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Athena Rodriguez

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CMB Lights the Night for Cancer Research

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Thu, Oct 13, 2016

Once again CMB is participating in Light the Night, a fundraising campaign for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, culminating in a walk on Boston Common on October 20th.  Our participation began back in 2008, when our coworker, Catherine, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  After two rounds of chemo, a stem cell transplant, and proton radiation therapy, I’m happy to report that she recently celebrated six years in remission!  

The money raised is used to fund research for new therapies and treatments (including those that saved Catherine) and ensure patient access to treatments.  Last year alone, LLS invested $67.2 million in blood cancer research.

lanterns.png

Over the past 8 years, we’ve raised over $80K—not bad for a 65 person company!  LTN is truly a company-wide endeavor, we host bake sales, BBQs, silent auctions, and a very competitive cornhole tournament.  This year we've raised over $6K, and we're still going strong. We'd like to give a big thank you to all of our clients, partners, and friends who've donated!

If you’d like to join us in the fight against cancer, please donate here or meet us on Thursday October 20th at 5PM on the Boston Common.

That's not the only way to join the CMB team, whether you are an innovation guru, a tech whiz, or a strategic selling machine, we’re looking for collaborative, engaged professionals:

Check out our open positions!

 

 

 

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, our people, CMB Careers, Light the Night,

Brands Get in a Frenzy Over Shark Week

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Summer brings many joys—BBQ’s, the beach, and one of my favorite holidays. . .I’m referring, of course, to Shark Week. For over 25 years, the Discovery Channel has loaded as much shark-related content as possible into a 7-day period, including TV programming, online content, and social media frenzies by both the network and other “official” (and non-official) partners.While some of these partnerships are no-brainers (e.g., Oceana, National Aquarium, and Sea Save Foundation), other less obvious partners such as Dunkin Donuts, Cold Stone Creamery, and Southwest Airlines, must get creative with their marketing to connect their brands to “the most wonderful week of the year.” Southwest, for example, offered flyers the chance to watch new content via a special Shark Week channel and to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to swim with sharks. Both Cold Stone Creamery and Dunkin Donuts debuted special treats (“Shark Week Frenzy”—blue ice cream with gummy sharks—and a lifesaver donut, respectively).

brand engagement, shark week, television

But it didn’t stop there—brands on social media found ways to tie in products to Shark Week in every way possible. Just take a look at these posts from Claire’s, Salesforce, and Red Bull.

shark week, brand engagement, television

So, what’s in it for these brands? Why go out of their way to connect themselves to something like Shark Week, which is seemingly unrelated to their services and products? It’s as simple as the concept of brand associations. Since brand associations work to form deeper bonds with customers, brands are often on the lookout for opportunities that will boost their standing with customers. Shark Week attracts millions of viewers each night, and since it’s one of the few true television events that remains, it presents the perfect opportunity for brands to engage with customers in a way they don’t often get to do. Furthermore, it demonstrates that these brands are in tune with what their customers like and what’s happening in the pop culture world. And, judging by the amount of interactions brands received from consumers, I’d say it worked.

If you missed the fun of Shark Week last month (the horror!) or just want more, don’t worry—Shweekend is just around the corner (August 29th), and I’ll be anticipating what brands can come up with this time. . .

Athena Rodriguez is a Project Consultant at CMB, and she is a certified fin fanatic. 

Speaking of social media, are you following us on Twitter? If not, get in on the fun! 

Follow Us @cmbinfo!

Topics: advertising, marketing strategy, social media, television, brand health and positioning, digital media and entertainment research

Deflategate and the Dangers of Convenience Sampling

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Wed, Jan 28, 2015

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

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

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

athena blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

*spiking the football after a touchdown.

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

Topics: Boston, television, research design, digital media and entertainment research

Taking Product Development to Infinity and Beyond

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Tue, Nov 19, 2013

CMB New Product DevelopmentI recently came across an article focused on defunct exhibits at Disney parks. I’m a native Floridan so I flipped through the accompanying slide show with fond memories. And there it was...my all-time childhood favorite—Horizons at Epcot Center. From the robot butler to the holographic telephone, Horizons revealed a future full of promise, excitement, and funky monotone jumpsuits. 

It’s been 30 years, the future is now the present, and I don’t have a robot butler. Disappointing yes, but on the other hand, we do have the Roomba and I will argue Apple’s FaceTime is likely better than a hologram. So I think we can agree many companies have made serious innovations in the last few decades—they’ve understood that incremental change means incremental growth, and they’ve pushed the limits. Although product development is critical for companies to compete and grow, it also carries high risks, because it represents a big investment into new and unfamiliar territory—it’s crucial to get it right.

While we aren’t all Imagineers, there are strategies for new product and service development that have proven successful in a rapidly changing market—these strategies form the basis of our Best Practices in New Product Development. Two of these Best Practices are below:

  1. Use advanced techniques that emulate real world trade-offs: In real life, people don’t evaluate the importance of individual features or attributes. They make choices between/among products. The more closely research emulates this process, the more accurate the findings will be. What people say they prefer, and what they actually choose, are often not the same thing. That’s why we use trade-off techniques (e.g., discrete choice) that let us derive the most important and relevant preferences as well as sophisticated data mining techniques that help us to create more accurate predictive models.

  2. Build flexibility into the research: If you’re using trade-off techniques, channel Walt Disney himself (“if we can dream it, we can do it”) by including features that fall outside of current capabilities. This lets you mimic the current market and simulate a future market where these feature become available. So while you might not be ready to “do it,” if you’ve dreamed it, you can test it! That’s why, when appropriate, we build a user-friendly simulator. These simulators allow design decision-makers to run “what if” scenarios, providing additional insight when changes occur (e.g., a competitor responds with a new product, prices change, or when the technology to realize your stretch features catches up with your dreams).

We can’t promise your product development research will live as long as Horizons (16 magic filled years) but we can help ensure it’s useful for both the short and longer-term (at least until we all get our robot butlers). Check out the video below to learn how we help our make sure their new product development efforts are a success:

CMB New Product and Service Development from CMBinfo on Vimeo.

Athena is a Project Director at CMB, she looks awesome in a jumpsuit and is patiently waiting for her favorite Disney character, Donald Duck, to make a comeback.

 

Topics: advanced analytics, product development, research design, growth and innovation

Diet Pepsi Gives (and Gets) Some Love on Valentine's Day in Boston

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Fri, Feb 15, 2013

By Athena Rodriguez

CMB fun fact: our little street in Boston has enjoyed a few moments on the silver screen, perhaps you've seen the great moment in cinematic history known as Bride Wars, or maybe Surrogates starring Bruce Willis as a cop from the future, filmed in our lobby no less. I know, as if market research wasn't glamorous enough! All this to say we’re kind of used to strange goings on outside 179 South Street, so I wasn’t initially interested in the guy, standing in a pick-up truck outside the office, handing out cans of Diet Pepsi, I’m usually a Diet Coke drinker* anyway. However, as a marketer I have a soft spot for a good campaign and I’m not too proud to turn down a free soda.

Diet Pepsi VdaySo what’s blog-worthy about free soda? Two deceptively simple things stand out. First, there were some very cute details—the Pepsi logos were heart-shaped in honor of Valentine’s Day—pretty adorable. The whole website was done up for Valentine’s Day and there was also a contest to tweet about what you love, it was a perfect and simple tie-in with the brand and a chance to win something. Lesson: promotions don’t need to be too complicated to be really appealing.

Along with the can of soda, they handed out coupons for a free 2 liter bottle, as well as a Boston-specific flyer with little allusions to the Red Sox, Patriot’s Day, Newbury Street, the Charles, and the North End, all stuff that's very appealing to locals (and those of us who’ve been here awhile). Lesson: it's tough to lose when you're appealing to hometown pride. Just make sure it's not written by someone who's only seen your town on Google Maps.

And if all else failed, they really couldn’t go wrong with the life-sized Sofia Vergara cut out available for a photo opportunity.

Diet Pepsi VDAY

*Note, I make an exception for Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi which beats both Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi by a mile.

Athena is a Project Director at CMB, she's only just forgiven Pepsico for pulling Crystal Pepsi off the shelves.

Topics: advertising, marketing strategy, customer experience and loyalty, retail research

I am not Prefontaine

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Wed, Aug 10, 2011

Nope, I’m not a 1970’s mustachioed running legend, and I’m never going to break describe the imageany records. But that doesn’t mean that, as a novice runner, I shouldn’t set goals and track my progress.  And while my progress (and my pace) is slower than the great Pre, tracking helps me stay focused on my goals. The same is true for brand tracking.

Many of the things I’ve learned from running can also apply to MR, here are a few, with some Pre-quotes sprinkled in for extra inspiration:

“What I want is to be number one."

Setting Goals: The key here is to be realistic and just like with running, you have to take experience into account.  What should I aim for in the near future based on where I am today, and in the longer term?  This also means accounting for your competition. While a little competition is healthy, monitor a range of contenders—companies who share similar levels of awareness, as well as older and more established companies (companies you aspire to be like), and keep an eye on the newcomers.

"Success isn't how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started."

Tracking Progress: What is most important to your organization?  What inspires and motivates? When I run, I’m focused on distance, while my running partner is obsessed with speed.  Although we both use the same tools (I love my Garmin Forerunner!), the metrics we pay attention to are different.  Likewise if customer satisfaction is your motivator, customer experience measurement must be central to your tracking, a “one-size-fits-all” benchmarking study will not address your needs.

"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great."

Updating with the Times: Just as running gear has changed with the times (gone are the days you estimated distance by driving your running route with eyes fixed on the odometer) so should your brand tracker.  With cell phones, the Do Not Call List, email, and texting, fewer people answer (or even have) landlines.  If you’re running a tracker using random digit dialing (RDD), consider moving it online. If this move makes you nervous, ease into it by running concurrent waves, both online and via phone once or twice (the equivalent of using your car’s odometer and GPS watch).

In running, adversity comes via injury or inclement weather, and each has a different remedy. (Okay, I couldn’t find an adversity quote from Pre, but in running and MR, setbacks are something we all face).

Adverse Conditions:  What happens when you injure yourself?  Just like runners, brands can also suffer temporary setbacks, and it’s important to diagnose what happened, how to fix it, and how to prevent future mishaps.  This diagnosis can come with further analysis or additional research.

If you’ve suffered a setback, it’s important to establish whether your competitors suffered similarly and how you can better prepare for stormy weather in the future.  Indexing to the mean (dividing individual scores by the overall mean) is an easy way to show if you gained or lost ground (in a relative sense) given the market environment.  Keeping a module in your tracker to address timely topics will allow you to dig deeper into brand related “injuries” and market related “storms.”

“Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started.  It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement."

Reaching Your Goals:  What happens when your company reaches its goals?  How do you stay motivated when you’ve gotten to a finish line? Take a moment, catch your breath, and reflect on what went well and what needs to change for the better.  It’s also important to celebrate and communicate successes both internally and externally.

Then it’s time to set new goals…and of course, keep on tracking!

All quotes are from Steve Prefontaine

Athena Rodriguez is Team Director for CMB’s Financial Services Practice. She is an Asics loyalist who has run the Boston Marathon twice as a bandit, because she’s admittedly way too slow to qualify and because “running ain’t a crime.”

Topics: brand health and positioning