Note to self:

I love the MRS Conference. I love spending two days surrounded by my comrades. I love my annual catch-ups with the same people I always vow to have lunch with within the next 365 days, and then don’t. I feel lucky that it’s become part of my annual social (and intellectual) calendar.

I love the fact that however hard the organising committee strive (I assume) to lay ‘theme’ across submissions and sessions (this year it was Impact with a capital ‘I’), it’s often delightfully hijacked by global and local fissures along with the sheer will, velocity, and personality of the keynote speakers – who in my view were more stellar this year than ever before.  Okay, it might have been cheaper to watch some TED talks or go to a ‘how to…’ event to see people like Oliver James, Caitlin Moran, Dan Snow, and Hannah Fry…but choosers shouldn’t be sniffy beggars.

The themes that bubbled up eloquently amongst the speakers and panellists (and are now simmering away in my intellect):

  • You should say the word disruption a lot nowadays. If you say disruption with emphasis, you will look as if you are a disruptor. That makes you look like a jolly good thing and quite an important person. I am not very disruptive.
    Note to self: work on that.
  • Being ethical is also a jolly good thing. The more ethical you are, the more people will like you and the more they will buy your stuff if you are a big company.
    Note to self: hone ethics.
  • The internet might implode soon. Or it might not implode soon, but something has to happen at some point because all the famous people who are on the internet are tired of the lawless wild wester-y (or should that be Westeros?) of it all. I have yet to be trolled so I probably shouldn’t complain.
    Note to self: don’t comment – just in case. 
  • Being a woman is another good thing. If you were a woman at this year’s conference you were lauded and celebrated for simply turning up. I’m totally up for sisterhood in principle. I’m just not great at group hugs.
  • Finally, David Bowie will reign long in the hearts and minds of researchers. I pity the other dearly departed of the last year as they quite simply didn’t get a mention. Who knew market research was so zig and zag? Maybe it happened when I wasn’t looking. 
    Note to self: be more Bowie.

Clipboards? What clipboards?

There’s a running joke within the research industry. It’s that nobody grew up planning to be here – we all just sort of fell into it. So whose role is it to attract fresh young talent to our industry? There is so much for market research to be proud of and we must start shouting about what we do.

On Monday, I spoke at the MRS Graduate Roadshow. It’s an initiative led by Ken and Trish Parker. The roadshow travels,with recently graduated researchers, to universities across the country. They introduce and explain our roles along with the type of projects/brands we work on. The group of marketing students I met at Oxford Brookes love brands but actually knew very little about market research.

There is still a certain ‘clipboard on the street’ stigma attached to our industry – and many people associate us with it. For this particular group of students who claim to love brand strategy and development, there was much confusion around what market research is. Perhaps in line with their out-dated perceptions.

After talking to them for 15 minutes, explaining the broad work we do, I certainly got the feeling they begun to understand the exciting opportunities within research. They were actively embracing the possibility of being able to work on multiple brands across varied projects. These students are looking into careers in branding/advertising/marketing when, in fact, much of what they’re interested in is covered by research.

The MRS Graduate Roadshow is doing great work at highlighting consumer research and the influential work we do, but I think it’s time for stronger action. As an industry do we take enough credit for it? Let’s stand up, be proud, and start turning heads!

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Losing interest in traditional banking

A few weeks ago I lost’ my purse in GAP on Oxford Street. Reluctant to immediately cancel my cards and be card-less for a week, I searched up and down for over an hour before officially declaring it stolen. Then on to the arduous task of cancelling it – phoning HSBC, listening to some irritating music, verifying various passwords, talking to an operator…only to be told that my most recent logged payment was over two days prior. Good to know that whichever thief nicked my card had a free pass to go on an hour’s spending frenzy with my money without being traced!

Traditional banks seem so backward and inefficient, particularly in light of a new wave of extremely smart, digital banking. Over half the people at Razor own a Monzo card. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s a startup mobile-only bank that allows you to track your purchases via an app, create budgets, transfer money at the click of a button and freeze your card temporarily if you misplace it. Honestly, it’s amazing!

Although Monzo has yet to launch a current account (they say it’s in the offing), the fact that people are experimenting with new ways of banking goes to show consumers are ready to say goodbye to traditional banks and welcome modern alternatives that will offer them a superior experience.

I’ve also just discovered Curve. It’s essentially a money hub; a personal card which is controlled by an app that holds all your credit and debit cards so you can select which card you want to use and when. I love the idea of one day not needing to own a purse and having everything in one place.

The landscape is changing. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited by this new, seamless way of banking. I wonder how traditional banks are going to react to these emerging companies and whether they will even exist in years to come.

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Is ‘clean’ a dirty word?

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In 2016, #cleaneating was all the rage. In fact, it was the most Googled diet term last year and became a social media sensation. But it seems that the tide is turning with a steady slew of criticism directed at this movement.

The recent Clean Eating – the Dirty Truth  BBC2 documentary goes some way to discredit this way of eating. It does it by focussing on the lack of evidence behind its ‘pseudoscience’, with celebrities and bloggers looking to distance themselves from it.

Jumping on the bandwagon, KFC released a spoof video announcing the launch of a ‘clean eating burger’ (in fact, their new Dirty Louisiana burger). KFC is tapping into a growing fatigue around the #cleaneating trend. How patronising to imply that if you’re not eating spiralised boiled chicken or raw baby kale that you’re eating ‘dirty’!

It’s interesting to see a brand taking a stance against the health revolution rather than just adapting. For brands that lack any real health associations or credentials, the way forward may well be to stay true to their DNA by embracing and celebrating our indulgent moments and guilty pleasures with consumers. Why not give to us what so many of us (secretly!) want? A good old fashioned ‘dirty’ burger, not a flavourless healthy spin-off.

Here at Razor, we are busy updating our ‘Healthy Eating’ segmentation and are mindful of how easy it is to get swept up in all this health hype. We can’t forget about the mass of less-engaged or disciplined ‘healthy’ eaters that exist – or those ‘naughty’ moments we choose not to broadcast on Instagram that are often ‘forgotten’ about!

Which brands are talking to us then?  


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