IIEX 2023: My Day One Experience 

By Adam Jolley

On the first day of IIEX 2023, Melissa Harrington from Liquid Death delivered a thought-provoking presentation titled “Death to Consumer Insights.” It emphasized the importance of understanding human behaviors and attitudes, rather than solely focusing on purchasing habits, in order to reframe consumer insights as human insights. Liquid Death’s impressive growth and self-awareness during the talk left a strong impression on me. As someone who regularly purchases energy drinks, I was accustomed to their flashy cans and the mystery of flavors. However, Liquid Death, with its rebellious packaging and core product of canned water, has achieved remarkable success with $100 million in annual sales and a recent valuation of $700 million. Their approach to uncovering insights about their consumers aligns with their bold brand identity.

One of my favorite activities at the conference was the innovation competition. Companies like Zappi and Veylinx showcased how innovation and automation can provide richer insights for industries that rely heavily on data. Although some presentations lacked polished marketing plans and felt like beauty contests, they demonstrated the quest for a game-changing solution. Congratulations to this year’s winner Riveter.

I also attended a talk by Steve Phillips from Zappi on AI and its impact on researchers. AI was a prominent theme throughout the conference, and Steve urged us to embrace the fear of job displacement. He emphasized that AI is not meant to replace researchers entirely, but rather to reallocate resources and create a more stable industry with predictable and consistent insights, free from the biases and stresses of human researchers.

After lunch, Andre Elder and Scott Holland from Illuminas delivered an insightful presentation on data quality with B2B respondents. They highlighted the shift in the conversation around data quality from issues like speeders, cheaters, and bots to focusing on engagement and misrepresentation. This tied in well with Zappi’s talk on automation and the transfer of certain tasks from researchers to technology, enabling deeper insights and facilitating collaboration between researchers and developers.

The final presentation of the day that stood out to me was by MarketCast, who explored gathering insights from young people. Engaging with young individuals, particularly in the era of intense competition for screen time, has always been challenging. Aaron Thomas and Jessica Ritzo discussed the importance of immersing ourselves in their digital worlds to organically connect with these crucial consumers, rather than simply inviting them to our own platforms. It was an excellent presentation.

Summing up my first day, I initially anticipated being overwhelmed by AI and automation. It’s easy to feel left behind with rapidly advancing technology. However, each presentation provided practical and accessible applications of tools that not only met our expectations in terms of insights but also had the potential to elevate them. The conference thus far has been a valuable learning environment, and I eagerly anticipate what’s to come!