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Porsche Drivers for Trump! Why Perceived User Identities Matter to Brands

Posted by Dr. Erica Carranza

Fri, Nov 04, 2016

Take a moment to think about the kind of person who drives a Porsche. What is that person like? Paint as clear a mental image as you can. Is it is a man or a woman? Young, old, or middle-aged? How would you describe that person’s personality, passions and values?

Now think about the kind of person who drives a Volvo. What is that person like? Or the kind of person who drives a Subaru? Or drives a Chevy? Or a Cadillac? Or a Mini?

If you’re like most people, for each of these cars, you picture a very different driver behind the wheel.

In fact, this summer we asked over 18,000 consumers to describe the typical user for 90 different brands, across 5 different industries, using their own words and batteries of perceptions. Our results uncovered images of typical users that differed vastly by brand and industry on a range of dimensions. For example:

  • The typical Porsche driver is often seen as a rich white man who is single or divorced. He is sporty, stylish and ambitious—but also arrogant, materialistic and self-centered. He’s into fashion and luxury. He likes to party.
  • The typical Volvo driver is also seen as a wealthy white man, but he’s more of a Northeastern intellectual. He’s into books and the arts. He’s responsible, self-assured, and a parent. His politics are progressive. He is not into sports or partying.
  • The typical Subaru driver is seen as a more middle-class, family-oriented parent who is smart, practical, responsible and caring—a nature-lover with a soft spot for pets and a desire to support good causes.
  • The typical Chevy driver is seen as a white, middle- to lower-class family man from the rural South or Midwest. He is reliable, humble, relaxed and genuine. He likes hunting, sports, and the great outdoors.

Consumers’ perceptions even differed on who each of these drivers was supporting in the presidential primaries. Who did they think the Porsche driver supported?  Trump. By a very large margin. And while the Volvo driver was seen as supporting Bernie or Hillary, the Subaru driver was seen as feeling the Bern. Most assumed the Chevy driver would vote for Trump, but consumers were also twice as likely to say he’d vote for Cruz than they were for most other brands we tested. We found a skew towards one of the candidates for nearly every one of the ninety brands we tested across the auto, airline, beer, fashion and food industries. 

Consumers’ generally held beliefs about the kind of person who uses each brand are driven in part by experience (e.g., all the Subaru drivers you know), and in part by marketing (e.g., ads like this one).

But does it really matter what consumers think of the kind of person who uses a brand?

YES! It does. A lot.

The more consumers identify with their image of the kind of person who uses a brand, the more they will try, buy, pay for and recommend it. That’s because consumers are people, and people are driven by their identities. They embrace brands that help them reinforce, enhance, or express who they are—and the brands that do this best are ones that help them feel connected to people like them, people they know and like, or people they’d like to know. Consider: Would you rather be like the kind of person who drives a Porsche, a Volvo, a Subaru, or a Chevy?

In fact, consumers’ perceptions of the typical brand user matter more than their perceptions of the brand itself. We see clear mathematical evidence of this with AffinIDSM, our approach to uncovering consumers’ image of who uses a brand, and ways to strengthen how much they identify with that person.

  • As part of this approach, we calculate an AffinID℠ Score to quantify how much consumers identify with their image of the brand’s typical user
    • The score is based on the clarity, relatability and desirability of that image
  • Across industries, brands with high AffinID℠ Scores win on consideration, loyalty, price elasticity, and advocacy
  • In our research with 18,000 consumers, AffinID℠ was the #1 predictor of brand performance, beating out every brand perception we tested
    • Including: high quality, trustworthy, useful, easy/convenient, a good deal, worth paying more for, safe, secure, exciting, fun, reputable, innovative, socially responsible, understands its customers, cares about its customers, and rewards customers for their loyalty

The power of AffinID℠ lies in the fact that human beings are social beings with identities shaped by our social groups and relationships—they provide self-knowledge, self-esteem, and the social norms that guide our behaviors. So we are particularly attentive to other people. And brands aren’t people. Brand users are.

Furthermore, while perceptions of brands and the people who use them are interrelated, they usually aren’t the same. Case in point: Consumers who love amazon. When we ask them to describe amazon, they say it has “great” customer service, prices, variety and convenience. When we ask them to describe amazon customers, what do they say? “Smart.”

To close, I’ll give one last example—a personal one. Porsche.

Let me start by saying to any Porsche owner who might be reading this that I’m sure you’re a lovely person who doesn’t fall into any stereotype. I think now is a good time to go get some coffee and consider how well you’ve done for yourself—I mean, after all, you have a Porsche! And, go ahead, donate more to Trump. It’s not too late. You can skip the next few paragraphs.

(Is he gone yet? Great—let’s continue…) 

If you asked me what I think of Porsche the brand, I’d say: cool, reputable, fast, high quality, expensive. But if you asked me what I think of the typical Porsche driver, my response would be similar to the mass-market view described above: white male divorcee, wealthy, materialistic, in a midlife crisis, likely overcompensating for something.

So, as nice as I think Porsches are, I’m not spending my next bonus on one. I’m not like the person I envision as the Porsche driver, nor do I want to be. I’m a happily married mother of two. (Incidentally, the last mother I saw driving a Porsche was Carmella Soprano.) To get me to ever consider a Porsche, you’d have to really shake-up my image of the kind of person who drives one. But I’m sure there’s a marketer out there who could do it. Gauntlet thrown.

If you take away anything from this longer-than-usual blog (thanks for reading!), make it this: To change what consumers think of your brand, change their image of the people who use it. In today’s competitive marketplace and identity-driven culture, it is more important than ever that brands communicate a clear, compelling image of their typical customer.

Are you communicating the right image of the kind of person who uses your brand? 

Erica Carranza is  CMB's VP of Consumer Psychology with supplier- and client-side (American Express) experience. She  earned her Ph.D. in psychology from Princeton University.

Contact us to learn more about identity's role in building brands, and CMB's AffinIDsm approach!

Contact Us

 

Topics: consumer insights, brand health and positioning, Identity, Election, AffinID

Minimalism on Trend: When Consumers Don’t Want to Consume

Posted by Laura Blazej

Thu, Sep 22, 2016

The minimalist lifestyle is having a moment. Several television shows are dedicated entirely to tiny houses—very small homes that are often no more than 250 square feet. Another popular trend is the capsule wardrobe where an entire season of clothing is limited to 33 items (or fewer). Then there’s Marie Kondo’s #1 New York Times best-seller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” which advocates for getting rid of all of that stuff in the back of your closet. Many people, particularly millennials, want to buy and own less.

One possible reason for the minimalism craze is a AdobeStock_62945676.jpegreaction to the out-of-control consumerism seen at 5am on Black Friday at any big box store. Every year, Black Friday starts earlier and earlier to give more people the chance to get that new TV or crock-pot. Everyone likes to get a good deal, but there’s a difference between buying items you need at a good deal versus buying items simply because they are a good deal. People are increasingly rejecting these external forces that tell us to BUY, BUY, BUY, and this rejection of consumerism is becoming more mainstream.

This trend can pose a real problem for companies that rely on consumers to consume. If consumers are becoming pickier about what products they purchase, and how many, then two critical characteristics stand out to help companies adapt to this shift: brand differentiation and customer-centrism.

  • Brand differentiation is the process of differentiating or contrasting your brand against others to make it stand out. This becomes paramount when consumers are pickier than ever but have a sea of choices to pick from. One example of successful brand differentiation is REI’s #OptOutside Last fall, rather than contributing to the pandemonium that is Black Friday, REI chose to close its doors and advocate for spending the day outdoors with friends and family. REI sacrificed a day of bountiful sales to send a longer-lasting message to its customers that REI values their time and experiences. Although they missed the biggest shopping day of the year, they gained brand differentiation during the most competitive shopping season, which can be much more valuable in the long run—at least REI thinks so.
  • Customer-centrism also becomes a priority because minimalist consumers are more willing to seek out products and services that serve them best. Customer-centrism places the emphasis on customer experiences and needs. When many people, but especially minimalists, decide they need to buy something, they’re going to look beyond price to make their decision, and take into account return policies, access to customer-service, ease and convenience of shopping experience, and environmental impact. The more of these areas a company can successfully address, the better chances a picky consumer will consider their product.

So, what should companies do when consumers don’t want to consume? They should make their brand stand out and cater to their customers’ experience. Marketing to minimalists may not be the easiest task, but successfully winning them over is a marker of true success.

Laura Blazej is an Associate Researcher at CMB and a tiny-house enthusiast with only 28 items in her capsule wardrobe. 

Have you seen our latest report: on The Power of Social Currency? Check out our 90-brand study of 18,000 consumers to see which brands are driving brand equity in the Airline, Auto, Beer, Fashion, and Restaurant industries:

Get the Full Report

Take a peek at our interactive dashboard to see which brands do best among men and women, and in red and blue states:

Interactive Dashboard

 

Topics: millennials, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty

How Top Beer Brands Brew up Social Currency

Posted by Ed Loessi

Thu, Sep 08, 2016

Last month, we released the results of our 5 industry, 90 brand study: Business Transformation through Greater Customer-Centricity: The Power of Social Currency—a collaboration between CMB and VIVALDI. In the coming weeks we’ll release 5 industry specific reports covering Beer, Fashion, Airlines, Automobiles, and Restaurants. This week we’re taking a closer look at 14 of the top brands in the Beer Industry in our new report: The Power of Social Currency: Business Transformation in the Beer Category.

For those of you who have been following these posts, you’ll recall that the genesis of this research was VIVALDI’s Social Currency concept. Introduced in 2012, Social Currency is a framework for understanding brands’ ability to fit into how consumers manage their social lives in today’s social, digital, and mobile context. Measuring and understanding the 7 dimensions (below) of Social Currency are critical to building strong brands in today’s market. The age of the brand ambassador is over—consumers don’t act in service of brands, they act in service of themselves—interacting with and promoting brands that help them express themselves.

SC_Pyramid.png

The wide world of beer

By most industry statistics, Americans consume just north of 6 billion gallons of beer every year. Thousands of varieties of beer are crafted in over 3,400 breweries across all 50 states. Although 90% of the beer is produced by just 11 companies, there is still an immense amount of brand building, marketing, advertising, and storytelling aimed at beer drinkers. Truthfully, this is the stuff of nightmares for brand builders. It’s one thing to be in a competitive market; it’s an entirely different thing to be in a market with so many companies trying to build a brand for a product that pretty much looks the same when poured into a glass. Whoa now! I’m sorry if I’m offending the beer connoisseurs, I realize that I’m ignoring the the vast differences between hoppy IPAs, chocolatey stouts, and Belgian Saisons, but you get the idea.

If you’re going to build a strong brand for beer today, you need to understand the personal and social identities of the consumer. You need the customer to know who the drinker of that beer is – is s/he a quirky creative, independent thinker, old-school beer and barbecue, or the person looking for that next beach party? From that, you need to create the social opportunities and content that allow each of those consumers to express themselves through your brand.

Each of the five brands (pictured below) that topped our measure of Social Currency, have established a clear picture of the person who drinks their beer and they understand why that’s important. Each brand has worked hard to provide engaging social and content opportunities for their consumers.

top5beers.png

How are these companies using Social Currency to build their beer brands?

Sam Adams: The Boston Beer Company’s co-founder, Jim Koch, embodies the brewery’s spirit of independence. This independence has manifested itself in the name chosen for their famous lager – Sam Adams Boston Lager, and it has been a part of the brand message since the very beginning. Their most recent commercial “Stay Independent” keeps to that message and entices the independent thinker to become a drinker of Sam Adams. The personal identity of the Sam Adams beer drinker is very clearly the independent thinker, not your average corporate beer drinker.


Budweiser:
The “King of Beers” – if anyone would have cause to worry about the numerous competitors in this market, it’s the King. But, this King still has his crown. Long known for its unique Super Bowl ads, Budweiser came out of the gate this past year with a bold attack on craft beer drinking. Budweiser reasserted its beer as “not craft”, “not imported”, “not small”, and “not backing down”. In delivering this message, against the powerful backdrop of its famous Clydesdale horses, it also reasserted the identity of its target market, the no-nonsense, deeply rooted and not swayed by the trends of the day beer drinker. This identity is strong and reliable.

 
Corona: Simple message - sand, sun, and lime wedges! Corona has long been associated with those beautiful summer days being pursued by happy people, looking for a place to relax, and have fun. Corona has used these simple messages extremely well and has built a perfect image of the personal identity of someone who drinks Corona.


The beer industry is unlike other consumer industries. It has a concentrated power base regarding brewing capacity, but its brand managers, marketers, advertisers, and social media teams must deal with literally thousands of brands in the form of small brewers competing for the same customers. Understanding how to use Social Currency is of vital importance in building a brand. By crafting messages that align with consumer’s personal and social identity, and creating social and content opportunities, beer companies can differentiate themselves in this crowded market. So pull up a stool, grab a pint, and learn how Social Currency helps insights professionals and marketers create content, and share the messages that support consumer identity—spurring engagement, purchase, and advocacy.

Ed is CMB's Director of Product Development and Innovation. He thinks there is a game-changing product or idea within everyone, and it’s his job to dig it out. You can share ideas with him @edloessi.

Download the beer report and let us show you how Social Currency can enable brand transformation:

Get the Report

And check out our interactive dashboard for a sneak peek of Social Currency by industry:

Interactive Dashboard

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty, retail research, Social Currency

How Under Armour’s Social Currency Builds a Powerful Brand

Posted by Ed Loessi

Tue, Aug 23, 2016

 Last week, CMB and VIVALDI released the results of our watershed study: Business Transformation through Greater Customer-Centricity: The Power of Social Currency.  In the report, we share insights from 18,000 consumers, about 90 brands, across 5 industries (beer, restaurants, auto, airlines, and fashion).

The genesis of this research was VIVALDI's Social Currency concept. Introduced in 2012, Social Currency is a framework for understanding brands’ ability to fit into how consumers manage their social lives in today’s social, digital, and mobile context. This year, CMB partnered with Vivaldi to refine the concept and offer fresh insights into a changing marketplace.

One of the most powerful lessons from our research is that today’s customers don't see themselves as serving brands as the traditional “influencer”  or “brand ambassador” was thought to, but instead act in service of themselves. We see people looking for brands that help them represent who they are and what they believe. Today, the brand is in the hands of the customer and brands that facilitate experiences and behaviors that help consumers explore, develop, and express their identities are the brands that outperform their competitors. This level of performance difference includes high levels of Consideration, Loyalty, Price Elasticity, and Advocacy.

So, how does Social Currency come together? There are two parts; one is an overall score that is a weighted average of the 7 core factors or dimensions (shown below) that influence brand success. Topping that list of dimensions are two important forms of Identity—Personal and Social. Our research shows that identity is a key driver in people’s relationships to brands. The other piece of this framework is a Social Currency Assessment that helps brands develop truly customer-centric activities – messaging, advertising, content development, and digital media that align with customers' needs and wants. It’s important to note that we’re not just talking about brands being good at social media campaigns—it may be that customers express their needs and wants quite often in social media channels, but they also express themselves in many other social situations, and capturing that full spectrum is of vital importance.

SC_Pyramid.png


The Case of Under Armour

Let’s dig in! One of the stellar performers we uncovered was Under Armour. Founded in 1996, Under Armour is a relative newcomer in the sports apparel space, especially compared to well-known brands such as Nike (1964) and Adidas (1949). Without question, UA founder Kevin Plank had his work cut out for him when he began carting around his unique moisture-wicking T-shirts from the back of his car. It’s hard to imagine how a company with such humble beginnings has risen so quickly to take on many other well-established competitors.

As customer influence has grown, we can see patterns in the performance of those brands that create and nurture the activities that allow customers to identify and share their interaction with the brands. This concept was borne out very clearly in our study, which showed how Under Armour has eclipsed Adidas in its overall ability to deliver Social Currency, and edges closer to the top performer across all industries—Nike. Despite Under Armour’s size, it has done a masterful job understanding its customer and its customer’s needs, and through messaging, shareable content, and the linking of its customer’s Personal and Social Identities to the Under Armour brand, it has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the sports apparel space. You can see in the diagram below “The Under Armour Success Story” that Under Armour scores particularly well in Personal Identity, Information, and Conversation dimensions.

UA_Success.png

How does Under Armour achieve these high marks of Social Currency and build its brand?

The Misty Copeland example:

From our report: “Like Nike’s “Just Do It” tagline, Under Armour’s “I Will” messaging, is empowering, inspiring, and inclusive. Under Armour’s messaging also celebrates the underdog with the competitive spirit embodied in its “I will what I want” campaign, featuring Misty Copeland, the first black woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history. The campaign produced $35 million in earned media and was particularly effective with women with a reported 28% increase in women’s sales. This success is supported by our research, while overall men’s Social and Personal Identity scores are higher across all sports apparel brands, Under Armour’s Social Identity scores among women (44.5) coming closer to those of men (48.1) than any of the others we tested in the category (Reebok, Adidas, Nike).”

The Michael Phelps Example:

You know we wouldn’t let this post go by without an Olympic reference, and neither would Under Armour. The Michael Phelps featured “Rule Yourself” campaign (part of the “I Will” strategy) and video has grown to become one of the most shared Olympic videos of all time. What’s so appealing? Why are so many people identifying with the message of “Rule Yourself” as put forth by Under Armour?

Katie Richards, writing for Adweek“For one, it's striking the right emotional chord with its target audience: millennial men between the ages of 18 and 34. The dramatic nature of the Phelps spot (with a killer track from The Kills) and its ability to take viewers through the swimmer's intense training process elicited a sense of inspiration among 47 percent of overall viewers, and 68 percent of millennial men.”

“Droga5 co-head of strategy Harry Roman echoed Prywes, adding that the Phelps ad is so shareable because it's able to convey the sacrifice that the swimmer makes each day to prepare for Rio.”

As someone who grew up playing every sport imaginable as a kid, and continued to do so through high school and beyond, I can relate to the “Rule Yourself” idea. I’ve now converted to low-impact sports to save my aging knees, but there is part of me that identifies with that idea of not letting go, of taking one more shot. It’s a natural bent of athletes, elite or otherwise. Under Armour has made it easy for me to identify personally, join the conversation through the videos created for the campaign, and express myself regarding the brand. A pale comparison it may be, but I can see that small bit of Michael Phelps in myself, the person who says “I will.”

One final note about the “Rule Yourself” campaign. According to Adweek, to date, 56 percent of the spots' shares are coming from Facebook, followed by Twitter at 28 percent. You’ll also notice, in the chart below, that across the social spectrum, people are expressing their personal and social identities in virtually every type of social environment.

 AA_UA.png

It’s clear, after studying the 90 brands, that those brands that facilitate digital, socially-driven experiences and behaviors that help consumers explore, develop and express their identities are clear winners. Under Armour, in particular, has done an exceptional job in this regard. They have built on the experiences of Misty Copeland and Michael Phelps and made them identifiable to their customers, and hence identifiable with their brand. Under Armour has then made it possible to share great content and express oneself as a function of that brand. Anyone, dominant athlete, former athlete, weekend (or weekday) warrior can see that underdog, and know that “I Will” also!

Ed is CMB's Director of Product Development and Innovation. He thinks there is a game-changing product or idea within everyone, and it’s his job to dig it out. You can share ideas with him @edloessi.

Download the full report, and let us show you how Social Currency can enable brand transformation:

Get the Full Report

And check out our interactive dashboard for a sneak peek of Social Currency by industry:

Interactive Dashboard

 

 

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, consumer insights, brand health and positioning, Social Currency

Do Consumers Really Know You? Why True Awareness Matters

Posted by Jonah Lundberg

Wed, Jul 13, 2016

From hotels to healthcare, brands are facing an unprecedented era of disruption. For brands to compete, consumers need to know and love your brand for what it really stands for. Critical questions for brands include: have folks even heard of you (Awareness), how well do they think they know you (Familiarity), and how well do they really know you (True Awareness)?

Folks probably won’t buy from you if they’ve never heard of you or don’t know much about you. To pinpoint areas to improve and track success, you need to include both Familiarity and True Awareness in your competitive brand tracking.

Familiarity

Familiarity can be a vague metric for stakeholders to interpret, especially alongside Awareness. A common question we hear is “What’s the difference between Awareness and Familiarity? Yes, I’m aware. Yes, I’m familiar. Isn’t it the same thing?”

Not quite.

Awareness is “yes” or “no”—have you heard of the brand name or not? Familiarity gauges how well you think you know the brand. Sure, you’ve heard of the brand, but how much would you say you know about it?

It’s summertime, so let’s use a baseball example–Comerica Park is home of the Detroit Tigers, and Target Field is the home of the Minnesota Twins:

  • I watch baseball a lot, so if you asked me if I was aware of Comerica and Target, I’d say yes to both.
  • If you asked me how familiar I was with Comerica, I would tell you that I have absolutely no idea what its products are. I just know its name because of where the Twins go when they visit Detroit to play the Tigers.
  • Target, on the other hand, I know very well: it’s headquartered in my home state of Minnesota, and I’ve been inside their stores hundreds of times.

In research-talk: I am not at all familiar with Comerica. I am very familiar with Target.

If you’re deciding whether or not to include Familiarity in your competitive brand tracking, you first need to determine whether you want your brand to be widely known and known well or just widely known. Do you want to be the popular guy at school who most people know by name but don’t know very well? Or do you want to be the prom king—the guy everyone knows the name of and knows well enough to vote for? 

Take a look at a real example below, showing Top 10 Brands Aware vs. the Top 10 Brands Highly Familiar in a recent competitive brand tracking study (brand names changed for confidentiality):

Jonah_blog.png

You’ll notice a pattern: a brand that many people have heard the name of (high Awareness) can be trumped by a brand that not-as-many people have heard the name of (low Awareness) when it comes to how well the brand is known (Familiarity) among those who have heard the name (among Aware). It is possible to be more successful in the market with a lower level of awareness if those folks know you well.                                            

This isn’t surprising, since Familiarity is only asked for brands that people are aware of.

However, Big Papi’s Burgers proves that you can be both widely known and known well. Again, though the brand name is a pseudonym, the data is real. So, if you think it’s worth measuring your brand relative to the Big Papi’s Burgers of your industry you need Familiarity to gauge your brand’s standing vs. the competition.

True Awareness

Just because folks say they know you doesn’t mean they actually do. Also, if you find yourself with a lower level of Familiarity, how do you fix that?

While Familiarity gauges how well you think you know a brand, True Awareness asks you to prove it. Familiarity serves as the comparison point vs. other brands, but True Awareness serves as the comparison point of your brand vs. itself: how well do people know you for selling X, and how well do people know you for selling Y and Z?

True Awareness is a question that asks people aware of your brand which specific products or services they think your brand offers. You show them a list of offerings that includes all the things your brand does offer and a few things your brand does not offer.

If people choose any of your brand’s offerings correctly (e.g., they select one of the four correct offerings listed) and don’t erroneously select any things your brand does not offer, then they are truly aware—they do, in fact, know you well. This also helps you identify sources of errors in perception. Folks failing to credit you for things you do, or falsely crediting you for things you don’t, helps you identify areas for improvement in your marketing communications. 

So what’s the point of asking True Awareness? It provides you with more good information to use when making decisions about your brand:

  • When you combine True Awareness with usage data (e.g., how much people use and/or would like to use X, Y and Z products/services in general) you are able to inject vibrant colors into what was previously a black and white outline—your brand understanding transforms from a rough sketch into a portrait.
  • As a result, not only do you understand what people want, you also understand what people know your brand for.
  • Therefore, you know whether or not people think your brand can give them what they want. If people like using Y and Z but aren’t aware that your brand offers Y and Z, then your brand is suffering.

So, True Awareness allows you to discern exactly what needs to be done (e.g., what needs to be amplified in messaging) to improve your brand’s metrics and conversion funnel.

Use both Familiarity and True Awareness in your competitive brand tracking to push your brand to be the prom king of your industry and to make sure people know and love your brand for what it really stands for.

Jonah is a Project Manager at CMB. He enjoys traveling with his family and friends, and he hopes the Red Sox can hang in there to reach the postseason this year.

Topics: methodology, research design, brand health and positioning

Marketers: Let’s See Some Identification

Posted by Brant Cruz

Fri, Jun 17, 2016

social_currency.pngVery little brings me more joy than a rich data set that smells like a powerful insight is ready to emerge. Likewise, few things create more angst for me than a powerful story hidden in data—when something is there but I just can’t connect the dots. Recently, I was rescued from any long period of angst I might have suffered by a collaboration with two great minds who bring complimentary skill sets to the table.

My two saviors were CMB’s own Erica Carranza (PhD in social psychology) and Vivaldi Partners’ CEO Erich Joachimsthaler (PhD and marketing thought leader). The “aha!” moment came from Erich and Erica’s ability to reframe what the data was trying to tell me—a multifaceted “identity construct” drives all our underlying digital social behaviors. It’s an idea with powerful implications for marketers and other business leaders trying to thrive in this world of digitally empowered consumers. Erich, Erica, and I will be sharing more on these insights and how to use them in our June 22nd webinar, Social Currency: The New Brand-Building Model. 

To help illustrate, I’ve spent the last week retrofitting this new realization to some of the best-of marketing efforts I’ve witnessed in my career, and I found some easy examples in gaming. Two examples in particular stick out. The first is the famous Call of Duty campaign that used the tagline “There’s a soldier in all of us.” The second is this past winter’s Star Wars Battlefront campaign, which leveraged the Star Wars fandom as part of a 30-year story (told in 30 secs). In both of these ads, the consumers—and their identities (real or aspirational)—were the heroes. The games themselves were enablers to further define and broadcast these identities. In a world where the most powerful brand-building content is created and/or shared by consumers, it’s particularly important to understand why consumers undertake the behaviors that Erich described in his original Social Currency work. 

Retrospectively, it’s been easy to see that game marketers have inherently known (or stumbled upon) the concept of identity being a key to great marketing. But, the real eye-opener here is that this same concept proved true for 5 disparate industries (auto, beer, fashion, restaurants, and airlines) in a rich data set of 18,000 respondents and 90 brands, which is the basis for our webinar next Wednesday.

 Register here!

Brant Cruz is our resident segmentation guru and the Vice President of CMB’s eCommerce and Digital Media Practice.

Topics: consumer insights, marketing strategy, webinar, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty, customer journey, Social Currency

CMB Conference Recap: Yale’s Customer Insights Conference

Posted by Julie Kurd

Wed, May 11, 2016

Logo_Yale.jpgA hidden gem of a Consumer Insights conference, the Yale Customer Insights Conference is great for researchers seeking advanced quantitative methodological thinking. This conference is a rare mix of business and academia. Well-known PhDs came from Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and Wash U to share their research and findings. Not to be outdone, mega-brand thinkers from companies including Spotify, Vail Resorts, Viacom, and REI also came to share their insights. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Peter Fader discussed how Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) drives business forward. He had an abundance of wondrously specific cases, including how Starbucks is shifting from knowing your “usual” locally to knowing your “usual” virtually so that you’re able to have a personal and frictionless experience no matter where you are. In other words, Starbucks has become “a CRM company that monetizes through coffee.” This attempt to understand what each customer wants/needs at the atom level is a prime example of what Starbucks is obsessing over (and it’s not the next roast).
  • Kirsten Lynch, the CMO of Vail Resorts, focuses on the emotion and passion of Vail’s very specific target audience. The company’s segmentation scheme directly feeds everything they do. The target customers are not just pedestrian affluent—they are significantly wealthy, with average household incomes of $280k, so the customer mindset is very focused on exclusivity and excitement (vs discounts). When guests return to one of the resorts, everything they do is tracked in the Vail app: ski runs, where they dine, the people they’re with, etc. Like Starbucks, the data again is available at that atomized level, which not only allows Vail Resorts to personalize the experience for the guest, but also allows Vail’s leadership to assess strategic assets and ask: what do we need next? Another lift or another restaurant? Where do we need it, and why?
  • Spotify took all of the data it collected last year and used it on a “Year in Music” campaign, which was not only able to give each subscriber a recap of his/her year in music, but also able to give specific countries and zip codes information on the most popular songs/albums in that area. Fun fact: Eric Solomon, Director of Global Brand Strategy for Spotify, shared that Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” was the most popular song last year in Williamsburg, one of NYC’s trendiest neighborhoods (can Beliebers be trendy?). People now listen to more than 40 hours of music in a week (yes, that’s the level of a full time job), and Spotify is using this data to segment by mood states (party, focus, sleep, workout, etc.) instead of by genre.
  • Ross Martin, Viacom’s EVP of Market Strategy and Entertainment, talked about how the company is moving passive fans to active “super” fans and discussed the shift from selling impressions to engagement. How can brands acknowledge and celebrate these super fans? Martin shared an example of a Millennial asking Viacom if he could make Ninja Turtle cuff links (a potential trademark violation) for his wedding. Viacom not only approved the use, but actually manufactured the cufflinks and sent them to the entire wedding party for an experiential point of connection with its influential fan base (which was an earned media opportunity for sure).
  • Michel Tuan Pham from Columbia Business School discussed how feelings and emotions affect our judgments and decisions. Whether there’s a “like” button or the option to give something a rating (e.g. 5 stars), people derive pleasure from the act of liking or rating something. His research found that even when there are no stakes and no decisions to be made, people like to “like.” His research examines motivation (narcissism) for these “likes”—and he concludes that as marketers, you should emphasize the “you” when asking customers to “tell others how YOU feel about Product X” because it’s more narcissistic than altruistically motivated.

Be sure to add this conference to your calendar for next year, and we’ll see you there.

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the twitter #mrx community, so talk research with her @julie1research.

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Topics: consumer insights, conference recap, brand health and positioning, digital media and entertainment research

Boaty McBoatface: Social Media Meets Market Research on the Cyber Seas

Posted by Brian Jones

Mon, May 02, 2016

Boaty_McBoatface.pngIn case you missed it, the UK’s Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) asked a silly question on a serious topic, and the cyber seas responded in kind. News media and bloggers converged in viral fashion and grabbed the opportunity to steer the campaign on their own course. I put my market research cap on and joined the flotilla. 

Background on the Buzz

On March 17th, the NERC agency launched a campaign to promote the future launch of their newest and largest research ship, designed to carry scientists and their equipment to the earth’s Polar Regions. Their #NameOurShip campaign invited the public to submit name ideas, and it quickly caught on as an opinion poll. The cyber buzz really unfolded after a public relations professional suggested the name “Boaty McBoatface” upon seeing other silly names people had posted, and the name sailed to the top of the boards. On April 16th, NERC pulled the plug on collecting votes, and a NERC spokesperson stressed that there is no guarantee the ship would be named after the winning entry because the final decision will be made by the chief executive of the organization.    

What I Learned from Those Influenced by the Campaign

The #NameOurShip campaign was hugely successful in emotionally engaging the public, despite the backlash to NERC scuttling the winning name. People left waves of comments for NERC’s leadership to surf through.  

“The only reason I ever heard of this is because of the name controversy. Far more people are likely to stay interested in Boaty McBoatface than some humdrum 'sensible' name, because it has already been adopted as a kind of maritime national pet.” (Comment posted on one of the many Boaty Blogs)

 The comments made for an interesting read, and I came up with a few takeaways. 

  1. There is a deserving national identity with heroic British polar explorers that would look great in large letters on the transom of a $300 million research ship, e.g., the “RRS Henry Worsely” (15,774 votes). Henry Worsely died in January while attempting to complete the first solo and unaided crossing of the Antarctic—just 30 miles short after crossing 900 miles in 71 days. 
  1. Beneath the veneer of the online pranksters and goofballs who posted votes for names like “Ice, Ice Baby” (3,673 votes) and “Boatimus Prime” (8,365 votes), the public clearly wants a memorable name that makes a global statement about British identity, and for some, that’s a whimsical endeavor. 
  1. For some, “Boaty McBoatface” (124,109 votes) presents an opportunity to do public good on the behalf of NERC’s commitment to the pursuit in education in science. The “RRS Dora the Polar Explorer” (983 votes) might not get smirks from scientists performing serious research, but mom and dad might have a more favorable impression of NERC if their child’s bath toy had “NERC” and “Boaty” logos on it. 
  1. Interestingly, very few online posts revealed interest or concern with NERC’s mission to explore issues such as environmental hazards, natural resources, and environmental change. Instead, the names “Steve Prescott” (1,413) and “Poppy-Mai”/”Princess PoppyMai” (40,384 votes) received buzz; both individuals were struck down with rare forms of cancer. If NERC more clearly links their mission to staving off visible human or ecological tragedy, they might make good use of the awareness equity that their campaign has generated. 
  1. For others, the campaign was a pretended attempt of government to give citizens a voice when the final decision rests with privileged few. This is compounded by anxiety over the upcoming European Union membership referendum. NERC must navigate public sentiment in an environment where people are a bit on edge. This is expressly dangerous when a social media campaign is presented as crowdvoting. While crowdvoting or crowdsourcing can be a legitimate form of research, when public perception can’t differentiate a PR campaign masked as a public opinion poll from serious market research, it erodes researcher’s ability to get reliable market insights. 

For market research to work, we need the public to be smart—not silly. There is research value in capturing emotional response, but we need to strive to capture unbiased rational opinion. Social media marketing can taint the waters for research if the public perceives a campaign as being less than honest and truthful. 

The Australian Government is now pirating the #NameOurShip approach for their own new Antarctic scientific research vessel, vowing to avoid the ballast that seemingly sank public opinion of the UK’s campaign. I can’t wait to see what the Aussies come up with. 

Brian is a Senior Project Manager at Chadwick Martin Bailey. Given his Navy background, he feels compelled to point out that the vessel-who-must-be-named is not actually a “boat” and should be called “Shippy McShipface.” 

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Topics: consumer insights, social media, brand health and positioning

Is Uber Living Its Brand Promise?

Posted by Tara Lasker

Thu, Apr 21, 2016

The Uber experience continues to fascinate me with each ride. I pepper my drivers with questions about Uber’s business model, their experience as a driver, and how satisfied they are driving for the sometimes controversial ride-share company. It’s a topic I also bring up around friends, family, and colleagues, and I always come back to the same question: where does Uber win and lose in the minds of end-customers?

I took a look at Uber’s brand promises to see if those promises aligned with my own experiences (as well as the experiences of other people I’ve talked to.) Below, you’ll find Uber’s promises to riders:

uber-2.png

  • Tap a button, get a ride. It’s so nice to be able to request a ride from Uber with one tap and have a clear expectation of when my driver will be there and what my ride will cost. I appreciate having my driver’s information as well as the license plate number on hand.

Verdict? Uber delivers in a big way on this promise. 

  • No cash, no tip, no hassle. Until recently, I thought this was true, and I loved Uber for it. I appreciated that everything was linked to my account and that I didn’t need to fumble around my wallet in a dark car at the end of my ride. I asked a driver about this a little while ago, and I was surprised to learn that not only are tips not included in the fare, but Uber has also begun taking a higher percentage from each ride. I researched this after I got home and saw that the driver was right: tips are not included. The more I researched, the more I realized that I was not the only one who had this misconception.

Verdict? Uber says there’s no need to tip, but it’s not explicitly stated that tips aren’t included in the ride cost at all. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding this issue. Since I now know that tips aren’t included, I plan on tipping my driver out of pocket, which reintroduces the problem of fumbling around in my wallet at the end of a ride. This is an issue that could make me to switch to a competitor (perhaps Lyft, which allows you to tip in the app). In my opinion, Uber owes its drivers (aka “partners”) and its customers clarification on why “there’s no need for a tip.” 

  • You rate, we listen. This might just be my personal misconception, but given that it seems that anyone can drive for Uber, safety is a concern. This steers me in the direction of cabs when I’m alone because I perceive them to be better regulated. However, if I’m with my husband or friends, I’m much more apt to take an Uber for the value. I have colleagues who consider Uber as (if not more safe) than a cab since all rides are tracked via GPS and riders have the driver’s picture and information as well as the vehicle’s information at their fingertips. Every week, it feels like there’s a new story about an assault on an Uber rider or driver, which can make taking an Uber feel like riding at your own risk. So, what about the rating? Does it help? Just like an eBay seller, do positive evaluations help communicate safety?

Verdict? I’m mixed. I’m still not convinced that Uber is any more or less safe than its alternatives. However, as a data nerd, I do appreciate having data on my driver when I request a ride.

Uber filled a much needed void when it launched in 2009. But as the company continues to grow, the promises it makes to customers don’t always ring true. The fix? Implementing a customer measurement system, which will ensure that the company delivers on these brand promises and doesn’t steer off the road of success. 

Tara is a Research Director at CMB. She enjoys nights out in the city with her husband and grilling her Uber driver on the way home.

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Topics: travel and hospitality research, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty

Dear Dr. Jay—Brands Ask: Let's Stay Together?

Posted by Dr. Jay Weiner

Thu, Feb 11, 2016

 Dear Dr. Jay,

 What’s love got to do with it?

 -Tina T. 


DrJay_Thinking_about_love.pngHi Tina,

How timely.

The path to brand loyalty is often like the path to wedded bliss. You begin by evaluating tangible attributes to determine if the brand is the best fit for you. After repeated purchase occasions, you form an emotional bond to the brand that goes beyond those tangible attributes. As researchers, when we ask folks why they purchase a brand, they often reflect on performance attributes and mention those as drivers of purchase. But, to really understand the emotional bond, we need to ask how you feel when you interact with the brand.

We recently developed a way to measure this emotional bond (Net Positive Emotion Score - NPES). By asking folks how they felt on their most recent interaction, we’re able to determine respondents’ emotional bond with products. Typical regression tools indicate that the emotional attributes are about as predictive of future behavior as the functional benefits of the product. This leads us to believe that at some point in your pattern of consumption, you become bonded to the product and begin to act on emotion—rather than rational thoughts. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t rate the performance dimensions of the products you buy.

Loyalty is a behavior, and behaviors are often driven by underlying attitudinal measures. You might continue to purchase the same product over and over for a variety of reasons. In a perfect world, you not only create a behavioral commitment, but also an emotional bond with the brand and, ultimately, the company. Typically, we measure this path by looking at the various stages you go through when purchasing products. This path begins with awareness, evolves through familiarity and consideration, and ultimately ends with purchase. Once you’ve purchased a product, you begin to evaluate how well it delivers on the brand promise. At some point, the hope is that you become an advocate for the brand since advocacy is the pinnacle of the brand purchase hierarchy. 

As part of our Consumer Pulse program, we used our EMPACT℠: Emotional Impact Analysis tool to measure consumers’ emotional bond (NPES) with 30 brands across 6 categories. How well does this measure impact other key metrics? On average, Net Promoters score almost 70 points higher on the NPES scale versus Net Detractors. We see similar increases in likelihood to continue (or try), proud to use, willingness to pay more, and “I love this brand.”

NPES.jpg

What does this mean? It means that measuring the emotional bond your customers have with your brand can provide key insights into the strength of that brand. Not only do you need to win on the performance attributes, but you also need to forge a deep bond with your buyers. That is a better way to brand loyalty, and it should positively influence your bottom line. You have to win their hearts—not just their minds.

Dr. Jay Weiner is CMB’s senior methodologist and VP of Advanced Analytics. He has a strong emotional bond with his wife of 25 years and several furry critters who let him sleep in their bed.

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Topics: NPS, path to purchase, Dear Dr. Jay, EMPACT, emotional measurement, brand health and positioning