Conversations with corporate researchers

Salima Nathoo

Senior Director, Global Customer Intelligence, Dow Jones | Wall Street Journal 

You speak three languages and have lived in multiple countries. Does this impact your day-to-day work in consumer insights? 

I’ll say these experiences have helped me develop cultural empathy – being curious and open-minded to different cultures and refraining from preconceived biases. I also consider cultural differences from a marketing perspective – for example, at Dow Jones, I’ll think about: What are the differences in how we consume news and information? Are there differences in how we use certain platforms? Are there local markets or partnership opportunities that would make sense for us as a brand? It’s also a great ice-breaker for when I’m interviewing customers – for example, I find when I share something about myself or home, it puts people at ease and allows them to open up and share their experiences. You realize that fundamentally people are not all that different – everyone uses Facebook, watches Netflix, loves food, etc., but there are cultural nuances, differences in how and why we do things, and these are the opportunities for companies and brands.      

What new methodology do you see yourself leveraging in the next year?    

I’m always curious about new approaches and ways of collaborating to tackle our business’ toughest challenges. At Dow Jones, we’re looking at business growth through the lens of our customers and as a result, we’re increasingly layering behavioural analytics with traditional research to generate deeper insights and conclusions about our customers’ motivations and needs. We’re also applying lessons from behavioural economics to our marketing strategies and designing solutions that drive engagement. As our business focuses on creating meaningful customer experiences – for example, through our WSJ membership efforts or through bespoke partnership opportunities – customer journey mapping, design thinking, exploratory research and consumer surveys will be of tremendous value in uncovering customers’ needs states. For our advertising partners where demonstrating ad effectiveness is key, integrating facial coding or emotion analysis with brand research will be relevant. In the year ahead, no doubt our team will continue to experiment with new approaches and tools where there is value – but ultimately, we’ll be looking at ways to holistically understand our customers’ needs and wants and create strategies that can guide us on where to play and how to win.     

What tips would you give client-side marketing researchers who are looking to increase the importance of combining behavioral data with primary research within their organization? 

Starting with a hypothesis and looking at each step within the customer journey is key. Behavioraldata will tell you how your customers are interacting with your brand across the various touchpoints but you’ll also want to understand the why – and this is where qualitative or quantitative research can be valuable. As you look at the data holistically, you’ll see certain patterns or themes emerge from both behavioral and consumer surveys, and this will help to either solidify truths or dispel myths – ultimately helping you deliver insights with business impact. Creating customer personas and weaving a simple and clear narrative is essential so that your stakeholders can easily digest the information and take concrete action.