Integration with other sources

Eight out of ten of the participants in our survey agreed that “the usefulness of online communities could be significantly improved if they were more integrated with other sources of data”. For some, this reflects a change in the needs and role of the modern insight professional.


How do we integrate community insights with other forms of data? We discussed two ways with interviewees:



Pre-existing data and trends are often used as a jumping-off point for further investigation an online community,  which is used to understand the human truths driving the data. Panels can be used to validate those qualitative findings.



The other route is more integrated project design and analysis – a more rounded approach combining passive and active data collection, which includes non-conscious techniques, behavioral and transactional data, social media monitoring, self reported usage and attitudes, ethnographic approaches and large scale surveys.

This should be led by an integrated team that works on the project from start to finish and pulls data together in analysis to tell a robust story.

This represents a change in thinking, rather than a technical innovation. There is also a requirement for more holistic skillsets within teams.

I want my agency partners to integrate different data points so I can understand the full picture


By marrying data analytics with active consumer collaboration, we can see the what and understand the why. We can capture objective/behavioral patterns and investigate the subjective/emotional states that drive them. We can explore what is and co-create what could be. We can not only identify facts, but also explore how people make meaning from them. We can not only measure the impact of our actions on consumers, but also strengthen our intuition about them.

Data and empathy – both are essential, but alone neither is sufficient. As researchers and marketers – as change agents – everything we do must move customers and the organizations that serve them. Used properly, data and analytics alert us to what we need to pay attention to. They show us the patterns and correlations that warrant further investigation. The rest, though, is the hard, gratifying, and fundamentally human work of making sense of it all.

Historically, we’ve generated insights by relying on active observation by expert researchers. But now, passive data capture methodologies let us learn about some aspects of human behavior without relying on live observation.

Similarly, in the past, we’ve relied on consumers reporting their own attitudes and behavior largely by using surveys to elicit rationalisations of thinking. But now, when we have a trusting relationship with consumers, we can use neuroscience, facial coding, implicit association testing, and a wide range of qualitative techniques to tap into unconscious responses.

In short, by integrating both passively captured data and active, conscious collaboration, we can create much more robust and holistic systems for generating insight, relying on both the expertise of consumers and researchers.

I need to be a jack of all trades. We have so many data points we need to tie together to give a full picture of the user. It’s no longer just quant and qual. It’s social listening, it’s behavioral science and more.


Case study: IKEA

IKEA, the world’s largest modern home furnishing retailer, is driven by the vision of creating a better life at home for as many people as possible.

More than just a flat-pack solution for IKEA

But they don’t see themselves as just a retailer. They want to help build a sustainable future by transforming the way people live, eat, and sleep through quality, affordable products. They believe that when you create a better life at home, you’re en route to creating a better life.

IKEA placed their trust in us to reinforce that belief. Together, we conducted the research and created IKEA’s ‘Life at Home’ report 2017. We wanted to understand people’s needs and dreams, and compile a piece of thought leadership that would get the world talking.

Over the course of 6 months, we used an ambitious, new mix of qualitative and quantitative methodologies. We journeyed across the globe and spent 874 hours exploring people’s lives in order to understand what makes a better life at home.

Central to our work were 7 core, globally representative countries (US, China, India, Denmark, Germany, Japan and Russia). In addition, we conducted 36 in-home interviews in Austin, Chengdu, Osaka, Copenhagen, Mumbai and Munich; interviewed four experts who specialize in ethnographic research, future archaeology and industrial design, materialism, psychology, as well as digital and cultural anthropology. We created a strand of research called “Home Pioneers” – where we found people living in alternative ways, or in very different kinds of homes. Through self-directed video research and a workshop in Copenhagen where they came together from six countries, we gave them control of the agenda.

Finally, we surveyed more than 21,000 people across 22 countries to robustly validate insights and hypotheses.

The communication package created to support the launch of the findings focused on what we called The Five Tensions – universal frustrations that people all over the world could relate to, such as fighting over mess in the home, and feeling exhausted at the thought of a DIY project.

Films and animations brought a playful touch to the sometimes serious subject matter, and generated a wide range of media hits in numerous countries, from talk-show discussions with listeners in Belgium, to major profiles in the business pages in Germany.

Framing the content episodically, so that local communications leads could decide the best time to use it, and for ease of use on social media, also helped further discussions, supported by an interactive microsite.

But the real success was mirrored in the long-term plans and activities now underway across IKEA.

Bringing knowledge back into the brand was a clear objective – so we used different routes to inform thousands of IKEA co-workers, including bespoke workshops, internal communication tools and regular department briefings.

As a result, the 2018 IKEA Catalogue includes editorial content that references our research, sharing this with millions of people. IKEA Group’s Global Marketing team is also launching a Home Pioneers awards programme with the Life at Home Report at the heart of their communication strategy.

We discovered that a happy life at home is a mix of my space, your space and our space, but people have a really hard time defining my space within mixed/shared space.

Lydia Choi-Johansson,
Intelligence Specialist,