Kathryn Elenius

Telling a good story about data isn’t an easy process – it necessitates understanding both who you’re telling the story about and who you’re telling the story to.

Students in the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research had the opportunity to learn about both aspects from industry experts in Minneapolis – by visiting General Mills and United Health Group.

The Badger alumni at General Mills grounded us in some of the steps taken to achieve high quality qualitative research, from analyzing shelf layouts to tools used for organizing initial insights into potential avenues for further exploration. To do comparatively agile research on shelf and store layouts, General Mills has invested in 3D modelling that allows for consumer interaction with the shelf – and with the use of 3D goggles, quick immersion into the model. What initially seems cumbersome from the outside becomes suddenly real once involved in the system – something multiple of us noted, after almost wandering off into the “store” with the headsets on! Paired with researchers’ ability to view what the participants are looking at, this is an ideal way to capture consumer response in a way that blocks out even some of their awareness of the observer. DayLife2

At United Health Group we moved from the strategy of how to gather the best qualitative data, to how to tell the best story from the data you have. We started in iterative advertisement design, focusing on how to measure and balance engagement, brand awareness, and the message takeaways.  We discussed how to prioritize each based on where in a campaign a specific advertisement falls – or as the desired takeaways change. This was a fascinating look into the process of developing and refining ads, as there were half a dozen iterative examples shown of United Health Care’s ad campaign based on often seemingly ridiculous medical codes – each with clear differences in what was being emphasized.  From there, we were given a tour of Optum, which is a member of United Health Group that provides big data solutions for health care providers as well as other large institutions. Quantitative data is difficult to communicate, so Optum has designed a malleable presentation space with live feeds, moving walls, and careful crafting of small stories to both make evident thDayLifeMNe extent of their expertise in technology fields, and show how Optum’s work moves from numbers to impact in the lives of everyday people.

In addition to storytelling, our trip to Minneapolis was a wonderful opportunity to expand our knowledge of the branching job paths available in Consumer Insights, and network with alumni and friends of the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research.