Co-creating insights – putting the customer at the heart of your business

Andrew Needham and Philip McNaughton
Face, United Kingdom


At the 58th annual ESOMAR Congress, Graeme Trayner1 accused the research industry of a failure to adapt and change with the times. He said “smart organisations across different sectors are seeing the benefits of giving up control and benefiting from people's creativity – but the market research industry has largely yet to make the leap into the world of open source”.

This failing has as much to do with process as to do with the way the market research industry looks at people. People, to many researchers, are respondents; car crash dummies, there only to test things; individuals with little or no social interaction; segments, demographics, and potential customers. For traditional research, seeing people only as “respondents” or “customers” frames the process and methodology used to gain insight – a model that is based on command and control where the respondent's relationship with the research team is a dependent one and where there are no relationships between respondents. As Trayner pointed out, “research approaches are often based on outmoded notions of command & control, which afflict other parts of the marketing and communications industry. Too often we like to see ourselves as a noble elite of Brahmins who are there to help the simple and uncertain consumer understand what he wants and needs”. He argued that in the search for deeper and richer insights into consumer behaviour the industry needed to change. Three years on that argument for change is even more compelling, because just as the market research industry is playing catch up with its use and understanding of web 2.0, things are changing again.