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Greater Insight: Doug Edmonds, 2CV - The search for insight

Embracing diversity in research methods, sources and models of thinking is the key to a robust and effective approach to delivering the consumer insights that make businesses smart and agile.

No single methodology offers the silver bullet to deliver greater insight. At 2CV we have demonstrated that insights derive from the use of a range of methods, sources and models of thinking. Our primary research is the breeding ground of aggregated learnings that form insights. These insights move upstream in our clients' businesses, making them smart and agile, which is vital in a dynamic world.

Research companies exist to help businesses make a profit. Understanding the processes by which businesses create value is absolutely central to 2CV's delivery of insight.

Value-creation processes are forward-looking; start with raw materials, transform them into a saleable product. To govern these processes and maintain profitability, businesses have a set of hard-wired rules to inform the decision-making process. For businesses to grow and innovate, they need market intelligence that flows in the opposite direction to their value chain. The intelligence moves upstream, while the production of goods and services moves downstream.

Data upstream

This is the domain of market research. Good market research gets downstream consumer data upstream quickly. It checks that hard-wired rules are still right for the business and are adhered to.

Great market research uses this flow of information to create rules that can be relied on to guide decision-making for the longer term. Our clients are creative businesses where new thinking, design and innovation are the raw materials of their continued success. They regularly innovate, develop new products or enhance existing ones, and respond rapidly to changing market contexts.

Our research answers specific questions in the brief and informs a body of knowledge about a product and its consumers. Using our findings, we arrive at global market insights that highlight how established rules should adapt as consumers change.

Creating generalised rules is only reliable when they derive from diverse sources, such as qualitative, quantitative, web analytics, etc - a triangulation of data. Crucially, the rules that result help us interpret our findings in the right context.

Context comes in many forms. In qualitative research, psychological models and established frameworks of thinking help translate specific insights into generalised learnings around behaviour change. Statistical techniques do the same for quantitative research, identifying research measures that predict business outcomes.

Arriving at generalised learnings, or rules, is a significant by-product of the search for consumer insight on a specific issue. Our work for Transport for London (TfL), which helped produce award-winning advertising about teen road safety, is an example of this. TfL knew that teenagers had the knowledge required to be safe, but were failing to apply it. Understanding this 'knowing-doing' gap was a core research objective.

Using ethnography analysed in academic papers on teenage risk-taking, we explained why the 'knowing-doing' gap exists. As young people enter their teens, they are exposed to risks and risk-related communications across several activities, such as sex, drugs and alcohol. The saliency of these issues simply outweighs those for road safety.

Social group

Our primary research identified the importance of the social group and how a focus on friendships could increase saliency and close this 'knowing-doing' gap. This led to the 'Look after your mates' campaign. This leap was only made possible by viewing our findings in the context of broader research. This led to a generalised learning about teenagers and instilling behaviour change.

The brand-tracking data collected for ITV is contextualised slightly differently. Analysing this data in the context of programme-specific data helped 2CV identify the brand impact of different programmes. Aggregating these findings to a genre level has enabled us to understand brand impact as the schedule changes throughout the year.

While specific research findings improve products and services, generalised rules improve the businesses that own them. Analytical context and market experience are the necessary conditions for the creation of generalised rules. They require diversity in methods, knowledge-sources and models of thinking to be robust. Embracing this diversity is the future for market research.

Doug Edmonds is UK managing director of 2CV.

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