The Power of Authentic Storytelling

Storytelling is important.

In today’s world, the breadth of channels for telling stories is broad, and we are exposed to many more stories than we have been in the past. Research has always been in the business of telling stories but may not have always put a strong emphasis on telling a good story in a compelling way. The issue with storytelling in research is that a well told story can lead to strong action and decisiveness, but if some of the details are inaccurate or the conclusion is biased, teams can be much worse off.

The implication here is that we need to focus on the authenticity of the inputs to the story as much as we do in ensuring that the story itself is told well. Here are some tips for discovering and sharing a powerful insights story.

  • Focus on context and behavior: Consumers don’t always have an accurate view of what we do or how we will react. Gaining learning from people authentically primed by their real environment is critical for getting genuine data.
  • Ensure there is breadth and depth: Breadth is helpful in understanding themes, norms, etc. while also being useful in determining what is a breakthrough nugget that connects dots versus a potent outlier or distraction. Depth is needed to get to a level where those nuggets can be uncovered.
  • Bring humanity and humility (without forgetting the smarts): Humanity and humility are important attributes for researchers to possess in order to authentically connect with consumers and truly listen to their thoughts and opinions while remaining open to surprises in what is seen or heard. Using our smarts, we translate this data into insights and then these insights into recommended action.
  • Tell the story well: It is important to ensure the story is told succinctly and in a compelling way so that the key insights and recommendations are understood, and the team is motivated to act on them. Don’t sell your good insights short.

What story are you needing to discover and tell? From empathy to innovation and packaging to shopper insights, we have a team with solutions that cultivate authentic inputs while also knowing how to tell that story well.

Is the Road to Success Paved with Social Activism?

A few months ago, we looked at an article that analyzed the autonomous relationship that Unilever had with its acquisition, Ben & Jerry’s. The team at the ice cream giant was adamant that they continue with their longtime commitment to social causes and hoped to influence their corporate overlord in the future. And it seems that it may have worked.

Does Selling Out Mean What it Used To?

At a market research conference, Unilver CEO Paul Polman stressed the importance to social issues and stated that, “by prioritizing social issues, business success will follow.” With the increasing presence of Millennials in the workplace, companies are starting to take note of the values of these employees. This burgeoning workforce wants to work for an employer they can believe in; they want a workplace that values social activism and volunteering; they want to work for a  company that gives back to the consumers it profits from. It’s a stark contrast to the traditional view of profiting for the shareholder who in turn might return their profits to the greater community.

So what, then, will be the future decisions of employers? And, if they decide to prioritize social responsibility as company value, how do they determine and come to agree on a shared social mission? At REAL Insight, we have organized a number of team volunteering events at local charities, and plan to continue doing so each quarter. However, with a team of less than twenty, coming together on such an endeavor is a relatively easy prospect for us. In larger companies with hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of employees, how realistic is it to align on and execute a social mission?

One way to activate a large group of people is to come together as an industry. Last year, a group of researchers created the Marketing Research Education Foundation in order to bring this sense of activism to the marketing research industry. MREF strives to pool the community’s resources to educate children worldwide. Though still relatively new, they hope to expand their reach with grants and service opportunities for researchers to come together and work towards a common good.

Polman asserts that supporting social issues leads to—rather than is the result of—business success, but for traditionally structured corporations, that may be a hard pill to swallow. At the end of the day, the end goal will always be profit, but as younger and younger faces enter the workforce, shifting priorities may alter the best way to get there.

-Quinten McGruder, Director of Business Operations