Mercedes-Benz USA: the move from traditional research to consumer communities

Geoffrey Precourt

For American marketing researchers, the memo from Mercedes-Benz USA to the market-research community couldn't be any clearer: Time is running out.

"We've undertaken a couple of initiatives that are transforming the way we interact with customers," said Steve Cannon, U.S. vp/marketing for the nameplate. "We've learned more about the way people think and feel than we ever could have from marketing research.

"As our focus grows, we're moving money away from [syndicated research]" in order to fund new digital consumers, Cannon told an Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Brand Innovation conference.
The change in priorities happened "by accident," Cannon explained. "We were looking for ways of solving the challenge of [reaching out to] Generation  Y," the block of 75 million consumers between the ages of 16 and 33 who "are every bit as big as the Boomers and, in a few short years, will have the power to make or break brands simply by paying attention to them."