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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

3D Diversity: High-Octane Fuel for Your Innovation Engine

Posted by Andy Cole

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

3D diversity, south street strategy, CMBDiversity in the workplace has proven massive benefits for organizations that rely on innovative thinking. Contrary to what most people believe, however, diversity in business is not just about surrounding yourself with people who look different. It’s also about equipping your team with a wide array of approaches to a common challenge.You can imagine each of us having a diversity score – based on 3 dimensions – that fluctuates depending on the collective characteristics of the team. However, the score isn’t static: each of us can increase our individual and team diversity score at will. Let’s take a look at the three common dimensions of diversity to understand how we can do this:

  1. Inherent Diversity

Inherent diversity includes race, ethnic background, gender…hardwired traits that we are born with/into and cannot be controlled. For better or worse, these traits can influence the way we perceive the world around us, and vice versa.

A McKinsey study shows the difference inherent diversity can make, finding that executive boards in the US with inherently diverse members enjoy a 95% higher return on equity than those without. Impressive! On the flipside, what is an example of the drawback to sameness? Ask Bertelsmann, whose all-male team turned down Bethenny Frankel’s pitch to launch a low-cal alcoholic beverage for women. They simply could not relate to the target market, and the unseized opportunity gave rise to Skinnygirl, the fastest growing spirit brand in history.

  1. Acquired Diversity

This dimension involves the ingrained experiences we collect throughout our lives that train us how to think and behave, such as educational background, professional expertise, and even experience abroad.

An Art History class might allow you to understand the context surrounding important works and to fully appreciate the artist’s vision. Raising children helps you value an uninterrupted night’s sleep and wholeheartedly empathize with new parents in a way that others simply cannot. Though we cannot dictate all life events, we do have a great deal of control over the diversity we acquire over time.

According to the Harvard Business Review, companies with leaders who exhibit 2-D diversity (that is, each leader possesses at least 3 inherent traits and 3 acquired traits) are 45% more likely to report growth.

While this is all wonderful, raising the level of inherent and acquired diversity at your organization (especially at the leadership level) is not something that is easily achieved. We believe a third dimension is needed; a dimension to help you raise your overall diversity score immediately with the human capital you already have: that third dimension is Inspired Diversity.

  1. Inspired Diversity

Through the development of our subject knowledge over time, mental models begin to take form and solidify in our minds. That’s natural, but these biases can also blind us to new opportunities and challenges. In order to increase our openness and mental agility, we must constantly identify opportunities to branch out from our immediate environment and learn how others might solve interesting challenges, focusing on how we might apply their insight to fit our purposes.

For example, touring a manufacturing facility can give fresh insight to the way we think about our internal processes and workflow. Interviewing an exceptional street performer could provide wisdom on courage and leadership. Perusing an exhibit at an art museum can help you reimagine your brand’s image through the artist’s lens.

When I run rapid innovation programs with clients, there is a clear trend among the super creative folks who consistently ideate at a higher level: They are renaissance people. They have many interests, are curious about many subjects, and partake in many activities that all contribute to having a wide array of perspectives. They have the unique ability to create using their past experience (acquired diversity) and also in-the-moment when they bring a specific business challenge to an outside activity (inspired diversity). They challenge themselves with new experiences and perspectives as often as possible.

When business requires innovation, pulling novel ideas out of thin air is simply not a realistic expectation; it’s about attacking a challenge from angles that have never been considered. And this level of thinking requires diverse individuals, with diverse minds, stimulated by diverse activities.

South Street Strategy Group
Andy Cole is a consultant for South Street Strategy Group where we use a multi-method approach to identify and test growth and innovation strategies for increased 
commercialization success. 

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, strategy consulting, growth and innovation

"Learn" to Innovate: Why Companies that Celebrate Failure Are Only Half-Right

Posted by Andy Cole

Mon, Feb 23, 2015

Scientist Looking at VialIn an effort to counter the fear-based culture that inhibits innovation at many companies, some leaders (GoogleAmazonRoche) have advocated actually celebrating failure. Interesting! Could this new mindset really be the key to building an internal culture of fearless innovators?Clearly, we want to create a safe environment for employees to admit faults, share lessons learned, and have the courage to attempt things that have never been done, all without the fear of reputational – or even career – consequences. But do we really want employees to idolize those who don’t accomplish what they set out to do? Although provocative, a broad policy like “celebrate failure” can be misleading and create unintended problems.

What companies should be celebrating is the learning derived from failure, not failure itself. To illustrate the difference, putting the focus on failure raises post-mortem questions like “Now that we’ve failed, what worked well?”, “what did we learn from this?”, “how might we do better?” This retroactive approach is better than nothing, but it’s in no way sufficient.

When the goal shifts to maximize learning, it invites key questions at the beginning of the process, like “what might we learn from this activity?”, “what key assumptions could we test?”, and “how might we modify the idea so that we learn even more?” As you can see, this proactive approach can guide and influence activities from early stages in a direction that prevents future failure (or at least the sheer quantity and size of failures before realizing success).

Used in combination with a project debrief, this tactic can be used as part of a powerful learning strategy, ensuring that you get the very most of your innovation activities, independent of failure or success. And that’s certainly worth celebrating.

How do these issues show up in your organization? Does your company embrace failure or learning? Do you conduct structured “after action” analyses of major initiatives to facilitate learning?  We’d be pleased if you would share your ideas, stories, rants, insights, and responses in the comments below.

south street transpAndy Cole is a consultant for South Street Strategy Group where we use a multi-method approach to identify and test growth and innovation strategies for increased commercialization success. 

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, strategy consulting, growth and innovation

In-N-Out Serves up a Side of Innovation

Posted by Hilary O'Haire

Wed, Aug 20, 2014

innovation, innovative, In-N-Out BurgerI've just returned from a week-long vacation to California, and I'm still feeling the joy (and guilt) from satisfying my ultimate indulgence: In-N-Out Burger. Since I’m an East Coaster without frequent access to their locations, my trip would not have been complete without going at least once. I have another confession: I ate there three times in ten days. I may have overdone it, but my love of the brand is predictable. In-N-Out Burger is the one chain Millennials will return to time and time again—we just can’t seem to get enough of it. This is not new nor surprising news. As a Millennial myself, I am enamored by the restaurant, which offers a simple four item menu, fast service, and garden-fresh ingredients.A report by Technomic states, “In-N-Out Burger is the chain most likely to be revisited. Millennials place greater emphasis on the concept's brand image, agreeing more strongly than other generations that In-N-Out Burger supports local community activities, offers new and exciting products and is an innovative brand.” To me, the most interesting finding is that In-N-Out’s brand is seen as innovative. This begs the question: how can they be innovative if they only offer four items? Devout fans may point to the success of their “not-so-secret menu,” which is listed only on their website and boasts creative burger combinations, as a reason. However, I’d like to think In-N-Out serves as a gentle reminder: innovation doesn't always mean complexity. Although customers may continue to eat up crazier menu choices, the actual menu at each location remains clear and unchanging: burgers, french fries, shakes, and beverages.

Although it's impossible to avoid complexity at all phases, the root of innovation or product development should remain simple. When beginning to think about innovation—perhaps a new product or new process to improve your business—let this be a helpful reminder to have a focused core set of objectives in mind. Using In-N-Out’s magic number four, take a step back and ask yourself: What are the (up to) four innovation objectives that I need to guarantee success? Your success will be defined by multiple outcomes, from stakeholder support to the ultimate goal of application or use. However, keeping clear and consistent objectives will ground your innovation through execution and management. The end result of these objectives may be unknown, but who knows?—you may find yourself concocting your own “not-so-secret menu” of innovative ideas.

Hilary O’Haire is Senior Associate at CMB. If you find yourself at In-N-Out Burger in the near future, she recommends not-so-secretly ordering your meal ‘Protein Style.’  

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Topics: millennials, growth and innovation

6 Questions with Allstate's Bob Pankauskas

Posted by Anne Bailey Berman

Wed, Aug 13, 2014

allstate, innovation, Bob Pankauskas  Allstate Insurance’s Director of Consumer Insights, Bob Pankauskas, sat down with CMB President Anne Bailey Berman to talk innovation, mobile, and what clients need to expect from market researchers.

Anne: Innovation isn’t a word people typically associate with insurance, yet the industry’s changed drastically in the past 5 years. How has that impacted you as a Market Researcher?

Bob: Innovation is a big part of what my team is charged with supporting. We’ve been doing a lot more exploration in terms of coming up with new products and services. This also means we need to broaden our toolkit with more exploratory and discovery work. For example, we’re rediscovering the world of ethnography to try and provide products and services for the future. We’ve done several ethnography projects, and we’re using new tools. We even had one of the ethnographies we did turned into a video that was used by the board of directors to showcase some interesting pain points consumers have with their cars. We’re also doing more and more concept testing and developing and exploring ideas.

Anne: So when you’re talking about innovation, you’re talking about two types of innovation. You’re talking about innovation for products and services for Allstate, but you’re also talking about the innovation of information tools in your bucket. How do you determine if the tools you’re using for innovation are really helping you more than traditional tools?

Bob: The thing we’re always searching for is that insight—that visceral reaction that consumers have. Consumers are behaving in a certain way. Why are they behaving that way? Anything that helps us get to a good insight is really useful, and a lot of the nontraditional ways seem to be more useful than the traditional quantitative approach. You have to work a little harder to get insights out of a quantitative approach, so using qualitative helps a great deal. Our CMO will say, “Great, what’s the consumer insight? What is the pain point?”  We need to focus on the problem we’re solving for the customer. It’s very easy to ask, but often we find we’re solving a problem for Allstate and not really solving the problem for consumers.  We work hard to address that.

Anne: What research challenges are keeping you up at night?

Bob: A really pressing topic of the day is the migration to mobile. It’s only a matter of time before we migrate all of our research platforms to mobile devices. We want our respondents to be able to choose when, how, and where they answer our questions. At this point, we do optimize our surveys for mobile. We pay a lot of attention to question length, simplifying response options, and usability. Our goal is to make our surveys engaging and rigorous.

Of course, trackers are a bigger challenge—it’s painful to live through that period when you say, “. . . and then we changed everything and our numbers are different.” But there are incremental opportunities that mobile provides—being in the moment, getting a real-time view of sponsored events, and just the ability to capture insights when customers are in the midst of an experience. We’re also really excited to utilize consumer-generated images to get more color and context from mobile cameras and not just words and numbers.  The shift is inevitable and the opportunities are there. We just need to be mindful of what we lose and what we gain as we make trade-offs in terms of trending.

Anne: What about target markets?

Bob: We’re trying to go after Millennials like everybody else. Everybody is chasing them, and it’s hard to crack the code. Going after a target means going after them well—understanding their motivators and having a product or service that is tailored to them. I think we have found how they liked to be talked to. They want to be treated with respect. They do want to research things online, but they still want to talk to somebody and touch base with them. It’s more about the “how” and less about the “what.”

Anne: What consumer insights get you most excited? Which tools?

Bob: It isn’t necessarily the tool that gives you the best insights. It’s creating receptivity and listening carefully. One of the most powerful insights we had at Allstate was the need for tangibility. Insurance is an intangible product or service. When you’re getting it, you really don’t know what you’re getting.

The thing is that we’re trying to solve the same problem again and again. So the issue is, how can you—as a smart marketer, researcher, or innovator—change your perspective just a little bit and look at the same thing you’ve been looking at for a long time and say, “Oh! Wow! Look at that! That’s new!” Now maybe it wasn’t new, but you changed your perspective and suddenly saw it. Many of the new techniques allow that change in perspective, and that’s pretty powerful.

Anne: And finally, what would you tell market research vendors about how they can best support the decisions you need to make?

Bob: Partner with your clients. Experiment as often as you can because you’ve got to make changes. You don’t put all your bets on the stuff, but you do have to test and learn. And then the second thing is TLDR—too long, didn’t read. It’s a great feeling to know there’s a 100 page deck of tables to support whatever the project is and that you’ve got your money’s worth. But that’s not at all what we pass on to our internal clients. We live in an ADD world. We’re all time starved, so we need to get to that 1 page summary. Tell me the 2 things I need to know—what’s your recommendation and how this is actionable? The ability to do that is what I’m looking for in a partner.

Check out our new case study to see how we helped a top 25 global bank develop a new value proposition and evaluate perceptions of various service channels and transactions.

DOWNLOAD CASE STUDY HERE

Topics: insurance research, mobile, consumer insights, millennials, Researchers in Residence, growth and innovation

Mixing Up the Perfect Summer Innovation Cocktail

Posted by Simon Peters

Wed, Jun 18, 2014

innovation, innovation cocktail, insights, big dataRecently, I attended the CASRO Technology & Innovation Event in Chicago and came away with a fantastic cocktail recipe.  But this isn’t a recipe for an exotic mixed drink or even a unique twist on a classic G&T.  It’s a recipe for innovation, and it’s made with ingredients we all need to have in our organizational “bar”:Ingredients needed:

1 part Big Data

3 parts insights

2 parts socialization

Step 1:  Start with a healthy dash of Big Data. While Big Data can give us a whole lot of “so what?” and “who cares?” information, it’s also a tremendously powerful tool.  In case you’re thinking it’s a fad, think about the growth of wearables and virtual immersive technologies—both are growing industries based around Big Data. While a deluge of information can create a challenge, there’s also a major opportunity for companies who can parse, integrate, and leverage it. For those of us working with Big Data, the focus has to be on depth rather than on breadth. Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee), author of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook and guest speaker at the CASRO event, noted that we already have the ability to do this with data from social media.  We should be leveraging the massive amounts of free data already available to us via social media sites—like Facebook and Pinterest—to help us better understand customers at a personal level and engage them even more directly over the same social media sites.

Step 2: Mix in a healthy dose of those meaningful, relevant, and contextual insights. And I’m talking the good stuff—insights that are deep, accurate, and actionable. The kind that pair with recommendations and address real challenges.

Step 3:  Fill the rest of the glass with a heady mix of socialization and distribution. At the CASRO event, I had the opportunity to see and hear about a lot of great technologies for mining and connecting data as well as for distributing results.  Two themes emerged: 1) the importance of socializing your insights and 2) the importance of getting your insights into the hands of the decision makers. One of the easiest and most effective ways to deliver this is via online dashboards. David Mazva, from Infotools, spoke about the journey his company had with a global client and the advancements they had to make in their dashboards to meet this client’s evolving needs.  He specifically noted that people and companies are spending less time analyzing and more time acting on the data, which is something we at CMB have been focusing on for the past decade and is now more important than ever. It’s why we’ve spent a great deal of time developing dashboards that merge the strategic with the tactical.

As head of our Technology Solutions team, I’m the first to shout that dashboards are great—especially our dashboards—but I know they have more of an impact when delivered over the right medium.  Increasingly, this medium is becoming the mobile device. Convenience is no longer just nice to have–it’s a must-have.  We see this playing out now as we design for mobile first since respondents are taking more surveys on their mobile devices today than ever before.  Let’s take this one more step.

Now, you have insights on a dashboard and delivered to you on a mobile device, which enables you to make business decisions faster.  Why not squeeze additional value out of these insights by putting it out on your social networks?  And once it’s on social media, see what connections are out there to drive new insights and opportunities.  There are free tools, like NodeXL, which can map hubs, bridges, groups, and peripheries of a socially connected network.

Step 4: Stir vigorously until innovation is part of your long-term strategy. Jon Puleston, VP of Innovation at Lightspeed GMI, gave a great presentation on companies that have thrived from innovation.  He spoke about GE, Amazon, and others all having a very similar approach to delivering growth through innovation.  These companies all actively search and plan for innovation.  They integrate it into their long-term financial models, which allows them to react quickly to great ideas versus waiting for funding to become available.

The takeaway? If you’re looking to innovate, you’re going to need more than creativity served neat—you’ve got to have the right ingredients mixed just the right way.

Simon leads CMB’s Technology Solutions team. In between developing dynamic and engaging dashboards, he occasionally enjoys a real cocktail.

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Topics: technology solutions, big data, conference recap, growth and innovation