IIeX North America 2019 Podcast Series

IIeX NA 2019 Conference Series – Patricia Houston – MMR Live

Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Patricia Houston, Founder and Chief Operating Officer at MMR Live.

Contact Patricia Online:


MMR Live


Patricia Houston.  We were live at IIeX.  MMR Live is the name of the company.  She is the founder and Chief Operating Officer.  Enjoy the episode.


My guest today on the Happy Market Research Podcast is Patricia Houston; MMR.Live is where you find them online.  Tell me a little bit about what you guys are doing.


Sure.  So, MMR Live is only about ten months old now.  We’re a startup within an established market research company that’s 20 years old, MMR Research, the ones in Atlanta, not the UK.  But our focus is on experience. So we’re on a mission to improve every experience, be that retail, digital, physical events. That’s my world, and that’s where we love to live.     


Perfect.  Like an older company…  And now, is it a rebrand or a division?  


Division, a new team.  And partly why I did it…  It’s not just my passion ‘cause my background is in experiential marketing.  That’s how I started as bringing my two careers together. But it’s also about future-proofing.  So, if we think about all the consolidation we’ve seen in the panel space, you know panel is changing; it’s always going to continue to change.  So how long until panel is no more? And getting somebody to answer one direct feedback question is too much?     




That’s what we’re trying to solve for.


That’s a really interesting point right now.  I don’t know if you heard the Greyhound presentation.




So, they were talking about when they were going through the activation stage of their research, they wound up moving from a 20-minute longitudinal study to a 2-minute survey.  And – this is what’s interesting – they saw no degradation of insights that they were able to get out of between the two. So, there was like no negative tradeoff, except that it was a much better experience and the data that they pulled out of the 2-minute survey was so accessible to the larger organization they improved their net promoter score by 20 points. 


Oh, that’s incredible.


It just speaks to the importance of thinking about a respondent’s point of view and the better that we do, I think, servicing them, then the better their information is that they’re going to provide us to do stuff. 


And that’s right, and it’s all part of your brand, right?  So every interaction you have with the consumer, even if it’s a research survey, that’s part of your marketing.  It’s part of your brand-building.  


It’s so funny that you bring this up.  So, actually my first brand plant was a company called Intuit, is a company called Intuit, which, of course, you’ve heard of (QuickBooks, Quicken), largest S&B company, I believe.  So, they started their research-based organization. If you know anything about the up-and-comings of that company, market research is a core tenet; consumer insights is a core tenet.  One of the things that I found that was real interesting as I was working with them as they were installing online surveys in the early 2000s as the main way of doing consumer insights:  we were touching about each customer 1 to 2 times a year, and some customers as many as 16 times in a year. Now, we were touching those customers almost as much as marketing was touching the customer.   


That’s right, and if you add those marketing touch points on top of your touch points…


Huge win.


Yeah, I mean what is that?  Picking the right context…  We’re actually doing some work now pro bono with the Zoo–Atlanta.  We’re based out of Atlanta, so Zoo–Atlanta.  They are in a big period of construction. So they engaged us, knowing that their member base is a group of people they really need to retain.  So, we’ve come in. They did have an ongoing survey, and it was similar to what you talked about: the 20-minute, have to ask all these strategic questions after every visit.  Our advisement to them was, “Hey, guys, we can really shorten this. Let’s pull some of this stuff out. We’ll do a strategic study once a year. We don’t have to ask those questions all the time,” and helped them really focus to understand how to protect that member base.        


Oh, I love that.  So, you were part of the company before the MMR.Live or were you brought in when that division was started?


No, I’m part of it.  So, I’ve actually been with MMR Research for almost nine years now.


Got it.


So, yeah, this is just my newest project.


Got it. Totally.  How’s it going?


It’s going well.  We feel like we did a little pivot a couple of months ago and realized that the work that we thought we were going to be doing, which was more live events, probably not the right space to start.  We’ve been working a lot with service designers, innovation teams, R&D teams. That’s kind of a sweet spot for us. But seems like things are starting to click, and we’re going to put a rebrand out soon or refresh, excuse me.  (Not changing the name or anything) So we’re excited for what the summer can hold.    


That’s very exciting.  What does your ideal customer look like?


That’s a great question.  In terms of where we’re heading for now, there’s two.  So, most of the time, it’s not a researcher. So, we bring the research expertise to the table.  Frankly, we might work through the research department, but it’s in-store environment teams, innovation teams, R&D, probably more in the service side, less the product side.  Either them or we’re also working with experiential agencies, experiential brand owners.


Interesting.  How was the show for you guys?


The show’s been good.  This is my fifth year here at IIeX, the North America show.  And it’s always a tech partnership hunt for us because…


What are you looking for?


It’s a little bit different this year than it has been in the past.  We don’t have any of our own tech. So we need folks, and it’s hard to find that are going to enable us to do in-person research in the moment with technology.  I’d love more offline options. And I can find some ‘cause we do no panel work; parent company does. Most of our work is not online; we’re in-person; we’re actually talking to folks.  So more human technologies. Like this year there’s always the proliferation of like the automated sample or the automated stuff, which I think is very important work in the MR space.   




But from our standpoint, it’s more about bringing the human back in.  


Got it.  I like that a lot.  If you think about what market research has historically been, it’s just a conversation at scale, and it’s largely just a logistics exercise, especially when you start moving in the survey world.  What I’m seeing and have been for the last three, four years is a rise of quantitative. I reduce it down to the A-B testing and this versus that. And the problem that is we don’t understand the “why.”  And so, through that human connection, you can start getting… And there’s something that’s different with like you and I, sitting across from each other like we are right now versus me sending you a set of questions and you responding to them in an email, right?  This is such a different experience. You and I both are going to be able to, and even the audience is going to be able to pull some real interesting stuff out of this conversation. So, you wouldn’t otherwise if I just provided some transcripts of your answers.  


That’s right, and the scale thing is interesting ‘cause the DraftKings presentation (I’m not sure if you caught that on Day 1)…  She was actually talking about (Annie was her name) talking about how they have integrated with R&D and product teams and the data’s messy; there’s a lot of observation, small sample size.  And guys, that’s OK.




It’s still questions.  All this UX, IX, CX, MRX – we’re all just asking questions.  


Totally.  I love that.  That’s a great one to go out on.  If somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


Sure.  You’ve mentioned they can reach us on the web at MMR.Live.  If they’d like to shoot me an email, PHouston (like the city) @MMR.Live as well.   


Patricia Houston, MMR Live, thanks so much for being on the show.


Appreciate it.  Thanks so much.


All you Happy Market Researchers, do me a favor and “Like” this episode.  Go on the platform of your choice. Also, screen shot, share it on social media.  It’s how other people like you are able to find it. I really appreciated it. This is Jamin Brazil signing off for what, I think, is the last episode I’m going to be doing for IIeX in Austin.  Have a great rest of your day.