As you might expect, the room was SRO for Tuesday morning’s chat between Communispace’s Diane Hessan and Coke’s Stan Sthanunathan on this second day of the Market Research Event.
Sthanunathan, master of the quotable research bon mot, didn’t disappoint. While he warned the audience, “I don’t have a filter between my brain and my mouth,” his comments weren’t shocking or controversial – just typically commonsense and self-evident, much like the types of insights he exhorted researchers to deliver to their internal clients.
• He urged researchers to keep presentations fact-based rather than fact-filled. Don’t start your slide deck with five slides on methodology. Your audience assumes you know what you are doing and doesn’t need to be told how you did it. Focus on delivering insights rather than background on process. “Tell them something they didn’t know before,” he said.
• Hessan asked him what part of the research function he outsources. “Process,” he said. “I hate process. I will outsource process but I will never outsource thinking.”
• What are some of the best kinds of research? Immersive methods that bring you closer to your consumer, he said. It certainly isn’t trackers, it seems, for which he has little use. “No one has ever reached their destination looking in the rearview mirror,” he quipped. Instead of depending on methods that chronicle what happened in the past (types of research he said were as addictive as crack for most companies), look forward. Marketing research’s job is to imagine a future and help the organization get there.
• Coke has had great success lately hiring people from non-traditional backgrounds, he said. He cited a story of his interview with a prospective member of the insights team in which the conversation focused for the entire hour on her experience playing the cello. Hearing her skill at telling a story and aware that the cello is typically not an orchestra’s lead instrument, Sthanunathan saw her as someone who could both translate research findings into compelling information and also be a team player. It was, he said, one of the best hires he ever made.