Last fall, FlexMR offered something truly new and unique to the market research industry, our Insight as Art project. As a full-service research agency, we understand that our clients spend a lot of time and effort conducting research and writing reports, only to find out that their findings sit in a drawer or are ignored by stakeholders. This is quite common in our industry, where the perception of market research is not the most exciting or sexy. At FlexMR, we had a long, hard think about what would be causing this, which led us to a hypothesis that high level executive thinkers are not emotionally motivated to enact changes based on spreadsheets, charts or graphs.
Like the true data scientists that we are, we set out to prove this theory, which was the genesis behind our Insight as Art project. We theorized that art, as a medium, would be more motivational. Art would elicit more of a reaction that ultimately would spur action within a brand. As a result, we opened up our experiment to dozens of brands, to overwhelming success.
Riding high from our success last year, we decided to have another go at it. Only this year, we’re taking it to a whole new level! We recruited New York city residents to participate in our three-day discussion (facilitated by our InsightHub platform), and asked them to share with us their thoughts, feelings and attitudes towards the city they call home. After we gathered the qualitative data from, our creative team distilled, analyzed and dreamt up a visual representation of the data as a work of art! We’ll be displaying the piece later in the year at Wall Street station for commuters to enjoy.
Here’s the data we collected, bought to life in a wild and beautiful interpretation of emotional connection, deeply held beliefs and social identity.
A City, Analysed in Depth
To give you a deeper understanding of how the data was transformed into this artistic display, here’s our written summary of the insight that informed the piece.
New Yorkers love New York. It’s big, bright, and crammed full with entertainment, career opportunities, and most importantly, people. The towering structures, crammed into small islands highlight the overwhelming hustle and bustle of the city. Some describe this with positivity, while others suggest the city is too crowded.
However, whether it’s busy or stressful, both parties agree that New York is a world of its own — represented literally by the galactic setting of this piece! In space, there’s no day or night, calling attention to the collective commentary that New York is always open for business. You want to go down to the gym? Collect groceries? Go out with friends? No problem! There will always be something to do, and somebody awake.
Entertainment was a significant factor in the feedback. Cultural hotspots like Broadway and the city’s museums were given just as much attention as concerts, clubs, movies and theatres. In fact, some described New York as a Disneyland for adults. The otherworldly, futuristic carnival that makes up the core of this piece encapsulates these performative tendencies, while balancing the excitement and opportunity of the city with the stress of missing out.
However, all of this opportunity comes at a great cost, in terms of both financial resource and energy. It is expensive to keep with this lifestyle, and easy to get swept up in the breakneck speed of New York life. For those lucky enough to ride the guitar-coaster, life is joyful and without care. However, there is little room for those who cannot afford to live in New York.
Stylistically — this piece draws inspiration from visual novels, comics, punk aesthetics and hyper-reality. Colors and textures pop, giving the piece a sense of excitement that is reflected in New Yorkers’ views towards their city. The style also draws heavily from fantasy inspirations; highlighting the larger-than-life, entertainment-centric identity of the metropolis.
Creative Qual & The Future of Insight
Imagine if you were able to sit down with your leadership team and show them artwork that represented how your customers felt about a product, brand, or experience like the one we did in New York? It can help to tell a fascinating story using an engaging, visual medium. Storytelling is a popular technique already, used frequently to give greater meaning to debriefs and help audiences retain information. Now imagine just how much more could be added by including abstract visuals that demand cognitive engagement in this process. Novelty, creativity and expert understanding all coming together as one.
For example, the visual story that unfolds throughout our New York artwork suggests that residents feel as though they are living on another planet and music (as well as entertainment as a whole) are the soul of the city. And that begins to open up even more questions. How does this compare to other cities in the States? Do people who live in Queens feel the same way about it? How would Mayor de Blasio react to this image? Would it resonate with him as well?
The intention behind the Insight as Art projectis indeed to engage internal stakeholders so that they may ask more questions and find, for themselves, a deeper understanding of their brand, products and customers. By adding this artistic medium to our toolset, FlexMR is able to help you connect more strongly with stakeholders, and ultimately enact important changes faster and more efficiently. Together let’s push the industry forward!
The original version of this article appeared on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.