Futureproofing your Business, Part II: Innovation and Insights at Top Companies Today

Published Jun 24, 2021

Toluna Corporate

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We’ve gathered key takeaways from the on-demand event, “Futureproof your business with an ‘always on’ agile insights strategy,” focused on accelerating change by applying innovative insights strategies to business. Take a closer look at the 2021 consumer as well as key trends and areas of opportunity, or access the full event here. You can find Part One of the series, Future Proofing your Business: An Interview with Frédéric-Charles Petit and Richard Thorogood.

Monumental transformation is happening in the consumer insights industry. As we dive deeper into what it means to stay agile in 2021 and beyond, we see brands focusing on innovation like never before. It has become business-critical in today’s world as businesses prioritize new product development, assess brand performance, and put real-time insights to work for them.

We gathered a diverse panel of industry-leading insights professionals to share their experiences prioritizing innovation to succeed, including:

  • Richard Thomas, Insights Director at Future Publishing
  • Carolina Palomo Marazuela, Global Consumer Research & Analytics Lead/ Shopper Insights at AM FRESH Group
  • Jenny Lovell, Head of UK Insight at eBay
  • Christine Fonck, Responsable Business Intelligence at Laboratoires Expanscience
  • Rhea Fox, Head of Marketing at Aviva
  • Nicolas Letellier, Head of Research and Insights at AXA

Here are the top takeaways for forward-thinking brands of all sizes.

Consumers expect more from brands today.

Today’s consumers are increasingly demanding with brands, as Nicolas shares. It’s increasingly important for businesses to understand what their target audience expects in order to react accordingly.

“We have to be careful about how we communicate and behave, which was incredibly important this year,” he says. “Insights became really critical as we had to test each piece of communication and be very agile,” sometimes delivering results within hours to inform business decisions.

Changing consumer sentiments must be measured regularly.

Brands have shown their ability to adapt in changing times, which depends on keeping in close touch with how consumers are feeling and behaving. From spending and saving patterns to shopping preferences and more, businesses must continue to keep their finger on the consumer’s pulse.

No one expected this to carry on for this long, and we’ve got to make sure we’re constantly listening and tracking that customer sentiment,” Jenny shares. “It’s about agility and adapting quickly to things that are unexpected, and in terms of insights, we’ve been setting up quick turnaround solutions that get results in a few days instead of a few weeks.”

Rhea agrees, saying Aviva found weekly sentiment checks essential in determining whether messages were on point.

And as Christine points out, testing across different locations is just as important as testing on a regular basis. “We try to test in different areas because France isn’t the same as England, Brazil, or Russia,” she says. “We test different groups with the same questions to get different insights, and adapt the best we can.”

It’s on insights professionals to predict trends and pivot as needed.

Agile research helps maintain momentum. If assumptions are wrong — and they will be — it’s important for brands to pivot accordingly.

In Aviva’s case, insights were used to predict whether German insurance customers were likely to return to their pre-pandemic shopping choices. Interestingly, they weren’t. Instead of choosing their standard insurance providers, they were turning to price comparison sites to shop around. This kind of intel allowed the business to shift its marketing approach accordingly.

eBay found itself in a similar situation. The company expected a huge influx in older online shoppers as a result of the pandemic but was surprised to see a big uptick in younger shoppers. “We’ve been using insights to explain movement in our data, who buys from us, and what we need to do to keep them coming back,” Jenny explains.

Insights are being recognized for providing business-wide benefits.

As a result of ever-changing consumer sentiments, there’s a broader interest in consumer data across companies — from the CEO and down.

Across disciplines and departments, stakeholders want to know how consumers are thinking, feeling, and behaving, what this means for their department, and how it impacts the brand as a whole. Insights impact business, and it’s important to keep this momentum going.

“Place insights at the heart of the business, getting alongside your key stakeholders and showing them the power of the insights you can deliver,” Richard shares. “If it has value and there’s a return on the investment, then the insights can very quickly rise in importance in the organization.”

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