Conversations with corporate researchers

Lauren DeRaleau and Irene Voisin
Market Research Director and Senior Market Research Manager., respectively, Groupon

You both have undergraduate degrees in psychology. What special skills or viewpoints do you feel you bring to the field?

Lauren DeRaleau: For me, psychology really lays the underpinnings of successful marketing research. Certainly, the field is moving in that direction in terms of integration of neuroscience, response latency, emotion and sentiment recognition, etc. But beyond those, for any given project, we navigate and design research that has to consider the way people think, take in stimuli, make decisions and even how they react to research design itself. A foundation in psychology has been an incredible asset.  

Irene Voisin: I spent most of my psychology studies doing research and my psych degree has influenced my marketing research career in two key ways. First, it has driven me to be a stickler for rigor and quality in methodologies and data. Second, it has fomented my passion to understand the whys – psychology – behind the data.

What methodology/techniques do you find most useful when researching consumer behavior?

Voisin: Being able to tie survey data to behavioral data from our customer databases on both the front- and back-end of our research process has been critical to creating truly actionable insights. Triggering questions off of known behaviors and tying the whys back to these behaviors has offered a much richer picture of what drives our customers’ needs and wants.

DeRaleau: Completely agree with Irene. I love anything that marries passive/database data with active data from primary research. There’s such a wealth of information about consumers available through so many formats today and I feel strongly that layering those formats is the best way to see the full picture.

How do you see technology changing the role of the marketing researcher?

DeRaleau: Technology is going in so many exciting directions that bring us a wealth of data of all different types. But beyond an increasing need to be familiar with so many different options for obtaining data – and of course dealing with the expectation to have it faster – I don’t think the role of the researcher changes at a fundamental level. I see a strong researcher as someone who can hear a business question, has a strong familiarity with a spectrum of potential research and data solutions and is able to recommend, design and execute the best approach to get the most accurate and important insights possible. Fifteen years ago, the best possible recommendation may have been, “Mail them a VHS of the stimuli and then have them complete and mail back a paper questionnaire.” Today the best possible recommendation may include eye-tracking, exposure tagging and a whole different bag of tricks. But the fundamentals are the same.

Voisin: I’d add that more and more, marketing research methodologies are able to meet customers where they are and intercept them in key decision-making moments. This is critical to truly understanding the decision-making process. Customers can’t always play back what they did or why they did it. Reaching them at the right moment can make a significant difference in the quality of your insights.

In your experience, what is the most effective way to present MR deliverables to stakeholders and why?

Voisin: As succinctly and directly as possible! Project managers and executives are busy and MR research insights are just some of many data points they take into consideration in their decision-making process. They likely have just a few key questions and answering them directly and succinctly means they walk away with clear answers top-of-mind. In my experience, the most effective presentations offer discussion points that spur a conversation, but a one-pager with just the two-to-three key takeaways or dashboards that they can easily pull out and remember/reference are ideal for busy business stakeholders.

DeRaleau: I’m all about putting research-driven insights into the hands of individuals at all levels of the organization. I’d underscore the word insights because I think that drives home what’s most important to sharing research results – doing so in a way that drives responsible and actionable use of the data. And that is likely different depending on the goal and the audience. For example, it may be a one-pager of takeaways for an executive briefing, a 25-slide PowerPoint for the project manager to inform all details of a roll-out or a 30-second video for the whole company to bring a certain consumer segment to life.

What new research projects and/or methodologies will you be focusing on in 2017?  

DeRaleau: We’ve built a nice portfolio of platforms and methodologies to capture data. Right now I’m really interested in refining our methods of integration of data across platforms to form the most complete and accurate picture of our consumers.

Voisin: I’m focusing on the “As” this year: app intercept – improving ways to collect key data within our app platform without interfering with the user experience and particularly, the purchase funnel; and API survey integration – setting up ways to feed our tracker results back into our databases to trigger more timely action items.