How Harley-Davidson does research in an ever changing technological world #IIeX 


Live note-taking at #IIeX in Atlanta. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.

Fueling an iconic brand by breaking the rules of insight development by Heather Malenshek

  • Customers start their dream very early, often around the age of 8
  • CEO wants to be the most customer led company on the planet
  • Not new, started with the founders decades ago, went on the road and went around the country and asked people what they like about HD
  • Put humans at the Center, the truth is in their stories, don’t talk about customers, talk about people
  • How can their brand have a unique connection with the brand, they don’t do targeting, they talk to children and 70 year old people
  • Let their hypotheses guide them, helps them focus , it’s not in going bias, it’s having open hearts as to what they might find
  • Spend a lot of time with every area to understand the questions they have
  • Know when to zoom in and zoom out to find the why, adjust and adapt
  • Digg deep for the core emotional truth, everyone has a story about a crazy aunt or a couple related to the brand
  • They don’t consider themselves to be researchers, it is all about the insights
  • They don’t hire researchers, they hire fresh perspective 
  • They spent one year trying to hire a manager, wanted people with tangible and intangible skills, can’t train passion and curiousity and brilliance
  • We partners to bring creativity, new ideas, doesn’t have to be tech, a new way of approaching an idea
  • We are story tellers not report writers, they don’t bring back 300 page reports
  • We didnt’ earn a seat at the table – they set the damn table. They created pull for the work they’re doing, they insprire people
  • If you can’t feel it you won’t remember it
  • Inspire people


Time for a new breed of researcher by Joan Lewis

  • Research used to take 12 weeks after following a very specific process of writing a questionnaire, getting project numbers, writing tabs by hands
  • It’s not how she would spend her time how, she too wants to pay people to think not type
  • Now we have integrated questions that can be answered with tools that change all the time
  • Researchers, psychologists, engineers, engaging with people
  • We need results yesterday, we’re not waiting for tabs to come back
  • We used to be good methodologist so, now we need to be experts in humans, we used to care about test-retest reliability, now we care about validity even if it doesn’t compare to how we answered it yesterday or tomorrow
  • Answers need to field growth
  • Set the damn table. DON’t ask how to earn a place at the table.
  • Used to have a short list of methods and few options, there were standards around all of them. Today new things are emerging all the time, untested, pretty, hard to keep up. Is it noise and distraction or will it propel us.
  • Embrace the chance, expect and find ways to learn more, better, faster
  • Honda civic is a good car that will get you everywhere, But tesla gets you there a lot faster and anticipates your arrival and departure times
  • LRW, locately, info scout, Brainjuicer know about implicit testing
  • Extinction or evolution
  • Fading or don’t exist – travel agents, phone operators, taxi drivers, …. Market researchers?
  • Elder care consultants is a huge industry – help you navigate care, transport, insure older people
  • You need helpers because EVERY bit of information is online and it’s overwhelming
  • Industries emerge as well, is market research here?
  • Doc Smelser – first person to do market research at Procter & gamble, started an industry of listening and talking to people, he was trusted and well regarded

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