Once upon a time, brands competed on emotional and functional attributes – making money by selling products based on these things alone. This was market research industry for a long time, when researchers had it easy.
Then, one day category after category became filled with similar products. People taught themselves how to focus in on the best set of solutions and differentiation ultimately went away. Because of this, large established brands lost loyalty. Over the last decade, small new entrants have come into categories, introducing brands that come with a proposition about a better way to live our lives.
At The Future of Consumer Intelligence 2013, we sat down with Coca Cola’s Tom LaForge to discuss the implications and changes to the market research industry, as well as the importance of macros forces and trends in market research today.
According to LaForge, who has been with Coca Cola for 15 years, a macro force is a vector that tells you where you are going. “It either has to affect most people on the planet or everyone on the planet. And, there are more of these macro forces today than there have ever been before,” he explained.
As LaForge looks at how the world is changing by studying the macro forces, he sees that it will have implications for everybody because the entire world is changing – including governments, companies, and even within companies there will be implications for how we manage brands and research.
“I don’t know what the future is going to look like, but I can tell you that your research and your branding and your marketing and how you manage your company’s image are all going to be affected,” LaForge said.
So, why do you think most corporations have a research department? Well of course, to help the company make better decisions.
“So, how are we going to do that? We are going to get some data,” explained LaForge. “And, that data tends to be: ‘prove it to me.’ When people start asking for proof like that, we tend to resort to can we validate it and is it projectable? These things are very difficult to quantify.”
In the last 25-30 years most things have been computerized, so LaForge is finding that people who are really good at those analytical skills are now abundant. But, how exactly does someone distinguish themselves in that area? Simple. “What the computer can’t do, you better be able to do,” he said.
Ultimately, the world is going to change and it’s going to affect every single part of every organization .It just takes time to figure out what those changes are and ask yourself, ‘What will people’s response be? And how can we make sure our response is aligned with theirs?’
This year, The Future of Consumer Intelligence 2014 explores the emerging role of decision science and the convergence of knowledge points - insights, foresights, social science, marketing science and intelligence with technology as a central driving force and profound connector.
Right now, it's about connecting ideas to data to culture to the future of your business and this, is the real data revolution. This year represents the year of the multi-dimensional marketplace, and just as the market researcher's role evolves, so does our third annual event. FOCI is a gathering of the "consumer culture" collective exploring common ground across roles and industries for translating behavioral information into business opportunity. We hope to see you there!
Join us at FOCI 2014 in May. To register, click here: http://bit.ly/1aZJcfs
About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big Design, Customers 1st, and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at @AmandaCicc.