Just before the July 4th holiday here, I had the pleasure to attend the Insight lnnovation Exchange North American conference with a terrific group of BuzzBack clients and peers. The conference was a worthwhile gathering that focused on the future of insights technology. If you haven’t attended this industry event, I suggest adding it to your professional development bucket list. I left the conference energized and excited about where our industry is headed.
Many presentations debated whether traditional MR is dead. Speakers discussed what companies can do to better connect with consumers as traditional approaches evolve and new brand engagement opportunities emerge. These of course are the 64 thousand dollar questions when it comes to that coveted and endlessly fascinating consumer, The Millenial, who interact with brands differently than age groups before them. Jean Enloe of 3M described the challenge when talking about Scotchgard’s mission to get Millennials to use their sponges.
Other standout presentations included Ford’s Nicholas McCracken (who spoke about how understanding the customer brand experience fuels innovation) and Millward Brown’s session titled Consumer Theater: Using the Power of Improv to Unearth Big Ideas. In this memorable presentation, Ellen Fenwick shared the stage with Second City to demonstrate how applying improv as a ‘methodology’ can help consumers open up about experiences… yes, real improv!
So many big ideas discussed. So many refreshing takes on presentation format. The event gave me lots to think about as I headed home. Where do we as a company stand in the ‘Traditional MR is Dead’ debate? Do we believe this too? I have to emphatically say no – at BuzzBack we think it’s quite the opposite. If anything, this conference illustrates that there’s newfound energy around insights, and the rallying cry is about ‘putting people first’ when building the brand (something we hear Unilever say often when discussing the need to connect with consumers).
In fact, we had a great interactive session at IleX around how companies can ignite and stoke brand love in their consumers. Watch this space to learn how you can build brand love too when we present our latest webinar on the subject…
I’ve been back from IIeX for a few days now and here are some lasting impressions I came away with:
This year’s event was touted as The Insight Innovation Exchange. And truly keeping with the theme, what struck me as interesting was how drastically the players at the insights table have changed over the past several years. Communispace’s Diane Hessan observed that she never would have been invited to a conference like this 5 years ago because the firm’s work wasn’t considered research. Does Communispaces acceptance explain the “pushing the research boundary” presenters I encountered – like the ones who passively monitor Twitter data. Is that within the realm of research and insights?
I think yes, and I embrace the spirit of the event which asks us all – whether firm or client – to challenge our notions about research and how meaningful discoveries are made. As client guides through the evolving landscape of MR, we need to encourage them to think differently about consumer interactions and dialogues. Our role is to lead them to approaches that address their challenges from atypical perspectives – factoring in completely new technologies and techniques, such as neuromonitoring, facial recognition, and more. This sentiment was echoed by several presenters.
Our own presentation focused on changing the dialogue. In our case, we illustrated how we brought TOGETHER doctors and patients in one forum, when typically these groups are separated, and the powerful, positive impact that has on the patient/provider relationship. Can we change it for the better? Yes! (For more info on that, click here.)
But while I’m all for innovation (after all, that’s BuzzBack’s reason for being), it can’t be innovation for innovation’s sake. At the end of the day, no matter how ‘cool’ or creative the insights supplier, the challenge remains very simple: making sure we are delivering methods of meaning and value. And then our job is to help clients understand where these novelties fit in their world, what the approach brings, what it delivers – especially if it’s radically different to what they did before.
The Insight Innovation Exchange is being held in Europe for the first time ever this week in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. The conference itself will be keeping everyone (including our very own Carol Fitzgerald & Nina Bethmann, who will be speaking) busy. The 2 days are jam-packed with presentations and workshops and the website repeatedly reminds attendees that it’ll be “a lot of hard work”. But, we also know that those who work in MR like to have fun. Browsing through #IIeX on Twitter yesterday before the conference began, it seemed like everyone was looking for something to do or a place to meet up. So, if you’ve decided to spend a few extra days in the city after the conference, we did all the work for you and came up with our own list of the top 5 things to do in Amsterdam. See them below:
1. Visit a local brewery and grab a beer.
It seemed like the first place everyone wanted to go to after landing was the pub. As one of the largest beer makers in the world, Amsterdam is home to an old Heineken brewery as well as several great micro-breweries. So why not take a tour and find out where your drink is coming from.
2. Warm up with some traditional Dutch cuisine.
During the winter, the Dutch turn to comfort food for warmth. So run into the closest restaurant and order up some stampot (food stamped together in a pot – think mashed potatoes with different add-ons) and fondue.
3. Take a boat tour of the canals.
According to this pic tweeted yesterday, it doesn’t seem like the canals have frozen over this winter. Yes it is winter, but the canals are a must-see in Amsterdam so layer up and take advantage!
4. Visit an art museum.
Another good activity for the winter time, not to mention that Amsterdam is home to the greatest collection of Dutch art and history. Some of the big-name museums include the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk, and the Van Gogh Museum.
5. Go shopping.
No, really. Every week, markets are held in different locations in Amsterdam. Not only can you get free food and drinks, but the flea markets are great places to find souvenirs you won’t be able to find anywhere else.