AQR was once again delighted to be able to share great projects at the AURA/AQR Qualitative Update in London and in Leeds in September. Thanks to all our members who presented so well, fielded great questions, provoked a lot of discussion and sent research buyers away with new thinking and inspiration — twice!

We heard from Folk on using consumer insight around drains to shift the shape of a category and outgrow the market leader; from Inkling and Absolut on the power of ‘raw’ consumer insight to engage their on-trade customers at a human level (where tracking data had left them unmoved); and from BritainThinks and Macmillan on how their iconic identity has been changed to allow them to communicate a big strategic change to a ‘person centred’ mission.

The Behavioural Architects shared how the exploration of sensory cues helped Pimm’s break out of quite narrow occasion-based associations and create brand stretch; the Economist and Ipsos showcased how they transformed a visually masculine and sometimes aloof brand to be more attractive to a female audience; Trinity McQueen and Walgreens Boots Alliance identified the emotional payload of an unsung hero in the beauty category and so created a new brand and category around... beauty accessories.

After lunch amid the chandeliers and Biggles-style Wing-Commander portraits at the RAF Club (in London) three more papers delivered the goods (arcane reference to Biggles Delivers The Goods, published in 1949). The FCA and The Nursery kicked off with Arnie and their creative journey to getting an animatronic head on tank tracks and the considerations they had to square away as a public body.

Google and Revealing Reality shared the start of their investigation into how we know if ads are impacting, using an ethnographic approach to identify behaviours that indicate attention to content on screen and which could shake up how attention is measured. We finished with a lovely review of how fathers have been portrayed in advertising and how One MS helped Premier Foods understand how to avoid being patronising.

We had great feedback from AURA members who enjoyed both the London and Leeds days, and the networking drinks afterwards. Not only did they hear about the many ways qualitative methodologies drive strategic decision making, but they got to understand better the sheer variety and challenge of our day-to-day roles.