By Jen Golden
I recently traveled to Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympics (check this off the bucket list!) and after all the media attention focused on Sochi leading up to the games, I was interested to see firsthand if the games were going to be considered a success for Russia or not.
Russia went into their Olympic bid with the mindset that they would be showcasing, and essentially re-branding, their image to the world (and turning Sochi into a top tourist destination in the process). Re-branding an entire country is no small feat (and in the west many would argue that Russia faces a particularly difficult battle) and the Olympic stage is indisputably the easiest way to gain national exposure and leverage a positive image.
Pre-Olympics: Sochi got off to a bit of a rocky branding start in the media (with security and hotel/lodging concerns taking the spotlight away from the positive aspects of the games) and #SochiFail being the most prominent twitter tag in the weeks leading up to the event. Strolling through the Olympic Park a day before the Opening Ceremonies, many aspects were not yet set-up and ready to go (e.g., the souvenir store, sponsor houses, food stands). Nothing like last minute!
Olympic Moment: After the Olympic Ring debacle during the opening ceremonies, Sochi brought its A game. The international media had little to complain about (besides the sunny weather!), as events went off without a hitch and portrayed Russia in a positive light.
Post-Olympics: From purely a spectator’s point of view, the games for Russia were a success. The venues were state-of-the-art, Sochi provided wonderful scenery, volunteers were friendly and focus was centered on what mattered: the athletes and bringing the world together for these two weeks. Russia also achieved their ultimate branding goal as a nation: coming out on top of the medal count. But in an illustration of the limits of Olympic spirit, Russia’s current political actions may taint any positive goodwill they gained from Sochi.
In the wake of the Games, will Sochi become the ultimate tourist destination that Russia hoped for, or will it suffer like other Olympic cities have in the past? Speaking to other spectators who had been to multiple Olympics, many expressed these were the best Olympic Games yet…but only time will tell if that positive experience was felt throughout the world (or if it never made it outside the ring of fans and athletes in Sochi).
Jen is a Project Manager at CMB. She’ll never forget her Olympic experience and is now preparing herself for PyeongChang 2018.
On Saturday, March 15th, the Martin family, friends, and colleagues at CMB will celebrate the life of John Martin. The event and luncheon will take place from 11am to 2pm at the Babson College Executive Conference Center in Wellesley, MA.
It will be a celebration of John’s life in all its aspects—dedicated family man, conceptual trail blazer, analytic wizard, mentor to many, lover of jokes, unrelenting wit, Indian food aficionado, and purveyor of informal attire. In keeping with John’s “style”, dress will be informal and preferably not black.
Directions, parking, and lodging information can be found here: http://www.cmbinfo.com/cmb-cms/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Directions-and-Lodging-at-BECC.pdf
By Cara Lousararian
In a few weeks I’ll be taking a cruise to the Caribbean—a cruise that I have spent 9 months planning. Needless to say, I’ve been a little preoccupied making sure everything is in place to ensure a flawless vacation. And as I sorted through all of these details, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between vacation planning and how we at CMB prepare for a smooth, successful research project. You might be thinking “this is a woman who really needs a vacation.” But hear me out.
The first step of vacation planning is to put together a list of possible locations for a trip and select an appropriate timeframe. Planning a successful research study works on the same principles, every project starts with taking the time to define and understand the main decisions that need to be made from the research—we use tools like our Business Decision Worksheet—which directly ties the questionnaire, analysis and reporting to the business decisions, letting us identify and gain consensus on the most pressing decisions, and ensuring the results are actionable.
We also know how critical it is to develop (and stick to) a schedule that aligns with our clients’ needs. One of the first things that we at CMB do at the beginning of each project is put together a schedule outlining each key milestone of the process, all the way up to delivery of the final results. Putting together a detailed schedule helps us align resources and ensure we stay on track to meet our client deadlines. Knowing how much our clients rely on our research makes the scheduling a crucial part of the process and an important key to our success in executing projects.
Once the schedule is set, the project kicks off and the exploratory phase begins. I personally did lots of exploratory research before selecting my specific cruise line, ship, and date. Through this exploratory research, I was able to drill down and identify what aspects were most important in making my decision. Exploratory phases are also crucial for determining what will be most important to measure in the questionnaire and which areas are “nice to haves,” but not necessary to be included for the project.
Exploratory research also helps generate new ideas that may not have been previously considered. Similar to the many resources available for cruise planning (cruise line website, message boards, etc.), exploratory research for a project can span several platforms, including a review of secondary research, conducting in-depth interviews or focus groups, or hosting online discussion boards.
Sometimes the exploratory phase of a project gets less attention/recognition than is deserved because it doesn’t come across as being as “glamorous” as the analysis and insights that will come from the quantitative research. However, all market researchers know that the level of planning can make or break a project. CMB’s focus on planning allows us to try and anticipate what potential issues may come up down the road so that we can troubleshoot effectively and properly set expectations with our clients. Of course just like you can’t predict a rogue wave, there are times when the unexpected happens. When this happens we know we need to remain flexible enough to make course corrections and steer us back to the business decisions that our clients are trying to make.
I know we can only take the analogy so far; when all is said and done, often the only tangible evidence of having been on a vacation are the pictures. While the deliverables we produce for our clients are polished and shiny, they’re hardly the end “goal” of the research. Successful research is useful and used, and that starts well before a questionnaire is designed.
Cara is a Research Manager at CMB. She enjoys spending time with her husband Brett, her dog Nala, and planning her next vacation.
Please join CMB's Amy Modini and UPMC's Jim Villella today at 12:30pm ET for our latest webinar:
Is your industry evolving? In this webinar you'll learn how UPMC and CMB applied a discrete choice methodology, accounting for various factors to estimate shifting consumer preferences, make key product development and marketing strategy decisions, and ultimately position UPMC for success.
The health insurance industry faces an urgent need to prepare for a new competitive market introduced by healthcare reform. UPMC recognized the opportunity to gain competitive strength in the market through innovation and new product development. However, the research supporting these decisions would need to account for a wide range of market changes and influences. To apply a trade-off exercise UPMC needed to address many challenges, including:
New shopping and purchase channels
Controlling the effect of discounts and subsidies on price
Introduction of entirely new consumer segments for whom purchase behavior is unknown
Product optimization for multi-tier offerings
Did you miss one? All of our webinars are available here
It is with an extremely heavy heart that I share that Chadwick Martin Bailey’s co-founder, leader, and my partner, John Martin passed away Thursday morning after a long illness, with his beloved wife by his side. While it’s difficult to put into words what a truly special man John was, I wanted to share briefly what he meant to me.
John was a genius—a brilliant market researcher who set the standard for where the company is today. His precision, creativity, and passion will be just part of his legacy. More importantly, he was a tremendous friend. He was funny, out of the box, loyal, and the ultimate teacher. He seldom wore shoes and used language that would make a sailor blush.
Personally, John taught me and made me laugh for 35 years. Try as I might, he would not let me take myself too seriously as we faced the ups and downs faced by all businesses. Our essential values were always aligned and this set the open, collaborative tone that our employees and clients value so much.
I know what he meant to me is shared by so many CMBers – both present and alums. He listened, he taught, he advised, and he truly cared. And those of us who knew him, we felt it. Of course, he was not just my partner for over 30 years; he was also an intimate friend to my family. He was always there for my husband and was mentor to our two sons who grew up with him, advocating and advising them on life.
John is survived by his wife Marion, to whom he was profoundly devoted, and his beloved daughter Bronwyn, and son Travis, who are feeling the pain of loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
While there will be no funeral, plans for a celebration of life will be shared in the coming weeks. John touched so many lives, and hearing the wonderful, funny stories has been a great comfort, please share your thoughts and memories here: http://john-martin1.muchloved.com/
Donations can be made in John's name to the International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital: https://giving.brighamandwomens.org/IMP
Thank you, John. Your friend, Anne
By McKenzie Mann
One of my major motivators in life is receiving free stuff. You can often find me walking around Costco looking for samples or signing up for loyalty programs just for the bonuses. So, when I recently started using Birchbox, a monthly subscription service that sends a box of expensive beauty product samples each month, I was ecstatic to learn that I could earn rewards points for reviewing each product in the box. Birchbox’s use of points seems to be working; with around 400,000 subscribers most of their products have over 2,000 reviews with some nearing 10,000.
This program has two key benefits for Birchbox. It keeps users engaged; reviewers need to go to the website at least once per month to review products. And, it gives buyers more confidence in the products. With thousands of reviews and a 4- or 5-star rating, customers can feel safe they’re buying a good product. This strategy, however, might leave you asking: is it fair to ask customers to depend on reviews when the reviewers are incentivized to write them? If you’re not a Birchbox member you might think the question is purely academic. But chances are you are one of the nearly 700 million people who’ve shopped on Amazon, and in that case, you have some things to think about.
Enter Amazon Vine, an invitation-only program in which Amazon’s top reviewers are given free products to review, sometimes before they’re released to the public. According to Amazon, they welcome both positive and negative reviews, and ask only for honest reviews. Despite the fact that Vine reviews are identified with a green stripe, in the beginning many readers of reviews were unaware of the program, they believed they were reading the reviews of people like themselves, who reviewed a product they bought because they wanted or needed it. Instead, they are written by people who are given products by Amazon (sometimes worth as much as $1,000) with the only stipulations are that they have to write a review within 30 days and they can’t sell or give away the product. It’s fair to wonder whether these two types of reviewers may react differently to products based on the circumstances.
Amazon has actually confirmed that Vine reviewers act differently than non-incentivized reviewers, but not perhaps the way you might think. On average, Vine reviewers give lower ratings than non-Viners. That being said, Amazon research shows that products with bad reviews still sell better than those with no reviews. In the end, it seems to be a win for all parties: Amazon gets reviews from invested reviewers which then boost product sales; The Consumer can read reviews from both Vine and non-Vine members, and decide themselves who to trust; The Vendor may very well see increased sales due to the reviews; and finally, the Vine Reviewer, who ends up with a lot of free stuff.
The key here is transparency, knowing whether the reviewer received the product for free lets the consumer weigh how much that review counts in their decision. For me, when I’m reading Amazon reviews, if I see the “Vine reviewer” stamp on it, I’ll trust that I’m reading the review of an opinionated, knowledgeable reviewer. And if I get an invitation to join Vine, you’ll be reading my reviews in no time.
McKenzie wrote this blog post from Oregon. She managed to avoid both snake bites and dysentery on her trip west from Boston.
Join CMB's Amy Modini on February 20th, at 12:30 pm ET, to learn how we use discrete choice to better position your brand in a complex changing market. Register here.
Many of us aren't just researchers or marketers, we're parents too, which is why this blog from CMB Alum, Josh Mendelsohn really struck a chord. You can check out more of Josh's musings in his blog: Marketing in Real Life.
As a parent of a toddler boy, I've often found myself getting so frustrated, to a place I don't like, that I started doing some real self hard thinking about the causes (it’s the research background!). One of the major realizations I've had is that the frustration is in part because "working" with a toddler goes completely against how I spend most of my day as a marketer. And I know I'm not alone. In fact, I've seen lots of friends and colleagues who work with data struggle with toddler thinking.
Don't get me wrong, parenting is obviously hard for everyone, but I wonder if it feels even harder for the modern marketer (or researcher) because of the way we are trained. We take pride in using data to identify what works and modifying what doesn’t.
Unfortunately, my little dude seems to fall outside the realm of data integrity.
Below are four things that are particularly confounding in our dual roles as parent and professional.
1) It's the journey, not the destination. At work we are taught that the outcome is what matters most. We look at the data and decide if something has worked or not, rarely taking joy in the process itself. Unfortunately, toddlers don't give a crap about the quality of the end result.
Their goal isn't to make the best dinner, it's to make something together, spill ingredients all over the table, and potentially eat something completely different for their meal. And frankly, their version of quality is suspect at best. I mean, when I look at a drawing and say "that looks great buddy," I'm just thinking "I'm not sure that looks like a house with a dog and a monster. People will never get what you're trying to say!"
2) Total disregard for longitudinal data. As marketers we love longitudinal data. After all, history generally repeats itself and seasonality is essential to effective planning, right? Sadly, toddlers can't even put together two weeks of data that makes sense. The journey from "I only want chicken nuggets for lunch" to "I don't want to ever eat chicken nuggets again" is extremely short lived. When people ask me "what is he into to?" I just chuckle. This week it's Yo Gabba Gabba, next week could be anything. Not sure I have chartable trend line there!
3) Rules? What rules. Our boy loves playing board games. He just doesn't like playing them the way they were intended. He doesn't see chutes in Chutes and Ladders. He doesn't believe in only flipping two cards in memory. And he certainly doesn't understand that you take turns in Connect Four.
While I appreciate that he is figuring out how the world works, his inability to listen to the rules has me taking notes for his next performance review (when do we get to have those?).
4) Efficiency is frowned upon. As modern professionals (or at least hard-driving ones) we all want to get through as many tasks as well as possible every single day. High output = high value. Dealing with a toddler is the complete opposite. I'd pay good money for an activity that lasted longer than 20 minutes so we're only doing three things on a Saturday instead of 23.
So what am I doing about it? Other than going even more bald than before, I've been trying really really hard to slow down and leave my work brain at the office. I've found that there's really no fire to run to or from most of the time and that taking a few extra minutes here and there actually makes the day run smoother. (Note: Trying!!)
I was inspired by this blog post - and even attempting to live this way has dropped my stress level considerably.
I'm not one to give unwelcome parenting advice to people outside of out family, but as they say on my boy's very temporary favorite show "try it, you might like it."
Josh is the VP of Marketing at DreamFund, Inc. You can find more of his commentary on the "world of marketing, market research, small business strategies, and social media based on real life experiences, not stuff you'd get in an MBA class" at his blog Marketing in Real Life.
Join CMB's Amy Modini on February 20th, at 12:30 pm ET, to learn how we use discrete choice to better position your brand in a complex changing market. Register here.
Originally posted in the SMEI blog
By Mark Carr
At some point all business leaders are challenged to “innovate” in order to grow their company’s bottom line.
Done right, innovation creates value for both the company and the customer through new-to –the-world solutions to needs. It’s logical that products and services are where companies start their innovation efforts because, after all, these are very tangible sources of value. However, brand and marketing can also be powerful drivers of value and differentiation and should not be overlooked as potential anchors for innovation.
Many innovation initiatives begin with a brainstorming session in which a bunch of internal folks sit around and try to generate new ideas for products or services they think customers want. For a fresh take on this process, consider “brand-storming” as the starting point for inspiration.
What is a “brand-storming” session, exactly? Well, in marketing speak, it’s generating innovative ideas for brand extensions, leveraging brand equity (a very valuable asset) to push into adjacent or even totally new product areas.
Start a successful brand-storm with a clear articulation of your brand strategy, brand attributes and positioning. Then do creativity exercises that apply key brand attributes to new markets or to new solutions to existing customers.
Need to get the juices flowing? Look for examples in the marketplace:
All of this is not to say that brand should be the only source of invention. But brand-storming brings a new part of the company to the innovation table and adds another angle for sparking new, powerful ideas for growth.
In our upcoming webinar we will look at some of the common pitfalls of innovation initiatives and explore how to use “brand” and “brand attributes” as well as innovative go-to-market strategies to unlock growth opportunities in new, unexpected directions. Hope to see you there!
Posted by J. Mark Carr, Mark is co-founder and managing partner of South Street Strategy Group.
South Street Strategy Group, an independent sister company of Chadwick Martin Bailey, integrates the best of strategy consulting and marketing science to develop better growth and value delivery strategies. Read South Street's Strategy Group's blog here.
By Amy Maret
As a recent graduate, and entrant into the world of professional market research, I have some words of wisdom for college seniors looking for a career in the industry. You may think your professors prepared you for the “real world” of market research, but there are some things you didn’t learn in your Marketing Research class. So what’s the major difference between research at the undergrad level and the work of a market researcher? In the real world, context matters, and there are real consequences to our research. One example of this is how we approach testing for statistical significance.
Starting in my freshman year of college, I was taught to abide by a concept that I came to think of as the “Golden Rule of Research.” According to this rule, if you can’t be 95% or 90% confident that a difference is statistically significant, you should consider it essentially meaningless.
Entering the world of Market Research, I quickly found that this rule doesn’t always hold when the research is meant to help users make real business decisions. Although significance testing can be a helpful tool in interpreting results, ignoring a substantial difference simply because it does not cross the thin line into statistical significance can be a real mistake.
Our Chief Methodologist, Richard Schreuer, gives this example of why this “Golden Rule” doesn’t always make sense in the real world:
Imagine a manager gets the results of a concept test in which a new ad outperforms the old by a score of 54% to 47%; sig testing shows our manager can be 84% confident the new ad will do better than the old ad. The problem in the market research industry is that we typically assess significance at the 95% or 90% level, if the difference between scores doesn’t pass this strict threshold, then it is often assumed no difference exists.
However, in this case, we can be very sure that the new ad is not worse than the old (there’s only a 1% chance that the new ad’s score is below the old). So, the manager has an 84% chance of improving her advertising and a 1% chance of hurting it if she changes to the new creative—pretty good odds. The worst scenario is that the new creative will perform the same as the old. So, in this case, there is real upside in going with the new creative and little downside (save the production expense). But if the manager relied on industry-standard significance testing, she would likely have dismissed the creative immediately.
At CMB, it doesn’t take long to get the sense that there is something much bigger going on here than just number crunching. Creating useable, meaningful research and telling a cohesive story require more than just an understanding of the numbers themselves; it takes creativity and a solid grasp on our clients’ businesses and their needs. As much as I love working with the data, the most satisfying part of my job is seeing how our research and recommendations support real decisions that our clients make every day, and that’s not something I ever could have learned in school.
Amy is a recent graduate from Boston College, where she realized that she had a much greater interest in statistics than the average student. She is 95% confident that this is a meaningful difference.
Join CMB' Amy Modini on February 20th, at 12:30 pm ET, to learn how we use discrete choice to better position your brand in a complex changing market. Register here.
Another Super Bowl weekend is upon us and it’s another year that my team isn’t in it. Worse yet a dear friend (and client) of mine forced me into an early-season wager pitting my poor team against her juggernaut Denver Broncos, to see who would have a better season. Unfortunately, the Pats are out of the Super Bowl, and I am out one lobster dinner.
Luckily, I’ve got a cunning plan to recoup that loss and I’m happy to share it: your office's Super Bowl Squares. I can hear you already “Jim, Super Bowl Squares have all the strategy of the card game War!" But I’m here to explain how you can get an edge in this classic living-room lottery. So if you are looking to get a leg up on your best friend, 86 year old aunt, or 13 year old nephew you’ve stumbled onto the right blog.
At CMB we pride ourselves on turning data into actionable decisions. So with that backdrop in mind:
You already know that some combinations are preferred over others (specifically combinations containing zeros, threes, and sevens). But do you know how much better one combination is than another? Well, assuming you are in one of the pools that pays out quarterly here’s what you need to know:
There are 28 combinations that have a positive expectation. That is, if you had one of these combinations every year, you’d expect to win more money than you lost (of course that assumes you are playing for money, which obviously none of us are!). Anyway, here are the 28 combinations that you should feel pretty good about:
But what if you don’t have one of those combinations? Well, this is where the “turning data into actionable decisions” part comes in…There are 5 combinations worth paying a substantial premium for. Yes, that’s right if you aren’t lucky enough to get a good combination you might consider taking action and finding someone who isn’t good at math (or hasn’t read this blog) and buying their combination. Below are the five combinations that each have an expectation of at least 4x. So if you can separate Aunt Millie or little Bobby from one of these squares for anything less than 4 times the per square price, you’ll be doing ok.
However, maybe you’ve been lucky enough to land one of these top 5 combinations and you're watching the game with people who overvalue these combinations. I’ve already told you that you should be willing to pay up to 4x for each, but what if you wanted to sell? Since only 0-0 has an expectation greater than 7x, try to get someone to pay in excess of 7 times the buy-in for the others. For 0-0, get at least 9x.
Lastly, maybe you are one of those people who like to zig when others zag. Here are two combinations that have a close to even money expectation (actually around .8), but may seem to others to be far worse. Perhaps you could make someone an offer of 50 cents on the dollar for one of these:
Whatever you do, stay warm, enjoy the game, don’t eat too much, and NEVER drink and drive. Good luck!
Jim is VP of CMB’s Financial Services practice, he'll be watching the big game on Sunday...and DVRing Downton Abbey.