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5 Key Takeaways from The Quirk's Event

 

By Jen Golden and Ashley Harrington

Quirks Event LogoLast week, we spent a few days networking with and learning from some of the industry’s best and brightest at The Quirk's Event. At the end of the day, a few key ideas stuck out to us, and we wanted to share them with you. 

1. Insights need to be actionable: This point may seem obvious, but multiple presenters at the conference hammered in on this point. Corporate researchers are shifting from a primarily separate entity to a more consultative role within the organization, so they need to deliver insights that best answer business decisions (vs. passing along a 200 slide data-dump). This mindset should flow through the entire lifespan of a project—starting at the beginning by crafting a questionnaire that truly speaks to the business decisions that need to be made (and cuts out all the fluff that may be “nice to have” but is not actionable) all the way to thoughtful analysis and reporting. Taking this approach will help ensure final deliverables aren’t left collecting dust and are instead used to lead engagement across the organization. 

2. Allocate time and resources to socializing these insights throughout the organization: All too often, insightful findings are left sitting on a shelf when they have potential to be useful across an organization. Several presenters shared creative approaches to socializing the data so that it lives long after the project ended. From transforming a conference room with life-size cut-outs of key customer segments to creating an app employees can use to access data points quickly and on-the-go, researchers and their partners are getting creative within how they share the findings. The most effective researchers think about research results as a product to be marketed to their stakeholders.
 
3. Leverage customer data to help validate primary research: Most organizations have a plethora of data to work with, ranging from internal customer databases to secondary sources to primary research. These various sources can be leveraged to paint a full picture of the consumer (and help to validate findings). Etsy (a peer-to-peer e-commerce site) talked about comparing data collected from its customer database to its own primary research to see if what buyers and sellers said they did on the site aligned with what they actually did. For Etsy, past self-reported behaviors (e.g., number of purchases, number of times someone “favorites” a shop, etc.) aligned strongly with its internal database, but future behavior (e.g., likelihood to buy from Etsy in the future) did not. Future behaviors might not be something we can easily predict by asking directly in a survey, but that data could be helpful as another way to identify customer loyalty or advocacy. A note of caution: if you plan on doing this data comparison, make sure the wording in your questionnaire aligns with what you plan on matching in your existing database. This ensures you’re getting an apples to apples comparison.
 
4. Be cautious when comparing cross-country data: A multi-country study is typically going to ask for a “global overview” or cross-country comparison, but this can lead to inaccurate recommendations. Most are aware of cultural biases such as extreme response (e.g., Brazilian respondents often rate higher on rating scales while Japanese respondents tend to rate lower) or acquiescence (e.g., China often has the propensity to want to please the interviewer), and these biases should be kept in the back of your mind when delving into the final data. Comparing scaled data directly between countries with very different rating tendencies could lead to to falsely thinking one country is underperforming. A better indication of performance would be to provide an in-country comparison to competitors or looking at in-country trending data.
 
5. Remember your results are only as useful as your design is solid: A large number of stakeholders invested in a study’s outcome can lead to a project designed by committee since each stakeholder will inevitably have different needs, perspectives, and even vocabularies. A presenter shared an example from a study that asked recent mothers, “How long was your baby in the hospital?” Some respondents thought the question referred to the baby’s length, so they answered in inches. Others thought the question referred to the baby’s duration in the hospital, so they answered in days. Therein lies the problem.  Throughout the process, it’s our job to ensure that all of the feedback and input from multiple stakeholders adheres to the fundamentals of good questionnaire design: clarity, answerable, ease, and lack of bias.

Have you been to any great conferences lately and have insights to share? Tell us in the comments!

Jen is a Project Manager on the Tech practice who always has the intention to make a purchase on Etsy but never actually pulls the trigger.  

Ashley is a Project Manager on the FIH/RTE practice who has pulled the trigger on several Etsy items (as evidenced in multiple “vintage” tchotchkes and half-complete craft projects around her home).

The Building Blocks of Job Loyalty

 

By Laurie McCarthy 

loyalty, cmbAn old friend recently remarked how crazy it is that I’ve been at the same company for over 16 years (and I’m not even that old!). I hadn’t really thought it was a big deal, but among my peers, I’m an outlier. A recent article claims Millennials are putting a “time-limit” on their time at a company—91% expect to stay in a job for less than three years. Kids these days!

Of course, economic, cultural, and social reasons all play into the shift away from long-term employee tenure. But when I think about why I’ve stayed at CMB, I keep coming back to the role loyalty plays. If employers want to keep and grow their most valued employees in an increasingly competitive job market, they need to take a lesson from the brand loyalty playbook. Here are 5 principles worth developing:

Value: 

If you want your smart, curious, and driven employees to stay, you need to offer opportunities to keep their skills fresh and relevant. When I was interviewing at CMB out of grad school, I was excited that analysts were exposed to all aspects of project work (sampling, questionnaire design, data collection, reporting, and analysis). Over the years, we’ve also developed the CMB University (CMBU) program, which includes weekly seminars on the latest techniques, case studies, and innovations. All this emphasis on staying competitive means I’m never bored and my skillset is constantly refreshed.

Pride: 

It doesn’t matter whether your company is a small firm, a global giant, or somewhere in between—employees who are proud of their work and their culture are going to stick around. Just this past year, CMB was named to the AMA Gold Top 50 US Market Research Organizations and the 2014 Top 100 Women-Led Business in Massachusetts by the Boston Globe. I take pride in knowing my contributions to the company (small and large) helped win these awards. Bottom line: as an organization grows, so does the degree to which an employee can thrive. 

Advocacy:

Word of mouth is an essential component to hiring and sustaining a good employee base, as well as for promoting a brand. When employees feel valued by an organization, they’re going to tell family and friends. The key is to leverage that advocacy to work in favor of the organization. At CMB, there is a referral program. Our employees are the face of our company, and our referral program encourages employees to reach out to peers as potential candidates and talk about their positive experiences at CMB.

Passion: 

79% of Millennials say it’s more important to genuinely enjoy their job than to make a lot of money. They want to love what they are doing and not just see it as work. I am a data dork and proud of it. Syntax, formulas, advanced design, efficiencies gained when brainstorming with colleagues—love ‘em all! My passion is digging into the data, wrapping my head around a problem, and troubleshooting . . . all of which come with my role as a data manager. 

But during my time at CMB, it’s not just the work I’ve enjoyed, it’s the sense of community. There’s a camaraderie in our work environment—we work hard together, and then we play together. Throughout my years here, I’ve been privileged to form friendships in addition to great working relationships. 

Trust:

Loyalty is definitely a two-way street—when an organization believes in you, it really inspires you to believe in the organization. As an employee, you have confidence that the company will do right by you and that you will earn both hard benefits (401K, health insurance, vacation, etc.) and soft benefits (flexibility of hours, virtual commuting, working from home when you are sick, etc.). Having a 401(k) is important, but retirement plans are offered at most companies in some form or another. Here’s what really makes me happy: not missing my child’s first grade holiday concert, and CMB makes sure I won’t.

So after almost two decades at the same organization, maybe I am an exception . . . but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Laurie McCarthy is a Senior Data Manager, and she has been with CMB for over 16 years. She’s had 9 desks, sat on 4 floors, had 2 kids, and has gotten married once.

Want to join our team? Check out our current openings. 

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5 Things Boston's Snowpocalypse Taught Me About Customer Loyalty

 

By Tara Lasker

snow, boston, customer loyaltyMaybe you’ve seen the news? This winter, Boston ushered in a new ice age. I’m joking (sort of), but you’ll forgive me since we have had six, SIX consecutive snowstorms, dropping over 90 inches of snow on the region. Commuting has become a game of strategy, and shoveling and “roof raking” have overtaken hockey as the city’s top winter sport. You know it’s bad when The New York Times’ editorial board tries to lift their city’s spirits by reminding New Yorkers that at least they don’t live in Boston. Ouch!

Of course these storms have been no laughing matter for area businesses and employees, and customer loyalty is critical for surviving these stressors. So what can companies do to leverage loyalty when their customers are buried under 7+ feet of snow?

  1. Make me love you so much I’ll go out of my way to get to you. Loving a brand can help a customer look past inconvenience. For example, I have been using a service to help me decorate my house. The appointment when we were going to make some final decisions just happened to fall during one of the many snowstorms. I should have rescheduled—it was snowing and the roads were awful. But I was so excited that I just couldn’t wait, and I drove through the snow to make the appointment. Are your customers willing to drive through a raging storm to get to you?  That’s an example of the true love and loyalty we strive for.
  2. Build a strong foundation of trust and confidence. Between commuting nightmares, school closings, and travel bans, much of our work was being done outside of normal business hours. When I explained our situation to clients and coworkers, they understood. Communication and transparency are critical—be honest and upfront, and your loyal customers will respond. But. . .
  3. Even the most loyal customers have a breaking point. A few weeks ago, my husband and I had highly anticipated dinner plans, but we ended up not going because we knew we wouldn't have the patience to handle the parking challenges. We weren’t alone, and because of this, restaurants in particular have suffered. Businesses can use this time to find other avenues to connect with customers, e.g., doing competitive research or communicating to your (snowbound and captive) customers via social media, getting them excited about when they can come and see you next.
  4. Alternative online experiences are critical. Even though I couldn’t get out, I still needed things to do, and the snowpocalypse gave me the opportunity to beef up my online purchases and explore new websites. This is just one reason (of many) it’s important for businesses to have a functional and enjoyable online and mobile experience for customers who can’t get to you.
  5. One man gathers (shovels?) what another man spills. Customer loyalty is truly tested during times like these. Our public transit system has been having major problems. It’s been over a week since our last snowstorm, but our service is nowhere near back to normal. My colleague, who just couldn’t take it anymore, called an Uber and paid $50 for a 3 mile ride to work. It is unlikely the MBTA will lose customers over its spotty service, but will Uber or Lyft gain new and loyal customers as a direct result from the MBTA’s limited service? It’s surely possible.

The fact is, we can’t control the weather, and we can’t control every touch-point in the customer experience. But we can make sure we’re prepared by building a strong base of loyalty that can see through stormy weather and won’t melt come spring.  

Tara Lasker is a Research Director at CMB who is a survivor of 7 school snow days in 3 weeks, limited bus/train service, and severe cabin fever. She is looking forward to a family ski trip to North Conway, NH where she'll actually be able to enjoy the snow.

Are You There, News? It’s Me, Snapchat.

 

By Blair Bailey

snapchat, discoverSitting in my cozy Boston office, sipping coffee, I’m suddenly transported to Washington State’s Cascade Mountain Range, soaring above the mile-high Cowboy Mountain and scanning Tunnel Creek, a popular, snow-powdered trail and the site of the tragic 2012 Stevens Pass avalanche.

This is the genius of the graphics that accompany “Snow Fall: The Avalanche in Tunnel Creek,” a story that debuted in 2012 on The New York Times’ online edition. Although the rushing show and biting winds are only graphics embedded within the article, they are so well done you feel like you are there. In recent years, The New York Times, a stalwart of traditional print news, has dominated digital storytelling, integrating stunning and sometimes interactive graphics within its pages.

As beautiful as these features are (and they are still stunning 3 years later), where does this interactive, visual storytelling fit within our 140-character, 6-second-film, top-8 lives? (Forgive the MySpace reference, but nothing conveys digital restrictions more than fitting your most prized friendships into a 2 x 4 grid.)

Snapchat, an app notorious for its not-so-lasting impressions, recently released Discover, allowing traditional media companies to feature public content, like trailers and current events, within the app. The media outlets range from Cosmopolitan to National Geographic and tease users with graphics and sound bites as well as the traditional flashy headlines. After hitting the purple dot in the upper right corner, users are presented with an array of publications to choose from. Once a publication is selected, users can swipe left and right to move through stories, swipe up to read more, or swipe down to exit the publication and return to the Discover menu.

By now, most publications have a mobile presence of some type. So, why is Snapchat’s most recent move something we should care about? Although it’s not an entirely novel idea, Snapchat’s new feature adds several unique twists to digital storytelling.

  • In keeping with Snapchat’s ephemerality, Discover’s content is only available for twenty-four hours. While the content can be viewed as many times as desired during that period, the news outlet invites users to come back tomorrow for new stories.
  • Unlike Facebook and Twitter, both of which typically lead the user away from the platform, all Discover content—articles, videos, photo sets, trailers, music videos, etc.—is contained within the app.
  • Snapchat also serves a very different demographic than most social media sites. Discover is targeted to Millennials, but, as of July 2014, over 50% of Snapchat users are between 13-17 years old and over 80% are under 24 years old. Many of the publications on Discover may be taking an initial risk straying so far from their key audiences .
  • Discover is also a fresh idea to existing Snapchat users. Unlike Twitter, where incoming brands have to adhere to the existing 140-character boundaries, Discover breaks the Snapchat mold without straying too far from its original purpose. The format is different enough to interest users and keep them coming back, but still familiar enough that users recognize the Snapchat interface.

While the selection of publications could be tweaked further, Discover shows that Snapchat knows its users. Short, (mostly) teenage attention spans still get their familiar bite-size content but in a format that’s new enough to hold their attention. Discover also holds the potential to keep Millennials coming back for more than momentary embarrassing videos and wacky photos. It adds value to an app that has seen a lot more selfies than the average person could probably handle.

With over 1.2 billion websites cluttering our networks, storytelling has become increasingly important to stand out among the dot nets and dot coms. And it’s not just apps and news sites. In data heavy fields like market research, it can be easy to let storytelling take a backseat. That’s why we’re investing more time and resources into creating dynamic storytelling through infographics, video, and mobile. This engaging, inspiring, and motivating content brings results to life and helps us strengthen the relationship between our clients and their audiences. . .and best of all, we do it without all those selfies.

Blair Bailey is an Associate Researcher at CMB and a recent M.S. graduate from Boston University. When she isn’t working with data or being held captive by the commuter rail, you can find her carefully flooding her social media feeds with pictures of dogs.

“Learn” to Innovate: Why Companies that Celebrate Failure Are Only Half-Right

 

Originally posted on the South Street Strategy blog 

By Andy Cole

Scientist Looking at VialIn an effort to counter the fear-based culture that inhibits innovation at many companies, some leaders (GoogleAmazonRoche) have advocated actually celebrating failure. Interesting! Could this new mindset really be the key to building an internal culture of fearless innovators?

Clearly, we want to create a safe environment for employees to admit faults, share lessons learned, and have the courage to attempt things that have never been done, all without the fear of reputational – or even career – consequences. But do we really want employees to idolize those who don’t accomplish what they set out to do? Although provocative, a broad policy like “celebrate failure” can be misleading and create unintended problems.

What companies should be celebrating is the learning derived from failure, not failure itself. To illustrate the difference, putting the focus on failure raises post-mortem questions like “Now that we’ve failed, what worked well?”, “what did we learn from this?”, “how might we do better?” This retroactive approach is better than nothing, but it’s in no way sufficient.

When the goal shifts to maximize learning, it invites key questions at the beginning of the process, like “what might we learn from this activity?”, “what key assumptions could we test?”, and “how might we modify the idea so that we learn even more?” As you can see, this proactive approach can guide and influence activities from early stages in a direction that prevents future failure (or at least the sheer quantity and size of failures before realizing success).

Used in combination with a project debrief, this tactic can be used as part of a powerful learning strategy, ensuring that you get the very most of your innovation activities, independent of failure or success. And that’s certainly worth celebrating.

How do these issues show up in your organization? Does your company embrace failure or learning? Do you conduct structured “after action” analyses of major initiatives to facilitate learning?  We’d be pleased if you would share your ideas, stories, rants, insights, and responses in the comments below.

south street transpAndy Cole is a consultant for South Street Strategy Group where we use a multi-method approach to identify and test growth and innovation strategies for increased commercialization success. Read South Street's Strategy Group's blog here.

4 Things I Learned at the 2015 Pinnacle Awards

 

Originally posted on the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce blog

By Caitlin Dailey

CMBIn January 2014, my colleagues from Chadwick Martin Bailey and I attended the Greater Boston Chamber’s Annual Pinnacle Awards. I was so inspired by the stories of success from the honorees and felt so proud that the president and CEO of my company, Anne Bailey Berman, had herself been a recipient of a Pinnacle Award back in 2007. While I went there to support the women in our community and hear about their journeys toward achieving their goals, I left with a new personal goal I was committed to working towards.

You see, during the ceremony, a group of women were asked to stand up as the room applauded them. These women were members of the Chamber’s Women’s Leadership Program—women who were selected from a large pool of applicants who were given the chance to attend seminars, workshops, and networking events to grow their leadership skills. I wanted to be part of that group.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago – when I achieved that goal, sitting among the new Women’s Leadership class being recognized at the 2015 Pinnacle Awards. And once again, it was an incredibly inspiring event.

Using my experiences from the program, I examined the honorees’ speeches through a new lens. I listened to identify how the skills and tenets I had learned myself helped this amazing group of honorees achieve their success. Four great insights left a lasting mark in particular:

1). Embrace every opportunity that’s presented and don’t shy away from something that’s outside of your comfort zone. When Emily Rooney, Host and Executive Editor of Beat the Press, was interested in creating Beat the Press, she learned that Arianna Huffington wanted to pitch something similar with the same name. Emily wasn’t afraid to take a risk when the odds may have been against her, and she came out the victor.

2). It’s ok to be emotional and passionate. Deb Re, CEO of Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, said it best: “If something doesn’t make you emotional and passionate then it probably isn’t worth your time.” As women, showing emotion does not make us weak. We’re likely to produce better work when we care about what it is we are doing.

3). Having a good support system is just as important as having a good idea. All of the honorees had family and friends in the audience who helped them get to where they are today. I loved hearing the loud cheers from sections of colleagues who play a role in the honorees’ every day successes – and in turn, the honorees acknowledging the importance of these partnerships in their speeches.

4). Pay it forward. Many of the honorees were also members of volunteer committees. As we move up in the working world, it’s easy to succumb to the pressures of the job, but also important to make time to give back. This was illustrated best by honoree Cindy Laba, Founder and Head of School at Beacon Academy, when she made every person in the audience take out his/her cell phone and say hello to someone who means a lot to them.

I was so inspired by these amazing stories of success and look forward to attending the Pinnacle Awards in the years to come.

The Chamber has created so many opportunities for women in the Boston business community and continues to serve as a support system by helping women in our community achieve their goals. It’s an honor to be part of that.

Caitlin Dailey is a Project Manager for Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB). CMB is a Boston-based Gold Top 50 market research and consulting firm, partnering with a select group of the world’s leading brands to deliver critical insights for confident, strategic decision-making. 

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Is Your Customer Loyalty True?

 

By Dr. Jay Weiner

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” “You’re my favorite brand ever.” “You’ve taken such good care of me over the years we’ve been together.” “I can see myself spending the rest of my life with you.” How many of your customers would say such things about you?

Loyalty is a behavior, and behaviors often have underlying attitudes that drive them. We might continue to purchase the same product over and over for a variety of reasons. Don’t get me wrong: repeat business is almost always a good thing. But, if it comes at a negative margin, it may not be a good thing. If you frequently incentivize your customers, you might be buying loyalty (deal loyalty), but are you making money doing it? If your deal loyals are promoting you, are they promoting the deal or your brand? In a perfect world, we not only create a behavioral commitment, but also an emotional bond with the brand and, ultimately, the company.

Many companies track the Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a measure of loyalty. This adds another potential behavior to the mix—advocacy. If we look at a traditional purchase conversion ladder, advocacy or evangelism would be at the top of the pyramid. Promoters are certainly advocates, but are they also evangelists? Is promotion really enough? Don’t you really want to know what they’re saying?

Advocacy is attempting to influence decisions. Evangelism is relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to encourage conversion. Advocacy may encourage lexicographic information processing—buy cheapest, buy fastest, etc. Evangelism should encourage a more holistic view of evaluating the brand. The implication is that beliefs are probably more deeply rooted in brand performance. This creates a bond with the brand that transcends getting a good deal. You want folks that are proud to wear your logo and serve your product as well as folks who would gladly buy other goods/services from you if you want to extend the franchise.

In a recent survey, we found that about 60% of brands promoters love the brand. If they don’t love you, what are they saying about you? On the flip side, over 80% of those that love you are promoters.  Clearly promoters have value to the franchise in helping grow the brand. As a company, you not only want more promoters, you’d like to believe they are, in fact, promoting the brand and the company and not something else.

How can we improve on tracking the NPS score? We find a way to capture the emotional bond of your true loyals. Those customers who love you will clearly go out of their way to buy you, pay more for your product or service, and proudly share your brand with others. Growing this share of your customer base will certainly help you grow both the top line sales and bottom line net profits.

At CMB, we’ve been looking at the Emotional Fingerprints™ brands leave on their customers. We’ve developed a measure of the emotional bond customers have for brands. When we look across different segments of your loyal customers, we can clearly see that those that love you clearly are more bonded to your franchise.

jay loyalty

So, even if you forgot the roses this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to send your favorite customers a forget-me-not. Let them know how much you appreciate their business and their love.

Dear Dr. Jay



Dr. Jay Weiner is the top digit-head at CMB. Starting next month, he’ll answer your burning market research questions in his new blog series: Dear Dr. Jay. You can send your questions to
DearDrJay@cmbinfo.com or submit anonymously here: http://forms.cmbinfo.com/dear-dr.-jay   

 

 

 

 

What's Love (and NPS Scores) Got to Do with it?

 

By James Kelley

NPS, or Net Promoter Score, is all the rage in market research. Most major corporations have a tracking program built around the statistic, and many companies also gauge their customer service and client relationships against this number. But what is NPS? 

At its root, NPS is a measure of advocacy. In terms of data collection, NPS is a single question usually included in a customer satisfaction or brand tracking survey. The question’s scale ranges from 0-10 but is grouped according to the graphic below. In the aggregate, an NPS score is the percentage of Promoters minus the percentage of Detractors.  

nps

We did a recent study in which we took a deeper look at NPS and what how Promoters differ from Detractors. We surveyed customers from a wide array of industries (travel, eCommerce, telecom, etc.), and we uncovered quite a few statistics that might surprise you. 

What if I told you that only a slim majority (53%) of Promoters love the brands they do business with? Remember: this isn’t 50% of all consumers but 50% of Promoters. In fact, only 15% of all consumers use the “L word” at all. This isn’t to say that advocacy isn’t important—word of mouth is an essential part of advertising—but wouldn’t you rather your loudest advocates be your biggest loyalists? If these Promoters found a competitive brand more attractive, are they likely to advocate on that brand’s behalf?  

Here are some more fun facts: 4% of Promoters are only loyal customers during sales or when they have a coupon, and another 5% of Promoters would be happy to purchase from another brand if it were available. Consumers are fickle beasts. 

So, what does all this mean? Are we ready to throw NPS out the window? Certainly not. NPS is great in that provides a clear measure of how many advocates exist in comparison to Detractors. Think of it as a net tally of all the communications in the world. Scores above 0 mean you have more Promoters then Detractors, and negative scores mean the opposite. But for those companies out there that have the traffic on their side, it’s time to ask: is advocacy enough? Advocacy is great—it provides momentum, gets startups off the ground, and fuels growing brands. But love is better—love builds dynasties. 

James Kelley splits his time at CMB as a Project Manager for the Technology/eCommerce team and as a member of the analytics team. He is a self-described data nerd, political junkie, and board game geek. Outside of work, James works on his dissertation in political science which he hopes to complete in 2016.

Check out our new case study and learn how CMB refreshed Reebok’s global brand tracker, which gives the global fitness giant insight into how the brand is performing, its position in the global marketplace, and whether current brand strategies reach their targets.

Download Case Study Here

Leaning in at CMB

 

By Cailtin Dailey

pinnacle award winners, cmbCMB is a great place to work for both genders, but, as a woman, I’d like to give you my perspective. Having recently attended the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s annual Pinnacle Awards, a luncheon celebrating women leaders in the Boston community, I started to reflect on my own journey in the workforce. The eight women receiving awards that afternoon all had such inspiring stories, most facing some form of adversity, to become leaders in their field and contributors to the Boston community. Fortunately for me, CMB has given me many opportunities to grow and develop professionally, perhaps due in part to the fact that it is a woman-led company. Our President and CEO, Anne Bailey Berman, was herself a recipient of a Pinnacle Award back in 2007 for achievement in entrepreneurship, and CMB was named one of the top women-led businesses in Boston this past year.

I joined CMB straight out of college nearly 5 years ago, starting out as an associate researcher. My first impression was that CMB’s culture was an open one in which collaboration between senior and entry-level staff was not only encouraged but considered a critical part of a project’s success. However, you’re not just thrown to the wolves. CMB has a great training program for new associates, teaching all facets of project execution through classroom-setting sessions and on-the-job training through project mentorship from senior associates. There are clear paths for promotion and growth and development opportunities for all levels in weekly “CMB University” sessions. Anne is always telling us to “ask for forgiveness, not permission.” We’re encouraged to have our own voice and contribute strategic thinking from the outset, and after only 3 years, I was promoted from associate to senior associate to project manager.

As a project manager, I have faced new challenges in finding the managing style that works best for me, particularly as a woman. Thanks to Anne’s involvement in the Boston business community as well as her recognition of the importance of the role of women in leadership, I have been presented with examples of strong management and opportunities to attend events that help me find the style that works best for me.

As a group, the women of CMB attend networking breakfasts and co-host WIRE (Women In Research) events. The best opportunity I’ve received so far is being accepted to the Boston Chamber Women’s Leadership Program, which allows me to attend events, seminars, and lectures to learn from my peers and other women leaders in our community. Just this week, our Senior Marketing Manager, Stephanie Kimball, was accepted to Boston’s Future Leaders Program.

So ladies (and gents), if you’re interested in a career in market research, I encourage you to apply here. We have smart people, do important work for world-leading brands, and give back to the community through fundraising and volunteering. There is a true sense of comradery between colleagues here. CMB’s not just a stop along the way, but a place where you can grow your career. This is a place where producing exceptional work is the attainable expectation and every day is a new learning experience.

For key takeaways from this year’s Pinnacle Awards, visit http://bostonchamber.com/lessons-in-leadership-for-greater-boston-women/.

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

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Deflategate and the Dangers of Convenience Sampling

 

By Athena Rodriguez

The Patriots have landed in Phoenix for yet another Super Bowl, but there are still those who can’t stop talking about “Deflategate.” Yes, that’s what some are calling the controversy surrounding those perfectly legal 12.5 PSI inflated footballs that lost air pressure due to changing atmospheric conditions and repeated Gronking* after touchdowns during the first half of the Pats-Colts showdown.

Here in Boston, we were shocked to turn on the TV and hear the terrible accusations. Were we watching and reading the same things as the accusers? Did those doubters not watch the press conferences (all three of them) where our completely ethical coach proclaimed his team’s innocence? Did they not understand that Belichick even conducted a SCIENCE EXPERIMENT? 

Or could it be simply that the doubters live outside of New England?

athena blog

The chart above makes it pretty obvious—from Bangor to Boston, we just might have been hearing the voices of a lot more Pats fans. This is, in fact, a really simple illustration of the dangers of convenience sampling—a very common type of non-probability sampling.

Sure it’s a silly example, but as companies try to conduct research faster and cheaper, convenience sampling poses serious threats. Can you get 500 completes in a day? Yes, but there’s a very good chance they won’t be representative of the population you’re looking for. Posting a link to your survey on Facebook or Twitter is fast and free, but whose voice will you hear and whose will you miss?

I’ve heard it said that some information is better than none, but I’m not sure I agree. If you sample people that aren’t in your target, they can lead you in the completely wrong direction. If you oversample in a certain population (ahem, New Englanders) you can also suffer from a biased, non-representative sample.

Representative sampling is one of the basic tenets of survey research, but just because it’s a simple concept doesn’t mean we can afford to ignore it. Want your results to win big? Carefully review your game plan before kicking-off data collection.

  • Sample Frame: Is the proposed sample frame representative of the target population?
    • Unless you are targeting a niche population. . .
      • online panel “click-throughs” should be census balanced
      • –customer lists must be reflective of the target customers (if the population is all customers, do not use email addresses unless addresses exist for all customers or the exceptions are randomly distributed)
      • –compare the final sample to the target population just to be sure
  • Selection: Does the selection process ensure that all potential respondents on the frame have an equal chance of being recruited throughout the data collection period?
    • To be sure, you should. . .
      • randomize all lists before recruiting
      • not fill quotas first
      • not focus on hard-to-reach respondents first
  • Data collection: Will the proposed data collection plan adversely affect sample quality?
    • –Ask yourself:
      • Are fielding dates unusual (e.g., holiday, tax returns, Super Bowl, etc.)?
      • Is the schedule long enough to cover weekdays and weekends? Will it give procrastinators sufficient time to respond?
  • Structure: Will important subgroups have sufficient sample sizes if left to fall out naturally?
    • –If not, set quotas. . .
      • –Quota groups must be weighted back to their natural distribution before analysis or treated as an oversample and excluded from any analysis at the total level.
  • Size: Is the proposed sample size sufficient?
    • –We must always balance costs against sample size, but, at the same time, we must recognize that we need minimum sample sizes for certain objectives.  

Are there times you might need some quick and dirty (un-Patriot like) results? Absolutely. But, when you’re playing for big insights, you need the right team.

*spiking the football after a touchdown.

Athena Rodriguez is a Project Consultant at CMB. She’s a native Floridian, who’s looking forward to the end of the Blizzard of 2015 and the start of Sunday’s game!

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