FlexMR have today launched a new research project that aims to demonstrate the range of unique ways in which consumer insight can be translated into business action. Dubbed The Consumer Postcard Project, the firm are translating qualitative research into artworks that capture sentiment in an engaging and thought provoking way.
To launch the project, FlexMR have created insight-led, artistic representations of the retail, food production, food service, hotel, travel and financial service industries. Both style and subject matter reflect consumer opinion – drawing on digital, painted, minimalist and retro styles. Each artwork is available to view online, alongside brief explanations of the insights that inspired them.
FlexMR CEO, Paul Hudson, says of the project, “Our focus with this initiative is not the research itself, but demonstrating the broad range of ways in which research departments can empower and engage stakeholders.
We hear regularly from insight departments the challenges they face in distributing research results and ensuring it’s used in decision making processes. In this project we want to show that there are creative solutions to stakeholder engagement – leaving decision makers with a memorable, impactful takeaway.”
Initially, FlexMR have run the project with six industries that make up a significant proportion of the UK economy. This is what the artwork for each reflects:
Retail: This piece highlights the polarising consumer retail experience. A sparse, industrialist, Lowry-inspired depiction contrasts with the wonderfully colourful and detailed impressionist element. The artwork brings to life contradictory aspects of the consumer experience, ranging from the “over-the-top” and experiential glamour of the high street to the dull, depressing and dying town centres. As represented by the clear dividing line: “to survive in an increasingly online world, customer service is a key differentiator.”
Food Production: Inspired by Dada-style collages, this artwork draws on common themes that consumers highlighted. The vast range of choice portrayed in the collage encroaches and overshadows the only natural food source; emblematic of the perception that while the variety of products is impressive, it only serves as a distraction to core issues. Consumers care about “animal welfare, the high degree of competition, the potential for deception” and questioned whether the cost of highly-processed foods was worth the impact.
Food Service: Feedback most suited a digital illustration that represents the modern, clean, and atmospheric dining environment that is primarily associated with the food service sector. Consumer behaviour and choice and highly review-driven, both by online sites and word of mouth. The piece represents the fact that many consumers “always look online for reviews” before trying a new establishment that is not one of their “existing favourites”. Ultimately, consumers believe restaurants service experiences; service and atmosphere are just as important as the food that they cook.
Financial Services: The cubist imagery of this design represents the clean-cut professionalism that consumers associate with financial services. The geometric rigidity of the industry is stark; but consumers believe money is the sole focus, while customer service and experience are given very little attention. The dash of blue in this piece symbolises the expressed hope that the industry will see them soon. But for now, the overriding impression is still that “institutions do not care about you as a person anymore. All they care about is reaching their targets.”
Hotel: This design reflects that while consumers may enjoy the furnishings and décor of a hotel, the single aspect of the experience that can make or break an experience is the service provided by the staff. Hotels were described as a “much needed resource” highlighting that the experience is often viewed in a utilitarian light. As such, elements such as cleanliness, convenience, and comfort are important in the moment, but not memorable after a stay.
Travel: The travel sector is represented in a retro, pop art-style in order to highlight two key themes: the vibrant and colourful visuals depict the expectations of “fun and relaxation” that consumers have come to expect. Transport, hotels, and location were all considered contributing factors to the experience, but fun appears to be the main metric travel is judged on. Travel agents were also a source of nostalgia for a number of consumers – remembering past experiences from both recent years and decades past.
Chris Martin, FlexMR Chief Marketing Officer, says, “We know that the future of insights will be faster, more immediate and more accessible. But with that growth of data comes of a new kind of challenge – impact. New methods for creating impactful and memorable insights are emerging, such as storytelling techniques and data visualisation.
But we wanted to take this to the extreme and draw on a medium known for resonating with people on a deep, emotional level. It’s our hope that by showcasing how creativity can be used to engage decision makers, we’ll start to open up a whole new age of insights engagement and empowerment.”
FlexMR are inviting brands to get involved with The Consumer Postcard Project, to find out how their reputation would be artistically represented. To find out more about how to get involved, or view all of insight-led artworks, visit the FlexMR gallery.