Innovator Insights: Suzy’s Matt Britton

Innovator Insights: Suzy’s Matt Britton

Matt Britton knows all about the meetings you’ve been sitting through. You know, the ones where the CMO asks about the audience reach the marketing team needs to guide the development of its next ad campaign.

With some awkwardness – because it’s probably not the first time – someone has to respond with, “We’re still waiting on the agency to send that over. But they’re working on it.”

When Britton, Founder and CEO of Suzy, refers to “disrupting the research supply chain,” this is what he’s talking about. The company’s software is designed to simplify and accelerate every stage of the traditional market research process. This includes tools to design surveys all the way to features to analyze and derive insights from the results.

“Consumers change so much, and brands need to be able to harness those consumer-based insights quickly, not get results three months later when they’re stale,” Britton told Brand Innovators. “Often by that point, something else has happened – either a new technology came out or some new trend emerged – which made the original research results irrelevant.”

AI as a qualitative research assistant

Of course, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has probably elevated brands’ expectations around the depth of insight they should be getting out of their market research investments. This past July, Suzy responded by hosting its AI First Summit in New York, where it launched an AI-powered qualitative research platform called Qual Analysis. Britton said this was built upon previous use of the technology.

“We had already provided the ability to have AI create transcripts (of research interviews), but we still would need a human to come in and analyze the transcripts. Now those transcripts are being analyzed on demand through AI,” he said, adding that people are still involved in the final stages. “It allows us to give our clients what they’re ultimately looking for, which is getting the insights that come out of those qualitative research studies quickly and more efficiently.”

Listening to someone other than the HIPPO

While Suzy is disintermediating agencies with less efficient approaches to conducting market research, Britton said the company also recognizes the need to help brands upskill their marketing team members. Besides its Suzy Academy online training courses, the company has partnered with Market Research Institute International (MRII) to offer a certified course in advanced learning.

“Businesses used to make decisions on what we call the HIPPO: the highest paid person’s opinion,” Britton pointed out. “As more and more people in the enterprise need to understand research, it dawned on us that we need to make sure that we’re investing in education, so more people can learn the art of doing it properly.”

This could include understanding how to formulate survey questions that aren’t leading to determining the right size of a focus group panel in order to feel confident about the results, he said.

Suzy’s success depends upon brands being willing to continue allocating their budget to research, but despite economic turbulence this year Britton said the company hasn’t seen marketers cutting back. This may be because the pipeline for creating and marketing new products tends to be long, and also because they can’t afford to put out something that isn’t going to deliver results to the business.

“It’s almost like, what’s the ROI of a seatbelt? You won’t know unless you get into an accident, so you wear it every day,” he said. “I think that brands really understand that.”

What market research and the iPhone have in common

The other area where many brands are investing, of course, are platforms and tools that track what consumers are doing, rather than asking their opinion. Britton said his best customers marry those two data sets in order to provide a more holistic picture of what their audience wants and needs.

In some cases there is a danger of consumers responding to research surveys with what they think they should be saying, versus how they actually think and feel. This can skew polling in elections, for example, creating an inaccurate picture of popular sentiment. Britton said this is where Suzy is striking a balance between offering AI capabilities and empowering marketers with skills to get closer to the truth.

“If you look at the iPhone, everyone’s now a good photographer, and even more so because we also have services like Instagram and its filters. But you still have to know where to point the camera,” he said. “We’re not trying to teach everybody in the organization how to kind of go into the equivalent of a camera’s manual settings, which would be that very sophisticated research functionality. But we do want to teach them how to point that proverbial camera in the most customer-centric way possible. That’s where I think market research is ultimately going.”