Using research and intuition is a balancing act for brands

One doesn’t necessarily cancel out the other but knowing when research is needed and when it’s appropriate to go with a gut feeling is vital for brands, particularly in new campaign launches.

Mindi Chahal

The idea of ‘educated intuition’ is an internal model within Pernod Ricard, owner of Jameson, Chivas Regal and Absolut, and is an idea I got to discuss at its Global Capital Market Day which took place in Beijing last week. 

When asking the head of brands at Pernod Ricard, Thierry Billot, about pushing innovation in a company that has a decentralised model for brand management and distribution, he mentioned that it requires trying to find the right combination between a brand and local insights and that the innovation process requires a dialogue between a market and a brand. 

In order to understand that dialogue and get that market knowledge a brand would need to use a certain amount of insight and research. But its something that Billot explained is about getting the balance right between education and intuition.

When it comes to campaigns Billot says: “We have to make sure that it’s relevant in the brand positioning, maybe through qualitative research, and after you go through a round of quantitative research to try to validate.”    

But he also adds that sometimes it’s better to just run a new campaign because if you test it too much it will be very difficult to decide if it will work, especially when consumers have various and opposing opinions about the campaign.  

Using too much research could kill the creative but not using research to steer the general positioning of the brand could result in a lack of understanding of the market and affect how the campaign in received.  

Understanding the uses of research requires an understanding of when a brand needs quantitative or qualitative insight and when the time is right to go with gut feeling; using the two together requires an understanding of the balance between them.

At the conference Pernod Ricard also talked about new territories it’s venturing into, including targeting female consumers, which requires an understanding of what, how and when women drink. Whether this works and whether their insights come through in the end products and new campaign launches is one to watch out for.   




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