FC Connect 2021 was all about leveraging insights to ignite action. Our speakers delivered high-impact tips on a variety of topics, from homing in on the right product research strategy to creating magical brand experiences.

With so many key learning moments, we thought it would be helpful to synthesize the best of the best for you to read and run with. Without further ado, here are our top 10 takeaways from FC Connect 2021.

Top 10 Takeaways

#1 – Medallia

Just one video can make a big difference for stakeholders. Seeing customers’ faces enables greater empathy and inspires leaders to take action. – Julie McKee, Medallia

#2 – Google

Don’t ignore emotion. Ground your brand in an emotional connection that meets your customers’ deepest needs to create experiences that go viral. – Daniela Cruz, Google

#3 – Clorox

The ability to get video and images out of communities enables the latest methods of data storytelling. By embedding small clips into research decks, the blend of quant and qual comes to life. – Ben Jordan, Clorox

#4 – FNBO

There is no secret sauce to the perfect customer experience. But establishing continuous customer connections for iterative feedback will get you there. – Katie Fehrman & Jeff Dahms, First National Bank of Omaha

#5 – Sonos

Consumers will continue to expect increased personalization, despite new privacy controls, so scaled qualitative or “thick data” will start to trump “big data.” – Jennifer Iudice, Sonos

#6 – Infinity/Nissan

3 keys to transformative insights = good research + commitment from senior leaders + a focused, integrated strategy – Frank Tooley, Sally Beauty (previously Infinity/Nissan)

#7 – McKinsey & Co.

Online penetration, a homebody economy, and the adoption of new shopping methods are three trends that emerged in the last year and are likely here to stay – Tamara Charm, McKinsey & Co.

#8 – Gongos

Share back or “closing the feedback loop” is a critical part of the market research process when leveraging community. It makes customers feel like stakeholders, which they absolutely are. – Laura Muczynski, Gongos

#9 – ServiceNow

Product strategy that aligns both business goals and user goals will inherently result in innovation that drives product value. – A’verria Martin, ServiceNow

#10 – Reebok

Nostalgia is trending. The Friends reunion, Rugrats revival, and Gossip Girl reboot are examples of this trend playing out in entertainment. Even something as simple as a graphic tee can bring up rich memories. – Jay Lister, Reebok

Curious to learn more? Check out the descriptions and links to all FC Connect session recordings, below!

Welcome to FC Connect 2021

Featuring: Eran Gilad, CEO, and Rick Kelly, CPO at Fuel Cycle 

FC Connect is a virtual summit experience all about celebrating insights that ignite action. For research to be a real driver of innovation and growth, the role and span of influence have to be closer to decision-making. It is now the role of MR to sift through the new reality and come up with a high-impact agenda across product, brand, and digital experiences. Igniting action comes down to how you collect, digest, and act on insights. FC Connect 2021 will inspire fresh ideas, fuel your creative fire, and spark your boldest insights strategy.

How Video is Killing the Radio Star  

Featuring: Julie McKee, Sales Director at Living Lense by Medallia 

The past year has transformed the way we utilize video to communicate with our friends and family. Since our personal behaviors shift to our professional behaviors, we need to equip ourselves to use video to communicate within organizations to implement change. Research and Insights professionals were quick to adopt new methods for conducting virtual video research, however, the next step is to ensure that the collected video effectively communicates customer stories.

Learn how brands such as Del Taco are replacing slides of debatable data and pasted quotes by using the LivingLens platform to analyze customer interviews and create engaging showreels that drive action.

Key Learnings:

  • How to engage respondents and customers with a natural option to provide actionable video feedback and insights
  • How to empathize and tell their stories in engaging showreels to drive action with stakeholders
  • How to embrace video feedback within your organization to celebrate wins & address concerns

Panel | Communities for Customer-Centric Organizations  

Featuring: Amy Brassell, Brand Research Manager at General Motors, Ben Jordan, Associate Director at Clorox, Laura Muczynski, Account Strategist at Gongos, and Polly Speros, VP of Sales at Fuel Cycle 

In times of both prosperity and uncertainty, communities are an enduring way to bring the customer’s voice into an organization—well beyond the call center. Truly delivering on customer-centricity means gaining more than feedback to concepts, but understanding what customers value when doing business with you, and being in front of micro trends and behavioral shifts that will ultimately impact business decisions – from product development to marketing strategy.

Join those at the forefront of communities in a lively discussion on ensuring ROI and business impact at every step along your community journey. 

Leveraging UX Throughout the Product Lifecycle to Deliver User-Centric Products and Drive Business Value  

Featuring: A’verria Martin, Director of Research Operations at ServiceNow, and Anna Byers, UX Research Manager at ServiceNow 

Integrating UX strategy and a harmonized design lifecycle from discovery through delivery provides a golden thread at all touchpoints that balance a deep understanding of the user and design process, as well as the impact on business value. This shared paradigm enhances the way research, design, and business seamlessly integrate to deliver exceptional experiences that put people at the center of the product. Leveraging the Experience Design Method (EDM), a cycle of discovery, ideation, validation, and refinement, we helped our product teams identify user segments and their current pain points with low code application development to deliver a new tool that addresses user needs.

After identifying user segments, we conducted iterative concept validation to define a user-centric experience and concluded the cycle with summative usability testing to identify opportunities for future refinement. By incorporating direct user feedback throughout the product lifecycle, we were able to deliver a successful product that is already seeing adoption shortly after release.

Key Learnings:

  • A review of design lifecycles and typical research and design artifacts
  • An understanding of how all of these artifacts connect in an integrated holistic view of the user experience
  • How to connect this holistic view to product and business outcomes

Exploring Delight, Desire, and Needs with Brands 

Featuring: Daniela Cruz, Brand Lead at Google 

It’s natural to think that in today’s digital world you need to go viral to break through the noise. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Time and time again, we see that a deep connection with your community goes further than a viral moment. But how do we do this?

In this talk, we’ll explore how some of the most relevant brands today, as well as some of the hottest underdogs, set themselves apart and grow a loyal fan base thanks to a deep understanding of their customer. Through exploring a few case studies, we’ll learn about new and established brands, what they are doing, and how they are bringing customer insights into their business to influence everything from their visual brand, to their community and partners, to their products.

Key Learnings:

  • Magic Spoon: The value of visual branding to evoke an emotion
  • Peloton: The value of community and power of influencers
  • Bumble: The value of insights to drive product development

Passenger-side Marketing: Enhancing the Drivers of Marketing  

Featuring: Jeff Dahms, Director of Customer Experience, and Katie Fehrman, Sr. Associate of Customer Experience at First National Bank of Omaha 

This session will illustrate FNBO’s community journey from showing off the capabilities of “The Circle” to showing up inside a project plan.

Key Learnings:

  • Hear from the “CX road warriors” that are helping a 160-year-old bank on its journey into the next evolution of customer research via “The Circle,” FNBO’s online customer community
  • See how the team utilized the quick and easy tools of the community platform to create “Instant Advocates” within the Marketing Department
  • Learn how they are continuing to develop a continuous conversation about the brand alongside an annual large-scale marketing research project
  • Interact with speakers during the live event as they talk through the next steps of funneling down from broad brand insights to designing verbiage on a specific product

How the Pros Do It: Best Practices in MROC  

Featuring: Johnny Anderson, Director of Customer Success, Jenine Erdaide, Customer Success Manager, and Eric Avissar, Sr. Customer Success Associate at Fuel Cycle 

Market Research Online Communities (MROCs) can be an insight goldmine, especially when they’re leveraged to the fullest. FC Launchpad is an exclusive community of MROC pros; a growing crew of Fuel Cycle community experts and client-sided market researchers who have years of experience with their own research communities. Learn the foundations of a successful MROC program from the best of the best.

Saving the Infiniti Car Brand: A Lesson of Transformative Insights  

Featuring: Frank Tooley, Customer & Market Insights Lead at Sally Beauty, formerly at Nissan/Infiniti 

Learn from the experience of a co-leader of the initiative that saved the Infiniti auto brand and transformed it from the junkyard of automotive history into a top-tier luxury brand competitor. There are 3 key elements to making insights transformative.

Key Learnings:

  • Commitment: From senior management and the execution level employees
  • Good Research: I.e. Problem definition, sample, instruments, analysis, and storytelling (with data)
  • Laser focus: Holistic integrated strategy – brand identity, product, marketing, retail, and service

Panel | Igniting Product Innovation: Agile Research for a Competitive Edge  

Featuring: Jay Lister, Global Consumer Insights at Reebok, Alex Zeitz, Sr. Manager of Employee & Customer Experience at Virgin Voyages, Jennifer Iudice, Principal User Researcher at Sonos, and Calista Corley, CRO at Fuel Cycle 

One of the questions many of us asked ourselves this last year is, “what really matters?” As consumers begin spending again, businesses are in a unique position to redefine the norm. And when all signs point to a more digital future, how can product and UX teams confidently innovate to ensure their offerings meet new user expectations? What will insight-driven product innovation look like in 5 years… 10 years… and how can we begin preparing for that today?

In this panel session, foresight and product experts discuss methods to enhance innovation and deliver user experiences that stand out in an ever-growing, competitive market.   

The Great Consumer Shift: How COVID Has Impacted Consumer Behavior  

Featuring: Tamara Charm, Agile Consumer Insights Leader at McKinsey & Company 

Discover the 3 big ways that the great disruption of March/April 2020 has changed consumer behavior, possibly for good.  

Key Learnings:

  • Consumers in the U.S. are optimistic and starting to spend at pre-COVID levels
  • The great disruption of March/April 2020 changed consumer behavior in 3 big ways:
    • Omnichannel is ascendant
    • The Homebody Economy will be with us in the medium term at least
    • The barrier to switching brands, retailers, or ways of shopping is much lower
  • There is a unique opportunity to connect with consumers right now for companies who can not only keep up but keep ahead

Brand Focused Recruitment: Creative Ways to Launch a Community  

Featuring: Aaron Tell, Head of Consumer Insights at Fandom, and Julie Louvau, Consumer Insights Manager at Fandom 

Aaron and Julie introduce Fandom, how they plan to use their online community, The Fan Lab, to build out their consumer insights research and better understand Fandom’s users, and how they’re using video marketing to reach new members in creative, on-brand ways.

Key Takeaways:

  • Find a way to connect to your audience through their interests and passion points
  • Get creative about leveraging your existing brand assets
  • Build a multi-pronged marketing plan to secure steady membership growth