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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

Breakthrough Innovation with Co-Creation

Posted by Kathy Ofsthun

Tue, Jun 06, 2017

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Innovative companies have long recognized that failure can be an important step on the way to success. Brands are told to “quicken the pace of innovation”, “try new things” and “don’t be afraid to fail”. But these days there’s little room for failure: the stakes are high and there’s more pressure than ever for brands to innovate. Customers have spoken and it’s time for brands to listen—to be customer-centric.

So how can brands challenge themselves to innovate and to try new things without wasting time and money?

Co-creation can help you innovate and sometimes, fail faster. This innovative approach is based on principles of Improvisation and System 1 / System 2 thinking and brings brands and customers together to ideate and build out promising new ideas, products, and services. Co-creation inserts customers directly into the conversation—not through a survey or by listening from behind the glass, but by working right next to you. Our approach lets you collaborate with your customers to decide what the issues are, where the pain points occur, where joy happens and where the opportunities lie. Then together you build that future.

Technological advances, including social media, 24/7 news, online reviews and the resulting rapid word-of-mouth, have put customers in the driver seat. It’s no longer brands talking to customers, rather, it’s a two-way conversation. Brands need to listen intently, be accessible and available, and authentically work with their consumers, instead of working in isolation, creating products and services that often don’t address customers’ needs, or messaging that misses the mark.

Co-creation eliminates the guessing game in an energetic and productive day or ½ day workshop. Facilitated by an expert moderator, a group of cross-functional stakeholders together with customers, collaborate at an offsite, creative space. Pre-work is assigned to upskill and orient participants to the topic. Using divergent and convergent methods, in plenary, small group and individual exercises, you jointly explore the relevant topic, ideate scores of new ideas and begin to build out the future, together. 

At CMB, our Innovation team has successfully led co-creation sessions for large CPG brands, insurance clients, academic institutions, hospitality execs and more.  We have explored food, beverages, loyalty, apparel, deductibles and education with Gen Z, Millennials, Moms, sneaker heads, professors, underwriters, patients, and probably your customer. 

Want to see co-creation in action? Check out this recent video of a workshop we facilitated in NYC for a global leader in hospitality.

Kathy Ofsthun is the Vice President of Qualitative Strategy + Innovation.  She is a facilitator and RIVA trained moderator and has co-created with clients and their customers in the Hospitality, CPG, Insurance and Academic industries.  Her Twitter handle is @ShopperMRX as Kathy loves to shop, hoarding shoes from heels to hiking boots.

 

Topics: product development, qualitative research, growth and innovation, co-creation

AI, AI, AI! What next?

Posted by Brant Cruz

Wed, May 31, 2017

robots.jpgPeople who know me are well aware I occasionally like to spin a tall tale. The routine is standard: I start with a barely believable premise, and if I see someone taking the bait, I keep adding ridiculous layers until my mark finally figures it out.

The other day started in similar fashion. Chris Neal (a colleague of mine) and I were asked by another colleague if our Silicon Valley clients were chanting this article’s mantra, “Mobile First to AI First.”  The real answer isn’t a simple “yes” or “no” (more on that in a bit). But in addition to answering the question, I decided to spin one of my famous yarns. I won’t bore you with the details, but the yarn evolved into me admitting that I was about to strike rich from investing in an MIT start-up that created AI-based robot leggings. Further, I’d sport those leggings while running the 2018 Boston Marathon as a publicity stunt.

I’m 5’9” (on a tall day) and 275 lbs. (after 24 hours of fasting). 

My only hesitation (according to the story) was that my wife was concerned my heart wouldn’t make it beyond the first mile and was greedily reviewing the details of my life insurance policy. 

Note: When my colleague reads this blog post, it will be the first time he or she realizes I was only pulling his/her leg. 

For the last few days, I’ve been basking in the satisfaction that only those with my genetic mutation feel. But that reflection has made me think–is my tale really that tall? The truth is, while neither Chris nor I hear “AI First” as universally and consistently cited as “Mobile First” was five years ago, AI is permeating strategy discussions at all major tech companies as they become more focused on the business opportunity it represents.

And, a lot of them are struggling to answer key questions. Where does AI “live” organizationally? Does it deserve its own category of products/apps, or should it remain a concept that permeates nearly every project across departments? Other challenges include foundational questions like who has subject matter expertise to advise on insights in this category adequately, and how can we market something this new (and to some, scary) effectively to the right audiences in a way that is compelling and easy to understand?

In my own experience, I can say that many consumers are ready for the realization of AI. Based on our recent work with Anki for their amazing robot Cozmo, consumers in millions of US HHs are excited to use AI in everything from fun to productivity. And, related to my colleague’s enthusiasm for my fictitious running suit, consumers in 8.8 million US households strongly agree with the statement “Tech toys/gadgets/robots make me feel closer to the future I’ve envisioned”.Cozmo Lifestyle 002-1.jpg

We’re also wrapping up a self-funded research study examining the barriers to and opportunities for getting coveted groups like Millennial and Gen Z to use Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPA—think Siri). Needless to say, AI is no longer a peripheral concept—it’s very much on the minds of consumers and brands alike. If you aren’t already, subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss a series of AI-inspired blog articles once we release our study’s findings.

In this context, I guess my MIT “get rich” story really wasn’t too far from believability. It’s possible that engineers at Nike or Under Armour are measuring up some other husky market researcher for a set of robotic leggings for some incredible athletic feat. Regardless, I’m excited about the possibilities–though my tastes tend more towards self-driving lawn mowers. 

Brant is CMB’s ecommerce and Digital Media Practice Leader, and will be co-presenting the aforementioned work with Anki at the Insights Association Northwest Educational Summit in San Francisco on June 8. In his near-future spare time he can be found hiding under his desk, avoiding his previously unsuspecting colleague. 

Are you registered for the Northwest Educational Summit on June 8 in San Francisco? If so, click here to receive our latest webinar and connect with one of our lead researchers.

Not going but still interested in learning about how Anki leverages emotions and identity to adapt, innovate, grow, and stay consumer-centric? Click here!

Topics: growth and innovation, Artificial Intelligence

7 Things Yoga Can Teach Us About Product Innovation

Posted by Judy Melanson

Thu, May 04, 2017

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Last month I spent a week in Costa Rica attending a yoga retreat and returned home feeling relaxed and balanced. As I reflected upon what I learned, I realized that what was driving my positive feelings can be applied equally well to driving success in new product innovation.

I recently wrote an article commending brands for thinking “outside the box” to drive innovation, so this parallel struck me as a relevant and timely follow up. Here are the seven steps:

Step 1: Remove Distractions

At the retreat, we were encouraged to remove distractions that interfere with being present and mindful. Try this: take a couple deep breaths, focus on steady breathing, and try to quiet your mind. Once your mind is clear, you may find yourself at peace, more relaxed, and with space to visualize your goals. Similarly, when embarking on new product innovation, a company needs to remove distractions, ground itself, and make space to visualize its goal(s). 

Step 2: Articulate the goal and visualize a successful future

Now you have space to identify your goals and visualize the futureto explore your personal purpose and to consider your North Star (your guidance). Similarly, brands must recognize and articulate the purpose of its new product innovation:  Why is innovation important (or necessary) to the organization? What are the desired outcomes? Is it attracting new (next generation) customers or reengaging current ones?  What brand benefits (or positioning) can be leveraged?  What is the North Star: Where will success take the organization? 

Step 3: Identify the roadblocks

To progress along the path of personal development, at the retreat we identified the barriers to achieving our goal. This is personal and can be challenging, but if roadblocks aren’t identified early on, it’s possible that you’ll run into them later. What’s holding the organization back? Is there anyone or anything that is preventing/hindering innovation? How can these obstacles be overcome?

Not all barriers are negative. When I’m working with clients on new product development, we look for the constraints–the rules by which the innovation must exist. While it’s tempting to chafe at the constraintsto react negatively to existing guiderailswe’ve learned about their value. Without any constraints, it’s easy to lose your way. Paradoxically then, these constraints can become a tool of innovation.  

Step 4: Stretch your thinking

With your mind clear, goals outlined, and obstacles identified, it’s time to start moving. Brands need to step outside their comfort zone into an expanded way of thinking, so develop an action plan to stretch your perspective and view of what’s possible. For me at the retreat, the action that brought me out of my comfort zone was yoga dance (!!), but brands should consider other methods. How about running a Co-Creation session? Or instead engage a panel of thought leaders or futurists on perceptions of where the industry is headed. Perhaps reach out to some Gen Z-ers, artists, or hackerssomeone who will make you think differently. If a brand is open and mindful, it’ll find points of inspiration. 

And remember to keep goingeven when you think you’re done. Just like in yoga, the work starts when you’re getting tired.

Step 5: Draw from and reflect energy back to your community

Sometimes it feels like you’re the sole voice of change, but recognize that you are part of a greater ecosystem. In yoga, this community is called your “sangha” and can provide strength, power, and support when you need it. Seek it out. Listen for it. Feel it. Innovation demands teamwork and collaboration across multiple teams, so leverage these different insights and perspectives.

Step 6: Service for others

At the retreat, I learned that yoga is something far more powerful than a fitness routine or a timeout from a busy life. Yoga is a transformative tool that enables you to show up for others and be of service to them. Similarly, an organization seeking innovation needs to act in service of its consumers. It must believe in and clearly articulate the benefit innovation provides to the consumer. Focus on how it will positively serve the consumer instead of the features and functionality it provides.

I’ve been in sales for most of my life, but I’ve never considered myself a “salesperson”.  I like to consider myself a “facilitator”—someone who helps people/brands accomplish their goals. I’m motivated by this place of serving others.

Step 7:  Commit to daily practice

Innovation that drives business results doesn’t happen overnight, and just like yoga, it requires continual practice and study. Even after you’ve launched a new product, you and your team should commit to reviewing results and continued adaptation and growth. My suggestion for daily practice: Turn off your email and go for a walk. Stretch your thinking and listen carefully to those with different perspectives. Be open to learning. Give yourself permission to fail. Just keep trying and never give up.  

I hope these learnings can help ground and focus your plans for new product innovation. I hope you find yourself more confident in your path, with a stronger sense of your organizational purpose and a franker assessment of the barriers. I hope you feel better aligned with the opportunity and to your community. I hope you feel more flexible while still being focused on your goal. 

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 Namaste (Peace).

Judy Melanson leads the Travel and Entertainment practice at CMB, focused on helping companies prioritize operational and marketing investments to drive positive business results.  An empty nester, Judy now has time in her life to enjoy painting, running and, obviously, yoga!

Topics: product development, growth and innovation

Competition is fierce:  How to innovate to drive value

Posted by Judy Melanson

Wed, Mar 22, 2017

McDonalds.jpg

In April, fast food giant McDonald’s will run a promotion to drive more foot traffic to their restaurants: customers will pay $1 for any size soda and $2 for any McCafe specialty drinks. While this short-term promotion may help reverse or at least slow the decline in visitors and boost short-term sales, McDonald’s still faces a long-term problem that a temporary price promotion can’t fix: how to drive more visitors and encourage those visitors to spend more money at their outlets. 

Increased competition and changing market needs are making it increasingly challenging for brands like McDonald's to acquire new customers while retaining existing ones. And this challenge isn’t confined to the food and beverage industry; marketers across all industries are rolling up their sleeves, putting on their thinking caps, and developing innovative strategies to stay relevant and competitive.

Here are a few stories to inspire you:

Evolution or Revolution: Opportunities to strengthen the core 

As the tourism industry evolves, heritage brands need to get creative to compete with new marketplace entrants. We’ve been working with a leading travel brand to identify opportunities to boost sales among its past travelers. First, we ran a database segmentation to identify groups of travelers with similar demographics and behaviors.  We then conducted product development research to uncover trip attributes and types of trips that would most motivate these past travelers to return.

Because of this collaboration, our client has a prioritized list of product features to consider offering to its most valued and engaged guest segments. Some preferred options are evolutionary, requiring only minor operational tweaks, others would require significant operational changes. In the short-term, they can use this information in their marketing efforts and develop tailored messaging that highlights elements that motivate each segment to travel.  When thinking long-term, the client can use this valuable information to make strategic decisions about the future of their company.                  

Engage and Grow: Offer benefits to acquire and incentivize the next generation of customers

Travelers today have more lodging options than ever before. As Millennials and Gen Y grow into “tomorrow’s best guests”, traditional hotel brands are looking to foster loyalty.  We partnered with a leading hotel loyalty program to redesign its pricing model so that members can now pay for rooms by combining earned hotel points and cash.  This change is engaging "future best guests" by allowing loyalty program members to get value from earned points in smaller increments.  Guests can redeem points earlier in their engagement cycle, incentivizing them to choose one of the hotel’s dozen brands now and in the future.

Build solutions to solve pain points

Customers and prospects may have difficulty articulating their needs (particularly when it comes to technology) but they have no trouble articulating what causes problems or pains.  Companies can take advantage of this by proactively identifying and solving for customers’ pain points. We worked with a leader in personal computers, servers, and networking products to identify, size, and target specific pain points with traditional data center infrastructure projects. With this knowledge, we designed and tested different form factors to see which type of disruptive product would be most attractive to target buyers, and how many would actually switch over in specific buying scenarios.

Strengthen foundational insight about today’s path to ‘purchase’

We’re a far cry from the traditional broadcast days. Not only are new players entering the market and pushing out original content, but now consumers can access this content when, where, and how they want.  This increased competition and increasingly complex distribution and consumption model is making it more challenging for broadcasters to connect and engage with viewers. To help understand this evolution, we collaborated with a leading broadcast network on a foundational study in the content discovery path to viewership and successfully identified specific actions and high impact segments to connect with and engage. 

The fact is, solutions like McDonald’s temporary price promotion may alleviate short-term sales slumps, but brands need to be thinking “bigger picture” to develop innovative, sustained solutions to address long-term challenges like increased competition and evolving customer needs.

 Judy Melanson leads CMBs Travel & Entertainment practice and enjoys working with clients on innovative strategies to stand out from competition, remain relevant, and break through the clutter.  She’s an aspiring painter, a yogi and a slow long-distance runner. 

Topics: customer experience and loyalty, growth and innovation

Don’t get ganked! What the rise of esports can teach us about building products that survive

Posted by Josh Fortey

Tue, Mar 14, 2017

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PAX East just left town and if you don’t know what esports is—let alone what “ganked” means—you’re missing out. While traditional team sports continue to rule the roost in the American sports landscape, esports have become the fastest growing spectator sport.

To put this into perspective, the 2016 NBA championship finals game garnered 31 million viewers, the highest count of a NBA finals on both ABC and ESPN in over 10 years. Yet more people—36 million in 2015 and 43 million in 2016— tuned in to watch some of the world’s best League of Legends teams battle it out across the Summoners Rift for the world championship crown. But these remarkable figures aren’t unique to League of Legends. Twitch, the world’s largest gaming-orientated streaming platform, clocked in 95 million hours of esports streaming across the top 10 esports titles in January 2017 alone. And that 95 million hours of esports streaming is just one third of all the streaming that happened in January for these top ten esports titles. In addition to these staggering numbers, esports has effectively carved out a niche of digitally-engaged younger gamers; approximately 1-in-5 of all Millennials are now regularly watching esports online.

Based on this strong viewership, it’s no surprise that the esports category is estimated to surpass the $1.5 billion mark by 2020. But looking beyond these remarkable numbers, esports serves as an excellent example of an industry—comprised of brands, publishers, and developers—that continues to successfully deliver on rapidly changing consumer needs despite being in a constant state of adaptation, progression, and evolution. These factors are all important in understanding the meteoric rise of esports, but they also serve up a number of lessons about listening to your customers. Lessons that brands, marketers, and product innovators must learn if they want to develop products that stand the test of time:

  • Deliver meaningful experiences. The esports graveyard is littered with failed games that sent the right message to consumers and appeared to have the “winning formula”, but ultimately just didn’t cut it. Let’s look at Infinite Crisis. Infinite Crisis launched with all the makings of "the next big thing” in esports gaming: development by Turbine, the reputable gaming studio owned by Warner Bros., financial backing from a major IP in DC Comics, a spin on the hugely popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre, an extensive beta testing phase, and a highly accessible free-to-play business model. But despite these attributes, just two months after launch, development of Infinite Crisis ended. Why? Because its makers failed to nurture a critical mass of consumers across a generic gaming audience and ignored users’ complaints of unbalanced gameplay. Infinite Crisis serves as an example of what can happen when a brand doesn’t consider what its community of users/customers is telling them about their experience.
  • Nurture your community. The Infinite Crisis example also emphasizes the importance of nurturing and listening to your community. The growth of esports is largely driven by its engaged users, and so fostering these communities is key. Fostering a community is mutually beneficial to the brand and the user—the brand enjoys increased user retention while its customers have the satisfaction of knowing they are valued.
  • Community interactivity and engagement. Brands committed to their customer communities enjoy a more genuine dialogue with their users—ultimately helping strengthen customer loyalty. Strong brands recognize this as a cornerstone to a successful esports game. Take gaming giant Blizzard and its wildly successful game Overwatch. Overwatch developers pay close attention to feedback provided on their forums (underscores the importance of my first point, too), updates users on product developments, enhancements, and innovations (or product patches), and provide detailed product roadmaps. In the world of gaming, players aren’t just customers; they’re fans, loyalists, and advocates who deserve to be engaged and updated.
  • Embed consumers in product development. When gaming companies foster a community, they open up the possibility of embedding consumers into the early stages of product development. Across many of the most successful competitive gaming titles, publishers rely on the customer voice to formulate and enhance the brand experience from early alpha testing to open public test environments. Dota 2, a successful MOBA title, takes an innovative approach to embedding customers into its esports product strategy by crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. For example, the proceeds from players’ in-game cosmetic (items that don’t affect gameplay) purchases are partially donated to its competitive tournaments prize pools. Users can also create their own cosmetic items that can be sold through an online marketplace. Both initiatives resulted in Dota 2 customers amassing a staggering $20 million in prize money for its 2016 world championship tournament, The International—the largest overall prize pool in esports history.

Esports and competitive gaming are gleaming examples of how an industry has successfully used its customers’ voice to create sustainable and attractive products/experiences. It also demonstrates the perils of ignoring customer needs. Infinite Crisis is just one example among myriad others, including Dawngate, Battleborn and Minions. If there’s an overarching lesson to be learned from the explosive success of esports, it’s that brands should first and foremost prioritize the needs of its customers.

Josh Fortey is a Project Manager at CMB who is all too familiar with the feeling of being “ganked”.

Topics: product development, customer experience and loyalty, growth and innovation

Innovation Requires Truly Understanding the Customer's Needs

Posted by Julia Walker

Thu, Dec 01, 2016

business-561387_1280.jpg“Innovation” has enjoyed a long reign as king of the business buzzwords—you’d be hard-pressed to attend an insights or marketing conference without hearing it.  But beyond the buzz, organizations pursue innovation for a number of reasons: to differentiate themselves from other brands, establish themselves as an industry leader, or to avoid producing stale products, services, ad campaigns or content.  Smart brands know that complacency is not an option and recognize they must adapt to accommodate the ever-changing consumer landscape. 

Innovation is a significant investment—the stakes are high for these new ideas to deliver meaningful results, whether by boosting the brand, successfully introducing a new product, growing the customer base, or adding to bottom line profitability. No matter how disruptive a product, service, or idea is, at the core there must be a deep understanding of customer needs. (Tweet this!) Let’s take a look at two very different attempts at innovation, and where they stumbled:

 The Case of Google Glass

For any new product (innovative or otherwise), organizations need to answer “yes” to two questions: (1) Is there a market? (2) Does it solve a legitimate problem?

No matter how revolutionary the product may be, it won’t succeed unless there’s a market for it. It's possible that a product can be too forward-thinking, leaving customers confused or unwilling to try it. Take the case of Google Glass:  though the product itself was revolutionary and consumers were intrigued, it was unclear why consumers needed Google Glass and what problem it was designed to solve.   Google Glass ended up generating low demand since there wasn’t an easily identifiable need for it. 

The key here would’ve been to first identify what customers need and then develop a product aimed to satisfy that need.  Here’s where market research can help with innovation. As market researchers we can help brands get into the mind of consumers and identify the gaps between what they are currently receiving and what they want to receive. By identifying these gaps, we can shed light on where there’s a need to be met.

 The Febreze Scentstories Flop

Other innovation flops in recent years have proven that beyond identifying customer/prospect needs, it’s also important to test how messages play to real consumers prior to launch.  

A lesson illustrated by the failure of P&G’s “Febreze Scentstories”. In 2005, the company caused confusion because they failed to educate customers properly about what the product actually was. Febreze Scentstories resembled a disc player that emitted different scents every 30 minutes (they looked an awful lot like CDs). The ads told consumers with Febreze Scentstories they could "play scents like you play music."  And while P&G partnered with superstar Shania Twain to drum up excitement, its advertising campaign confused consumers by making them think the product actually involved music.  Clearer messaging that would’ve helped prevent this misunderstanding.

Advanced analytical techniques along with strategic qualitative methodologies are a boon to brands. There has never been so much information available nor computing power capable of parsing and modeling it. But as two very different product innovations demonstrate, that sheer volume of data is not enough. What is needed for successful innovation are insights grounded in a truly consumer-centric approach. After all, only the consumer knows what the consumer wants (and needs).

Julia Walker is a Senior Associate Researcher at CMB who enjoys being innovative in her everyday life.  For instance, she loves to find creative ways to eat healthy without sacrificing taste. 

Topics: consumer insights, customer experience and loyalty, growth and innovation

Taking Our Emotions to the Polls

Posted by Victoria Young

Wed, Nov 02, 2016

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Whether you support Trump, Clinton, or neither, there’s no denying the 2016 race to the White House has been an emotional one.  Voters of all stripes are feeling a range of emotion from fear and anxiety to anger.

But why should a market researcher care about the emotional aspects of the election?  Because in elections, just like market research, emotions play a key role in determining future behaviors. For example, research suggests that voters’ feelings towards a candidate strongly influence not only who they’ll vote for, but if they’ll vote at all (Valentino et al., 2011; Finn and Glaser, 2010).american-flag-1.jpg

We know emotions impact voting behavior, but what’s the best way to gauge voter sentiment?  Should we look to social media?  Should we turn to neuroscience (biometrics such as fMRIs and EKGs)? In our client work, we take a quantitative approach to emotional impact analysis (CMB’s EMPACT℠) that measures brands’ emotional impact on consumers. Since Trump and Clinton have each built their own distinctive “brand” throughout the 2016 election, campaign managers might consider a quantitative “explicit” approach to measuring this aspect of consumer (and voter) decision-making. A quantitative methodology can:

  • Provide a quick and systematic approach to gathering big data: Quantitative analyses, like EMPACT℠, are both fast and systematic, allowing for target market/segment group comparisons that can be tracked over time. This method is ideal for a campaign manager looking to measure the sentiments of his or her candidate’s supporters.  The more information that we have about the American public, specifically those connected to voting behavior, the better insight we have into the emotional battleground that is a contentious campaign.  It’s also helpful to track voter sentiment over time to pick up on changes (e.g. October surprises) at specific junctures.
  • Compare the emotions a brand (or candidate) activates to those of their relevant competitors: Respondents might be asked to rate how a recent and relevant experience with a brand/product made them feel. This approach helps to determine a variety of emotions from basic (e.g., happiness and sadness) to social and self-conscious (e.g., pride and embarrassment). Applied to the presidential election, a quantitative approach could help determine who voters considered the “winner” of the three debates. We can look beyond the facts and policies and compare the emotions elicited by each candidate. Because presidential debates are key voter decision points, it’s imperative to track how citizens perceived each candidate’s performance beyond anger or fear.
  • Identify which emotions drive key outcomes (e.g., consideration, loyalty): After determining which emotions are activated by a specific brand/product, it’s possible to identify which are the most important for driving decisions and outcomes. Instead of focusing on polling numbers and predicting forecast stats, campaign managers could try to understand why voters have chosen a specific candidate.  Which specific emotions are motivating voter turnout? Another use of this information is to see if emotional drivers differ by segment.  How do Republicans feel about a specific candidate vs. Democrats and Independents? A strategic candidate would look at the specific emotions that drive voter support for or against them.

In the US, voter turnout hovers around 60%.  Because researchers have found that emotional sentiment is linked to voter turnout, it’s an important part of the puzzle.  If campaigns could measure how their constituents really feel during the election process, they could more effectively tailor their campaigns to elicit the kinds of emotions that translates into votes.

Like all brands, candidates are selling themselves to the public.  A smart candidate should take advantage of techniques that will help inform how they should present themselves to voters.  But no matter how you feel towards either candidate or the election in general, go out and make a difference by rocking the vote on November 8th!

 Victoria is an Associate Researcher at CMB.  She loves to eat any kind of pizza, travel to (somewhat) exotic places, and couldn’t have written this post without Spotify.

Learn More About EMPACT℠

Topics: EMPACT, emotional measurement, growth and innovation

CMB Conference Recap: MRA's Corporate Researchers Conference

Posted by Kathy Ofsthun

Fri, Sep 30, 2016

It’s been less than 48 hours after leaving the MRA’s Corporate Researchers Conference (CRC) 2016 in San Francisco and I’ve finally had a moment to reflect.   

Three topics dominated this year: Innovation, Emotion, and Qualitative and Hybrid methods.  If you created a word cloud from the sessions and keynotes, these words would pop, along with actionability, risk taking and impact.

Word_Cloud_crc.png

INNOVATION: There’s a growing intersection between innovation and market research—the need for facilitation and moderation is expanding at the same time as more and more brands wake up to the benefits of co-creation with customers.  Key takeaway: Researchers with foresight and adaptability can contribute at the fuzzy front end and not just after products are conceived of and developed.

EMOTION: Emotional measurement and neuroscience continue to be hot topics, and CRC was no exception. How do you get beyond the rational to understand the complex reasons customers make choices?  What is the science behind emotions and how can we leverage our knowledge of social psychology and neuroscience?

QUAL & HYBRID METHODS: Seven separate sessions were devoted to ways in which qualitative research was a critical addition to quantitative findings and to storytelling.  Methods such as observation, in-home (in bathroom!) ethnography, online communities and a Quant + Qual method used by eBay brought faster and better insights.

Other themes and learnings included: observe more (93% of communication is non-verbal), be prescriptive not just descriptive, walk/hydrate/power nap/meditate, think creation vs curation, design thinking, improv and that old standby storytelling. 

Along with some interesting conversation, attendees heard some big industry news—the MRA and CASRO merger. As of January 2017, MRA+CASRO will now be the “Insights Association”.  Most members favor the merger and look forward to one cohesive professional organization.  It makes sense to me too, and I thank those who surely worked tirelessly to make this happen. I just wonder about the name.  After all of the talk of “actioning” at the conference (and in our daily work), I’d like to see the name reflect more than just insights—it  feels limiting--stopping short of the more important “impact”.  I would like to be associated with the result in addition to the insight.  Let me know if you agree or disagree. 

Kathy is CMB’s new VP of Qualitative Strategy + Insights.  She loves uncovering insights from customers across the globe and lived in Shanghai for 8 months doing just that!  If you missed her at CRC, you can catch up with at TMRE or send her a shout @ShopperMRX.

 

Topics: qualitative research, EMPACT, emotional measurement, conference recap, growth and innovation

5 Questions with CMB's Director of Product Development and Innovation

Posted by Lauren Sears

Wed, Jul 20, 2016

LEd_Loessi_web_final.pngast week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Ed Loessi, CMB’s Director of Product Development and Innovation. We talked about his role defining and developing products and solutions, why agency innovation is so important, and how our innovation efforts can lead to delivering better solutions for our clients.

Historically, early innovation has been around physical products. Personally, even when I think about innovation, my first thoughts are about technology, cars, phones, etc. So why do agencies, like CMB, need to invest in innovation?

Ed: To your first point about the perception around innovation being associated with products, Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter wrote that innovation is achieved when companies craft inventions that constructively change their business models. For many decades, this was a very physical-product driven idea. However, for a service-based or information-intensive business that provides insights, the “product” is the insight itself.

This understanding makes it easy to see why companies that provide insights must be as focused on innovation as their physical-product counterparts. In order to succeed and continue to perform at a high-level, companies must constantly construct and deconstruct their business models in order to provide the best possible services to clients.

Makes sense. So, how do we get clients to value an organization that’s innovating services?

Ed: That’s actually pretty easy. If you went to anyone on the street and asked them if they want to buy this five-year-old smartphone, how many would say yes? Probably none. It’s the same with services and insights—nobody wants old insights or old ideas (unless they’re still valuable). Clients want to have all of their providers working to be the best at supplying materials, finished products, and services. What you have to do as a service provider is show that you’re constantly working to move the provision of your services forward—because that’s what moves the client’s business forward. This can be achieved by having POV’s on things that will impact your clients in the future, actively testing solutions to things that will impact them very soon, and actively engaging in solving problems that are impacting them right now. By covering the entire innovation spectrum, clients will begin to recognize you as an innovative organization.

Could you give some examples of innovation within CMB?

Ed: Sure—

  • First, CMB has been in business for more than 30 years, so there are many examples of innovation that have spanned those decades. We’ve embraced new ideas and technologies, and we have helped our clients through the peaks and valleys of changing economics.
  • The big change, and the reason for my role, has been to step up our speed of innovation. By having a person who focuses on innovation within the organization and works across all of the practice and service delivery areas, I can help things happen quicker. We’ve also matched that with a concept of virtual teams, in which people from the practice areas, service delivery, sales, marketing, analytics, and project management come together to focus on rapidly developing or upgrading an approach.
  • More specifically, we’re taking new ideas and existing approaches and applying agile methods (quick iterations, earlier customer feedback, and faster releases into the market) across all of the services that we provide. We’re working to make sure that all of our practice areas and market research services are constantly moving forward in quality and value.

You also just started an innovation group within CMB, and I’m excited to be one of its members! What was your thought process in establishing the group?

Ed: The main point of our innovation group is to have a way of training and helping more people in the company understand innovation. The company has always been innovative (hence its success over the years). The goal of the innovation group is to have as many people involved in innovation as possible and to keep people thinking about innovation as much as possible.

The innovation group contains several sub-groups, some of which focus on the innovations our clients are working on. Other subgroups look at the big challenges in market research and ask, “how do we tackle this?” All in all, we want to discover innovative ideas both internally and externally, and we want to be really good at getting those innovations to market.

What would be your advice to other agencies trying to be more innovative? 

Ed: Well, I don’t want to give away all of the secrets. However, it’s safe to say that you have to make a commitment to being innovative, and you have to do it quickly. Clients don’t want to wait around for new approaches, especially in a world that is changing as fast as the world that we live in today. You’ve got to be able to function as agilely as possible, and you have to be able to engage with your customers on those innovative ideas early and often. 

Lauren is a Senior Research Associate at CMB whose best innovative ideas form in the kitchen when she experiments with new recipes. 

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: Chadwick Martin Bailey, growth and innovation