Understanding Event Behaviours – The Power of New Insight to Inspire a Business

By Stuart Knapman, UK Managing Director, The Sound

Stuart is gamekeeper turned poacher, having spent the first half of his career client side and the second half in agencies and so he has seen how research works from both sides of the fence.

Stuart believes that, over the past decade or so, the market research industry has been on a journey.   The first change was the move from simply producing evidence and data to a culture of insight – adding value by interpreting and applying this evidence to help solve clients’ problems.

But however good the insight is, it is no use unless it causes something to happen.

So the next (and ongoing) step is for researchers to ‘inspire’ – for our insights to galvanise new thinking or prompt new products.  After all, as Stuart says, “the ultimate measure of success is whether our work stimulates someone to do something”.

So when a large, multinational client approached him with a complex business problem, he saw this as an opportunity to really make a difference.  The client could identify the challenges and could see the opportunities – but simply did not know how to harness those opportunities effectively within its diverse corporate structure and amongst its business to business clients.

Together, Stuart and the client developed an ambitious research programme involving quantitative and qualitative phases as well as innovative mobile ethnography, filmed interviews and self-shot Flip Camera stories.  The study was huge and complex – necessary as it had to stand up to internal scrutiny from all areas of the business, and be credible and relevant for a complex matrix of counties, categories and customer types.

Some would be daunted by this challenge particularly in the B2B space – but Stuart and his team entered into it wholeheartedly.  He believes that ultimately B2B work is similar to consumer research, in that we are simply trying to find out about people; who they are, how they live and work, how they feel.

The Sound embarked on the project knowing it would be a huge learning curve for both them and the client.

Key to its success was a flexible attitude, an open mind and the ability to adapt as the programme of work progressed.

As a busy dad, balancing the demands of fieldwork and presentations across the globe with the need to read bedtime stories to his kids was a challenge.  Indulging in his hobbies of cycling and running was essential to help ‘renew’ both mind and body throughout the demanding project.

Perhaps the most rewarding outcome of the project for Stuart has been the extent to which the project has influenced the client’s business.  Not only do they value the insight into the opportunities available to them, they have incorporated this thinking into the very fabric of the organisation and truly invested in the programme by hiring a new Head of Insight to ensure that the right measures are being tracked and factored into each new project.

Stuart is proudest of the global strategic impact that the research has had among such a wide range of stakeholders within the business, with the findings and resultant personas now a core part of internal nomenclature.

When the CEO publicly acknowledges that “the insights provided by the research are helping drive ambitious transformation by providing clear evidence of common needs sets that can be met effectively by global product solutions” you know that you have done a good job!

Stuart submitted this case study to BIG MRS B2B award to demonstrate that research and the resultant insight really can be used to inspire and effect change even amongst the largest clients – he believes that this is what we, as an industry should be striving for.

About the author:

Stuart Knapman is Managing Director, Head of London at The Sound.

For more information on the Award, including the other two finalists, visit Kantar Milward Brown or Jigsaw, or find out more about The Sound.