Marketing and Research Consulting for a Brave New World
Subscribe via RSS

We at the ARF want to thank the thousands who were part of the ARF Re:Think2009 annual conference. The fact that this year’s attendance was in the thousands and approached last year’s record high meant attendees would be particularly demanding about value received in this very tough year.
And yet, feedback we received from attendees, presenters, and exhibitors indicates that we went BEYOND your expectations. You are telling us directly and via twitter that you are approaching business issues differently today because of the three days you invested.
We heard the following themes.
Research impact. This is our time to bring the human into the boardroom. We heard from research directors and CEOs of leading companies that we need to broaden the definition, drive the business questions, drive action from insights, and get into the rhythm of business decision-making. We heard evidence that this transformation of the function is already happening and that in many companies and situations, research is having impact at the highest levels…but more progress still needs to be made.
Focus on the human. The message came through loud and clear that focusing on the consumer isn’t good enough. People live their lives in a much broader context than as consumers. Furthermore, our scientists taught us that our mental models are in dire need of updating and our methods are often incomplete. People decide based simple heuristics, where the brain somehow latches onto a central, powerful piece of information and then fills in the blanks. We heard an indictment that, in some cases, we are asking people what they cannot accurately tell us. The way I know that the scientists had a big impact is that they influenced the vocabulary of subsequent speakers. Words like human, heuristics, economist, anthropologist, shopper, listening, storytelling were used much more than at prior conferences.
Research is about creating GROUNDED insights. We heard facts…some surprising… across the three days. For example, we heard that TV still accounts for 90%+ of video viewing but that making content available across multiple platforms is something people have come to expect and that it increases rather than cannibalizes TV viewing time. We learned about 23 empirical generalizations…truths…about how advertising works. We learned how to advertise during a recession. We learned about factors affecting online research data quality from the largest US R&D study ever on that subject.
Synergy. Nielsen, P&G, TNS, and our scientists proved that listening to social media, immersion, and surveys are all needed and they work together synergistically.
Substance is not enough to create unforgettable impact. The presentation by Wojtek Szumowski of Crispin, Porter+Bogusky on VW and Pearl Izumi and Gary Flake’s incredible demo of new Microsoft technology proved that lasting impact requires best-in-class storytelling and multi-media.
Our profession is in good hands. Awards for rising stars, innovators, and lifetime contributors show how each generation has created lasting impact and how the up and comers will carry on and advance the profession. Ogilvy Awards show the impact that research can have on business results.
You will be able to review (or view for the first time) streaming videos of the ARF ReThink 2009 conference within the month. Check the ARF website for details.
If you were at the ARF Re:Think2009 conference please share your thoughts and please feel free to search twitter for #rethink2009 to read any of the more than 800 tweets that we received.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Comments are closed.