Telum Talks To: Jo Harris from Pureprofile

Telum Talks To: Jo Harris from Pureprofile

Jo Harris is the Global Head of Marketing & Communications at Pureprofile, a global data and insights organisation for agencies, marketers, researchers and brands and businesses. She spoke with Telum Media about the importance of data-driven insights for PR professionals as well as challenges and opportunities for outfits expanding into new markets.

Pureprofile recently released a playbook for PR Professionals on best practices for market research in communications. What's the most important thing a PR practitioner should consider before engaging with market research?
For PR professionals, it must all start with a clear understanding of the research purpose. This is a pivotal first step, as it informs the selection of the most appropriate audience sample and the crafting of appropriate, pertinent questions to achieve the desired outcomes.

PR professionals frequently employ market research to help with tailored messaging, content, and communication strategies that effectively engage specific target audiences. It also aids in tasks such as competitive analysis and industry trend monitoring, enabling PR experts to remain at the forefront of their field. Moreover, market research serves as a valuable instrument for identifying potential market opportunities and challenges, offering a solid foundation for well-informed decision-making.

Why is it important to back PR campaigns with data-driven insights?
Market research takes the guesswork out of PR. The data collected and analysed from market research gives you a deeper understanding of audiences, helping to identify key messages and create communications that resonate with them. Audiences can be segmented further into even smaller groups for more niche targeting by using tools such as a buyer persona template.

Clients or colleagues can be resistant if they haven’t tried market research before, but it is an integral, strategic tool that can drive more informed decisions and make proactive planning easier.

As well as campaigns, market research is also useful when pitching to new clients. It helps position a PR agency as highly knowledgeable in a particular sector, with a deep understanding of buyer needs and preferences, whether B2B or B2C.

What are the main differences between conducting market research in Australia and New Zealand as opposed to Southeast Asia?
Languages are a massive factor. It’s estimated that over 1,200 languages are spoken in Southeast Asia, so it's important to provide surveys in the local language to ensure accuracy and provide translations.

There are also differences in purchasing behaviours. Southeast Asian consumers use e-commerce with much more frequency, tend to have higher levels of brand loyalty and are more price-conscious. Surveys and questionnaires need to be intimately cognisant of the nuances of local behaviours, customs and traditions; otherwise, decisions based on the results of skewed market research can have disastrous consequences. Take, for example, when British supermarket retailer, Tesco, failed to launch in China because they did not consider the local bargain-hunting culture.

What should a PR professional in SEA do differently to penetrate the ANZ market, and vice versa?
For SEA professionals targeting the ANZ market, market research should prioritise understanding the ANZ region's cultural nuances, values, and consumer behaviour. To effectively reach ANZ audiences, research should be customised in terms of vernacular, tone, and cultural references. Being familiar with the ANZ media landscapes is also paramount, with 96 per cent of Australians and 82 per cent of New Zealanders being closely engaged with the news.

For ANZ professionals targeting the SEA market, conducting research means recognising the vast cultural diversity in the region. Linguistic diversity should be addressed through translation and localisation. Research design should take into account consumer behaviours, and market trends in each country.

Market research in this direction needs to embrace digital and social media trends to reach SEA target audiences effectively while ensuring compliance with varying regulations.

What are some key trending areas in the market research space that PR and comms professionals should keep their eye on?
One of the most important trends is agility. Brands increasingly want instant, real-time responses, so they can immediately respond to consumer sentiment. This is critical for PR and comms as it means campaigns can be tweaked and optimised. Partnering with a market research agency that can deliver rapid results is important.

Diversity and cultural awareness are critical. There are numerous examples of campaigns failing because they excluded specific demographics or were tone-deaf to cultural needs and expectations. Panels must be large and representative, with the ability to segment and survey specific target groups in granular ways.

We’re also seeing advanced technologies deployed. Conversational AI and chatbots, can provide immediate, data-driven insights from customer interactions, helping in tailoring PR messages and strategies.

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