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Highlights from the IIR Total Customer Experience Leaders Conference

 

By Julie Kurd

At the IIR #TotalCEL conference this week in Miami, behavioral motivations fueled the majority of presentations. In 2014, the economics of behaviors are getting quantified. Marketers and their peers in Operations are gently guiding their companies to a deeper understanding of the emotional drivers behind their problems.  CMB, behavioral economics, emotional measurement

7 of the Emotional States Presented at #TotalCEL: 

  1. Neutral: “People prefer to be at a neutral state emotionally,” says Daryl Travis, the CEO of BrandTrust and author of Emotional Branding – How Successful Brands Gain the Irrational Edge.  However, the customer journey is far from neutral. For example, customers who go to a department store might have emotional peaks (e.g. found a product on sale) and emotional valleys (e.g. had to wait in a long line). No matter the actual journey, Travis states that the customer’s end state and how problems are resolved are the two aspects of the journey that matter most. 

  2. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): Kassandra Barnes of CareerBuilder noted that Millennials are seeking promotion, advancement, training, and mentorship opportunities when searching for a job and are less concerned about benefits. Unlike their older counterparts, Millennials are casually, but continuously, looking for another job due to this primary emotional motivation: FOMO. In fact, 83% of full time Millennials are actively looking for new job opportunities, and 49% of Millennials search for new jobs while at work.

  3. Let’s Bond: Moms today experience the lofty emotional attachment of bonding when they pick up the bottle with the orange ribbed cap, pristine curves, and the chalkboard image on the package of the glue that cements a relationship during play. Elmer’s Michelle Manning elaborated on parents, emotions, and the perfect packaging.

  4. Forgiveness: According to Dr. Mark Ingwer, author of Empathetic Marketing, leveraging empathetic emotions is “the buried treasure of customer service.” The question he says is where to drop anchor? After working with Allstate, Ingwer conducted the fuzzy front end discovery research he calls “psych ethnographies” and this research yielded the insight about creating empathy in the product, hence Allstate’s Accident Forgiveness and Your Choice Auto. Both products have appealed to the audience and have dramatically ramped up revenues, increased customer satisfaction and staved the churn rate.

  5. Eliminate Worry: Emotional and behavioral goals vary widely, depending upon the degree of trust each consumer has. One critical consumer obsession is to eliminate worry. You can see companies responding to that obsession in the mobile payment space, where we found security is a primary concern. While it’s still unclear which companies will win over the consumer mobile payment market, it will be interesting to see how and when these competitors adequately address the primary emotional and functional needs of the mobile payment user—worry free transactions. CMB’s Brian Jones presented the Future of the Mobile Wallet where he shared which industry (and which companies) may be best positioned to eliminate worry. Will it be a bank, a credit card company, an internet service provider, a technology company, or a retail store like Starbucks?

  6. Belonging: Every time I hear Keith Ferrazzi speak, he’s written a new book, and I learn something new. He says that people don’t want to change so we should focus on which of the fewest people can change which narrowest set of practices and behaviors that can accelerate our results.  The key is to dig deep into the willingness to change.  Change is an emotional journey, and the highest order of the emotional food chain is “belonging.”  From childhood (“I said so”) to reason (“that makes sense”) to being "mission driven" and then focusing on “your stuff” we end up with belonging—our  basic need to relate to other people.

  7. Look at me: What does your brand offer that your customers need?  The key thing that a lifestyle brand like Starwood gives is experiential currency for their social life.  The affiliation—you’re in their physical world gaining experiences—creates that sharable moment that is currency for us all. In contrast, other hotel properties don’t make it easy for you to take that perfect picture of yourself and your loved ones from a design standpoint.  When I go to an Aloft or a Westin, I have that very cool picture in their design inspired context. Starwood’s Stephen Gates, VP and Creative Director for Global Brand Design, talked about all of their brands, about the rain room at the MoMa, Starwood’s presence on stage at 3 of the last 5 Apple keynotes and their being featured in Apple’s advertising as well as “on the phone.” He says the work is king. The work dictates everything. The work runs his department. The work sells the brands and hotels. The work is what matters. His design thinking begins with some basic tenets—keep it simple, sweat the details, build a lifestyle or a visual personality that reflects the consumer, be relevant and authentic, break new ground, push innovation, think globally and go with swagger.

What are you doing with respect to emotional or behavioral economics? Continue the dialogue on Twitter with @julie1research using hashtag #MRX.

Julie is an Account Executive, she loves to connect with innovative big thinkers on topics ranging from emotion to complex choice modelling.

What Does it Take to be an Insights Maverick?

 

By Brant Cruz

Brant surfing 2 (2)Not too long ago, after hosting a gathering of some of the most talented, innovative researchers on the west coast (or really anywhere) I heard a story about another gathering of talented elites—The Mavericks Invitational—the greatest surfing event in the world. Despite the fact that people often request I wear a wetsuit, and I once appeared in local stage production of the Keanu Reeves’ classic Point Break, this was the first time I’d heard of this event. The Cliffs Note version: the event is only held when the waves will be at their most challenging and the 24 invitees are given just 24 hours to make it to Half Moon Bay, CA to have a chance to compete.

Basically, a group of the most talented people in their field, heavily invested in a single purpose, makes a beeline to a single place to make the most of a precious moment. The parallels with customer insights are obvious…no? As I see it, we in the customer insights world also have incredible waves of opportunity—for innovation, for serving new segment or entering markets, basically for helping our business partners make critical decisions with confidence. And just like our Mavericks, the best among us need to be nimble and driven enough to bring our partners in analytics, marketing and operations together to capitalize on these precious opportunities as quickly as possible.

Why customer insights in particular? For the same reason they don’t invite belly boarders to the Mavericks. The Customer Insights function (or if you prefer “Analytics Artists”) are in the best position to strangle the data, build coalitions, synthesize results from prior work and multiple data sources and seize the most impactful moments. I mean, who else can confidently talk about robust predictive models with Analytics folks over breakfast, then pivot to a discussion of the results of brand positioning work with in-house ad agency folks over lunch, and finally finish the evening with a nightcap of profitability projections from a conjoint study that will be shared with a CFO?  Insights folks, that’s who!

So I say to you, Customer Insights Professionals, when you hear the call to of a business critical insight that you work has produced, sound the cavalry charge yourselves and bring key members of your organization.  And if you’re feeling at all squeamish, then take inspiration from these famous Mavericks below:mavericks

Brant is CMB's Segmentation guru and VP of CMB's eCommerce and Retail Practice; he awaits his invitation to next year's Mavericks Invitational.

In Miami for Total Customer Experience Leaders? So are we. Stop by our booth and say hello to Julie Kurd @julie1research, and make sure you catch our presentation on the Future of the Mobile Wallet at 2:30 on Thursday.

Living in a World of Significance

 

By Nick Pangallo

globe

Guess what? It’s 2014! The year of Super Bowl XLVIII©, the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and a whole host of other, generally not-that-impactful events, anniversaries, and changes. One event that will happen in 2014, though, is something which happens every two years: U.S. national elections.

This seems like an odd way to start a blog, but bear with me for a moment.  Show of hands out there (ed. note: you’re welcome to actually raise your hand if you want, but I wouldn’t): how many of you readers have, at some point, become tired of the relentless political horse-race, always talking about who’s ahead and who’s behind for months and years on end?  I know I have, and chances are it’s happened to you too, but I’m going to ask that we all take a deep breath and dive once more into the fray.

The question of “who’s ahead” and “who’s behind” brings us to our discussion of statistical significance.  I’m going to talk today about how it works, how it can be used, and why it might not be quite as beneficial as you might think.

First, a quick refresher: when we take survey responses, test results, etc. from a sample of people that we think represents some broader population, there is always the risk that whatever results we see might be due to random chance instead of some other factor (like actual differences of opinion between two groups). To control for this, we can conduct significance testing, which tells us the likelihood that the result we have obtained is due to random chance, instead of some other real, underlying factor. I won’t bore you with the details of terms like p, α, one- vs. two-tailed tests and the like, but know that the methodology is sound and can be looked up in any AP-level statistics textbook.

Most organizations assume an “error range” of 5%, meaning that a data finding is statistically significant if the odds are 5% (or less) that the results are due to random chance. So, if we run significance testing on Millennials vs. Gen X’ers in a survey, and we find that the two are significantly different, we are saying there is a 5% (or less) chance that those differences are just random, and not due to actual underlying opinions, or price-sensitivity, or political beliefs, or receptiveness to that new hair-growth prescription, or whatever else you might be testing.

Now, if you have a huge data set and a fairly advanced statistical program, calculating significance is easy. But since most people don’t have access to these tools, there is another, much simpler way to think about significance: the margin of error. The margin of error is a simple way of determining how much higher or lower a result can be before it is considered significantly different. For instance, if your margin of error was ± 5%, and your data points were 60% and 49%, your data is (likely) significantly different; if your data points are 55% and 51%, they are not.

This brings us back to the political analogy; calculating the margin of error is how we determine whether Politician X is ahead of Politician Y, or vice-versa.

Let’s say, for example, a poll of 1,000 registered voters was conducted, with a sound methodology, and asks which of two candidates respondents support (assume no other options are presented in this circumstance, a small but notable difference for a future blog). We find that 48% support Politician X and 52% Politician Y. Because the sample size is 1,000, the margin of error is ± 3.1%. Since the difference between the two politicians is less than twice the margin of error (i.e., if Politician X’s share might be as high as 51.1% and Politician Y’s share as low as 48.9%), you would hear this reported as a “statistical tie” in the news. This would be because news organizations won’t report one candidate as ahead of the other, as long as the two are within that acceptable margin of error.

So that’s the political world, and there are many reasons networks and polling organizations choose to behave this way (aversion to being wrong, fear of being seen as taking sides, and fear of phone calls from angry academics, among others).  But in the research world, we don’t usually have nice, round sample sizes and two-person comparisons – and that’s why relying on statistical significance and margin of error when making decisions can be dangerous.

Let’s go back to that political poll.  The original sample size was N=1,000 and produced a margin of error of ± 3.1%.  Let’s see what happens when we start changing the sample size:

·        N=100: ± 9.8%

·        N=200: ± 6.9%

·        N=500: ± 4.4%

·        N=750: ± 3.6%

·        N=1,000: ± 3.1%

·        N=1,500: ± 2.5%

·        N=2,000: ± 2.2%

·        N=4,000: ± 1.6%

Notice the clear downward trend: as sample sizes grow, margins of error shrink, but with diminishing returns.

Now, we at CMB would advocate for larger sample sizes, since they allow more freedom within the data (looking at multiple audiences, generally smaller error ranges, etc.).  It’s no secret that larger sample sizes are better.  But I’ve had a few experiences recently that led me to want to reinforce a broader point: just because a difference is significant doesn’t make it meaningful, and vice versa.

With a sample size of N=5,000, a difference of 3% between Millennials and Gen X’ers would be significant, but is a 3% difference ever really meaningful in survey research?  From my perspective, the answer is a resounding no.  But if your sample size is N=150, a difference of 8% wouldn’t be significant…but eight percentage points is a fairly substantial difference.  Sure, it’s possible that your sample is slightly skewed, and with more data that difference would shrink.  But it’s more likely that this difference is meaningful, and by looking at only statistical significance, we would miss it. And that’s the mistake every researcher needs to avoid.

If I can leave you with one abiding maxim from today, it’s this: assuming some minimum sample size (75, 100, whatever makes you comfortable), big differences usually are meaningful, small differences usually are not.  Significance is a nice way to be certain in your results, but we as researchers need to support business decisions with meaningful findings, not (just) significant ones.

Nick Pangallo is a Project Manager in CMB’s Financial Services, Healthcare, and Insurance practice.  He has a meaningful-but-not-significant man-crush on Nate Silver.

Celebrating Our 30th Year!

 

By Heather MagawCMB 30 year infographic

On April 1, 1984, Chadwick Martin Bailey was founded in Boston by Anne Bailey Berman and Dr. John Martin. What began 30 years ago on a day known for pranks, continues to thrive today as a Honomichl Top 50 market research and consulting firm.

Staying true to our April Fools’ Day origins, we never take ourselves too seriously, despite our commitment to providing insights for confident, strategic, decision-making to a select group of the world’s leading brands.

While clients appreciate our rigorous approach to market science blended with our unique business decision focus and rock solid execution, it’s our genuine and collaborative approach to partnership that our clients tell us they value most. In fact, one of the greatest compliments we can receive is when clients tell us we're “fun to work with.”

Today we celebrate 30 years of helping our clients get the answers they need to grow, innovate, and stay ahead of the competition, and our co-founders who set us on the path toward success.

Thank you, Anne and John, fellow CMBers, and our fantastic clients!

Heather is VP of Client Services, she loves both a good April Fools' gag and birthday celebration!

 

Does Speed Kill (Insights)?

 

By Mark Doherty

Speed and CMBWill big data destroy primary research? I’ve read dozens (hundreds?) of articles that argue both sides, but despite a lot of speculation, I see very little attention paid to what may be the real killer of a lot of primary research: the “need for speed.” The increasing velocity of business (compressed product development cycles, social media and the desire for real-time marketing) often means not having the 6-10 weeks a typical quantitative research project needs. For many, the availability of big data is seen as “good enough” given the time constraints. So big data may be an accomplice, but tightened timelines are what researchers really need to address.

It’s the research vendors who don’t specialize in more strategic research I see hit the hardest by this reality. Big data is already eating into their more basic projects—answering the “who,” “what,” and “where” questions. At least for now, clients are more comfortable with (or at least tolerant of) longer timeframes for the complex, strategic work that CMB focuses on. The good news for us and for our clients is that so many of those projects benefit greatly from primary and big data playing together. In our Segmentation work, for example, our modeling usually integrates third party data, our clients’ CRM data, and the need/preference/attitude-based data we get from primary research. The combination of these data sources nearly always results in a much more robust—and actionable—Segmentation for our clients. 

But the truth is we understand our clients are still looking for us to help them make decisions faster. Here are a few of the timesaving strategies we use to address this reality:

  • For starters, we work with our clients to dig into the specifics of their timing needs. And for many projects, they don’t need a formal report to help inform their decisions—they just need to know the “answers” to guide their decisions. So we will hold “data parties” (they sound fun, don’t they? :)) where we all roll up our sleeves to review what the data is telling us and more quickly get to the answer together. We can then write up a focused summary before we put together the formal report.

  • We’ve recently invested quite a bit of money in a technology solution that helps us move from questionnaire programming through to clean data (and even the inevitable PowerPoint slides) more quickly than we have in the past. This streamlined our processes and helps get us more quickly to those data parties.

  • We also make sure we do a great job in delivering compelling and easy-to-understand deliverables that are “ready to use,” and don’t require lots of time for our clients to redo anything for their own internal use. 

So is the need for speed going to go away? Not a chance. Our clients face more and more pressure to get insights and results faster and we need to keep up. And although we’ll always keep looking for ways to leverage data and people to get our clients the insights they need, we’ll never do it at the cost of meaningful decision-focused insights.

Mark is a Vice President at CMB. He can't help but note that despite the between the increasingly fast speed of business he writes about and the increasingly slow speed with which WIRehe competes on the basketball and tennis courts. 

In Boston tomorrow? Join the women of CMB as we host a WIRe networking event at the Globe Bar & Café from 6 to 8pm. Register here.

What’s the Story? 5 Insights from CASRO’s Digital Research Conference

 

By Jared Huizenga

CMB and CASROWho says market research isn’t exciting? I’ve been a market researcher for the past sixteen years, and I’ve seen the industry change dramatically since the days when telephone questionnaires were the norm. I still remember my excitement when disk-by-mail became popular! But I don’t think I’ve ever felt as excited about market research as I do right now. The CASRO Digital Research Conference was last week, and the presentations confirmed what I already knew—big changes are happening in the market research world. Here are five key takeaways from the conference.

  1. “Market research” is an antiquated term. It was even suggested that we change the name of our industry from market research to “insights.” In fact, the word “insights” came up multiple times throughout the conference by different presenters. This makes a lot of sense to me. Many people view market research as a process whereas insights are the end result we deliver to our clients. Speaking for CMB, partnering with our clients to provide critical insights is a much more accurate description of our mission and focus. We and our clients know percentages by themselves fail to tell the whole story, and can in fact lead to more confusion about which direction to take.

  2. “Big data” means different things to different people. If you ask ten people to define big data you’ll probably get ten different answers. Some define it as omnipresent data that follows us wherever we go. Others define it as vast amounts of unstructured data, some of which might be useful and some not. Still others call it an outdated buzzword.  No matter what your own definition of big data is, the market research industry seems to be in somewhat of a quandary about what to do with it. Clients want it and researchers want to oblige, but do adequate tools currently exist to deliver meaningful big data? Where does the big data come from, who owns it, and how do you integrate it with traditional forms of data? These are all questions that have not been fully answered by the market research (or insights) industry. Regardless, tons of investment dollars are currently being pumped into big data infrastructure and tools. Big data is going to be, well, BIG.  However, there’s a long way to go before most will be able to use it to its potential.

  3. Empathy is the hottest new research “tool.” Understanding others’ feelings, thoughts, and experiences allows us to understand the “why behind the what.”  Before you dismiss this as just a qualitative research thing, don’t be so sure.  While qualitative research is an effective tool for understanding the “why,” the lines are blurring between qualitative and quantitative research. Picking one over the other simply doesn’t seem wise in today’s world. Unlike with big data, tools do currently exist that allow us to empathize with people and tell a more complete story. When you look at a respondent, you shouldn’t only see a number, spreadsheet, or fancy graphic that shows cost is the most important factor when purchasing fabric softener. You should see the man who recently lost his wife to cancer and who is buying fabric softener solely based on cost because he has five years of medical bills. There is value in knowing the whole story. When you look at a person, you should see a person.

  4. Synthesizers are increasingly important. I’m not talking about the synthesizers from Soft Cell’s version of “Tainted Love” or Van Halen’s “Jump.” The goal here is to once again tell a complete story and, in order to do this, multiple skillsets are required. Analytics have traditionally been the backbone of market research and will continue to play a major role in the future. However, with more and more information coming from multiple sources, synthesizers are also needed to pull all of it together in a meaningful way. In many cases, those who are good at analytics are not as good at synthesizing information, and vice versa. This may require a shift in the way market research companies staff for success in the future. 

  5. Mobile devices are changing the way questionnaires are designed. A time will come when very few respondents are willing to take a questionnaire over twenty minutes long, and some are saying that day is coming within two years. The fact is, no matter how much mobile “optimization” you apply to your questionnaire, the time to take it on a smartphone is still going to be longer than on PCs and tablets. Forcing respondents to complete on a PC isn’t a good solution, especially since the already elusive sub 25 year old population spends more time on mobile devices than PCs. So what’s a researcher to do? The option of “chunking” long questionnaires into several modules is showing potential, but requires careful questionnaire design and a trusted sampling plan. This method isn’t a good fit for all studies where analysis dictates each respondent complete the entire questionnaire, and the number of overall respondents needed is likely to increase using this methodology. It also requires client buy-in. But it’s something that we at CMB believe is worth pursuing as we leverage mobile technologies.

Change is happening faster than ever. If you thought the transition from telephone to online research was fast—if you were even around back in the good old days when that happened—you’d better hold onto your seat! Information surrounds every consumer. The challenge for insights companies is not only to capture that information but to empathize, analyze, and synthesize it in order to tell a complete story. This requires multiple skillsets as well as the appropriate tools, and honestly the industry as a whole simply isn’t there yet. However, I strongly believe that those of us who are working feverishly to not just “deal” with change but to leverage it, and who are making progress with these rapidly changing technological advances, will be well equipped for success.

Jared is CMB’s Director of Field Services, and has been in market research industry for sixteen years. When he isn’t enjoying the exciting world of data collection, he can be found competing at barbecue contests as the pitmaster of the team Insane Swine BBQ

 

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Keeping Trackers Fresh: Finding that "Special Something"

 

By Caitlin Dailey

CMB keeping trackers freshEight years is a long time to be in a relationship with someone. When you’ve been with the same person for that long, chances are you either put a ring on it, or throw in the towel. If you have a solid foundation, an even balance of give and take, and you genuinely enjoy each other’s company, how do you go about keeping that spark alive, rather than just going through the motions? The answer: you get creative and find ways to surprise and delight your partner. The same is true for tracking studies; if you have a strong partnership and you want it to last, you want to find ways to surprise and delight your client rather than letting your tracker go stale.  

For the past eight years, CMB has been working with a global cruise line on their guest satisfaction study, delivering quarterly reports each year (that’s 32 reports in case you’re rusty with your times tables). I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of this team for nearly half that time, and I’ve learned a few things about adding that "special something" to keep things fresh in the relationship.  

One of the ways we keep our trackers fresh, compelling, and above all useful, is with “Special Chapters.”  For our cruise client we deliver these Special Chapters—mini-reports on hot topics, in addition to the typical brand tracking slides. We work with our client each quarter to decide on the topics of interest at that point in time, or we find new stories in the vast amount of data we have from our questionnaire. To make them truly "special," we have to get creative, so we look to other sources of data rather than just our single study to pull in what customers are saying on social media and review sites like cruisecritic.com, and we work with our client’s database team to append customer information to our data in order to run more in-depth analyses.

Here are a few other ways we help keep trackers fresh:

Provide a snapshot on a new product or service

  • In the case of our cruise client, over the tenure of the study, two new ships were introduced in the fleet, so we created a chapter detailing each ship's performance during their inaugural years

Deep dive into a particular segment of customers

  • Our cruise client, like many of our clients, is a global company, giving us the opportunity to look into differences between many types of customer groups, for example:

§  Country profile scorecards on guests from different regions

§  Customer journey maps on guests with different levels of experience with the brand

Compare pre- and post-data surrounding key company initiatives

  • Based on recommendations we may have given in a previous quarter, our client makes necessary adjustments to improve guests’ experiences onboard, and we have the ability to compare pre- and post-data to determine whether these adjustments have improved their perceptions.

 …and that’s just to name a few.

Don’t let the monotony of a brand tracker make your relationship go stale. Get creative, surprise and delight, and you’ll be walking hand-in-hand into the future for many more years to come.

Caitlin Dailey is a Project Manager for the Retail/Travel/Entertainment/Finance/Healthcare/Insurance practice. Outside of work she is a company dancer with DanceWorks Boston.

In Orlando for the Loyalty Expo next week? Drop by our Loyalty Expo 2013 Logobooth to talk about refreshing tired Brand Trackers, Segmentation, Customer Experience, New Product Development, or just to say hello!

 


Branding a Country on the Olympic Stage

 

By Jen Golden

CMB Sochi Olympics 2014I recently traveled to Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympics (check this off the bucket list!) and after all the media attention focused on Sochi leading up to the games, I was interested to see firsthand if the games were going to be considered a success for Russia or not.

Russia went into their Olympic bid with the mindset that they would be showcasing, and essentially re-branding, their image to the world (and turning Sochi into a top tourist destination in the process). Re-branding an entire country is no small feat (and in the west many would argue that Russia faces a particularly difficult battle) and the Olympic stage is indisputably the easiest way to gain national exposure and leverage a positive image.

  • Pre-Olympics: Sochi got off to a bit of a rocky branding start in the media (with security and hotel/lodging concerns taking the spotlight away from the positive aspects of the games) and #SochiFail being the most prominent twitter tag in the weeks leading up to the event. Strolling through the Olympic Park a day before the Opening Ceremonies, many aspects were not yet set-up and ready to go (e.g., the souvenir store, sponsor houses, food stands). Nothing like last minute!

  • Olympic Moment: After the Olympic Ring debacle during the opening ceremonies, Sochi brought its A game. The international media had little to complain about (besides the sunny weather!), as events went off without a hitch and portrayed Russia in a positive light.

  • Post-Olympics: From purely a spectator’s point of view, the games for Russia were a success. The venues were state-of-the-art, Sochi provided wonderful scenery, volunteers were friendly and focus was centered on what mattered: the athletes and bringing the world together for these two weeks. Russia also achieved their ultimate branding goal as a nation: coming out on top of the medal count. But in an illustration of the limits of Olympic spirit, Russia’s current political actions may taint any positive goodwill they gained from Sochi.  

In the wake of the Games, will Sochi become the ultimate tourist destination that Russia hoped for, or will it suffer like other Olympic cities have in the past? Speaking to other spectators who had been to multiple Olympics, many expressed these were the best Olympic Games yet…but only time will tell if that positive experience was felt throughout the world (or if it never made it outside the ring of fans and athletes in Sochi). 

Jen is a Project Manager at CMB. She’ll never forget her Olympic experience and is now preparing herself for PyeongChang 2018.

March 15th Celebration of Life for John Martin

 

John Martin CMBOn Saturday, March 15th, the Martin family, friends, and colleagues at CMB will celebrate the life of John Martin. The event and luncheon will take place from 11am to 2pm at the Babson College Executive Conference Center in Wellesley, MA.  

It will be a celebration of John’s life in all its aspects—dedicated family man, conceptual trail blazer, analytic wizard, mentor to many, lover of jokes, unrelenting wit, Indian food aficionado, and purveyor of informal attire. In keeping with John’s “style”, dress will be informal and preferably not black.

Directions, parking, and lodging information can be found here: http://www.cmbinfo.com/cmb-cms/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Directions-and-Lodging-at-BECC.pdf

 

 

 

 

All Aboard: Why Planning a Cruise is like Planning for Market Research

 

By Cara Lousararian

In a few weeks I’ll be taking a cruise to the map with push pins squareCaribbean—a cruise that I have spent 9 months planning. Needless to say, I’ve been a little preoccupied making sure everything is in place to ensure a flawless vacation. And as I sorted through all of these details, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between vacation planning and how we at CMB prepare for a smooth, successful research project. You might be thinking “this is a woman who really needs a vacation.” But hear me out.

The first step of vacation planning is to put together a list of possible locations for a trip and select an appropriate timeframe. Planning a successful research study works on the same principles, every project starts with taking the time to define and understand the main decisions that need to be made from the research—we use tools like our Business Decision Worksheet—which directly ties the questionnaire, analysis and reporting to the business decisions, letting us identify and gain consensus on the most pressing decisions, and ensuring the results are actionable.

We also know how critical it is to develop (and stick to) a schedule that aligns with our clients’ needs. One of the first things that we at CMB do at the beginning of each project is put together a schedule outlining each key milestone of the process, all the way up to delivery of the final results. Putting together a detailed schedule helps us align resources and ensure we stay on track to meet our client deadlines. Knowing how much our clients rely on our research makes the scheduling a crucial part of the process and an important key to our success in executing projects.

Once the schedule is set, the project kicks off and the exploratory phase begins. I personally did lots of exploratory research before selecting my specific cruise line, ship, and date. Through this exploratory research, I was able to drill down and identify what aspects were most important in making my decision. Exploratory phases are also crucial for determining what will be most important to measure in the questionnaire and which areas are “nice to haves,” but not necessary to be included for the project.

Exploratory research also helps generate new ideas that may not have been previously considered. Similar to the many resources available for cruise planning (cruise line website, message boards, etc.), exploratory research for a project can span several platforms, including a review of secondary research, conducting in-depth interviews or focus groups, or hosting online discussion boards.

Sometimes the exploratory phase of a project gets less attention/recognition than is deserved because it doesn’t come across as being as “glamorous” as the analysis and insights that will come from the quantitative research. However, all market researchers know that the level of planning can make or break a project. CMB’s focus on planning allows us to try and anticipate what potential issues may come up down the road so that we can troubleshoot effectively and properly set expectations with our clients. Of course just like you can’t predict a rogue wave, there are times when the unexpected happens. When this happens we know we need to remain flexible enough to make course corrections and steer us back to the business decisions that our clients are trying to make.

I know we can only take the analogy so far; when all is said and done, often the only tangible evidence of having been on a vacation are the pictures. While the deliverables we produce for our clients are polished and shiny, they’re hardly the end “goal” of the research. Successful research is useful and used, and that starts well before a questionnaire is designed.

Cara is a Research Manager at CMB. She enjoys spending time with her husband Brett, her dog Nala, and planning her next vacation.

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