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Begin with the End—Lessons Learned

Posted by Caitlin Dailey

Fri, Feb 02, 2018

Dollarphotoclub_91556333.jpg

A former colleague of mine had a post-it note on his wall that read: You have as many hours in the day as Beyoncé. Inspiring words, but for those of us in professional services (rather than entertainment) it can feel like the to-do lists never end.

I recently watched a webinar on productivity given by MIT Sloan School of Management Senior Lecturer Robert Pozen. There was a lot of useful information in the webinar, but one piece of advice really resonated: begin with the end.

“Beginning with the end” means letting your desired outcome drive the planning and execution of your task. If you are cognizant of what your end-goal is, it will make tackling projects of any scope a lot easier—whether that’s writing an email or the final report of a multi-phased segmentation study.

At CMB, we always begin with the end in mind. When kicking off a project, we meet with key client stakeholders to align on business and research objectives. We leverage our proprietary Business Decision tools to identify what the desired business objectives are, and use that information to inform our research objectives and design. This preliminary decision-focused conversation ensures the research solution, story, and results are actionable and will deliver meaningful outcomes with true business impact.

Once the project is kicked off, no time should be wasted—consider building out a narrative and recording tentative conclusions as soon as data starts coming in. It can be tremendously helpful to have a mid-field check of the data to revise those conclusions, and then do a final revision once you have all the data. The story might not change much during this time, but writing and revising your conclusions prior to the close of an initiative can make delivering the final report less stressful.

Particularly in market research, there’s pressure to deliver results faster than ever. When you start with the end in mind, you can be building out the story in an iterative process, rather than scrambling to at the end. Since unearthing a clear and meaningful story is one of the most important pieces of a project, you’re only helping yourself (and your colleagues) by beginning with the end.

Other ways to improve productivity

As I mentioned, there were loads of other useful tips from Pozen’s webinar on how to increase productivity:

  • Write down your daily goals: Rome wasn’t built in a day, so jot down objectives you can realistically accomplish today.
  • Don’t exhaust your schedule: Avoid scheduling every minute of your day. Having a calendar filled with meetings may look productive, but it’s important to include “thinking time” for yourself.
  • Include work and non-work tasks: Your list should include routine essentials like going to the gym or having dinner with your family. This will help maintain a healthy work/life balance and will give you time to “recharge”.
  • Manage your inbox: If you’re in the zone, don’t feel pressured to stop and respond to each email immediately (unless it’s urgent, of course). Instead, set aside time a little later to respond to all emails.
  • Let go of perfectionism: Do you reread an email 5 times before you hit send? Scan through a deck repeatedly? Chances are, it were ready to go after the second review, so save your mental energy for something else and move on.
  • Quit procrastinating: One of the biggest hurdles to getting things done is simply starting them.

I’m now being mindful of how I can incorporate these practices into my life to maximize my productivity, and in turn, hope to tip the scale of my work/life balance in favor of a more stress-free work week. I hope you can too!

Caitlin Dailey is a Senior Project Manager on the Financial Services, Insurance, and Healthcare team at CMB and is looking forward to trying out these tactics to help get her out of the office a little earlier in 2018.

Topics: methodology, business decisions, research design

Welcoming a New Year and New Opportunities

Posted by Jim Garrity

Fri, Jan 05, 2018

2018-for social.jpg

It’s 2018 and I truly believe there is no better time to be in the insights business. Yes, our industry and our clients face daunting challenges—new market entrants, digital disruption, political and regulatory upheaval, and increasingly empowered consumers are just a few. But it is also true that these disruptions have the potential to reveal—to those organizations prepared to tackle them—more opportunities than ever before. 

I firmly believe that CMB has never been better positioned to help our clients face both the challenges and the opportunities head on.  As we enter this new year, I want to reaffirm our commitment to you—to continue to be your collaborative, decision-focused, creative and forward-thinking partner. I also want to share just a bit about how we are investing in your success—ensuring we help you meet your objectives today and in the years to come.

Investment in groundbreaking Consumer Psychology solutions: Brands that will thrive in the future understand consumer motivations are both critical and complex. Our Consumer Psychology team lend their innovative thinking on the self, identity, and emotions to all of our work.

Developing configurable solutions to solve common problems quickly and cost effectively: Time and cost pressures will only increase over the coming year(s) and we are committed to leveraging technology and processes to deliver tailored results without resorting to cookie-cutter approaches.  We’re also excited to offer expanded solutions in partnership with our new parent company—ITA Group—delivering insights into the world of incentives, engagement and cultural transformation.

Staying on the forefront of the latest in predictive and advanced analytics techniques: Massive computing power paired with our Advanced Analytics Team’s expertise give our clients the advantage—providing a best assessment of the future under a variety of scenarios. Clients have LOTS of data that tells them what DID happen, we leverage predictive analytics to tell them what WILL happen—a critical need in a changing world.

Thoughtful and creative solutions from innovative design to co-creation: While a creative approach to a quantitative research design might seem worlds apart from an inventive co-creation workshop—we know meaningful insights aren’t about numbers on a slide and that creativity, curiosity and a relentless focus on decisions lead to the biggest breakthroughs.

Our people are your partners: Your CMB team is smart, client-focused and fun to work with. From our most tenured and expert senior consultants to our incredibly bright and creative associates, every member of your CMB team is focused on helping you and your business succeed.

Thank you for your partnership and here’s to a new year full of successes for you and your team.

Topics: technology solutions, business decisions, data integration, Market research

Are We There Yet? How TURF Can Save Your Family Trip

Posted by Victoria Young

Tue, Sep 05, 2017

road trip.jpeg

As the summer comes to a close, I’m reminiscing about the annual end-of-summer trip to New Hampshire my family used to take. There’s a lot to do and see in New Hampshire, and only having a week, we had to pick and choose how to spend our time wisely. Ultimately that decision was up to my mom, but that didn’t prevent me and my brother sharing our various opinions.

We all loved Story Land (that was a given) and it was always included on our NH itinerary… but that’s where unanimous agreement ended. My brother pined for Six Gun City–a Wild West themed park–but I preferred Santa’s Village. I thought Santa’s Village was cute while my brother thought it was tacky. Meanwhile, both my brother and I moaned and groaned when our mom insisted we hang out on the side of the road for an hour to look at The Old Man in the Mountain (RIP).

During the week, we managed to hit all desired attractions (and more), but tensions ran high some days. My brother complained at Santa’s Village while I couldn’t be bothered at Six Gun City—looking back, I can’t imagine the stress we caused our mom with our eye-rolling and sighs.

The researcher in me wonders if there could’ve been a way to satisfy everyone’s desires without upsetting some? Then I realized that this scenario isn’t totally unlike what we run TURF analyses for. If there had been a TURF analysis for our family vacations, perhaps it would’ve saved a lot of headaches.  

But what is “TURF”?

TURF is an acronym for “Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency.” TURF Analysis is a statistical analysis that was traditionally used to help media buyers determine where to place ads to reach the widest possible audience. But the use of TURF has since expanded to help answer product development questions like “What is the smallest number of features, services or products that could be offered to appeal to the largest number of potential consumers?”  

TURF determines the maximum number of people reached by looking for unduplicated reach. For example, if Person A likes Channel X and Channel Y, and both channels are included in the analysis, the model will get no additional reach from Person A than it would’ve had only Channel X or Channel Y been included.

This type of analysis could’ve helped us determine which attractions would appeal to the largest audience on our family trips. TURF is ideal when the number of choice combinations is high and the number of combinations are restricted—in my family’s case, we were restricted by time, money, and patience.

TURF tests each combination of options (e.g., Story Land, Clark’s Trading Post, Santa’s Village, etc.), and reports both reach and frequency for each combination. As you add items (in this case, attractions), the reach increases for a while and then tapers off. This is called the law of diminishing returns. The key is finding that sweet spot where you get the highest reach with the fewest items, and where anything above that is only incremental.

To make this more digestible, consider the example below. We’re planning a family vacation with our extended family, all of whom have varying preferences:

Story Land table.png

Of our 8 family members, 4 like Story Land (50% reach). Two other attractions–Attitash Bear Peak and Santa’s Village–appeal to 3 family members, but because all 3 who like Santa’s Village also like Story Land, only Attitash Bear Peak adds to the model’s reach. 

If we add Attitash Bear Peak, we come up with a total of 6 family members (75%) who get something they want.  Both Six Gun City and Clark’s Trading Post reach 2 family members, but only Six Gun City reaches Cousin Blair, one of two family members not reached by the first two attractions, bringing us to 87.5% reach.  We’re unable to please everyone, especially Long Lost Uncle Mark who appears to not enjoy anything. 

As the chart below suggests, we could please almost everyone in three stops: Story Land, Attitash Bear Peak, and Six Gun City.  Instead of going everywhere, we can maximize everyone’s happiness (reach) and stay within our restrictions (budget, time, patience) by going to those three stops.

Story Land chart_2.png

 

Ok, so TURF might not be the most logical answer to family vacation logistics, but it can help companies make important business decisions, especially when they are faced with multiple options and a limited budget.

So for now, my mom, brother, and I will continue to ask ourselves, who’s up for Story Land?

Victoria is a Senior Associate Researcher at CMB who still loves Story Land and traveling with her family.

Topics: business decisions, quantitative research

Plotting the Future of Insights… Today

Posted by Judy Melanson

Thu, Jul 06, 2017

The future is here:  technology is empowering people like never before and consumers have myriad choices and high expectations. From the C-Suite down, brands are trying to make sense of digital disruption and what it means for their organization. Insights folks aren’t immune to this disruption—in an increasingly consumer-centric and data-rich world we all have to think about where insight truly adds value.

lunch 2.jpegCMB's Judy Melanson kicks off our "lunch and learn" with Boston-area insights folks by discussing the digital disruption and increasingly evolving corporate environment.

What does this mean for your organization? For nimble, flexible, and innovative firms, there’s a tremendous opportunity to blaze new trails for how insights operates. On the other hand, organizations that are slow to adapt may fall behind and even fail.

In the spirit of focusing on this (now) future, last week a handful of Boston-based researchers joined CMBers for an engaging and insightful “lunch and learn” to share best practices on leveraging opportunities and overcoming challenges in today’s evolving corporate environment. After all, if decisions were easy and choices were clear, none of us would work in research!

During the lunch, CMB’s Brant Cruz presented a short case study on a strategic insights architecture audit we recently conducted of Electronic Arts’ (EA) research department. With the support of senior leadership, EA’s insights team improved the effectiveness of their department, employee satisfaction, and ultimately drove improvements and efficiencies across the organization. We used the EA case study as a jumping off point for discussion because, like many of the researchers around the table, EA was asking big questions like, “how can insights drive positive change and growth?”

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CMB's Brant Cruz giving a short presentation on our recent strategic insights architecture audit for Electronic Arts' (EA) research department.

After the presentation, we opened it up to the Boston-area insights folks to discuss what they’re most excited about in the future of insights and the challenges/obstacles they currently face. It was an engaging and enlightening conversation that proved organizations across the board—agency, non-profit, financial services, etc.—are facing some of the same challenges.

Here are some emerging themes:

  • Pace of decision-making: It’s important to build in time to gather, analyze, and determine research results. There’s a need to streamline methodologies while adhering to business requirements. The challenge is making time for satisfying both.
  • Organizational structure: Many organizations we spoke to stressed the challenge of a siloed work environment where (1) departments have competing priorities and (2) are sometimes conducting their own research. This compartmentalized structure prevents the potential for the organization to have a cohesive data and insights strategy.
  • Call to action: Most agreed when one researcher mentioned the challenge of research read outs that end in “ta-da” instead of “what now”? Oftentimes there’s a lack of shared vision/grasp of actions to take based on the results. How do we move from “ah ha” moments to actionable strategies?
  • Knowledge sharing: This relates to the siloed organizational structure. When departments aren’t communicating, the organization loses a tremendous opportunity to share knowledge and data within its teams.
  • Lots of data: There’s an amazing amount of data at an organization’s fingertips that sometimes, they don’t know what to do with it. How can an organization identify what data is important that will yield actionable, valuable insight?

While there are common challenges researchers are facing, the changing landscape poses a lot of new opportunities, too:

  • Frameworks: Don’t reinvent the wheel, seize the opportunity to use and improve upon existing designs within the organization.
  • Consider new sources of information: There’s value in looking at “nontraditional” data points, for example, the behavioral psychology of consumer decision-making (e.g., consumer identity and emotion).
  • Blend techniques: Consider a hybrid approach to your research projects, combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies for a richer perspective. In adding a qualitative component to your project, you’ll dig deeper and uncover the “why” behind the numbers.
  • Make data work harder: Look at your data every which way—horizontally and vertically—to identify potentially hidden insights. Look for opportunities to integrate your data in ways you haven’t before.
  • Improve decision-making: Make insights part of your organization’s key decision-making process to drive meaningful action.
  • Focus on the business objectives—What key business questions are you trying to answer? Let that guide your data, insights, and action plan.

There are overarching challenges and opportunities we in the insights community face as organizational structures continue to evolve. And while these larger challenges and opportunities must be met with the support from the top down, there are immediate actions you can take to improve your personal effectiveness as a member of your team:

  • Be an agent of change: Embrace new ideas and tools.
  • Be future focused: Encourage people to think of research as an investment rather than an expense.
  • Be a provocateur: Shape your organization’s thinking by asking hard questions that inspire risk taking and creativity.
  • Be the voice: Advocate for bringing the customer into the organization’s decision-making. In this consumer-centric world, you must connect the brand to the consumer.
  • "Create more value from insights: Provide the "now what" and be accountable for the business result.

Reflect on your research super-power—what makes you good at what you do—and apply it in today’s challenging business environment to drive positive change.

Missed us at the Boston Lunch and Learn? We'll be at the Insights Association's Great Lakes Chapter Meet & Greet in Chicago on July 27! Enjoy cocktails and hor d'oeuvres, network with regional insights professionals, and meet with some of our lead researchers! More information here.

Judy is CMB’s VP of Travel and Entertainment, leading studies to drive strategies to get, keep and grow loyal customers and viewers.  Her super-power, passion, comes alive in her desire to connect with research teams and deliver insights of value.  

 

 

Topics: business decisions, growth and innovation

CMB Employee Spotlight: Andy Cole, Strategy Consultant

Posted by Heather Magaw

Wed, Mar 30, 2016

Andy_Cole_Chadwick Martin Bailey.jpgEarlier this year, CMB proudly introduced our new Consulting and Research Services team (CRS). This team is an extension of our long-term commitment to extending the reach of traditional market research through strategic consulting services. To better understand this team’s unique contributions to client engagements, I sat down one of our strategy consultants, Andy Cole. 

Andy, thanks for taking the time out of your day to connect. Can you tell me a little about your professional background and experiences? 

In a word, I would describe my career as “varied” or “diverse,” but most people look at my background and wonder if I have a problem sitting still. I’m originally trained as a mechanical engineer, and I started out doing R&D projects involving aerospace with Google, non-emissive fuels with the EPA, military-focused brain trauma with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), and vehicle collision forensics (with a small, lesser-known engineering company). My first regular job had me working for a large alternative energy company that would send me all over North America to climb 300-meter industrial wind turbines to figure out why they were offline, design temporary solutions to get them up and running ASAP, and work with R&D in Denmark to develop a permanent fix for systemic issues. 

I’m not sure if that meets anyone else’s definition of a regular job. So, how did you get from scaling wind turbines to a career in strategic consulting and research? 

I realized that I had a strong interest in business and management, so I got my MBA and began consulting with large, small, and non-profit organizations on a wide range of topics, including social media marketing, energy, executive training programs, and product development. I also launched two successful businesses in the innovation marketplace, helping large corporations rapidly develop new technologies and discover emerging markets, which was a great adventure but lacked the lifestyle I was ultimately looking for. 

I value diverse experiences because the most innovative solutions are borrowed from other industries and combined or repurposed in a new way. To me, this is the difference between being a true partner who can “connect the dots” versus a consultant who simply knows the best practices in a given industry. Clients don’t hire CMB if they’re just looking for best practices—we recommend a Google search for that purpose. 

Given your unique line of sight, in your opinion, what's the greatest opportunity facing businesses today that a research-based consulting engagement could support? 

There is an enormous trend in companies turning from sales-focused strategies to customer-centric design. When you hear companies embracing things like user experience, VOC, pivoting, and iterating, it’s all about observing and listening to customers, making constant measurements, testing new concepts in the market, etc. That all just screams for custom research. 

When companies are looking to become more customer-centric, they have to have a deep understanding of the target market that is backed by market information and unique insights. This is a huge opportunity for businesses to gain an advantage over their competition, and it’s truly CMB’s sweet spot. 

It seems that more and more consultants are embracing the impact of research. What’s your take on the role of research in the future of business consulting? 

The bottom line is that companies are looking for clear and confident strategic direction, and the language of today’s business is increasingly metric-oriented. It’s not enough for consultants to simply say that customers will like an idea or that a decision will result in greater revenues. The savvy business leader needs to know exactly how much more preferable a concept is and exactly how much revenue they should expect compared to taking an alternative path. Smart clients don’t trust advice without evidence to support it, and that is exactly what research provides. Good research forms the foundation on which effective strategies are built. 

Can you provide an example of a recent client engagement that blurred the lines of delineation between market research and strategic consulting? 

With the Affordable Care Act shaking up the entire healthcare industry, a large national insurance carrier saw an opportunity to use intimate knowledge of customer journey experiences and expectations to figure out which stages and channels were most influential (and would therefore pose the greatest marketing opportunity). Furthermore, the company wanted to know what messaging resonated with individual customers at each stage and within each channel, so it could be sure that marketing efforts would be as effective as possible.  

To tackle this ambiguous challenge, we took a multi-pronged and multi-phased approach: 

  1. A qualitative phase—involving in-depth interviews and moderated online discussion boards—to surface key stages, channels, and underlying context from the customer journey.
  2. A facilitated workshop with stakeholders and decision-makers to discuss key findings/insights and hypotheses, brainstorm potential solutions, and align on the path forward.
  3. A quantitative phase to reveal what individual customers value most throughout their experience and to identify which experiences have the potential to be particularly influential in the decision to purchase. 

It’s great when you get the opportunity to really dig in to that level of detail. What did you learn? 

At the conclusion of the project, we not only identified a number of surprising marketing opportunities by disproving a few fundamental assumptions, but we also validated (and put to rest) several long-standing hypotheses that were a stagnating source of internal debate. We also collaborated with the client to identify creative messaging campaigns that directly aligned with the trends stemming from our research as well as with the organization’s overarching strategic objectives. 

I look forward to hearing about more projects like this one that blur the lines in the future. Thanks again for taking time out of your day, Andy. 

Heather Magaw is the Vice President of Client Services at Chadwick Martin Bailey and has never climbed a wind turbine in her life. . .and never intends to.

Andy Cole is a Consultant at Chadwick Martin Bailey and has already left the interview to go investigate three seemingly unrelated things. 

Learn more about our strategy consulting expertise.

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, strategy consulting, healthcare research, business decisions, growth and innovation, customer journey

3 “Magical” Steps to Curbing Information Overload

Posted by Jen Golden

Wed, Feb 24, 2016

iStock_000024159442_Illustration.jpgRecently the WNYC podcast “Note to Self” (@NoteToSelf) released a week-long challenge to its listeners aimed at curbing information overload in our daily lives. In today’s internet-driven society, we’re hit from all angles with information, and it can be difficult to decide what information or content to consume in a day without being totally overwhelmed. I decided to participate in this challenge, and as the week progressed, I realized that many of the lessons from this exercise could be applied to our clients—who often struggle with information overload in their businesses.

The “InfoMagical” challenge worked like this: 

Challenge 1: “A Magical Day” – No multi-tasking, only single-tasking.

  • This challenge centered on focusing on one task at a time throughout the day. I knew this was going to be a struggle right from the start since my morning commute on the train typically involves listening to a podcast, scanning the news, checking social media, and catching up on emails at the same time. For this challenge, I stuck to one podcast (on the Architecture of Dumplings). By the end of the day, I felt more knowledgeable about the topics I focused on (ask me anything about jiaozi), as opposed to taking in little bits of information from various sources. 
  • Research Implications: Our clients often come to us with a laundry list of research objectives they want to capture in a single study. To maintain the quality of the data, we need to make trade-offs regarding what we can (or can’t) include in our design. We focus on designing projects around business decisions, asking our clients to prioritize the information they need in order to make the decisions they are facing. Some pieces may be “nice to have,” but they ultimately may not help answer a business decision. By following this focused approach, we can provide actionable insights on the topics that matter most.

 Challenge 2: “A Magical Phone” – Tidy up your smartphone apps.

  • This challenge asked me to clean up and organize my smartphone apps to keep only the ones that were truly useful to me. While I wasn’t quite ready to make a full commitment and delete Instagram or Facebook (how could I live without them?), I did bury them in a folder so I would be less likely to absentmindedly click through them every time I picked up my phone. Organizing and keeping only the apps you really need makes the device more task-oriented and less likely to be a distraction. 
  • Research Implications: When we design a questionnaire, answer option lists can often become long and unwieldy. With more and more respondents taking surveys on smartphones, it is important to make answer option lists manageable for respondents to answer. Often, a list can be cleaned up to include only the answer options that will produce useful results. Here are two ways to do this: (1) look at results from past studies with similar answer options lists to determine what was useful vs. not (i.e., what options had very high responses vs. very low) or (2) if the project is a tracker, run a factor analysis on the list to see if it can be paired down into a smaller sub-set of options for the next wave. This results in more meaningful (and higher quality) results going forward.  

Challenge 3: "A Magical Brain" – Avoid a meme, trending topic, or “must-read” today.

  • I did this challenge the day of the Iowa Caucuses, and it was hard to avoid all the associated coverage. But, when I looked at the results the next day, I realized I was happy enough just knowing the final results. I didn’t need to follow the minute-by-minute details of the night, including every Donald Trump remark and every Twitter comment. In this case, endless information did not make me feel better informed. 
  • Research Implications: Our clients often say they want to see the results of a study shown every which way, reporting out on every question by every possible sub-segment. There is likely some “FOMO” (fear of missing out) going on here, as clients might worry we are missing a key storyline by not showing everything. We often take the approach of not showing every single data point; instead, we only highlight differences in the data where it adds to the story in a significant and meaningful way. There comes a point when too much data overwhelms decisions. 

The other two pieces of this challenge focused on verbally communicating the information I learned on a single topic and setting a personal information mantra to say every time I consumed information (mine was “take time to digest after you consume it”). By the end of the challenge, even though I didn’t consume as much information as I typically do in a week, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything (except maybe some essential Bachelor episode recaps), and I felt more knowledgeable about the information I did consume. 

Jen Golden is a Project Manager on the Tech/E-commerce practice at CMB. She wishes there was more hours in the day to listen to podcasts without having to multi-task.  

For the latest Consumer Pulse reports, case studies, and conference news, subscribe to our monthly eZine.

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Topics: mobile, business decisions, research design

Making Your Brand a Habit: Why Small Patterns of Behavior Make a Huge Difference

Posted by Hannah Russell

Wed, Jan 06, 2016

Decision.jpgMost of us have heard the phrase “humans are creatures of habit,” but have you really ever sat down and thought about how habits dictate your life? From the moment you get up in the morning, habits are playing a role in how you interact with others, complete everyday tasks, and function within your environment.

In a lot of ways, habits are a necessary part of human life. Our brains naturally seek out and latch on to routines and scripts—it’s how we’re able to work so efficiently. Unfortunately, habits can also be unhealthy or unproductive. Oftentimes, we even have habits that are completely invisible to us until we take the time to truly examine our patterns of behavior.

I recently starting thinking a lot about this after picking up The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. His book details the formation of habits and neurological systems at play, colored by examples from scientists, academics, and businesses. Duhigg explains that by breaking down a habit loop into the cue, routine, and reward components, we are able to experiment and focus in on how a particular habit functions. He cautions that his book isn’t necessarily a secret formula for immediately dropping your afternoon cookie habit, but it does provide you with the necessary knowledge to start identifying which levers to adjust.

The notion that we can take our patterns of behavior and use that information to improve our personal life or business is one that really stuck with me as a market researcher. After all, as a researcher, I am constantly keeping an eye out for patterns. Patterns within and across datasets, patterns in response styles, and patterns within an industry. Patterns (or lack thereof) are often drawn upon for insight, as they tend to be a good indication if something is going right (or wrong), expected (or unexpected), or reflecting larger changes within the economy, company, or brand. This is often why businesses invest in tracking studies—a small shift in NPS or brand awareness may not seem overly interesting quarter to quarter, but it’s often part of a larger trend happening in the data. Patterns tell us a story and direct our attention to areas that we may need to investigate further.

At CMB, we spend a lot of time looking at these larger patterns and studying consumer habit loops that can impact a business. Companies looking to increase loyalty want to make their brand part of a customer’s routine—automatic and hard to disrupt.

For example, let’s imagine you’re going to pay for your groceries. Which credit card do you choose? Is it the one you always use for groceries? Do you even think about reaching for another payment method? Here’s the breakdown:

  • Cue: You’re at the register, and it’s time to pay.
  • Routine: You grab the card you always use since it earns you extra points for groceries.
  • Reward: You have your groceries, and you have earned bonus points.

By understanding these habit loops, we can begin to experiment with ways to make the cue stronger, the routine easier, or the reward more rewarding. We can also begin to understand what doesn’t work well when building brand loyalty and how these habits can be disrupted. At CMB, we’ve developed a method of segmenting on these habit loops, and each loop is linked to important outcomes such as NPS or database spend. We answer:

  • What are our client’s consumers’ habits?
  • If/how do these habits differ by consumer segments?
  • How well does each habit help drive business results?

These answers help our clients develop new strategies for reinforcing positive habits and disrupting ones that work against business goals. The takeaway: habits matter. Whether you’re looking in from an organizational or an individual perspective, these small patterns of behavior can play a huge role in both our successes and failures. 

Hannah is an Associate Researcher for CMB and is still working on transforming her coffee habit.

For the latest Consumer Pulse reports, case studies, and conference news, subscribe to our monthly eZine.

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Topics: strategy consulting, business decisions, consumer insights, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty

The Research Hero’s Journey: TMRE Conference Recap

Posted by Julie Kurd

Mon, Nov 09, 2015

I’m back from IIR’s TMRE conference—three intense days spent with hundreds of consumer insights professionals who are charged with supporting the C-Suite in these perilous and changing times. Reflecting on the challenges facing these brave souls, I’m reminded of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, the narrative pattern found in millions of stories from Greek myth to Disney films. If it’s been awhile since your last literature class, refresh yourself on the Journey here or with this simple example from Cinderella.

the hero's journey, TMRE conference recap, CMB

Now, come with me as we follow our insights heroes and heroines on the path to re-invent and re-discover the magic that drives businesses forward. 

  • Ordinary World and the Call to Adventure: The world has changed, and the Hero faces a challenge. GfK’s CEO, David Krajicek likens insights folks to calligraphers and 11th century monks who copied manuscripts and whose wondrous artistry was killed by the scalability and speed of movable type. David says that insights folks must find a way to provide CMOs with immediate answers and handcrafted artistry (which requires our patience and focus), but the latter is becoming less frequent. A lot of the time, fast and directional is all decision-makers are willing to pay for.
  • Refusal of the Call: Our Hero balks at the seemingly impossible task. The C-Suite still needs artistry and reflection, but the craft of insights requires varied tools, exceptional rigor, mastery, and time. The swift and violent current of commerce requires insights folks to offer speed. There is a place in a portfolio of insights for short-term efforts as well as more contemplative efforts. Many research suppliers offer fast/inexpensive/directionally accurate solutions, and many others offer more pensive/structured thinking. Each side refuses the call.
  • Meeting the Mentor: Our Hero finds inspiration in disruption. Seth Godin reminds us that the boss keeps begging for more—more ratings, more shelf space—yielding average products for average people. You can’t grow by solving for the average. Brands that are growing are brands that look forward (think: AirBnB). The Hero and the Hero’s Journey must progress to avoid becoming a commodity.  
  • Crossing the Threshold: Our Hero takes the first step into the new world. While everyone in the insights world is talking about data, only 6% report that they’ve crossed the threshold into actually fusing passive (unstructured) data with survey research (structured) data. One company already on its way is LinkedIn. As LinkedIn’s Sally Sadosky and Al Nevarez shared, the site has insourced most of its survey research, and LinkedIn is marrying the survey data to its data sources. The company is using big data to align its offerings with the most impactful opportunities. LinkedIn classifies/segments, ranks drivers, categorizes text, and generates lift for key metrics.    
  • Tests, Allies, and Enemies: Our Hero discovers friends and foes. On to the sessions at TMRE. . .the tests, the allies, and the enemies of the Hero as he/she journeys. Several speakers talked in generalities rather than tell their unique story—they played the middle. Our heroes found the allies and the tests in the other rooms and were rewarded with meaningful insights, including:
    • Remain optimistic, but embrace negative metrics: Poker player Caspar Berry reminded us to embrace uncertainty and to rise to meet the challenge despite the fear of failure. Risk-taking leaders are consistent and successful. They also get conned a lot, but they remain optimistic.
    • Know the game: Heineken’s Joanne McDonough conducted an entertaining and memorable presentation on the brand’s positioning—“behaving premium.” Heineken conducted mobile ethnos and interviews at exclusive night clubs in Miami, Los Angeles, and NYC. The company uncovered insights about the “Champagne Girl,” Table Service, and a lot more about dudes and their nights out.
    • Know the giants by name: Competing in the expectation economy has its impact challenges says @trendwatching’s Maxwell Luthy. It’s critical to understand the Internet of Things (IoT), the sharing economy, the “near me” or localization push, 2-way transparency (I rate the brand and the brand rates me), citizenship (of the world), and more.
    • Show your effort: Dan Ariely stressed that we need to understand that people’s cognition is relative to the time they’re willing to put into it. How can we eliminate friction? Storytelling to make insights actionable. Simple testing of the details. If there’s a way you can eliminate barriers—do it.
  • Approach: Our Hero is joined by allies to prepare for the new world. John Dryden and Kimberley Clark’s Laura Dropp talked about the next generation—Gen Z—who are always connected and never alone. These youngsters (ages 10 to 20) need you to be an easily accessible resource. Gen Zers naturally blend the physical and the virtual, making real connections fluidly, and they want our help to make a difference in the world.
  • Central Ordeal: Our Hero confronts his/her worst fears. The C-suite turnover is great, and the lowly research Hero is cast aside, playing a role perceived by many as not worthy of its own budget. It is here that researchers must make decisions about the level of risk they’re willing to take—breaking away from the tried but tired models of the past.
  • The Reward: Our Hero’s risks are rewarded. Compromises are made, and organizations are restructured to handle fast and directional insight. The budget for the thoughtful, foundational, deeper-diving insights is rewarded as the lightbulb goes on in the C-Suite.
  • The Road Back: Our Hero makes his/her way back, transformed. The marketing we grew up with is going away, and it’s time to get schooled by the world around us—embracing the new connections we must make with one another.
  • Resurrection: Our Hero must prove himself/herself once again. To drive brand zeal and customer loyalty, it’s not enough to provide a tasty meal or a clean hotel room. Consumers want a meal to be instagrammable and the hotel experience to be differentiated. At TMRE, we took clients out to Café Tu Tu Tango. We expected a good meal, but we received much more—excellent tapas and sangria, a great band, two artists painting at desks mingled with the diners (their art for sale on the walls), and a tarot card reader. It was a memorable and differentiating experience and a good example of why we can’t be content with business as usual.
  • Return with the Elixir: The Hero continues on with the power to transform as he/she has been transformed. To grow profitably, all of us need to be memorable, show our artistry or our speed, connect to the IoT, and be authentic. Research that lacks either showmanship or artistry will not suffice. We need the storytelling techniques to make insights memorable, entertaining, and, ultimately, actionable.

Where are you on your Hero’s Journey?

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: business decisions, internet of things, marketing strategy, B2B research, conference recap

Are You a Wingman to Your CMO?

Posted by Julie Kurd

Mon, Oct 19, 2015

CMB conference recap, market research conferences, corporate researchers conferenceThe traditional military definition of a "wingman" is the second pilot who flies behind and off the right wing of the lead aircraft. The wingman protects the lead by watching his/her back. As I reflected on this year’s MRA Corporate Researchers Conference (CRC) in St. Louis, I thought about my experiences with the wingmen and wingwomen of Chief Marketing Officers at Fortune 500 companies. 

Here’s what separates wingmen and wingwomen from the rest of the pack:

  • They test new stuff ALL THE TIME. Jeffrey Henning moderated a panel with Samsung’s Manvir Kalsi, Chico’s Ivy Boehm, and Lowe’s Celia Van Wickel, asking them to talk about techniques that have disappointed them. They primarily talked about emerging technologies, specifically about vendors who overpromised with facial coding in neuroscience and thematic roll ups that “create themselves” in text analytics. They discussed their “lead pilots” and their companies’ “formation” not having enough time for overly “mathy” insights. They also talked about how they’ve brought dynamic deliverables to their organizations in an attempt to reduce the PowerPoint clutter. Chico’s Ivy Boehm mentioned her quest to shift from 60 page “boring PowerPoints” (her words) to just 20 solid slides through combining information and drawing deeper conclusions. Manvir, Ivy, and Celia also discussed the challenges each of them faces as they make trade-offs in an effort to try new things—even though they know that sometimes all they need are some well-moderated traditional focus groups and a straight up, well-written quantitative survey. This panel proved that no matter the challenge, wingmen are always improving their game.  
  • They play around with working at Mach speed and at a normal pace. Microsoft’s Barry Jennings talked about the company’s Rapid Deployment Programs, which elicit feedback from customers at the later stages of the product development cycle. Successful wingmen are able to adjust and change course quickly—they can’t just head for the horizon. This is the key challenge: knowing when and where to get insights quickly at a lesser cost. At Microsoft, the process is clearly defined: ideation, iteration, validation, repeat. This process helps some concepts fail faster and helps others go to market more quickly. While Microsoft does loads of very methodical research, it’s also pushing itself to be fast and impactful vs perfect. Their program integrates activities, social and independent, moving from ideation to quant to qual and back. They collect feedback across any device and operating system, and they launch research in a day, share results, integrate historic data, and iterate. 
  • They begin with the end in mind and quantify their impact. Terrific researchers understand the business impacts of their research. Roxanne Gray, VP of Research for Wells Fargo, described the diverse household research that supports their “together, we’ll go far” promise. Customer insights played prominently for Wells Fargo as it launched its most recent campaign about the company’s commitment to helping diverse households talk about their finances. Grab a box of tissues, and see more about how Wells Fargo illustrated its 25-year commitment to people with diverse backgrounds. The impact? Roxanne’s research supported confident decision-making that quadrupled earned media. She was energized by the research itself, the executive decisions her stakeholders would make from the research, and the easy-to-digest delivery of insights that she presented as a story, and it showed. 
  • They love what they do, and they stay curious. Wingmen and wingwomen venture out to conferences to present, network, and listen to others. This deep passion for research, learning, and sharing is what keeps us sharp and focused at our organizations. At the best conferences, such as MRA’s CRC, the sheer number of wingmen and the quality of presentations (not to mention the bacon at breakfast) is incredible. If your position as a wingman isn’t rewarded with an adequate budget for this type of travel, have no fear. . . you can check out your local MRA chapter, attend online webinars, talk and listen with your global research peers face-to-face, and connect on Twitter and LinkedIn. 

Let’s keep a line of sight on our lead pilots, the horizon, our formation, and let’s go!

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: product development, storytelling, business decisions, conference recap

Navigating the Journey from Information to Insights

Posted by Lauren Sears

Thu, Oct 08, 2015

I recently had the pleasure of hearing author and entrepreneur Seth Godin speak about how to do “work that matters.” Seth’s a fantastic speaker, and he touched on topics such as the spread of ideas, marketing, and the digital economy. Here’s what stood out:

  • Adopt the “I’ll give that a try” mentality. Seth says: “It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to get your ducks in a row without even knowing what to do with the ducks.” Insights professionals know as well as anyone that a lack of focus throughout an engagement can have devastating consequences. Before aligning all your ducks and investing in a program, articulate the decisions you want to make. At CMB, we focus our teams and our clients by drilling into the business decisions together before delving into a project. A business-decision focused approach keeps us on track, ensures we’re asking the right questions, and, most importantly, guarantees that the results can be used in a meaningful, actionable way. 
  • Play infinite games. We live in a “connections economy.” In other words, meaningful work always starts with a connection. Think about communication and collaboration as a game of catch. Because you need to interact and communicate to be successful, you have to throw the ball so that the other person can throw it back. It’s not just about delivering the final presentation on time, which is why we’re so intent on building partnerships with our clients. We want to create real change, and we want to play those infinite games! Our project management style revolves around making connections and engaging stakeholders at every stage of the project. This way, we can give our clients the tools to be successful far beyond any one specific project. 
  • Stay curiousSeth’s a big fan of the term lizard brain.” That’s the part of your brain that doesn’t want you to be responsible. Suppressing the “lizard brain” and reaping the rewards of taking responsibility (and not waiting to be given it) far outweigh the safety net of “coasting.” How do you suppress this irresponsible gecko in your head? Stay curious! Translating insights into coordinated action requires looking at the results as the beginning, not just the end, of a process.

If we’re not careful, it’s easy to drown in a seemingly endless tide of information and data. So, for those of us who make the journey from information to insights each day, remember: keep experimenting, keep searching, and keep pushing the envelope!

Lauren Sears is an Associate Researcher at CMB, and this is her first blog post. She is eager to apply Seth’s advice to do more work that matters, such as binge watching The Real Housewives of NYC and grilling perfectly cooked meats. 

Topics: business decisions, conference recap