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Robo-Advisors Aren't Your Father's Financial Advisor

Posted by Lori Vellucci

Tue, Dec 12, 2017

Back in the day, if you had a little money to invest, you called up the brokerage firm that your dad used, you talked to his“guy” and you asked him to invest your money for you. Those days aren’t totally gone, but over the last few years new technology has disrupted the traditional investor-client relationship—resulting in more ways than ever to invest your money yourself.

We all remember the iconic E*TRADE baby from way back in 2013. E*TRADE’s campaign brought the online discount stock brokerage firm for self-directed investors model into the mainstream. Since then, more DIY investment platforms have cropped up, each vying for the modern self-directed investor’s business. But one important learning from the DIY trend of the past decade is that even though this model lends itself to independent investing, DIY-investors still need some type of investment help.

Robo-advisors: The rise of AI in finance

The first robo-advisor was released in 2008 to help these new investors make smart money choices. For the most part, early DIY investors didn’t have a formal finance background, so robo-advisors offered them portfolio management services and insights that were once reserved for high-net-worth individuals—at a fraction of what a traditional human financial advisor might charge. It was a gamechanger.

Robo-advisor technology continues to shape the financial services industry with big players like Charles Schwab and Ameritrade each launching their own in the last few years. This growing interest and investment in robo-advisory technology is great for DIY investors and offers a ton of opportunity for traditional financial firms be on the cutting edge of FinTech.

Given the changing landscape, we wanted a better understanding of investor perceptions of robo-advisor clients.  Through our 2017 Consumer Pulse, we surveyed 2,000 US adults about FinTech, traditional financial services firms, and who they perceived as the technologies' typical user.

Who's using robo-advisors?

Typical Robo-Advisor User.png

CMB’s AffinID (a measure of social identity’s influence on consumers) score for this FinTech offering indicate that while all three components of AffinID (clarity, relatability, and social desirability) could stand improvement within the investor community. Relatively speaking, relatability is weakest--people have a clear image of what the typical robo-advisor user is like and that image is socially desirable, but they don't view the typical user as part of their "tribe".

The inability of investors to relate to their image of the typical robo-advisor user sheds light on a potential roadblock. Robo-service providers targeting traditional investors might consider messaging that conveys a typical user more closely aligned with the “traditional investor image”.

What emotions are driving use?

We found that robo-advisor users themselves are driven by feelings of being smart, wise, and savvyefficient, practical, productive.  Inspiration and motivation are also key emotional drivers for robo-advisor services.

Emotions that drive robo-advisor usage2.png

Why does this matter? It tells us what brands looking to differentiate themselves in a crowded FinTech market could be doing to attract more customers. These emotional drivers could be important messaging elements for those companies looking to court new money from traditional investors.

Are robo-advisors the next "big thing" in FinTech?

FinTech adoption curve2.png

Three quarters of robo-advisor users consider themselves early adopters, this is in contrast with users of mobile wallet and online-only banking--two technologies that have entered the mainstream. As traditional financial service providers make considerable investments in driving robo-advisor adoption, our findings show that to drive adoption it's critical to understand both how consumers want to feel, and how they perceive and relate to their image of the typical user.

Interested in learning more?

Our comprehensive FinTech study also looked at online-only investment apps, online-only banking, and mobile wallets. Download a sneak peek of our findings from all four in our Facing the FinTech Future series:

Topics: financial services research, Identity, AffinID, Artificial Intelligence, BrandFx

The Scarcity Principle: Read now before it's gone!

Posted by Julia Walker

Wed, Dec 06, 2017

 

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The super busy Q4 at CMB is fueled by adrenaline, sweets from clients and vendors, and of course, caffeinated beverages served up in Starbuck’s famous (or infamous) red holiday cups. But this year, one red cup isn’t enough as the Seattle-based coffee giant introduced a second limited time only red cup on November 28. The cup features a simple red background with two hands holding a white heart—according to Starbuck’s the design symbolizes warmth, love, and goodness this holiday season. Customers are encouraged to write the name of a loved one in the center of the heart and share on social media using the hashtag #GiveGood.

So, what is it about these holiday cups that people go crazy for? It’s not just the aesthetics—though, the 20-year evolution of Starbucks’ red cup is pretty cool.

It’s the scarcity factor.

Scarcity is a tactic employed by brands in nearly every industry to boost the implied value of the product. From Book now!” banners on travel sites to retail flash sales, brands use scarcity marketing to motivate consumers to make purchases. The effect can be immensely powerful—witness the rise of a black market for rare craft beers that aren’t demonstrably better than what’s available at your local beer distributor. The “limited time” or “limited product” feeling creates a sense of urgency to act before it’s too late.

Scarcity factor: We want what we can’t have

Scarcity is an economic principle that posits when a good or service is limited in availability (or perceived as being limited), it becomes more attractive to consumers. This results in a mismatched supply/demand scenario—incredibly high demand for a low supply.

Psychologically, scarcity is an intuitive concept—remember as a child you wanted something more after your parents told you, “No”?

One of most well-known scarcity studies was conducted by Stephen Worchel in 1975. Participants were offered cookies from two identical jars—one had ten cookies while the other had only two. Worchel and his colleagues observed that despite the jars and cookies being identical, participants preferred the cookies from the jar that had two. The jar with two cookies (compared to ten) evoked a sense of scarcity from participants, which propelled them to choose that one.

FOMO: The fear of missing out is real

“FOMO” is more than a contemporary acronym coined for the “fear of missing out”. FOMO is a “pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent” fueled by the “desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing.”

And in today’s connected world, social media only exacerbates FOMO—it’s easy for people to feel like they’re missing out when they’re Instagram-stalking friends out doing (or having) fun things.

Scarcity marketing: Playing on FOMO

Like I said, brands from nearly all industries will use scarcity to promote their products or services at some point. But to keep with the red cup theme, I’ll draw on two more Starbucks examples:

  • PSL Season: At the beginning of each September, Starbucks releases its perennial fall drink: the pumpkin spiced latte (PSL). PSL is only available for a limited time as people wait all year for this pumpkin-y treat. It’s grown to symbolize the fall season as much as back to school, sweaters, and football while helping bolster Starbucks’ fourth quarter sales.
  • Unicorn Frappuccino: Earlier this year, Starbucks added the “Unicorn Frappuccino” to its menu. Once customers learned this specialty drink would only be available for a few days, they flocked to their nearest store—resulting in the fruit and sour candy-flavored drink selling out in one day. This highly Instagrammable beverage garnered nearly 155,000 #unicornfrappuccino posts on Instagram.

Scarcity is not a silver bullet

In some cases, scarcity can have an adverse effect on consumers. A series of studies by researchers at McGill University in 2011 highlights instances where scarcity actually decreased the perceived value in a product or service. In short, if people are more aware of scarcity as a sales/persuasion tactic or are more exposed to scarcity claims (think repeated flash sales by the same store), they’re less likely to value a scarce product. Basically, if your scarcity claim isn’t true and your customers are smart (and they are!), this strategy won’t help your cause.

Conclusion—read now before it’s gone!

Scarcity can be an effective strategy for brands, but like most tactics, is dependent on the execution. Be authentic in your messaging and don’t manufacture the concept of scarcity. Even though we are prone to FOMO, consumers are smart and will see through your claims.

Scarcity isn't the only effective marketing tactic. Don't miss our latest 20-minute webinar on how brands can leverage social identity to create marketing strategies that drive customer purchase, loyalty, and advocacy. 

Watch now!

 

BrandFx: How to Fix Brands' Consumer-sized Blind Spot

Posted by Mark Doherty

Mon, Nov 27, 2017

Today’s executives are investing money, mind- and man-power into cracking the code of the Empowered Consumer. Every client I speak with understands the importance of developing a consumer-centric culture and strategy, and they are putting millions into making this a reality. But there's a pervasive problem affecting brands across industries—while research and insights have generally kept up with this evolution in consumer-centric thinking (witness the growth of ethnographic work and customer journey mapping), brand tracking has not. Most brands are still tracking their brand health through measures focusing solely on their brand and not on the consumers.

Just as retail stores are transforming their floor plans and service firms are overhauling their operations to enhance their customer-centricity, today’s brand health measurement and tracking needs to change, too. Trackers must put the consumer first and uncover how well consumers see “what’s in it for them”—specifically—how they benefit from being a customer. This is why we’ve introduced a truly comprehensive and holistic approach to consumer-powered brand measurement—BrandFx.

BrandFx focuses on what consumers want from a brand—the benefits driving purchase, loyalty and advocacy—and provides specific guidance and critical, concrete recommendations on what to (and what not to) communicate:

  • Identity Benefits: What should you communicate about who your customers are?
  • Emotional Benefits: How do you want people to feel about your brand?
  • Functional Benefits: What should you say people will get from your products/services?

It’s true that many brand trackers already cover elements of this approach. For example, some have transformed their functional brand attributes into functional benefits, and new thinking about the role of emotion in purchase decisions has led to a battery of emotional benefits in a growing number of trackers.

However, very few have incorporated benefits associated with consumer social identity, and as a result, they are missing out on a critical piece of the brand puzzle: The more the image of a brand’s typical customer represents a “tribe” they connect with or aspire to be part of, the more that consumer will try, buy, and recommend the brand.

 Our research shows that, when consumers identify with their image of a brand’s customer, they are 12-times more likely to consider the brand. And our proprietary assessment of a brand’s performance on these Identity benefits, AffinID, has proven to be a better predictor of brand engagement than the standard brand tracking metrics (functional and emotional) most brands rely upon.

BrandFx4blog.png

Advanced analytics provide insight into how these three types of benefits—Identity, Emotional, and Functional—fit together to explain how they drive the key outcomes of consideration, purchase and loyalty. In the example below we see how benefit composition varies by brand—highlighting key areas for differentiation.

brandpies.png

After three decades of refreshing and reviving brand measurement programs, we know the challenges for insights professionals charged with running trackers. Some of these are technical (making 30-minute questionnaires mobile-friendly), and some of these are strategic (balancing trackability with addressing the needs of a changing market). Brand tracking programs need to be designed with the flexibility to meet these challenges through analytics, technology, and thoughtful strategic planning. We understand these challenges and specialize in working with clients to tackle them successfully.

The bottom line is that consumers aren’t conducting business as usual and brands can’t afford to either.

Does your brand measurement have a blind spot?  Join CMB's Mark Doherty and Kate Zilla-Ba for a webinar: BrandFx: Consumer-powered Brand Measurement to learn more about transforming your brand measurement program into one that is truly consumer powered.

Watch now!

Topics: consumer insights, brand health and positioning, BrandFx

Secret Segmentation Schemes: From the Backstreet Boys to JetBlue

Posted by Will Buxton

Wed, Nov 22, 2017

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I learn something from every project I work on, and the sizable segmentation initiative I’m managing right now is no exception. The client is an incredible partner, and the work is challenging and rewarding—the trifecta! As a result, I’ve found myself more and more consumed with segmentation analysis and it’s begun to creep into my non-CMB life (doesn’t it always work like that??). Segmentation schemes are being implemented all around us, here are a few examples:

  • Airport food: Whether you’re the solo business traveler minutes away from missing your flight or the parent who gets their kids to the airport 3 hours early, there is an eating experience designed for you. The sit-down restaurant didn’t magically land next to the grab and go; restaurant options and placement are carefully cultivated to cater to all unique traveler types. Airport dining options are developed to provide an option to high-yield customers—paranoid parents and late travelers alike.
  • The Backstreet Boys: I was blessed to attend a Backstreet Boys concert (get off your high horse) at Fenway Park last summer. Throw Nelly and Florida Georgia Line into the mix and you’ve got yourself an unexpected synergy of musical talent. While my wife and friends argued over who their favorite BSB member is, to my right two cowboy-boot-wearing Gen Z-ers rolled their eyes in anticipation for Florida Georgia Line. Meanwhile, the guy in front of me lamented for the bygone days of “Hot in Herre”. I’ll admit on paper it seemed like an odd pairing, but this concert was in fact a carefully curated experience meant to cater to a variety of consumers.
  • Vacations: My wife and I tend to take the same beach/relaxation vacation every year, because as with most couples, “it’s what we did last year". But when JetBlue announced a partnership with UTrip, an AI-powered personalized itinerary travel platform, I thought I’d take a peek and see how it all worked… maybe it’d recommend we shake things up for 2018’s Buxton Bonanza. The gist is you answer a handful of questions about preferred types of travel activities (relaxation versus hiking, street food versus three course dinners, etc.) with the end result being a “traveler profile”. It’s a personalized experience designed just for you. Since we are, in fact, considering switching up our annual trip and going to Europe—trading little umbrella drinks for red wine—I chose Croatia as my destination of choice on the app and was immediately presented with a week-long personalized itinerary of activities, restaurants, and accommodations based on feedback from travelers with a similar profile as myself.

One of the joys of working in insights and for our incredible clients (not the Backstreet Boys) is in noticing how data is being turned into decisions all around us. As we head into the holiday season, take a look around and consider the vast amount of data, the advanced analytics, intensive qualitative research, and the thoughtful analysis that went into making every decision.

Will is a Project Manager II on the Financial Services team. He one day dreams of hosting a TV show with Chip and Joanna Gaines.

 

Topics: customer experience and loyalty, market strategy and segmentation

The Social Identity Effect: How one Millennial “Found Herself” at the MFA After Midnight

Posted by Lisa Hoffman

Wed, Nov 15, 2017

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Shortly after midnight last weekend, I was surprised when someone suggested that we head to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). Despite my love of art, while interning at the museum in college, I learned that people like me were not its "typical" daily visitors. Asked to conjure up an image of those who go to the MFA—an imposing neoclassical building located in Boston’s Fenway—I pictured school groups, white-haired docents, and tourists…lots of tourists.  I did not envision urban millennials looking for a respite from the Boston bar scene. Not until I saw it for myself.

In 2014, the MFA set out to grow their audience and take advantage of a city teeming with recent college graduates. They needed to continue to appeal to their typical daytime patrons (those older tourists, families, and school groups), but with a new director in place, the MFA saw an opportunity to become a sought-after destination for Boston’s millennials. So, the museum launched #mfaNOW—a series of late-night parties, artistic celebrations, and lectures targeted at young Bostonians looking for a fun night out.

These events are an incredible success—hundreds of millennials are lining up at the door on weekend nights, sharing on social, and bringing their friends because they now see themselves as MFA museum goers. The MFA is experiencing the social identity effect validated by our research: to change the image of the brand, you need to change the image of the typical brand customer.

I experienced it myself that night, as I wandered through a crowd of hip overnight revelers, my perception of the museum and museum-goers began to change. It wasn’t because of the heart-pumping music and flashing lights—though those were cool. It changed because I was immersed in people like me—young city-dwelling professionals—people I could understand, relate to, and who I wanted to be with. It felt like at any point I could run into someone I knew in the crowd, making the night an experience I was excited to share with my friends, either later online, or at the next event!

As the results of our research show, who consumers imagine as your brand's "typical" customer really matters. In fact, consumers are 12x more likely to consider brands when they can identify with their image of its typical user. So, brands looking to influence or change their brand perception need to consider who their typical (or target) customer is and create experiences and offer services and products that appeal to that person.

See it in action:

The MFA changed the image of its stereotypical visitor when it introduced #mfaNOW. It offers millennials—people like me—the opportunity to see their peers experiencing (and enjoying) the museum in an entirely different context than a typical daytime visit—a paradigm shift for an established brand.

Learn more about how we’re helping clients leverage the critical role of identity to create truly customer-centered brands. 

Topics: brand health and positioning, Identity, AffinID

The Art & Science of Selecting a Spokesperson

Posted by Dr. Erica Carranza

Wed, Nov 08, 2017

This article was originally published in Website Magazine.

When is tapping a celebrity to endorse your brand a good idea, and who should you choose? In an age when scandals erupt in the time it takes to share a tweet, getting it wrong is at best a wasted opportunity, and at worst a PR nightmare.

It’s hard to predict a celebrity scandal. Luckily, consumers tend to forgive brands that take steps to condemn bad behavior (when his doping came to light, Lance Armstrong lost eight contracts in a single day, starting with Nike). But what about wasted opportunities? No marketer wants to invest in a celebrity if a less expensive strategy would work—or to pick the wrong celebrity for the job.

To make the right decision for your brand, before signing any celebrity, make sure that you understand your brand’s customer image.

Your brand’s customer image is consumers’ stereotype of the kind of person who uses the brand. It relates to the brand’s overall image, but it’s not the same. For example, consider Subaru:

  • When we ask consumers to describe the brand Subaru, they say “safe” and “reliable.”
  • But when we ask them to describe the typical Subaru owner, they say “middleclass,” “family-focused,” and “outdoorsy.” They picture someone with kids and a dog, who likes to hike, and who supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primaries.
Subaru - hiking family_blog.jpg

There’s a lot of nuance to their image of the typical Subaru customer—including attributes a person can embody, but a brand cannot.

Customer image is crucial because people are social animals. Our social identities shape what we think, who we are and strive to be, how we act and the choices we make as consumers. So truly strategic brands lead consumers to equate using the brand with joining a tribe that expresses an identity. And the secret to creating that connection is a clear, compelling brand customer image. In our research at CMB we’ve seen that consumers who identify with their image of a brand’s customer are 14-times more likely to choose the brand, and 15-times more likely to recommend it. What does this mean for selecting a celebrity spokesperson?

1. First, get a deep understanding of how your target audience sees the brand customer 
Do they already have an image of the kind of person who uses the brand? If so, how compelling is that image? What’s working about that image, and what isn’t? Which assumptions should you reinforce—and which should you work to change—in order to own a customer image that is compelling and unique for your audience, and realistically attainable for your brand?

2. Consider signing a celebrity if the brand customer image is unclear

Given the importance of the brand customer image, having a new or lesser-known brand may pose a challenge: When your target audience tries to imagine your typical customer, they may draw a blank. On the upside, that means you can build the customer image from scratch—and a celebrity endorsement can provide an effective strategy. In additional to pairing the brand with a familiar face, your campaign can draw on consumers’ “built-in” knowledge about the celebrity to communicate what you want them to know about your brand tribe.

3. Consider signing a celebrity if the brand customer image isn’t compelling

Stereotypes are notoriously difficult to change. So it often happens that a brand’s (formerly appealing) customer image is no longer relevant—or even alienating—to new consumers. For example, we partner with many respected, longstanding brands that are working to attract younger generations. A key barrier is the image of an “older” customer. The answer isn’t to put a Kardashian in every ad. (We’ve all seen how that can go…) But snagging the right celebrity can disrupt preconceived notions about the kind of person who buys or uses the brand. Especially when the endorsement seems genuine. This ad comes to mind as great example for having challenged stereotypes of Chrysler drivers and Detroit.

Another great example is the choice of Maya Rudolph by Seventh Generation. Consumers tend to think that people who buy “green” household cleaners are condescending “activist types” who have money to pay a premium for products that don’t work well. That’s not a compelling tribe. But Maya Rudolph, a comedic actress and a mom, gives Seventh Generation customers an image that’s much more relatable and fun. I’m a particular fan of her video promos on the Seventh Generation website.

4. Think twice if the customer image is niche and the goal is to broaden appeal

The image of the Subaru driver shows the impact of ads like this, which have an “every parent” quality. A famous spokesperson could undermine that message. Sometimes signing a celebrity—any celebrity—isn’t the best approach. For example, if you’re a tech company trying to drive adoption of your Virtual Assistant, you’ll need to battle the perception that typical users are a niche group: Young, tech-savvy, affluent, white men. So you may want to show a diverse group of regular people doing regular things with the personal assistant, like Google during this year’s Super Bowl—rather than a celebrity doing extraordinary things, like The Rock using Siri to snap selfies from space.

22261-26696-170802-Rock-l.jpgSource: appleinsider

5. If you take the plunge, pick a celebrity who embodies the top priority attributes you want to convey

Picking someone well-known and well-liked may seem like a safe bet. But it fails to consider how that person might influence the image of the brand customer. Instead, identify specific priorities for what to communicate based on consumers’ current image of your customer, their image of competitor brand customers, and what does (or doesn’t) express their identities and values. Then map those priorities to their perceptions of potential spokespeople.

While there’s no guaranteeing that a celebrity won’t behave badly, at least you can take steps to make sure that you sign a spokesperson who conveys the right image of your brand tribe.

Erica Carranza is VP of consumer psychology at Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB). She earned her Ph.D. in social psychology from Princeton University and has more than ten years of experience leading research for major brands. Prior to CMB, she spent time in consumers insights at American Express, where she was a recipient of the CMO Award for Achievement in Excellence.

Topics: marketing science, Identity, AffinID

CMB's Advanced Analytics Team Receives Children's Trust Partnership Award

Posted by Megan McManaman

Wed, Nov 01, 2017

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We're proud to announce that CMB’s VP of Advanced Analytics, Dr. Jay Weiner and Senior Analyst, Liz White, were honored with the Children’s Trust’s Partnership Award. Presented annually, the award recognizes the organizations and people whose work directly impact the organization's mission–stopping child abuse.

Jay and Liz were recognized for their work helping the Children’s Trust identify the messaging that resonated with potential donors and program users. Through two studies leveraging CMB’s emotional impact analysis—EMPACT, Max Diff Scaling, concept testing, self-explicated conjoint, and a highlighter exercise, the CMB team the Children's Trust identify the most appealing and compelling messaging.

“There is no one more deserving of this award than the team at CMB,” said Children’s Trust’s Executive Director, Suzin Bartley. “The messaging guidance CMB provided has been invaluable in helping us realize our mission to prevent child abuse in Massachusetts.”

Giving back to our community is part of our DNA of CMB and we’re honored to support the Children’s Trust’s mission to stop child abuse in Massachusetts. Click here to learn more about how the Children’s Trust provides families with programs and services to help them build the skills and confidence they need to make sure kids have safe and healthy childhoods.

From partnering with the Children’s Trust and volunteering at Boston’s St. Francis House to participating in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s annual Light the Night walk, we have a longstanding commitment to serving our community. Learn more about CMB in the community here.

 

 

Topics: advanced analytics, predictive analytics, Community Involvement

CMB + ABC @ TMRE 2017: Attracting Viewers (& Customers) in the Golden Age of Content

Posted by Megan McManaman

Mon, Oct 23, 2017

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We're less than 24 hours into TMRE 2017 and it has been a whirlwind of sessions and great conversations with researchers and marketers from all over the world. If you're not one of the 1000+ people who've converged on Orlando for one of the biggest market research events in the U.S., don't worry—we won't let you miss out. 

This afternoon, CMB's own Judy Melanson and ABC's Lyndsey Albertson presented an in-depth look at how ABC is building a deep understanding of what drives content discovery and what keeps viewers watching! You don't have to be ABC Disney to know how critical it is to gain traction for new products while navigating a market in flux.  As you navigate your customer journeys, amid seismic shifts, are you asking and answering these 7 critical questions?

  1. What does “new” mean to your consumers; what content, products, and materials can you re-merchandise?
  2. Do you understand how your industry’s disruptors are meeting customer needs?
  3. Are you regularly evaluating your schedules to ensure offerings break through and remain relevant?
  4. How well is your brand’s story connecting with your customers’ emotions?
  5. Are you fully leveraging the power of social to engage?
  6. How are your distribution points ensuring relevance and stickiness?
  7. Have you adapted your product availability to better fit with consumer needs (that may be changing due to competitor offerings)?

Learn more about how we're helping leading brands ask, answer and act on the questions that matter, drop us a note or give us a call:

Contact us!

At TMRE now? Stop by Booth 409 to chat! 

 

Topics: conference recap, digital media and entertainment research, customer journey

Don’t Throw Away Your Shot: the 2017 Corporate Researchers Conference (CRC)

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Oct 19, 2017

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It was quite a week to be in Chicago for lovers of musicals and insights!  As one of the lucky market researchers who got to attend the Corporate Researchers Conference AND see Hamilton, I knew I couldn’t “throw away my shot” to share just a few highlights that inspired me and made me think.

First up, the critical question: Marketers and Researchers, how are you helping your company to differentiate, separate, and grow? If you want to be “in the room” with your company’s decision-makers, and not just the bearer of insights, you’re going to have to employ art and science. Here’s what some of your peers are doing:

  • Judd Antin of Airbnb will ONLY hire “full stack” researchers—those with 1) formative qualitative (ethnos), 2) evaluative qualitative (usability), 3) survey design, 4) applied statistics (yeah), and 5) SQL (merging data sets etc.). He sees the sciences as key to growth, a solution to homophily and the confirmation bias that limits our thinking and growth. He is definitely not throwing away his shot. He challenges us to get outside of our point of view and has established guidelines for non-English surveys in a company that is in hundreds of countries.  His group is redesigning the host interface, conducting ‘check-in’-a-longs (take me!) and he’s demanding rigorous quantitative analysis to prioritize the strategically important improvements and operational optimize the tactical elements. They have a full time international community member panel in 10 countries and in 10 languages and they translate surveys in and out of native languages for results in a single week. As Alexander Hamilton would say, “Learn to think continentally".
  • Charise Shields from Toyota reminded us that women buy cars. Millennials buy cars. Millennial women buy cars. They are redefining the two-year intender path to purchase, and they aren’t a monolithic block. They are single parents, married parents, couples without kids, and childless singles. The upper funnel of the purchase decision funnel has been democratized because the path to purchase begins online. This shift in the anatomy of the purchase journey means researchers need to reevaluate their preferences for relying solely on advanced quantitative research. Charise’s presentation was a great example of why I love CRC—talking to researchers who are flexible, innovative, and willing to try new things.
  • Ronda Slaven from Synchrony Financial and Neil Marcus from MetLife were not afraid to discuss the disturbing implications of poor participant experience on deflating brand equity. Both Ronda and Neil spoke candidly about their experience and the work they are doing to improve the participant experience. It seems like a simple gesture, but Neil shared a video (shot with an iPhone!) of himself thanking participants for their time. MetLife embedded the “thank you” video at the end of a survey, and saw a significant increase in participant satisfaction among those who watched the video over those who didn’t. Ronda and Neil are challenging their teams to push the envelope on improving participant satisfaction—practically shouting “I’m past patiently waiting, I’m passionately smashing expectation, every action is an act of creation.”  These brave researchers are reshaping the industry’s poor habit of cramming everything into a questionnaire or moderator’s guide. After all, in a way, participants are an extension of the organization and their happiness matters.
  • Mark Stephens from American Family is an agent for change, Mark and Judd are very alike in that they see the power of both qualitative and quantitative as a pathway to company growth and to making the world a better place. OK this is CMB’s co-presentation, and I work at CMB, so it’s easy to see your own work as a masterpiece, but, sitting in a full room of the LAST session of the LAST day, the researchers in the audience asked two dozen questions about proxy variables and appending data and drilled for understanding like Hamilton….studying profoundly, day and night so their minds are obsessed with “the fruit of labor and thought”.
  • Kate Morris of Fidelity presented on her public relations research work. She drilled home the importance of being memorable because memorable is actionable. Of course, storytelling is a typical imperative in the research world, Kate’s wonderful defiance and unique perspective reminds us, as Hamilton reminds us, to ask “who tells your story?”
The market research industry is maturing, and with maturity comes the responsibility to deny the mediocrity of “talk less, smile more” and to insist that the tactics and strategy are shaped by advanced quantitative and qualitative research and not by habit or blind conformity. It’s time to ask…“If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for?”

 

Topics: conference recap, Market research

I, for one, welcome our new robot...partners

Posted by Laura Dulude

Tue, Oct 17, 2017

 

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Ask a market researcher why they chose their career, and you won't hear them talk about prepping sample files, cleaning data, creating tables, and transferring those tables into a report. These tasks are all important parts of creating accurate and compelling deliverables, but the real value and fun is deriving insights, finding the story, and connecting that story to meaningful decisions.

So, what’s a researcher with a ton of data and not a lot of time to do? Hello, automation!

Automation is awesome.

There are a ton of examples of automation in market research, but for these purposes I'll keep it simple. As a data manager at CMB, part of my job is to proofread banner tables and reports, ensuring that the custom deliverables we provide to clients are 100% correct and consistent. I love digging through data, but let’s be honest, proofing isn’t the most exciting part of my role. Worse than a little monotony is that proofing done by a human is prone to human error.

To save time and avoid error, I use Excel formulas to compare two data lists and automatically flag any inaccuracies. This is much more accurate and quicker than checking lists against one another manually—it also means less eye strain.

As I said, this is a really simple example of automation, but even this use case is an incredible way to increase efficiency so I have more time to focus on finding meaning in the data.

Other examples include:

  • Reformatting tables for easier report population using Excel formulas
  • Creating Excel macros using VBA
  • SPSS loops and macros

I’m a huge proponent of automation, whether in the examples above or in myriad more complex scenarios. Automation helps us cut out inefficiencies and gives us time to focus on the cool stuff

Automation without human oversight? Not awesome.

Okay, so my proofreading example is quite basic because it doesn’t account for:

  • Correctness of labels
  • Ensuring all response options in a question are being reported on
  • Noting any reporting thresholds (e.g. only show items above 5%, only show items where this segment is significantly higher than 3+ other segments, etc.)
  • Visual consistency of the tables or report
  • Other details that come together to create a truly beautiful, accurate, and informative deliverable.

Some of the bullet points above can also be automated (e.g. thresholds for reporting and correctness of labels), but others can’t. On top of that, automation is also prone to human error—we can automate incorrectly by misaligning the data points or filtering and/or weighting the data incorrectly. Therefore, it’s imperative that, even after I automate, I review to catch any errors—flawless proofing requires a human touch.

When harnessed correctly, automation maximizes efficiency, alleviates tediousness, and reduces error to free up more time for insights. Before you start arming yourself against a robot takeover, remember: insights are an art and a science, and machines haven’t taken over the world just yet.

Topics: quantitative research, Artificial Intelligence, Market research Automation,