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Getting Your Customers Beyond Price

Posted by Cara Lousararian

Tue, Mar 15, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How are you prioritizing customer convenience and experience?   

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

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

Punxsutawney Phil Predicts a High Open Rate

Posted by Caitlin Dailey

Thu, Feb 18, 2016

groundhog_day.pngRemember when clerks asked for our email addresses? Now, at many stores, we’re just told to give it. The result is an inbox flooded with promotions and “flash sales” from so many places that you can’t keep track of which brand is offering what. We’re bombarded with so many emails—which we may not have even wanted in the first place—that hearing the ding of a new message has become more of an annoyance than a delight. Are people even reading these emails anymore? And if they aren’t, just how effective are email marketing campaigns these days? 

Over the past couple of years, people have debated whether email marketing is still lucrative. Email services like Gmail are getting smarter—allowing consumers to curate their emails more effectively, which further complicates the matter for marketers. Still, most marketers agree that while it’s a viable tactic, email marketing strategies need to be adjusted so emails ultimately deliver positive interactions that drive results. This means ditching the “batch and blast” and moving to a more personalized approach. Combining market segmentation and database analytics, marketers can be smarter about which messages get delivered to which customers. 

Segmentation is indisputably powerful, but, once you’ve targeted your audience, there are rules of thumb for creating emails worth opening. According to this Entrepreneur article, your email should do one (or more) of four things: solve a problem, save your recipients money, make them smarter, or entertain them. I recently received an email that checked off two of these boxes, creating interest for me to read past the subject line...

On February 1st, DSW sent me a promotional email with the subject line: “Tomorrow, Phil’s deciding our deal.” Because the next day was Groundhog Day, I was interested enough to open the email and see how this related to a shoe sale. The email said that the deal would either be 25% off boots or 25% off sandals. The next day, I got the following message: “Groundhog says. . .25% off sandals for an early spring!” If Punxsutawney Phil had predicted 6 more weeks of winter, we would have received 25% off boots. It was a really clever and engaging (and money saving) way to stand out among the sea of promotions and campaigns I receive every day. Now, I can only hope that I’ll get a chance to wear my new sandals before May. 

If you’re looking for new ways to reach your customers with more personalized/relevant messages and you need help targeting them, check out our segmentation capabilities here

Caitlin Dailey is a Project Manager at CMB. Outside of work, she is a company dancer with DanceWorks Boston. After last year’s winter, she is glad that Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring!

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

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

What’s in a Name? ABC Family Grows Up

Posted by Julia Walker

Thu, Nov 12, 2015

This January, the ABC Family channel will become “Freeform.” The name change, triggered by a misalignment between ABC Family’s current brand strategy and associations the current name conjures, aims to appeal to the brand’s target audience—a more mature, young adult demographic. President Tom Ascheim calls this group "Becomers," males and females ages 14-34 who are going through an exciting life stage of firsts, ranging from "first kiss to first kid."

So, what can viewers expect from Freeform? According to the company, at least some things will stay the same. Freeform will keep a number of popular shows (e.g., Pretty Little Liars and The Fosters) and continue beloved traditions like Harry Potter Weekends and 25 Days of Christmas. But viewers can also expect new programming that takes the brand further from its family-friendly image. 

While the name change seems warranted, a rebrand can certainly flop if not carried out thoughtfully (think: when Radio Shack became “The Shack”). Here are four steps worth following to ensure long-term success in launching a rebrand:

1. Conduct thorough research about the competitive landscape and your target market. Rebranding involves a tremendous amount of preparation, time, and effort, and it risks confusing customers and losing brand equity. It’s wise to consider the repercussions before making changes that might not solve the underlying problems. Renaming infamous private security firm Blackwater to the shorter XE, for instance, hasn’t done the trick. For ABC Family’s part, research revealed many respondents unaware of the brand see it as “wholesome,” which is an indication that the channel’s name was a real sticking point to broadening its audience.

2. Communicate early and often. Being proactive about communication is essential during a rebranding campaign to avoid confusion and to dissuade potential rumors. All marketing and promotional materials should be honest and clarify any questions customers may have, such as the reasoning behind the change or what to expect from the new brand. On ABC Family's social media pages, for instance, some viewers expressed concerns about whether or not the new network would continue its popular 25 Days of Christmas campaign. The channel is leveraging these platforms as a way to answer questions and ease viewers’ fears.

3. Engage customers. Getting the consumer involved is a productive way to create buzz around the rebrand. One way ABC Family has done this is through a user-generated campaign (UGC) in which fans can create content to be posted on the channel’s website. This effectively generates hype around the launch just in time for the January television premieres. Social media can also be used to cultivate engagement with fans. ABC Family already has an impressive social media presence around hit show Pretty Little Liars, which is cable's second most tweeted-about series, but the channel will need to continue encouraging active participation throughout the rebrand.

4. Don’t let the name change stand alone. The name change itself should only be part of a rebrand, and it should be accompanied by an internal strategic shift. The branding must deliver on its promises, or the rebrand will fail to bring about any brand lift. A rebrand can’t be a "superficial facelift," but a sustainable strategic change that allows for the brand to flourish. 

Only time will tell if Freeform can create new content that attracts Becomers and evokes viewers’ "spirit and adventure," while also leveraging existing brand equity to maintain its current core audience.  

Julia Walker is an Associate Researcher who is very excited to continue watching Harry Potter marathons on the new Freeform network. 

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Topics: television, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty, digital media and entertainment research

Happy WoW-loween: World of Warcraft Gets Player Delight Right

Posted by Liz White

Thu, Nov 05, 2015

 world of warcraft, segmentation, customer experience

We all have our own way of celebrating the fall season. For some, it’s apple-picking, leaf-peeping, or downing mug after mug of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. For me, the defining event of the fall happens not in Boston, but in Azeroth at the World of Warcraft’s (WoW) annual celebration of Hallow’s End. Held every year, this two-week, in-game holiday is both a great example of effective seasonal marketing and a demonstration of Blizzard Entertainment’s nuanced understanding of its customer base. Not to mention, it’s just plain fun.

Hallow’s End was introduced to WoW in 2005, and in the past ten years, it’s grown dramatically in scope and popularity. Although Blizzard hosts other in-game seasonal celebrations (Pilgrim’s Bounty, Feast of the Winter Veil, and Brewfest are just a few), Hallow’s End seems to attract more notice both in and out of the game than any of the others. 

world of warcraft, segmentation, customer experience

Why all the excitement?  The success of Hallow’s End is due in large part to the fact that it offers something for every kind of player. Who are they, and what do they get out of Hallow’s End? Here’s a sampling:

  • Mount Collectors: Hallow’s End heralds the return of the Headless Horseman, a formidable raid boss with a sweet ride. The Horseman’s steed, an undead horse with glowing green eyes and hooves, is one of the most coveted mounts in WoW, and it’s only available for players to win during this event. Those who grab one will gleefully parade their prize for the rest of the year, and those who don’t are doomed to count down the days until the Horseman’s return. 

world of warcraft, segmentation, customer experience

  • World Travelers: For many (myself included) the most compelling feature of WoW is the massive scale and breathtaking beauty of the game’s world. Sadly, high-level adventurers have little incentive to explore low-level areas. During Hallow’s End, however, Candy Buckets appear in inns throughout Azeroth, offering in-game currency and achievements for players who seek them out. The Candy Bucket hunt is a great excuse to revisit old haunts and to seek out some new ones. 
  • Pet Battlers: Pet Battling is relatively new to WoW, but it’s become quite popular. Pets are small creatures or constructs that a player accumulates over time (ranging from the common Brown Rabbit to the exotic Anubisath Idol). Like WoW characters, pets can be leveled to acquire new abilities and then pitted against one another in gruesome fights to the death. Hallow’s End provides the opportunity for players to add seven new pets to their arsenal, including several creepy crawlies as well as a feline familiar who wears a witches’ hat and rides on a broom. Deadly and adorable! 
  • Duelists & Jokesters: In addition to its various quests and collectables, Hallow’s End creates a communal space for players, who gather to celebrate in front of the flaming Wickerman (see him below in one of my own screenshots!). It’s unusual to have so many players assembled at once, and this combined with the holiday mood tends to lead to player dueling. For those who love to duel, Hallow’s End is a perfect opportunity. WoW also encourages player-on-player action during the holiday by offering holiday themed wands that can be used to transform other players into bats, ghosts, skeletons, and even (gasp!) humans.

world of warcraft, segmentation, customer experience

And that’s not all! In addition to the above, other Hallow’s End offerings include raid-quality equipment (for dungeon delvers), garrison decorations (for garrison builders), and experience bonuses (for those leveling up).  Regardless of why and how you play, the holiday has something for you.

While World of Warcraft has had its ups and downs, it’s indisputably one of the most well-known and well-loved games. One reason is that Blizzard not only allows, but promotes and celebrates, a wide range of play styles during Hallow’s End and beyond. Ask yourself, does your business offer products or services intended for a broad customer base? Do you understand who they are, what they like, and what makes them different from one another? CMB can help! Contact us to talk segmentation and product development, and we’ll help you add firepower to your own arsenal. 

Happy Hallow’s End!

Liz White (BadDecision) is a level 100 Blood Elf Warrior, who loves blacksmithing, long flights over Azeroth, and running advanced analytics for CMB. Give her a shout either IRL or in-game, and she’ll be happy to help you optimize your build.

world of warcraft, segmentation, customer experience

Topics: customer experience and loyalty, market strategy and segmentation, digital media and entertainment research

You Cheated—Can Love Restore Trust?

Posted by James Kelley

Mon, Nov 02, 2015

This year has been rife with corporate scandals. For example, FIFA’s corruption case and Volkswagen’s emissions cheating admission may have irreparably damaged public trust for these organizations. These are just two of the major corporations caught this year, and if history tells us anything, we’re likely to see at least another giant fall in 2015. 

What can managers learn about their brands from watching the aftermath of corporate scandal? Let’s start with the importance of trust—something we can all revisit. We take it for granted when our companies or brands are in good standing, but when trust falters, it recovers slowly and impacts all parts of the organization. To prove the latter point, we used data from our recent self-funded Consumer Pulse research to understand the relationship between Likelihood to Recommend (LTR), a Key Performance Indicator, and Trustworthiness amongst a host of other brand attributes. 

Before we dive into the models, let’s talk a little bit about the data. We leveraged data we collected some months ago—not at the height of any corporate scandal. In a perfect world, we would have pre-scandal and post-scandal observations of trust to understand any erosion due to awareness of the deception. This data also doesn’t measure the auto industry or professional sports. It focuses on brands in the hotel, e-commerce, wireless, airline, and credit card industries. Given the breadth of the industries, the data should provide a good look at how trust impacts LTR across different types of organizations. Finally, we used Bayes Net (which we’ve blogged about quite a bit recently) to factor and map the relationships between LTR and brand attributes. After factoring, we used TreeNet to get a more direct measure of explanatory power for each of the factors.

First, let’s take a look at the TreeNet results. Overall, our 31 brand attributes explain about 71% of the variance in LTR—not too shabby. Below are each factors’ individual contribution to the model (summing to 71%). Each factor is labeled by the top loading attribute, although they are each comprised of 3-5 such variables. For a complete list of which attributes goes with which factor, see the Bayes Net map below. That said, this list (labeled by the top attributes) should give you an idea of what’s directly driving LTR:

tree net, cmb, advanced analytics

Looking at these factor scores in isolation, they make inherent sense—love for a brand (which factors with “I am proud to use” and “I recommend, like, or share with friends”) is the top driver of LTR. In fact, this factor is responsible for a third of the variance we can explain. Other factors, including those with trust and “I am proud to wear/display the logo of Brand X” have more modest (and not all that dissimilar) explanatory power. 

You might be wondering: if Trustworthiness doesn’t register at the top of the list for TreeNet, then why is it so important? This is where Bayes Nets come in to play. TreeNet, like regression, looks to measure the direct relationships between independent and dependent variables, holding everything else constant. Bayes Nets, in contrast, looks for the relationships between all the attributes and helps map direct as well as indirect relationships.

Below is the Bayes Net map for this same data (and you can click on the map to see a larger image). You need three important pieces of information to interpret this data:

  1. The size of the nodes (circles/orbs) represents how important a factor is to the model. The bigger the circle, the more important the factor.
  2. Similarly, the thicker the lines, the stronger a relationship is between two factors/variables. The boldest lines have the strongest relationships.
  3. Finally, we can’t talk about causality, but rather correlations. This means we can’t say Trustworthiness causes LTR to move in a certain direction, but rather that they’re related. And, as anyone who has sat through an introduction to statistics course knows, correlation does not equal causation.

bayes net, cmb, advanced analytics

Here, Factor 7 (“I love Brand X”) is no longer a hands-down winner in terms of explanatory power. Instead, you’ll see that Factors 3, 5, 7 and 9 each wield a great deal of influence in this map in pretty similar quantities. Factor 7, which was responsible for over a third of the explanatory power before, is well-connected in this map. Not surprising—you don’t just love a brand out of nowhere. You love a brand because they value you (Factor 5), they’re innovative (Factor 9), they’re trustworthy (Factor 3), etc. Factor 7’s explanatory power in the TreeNet model was inflated because many attributes interact to produce the feeling of love or pride around a brand.

Similarly, Factor 3 (Trustworthiness) was deflated. The TreeNet model picked up the direct relationship between Trustworthiness and LTR, but it didn’t measure its cumulative impact (a combination of direct and indirect relationships). Note how well-connected Factor 3 is. It’s strongly related (one of the strongest relationships in the map) to Factor 5, which includes “Brand X makes me feel valued,” “Brand X appreciates my business,” and “Brand X provides excellent customer service.” This means these two variables are fairly inseparable. You can’t be trustworthy/have a good reputation without the essentials like excellent customer service and making customers feel valued. Although to a lesser degree, Trustworthiness is also related to love. Business is like dating—you can’t love someone if you don’t trust them first.

The data shows that sometimes relationships aren’t as cut and dry as they appear in classic multivariate techniques. Some things that look important are inflated, while other relationships are masked by indirect pathways. The data also shows that trust can influence a host of other brand attributes and may even be a prerequisite for some. 

So what does this mean for Volkswagen? Clearly, trust is damaged and will need to be repaired.  True to crisis management 101, VW has jettisoned a CEO and will likely make amends to those owners who have been hurt by their indiscretions. But how long will VW feel the damage done by this scandal? For existing customers, the road might be easier. One of us, James, is a current VW owner, and he is smitten with the brand. His particular model (GTI) wasn’t impacted, and while the cheating may damage the value of his car, he’s not selling it anytime soon. For prospects, love has yet to develop and a lack of trust may eliminate the brand from their consideration set.

The takeaway for brands? Don’t take trust for granted. It’s great while you’re in good favor, but trust’s reach is long, varied, and has the potential to impact all of your KPIs. Take a look at your company through the lens of trust. How can you improve? Take steps to better your customer service and to make customers feel valued. It may pay dividends in improving trust, other KPIs, and, ultimately, love.

Dr. Jay Weiner is CMB’s senior methodologist and VP of Advanced Analytics. He keeps buying new cars to try to make the noise on the right side go away.

James Kelley splits his time at CMB as a Project Manager for the Technology/eCommerce team and as a member of the analytics team. He is a self-described data nerd, political junkie, and board game geek. Outside of work, James works on his dissertation in political science which he hopes to complete in 2016.

Topics: advanced analytics, data collection, Dear Dr. Jay, data integration, customer experience and loyalty

What's the Emotional Impact of Your Ancillary Revenue Strategy?

Posted by Judy Melanson

Tue, Oct 13, 2015

The CarTrawler Yearbook of Ancillary Revenue reports that airlines generated $38 Billion in ancillary revenue in 2014, up 20% year over year. The report highlights the brands generating the most ancillary revenue–in terms of total revenue generated ($5.86 billion for United Airlines), the percent of revenue it represents (38.7% of Spirit Airline’s revenue) and discloses top revenue sources (e.g., frequent flier miles sold to partners, fees for checked bags, and commissions from car rentals).

Clearly, ancillary revenue is not confined solely to airlines; theme parks, cruises, car rentals, hotels all boost revenues from selling additional products, services and measure.jpgmerchandise. And it’s easy to see why. In addition to driving incremental revenue, ancillary products and services enable a supplier to (1) offer a competitive base price - essential (particularly in some segments like cruising) to enter into a traveler’s consideration set; and (2) meet the needs of their guests by merchandising – and conveniently delivering – what customers crave and where they’re willing to spend extra.

But there are potential costs as well. A quick read of the Cruise Critic blog points to ‘high-pressure’ sales tactics employed by ship employees and the negative impact it has on the guest experience. Eavesdrop on airline rent-a-car counters and you’ll hear the ‘fear, uncertainty and doubt’ in the voice of infrequent car renters. And hop onto a Spirit airlines to get an earful of complaints (“$3 for a water bottle?!”). Suppliers—particularly in the Hospitality industry—need to think about their brand position and why their customers buy from them as they consider the revenue and cost of this incremental revenue stream.

Our recommendation: to develop a customer-centric ancillary revenue strategy you need to consider the ‘emotional impact’ it will have on your key customer segments and the emotional fingerprint your brand wants to leave on its customers. Is your brand in the business of making key customers feel delighted? Secure? Valued? If so, the Ancillary Revenue offers should avoid making customers feel angry and frustrated! First step is to identify the top emotional drivers of your brand and investigate whether the Ancillary Revenue products are aligned; consider whether the revenue strategy reinforces, or conflicts with, the desired emotional end-benefit. Watch our recent webinar to learn about our approach: EMPACT℠: Measuring Your Brand's Emotional Impact

There are plenty of positive examples of ancillary revenue opportunities aligned with the desired emotional impact. Here are a few:

Disney: There is no FastPass on rides for younger kids at Disney – and the wait time can easily surpass the patience of kids… and their parents. On a recent trip to Disneyworld, a colleague spent over $100 buying buzzing, spinning, bubble-blowing toys from push-carts surrounding the rides. The toys kept her son happy and occupied. She felt delighted; turning waiting in line into a fun instead of a frustrating experience.

Disney mastery in this area is evident. It successfully offers many products and services that drive ancillary revenue that reinforce the desired emotional outcomes – during and after the trip: the MemoryMaker photo package, the pins/guest books/signatures and stamped pennies, the character breakfasts.

Tigerair, serving Asia-Pacific destinations, offers a fee-based service to travelers waiting for a flight connection of at least eight hours where they can visit the city-center and go sightseeing. As a traveler, I’d feel productive, happy and secure (knowing that I’d be back in time for my flight!)

Hilton Worldwide: When traveling, for business and pleasure, most travelers describe Wi-Fi as an essential service. For years, most major full service hotel brands provided access for a daily fee. Slowly, but surely, major brands like Hilton Worldwide have moved to a position of providing basic access to all loyalty program members. Doing so removes a highly charged negative emotion and reinforces a feeling of ‘being valued.’ Ancillary revenue will be created through sales of the premium internet service with the negative emotional blowback of ‘nickel and diming’ for a basic requirement.

The key take-away: The quest for ancillary revenue will only heat up. Ensure your strategy aligns with – and supports – the reasons customers buy from you and the emotional benefit they’re looking to achieve.

Learn More About EMPACT℠

Topics: travel and hospitality research, EMPACT, emotional measurement, customer experience and loyalty

Harry Potter and the Missing Segment

Posted by Kirsten Clark

Thu, Sep 03, 2015

harry potter, segmentation, branding, slytherinGryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin? Brave, loyal, wise, or ambitious. . .which one are you?

For those of you unfamiliar with the Harry Potter series, these are the 4 houses that make up Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When each young witch and wizard enters the school, a magical hat sorts them into one of four houses. Each house values certain attributes. Gryffindors value bravery and daring. Hufflepuffs value kindness and loyalty. Ravenclaws value knowledge and intelligence. Slytherins value ambition and cunning. The three main characters are Gryffindors (Harry, Ron, and Hermione), and most of the series’ villains come from one house in particular: Slytherin. Based on the rigorous questionnaire I completed on the Pottermore, I discovered I, too, am a Slytherin.

This past summer, I went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL to immerse myself in the whimsy and magic of J.K. Rowling's world. Let me start by saying that if you’re a Harry Potter fan, the theme park is definitely worth a visit. The attention to detail is incredible. However, I have a bone to pick. I went to this theme park eager and willing to spend money on paraphernalia that would let me proudly represent my house. . .but I couldn’t find a single shirt that I liked. I went into every shop multiple times and was astounded (and disappointed) at the lack of Slytherin branded items. Gryffindors, on the other hand, had an expansive array of shirts, blankets, and cardigans to choose from.

Let my disappointment serve as a perfect example of why segmentation is so important. Without a useful segmentation, you can miss out on extremely valuable customers. It’s also essential in learning how to market to different groups of target customers with different needs.

As is the case with many brands, it’s possible Hogwarts’ houses aren’t just separated by character values, but also by consumer values and shopping habits. Maybe Slytherins are more price sensitive (though the Malfoys would demonstrate otherwise) or perhaps they don’t like to advertise that they’re cunning individuals (because that would make it a bit harder to be cunning). It’s also possible that Slytherins only make up a very small percentage of Harry Potter fans (we are special, after all), which would justify the lack of money and space Universal spent on Slytherin merchandise. Of course, it’s also possible that the opposite of all of this is true. . .but it’s more than the Sorting Hat will be able to tell you.

I did end up buying a patch with my house crest, and I let J.K. Rowling know that it’s time for Slytherins to get the respect we deserve. She has yet to respond.

Kirsten Clark is a Marketing Associate at CMB. Even though she’s a Slytherin, she closely identifies with Hermione Granger. In fact, in true Hermione fashion, she was once limited to asking only one question per day in elementary school.

The Sorting Hat might not be able to help you with segmentation, but we can. 

Learn About Our Approach to Segmentation

Topics: travel and hospitality research, customer experience and loyalty, market strategy and segmentation

A Lesson in Loyalty: Will J. Crew Get a Clue?

Posted by Hilary O'Haire

Wed, Aug 05, 2015

loyalty, branding, retailIf you follow news in the fashion world, you may have read about recent setbacks at preppy retailer J. Crew. Following another disappointing quarter of earnings, the company announced corporate lay-offs and changes at the helm of their women’s clothing design strategy. Although J.Crew has been quick to take action, its poor performance goes beyond declining sales and disappointed customers. Even customers most loyal to the brand are shouting their frustrations in the social media streets (see: “Dear J.Crew, What Happened to Us? We Used to Be So Close”).How could the direction of a company—known for its devout customer base—take such a dramatic turn? Although off-the-mark designing is partially to blame, many are frustrated with the poor construction and quality of the clothing. As a loyal customer, I have relied on J.Crew for items that are basic closet staples and distinctly on trend. Like others, however, I have been disenchanted by their new lines—my $40 t-shirt is stretched out after one wear and a hole has appeared near the seams. This is not the outcome one would expect when paying that much for a basic t-shirt. Sarah Halzack summed up the issue well in her Washington Post article on the topic—“J.Crew is learning the hard way that in an era when e-commerce has presented women with ever-greater shopping choices, customer loyalty is hard to win and incredibly easy to lose.”

That’s a point J. Crew and other retailers need to take seriously. It’s certainly true for me. Receiving poorly crafted items from a higher price brand such as J.Crew creates a sharp disconnect. After experiencing this, I’m more likely to purchase from one of many cheaper brands (e.g., H&M or ASOS). Most shoppers that I know feel the same way. In facing this challenge, J.Crew needs to re-examine its core strengths. What positive attributes drove customers to advocate the brand in the first place? Is it quality (as in my experience) or is it design? Is it something else? Although the world of fashion is very forward-thinking (fashion-forward!), the case of J.Crew is a good reminder for brands to consistently monitor and deliver on the core aspects that first led to success.  

Hilary O’Haire is a Project Manager on the FIH/RT team. Having worked for J.Crew back in college, she is particularly hopeful the brand will make a comeback!  

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

The 7 Types of Loyalty You'll Find in the 7 Kingdoms

Posted by Heidi Hitchen

Mon, Jun 01, 2015

game of thrones logoWarning: This post contains spoilers for George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones.

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” This is the message of popular book series A Song of Ice and Fire and hit HBO TV series Game of Thrones. In the fictional world of Westeros, you learn pretty quickly that honor, duty, and loyalty will get you nowhere.As market researchers, we can learn a lot about loyalty from Westeros. There are more kinds of loyalty than there are self-proclaimed kings of the 7 kingdoms—and just like those kings (sorry, Tommen), these types of loyalty aren’t all created equal. Luckily, we have a way of categorizing (and then quantifying the value) of different types of loyalty—a concept I’ll illustrate using some of our favorite Westerosi characters.

In the world of loyalty measurement, everyone starts in the first archetype, which is just plain “Loyal.” Assuming that everyone is loyal in some way is certainly a dangerous assumption in Westeros, but we’ll take our chances and put everyone who isn’t a Wildling into that category to start.

True Loyal: You can argue that as the sworn sword of Renly Baratheon (deceased) and Catelyn Stark (also deceased), Brienne of Tarth has not been terribly successful. But, you can’t deny that she’s gone out of her way to fulfill her vow of reuniting the Stark girls. Come the Hound or high-water, she’s devoted. This is the type of customer (or sworn sword) we’d all like to have in our corner.

At-Risk Loyal: Varys may say he’s true to the 7 Kingdoms, but the former Master of Secrets’ loyalty extends only so far. . .which Tywin Lannister (RIP!) learned a little too late. In Westeros, and in the marketplace, this type of loyalty is the one you’ll have to work to hold on to.

Deal Loyal: Your customer may enjoy your product as much as Bronn enjoyed being with Tyrion, but don’t forget that sell swords and Deal Loyal customers are primarily motivated by bags of gold—or discounts.

Uninvolved: This could have described our friends in Dorne until very recently (thanks, Cersei), but perhaps the most accurate example of the Uninvolved are the average citizens of Westeros. These people don’t hold much allegiance for any king—they just want to make it through another winter with their heads attached. It’s the same (well, not exactly the same) for your uninvolved customer. They use your brand but are pretty indifferent overall.

Distribution Loyal: Petyr Baelish’s allegiance is questionable at best. Baelish (who is better known as Littlefinger) spreads his loyalty across the kingdom, manipulating people and resources to slowly claw his way into power. He may be loyal to House Tully (and the Starks by extension), but we know he’s also made major plays for the Lannisters. It’s all about the end game for Littlefinger, which is why he’ll use people as a means to an end and then switch when something better comes along.

Captive Loyal: Poor, poor Sansa. Can’t a girl catch a break? She’s had three fiancés and two husbands, and she's still held prisoner by her claim to the North. While she’s recently learned how to use her circumstances to her advantage, I’ll go out on a limb and say she’s probably on the lookout for a better option—the North remembers. Like Sansa, Captive Loyals aren’t satisfied with your product, but they’re likely to continue using it for the time being.

Where does your loyalty lie?

Heidi Hitchen is a true loyalist to House Stark. She’ll continue to root for the King in the North until the White Walkers come for her. Winter is coming!

Watch our recent webinar to learn about our results-focused emotional measurement approach we call EMPACT℠: Emotional Impact Analysis. Put away the brain scans and learn how we use emotion to inform a range of business challenges, including marketing, customer experience, customer loyalty, and product development.

WATCH HERE

Topics: television, customer experience and loyalty, digital media and entertainment research