This Month’s Newsletter

April 2017: Take a break from Brexit and tribalism

It’s done. It’s not dusted.  But we’re off. And the spats are still ricochetting around Twitter and Facebook despite the echo chamber that tends to put you with people of like mind. At the MRS conference a few weeks ago, the audience were asked to raise their hand if they had voted for Brexit. In an audience of 500 no more than 1 or 2 raised their hands. A bit of a worry in an industry devoted to finding out what everybody is thinking.  One of the most interesting takeouts of a conference session was how relatively similar Remainers and Brexiters are in their consumer spending habits and brand preferences. It is the media who are intent on tribalising the two groups. If you only look at politics that becomes self-fulfilling.
People aren’t nearly as far apart as the media would like to portray them. Renault Clio buyer. Starbucks skinny latte, Holsten Pils: Brexiteer or Remainer – can you tell? I thought not.  Lazy tribalising is very seductive for marketers but can be profoundly misleading. Like segmentation. You have been warned!

Talking to students about the book, a podcast and a piece in Admap magazine

In the last 6 weeks I have visited 3 universities and a business school.  To talk about advertising and account planning as a pretext to talk about the book. The presentation boils down to the primacy of customer response. What people take out as opposed to what a marketer wants to put in. And how the first planners focussed all their attention on output. One of the headlines from Adweek a fortnight ago was that as much as 60% of programmatic advertising misses its audience. That happens when you focus exclusively on inputs. If you only cared about what people took out, you would notice how little advertising is being seen. Students feedback their appreciation at how this simplifies the communications task. One of them Sharvari Dorwat has made a podcast with me about the book.

The March 17 issue of Admap carries an article about the book. Which you can only access if you are a subscriber. In which Steve Hastings of Isobel talks about how the book challenges current practice. And suggests where communications planning should go from here. I am grateful for this reminder that this book isn’t a history book but designed to influence today’s strategists.

Automation and market research- keep humans in the picture

Two panel discussions for NewMR and the MRS annual conference and I hope we have learned more about automation and what research involves from both of them. Steve Phillips of Zappistore, who was in both debates was very clear that you shouldn’t automate everything. And that surveys still need to be tested to make sure that audiences understand the questions correctly. However, there were still warning signs given by author and psychotherapist Oliver James that the asking and answering of questions is human and that human interaction goes far beyond what machines can extract. Even if they are very effective at administering surveys and gathering social media data. I blogged about the discussions and you can read the post and browse the links here.  I hope that automation is now better understood but also the richness of the kinds of research you can commission which can’t be automated and for which human intuition and subtlety is vital.

Up and coming

A month left to vote for brave researchers in the 2017 Ginny Valentine awards. Here is where to go to nominate.  It is rather busy at present but do call if you need help. Requests keep coming in for all sorts of projects and I am happy to oblige.

Check out the blog at Further and Faster or follow johngriffiths7 on twitter.


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