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Which #MRX Conference Is Right for You?

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Jun 02, 2016

In the lives of kids and teens, you have your birthdays and your “half” birthdays. In the world of market research conferences, you also have main events and “half” events—the main events are the IIR TMRE Conference (in October) and the MRA’s Corporate Research Conference (in late September). These are the coming-of-age events—lots of attendees, many tracks, guest speakers whose names you recognize, and clients from the world’s leading brands.

In my role at CMB, I participate in a lot of conferences. In addition to the large fall conferences, there’s a lot to be learned at the smaller conferences that bloom each spring. As you think about what you want and expect from your conference experience, crisscross the country with me as I share a little about 2 great “half” events:

ISC2014LogoLong.pngMRA’s Insights & Strategies Conference (ISC)

The MRA ISC is perfect for low pressure networking and conversation, and the content is great. Here are some reasons to register:

  • Your boss will approve of the cost, and your family will love the shorter duration. This conference was located in New Orleans this year—which is a convenient nonstop flight from most US locations—and, with a civilized 1pm check-in, you can get a full day of work in before you go. Less expensive than other comparable events, this conference offers several tracks, covering dozens of topics with 45 speakers. In contrast with the super large conferences (which many extroverts like me love and attend in Q4), this conference has a manageable ~400 attendees.
  • Learn about new innovative companies and techniques, and reconnect with your key research vendor partners. Unilever’s Marie Wolfe introduced me to two nicely positioned qualitative research solution companies: Discuss.io and WeSeeThrough. These two innovative qualitative research companies offer new options for online qualitative—rapid online interviewing from Discuss.io and sensor technology from WeSeeThrough. Companies like CMB are there too, mixing new and proven techniques with tried-and-trusted rock solid execution.
  • Exceptional networking. Networking is essential to remaining vital in the workforce, even if speaking to strangers isn’t your favorite thing to do. ISC builds in a lot of natural networking functions with different types of people in mind—sessions are small, large, adventurous, workshoppy, and sometimes even involve bacon. Sessions range from 20 minutes to 1 ½ hours and are often interactive. The meals are all varied, so you can sit at large tables one meal and walk around cocktail style for another meal.
  • Location, location, location. MRA does a great job pushing us to truly experience the city we’re in. Whether you’re visiting a local company or trailing a marching band down Bourbon Street on a Wednesday night, if you attend an MRA conference, you’ll venture outside the hotel because they create activities and experiences for you to do it. MRA is great at picking cool new places that even frequent travelers like me haven’t visited, including St. Louis and now New Orleans.

IIR’s TMRE in Focus: the New Face of Consumer Insights

tmre_in_focus.pngI initially wondered if it was worth it to lose a day at the office flying from Boston to California to attend such a small (125 person) event. In addition to strong content, here’s why I’m glad I participated:

  • Hands-on, experiential sessions. This conference experimented with new, hands-on, experiential formats, including workshop breakouts. For example, during the Netflix session, we all collaborated at tables of 4-8 people to condense 6 slides into 2 to get a more relevant storyline from the insights. Every table had new ideas and enhanced the final discussion. This hands-on collaboration helped to create mental “stickiness.”
  • Problem solving perspective. Speakers were focused on solving client side researcher problems, ranging from improving the research organization and impact at your company to collaborating on a common goal. The digital world requires serious structural changes to assess and prioritize every option for your brand. For example, when Pinterest spoke, they focused on the rising tide of DIY (do it yourself) research and noted that the company’s department of 10 researchers handles all qual and quant in-house. Pinterest’s researchers are focused on helping the company become a catalog of ideas where people can discover, save, and share the things they love. As you evaluate the research department of tomorrow, look to your peers for clues on how to structure it, what to outsource, and whether to centralize or decentralize the research budget.
  • West coast orientation. Attendees were primarily from the west coast (Gap, Microsoft, Netflix, Warner Brothers, Twitter, Pinterest, Kendall Jackson, Gallo, etc.). A number of non-west coast attendees were from companies like L’Oréal that could combine the trip with office visits to its sub-brand home offices. This is a location-focused conference. So, if you want to connect with NoCali and SoCali researchers, this might be a good option for you.   
  • In hotel experience. This event took place at the Ritz-Carlton at the world’s largest marina—Marina del Rey. We took initiative to leave the “campus”—venturing to Venice Beach and Santa Monica—and invited other conference-goers after the conference ended both nights, or we never would have left the hotel. Meals were simple, and the conference started late and ended early each night.

If you’re sending people to several conferences next year, or if you’re choosing from all your options, consider the May conferences. First, compare both agendas to see if one conference has more content you’re interested in or more speakers from companies you want to learn from. Next, take location, time of year, and conference size into consideration. When it’s time to decide, weigh all the information against your goals. Happy learning! 

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

CMB Conference Recap: Uncovering Innovation - the Clay Street Project at P&G

Posted by Ed Loessi

Mon, May 23, 2016

Light_bulb_with_plant.jpgThis month, I had the opportunity to attend the Front End of Innovation conference here in Boston. One of the most exciting keynote addresses was provided by Karen Hershenson, Leader of the Clay Street Project at Procter & Gamble (P&G) and was titled Innovation from the Inside-Out. The idea of innovation from the inside-out is especially intriguing to me, because CMB has committed to extensive efforts in product development and innovation. We’ve formed an innovation group within the company—drawing participation from people all across the organization. Having been involved in innovation programs for the better part of 10 years, I've learned innovation is not a one-size fit all proposition and that it’s essential to learn from other leaders and companies about how they harness innovation within their organizations. Karen’s story and ideas did not disappoint.

5 Key Lessons from the Clay Street Project:

Karen leads a team of designers, educators, and marketers that solve innovation challenges for P&G brands and noncompetitive Fortune 500 companies. The group—the Clay Street Project—was formed in 2004 and has been instrumental in building innovation teams, individual innovation and creative skills, and impacting many P&G brands. The group is often tasked to solve problems that keep their leaders up at night, addressing cross-business-unit challenges, and looking at entirely new products, or processes that have hit roadblocks.

Karen highlighted some of the key things that drive the delivery of innovation for Clay Street and P&G including:

  • Use a defining question – “How might we?”: I found this to be an excellent question because it's entirely open-ended, it doesn’t pre-suppose or seek to direct a particular path, it just asks “how” and lets the person take that first step.
  • Create the conditions, innovation from the inside out: This is essential. Innovation is not something that can be mandated. Innovation is something you seed, water, nurture, and see what happens, course correcting along the way. On their website, Clay Street notes that innovation is a by-product of work, team, and systems and that many organizations make the mistake of focusing on only one of those, which kills the entire process.
  • “All practitioners of innovation have a process, and we're no different”: I, in particular, liked this idea. I could clearly see the team has a process, but it’s an open process. The process of starting with the right question and creating conditions, which seems a bit fluid, are in fact a process. It’s just that the process doesn’t dictate how you work, nor does it say that your challenge can be solved using this templated idea. By letting the team figure these things out on their own, it’s more likely they’ll learn the lessons and that knowledge will stay with them as they move out into the organization.
  • Help teams deliver better long-term value: Ultimately, this is the mission of the Clay Street Project. Innovation impacts so many areas within a company, and there are many individual measures along the way, but in the end, it’s about better long-term value.
  • Understand your environment: As a global company, P&G requires deep consumer insight and long product pipelines filled with solutions for many different types of customers. The types of innovation that P&G need are different from other companies. There are many innovation methods and philosophies to embrace, but you must choose the ones that match your company’s culture and customer environment.

I saw many things within Clay Street’s guiding principles that are relevant to CMB. In particular, the need to create the conditions for innovation. As a company, CMB has been innovating for three+ decades; we may not have always called it innovation, but we have now put a stake in the ground, and we are calling it out, putting resources towards harnessing innovation as a defining principle. We are clear in our minds that innovation is how we are going to create long-term value for our clients and the company. Finally, we understand our environment, which is part of a rapidly changing service and information industry. Market research is being impacted by technology, changing service models, big data, and client competition. Our need for innovation has its drivers, but I could see that it has many of the same requirements as those of a larger multi-national company like P&G.

Ed is the Director of Product Development and Innovation at CMB. 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

Topics: product development, consumer insights, conference recap, growth and innovation

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

What Winning Really Means in the Corporate World

Posted by Judy Melanson

Wed, Mar 09, 2016

photo by lincolnblues on FlickrWhen I watched this year’s Academy Awards, I celebrated with the rest of Hollywood when—after six previous losses—Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar. USA Today reported: “It was an arduous journey for DiCaprio himself getting to the Oscars stage and taking a winning lap, but he got there. And for now at least, undoubtedly, he is king of the world.” King of the World. The Winner. 

All this talk about “winning” (given the Oscars and the political primary season) has me thinking about what it takes to be a winner in the corporate world. To win in a crowded field, you must:

  • Be excellent: Winners consistently perform better than competitors. They understand the importance of skill, practice, training. . .and maybe a little bit of luck!
  • Be different: Winners capitalize on their unique strengths to propel themselves forward and stand out from competitors.
  • Take risks: Living a life of safety and conformity may be really comfortable, but winners push the envelope, try different things, and take paths that others don’t.
  • Surround themselves with a high-performing team: In every category—sports, entertainment, business, etc.—winners are supported by a group of committed, talented colleagues.
  • Project confidence: Winners expect to win. They project confidence in their body language, posture, tone, and words. 

For those of us executives and managers without a golden statue, medal, or election, how can we tell if we’re winning?  

In business, we frequently use sports—and war—metaphors to describe our activities and accomplishments. We hit a home run with a new ad campaign. We battle for market share. But, the definition of winning varies by industry and company. For some, it can be measured by stock price/performance; for others, it’s measured by market share. But the focus on market share, in a rapidly changing environment, can mean that you’re the winner in a market that’s shrinking or disappearing altogether. 

Unlike a single metric, a balanced scorecard—aligned with the future success of your organization and considering multiple metrics (financial, customer, employee, and operational)—may provide a better assessment of organizational “winning.” 

ralph waldo emerson success quoteFor most of us, there is no finish line. Because of this, we all have to individually define what success means to us in our current job. From my perspective, in addition to executing on the core requirements of our jobs, success means that we are continually:

  • Improving: Always developing, learning, and evolving our skills
  • Contributing: Supporting the financial success of our firms
  • Purposeful: Acting with passion, genuine interest, and excitement   

On my bureau, I have a framed copy of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s definition of success. I will never win an Academy Award or Gold Medal, but I will be successful, and I will be a winner.    

Shall I start writing my acceptance speech? 

Judy leads the Travel and Entertainment Practice and has a red carpet dress picked out just in case she gets nominated in the future.   

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Topics: consumer insights

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.

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

The CMB Blog 2015: 6 of Our Favorites

Posted by Kirsten Clark

Wed, Dec 30, 2015

chaos_vs_clarity_light_bulb.jpgWe run this blog a little differently than other corporate blogs. Instead of relying on a few resident bloggers, each of our employees writes at least one post a year. This means you get a variety of perspectives, experiences, and opinions on all aspects of market research, analytics, and strategy consulting from insights professionals doing some pretty cool work.

Before we blast into 2016, we wanted to reflect on our blog this past year by taking a second look at some of our favorite posts:

  1. This year, we launched a market research advice column—Dear Dr. Jay. Each month, our VP of Advanced Analytics, Jay Weiner, answers reader-submitted questions on everything from Predictive Analytics to Connected Cows. In the post that started it all, Dr. Jay discusses one of the hottest topics in consumer insights: mining big data.
  2. Research design and techniques are two of our favorite blog topics. A member of our Advanced Analytics team, Liz White, wrote a great piece this year about conjoint analysis. In her post, she shares the 3 most common pitfalls of using this technique and ways to get around them. Read it here.
  3. In June we launched EMPACTSM— our emotional impact analysis tool. In our introductory blog post to this new tool, CMB’s Erica Carranza discuss the best way to understand how your brand our product makes consumers feel and the role those feelings play in shaping consumers’ choices. Bonus: Superman makes a cameo. Check it out.
  4. Isn’t it great when you can take a topic like loyalty and apply it to your favorite television show? Heidi Hitchen did just that in her blog post this year. She broke down the 7 types of loyalty archetypes by applying each archetype to a character from popular book series A Song of Ice and Fire and hit HBO TV series Game of Thrones. Who’s a “True Loyal”? A “Captive Loyal”? Read to find out!
  5. Our Researcher in Residence series is one of our favorite blog features. A few times a year, we sit down with a client to talk about their work and the ideas about customer insights. Earlier this year, our own Judy Melanson sat down with Avis Budget Group’s Eric Smuda to talk about the customer experience, working with suppliers, and consumer insights. Check it out.
  6. We released a Consumer Pulse report earlier this year on mobile wallet use in the U.S. To deepen our insights, we analyzed unlinked passive mobile behavioral data alongside survey-based data. In this post, our VP of Technology and Telecom, Chris Neal, and Jay Weiner, teamed up to share some of the typical challenges you may face when working with passive mobile behavioral data, and some best practices for dealing with those challenges. Read it here.

What do you want us to cover in 2016? Tell us in the comments, and we look forward to talking with you next year!

Kirsten Clark is CMB’s Marketing Coordinator. She’ll be ringing in the New Year by winning her family’s annual game of Pictionary.

Topics: strategy consulting, advanced analytics, consumer insights

Say Goodbye to Your Mother’s Market Research

Posted by Matt Skobe

Wed, Dec 02, 2015

evolving market researchIs it time for the “traditional” market researcher to join the ranks of the milkman and switchboard operator? The pressure to provide more actionable insights, more quickly, has never been so high. Add new competitors into the mix, and you have an industry feeling the pinch. At the same time, primary data collection has become substantially more difficult:

  • Response rates are decreasing as people become more and more inundated with email requests
  • Many among the younger crowd don’t check their email frequently, favoring social media and texting
  • Spam filters have become more effective, so potential respondents may not receive email invitations
  • The cell-phone-only population is becoming the norm—calls are easily avoided using voicemail, caller ID, call-blocking, and privacy managers
  • Traditional questionnaire methodologies don’t translate well to the mobile platform—it’s time to ditch large batteries of questions

It’s just harder to contact people and collect their opinions. The good news? There’s no shortage of researchable data. Quite the contrary, there’s more than ever. It’s just that market researchers are no longer the exclusive collectors—there’s a wealth of data collected internally by companies as well as an increase in new secondary passive data generated by mobile use and social media. We’ll also soon be awash in the Internet of Things, which means that everything with an on/off switch will increasingly be connected to one another (e.g., a wearable device can unlock your door and turn on the lights as you enter). The possibilities are endless, and all this activity will generate enormous amounts of behavioral data.

Yet, as tantalizing as these new forms of data are, they’re not without their own challenges. One such challenge? Barriers to access. Businesses may share data they collect with researchers, and social media is generally public domain, but what about data generated by mobile use and the Internet of Things? How can researchers get their hands on this aggregated information? And once acquired, how do you align dissimilar data for analysis? You can read about some of our cutting-edge research on mobile passive behavioral data here.

We also face challenges in striking the proper balance between sharing information and protecting personal privacy. However, people routinely trade personal information online when seeking product discounts and for the benefit of personalizing applications. So, how and what’s shared, in part, depends on what consumers gain. It’s reasonable to give up some privacy for meaningful rewards, right? There are now health insurance discounts based on shopping habits and information collected by health monitoring wearables. Auto insurance companies are already doing something similar in offering discounts based on devices that monitor driving behavior.

We are entering an era of real-time analysis capabilities. The kicker is that with real-time analysis comes the potential for real-time actionable insights to better serve our clients’ needs.

So, what’s today’s market researcher to do? Evolve. To avoid marginalization, market researchers need to continue to understand client issues and cultivate insights in regard to consumer behavior. To do so effectively in this new world, they need to embrace new and emerging analytical tools and effectively mine data from multiple disparate sources, bringing together the best of data science and knowledge curation to consult and partner with clients.

So, we can say goodbye to “traditional” market research? Yes, indeed. The market research landscape is constantly evolving, and the insights industry needs to evolve with it.

Matt Skobe is a Data Manager at CMB with keen interests in marketing research and mobile technology. When Matt reaches his screen time quota for the day he heads to Lynn Woods for gnarcore mountain biking.    

Topics: data collection, mobile, consumer insights, marketing science, internet of things, data integration, passive data

It's Not the Technology. . .It's Us

Posted by Mark Doherty

Wed, Oct 28, 2015

technology, human problem, cmb, data integrationWe’ve come a long way, baby. . .

In the past three decades, the exponential growth in technology’s capabilities have given us the power to integrate multiple sources, predict behaviors, and deliver insights at a speed we only dreamt of when I was starting out. CMB Chairman and co-founder, Dr. John Martin, was an early cheerleader of the value of using multiple methods and multiple sources, so the promise of bringing disparate data sources into a unified view of customers and the marketplace is this researcher’s dream come true. 

While integrating data to help make smarter decisions has always been a best practice, it is the advances in technology that have allowed for an even greater and easier integration. Below are some recent examples we’ve implemented at CMB:

  • In segmentation studies, we include needs/attitude-based survey data, internal CRM behaviors, and third-party appended data into the modeling to create more useful segments. Our clients have found that our perceptual data is a necessary complement to their internal data because it helps explain the “why’s” to the “what’s” that the internal behavioral/demographic data tell them.
  • For our brand tracking clients, we often combine web analytics (e.g., Google search data, social media sentiment analysis, client’s web traffic statistics) and internal data (e.g., inquiries, loyalty applications) with our tracking results to help tell a much more nuanced story of the brand’s progress. Additionally, we use dashboards to tie that data together in one place, providing a real-time view of the brand.
  • Our customer experience clients now provide us with internal data from call center reports (detailing the types of complaints received) and internal performance metrics to complement our satisfaction tracking. 

. . .but we’ve got a ways to go.

While many organizations are leveraging technology to integrate data for specific decision areas, I see a number of stumbling blocks. Many companies are still failing to develop an enterprise-wide, unified view of the marketplace—and the barriers often have little to do with the data or tech themselves: 

  • Organizational siloes make it very challenging for different functional areas to come together and create a common platform for this type of unified view. 
  • Moreover, the politics of who owns what—and more importantly, who pays for what—oftentimes means efforts like this never get off the ground.  

So, while it seems like technology is helping make all sorts of different data “play together,” we as humans haven’t mastered the same challenge! 

How do organizations overcome these challenges to take advantage of this possibility? Like most challenges, the solution starts with senior leadership. If the C-suite makes it a priority for the organization to become customer-centric and stresses that data is a big part of getting there, that goes far to pave the way for the different personalities and siloes to come together. Starting small is another way to tackle this problem. Look for opportunities in which teams can collaborate, even if it’s something as simple as looking at subsequent purchase behaviors from customers six months after they complete a satisfaction questionnaire in order to develop/refine the predictive power of your customer experience tracking. Starting small can create a more positive beginning to the partnership, building the trust and communication necessary to attack the bigger challenges down the road.

Mark is a Vice President at CMB, and while he recognizes that technology has absolutely transformed all aspects of his professional and personal life, he sees meaning in the fact that he prefers his music playlists generated by humans, not algorithms. Long live the DJ!

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Topics: consumer insights, B2B research, data integration

The Power of Kaleidoscope Thinking

Posted by Anne Bailey Berman

Mon, Jul 27, 2015

KaleidoscopeI can’t count the number of presentations and lectures I’ve attended throughout my professional career. While many have contained grains of useful insight, few have remained as relevant as one I attended by Harvard professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter. In that presentation, she argued that we should practice “kaleidoscope thinking.” I’ve always loved that idea—"look at all of your assets, move them around, and see if they create new opportunities." While Kanter was talking about marketing, I’d argue that today those of us in the information and insights business must practice this type of thinking more than ever.

To me, kaleidoscope thinking describes how we should approach information to reveal insights that are useful for our clients. Regardless of the volume and sources of information (e.g., characteristics, behaviors, beliefs, satisfaction, intention, and experiences), much of what we are trying to do is understand the patterns that will influence behaviors. In our information world, we call this analysis.

The sheer vastness of available data can be paralyzing or—worse—lead to catastrophic decision-making. We need to put the right information in our “kaleidoscopes” and view the data and decisions in different ways. By thoughtfully turning the barrel, we can see all the different decision paths until we uncover those that are best for increasing opportunity and decreasing risk. It is critical that we develop the skills to see and understand the most useful patterns and insights—not necessarily the solutions that first appear. This is what provides the most beautiful (read: useful) image in the kaleidoscope. 

Anne is the President of Chadwick Martin Bailey and a collector of kaleidoscopes. This summer, she can be found lecturing on storytelling in the insights industry.  

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Topics: business decisions, consumer insights