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5 Key Takeaways from NEMRA’s Fall Conference

 

By Alyse Dunn and Hilary O’Haire

brand identity, storytellingSince we recently attended the New England Market Research Association’s (NEMRA) Fall Conference, “Advancing Market Research: Challenging the Norm,” we wanted to share our five key takeaways:

1. Don’t forget the importance of non-conscious decision-making. 70% of the decisions we make are non-conscious, meaning our brains automatically activate associations outside of our awareness and control. This is often described as "System 1" thinking (coined by Daniel Kahneman), which are our fast, emotional, and more instinctive thoughts. Non-conscious decision-making is often used. . .

  • When making low-involvement or low risk decisions 
  • In quick evaluations
  • In impulse purchases
  • To efficiently include or exclude brands from our consideration set

We need to be looking for opportunities to use methodology inclusive of the non-conscious. It is particularly important to understand its impact on brand evaluations, given that. . .

2. Brands are non-conscious creators of reality. We must strive to understand a brand’s stereotype. There are many similarities between the construction of stereotypes and how we use or think of brands. Both stereotype and brand associations are largely mental representations that are socially communicated through media and culture and encountered passively over time. They are automatically activated by ‘System 1’ thinking and mediated by conscious thoughts or endorsed beliefs. In order to understand a consumer experience, we must aim to understand the brand’s stereotype. We choose to engage with brands in the same ways we choose to engage with anything else. We gravitate towards people, places, and brands that relate to some aspect of ourselves, and this association is most often done unconsciously. For example, we both do not painstakingly think about which brand of detergent to use—we always reach for All. Even at a more granular level, All has about 10 types of detergent options—Fresh Rain, Oxi Booster, Regular, Baby, and so forthand if we seriously took the time to narrow down brands and options rather than using a heuristic to help make the decision, we’d never have clean clothes again. 

3. The power of brand identity. The relationship between brand identity and the way we interact with brand stereotypes can have powerful consequences on behavior, mainly because, as Charles Swann said during his talk, “the ability for a brand to impact our identity is the biggest factor in a brand’s social presence.” We use brands to define who we are and who we want to be perceived as. For example, just think about the clothing you wear and the car you own. Many of the choices we make are influenced by how we interact with the brands around us—the brands that drive their own identity and stereotypes for better or for worse. This all comes down to one key theme—social identity—and the ability for a brand to help drive who we are. The age old saying “consumers own the brand” is truer now than it has ever been. Additionally, there is now a collaborative relationship between the brand and consumer—consumers define what a brand should be and brands become the stereotype that later defines consumers’ identity.

4. Storytelling. Brands are a large part of consumer identity, and, as such, there has always been a deep need to bring insights—research and otherwise—to life and to develop a face of the consumer. At this conference, a researcher from a national company pointed out that because consumers are dynamic, the need for powerful storytelling in research and branding is pivotal for understanding how these consumers behave and move through the purchase funnel. What drives these consumers? What makes the most loyal customers so loyal? Why do we lose customers? Deep insights into consumer behavior can be derived from both quantitative and qualitative research—it’s a matter of presenting the story in a way that humanizes consumers and personifies who a brand is trying to reach. 

5. So what? Throughout the NEMRA conference, there was a plethora of information on non-conscious decision making, brand identity, and socialization of research. The theme that ended every presentation was “So what?” That’s the infamous line we’ve all heard 100 times from various professors, colleagues, and our own minds. So what? It all came down to making any research we do actionable so that brands can adapt to a changing consumer environment. As researchers, we need to think about the behaviors and experiences consumers have and allow those insights to inform the questions we ask and the hypotheses we develop. Doing this will not only lead to more effective branding, advertising, and marketing but to happy consumers as well.

Alyse is a Senior Associate Researcher on the FIH/RTE practice. She is fascinated by Behavioral Economics, Psychology, and what makes people tick.

Hilary is a Project Manager at CMB. Her New Year’s resolutions include how to activate “System 1” thinking about hitting the gym in 2015.     

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The Early Bird Gets the...Black Friday Sales Dip?

 

iStock 000030486308XXXLarge resized 600By Will Buxton

I like to call myself a Holiday Champion. I like to think that I enjoy the Holiday Season more than most people, and I’m definitely one of those people who is more jovial in December than any other time of year. You can probably contribute my enjoyment to one of the following:

A) The Holiday Season’s reliable signaled start (post-Thanksgiving) and finish (New Year’s).

B) The result of having a December birthday (please send all birthday presents to CMB).

C) I love the snow and the association it has with the Holidays.

D) My appreciation of all the rituals and traditions accompanying the Holiday Season.

E) All of the above

I believe it is E) All of the above, but it’s likely that some factors are more influential than others. Because I’m so appreciative of this time of year, I find myself hyper-sensitive to the events surrounding the Holiday Season. Here’s another fun fact about me: I like structure. Things around the Holidays are supposed to happen in a certain order. For example, Thanksgiving comes before Christmas and Christmas comes before New Year’s. However, more and more often, humans and even nature keep messing up the order of Holiday Season events . . .  and I’m starting to worry about the long-lasting consequences.

A few examples:

  • In 2011, New England received a considerable snowstorm just before Halloween, and despite my love for snow, it felt too soon.
  • This year, there were faux Christmas trees for sale at my local wholesale club the day after Halloween. Too soon.
  • Also this year, Kmart unofficially released the first Christmas shopping commercial on September 5th. TOO SOON.

In years past, I thought that my displeasure with these “too soon events” was because I had my own preference for what the order of the Holiday Season should be. However, it seems that this year, other Holiday Champions are sharing in my disapproval. This year also marked some of the earliest “start” times for Black Friday (is it still Black Friday if it starts on Thursday?) with stores opening at mid-afternoon on Thanksgiving Day. This list includes Old Navy (4pm), Best Buy (5pm), and Walmart (6pm). All of this must mean that spending is through the roof, right?

As you may have read by now, initial reports show that total spending on Black Friday was down 11% overall from last year. Some speculate that Black Friday numbers have dropped because of the lingering effects of the most recent recession and the increase of shopping on Cyber Monday. However, consumer confidence has been rising the past few years and holiday sales figures rise steadily every year.

Much of the advertising leading up to Black Friday this year focused on the time at which a particular store would be opening or the level of discount on particular products. Personally, what I felt was largely lacking from a lot of advertisements was the creation of a need or want for the consumer so that he/she would care about these start times and deals. I need a reason to keep track of what stores open at what times and where the best deals can be found. Is it possible that one of the contributing factors to the drop in sales for this year’s Black Friday was these misdirected marketing campaigns? Or is it that the frequency of messages and advertising extremely early doesn’t have as much of an impact on customers as we are meant to believe?

One of the ways Chadwick Martin Bailey helps our clients avoid communicating information and messages that don’t resonate with their audiences is through techniques such as Key Driver Analysis, Maximum Difference Scaling, Latent Class Segmentation, Discrete Choice Modeling, and TURF (Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency) Analyses. In combination with 30 years of experience, each of these tools affords CMB the flexibility to tailor the right questionnaire design for each client, market, customer, and product. By utilizing the right analysis, CMB is able to see beyond self-reported tendencies or likelihoods and through to the emotional drivers or motivations that trigger consumers to behave in particular ways.

Given the knowledge and capabilities of Chadwick Martin Bailey, I can only hope that one day I will see a commercial for my favorite store that goes something like this…

“Happy upcoming birthday, Will! Now that Thanksgiving has passed, it looks like it is going to snow just enough for snowballs but not so much that you’ll have to shovel the driveway! So how about you put up all your seasonal decorations, and then come into [insert store here] and buy that hover-board or teleportation machine you’ve been wanting this year!”

Will Buxton is a Project Manager on the Financial Services Team at Chadwick Martin Bailey. When not complaining about having a birthday right before Christmas, Will enjoys long drives on short golf courses and riding in party buses in Chicago.

Want to help us craft the future of messaging and market research? Join our team!

Open Positions

5 Questions with GSP’s Kelli Robertson on Positioning Cisco’s "Internet of Everything"

 

By Tara Lasker


800px Cisco logo.svgGS&P.logo.with.name.1Goodby, Silverstein & Partners’ Kelli Robertson talked with CMB’s Research Director, Tara Lasker, about a recent messaging study they partnered on for Cisco. This study aimed to determine the best way to communicate Cisco’s role in the “Internet of Everything.” 

TARA: There’s been a lot of buzz lately about using data to support strategic thinking. Can you talk a little bit about how you strike that balance between the two in your role?

kelli robertson, GSP, Cisco, CMB

KELLI: Well, I don’t think data just supports thinking—I think it also generates it. There’s nothing more exciting than a table full of data and going through that data to find ideas and the story. I think that’s one of the things we did with this study. I think you always have to start with hypotheses and use the data gathered to prove or disprove them, which is what we did. You also have to be open to the data giving you new ideas. For us, data isn’t just about validating—it’s about learning.

It’s also important to realize that data helps bring consensus. Marketing is hard today because everything is so uncertain, and I think it’s easy for clients to dismiss things you learn from eight or even thirty qualitative interviews. It’s a lot harder to dismiss data. So if you can combine the data with the new ideas, you’re more likely to create consensus and generate buy-in from the people you’re working with.

TARA:  That’s definitely true, and we see that throughout many of our client engagements. Moving on to our study, can you talk about how GSP and CMB partnered to help solve some of the challenges that Cisco faced?

KELLI: The first thing that CMB did really well was to quickly grasp the topic. This includes how technology influences business, the somewhat complicated concept of the “Internet of Everything,” and all of the product and technology solutions that create the “Internet of Everything.” There wasn’t a lot of explaining that I had to do because CMB just jumped in. I think that’s a testament to all of your experience with clients in the technology industry. You also recognized that the “Internet of Everything” might be a complicated concept for respondents to grasp, so you helped us craft a few different ways to talk about it in the survey, which allowed us to better measure true awareness and understanding.

Here’s another example. This was a global study, and CMB had a lot of recommendations including using max diff scaling to prioritize messages and alleviate any global scale bias. These recommendations allowed us to overcome a challenge that I wouldn’t have even known about if it hadn’t been for you. You also recommended that we test a few diagnostics within the top scoring messages. That helped us gain a better understanding of why messages were compelling instead of just showing us which ones were at the top of the list. Those diagnostics helped us feel confident in the messages that stood out.

TARA: We did a lot of secondary research on our end and asked colleagues at CMB with the most tech experience about the “Internet of Everything.” We tried to think from a respondent’s perspective when answering the questions to make sure that we were getting the most useful data we could possibly get and to ensure the respondents were reacting the way we wanted without misunderstanding.

KELLI: I think that background research you’re referring to was what allowed you to help us so much. I live in the “Internet of Everything” world. I have for the past two years. You allowed us to go deep into the “Internet of Everything,” but kept in mind the fact that people won’t view it with the same amount of understanding that we do. That helped us ask questions in a more broad sense and allowed us to have good juxtapositions regarding innovation, business, and technology.

TARA: Exactly. We also looked at the different roles within an organization and how they saw it. For example, the C-suite and technical decision makers understood and liked the more detailed messaging while business managers liked the broader, softer messaging. Speaking of, can you talk about what impact this research has had on Cisco’s brand messaging strategy? What’s happened since we’ve presented the results?

KELLI: Well, as you know, Cisco keeps coming back to get more data, and the study is really being adopted. It helped us form the messaging strategy for Cisco moving forward. For example, it helped us craft the right language to explain how Cisco is making the “Internet of Everything” possible. There’s been this question in the marketplace: what does Cisco do to make the “Internet of Everything” happen? The study helped us answer that question and address the skepticism our audience has had in the most compelling way.

The study also helped us define a sweet spot within our target audience. Prior to this, we talked broadly about C-suite executives, business decision-makers, and technical decision-makers. We summarize our audience as C-suite executives, but the study uncovered a very clear mindset that matched Cisco’s aspirations. Now we’re able to use that data to talk about our audience psychographically. We’ve found an attitudinal sweet spot because of the confidence in the data. Without the study, we could guess that C-suite executives and business decision-makers felt a certain way, but the data is invaluable in changing the way we think about who we reach out to, how we influence them, and the attitude Cisco needs to have. That’s been really invaluable, and it influences a lot of our decisions in tone and placement media.

The study also helped validate some of the Cisco product solutions that we should prioritize in our messaging. In the past, Cisco was primarily a networking company. Now, Cisco is offering a suite of product solutions way beyond networking. This study helped us uncover which of those product solutions triggered the most thoughts of innovation in our audience’s mind, which helped us prioritize where we should focus our product efforts.

TARA: Let’s talk a little more about the buy-in. This is the second time we’ve worked together on a project like this, and we’ve always had a great partnership. You understand your client and the questions they need answered, and we work through the research design and analysis. Ultimately, the goal is to get buy-in and adoption. So, can you talk about the adoption throughout Cisco?

KELLI: We’ve presented this countless times at Cisco, and we’re still getting requests to present it. We also just presented all of the work to the global regions in Cisco to help inform their work. They use a lot of the work we do, but they also do a lot of work on their own, so I’m sharing it with them so that they can use it to help inform what they do. Certain people within the organization are even using the data in their day-to-day work, which is amazing.

One of the things I’ve been most excited about is that we’re working with the thought leadership team at Cisco, who help set the agenda and public relations initiatives around key themes and topics. They’ve spent a lot of time pouring through the results, and they ended up coming back with a huge list of questions that are going to drive their thinking for the next year. So it’s helping set thought leadership, which is great.

One of the biggest things we tested is Cisco’s mission statement—“Changing the way we work, live, play, learn.” That is a statement that has always been on paper, and it has always been referred to as Cisco’s mission statement. The data we got back showed how compelling this statement was to our audience. It came back as one of the top messages if not the top message. I think that’s been giving Cisco a lot of confidence that they need to do more with their mission statement and that it needs to become not just words on paper, but something that drives all action within Cisco. I think this study is going to breathe new life into this big, bold mission statement and give them the courage to use it more overtly to make bolder decisions. There’s a difference between having a mission statement and being on a mission, and I feel like this data gave them the confidence to be a company on a mission—on a mission to change the way we work, live, play, learn.

TARA: Over the years, you’ve been one of my favorite clients for several reasons—one of them being that you really approach the relationship like a true partnership. We really work together. We get to a place where you know the client, challenges, political environment, and research questions that need to be answered. CMB brings research expertise, which allows us to design the study in a way that is going to answer your questions, so you don’t have to worry about the technicalities. I feel like both times we’ve partnered, we’ve ended up in a good, clear place at the end because of the way we work together throughout the process.

KELLI: I agree, and I will say that who we chose wasn’t necessarily my decision. I worked with the head of our research group. When we were going through RFPs, it became clear that few research companies are so thorough. There’s just this reality that not a lot of other research companies are as strategic, bring the breadth of experience, dive in, and ask questions of other experts in the organization the way you do….and these were things we noticed from the first RFP. There’s just something special you have bottled over there.

TARA: Thanks, Kelli! Hopefully we’ll get the chance to work together again in the future.

Tara Lasker is a Research Director at CMB and Kelli is a Group Brand Strategy Director at GSP. They both enjoy good beer, good music, commiserating over the trials and tribulations of motherhood, and telling a great story with primary research data.  

Focusing in a World Full of Distractions

 

By Judy Melanson 

cmb, focus, communicationOur company’s Internet was down for a few hours earlier this week. While the IT team scrambled to identify and fix the problem, the project staff’s reaction to the news caused many of them (us!) to look like a deer caught in headlights: stunned. But because we, by nature, are problem solvers, the staff quickly sprang into action. The “work-arounds” were identified and shared, and people dispersed. Some, in the quest for free Wi-Fi, temporarily moved into Starbucks or the train station for a few hours. Others took the time to engage with colleagues in-person (!) to brainstorm, strategize, or simply catch up. It wasn’t long before the IT team got the company back online, but the service interruption has caused me to reflect on our work and purpose.

Years ago, in my M.B.A. capstone strategy course at Babson College, I competed in a strategy game with other teams in the class. The teams had to use the information available to make decisions and set the strategy for our pretend companies. We had to answer questions like: what markets should we conquer? What should the features and pricing structures be for our products? What investments should we make in research, advertising, and operations?

My team chose a simple strategy: world domination. We decided we could outmaneuver our competitors with a first-to-market strategy. We flew out of the gate, introduced our first generation product in multiple markets, and, over the course of several weeks. . . we failed in a dramatic fashion. The lesson I learned from the course is one I carry with me to this day: focus. The teams that performed best studied the market and adapted their products and pricing structures to reflect market needs. Only then did they proceed with a plan and a goal to execute their plan as well as they could. 

I’m celebrating my 22nd anniversary at Chadwick Martin Bailey this week, and one of the things that I love about what we do is helping our clients make decisions—particularly decisions that are complex and have some level of risk associated with them. The information we provide enables clients to focus on high potential opportunities across a range of areas: market segments, operational improvements, new products, digital marketing, high-value customers, and more. We help our clients determine which alternatives have potential (for growth, for profit, for brand extension) and provide insight into how they can tackle those high potential alternatives. Resources—like time and money—are limited everywhere. Deciding what to do and what to ignore is essential for business success, team focus, execution, and sanity.

The Internet interruption this week forced me to focus on what I had to do without distractions. It also, strangely enough, empowered me to choose how to spend my day instead of feeling like my job is to constantly respond to communications. At this very moment, I can be reached instantly via four phones, three social networks, two email addresses, and one online chat system. . . that’s ten communication channels. At this stage in my career, communication with clients, prospects, and team members is essential to my success, which is why I monitor and quickly respond to all ten communication channels.  But this week’s Internet interruption has caused me to challenge my use of these channels and to consider how I can be more effective and focused in a world of constant interruption. 

Anyone want to guess what my 2015 New Year’s Resolution will be? 

Judy is VP of CMB's Travel and Entertainment practice and loves collaborating with her clients. She's the mom of two college students and the wife of an oyster farmer. Follow Judy on Twitter at @Judy_LC.

WEBINAR: The New Hotel Path to Purchase: The Mobile, Social, and Online Journey – Listen to Judy in action as she talks about this study we did as part of CMB’s Consumer Pulse program. We asked 2,000 leisure travelers to share their journey from awareness to booking. This webinar will give you insight into the role of mobile, apps, customer reviews, and social media. 

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Ready, Set, GROW: CMB Gets Hairy for Mustache Movember

 

movember logoBy Kirsten Clark

Did you ever think we’d live in a world in which you could grow facial hair to promote a cause? Well, ladies and gents, that’s the concept of Movember in a nutshell. A few of the guys here at CMB have decided to grow out their mustaches this month in the name of men’s health. You’re probably asking yourself: what the heck does growing a mustache have to do with promoting men’s health? It’s a fun way to spread the word and get the conversation started. Plus, it keeps those upper lips warm against the November chill.

Let’s take a look at some facts:

  • The average life expectancy for men in the U.S. is almost 5 years less than women
  • 50% of men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime
  • Men are 24% less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year
  • Of those Americans who died by suicide in 2012, 78.3% were male
  • 12.1% of men ages 18+ are in fair or poor health

So, men: it’s time to take action. Visit the doctor when you’re not feeling well. Go get checked for prostate and testicular cancer. Understand the importance of spreading awareness. And, ladies, you’re not off the hook either. Become a Mo Sista by telling the men in your life about the risks they face and by challenging them to join the movement.

What else can you do to help? Well, you can join us late in the game and start growing out your ‘stache or you can simply donate to our team’s page. Every dollar raised goes to help fight prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental illness.

Check out CMB’s Movember team in various stages of the ‘stache growing process: 

describe the image

Kirsten Clark is a Marketing Associate at CMB. She's a self-proclaimed champion for men's health and always enjoys a good mustache (Tom Selleck, anyone?). 

The Origins of Marketing Research

 

By Matt Skobe

cmb, marketing researchHave you ever considered the origins of marketing research? Recently I’ve been pondering this. Some professions, such as construction, have been in existence since the dawn of civilization, meeting the basic human need of shelter. The (relatively) recent rise of the computer programmer marks its starting point in the early 1980s with the advent of the personal computer. But what about market research?

I did some digging in order to answer my question, which led me to a book entitled A New Brand of Business: Charles Coolidge Parlin, Curtis Publishing Company, and the Origins of Market Research by Douglas Ward. This book focuses on Charles Coolidge Parlin (1872-1942), who is recognized today as the “Father of Marketing Research.” Parlin worked for Curtis Publishing Company, which was one of the most successful and influential American publishing companies of the early 20th century.

The pivotal moment for creating formalized marketing research was when Curtis Publishing made a principle-driven choice to ban medical, cosmetic, financial, and cigarette advertisements—and thus their accompanying revenue—from its magazines. To make up for this lost revenue, the company adopted a smarter business approach that focused only on the company’s existing clients, which would allow Curtis Publishing to become experts in its clients’ businesses. This novel idea went as follows: if Curtis Publishing could better serve its clients, those clients could in turn benefit Curtis Publishing with increased advertising revenue. In order to do this, the company sought to learn as much as possible about each client’s profit margins, territories, possibilities for expansion, and competition. In short, Curtis Publishing needed a clear view of each client’s marketplace.

With this impetus, Curtis Publishing created the Division of Commercial Research (1911) right here in Boston in what was formally known as Pemberton Square and is now known as Government Center. This was the first marketing research organization in the United States. The company had the notion to move forward on logical and statistical rule rather than intuition, and it strived to gauge public sentiment, evaluate changes in consumer tastes, and turn consumer wants into corporate profits. This newly founded “market research” would eventually become "the rudder on the ship of modern corporate capitalism.”

Parlin’s studies at Curtis Publishing led him to remarkable conclusions that were not readily apparent otherwise. For instance, Parlin calculated the strong influence that women had over family automobile purchases and foresaw that the automobile industry needed to reduce the number of models offered. Insights such as these eventually led to increased—and smarter—advertising as companies attempted to stay ahead of the curve.          

Interestingly, marketing research has the same purpose today as it did back then—it provides a way to improve marketing and business decision making. Parlin’s studies were typically hundreds of pages long with hand drawn charts, maps, and graphs bound in black or red leather with gold embossed lettering, and while we might do things a little differently now, we still need to create an informative narrative backed with charts and graphs aimed at getting to the heart of business decision making. Ever increasing amounts of information are available today, but distilling the most interesting and the most useful facts remains the ultimate challenge. I think Charles Parlin would agree, don’t you?

Matt Skobe is a Senior Data Manager at CMB. His passions include spending time with his wife and kids and mountain biking (day and night).

Want to help us craft the future of market research? Join our team!

Open Positions

Stitch Fix’s Fixation on the Customer Experience

 

By Amy Modini 

iStock 000004343641SmallHow many of you are always looking for another minute in the day? Or perhaps some of you want something new, but don’t have time to get to a store? And how many others of you just simply hate going to brick and mortar stores? 

Stitch Fix, an online personal shopping stylist, is a service in which you set up a profile and pay a $20 styling fee to have five items shipped to your door. The styling fee is applied to the items you keep, and anything you don’t want has to be sent back within three days (in the pre-paid postage package provided). The service appeals to those busy women needing convenience. 

I ordered my first “fix” last December and loved it. Like the 70% of customers, I returned for a second time. Not only is this service convenient (after setting up your profile, you literally click a button to order your next fix and select a date), but it offers fairly reasonable prices. I get excited every time Stitch Fix sends me a box, and that excitement quickly accelerates or disappears after I see what’s inside. While I loved every piece in my first fix, I’ve since had mixed results, loving and hating certain pieces.

Since launching in 2011, Stitch Fix has done several things right as it continues to build its brand and enhance the customer experience. Here are a few:

1. Knowing the target audience.  

Stitch Fix does this well. Even though the company states that its customers range from teenagers to senior citizens, it realizes that busy women in their late twenties to thirties are its primary audience. This is why convenience is at the company’s core. For busy women, the experience needs to be quick, easy, and stress-free, and Stitch Fix has been able to do just that. The company is also appealing to those women who take fashion risks, dislike brick and mortar shopping, look for the latest and greatest trends, and are perhaps less price sensitive than others. 

2. Leveraging word of mouth and building advocates.  

An integral part of this service is its referral code system. The referral codes allow customers to earn $25 toward another fix if a friend uses the referral code for her first fix. I have seen countless friends post about Stitch Fix online. Even I have told some friends about the service—especially when I receive a compliment on one of my Stitch Fix pieces—so it doesn’t surprise me that word of mouth referrals account for 95% of Stitch Fix’s new customers.

3. Listening customers and making adjustments.

    Several months ago, Stich Fix began to get a lot of publicity. Thus, demand increased and wait times became significantly longer. The company quickly realized that this resulted in a not-so-positive customer experience, so it expanded its team of stylists and shipment centers, which ultimately reduced wait times. Stitch Fix’s goal is to provide the best possible “fix” for each customer, so it continues to encourage customers to communicate through a variety of ways such as writing notes to stylists, setting up a Pinterest board to show pieces you like, and sending specific feedback on the clothing pieces you receive.

    It’s not difficult to see that Stitch Fix has no shortage of data to analyze or algorithms to apply when determining which pieces customers will enjoy, but it doesn’t rely solely on the data. It takes the data and combines it with the expertise of a stylist. In the market research world, I see this as the delicate blend of art and science.

    It’s been a few months since I’ve gotten a fix, and with the season change, it’s about time I click that button to order my next one! 

    Amy is an Account Director and a mother of two small kids, which makes her an ideal target for this service. She’s willing to give her Stitch Fix referral code to anyone who wants to try it.

    NEW WEBINAR 11/12 AT 12:30 PM EST

    The New Hotel Path to Purchase: The Mobile, Social, and Online Journey – As part of CMB’s Consumer Pulse program, we asked 2,000 leisure travelers to share their journey from awareness to booking. This webinar will give insight into the role of mobile, apps, customer reviews, and social media. 

    Register Today!

    Halloween Is for Statisticians

     

    By Dr. Jay Weiner 

    halloween, cmbHalloween always makes me think about probability. For example, even though you won’t see me standing in line and fighting over the hottest costume since my kids are too old to trick-or-treat, I bet I can still predict the ones you’ll see the most this year. It’s easy: all you have to do is look at the year’s movie box office hits. Sure, there are always the traditional favorites: a skeleton, ghost, witch, or pirate, but my predictions for the most popular costumes this year include Captain American and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as Anna and Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen. You might even see someone dressing up as Olaf the snowman (again, from Frozen), but I’ll bet parents have trouble making that one. In fact, I often wonder if I could predict the ticket sales for these movies based on the number of costumes I see on my front porch at Halloween. Of course, I do know that success at the box office has created the desire for kid’s costumes, which is nothing new. Think: Capitan Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean in 2003, The Joker from The Dark Knight in 2008, or superheroes from The Avengers in 2012.

    Costumes and the probability of seeing Elsa or Anna are really just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended). Let’s talk candy. This is the most puzzling question for me each Halloween: what is the probability that candy manufacturers produce the same number of each color in the package? For example, when you open a package of M&Ms, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, or any other candy that comes in a variety of colors, don’t you wonder if each color has the same probability of showing up in the package? You probably don’t, but I’m sure it makes you feel better knowing that this keeps CMB’s analytics team up at night.

    For years, I even tried convincing my kids to test whether Mars produced the same number of red M&Ms as blue ones. I figured what kid wouldn’t want to open 200 packages of candy, count every piece, and then eat them in the process of creating a dataset to perform the analysis? Of course, this is the response I would get: “Dad, that’s just stupid.” Personally, I think it’s one of life’s greatest mysteries. I Googled it, and sure enough, teachers are using M&Ms to teach kids about probability. 

    So this Halloween, if you find yourself thinking about probability when you see a mini-Elsa walking down the street or when counting colored M&Ms with your kids, know that you’re not alone. Here at CMB, our minds always go straight to the numbers…even on a night like Halloween.

    Dr. Jay Weiner is the top digit-head at CMB. He’ll likely be dressed up as an outlier this Halloween.  [+/- 7 sigma]

    NEW WEBINAR 11/12 AT 12:30 PM EST

    The New Hotel Path to Purchase: The Mobile, Social, and Online Journey – As part of CMB’s Consumer Pulse program, we asked 2,000 leisure travelers to share their journey from awareness to booking. This webinar will give insight into the role of mobile, apps, customer reviews, and social media. 

    Register Here!

    Be Aware When Conducting Research Among Mobile Respondents

     

    mobile, cmb

    By Julie Kurd 

    Are you conducting research among mobile respondents yet? Autumn is conference season, and 1,000 of us just returned from IIR’s The Market Research Event (TMRE) conference where we learned, among other things, about research among mobile survey takers. Currently, only about 5% of the market research industry spend is for research conducted on a smartphone, 80% is online, and 15% is everything else (telephone and paper-based). Because mobile research is projected to be 20% of the industry spend in the coming years, we all need to understand the risks and opportunities of using mobile surveys.  

    Below, you’ll find three recent conference presentations that discussed new and fresh approaches to mobile research as well as some things to watch out for if you decide to go the mobile route. 

    1. At IIR TMRE, Anisha Hundiwal, the Director of U.S. Consumer and Business Insights for McDonald’s, and Jim Lane from Directions Research Inc. (DRI) did not disappoint. They co-presented the research they had done to understand the strengths of half a dozen national and regional coffee brands, including Newman’s Coffee (the coffee that McDonald’s serves), around 48 brand attributes. While they did share some compelling results, Anisha and Jim’s presentation primarily focused on the methodology they used. Here is my paraphrase of the approach they took:

    • They used a traditional 25 minute, full-length online study among traditional computer/laptop respondents who met the screening criteria (U.S. and Europe, age, gender, etc.), measuring a half dozen brands and approximately 48 brand attributes. They then analyzed results of the full-length study and conducted a key driver analysis.
    • Next, they administered the study using a mobile app for mobile survey takers among similar respondents who met the same screening criteria. They also dropped the survey length to 10 minutes, tested a narrower set of brands (3 instead of 6), and winnowed the attributes from ~48 to ~14. They made informed choices about which attributes to include based on their key driver analysis (key drivers to overall equity, and I believe I heard them say they added in some attributes that were highly polarizing).

    Then, they compared mobile respondent results to the traditional online survey results. Anisha and Jim discussed key challenges we all face as we begin to adapt to smartphone respondent research. For example, they tinkered with rating scales and slide bars by setting the bar on the far left at 0 on a 0-100 rating scale for some respondents and then setting it at the mid-point for others to see if results would be different. While the overall brand results were about the same, the sections of the rating scales respondents used differed. Further, they reported that it was hard to compare detailed results for online and mobile because different parts of the rating scales were used in general. Finally, they reported that the winnowed attribute and brand lists made insights less rich than the online survey results.

    2. At the MRA Corporate Researcher’s conference in September, Ryan Backer, Global Insights for Emerging Tech at General Mills, also very clearly articulated several early learnings in the emerging category of mobile surveys. He said that 80% of General Mills’ research team has conducted at least one smartphone respondent study. (Think about that and wonder out loud, “should I at least dip my toe into this smartphone research?”) He provides a laundry list of the challenges they faced and, like all true innovators, he was willing to share his challenges because it helps him continue to innovate.  You can read a full synopsis here.

    3. Chadwick Martin Bailey was a finalist for the NGMR Disruptive Innovation Award at the IIR TMRE conference.  We partnered with Research Now for a presentation on modularizing surveys for mobile respondents at an earlier IIR conference and then turned the presentation into a webinar. CMB used a modularized technique in which a 20 minute survey was deconstructed into 3 partial surveys with key overlaps. After fielding the research among mobile survey takers, CMB used some designer analytics (warning, probably don’t do this without a resident PhD) to ‘stitch’ and ‘impute’ the results. In this conference presentation turned webinar, CMB talks about the pros and cons of this approach.

    Conferences are a great way to connect with early adopters of new research methods. So, when you’re considering adopting new research methods such as mobile surveys, allocate time to see what those who have gone before you have learned!

    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.

    Fighting to the Death with a Zombie: 3 Important Lessons on Teamwork

     

    By Jordan Evangelista 

    cmb, teamworkNever in my life did I think I would be running away from a zombie, but that’s exactly what I did on a recent adventure. I embarked on this journey with eleven of my coworkers and friends. We went to the Room Escape Adventures studio in Charlestown, Massachusetts where we were assigned a complicated task: escape a room with a hungry zombie in it. The zombie was chained to the wall; however, every five minutes, the chain extended, and the zombie got closer and closer with the intent of having us for a full-course dinner. In order to escape the room in one hour, we were left no choice—our survival depended on us working together to follow the clues and solve the puzzles for the key that would lead us to freedom.

    Failed Flesh or Triumphant Team?

    I’m proud to say that we successfully worked together to find the key and escape the room before the hour ended. Mind you, only one-third of the teams who have participated in this challenge have escaped the zombie’s clutches.

    What made us a high performing team?

    1. We worked together with one common goal. It was clear that none of us wanted to be the zombie’s dinner, so we quickly regrouped, adapted to the environment, and worked together to achieve a superior result. While we don’t have zombies chasing us here at CMB, the need to work toward a common goal as a group is the same. Our common goal is simple—help our clients achieve success in their markets and potential markets—and we do this through getting our clients to focus on specific business decisions when scoping out research, which ensures superior results are achieved.
    2. We trusted each other and kept the lines of communication open. This challenge allowed us to really think outside of the box, and while some crazy ideas worked, some didn’t. The important thing is that we kept communicating, and we trusted each other enough to try everyone’s outlandish plans, which eventually led us to the key. We value similar things here at CMB—trust, teamwork, and open communication are paramount, and those are the values that drive the rock solid execution for all of our client projects.
    3. We let our passion and talent shine through. My team eagerly went straight to work figuring out the first clue. Each of us has a distinct personality and a diverse set of strengths, so we each found ourselves playing different roles in the effort to escape the room. For example, one of my friends put her organizational skills to work by keeping track of each clue we solved in case past clues were needed again. At CMB, we do the same thing. We work on projects we’re passionate about, and each of us brings our own unique set of skills to the table. This allows us to do world-class research with clients from a variety of industries.

    The zombie went home hungry, but the experience reminded me about the importance of teamwork and how these three factors can contribute to a team’s success. At the end of the day, I’m just happy my flesh is intact.

    Jordan is an Associate Researcher at CMB. You can catch him at any of the Boston music venues for a concert, lounging on the Jamaica Pond, or actively avoiding the walking dead.

    Speaking of teamwork, we would love to have YOU on our team! Check out our open positions:

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