Gordon Pincott is a member of the Millward Brown Global Board and is responsible for ensuring that Millward Brown’s solutions meet the evolving needs of the company’s clients. He has 30 years’ experience in strategic planning and research evaluation of brands and communications.
Pincott joined Millward Brown in 1989. He has worked on major projects for Ford, Diageo, Vodafone and Unilever. He has been an IPA advertising effectiveness judge, a keynote speaker at the Australian market research conference and a winner of best paper at the UK market research annual conference.
In conversation with exchange4media, Pincott speaks about molding research according to changing market needs, tackling clients of conflicting nature, and more…
Millward Brown is one of the world’s largest brand and marketing communications research companies. How does it manage to stay ahead of its competition?
The main way it stays ahead is by making significant investments in research and development to make sure that we are at top of all the latest trends in market, since the media world is changing so rapidly. We are experts in brand and communication, particularly in terms of the channels used, as they are changing so fast. We make significant investments to ensure that we understand and measure all those new channels and are able to give feedback to our clients. We guide them as to what value will they be getting from investing in those channels. Probably the foremost question that our clients have is – with all these new opportunities, which one should I grasp? So, we do a lot of work to understand how to answer that question.
What role can Firefly and Digital Solutions play for Millward Brown?
Qualitative research has been an integral part of Millward Brown for the last 35 years and we have a very deliberate policy of growing our qualitative capabilities globally. We have made a huge improvement since the late 90’s, acquiring high reputation across the globe. What we choose to do last year was that we felt it was the right time to build a globally integrated network maximising our capabilities across the world. Firefly was basically taking our existing resources and putting them to a single platform in order to deliver our client really high quality research and deliver it on a global basis.
Quite a few of your clients are conflicting in nature, like Cadbury and Nestle, or Coca-Cola and Pepsi. How do you manage to keep up with such clients?
We are very privileged to work with some of these great clients that compete with each other. Our work basically is about integrity. We are expected to have an objective view and be very clear about confidentiality in what we do. Clients accept that we won’t divulge or share any information that can have an impact over their business and we rigorously ensure that doesn’t happen. Therefore, we have systems in place to ensure that there are walls between different teams and we make sure that no transfer of information takes place. The studies that we do are designed specifically for those clients as every client has a different strategic approach.
What kind of market do you see India as?
The interesting thing about India and China is that it is very debatable whether they are a single market. Here we have to think about the regional research as well. Some of the studies that we do have more interviews because the client isn’t interested in the country as one big geography. Gone are the days when we could call India a developing economy; it’s a growth economy, it has been driving growth across the region. In fact, for us India is an economy that is driving decisions at an Asia-Pacific level and a global level. India can be considered to be an amalgamation of different markets. As an outsider, the other fascinating thing about India is that in a lot of developing countries research is a fairly new concept, even in China, but in India it is probably one of the most established research cultures in the world. So, it’s quite a sophisticated market in that respect. I also consider Russia, Brazil and Indonesia as the other emerging markets.
How different is the market research for Indian markets from other markets?
It’s different only to the extent of the complexity and scale of the market, the distribution of wealth across the market. On one hand, the society is incredibly affluent, and yet there are hundreds of people who don’t even have access to the web. So, it’s complex from a research point of view.
Two basics one must keep in mind while interpreting data?
One is obviously the ‘validity of data’ that may take into account the people you talk to. This can include all sorts of information, which also includes sentiments analysis, now sentiments analysis cannot be regarded as very accurate, hence you have to know which data is valid to what extent. Second, I think is ‘action ability’; what you do with that data and where is it going to lead you and how will it impact the business are questions that a client wants us to answer. Thus action ability is important.
Integration of information is key to understanding consumer insight. How do you suggest this can be used meaningfully by clients in the digital context?
We ultimately have to integrate all digital data with all non-digital data. Quite often what we see is that television commercial is the key backdrop to all that is working. So yes, digital ads work, but they are working in the context. So, we have to consider this as part of the overall communication. The world has gone all complex now, where people may go to a shop, see the goods, and finally buy them online, or they may search online and go to a physical shop and buy the goods. I, therefore, feel there is a danger in drawing a line here.
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He joined the company in 2016 as Head of India and South Asia at Discovery Network