Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Pepper Miller, President of the Hunter-Miller Group, on the Role of Diversity in Consumer Insights

In this episode, we’ll hear from Pepper Miller, President of the Hunter-Miller Group on her opinion and experiences about diversity in consumer insights. 

Find Pepper Online:

Website: http://www.peppermiller.net

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/peppermiller 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/peppermiller

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


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Jamin Brazil: Hi, I’m Jamin Brazil. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. My guest today is Pepper Miller, a principal consultant and an award-winning market researcher and speaker. In 1995, Pepper founded Hunter-Miller Group, a market research and marketing strategy company. She followed this by being the lead consultant in the largest study about African Americans in 2008. It was called the Black American Today Segmentation Study, commissioned by Radio 1 and conducted by Glovich [ph]. Today, Pepper is the president of the Hunter-Miller Group, author of Black Still Matters in Marketing, and co-author of What’s Black About It? Pepper, thanks for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.


Pepper Miller: I’m delighted to be here, Jamin, and I love your name, by the way. That’s a very cool name.


Jamin Brazil: Thank you very much. I owe it all to my parents. I did it. I was going to say, “I did a good job picking.”


Pepper Miller: I love that. That’s right. We pick them.


Jamin Brazil: Anyway, so well, speaking of parents, tell me a little bit about your parents and how they informed what you do today.


Pepper Miller: So my parents, they’re both deceased. I miss them a lot. Glad I picked them, to your note. But my parents- so my mom was an educator. And she was adventurous, Jamin. She was really ahead of her time. She had this intellectual curiosity, and I believe I got that from her. So my mother was traveling to Europe alone, and I remember she even- she went to Morocco too and she came back with pictures of her riding on a camel with a snake around her neck. So-.


Jamin Brazil: Oh my God.


Pepper Miller: you have to think back. In, “71, a black woman going to Morocco alone or going to London alone- black people are traveling a lot these days, but it was not like that in the, “70s. So adventurous spirit, intellectual curiosity. My father was a trained classical pianist. He had this right-brain, left-brain thing going. So he got an undergrad in classical piano. He got a master’s in music theory. And my father had- was an entrepreneur. He had a wonderful music school. He had 40-plus teachers, 200-plus students, a classical music school. And in our community, in the black community when I came along, wanting to be an entrepreneur was like “oh no, get a real job.” But not my father. He was very, very supportive of me going out on my own and working this market research thing. And my father also, in addition to having the music school, he worked for the government. So he led these audits of these large refineries, and one of the refineries that his audit team was auditing for years was Standard Oil. So he worked during the day, then he’d come home and teach and meet with his students and at the Austin Academy. And he had that for over 30 years, and when he retired from the government he moved his music school to South Carolina. So I got the entrepreneurship, that mindset from my dad. He was a people person too, a lot more upbeat, and really comfortable with talking with diverse people. His music school was very- it wasn’t a black music school. It’s probably more white kids and white teachers that attended the school than people of color. So it was good that he felt comfortable interacting with different people, diverse groups of people as well, which passed that on to me. So good parents. They divorced when I was 11, but good parents at the same time.


Jamin Brazil: So your mom, an adventurer. That’s an amazing- 1971 is the year I was conceived. My mom was very much into feminist movement, “60s. And then your dad having this classical music background and passionate entrepreneur, but then also with the rigor of operating in a government level. How did you wind up in market research?


Pepper Miller: Jamin, I worked at an ad agency. Well, yes, I worked at an ad agency. I didn’t work in the research department. I moved around. I started working and doing bookkeeping, and then I got promoted to work in the traffic department. And then I worked- so I worked at various jobs. I had-.


Jamin Brazil: And that was an operations role at JWT, right?


Pepper Miller: Exactly, it was. It was a wonderful job actually, because you were managing this 600-person office. And you’re working with architects and interior designers. And I had to- my boss was not- and if she listens to this, I’m so sorry. But she wasn’t very good. So I had to take the initiative to go and interview people and try to determine what each department’s needs were. And I learned a lot about the departments in interacting with people, so I was interviewing people. And I was doing research projects on “should we”- I know the controller asked, “Should we have our own security team, or should we buy our own planes? Or should we”- and so I was doing the research and coming up with the analysis for a lot of this as well. And I just found it fascinating because I’m this “why” girl. I got that from my mom. I always want to understand why. So I got exposed to advertising. I applied for the market research department and didn’t get the job and quit and just started doing research on my own.


Jamin Brazil: That is hilarious.


Pepper Miller: I know.


Jamin Brazil: I forget that [LAUGHTER] do it myself. What were those early days like? That had to be terrifying.


Pepper Miller: Well, one of the things- one of the black executives, because when I was at J. Walter, there were 600 people. There were 60 black people, and most of those people were clerical. So there were very few of us I guess in the professional, if you will, area. So one of the black executives left. Actually, a girlfriend of mine, we were starting our own business. And we were researching a business to start. And he heard about it and he said, “I heard you guys had a research company. And can you do a project for me?” We were researching what to do. So we stumbled into this thing, stumbled into doing focus groups. Didn’t realize that there were recruiters. We were out on the street recruiting people, and they would show up for $15 if you can believe it. Now it’s $100 for respondents. But we recruited people on the street. We would go to the malls and get thrown out. And so we stumbled onto it. And I just- and our relationship with the partner that I had dissolved relatively fast. But I just kept going. I just kept going with it. And here I am today. And actually, Jamin, when I started knocking on doors to conduct research studies, I didn’t intend on doing this black focus. But I showed up in this brown skin, and I kept hearing, “When we have something for the black market, we’ll call you.” And I was like, “Are you talking to me?” So I got pigeonholed or defined- I won’t say pigeonholed. I got defined in the black space by some of the people I was seeking out for business. And what I discovered was there’s just this huge disparity in terms of understanding the messages that they were creating for us, even the way they’re doing research. I’m glad you’re talking about this because it’s still an issue with me, and we’ll talk about that later. So there was just this huge disparity in terms of what brands understood or thought they understood about us, how we lived, and how consumers felt. So I just got into this, and then I just started- I started then going and I would go to these multicultural conferences. And there were no black people speaking at the multicultural conferences. They were Hispanic and Asian, mostly Hispanic. And that’s still kind of like that today in 2020 America. So I started asking the conference organizers if I could speak at the conference. And I didn’t want to talk about or focus so much on the demographics, but I kept talking about the “why,” the why black people behave the way they do, why we believe what we believe, why we do what we do. Those are the kind of presentations that I was talking about. Not that we’re 50-whatever percent of the population or 57% of us live in the South, and 13% of the population, we have this spending power. Those were nice-to-knows, but they didn’t seem to be motivating. So I started doing that and just really getting into it, and I’m very passionate about it. And today I describe myself as a- yes, I’m a researcher, an author, a thought leader, speaker. But I am really an advocate for black value, for adding black value, helping large brands understand our value as a people and as a market segment. So I’m less about “you need to target us.” My position is “you need to understand us.” So that’s where I am today. I’m doing purposeful work, and I absolutely love it. And I’m so loving this topic that you created and-.


Jamin Brazil: Thank you.


Pepper Miller: decided to talk about today, because it’s something that’s very near and dear to my heart as well.


Jamin Brazil: And it’s interesting. It’s largely coming out of my ignorance, by the way, as being a white guy. And not that that’s bad. It’s just how it is. And I grew up in a household thankfully where my family just didn’t have any kind of issues, race, sexuality, whatever. And so that really wasn’t part of my story. Having said that, I loved how you framed your mission around “understand us” is exactly what we need right now, right? Which is not- definitely getting into understanding the why. But at the fundamental level, once you can understand someone, then you have the opportunity to build a relationship with someone, which of course is a bridge of commerce. I get that. But at the same time, without that, then- and this is the other side of it, which is like at my CrossFit gym, there’s one African American young man that is there. And so I see him as everybody else. But I would imagine- this is me. I don’t really know if it’s true. But I would imagine from his perspective, it’s different because everybody else is different ethnicity than him. So-.


Pepper Miller: Yes, but you should see him- it’s OK to see him as different. And that’s one of the things that I talk about, because we are taught to not talk about differences because it’s rude. It makes people uncomfortable, and now in this time that we live in, and particularly under this current administration, if you talk about differences, you’re seen as divisive. So when people say “Pepper, I don’t see you as a black person,” really? How could you not? How could you not see me as a black person, really? And the thing is seeing me as black and celebrate those things that are different about me: my brown skin, my kinky hair, my full lips. It’s OK. It’s different, but it’s not deficient. And what’s happening today when it comes to the black consumer in particular, when brands- when business leaders look at us, they look at us with this lens of language. So language has become the cultural identifier. Because we speak English, most US-born African Americans, and everybody that’s black is not African American. But most black people speak English. And because of that, the business leaders tend to roll us in with the mainstream. And when they do that, Jamin, there is a disconnect from our culture. And there’s a statement about our culture being less than or not important. “They speak English, don’t they?” is a question, a rhetorical question, a horrible question that a client said in my presence in a client meeting when I was the only black person in there. They didn’t want to invest in black consumer marketing, so that was a question that she said. And I was like, “Yes, I speak English. Are you talking to me?” Because it’s about relevancy, and it’s about relevancy with market research and how we approach that. And that’s something this industry is way, way, way behind on. It’s [CROSSTALK] disenchanted with the market research industry when it comes to diversity.


Jamin Brazil: And part of the challenge there is feeling safe, so like I do with you, so that we can have a productive conversation. And my fear just transparently is walking into this conversation, am I going to use the right- should skin color- what words do I say? What’s the nomenclature so that we can talk about the same thing without the fear of it being perceived as or me saying something that’s just catastrophic? One of the examples I gave in a separate conversation is that I grew up in a very- like I said, it was a great home. It’s very, very fortunate. No choice of mine. And my grandparents were- during the World War II, during the Japanese internment camps, there were quite a few Japanese farmers here in the Central Valley. And so my grandfather helped spearhead a group of farmers to take care of and keep active the Japanese farmers’ farms so that when the internment camps were- when they were released, then they’d be able to come back to work in farms as opposed to basically losing everything. But the reason I say that is because I grew up in a context of using the term “oriental” to refer to people that were from Asia. And I learned as I started traveling, that’s actually a very bad way-.


Pepper Miller: Exactly.


Jamin Brazil: Yes, a way of communicating. So it’s an insult. And so- but never was that the intent behind the words, but it just functionally is. And that kind of framework has in some ways impeded me to have a productive conversation because I just don’t know what words I should- or maybe I am going to step on a word that is not the right thing, and then potentially offend the person.


Pepper Miller: Well, the number-one question I’m asked all the time is “what do black people want to be called, black or African American?” So we get- just give you a quick lesson on that real quick. Even though African Americans are black by race as I said earlier, not all black people are African Americans, because we have this huge population of black Caribbeans, black Latinos, and we have the blacks from Africa. And so there are some African Americans that want to be called African American because they want that connection with the African American culture, and some that- continent, and some that don’t. I like to be called black because I like to see myself connected with the global dark-skin black people globally. I think on the safe side is to use the word “black.” I think it is preferred. I don’t think- but many black people are not insulted if you call them African American. Some of the Caribbean and Africans might be a little sensitive. So if you are doing a podcast for example with Africans and Caribbeans, I would not use “African American.” I would use “black,” for example. Otherwise if you’re talking about black people in the United States and you’re writing about it, or even talking about it, you could use the two interchangeably if you’re talking about them in general. And we live in a society today where- we live in a culture where- the culture of “I am offended.” So everybody’s offended, so that’s understandable. And because black people have been- we are the largest to be discriminated against and the longest to be discriminated against, so I can understand people who want to forge a better connection, how you can be sensitive. I think not saying “those people” or “the blacks.” That’s offensive. Saying things like “you are so articulate,” as opposed to what? That’s kind of offensive. Things like that that people are well-meaning or don’t talk in Ebonics. Even if I start talking in Ebonics, you can’t do that. Don’t you do it. So little things like that, because that’s just part of our- that’s part of our culture that we do that can be viewed as stereotyping or poking fun at if you do it. Because we’ve got this different lens, and I know we’re getting off-track here from the diversity topic. But just a couple of little insight things. But you’re fine.


Jamin Brazil: That’s actually really helpful. So on that topic then- and this is a personal matter- I grew up in the WWF, later WWE, World Wrestling Federation. Big fan of that in my youth. Still think it’s awesome, but I don’t watch it. And one of my favorite characters or actors or wrestlers is Hulk Hogan. And he was renowned for saying- calling people “brother.” And that’s something that I have adopted in the way that I refer to people. But I still feel like if I’m addressing a black male, maybe I shouldn’t call him “brother” with potentially offending him.


Pepper Miller: Correct, because it’s one thing to say “hey, man,” but not “brother,” because we call ourselves brothers and sisters. Even if I go to Africa or the Caribbean, it’s like “my brother, my sister.” You are probably our cousin. After you spend time with people and call them that, but-.


Jamin Brazil: It’s different.


Pepper Miller: It’s a little- yes, because it’s personal.


Jamin Brazil: No, makes sense.


Pepper Miller: It’s intimate for us as a culture to call each other brothers and sisters, and it’s our connection. It’s about unity. It’s about respect. It’s a lot in there when we use the word “brother.” So [CROSSTALK] use it- may be out-of-place.


Jamin Brazil: Yes, I totally appreciate that guidance.


Pepper Miller: No worries.


Jamin Brazil: Discuss with me your company.


Pepper Miller: So we- it’s not so much “we.” It was five of us. Actually it was five of us years ago for a long, long time. So now it’s me and a couple of my smart partners that I have. But we do qualitative and quantitative research, and we do keep busy. We’re doing mostly qual though where we’re having conversations with our audience. We bring that element into the client. And one of the things that I’m doing, been selling a lot is having a film crew- taking this film crew with me in the focus group room, or taking the most articulate respondents from those groups and going into their homes with their buddies, with the film crew and creating this sizzle reel. Because it’s so important, and clients today want to hear from the mouths of the consumers how they feel about X, Y, Z. And what’s interesting too is when I started years ago, I wanted to always have this conversation about what it means to be black in America, and what does that have to do with your brand? And clients didn’t want- “We can’t do that. We can’t talk about that. We can’t talk about race in focus groups. Why you got a black moderator in a black group? Why do you think we’re doing this?” Nobody wanted to do it. But now today it’s important to do because under this current administration, I’ve noticed that we’ve had this a-ha moment, and that America still has a huge problem with race. So that’s one of the things that we do. We focus a lot on qualitative research, making sure we get the right people in their seats. We hire out for quantitative partners, and we do really, really good work. We do wonderful work. Clients really love us, particularly when we’re giving this deliverable of a sizzle reel. So I blog. I was blogging. I was blogging for Advertising Age for seven years. I blogged for Forbes, and I put blogs on LinkedIn. I wrote a couple of books. I’m working on another book. But I have a wonderful analyst, a report-writer. I have a young millennial partner who is one of my strategists. She is so wonderful. She does my reports and she strategizes with me. And that’s basically our team today. When Barack Obama was elected, I saw this significant drop in interest in black research, black media, and black advertising for eight years because we were post-racial. Language become a cultural identifier. And because of that, there was less interest in investing in black anything. So now under this current administration again with this a-ha moment where America has seen that we still have a huge problem with race, it’s undeniable. The phone has been ringing again, and we’ve been busy and doing work for companies that have never, ever- you would be amazed at some of these big brands that have never, ever, ever done any research with the African American market, ever.


Jamin Brazil: So really quick, is your team- what ethnicity- what’s the composition look like? [CROSSTALK] curious.


Pepper Miller: Well, I have one white gay guy, then everybody else is black. So I just lost my- the report-writer that had been with me since 1995, he passed away a couple of years ago. And he had started pulling back a little bit and wanted to retire. But it was him and the young woman that helped him pull the reports together. He was black. She was white. My assistant, and I had a moderator and myself. So it was five of us. And we rode like that for years. We did really well. We could do five projects at one time. So we’re not a big company. Now it’s me and then my smart partners now, but I’m doing fine.


Jamin Brazil: What is the role of diversity in research?


Pepper Miller: It should be- it’s a huge role, but it’s not happening, Jamin. It’s not happening. So the role of research is I think a couple of things from my perspective and the type of research that we do, that we have diverse participants, people who are the audience that we’re going after to learn from. We need to be doing research and getting their opinions and helping them become more involved in this research industry to understand who they are. And then we should have diverse professionals and research teams, the people who are collecting the data. The people at the focus group facilities. The people that are recruiting these participants and designing the instruments. And that is not happening. That’s not happening I want to say at all, but it’s like dribbles. It’s like little specks of pepper in a big bowl of vanilla ice cream. That’s how it looks to me, because our country- if we look at America or just globally, we just look at America, it’s becoming more brown. And we cannot use this mainstream approach to invite people into the research process, and we continue to keep doing that. And I don’t think it’s relevant. I think the questions need to be relevant to the audience in terms of helping them feel comfortable enough to participate, and then comfortable enough to tell their stories. That’s not happening. It’s not happening. And the people behind the scenes that are analyzing, I read something, a report years ago, not that long ago where the stereotypes about black people- because this is what, in the minds of this analyst, he believed what he saw and heard in the media. So a lot of those things were his conclusions. And it was something about- it was a study about black women or mothers. And he talked about black women being welfare queens. But anyway, he devalued the black mother. And it was like- I thought that was terrible, because all black moms are not bad moms. And all black moms are not on welfare. But he painted that picture because that was his perception, and not understanding the background of who we are, where we- and that’s one of the things I talk about, the “why.” We have a different beginning, a different history, different lens, different beginning, different treatment. As a result of the treatment, we have different beliefs and behavior. So why then are we not creating instruments and teams to reflect who our audience is and what they believe and how they behave? And that’s not happening, and I think that’s crazy. Not only with black people. Just with Latinos, with Asians, with Polish people. Why are we not doing that? Because we still have a very, very non-black, non- very, very white research industry. It’s very, very white. So-.


Jamin Brazil: Yes. You go to a- I was talking with a good friend of mine, Kristin Luck. She’s spearheaded an organization in research called Women in Research, WIRe. And the intent there is to help elevate women at the executive level inside of research companies, agencies and brands. It’s been very successful. Done it now for whatever, 15-ish years. And in this conversation we were framing out, looking at this audience of people. There’s a few hundred people at this particular event. And there was no black people. And it was very stark to me that we’re talking about- there’s such a massive gap right now inside of leadership absolutely, but even inside anywhere. Inside of consumer insights as it relates with minority groups.


Pepper Miller: There’s been a couple of- I’ve gone to some research- why did I happen to do that? I don’t know. Maybe it was a research conference. I don’t know. But these big research conferences, there’s no black people. I even spoke at one of the associations’ conferences, and we had a little- what do you call it? It wasn’t on the main stage, but it was a breakout.


Jamin Brazil: Yes, breakout.


Pepper Miller: It was a breakout session. So I went straight to the breakout session when I arrived, and we were all going to meet for lunch. And I said, “Well, let me get my stuff. I’ll take it to my room and then I’ll come to the main dining room.” And the main dining room, it must’ve been, I don’t know, 800 people. Really, it was huge because it was a big conference. And when I opened the door, I was shocked. I didn’t see any black people there. I was like- and I just see it over and over and over again in these research events where the research companies come out and they all have booths. I keep forgetting the name, but it’s the biggest research whatever. And they all [AUDIO SKIPS] booths, and there’s no black people. And I started walking around, and even some of the companies I had done business with. And I was saying- I was asking them, where are they with their ethnic and multicultural research as the company is becoming more brown? “Are you guys looking into growing that segment?” I would just ask them. I would tell them, “I did a study with you years ago. It was a big study, and just surprised. I’m just dumbfounded.” So with the instruments, I think the questions and how we ask questions sometimes aren’t relevant. When I do focus groups, Jamin- is it Jamin? I keep-.


Jamin Brazil: Jamin. You got it.


Pepper Miller: I keep saying Jah-min. Jamin. When I conduct focus groups, when I moderate a focus group of all black people, I discovered years ago that I have to invite them to be black. I have to invite them to be black because they are undoubtedly- and I use particular recruit- I’ve been using a recruiter now, a national recruiter for about 15 years because he has black recruiters on there. Because sometimes you got to talk to black people about this. This is new. Got to talk to them about a focus group. So in the focus group room, I asked them, “How many have ever participated in a focus group before?” Now when I started early on back in the, “90s, you got no hands going up. So you got hands going up today. People are exposed, better educated. They’re participating in the process of at least qualitative research and focus groups, so hands go up. I asked them, “How many of you have ever been in an all-black group?” And no hands go up. I ask them that every single group, and 2020 America, I’m still getting the same response. And there’s something wrong with that. Again, black people speak English, so we’ll just roll them in with mainstream and we’ll have a focus group. And we’ll have two black people in there, and that will be our representation of our nation. And so in inviting them to be black, I explain to them how the sponsoring client is interested in our opinions as black people because our culture tends to dictate. “And so as the spirit moves you, as you feel comfortable, please- I want you to talk about your experiences as a black person. You don’t have to because it’s a room full of black people in there. But if you want to say, “hey Pepper, as a black woman I feel like this’ or, “as a black man, I feel like this,” feel free to say that.” And I started doing that because when focus groups were ending and I was standing at the door thanking people as they leave, some respondents would say, “What’s up with this black group? Why [INAUDIBLE] us? What is this about? I would have said X-Y-Z if I had”- so I make it a practice to always let people know what’s going on. And the thing there though is that when I ask people “how many of you have been in an all-black group,” no hands go up in 2020 America. And I’ve been doing that probably for the last ten years. I ask every single group that question, and I get the same response. In every city that I go to- and we’ve done 18 groups, nine groups, and it’s the same thing over and over again. There’s something wrong there. So-.


Jamin Brazil: Do you see that- I agree that- and actually, it’s funny because I’ve done a lot of recruiting for groups. I’ve moderated a lot of groups. And you’re 100% right. The sample frame for focus groups usually looks like a mini-pie chart where you’ve got, I don’t know, one Hispanic, one black, and a bunch of white people, or something similar to that. But now that I’m hearing you talk about this, it’s super enlightening for me, which is terrifying at almost 50 years old for me. Where were you 20 years ago? Because really, uncovering the “why” is getting to know the culture, is embedded inside of the culture. And you can’t have that in a mix- that conversation in a mixed context, or it’s much more difficult anyway. I don’t know how I would moderate it.


Pepper Miller: Well, especially with black people and race, it’s still an issue. The other thing- when people talk about playing a race card, you’re playing- I hate that, because it’s always played. When I walk out of my house, it’s played. And I’m in this brown skin and I’m stepping into a situation. It’s always being played. I hate when people say that, because it’s always an issue. Racism is still alive and well unfortunately in this country, so we’re still going through these issues and situations. And we’re still- black people are looking at most of us. They’re like through this lens of our history and how we’ve been treated and race. It’s just a reality. So you want to be able to put it out there and you want to be able to talk about it if it comes up. You want to be able to- and you want your respondents to be able to do that. Asian, Hispanic- you want them to be able to do that if it comes up. And it’s not a session where people are complaining necessarily. It’s just talking about how we live and how we navigate life. And it’s never, ever been a session where people are complaining or talking about “white people did this to me.” It’s never, ever been like that. It’s never been like that, never.


Jamin Brazil: Are you seeing a rise in specific products that are geared towards just black people?


Pepper Miller: I’m seeing a rise in more of beauty products, hair and beauty, that industry. We’ve got dark skin. We’ve got kinky hair, and some of these brands are just now figuring out that they should be targeting us. So that’s been one thing. It’s more of a rise in what beauty is, particularly when it comes to black women who have not been a part of the beauty industry, not having products that met our needs. Only seeing white females or very light-skinned black women with very- hair that’s similar to white women in terms of being naturally straight and flowing. So there has been a rise in that, and then the need for products that need to serve those needs. Our skin gets ashy. It gets dry and ashy, so we need those kinds of things. Our hair is kinky, so we put oils on our hair and creams on our hair. And so there’s been a rise in products to service those needs. I would say that stands out. And then there’s stores and brands that- beauty stores that need to target this particular segment. So I think when I think about products or services, that really, really comes to mind that has exploded, the beauty industry and products for women of color, just period.


Jamin Brazil: Yes, observationally I’ve been seeing that more and more. Part of that though is just probably self-selecting. One of my friends, Orion Brown, she actually lives in Chicago. She recently started a CPG company called- and I’m probably going to get it wrong, but it’s the Black Travel Box. And it’s basically inside of hotels, the soaps and things like that are centric to white people, Caucasians. And so this is in their travel box. This is the same type of proportions that you would see in a hotel room, but targeting obviously the black community. So it’s a-.


Pepper Miller: [INAUDIBLE].


Jamin Brazil: I thought so too. I’ll introduce you to her if you’re interested. I’m sure she’d love the opportunity to meet you. So we’ve talked about the role of diversity in research. What considerations do you think we should give to the actual team composition that’s doing the research?


Pepper Miller: When you say “considerations,” what-.


Jamin Brazil: So should there be diversity at the research team level? In other words, the people that are actually conducting the research.


Pepper Miller: Absolutely, and the people who are analyzing the research. That’s what I was saying, that it’s two segments. We need diverse participants, those people who are respondents, inviting different respondents in, and then doing research individually with those segments. And then at the team level, the consideration should be more people of color. But they’ve got to recruit more people of color and multicultural consumers and Asian consumers and LGBT consumers. And how you- and being a part of the team and how you’re setting up the instruments is important. I work with AARP, and their supplier- I think it was JFK. I think they’re Ipsos Research now. But they’ve done a ton of quantitative studies with the black consumer market, and I’ve been a consultant on those studies with their quantitative partner. And sometimes the language in terms of how you open or how you close- for example, one of the studies included a sample of whites in addition to the African American respondents. And there was a section where we were only going to ask these questions of the blacks, and then we’re going to ask these questions of everybody. And there needed to be some kind of transition language. There needed to be something to let people know that these black questions are- maybe it was a mainstream study and they were going to ask only certain questions to the black people. That’s what it was. But I said, “You got to- we’re going to transition to these black questions in this mainstream study.” And that’s with black people like, “What is that about? Why are you asking me that? Why are you singling me out?” I said, “We need to have some kind of transition statement so that they don’t quit in the middle of the survey and we lose them. We don’t want them to do that.” So little things like that that the team didn’t understand because they’re just following how they were trained and regular protocol. I think some of the questions might not even make sense to some consumers, some of the way they’re worded, or maybe even the order that they’re- there’s a lot. Because culturally particularly with Spanish and other languages when you translate, it may not make sense. So having people and professionals on your team that understands the culture of the people and allowing them to bring their whole selves to the table, their culture to the table and share these cultural insights with the rest of the team is important. That’s the other consideration, is having other people not be intimidated by others who want to share their culture. It’s a huge opportunity. It doesn’t mean anti-white, or it doesn’t mean that white people have to go away. It’s about a collective combination of a real cultural, multicultural team effort that could be beneficial to all of us. So that’s one of the things that happens. When something new comes in, people feel like you’re losing something and you’re gaining something. So there’s this fear, and then we have these roadblocks that go up. I have been talking to- I was at a conference and there was a couple of young millennial researchers. And as a matter of fact, we’re getting together on March 10th because they are trying to bring together other black researchers and connect in the city and nationwide, and how we can have some impact on the market research industry in terms of helping to make it more diverse. So I was happy that they reached out, and we’re planning on doing that really, really soon.


Jamin Brazil: That is a very important endeavor. Anything this show can do to help, like promote that-.


Pepper Miller: Thank you.


Jamin Brazil: Or outcomes of that, you feel free to-.


Pepper Miller: Keep in touch. I will. Thank you.


Jamin Brazil: This conversation is super illuminating to me. One of my biggest takeaways in terms of new knowledge is the importance of getting- the importance of the analytic stage, and the interpretation of the results as it relates with the specific lens of the segment, right?


Pepper Miller: Mm-hmm.


Jamin Brazil: And that’s so interesting that as I’m self-reflecting, I’ve not- and this isn’t about me turning into a therapist. I apologize. But the a-ha moment for me is I’m going to see that data in a specific way and make my own sort of connections to that, which is maybe even entirely missing the actual “why” of that people group.


Pepper Miller: So I’ve been working on a study with a major network. And I convinced them to do this two-phase project and bring the video production team in the focus group with me, with the respondents. We took the tables out and just put couches in the living room setup. And then phase two will be going into the homes. And then when I approached the video production company, they told me they didn’t have any black videographers. I said, “You need to find some. Dude, this is 2018 America. What’s wrong with you?” So I have this black crew. So one of the things that we do in our report is- even our qualitative report, is we have clips from the focus group, video clips of the respondents. So we have our key takeaways and what that means, and then a clip. And then I also have two boxes, the opportunity box in terms of what this means to the brand. But I also have a black insights, if there is one. Here is the black insight, batch value. It’s an old-school term, Jamin, but batch value is where a lot of black people use a lot of upscale luxury items and brands to confirm and create how they want to be perceived. Because a big part of the multicultural experience is countering negative stereotypes for Hispanics, Latinos, blacks, and LGBT, Asians and Native Americans. That’s a big nucleus part of our experience, and even more so with African Americans who had to endure slavery and then this long discrimination. And it’s particularly a big deal for us. So I might have an insight box that explains that if it’s relevant to that topic, not in those long terms but something a little shorter, to help the client understand why this is important. And so without me and my insights in that analysis, they wouldn’t have that. “Black people just buy that because they’re wasting their money. They’re spending their money in a bad way.” Its batch value is real for us from a socio- every socioeconomic level. It’s important. It’s very important to us.


Jamin Brazil: I was just going to comment on top of that, that I think when you have that juxtaposition of a judgment of how money is being utilized, potentially being frivolous, versus actually the need to counteract the in this case racism potentially that exists. And in the connection to these luxury brands, then in essence personal branding out of the negative stereotypes. And it’s such a different psychological point of view that you would maybe have a hard time, if it even was possible, if you didn’t understand the cultural context.


Pepper Miller: Correct. And so those are some of the things that are included in our reports that you wouldn’t see in a mainstream report. I worked on a big beauty brand with Ulta Beauty. We did three phases of research. We did the focus groups, we did the in-homes and shop-alongs, and then I hired Ipsos as a quantitative partner. And it was wonderful because in doing the quantitative phase, I was very instrumental in helping them understand. They did an excellent job of coming up with some findings. “This is what this means. Definitely this is what this means to the brand, and then this is what this means from a cultural lens, from the cultural lens of the black woman and why this is important to her and why you must do this or must consider this and that.” So it was a wonderful, wonderful study because we had that collaboration. And that’s what’s so important, and these are some of the things that are missing with the research industry today. They are talking to themselves, not talking to us. Yes, we speak English. Are you talking to me? No.


Jamin Brazil: Oh, man. I’m laughing because it’s a little uncomfortable, but then it’s comically silly almost.


Pepper Miller: Yes. Well, we have a long way to go. Barack Obama was- it was not post-racial. We will be post-racial when there’s the tenth woman, Latino, black, LGBT, gay- when we have those presidents, those groups in office in the White House, then maybe we’ll be post-racial. But it’s not the first that makes us post-racial. It’s what comes after in huge numbers that would make us post-racial or make us get it, not the first. We tend to get comfortable. We had a black president, and brands have said, “You have a black president now. What do you want?” People have said that to me. Business leaders have said that, because they felt like, “We’re cool now. Everything is great.”


Jamin Brazil: The point that really stands out to me right now is that brands have an oversized opportunity to increase their- or grow if they can connect and understand these audiences and build that relationship. And so successful brands I believe will be the ones that actually do that, as opposed to maintaining the status quo of, as you’ve said, talking to ourselves.


Pepper Miller: And they have to- it’s overcoming this unconscious bias of not talking about differences. Because as I say in one of my presentations, many business leaders believe it’s forward-thinking to not talk about the differences. So you bring in people that are different from you. You invite them in the room and at the table, and then you invite them to comment. So you got to make sure that everybody’s in the room, and then everybody’s at the table, and then everybody has an opportunity to share and learn. And then you do that, listen to these differences, and without judgment. Again, different does not mean deficient. To your point, it is an opportunity because if you are understanding people who are different from you, and you’re creating messages and products and services, then you are bonding with those consumers. And if you’re bonding with them, you’re going to have loyal customers. And if you have loyal customers, you’re bound to see positive impact on your bottom line. That’s a very simplistic way of looking at it, but it also could happen. It’s real, but it’s a very simplistic way of looking at it. But that’s a different way, an opportunity to look at why differences matter.


Jamin Brazil: Pepper, my last question is what is your personal motto?


Pepper Miller: So I love this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” It doesn’t mean it’s a research, but for me I’ve had to live this, my life as a black person in America. “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” So it’s about perseverance. It’s about being fearless. It’s about stepping up and standing up for what you believe in. I just love that quote, and I’ve had to use it as a research professional and as being a black person in America. “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” And even on some smaller levels as a personal level, it’s helped me. But I love that quote.


Jamin Brazil: My guest today has been Pepper Miller, a principal consultant and an award-winning market researcher and speaker. Thank you, Pepper, very much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.


Pepper Miller: My pleasure. This has been delightful and you’re delightful. I love this. Thank you.


Jamin Brazil: So I appreciate you allowing me to fumble my way through this very difficult conversation, but I have learned a lot from it, so thank you very much. Everybody else, as always, please take time. Screen-capture, share this episode. This is a very important one for us to start talking about. I’d love to get your feedback, LinkedIn and Twitter. Have a wonderful rest of your day.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 310 – Jonatan Littke – Keys to Success of a Modern Startup

My guest today is Jonatan Littke, co-founder of Lookback. 

Founded in 2013, Lookback is a video capture and sharing application used by User Experience professionals to conduct both moderated and unmoderated user research projects that is used by over 1,600 companies globally. 

Prior to founding Lookback, Jonatan founded several companies including GosuGamers one of the world’s largest eSports websites and Ripple, a UX Consultancy. Additionally, he was one of the original Spotify engineers. 

Find Jonatan Online:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonatanlittke

Twitter: https://twitter.com/littke 

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil  

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp  

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch  

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp  

Website: www.happymr.com  


“Clap Along” by Auditionauti: https://audionautix.com 


Jamin: Hi. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research podcast. My guest today is Jonatan Littke co-founder of Lookback. Founded in 2013, Lookback is a video capture and sharing application used by user experience professionals to conduct both moderated and unmoderated user research projects. Prior to founding Lookback, Jonatan founded several companies including GosuGamers. This is one of the world’s largest e-sports Web sites and Ripple, a UX consultancy. Additionally, he was one of the original Spotify engineers. Jonatan, thanks for joining me on the Happy Market Research podcast today.


Jonatan: Happy to be here Jamin.


Jamin: I’d like to start out with this contextual question. What did your parents do and how did they impact or inform what you’re doing today?


Jonatan: Sure. That’s a great question. So my dad was an engineer and a jet pilot in the Swedish military. And one of the things that my wife and I always think so much about his impact on me was how he is a man with a theme. And by that we mean that there’s something very central to his life, a particular interest or hobby at a given time and then when you meet him you will get to know about that theme. And I’m sure you have somebody in your life who’s like that. And my wife says that I’m like that and I kind of have that when I get something that feels like this is really what I need to do right now I just can’t let go of it. And I think that’s part of being an entrepreneur. I didn’t really know what I was quote unquote growing up because I liked to do a bunch of different things. But over time I realized that that’s that tenacity of being I need to see this thing built or I need to see this solution coming to the world. I just can’t let it go. Stay up all night thinking about it. So that’s probably the biggest contribution my dad had on me. I feel like that’s from him. Not being sure. But I think so. And then my mom was a doctor or is a doctor and she’s been also an educator in communications and teaching a lot about empathy and how doctors can meet patients with empathy and see it from their side and their situation and all of that. So I grew up with a lot of questions about feelings and a lot of don’t say you did this say when you do that here’s what I feel. So when you say that thing that makes me feel angry. And growing up really learning how to verbalize my emotions and access them from within my body. Identify where in the body the emotions are and all these things. And I like to believe that, that helped impact my decision to run this current company which, Lookback which helps increase empathy. At least we hope so with that company. So that I think is one of the biggest things my mom gave me, that whole emotional feeling side.


Jamin: You think about empathy and then also this grit to see things through. Empathy’s at the core of consumer insights. Did it play an active role when you started your UX consultancy and then later Lookback?


Jonatan: Yes. Exactly. That I think is a big piece of it. And I think user experience is so interesting in that way because it-I’m a designer and engineer as well. But I don’t particularly care for those functions or that role per say, although I enjoy it. But I do care about what is the end state that I’m able to put the person using the product in. And I’m not saying I’m the best at empathy. But I do certainly have built in the reward of identifying when somebody’s able to get to that point where they’re really feeling good or able to achieve their goal and that’s been kind of innate in me in a way that I’ve been building companies to try and create more of that feeling or have that as a reward more so than financial reward or fame and popularity. It’s how can we get more people use this thing in order to feel good or be more successful.


Jamin: It sounds like it’s a lot about enablement. Helping other people attain what is their goal or even full potential.


Jonatan: Yes, absolutely. That’s it.


Jamin: The other thing I think is interesting, your father-fighter pilot?


Jonatan: Yes.


Jamin: Instrumentations a big part of being a pilot and when you think about user experience, actually user experience was founded in the cockpit. So you, pilots needed to get into a cockpit and they needed to have the same experience or similar experience across planes. And that’s where the altimeter and speed and etc. became really important as this unifying force.


Jonatan: That’s a good point because my dad after being a pilot went into the industry of building airplanes and jet fighters and so. And just the other week he was calling me and raving about how terrible Boeing were doing with their instrumentation of the whole nosedive thing where the pilot has to steer in the right way and how they didn’t have enough sensors to accurately measure it. He was saying “when we built these jet fighters we had so and so many sensors and this-” And I think that’s a core piece of it is how do you build that experience that puts the pilot in control, which they weren’t in the Boeing. They weren’t allowed because the computer took over. How do you put the person in control to be able to do what they need to do especially in the time of crisis or challenging situations? That’s where I think technology really has to trust the human that’s in this case driving the engine or controlling the machine. Has to really trust it to know what it’s doing which then mixes them by case.


Jamin: And the, to the earlier point, the important of muscle memory and training kicks in, in those moments of crisis etc. And really kind of the design of what you do. So I did a little bit of getting my private pilot’s license. I haven’t completed the process and I don’t know that I actually will. But as I started that journey the thing that stood out to me was the importance of checklists and maintaining the discipline around the checklists regardless of if it was your first flight or it was your billionth flight. There really is no, it’s open ended. You just maintain that discipline. And the checklists get-they happen before you get into the plane and then there’s a whole other set of checklists that happen when you’re getting ready to take off and then there’s a whole other set of checklists that happen after you’ve taken off. And you kind of reverse those procedures. And then similarly there’s checklists that exist for moments of crisis. And I just-I found that really interesting that really every aspect of the flight has already been decision treed out for you so that you know what to do and a good pilot has functionally memorized those things. But then also has access to those in quick format, those checklists complete format so that they can then execute the right procedure at the right time.


Jonatan: And I think that’s so important to verify that things are going the way they should be even if everything is a green light and not just relying on that. Because I think as we think about scaling technology to millions or billions of people we can’t afford ourselves the luxury of check listing everybody’s experience was exactly the way that we wanted it to be. And yet I think that is our responsibility. And it’s somehow figuring out a way to ensure that vital systems like immigration or healthcare or has all of these rely more on more on technology we can’t allow the systems to fully govern that incredibly important and personal experience. So let’s say that computer or the records state that you had the wrong history because it pulled up the wrong record or whatever. And then we rely on that more so than the word of the person or the experience with the doctor, whatever. And that I think is the challenge going forward that we’re going to have to figure out how do you rely on technology without fully relying on it like the airplane’s a really interesting example of where we don’t really rely on technology fully because we can’t allow ourselves to do that.


Jamin: You’ve got actually a laminated sheet that tells you these are the-physically they’re [CROSSTALK] 


Jonatan: You have to verify it.


Jamin: Exactly. So this is an interesting point really. The black box that technology builds into our lives. The assumption that Google Maps is in fact giving me the shortest distance between A and B. And we don’t really have a way of validating that because it’s impossible for us to be able-well be impossible for us to validate that especially in context in real time. But we do increasingly put our trust in technology that it is operating for our good and the ethical association with that as it relates with the companies is interesting to me because yet is in some ways in conflict because the company’s objective is to make money. And so you do have this juxtaposition of the business has to do good. It’s going to do the best thing that’s in my interest, but at the same time they’ve got to operate in the interest of their shareholders as well.


Jonatan: That’s why I think it’s so interesting with emerging technologies that allow not full control of the system by any one player. So take banking where suddenly I could try to withdraw money and it says you have zero dollars on your bank account by an error and I would have absolutely no way of verifying or proving that actually I have a lot of money in there and they give it back to me. That would be really hard. And I think that the power decision that the owner or controller of a technology has right now is totally imbalanced. And so moving to systems that are more distributed or needs to be verified by more players at the same time or gives control back to consumers I think is absolutely critical if technology’s going to be able to sustain all of the reliance that we have on it and be able to back society to the extent that we want it to do.


Jamin: Give us a little bit, a very brief, the elevator pitch of Lookback.


Jonatan: Sure. So Lookback is a better way to talk to your users, specifically for user researchers we help with moderated and unmoderated research on mobile and on desktop. Remote as well and in person.


Jamin: And full disclosure to our listeners, Lookback and myself have a formal agreement. They have been a sponsor of our 2020 Q1 episodes. Very appreciative of that. This episode is not sponsored by Lookback. And the reason I think that’s really important and if you are a long-time listener or know me personally you know that I really don’t do anything for money. My motivation is to bring my audience the absolute best content at any given point. And the reason that I wanted to have Jonatan on the show today is because he’s birthed or created several very successful companies. Lookback being the last one. And in that process he’s gained a lot of insight in terms of identifying where market is and what the opportunity is and then also being able to bring to life that particular vision or that particular company. So, what I’d like to do is ask you sir what are some tips you would give aspiring technology entrepreneurs.


Jonatan: So, that’s a good question. I would start with making sure that you understand, fundamentally understand when what you build successfully solves the problem. Doesn’t have to solve the entire problem but as long as one key part is solved better than it was before than you’re good. But you have to be able to verify that yourself. If you’re building for somebody else, which you should, you shouldn’t assume that you’re going to be the end user. But you have to be able to verify they’re now able to do it better than they were before. And measure each improvement that you’re making to your product in terms of how much of a benefit is this to end users. Now of course research helps tremendously in this area, but at the same time in the beginning you’re going to need to make decisions so often, so rapidly that you can’t rely on every single micro decision being validated or researched upfront exactly, how well the solution is functioning. And so build, I would say build for yourself or build to the extent that you can validate it yourself. Yet at the same time you want to build for a higher purpose. And sometimes just serving yourself, let’s say that you have far more money than most people in the world or you’re privileged or you’re able to be in, to be in a position where you can start a company, which is fantastic, congratulations. Do remember that there are people out there who are not in that position and so building for yourself while at the same time scratching the itch or solving the need for somebody else or a lot of people out there I think is absolutely critical. So being able to combine those two is very important. I see sometimes people are very mission driven who want to solve problems for somebody else end up not creating really powerful products because they’re not able to get to that level of detail or understanding when the product actually does what it should do, if that makes sense.


Jamin: So flesh that out for me just a little bit more, the last part. I didn’t quite track with you. I get the first part which is you want to solve a real problem. It needs to be quantifiable in terms of the overall benefit to the customer.


Jonatan: But then you want to make sure that you’re not the only one having that problem because I see some real-the really great engineers especially on the mobile development side or they’re building these fantastic tools for themselves. They’re the best code editors in the world and they know exactly what they want. It’s so tailored for them and then you see the farther away you get from engineering you’re using crappier and crappier tools. You’re sitting in finance you’re, or maybe finance is a bad example. But you’re sitting in a function that’s far away and you’re just using so clunky tools that are not specifically built for you because nobody fully understands what a great solution for you would look like.


Jamin: So that’s a really-that’s-I love that. I’ve never heard that before which is, I don’t know if that’s important or not but, and I think that’s very true. The farther a technology is away from actual coders than the worst fundamentally the worst the experience is for the user or the worst it does at solving that particular problem.


Jonatan: I think power is shifting too. Product managers and business leaders are able to say we’re going to go in and solve this problem. But that’s where I’m saying. If you want to be that kind of entrepreneur who’s able to solve a problem that’s not necessarily your own you have to be able to find a way to know whether you’ve actually solved the problem in each micro interaction. You’ve got to know each button. Is this better than it was? This flow. Is this the way that we’re thinking about it? The whole mental model is this fundamentally stronger than what was instead of just saying we’re going to build a better support tool or we’re going to build a better micro loan system. But knowing it intimately is so critical.


Jamin: So you’d need to understand fully the problem and then you also need to understand the implementation or the user experience of your particular solution.


Jonatan: Yes. It’s almost like I would say if you don’t have a cofounder or yourself who personally has experienced this problem you’re not going to succeed. It’s going to be really hard. You have to surround yourself with people who want this problem solved and who have an intimate understanding of it because it’s not enough to just listen to people every now and then. It has to be very close to your heart.


Jamin: We start with founder market fit and then we move into product market fit. What do you see as one of the largest challenges for a startup or a set of entrepreneurs in today’s framework?


Jonatan: In the product market fit space specifically?


Jamin: It could be if you were just starting a company.


Jonatan: So I think a lot of-in the beginning you’re very focused on building things and on doing things. And I think a lot of people stop measuring the increased progress that you’ve done in your understanding of the problem solution that we just talked about. And so finding a way to quantify how much have we learned and how much better is that going to make us is really important because what I see, most people at least in tech entrepreneurs they sit down and the first thing they deal with, they start to write some code. Or now these days more people use, they use Figma and they create prototypes and they do some testing and all that is great. But at the same time it’s very focused around let’s start building something or least start creating something or doing a lot of things. So getting to the state where you can appreciate all of the conversations that you had and all the insights you’re getting. Basically, collect the insights. Pounding your insights is something I would definitely do more of. And then I would go back to the mission thing which is it’s going to be easier for you to succeed from a customer perspective if you build something that people want but also from a pure human perspective I do believe it’s going to be more and more important that your mission really resonates with where we want the world to go. And so that the mission is something that a lot of people can get behind. Now you’re going to hear BCs who say that they’ll invest whether, as long as it makes money. And I do believe that that’s true. But at the same time, everyone you’re interacting with is human being and if you can have a mission that resonates with people that’s going to help you tremendously when you’re hiring, when you’re getting advisors, when you’re getting press because if you’re doing something great people appreciate that and they like you more and they want to talk to you more and so on and so forth. So increasingly thinking about the mission that’s good for the world, not just disguised as good for the world I think is incredibly important too.


Jamin: It’s-I keep going back to that Steve Jobs quote which is, “Make a ding in the universe.” His overall driving mission of Apple. And sort of just massive aspirational goals. It wasn’t about at least the vision that we heard from the outside is that the company wasn’t built around making a billion-dollar company. And I’m sure that many people would have different points of view on that. But from an outsider perspective it was very clearly communicated. The need to create something and then communicate the actual vision or connect the vision to the thing that you’re creating, I think is one of the biggest opportunities for entrepreneurs because most people just create something and then expect people to use it like a set of features, as opposed to build something that is actually creating a better world or making a difference in individuals lives or what have you. It’s almost like are they using the tool or are they creating a better world. I know that’s such a crazy thing to say, but I really think that the overarching communication one, is a movement and the other is more of a transaction.


Jonatan: And one way to frame it is pretending to be a historical documentary that’s says in 2030 the world finally was able to achieve what because Jonatan Littke did what. And then you know both what is what you fill in and if you can honestly say that now the world can chat faster using mobile and that’s because Jonatan Littke built this great app of whatever. And if I believe in that and I think that’s great then sure, great. But if it starts sounding hollow then you’re like maybe this isn’t really contributing all that much.


Jamin: What is something-so you were part of the original Spotify engineering team. What was something that you learned as that particular engine was getting spun up?


Jonatan: Well, so I joined the engineering team and there were lots of brilliant engineers there for sure and particular grade designer called Russ Anderson [ph] who went on ultimately to move to the valley and joined a lot of companies. He’s at Figma now I believe. And he would always seem-forgive me, but he would seem like the guy who didn’t really care what people thought because he just wanted to build this great product. And that was always a little bit hard. And it was weird for me coming in. Sweden is so much about concepts and it’s like we, if there are five people in the group. If five people don’t agree than we’re not going to do it. And then here was this guy who was you know what, all those ideas they’re really bad. Here’s what we’re going to do instead. And he often got his way. And learning to make the decisions for the product, not necessarily always finding consensus is one of the big things for me back then. But then also is how do we treat one another when we disagree and how do we create a culture that is able to tie break when you end up in that kind of lock was definitely something I learned there. The other thing I certainly learned from CO Daniel was just being incredibly bold and his vision. Just the-at the time it’s like being a successful tech company out of Sweden and competing with all these US giants and in this-in the industry of music, what a challenge. It’s obviously somebody else is going to join this industry. Is going to join this, solve this problem. And today you have, I think every large tech company probably has a music app with Google, Amazon, and Apple obviously all do and then so you certainly taught me that. Going out and negotiating all those label deals and all those things. Certainly appreciate it there and have been trying to emulate, so.


Jamin: And already a material incumbent with Pandora.


Jonatan: Yes. For sure. And look at them today. They’re at 270 million users and I think 160 are something paid subscribers, 160 million which is fantastic. And every week, every month it would be like we have to grow because this market’s not going to exist forever. Let’s go get it. And we had several years but at the same time he was able to beat that trial continuously. And that for me was very new. I was very young when I joined Spotify. I was 21. But basically my first not-my first job not being where I wasn’t the founder myself. But that was very inspiring to kind of be part of that. Let’s do it. Let’s go get them. This whole movement of doing that every day sounds great.


Jamin: GosuGamers. That was first. That was your first company. That was, you were there before Spotify. Is that correct?


Jonatan: That’s right. Exactly. In my teenage years basically.


Jamin: Well all teenage boys like two things, one of them is video games.


Jonatan: I guess that’s true today.


Jamin: I think it’s been true for at least my generation.


Jonatan: You’re right.


Jamin: And so circa Atari 2600 for those that are wondering my generation’s go to. So that was a very big-it’s a very big EA Sports Web site. What was the founder market fit and then product market fit? story?


Jonatan: Well the founder market fit was my brother was great at playing the game and I wanted to be part of it but I wasn’t as great at playing. So I was what can I do. And I started writing about my brother when he was playing games. And published those posts online. And I was 11 years old. And then two years later those writings ended up being added to the site originally called the Star Cut gamers. And I just kept writing and writing about my brother and all these other players and it was basically like a fan site and because I loved the game. So I kept playing and I kept writing. And then that-I think one key difference I did compared to some, the few other sites that were out there was that they were in Swedish and mine was in English although I couldn’t even spell. And that just gave me a lot of, a much bigger market. And so I think I copied a lot what the other news sites were doing. But I just did it in English and that proved to be the successful recipe because it ended up growing and growing. And we had millions of gamers on that site and staff of 50 people just writing and covering gaming events. And so it’s really, I think my-it’s a good fit for because I liked the game but also I wasn’t good enough to be all-


Jamin: All in on the gaming side?


Jonatan: Yes, to spend all my time gaming itself. Exactly.


Jamin: Unfortunately, it seems more fun than writing, especially for teenage boys.


Jonatan: Well I got to be the manager of the national team because I started a national team. There wasn’t a national team so I said we’re going to start one and who did I put on a team? Well I put my brother on the team.


Jamin: Inside recruiting.


Jonatan: And then I had some tryouts and then eventually he couldn’t be a part of the team anymore but it was a lot of fun and then in terms of product-go ahead.


Jamin: If you would’ve had one for pong I swear to God I would’ve running man-nobody knows what those are. I would-dominated that space. But anyway-sorry. Then you’re saying product market fit.


Jonatan: And that’s what product market said. I think-I was thinking about it in those terms but essentially a lot of people wanted to read about the gamers. And I think today it’s-each person’s a billion-dollar industry and a lot of it is driven by your fans to these fantastic gamers or these fantastic teams or winning all this prize money. But back then it wasn’t an obvious and I like doing what you’re doing now is interviewing a lot of people and writing about them and posting their photo. And then people would write about-or come and read about that. So the product market fit was really good from that perspective. We had forums and we had match videos and all of that. So it’s a lot of gamers just hanging out reading about that. It’s pretty easy from that perspective. It’s here’s what I would want to read or want to have as content and then that’s what we made. So it’s back to the idea that you got to be able to know what’s valuable for yourself. That makes it away easier.


Jamin: What is your personal motto?


Jonatan: My personal motto’s probably if I had to pick one. I have a long list, but probably to know your dream. Sounds cheesy but I think we’ve lost dreaming to some extent. And by dreaming I mean I think of it as the act of creating visions but visions have this feeling that it’s very clear and it’s exclusive and the visionary can think of vision and that’s now everybody has to follow the vision. If you think about dreams it’s more accessible and approachable. Everybody has some kind of dream. We can –and they’re-dreams are somewhat fuzzy so that they can, your dream can join with mine and they can overlap and they’re not as exclusive. So the people that I know that have been really successful entrepreneurs they have a dream of what they want the world to be or how they want to change. And if I say what’s the one thing that you would change about the world those entrepreneurs certainly have thought about a lot about that. But the interesting thing is I think all of us really have a deep understanding of what we would want to change for ourselves in our own lives but also about the world. But it does take a little bit of effort to sit down and be like what is the highest dream that I can come up with. What is a better version than the dream I just made up? And you’re going to find, at least I found that there’s actually a threshold to how big you can dream. It is hard at some point to be like if I made my own life 10x better what would it look like. And then have 10x better than that, what would that like. And then you’re like, I actually can’t think of what would be better. And daring yourself to do that and go through that exercise really being clear about what those dreams are. Being able to communicate those. I think greatly enhances your ability to get there and to get there not just for yourself but for others as well. I think so much of our society today is about accepting the world around us as it is because the fact that we end up living in houses, driving cars, and going to work, those are not necessarily the only way that society could’ve been built but we all are that’s the way it is and that’s the way we’re going to do it and we just accept it straight up. But I think instead remodeling that and thinking about here’s the way I want it to be. Think it’s so important and I think just in friendships, in families, at work, shared dreaming and going through those exercises together I think is so important and has been a big motivation and joy for me to do together with people.


Jamin: My guest today has been Jonatan Littke. Successful technology entrepreneur. Jonatan thank you so much for being on Happy Market Research podcast today.


Jonatan: Thanks for asking me Jamin.


Jamin: Everyone else, if you find value in this episode I hope you will share it on social media Twitter, LinkedIn. Screen capture. Tag me. I will send you something special. Have a wonderful rest of your day.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 309 – Katrina Noelle & Janet Standen, Founders of Scoot Insights, on User Experience vs. Market Research

My guest today is Janet Standen, Co-Founder of Scoot Insights; and Katrina Noelle, President of KNow Research and Co-Founder of Scoot Insights. 

Find Janet Online:

Website: https://scootinsights.com 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/janetstanden 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JanetStanden22 

Find Katrina Online:

Website: https://scootinsights.com  

Website: https://knowresearch.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katrinanoelle 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kat_noelle 

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


“Clap Along” by Auditionauti: https://audionautix.com 

This Episode is Sponsored by:

This episode is brought to you by SurveyMonkey. Almost everyone has taken its surveys, but did you know that SurveyMonkey offers complete solutions for market researchers? In addition to flexible surveys, their global Audience panel, and research services, SurveyMonkey just launched a fast and easy way to collect market feedback, with 7 new Expert Solutions for concept and creative testing. With built-in, customizable methodology, AI-Powered Insights, and industry benchmarking, you can get feedback on your ideas from your target market–in a presentation-ready format, by the way–in as little as an hour. For more information on SurveyMonkey Market Research Solutions, visit surveymonkey.com/market-research.

This episode is brought to you by Fuel Cycle Ignition. Ignition is the agile insights platform that empowers leaders and their teams to improve product, brand, customer, and employee experiences – no insights experience required. With FC Live virtual focus groups and interviews, an Ad Effective solution, and survey automation capabilities, Fuel Cycle Ignition offers the only all-in-one agile insights ecosystem for supercharging the relationship between brands and their customers and serves the world’s most innovative brands including Google, Hulu, Tufts Health Plan, Carhartt and more. To learn how Ignition can take your research to the next level, visit fuelcycle.com.

Jamin Brazil: Hey everybody, thanks for listening. You are listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. I have two amazing women with me today, Katrina Noelle as well as Janet Standen, and if you’re involved at all in the Bay Area and user experience or qualitative research, you know both of these women’s names pop up a lot. Ladies, thank you so much for joining me today.

Katrina Noelle: You’re welcome. Glad to be here.

Janet Standen: Thanks so much for inviting us.

Jamin Brazil: Today almost everyone has taken surveys, but did you know that SurveyMonkey offers complete solutions for professional market researchers? In addition to flexible surveys, their global audience panel, and research services, SurveyMonkey just launched a fast and easy way to collect market research feedback with seven new expert solutions for concept and creative testing. With built-in customizable methodology, AI-powered insights, and industry benchmarking, you can get feedback on your idea from your target market in a presentation-ready format. Oh, and by the way, in as little as an hour. For more information on SurveyMonkey’s market research solutions, please visit surveymonkey.com/market-research. That’s surveymonkey.com/market-research. Support for the Happy Market Research Podcast comes from Fuel Cycle. This episode is brought to you by Fuel Cycle Ignition. Ignition is the agile insights platform that enables leaders and their teams to improve product, brand, customer, and employee experiences, with no insights experience required. With FC live virtual focus groups and interviews, an ad effectiveness solution, and survey automation capabilities, Fuel Cycle Ignition offers the only all in one agile insights ecosystem for supercharging the e-relationship between brands and their customers, and serves the world’s most innovative brands, including Google, Hulu, Tufts Health Plan, Gahart [ph], and more. To learn how Ignition can take your research to the next level, visit fuelcycle.com. Scoot Insights is the name of your company. Give us a little bit of context around what it is that you do.

Janet Standen: Yeah, thank you for kicking off with that question. So, well, Scoot Insights, we were born about five years ago, although between Katrina and myself, I don’t know how many years’ experience we’ve got in qualitative research, but let’s just say a combined sort of 50 years, something like that, and we won’t divvy up who’s got most of those. [LAUGHTER]

Katrina Noelle: No math, no math, please.

Janet Standen: But yeah, so I think it’s a very Bay Area company in terms of how it was created. There was a need, and that need, we were increasingly asked to just do things a little bit more efficiently and more effectively than perhaps the more traditional qualitative methodologies allowed for where it used to be a sort of seven to eight week process and what we had to do was deliver within seven to eight days half the time. And so Scoot Insights is all about driving sort of discussions and directions and making decisions with fun teams. We integrate with the stakeholders as part of our process, but most importantly what we do is bring the sort of voice of the user or the customer or the consumer to the party and manage that end of the process and then integrate that learning and understanding with the sort of stakeholder knowledge and expertise and experience. And ideally, all in a one-day process, to try and be as efficient and effective as possible, making sure by the end of the day we’ve got a sort of decision made that all the stakeholders have been a party to coming to. And that it’s born of the customer understanding or the audience understanding.

Jamin Brazil: So give me an example of a particular research question that you’ve helped customers answer.

Janet Standen: Well, so literally, I think that’s one of the things about being a broader qualitative researcher, is it’s so broad. It could be we really need to understand the positioning of our brand versus some competitors that have come into our space. Or it could be to do with a sort of design development, and that could be packaging design or it could be the user experience design of a website, and we need to make sure that we’re as effective as possible for our end users. It could be advertising testing. It could be literally a sort of shelf set test or trying to understand the behavior of a shopper in a particular type of store or when they go online. So there are so many different questions that we have the luck to try and help our clients answer. I don’t know, Katrina, do you want to add any more to those?

Katrina Noelle: Yeah, I think what the commonality is, though, with the Scoot Sprint approach is it’s making a decision. So whatever question or area of the business that it may come from, it’s about decision makers wanting to make a decision but doing it with the voice of the consumer in the mix, not leaving that out. So when people book us, it’s typically around some sort of decision. And I know that still sounds vague and open-ended, but the world of qualitative isn’t always used in that way. A lot of it is exploratory research, kind of understanding the customer, building personas, that kind of thing, which is all great stuff. But usually when Scoot Insights steps in is when there is a decision to be made and the voice of the customer needs to be integrated or understood to help the stakeholders make that decision.

Jamin Brazil: Do you have a favorite story of how a customer took some knowledge that you gave them and then had an oversized return?

Katrina Noelle: Well, Janet, do we tell our favorite story? Do we tell, do we do the video game story?

Jamin Brazil: I like video games. I feel like that’s a yes.

Katrina Noelle: I feel like it’s just a really good encapsulation of why not to move ahead without customer insights. But Janet, you were the key lead on that, so I think you should tell it.

Janet Standen: Sure. There was a– Clearly the big sales period if you’re a video game company is the sort of run up to Christmas, and there was a big decision to be made about which music should support the ad that they’ve developed for the launch of this game. And to them it was super important. There was a big discrepancy between what the ad agency thought the answer was and what the client team thought the answer was. So in a way, we were brought in to help make this decision between more sort of upbeat type of music to maybe a more somber type of music. It was a first person shooter game, so it was, upbeat is one way of putting it. But it seemed like a simple decision, so we start asking some gamers and people who were aware of this title their thoughts about it, and we played different versions of the ad with the different music. And very quickly it became apparent that there was some deeper thing going on about the sort of, the reference point of, the setting of this game. Which had actually been shot in Eastern Europe and they’d had this famous film director involved in it and it was huge investment in creating this ad. And then it became apparent that some of the American consumers were sort of uncomfortable of the setting, which to them looked like a college campus, and it hadn’t been shot in a college campus. And so suddenly, the discussion pivoted quite dramatically to be about the setting. And one of the great things about being a good listener in qual is knowing what it is your people you’re talking to actually want to tell you about rather than only answering the questions perhaps that you think you wanted to ask them. And it became apparent we had a far greater issue. This seemed like a sort of college campus shooting ad. And thank god the whole stakeholder team, everybody was there and we very quickly pivoted the research to discuss more without needing the witnesses about where they thought this was happening and the particular story in the ad. So to be honest, by the end of that day, the team had to make a really important decision to actually pull that ad and not go with it for the launch of this game, because the reputation of the parent brand could be at stake. And the week the ad would’ve been launched as actually the week of the Bernardino shooting, which many people know, and it just would’ve been a complete disaster to the brand. So that’s perhaps an extreme example, but sometimes really, truly we can save the day by really listening to what people are saying. And often there is an objective or a question that the stakeholder team think they need answering, but often the richness is in what we learn around that specific decision as well. So that’s just one example of that. I think that’s the one Katrina was referring to.

Jamin Brazil: Yeah, that is absolutely brilliant. Well, let’s switch gears a little bit. Actually, before we switch gears, I wanna, just in the last week I’ve had conversations with four people in consumer insights and primarily UX, actually. And they all talked about the importance of starting broad in a conversation and then getting more narrow, so starting macro and then going micro. And the reason why is they said that when they start at kinda getting to the diagnostic questions quickly, then you immediately lose the context and you might be talking about the wrong stuff. And so I actually am gonna use this story. Everything I’m saying is gonna get cut out, but I’m gonna use this story in that particular episode because I think it’s such a great practical example of how, had you actually started with maybe more narrow questions, you would’ve potentially missed the broader implications of what it is they wanted to tell you.

Katrina Noelle: Yeah, exactly. And you have no reference point or context. If you don’t start with broader questions, you don’t know where to fit the specific questions into. You don’t know what landscape you’re looking at it against, even from like an individual standpoint, from that participant, if you don’t have context. You can’t match it back.

Jamin Brazil: Gosh, I really wanna talk about that more, but we don’t have time. So what we do wanna talk about today is two different disciplines. One is I consider an entry or a recent emerging, massively growing space. So you have market research, which is kind of like established in the golden days of radio, really, and then you have user experience, which has started materializing, coming up everywhere in the last I wanna say five years, but I’ve probably just been blind to it before then. That’s the topic of our chat today. Can you tell me a little bit about your backgrounds, both of you individually, in terms of if you started in market research and then how you were exposed to user experience?

Katrina Noelle: Yeah, so I call myself, I’m sort of an insights and market research lifer. I really, I came very quickly to working in market research. I think I was in marketing for maybe a year and a half until I saw someone do consumer research and realized you didn’t have to poke people with a stick, you could be a feedback loop instead, and have sort of firmly been entrenched in market research ever since. It’s true. And I still say that to friends and family who don’t know what on earth I do. I say I run companies that provide a feedback loop for clients, like in its essence. And so yeah, so I came out of the entertainment space and have worked on agency side and then in my own agencies ever since, really.

Janet Standen: And my background’s a little broader initially. I was a brand strategy and innovation person and my world was filled with product development and the experience that people had of using products and developing new products for people. And it was, back in those days, there wasn’t the sort of world of technology that we have today. So I think it was born more out of the CPG world, the consumer packaged goods world, and I actually ended up working for Nestlé for a number of years in innovation and then had a strategy and innovation consultancy in London before moving to the States 20 years ago. And I honestly think that market research was the sort of granddaddy of it all just because it was around for a lot longer, and the companies like P&G, they were using consumer understanding and really trying to understand their audience needs a long, long time ago, and that included pain points and what job a product was doing for a user of the product. And I think all this change, really, is in the last sort of 20 years, technology and the Internet and websites and apps have just become part of our world. And that has become even more prevalent in the last five to 10 years. And I think it’s just that that industry has created its own equivalent to market research that happens to be born out of the need to really understand the user. And most of the tech companies that I’m familiar with started often with a sort of software engineer who had a personal need and knew how to develop a product for an app or a website that could actually deliver against it, and they did it because it was their passion project, and then they perhaps realized that maybe it wasn’t meeting as many user needs as they thought it might and they started doing their own research. And then suddenly this world of UX researchers started to become a real need. There became some value in actually asking users what they needed or wanted or what pain points they had. So I think the two have a very similar parallel, just one’s a little bit older.

Katrina Noelle: Sometimes we say when we’re having this conversation, because this is a conversation that happens a lot in the Bay Area, especially with people who are younger and trying to get into the business, and we get a lot of contacts from people: “How have you guys done it? How can we do this?” And asking us what all these job titles mean: “Why are there so many and it all sounds like they do similar things?” And so kind of unpacking that, I think I have been known to say you can have a user experience with a coffee cup. An experience is an experience with something in the world. And it has sort of gotten this technical veneer put on it because of what Janet said, as sort of how it was born. But if you think about it in essence, we are having experiences with any brand or product or service in our life, really.

Jamin Brazil: I totally agree with that. So let’s talk first about market research and then we’ll talk about user experience research. So when you think about market research, and I’m talking in this case qualitative, because I feel like it’s more, there’s much more overlap there. So in a qualitative market research project, who is the buyer, the internal stakeholder, and then what is the expected research outcome?

Katrina Noelle: I think the buyer really is any brand or company that has a product or service that they want to investigate. So that is very broad, and anyone could be interested in getting research done on their product or service. In terms of the internal stakeholder, we usually work with either an internal consumer insights person or the marketing department or the product team, anything. And those job titles and functions are getting a little fuzzier, too. We’ve just been known to ask now, “Oh, and do you work in this space?” Because we’ve got some really creative company functions now, naming-wise. But usually there’s some sort of marketing focus and/or an insights function if the company is big enough to have one. And so then they are expecting from their qualitative research provider to be given some advice, recommendations, and direction for whatever business decision they are making. So agencies like ours are brought in to help them understand their target audiences better within those specific business or research objectives that they give us to work within, at its very sort of basic level, I think.

Jamin Brazil: Break it down for me just a little bit more simply. If you think about the buyer, and I get that at a corporate level they need to have funds and product and customers, but who inside of the company is actually doing the–job title or function–doing the commissioning of the research?

Katrina Noelle: So I’m going to just, I’m not going to say it simply and I apologize for that. I think what we– Janet has sort of, actually, when she was in a panel with you, used the phrase precision qual. And I actually really think it’s so right right now. It’s whoever within that organization notices a gap in knowledge. So historically we did these big, we have no idea who our customers are. These days, all of these companies have huge amounts of data. But there are gaps. There are ways in which they don’t understand their customer. There are questions that are raised by data analytics. And so often that is when an agency in the qualitative research space is brought in to answer, to go find out that answer. But I would say, I don’t know, Janet, if you have any specific job titles in mind, but I notice there’s usually the word marketing in something or the word insights in something.

Janet Standen: Yeah, also it could be the CEO, to be honest. A lot of people in the decision. I was thinking the project we did where a company was thinking of buying another brand and the board were gonna make this decision and they had a lot of desk research and data throughout the decision, but the– Actually, I think that was the marketing director, I think was her title, rather than CMO, had this sense that it just was not a good fit from a brand point of view. It wasn’t gonna be worth the investment. And she asked us to do a deep dive into this other brand and their brand to understand what the sort of relationship would be between the two brands if they were owned within the same portfolio by this company. And that was incredibly valuable. It really threw up, they would just be stepping on the toes of each other. This new brand wasn’t gonna be bringing any equity that didn’t exist. Indeed, it would almost be dangerous to their core brand. So on paper financially, the board were ready to make a decision, and then we did this day of research and we had the head of R&D and we had the head of marketing and we had a couple of other board members there, and very quickly they realized that from a brand perspective, this would not be a smart investment. So that was definitely sort of led by the director of marketing, but there was the C-suite definitely present for that piece of research to get a sort of consumer perspective on the issue. Which you wouldn’t necessarily think was an opportunity for qualitative research.

Jamin Brazil: That makes a lot of sense. So let’s shift gears a little bit and now think about–I say shift gears a little bit, maybe it’s a lot, that’s the whole point of the conversation–user experience research. So give me a sense of the persona or personas there in the context of who the buyer is; the internal stakeholder, in other words the person that’s leveraging the insight; and then an expected research outcome.

Janet Standen: I think at the core buyer if you could name one, maybe it is a little simpler when you get into UX because it is more focused, it tends to be the director of product or the product manager. And then the team might have the character, the sort of internal stakeholder team would be much more likely to be made up of a data scientist, software engineer, UX designer, and the UX researcher’s role is to bring the sort of voice of the end user into that mix to answer a particular question. So the sort of cast might be slightly different in that particular scenario. But sometimes if it’s a really important decision, it could also bring in the director of marketing and the CEO of that company as well. And often, it’s a small startup and the founder is playing a number of those roles. So it does get messy even in that world. I think the difference is that product is the focus where it’s user experience more often than in the broader context of market research, where it can be brand positioning, communication, and competitive context. And in product terms, you’re siding with the performance of a product or a service, and understanding what features are working better for people or how the product is performing and how to make it better. I think therefore it does have a tighter focus. And I think of market research as being sort of the granddaddy or the broader umbrella, and UX is one part of that broader market research sort of world. And I think of the market as being the people who may buy your product currently or may want to buy your product if they were lucky enough to know about it, or your service or become a member of your club or whatever the area is. And I think product and service design is a core part of that often. So I see it alongside sort of CX research or human-centered design. It comes – design research would come within it as well. It’s all part of the umbrella of market research, because if you’re not developing and designing for your market, your end users, your end consumers, your customers, then I don’t really know what you’re in business for. And maybe a nonprofit is slightly different, but – or a university or some sort of association like that. You might have an even higher calling as to why you’re in business or why you exist. But in general, it’s about meeting the needs of your end users or your target audience.

Jamin Brazil: Right, which is kind of getting to the crux of the question, because if I own a market research company or a user experience company or I’m managing my own career inside of a brand, it’s important for me to understand how I need to position myself in context of achieving my overall goals. So I think about like with your company, it feels like you’re addressing both independent markets, if in fact they are independent. They are independent from a budget perspective. Maybe that’s part of the narrative. What are you seeing as the areas of overlap within the two disciplines, market research and user experience?

Janet Standen: Well, I think there’s a lot of overlap. I guess Katrina may answer this differently. But both disciplines need to understand what the question is they’re trying to answer. So you start with the question of the objective. You both have access to sort of quantitative and qualitative and primary versus secondary research to try and answer that question. Both have a very clear focus on their audience, whether they call them a user or a consumer or a customer or a member or an employee or whoever it is. That focus on the end audience is very common to both. I think both use mixed methods, whether you call it hybrid methods or multi-method. You design a research approach that you believe is going to answer that core question. So I think where market research tends to answer a broader range of questions perhaps, broader context as Katrina was saying before, UX research just has it slightly more tightly defined. And I think there is a lot of overlap. Where there may be creative differences is in the specific language used to describe certain things involved in this UX lexicon that’s being driven by Michele Ronsen. Bless her heart for doing this on behalf of all of us. But where we’re often trying to define a word or piece of terminology, and we’re discovering that we just have different words for the same thing. And that depends whether you come from a sort of UX technology background or whether you come from a sort of consumer product background.

Katrina Noelle: It’s true. There’s so much semantic difference. And having conversations with folks who do work more primarily in other parts of the country, I notice a little bit less differences. There is something to be said for the fact that in the birthplace of tech, some of this has evolved independently without knowing that the other industry existed for a little while. What I notice in terms of a difference is the concentration of the fieldwork, of the interview, of the experience of conducting the research. And I’m going to put a very big caveat on this that every company does this differently, so this is a very broad answer that may not apply to all practitioners. But that there is a focus on the thing, the experience, the product, the app, the device, whatever it may be in user experience. Whereas in market research, we tend to as a usual rule concentrate on the person. And that’s just a slight difference, but it’s like a focusing difference. Because in market research, yes, we want to know if the thing works for the person. But we also want to know all of the context around that person and their needs and their unmet needs, and what surprises and delights them and what ideas they have for improvement, and who they are and how this fits into their life. It’s that broader, bigger context, whereas I have noticed in user experience, there’s a concentration on getting this experience right rather than addressing the needs of the consumer as a whole. So again, that is a very sweeping statement. But I feel like when you get into the research itself, the focus can be different between the industries.

Janet Standen: Yes, I think the truth is we have so much to learn from each other just where you’re coming from. And that’s true of UX researchers and broader market researchers. We often have very diverse backgrounds. They’ve always come from sort of different roles and different places. And actually being able to go to college and do a degree in at least UX research is a relatively recent opportunity, whereas market research has been in the sort of world of universities for a long time. So one is newer than the other, but boy, do we learn so much from each other. And actually a number of our qualitative colleagues who’ve perhaps come from that more traditional space often are now working inside companies as UX researchers, and bringing their broader qualitative skills to the UX world. So I think the crossover is going to get greater and greater. The great news is we can all keep an open mind and learn from each other. And I think things like jobs to be done, it’s just such a great concept. But that didn’t start in the world of tech. Even though a lot of UX researchers will work with jobs to be done, that started – that broader needs and motivations started in the sort of CPG world. But it’s now being applied really effectively within the UX world. And that crossover I think is going to get more and more.

Jamin Brazil: Yes, I definitely agree with you in terms of the crossover. Part of it, the crossover converging I think is centric to discovery of each discipline. So I don’t know if this is actually correct, but an observation I’ve had is that it feels like product really didn’t understand or know about market research or have access to market research. So they just started doing user experience research, and then this birthing took place. And then similarly over in market research, we’re like “oh gosh, that looks a lot like what we do.” But to the point, Katrina, that you made, the nomenclature is very different in both disciplines. And in nomenclature we also see that that embeds in it culture, and the cultures are also very – they seem different to me as well. Can you talk a little – well, first do you agree with that?

Katrina Noelle: Yes, but how cool is that? In its essence, two different industries at different times decided that putting the user of the thing at the focus was a good idea. That’s great. We can talk about naming all we want, but the fact that there are multiple people and industries that want to put the customer first and see value in that, sorry. I just wanted to pause for a minute because that’s –

Jamin Brazil: That is awesome.

Katrina Noelle: That’s a good thing.

Janet Standen: You make smart [INAUDIBLE], right? To put your user or your consumer at the heart of what you’re doing. And yes, I agree. You’re right. That’s the essence of this and those industries, wherever it’s come from. I recognize that. I think what’s interesting, if you look back at the history of market research, if you were working for Nestle or something, to make a product change was a massive investment. It used to take two to three years. If you’re going to have change parts on a production line or if you’re going to try and get the shelf space in a grocery store and knock something else out, get the shelf space from somebody, you didn’t make any decisions likely. You really listened to the needs of your users and consumers all the way through. Whereas if you have an app and it’s a bit of software coding, and you can do it in two or three days, why not just do it and try it and see if it makes it better for the users? So speed is very different, and what you’re actually working with to make change to try and meet the needs of your users better is – that’s really the biggest difference in the equation I think for me.

Jamin Brazil: So going back to the example you gave at the beginning about the video game that was misunderstood, would you classify that as user experience or market research?

Janet Standen: Well, it was certainly user experience in terms of users of the advertising. And those big a-ha moments can come. We did a similar thing for a water jug manufacturer, and that was about the user experience. And this product is the biggest in the sector. It’s been around for years. And in the research program which was not what we were there to look at, when people were handling the jug, there was a real awkwardness about the way they had to hold it with two hands every time they used it to be able to pour this thing. And the designers behind the mirror for the first time ever really got why there was a real need to change. And the design shifted to be about the design of the whole thing, not this one feature that we were there to actually research, because they observed firsthand the awkwardness of their product. And nobody had really done that sort of analysis of the way people were holding it before. So yes, user experience is – we all use things or consume things or buy things or choose things or experience things the whole time, whether that’s a service or a product or a tech app of some sort. We’re all in the business of trying to make things better for our end users.

Katrina Noelle: What I will say though is that this is then part of the problem. Because I think the answer, Jamin, is that it would have been a user experience project or a market research project depending on who was in charge and what agency they hired and what that agency called what they were doing. So sometimes – and keep in mind, we’re also in an industry that we get requests for surveys. And they don’t mean that. They just mean some research. So we already are in an industry of language confusion. And we usually start most calls – people will email us and this is what they would like. And we say, “Can you just tell us what that means to you? What does a survey mean in your organization?” “We just want to talk to some people.” “Great. We can do that.” So I think in terms of lexicon and word choice, we are all in our industry used to asking for clarification, asking for how that company defines what they mean in that area, and honestly building a research program around it, designing something with the best methodology in mind almost regardless of naming. It’s not like there is a very clear landscape in which user experience has confused. It’s already a bit open for interpretation.

Janet Standen: I love that – how often do 300 people come to say “I need some focus groups?” And then you realize that they actually think that market research is running these sort of eight-to-ten-person focus groups. And Katrina, I look at you – we haven’t run one of those in like eight years. They just – I think if you’re doing creative concept generation or brainstorming with a set of consumers, great. You might want eight to ten people in the room and you’d structure it in the way you would if you were doing brainstorming with a stakeholder group of some sort. But the majority of the time, you’re trying to get really the insights from a few people at a time. And I do think that is the difference between market research and sort of UX, where UX tends to talk to only ever one person at a time, unless it’s some sort of creative concept creation workshop or something. Whereas we will actually value the in-depth understanding of each individual, as well as valuing allowing for group discussion to happen. And group discussion is sort of best had with three or four people at a time. And so these smaller mini-groups are definitely the essence of getting some in-depth understanding from individuals, as well as allowing some free-flowing conversation and see where it sort of takes people. And that’s where you get these a-ha moments, a big reveal where you let the people decide what matters to them and what they’re going to talk about with each other. And the role of the interviewer or the moderator changes depending on whether you’re asking some very direct questions or whether you’re actually trying to open things up to allow free-flowing discussion around something.

Katrina Noelle: No, I was going to say that’s one of the things that when I meet a UX researcher who’s grown up in UX, they have this expression of, “I don’t know how you talk to a group of people. Wow. You guys talk to more than one person at a time.” And it’s just so interesting that that feels like such a big difference. Whereas for us, we just walk into the room and however many people are there at a time – one, two, four, six, whatever. So it’s kind of interesting. That’s often a big learning curve in people in UX who are trying to get into a bigger market research role, is understanding that group dynamic component.

Jamin Brazil: Two last questions on that. One is which jobs – there’s outliers here. I realize that the old adage “averages are stupid” because on average, everybody’s a millionaire when Bill Gates walks into a bar. So that’s not what I’m trying to get to. But just from a broad perspective, market research versus user experience, does one of those two job functions pay more inside of the corporation? Do you have visibility in that?

Katrina Noelle: It’s been so long since Janet and I have had the quote-unquote “real job.” Do you know, Janet? I don’t.

Janet Standen: [LAUGHTER] I have no actual visibility of that at all. I have –

Jamin Brazil: You’re the wrong people to ask that question.

Katrina Noelle: If we found out, it might be depressing. I don’t know.

Jamin Brazil: I’m sure it wouldn’t be.

Janet Standen: I will say that I think to be a really excellent market researcher where you have this much broader perspective, you’ve probably done many more types of job in different categories. And you’re learning evolves and grows across all the different things you’ve been involved in, and you bring that knowledge and expertise to the table. If you’re a UX researcher, you tend to have worked, focused on product. You’re applying your skill sets to a new product category. And actually Jamin, we were on a panel together last year at Facebook. I don’t know if you remember that. And at the end of it, a number of younger UX researchers came up to me at the end and said, “My God, I’m just so excited because I’m in my third UX research job, and I’m just wondering where I go next after this. But it sounds like I can apply the skills I’ve learned as a UX researcher to a much broader range of things.” And I’m like “hell yes.”

Jamin Brazil: Welcome aboard. Arms are open.

Katrina Noelle: But that’s a really good point, Janet, because if you think about from market research, if you’re going to get high up in an organization with a market research function, you need not only knowledge of UX. You need qualitative. You need quantitative. You need data analytics. And big data has given a whole other skill set being necessary within market research function. So that probably is true. That is probably a progression or a growth.

Janet Standen: And you’re more focused on the broader business objectives, right? So what are the [INAUDIBLE] ? So you’ve got to understand how the business works, what matters, what impacts what, what the return on investment is going to be. Whereas I think with UX, it tends to be a little more focused on product, which of course is vital. But it’s one part of the bigger – it’s one piece of the puzzle. So I think UX often is filled with a lot of younger people as well who are learning the trade, and it’s a great way to learn qualitative and quantitative skills because you have a clearer focus of what the specific is that you’re trying to make a difference on. Whereas market research can get a little fuzzier. It gets a little broader. I think that’s why the sprints that we run at Scoot Insights have a greater impact, because it’s often a really big, important, hairy question that needs to be answered. And we bring such a breadth of experience to the way in which we tackle that question. And seldom is it just focused on products. It tends to be product as part of a bigger understanding of the brand, its role, how it stacks up against its competitors. And I’m seeing more of this now in the UX and product world as well. You can sort of work out which are your strongest features until you’re blue in the face and fine-tune and make your features better and make your product better. But in the end, the value of what your brand stands for and the emotional relationship that your end users have with that brand is starting to matter a lot. And if you’re Box or Dropbox or Google Drive, how do consumers – how do end users choose between one or the others there when they’re all offering very similar feature sets? It’s starting to matter more, and I think that’s where sort of brand and the broader market context is actually beginning to really impact in the sort of user experience world more than it has in the past.

Jamin Brazil: My guests today have been Janet Standen and Katrina Noelle, Scoot Insights. Ladies, thank you so much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

Janet Standen: Thanks so much, Jamin.

Katrina Noelle: You’re welcome. Thanks for having us.

Jamin Brazil: Absolute pleasure. Everybody else, if you found value like I did, please take time. Screen-capture, share on social media, Twitter, LinkedIn. Tag me. I’ll repost and give you a gift, I promise. Have a wonderful rest of your day. 

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 308 – Rick Kelly, Chief Product Officer at Fuel Cycle on how to Navigate a Successful Career in Market Research

My guest today is Rick Kelly, Chief Product Officer at Fuel Cycle. 

Founded in 2005, Fuel Cycle was started as a community management platform and has evolved into one of today’s leading experience management platforms. 

Prior to joining Fuel Cycle, Rick started his career as a Communications Intern for US Senator Mick Crapo and held a senior leader at Survey Sampling International. 

Find Rick Online:

Website: https://fuelcycle.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rhkelly

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_rickkelly

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil  

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp  

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch  

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp  

Website: www.happymr.com  

Music:“Clap Along” by Auditionauti: https://audionautix.com

This Episode is Sponsored by:

This episode is brought to you by SurveyMonkey. Almost everyone has taken its surveys, but did you know that SurveyMonkey offers complete solutions for market researchers? In addition to flexible surveys, their global Audience panel, and research services, SurveyMonkey just launched a fast and easy way to collect market feedback, with 7 new Expert Solutions for concept and creative testing. With built-in, customizable methodology, AI-Powered Insights, and industry benchmarking, you can get feedback on your ideas from your target market–in a presentation-ready format, by the way–in as little as an hour. For more information on SurveyMonkey Market Research Solutions, visit surveymonkey.com/market-research.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

MrWeb Series – Chris Havemann on Insight in the Mobile Age

This episode is in partnership with MrWeb’s Insight in the Mobile Age segment. 

My guest today is Chris Havemann, CEO of RealityMine.

Founded in 2012, RealityMine is a passive metering technology, enabling the tracking of consumers on multiple devices—across all major platforms—providing a holistic view of their daily lives. Headquartered in Manchester, England, with offices in London and Sydney.

Prior to joining RealityMine, Chris was the CEO of Rated People and the co-founder and CEO of Research Now.

Find Chris Online:

Website: https://www.realitymine.com/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-havemann-19a04b8/

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil  

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp  

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch  

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp  

Website: www.happymr.com  

Music:“Clap Along” by Auditionauti: https://audionautix.com


Jamin: Hi, I’m Jamin Brazil. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. My guest today is Chris Havemann, CEO of RealityMine. Founded in 2012, RealityMine is a passive metering technology enabling the tracking of consumers on multiple devices across all major platforms, providing a holistic view of their daily lives. RealityMine is headquartered in Manchester, England with offices in London and Sydney. Prior to joining RealityMine, Chris was the CEO of Rated People and the cofounder and CEO of Research Now. Chris, thank you so much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


Chris: My pleasure, Jamin. Great to be here.


Jamin: So I’d like to start out with a little bit of context as usual. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about your parents and how they inform what you do today.


Chris: It’s a really interesting question. Without wishing to disrespect my parents, just to give you an idea, my mom was a housewife and my stepdad was a university professor. And in fact, I don’t think I do take much inspiration career-wise from what they did. If anything, I think my inspiration comes from my grandfather, who was a self-made entrepreneur. The only boss he ever had, he says – he used to say was the RAF during the second World War. And I think that seeded somewhere in me an entrepreneurial gene that led to me cofounding Research Now and other things in the world of market research.


Jamin: Did you spend a lot of time with your grandfather?


Chris: Yes, I did. I actually left my parents’ home on my 15th birthday. At the time we were living in Canada, and I moved across the Atlantic back to where I was born in England. And I lived with my grandparents, so my sort of formative teenage years or late teenage years were living with my grandparents.


Jamin: That’s super interesting because I have a similar story. It’s not about me, sorry, but just from a connection perspective, I did a similar thing where I moved out of my parents’ in my mid-teens and in with my grandparents. And my grandfather was instrumental in my life in a very similar way as an entrepreneur, and he had his hands in lots of different things from garden farming to farmers market-type things to dairies, importing and exporting and whatnot. And so is very – I think that the entrepreneurial gene for me really came from his mentorship, and yes. So was he part of or around when you started Research Now?


Chris: Yes, he was. He’s dead now because we started Research Now, myself and Andrew Cooper way back in 2000 actually, or 2003 when we rebranded as Research Now. And he was alive for about another seven or eight years after that, so he saw the early struggle, which I think all entrepreneurs go through. But also, I’m very pleased to be conscious that he also saw the early successes, and when we floated on the London Stock Exchange and so on, he was alive for all that and I think very proud that I’d managed to get a business off the ground with my cofounder.


Jamin: What a great opportunity for him to be able to see that, the initial birthing of the company, and then later on the success of the company. And of course, ultimately selling the business to Research – sorry, selling Research Now to e-Rewards, and then e-Rewards rebranding, which has actually surprised me, as Research Now. Which in many cases you’ll have the – that’s kind of like the tail wagging the dog from a size perspective. I’ve always wondered, why did they rebrand around Research Now?


Chris: It’s an interesting question because as you say, the transaction that happened in 2009 was that e-Rewards, a US private company and leader in the online panel space in the US, bought Research Now, which was a London-headquartered global business which I’d started with Andrew Cooper. And I think the Research Now name is actually – the US team at e-Rewards felt that it was just a better name. Our core client base was market research agencies, and they saw Research Now as a name just spoke very clearly to our core client constituency about what we were about. One of the things we were about of course was the speed of online data collection.


Jamin: And the interesting thing about that is from my vantage point, is e-Rewards came out of actually creating a reward system for airlines and other large companies. And a mechanism by chance that they could provide rewards to their members was through participating in surveys. e-Rewards also is very successful at building the premiere B2B platform. So if you wanted to do research among business professionals, Research Now – or sorry, e-Rewards had those relationships with like I said, large airlines or with business travelers and that sort of thing. And they opened up that space. The relevancy of the name “Research Now,” I think it’s probably still the best name in consumer insights for the reason that you just said, is that there’s always pressure around time and there’s always pressure around efficiency.


Chris: Yes, absolutely. I remember coming up with the name. I was sitting with Andrew and we were thinking what – because we’d started a business called the Mobile Channel, which interestingly was a permission-based mobile advertising proposition. So both e-Rewards and Research Now started about the same time as permission-based, reward-based advertising businesses. And then when those models struggled, both companies pivoted as we now fashionably say, what you do when you nearly bust, into saying, “Well, rather than having an advertising audience that we incentivize to watch advertising or receive mobile advertising, we’ll incentivize these people to do market research surveys as the world transitioned to online.” And we were sitting down talking about what we could rebrand this company from the Mobile Channel, and we came up with Research Now because there were three of us at that time. We thought, “Well, sounds like it could be a big company.” By the time I left we were 1,200 people. But we were three at that point, and we said, “Research online, it’s going to be cheaper. It’s going to be better arguably. But it’s certainly going to be faster, so Research Now. Why wouldn’t you want your research now rather than in three weeks?”


Jamin: It’s perfect. I feel like it’s such a perfect name. Of course, I’m always about the simple connections. So if you can embed that innately inside of a name, from my vantage point it certainly is a nice hack to create immediate connection with the value prop. After leaving I guess e-Rewards/Research Now, you then started Rated People. And then of course, now you’ve got RealityMine, as in gold mine. What do you think your grandfather would say in looking at your current path?


Chris: That’s interesting. I think his main interest would be in probably around me personally, whether I was enjoying it, what my motivations were, which I think is key. When you’ve done something, I moved to Ready People to do something completely different. I left the world of market research for several years, and I was involved in Ready People which is an online platform to effectively find tradespeople. In the US you have Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor. It’s a similar business in the UK. I think you would’ve been just like him, actually. Sort of you do one thing. It’s interesting for a while. Maybe have some success. Maybe you have less success. But your brain sort of spurs you on, your curiosity to do something different. And that’s what I did when I joined – I didn’t actually found Ready People, but I became the sort of professional CEO as it were. And similarly, that’s exactly what’s happened with RealityMine. I found myself back in the research industry. So my grandfather was just the same. He went from one thing to another and very, very different. He opened a hotel and he ran a cafe. He did all sorts of things like that. Nothing to do with data on market research, but a similar journey of different things.


Jamin: What is your motivation? I have to believe having gone through acquisitions and also on both sides, you probably – and I don’t mean to assert this. But you probably did OK financially, meaning that achieving a certain number and then allowing you to live fairly comfortably off of that. And CEO jobs, they’re remarkably stressful. I think everyone would agree in different seasons, of course. Also fun and rewarding and all that kind of thing. But what do you see – what have you identified as that motivator to continue?


Chris: It’s funny, the CEO job. I think as you just said, at times it feels like the worst job in the building. But I think most of the time it’s actually the best job in the building, because you have a I think surprising – as much as anyone has control. And I think that’s a very strange thing to say in this COVID-19 world we’re now in. But relative to a lot of people in a company or in a workplace, you have a lot of control. You have a lot of understanding over the context. I think that for me has always made me feel that as a CEO, it feels less stressful than jobs I had earlier in my career where I was a small cog in a corporate machine.


Jamin: That’s good, and I appreciate the sort of self-awareness of – excuse me – what fits and what doesn’t. The interesting thing to me though around this is that it feels like there must be some high level of joy that warrants the ongoing effort, because it is still a – it’s different than an eight-to-five. It’s almost like a 24-hour, especially – right, yes. In driving that, have you figured out where that joy actually comes from?


Chris: I think it’s the same thing that made me highly competitive, sometimes overly competitive player of games when I was a kid. Whether that’s a family game of Scrabble or a computer game, I like to compete. I like to win. And that sounds quite brutal, but I think some of this is purely I get a lot of pleasure from seeking success, and also the journey being challenging. And so yes, we were very successful at Research Now and we had a fantastic team, and that was a great journey. I took a little bit of time off, but then I wanted to reenter that challenge. And actually the fact that my last job was completely unrelated sector is neither here or there. It’s just like playing a different game, but you play to win. And that certainly motivates me.


Jamin: So RealityMine – give us a little bit of understanding. What is RealityMine’s value prop and who is it delivering it to?


Chris: So RealityMine is a software provider, and we’re firmly, fairly, and squarely in the market research industry. I should come back to sort of why that is. I wasn’t a founder of the business. There were two cofounders and I came along later as a CEO to take the business on to the next growth phase. And what we do is we deploy our software onto typically mobile, but also tablet and laptop devices of market research panelists, and we capture very rich behavioral data. So this is a world of – still a world, like Research Now, of incentivized panels. RealityMine’s software can capture information about the content people are watching. So they might be streaming Netflix on a tablet and we can see that. They might be going on a purchase journey in Amazon or Walmart.com. We can see that. We can see the in-app behavior. So we’re capturing very, very granular behavioral data, which is I would say a massive complement to a lot of the other things going on in the world of market research. As we know, there’s a rich world which has existed for decades of market research measuring stuff – put simply, what media people are consuming, what people are buying mostly. There’s a very rich world of understanding what people are thinking based largely on survey research and so on. And this passive behavioral data is highly complementary to that. But of course, the emergence of the smartphone roughly a decade ago and the huge impact that’s had on our lives as consumers is key and pivotal to why this is so important.


Jamin: The marriage of primary and secondary research is a theme that I have identified in 2019. And it was one of two of the most material – whenever I’d have a guest from a brand on, which is about 50% of the time, the guest would across the board say that one of their biggest challenges is being able to connect consumer behavior data, or transactional data or what have you, third-party data, to their primary research in a way that provides richer context of the insight. Then that richer context obviously leverages – told with a compelling story, then can be leveraged in the organization for action. So it really is seen as this piece that used to be a nice-to-have, but is now a requirement for researchers to present – one, understand it, and ultimately present the right sort of recommendations from their research. I’m really curious on who your buyer is inside of this new world at the brand level. Or is it actually at the agency level?


Chris: No, it’s at the agency level. A lot of the clever stuff, that integration of – and I think that’s a theme of today’s insight world, is a fragmentation of techniques and a need to integrate different techniques, different types of data to get to the fast insight. That clever stuff is done by our clients. So we’re providing software which sits on panels, and we don’t own the panels. What the software does is it captures this rich behavioral data, but our client is the market researcher. Typically in a large market research agency, so a lot of our clients are the big global MR players, the household names like Ipsos and so on. But also we work for lots of innovative smaller agencies. And the big use cases are around measurement, particularly of video. I think there’s – I’m not sure what the latest statistic is. But if you think about people watching video in Asia for example, the majority of that viewing is happening on mobile phones. It’s not happening on TV. So the world of measurement, if you think through the lens of TV ratings, you’re missing the picture in terms of what’s happening with video. And even here in Western markets, particularly if you look at younger demographics – if I think about my 18-year-old son, he doesn’t watch a lot of television. He watches a lot of YouTube. He watches a lot of Netflix, and that’s mostly on his phone or his laptop. And I think that explosion of change in behavior is causing a need for measurement, so researchers who are into the world of measuring media and need tools like RealityMine. Similarly you have researchers who are thinking about journeys towards purchasing, and of course we now live in this omnichannel world. I think – well, we used to live in this omnichannel world until the COVID-19 outbreak. Now we live in a surprisingly digital world. But let’s assume they go back to some semblance of normality. Consumers clearly have this massive array of choices and influences in terms of how they end up buying Product X-Y-Z in a certain category in a certain location or digital space. And our technology helps complement the offline world knowledge with the digital journeys that people are making on their devices, and of course a cross-device.


Jamin: If I’m like a boutique research agency, how accessible is your tool? Because it sounds like it’s doing a lot, which for me intuits it’s super expensive. And it might be, and that’s OK. Is it something that smaller agencies are able to leverage?


Chris: Absolutely. We have some very small agencies doing qualitative projects. So they might – you typically think of that in the old days as focus groups and so on. But we have agencies like Flamingo who are using our tool and they may be deploying an app which we provide to a small group of people, maybe 50 people within a category. I don’t know. Sports shoe buyers or whatever it might be. And they’re using that rich data to draw a picture of the lives of these sport shoe users. Maybe these are running enthusiasts or whatever. I think what is different is the kind of data the technology provides. So yes, there’s a question of how do you get the data? How do you engage a panel? What about all the privacy issues? We could talk about that. But I think back to your question, a really interesting question is can that agency handle the type of data that metering technology outputs? Researchers are used to dealing with typically survey data. That’s a well-known and loved and understood thing after decades and decades and decades of survey research, long before online. The kind of data our technology provides is millions of rows at individual events. So from this timestamp to that timestamp, this person or this idea using this device did X-Y-Z. They viewed Netflix for 14 minutes or whatever it might be. And you’ve got to have a certain capability to manipulate huge amounts of data and integrate it with other types of data to bring it to life. So very much depends upon the skills of the agency currently we’re working with, and their ability to handle that type of data is really what drives the answer to your question.


Jamin: So you give them the actual data. Are you also providing the analytics tools? Are they leveraging some combination of R or Python or something like that?


Chris: That mostly happens client-side. So we deploy – our technology could be deploying onto a panel either as an app or as an SDK. So in a perfect world for example, a client has – they have their own panel. They have a native mobile app within the panel. It might be a native survey app. If you think of panels like MFour in the US, huge US panel. But it’s all native mobile, so it’s all Android and iOS. In the MFour world, our technology is deployed as an SDK. And that data arrives at MFour, millions and millions of rows. But the analytics, we have done some work with some clients around for example dashboarding. We have developed some tools that allow the data sets to be queried and actually to return in the format of survey data, as if you’d surveyed someone to capture their behaviors if they were self-reporting on their behavior. But for the most part, it’s agencies that do the heavy lifting in terms of analytics.


Jamin: That makes perfect sense. Thank you. So – excuse me. So you touched on COVID-19, obviously probably the single biggest event that will ever – you and I will encounter in our lifetime at a global level. How do you think coming out of this – do you have any predictions on how we will be different?


Chris: Yes. It’s an interesting question. I think there’s been a lot of comment in the media about “things will never be the same again,” and assertions that for example markets like business travel might never really go back, that people will get used to these endless Zoom meetings and decide they like it and so on. I think some of that’s overblown. I think a lot of things that people like doing for all sorts of reasons, they’ll return to doing what they like doing, whether that relates to their work patterns or their personal patterns. But I think a lot depends on the lockdown and how long the world remains in a lockdown or semi-lockdown state. We have to learn new habits. Clearly there are some things which will have ratcheted. So for example, I think there are some people who are still maybe reticent to do online shopping in certain categories. Maybe if you’re doing – we call it – I don’t know if you call it DIY in the US, but a DIY project around the home. Maybe you’ve used your time in the garden to, I don’t know, buy some materials. And you used to go to your local DIY store or your hardware store and buy stuff. You can’t do that right now. Turns out you can do it very easily online. It gets delivered. And “hey, why didn’t I do that before?” And I think there will be some categories, maybe food or similar, grocery retail where we will see a systematic step change and a move towards online and digital. But I think – I don’t know. Maybe I’m a luddite, but I think a lot of us will return to old, familiar patterns if we’re able to.


Jamin: It’ll be interesting to see how it materializes. I’m very split aspirationally on what I want and what I think is going to wind up happening. But I tend to agree with you that the activity levels and the things that we used to do, travel, et cetera, that’s certainly not long-term. It should go back to normal.


Chris: One thing you said, Jamin, that was interesting was this is the biggest event, this COVID-19, in our lifetime. And I think that’s almost certainly true. We don’t know, but almost certainly true from a sort of short, almost tactical perspective. Arguably there’s a bigger thing happening, but it’s the frog being slowly boiled in the pot, which is climate change. And I think there’s an interesting question. Will we see intersections between those things? So if you think about airline travel for example, it could be because of the financial impact of COVID-19 and the impact on capacity in the industry, and the impact on things like distancing within planes that we may see – and people’s reticence to travel. I think we may see systematic change in the airline industry related to less flying, less people on aircraft, higher-priced flying. I think that actually could be here to stay, and it will actually – the environmental pressures that were there will only be released to accelerate, I think.


Jamin: Yes, that’s on point. You and I have gone through for the last – as a community have gone through this crazy “everybody flies” period so that airlines have just been leveraging the heck out of that with seat space getting smaller and smaller, ridiculously small. And I’m not even a tall guy. It’s small. And now the opposite. Plenty of leg room, I have to believe.


Chris: Reaching on both sides and can’t touch anyone.


Jamin: It’s kind of crazy. So in this coming out of it, I think there should be more appreciation of the customer from the airline perspective. But then as you’re articulating the pollution and greenhouse gases emissions, they’ve fallen. It’s well-documented. You have these emotional things with dolphins back in. So all of this is creating this beautiful or natural – I can see – so just in my life, the skies are clearer right now where I live than they have been in decades. And it’s amazing. It’s a marvelous thing. I can see the Sierras, which normally I can’t see from my house, and it’s just like they’re part of my backyard landscape. Exactly. It’s such a unique time. And so yes, I think that’s an interesting assessment that you’re making. And obviously our hopes are aligned that that’s something that gets a lot of attention, more attention going forward. So thinking about actually the market research space in a post-COVID environment, because at some point this has to blow over. How will the market research space be different over the next few years?


Chris: I think it’s interesting. It’s always tempting to think that everything’s changing. It’s happening so fast. And I think you’ve got to step back. What are the fundamentals that probably remain the same and remain the same over many decades? And I think some of those things, needing to follow the consumer to deliver insight – if we think of that as the part of the purpose of the market research industry, I guess that doesn’t change. But the question is “but how do you do that?” I think we see trends. And so for example, the existence of RealityMine as a player in the industry is simply because a decade ago, the smartphone came along. And suddenly there was this tool which was radically changing consumer behavior. If I can just go off on a tangent, and I think everyone knows this, but a couple of years ago I went to my first Tinder wedding where the couple met on Tinder. They met through their mobile phones. People are managing their lives through their mobile phones in terms of their social lives, social media. They’re learning, educating themselves on these devices. They’re reinforcing political opinions through the social media platforms and so on. They’re watching stuff on these devices. They’re buying stuff on these devices. So huge consumer change, and so RealityMine has emerged to help – one of many companies of course capturing that, helping capture and understand the opportunity. And I guess a key thing will be to see, “Well, what else is the consumer doing? What is changing, whether that’s in terms of how it communicates or whatever we’re doing?” That will drive some of the change. I also think one of the things going on is that competition on the industry has become more and more intense. If I think back over my career, I can really think of it as the pre-2000, pre-digital, pre-Internet career and the post-2000, post-Internet career. And I think the digitization of the world has created this sort of massive – you could think of it as a test-and-learn capability for companies. Because of digital, everything’s measurable. So one form of getting insight is just do something and see what happens. So I think if you think about your average corporate employee, they’re thinking “where do I get my insight from?” Their immediate thought is not necessarily, “I’ll call up a big market research agency and ask for a report in six weeks on topic X-Y-Z.” They’ll learn by doing. And I think that’s a trend, and I think that’s driving greater complexity, prep time pressure on researchers. And that’s only going to accelerate. So coming back to your question, “How will the space look in five years’ time? What’s going to change?” I think some of those inexorable pressures around greater and greater scope of issues to cover, fragmentation of data collection possibility, the need to weave in different methodologies and techniques to drive insight, that’s only going to accelerate. And unfortunately I think it’s going to accelerate at the same time as clients want inevitably more for less, because many times they’ll see other ways of getting to the insight that they want. So a broad, sweeping generalization, but that’s how I see it.


Jamin: So you are interacting on a regular basis with leaders in the insight space, agencies specifically. What are the biggest issues or the biggest issue that they are facing today?


Chris: I think it’s a really good question. I think if you think about the largest agencies, there are honorable exceptions that are in growth mode. Well, if we think of the pre-COVID-19 period at least. So Ipsos for example is still growing organically. But if you look at the other research majors in general, they’re contracting. And I think you’ve got to step back and ask yourself, “Why is that? What is happening with those agencies?” And I think we’re just living in this period of unprecedented change. The age-old media silos that needed to be measured, whether that’s TV or print or radio, those silos have broken down. If you think about your readership of news, clearly it’s not about measuring newspaper readership. You might be finding yourself reading something because, I don’t know, Twitter sent you an email. You click through a link and suddenly you’re reading an article on Fortune. You didn’t really think about that until you got the email and clicked through. How can that be measured accurately? That’s a difficult problem. So I think the world of measurement is facing a lot of challenges. And similarly, the world of trying to understand the consumer is facing challenges for all sorts of reasons, and the pace of change of the consumer and the different ways of reaching that consumer, like often on survey research. So I think the traditional methods of capturing and analyzing data are under tremendous pressure. So I think the short answer to your question is clients are finding themselves needing to innovate and innovate faster. Yet as ever, when industries face structural change, they sort of cling to things that they know, techniques that they know. Or revenue streams that they’ve had for many, many years they’re trying to defend, and defending those revenue streams while innovating aggressively is very challenging. So I think a lot of clients in the larger universe of MR agencies see those issues, and I think that’s well-understood. I think that also of course throws out lots of opportunity for smaller, innovative, nimble guys with nothing to lose. So I think a lot of the innovation you’re seeing is coming from smaller businesses. RealityMine would be an example of that, but there are many, many, many as we know within the sector who are really coming at it with a different angle, a different technique. But it’s still going to leave a massive scope for great market researchers to integrate the best capabilities and the best methodologies and keep their clients happy, which is ultimately the goal of all of us.


Jamin: I have been actually very impressed with Ipsos as an organization, both before and right now. They’ve done a remarkable job of differentiating themselves. I don’t know exactly what’s part of their secret sauce, but it has been exciting to watch that large agency. Because most people would say that right now is not the time of the large agency, but they continue to become a remarkable player in the space.


Chris: I think I have a view on that, which is I think we know about Ipsos that a lot of the growth, historically the way that company’s been built has been by acquisition. But I think in managing those acquisitions, there’s been quite a lot of focus on the financial entrepreneurs and accountability locally, whether that’s geographically locally or locally within a business unit. And I think at times that may have looked from afar as not necessarily the best strategy compared to maybe a global common product approach, whatever it might be. But actually when times are being disrupted, if you’ve got a local person that cares about their business, so the line of business that’s accountable to the top of the organization, that’s potentially very powerful. I think that is one of the things going on at Ipsos.


Jamin: It’s super interesting. That’s a whole ‘nother topic on the podcast, which would be actually fun, tactics and strategies around successful M&A.


Chris: Absolutely.


Jamin: But having said that, you’re absolutely right. It’s just an amazing story. Also – anyway, oh my gosh. It’s hard for me not to go down that rabbit hole. But –


Chris: I agree.


Jamin: – we’re also capped on time. So I want to get to my next question. Part of my audience are aspiring insight professionals. So they’re either in a master’s program like at Michigan State or Georgia or wherever and they’re getting ready to get a job relatively soon, or they’re looking at pivoting in their careers. What do you see as three characteristics of an all-star employee?


Chris: That’s a great question. I think all businesses are people businesses, and so at the end of the day, our businesses are all about our teams. One thing I would say, and I think the word is overused, but I would use the word “passion.” I think some of us have been very fortunate that going to work as a joy for the most part. Not always, but it’s a joy. And why is it a joy? Because we love what we do. We’re doing what we choose to do. We care about what we’re doing. And I think I’d encourage particularly young people to try and find – it’s obvious, but try and find work and try and find careers that inspire you and have a passion for what you’re doing. I think that really resonates with founder entrepreneurs. When you start a business as you know yourself, you really, really, really care about everything about that business. And so you’re very much warm to people that also show a care, almost a love for the business that they’re helping you create and develop. So I think that passion about the business and the team and what you’re doing is incredibly important. You don’t want people who are sort of disinterested half the time in what they’re doing, which is pretty obvious. The second trait I’d raise is curiosity, actually, a kind of intellectual curiosity. So clearly you want smart people, but I think you want smart people that are sort of restless about trying to understand why and get to the bottom of, not just assume. We live in this very I guess – I’m a believer in a world of shades of gray and complexity and fragmentation. And I think trying to get to a deep understanding about things is a very powerful trait. And then the final thing I’d add to your all-star list is to be a team player, which again is – a lot of people talk about being a team player. But at the end of the day, we go to work – no one wants to go to work and have a lousy time. And part of what makes work fun is the people that you work with, that they’re in general – everyone has a bad day, but they’re supportive. They’re fun people. They care about the team. They look after each other. It’s not about them. It’s not about their ego. It’s about what they achieve. And so I think if you can inculcate that within your culture, it’s a very powerful thing as we all know. So my three were passionate, curious, and team player.


Jamin: Last question. What is your personal motto?


Chris: It’s an interesting question, Jamin. I don’t really think I have one. I think one thing that my grandfather used to say that I think I’ve picked up on was if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. And I think that’s something I certainly think about, even now in lockdown when I’m outside cleaning the patio. I’m either not going to do the job at all, or I’m going to do it really, really thoroughly. And I think when I reflect back, that’s one of the things I believe in. So I either don’t do things because I don’t want to do them, or I guess more importantly in the business context, they don’t feel that important. Or they do feel important, which case you should really go to town on doing them well. So if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.


Jamin: My guest today has been Chris Havemann, CEO of RealityMine. Thank you, Chris, for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.


Chris: My pleasure. Thank you so much. I enjoyed it.


Jamin: Everyone else, if you found value in this episode like I did, I hope you’ll take time, screen-capture, share it on social media. If you tag us in the post on Twitter or LinkedIn, I will send you a T-shirt. Make sure you tell me your size. Have a great rest of your day.