30under30 Nominee: Pino Cao

We interviewed Significant Insights Global 30 Under 30 2022 nominee Pino Cao who is a trained ethnographer and exposed to China grounded local cultural environment in which he can develop keen observations across youth culture, consumption behaviors and business context.

So, how did you get into the industry, and take us through how you got to this point?

I’m overall curious about people’s behaviour and cultural context behind. I found it’s super joyful talking with others and escalating my mindset. And I can recognize myself and build self-awareness through that. That’s the anchor entering in consumer insights industry.

I majored in Sociology in university which built my research foundational skills. Then I went to Hong Kong to continue my study on Corporate Communication program. That was a year I got the chance to explore the world and talked to diverse people from different countries.

China is a biggest and fast changing market over the world. It’s really fascinating to learn how people are reacting to society and shaping the relationship with brands. I joined an idea studio offering spans cultural insights to commercial IP. Here I worked close to clients from different industries and help them to better understanding business context, consumers and their brands in this uncertain environment.

Career paths are rarely without challenges. Can you share an honest moment from your career when things didn’t go quite according to plan, but the lessons remain with you to this day?

In the past I skewed to believe my intuition (it’s still important though) and stand on consumer side. However I found there is always a gap between ‘consumer insight’ with ‘business implications’. Consumer field and business world are connected but also distinctive. When I found that actually the findings from field work cannot fully applied to business, I started learning how to wear in client’s shoes. It’s all about strategic choice. Doing or not doing looks like a simple answer however need you build a whole picture to put consumers, your thoughts and client’s need together.

Glad that I’m still in evolving progress.

What two things should junior researchers focus on as they progress in their careers?

Actively listen to them – don’t be afraid to ask silly questions

And express your personal POV – don’t hide your intuition

How do we ensure that students and those leaving school aspire to join our sector?

Tell them stories. Tell the stories they will be interested. Case studies are important to bring this industry’s essence to life and impress them.

Do you have any advice for our sector?

Sharing and connection are much more important than before under polarizing situation. A union that brings market researchers (can be format like online forum, broadcast) from different regions is what I expected…

And do you have anyone who has helped your career so far that you’d like to acknowledge and say thanks or give a shout out to?

Big thank you to Julien and Alex as founders of my company. They are always very supportive on my career, mental health and personal life.