Jerry Clode (pictured above), previously head of digital and social insight and director of SMART research, strategy and naming at Resonance China, has created his own offering, The Solution, based in New Zealand, with the stated ambition of giving the insight industry a "much needed shakeup".
We caught up with Clode to discuss why he has decided to go on his own.
First, can you explain why you created The Solution?
After two decades on the agency side in Shanghai, Singapore and London, I can offer something very unique and valuable to clients.
I started my career as one of the first Chinese language moderators, then became known for creating new approaches in ethnography and semiotics. Most recently I have added the reputation of being a social media and digital expert.
Put these ‘special skills’ together, and clients have a one-stop silver bullet solution to get to the next stage in China or emerging markets.
Free of the inefficiencies of the agency model, I want to make my expertise more accessible to smaller companies, and more bespoke for larger brands and agencies.
In my previous roles, I was often asked to provide a ‘second opinion’ on reports or creative ideas when clients felt their agencies had not ‘pushed the envelope’ sufficiently.
So, in this new capacity I can ‘lend a hand’ or ‘fill a gap’ so both clients and suppliers can deliver at the highest level.
What will be your key focus with The Solution?
Leveraging my unique skillset, I can offer brands more direct approaches to solve their market research challenges. I sense that clients, particularly those focused on China and emerging markets, feel frustrated with the disconnect between insight and action.
I will define tangible steps they can take in their marketing strategy – this can be localising a brand, creating a Chinese name, delivering a clear digital plan and calendar, or identifying new opportunities through innovation work.
What is your model/way of working and how is it different from incumbent offerings?
The nature of market research work has changed fundamentally, so there is value and potential in collaboration. While I will be the ‘main man’ for The Solution, I will collaborate with experts to deliver key elements of what clients need.
For example, with Chinese naming I will engage local language experts; for consumer-branding films I will work with fellow filmmakers; and for digital marketing workshops, I will invite experts to contribute. The reality is that these collaborations can be managed, conducted and delivered online and virtually, passing on savings to clients as a result.
One of the most important collaboration for me is my creative partnership with Brazilian video artist, Allyson Alapont. After co-producing a film together in São Paulo, we have continued to work together to bring visual storytelling to the delivery of insights.
What is your plan in terms of size and scale in the first year of operation?
At this 'early doors' stage, I will place my focus on delivering quality work and take advantage of not having to work on a multitude of accounts at the same time.
Initial projects will be in the form of stakeholder workshops, where the wider brand team on the client side has enough context to discuss, debate and strategise next steps. Working in this collaborative manner is where I am at my best and most valuable.
China is and will always be a key focus of my client work. However, due to my time living and researching in India, Brazil and wider Asia, I also want to offer this wider expertise, particularly in the area of brand localisation, for these important markets.