MRMW APAC 2019 – Post Conference Highlights

“I am not saying automation is bad.  I am saying that for some purposes, there are limitations,” Evan Williams, Group Head of Research and Insights at Go-Jek stated when he kicked off the 2019 APAC edition of MRMW in Singapore. With, the theme “Powering the Future of Insight Automation”, the two-day event explored the role of automation in generating insights and the latest innovations in market research.

The rise of insight automation

Research automation is on the rise, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) leading the charge. Automation via AI or ML technology can simplify and remove time-consuming and repetitive manual tasks thus enabling researchers to concentrate more on areas that require heavy human input.  Using intelligent insight based on smart data and optimized algorithms from AI, researchers can now start to automate parts of their work and individualize the use of technology for each project. As with all new technologies and innovations, it also has its own, unique challenges.

For a region like Asia which is culturally different and diverse, Aditi Bonsle of Borderless Access sees automation as a game changer for MR. Automation can help structure data from these very diverse markets to for example create customized campaigns and targeting for different countries. Vikram Jain from Friesland Campina also adds that “combining the power of insights, data analytics and human ingenuity will be the key to success in the future.”

The actual researcher is not out of the picture though! Evan Williams, Go-Jek, on the other hand, believes that a deeper understanding of consumers can only be gained by using both non-automated and automated approaches and this is by identifying in advanced observed or predictive characteristics when imputing data from external segmentations.

Especially in connection to social media and mass data, automation can play a crucial role in expanding samples size and cutting processing time. Padmanabhan Ramaswamy of InsightzClub together with Disha Bhatnagar and Ben Rynjah of AirAsia explained how they use automated and highly personalized data to track Air Asia’s return of investment on making legendary Brazilian footballer, Roberto its new global brand ambassador.

Rotsen Quispe of Traveloka shared how automation is a journey from strategy to execution. Beginning with identifying customers by working closely with the data team to determine a clear segment, then identifying the right automation, followed by the implementation of the marketing campaign. Finally, measuring and (re)validating marketing insights by finding new patterns and digging deeper with qualitative control.  Rotsen recommends when working with automation platforms, one must always, “Evaluate what automation tool is more effective and relevant for your customers.”

Breaking down the barrier between market research and data science

Combining insights from market research and data science can lead to a better understanding of your consumers and make better strategic decisions. With the explosion of available data and the need to select, analyze and extrapolate insights from multiple sources, data science is becoming a crucial part of market research.

As an example, Dr. Yuhui Yao of FWD Insurance shared how data and analytics play an important role in his organization because these insights helped FWD Insurance to increase and improve customer retention as well as increase customer acquisition and targeting.  The company now analysis its customer data to link subscription and payment plans to its customer communication. This enables FWD Insurance to differentiate between short term and long term customers – and adjust its outreach accordingly.

Food is always high on the agenda for every Singaporean. Guilhem Fouetillou and Josh Drasta at Linkfluence wanted to know where to find the best chicken rice in Singapore.  By putting the company’s software into use, they managed to pinpoint the best chicken rice at Maxwell Hawker Centre in Singapore amongst the many chicken rice stalls and cluttered reviews.  This demonstrated Linkfluence’s combined artificial intelligence and human expertise to turn social data into valuable insights at the speed of the web.

Artificial intelligence in consumer insights

Artificial intelligence is now widely used in consumer insights, from personalizing beauty care to audience analytics at Formula One races. This shows the strength AI can deliver, whether it is used to better understand individuals or to more easily break down large audiences.

Procter & Gamble uses artificial intelligence to personalize beauty care according. Dr. Ankur Purwar. Explained how the company uses their Olay Skin Advisor, a deep learning beauty platform designed to help women better understand their skin and find the products best suited to their personal skincare needs.  The Olay Skin Advisor uses artificial intelligence to deliver a smart skin analysis and recommend personalized product choices to individual consumers.

Formula One takes a different approach, aiming to understand and break down large audience numbers rather than personalizing experiences. Here, AI and Wifi analytics are used to better understand fan behavior during races. The Messh Sensor Technology were used at 8 races in 2017/18 with 65 sensors across the circuit.  This technology allowed Formula One to follow spectator movement around the circuit via a real-time dashboard.

Critical for the success of these new technologies however is that data gets removed from the silos that still exist in many organizations. Ajay Mohan of Intel sees this as one of the most important points for the success of AI: “organizations need to break down silos to deliver continuity to the customer experience across the entire organization as well as rationalize their martech stack and the role it plays in their insights organization. “

Innovating for the future of MR

Shifting economic power, technological advancements, population change, and evolving consumer values underpin disruptions in the market research industry.  Market research is more compelled than ever to deliver accurate, insightful solutions for businesses and brands with shorter turnaround times and smaller budgets.

One innovative method to remain close to consumers is social media listening. L’Oréal’s Amanda Melissa shared an experiment where each member of her team has an Instagram account to follow beauty bloggers. These accounts are accessed every morning and evening to “listen” into beauty trends.  It is a continuous experiment for Amanda and her team to listen and observe, define objectives, quantify, making sense of the data that lead to insights.

For many organizations, it is not the one innovative effort but rather the right mix and application of new tools and methods that will drive innovation in MR. “To keep up in a disruptive world, market research must re-think its solutions as well,” said Katharine Zhou of Ipsos. To determine the potential of new technologies for delivering more behavior-based insights, Ipsos conducted a pilot Usage & Attitude Study that integrated new technologies using mobile survey, GPS sensors, passive monitoring, and social intelligence.  With this, Ipsos managed to leverage a variety of different tools to move away from respondent recall and synthesized different approaches for deeper, holistic learnings.

Closing the MRMW APAC 2019 conference was the panel on, “Organisational intelligence – Driving thought leadership in market research through data-driven decisions and collaboration” moderated by Graham Brown of Asia Tech Podcast.  With the panelists building their career at various parts of the globe, they shared how each country or even city is different on how you can strike the right balance in building an insight-driven organisation.  And when it comes to technology and in this sense, automation, it also boils down to mastering new tools and developing skillsets outside of the traditional researcher’s background.

Upcoming MRMW conferences

Couldn’t join MRMW APAC 2019? Don’t worry! You still have a chance to meet the world-class speakers at our upcoming MRMW North America conference which will be held on 10 – 11 April in Cincinnati, Ohio and 17 – 19 June in Amsterdam. Learn how to automate insights and innovate your MR with speakers from PayPal, Procter & Gamble, Ericsson, BMW, Foursquare, Facebook, Celgene, Formula 1, Eli Lilly & Company and many more!

Register for MRMW North America 

Register for MRMW Europe 


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