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Malinda Sanna

Market research has never been a more interesting industry, with AI increasingly able to sweep away much of what is tedious and make many new things possible. 

When I founded LookLook, it was a field ripe for disruption and in need of creativity. I started the company because I couldn’t, in good conscience, conduct another focus group (our motto is literally, “No boring focus groups!”). And when mobile took off, I saw the opportunity to speak to people one on one, for more accuracy, authenticity, and enjoyability. That’s how was born.

Because LookLook is a challenger brand competing with much larger companies, we’ve learned to make things for ourselves, experimenting as often as possible. We created our own software platform because we wanted a better, smoother, more intuitive interface. Sometimes we launch new functionality before it’s perfect, but that learning process helps us refine it. We love to create new ways of talking to people, from Sensory Safaris to Group Chats. 

We recruit our own people for studies. We had to find new, organic ways to do this in order to avoid tired lists and professional respondents. We call them our “jewels” because we choose them carefully and organically, and we appreciate their level of engagement so much. We now have over 16,000 people in our network that are energized to take part in additional studies. A client once told us we have “de-dudded” recruiting (anyone who has tolerated a mediocre recruit from the back room knows what a “dud” means). 

We create Cultivated Communities, invite-only communities of luxury buyers that are highly engaged and share insights for studies that we perform on behalf of clients and the industry at-large. These communities are hotbeds of user-generated content, because one thing we notice is that people increasingly care more about what their peers have to say than experts, especially when it comes to subjects they’re passionate about. For example, with our @Luxuryverse100, we use our Instagram to feed back the insights generated from the participants themselves – we are simply the medium where the ideas and opinions pour in. It’s a virtual hangout for luxury buyers. We’re just taking notes.

Group Chats are another innovation we’re playing with at the moment, with communities from moms to primary grocery shoppers, to white collar workers (trying to figure out what might get them to return to a physical office) to name a few examples. While we believe very much in one-on-one conversations, there are situations where watching chat interaction is useful and adds a fresh dimension. An invite-only forum in a non-commercial space (away from the carnival atmosphere of social media) can feel wildly free and expressive.

What really makes LookLook sing is that these ideas and innovations come from throughout the organization – from our head of product to the developers to analysts and operations. The openness and enjoyment of collaborating and brainstorming together is the joy of a “maker culture” that any company can nurture. It just takes enthusiasm for challenging the status quo and an ability to take action, even when it’s uncomfortable. Not everything we try is successful, but embracing risk propels us forward much more quickly than opting for conventional practices.

It has never been more important – in an era where generative AI is going to be more and more integrated into what we do – to uncover new ways of learning and listening to each other as human beings. For anyone commissioning insights, I encourage you to seek out and champion the researchers willing to try new things, whether it’s someone in your department or an up and coming vendor you are intrigued with. Challenger brands are not disruptors because it’s easy – we do it because we’re passionate about fighting mediocrity. Email me to find out how we’re doing this at

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