Voices of CMB: The Chadwick Martin Bailey Research Blog

The Early Bird Gets the...Black Friday Sales Dip?

iStock 000030486308XXXLarge resized 600By Will Buxton

I like to call myself a Holiday Champion. I like to think that I enjoy the Holiday Season more than most people, and I’m definitely one of those people who is more jovial in December than any other time of year. You can probably contribute my enjoyment to one of the following:

A) The Holiday Season’s reliable signaled start (post-Thanksgiving) and finish (New Year’s).

B) The result of having a December birthday (please send all birthday presents to CMB).

C) I love the snow and the association it has with the Holidays.

D) My appreciation of all the rituals and traditions accompanying the Holiday Season.

E) All of the above

I believe it is E) All of the above, but it’s likely that some factors are more influential than others. Because I’m so appreciative of this time of year, I find myself hyper-sensitive to the events surrounding the Holiday Season. Here’s another fun fact about me: I like structure. Things around the Holidays are supposed to happen in a certain order. For example, Thanksgiving comes before Christmas and Christmas comes before New Year’s. However, more and more often, humans and even nature keep messing up the order of Holiday Season events . . .  and I’m starting to worry about the long-lasting consequences.

A few examples:

  • In 2011, New England received a considerable snowstorm just before Halloween, and despite my love for snow, it felt too soon.
  • This year, there were faux Christmas trees for sale at my local wholesale club the day after Halloween. Too soon.
  • Also this year, Kmart unofficially released the first Christmas shopping commercial on September 5th. TOO SOON.

In years past, I thought that my displeasure with these “too soon events” was because I had my own preference for what the order of the Holiday Season should be. However, it seems that this year, other Holiday Champions are sharing in my disapproval. This year also marked some of the earliest “start” times for Black Friday (is it still Black Friday if it starts on Thursday?) with stores opening at mid-afternoon on Thanksgiving Day. This list includes Old Navy (4pm), Best Buy (5pm), and Walmart (6pm). All of this must mean that spending is through the roof, right?

As you may have read by now, initial reports show that total spending on Black Friday was down 11% overall from last year. Some speculate that Black Friday numbers have dropped because of the lingering effects of the most recent recession and the increase of shopping on Cyber Monday. However, consumer confidence has been rising the past few years and holiday sales figures rise steadily every year.

Much of the advertising leading up to Black Friday this year focused on the time at which a particular store would be opening or the level of discount on particular products. Personally, what I felt was largely lacking from a lot of advertisements was the creation of a need or want for the consumer so that he/she would care about these start times and deals. I need a reason to keep track of what stores open at what times and where the best deals can be found. Is it possible that one of the contributing factors to the drop in sales for this year’s Black Friday was these misdirected marketing campaigns? Or is it that the frequency of messages and advertising extremely early doesn’t have as much of an impact on customers as we are meant to believe?

One of the ways Chadwick Martin Bailey helps our clients avoid communicating information and messages that don’t resonate with their audiences is through techniques such as Key Driver Analysis, Maximum Difference Scaling, Latent Class Segmentation, Discrete Choice Modeling, and TURF (Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency) Analyses. In combination with 30 years of experience, each of these tools affords CMB the flexibility to tailor the right questionnaire design for each client, market, customer, and product. By utilizing the right analysis, CMB is able to see beyond self-reported tendencies or likelihoods and through to the emotional drivers or motivations that trigger consumers to behave in particular ways.

Given the knowledge and capabilities of Chadwick Martin Bailey, I can only hope that one day I will see a commercial for my favorite store that goes something like this…

“Happy upcoming birthday, Will! Now that Thanksgiving has passed, it looks like it is going to snow just enough for snowballs but not so much that you’ll have to shovel the driveway! So how about you put up all your seasonal decorations, and then come into [insert store here] and buy that hover-board or teleportation machine you’ve been wanting this year!”

Will Buxton is a Project Manager on the Financial Services Team at Chadwick Martin Bailey. When not complaining about having a birthday right before Christmas, Will enjoys long drives on short golf courses and riding in party buses in Chicago.

Want to help us craft the future of messaging and market research? Join our team!

Open Positions

Tags: CMB, chadwick martin bailey, holidays, Shopping, holiday season, messaging, holiday shopping, Will Buxton, holiday, Black Friday

Stitch Fix's Fixation on the Customer Experience

By Amy Modini 

iStock 000004343641SmallHow many of you are always looking for another minute in the day? Or perhaps some of you want something new, but don’t have time to get to a store? And how many others of you just simply hate going to brick and mortar stores? 

Stitch Fix, an online personal shopping stylist, is a service in which you set up a profile and pay a $20 styling fee to have five items shipped to your door. The styling fee is applied to the items you keep, and anything you don’t want has to be sent back within three days (in the pre-paid postage package provided). The service appeals to those busy women needing convenience. 

I ordered my first “fix” last December and loved it. Like the 70% of customers, I returned for a second time. Not only is this service convenient (after setting up your profile, you literally click a button to order your next fix and select a date), but it offers fairly reasonable prices. I get excited every time Stitch Fix sends me a box, and that excitement quickly accelerates or disappears after I see what’s inside. While I loved every piece in my first fix, I’ve since had mixed results, loving and hating certain pieces.

Since launching in 2011, Stitch Fix has done several things right as it continues to build its brand and enhance the customer experience. Here are a few:

1. Knowing the target audience.  

Stitch Fix does this well. Even though the company states that its customers range from teenagers to senior citizens, it realizes that busy women in their late twenties to thirties are its primary audience. This is why convenience is at the company’s core. For busy women, the experience needs to be quick, easy, and stress-free, and Stitch Fix has been able to do just that. The company is also appealing to those women who take fashion risks, dislike brick and mortar shopping, look for the latest and greatest trends, and are perhaps less price sensitive than others. 

2. Leveraging word of mouth and building advocates.  

An integral part of this service is its referral code system. The referral codes allow customers to earn $25 toward another fix if a friend uses the referral code for her first fix. I have seen countless friends post about Stitch Fix online. Even I have told some friends about the service—especially when I receive a compliment on one of my Stitch Fix pieces—so it doesn’t surprise me that word of mouth referrals account for 95% of Stitch Fix’s new customers.

3. Listening customers and making adjustments.

    Several months ago, Stich Fix began to get a lot of publicity. Thus, demand increased and wait times became significantly longer. The company quickly realized that this resulted in a not-so-positive customer experience, so it expanded its team of stylists and shipment centers, which ultimately reduced wait times. Stitch Fix’s goal is to provide the best possible “fix” for each customer, so it continues to encourage customers to communicate through a variety of ways such as writing notes to stylists, setting up a Pinterest board to show pieces you like, and sending specific feedback on the clothing pieces you receive.

    It’s not difficult to see that Stitch Fix has no shortage of data to analyze or algorithms to apply when determining which pieces customers will enjoy, but it doesn’t rely solely on the data. It takes the data and combines it with the expertise of a stylist. In the market research world, I see this as the delicate blend of art and science.

    It’s been a few months since I’ve gotten a fix, and with the season change, it’s about time I click that button to order my next one! 

    Amy is an Account Director and a mother of two small kids, which makes her an ideal target for this service. She’s willing to give her Stitch Fix referral code to anyone who wants to try it.

    New Webinar: The New Hotel Path to Purchase: The Mobile, Social, and Online Journey – As part of CMB’s Consumer Pulse program, we asked 2,000 leisure travelers to share their journey from awareness to booking. This webinar will give insight into the role of mobile, apps, customer reviews, and social media. 

    Watch Now!

    Tags: CMB, customer experience, Shopping, Amy Modini, target audience, word of mouth, #mrx, stitch fix

    Want to Be Like Tom Cruise? How Tech is Changing Local Advertising

    CMB Tom CruiseThe day that we all become as tech-savvy and suave as Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible is fast approaching.  How do I know?  A few years after a Cruise movie is on the big screen, his cool gadgets are for sale in a store near you.  Don’t believe me?  Just watch any 24-hour cable news show and you will see that they are all using the same multi-touch wall display that Tom Cruise first popularized in the movie, Minority Report.

    Now, Google is saying that we can be just like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible with the release of his iconic sunglasses that project information onto the lens.  Can you imagine it? You could be walking around New York City with turn by turn navigation, getting information on local restaurants, activities, even places your friends have recently checked in on Foursquare or Facebook, all while strolling along, looking up instead of down at a phone (or a map… remember those?!).

    The fervor and excitement this device is creating has endless potential. I think a product like this will influence how retailers reach out to shoppers.  For example, in the future, the customer won’t be sitting at home, miles away from a store location…they will be right outside your door searching for products on their sleek Mission-Impossible-sunglasses.  As a result of this change, more focused local or location-based advertising will begin to replace the need for expansive mass media campaigns.

    The shift to more personalized advertising is already taking place with the rapid popularization of the smartphone.  According to our Consumer Pulse report: How Smartphones are Changing the Retail Shopping Experience, released last year, over half of all smartphone owners use their device when shopping in a retail store. Currently, retailers are wary of these customers as “show roomers” who will go in store to browse, but who make their purchases online to find a better price. 

    Google GogglesInstead of worrying, retailers need to take action and realize that these tech advancements in shopping can be used to their advantage to create a personalized shopping experience.  Leveraging data already collected from loyalty programs or Point of Sale can provide shoppers with a compelling reason to make their purchases in a retail store, creating and providing a seamless and elevated experience for the buyer.  The resources to make this experience a reality are available; retailers have the data, it is just a matter of learning how to use it effectively.

    Someday, when we are all like Tom Cruise and wearing spy-like glasses, advertising will need to be personalized and relevant to the individual.  Such a marketing technique will draw people in, breaking through the mass noise and bombardment of content available all around you.  No longer will accurate advertising and recommendation-engine results be relegated to online sites alone—it will be a part of your everyday life, maybe even programmed into your sunglasses.

    What do you think?  Will mobile technology transform the retail shopping experience?

    Posted by Kirsten Rasmuson, Kirsten is a Senior Project Manager on CMB’s Retail practice. She’s looking forward to welcoming our new robot overlords.

    Tags: CMB, chadwick martin bailey, advertising research, Google Goggles, Shopping, Big Data, Boston market research, Kirsten Rasmuson