NEW YORK: Marketing research is failing the community it needs to serve in some important ways, according to Brad Jakeman, a Senior Advisor and Consultant to PepsiCo.

Jakeman, who was President of PepsiCo’s Global Beverage Group until October 2017, when he launched a consultancy with the food and snacks firm as a client, discussed this topic at the 2017 Ad Age Next conference.

“The tools by which we research communications are woefully inadequate, given the type of content that we’re now publishing,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Brad Jakeman (again) attacks state-of-the-art marketing.)

Building on this theme, Jakeman suggested that many research techniques place “very little focus on the social impact that’s going to be [happening] among different audiences” at present.

“All the tools of marketing research tend to be oriented around the commercial impact of your advertising. They ask [about] purchase intent and branding,” he said.

That “social impact” has changed the conditions that researchers must consider, however. “You’re often most interested in what the consumer target says in those situations,” Jakeman asserted.

While these insights traditionally came from panels and focus groups, “they now tend to come from stakeholders [and] causes in society” – powerful shapers of opinion that “traditional research methodologies typically don’t address”.

If brands once looked for insights that would reveal “20% of people said this or 30% of people said this, we live in a world now where one person with a 50,000 Twitter following can have a significant impact on your brand”.

PepsiCo witnessed this process first-hand with its “Live For Now” ad, a creative effort starring model Kendall Jenner that first aired in April 2017, and that was accused by several observers of co-opting social protest movements.

“It was a mistake that I regret deeply,” explained Jakeman. “It’s a mistake that we took accountability for and addressed quickly. And it’s a mistake that we apologised quickly for, yet [the controversy] went on and on and on.

“As we were going through it, I remember somebody said to me, ‘Brad, you will look back on this in eight months’ time and you will view this as the biggest learning experience of your career.’ It didn’t take eight months.”

Sourced from WARC