There were many luminaries in attendance (e.g., Pete Blackshaw, Ed Keller, David Rabjohns, Lynd Bacon, Kim Dedeker from P&G, Josh Chasin from ComScore, Donna Goldfarb from Unilever, Gayle Fuguitt from General Mills, Ann Green from Millward Brown, etc.).
Here's the deck I shared to stimulate thoughts, it highlights a Communispace white paper Diane Hessan shared that I found very interesting:
We had a day of spirited discussion about how social media transforms the nature of listening and really raises the bar on how consumers will expect companies/brands to behave. We had a big discussion around how we need to pivot from focus on "brand's back yard" to focus on "consumer's back yard" - meaning, developing a broad understanding of what's important to consumers BEYOND the brand or product you're marketing. An obvious point for agency folks but still new for many brand marketers, I think.
The breakout group I was part of (along with David Rabjohns, Gayle Fuguitt, Josh Chasin and Bob Barocci - who runs ARF) came up with the attached vision (click to enlarge photo above) for how the research function (inspired and enabled by social media) can add more value to the enterprise by being a catalyst for growth, not just a downstream evaluator of ideas (that's what we meant by "validation purgatory"). Moving upstream was a key theme all acknowledged - specifically drawing a tighter connection between research and upstream ideation, as pulling in-market results into a feedback loop that drives program iteration.
An inspiring and energetic session which I hope will help inspire the research industry to develop new strategies and offerings, as well as offer diverse career and development paths to research practitioners who want them.
ARF (under leadeship of Joel Rubinson, chief research officer) will continue to push this topic over coming months, via white papers, etc. Look for it!