Panel discussion – Future-proofing your brand with consumer insights

Listen to our panel of Marketing and Research pros discuss how insights can help you set you brand up for success.

2024’s Brand Growth Summit was a huge success!

We welcomed Marketing, Brand and Insights leaders from some of the world’s top consumer brands to London’s Ham Yard Hotel. We heard from top speakers and panels about how they’re using consumer insights and AI to better understand their target customers.

Here a stellar panel industry-leading Research and Insights experts from across the consumer spectrum discuss the challenges facing customers and brands, and the tactics they’re taking to maintain and grow market share.

Attest’s VP of Customer Success Sam Killip moderates this panel discussion, and we hear amazing insight from:

  • Matthew Bloxham, Head of TMT Research – EMEA at Bloomberg
  • Selene Riontino, Insights Lead at Butternut Box
  • Emma Pinto, Senior Shopper Marketing Manager at The Clorox Company – Europe

Q&A responses

Here are the panel’s responses to the awesome questions from the audience.

@Emma – how do you use consumer insights to drive the NPD pipeline for Burt’s Bees? Particularly in this competitive landscape where more brands have Lip NPD

We triangulate our available data sources and focus on identifying that “Consumer Tension”.

@Emma – What do you learn from lips that applies to cat litter, and vice-versa?

There isn’t a huge amount of cross-over, which makes the job even more interesting. Where we do see similarities is within the choices shoppers are making in relation to sustainability, responsible sourcing etc.

@Matthew – how do you differentiate between a fad social vs a long term trend using consumer data?

It’s not easy. We tend to mix a few techniques: trend data over time from the consumer survey data, cross-referenced against more qualitative insights: similarities/differences with other fads; needs-analysis – is this product replacing an existing category? If it’s a new category what need is it meeting that hasn’t previously been addressed? How does the product match our broader understand of trends in consumer preference?

@Matthew – what’s the balance you take between innovating the product based on what the customer wants vs based on what they can’t yet articulate they need?

I’m not directly involved in product development, from my experience of this as an industry observer I think it just depends on how safe the organisation is culturally, I guess the iPad is a good example of a product that nobody thought they needed, my hunch is that while it met a need that consumers couldn’t articulate yet, the signs were there in the research Apple was doing and they were smart enough (and brave enough) to put it all together to create a new category.

@Matthew – when using multiple data sources, when do you find it most effective to run primary research (via Attest) & what sources does it work best alongside?

Often we use Attest to fill a gap that isn’t met by existing data sources, or gives us a time advantage. Often we’ll compare our primary research results with the data from third party sources to confirm a trend, or call out a contrarian view. To have confidence to do that we need to be comparing data sources (inc Attest) with each other over time. Often the data we compare our attest results to is actual data reported by companies or industry bodies (e.g. smartphone sales, autos sales).

@Matthew: can you give a concrete example of how you used attest to impact your decision making in your role?

We used attest data to help us develop a high conviction view that EV demand was going to fall short of expectations and the market would shift more to hybrids. This got us a lot of traction with investors and auto-manufacturer management teams.

Do you have any tips for consumer research on a budget?

[Matthew] Think really hard about the questions/data that is most important to you. The rest is just filler. Work backwards from the presentation/report you plan to create. What’s the story, what data do you need to support that story? Become a master of the attest platform, understand how you can use question types to get more bang for your buck.

[Emma] Be really clear about the question (s) you are trying to answer. Definitely utilise Attest and their amazing team. If you are working with other external agencies, ensure they are very clear what the outcome and end recommendations are going to look like, will that answer your question?

How are you all thinking about or already using AI in your consumer research?

[Matthew] Not so much yet. We’ll probably use it first to help us analyse the results and combine it with other data and contextual information.

[Emma] We are trailing a number of tools across the business, nothing specific in consumer research as yet.

How do you avoid ‘leading’ the customer/consumer in your research? How do you avoid an echo chamber effect?

[Matthew] We leverage the experience of the Attest team to help us avoid the pitfalls. We also try to test our surveys on an internal audience first.

[Emma] As Matt says, the Attest team are the real experts here, they will help us craft the surveys so that we avoid this from happening.

How do you divide your budget between consumer (market) research and customer research?

[Matthew] Volume wise we’re heavily skewed to consumer, value-wise its less skewed (because customer research is more expensive) but still skewed to consumer (probably 65:35).

[Emma] We pride ourselves on being consumer obsessed, so this is where the majority of our budget will sit.

How do you ensure consumer insights are valid and not a result of the ‘unnatural’ environment in which the research is conducted?

[Matthew] We tend to track trends/patterns that are eventually verifiable vs actual/reported data, so we check the results that way.

[Emma] Where possible we will use a combination of both Qual and Quant research.

How do you get other teams within your business to be engaged with the insights you provide?

[Matthew] We don’t find it difficult. Insights from primary research are highly valued across our research teams and also the news organisation – it’s not an opinion, its real world data, so it comes with gravitas.

[Emma] We are fortunate that our business understands the importance of data and insights; again as we are consumer obsessed all teams need to ensure the consumer is at the heart of everything they do.

How do you get your CEO to care about consumer insights? I’d love to hear more about storytelling techniques.

[Matthew] We point to the business outcomes – which in our case is readership and user engagement.

[Emma] Once the consumer tension has been identified we show the growth opportunity for our brands.

How do you make sure that insights you collect and report are actually acted on by others in the business?

[Matthew] We provide headline results under embargo to our news organisation and third-party media.

[Emma] When presenting any insights we need to focus on the “So What” as well as the “And What”…what are we going to do next?

How do you present/ deliver your research findings and insights to other teams within the business? And what way do you find to be most effective?

[Matthew] We provide headline results under embargo to our news organisation and third-party media.

[Emma] We have various touchpoints throughout our monthly cadence of meetings. Again as our team is small, we can ensure data and insights are embedded in all of our decision making.

How do you see AI altering the future of your jobs and teams? What could it look like in 5 years time?

[Matthew] We’re working on various co-pilots to automate and enhance parts of our work-flow, freeing time to focus on higher value/more creative aspects of the job.

[Emma] I definitely see it taking on a lot of the manual data analysis, meaning that we can focus on the “so & and whats” and the strategic thinking.

How do you share the insights with (different parts of) the business? Any successes you can share?

[Matthew] We provide headline results under embargo to our news organisation and third-party media.

If you could insert one idea into the minds of consumers, what would it be?

Be more thoughtful/considerate about what you buy and the impact it has.

What is consumer research blind to, and is there anything that it tends to miss?

It’s blind to the questions you don’t ask – try not to bring (sub)conscious bias to your surveys…

What is the most surprising insight you have gained on your market through the Attest product?

The slowing demand for Evs (so far).

What’s are the advantages and disadvantages of allowing self-serve insight tools across your businesses?

[Matthew] End to end control of the process and speed to market are big pros; on the flip side, some people are much better at crafting good survey questions than others (as well as testing before launch, setting audience parameters).

[Emma] The speed at which you can have the survey’s fielded and the results in are a gamechanger. But you also need to be able to invest the time at the beginning to build the right questionnaire, and at the end in interpreting the data.

What challenges do you find in sharing insights across your businesses?

[Matthew] Sharing enough but not giving everything away.

[Emma] Ensuring the “So what” and “And What” are clear for everyone, no matter which function you are in.

What’s your biggest learning across your years gathering consumer insight?

[Matthew] The questions you ask, and how you ask them is crucial, assuming you “know” the answer to a question before you ask it is a real danger.

[Emma] Leave your biases at the door.

With endless data results offering different insights, what learning would offer a brand the most insight on their customers needs/wants?

[Matthew] Combining different approaches, triangulating them, understanding/challenging reinforcing data (from multiple sources) and questioning contrary signals.

[Emma] Echoing Matt’s point, definitely combining different data sources and approaches.

Marcus Evans

Senior Content Marketing Manager 

See all articles by Marcus