Agile? Compromise or compliment

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May 22, 2018

by Mark Sismey



In this article, APAC MD Mark Sismey discusses how doing things not just faster, but differently too, can have much wider and longer lasting implications than just shaving a week or two off a project timeline.


Budget cuts and shorter timelines are very real constraints in today’s research world and, let’s face it, in many industries beyond. It’s really frustrating at times, as I’m sure it is for many of our clients too. As an industry, we have to step up to the plate rather than looking back longingly at what used to be. Nothing is going to change on its own, so unless we embrace the evolution and move things forward, it’s hard to see how the industry will survive.

Last week in the Philippines the second of a series of NPD studies for a beverage company really bought to life that doing things not just faster, but differently too, can have much wider and longer lasting implications than just shaving a week or two off a project timeline.

In a single day of small scale quant fieldwork, we were able to identify people with interesting views and pull them straight in to a qual session. This allowed us to iterate and evolve the discussion, meaning we were able to get deeper with consumers, understand their motivations and discover how all the product features should fit together.


By using an evolving and interactive approach, such as this, to build a rule book for a new product, you’re able to delve much deeper than communications, pack design, taste and smell - gaining insight that serves to inform future flavour creation and optimisation.


It is intensive, and it takes an agile client team who are really engaged and on-board, but it demonstrates how much you stand to learn from consumers if you give them the right forum to voice their opinions. Quant is great – I’ve always been a numbers man at heart, but they really don’t always tell the whole story – consumers have so much more to give.

If we can change the default mind set and learn from consumers beyond validation, then agile research can save time way beyond the study itself. There are times when you do need to validate (and we should make those times as efficient as possible!) but if it isn’t the right thing to do then we should challenge it and push for change when it really will add something.

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