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I was fortunate enough to sit down and chat, albeit through our computer screens, with two of my favourite client-side researchers - David Cousino (Cynosure, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Newell Brands, Unilever) and Gabriela Gaut (Goodyear, Mondelez, Reckitt Benckiser, P&G).
Since most of us cannot travel now, and are desperate for a break, I thought the best way to escape could be to take a journey through the highs and lows of their careers so far. So, we spoke about David and Gabriela’s experiences, lessons, and the inspirations of their careers. I’d like to thank them both for being so open and insightful. Here are some highlights:
Solid proof that a career in insights really can take you anywhere; Gabriela found herself at a star-studded movie premier in a swanky hotel in London, following on from a conference with an insights agency - by accident.
The project that David shared that he was most proud of was the launch of Axe/Lynch in China, where his team took great pains to understand the cultural mating game of the country. One of his team spent several months in China to immerse themselves in the culture. What the team discovered was that Chinese youngsters worked hard to stand out amongst their peers - but not too much. Girls oversaw the mating game, and segmented boys into three categories: the white horse (the ‘bring-home-to-your-parents’ type), the black horse (the desirable one, but unlikely to be accepted by your parents) and the brown horse (the safe choice, but a little boring). These were interesting and unexpected insights which helped Unilever to a successful launch.
Both my guests were happy to share the insights that had given them the most professional jealousy. For Gabriela, anything which uncovers a fundamental truth is a campaign worth noting. She referenced Snickers’ ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ which stood out for its simplicity and relatability. Seeing the campaign was a real ‘Why didn’t I think of that?!’ moment.
We then moved on to discuss the challenges my guests had faced. David’s top lesson was to 'market the market research' – a lesson he learnt after a large study he did during his time at Unilever ended up gathering dust in a folder, inevitably causing him frustration. He realised he was not sharing insights with his audience in a clear and digestible way. The big lesson for David was that capturing the data isn’t enough and allocating a portion of budget to bring the research to life is imperative.
Hot topics in insights now include ‘agility’ and ‘technology’. I was curious to hear David and Gabriela’s take on the words and how they felt the insight profession had evolved. Gabriela’s view was that despite all the technology and data we have, the real thinking and impact comes from humans, and that we shouldn’t forget to be human-centric. Whereas 20 years ago we were focused on building questionnaires, our role as researchers has evolved to focus on translating data so that it makes sense.
This is just a snippet of the fantastic insights into their careers that David and Gabriela shared with me, and I urge you to watch the webinar in full if you haven’t done so already.
If you missed the online seminar, you can listen, watch and laugh with us HERE