IIEX 2024: Sharing What’s New in Insights

by Zach Mullen

The Burke Team spent an exhilarating few days attending this year’s IIEX NA  conference in Austin, TX. With a focus on the latest innovations, technology, and insights trends within the market research industry, we’ve returned energized and equipped with fresh learnings and newly shared perspectives.

At this year’s event, Karen Lynch, Greenbook’s Head of Content, noted that there was a more balanced gender representation and greater ethnic diversity among the speakers than in previous years, which reaffirms IIEX’s dedication to enhancing the diversity of its on-stage presenters. Burke’s own KaRene Smith, SVP Agile Solutions, chaired the New Speaker Track at this year’s event, helping to facilitate presentations from a broader range of industries and backgrounds.

Below are seven recurring themes from the conference that can inform future strategies and initiatives within the market research industry:

AI is less of a scary unknown.

Compared to conferences in the early part of 2023, there was less of an air of uncertainty regarding AI. In one session, every hand in the audience raised when asked if they were currently using AI in their roles. Compare that to just a year ago when a similar question was asked at an April 2023 conference –  and only 1/3rd of audience members raised their hands! In general, there seems to be more acceptance, more practical use cases, and less nervousness surrounding the presence of AI in insights, opening the door to broader applications in the future.

AI is transformative, but may not be the end-all, be-all… and can co-exist with other methodologies!

Researchers on both the client and supplier sides spoke to a myriad of use cases of leveraging AI in current projects. For most, AI is being positioned as a tool, instead of a replacement. Can AI understand, summarize, and generate nuance on every single thing? No. Is that okay? Yes! Both clients and suppliers seem to be very accepting of the fact that after practical application, AI just doesn’t do yet. Human researchers are still needed to make those ultimate connection points. But that said, it’s clear that everyone now recognizes the transformative value AI is bringing to key aspects of the research process.

Checkout Burke’s recent podcast, The Promise of AI in Qualitative, in which our Qualitative Team discusses how we envision AI and humans working in tandem to glean insights.

Behavioral data is important, but understanding the why is critical.

Clients and brands now have a wealth of behavioral data at their disposal, but at the end of the day, it still needs to be connected to the “why”. Coalescing seemingly disparate data streams (behavioral, customer satisfaction, segmentation, sales data, qualitative deep dives, etc.) to tell a holistic story is the key to cracking the code on brand health. Bottom line: Clients are no longer looking for just primary research, they’re looking to source insights from multiple data sources to help cut through the noise.

All brands are in the health business… whether they like it or not.

The health category is no longer just about fitness – it’s physical, mental, financial, digital, spiritual, emotional, and more! Regardless of industry, brands are now playing somewhere within a more macro ‘health’ space. More specifically, one of the big trends identified for 2024 is ‘AURA’ – which prioritizes finding sanctuary and serenity. Consumers are now looking to integrate technology to pursue AURA, by using tech to control their moods and enhance their well-being instead of letting it be disruptive. With the broadening of the health category, it’s imperative for brands to stay informed on some of the key trends identified for this year: amplification of health and well-being, the Bio Revolution, digital acceleration, the imperative nature of trust, and overarching economic instability.

We may be entering the ‘Golden Age of Insights.’

A few speakers hinted at the this “golden age” of insights; the importance of consumer insights and consumer data is being prioritized by executives in a way not seen in the past. As such, insights professionals are being offered seats at the table – an experience they likely have never had before. In many organizations, consumer insights teams are no longer seen as just “holders of information” – instead, they’re looked at as “drivers of innovation.” While the industry at large is undergoing major transformation, the surge in brands turning to consumer insights as a driver of business strategy has many feeling like there’s never been a better time to work in the industry.

The topic of synthetic data and synthetic respondents is heating up.

In an informal poll of the IIEX audience, nearly every hand shot up when asked if the crowd was familiar with the term(s) synthetic data and synthetic respondents. While widespread adoption of synthetic data is still far off, with many not yet utilizing it, a few particularly insightful speakers predict it will become a major topic of discussion in the coming year. Some are opposed to the idea of synthetic respondents, some are embracing it, but regardless of stance – nearly all recognize that synthetic respondents are not just a fleeting trend but a significant development that could shape the future of the insights industry. It is essential for our industry to stay tuned into the topic to keep abreast of any potential future impacts.

Relevance is, well… relevant!

Across multiple presentations, the word ‘relevance’ was repeatedly mentioned as a key aspect of strong brands, recognizing that strong brands must be relevant—they need to have a solid presence in the market and connect with consumers’ current needs.

Relevance is a brand attribute that is especially top of mind for our team, as Burke recently released an innovative approach to assessing brand strength through measurement of Relevance + Momentum. These two attributes serve as fundamental components of all strong brands, and define a brand’s ability to drive topline growth in any market. Learn more about our innovative framework that helps assess your brand’s Relevance + Momentum.

Want to hear more about how Burke’s offerings align with what’s new and trending in the Insights space? Please reach out to our team to learn more:

Zach Mullen is a group manager of Burke, Inc.’s qualitative research department.

Interested in reading more? Check out Zach’s other articles:

Breaking the Fourth Wall of Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research: Fast, Flexible, and Full of Truths

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