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Alyse Dunn

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How I Used Conjoint Analysis to Plan My Wedding

Posted by Alyse Dunn

Tue, Jun 14, 2016

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

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

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

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

wedding_conjoint_analysis.png

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

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

Learn more about avoiding common pitfalls in Conjoint Analysis. 

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

Topics: advanced analytics, research design

See Spot Learn About Segmentation

Posted by Alyse Dunn

Tue, Mar 01, 2016

millennial_with_dog-1.jpgIn the past 5 years, pet ownership has increased by ~3%. 3.7 million more Millennials own pets than their Boomer counterparts, and these numbers are expected to increase. Like millions of other American households, my fiancé and I have a dog. But, as some of my friends have pointed out, we are a very specific type of dog owner. We go out of our way to look for pet events (we went to two dog Halloween parties last year) and pet friendly vacations, and we have even stopped staying out late because we need to get home to her. She’s not just a dog—she’s our fur baby and a member of our family. We’re part of a growing “Pet Connection” movement that was unheard of 20 years ago.

In the “Pet Connection” movement, owners see pets as family members and desire to involve their pets more in the day-to-day. These owners are, on average, twice as likely to spend more on their pets to ensure their pets’ health and happiness. This growing population is a great example of why segmentation research has an expiration date—behaviors change, disruption happens, and segments evolve.

Companies conduct segmentations to better understand types of consumers and how those consumers will behave. The critical element to any segmentation scheme is an affirmative to this question: “can we act on this?” If your segmentation doesn’t accurately represents consumers’ behavior, it’s a waste of time and money. Your segmentation’s expiration date is highly dependent on industry and disruptions in the market—there’s no hard and fast timeline. However, it’s important to keep a critical eye on the market and the changing needs of your customers to understand if your existing segmentation is still useful. If there’s a lot of change in customer behavior or if a segment is not acting as expected, it may be time to renew and refresh the research.

If this dog movement has taught me anything, it’s that people do change (myself included) and things people may have advocated for previously may no longer fit in with their lifestyle. It’s important to recognize that those changes can happen in any industry and can occur for any reason (it isn’t always about man’s best friend). So, to continue to stay ahead of the market and to deliver to customers, you need to understand how your company’s segmentation is being used and evaluate whether the segmentation needs to be refreshed so you can keep up with your customers and their four-legged friends.

Alyse is a Data Manager at CMB. She has a 1.5 year old long haired miniature dachshund and is known to embarrass herself for the love of her dog.

We recently did a webinar on research we conducted with venture capital firm Foundation Capital on Millennials and investing. Insights include a Millennial segmentation, specific financial habits, and a look into the attitudinal drivers behind Millennials' investing preferences. 

Watch here!

Topics: millennials, market strategy and segmentation, retail research

For the Love of Disney: A Look into the Power of Loyalty

Posted by Alyse Dunn

Wed, Jul 23, 2014

loyalty, Chadwick Martin Bailey, DisneyHow many times have you done your favorite thing? It doesn’t matter what your favorite thing may be, or if your favorite thing varies by season. Just think of the number. Does it seem lower than you would expect? Does it seem higher? Or, does it feel just right?Have you ever been to Walt Disney World 50 times? I have. And I continue to go every year. Why? That’s an excellent question and even though, at this point, I have a fairly automated response to that very question, people still don’t seem to understand.

Let me start by addressing the most typical questions I am asked:

  • Don’t you ever go anywhere else? Sometimes, but why would I want to? Ever since I was little, Disney has been (and continues to be) where we have our family vacation every single year. I have expanded my travel as an adult, but the Disney allure still pulls my whole family back annually.
  • Don’t you get sick of going? Not at all. When you’ve been as many times as I have, you get to see Disney through a new lens. There is less of a focus on getting everything in and more of a focus on taking it all in.
  • And the pièce de résistance: Aren’t you too old for Disney? This is my favorite question to answer—not just because I am much younger than most people would assume given my record. I love this question because I get to respond in a way that would garner Disney’s approval—you are never too old for Disney World.  In youth, I was drawn by the enchantment. In adulthood, I’m now just drawn by that feeling I get each time I step through those gates.

I may be able to sing “A Whole New World” without musical accompaniment and relay unnecessarily detailed quips about every ride in the park, but I don’t find that juvenile. I find that—for lack of a better word—magical.

All of my trips to Disney have done a lot for me, but at the end of the day, there is far more to this than just ample travel—and that’s loyalty. I am 100% loyal to Disney. I own their dinnerware, clothing, and toys. I name my pets after their characters. I see all of their movies and know almost everything about them, and I still can’t sleep the night before a trip.  

What makes someone loyal? Lots of things can sprout loyalty, but not all loyalty is equal. In fact, there are a few different kinds of loyalty that a person can experience, including:

  • Captive Loyalty. In colloquial terms, “I will stay with you because it’s too difficult to change.” How frequently do you change your bank or cable provider? Not often, right? That’s because changing providers can be more trouble than it’s worth. That’s not to say that some people don’t love their bank, but maybe that love is a little more conditional.
  • Uninvolved Loyalty. How much thought have you put in to your car insurance provider since purchasing the car? (Bueller?) Maybe that’s because the automated processes that are in place for paying this type and other types of insurance (mortgage) have made you consider it less. Loyal? Yes. Actively loyal? Maybe not so much. It may be part of the reason why companies are encouraging automatic withdrawals for payments.
  • Distribution Loyalty. What is your absolute favorite beer? Is it easily/readily available? If you answered “yes,” it could be that part of your choice is based on distribution—the fact that you can easily get what you want, when you want it. Why are some brands so successful? Perhaps it’s because they have the market bandwidth.
  • Heritage Loyalty. Did your parents always use the same detergent when you were a child? Do you use that same one in your own home today? Sometimes loyalty happens based on what we grow up with. Think back to some of the everyday products you choose. Does your family use them as well? There you go.
  • Loyal Loyalty (aka True Loyalty). The following are elements of true loyalty: you think of the brand first, you believe the brand is the best at what they do, you believe any new line extension they introduce will be a winner and is definitely worth trying, and you have an emotional attachment to the brand. This is the kind of loyalty brands are looking for—the kind I have for Disney.

Loyalty plays into all of the daily choices we make like which brand of soap, chips, or shoes to buy. We find something that works, and we stick with it. Loyalty is often hard to shake. How many times have one of “your brands” upset you, and yet you’ve still given them another chance?

The question that market research should strive to answer is: what can drive this loyalty? As researchers, we need to help companies deepen emotional attachment and better understand their loyal customer base and develop products and services that suit their needs.

Alyse is a Senior Research Associate on the financial/retail practice and still travels to Disney with her family at least once a year. Through her multiple excursions, she has discovered EPCOT is more fun the older you get.

WEBINAR: Concept Optimization Tools for Introducing a Suite of Products: This webinar will provide insights into the tools that can be used from early screening of features to a ready to launch optimization and demand estimation of the final offer.

Watch Now!

Topics: travel and hospitality research, customer experience and loyalty, digital media and entertainment research

5 Benefits of Storytelling in the Consumer-Driven World

Posted by Alyse Dunn

Tue, Aug 27, 2013

Digital StorytellingCommunication has changed. With the growth of the “Social Market,” businesses can no longer rely solely on traditional mediums—television, print, and radio, to win consumers. Consumers are key players in a social revolution that’s changing the way they speak with each other and with businesses.So, what does this mean for Marketing and Customer Development? The way consumers choose products and services has taken a sharp turn, with more decisions driven by word-of-mouth and experiential benefits. From a Marketing perspective, businesses need to focus on pulling customers in by offering targeted, useful, and engaging content, rather than pushing out broad campaigns.

How can businesses take advantage of this two-way communication and connect with customers in a way that drives loyalty and advocacy? One of the best ways is through storytelling.

The 5 Keys to Storytelling

  • Stories help us understand the world: Throughout history, stories have been the way people make sense of the world. People thrive on stories to help them put things in perspective and to help them navigate the overwhelming amount of data, facts, and realities that confront them. Stories are one of our oldest mechanisms for security, which is why they are so powerful. If a business can use a story to show how a product/service can be beneficial, people will form a stronger connection.

  • It is human nature: When you tell someone about your child or vacation, you don’t tell them your child’s hair color or that the weather was 85.2 degrees. You communicate more emotionally by telling others something funny that your child did or that you went surfing for the first time. People do not operate in the realm of data, it is counter-intuitive to how we are hard-wired, which is why storytelling in business is so powerful. If you want to connect with a person and drive advocacy, your best bet is weaving factual benefits into an even more powerful story.

  • Don’t overwhelm with data: At the end of the day, you are speaking to a person.  People don’t digest data the same way a computer can. Data can be beneficial, but most people are looking for a connection. Apple is a great example of a business that has driven a connection with their customers by weaving data with storytelling, which is one of the reasons they have such high brand loyalty.

  • It is no longer a ‘Business’ connecting with a ‘Consumer’: It is people connecting with people. Businesses need to understand who they are speaking with and cater communications in relevant manner. People will not connect with a business that offers no emotional connection and that doesn’t meet a need.

  • It’s a two-way street: Consumers have a larger say in marketing and branding because the way consumers communicate has shifted. People are listening to other people as opposed to large campaigns. The value of word-of-mouth has soared, and social media allows people to see what others are saying, in real-time. Two-way communication is very powerful. By taking the time to have conversations with consumers, businesses have been able to learn and thrive in the consumer-driven market. This is critical to success and to building both advocacy and loyalty.

Storytelling is a pivotal part of marketing, communications, and business. Without it, consumers find it difficult to connect and advocate for something. Storytelling can and should be used in any business because it can drive loyalty, advocacy, and trust.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust a solely data driven business to care for my interests, I would and do trust the businesses who have worked to understand my needs and who have created an emotional connection through the power of stories.

Alyse is a super-star associate at CMB, and a captain of CMB’s Light the Night team to raise money to fight Leukemia.  She is a kid-at-heart, loves Disney’s approach to storytelling, and is a 43 time Disney World visitor.

Join Tauck's Jeremy Palmer, CMB's Judy Melanson and South Street Strategy Group's Mark Carr on September 12th at noon (EDT) for a webinar: Focused Innovation: Creating New Value for a Legacy Brand

Topics: storytelling, consumer insights, social media