At the end of January, I spoke at the Esomar Shopper Insights Conference and part of my speech was about how technology makes the market insights professional role more challenging in some ways. For example, technology has made the world flat: The Internet makes it possible for information to travel fast, and it feels like we know everything about anything (or at least we could).* But my point was that knowing doesn’t equal understanding.
And in the past weeks, with the world on fire, this thought has been nibbling at the back of my mind. It was there when I watched television and followed the latest developments in Egypt or Morocco. When I read the news or watched the videos and pictures from the earthquake in Japan, or more recently when Britain, France and the US decided to intervene in Libya. I can follow the news minute by minute via Facebook or Twitter (and I do), but I feel I lack the context and local background to really understand what’s going on — like most of us. How will the intervention in Libya change the relationships in that part of the world? How will the earthquake and the issues with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant affect the Japanese economy? The world is flat, but we are still limited by our own horizons.
Yesterday I attended the first day of the ESOMAR Shopper Insights Conference 2011 in Brussels, and I was pleasantly surprised by the innovative thinking by the presenters, both in the methodologies used and in the way they look at the Market Insights profession.
There were a number of presentations on innovative methodologies, such as eye-tracking. All of them had cool videos to share and gave insights into how these methodologies can be used to better understand shopper behaviors. The presentation that really stuck with me, however, was from Stephanie Grootenhuis, from Kraft Foods International, who talked about the “Incite to Action” initiative.
She came on stage, and said: "All the presentations until now have talked about understanding shoppers better and the difficulties you encounter when doing (global) research. But to be honest, that's not my biggest challenge. What my team struggles with is HOW to share our knowledge and communicate our findings effectively into the organization."