Our first Insights Chats 01 featured lovely Alice McKenzie, an Insight Manager at Havas People, who shared her journey into the field of insights. Describing herself as “very fascinated by people”, Alice shared how her background in social anthropology led her to pursue a career in the field of insights.
Alice began her career as a graduate Insight Executive at OMD UK, a media agency, where she gained experience in consumer-focused media insights. However, her current role at Havas People is a slight departure from her previous role, as she is now focused on global employer branding and targeting professional audiences.
Qualitative or Quantitative Research
When it comes to research methods, Alice shared her preference for qualitative methods such as focus groups and in-depth interviews. Explaining her preference, she said, “I feel like it’s probably a bit old school now to say that I love focus groups and the in-depth interviews because there are so many different ways of researching audiences now, but for me, just the basic way of talking to people one-on-one or as a group is so valuable.”
Alice’s specific interests in research include understanding what drives brand perceptions, people’s feelings and associations towards brands, and also their communication needs. She aims to uncover the underlying attitudes and behaviors that drive these perceptions and use that knowledge to shape and change them. Describing her ultimate goal, she said “If you can try and get more to the under their (people) skin I think that’s where the combination of qualitative and quantitative research can be really helpful.”
Best Research Approach
When asked about the best approach when conducting research, Alice shared her thoughts on the use of qualitative and quantitative research methods. According to her, using qualitative research at the early stage of a project can be useful in uncovering underlying beliefs and perceptions. This can be followed by quantifying the findings on a larger scale, to get a more representative sample.
Alice said “I think what can be really nice is using qualitative at the early stage of the research project to uncover some of those underlying beliefs and perceptions of something and then quantifying it on a larger scale and getting the numbers behind the findings. It can also work the other way when we have some results in the survey but also some gaps in the knowledge — to understand why we’re seeing what we’re seeing. That’s where I think qual can also supplement the findings from a quant survey.”
On difficult clients
When it comes to handling difficult clients or those who want to back their idea with research, Alice believes that it’s important to be seen as both a researcher and a consultant. She suggests that by being confident in offering advice based on one’s skills, experiences, and capabilities, researchers can become more like trusted advisors.
Alice said “I think it’s important to be seen as a researcher but also a kind of a consultant at the same time. If the client is suggesting something that’s not going to help, you’ve got to have the confidence to say this isn’t actually a good way of spending your money and it’s not going to help us either. By being confident in offering that advice, you’ll become more than a researcher but like a trusted advisor.”
Join us on Insights Chats 02
All in all, Insights Chats 01 was an engaging and informative event that provided a glimpse into the insights industry through the perspective and experience of Alice. If you’re curious about people and insights, we invite you to join us for our next Insights Chat 02 event!