At this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity P&G’s Chief Brand Officer, Mark Pritchard, argued that creativity was a superpower that could drive growth for markets and brands. It was probably our industry’s most fundamental reason for being. I couldn’t agree more. Further, it is as important in research as it is in other marketing disciplines.
While a lot of research is now powered by technology, automation must not give way to ignoring the importance of human creativity.
Automation is, of course, a necessity that has helped us to meet the requirement for faster insights. Powered by AI and machine learning technologies, automated platforms are useful for processing lower-level routine and repetitive tasks, operating more quickly, efficiently, and accurately without ever tiring. Automation has lowered prices, increased the availability of information, and helped to significantly increase targeting when used in conjunction with adverts, special offers, and service interventions.
But it has also created a skills gap. According to the recruiter Hayes, data science was one of the six most in-demand jobs in 2021.
Finding uncommon insights to power creativity
As brands continue to increase their investment in data on consumers’ attitudes and behaviours, which underwent a kaleidoscope of changes during the pandemic, they must ask whether their provider is able to take a more creative approach to insights.
You may wonder why creativity, the holy grail of great advertising and brand campaigns, is also important in research. This is a good question. Authentic, rather than artificial, intelligence, still belongs to the world of humans. It is more important than ever if we are to power creativity. Marketers need more than just fast, cheap data that is available to all.
If research is to power creativity across marketing, then it needs people with creative and analytical skills who can anticipate and adapt to the rapidly changing world we are now living in. Creativity in research will ensure that we can deliver human – and uncommon – insights that will ensure brands are able to build clear, meaningful, and, importantly, relevant differentiation and be creative in its deployment. Insights spark creativity.
Becoming more cognitively diverse
Of course, the greatest challenge facing the research sector is finding skilled people who have the data analytic skills required and can think creatively.
While we’re fortunate to work in an industry entirely dedicated to understanding people, which by its very definition requires both curiosity and empathy and, arguably, makes us relatively accepting of humans in all their rich variety. We need to continue to address bias and aim for a cognitively diverse workforce so that we can provide the very best and uncommon insights to brands.
It is, of course, also a moral imperative. Research providers that can embrace diversity can escape the ‘groupthink’ trap where everyone is discovering the same trends and then responding in their own unique way. Research has the power to uncover the unusual and escape the sea of sameness that all too often can stifle the boldness, distinctiveness, and excitement of true creativity. And not just in advertising but in how we develop and innovate and embrace change.
Only with a cognitively diverse workforce can the research industry hope to build a creative environment for data insights and analytics. An environment that will eliminate the creativity crisis of groupthink so that brands can develop award-winning, and effective advertising and products. Only then can they truly plan for a future where they are so distinctive that they can be resilient to inflation and other challenges that arise.