Marketing Research and Insight Excellence Award finalist Daniel Siddle, senior consumer and brand insight manager – Western Europe, Molson Coors Beverage Company

Editor's note: Daniel Siddle is a finalist of the 2022 Researcher of the Year (End-Client) Award which is a category in the Marketing Research and Insight Excellence Awards. To find out more about the awards click here.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in MR?  

Don’t just become a technical expert. The best insight professionals blend in-depth knowledge of methods with a strong understanding of their audience and how to prompt them into action. A solid foundation in applying different methods is very important but is also arguably the easiest bit to learn. 

To become a great researcher it’s important to practice asking the right questions and interrogating data. I think we under appreciate the skill it takes to turn briefs or stakeholder requests into research plans that answer the questions that truly matter. And we can’t just stop there. Answering the question will only get you so far.  To have impact you need to influence, which means truly understanding clients or stakeholders and spending time tailoring how you work with them to drive the right outcomes. This is where stakeholder management and storytelling can make a real difference. Skilled researchers learn to triangulate findings and think in terms of brand and business strategy, rather than just deliverables for individual projects. This bridges the gap between research that is used to inform, and research that truly influences and shapes the fortunes of a company. More generally I’d encourage individuals to think about how they learn. Use a mixture of formal learning, experience and learning from others. I’ve had some mentors who have really helped me on my journey and have found people are generally happy to help if you are clear with your request and appreciative of their time. To find the right mentor you need to pinpoint what you want to learn and then it becomes easy to work out who might help you with that. The best mentors may well be outside of your direct network or even outside of work.

How do you see the marketing research industry changing in the next five years? 

We had a period during COVID-19 that has really heightened the profile and influence of market research functions. This has been great to see and offers an opportunity for research to be at the center for businesses that want to make smarter decisions.  

There has been a proliferation in recent years of research tools and platforms. I suspect this will continue as there are pressures to deliver cost-effective insight quickly. Many teams will need to juggle using research agencies and bringing some of the work in-house to maximize their impact. I think researchers need to be open to being more flexible in the ways of working, approaches used and data sources. The ways of gathering data that can be triangulated and turned into insight continue to expand and we need individuals who can distill this complexity into a simple story and set of recommendations.

We are seeing some technology mature, like better machine learning for automated transcription and analysis of open-ended questions. These can speed-up and assist analysis but there is still a lot of value in expert moderators and human analysis of data. Online qualitative research grew during COVID-19, partly out of necessity, and has cemented its place in the toolkit for many companies that wouldn’t have considered it before. However, I think we need to avoid thinking purely in terms of online or offline research. In fact we’ve had some real successes with projects that took a hybrid approach to qualitative research incorporating face-to-face and online elements. 

Finally, sample and data quality may not be sexy topics but they are things we need to think about to protect our industry and the quality of the recommendations we make. As technology gets better and platforms automate many processes, the opportunity for fraud and poor data impacting results increases. There are some initiatives looking to address this but they seem to be led mostly  by individual panel providers. To have a real impact I think there is a need for cross-industry collaboration, akin to the work by ESOMAR on the standards for demographic questions.

What has been your favorite part of being a researcher?

I’m a naturally curious person so getting paid to better understand what we think, feel and how we behave is amazing. But for me the best thing about being a researcher is seeing projects you’ve worked on come to life in the market. This was the reason I switched from agency-side to client-side. My favorite projects were the ones where we had a close partnership with the end-client company. They would call up to get our view on a decision because they felt we knew their business and the consumer so well. We would be involved much more broadly than just delivering individual projects and would have chats that turned into interesting research projects. We would help them work through the implications rather than lose sight of the project after a debrief had been delivered. Knowing that you had a hand in setting the strategy for a business or brand, and shaping products that have launched, pricing strategies or communications is really rewarding. 

Last year we [Molson Coors] delivered an end-to-end research program for the launch of Madrí Excepcional into supermarkets and shops. The research covered everything: the brand proposition, liquid testing, pack strategy, price strategy, packaging design, communications and much much more. Research confirmed the opportunity and then helped us shape the offer to get the most out of the launch. The brand is doing incredibly well and has become established in a really short space of time.