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For the Love of Disney: A Look into the Power of Loyalty


By Alyse Dunn

loyalty, Chadwick Martin Bailey, DisneyHow many times have you done your favorite thing? It doesn’t matter what your favorite thing may be, or if your favorite thing varies by season. Just think of the number. Does it seem lower than you would expect? Does it seem higher? Or, does it feel just right?

Have you ever been to Walt Disney World 50 times? I have. And I continue to go every year. Why? That’s an excellent question and even though, at this point, I have a fairly automated response to that very question, people still don’t seem to understand.

Let me start by addressing the most typical questions I am asked:

  • Don’t you ever go anywhere else? Sometimes, but why would I want to? Ever since I was little, Disney has been (and continues to be) where we have our family vacation every single year. I have expanded my travel as an adult, but the Disney allure still pulls my whole family back annually.
  • Don’t you get sick of going? Not at all. When you’ve been as many times as I have, you get to see Disney through a new lens. There is less of a focus on getting everything in and more of a focus on taking it all in.
  • And the pièce de résistance: Aren’t you too old for Disney? This is my favorite question to answer—not just because I am much younger than most people would assume given my record. I love this question because I get to respond in a way that would garner Disney’s approval—you are never too old for Disney World.  In youth, I was drawn by the enchantment. In adulthood, I’m now just drawn by that feeling I get each time I step through those gates.

I may be able to sing “A Whole New World” without musical accompaniment and relay unnecessarily detailed quips about every ride in the park, but I don’t find that juvenile. I find that—for lack of a better word—magical.

All of my trips to Disney have done a lot for me, but at the end of the day, there is far more to this than just ample travel—and that’s loyalty. I am 100% loyal to Disney. I own their dinnerware, clothing, and toys. I name my pets after their characters. I see all of their movies and know almost everything about them, and I still can’t sleep the night before a trip.  

What makes someone loyal? Lots of things can sprout loyalty, but not all loyalty is equal. In fact, there are a few different kinds of loyalty that a person can experience, including:

  • Captive Loyalty. In colloquial terms, “I will stay with you because it’s too difficult to change.” How frequently do you change your bank or cable provider? Not often, right? That’s because changing providers can be more trouble than it’s worth. That’s not to say that some people don’t love their bank, but maybe that love is a little more conditional.
  • Uninvolved Loyalty. How much thought have you put in to your car insurance provider since purchasing the car? (Bueller?) Maybe that’s because the automated processes that are in place for paying this type and other types of insurance (mortgage) have made you consider it less. Loyal? Yes. Actively loyal? Maybe not so much. It may be part of the reason why companies are encouraging automatic withdrawals for payments.
  • Distribution Loyalty. What is your absolute favorite beer? Is it easily/readily available? If you answered “yes,” it could be that part of your choice is based on distribution—the fact that you can easily get what you want, when you want it. Why are some brands so successful? Perhaps it’s because they have the market bandwidth.
  • Heritage Loyalty. Did your parents always use the same detergent when you were a child? Do you use that same one in your own home today? Sometimes loyalty happens based on what we grow up with. Think back to some of the everyday products you choose. Does your family use them as well? There you go.
  • Loyal Loyalty (aka True Loyalty). The following are elements of true loyalty: you think of the brand first, you believe the brand is the best at what they do, you believe any new line extension they introduce will be a winner and is definitely worth trying, and you have an emotional attachment to the brand. This is the kind of loyalty brands are looking for—the kind I have for Disney.

Loyalty plays into all of the daily choices we make like which brand of soap, chips, or shoes to buy. We find something that works, and we stick with it. Loyalty is often hard to shake. How many times have one of “your brands” upset you, and yet you’ve still given them another chance?

The question that market research should strive to answer is: what can drive this loyalty? As researchers, we need to help companies deepen emotional attachment and better understand their loyal customer base and develop products and services that suit their needs.

Alyse is a Senior Research Associate on the financial/retail practice and still travels to Disney with her family at least once a year. Through her multiple excursions, she has discovered EPCOT is more fun the older you get.

NEW WEBINAR 7/24 at 12:30 PM EST:

Concept Optimization Tools for Introducing a Suite of Products: This webinar will provide insights into the tools that can be used from early screening of features to a ready to launch optimization and demand estimation of the final offer.

Register Today!

Do you Uber? Taking a Ride with the Future of Customer Experience


By Dana Vaille

CMB, Uber, Customer ExperienceIf you live in a city, you probably know about the current battle between Uber car services (and others) vs. taxi companies. Maybe you’ve seen stories in the news or actually found yourself in the middle of a taxi driver protest yourself—like the one that happened just outside our offices in Boston, where cab drivers protested by honking their horns for a solid two hours. 

The gist of the story is this: taxis are highly regulated forms of public transportation. Depending on local laws, they may have permits to pay for, extra insurance to carry, etc. Then along comes a private, unregulated, service like Uber that is (mostly) offering cheaper fares and taking business away from the taxi drivers.  The taxi drivers are understandably frustrated that companies like Uber don’t (for now) have to follow the same guidelines, pay the same fees, etc. I can certainly empathize with the taxis on that front, and I don’t want to under-emphasize the importance of their perspective here. That said, for the purposes of this blog I will focus only on the customer’s perspective…and the potential differences in the customer experience. 

I have taken taxis for years and also recently tried a ride with Uber. Thinking about the taxi vs. Uber experience, excluding the fares, here’s my take:


  • Uber: The company makes it easy to request pickup, regardless of where you are

  • Traditional Taxi: I either need to see a taxi and flag it down, or have a taxi company phone number on hand and be able to identify my exact location—not always easy in an unfamiliar city 


  • Uber: The app tells me the driver’s name and what he/she looks like, so I know who is picking me up (I can also share that information with my family/friends for safety reasons)

  • Traditional Taxi: I wouldn’t be able to identify the taxi driver until I’m already in the car


  • Uber: Payment is charged to the credit card on file—it doesn’t get more convenient

  • Traditional Taxi: Taxis require that I either have cash on hand, or pull out my credit card and wait for it to be processed

As a customer, I can easily understand the appeal of a service like Uber.  Even if the fares were the same, or I had to pay a little extra, I might still choose Uber just for the convenience.  As a researcher, I see an opportunity for taxi companies to evaluate the customer experience to find out what they can do better. It’s time for taxi companies to start asking customers…why do you Uber?

Dana is a Research Director at CMB. She loves traveling and exploring new areas, but is admittedly bad with directions. She is uber-excited about the availability of car services like Uber, where she no longer needs to be responsible for providing directions.

NEW WEBINAR 7/24 at 12:30 PM EST:
Concept Optimization Tools for Introducing a Suite of Products: This webinar will provide insights into the tools that can be used from early screening of features to a ready to launch optimization and demand estimation of the final offer.

Register here!



Upcoming Webinar: Modularized Research Design for a Mobile World


By Chris Neal

The market research industry is at a crossroads as client demands push survey length longer while respondents increasingly take survey from smartphones (see our previous blog on mobile market research trends and best practices). In our upcoming webinar, Melanie Courtright of Research Now and I will share insights from a recent experiment in modularized research design. Below is a brief summary:


Many advanced analytical techniques require ~15-25 minutes (or more) worth of questioning to function, but many smartphone survey-takers drop out after ~5-10 minutes worth of content. Personally, I’ve seen drop-out rates over 5x on smartphones compared to what I see from the same profile of people taking the exact same survey on a computer or a tablet (note: I don’t see much of a difference between computer and tablet survey-takers…it’s smartphone survey-takers that are different). This can happen even with the most mobile-optimized survey user experience possible (e.g., no banks of rating scales requiring horizontal scrolling, minimal text on each screen, no vertical scrolling, no images or watermarks).

This trajectory is unsustainable but most people I know—quite understandably—want it to just go away.

The bad news is: it won’t. As an industry, we need to adapt to this new reality, kicking and screaming.

The good news is: we’re actually well equipped to do this, and we’ve been forced to make major adaptations before. Many of the sampling approaches and analytical tools we’ve been using for a long time can be applied in new ways to new situations we will increasingly find ourselves in with mobile market research. The key for us is testing and learning which tools work for which situations; which don’t, and updating our “conventional wisdom” about research best practices to be relevant in an increasingly mobile and increasingly modularized research world.


With this in mind, CMB partnered with Research Now to self-sponsor a research-on-research study where we purposefully sampled blocks of smartphone survey-takers alongside computer survey-takers and modularized our research design so that different “nodes” of smartphone survey-takers only answers specific parts of the overall questionnaire. We then experimented with different approaches for imputing all the missing data we ended up with to see which worked and which didn’t.

The Topic: We examined the purchase journey for:

(a) Recent tablet buyers in the U.S. and…

(b) Recent hotel bookers (for personal travel) in the U.S.

For each category, we examined the original purchase triggers, how they became aware of different brands and options, research and evaluation, the final purchase decision, and the channel through which they ultimately purchased their tablet or booked their hotel.

Sampling & Weighting:

Whenever doing a modularized survey design, it is important to balance the various smartphone survey-taker nodes so they are comparable to one another on the key dimensions that could impact their attitudes or behaviors. All the rules we have used for doing this in longitudinal tracker studies come into play here as well. For this study, we ensured that our four different respondent nodes (one group of respondents who took the full survey on a computer, and three separate groups of respondents who took parts of the same survey on smartphones) were identical to one another on the core demographics (age, gender, and household income).

We first fielded all the computer survey-takers who answered the entire questionnaire, doing census-balanced click-throughs so we had a reliable read on the true demographic composition of recent tablet buyers and personal hotel bookers. We then fielded the smartphone survey-takers so that each node matched the demographic composition of the computer survey-taker node. We used RAKE weighting to correct any fielding imperfections:

modularized survey

Each smartphone survey-taker answered a core set of questions that all respondents answered (e.g., screeners, which brands they were aware of, considered and ultimately purchased), then were routed to one purchase journey node to answer in detail (but they skipped the others).

modularized survey


The real fun began once we got the data back. There were two primary techniques we compared for imputing data:

1)     Fully conditional imputation

  • What it is: iterative Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method

  • How it works: for every variable with missing data, it creates a predictive model using all other available variables with real data as predictors.

2)      Hot decking

    • Replaces missing values with values from a similar respondent

    • Sorts the file by the key criteria to match (e.g., age, gender, income)

    • Impose randomness to the sort with a random number (deck)

    • For each respondent that has missing values (“recipient”), it looks to the next respondent that matches on all key (deck) measures (donor)

    • If the 2 respondents match on the specified criteria: it fills the recipient’s missing data with the donor’s data

     CMB Hot Decking


    Join us on July 9th for a webinar where we will review lessons learned from this project and implications for modularizing surveys in an increasingly mobile world.  There is simply too much detail and good stuff to spill the beans all in one blog post. Suffice it to say for now that it was a learning journey for everyone involved (which was indeed our mission), and we are sharing everything we learned along the way to further the industry’s collective knowledge base of how to adapt to this sea change in consumer research participation.

    Register Here!

    Chris leads CMB’s Tech Practice. He enjoys spending time with his two kids and rock climbing.

    The Market Researcher and the Psychic: A Lesson in Divine Inference


    By Hannah Jeton

    describe the imageWith both feet planted on the ground (guaranteeing my ankles are uncrossed for proper energy flow) and my palms out in front of me, Clarence’s** palms rest against mine, reading my energy. His mouth twitches slightly, and his eyes are closed.  There is silence, a sigh, and an “okay.” Then our session begins.

    A few weeks ago, I finally cashed-in my LivingSocial voucher for a 30-minute tarot card reading at a tearoom in Boston with two co-workers. I left the session totally blown away. I will never make a major life decision based on a tarot card reading. However, as an insights professional, I did come away with some surprising takeaways into the power of putting a little art into the science of insights to create a story that resonates.

    Back to the reading: I draw my first 10 cards, shuffling them back and forth between my hands—transferring more energy. Then, I hand them over to Clarence, the moderator between me and the stars. He dutifully lays them out. More silence. We both look at the cards.

    “Girl, you are playing with all my favorite cards! Everything is spinning around you, and you can’t quite get enough information to make any decisions.” I look more closely at the tapestry of cups, swords, kings, queens, skulls, hearts, and wings. Again, I’m skeptical. I’m 23—of course my life is crazy and of course I don’t have enough information to make any decisions!

    I still try to seem unfazed. We begin to go into details, and he starts listing specifics about my life.  He reads different sets of cards for family, health, career, and romance. The claims he is making are correct. Everything he says is just vague enough that I can back code it to some recent event or situation. So, yes, I am being skeptical, but I am also wow-ed. Boy is he good! He knows!  

    With each “revelation,” I can see how his customers become convinced. Clarence here possesses extra sensory skills. His ability to assess what bothers me allows him to eliminate wrong guesses and focus on communicating statements that are more accurate.

    Probability, statistics, and good old-fashioned story-telling are all at play in simple and fundamental ways here. From the moment I entered the office, Clarence went to work building a narrative with the highest probability of accuracy. Through observation he carefully took in as much information as he could: my clothes, my manner of speech, my apparent age, my physical attributes, my socioeconomic status, and my mannerisms. Mix those inferences with some pop statistics (see any of Malcolm Gladwell’s books), and my reader had a very, very good chance of being correct.

    Unlike tarot card readers, we market research insight professionals take a more rigorous approach to validating our observations. After all, there are real decisions being made here beyond whether to take a dark, handsome stranger up on that drink. But the fact remains that in readings and in research, there is often no one “right” answer. The most useful insights and solutions are most often a balance of statistical validity, real-world usability, and a really good story.

    **name has been changed to protect my destiny

    Hannah is a senior associate on the Technology and E-Commerce team and is due for check-in to see what’s in store for her next at CMB. She, like Clarence, has a knack for predictive analysis and enjoys reading our clients’ minds from time to time.

    Join us and Research Now on July 9th at 12PM EST to learn about the modularized traditional purchasing survey we created, which allows researchers to reach mobile shoppers en mass. We'll review sampling and weighting best practices and study design considerations as well as our “data-stitching” process. 

    Register Here!

    Parents at the Tumble Gym: A Segmentation Analysis


    By Jessica Chavez 

    segmentation, parenting, cmb, chadwick martin baileyOn Saturdays, when the weather is not fit for the playground, I take my toddler to a tumble gym where he can run, climb, and kick balls around with other kids his age.  Parents must accompany kids in the play area as this is a free-form play center without an employed staff (other than the front desk attendant).  As a market researcher and a perpetual observer of the human condition, I’ve noticed that these parents fall into three distinct groups: the super-involved group, the middle-of-the-road group, and the barely-involved group.

    The super-involved parents take full control of their child’s playtime.  They grab the ball and throw it to their kid. They build forts. They chase the kids around.  They completely guide their child’s playtime by initiating all the activities.  “Over here, Jimmy!  Let’s build a ramp and climb up!  Now let’s build a fort!  Ooh, let’s grab that ball and kick it!”

    The middle-of-the-road group lets the kids play on their own, but they also keep an eye out and intervene when needed. For example, a parent in this group would intervene if the child is looking dangerously unstable while climbing the fort, or if the child steals another kid’s ball and sparks a meltdown.

    The barely-involved parents tend to lean against the wall and stay on their phones—probably checking Facebook. They don’t know where their kid is or what their kid is doing.  For all they know, their child could be scaling a four foot wall and jumping onto another kid’s head.

    This just demonstrates this simple fact: people are more the same than they are different.  This is why I love segmentation studies—it’s fascinating that almost everyone can be grouped together based on similar behaviors.

    At CMB, we strive to make our segmentation studies relevant, meaningful, and actionable.  To this end, we have found the following five-point plan valuable for guiding our segmentation studies:

    • Start with the End in Mind: Determine how the definition and understanding of segments will be used before you begin.
    • Allow for Multiple Bases: Take a comprehensive, model-based approach that incorporates all potential bases.
    • Have an Open Mind: Let the segments define themselves.
    • Leverage Existing Resources: Harness the power of your internal databases.
    • Create a Plan of Action: Focus on internal deployment from the start.

    Because each segmentation study is different, using appropriate selection criteria ensures that segments can be acted upon.  In the case of the tumble gym patrons, we might recommend that marketing efforts be based on a psychographic segmentation.  What are the parenting philosophies?  In what ways does this motivate the parents, and how can marketing efforts be targeted to the low-hanging fruit?

    Incidentally, I find that I fall into the middle segment.

    Jessica is a Data Manager at CMB and can’t help but mentally segment the population at large.

    Want to learn more about segmentation? In the “The 5 C’s of Great Segmentation Socializers,” Brant Cruz shares 5 tips for making sure your segmentation is embraced and used in your organization. 

    New Webinar: Modularized Research Design for a Mobile World

    Join us and Research Now on July 9th at 12PM EST to learn about the modularized traditional purchasing survey we created, which allows researchers to reach mobile shoppers en mass. We'll review sampling and weighting best practices and study design considerations as well as our “data-stitching” process. 

    Register Today!

    Mixing Up the Perfect Summer Innovation Cocktail


    By Simon Peters

    innovation, innovation cocktail, insights, big dataRecently, I attended the CASRO Technology & Innovation Event in Chicago and came away with a fantastic cocktail recipe.  But this isn’t a recipe for an exotic mixed drink or even a unique twist on a classic G&T.  It’s a recipe for innovation, and it’s made with ingredients we all need to have in our organizational “bar”:

    Ingredients needed:

    1 part Big Data

    3 parts insights

    2 parts socialization

    Step 1:  Start with a healthy dash of Big Data. While Big Data can give us a whole lot of “so what?” and “who cares?” information, it’s also a tremendously powerful tool.  In case you’re thinking it’s a fad, think about the growth of wearables and virtual immersive technologies—both are growing industries based around Big Data. While a deluge of information can create a challenge, there’s also a major opportunity for companies who can parse, integrate, and leverage it. For those of us working with Big Data, the focus has to be on depth rather than on breadth. Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee), author of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook and guest speaker at the CASRO event, noted that we already have the ability to do this with data from social media.  We should be leveraging the massive amounts of free data already available to us via social media sites—like Facebook and Pinterest—to help us better understand customers at a personal level and engage them even more directly over the same social media sites.

    Step 2: Mix in a healthy dose of those meaningful, relevant, and contextual insights. And I’m talking the good stuff—insights that are deep, accurate, and actionable. The kind that pair with recommendations and address real challenges.

    Step 3:  Fill the rest of the glass with a heady mix of socialization and distribution. At the CASRO event, I had the opportunity to see and hear about a lot of great technologies for mining and connecting data as well as for distributing results.  Two themes emerged: 1) the importance of socializing your insights and 2) the importance of getting your insights into the hands of the decision makers. One of the easiest and most effective ways to deliver this is via online dashboards. David Mazva, from Infotools, spoke about the journey his company had with a global client and the advancements they had to make in their dashboards to meet this client’s evolving needs.  He specifically noted that people and companies are spending less time analyzing and more time acting on the data, which is something we at CMB have been focusing on for the past decade and is now more important than ever. It’s why we’ve spent a great deal of time developing dashboards that merge the strategic with the tactical.

    As head of our Technology Solutions team, I’m the first to shout that dashboards are great—especially our dashboards—but I know they have more of an impact when delivered over the right medium.  Increasingly, this medium is becoming the mobile device. Convenience is no longer just nice to have–it’s a must-have.  We see this playing out now as we design for mobile first since respondents are taking more surveys on their mobile devices today than ever before.  Let’s take this one more step.

    Now, you have insights on a dashboard and delivered to you on a mobile device, which enables you to make business decisions faster.  Why not squeeze additional value out of these insights by putting it out on your social networks?  And once it’s on social media, see what connections are out there to drive new insights and opportunities.  There are free tools, like NodeXL, which can map hubs, bridges, groups, and peripheries of a socially connected network.

    Step 4: Stir vigorously until innovation is part of your long-term strategy. Jon Puleston, VP of Innovation at Lightspeed GMI, gave a great presentation on companies that have thrived from innovation.  He spoke about GE, Amazon, and others all having a very similar approach to delivering growth through innovation.  These companies all actively search and plan for innovation.  They integrate it into their long-term financial models, which allows them to react quickly to great ideas versus waiting for funding to become available.

    The takeaway? If you’re looking to innovate, you’re going to need more than creativity served neat—you’ve got to have the right ingredients mixed just the right way.

    Simon leads CMB’s Technology Solutions team. In between developing dynamic and engaging dashboards, he occasionally enjoys a real cocktail.

    Join us at The Market Research Event! Use the code CMB2014 and receive 25% off your registration. 

    Register Today!

    Discrete Choice and the Path to a Car Purchase


    By Heidi Hitchen


    One chilly night in February, I was heading home from a friend’s birthday festivities when my car just stopped working. I had just enough oomph and momentum from the hill I was on to pull off to the side of the road. I found myself stranded in the middle of the city, waiting for a tow truck until 4AM and vowing to myself the whole time that I wouldn’t deal with this clunker anymore. It was time for a new car. During the next two weeks, without wheels, I did my research on the Internet and made my way over to a local Toyota dealership. I walked in knowing exactly what I wanted: a 2014 green Corolla. I even knew the various payment and financing options I was prepared for. And wouldn’t you know it—I ended up getting exactly what I said I wanted.

    As easy as that sounds, my path wasn’t straight to the doors of the Toyota dealership. I had gone through a variety of different makes, models, financing options, and colors. At the end of researching each car, I asked myself not only if I would really buy this car, but also if I would truly be happy with it. It wasn’t until I asked myself this question for the first time that I realized I was essentially creating my own Discrete Choice Measurement (DCM), specifically a Dual-Choice DCM (DCDC).

    DCM is a technique that presents several configurations of product features to respondents and asks them to pick which configuration they would most prefer. In a Dual-Choice DCM, a follow-up question is asked to determine whether the respondent would actually buy the preferred package. This second question is crucial—I might choose a Lamborghini but there’s little chance (OK, no chance) that I will actually purchase one.

    Dual-Choice DCM scenarios are the gold standard for product development work and can lend more accurate insights into a buying scenario by:

    • more closely representing a consumer’s purchase decision
    • helping us better understand consumer preferences
    • more accurately reflecting market potential
    • dissecting the product into pieces, which allows us to measure price sensitivity and willingness to pay for the product as a whole as well as individual components
    • simulating the market interest in thousands of potential product packages for product optimization as the analysis examines how a product can be changed to perform better by identifying (and tweaking) individual product features that affect purchase decisions

    Being able to produce more realistic results is obviously an important part of any research, and it just goes to show that DCMs can truly help with any decision making process. Running a DCM in my head prior to purchasing my car was truly helpful, so it’s no surprise that our clients often rave about the DCMs and Dual-Choice DCMs in our analytics program.

    Heidi is an Associate Researcher who graduated from Quinnipiac University with a dual-degree in Marketing and Over-Involvement. After realizing she lacks hobbies now that student organizations don’t rule her free time, Heidi is taking sailing classes and looks forward to smooth sailing on the Charles River by the end of the summer.

    Want to know more about our advanced analytic techniques, including our innovative Tri-Choice Approach? Let us know and we’ll be happy to talk through how we choose the right techniques to uncover critical consumer insights. Contact us.

    Guest Blog: The 2014 Future of Consumer Intelligence Recap


    Chris Ruby recaps the 2014 Future of Consumer Intelligence conference and discusses how to successfully bridge the gap between big business and customers. You can check out more of Chris' insights on his blog: The Market Research Insider

    guest blog image

    Imagine a line drawn in the sand that is filled with hot burning coals. To the left of the burning line stands a group of people. And to the right of the burning line stands another group of people. The group of people on the left are all directly facing the burning line drawn in the sand and are staring at the opposing group. The group on the right are also all facing the burning line drawn in the sand, staring directly at the group on the left.

    The burning line drawn in the sand represents trust. The group of people on the left believe they are entitled to the right group’s trust because they are trying to help them. The group on the right believes trust is earned and will not easily give it to the group on the left. The tug of war between the two groups over trust causes friction and creates the burning line drawn in the sand that neither can cross without the right tools.

    The above scenario is analogous to what was presented at the recent 2014 Future of Consumer Intelligence conference (#FOCI14). The group to the left was Big Business, the group to the right was the Public and we as attendees were willing and able to sit right on the burning line drawn in the sand and discuss how to bridge the gap between groups.


    As marketers and researchers we love to collect lots of data with the intention of using personal information to improve products, services, and lives. But at what point is it considered invasion of privacy? Do consumers really know how their data is being used, regardless of whatever they agreed to? At FOCI14 it was made evident that as marketers and researchers, we teeter on the brink of “Empowerment vs. Endagerment”. The path to maintaining the balance and bridging the gap on the subject of data between Big Business and the Public was made evident: provide clear, concise rules and guidelines for how consumer data is used that moves past legality and into the territory of morality.


    Clearly our industry is at a point of disruptive innovation as new technologies and methodologies allow researchers to get a clearer picture of consumer insights. But who are behind all of these insights? That’s right, people. In our industry we label people as consumers, customers, shoppers, respondents, target markets and more. But remember that behind all of our studies are people. And sometimes we can act as a barricade between companies, their brands, and their consumers in an attempt to remain unbiased and objective. So how do we bridge the gap?

    For starters, John Havens, Founder of The H(app)athon Project, suggests we can begin by switching out the label “consumer” with “customer”. Whereas Elizabeth Merrick, Senior Customer Insights Manager of HSN suggests we consider research as another touch point of the brand, “We should allow customers to contribute to a brand, not just consume it.”

    So it appears the segue between marketing science and people is essentially personal treatment and recognizing that customers are more than a data point within a spreadsheet.


    The more I thought about it, FOCI14’s tagline of The Convergence of Technology, Marketing Science & Humanization of Data seemed unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) dichotomous where both Big Business and the Public were descending upon the line drawn in the sand. So it goes with technology & humanization.

    There is no doubt that technology improves lives at blistering speeds. Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering for Google pointed out that, “Information Technology expands exponentially across time, not linearly.” But as we become more technologically advanced, do we lose a piece of our humanity and our identity?

    As we discussed more and more about the subjects of technological advances, psychological habits, triggers, and touch points at FOCI14, it seemed the key to closing the gap between technology & humanization of data relied upon engagement. If new technologies enable to us to engage with customers in a more meaningful way and people are able to build stronger psychological connections with each other, then the gap is bridged. If on the other hand, the research community were to stand disengaged with customers and people, then technology & humanization in the field will stand diametrically opposed on a bridge that is about to collapse.

    So the real question in all of this is, “Has your organization bridged the line drawn in the sand?”

    Chris Ruby is an award-winning expert Marketing Research & Consumer Insights Executive who has consulted with several Fortune 500 companies. He is passionate about morphing data into actionable marketing intelligence that augments business operations. Follow him on Twitter @MrChrisRuby, email him at mrchrisruby@gmail.com,  find him on LinkedIn, or read The Market Research Insider blog.

    Innovation at American Family Insurance


    Originally posted on the South Street Strategy Group Blog

    By Jennifer von Briesen

    american family insurance

    Insurance companies aren’t what most people think of when they think of innovation, but you’d be surprised. American Family Insurance (AMFAM) based in Madison, Wisconsin, is doing some interesting things and a lot of it has to do with their Chairman/CEO (Jack Salzwedel), Chief Business Development Officer (Peter Gunder), and Innovation Director (Dawn Mortimer).

    It may seem counter-intuitive that firms in regulated and risk-averse industries have great innovation potential, but at South Street, we believe these constraints are huge catalysts for growth and change.

    AMFAM’s previous innovation endeavors were focused on products and specific business areas. Now, AMFAM pursues innovation at three different levels across the entire organization: operational, transformational, and disruptive, with the ultimate goal being disruption and new business creation. What’s changed is the aspiration and intention to be a leader and disrupter, not a fast follower.

    One focus for disruptive innovation is launching new business models such as Assure Start, insurance for small businesses sold directly online. Another focus is venture capital investing in start-up companies and early stage ventures that have differentiation potential. Related to this, in the past two years since Jack Salzwedel has been CEO, AMFAM has acquired Permanent General (a direct auto carrier) and Homesite insurance (home insurance).

    Since setting up AMFAM’s enterprise-wide internal innovation program in late 2011, Dawn Mortimer has engaged 60 VIPs (Vital Innovation Partners) from different levels and functions across the business to participate actively in the innovation process. They spend 5-10% of their time to move ideas through the innovation funnel and review hundreds of submissions from employees and AMFAM’s agents. Using BrightIdea’s innovation platform, general and focused challenges have been launched and innovations have been achieved from new mobile apps to claims process improvements. Rewards and recognition for participants at each stage gate — from cash, to public recognition “Roof Raiser” and “People’s Choice” awards, to cool parking spots in the winter — have helped keep employee engagement high. And using a consulting model, the team of 8 innovation engineers works closely with business areas to fund pilot programs and proof of concepts.

    AMFAM’s latest innovation endeavor has been focused, led from the top, well-funded, and aligned with overall strategic goals. This success story is still being written, but so far, it’s great to see a company embrace the innovation agenda and make such great progress despite its constraints.

    Jennifer is a Director at South Street Strategy Group. She recently received the 2013 “Member of the Year” award by the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP), the preeminent professional association for those engaged in strategic thinking, planning and action.

    South Street Strategy Group, an independent sister company of Chadwick Martin Bailey, integrates the best of strategy consulting and marketing science to develop better growth and value delivery strategies. Read South Street's Strategy Group's blog here.

    Sponsorship Advertising: Odd Couples That May Succeed


    By Kate Zilla-Bâ

    advertising sponsorships

    We are constantly talking with companies about how their positive and desired brand messages—from all possible sources—need to match up with the experience their customers have when interacting with them.  Our approach to brand tracking is based on the premise that movement along the customer journey is driven by customers’ perceptions and is informed by what is promised as well as what is delivered. However, some experiences are obviously more in the control of the company than others. And one place where a company can really have impact is via sponsorships in advertising—and some of these partnerships aren’t always as straightforward as beer and football.

    We’ve all seen unusual pairings.  One recent example is Meb Keflezighi, the 2014 men’s Boston Marathon winner, who is now sponsored by Skechers.  This has drawn some attention as Skechers has not historically been a brand associated with running—much less elite running.  In fact, some might associate Skechers as more of a soccer mom brand. (Remember those rocking walking shoes from a few years back?)  But this new partnership certainly has the makings of a game changer for their “GoRun” line now that Keflezighi has catapulted them onto this new scene.

    Here’s another seemingly odd-ball combination that is hitting the stage this summer.  The Colorado Symphony has a three show concert series coming up sponsored by the cannabis industry (which was recently made legal there for recreational use).  They already have numerous concerts that look to be targeting a younger demographic, such as a Harry Potter themed concert and their “Beethoven and Brews” series. This new concert series called “Classically Cannabis” appears to be just another attempt to draw in a new audience while keeping their art alive and kicking (not to mention that the cannabis industry has increasingly deep pockets).  It has certainly drawn media attention, and their online explanations via an FAQ are thoughtfully done, regardless of your stance on this issue. 

    But what does this new series do to the Colorado Symphony as a brand as it currently exists? Presumably, they have researched whether or not this will cause damage to their brand image by alienating loyal customers, and moreover, whether this will in fact be appreciated by those loyal listeners as well as expand their existing audience with new listeners. 

    Let’s shift to the world of high fashion. Fashion Week has both some expected and perhaps unusual sponsors.   Mercedes—check.  Office Max—huh?  Apparently, the latter had some “fashionable office supplies” to put out on the runway.  According to reports of those who work with Fashion Week sponsors, those brands do need to have a relevant story to tell, which in this case may well be true.   Understanding the impact or ROI of an ad sponsorship can be tricky, but should always happen and be taken into consideration.

    There’s also outer space—the final frontier.  We’ve probably all seen or heard about the private rocket companies (e.g., SpaceX) that are building and sending people or satellites up into the nether sphere.  But one of the most outlandish companies may be Mars One, a non-profit company with plans to “establish a permanent human settlement on Mars.”  This venture is to be funded through crowd-sourcing, TV rights, and sponsorships. 

    The plan is to launch teams of four on a one-way ticket to a pre-established mission, which will begin to be set up in the next few years with the first manned launch currently planned for 2024.  So we could see Pepsi on Mars, although most sponsors thus far are technology firms.  Taking the hypothetical (at the moment) notion of cola on Mars:  what does that potentially do for the brand sponsor?  Perhaps it could be a way to reinvigorate their brand with a sense of adventure or a way to evoke emotions of excitement.  

    How about Mars candy on Mars?  Of course, I am not the first to make this connection.  Though I strongly suspect that the rockets sent out on that journey will be stocked up with water and nutrient-rich supplies instead of candy bars—or so I hope for those brave enough (some may say stupid enough—but they probably said the same of Columbus or his fellow “explorers” once upon a time) to sign up.  Apparently, there have been many to volunteer—upwards of 200k of which 700 or so are still in the running. 

    It will be fascinating to see what unexpected brands might sponsor Mars One over time.  However, once arrived on the red planet, there’s no guarantee that the participants will keep the cameras on and the sponsored items in view.  Now there’s a risky proposition. 

    Maybe Mars One could look to the example of the Colorado Symphony if they really wanted something unusual.   And, if they want CMB to measure the degree to which that is compatible with their overall strategy and goals—BEAM ME UP!  

    Kate is a Project Director, working with clients across many industries at CMB. She has been known to perform in local musical theater here and there, speaks three languages well and a few others passably, and would never sign up for a Mars mission. 

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