LONDON: Technology is key to gaining insights and reaching consumers, and the pace of change in the way brands gather customer insights will only accelerate exponentially, according to a senior executive at Unilever.

Speaking at the Market Research Society's Impact 2016 event, Stan Sthanunathan, the FMCG multinational's svp of consumer and market insights, said brands can spend too much time researching consumer groups when what they need to do is to act fast.

"Real-time is the new currency," he said in comments reported by Marketing Magazine, while adding that researchers should spread their findings more widely.

With data-sharing in mind, he announced that Unilever has joined forces with a range of industry partners to share their data and insights in order to address key global development and sustainability challenges.

The new initiative, known as Paragon, is an open platform created specifically to be a single source of information for research bodies and industry.

Initial partners include major organisations, such as PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Kantar, Nielsen, Save the Children, the Market Research Society and others.

With a launch expected in spring this year, the vision for Paragon is to generate and provide access to quality insights on global development and sustainability issues to help governments, academics and NGOs around the world.

"In a rapidly-changing world, we cannot operate in silos. The past year has set the precedent with highly ambitious goals and frameworks created to address the global sustainability and development challenges that we all face," said Sthanunathan.

"It is time to accelerate efforts to move towards achieving these goals and Paragon will allow us to share learning, data and insight, and encourages other businesses and industries to address these critical challenges affecting us all.

"By building a network of partners and working together, we can look for solutions which have greater scale and impact globally to address development and societal challenges."

Data sourced from Marketing Magazine, Unilever; additional content by Warc staff