HUMAN – interview with Rakesh Kumar
Insight Middle East and Africa is delighted to speak to Rakesh Kumar, CEO – Human.
Rakesh, please tell us about yourself. Why did you chose to pursue a career in market research? Which aspects of it do you enjoy the most?
It was the power of curiosity and the ability to understand the human points were the big triggers for me to get into the industry. Whilst I always had an interest in advertising and communication, market research happened by default. Soon after my MBA, I was interviewing with Nielsen’s old business (ORG MARG) in India and they offered me a job. I decided to take it up since it was still in the realms of marketing and advertising. There has been no looking back and the power of understanding the human mind has kept me intrigued enough to keep going.
What inspired you to launch HUMAN?
Many of my colleagues may possibly challenge this thought but market research will seize to exist as an industry in the future, should it continue in it’s current avatar. The industry has always been strategy and insight driven, many a times leaving the boardroom with just acting as an agent to provide ‘consumer information’. There has always been a gap to inspire or even provide outcomes.
HUMAN, as the name suggests is about understanding, translating and effectively connecting with very fundamental HUMAN truths – is an inspiration and outcome driven business. We provide an ‘insight to content’ strategy wherein insights is the derivative of either consumer stories or data analytics. And outcome could either be inspired in the form of content or we could provide content from the work we do.
Hence, a clear direction to provide the client with content, with a focus on video since the future of content is video!
Can you tell us about services that HUMAN offers to clients? What are some of the latest developments at HUMAN? And what is your vision for the future of HUMAN?
I do foresee HUMAN as a holding company with key businesses within the company focusing either on insight or on content or the end to end of ‘insight to content’.
We recently launched a business within our umbrella called HUMAN Films (www.human-film.com) which is a purely crowd sourcing content business. A community of filmmakers aimed to provide video content to clients. It is a strong business and we have already made great success in working with clients such as Ferrero and Michelin to establish some strong proof of concepts.
From an insight perspective, we will be launching our analytics and strategy business in the Middle East. Compared to the West and even Asia, analytics is a weak spot in the Middle East with clients not having the strategic solutions to derive ‘strategy’ out of the existing data. With the abundance of data at the client’s end and free data in the overall space, we intend to make sense and strategy to create a strong impact and a better ROI.
In your view, what are the key trends, challenges and opportunities that are impacting the market research industry? Where is the industry headed in the next few years?
I don’t think the word ‘research’ will exist in the future. The future is either insight or data, and there will be nothing called research or market research. The sooner the agencies adapt, the lesser will be the risk of future losses.
We constantly blame client teams or businesses not evolving, the real problem is that the agency world falls short of providing innovation or innovative capabilities to the client. FGDs are dead but majority of work is still traditional qualitative. How do we expect someone to sit for two hours and process the same ad, when an average attention span is 8 seconds?
Silos will seize to exist and the businesses will have to be outcome driven. Strategy requires time and investment, and most clients either have less time or budget cuts. The reaction time is shorter and the consumer is indeed the king! There is no scope for long drawn trackers or panels when the world is online with shopping patterns being diffused / undefined.
The biggest issue with the market research industry is that the process and system is still age old and nothing has changed. We still have hierarchies and we still have the old financial models of working. If there isn’t an evolution at the base, we cant expect upwards evolution.
What advice would you give to companies looking to maximize impact of their marketing strategies and to create stronger brand bonds with their consumers?
Innovation, content and data are key.
Innovation is defined wither in process, system or structure. Either one or all needs to change rather effectively.
Content is the future of all communication and all content will be video. Either the consumer creates the content or we use the free content out there. The age old communication development models will not inspire or persuade consumers to make purchase decisions.
Data will be at the center of all marketing functions. Either free or paid or accumulated data, and the stories derived from this data will inspire strategy. Marketers need to re assess their data strategy and that’s key for future growth.
If we speak loyalty or if we speak brand bonds or if we talk love marks, connecting at a very fundamental ‘HUMAN’ level is key for any brand. The inspiration will be through data and consumer stories from the content.
The change is now. We either choose to be myopic or lead the change!