Bold Brands

Alberto Romano

Global Futures & Culture Planning


Winner 2024

Alberto Romano

What is your job title? How do you use social listening in your work?

Global Futures & Culture Planning, as the Foresight System Lead, my job is to make sure we are tracking and monitoring our trend framework through social listening. We’ve set up a proprietary listening dashboard that allows us to keep the finger on the pulse of existing and emerging consumer trends around the world. Social listening allows us to understand the size, sentiment, and growth rate of expressions of these trends in real time. 

What’s your background? How did you get into social listening?

Having worked in Consumer Planning for most of my professional life, research and data have always come naturally. Social listening came into the picture when trying to find a way to be able to track closely trend behavior by being able to put a number (volume and growth) behind each of these trends. 

What has been your biggest achievement?

In December 2023, Diageo launched Distilled, our inaugural consumer trends report that explores the top trends driving consumer conversations around the world. Combining in-depth quantitative analysis from the past two years with expert foresights into upcoming consumer behaviors, Distilled provides essential reading to brands, regardless of region or industry. Distilled is the result of our qual trend research being translated into a listening framework that allows us to track and monitor all trends from a social listening perspective that also includes news, websites, and blogs.

What’s the boldest mistake you’ve made? What did you learn from it?

Having set up region filters in the original prototype for the Foresight System without considering the ‘unknown’ country label. When looked at a global level, numbers didn’t add up with the individual regions. Only to realise after several iterations that un-tagged data was as important and had to find a better way to approach region/market filters. 

What would be your dream project to work on?

One of my dream projects would be to integrate all of our available data sources. Be able to evolve our existing Foresight System to a new level, including adding new social listening sources and putting them into play with internal sales, search, and brand data. Taking our consumer understanding to a whole new level. Creating an ecosystem that allows next-generation consumer understanding and treck tracking. 

Do you think there’s a right way and a wrong way to use social data?

Many people in the past, and ultimately Uncle Ben had already figured it out - With great power, comes great responsibility. Social data is a neverending mine that provides richness and wisdom, but it is how and what-for we use it that determines a right or wrong way. In a world where privacy and data management are still evolving, we must see social data as an extension of our consumers. Therefore it is always important to responsibly represent their opinions, insights and expressions as it is done with any other type of consumer research. Data provides us a glimpse at cultural and social expressions and should be managed with a care-ful and ethical approach that makes the most out of understanding how people talk and think in today’s world without putting at risk the integrity of any person or community.

Are there areas where you think you should be using social data for but aren’t currently?

As mentioned before, our grasp of data is still nascent, as the world becomes -even more- interconnected so many new data sets will become available. The way we combine, use, process, and compare data will advance significantly in the next few years with the increase in people connected on multiple devices, the use of AI to read and process, and the infinite amount of data points consumers are generating everyday. Our job as social listeners will be to find novel and creative ways of interpreting, mixing, and contrasting data - evolving the way we do consumer understanding today. 

What’s your favourite data source to use and why?

Nowadays data is omnipresent, everyday normal people/consumers are my favourite source. Generating data with what we listen and watch, with how we move and feel, how we drive and travel, how we eat, how we shop, how we socialise, what we say, when we say it…

I couldn’t pick an exclusive channel if you asked me, i’m more fascinated with the endless possibilities of colliding data points for a better understanding of the people around us, and if possible finding a way to make life better for people and communities and assuring we have a healthy planet to live on for many more years to come.

Get Social with SILab