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MRX Lab Podcast

Exploring new & novel conversations from the fringes of the insights industry.

Episode #11 -How the Slow Movement Challenges Agile Market Research

In this episode of the MRX Lab podcast from FlexMR, we talk about the slow movement; a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. We identify some of the key areas that the movement has influenced and ask whether there is a place for market research that is conducted at a deliberately slow pace.

it’s best to approach this topic, first, by looking at what the slow movement is, and identifying a couple of relevant examples. The origins of the movement itself are murky, though it’s often attributed to a 1986 protest against the opening of a McDonald’s in the Piazza di Spagna of Rome. Since then, it has grown into what has been described as a “cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace, but rather at the right speed; doing everything as well as possible, not as fast as possible.”

Over the years, the philosophy has been applied to a wide range of topics – from cinema to fashion, medicine to parenting, technological innovation to travel. One prominent example is the magazine Delayed Gratification. Rather than seek the latest news or break new stories, the publication instead revisits the events of the past three months to offer in-depth, thoughtful and independent reflections.

Does market research need – or indeed deserve – a similar reaction against the frantic takeover of agile. Agile research is not just about being fast, but it is certainly either an important part, or by product, depending on who you speak to. Perhaps the field of marketing itself can provide answers. Some of the most natural marketing instincts are to desire a product to go viral, to sell out, to bring in more revenue faster. Instant and readily available advertising, facilitated by digital spaces, have only amplified competitiveness and the need for speed.

But all of that comes at a cost. Slow marketing is about making a business based on genuine human connection, it’s about marketing ourselves and our business in a way that doesn’t feel like we’ve sold our souls, it’s about building trusted, long-lasting brands. It’s about being valuable, about using our knowledge and intuition, and about picking the most efficient ways to utilise our time so we can do some living too. Simplicity, purpose, knowledge, humanity and value all have a role to play here.

If the same philosophy is applied to market research, a conclusion is reached that is obvious but severely overlooked. Quick, fast and reactive research has a place. But so does deliberately slower and more reflective research. Like the journalists of Delayed Gratification, there’s much we can learn in retrospective. Quarterly reflections on events after they have happened and customers have had time to process their feeling about an experience can be equally, if not more valuable than in-the-moment feedback.

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