David Garcia Pawley is Director of European Countries CMI (Consumer and Market Insights) at Samsung, the world's largest IT company, consumer electronics maker and chip manufacturer measured by 2017 revenue. David has held client and agency side roles at firms including P&G, LG and GfK.
Listen to the whole podcast at www.happymr.com/david-garcia-pawley (38 mins)
DGP: I'm half English, half Spanish - brought up in Spain, my mother is English, my father is Spanish, and I'm married to a Russian lady. So I have a very international background, and did lots of travel when I was growing up - I was at schools around the world. At home we speak mainly Spanish, but now I've moved over to the UK for my current Samsung role and have a 3-month old baby so I speak to him in Spanish, my wife in Russian, [and he hears English in nursery].
Work-life balance is very important to me. I do take my career very seriously but having a 3-month old baby puts things into perspective. One of my best decisions has been to spend my life travelling, I've been to over 100 countries throughout my life and that helps you to understand people better. It doesn't matter where you're based now, you need to be balanced and able to listen to people's points of view and communicate.
Agile / 'from one extreme to the other'
JB: you've seen the evolution that's happened as we've migrated from CATI and intercept paper-based surveys to a digital context, and the last few years 'agile' research. Applying it to consumer insights, it's become almost trendy or buzzwordy. What does agile research mean to you.. what do you see as the key differences?
DGP: I remember in the 1980s having to go to do ftf interviews at people's homes, on paper, and a whole methodology behind that... and now you can get the results within a working week and it's still not fast enough - everything is real time in industry. MR is at the service of the organisation - marketing is evolving, so we do as an industry need to evolve in line with that and deliver insights in a more timely fashion. But there are pros and cons of that: speed is becoming paramount together with cost-effectiveness, and sometimes that can be at the expense of... quality or reliability... I think that for years in MR we were so conscious about the sampling, the confidence level, having [representative] data: I have the feeling that over the years we have become a lot more lenient on this. The 80/20 rule seems to be predominant. I am quite happy to sacrifice some quality in order to be a lot faster, but it's a bit too relaxed - top managers are aware of that and so are we, but it seems to be the way forward [and is hard to push against].
JB: back in the day you would spend a ton of effort coming up with your sampling methodology, and the in-field element of the analysis was a big part of the whole.. That amount of thoughtfulness generated a lot of insights just during the fielding stage of projects.
DGP: Yes - there are some great things going on right now... but it's good to sit back and weigh some of these decisions that we are making. Getting the right balance on something is important - there are some projects where you can experiment and come up with some basic, fast areas of interest and there are others which require and should have sufficient time and resources dedicated for them.
Working with Communities and with Verve
DGP: Samsung invests a lot of money worldwide in research: we are very consumer-oriented in terms of product development, and communications. Verve are excellent partners and a very important thing here is the capabilities, both on the client and the agency side. In this context of evolution, newcomers into the industry may be missing some of the scientific approach to research, but we also need to adapt to the new technologies being developed, so it works from both sides. In the case of Verve, I'm happy with the level of expertise they have with research, but they also balance that with being very speedy and efficient: effective in terms of our demands.
At Samsung, speed is of paramount importance and we are not the easiest partner to work for - we're very demanding, and [Verve] have adapted themselves well to our needs, which is something I value very much. With community panels, they've given us this possibility of 'always on', so we can react very quickly to some of the things our competitors are doing - if I launch a study on Monday I have some basic results on what is happening in the marketplace by the end of the week, which is something which few companies are able to deliver, and I think Verve with the community panel are able to do so.
One of the big advantages is that we can set these panels across countries, and we can get comparable international results, in a very fast and efficient manner. We use the community panel a lot, but we also do a lot of add-on research - and we need to understand well when to move from one to the other.
[On engagement:] Offering relevant projects is important, and I rely on our partner to make sure they are offering the right incentives - they have the experience because they are working on panels for other clients too.
The wrong fruit
JB: let's say you're sitting having a chat with a good friend from Apple or something, and they were considering starting their own community panel. What are the three things you would tell them, or considerations they should be thinking about as they make that decision?
DGP: you know considering that Apple is my main competitor I don't think I'd be sitting with them...
JB: [laughs] I apologise for the bad example! Not Apple...
DGP: Firstly, as with every project, you need to ask why are you setting up a community panel - as with all pieces of research you need to be very clear as to why, and that should help you decide who you're going to have on the panel - based on the insight you need for your business, what is the 'raw material' going to look like. Secondly you have to think in terms of engagement, what are you going to offer - money, fine; are you going to share the results with them or are they going to be confidential - people like to give their opinion but are they going to want to continue to be there - you need to looking at the medium to long term - where do you see this panel in 3-5 years' time? - it's not going to be something you just set up and close down. Related to that, what kind of use am I going to get out of it on a project basis, and what on an ongoing basis? Thirdly, panels have quality checks as well: what kind of governance are you going to have in the ways things work, and how you deliver the insights to an organisation.
Corroboration... and Social Media
JB:. One thing I've been hearing from my brand [ie client side] guests is the need to validate a point of view based on outside data. Microsoft is a great example: you can't just go in and present primary research [in isolation], you've got to have that backed up by auxiliary sources - 3rd party or behavioural or whatever.
DGP: Yeah I think actually we talk about qual and quant research [complementing each other], and I think there have always been discussions within brands - you need qual and quant - the repetition of the point kinds of validates the idea. When you do a number of groups and the same overarching idea is present, you know that *something* is there. Twitter and Facebook [need corroboration too] - they are like huge focus groups, but I find it a bit harder to get metrics out of some of these tools - for example to measure sentiment in different European countries. Everyone has their own language and the value of humour and sarcasm plays a different role in different countries - it's difficult to measure that and quantify that so I do think we need to consider and be aware how we're using those tools.
I like to look whenever we're doing a launch or a follow-up, I do love to read all the tweets - in 20 minutes, that's going to give me the whole idea of what is going on, I don't need to know whether the sentiment is positive or negative to 17 or 37%, I will get the overall idea based on what I am reading from consumers. But then I need to think about the reliability of the data and the sources we're using.
JB: social media still hasn't been adopted at scale by researchers - it definitely has some purchase, but don't think it has achieved the original idea.
Get out more!
DGP: from a brand's point of view, the biggest change we need is we need to get out a lot more!
What we get from research should never be a substitute for common sense, and I find in many organisations that we're all stuck inside offices and we don't go to the point of sale enough. We need to speak to consumers informally, we need to get out. I'm not talking about the kind of thing research institutes could do with professional moderators: I've given training / teaching to marketing departments, on how to moderate - how to ask the questions and how to listen to consumers. It's useful for clients to actually sit around the table, or to do shopalongs. Ethnographic research, which has been there for ages, I think we need to do a lot more of that - not so much inventing new things but going in some cases back to basics to learn about those things.
DGP: I'd come back to work-life balance, my travelling, and my three-month old. 'A balanced person can go far'.
Listen to the whole podcast at www.happymr.com/david-garcia-pawley (38 mins)
Other 21 YEARS / Online Communities content now available (read and download the full supplement here):
Interview Excerpts: Isaac Rogers, CEO at 20|20 Research
Ask, Listen and Observe: Andy Buckley, Head of Client Solutions at Join the Dots / InSites Consulting argues that communities need to 'step up their game'
Being Customer Centric, Not Just Talking About It. Verve Executive Director Paul Lawson casts an expert eye over the many great uses of a community panel
ITV's Village Voice
Hannah Downs, Head of Insight at UK agency ResearchBods, explains how the firm uses a community to help British broadcasting group ITV get closer to viewers.
A View from the Outside
Communities aren't just for insight. Richard Millington of FeverBee, who has helped build them for everyone from Apple to Lego to the UN, helps define where we sit in the bigger picture
Interview: Kristof De Wulf
InSites Consulting's co-founder and CEO on the acquisition of Join the Dots, the company's plans and the future for online communities more broadly.
Lean Communities, smooth pit stops: 20|20's Julia Eisenberg and Isaac Rogers
The rise of the 'smaller, more tactical insights community', and the need to get that 'pit lane' running smoothly.
All articles 2006-21 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.