Tackling Change: Putting Brands in the Driving Seat

By Tim McCarthy, Imperium General Manager

Last quarter, COVID-19 was briefly knocked off the top of the news agenda, as climate change became the most talked-about topic – thanks to the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

What the prominence of this news story shows for those of us in the market research sector is that climate change is no longer a discussion solely for politicians and environmentalists. It’s a conversation that extends to people’s everyday actions and interactions, impacting the relationships consumers have with brands in almost every niche.

And, as businesses respond to growing public pressure by pursuing purpose alongside profitability, savvy brands are looking to take the initiative by more closely matching their messaging to their audiences. Amid this complex and developing narrative, being able to rely on clean, high-quality data is at the top of every brand’s – and every research agency’s – agenda.

Consumers expect authenticity

Buying decisions are increasingly influenced by philosophical and emotional factors, with individual actions more likely than ever to be rooted in personal experience and aspirations. It’s a mood that brands need to tap into if they want to stay ahead of the curve.

With misconceptions about demographics commonplace, companies looking to forge closer connections with their target audience must also train their focus towards accurate data gathering rather than relying on broad-brush trends analysis.

For example, the commonly held belief that younger generations care more about the environment than their older peers was debunked by a recent sustainability report from McCann Worldgroup’s Truth Central which showed that Boomers reported even higher levels of climate anxiety than Gen Z respondents.

If brands want to foster a greater sense of trust, cohesion and community with their customer base, they need to prioritize collecting the cleanest data to underpin and uplift their campaigns and communications.

Small changes can make a big difference

Naturally, understanding precisely what messages elicit the most positive responses helps brands to target the right people with the right insights.

By fine-tuning research surveys, brands can gain a deeper understanding of culture which, in turn, will enable them to refine and realign their messaging, leaning into the messages that will resonate most powerfully with their audience.

As consumers occupy increasingly stratified niches – with views that are constantly evolving – it’s more important than ever that brands and research agencies have access to the most accurate data available.

In a recent Imperium article, Technology Director Paul Sideleau talks about how AI and ML have become more crucial in the drive to maintain data integrity and minimize opportunities for fraud. This piece also highlights the need to prioritize input quality, given that output quality is so critical. However sophisticated or wide-ranging the panel’s scope, unless the right data points are used, entire models could simply miss the mark (lending weight to the ‘garbage in/garbage out’ theory).

Putting data quality at the heart of change

At Imperium, we know that quality data begins with selecting good survey participants and is further shaped by individual survey elements that can impact data for good or bad.

We routinely use ML – constantly tweaking and refining the algorithms – to ensure that tools such as Real Answer® and RelevantID® are as effective as they can be in detecting fraud and assuring data integrity. It means we’re better at predicting bad behavior and more confident in the scope and quality of the datasets we return.

As brands look for more authentic ways to engage with their audiences and communicate their ethical credentials, the demand for data that provides a more granular picture of the consumer mindset – and with it, the opportunity to more closely align with evolving views on ethical practices – can only increase.

Accurate data analysis can enable brands to not only illuminate and demystify abstract concepts, such as sustainability, but also to promote the essential actions, both corporate and individual, that will help move us toward a more hopeful future.


Tim McCarthy is General Manager at Imperium. He has over 15 years of experience managing market research and data-collection services and is an expert in survey programming software, data analysis and data quality. Imperium is the foremost provider of technology services and customized solutions to panel and survey organizations, verifying personal information and restricting fraudulent online activities.

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