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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

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: IIR’s Front End of Innovation

Posted by Heather Magaw and Jen Golden

Wed, May 18, 2016

Front-End-of-Innovation.pngOne of our favorite speakers at the Front End of Innovation Conference (FEI) this year was Greg Brandeau, former EVP and CTO at The Walt Disney Studios and former SVP at Pixar. His talk centered on a book he co-authored called Collective Genius, which provides insight on how to create a culture of innovation in business. He presented a simple, yet compelling, definition of innovation: any change that is both novel and useful. It can be any type of change—a business process, an approach to customer service, a new product idea, or an old idea applied in a new way. 

As he was speaking, we were struck by how many of his key points aligned with themes from an all-company meeting we had both attended earlier in the day. CMB is constantly looking for ways to continue innovating across our organization, so perhaps that’s why this speaker resonated with us. Here are a few key takeaways:   

  • Decision-focused point-of-view: In order to be innovative, a business must have a focused point-of-view that drives towards a specific objective. Creating alignment within innovatively driven organizations can be challenging, but necessary. This enables all employees to work toward the same goal and take the risks to get there. 
  • No one walks on water: Greg debunked the myth that innovation is an idea or solution that comes all at once to a single person. The reality is that innovation is a team sport, which involves gathering ideas, gaining knowledge, doing research, getting feedback, evolving the ideas, etc. Everyone in the organization has something to offer, and it’s the leader’s job to identify what that is. Need an example? When Vineet Nayar took over India-based HCL, he admitted that he didn’t know exactly how to set up the struggling brand for success, so he pulled together a team of young employees and told them to come up with a plan. By embracing a new style of leadership, the company’s sales increased dramatically over the next few years.    
  • Collaboration is key: Creating a genuine sense of community is necessary for nurturing innovation. Community exists at the intersection of a shared purpose, shared values, and rules of engagement within the organization that define how individuals and teams behave, interact, and think about solutions. Truly innovative groups are able to elicit and combine members’ separate slices of genius into a collective one. 
  • Learning culture: During Greg’s career at Pixar, he spoke of a time when they nearly lost all the data from Toy Story 2. Since Greg was ultimately in charge of making sure something like this did not happen, he immediately went to Steve Jobs and turned in his resignation letter, assuming he would be fired. Steve didn’t accept it, however, reasoning that Greg had learned from his error and that it would set a bad example within the organization if someone was fired over a mistake. The takeaway? Employees might be less likely to try something new or take a chance in the future if they’re constantly worried about the possible repercussions of failure.

Tomorrow’s leaders are tasked with driving—not just executing— innovation. The leaders that will be most successful at evolving their organizations will be those who:

  • Shape the context for their employees, rather than mandate the direction
  • Amplify, rather than minimize, differences among employees and their teams
  • Create communities of people who innovate rather than expect employees to be followers who execute 

At CMB, we’re willing to take chances (on ideas and employees), which ultimately leads to a committed culture that is striving to be better. Is your company? 

Heather Magaw is the VP of Client Services. This was her first year attending the Front End of Innovation Conference, but it won’t be her last. They hooked her with the fresh fruit infused water as well as the host of great speakers. 

Jen Golden is a Project Manager on the Tech/e-Commerce team. This was also her first time at FEI, and she was happy to hear that almost losing all the Toy Story 2 data helped foster creativity at Pixar, which enabled the creation of characters like Wall-E, Dory, and Mike Wazowski.

Come innovate with us!

Open Positions

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, conference recap, growth and innovation

CMB Employee Spotlight: Andy Cole, Strategy Consultant

Posted by Heather Magaw

Wed, Mar 30, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about our strategy consulting expertise.

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

Will the Sun Set on British Brands?

Posted by Josh Fortey

Thu, Feb 04, 2016

British-brands.pngAdele, One Direction, Burberry, Downton Abbey, Kate Middleton, the Royal Family, and, of course, myself… the British are once again invading the shores of the U.S.

Young British musicians continue to take the American music industry by storm—in 2012, four out of five of the top five selling albums in the U.S. were from British artists. Just last December, approximately 10 million fans fought over 750,000 tickets for Adele’s upcoming 2016 tour. The entertainment industry is not the only one seeing dollar signs with this British Invasion. Coffee shop and fast food chain, Pret a Manger, plans further U.S. expansion after successful stints in Boston, New York, Washington DC, and Chicago, building on its brand of fresh, prepared products.

It’s clear that Britain as a brand has been riding a positive wave in the U.S. in recent years with the London Olympics and the birth of the Royal Prince and Princess acting as potential catalysts. The allure of international expansion into the American market, therefore, seems the most logical step for British brands looking for the next stage of growth. According to a Barclays study in 2013, the U.S. was considered the top current market for sales growth for British retailers, but it was also considered the toughest overseas market to break. British supermarket chain Tesco found out firsthand the difficulty of attempting to break the American market. Pre-packaged, fast-food meals have been a staple product on the shelves of British grocery chains for years, and the research, Tesco believed, seemed to suggest this could work among U.S. consumers. However, a lack of familiarity with this style of eating, the onset of the 2007 depression when Tesco’s “Fresh & Easy” chain launched, and the higher associated costs in comparison to buying fresh produce ultimately resulted in a failed $1.8 billion gamble when Tesco withdrew from the market in 2013.

The notable failure of Tesco is a stark reminder of the potential pitfalls for British retailers looking to expand into the U.S. market. While there is clear admiration for the quality and culture of British brands, any decision a British business makes in deciding to jump over the Atlantic should be highly researched and strategized. Any brand looking to break into a new international market should build their decision on a solid foundation of research, with some key research criteria identified below:

  • Identify a target market: The world is a big place. With over 200 possible markets, identifying the correct target market is critical. How have previous brands fared when venturing into new potential markets? How do exports fair? What are the current economic conditions, and do these favor new entries into the market?
  • Market conditions: GDP growth, birth rate, employment rate, and inflation rate—all of these are among a variety of macro-level economic indicators that can help gauge market condition.
  • Opportunity: Is there identifiable demand for your product in the market, and do consumers have a familiarity with your offering? Is the market existing and mature, or is it in its infancy?
  • Consumer preferences: While consumers can appear to share certain elements of cultural identity, this does not necessarily mean that they share the same purchase and consumption culture. Pret a Manger has understood this, adapting its style of service and menu for the U.S., where its coffee is self-serve, unlike the Barista approach taken in Britain.  
  • Competitive situation and positioning: Understanding the competitive situation and brand positioning of competitors can help you gauge how to uniquely position your brand to acquire market share. British brands seeking to enter the U.S., for example, can leverage perceptions of heritage and quality to command a greater price premium, but must emphasize its position and point of difference in ways that meet consumer needs.
  • Market sizing and growth potential: Have we identified our target market? Are we confident there is an opportunity? Do we have an idea of the kind of consumer we could attract and where our brand sits? Do we understand the current competitive landscape and current levels of competitor usage? Knowing the answers to these questions when entering a new market requires a market sizing task to understand the financial opportunity or return on investment. 

There has been a lot of buzz in the CMB office recently around the Boston debut of low-priced fashion retailer Primark (which is only about a half mile walk from the office). This is a hugely successful and cult brand in the U.K., but time will tell if the Irish retailer has effectively researched and gauged its ability to seduce the American consumer with its own brand of discount fashion, or whether, like many before it, they have underestimated the difficulty of breaking the U.S. market.

Josh is a Project Manager at CMB. Having recently entered the U.S. market himself, he is hoping his own brand of British fares better than Tesco’s.

We recently did a webinar on research we conducted with venture capital firm Foundation Capital on Millennials and investing. Insights include a Millennial segmentation, specific financial habits, and a look into the attitudinal drivers behind Millennials' investing preferences. 

Watch Here!

Topics: international research, brand health and positioning, market strategy and segmentation, retail research, growth and innovation

CMB Conference Recap: IIR FEI 2015

Posted by Blair Bailey and Hannah Russell

Thu, May 28, 2015

CMB Conference Recap, Front End of InnovationLast week’s Front End of Innovation (FEI) Conference brought together today’s brightest innovators to showcase designs, discuss developments, and. . .build marshmallow towers? (More on that later.) This three-day event provided countless opportunities to discuss innovation in today’s marketplace. Here are our top 5 takeaways: 

1. Be prepared to pivot. Peter Koen, Director of the Consortium for Corporate Entrepreneurship, kicked off opening night by having teams build a freestanding structure from marshmallows and wooden sticks. Although my team didn’t win, we did gain some insight into how using a learning strategy can enable quicker reactions to any issues during a process. Setting up processes for reacting efficiently and effectively after failure is becoming increasingly important for companies looking to keep up with the fast-moving marketplace.

2. Be a hero. Dustin Garis, Founder of LifeProfit, gave some great examples of brands (such as Coca-Cola and Expedia) that are becoming “heroes” for consumers by breaking up the mundane routines of our everyday life. Given that 80% of millennials prefer experiences over “stuff,” brands that can create an experience will have a much better chance of having top-of-mind awareness with younger consumers.

3. Fail fast. Deborah Arcoleo, Director for the Innovation Center of Excellence with The Hershey Company, reviewed some key points to remember when incorporating innovation into your corporate strategy. Her motto? Fail fast, fail cheaply, and make sure you capture the learnings. Innovation is often an iterative process. By catching failures early, companies can prevent costly failures further down the pipeline.

4. The innovation paradigm is shifting. Eric von Hippel, a professor of innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management, drew our attention to the shifting paradigm of producer innovation and user innovation. Steve Jobs famously said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” While producers and manufacturers were considered primary innovators in the past, users are taking an ever-growing role in the innovation landscape. Users are developing products on their own and taking advantage of open source programs to spread and build upon ideas. Even producers themselves are getting in on the fun by providing users with the tools to innovate.

5. Follow your passion. Miki Agrawal, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Wild, THINX, and SUPER SPROUTZ as well as author of Do Cool Sh*t, had a wake-up call when she slept through her alarm on September 11, 2001 and didn’t make it to work on time. From that point on, she dedicated her time to following her passions, including opening a health-conscious pizza restaurant and creating a children’s television program dedicated to healthy habits. In each of her ventures, Agrawal identified her strengths and weaknesses, and she built teams that complimented one another to achieve her goals, rather than taking on the venture alone.

While the face and pace of innovation may be changing, one thing remains clear—incremental change leads to incremental growth. It’s time to start pushing the envelope.

Blair Bailey and Hannah Russell are Associate Researchers at CMB and recent graduates from Boston University. Personally, they prefer egg drop competitions to building marshmallow structures.

Topics: conference recap, growth and innovation

It's Time to Be Bold: 5 Takeaways from the IIR FUSE Conference

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Apr 23, 2015

FUSE, branding, brand strategyLast week’s FUSE conference gathered top branding and design leaders to talk about disruption, brand strategy, and the changing marketplace. Until recently, branding experts urged brands to focus on mindfulness: gather the data, listen, and react to the results. But a new economy demands a bold and proactive approach—listening is great but it’s not nearly enough. Here are my top 5 takeaways:

1. You can call it a comeback—if you’re willing to be radical. Legacy brand Kodak is rising from the ashes of bankruptcy, and its near death reminds us of the need for disruption. Kodak CMO, Steve Overman, described the company’s journey as that of a beloved brand in search of a product suite that will serve as the brand’s emotional glue. Is this brand going to climb out of the cracks? Who knows, but if it’s got a shot, it will be through a radical reimagining of Kodak’s products and not just a tweak of its messaging.

2. Don’t discount the incredible. Futurist @bkreit (Bradley Kreit) talked about the emerging tech that’s making its way into your reality. These include: mood-spotting—algorithms that can escalate a call based on your emotions, sensors to tell you you’re running low on Tide, apps like Dorothy which allows you to click your heels 3 times and order an Uber, 3D printed domiciles, and other things like sensors for major disease self-evaluation. We’ve got the data, we’ve got the technology, and it’ll be here sooner than you think. . .all of it personalized, inexpensive, and possible. 

3. Be real, be emotional. @MorganSpurlock (Morgan Spurlock), Oscar Nominated filmmaker (Super Size Me, 2004), shared his latest project—a channel called Smartish. The concept is brand entertainment curated by “smartish” talent. How can branded content be authentic? Spurlock explains that it’s critical to identify and develop your brand’s core essence and the emotional payoff it will provide for your target market.

4. Whether you’re selling candy or condoms—you’ve got to go there. Serendipitously, I sat between one of Wrigley’s design/brand people and one of Trojan’s folks (you know. . .the condom people). I asked them both what they were really selling. The brand manager from Trojan was quick to reply with “trusted pleasure” while Wrigley’s person said, “we offer simple pleasure.” This chance encounter reminded me how important it is to think waaay outside the box.

5. This ain’t your grandma’s motivation. According to James Fox, CEO of Red Peak Branding, Millennials, who grew up with internet access, report that their friends would describe them using outward facing adjectives such as “good looking, bold, funny, creative, stylish and successful.” The older crowd, who didn’t grow up with internet access, use descriptors like “a team player, independent, and a good friend,” which are inward and loyalty focused. Brands are facing off to groups of people with enormously different basic motivations, and their messaging needs to reflect that.

The world is transforming, and to be relevant and prominent, brands need to trade-off two key roles: consistently making well-thought-out brand decisions for the core (sharpening the brand) and innovating and growing. So forget what your mother told you, it’s definitely not enough to be kind and a good listener—you need to be bold.

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.

Topics: conference recap, brand health and positioning, growth and innovation