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Cara Lousararian

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A Lesson in Brand Loyalty and Emotion from a Pure Barre Fanatic

Posted by Cara Lousararian

Wed, Mar 08, 2017

barre.jpg

Two and a half years ago, I fell in love with Pure Barre–a full-body workout inspired by ballet, yoga and Pilates. There are a bunch of barre studios with similar workouts to choose from, but I started with Pure Barre and am now fiercely loyal.

This loyalty didn’t develop overnight; the morning after my first class I could barely make it out of bed. I couldn’t understand why barre had such a big following. It felt like self-inflicted torture, and I definitely felt this guy’s pain.

I was never one to enjoy working out, so what’s so special about the Pure Barre brand that’s kept me addicted for years and kept me from heading to another barre brand? The physical pain is the same (intense) and the class prices are a little higher than other similar workouts. After giving it some thought, I realized that what I love so much about Pure Barre is how being part of the Pure Barre community makes me feel.

Pure Barre makes me feel confident, motivated, and strong. It evokes such positive emotions from me that I’ve found myself altering my behavior in order to incorporate Pure Barre into my life. For example, when I plan a vacation, I specifically look for hotels that are near Pure Barre studios, I get up extra early on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas so I can squeeze in a class, and I schedule my weekend social life around my classes. Not only that, while I'm normally a fairly frugal shopper, I’ll spend $17 on the special Pure Barre sticky socks used for class without batting an eye (I own 6 pairs!!!).

I’m also proud to be part of the Pure Barre community. We’re a network of loyal followers bound by our love of the Pure Barre experience who constantly support and encourage each other.  I’ve witnessed deep friendships begin at Pure Barre studios–maybe enduring the pain together is a strong bonding force? Either way, there’s a camaraderie among Pure Barre members unlike anything I’ve experienced at other gyms/studios.   

Pure Barre makes its members feel good and valued by doing little things, like celebrating attendance milestones. For example, you’ll get special recognition at your 100th, 250th, 500th, 750th, etc. class. You also get a free class on your birthday. Or, as Pure Barre calls it, your “barrety”.  Touchpoints like these makes me and my fellow Pure Barre addicts feel celebrated and drive attendance.

Pure Barre instructors also play a huge part in fostering positive emotions from the clients. Filled with upbeat energy and techniques for encouragement, they have a friendly way of ensuring that everyone works their hardest (for example, they won't call out the final 10 counts of the exercise until everyone has the right form). Instructors also learn the names of regular attendees and will call out your name if you are doing something particularly well during class. This “in the moment” recognition motivates me to push myself beyond my limits and get the most out of every class. 

I love talking about Pure Barre and am a huge promoter of the brand. I want others to have the same positive experience with Pure Barre, and so I regularly encourage friends to take classes with me.

Pure Barre is a great example of how successful a brand can be when it’s tuned into how its product/service makes their customers feel. When brands know what emotions they (and should) evoke from their customers, brands can more effectively create techniques to drive consideration and loyalty.  Pure Barre motivates, encourages, and supports its customers. The end result? A loyal following of barre fanatics willing to pay a premium to plié.  

Want to learn more about how we're revolutionizing  emotional measurement with our EMPACT solution? Watch our webinar:  

Learn More About EMPACT℠

Cara Lousararian is a Senior Research Manager at CMB and rarely passes up an opportunity to #LTB (that’s lift, tone, burn for those not familiar with the Pure Barre lingo).

Topics: EMPACT, emotional measurement, customer experience and loyalty, emotion

Getting Your Customers Beyond Price

Posted by Cara Lousararian

Tue, Mar 15, 2016

online_shopping.jpgCall me lazy or call me smart, but I now do nearly all of my gift shopping online. Shopping online is easy, but it also brings up a whole new question around loyalty to specific brands and retailers. Five to ten years ago, I felt like getting the best price/deal was more important to me than shopping for specific brands or at specific retailers. Maybe it’s because I’m older, earn more money, or buy for more people (hello, in-laws!), but I’ve started considering other things than just price, such as:

  • Return policy timeline. A 2 week return policy doesn’t cater to the super-organized planners (like me) who want to buy presents well in advance
  • Ease of returns. A gift that can’t be easily returned is an inconvenience, so I look for retailers with hassle-free returns
  • Product warranty or guarantee. Sure things break, but I definitely don’t want my recipient to pay for a replacement

Because you can’t feel, touch, or smell products that you buy online, other factors play a much more important role in the decision making process—I’ll pay a higher price for something just because I know the store and its policies are convenient for me and those that I’m shopping for. We’ve all gotten that ugly sweater without a gift receipt. No one wants to be “the bad gift giver” (sounds like a Seinfeld thing, right?).

Two retailers who get my business, despite the higher price tag, are Nordstrom and L.L. Bean. Here’s why they have my loyalty:

  • Last Christmas, I participated in a Secret Santa gift exchange with my husband’s family, and I was assigned my husband’s 25-year-old cousin. While I could have just bought him a Patriots t-shirt, I wanted to be more creative and thoughtful. I went to Nordstrom.com because of their superior return policy—they take anything back at any time. This allowed me to take more of a gamble on choosing his present because he could easily return or exchange it if he didn’t like it.
  • My sweet rescue dog, Nala, has an obsession with trying to “soften” her bed (i.e., paw at it repeatedly with her sharp nails). I’ve had her for 6 years, and I have lost count of the number of beds I’ve had to buy to replace ones that she’s ripped to shreds. I took a look at L.L. Bean’s dog beds because I know the store’s return policy and product guarantee rivals most other stores. I had a bit of sticker shock when I realized I would be spending $200 on a bed for my dog, but the extra expense was worth it knowing that I can return or exchange the bed at any time for I know that L.L. Bean will stand behind the product and will replace it at no additional cost to me. 

Online shopping has made it easy to switch brands/retailers with the click of a button, and this undoubtedly has an impact on customer loyalty. In this world of information overload, it’s becoming harder and harder for brands and retailers to truly differentiate their offerings, especially when they lack a captive audience in their physical store locations. 

This is where discrete choice modeling and/or segmentation can come in handy—especially when there’s a need to dive deeper into uncovering purchase drivers outside of price—since most consumers will tell you they want all of the product’s bells and whistles for the lowest possible price. At CMB, we spend a lot of time in the up-front design phase, as well as in the analysis phase, combining the art and science of research to help bring the customer journey to life. This is where proper questionnaire design trumps speed as we strive to keep the story and research insights at the forefront. 

How are you prioritizing customer convenience and experience?   

Cara is a Senior Research Manager at CMB and plans to buy stock in Nordstrom and L.L. Bean after reviewing her recent credit card transactions.

Our new Consumer Pulse study explores Millennial attitudes and behaviors toward banking and finance.

Download the full report here!

Topics: customer experience and loyalty, market strategy and segmentation, retail research

99 Problems, but Project Execution Ain't One

Posted by Cara Lousararian

Wed, Mar 25, 2015

CMB, rock-solid executionAfter nearly a decade working on highly complex and strategic research projects, I’ve learned the one thing you can count on when dealing with massive amounts of data is Murphy’s Law—anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. No matter how much planning we do (and we take planning very seriously), the nature of market research means there’s bound to be a hiccup or two along the way.One of the best ways to deal with Murphy's Law is to accept that issues will arise but to make sure they don’t get in the way of the end goal—actionable insights. At CMB, our ability to seamlessly execute projects hinges on our capacity to adjust and course correct (when needed) to keep things on track. We put a lot of preparation and time in putting together solid project plans, focusing on business decisions, and conducting stakeholder interviews, but we also place a lot of emphasis on hiring and training strong problem solvers. We do this because we know that even the best laid out plans can still go awry, which is why it's important to manage problems proactively. For example, CMB firmly believes in conducting stakeholder interviews at the beginning of nearly all research engagements. This allows us to proactively re-shape/re-think the questionnaire design based on the information we’re hearing from the stakeholders. This helps prevent getting to the final presentation and delivering insights that are not relevant or useable for the key stakeholders.

Even the Patriots, as successful as they were this season and in the Super Bowl, run into problems and issues in each game that they play, regardless if they are playing the worst or best team in the league. If you read Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column the day after the Super Bowl, you'll remember that he highlighted Bill Belichick's pre-Super Bowl game meeting with his staff. Josh McDaniels, the Patriots’ offensive coordinator, summarized the meeting and said that Bill's main message was this: "This game is no different than any other one. It’s a 60-minute football game, and whatever issues we have, let’s make sure we correct them, coach them, and fix them. That’s our job." During that meeting, McDaniels, wrote two notes on his game play clipboard, "adjust" and "correct problems and get them fixed." Going into the game with those mantras was a reminder for him that the game is dynamic, and even the best laid plans need to be adjusted throughout the course of play.

While we can’t rely on Tom Brady, our approach to research engagements is no different. We encounter complex challenges day in and day out, and as our clients' needs change, we continue to think creatively and provide new and better solutions. When working with CMB, you can feel confident that we're putting together a solid project approach while simultaneously planning for the problems that may lie ahead. We might not be the Patriots, but we’re champions at execution just the same.

Cara is a Senior Research Manager. She enjoys spending time with her husband and dog, and she is STILL reveling in the "high" from the Patriots Super Bowl win.

Are YOU a strong problem solver? Come join our team!

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Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, Boston, research design

All Aboard: Why Planning a Cruise is like Planning for Market Research

Posted by Cara Lousararian

Tue, Feb 25, 2014

map with push pins squareIn 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.

Topics: business decisions, travel and hospitality research, research design