Overview of market research topics at Quirk's Event - London with Andy Ainsworth

Editors Note: This is an edited version that originally appeared under the title, "Quirk's Media London - a snapshot of day one of the conference." Andy Ainsworth, product marketing manager, Zinklar, Barcelona, Spain.

The first observation of the event is that people are back in force. The footfall is incredibly positive; the not-so-distant memories of the past two years seem to be in the rear mirrors.  

The first session of the day in Room four was by Keith Bailey, senior insights advisor at Transport Focus. The session title, “How do you communicate with passengers about future railway engineering works when there are no passengers?” An enticing title about a subject that felt very personal to many people in the room.  

Slide from Transport Focus sessionBailey began by setting the scene and reminded the audience of the UK lockdown timeline from the announcement on March 16 to avoid non-essential contact and travel to the March 23 when the UK was put into lockdown. Bailey described how he had plans to work on a project for an upcoming development at Kings Cross Station (London). The research was to gather the feedback of passengers that the upcoming works could impact. As the situation in March worsened, a challenge faced by Bailey and his team at Transport Works was a reluctance from interviewers to distribute surveys as they were concerned about being near other members of the general public. A unique challenge for an even more unique set of events.  

The impact of passenger travel on UK trans was immense with a reduction in passenger figures from 15% of people traveling by train to 2%. One of the main factors behind this reduction was the introduction of working from home, and therefore the general commuter was not using their services.  

Next up on the agenda was Jenny Kasher from Kellogs, who spoke in room four about “Navigating the crisis: Pricing sensitivity amid inflationary pressures.” The emerging potential financial crisis was a precise topic of interest, and Kasher was clear that at Kellogs, they are trying to respond rather than being reactive. The insights team is going back to their data points from the last recession in 2008/2009 to try and best prepare for a future financial crisis. One learning they have identified is the need to try and help their big bet brands and focus on innovation and reach behind these areas. 

Regarding pricing research, Kasher stated we don´t necessarily have to think differently about pricing. She said Kellogs has a lengthy product innovation process that often takes two to three years from ideation to launch. Due to this timeline and the unpredictable nature of the world today, pricing is a discussion that is being pushed further towards the launch date. It makes more sense for Kellogs to test this with a clearer understanding of drivers impacting the market.  

About the types of research conducted by Kellogs, Kasher told the audience that always-on and agile consumer perception is essential. With a focus on ensuring that they stay true to the core values of Kellogs – a place at the table for everyone. The final takeaway from Kasher was that researchers should be bold and set their own course.  

The UK brand theme continued with a stand-out session from the excellent Tom Cole, senior insight manager at BT, about implementing journey NPS into BT. Cole explained how BT uses the Learn, Buy, Get, Use, Pay and Support (LBGUPS) method for gathering feedback from customers.  

Cole set the scene for the presentation by sharing the NPS results from BT – and also stated this was public information.  

Movement in BT NPS scoreHe explained that the customer is front and center of BT´s corporate strategy and recognized that transformation is required as a business. In 10 years, the telco business will be in a different place than it is today. Offering stand-out customer experience is a differentiator that can help BT stand out from competitors. Cole explained the difference between a relationship NPS program used in BT as a top-down approach. This broad survey takes place across all of their brands, focusing on the overall relationship with the customer. The transactional NPS is a bottom-up approach that helps them to improve the technical experience. The challenge was understanding the end-to-end journey i.e., a customer paying their first bill or CX for an engineer attending an internet-related issue. 

Cole explained they needed to identify data experts to navigate complexity, ensure they fully understood existing processes, and work with organizational decision-makers to set the project for success. The team at BT split the project using the LBGUPS model. The surveys were automated and created to engage with customers at the correct time.   

Since BT launched a new NPS program the big outcomes from the start of the project are:  

  • Journey NPS data is embedded within the BT board level.  
  • CX improvement plans built from insights. 
  • Aligning to the new organization design. 

Sara Green & the Zinklar teamAfter lunch, the first session was a Zinklar-led presentation with Sara Green from Bahlsen titled “Staying ahead of change: How to lead the transition to real-time insights.” Green kicked the session off by reminding the audience how great it is to be in a face-to-face environment. The discussion moved on to the change over the past two years. Green told the audience that the retail market’s transformation and the speed at which everything has to be delivered are a key priority, with every insight needing to find its way onto the P&L.  

Sara Green used the Zinklar platform during her time at Hovis and now uses the platform in her more recent role with Bahlsen. She explained that Zinklar is an excellent platform for providing fast answers to questions impacting core success metrics. Within a day of receiving a specific requirement, she can use the Zinklar Insights platform to put a study in the field and analyze the results by the evening. 

Furthermore, by using the platform regularly, Green could present insights to commercial teams regularly, starting an always-on conversation. As more groups became interested in the insights process, the Zinklar platform could help the team receive answers from a targeted audience faster than ever before. 

The Zinklar platform has allowed Green to access multiple consumer insights at speed from a high-quality and reliable audience. Green said it best herself the Zinklar platform makes her life easier and we couldn´t put it better ourselves.  

The final presentation of the day in room four, led by Ellie Inman, consumer insights lead at John Lewis, presented “How the John Lewis Partnership is bringing always-on customer closeness into the spotlight to drive better, more confident and agile decision-making.” 

Understanding the consumers, hearts and minds is critical for John Lewis.  

The five fundamental principles of their research principles are: 

  • Illuminating, not replicating. 
  • Feeling not hearing.  
  • Building instinct more than insight. 
  • Fueling decisions not just interesting. 
  • Restless, not off the shelf approach. 

The John Lewis team focuses on participating in high-energy research feedback and has three rules.   

Three rules for engagement:  

  • Use the topic pipeline in line with the business plan. 
  • Secure as many dates as possible in advance – or run smaller sessions. 
  • Establish core point people for a senior leadership session. 

Day one was a fantastic collection of presenters from across various sectors. We could only cover 10% of the speakers in this short snapshot, but we hope it gave you an overview of some of the most prominent themes from day one.