The role of brands & insights during a
Chief Research Officer
• An indefinite New Normal
• Not just a recession
• Hitting the Pause Button
• Why organisations need research
• What research should stop
• What research should happen
• Business options for the crisis
• Protecting the ecosystem
• Some tips
• Q & A
3An indefinite ‘New Normal’
• How long? We don’t know
• How severe? We don’t know
• What rules? We don’t know
The ‘New Normal’ is uncertainty, and it is an
indefinite ‘New Normal’
Weeks? Months? Years?
Not just a recession
• How long? We don’t know. Spanish Flu lasted two years and three winters, SARS lasted one year
• Billions locked down, about one-third of global population
• Millions laid off – some with money, some without
• Millions working from home – and not spending
• Millions working flat out – at risk, e.g. nurses, police, checkout operators – and not spending
• Many not trading – e.g. ski resorts, cinemas, restaurants, pubs, clothing stores, clothing manufacturers – variable by country
• Many flat out – e.g. retailers, pharma companies, and toilet paper manufacturers
• Many scrambling to operate in the New Normal – e.g. restaurant chain with take-away and delivery now wholly dependent on delivery
Hit the Pause button…and review
1. Is there anything inappropriate you should
2. Is there anything not started yet? e.g. line
extensions, new ad campaign, new stores,
3. Were you changing contracts/suppliers etc?
Not everything can sensibly be paused. Keep
your continuous projects ticking over and anything
already started, while you review things
Everybody is flying
What research is needed?
• Employee Research – how are your people, what do they need, what is working, and
what needs to change?
• Understanding the New Normal – how are your customers, what do they need, who
else has problems you can help tackle?
• COVID-19 Comms Testing – many brands are shooting themselves in the foot,
governments are struggling to get their message across, what do people need to
• Tracking Your Brand – are you salient, are you doing the right things, who is receiving
your message? But, many studies need to change - less ’Good range of services’
more ‘Helps people like me’
• Pre-test Everything – you do not understand this New Normal, it is not constant, do
not trust your gut!
• Research-on-Research – in the New Normal, some of the rules will change, some will
stay the same.
What research should stop?
• Doctors/Nurses – several pharma companies and suppliers of insights have said
they are not distracting key workers at this time.
• Face-to-face – nearly all F2F should be converted to online or postponed or
cancelled (CATI from central call centres is also to be avoided)
• Most research for brands not trading – people believe brands should always
continue to advertise & research – but for many there is no budget, and no staff
to read the research
• Research focused on the pre-March 2020 World – many norms from the old world
may not be relevant (check)
• Strategic research – the New Normal is a time of uncertainty. Segmentations,
conjoint studies, predictive models will be of limited short-term benefit and
possibly no long-term benefit.
Hibernate, Hunker Down, Pivot or Operate?
• Hibernate – close the business, wait until you can trade again e.g. event locations,
restaurants, cruise companies. Seek government assistance.
• Hunker Down – assume the recession will unwind in a few months or a year, slash
costs, keep ticking over, grab chances when available, prepare for after the crisis.
Seek government assistance.
• Pivot – stop doing X and start doing Y – for example delivery options, ventilators,
online games etc. Seek government assistance.
• Operate – assume this is how things are going to be for a while, cut costs, be agile,
find out where there are needs and meet them. Help your client keep their job.
Seek government assistance.
Protecting the Ecosystem
• Pay your bills, especially to smaller players
• If you can, keep advertising, marketing, researching – but
tailor it to the New Normal
• Consider syndicated projects, including
trackers and RoR
• Think about how to reduce costs and deliver
• Reward and promote insights, storytelling and
• Focus on tactical usefulness - and short-term ROI
• Cancel all major changes – extend contracts temporarily
• Hibernate rather than cancel
• Move F2F to online
• Reduce the bespoke elements (20% can cost 80%)
• If measurements are unstable, that is the New Normal – live with it
• If you have a community – find out how your people are and maximise your use of it
• Brand/Ad trackers – change them to make them relevant, investigate social media
options, make them more focused
• CX – change it, more focused on the person and less on the service/product – monitor
• An indefinite ‘New Normal’
• Hibernate, Hunker Down, Pivot, Operate
• Hit the Pause Button
• Stop irrelevant or unviable activities
• ALL organisations are flying blind – they NEED insights
• Employee Research
• Understanding the New Normal
• New tracking, new CX, new ethnographies & RoR
Stay Safe, Be Kind, Protect the Ecosystem
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