When insight makes a BIG difference

By Jennifer Redfern (originally published on the BIG blog)

We all know that Market Research is important for advising day to day business decision making, but it also has the power to inspire change within the heart of a business. This was the impact when The Sound collaborated with Reed Exhibitions, the world’s leading event organiser, to explore how digital tools could enrich and evolve the experience of attending a B2B event. Stuart Knapman, The Sound’s Managing Director and Layla Northern from Reed Exhibition’s Customer Experience Insight team came to the BIG Forum on the 6th February to explain more about their MRS/BIG award-winning paper on understanding event behaviours, a piece of research that has transformed Reed’s way of working.

The study used a large scale, multifaceted research method to figure out the most common behavioural typologies at events, to see how attendees’ experiences could be enhanced by websites and apps. From the research, event goers were split into seven different segments that summarised the way people think and act at B2B events. One group, for example, wanted immediate transactions, while others were keen to build and nurture lasting relationships and knowledge. There was a definite difference between those with their heads down, hoping to achieve immediate goals and those with their heads up, open to opportunities, socialising and exploring.

These segments made me think about my own behaviour when attending events and I wasn’t alone in wanting to find out more about them. This element of the research process clearly intrigued the rest of the audience as they were hotly inquired after during the questions. There were questions into whether the segments were affected by culture and global location, language, the time of year, cost of event, size of event and size of company attending. All these factors came into play when determining the sectors, Stuart and Layla explained.

These different event personas allowed the digital team to make informed decisions about which technological features to invest in, to meet the needs of event attendees. However, breaking down events behaviour has had a greater impact across the business; the study is widely referred to throughout the company as the ‘seven personas’ and they inform decisions and facilitate the development of sophisticated messaging across teams. It was great to see how important MRX can be in transforming and implementing strategy at the heart of a business.

So, as a new member of the market research industry, heading to my first MRX conference next week, which segment will I fit into? According to the study, starting an event with a plan of action is linked to event satisfaction, a correlation that resonates with my year 9 English teacher’s motto that ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. (Who knew this pearl of wisdom would be applicable to more than just my Shakespeare essays?) So, what do I want to personally achieve? Will my head be up, exploring my options, or will my head be down following a closely planned strategy? Whatever I decide, I’m certainly pleased that attending the BIG Forum has inspired me to consider my options. I’ll be sure to get the best out of their events and digital tools in the future.