In interview Travyn Rhall, Kantar Consumer Insight CEO

This spring we had a great opportunity to have our boss Travyn Rhall, Kantar Consumer Insight’s new CEO in Finland.  Travyn is responsible for TNS, Millward Brown, IMRB, Kantar Japan and the insights parts of Added Value.  Being 30+ year veteran of the market and social research industries he has deep experience and strong understanding of the needs of global clients in changing times.

From right Satu Yrjänen, Travyn Rhall, Kirsi Maste, Tom Jansson.

You have a long history, 30+ years in market and social research industries – what has changed during these years?

Everything. I think the biggest thing that has changed is the technology.  When you look back 30 years everything was face-to-face. If we look at the future, everything will eventually get to mobile – maybe some governmental and social studies not, but most of the other studies will. I think the industry has changed from reporting information into how-does-it-help-solve-my-business-issue. During the last few years lots of things have been happening with consulting and analytics which can solve business issues in a different way.

What are the challenges of the future? 

I think the challenges of the future will be technology capabilities, because technology will keep evolving faster. We need to build digital/mobile capabilities within our staff, our clients – because generally, we’re going to have greater needs to better understand business issues around these areas. We’re going to have more expectations in terms of deeper analytics, in terms of trying to get to the real issue, a deeper qualitative understanding of people (to understand the why?). We need to be driven in a more consulting and analytical direction as that is what clients are asking for.

And what are the challenges of Kantar Consumer Insight?

The big thing is stepping back from the TNS and Millward Brown brands we have and say “What can we create that solves business issues for clients, with all the capability that we have?” The big thing for us is to take the client in, focus on what the client wants, what is the client trying to do – and saying, how does that what we bring to the table help them? The brands, while they’re important, are secondary to the question of how to help the clients best.

You meet a lot of clients - What is the most remarkable client feedback you have had?

I think the remarkable things will always be where the work has had a big impact on the client and the client’s business. Personally, what’s made the most impact in my career was some work I did in Australia for the Federal Office of Road Safety in the beginning of 90s´ – which looked at the willingness of consumers to pay to have airbags in their cars. We found out that if people knew about the reduction in injuries and fatalities when cars had airbags vs when they didn’t then consumers were willing to pay $1000 for airbags. We proved that people were willing to pay for their safety – and within a couple of years we had a lot of airbags in cars in Australia. So that’s probably the most successful thing I’ve done personally – because it had a real impact on people’s lives. And that’s the fun of social and governmental projects, you can have a big impact on the community.

What is the secret of a good client relationship?

Listening is one of the great skills that anybody can have, and I’d say that it’s really key to being successful these days. You have to put yourself in client´s shoes. It’s a tough world for us, and it’s a tough world for many of our clients at the moment. If we can make them more successful, that’s going to generally make us more successful too.