Category Archives: Blog

Meet us at…Spikes Asia

Spikes Asia (September 23 – 26, Singapore) now in its sixth year aims to bring together Asia’s creative community for a “four day celebration of creativity in communications.” The conference will include thought-lead seminars by the industry’s most influential, to networking events and exhibitions. We’re honoured to have been invited to speak at Spikes and we’re very much looking forward to meeting everyone and getting inspired.

Fustrated with your Creatives V2

Andrew Ho, our Managing Director for Asia will be speaking at Spikes on Wednesday September 24th from 14.30 – 15.30. His talk entitled “The problem isn’t your creatives… it’s how you get your insight” will discuss how creativity isn’t just the responsibility of advertising agencies. The struggle for brands to discover relevant ways to connect with consumers starts by infusing more creative approaches earlier in the innovation journey, i.e. from the insight development process.

Learn how to ask more interesting questions to get more relevant answers from consumers, and provide your team with a stronger platform for strategic inspiration and creative fuel.

Are you looking for ways to gain richer rewards from an insight process? Yearning greater creativity during innovation? Want to break boundaries of familiar insight territories? Andrew Ho will be there to answer all of these questions and more during his talk. He will also share eight key principles to uncover new ground and deliver fresher and deeper insight.

“The problem isn’t your creatives…it’s how you get your insight” is not to be missed; make sure you join Andrew at Spikes Asia on Wednesday September 24th from 14.30 – 15.30 and gain a deeper understanding into how we think at Face and what drives a successful consumer insight project.

MRSS Asia Research Conference: The Brave New Digital World

On 7 August I attended the MRSS Asia Research Conference 2014 at Fairmont Hotel. Despite the strapline – Brave New Digital World – invoking sci-fi dystopia, it was instead a day filled with inspiring and thought provoking sharing from 12 veterans of the market research industry.

The topics centered around changes in consumer behaviour with the rise in smart devices. The world is overtaken by digital media, albeit not overnight, but with evident footprints that are too deep to overlook.

President of MRSS, Joan Koh, kicked-off the conference with a strong message for brand leaders and researchers. She said that 70% of brands are still relying on traditional media, but smart devices are multiplying and shaping consumers’ lives today. Moving forward, it will be an exciting time learning and catching up with the consumers with the new technologies.

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 5 takeaways and implications on how we approach MR

 1. Real role of mobile phone:

I was very intrigued by Dave’s McCaughan’s paper on “Who needs a nose!”: The truth about your fifth sense. I gave my personal vote to Dave as the best paper not because I learnt a new word from him – phubbing (check it out if you don’t already know), Dave put across a very interesting point, which really bugged me and made me rethink how we can tap into this behaviour when conducting research. In a piece of research, Dave found out that when people were asked to choose what they can’t live without, most choose their mobile phone over their nose! Mobile phone has taken on a very important role in our lives, helping us sense and interpret things around us.

Why did I say this bugged me so much as a researcher? Look at how we manage research sessions now – we always tell participants to put their phones away so that they can focus on the discussion happening in the room. But what also means is that we are actually asking them to put their 5th sense away!

I remember asking a participant to put away her phone during a workshop discussion. She told me that she was going online to look up what we just said about the product technology because she has never heard of it and found it really interesting. Imagine this for a moment – if we were to design our agenda and exercises such that participants are asked to go online to look for inspiration, ideas or images, the insights we gather will be rich, diverse and quick. Most importantly, we are working with consumers with all of their senses, including the new 5th sense.

 2. Big data & big challenge:

Big Data is a buzz word that experts reckon brands and agencies are still working hard to make sense of , but let’s dive into it anyways as it sounds really important. From what I gathered from various papers shared at the conference, Big Data must be used with a strategy and end-game in mind. There is no lack of data, but to create meaningful connection with the data requires more thought.

Arno Hummerston, Digital Market Intelligence from GfK, gave his honest thoughts that big data is not a case of the more the merrier. In addition to that, Arno also raised some worrying challenges social media research faces with the use of multi-devices information channel and multi-delivery environment.

Recently, Jessica Owens our in-house social media research expert suggested 10 ways to add rigour into your social media research to deliver solid findings. One of the ways that Jess mentioned, “qualify your quant insights” is something that many clients have seen lacking in the market. Only data that are translated into meaningful insights offer new learning of the market and audience. At Face and Pulsar, we have researchers who are committed to qualifying mass amounts of data to create meaningful stories to inspire insights.

3. Tapping into new behaviour:

I had a geek moment when Melissa Gil, Director of SingTel’s Customer Intelligence and Living Analytics, presented the geo-analytics findings of SingTel’s big data. It is fascinating how traffic pattern informs shopping behavior, giving SingTel confidence to execute tactical marketing effort and staff planning.

Having covered the macro insights, capturing and understanding the actual audience behaviour is important to provide a holistic picture of the insights. In a research to understand people’s shopping behaviour, SingTel requested its research participants to upload receipts of their purchases. The information collected from the vast amount of receipts provided deep insights into shopping behaviour from a location, day and time perspective. This method of data collection was probably less feasible years ago, but now people are open about  capturing and sharing personal experiences via technology. Since SingTel has ownership over the data, they can always call up the research participants to provide deeper insights into each spending experience.

I feel that Big Data has definitely blurred the lines of quant and qual further – in a good way. Starting broad and wide provides a direction on what to focus on. Focusing on selected issues provides a perspective on why things are evolving the way they are. We will definitely see more and more need for hybrid of intelligent minds to analyse data with both a macro and micro view.


4. It’s not only about the Gen Y and Millennials:

I must say that Benjamin Smithee’s talk was very captivating. It is a topic that I am particularly interesting and passionate on – the Gen Y and the Millennials. Yes, we all should know by now that the Gen Y and the Millennials grew up in the digital world, and that changes how brands should engage with them. But what’s more fascinating for me is how Gen Y and the Millenniums are impacting the upstream generation – their parents. When Ben talked about this, it dawn on me that it is so true that I have been influencing my mother’s lifestyle to a large extent! I introduced her to smartphone and tablet, I introduced her to H&M and Zara, and I introduced her to the world of YouTube and iTunes. Before, my mother consumed media solely through TV, but now she watches offshore cooking programmes on YouTube at any time of the day.

What does this mean? Brands should not be looking at this segment in the same way. While they don’t form the bulk of the “digital generation” as much as the Gen Y and the Millennials, they definitely are spending a fair amount of time and money online.

This also inspired me to relook into our research design and approach. Often we would be concerned about adding digital components for audience above the ages of 45, but this new insight gave me a fresh perspective. I feel that the digital world has made pure demographics less and less meaningful.

5. It is time for change

In the closing message, Ray Poynter reinforced what Joan Koh started with – the context has changed but most thinking is still based on old methods. Ray pulled very interesting contrast between the landscape of 1974 and 2014. What’s most interesting to me are two areas:

#1: In the past the consumer’s role was passive, which has evolved to be reactive, and now it is collaborative. This changes how research approach should be designed – it is no longer about evaluation and feedback, but creation and refinement. At Face, we believe in co-creating with consumers right from the beginning of the process. It is a new era where brands and marketers should seek to work more closely with consumers.

#2: Marketing to global consumers in every local market. With technology and smart devices, people are no longer restricted to what they have and see in their own market, but globally. This gives brands a lot more challenge to create a unifying message that works cross-market, but also give brands a lot more opportunities to cross-sell.

Vijay Raj, Unilever CMI Director for Research Innovation and Protocol Management, made it explicit that it is no longer enough for brands to innovate to cope, but we need to proactively innovate to win.

It is encouraging that clients are excited to embrace this change. In fact, brands are expecting their research agencies to take leadership to transform and inspire approaches and thinking. It is exciting times ahead. We don’t know what the limit of digital technology is, but we know we will be limiting ourselves if we don’t adopt it.

FACE’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

This week the inevitable happened. FACE became the next in a long line that has been nominated for ALS’ Ice Bucket Challenge. Yes, the social media phenomenon reached us in our London Office; we have Brightsource to thank for that!

ALS is a disease that many had never heard of or understood before the Ice Bucket Challenge; it has brought a huge amount of awareness to the charity and many similar non-profits who are trying to fight the cause.

The challenge represents more than just throwing iced cold water over your head. It shows us the incredible power of social media, and how quickly content can go viral.

We would like to thank Brightsource for the nomination. Our nominations go to Extendi, Sennep and Sensum. You have 24 hours – considering it’s a Friday we’ll give you until Monday.

Please donate what you can to the following links:

ALS in the US here:…

Or to the UK’s Motor Neurone Disease Association here:

Find out more about ALS (known more commonly as Motor Neurone Disease in the UK or Lou Gehrig’s disease):…

Meet us at… Corporate Researchers Conference


Corporate Researchers Conference (September 17-19, Chicago) is one of the only conferences created for and by corporate researchers, and FACE cannot wait to be there.

We will be putting you to the ultimate test with our Internet cats vs. Internet dogs battle, just like we did at Marketing Week Live in the UK. There, the more dominant force has been Internet cats. Now with the test going transatlantic for the first time, will the US be any different?

If you’re familiar with our experiment then you’ll know that everything we do at FACE is about understanding people. Once again we have teamed up with our friends at Sensum who specialise in mobile solutions for capturing, visualising and reporting engagement. Using Sensum’s proven biometric technology (yes, we are taking this seriously) we will measure people’s emotional reactions to one cat and one dog YouTube Buzzfeed video and solve this old-age debate once and for all.

 Although everyone already knows whether they’re a cat or dog person in real life, things may be a little different in the digital sphere. So when it comes to Internet pets, which one do people like more? If you’re attending Corporate Researchers Conference in September please come over and take the test to see not only which pet will win YOUR heart, but who is the winner overall. 

And while you’re there, please say hello to Andrew Needham (our CEO), Job Microsoft (UK MD), and Marc Geffen (US Research Manager) who are very much looking forward to meeting you.

Do you want to know how to identify top influencers within your category? Interested in the ingredients of a successful co-creation project? Or what it takes to become a socially intelligent business? Then come to our booth at stand 202 in the Vista Lounge, we’d love to tell you all about it.  We’ll also present our social data intelligence platform Pulsar which enables you to go beyond keyword tracking to map brand audiences, track how content spreads, and manage your teams to engage effectively with your customers in social media. 

Thank you to Buzzfeed for kindly allowing us to use their content for this experiment.

We are (Face) Family. Sharing Knowledge, Making Memories

FACE company history was made on 18th July when all four offices came together for the first ever global company gathering. As the sun beat down onto the Oxfordshire countryside, Facers explored the  tents, bonfire pit, chill out zone, hog roast and travelling bar, catching up and getting to know teammates from across the world. There were mentions, promotions, new role announcements, and a massive “thank you” from Andrew Needham, our CEO – and then a party well into the early hours.

Not only was Face Festival incredibly special, so was the week leading up to it. There was an unbelievable amount of knowledge sharing, team-building, absorbing new skills, and sharing best practices. It was also an amazing opportunity to finally put faces to names, as many of us had only met over email.

I think I can say on behalf of all Facers that this week could not have been any better. It exceeded all expectations, bringing us together to develop our creativity and cross-continent knowledge. We are already counting down the days until next one.

Check out our Face Festival memories below:

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