Unilever CMO Leads Effort to Map Future of Marketing Research and Analytics

Insights2020 Panel Includes Weed, Sorrell, Execs From Verizon, Volkswagen and Google

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Unilever Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed is leading a new industry initiative to study market research, insights and analytics, including how the work should be organized at major marketers and what the industry's needs for talent and investment will be in the future.

Keith Weed
Keith Weed

The Insights2020 effort, which also is backed by the Advertising Research Foundation, global research organization Esomar, WPP and Millward Brown Vermeer, builds on and is modeled after the Marketing2020 initiative that concluded last year with a report in the Harvard Business Review after input from more than 250 CMOs and 10,000 marketers across 92 countries on how marketing organizations need to adapt.

"One thing that kept coming out clearly from Marketing2020 is that the world is changing rapidly," Mr. Weed said in an interview. "One of the areas that struck all of us is the area of data. When I was a brand manager, we were dealing with third-party data from retailers that was 12 weeks old. With mobile, you have first party data from consumers in real time. That huge change must have an impact on how we think about insights."

New capabilities such as mobile data collection from consumers should allow "much more insight work more quickly," he said. "We're moving toward it, but we're not there yet."

Mr. Weed will chair an Insights2020 advisory board that also includes Diego Scotti, CMO of Verizon; Rob Norman, chief digital officer of WPP's GroupM; Harish Bhat, member of the group executive council of Tata; Julian Prynn, marketing director-Middle East of BAT; professor Jerry Wind of Wharton; Barbara Lamprecht, who handles brand and marketing strategy for Volkswagen; Tony Fagan, VP-research of Google; ARF CEO Gayle Fuguitt; and WPP CEO Martin Sorrell.

Preliminary findings from the study will be presented at the Esomar Congress in September in Dublin.

Part of the work will be identifying companies that are best at collecting and organizing insights today, with Nike and Apple among those that come to mind for Mr. Weed. And part is looking at how research and analytics providers need to adapt to the kind of disruptive change digital technology is bringing to the area, and what the industry needs to do to attract more and better talent.

The same level of innovation that digital technology has brought to media and content are coming to research and analytics, Mr. Weed said. "You can either learn from that or end up defending against it. As they say, if you're not at the dinner table, you might be on the menu."