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5 Questions with CMB's Director of Product Development and Innovation

Posted by Lauren Sears

Wed, Jul 20, 2016

LEd_Loessi_web_final.pngast week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Ed Loessi, CMB’s Director of Product Development and Innovation. We talked about his role defining and developing products and solutions, why agency innovation is so important, and how our innovation efforts can lead to delivering better solutions for our clients.

Historically, early innovation has been around physical products. Personally, even when I think about innovation, my first thoughts are about technology, cars, phones, etc. So why do agencies, like CMB, need to invest in innovation?

Ed: To your first point about the perception around innovation being associated with products, Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter wrote that innovation is achieved when companies craft inventions that constructively change their business models. For many decades, this was a very physical-product driven idea. However, for a service-based or information-intensive business that provides insights, the “product” is the insight itself.

This understanding makes it easy to see why companies that provide insights must be as focused on innovation as their physical-product counterparts. In order to succeed and continue to perform at a high-level, companies must constantly construct and deconstruct their business models in order to provide the best possible services to clients.

Makes sense. So, how do we get clients to value an organization that’s innovating services?

Ed: That’s actually pretty easy. If you went to anyone on the street and asked them if they want to buy this five-year-old smartphone, how many would say yes? Probably none. It’s the same with services and insights—nobody wants old insights or old ideas (unless they’re still valuable). Clients want to have all of their providers working to be the best at supplying materials, finished products, and services. What you have to do as a service provider is show that you’re constantly working to move the provision of your services forward—because that’s what moves the client’s business forward. This can be achieved by having POV’s on things that will impact your clients in the future, actively testing solutions to things that will impact them very soon, and actively engaging in solving problems that are impacting them right now. By covering the entire innovation spectrum, clients will begin to recognize you as an innovative organization.

Could you give some examples of innovation within CMB?

Ed: Sure—

  • First, CMB has been in business for more than 30 years, so there are many examples of innovation that have spanned those decades. We’ve embraced new ideas and technologies, and we have helped our clients through the peaks and valleys of changing economics.
  • The big change, and the reason for my role, has been to step up our speed of innovation. By having a person who focuses on innovation within the organization and works across all of the practice and service delivery areas, I can help things happen quicker. We’ve also matched that with a concept of virtual teams, in which people from the practice areas, service delivery, sales, marketing, analytics, and project management come together to focus on rapidly developing or upgrading an approach.
  • More specifically, we’re taking new ideas and existing approaches and applying agile methods (quick iterations, earlier customer feedback, and faster releases into the market) across all of the services that we provide. We’re working to make sure that all of our practice areas and market research services are constantly moving forward in quality and value.

You also just started an innovation group within CMB, and I’m excited to be one of its members! What was your thought process in establishing the group?

Ed: The main point of our innovation group is to have a way of training and helping more people in the company understand innovation. The company has always been innovative (hence its success over the years). The goal of the innovation group is to have as many people involved in innovation as possible and to keep people thinking about innovation as much as possible.

The innovation group contains several sub-groups, some of which focus on the innovations our clients are working on. Other subgroups look at the big challenges in market research and ask, “how do we tackle this?” All in all, we want to discover innovative ideas both internally and externally, and we want to be really good at getting those innovations to market.

What would be your advice to other agencies trying to be more innovative? 

Ed: Well, I don’t want to give away all of the secrets. However, it’s safe to say that you have to make a commitment to being innovative, and you have to do it quickly. Clients don’t want to wait around for new approaches, especially in a world that is changing as fast as the world that we live in today. You’ve got to be able to function as agilely as possible, and you have to be able to engage with your customers on those innovative ideas early and often. 

Lauren is a Senior Research Associate at CMB whose best innovative ideas form in the kitchen when she experiments with new recipes. 

Ed is the Director of Product Development and Innovation at CMB. He thinks there is a game-changing product or idea within everyone, and it’s his job to dig it out. You can share ideas with him @edloessi.

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, growth and innovation

Do Consumers Really Know You? Why True Awareness Matters

Posted by Jonah Lundberg

Wed, Jul 13, 2016

From hotels to healthcare, brands are facing an unprecedented era of disruption. For brands to compete, consumers need to know and love your brand for what it really stands for. Critical questions for brands include: have folks even heard of you (Awareness), how well do they think they know you (Familiarity), and how well do they really know you (True Awareness)?

Folks probably won’t buy from you if they’ve never heard of you or don’t know much about you. To pinpoint areas to improve and track success, you need to include both Familiarity and True Awareness in your competitive brand tracking.

Familiarity

Familiarity can be a vague metric for stakeholders to interpret, especially alongside Awareness. A common question we hear is “What’s the difference between Awareness and Familiarity? Yes, I’m aware. Yes, I’m familiar. Isn’t it the same thing?”

Not quite.

Awareness is “yes” or “no”—have you heard of the brand name or not? Familiarity gauges how well you think you know the brand. Sure, you’ve heard of the brand, but how much would you say you know about it?

It’s summertime, so let’s use a baseball example–Comerica Park is home of the Detroit Tigers, and Target Field is the home of the Minnesota Twins:

  • I watch baseball a lot, so if you asked me if I was aware of Comerica and Target, I’d say yes to both.
  • If you asked me how familiar I was with Comerica, I would tell you that I have absolutely no idea what its products are. I just know its name because of where the Twins go when they visit Detroit to play the Tigers.
  • Target, on the other hand, I know very well: it’s headquartered in my home state of Minnesota, and I’ve been inside their stores hundreds of times.

In research-talk: I am not at all familiar with Comerica. I am very familiar with Target.

If you’re deciding whether or not to include Familiarity in your competitive brand tracking, you first need to determine whether you want your brand to be widely known and known well or just widely known. Do you want to be the popular guy at school who most people know by name but don’t know very well? Or do you want to be the prom king—the guy everyone knows the name of and knows well enough to vote for? 

Take a look at a real example below, showing Top 10 Brands Aware vs. the Top 10 Brands Highly Familiar in a recent competitive brand tracking study (brand names changed for confidentiality):

Jonah_blog.png

You’ll notice a pattern: a brand that many people have heard the name of (high Awareness) can be trumped by a brand that not-as-many people have heard the name of (low Awareness) when it comes to how well the brand is known (Familiarity) among those who have heard the name (among Aware). It is possible to be more successful in the market with a lower level of awareness if those folks know you well.                                            

This isn’t surprising, since Familiarity is only asked for brands that people are aware of.

However, Big Papi’s Burgers proves that you can be both widely known and known well. Again, though the brand name is a pseudonym, the data is real. So, if you think it’s worth measuring your brand relative to the Big Papi’s Burgers of your industry you need Familiarity to gauge your brand’s standing vs. the competition.

True Awareness

Just because folks say they know you doesn’t mean they actually do. Also, if you find yourself with a lower level of Familiarity, how do you fix that?

While Familiarity gauges how well you think you know a brand, True Awareness asks you to prove it. Familiarity serves as the comparison point vs. other brands, but True Awareness serves as the comparison point of your brand vs. itself: how well do people know you for selling X, and how well do people know you for selling Y and Z?

True Awareness is a question that asks people aware of your brand which specific products or services they think your brand offers. You show them a list of offerings that includes all the things your brand does offer and a few things your brand does not offer.

If people choose any of your brand’s offerings correctly (e.g., they select one of the four correct offerings listed) and don’t erroneously select any things your brand does not offer, then they are truly aware—they do, in fact, know you well. This also helps you identify sources of errors in perception. Folks failing to credit you for things you do, or falsely crediting you for things you don’t, helps you identify areas for improvement in your marketing communications. 

So what’s the point of asking True Awareness? It provides you with more good information to use when making decisions about your brand:

  • When you combine True Awareness with usage data (e.g., how much people use and/or would like to use X, Y and Z products/services in general) you are able to inject vibrant colors into what was previously a black and white outline—your brand understanding transforms from a rough sketch into a portrait.
  • As a result, not only do you understand what people want, you also understand what people know your brand for.
  • Therefore, you know whether or not people think your brand can give them what they want. If people like using Y and Z but aren’t aware that your brand offers Y and Z, then your brand is suffering.

So, True Awareness allows you to discern exactly what needs to be done (e.g., what needs to be amplified in messaging) to improve your brand’s metrics and conversion funnel.

Use both Familiarity and True Awareness in your competitive brand tracking to push your brand to be the prom king of your industry and to make sure people know and love your brand for what it really stands for.

Jonah is a Project Manager at CMB. He enjoys traveling with his family and friends, and he hopes the Red Sox can hang in there to reach the postseason this year.

Topics: methodology, research design, brand health and positioning

Strength-Based Leadership and Finding the #Boss Within

Posted by Blair Bailey

Wed, Jul 06, 2016

A few weeks ago, I relinquished my year-long membership to the "Broken Screen Club" and bought asgo-logo-home.png new phone. It was a good opportunity to clean up the apps I didn't need. I had two meditation apps, two fitness tracker apps, three nutrition apps, four dating apps, and two hydration-tracking apps. If there was a gap in my life, I had an app for it. 

I was an expert at pinpointing what I wanted to improve about myself and identifying the tools to do it...but was it working? Using these apps reminded me to drink water, but they also served as a constant reminder that I was bad at regularly drinking water.

Recently, I attended Strength-Based Leadership Workshop presented by She Geeks Out (SGO), a Boston-based community of women in the STEAM fields. The workshop was led by Katie Greenman, Founding Partner of HumanSide, a "human-centered consultancy" that works with individuals, teams, and organizations to build success from the inside out. Through activities and lively discussion, we discussed the concept of strength-based leadership and how to apply it in our personal and professional lives.

When it comes to introspection and self-improvement, it’s natural to focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right. Strength-based leadership focuses on emphasizing an individual’s existing strengths and passions. The core belief is that there is higher growth potential in developing strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses.

At the workshop, everyone had a worksheet with about thirty traits listed and had to circle which traits we considered our strengths. For each of the traits listed, I wanted to brainstorm how I could improve on it rather than see if it was already a strength of mine. Next, we listed items from one aspect of our lives and discussed how our existing strengths would help or had helped us achieve our goals.

The last item was: "Something you're not doing so well with." It was easy for me to come up with something to improve upon...but how would my known strengths help? The takeaway is one of the central tenants of strength-based leadership—whether you're succeeding or not at a task, you should focus on your existing strengths to improve or to continue to excel.

Although the exercises focused on the individual, they can also be applied to teams. Focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses allows for diverse, passionate teams that can excel at the tasks at hand. It also creates a stronger relationship between a company's leadership and its employees. Acknowledging your employees' passions can build enthusiasm and promote evangelism. It's important to note that strength-based leaders don't ignore weaknesses altogether. However, they don't focus the majority of their time and efforts on filling the gaps.

Since attending the workshop, I’ve realized how much strength-based leadership plays a role at CMB. I’ve been assigned difficult projects and given unfamiliar roles that I was at first terrified to take on. But during one-on-one meetings, when I was internally panicking, my manager would tell me, “we thought of you for this.” Through challenges we reveal skills that are valuable to a project, a team, and the company as a whole.

Thanks to my "perfectionist" trait, it's still difficult for me not to focus on the negative, particularly my own. SGO's workshop provided me with a new perspective on how to approach my projects, my career, and myself. I still have more than one meditation app, but if that's the worst of it, I think I'll be okay.

Blair Bailey is a Senior Associate Business Analyst at CMB who still doesn’t drink enough water.

Whether you’re a segmentation guru, a tech whiz, or a strategic selling machine, we’re looking for collaborative, engaged professionals to join our growing team. Check out our open positions below!

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Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, marketing science, marketing strategy, CMB Careers, Market research

Big Data Killed the Radio Star

Posted by Mark Doherty

Wed, Jun 29, 2016

It’s an amazing time to be a music fan (especially if you have all those Ticketmaster vouchers and a love of '90's music). While music production and distribution was once controlled by record label and radio station conglomerates, technology has “freed” it in almost every way. It’s 200542299-001_47.jpgnow easy to hear nearly any song ever recorded thanks to YouTube, iTunes, and a range of streaming sources. While these new options appear to be manna from heaven, for music lovers, they can  actually create more problems than you’d expect. The never-ending flow of music options can make it harder to decide what might be good or what to play next. In the old days (way back in 2010 :)), your music choices were limited by record companies and by radio station programmers. While these “corporate suits” may have prevented you from hearing that great underground indie band, they also “saved” you from thousands of options that you would probably hate. 

That same challenge is happening right now with marketers’ use of data. Back in the day (also around 2010), there was a limited number of data sets and sources to leverage in decisions relating to building/strengthening a brand. Now, that same marketer has access to a seemingly endless flow of data: from web analytics, third-party providers, primary research, and their own CRM systems. While most market information was previously collected and “curated” through the insights department, marketing managers are often now left to their own devices to sift through and determine how useful each set of data is to their business. And it’s not easy for a non-expert to do due diligence on each data source to establish its legitimacy and usefulness. As a result, many marketers are paralyzed by a firehose of data and/or end up trying to use lots of not-so-great data to make business decisions.

So, how do managers make use of all this data? It’s partly the same way streaming sources help music listeners decide what song to play next: predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is changing how companies use data to get, keep, and grow their most profitable customers. It helps managers “cut through the clutter” and analyze a wide range of data to make better decisions about the future of their business. It’s similarly being used in the music industry to help music lovers cut through the clutter of their myriad song choices to find their next favorite song. Pandora’s Musical Genome Project is doing just that by developing a recommendation algorithm that serves up choices based on the attributes of the music you have listened to in the past. Similarly, Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist is a huge hit with music lovers, who appreciate Spotify’s assistance in identifying new songs they may love.

So, the next time you need to figure out how to best leverage the range of data you have—or find a new summer jam—consider predictive analytics.

Mark is a Vice President at CMB, he’s fully embracing his reputation around the office as the DJ of the Digital Age.

Did you miss our recent webinar on the power of Social Currency measurement to help brands activate the 7 levers that encourage consumers to advocate, engage, and gain real value? You're not out of luck:

  Watch Here

 

Topics: advanced analytics, big data, data integration, predictive analytics

Dear Dr. Jay: Driver Modeling

Posted by Dr. Jay Weiner

Thu, Jun 23, 2016

Dear Dr. Jay,

We want to assess the importance of fixing some of our customer touchpoints, what would you recommend as a modeling tool?

 -Alicia


Hi Alicia,

DRJAY.pngThere are a variety of tools we use to determine the relative importance of key variables on an outcome (dependent variable). Here’s the first question we need to address: are we trying to predict the actual value of the dependent variable or just assess the importance of any given independent variable in the equation? Most of the time, the goal is the latter.

Once we know the primary objective, there are three key criteria we need to address. The first is the amount of multicollinearity in our data. The more independent variables we have, the bigger problem this presents. The second is the stability in the model over time. In tracking studies, we want to believe that the differences between waves are due to actual differences in the market and not artifacts of the algorithm used to compute the importance scores. Finally, we need to understand the impact of sample size on the models.

How big a sample do you need? Typically, in consumer research, we see results stabilize with n=200. Some tools will do a better job with smaller samples than others. You should also consider the number of parameters you are trying to model. A grad school rule of thumb is that you need 4 observations for each parameter in the model, so if you have 25 independent variables, you’d need at least 100 respondents in your sample.

There are several tools to consider using to estimate relative importance: Bivariate Correlations, OLS, Shapley Value Regression (or Kruskal’s Relative Importance), TreeNet, and Bayesian Networks are all options. All of these tools will let you understand the relative importance of the independent variables in predicting your key measure. One think to note is that none of the tools specifically model causation. You would need some sort of experimental design to address that issue. Let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

Bivariate Correlations (measures the strength of the relationship between two variables)

  • Advantages: Works with small samples. Relatively stable wave to wave. Easy to execute. Ignores multicollinearity.
  • Disadvantages: Only estimates the impact of one attribute at a time. Ignores any possible interactions. Doesn’t provide an “importance” score, but a “strength of relationship” value.  Assumes a linear relationship among the attributes. 

Ordinary Least Squares regression (OLS) (method for estimating the unknown parameters in a linear regression model)

  • Advantages: Easy to execute. Provides an equation to predict the change in the dependent variable based on changes in the independent variable (predictive analytics).
  • Disadvantages: Highly susceptible to multicollinearity, causing changes in key drivers in tracking studies. If the goal is a predictive model, this isn’t a serious problem. If your goal is to prioritize areas of improvement, this is a challenge. Assumes a linear relationship among the attributes. 

Shapley Value Regression or Kruskal’s Relative Importance

These are a couple of approaches that consider all possible combinations of explanatory variables. Unlike traditional regression tools, these techniques are not used for forecasting. In OLS, we predict the change in overall satisfaction for any given change in the independent variables. These tools are used to determine how much better the model is if we include any specific independent variable versus models that do not include that measure. The conclusions we draw from these models refer to the usefulness of including any measure in the model and not its specific impact on improving measures like overall satisfaction. 

  • Advantages: Works with smaller samples. Does a better job of dealing with multicollinearity. Very stable in predicting the impact of attributes between waves.
  • Disadvantages: Ignores interactions. Assumes a linear relationship among the attributes.

TreeNet (a tree-based data mining tool)

  • Advantages: Does a better job of dealing with multicollinearity than most linear models. Very stable in predicting the impact of attributes between waves. Can identify interactions. Does not assume a linear relationship among the attributes.
  • Disadvantages: Requires a larger sample size—usually n=200 or more. 

Bayesian Networks (a graphical representation of the joint probabilities among key measures)

  • Advantages: Does a better job of dealing with multicollinearity than most linear models. Very stable in predicting the impact of attributes between waves. Can identify interactions. Does not assume a linear relationship among the attributes. Works with smaller samples. While a typical Bayes Net does not provide a system of equations, it is possible to simulate changes in the dependent variable based on changes to the independent variables.
  • Disadvantages: Can be more time-consuming and difficult to execute than the others listed here.

Got a burning research question? You can send your questions to DearDrJay@cmbinfo.com or submit anonymously here.

Dr. Jay Weiner is CMB’s senior methodologist and VP of Advanced Analytics. Jay earned his Ph.D. in Marketing/Research from the University of Texas at Arlington and regularly publishes and presents on topics, including conjoint, choice, and pricing.

Topics: advanced analytics, Dear Dr. Jay

Marketers: Let’s See Some Identification

Posted by Brant Cruz

Fri, Jun 17, 2016

social_currency.pngVery little brings me more joy than a rich data set that smells like a powerful insight is ready to emerge. Likewise, few things create more angst for me than a powerful story hidden in data—when something is there but I just can’t connect the dots. Recently, I was rescued from any long period of angst I might have suffered by a collaboration with two great minds who bring complimentary skill sets to the table.

My two saviors were CMB’s own Erica Carranza (PhD in social psychology) and Vivaldi Partners’ CEO Erich Joachimsthaler (PhD and marketing thought leader). The “aha!” moment came from Erich and Erica’s ability to reframe what the data was trying to tell me—a multifaceted “identity construct” drives all our underlying digital social behaviors. It’s an idea with powerful implications for marketers and other business leaders trying to thrive in this world of digitally empowered consumers. Erich, Erica, and I will be sharing more on these insights and how to use them in our June 22nd webinar, Social Currency: The New Brand-Building Model. 

To help illustrate, I’ve spent the last week retrofitting this new realization to some of the best-of marketing efforts I’ve witnessed in my career, and I found some easy examples in gaming. Two examples in particular stick out. The first is the famous Call of Duty campaign that used the tagline “There’s a soldier in all of us.” The second is this past winter’s Star Wars Battlefront campaign, which leveraged the Star Wars fandom as part of a 30-year story (told in 30 secs). In both of these ads, the consumers—and their identities (real or aspirational)—were the heroes. The games themselves were enablers to further define and broadcast these identities. In a world where the most powerful brand-building content is created and/or shared by consumers, it’s particularly important to understand why consumers undertake the behaviors that Erich described in his original Social Currency work. 

Retrospectively, it’s been easy to see that game marketers have inherently known (or stumbled upon) the concept of identity being a key to great marketing. But, the real eye-opener here is that this same concept proved true for 5 disparate industries (auto, beer, fashion, restaurants, and airlines) in a rich data set of 18,000 respondents and 90 brands, which is the basis for our webinar next Wednesday.

  Register here!

Brant Cruz is our resident segmentation guru and the Vice President of CMB’s eCommerce and Digital Media Practice.

Topics: consumer insights, marketing strategy, webinar, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty, customer journey

How I Used Conjoint Analysis to Plan My Wedding

Posted by Alyse Dunn

Tue, Jun 14, 2016

I’m getting married in August, and the past year and a half of planning has been a whirlwind of fabrics, colors, and decisions. The number of options you have for any given item are immense, and, as a market researcher, I began to consider the choices I had and how I would make them. 

Let’s talk about cake. We tried 15 flavors of cake, and we knew that we could combine any four of them. They could be the same, or we could have 4 different flavors or a combination. Effectively, we had 3,060 possible combinations for cake. Now, that could be very overwhelming, but, to me, it was just a giant Conjoint Analysis exercise.

Conjoint Analysis is a trade-off technique that market researchers use to estimate consumer preferences for products with multiple features. The beauty of Conjoint Analysis is that it allows a researcher to predict preferences for huge numbers of possible product combinations without testing each combination explicitly.  The secret is in attaching a value to each level (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, etc.) to each attribute (flavor) and making the assumption that the value of the whole is equal to the sum of its parts. For our wedding cake, we were presented with 2 attributes: Flavor and Number of Flavor Repeats.

For this Self-Explicated Conjoint exercise, I listed out the 15 possible flavors and number of possible repeated flavors. I then rated them on a 1-10 scale based on how attractive they were to me. Additionally, I rated each attribute based on how important it was to the final decision. In the case below, the number of repeated flavors was a more important attribute than flavor (60% of my decision). Finally, I multiplied the level and attribute values together to get a utility score.

wedding_conjoint_analysis.png

From there, it’s math! Now, with these scores, I have the ability to simulate all 3,060 cake combinations with their values (that’s a lot of frosting). To determine the “BEST CAKE” you add the utilities together and look for the highest total utility. In our case, it was 2 White Chocolate Tiers, with 1 Lavender, and 1 Italian Crème, with a total utility of 2,060. This very narrowly beat out 4 independent flavors (White Chocolate, Lavender, Italian Crème, and Chocolate) because of the high value for White Chocolate. 

Conjoint Analysis is helpful for numerous research needs (wedding planning included). Presenting individuals with various combinations of attributes helps determine how each attribute is valued, which can be projected to the larger population. By making tradeoffs when comparing different combinations, I was able to choose a cake that worked for our event. For organizations, Conjoint Analysis can help determine which new product features will perform the best, which hotel packages offer the biggest bang for the buck, or which insurance items will be most desirable to individuals. Conjoint is applicable across any organization and is a valuable analytical tool to help determine which combinations of attributes perform best. 

Learn more about avoiding common pitfalls in Conjoint Analysis. 

Alyse Dunn is a Data Manager at CMB, and she looks forward to how her Conjoint Analysis exercises in wedding planning will pay off (and thanks our Senior Analyst Liz White for socializing this example).

Topics: advanced analytics, research design

Writing the Legacy of the Insights Industry

Posted by Brant Cruz

Wed, Jun 08, 2016

lightbulb.pngLast week my family and I vacationed in Virginia—a trip that combined the theme park and pool activities my kids begged for, with a big dose of the US history my wife and I wanted them to have. Our first stop was Monticello, long-time home of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s legacy is accomplished and complicated—he was Secretary of State, Vice President, and our 3rd President, but he was also a historian, philosopher, inventor, and slave holder. An avid reader and collector of books, he sold his massive library to the Library of Congress after its collection was destroyed by the British during the War of 1812. What resonated most for me, however, is how concisely Jefferson chose to have his life summarized on his gravestone. He left these instructions:

"...on the faces of the Obelisk the following inscription, & not a word more: 

Here was buried
Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
& Father of the University of Virginia”

A lifetime of major accomplishments (which might even include the invention of the pedometer. . . you’re welcome Fitbit!), and he lists only the three most important to him?

It got me thinking about the legacy that I want the “information industry” to leave the world—because I know that no single one of us can leave a legacy like this alone. Here’s my shot at one (Jefferson style):

Here is buried
The first true generation of Insights Integrators
Data scientists and artists both
who aggregated and codified the massive mysteries of the what’s and the why’s
and paved the path to true customer centricity 

This is bit more verbose than Jefferson (which shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me). But you probably get the point. Beyond his headstone, Jefferson also inspired me with several quotes, which I am convinced were prophetic advice for our profession today:

  • On allocating budget to future focused and/or innovation research: “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”
  • On the dangers of non-response bias: “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
  • On report writing: “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
  • On making data-driven recommendations: “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little history lesson, and I look forward to seeing your suggestions for our headstone.

Brant Cruz is our resident segmentation guru and the Vice President of CMB’s eCommerce and Digital Media Practice.

Join Brant and Vivaldi Partners Group’s Erich Joachimsthaler for a webinar on 6/22 at 12:30PM EST as they share the results of a 90 brand study. Learn how Social Currency measurement helps brands activate the 7 levers that encourage consumers to advocate, engage, and gain real value.

Register here!

Topics: consumer insights

Which #MRX Conference Is Right for You?

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Jun 02, 2016

In the lives of kids and teens, you have your birthdays and your “half” birthdays. In the world of market research conferences, you also have main events and “half” events—the main events are the IIR TMRE Conference (in October) and the MRA’s Corporate Research Conference (in late September). These are the coming-of-age events—lots of attendees, many tracks, guest speakers whose names you recognize, and clients from the world’s leading brands.

In my role at CMB, I participate in a lot of conferences. In addition to the large fall conferences, there’s a lot to be learned at the smaller conferences that bloom each spring. As you think about what you want and expect from your conference experience, crisscross the country with me as I share a little about 2 great “half” events:

ISC2014LogoLong.pngMRA’s Insights & Strategies Conference (ISC)

The MRA ISC is perfect for low pressure networking and conversation, and the content is great. Here are some reasons to register:

  • Your boss will approve of the cost, and your family will love the shorter duration. This conference was located in New Orleans this year—which is a convenient nonstop flight from most US locations—and, with a civilized 1pm check-in, you can get a full day of work in before you go. Less expensive than other comparable events, this conference offers several tracks, covering dozens of topics with 45 speakers. In contrast with the super large conferences (which many extroverts like me love and attend in Q4), this conference has a manageable ~400 attendees.
  • Learn about new innovative companies and techniques, and reconnect with your key research vendor partners. Unilever’s Marie Wolfe introduced me to two nicely positioned qualitative research solution companies: Discuss.io and WeSeeThrough. These two innovative qualitative research companies offer new options for online qualitative—rapid online interviewing from Discuss.io and sensor technology from WeSeeThrough. Companies like CMB are there too, mixing new and proven techniques with tried-and-trusted rock solid execution.
  • Exceptional networking. Networking is essential to remaining vital in the workforce, even if speaking to strangers isn’t your favorite thing to do. ISC builds in a lot of natural networking functions with different types of people in mind—sessions are small, large, adventurous, workshoppy, and sometimes even involve bacon. Sessions range from 20 minutes to 1 ½ hours and are often interactive. The meals are all varied, so you can sit at large tables one meal and walk around cocktail style for another meal.
  • Location, location, location. MRA does a great job pushing us to truly experience the city we’re in. Whether you’re visiting a local company or trailing a marching band down Bourbon Street on a Wednesday night, if you attend an MRA conference, you’ll venture outside the hotel because they create activities and experiences for you to do it. MRA is great at picking cool new places that even frequent travelers like me haven’t visited, including St. Louis and now New Orleans.

IIR’s TMRE in Focus: the New Face of Consumer Insights

tmre_in_focus.pngI initially wondered if it was worth it to lose a day at the office flying from Boston to California to attend such a small (125 person) event. In addition to strong content, here’s why I’m glad I participated:

  • Hands-on, experiential sessions. This conference experimented with new, hands-on, experiential formats, including workshop breakouts. For example, during the Netflix session, we all collaborated at tables of 4-8 people to condense 6 slides into 2 to get a more relevant storyline from the insights. Every table had new ideas and enhanced the final discussion. This hands-on collaboration helped to create mental “stickiness.”
  • Problem solving perspective. Speakers were focused on solving client side researcher problems, ranging from improving the research organization and impact at your company to collaborating on a common goal. The digital world requires serious structural changes to assess and prioritize every option for your brand. For example, when Pinterest spoke, they focused on the rising tide of DIY (do it yourself) research and noted that the company’s department of 10 researchers handles all qual and quant in-house. Pinterest’s researchers are focused on helping the company become a catalog of ideas where people can discover, save, and share the things they love. As you evaluate the research department of tomorrow, look to your peers for clues on how to structure it, what to outsource, and whether to centralize or decentralize the research budget.
  • West coast orientation. Attendees were primarily from the west coast (Gap, Microsoft, Netflix, Warner Brothers, Twitter, Pinterest, Kendall Jackson, Gallo, etc.). A number of non-west coast attendees were from companies like L’Oréal that could combine the trip with office visits to its sub-brand home offices. This is a location-focused conference. So, if you want to connect with NoCali and SoCali researchers, this might be a good option for you.   
  • In hotel experience. This event took place at the Ritz-Carlton at the world’s largest marina—Marina del Rey. We took initiative to leave the “campus”—venturing to Venice Beach and Santa Monica—and invited other conference-goers after the conference ended both nights, or we never would have left the hotel. Meals were simple, and the conference started late and ended early each night.

If you’re sending people to several conferences next year, or if you’re choosing from all your options, consider the May conferences. First, compare both agendas to see if one conference has more content you’re interested in or more speakers from companies you want to learn from. Next, take location, time of year, and conference size into consideration. When it’s time to decide, weigh all the information against your goals. Happy learning! 

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the twitter #mrx community, so talk research with her @julie1research.

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Topics: consumer insights, conference recap

CMB Conference Recap: Uncovering Innovation - the Clay Street Project at P&G

Posted by Ed Loessi

Mon, May 23, 2016

Light_bulb_with_plant.jpgThis month, I had the opportunity to attend the Front End of Innovation conference here in Boston. One of the most exciting keynote addresses was provided by Karen Hershenson, Leader of the Clay Street Project at Procter & Gamble (P&G) and was titled Innovation from the Inside-Out. The idea of innovation from the inside-out is especially intriguing to me, because CMB has committed to extensive efforts in product development and innovation. We’ve formed an innovation group within the company—drawing participation from people all across the organization. Having been involved in innovation programs for the better part of 10 years, I've learned innovation is not a one-size fit all proposition and that it’s essential to learn from other leaders and companies about how they harness innovation within their organizations. Karen’s story and ideas did not disappoint.

5 Key Lessons from the Clay Street Project:

Karen leads a team of designers, educators, and marketers that solve innovation challenges for P&G brands and noncompetitive Fortune 500 companies. The group—the Clay Street Project—was formed in 2004 and has been instrumental in building innovation teams, individual innovation and creative skills, and impacting many P&G brands. The group is often tasked to solve problems that keep their leaders up at night, addressing cross-business-unit challenges, and looking at entirely new products, or processes that have hit roadblocks.

Karen highlighted some of the key things that drive the delivery of innovation for Clay Street and P&G including:

  • Use a defining question – “How might we?”: I found this to be an excellent question because it's entirely open-ended, it doesn’t pre-suppose or seek to direct a particular path, it just asks “how” and lets the person take that first step.
  • Create the conditions, innovation from the inside out: This is essential. Innovation is not something that can be mandated. Innovation is something you seed, water, nurture, and see what happens, course correcting along the way. On their website, Clay Street notes that innovation is a by-product of work, team, and systems and that many organizations make the mistake of focusing on only one of those, which kills the entire process.
  • “All practitioners of innovation have a process, and we're no different”: I, in particular, liked this idea. I could clearly see the team has a process, but it’s an open process. The process of starting with the right question and creating conditions, which seems a bit fluid, are in fact a process. It’s just that the process doesn’t dictate how you work, nor does it say that your challenge can be solved using this templated idea. By letting the team figure these things out on their own, it’s more likely they’ll learn the lessons and that knowledge will stay with them as they move out into the organization.
  • Help teams deliver better long-term value: Ultimately, this is the mission of the Clay Street Project. Innovation impacts so many areas within a company, and there are many individual measures along the way, but in the end, it’s about better long-term value.
  • Understand your environment: As a global company, P&G requires deep consumer insight and long product pipelines filled with solutions for many different types of customers. The types of innovation that P&G need are different from other companies. There are many innovation methods and philosophies to embrace, but you must choose the ones that match your company’s culture and customer environment.

I saw many things within Clay Street’s guiding principles that are relevant to CMB. In particular, the need to create the conditions for innovation. As a company, CMB has been innovating for three+ decades; we may not have always called it innovation, but we have now put a stake in the ground, and we are calling it out, putting resources towards harnessing innovation as a defining principle. We are clear in our minds that innovation is how we are going to create long-term value for our clients and the company. Finally, we understand our environment, which is part of a rapidly changing service and information industry. Market research is being impacted by technology, changing service models, big data, and client competition. Our need for innovation has its drivers, but I could see that it has many of the same requirements as those of a larger multi-national company like P&G.

Ed is the Director of Product Development and Innovation at CMB. He thinks there is a game changing product or idea within everyone and it’s his job to dig it out. You can share ideas with him @edloessi

Topics: product development, consumer insights, conference recap, growth and innovation