Category Archives: Blog

The Next Generation: Introducing our new CEO and management leaders

FACE has always evolved, developed and changed – reflecting the needs of our clients, the fast pace of digital media and technology, and our drive to always deliver more value.  Over the past three years we have taken big strides: expanding into new continents, retaining major clients internationally, and investing in new people – growing our team to 60 full-time employees.

We are extremely proud to say our client base has grown to include Bacardi, Mazda, HERE and BASF in the UK; L’Oreal, Pernod Ricard and P&G in the US; and Hershey’s, GSK and Philips in Asia, alongside our long-term clients such as Unilever and Tesco. This means that, as a company, the way we operate also needs to grow and develop.

Following the success of the past 3 years, Andrew Needham, our CEO and Founding Partner, has decided to step back from the day-to-day running of the business to become Chairman and advisor, effective 1st April 2015. This is ahead of a planned exit from both FACE and Pulsar later in the year as he moves on to explore new opportunities.

Andrew Needham Chairman

 

This means Job Muscroft, currently our COO & Founding Partner, will make the natural step-up to CEO and continue to oversee our international growth.

 

Job Muscroft CEO photo

Andrew says:

“I am very excited about this generational shift taking place at FACE & Pulsar. We have had a fast and incredibly successful start to our global expansion, proving yet again that socially intelligent research is highly valued and in great demand. I am now delighted to be handing over to a new generation of brilliant managers to continue FACE and Pulsar’s growth and leadership of strategic insight as a service internationally”.

Our next generation managment team

Management team

As Andrew has said, our management evolution does not end there:

Matt Arnold, formerly Head of UK Qual, is now the Head of Research for Face UK & Asia.

Pulsar’s Sales Manager James Cuthbertson has done a great job smashing sales targets and growing his team, which has been reflected in his rise to Global Sales Director for FACE & Pulsar.

As a result of Cathy Parker-Sauer’s incredible work as Production Manager, she  will now oversee internationally logistics as our Global Operations Director of Face.

The current Managing Director of FACE Asia, Andrew Ho, will be uprooting his life and moving to New York to lead the US office, taking over from  current FACE US MD, Philip  McNaughton. Philip will return to his role as Senior Consultant as he plans to spend more time with his new family.

Overall, many new job titles but underlying it all, a strong thread of continuity. We’re proud to be able to fill all these roles from talent we have developed within the FACE business, and we know that as a management team they will lead us on to further  success.

Congratulations to Job and everyone on the management team for their promotions. We’re excited to be working with you for the next step of FACE’s evolution.

“The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.” 
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

Social Intelligence Beyond Monitoring: #1 Brand Positioning

Job Muscroft FACE MDWelcome to our new blog series on Social Intelligence Beyond Monitoring, from FACE MD Job Muscroft. In this series, Job will be showing how brands can get high-value insights from social media listening – first up, Brand Positioning.

 

There are now hundreds of social media monitoring tools on the market that allow you to quickly and easily mine thousands of conversations about brands and topics you are interested in learning about. In fact, as social listening has become an established part of brand health monitoring, most brands now subscribe to a platform and use key word search strategies to conduct basic monitoring around 2 main use cases:

  1. Measure how visible a brand is in comparison to its competitors.
  2. Track sentiment of customers likes and dislike about brand/products.

This type of monitoring is usually conducted by agencies on behalf of brands and feeds into the development of creative and comms strategies. This, in a world where digital and social advertising spend is now overtaking traditional spend, is crucial.

In this series of blogs I want to look at the emerging use cases for social intelligence which go beyond counting mentions of brands and quantifying consumer sentiment. I want to and talk about where the big value lies for companies who invest in building the capabilities of analysts and research teams to look at social data strategically – to go beyond saying what happened  to work out why, and what to do about it.

Social Intelligence for Brand Positioning

Brief

A large US female haircare brand with a strong legacy in the market is facing the reality that consumer perception has changed quickly over the last 2 years. It’s is looking to strengthen its brand positioning and identify new opportunities to engage with women.

Pinterest hair section

What we did

Our approach was informed by the fact that Haircare is a highly emotional category and generates high levels of conversation amongst women online. This social media discussion is highly visual who often share images within their networks in order to find the right solution for their hair.

  1. Started wide by listening to the whole category and identified a community of women driving the conversation around this product range and the most common articulated haircare needs
  2. Focused the next stage of the project on this active community by creating a social panel of women who we listened to for a month to give us insight into their lives beyond their care hair needs
  3. Aside from text analytics we spent time understanding the thousands of haircare images shared on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter as an invaluable source of visual insight
  4. Workshop with client team to download insights and build positioning platforms together
Why this worked

The client stakeholder group found this approach to their challenge worked for them as it helped them to get closer to their consumers’ mindset than more traditional research groups or surveys. It additionally as it gave them strategic insights about both individual and group behaviour in the haircare market: it’s not just about one-to-one communication with your customer, but understanding how she shares with her friends.

  • Identified and brought to life a community of women that the brand needs to tap into if they are to reignite an connection with today’s consumers in this category.
  • Most importantly, it brough to to life the emotional struggles surrounding their ideals of beauty
  • Showed the specific language and aesthetic imagery that constructs the bonds within this community that can feed directly into more authentic creative executions
  • Gave insight into both individual and group behaviour in the haircare market: it’s not just about one-to-one communication with your customer, but understanding how she shares with her friends.
  • Highlighted the opportunities for the brand to position itself to engage the widest possible audience without alienating sub-communities

In the next blog in this series I will be highlighting how we can use social intelligence to help innovate products.

Connect with Job on LinkedIn or Twitter, or get in touch by email: Job@Facegroup.com

What’s new in… Retail & Ecommerce. 5 Reads & 5 Opportunities

If you follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn you’ll know that we are always on the hunt for the best content – futures, retail innovation, consumer behaviour, FMCG, mobile devices, and of course the latest in market research.

We’d now like to introduce our new blog series, which brings together our top reads from different industry verticals every week. We’ve done the reading: here’s the distilled summary of what’s going on and why it matters for your business.

This week, retail and ecommerce. Technological advances are dramatically changing consumer behaviour and the retail landscape, from using phones to pay for goods in-store, to “showrooming” and third-spaces. The retail experience is evolving and the challenge of making in-store and online work effectively together is considerable.

Here we’ve chosen the top 5 articles we’ve read recently that are an essential for those who want to understand this current exciting time for retail.

1. Retailers must reinvent stores, says report
Business of Fashion, 27th January 2015

Retailers need to reinvent the store

“Nonetheless, to remain competitive, legacy brands and retailers must do more to reinvent their stores to better suit the behaviours and expectations of today’s hyper-connected consumers, while leveraging their traditional advantages, argues a recent report by PSFK”

Opportunity: Up the personal interaction of the in-store experience. It’s not just about payment, but personalised recommendations too. The iPad becomes a crucial surface to give sales associates access to the same algorithmic recommendation engines that make the website feel so ‘relevant’ to the customer.

2. The ‘Alone Together’ Customer Experience Trend: From Starbucks To Hotel Design To Retail Banking
Micah Soloman, Forbes, 31st January 2015

"Latte and Laptop" - changing the way we use public spaces

“The Futures Company has dubbed this the “Latte and Laptop” customer: the guest, customer or traveler who craves a communal setting where, paradoxically, she can do private work.”

The previous article talked about personalising the store. This is the next stage evolution: turning it into a public space. The rise in flexible and freelance working means people are looking for ways to work outside the office, but still among other people. (Starbucks has embedded this into their brand with the idea of the ‘Third Place’.) The opportunity? Make your store a nice place to hang out, with tables and free wifi. This will drive footfall, opportunistic sales, and brand loyalty.

3. Watch your online spending – How a handful of purchases can reveal anonymous shopping habits
Adi Robertson, The Verge, 29th January 2015

Online spending habits are 1 in a million

“When the authors mapped locations, dates, and prices of someone’s non-anonymous purchases against the whole database, it was usually easy to find a single, unique pattern. With three points or more, it was virtually a certainty.”

Data matching certainly offers an opportunity to give customers targeted discounts and better recommendations, and drive sales. But retailers need to weigh this up against the risk of creeping their customers out. (How did you know I was pregnant?) User experience research is essential to identify which data-matching opportunities are worth pursuing – and we might find some retailers forgoing opportunities here in order to consolidate a position as solid, trustworthy, don’t-scare-the-horses brands.

4. The sharing economy goes next level. Introducing the “Airbnb sub-economy”
Jenny Miller, Fast Company, January 2015

The sharing economy goes next level with Airbnb sub-economy

“A new crop of businesses are here to handle everything from key handoff to guest laundry. Call them the “Airbnb sub-economy.”

Companies such as Airbnb and Uber are sometimes described as a ‘rentier’ or ‘parasite’ economic model: the hosts own the assets (houses, cars) and provide the actual service, whereas these companies profit simply from connecting buyers and sellers. We now have subsidiary service businesses built on top of parasites… Not sure we can see an opportunity in that, except it’s all getting very derivative and the clock’s just ticked a minute closer to the next economic crisis.

Opportunity? Don’t build a service business that’s totally dependent on a sharing economy start-up with dubious regulatory compliance! It’s low margin and high risk.

5. How to get Abercrombie & Fitch back on track
Katie Smith, Editd, January 2015.

How to fix Abercrombie & Fitch

“It has been argued that the brand’s consumer profile of collegiate, wealthy American is passé: some say this consumer is now too well informed and more diverse.”

Abercrombie and Fitch’s business model no longer fits the direction of the industry. Changing consumer attitudes have meant A&F now has major issues with its product, pricing and positioning. Katie Smith takes examples from parallel UK premium high street stores Jack Wills and Superdry to showcase that with the right strategy and positioning premium brands can still win big on the high street.

Opportunity: Think bigger – it’s not just about brand identiy, but culture and demographics. Brand identities cannot stay static: they have to update as consumer trends and demographics evolve. In Abercrombie’s case,  key demographic trends would include the increasing ethnic diversity of young Americans and the changing college experience (the 4-year liberal arts degree is a tiny part of the whole). What cultural shifts in demographics, housing, transport, or employment might change your brand?

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So that’s the lastest in retail and ecommerce, from Ed Hawes and Jess Owens.  Join us next week for another five reads from another sector – suggestions welcome at @FaceResearch!

Or check out our case study on Retail, where we used our Social Panels to explore the possibilities in data matching for a major UK store.

FACE is Hiring! Qual Senior Research Manager in the Consultancy team

We are happy to announce that FACE is hiring! We are looking to add an experienced Senior Research Manager to our team in London.

To find out more about FACE, watch our ‘Manifesto’ video, come meet the team, or of course read our blog (some great pieces recently on ‘social intelligence‘, the ‘business of products‘, and copycat brands in China). That should give you a flavour of what we’re about!

Then send your application (or any questions you may have) to our Head of Research, Matthew.Arnold@Facegroup.com.

Outline of Role:

The role of qualitative Senior Research Manager is key within the team, and to the FACE business as a whole.  Senior RMs are expected to contribute significantly to building relationships both internally and externally.  They should inspire clients with their attitude and professional application, and the quality of their thinking and work.  They are expected to provide advice, guidance and inspiration to junior members of the team, whilst supporting and giving peace of mind to RDs and the management team.

You are a forward-thinking qualitative consultant with at least 4-5 years’ experience, keen to play a key role in the winning, leading, and execution of research and innovation projects. This entails working on the full project lifecycle, from designing and setting up projects and conducting fieldwork, through to analysis, report writing, and presenting. You must have extensive experience of working successfully in teams and be able to manage projects, and help build successful client relationships where necessary – both in the UK and internationally.

Job Description:

  • Manage research projects on a day to day basis, using a variety of qualitative methods including face-to-face, online communities, and mobile ethno – and a desire to work with social media (experience not a pre-requisite here).
  • Be involved in project costings, including opening and maintaining communication channels with production, and building the costing sheet
  • Create task plans for and oversee delivery on online community research
  • Help facilitate creative workshops and co-creation
  • Run traditional qualitative approaches e.g. focus groups, in depth interviews, immersions
  • Proactively look to incorporate social media insight into qualitative approaches. When appropriate, work closely with social media specialists to produce social media reports
  • Co-write and present strategic proposals and pitches
  • Co-write and present strategic debriefs, client presentations and content for workshops
  • Contribute to the agency blog and thought leadership
  • Work tirelessly to deliver the quality standards set by the RDs and Head of Research

Skills and experience sought:

A desire to push the insight innovation agenda forward
Our agency leads the way in rethinking how innovation, strategy and insight is generated and utilised in the age of the networked consumer, so a desire to be involved with helping to push the insight innovation agenda forward will be expected.

Teamwork and a solution-driven attitude
In the UK we are a team of 20 all working across multiple projects at any given time. We have a democratic way of working that ensures everyone’s opinion – regardless of level or experience – is listened to and valued. Teamwork and a desire to assist others in the pursuit of value and quality very much lies at the heart of our culture. A positive mindset, an ability to work with and value others, and a solution-driven attitude, are prerequisites for this role.

Commercial savvy and client relationships
You must be able to think and act commercially, and assist in the building of strong client relationships, working with clients at a marketing and management level (beyond client research teams).
We operate a flexible account structure at FACE and the Senior RM will play a key support role on at least two accounts. You will work closely with the relevant RDs and / or Head of Research to devise an on-going account strategy. #

Smart project management
As a Senior RM, you will be able to think quickly and handle multiple projects and work streams simultaneously – being efficient in terms of personal time management, and the management of others.

Package:

Salary TBC – competitive
Bonus Entry into FACE account bonus initiative
Private health care Yes
Pension Automatic enrolment into FACE company pension scheme

If you’re interested in applying for this role and you’d love to join FACE, please send your application (or any questions) to Matthew.Arnold@Facegroup.com.  We look forward to hearing from you!

If this is not you but you know someone it might fit, please share on email, mailing lists, Twitter (we’re @FaceResearch) and LinkedIn.