This month, we caught up with Trony Patron, Quantitative Research Director at InsightAsia Philippines, to discover more about the role she plays in providing market insights and local understanding to clients across the region.
Hi Trony! Tell us about your role at InsightAsia Philippines.
I head one of the teams at InsightAsia Philippines, focusing on Quantitative Research. However, there are also instances when I handle qualitative research projects too, especially for integrated approaches or when requested by our clients.
On top of this, I oversee the administrative needs of the office here in the Philippines.
What does your Research role entail?
It’s an all-round role and I do a bit of everything – marketing, sales, customer service and HR.
Among the different disciplines, marketing helps the business in two ways. First, it enables us to understand and relate to the issues of our clients (most of which are marketing related). Second, marketing helps us to build upon our client base and grow InsightAsia as a business throughout the Philippines.
When it comes to customer service, I think it is really important to put yourself in the shoes of the client, empathise with them, respond to them in a timely manner and establish a transparent “business class” relationship with them.
HR is equally important, and I believe mentoring staff in order to inspire and develop their progress is crucial to the smooth running of the business. After all, a happy team equals happy clients!
What’s a typical day in the life of Trony?
Well, I would like to think that my day-to-day life isn’t just about InsightAsia!
I am a planner, and sometimes I probably even overdo it. So, I usually have my whole week already planned out (not to mention even the next five years of my life and beyond!).
Nonetheless, my day usually starts by ensuring the home is good to go without me – clean, safe and with enough foodies! This is followed by lots of hugs and kisses to my loved ones, including my hubby, kids and grandkid… oops, I almost forgot Bruno, my pet Beagle!
When I arrive at the office I need to check and prioritise emails. On a daily basis, I also have to attend client meetings, although I try to limit this to two per day, as these can stretch from anywhere between two and six hours at times! I also consult with the staff, making sure I thank them for their contribution at the end of each working day.
Then three times a week, I spend at least an hour at the gym. I just started this, and I must say I have really noticed the benefits – stress reliever, immune system booster and I even get to watch my favourite music videos while I’m on the treadmill.
How long have you worked at InsightAsia?
My longest stay in my entire career… six years!
InsightAsia Philippines just started when I joined the company, so I had the opportunity to build the clientele base as well as its local experience and expertise. Though awareness still needs to be boosted, InsightAsia is now known to be a part of the roster of research partners in the country. We are already known in MORES (Marketing Opinion and Research), the University of the Philippines and the School of Statistics (academe at the forefront of research).
What have you learnt since working at InsightAsia?
The world is not perfect, learning does not stop, you need to be creative and you need to have guts!
What’s your favourite thing about your role?
I really enjoy providing insights to our clients that will help them to be more successful as a business. Finding the stories behind the numbers and using these to help develop people is a really rewarding process.
Running statistical methodologies also still excites me. After all, I was statistician before I became a researcher.
What’s it like in the Philippines?
Friendly smiles all around, the people here are really hospitable. Almost everyone can understand and speak a bit of English, and the language even appears on our billboards and road signs.
We love to eat and encourage our guests to do this with us – try our adobo when you get the opportunity to visit our country! And, of course, we have some fantastic tourist spots among our 7,107 islands.
What are the Philippine people like? Are there any key trends in the market at the moment?
Aside from being friendly and food lovers… friendly and food lovers!
My observations are that there has been a big boost in the retail brick and mortar sector recently. Neighbourhood mini malls seem to be sprouting all over the place, probably as a way for retailers to address the threat of online shopping.
We have also seen a shift from landline to mobile, and now from mobile to data. This has come with more communication through online apps such as Facebook Messenger and Viber.
Government initiatives like an increase in excise tax on vehicles will most likely impact the transport industry here in the next few years. There are also plans to ban smoking and fireworks in the future.
Overall though, these are exciting times for the country!
What makes Quantitative Research interesting to you?
The challenge to bring out the story from the numbers…
How is the office move going?
We are at around 30% to 40% completion, but we hope to complete by the third or fourth week of August!
The aim of the office transfer is to have a space which is more accessible to staff, clients and our Focus Group discussion respondents. And, more importantly, the move means we will have easier access to malls, eating places, cinemas (another stress reliever!) and the gym.
Don’t quote me on that last item… it is half-truth.
What projects have you been managing across the region recently?
We started to partner with a multinational e-shopping company at the end of last year, and we are currently working on some market sizing and understanding studies with them.
What types of Quantitative Analysis does your team provide?
Well, anything and everything really…
Strategic research is particularly more challenging and interesting. It is not as direct as a concept or product test, and it usually includes Brand Health measurements where we use our own Brand Health Index model.
Other Quantitative Research we carry out includes:
- Segmentation Studies - to help clients become more focused when targeting consumers
- Concept and Product Testing – we have our own software for penalty and driver analysis
- Mystery Shopper Studies, Customer Satisfaction Studies – to help ensure our clients’ service-level agreements (SLA’s) are adhered to, and that their customers are happy with their services.
We employ traditional pen and paper as well as digital when it comes to research, and we invested in both software and hardware to help carry out digital research this year.
Are there any challenges when carrying out research in the Philippines?
Being relatively new in the Philippines, more than building awareness, it is important to establish our credibility with potential clients. So, performance is key.
We are somewhere between a boutique agency and a large multinational agency, so as we grow our clientele base, we need to ensure we are providing an affordable yet high quality experience.
What are business opportunities like in the country?
These are exciting times for the country, despite there being mixed reactions to our new administration, and we remain hopeful that it is for the good of the Filipino people.
We are also hopeful that new investments will come in, and that the planned infrastructures will materialise and bring growth, safety and peace to our country. In turn, this will hopefully make the country more conducive to further investments and internal growth.
The long-term goal is to make InsightAsia the preferred supplier and preferred place to develop one’s career. I would also love to see InsightAsia Philippines as the hub for advanced techniques going into the future.