-their-oyster in financial terms. There is a genuine realisation that ‘things are tough’, and studies compound financial concerns.   That means there is a general feeling of being grounded overall and the need to budget carefully for the future. Life is regarded as expensive.

Millennials are now quoted as planning their finances more than previous generations.  In a study carried out in the States 74% of 18 – 34 year olds save every month.  (Report by Mizuho Securities among 1,500 millennials, http://uk.businessinsider.com/new-report-sheds-light-on-millennial-spending-habits-2017-1).

Millennials are typically couched as experience-hungry and less brand loyal. Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberley Greenberger claimed millennials had been psychologically scarred by growing up in the recession. This has led to a complete change of habits with them valuing experiences over ownership.

But ultimately the fundamental life goals remain true.  Whilst housing feels like a pipedream, our millennials still spoke about home ownership as an ultimate goal and the above study confirms this. It identifies saving goals as a home in first place, then a car and finally for retirement.  This is a reminder that brands can chase millennial spend but the scope of their spend can taper off as bigger ticket items like housing gain in relevance.


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