Purple Audacity Research & Innovation: Facilitating Market Research Services Globally

Purple Audacity Research & Innovation
Sharmila Das, Chairwomen, Purple Audacity Research & Innovation Private Limited

Purple Audacity Research & Innovation was founded in 2008 with an intent to bring academic rigour into market research (specifically qualitative research) to enable clients to ‘take a stance’ based on in-depth qualitative insights. Today, built upon its key values of method neutrality, purposeful partnerships and transparent collaboration, supported by the fundamentals of courage and respect – Purple Audacity’s raison d’etre is to build Human Insight Lighthouses for its partners across the globe, using mindfulness and audacity.

Purple Audacity holds rich experience in implementing rigorous research in the social and commercial sectors. In the social sector, the company has worked on projects like needs assessment, program evaluations, triggers and barriers studies, SBCC development and   testing, behavioural studies amongst others. In the commercial sector, their experience includes extensive work in absolute exploratory and investigative studies, understanding the socio-cultural aspects, foresight studies, design studies, concept development as well as evaluation, pre-testing of communication, longitudinal consumer sentiment tracks, UI/UX studies, usage and attitude studies, brand equity studies etc.

At any point in time, the team at Purple Audacity comprises people with diverse skillsets, personal strengths, and perspectives. Three generations working in tandem, the organization is a mix of the youthful old and the responsible young with the ability to effectively manage a large scope of work across all the regions of India and across different target groups, urban as well as rural. The combination of commercial and social experience enables the application of academic rigour and agility and capability to deliver actionable insights. Read along to know more about the company and how it operates in the interview mentioned below.

Brief us about the featured person and their journey in the market research space.

Sharmila Das (Chairwoman) founded Purple Audacity over 12 years ago, before which she was heading the North and South markets in India for the KANTAR group’s qualitative division PQR where she spent approximately 15 years.

She believes that her highly inquisitive mind is yet to get satiated with the process of unearthing insights. Perhaps, the key reasons why Sharmila could never dream of leaving the business of insights and understanding behaviour are two-fold. On one hand, expertise in identifying Consumer Insights and developing strategic plans has been a very engaging combination. On the other hand, identifying talent, and then teaching-mentoring-coaching them have given her a deep sense of fulfilment. She loves developing an appreciation for the insight process and especially Qualitative research and thus is often be found with teaching assignments for students.

Experimentation, innovation, adaptation from different disciplines and eventually simplifying the solutions have been a personal passion for Sharmila.

Beyond her razor-sharp knowledge of countless categories in the commercial research space, she has also taken her expertise into domains that are of personal interest – family planning/birth-control and education – within the developmental and social sector.

Her experience with projects on Family Planning include the communication strategy  as  well  as communication development of ‘GoliKeHamjoli’ campaign for OCPs and ‘BindaasBol’ campaigns for condoms across many years, the strategic as well as communication plan for the launch of DIMPA as well as consecutive communication development for the same across years, understanding the triggers and barriers towards IUD (earlier known as Copper T), triggers and barriers for OCP, strategic alliances for sterilization as well as abortion facilities, repositioning a well-known condom brand, triggers and barriers towards self-use of Medical Abortion, understanding of subjective experiences of self-administering medical abortion, attitude towards spacing etc.

Sharmila’s reputation to see the unseen, to ask the unasked and to reveal the unearthed for absolutely any subject is unparalleled.  She is an industry veteran when it comes to human insight, having extended her mentorship and guidance to clients and team members alike, over the years.

What is the current industrial scenario of Indian market research space?

It is an exhilarating and challenging time for Indian market research.

The pandemic and resulting economic conditions and disruptions in everyday life are leading to very complex sentiments and behaviours, as the need for real time understanding of the shifts in human sentiment becomes a near imperative. In a mercurial environment, the research brief evolves in shorter cycles, and the need for a new approach appears to be emerging in rapid spurts. This is perhaps one of the most critical times for insights, to follow human experiences through the most complex time history will witness. It is just as interesting then, to revisit pre-COVID life, and to keep tapping into consumer insights to understand the elasticity of the changes we have witnessed in consumer behaviour.

Zooming out, the composition of the players in the market has been evolving at break-neck speed. Be it the rapid influx of smaller businesses into the mainstream economic environment with substantial policy push; or the explosion of Indian Unicorns or unicorns-to-be with firm intent to invest in tapping into the pulse of their ever-expanding audiences – these are exciting times to study human behaviour and predispositions.

Even more macro is the increasing amalgam that is this mythical ‘Indian consumer.’ The evolution of the quintessential ‘profiles’ and ‘segments’ into various subsets with overlapping boundaries, has made demarcation an interesting exercise. More than ever before, brands have had to upend their own understanding of the ‘TG segments’ they cater to; and players have their magnifying glasses out to locate the intersection upon which their ‘ideal user’ sits.

The impact of overarching socio-cultural shifts in terms of class aspiration and cultivation; inter-generational interactions and conflicts; and ease of access to technology are leading to a cocktail of sentiment and action that are increasingly critical to capture.

What are the dynamics of technology in the market research space?

The scope of technology in research is infinite. It is multi-layered with implications for various players associated with the industry, at multiple scales and levels.

On the one hand, we have seen stunning examples of cutting-edge innovation which has introduced the scope for harnessing the benefits of the technological advancements such as AI and ML in the process of identifying patterns and mining insights.

On the business front, the proliferation of technology-centric business models like e-commerce and service aggregation along with the phenomena of most verticals moving their businesses and customer engagement online; has placed data at the centre of consumer engagement. It is an interesting time to be at the intersection of native data available to businesses, and the immense value that rigorous research process can add when it comes to extending the guardrails of or diving deep into this data.

Further on the other end of the spectrum, technology has had a democratizing effect on the way we do work in the research industry, becoming a critical tool at each level of research. At the participant end, technology has become a medium of operation, from consumer identification and outreach to engagement with research participants who are increasingly becoming avid users of technology.

At the ground level, the Indian market research industry constitutes members across various regions and functions that are part of the end-to-end research process, and technology has enhanced the scope for collaboration infinitely within the industry. We are all connected through similar platforms using similar tools that result in tighter, more consistent control on value and consistency. This has helped in consolidating and speeding up the very manner in which we envision research. Technology appears to be serving as the gravitational pull that is drawing in the various facets of the industry together – creating an unprecedented seamlessness to the process of arriving at nuanced and actionable consumer intelligence.

As a market research company, how are you helping your clientele?

Purple Audacity firmly believes that we are serving as true partners for the clientele across the social and commercial sector, epitomized by the multiple roles we play in the lives of our patrons and partners. The relationship with our clients does not end with the completion of their project. The key tenets of their relationship lie in shared passion for the industries they are working on and an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.

The varied roles being played by Purple Audacity therefore ranges from being the collectors of data, to the architects of sense making for the data, to being the devil’s advocate and often challenging their clients based upon the logical conclusion that the insights are indicating to being the support function for some of the most important decisions that the client takes.

What would be your strategic approach to scale your business in 2021 and beyond?

We have a simple philosophy – seek the problem and then find the solution. This mantra simply means that we take our passion and curiosity out into the world, and identify the problems we feel passionately about, rather than waiting for clients to seek us with these   problems. There is absolutely no replacement for determination and the pursuit of the joy of discovery. On top of that, our values of method neutrality, purposeful partnerships, transparent collaboration, courage and respect go a long way in cementing longstanding and trusting relationships with our clients.

One of the critical evolutions that has occurred at Purple over the years is the mindful practice of agility, intuitiveness and rigour in equal parts. This results in not only greater accuracy, but also in great business sense for clients who are operating on persisting time and budget constraints at all times. The culture we are building at Purple is one that empowers each of its individual members to deliver superior quality independently, no matter what their level or expertise is.

It is with this culture that we are optimistic about continuing expansion over the coming year, being region-agnostic, method-neutral and category-agnostic when it comes to choosing the work we do.


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