The Research Insighter spoke with market research innovator Olga Patel Diamandis this spring, and Diamandis gave a fascinating personal historical perspective on how technology has changed market research since the 1990s. You can watch the entire video here.
Diamandis began their chat with an explanation of her background: “I’ve spent over 20 years in research and innovation. I started at Procter & Gamble where I received very classical training in research methodologies and I progressed into an insights and innovation role, that’s where I was at the end of my eleven years there. I moved to Nestlé to their strategic innovation unit to head up the insight function there. Most recently I was at Mars and then Mattell (she's now at Smuckers)."
The Research Insighter: “Taking stock of the research landscape today, the field and the industry are in the throes of some pretty dramatic changes. Where do you see the greatest challenges and opportunities? What are you watching and paying attention to?"
Olga Patel Diamandis: “The market research industry is going through tremendous changes right now; a number of them driven by the exponential growth in various technologies: social media, digital, computer programming, machine learning, artificial intelligence, crowdsourcing, you name it. This is something that’s very new to all the researchers who are more used to traditional techniques. So I think the biggest challenge for us as researchers is to adapt to that and take the opportunities that all these challenges are bringing."
The Research Insighter: "Can you give an example of a technological or methodological innovation or novel approach that you put to work for you?"
Olga Patel Diamandas: "Information technology is driving a lot of these changes. At Mattel - we built a crowdsourcing platform, (creating) that was not possible 5 years ago. We had a community of loyal consumers participate in it and provide their ideas and comments to us.
Crowdsourcing as agile, immediate and reliable market research
We ran several challenges where we asked them to help us develop a brand - 'Little People' line, looking for our next characters. (Crowdsourcing) took much less time than it would have in a traditional market research approach. The results came from our very involved consumers, and we knew right away that they would resonate."
Unless you adapt you are not going to move forward
The Research Insighter: "How was this experience for someone who was classically trained in market research?"
Olga Patel Diamandis: "I learned to adapt over my career. I realize that unless you adapt you are not going to move forward. I am fascinated by all the changes and opportunities that technologies are bringing. And our consumers are changing too because of these technologies. That are affecting their lives.
Market researchers are curious by nature
We researchers are curious by nature, we have to be, that’s how we derive those insights. When we talk about innovation, it’s important to understand that we’re not just talking about products and services. We’re talking about innovation in our research methods. We cannot do the same thing over and over and expect different results. We have to adapt as the industry adapts. "
The Research Insighter: "There’s a lot of resistance to change in quarters of research. What would you say to those in the market research industry who are skeptical or hesitant to adopt some of the new emerging areas that are quite outside our comfort zone, and ...a bit scary such as artificial intelligence?"
In the late 1990s, critics were quite skeptical about the internet in market research
Olga Patel Diamandis: "Going back to the late 1990s when the internet came to be... As market researchers we talked about how it would be impossible to run an online questionnaire, there’s so many things that could be wrong with it. You don’t know who the respondent is, you don’t know how robust the program or is if the results are same as pencil and paper or telephone. I remember we were at Procter & Gamble and we deliberated for three years whether the internet was something that could be used. We started to run mega survey studies in two ways, online and our old way.
The data did not match. People respond online in a much more truthful way, they are more themselves. We adapted, but it was not easy to change our attitude towards it. My advice is we have no choice we have to adapt, changes are coming and we can’t prevent them from happening."
We're excited to say that Olga Patel Diamandis will be speaking at The Market Research event, and on a very interesting topic: the future of food as it relates to dogs and humans.
If you're interested in hearing more from Diamandis and other technological innovators in the market research industry, don't miss the world's leading market research event TMRE happening in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida October 17-20. Got any comments on this blog? Make yourself heard - Tweet to us at @TMRE!