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Digital is driving a permanent shift in market power to customers. For clients, it’s a double whammy: it’s harder to win, engage and retain customers; and 20th Century research thinking isn’t great for the insight brands need.

We help major brands such as Range Rover, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Mail create, embed and use the insight they need to win, engage and retain customers.

Customers recognise and enjoy the new power that digital has given them. They are more and more adept at leveraging this power. They want respect, and to be dealt with on an adult-to-adult basis.

As a result, customers are less willing – and, sometimes, less able – to answer researchers’ questions in the way they used to. So we’ve got to use our nous, imagination and wit, to find better ways of creating insight.

Increasingly, we listen not ask. Talk not interview. Engage not bore. Have conversations, not follow discussion guides. Go ‘there’ and observe, not bring people ‘here’ and moderate. Find stuff out, not ‘do research’.

‘New’ methods – behavioural science, observation, neuroscience, co-creation, semiotics, self-curated content, etc. – have emerged that help with all this. They have become part of our toolkit.

But we’re also constantly pushing – drawing on theatre, technology, film, journalism, etc. – to innovate, devising new, customer-centred frames in which to create insight for clients.

The two big things we hold on to are:

  1. That methods don’t create insight: this comes out of the purpose, attitude and mindset with which the methods are deployed.
  2. That, in a digital world, we only get to the insight brands need, if we properly and honestly engage with customers as equals.

Digital changes the value and importance of insight for brands. We create – and help clients embed and use – the body of insight they need to win, engage and retain customers in a digital world.

Which helps explain why our clients tend to view us as partners.