Huddle, Haggle and Hug Change

It’s tempting to consult the marketing research buzzword bank as my fingers start flying on the keyboard. I resisted (as evidenced by the title of this article).

Our profession is faced with an enormous amount of change and almost daily, we are challenged to craft custom research designs that freshen up the way we understand consumers. We strive to leverage the expanding research toolkit to align the new and innovative approaches with our insights needs and business objectives.

Now is not the time to hunker down and assess options alone. (It took great restraint to keep “hunker” out of that title.) Collaboration is critical. As research and insights professionals, we often fill a role as the information hub – a (or the) source on the different ways, techniques, and approaches we can leverage to gain insight. As the MR toolkit continues to evolve, it’s important that we interrogate this toolkit and in turn, flex our “hub-ness.” Organizations need ways to assess innovative research approaches and find the clear signals amidst the noise. With a few simple questions, we can all be well suited to lead these conversation within our own organizations.

This conversation is really a collaborative discussion – across the organization. It’s critical to find solutions and understand a new method’s value and viability, marketing, analytics, research and development… and any user of consumer insights and contributor to consumer understanding can (and should), be part of these discussions.

So, what questions should you ask?  Here are a few:


Yes, it’s a bit of a lecture from Dad, but don’t chase the shiny tool just because it’s new! Use an intuitive and diligent yardstick:

  • Does a new approach explain a behavior better than a current method?
  • Does this tool provide information that your team, or another team in the organization, is already receiving from a current tool?


Unique doesn’t always mean useful! A new approach has to provide meaning and application in order for it to help your organization make better decisions.

  • Will the new approach help us act more quickly or with clearer intention with the information it provides?

  • Does the method lead to insights that help us minimize risk in ways that other tools have not?


  • How practical is the tool? Even if a tool is both unique and meaningful, it has to be practical.

  • Is it necessary to leverage a new approach? Technology makes it easier to access more and more sophisticated approaches. However, we can’t try something new every time or we’ll lose consistency.

The above questions facilitate collaboration, helping to sort through all the available methods such as non-conscious measurement, geo-location triggering, mobile diaries, wearables, video and online qualitative techniques, micro-surveys, and of course application of AI/ML capabilities.

One last question that needs to be asked.  This question may elicit eye rolls, but with something as significant as moving towards an increased reliance on automation, it’s imperative.


New tools, methods, or even machines, don’t magically produce insights and they most certainly do not eliminate the risk of business decision-making. Instead, we must guide ourselves and our teams to uncover unique, meaningful and scalable insights required to influence our business decisions reliably. In this process, MR and insights leadership is critical. As is the collaboration from the software developers that build sophisticated analytic tools and deploy the technologies, and the analytics teams tasked with finding the signals in the data noise – all parties must set the objectives together or the promise of finding otherwise undiscoverable insights will fall short.

Think of conversations happening right now in your organization about new technologies and techniques. Maybe they’re asking about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning? Is the talk a low din or an excited roar? As hubs, marketing research and insights professionals are positioned to lead these discussions – and the experiments and bigger changes that follow.

Check back soon for part two of the Huddle, Haggle and Hug Change series where we apply these principles of unique, meaningful and scalable to evaluate and explore the evolving role of AI/ML in marketing research!

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Feature image – @BraunS –
Content image – @Geber86 –


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