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The Debate, Part four: challenges and opportunities analytics present to the innovation pipeline





Challenges and opportunities analytics present to the innovation pipelinerob

Rob Wallace
Managing partner, Best of Breed Branding Consortium

How is the use of analytics changing?

The only way that you can really measure consumer behavior is to track that behavior as it really happens in the market place. So the first and foremost best place for that is Nielson, which can monitor what is actually happening. This data gives you the what but not the why.

I’ve actually been working with several next generation innovation and insights firms, which are moving beyond traditional analytics of qualitative and quantitative measures and into the intent and emotions that drive that intent. These firms, such as Signals Analytics, go beyond what consumers say. 

As the saying goes, “Buyers are liars.” We’ve all experienced a little bit of that, as marketers and designers, in traditional qualitative and quantitative research. What consumers say, and what they do can sometimes be different things.  Signals is trying to get down to the motivations: What are they responding to and why? 

There are other firms that are also looking at facial coding online. These researchers are having one-to-one interviews with shoppers but with a video camera on the consumer as they’re answering questions. The shoppers’ facial expressions are evaluated to determine the difference between what a shopper says and what the shopper means. One such firm is Imotion, which uses facial coding to get beyond what buyers say and understand how they feel and perhaps how they’ll act. These and other new forms of analytics are the next generation of gaining true consumer insight.

How can brands collect better data for use in superior brand experience creation and design?

Smartphone use can help track navigation throughout a store. Encourage use by using influence engagement, offering discounts and incentives, and even motivate behavior with a coupon buyers can send to their friends. This helps build brand advocates.


How can marketers use data as part of a brand’s storytelling device?

Stories are key. As marketers, we create a brand message in the form of a story, and we try to engage with consumers on an emotional and the logical basis. I think if we’re telling fiction, we’re not necessarily being inspirational, we’re not really directing the consumer towards sales.  I think stories that are built on facts become very journalistic, which are much more effective.

The danger though is that messages can focus on what has been and not what’s to come. Marketers ideally should use a blend of both, the story-telling fiction and the factual experiences. If we blend both of those elements into a really compelling brand story, we have an excellent opportunity to build consumers’ perceptions and keep those perceptions in place.

Design thinking brings us more opportunities to envision what could happen, not just what did happen or what is happening. And interpreting data to create a vision and quantifying that’s really where design can have the most impact. 

Also, think of research as beta. As designers and marketers, we’re always in beta—right?  No brand is ever baked and done forever.  It’s always changing.

I think if you look at research the way it should be looked at, it can be very inspirational. It creates many roads and many opportunities to embrace change. To respond to change, to beyond looking backward. 


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