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A Lesson in Storytelling from the NFL MVP Race

Posted by Jen Golden

Thu, Feb 02, 2017

american football.jpg

There’s always a lot of debate in the weeks leading up to the NFL’s announcement of its regular season MVP. While the recipient is often from a team with a strong regular season record, it’s not always that simple. Of course the MVP's season stats are an important factor in who comes out on top, but a good story also influences the outcome. 

Take this year, we have a few excellent contenders for the crown, including…

  • Ezekiel Elliot, the rookie running back on the Dallas Cowboys
  • Tom Brady, the NE Patriots QB coming back from a four game “Deflategate” suspension
  • Matt Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons veteran “nice-guy” QB having a career year

Ultimately, deciding the winner is a mix of art and science. And while you’re probably wondering what this has to do with market research, the NFL regular season MVP selection process has a few important things in common with the creation of a good report. [Twitter bird-1.pngTweet this!]

First, make a framework: Having a framework for your research project can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed by the amount of data in front of you. In the MVP race, for example, voters should start by listing attributes they think make an MVP: team record, individual record, strength of schedule, etc. These attributes are a good way to narrow down potential candidates. In research, the framework might include laying out the business objectives and the data available for each. This outline helps focus the narrative and guide the story’s structure.

Then, look at the whole picture: Once the data is compiled, take a step back and think about how the pieces relate to one another and the context of each. Let’s look at Tom Brady’s regular season stats as an example. He lags behind league leaders on total passing yards and TDs, but remember that he missed four games with a suspension. When the regular season is only 12 games, missing a quarter of those was a missed opportunity to garner points, so you can’t help but wonder if it’s a fair comparison to make. Here’s where it’s important to look at the whole picture (whether we’re talking about research or MVP picks). If you don’t have the entire context, you could dismiss Brady altogether. In research, a meaningful story builds on all the primary data within larger social, political, and/or business contexts.

Finally, back it up with facts:  Once the pieces have come together, you need to back up your key storyline (or MVP pick) with facts to prove your credibility. For example, someone could vote for Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. because of an impressive once-in-a-lifetime catch he made during the regular season. But beyond the catch there wouldn’t be much data to support that he was more deserving than the other candidates. In a research report, you must support your story with solid data and evidence.  The predictions will continue until the 2016 regular season MVP is named, but whoever that ends up being, he will have a strong story and the stats to back it up.

 Jen is a Sr. PM on the Technology/E-commerce team. She hopes Tom Brady will take the MVP crown to silence his “Deflategate” critics – what a story that would be.

Topics: data collection, storytelling, marketing science

Can Facial Recognition Revolutionize Qualitative?

Posted by Will Buxton

Wed, Aug 03, 2016

Full disclosure: I’m an Android and Google loyalist, but please don’t hold that against me or the rest of my fellow Android users, who, by the way, comprise 58% of the smartphone market share in the United States. As a result of my loyalty, I’m always intrigued by Google’s new hardware and software advancements, which are always positioned in a way that leads me to believe they will make my life easier. Some of the innovations over the years have in fact lived up to the hype, such as Google Now, Google Drive, and even Google Fusion, while others such as Google Buzz and Google Wave have not.

As a researcher, last year’s launch of Google Photos caught my eye. Essentially, Google
Photos now utilizes facial recognition software to group or bunch your photos based on people in them, scenery (i.e., beaches and Google_Photos_icon.svg-1.pngmountains) and even events (i.e., weddings and holidays). To activate the facial recognition feature, all you have to do is tag one photo with an individual’s name and all other photos with that person will be compiled into a searchable collection. Google uses visual cues within the photos and geotagging to create other searchable collections. While these features might not seem extraordinary—I can see who was the most frequent star of my photos (my enormous cat) or where I most commonly take photos (honeymoon sans enormous cat)—I began to imagine the possible impact these features could have on the market research industry.

Visual ethnographies are one of many qualitative research options we offer at CMB. This is a rich form of observation, and, for some companies, it can be cost prohibitive in nature, especially ones focused on a “cost-per-complete.” But, what if there was a way to remove some of the heavy lifting of a customer journey ethnography by quantifying some of the shopping experience using technology that could track date/time, location, shopping layout, products viewed, order in which products are viewed, and so on, all through recognition software? Would the reduction in hours, travel, and analysis be able to offset the technological costs of these improvements?

Market research, and, in particular, qualitative research have always been a combination of art and science, and to expect any technological advancement to adequately perform any cogent analyses is a bit premature and perhaps too reminiscent of The Minority Report. (I don’t think it worked out well). But the promise of these powerful tools makes it an exciting time to  be a qualitative researcher!

Will Buxton is a Project Manager on the Financial Services team. He enjoys finding humor in everyday tasks, being taken seriously, and his enormous cat.

Learn more about how our dedicated Qualitative practice helps brands Explore, Listen, & Engage.

 

 

 

Topics: methodology, qualitative research, mobile, storytelling, customer journey

CMB Conference Recap: ARF Re!Think16

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Mar 17, 2016

Re-Think-2016.jpgRon Amram of Heineken uttered the three words that sum up my ARF #ReThink16 experience: science, storytelling, and seconds. Let’s recap some of the most energizing insights: 

  • Science: Using Data to Generate Insights
    • AT&T Mobility’s Greg Pharo talked about how AT&T measures the impact of mass and digital advertising. They start with a regression and integrate marketing variables (media weight, impressions, GRPs, brand and message recall, WoM, etc.) as well as information on major product launches, distribution, and competitive data, topped off with macroeconomic data and internal operational data such as quality (network functioning, etc.).
    • GfK’s voice analytics research actually records respondents’ voices and captures voice inflection, which predicts new idea or new product success by asking a simple question: “What do you think about this product and why?” They explore sentiment by analyzing respondents’ speech for passion, activation, and whether they’d purchase. I had to ask a question: since I have a sunny and positive personality, wouldn’t my voice always sound to a machine as though I like every product? Evidently, no. They establish each individual respondent’s baseline and measure the change.  
    • Nielsen talked about its new 40 ad normative benchmark (increasing soon to 75) and how it uses a multi-method approach—a mix of medical grade EEG, eye tracking, facial coding, biometrics, and self-reporting—to get a full view of reactions to advertising. 
  • Storytelling: Using Creative That’s Personal
    • Doug Ziewacz (Head of North America Digital Media and Advertising for Under Armour Connected Fitness) spoke about the ecosystem of connected health and fitness. It’s not enough to just receive a notification that you’ve hit your 10,000 steps—many people are looking for community and rewards.
    • Tell your story. I saw several presentations that covered how companies ensure that potential purchasers view a product’s advertising and how companies are driving interest from target audiences.
      • Heineken, for example, knows that 50% of its 21-34 year-old male target don’t even drink beer, so they focus on telling stories to the other 50%. The company’s research shows that most male beer drinkers are sort of loyal to a dozen beer brands, with different preferences for different occasions. Ron Amram (VP of Media at Heineken) talked about the need to activate people with their beer for the right occasion. 
      • Manvir Kalsi, Senior Manager of Innovation Process and Research at Samsung, said that Samsung spends ~$3B in advertising globally. With such a large footprint, they often end up adding impressions for people who will never be interested in the product. Now, the company focuses on reaching entrenched Apple consumers with messages (such as long battery life) that might not resonate with Samsung loyalists but will hit Apple users hard and give those Apple users reasons to believe in Samsung. 
  • Seconds: Be Responsive Enough to Influence the Purchase Decision Funnel
    • Nathalie Bordes from ESPN talked about sub-second ad exposure effectiveness. She spoke frankly about how exposure time is no longer the most meaningful part of ad recall for mobile scrolling or static environments. In fact, 36% of audience recalled an ad with only half a second of exposure. There was 59% recall in 1 second and 78% recall in 2 seconds. Point being, every time we have to wait 4 or 5 seconds before clicking “skip ad” on YouTube, our brains really are taking in those ads.
    • Laura Bernstein from Symphony Advanced Media discussed the evolution of Millennials’ video viewing habits. Symphony is using measurement technology among its panel of 15,000 viewers who simply install an app and then keep their phones charged and near them, allowing the app to passively collect cross-platform data. A great example of leveraging the right tech for the right audience.

How does your company use science and storytelling to drive business growth?

Want to know more about Millennials' attitudes and behaviors toward banking and finance?Download our new Consumer Pulse report here!

Topics: storytelling, marketing science, advertising, data integration, conference recap

Are You a Wingman to Your CMO?

Posted by Julie Kurd

Mon, Oct 19, 2015

CMB conference recap, market research conferences, corporate researchers conferenceThe traditional military definition of a "wingman" is the second pilot who flies behind and off the right wing of the lead aircraft. The wingman protects the lead by watching his/her back. As I reflected on this year’s MRA Corporate Researchers Conference (CRC) in St. Louis, I thought about my experiences with the wingmen and wingwomen of Chief Marketing Officers at Fortune 500 companies. 

Here’s what separates wingmen and wingwomen from the rest of the pack:

  • They test new stuff ALL THE TIME. Jeffrey Henning moderated a panel with Samsung’s Manvir Kalsi, Chico’s Ivy Boehm, and Lowe’s Celia Van Wickel, asking them to talk about techniques that have disappointed them. They primarily talked about emerging technologies, specifically about vendors who overpromised with facial coding in neuroscience and thematic roll ups that “create themselves” in text analytics. They discussed their “lead pilots” and their companies’ “formation” not having enough time for overly “mathy” insights. They also talked about how they’ve brought dynamic deliverables to their organizations in an attempt to reduce the PowerPoint clutter. Chico’s Ivy Boehm mentioned her quest to shift from 60 page “boring PowerPoints” (her words) to just 20 solid slides through combining information and drawing deeper conclusions. Manvir, Ivy, and Celia also discussed the challenges each of them faces as they make trade-offs in an effort to try new things—even though they know that sometimes all they need are some well-moderated traditional focus groups and a straight up, well-written quantitative survey. This panel proved that no matter the challenge, wingmen are always improving their game.  
  • They play around with working at Mach speed and at a normal pace. Microsoft’s Barry Jennings talked about the company’s Rapid Deployment Programs, which elicit feedback from customers at the later stages of the product development cycle. Successful wingmen are able to adjust and change course quickly—they can’t just head for the horizon. This is the key challenge: knowing when and where to get insights quickly at a lesser cost. At Microsoft, the process is clearly defined: ideation, iteration, validation, repeat. This process helps some concepts fail faster and helps others go to market more quickly. While Microsoft does loads of very methodical research, it’s also pushing itself to be fast and impactful vs perfect. Their program integrates activities, social and independent, moving from ideation to quant to qual and back. They collect feedback across any device and operating system, and they launch research in a day, share results, integrate historic data, and iterate. 
  • They begin with the end in mind and quantify their impact. Terrific researchers understand the business impacts of their research. Roxanne Gray, VP of Research for Wells Fargo, described the diverse household research that supports their “together, we’ll go far” promise. Customer insights played prominently for Wells Fargo as it launched its most recent campaign about the company’s commitment to helping diverse households talk about their finances. Grab a box of tissues, and see more about how Wells Fargo illustrated its 25-year commitment to people with diverse backgrounds. The impact? Roxanne’s research supported confident decision-making that quadrupled earned media. She was energized by the research itself, the executive decisions her stakeholders would make from the research, and the easy-to-digest delivery of insights that she presented as a story, and it showed. 
  • They love what they do, and they stay curious. Wingmen and wingwomen venture out to conferences to present, network, and listen to others. This deep passion for research, learning, and sharing is what keeps us sharp and focused at our organizations. At the best conferences, such as MRA’s CRC, the sheer number of wingmen and the quality of presentations (not to mention the bacon at breakfast) is incredible. If your position as a wingman isn’t rewarded with an adequate budget for this type of travel, have no fear. . . you can check out your local MRA chapter, attend online webinars, talk and listen with your global research peers face-to-face, and connect on Twitter and LinkedIn. 

Let’s keep a line of sight on our lead pilots, the horizon, our formation, and let’s go!

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.

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Topics: product development, storytelling, business decisions, conference recap

CMB Conference Recap: Hubspot’s INBOUND 2015

Posted by Kirsten Clark

Tue, Sep 15, 2015

Hubspot, INBOUND, marketing, CMB Conference RecapLast week, I attended Hubspot’s INBOUND conference to attend workshops, network with fellow marketers, and hear speakers as diverse as Chelsea Clinton, Aziz Ansari, and Daniel Pink present on topics like disruption, innovation, and how to really connect in an increasingly crowded landscape. Here are just 4 (of many) key takeaways:

1. Adapt to changing SEO. Bill King and Tyler Richer from Hubspot emphasized that keywords continue to lose influence as Google continues to become smarter and smarter. How can you get around this? Start by writing content that’s genuinely useful, and share your content on social media. Sharing it on social media doesn’t directly affect rank, but it does affect distribution (which can affect rank). Finally, remember that there should always be an element of empathy when creating an SEO plan. Searchers have experiences with brands when they search, and you want to make sure every experience with your brand is a great one.

2. Embrace social media ads. They’re here to stay. You might have noticed that Facebook’s organic reach has plummeted. Larry Kim, Founder and CTO of WordStream, pointed out that most of the content people put out on social networks is never seen, and that’s a missed opportunity since 28% of people’s online time is spent on social networks. Social media ads are a highly scalable vehicle for content promotion, so it’s time to embrace the inevitable and boost those posts!

3. Stop storytelling. Start storymaking. David Berkowitz, CMO at MRY, discussed the shift from storytelling to storymaking. The phrase might sound jargony, but semantics aside, what Berkowitz is really asking us to do is make storytelling an interactive experience. Below are some of the differences between storytelling as a monologue and storymaking as an experience:

Hubspot, INBOUND, marketing, CMB Conference Recap, storytelling

To see an example of this in action, look no further than Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign. You can find a bottle of Coca-Cola with your name on it in-store or create your own online. This has inspired a plethora of consumer created content, including this pregnancy announcement that has almost 4.5 million views on YouTube.

4. Be brave. During her keynote, Brené Brown stressed that the path to joy, love, and trust lies in vulnerability. Being vulnerable means being brave and being willing to show up and be seen when you have no control over the outcome. Each of us faces a choice between comfort and courage every day, and it’s about time we start choosing the latter in both our professional and personal lives. How? Don't say you're different—be different. Take a page out of Ben & Jerry's book and dare to be distinct.

Did you attend? Tell us your favorite takeaways in the comments.

Kirsten Clark is a Marketing Associate at CMB. She also had the privilege of seeing the hysterical (no, really, there were tears) Amy Schumer at INBOUND. (Amy, if you’re reading this, please consider being my friend. I make excellent guacamole.)

Topics: storytelling, marketing strategy, social media, conference recap, brand health and positioning

A Thousand Words: Using Graphics in Research

Posted by Betsy Herrick

Wed, Jul 01, 2015

 

Hcmb, betsy herrick, data visualizationow do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? It’s a simple task, but using only words to explain the process makes it seem far more complex. Images are easier to interpret and comprehend quickly. Show an image of a PB&J, rather than detailed instructions, to a sandwich-making rookie, and you’ll get your sandwich a lot quicker.The human brain processes visual images 60,000 times faster than any other type of stimuli. The use of images is a powerful and efficient tool to help convey your message. In today’s digital world, not only are people using visual communication more than ever, they’re also communicating better.

Using visuals enables your audience to see the meaning behind complex or large amounts of information by breaking it down into digestible pieces, simplifying the communication process and enhancing comprehension. Graphics can demonstrate hard to understand information and increase recollection and retention of information. In fact, information presented visually is six times more likely to be remembered days later versus information presented orally.

Although visual communication alone is shown to be more impactful than purely textual communication, the most effective method combines both types of content since visual communication is sometimes ambiguous and needs clarification. According to a study by Robert E. Horn back in 2001, combining visuals and text enhances comprehension by as much as 89%.

We approach deliverables with this in mind, and since there are a variety of visual techniques that can draw out (pun intended) the story behind the numbers, we often have to decide on the best route. For example, simple charts can enhance comprehension
of data, and by adding color coding, iconography, and other graphic elements, a higher level of detail can be revealed. The data becomes more organized throughout by displaying structure and visually mapping relationships within the research results.

deliverables   betsy blogSome visual methods are designed for impact, and are more likely to be remembered and shared, which is something to keep in mind when considering socialization within an organization. Using an infographic or interactive presentation to report results is 30 times more likely to be read and absorbed than plain text. These powerful mediums can convey meaningful results faster and more effectively than a data-heavy report. They strike an attractive balance between content types while telling a compelling and relevant story. Infographics, in particular, can be very engaging, and their versatility makes them a value-add for any industry’s research results.

No matter what medium you use, insights are only valuable if they are provided in a way that makes them easy to implement. So whether you use video, posters, dynamic presentations, infographics or plain old PowerPoint, make sure you keep them clear, concise, and easy to understand by your audience.  

Betsy is CMB’s Graphic Design Specialist and has been in the market research industry for over 15 years. At work, she enjoys turning ugly ducklings into swans…and speaking of ducks, she lives on a 30-acre farm in rural Maine with her husband and once had a duck named Monty that thought he was a cow. 

Watch our recent webinar with Research Now to hear the results of our recent self-funded Consumer Pulse study that leveraged passive mobile behavioral data and survey data simultaneously to reveal insights into the current Mobile Wallet industry in the US.

Watch Here!

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, storytelling

Reaping the Rewards of Big Data

Posted by Heather Magaw

Thu, Apr 09, 2015

HiResIt’s both an exciting and challenging time to be a researcher. Exciting because we can collect data at speeds our predecessors could only dream about and challenging because we must help our partners stay nimble enough to really benefit from this data deluge. So, how do we help our clients reap the rewards of Big Data without drowning in it? Start with the end in mind: If you’re a CMB client, you know that we start every engagement with the end in mind before a single question is ever written. First, we ask what business decisions the research will help answer. Once we have those, we begin to identify what information is necessary to support those decisions. This keeps us focused and informs everything from questionnaire design to implementation.

Leverage behavioral and attitudinal data: While business intelligence (BI) teams have access to mountains of transactional, financial, and performance data, they often lack insight into what drives customer behavior, which is a critical element of understanding the full picture. BI teams are garnering more and more organizational respect due to data access and speed of analysis, yet market research departments (and their partners like CMB) are the ones bringing the voice of the customer to life and answering the “why?” questions.

Tell a compelling story: One of the biggest challenges of having “too much” data is that data from disparate sources can provide conflicting information, but time-starved decision makers don't have time to sort through all of it in great detail. In a world in which data is everywhere, the ability to take insights beyond a bar chart and bring it to life is critical. It’s why we spend a lot of time honing our storytelling skills and not just our analytic chops. We know that multiple data sources must be analyzed from different angles and through multiple lenses to provide both a full picture and one that can be acted upon.

Big Data is ripe with potential. Enterprise-level integration of information has the power to change the game for businesses of all sizes, but data alone isn’t enough. The keen ability to ask the right questions and tell a holistic story based on the results gives our clients the confidence to make those difficult investment decisions. 2014 was the year of giving Big Data a seat at the table, but for the rest of 2015, market researchers need to make sure their seat is also reserved so that we can continue to give decision makers the real story of the ever-changing business landscape.

Heather is the VP of Client Services, and she admits to becoming stymied by analysis paralyses when too much data is available. She confesses that she resorts to selecting restaurants and vacation destinations based solely on verbal recommendations from friends who take the time to tell a compelling story instead of slogging through an over-abundance of online reviews. 

Topics: big data, storytelling, business decisions

Are You There, News? It's Me, Snapchat.

Posted by Blair Bailey

Tue, Feb 24, 2015

snapchat, discoverSitting in my cozy Boston office, sipping coffee, I’m suddenly transported to Washington State’s Cascade Mountain Range, soaring above the mile-high Cowboy Mountain and scanning Tunnel Creek, a popular, snow-powdered trail and the site of the tragic 2012 Stevens Pass avalanche.This is the genius of the graphics that accompany “Snow Fall: The Avalanche in Tunnel Creek,” a story that debuted in 2012 on The New York Times’ online edition. Although the rushing show and biting winds are only graphics embedded within the article, they are so well done you feel like you are there. In recent years, The New York Times, a stalwart of traditional print news, has dominated digital storytelling, integrating stunning and sometimes interactive graphics within its pages.

As beautiful as these features are (and they are still stunning 3 years later), where does this interactive, visual storytelling fit within our 140-character, 6-second-film, top-8 lives? (Forgive the MySpace reference, but nothing conveys digital restrictions more than fitting your most prized friendships into a 2 x 4 grid.)

Snapchat, an app notorious for its not-so-lasting impressions, recently released Discover, allowing traditional media companies to feature public content, like trailers and current events, within the app. The media outlets range from Cosmopolitan to National Geographic and tease users with graphics and sound bites as well as the traditional flashy headlines. After hitting the purple dot in the upper right corner, users are presented with an array of publications to choose from. Once a publication is selected, users can swipe left and right to move through stories, swipe up to read more, or swipe down to exit the publication and return to the Discover menu.

By now, most publications have a mobile presence of some type. So, why is Snapchat’s most recent move something we should care about? Although it’s not an entirely novel idea, Snapchat’s new feature adds several unique twists to digital storytelling.

  • In keeping with Snapchat’s ephemerality, Discover’s content is only available for twenty-four hours. While the content can be viewed as many times as desired during that period, the news outlet invites users to come back tomorrow for new stories.
  • Unlike Facebook and Twitter, both of which typically lead the user away from the platform, all Discover content—articles, videos, photo sets, trailers, music videos, etc.—is contained within the app.
  • Snapchat also serves a very different demographic than most social media sites. Discover is targeted to Millennials, but, as of July 2014, over 50% of Snapchat users are between 13-17 years old and over 80% are under 24 years old. Many of the publications on Discover may be taking an initial risk straying so far from their key audiences .
  • Discover is also a fresh idea to existing Snapchat users. Unlike Twitter, where incoming brands have to adhere to the existing 140-character boundaries, Discover breaks the Snapchat mold without straying too far from its original purpose. The format is different enough to interest users and keep them coming back, but still familiar enough that users recognize the Snapchat interface.

While the selection of publications could be tweaked further, Discover shows that Snapchat knows its users. Short, (mostly) teenage attention spans still get their familiar bite-size content but in a format that’s new enough to hold their attention. Discover also holds the potential to keep Millennials coming back for more than momentary embarrassing videos and wacky photos. It adds value to an app that has seen a lot more selfies than the average person could probably handle.

With over 1.2 billion websites cluttering our networks, storytelling has become increasingly important to stand out among the dot nets and dot coms. And it’s not just apps and news sites. In data heavy fields like market research, it can be easy to let storytelling take a backseat. That’s why we’re investing more time and resources into creating dynamic storytelling through infographics, video, and mobile. This engaging, inspiring, and motivating content brings results to life and helps us strengthen the relationship between our clients and their audiences. . .and best of all, we do it without all those selfies.

Blair Bailey is an Associate Researcher at CMB and a recent M.S. graduate from Boston University. When she isn’t working with data or being held captive by the commuter rail, you can find her carefully flooding her social media feeds with pictures of dogs.

Topics: mobile, storytelling, social media

A New Resolution to Finally Rejuvenate that Tired Tracker

Posted by Wendy O'Connell

Thu, Jan 15, 2015

cmb, refresh tired trackersWe’ve all done it . . . made New Year’s resolutions that this will finally be the year to eat healthier, to go on that dream trip to Europe, or to get more organized. Our hopes are high and our intentions are good—and yet, the end of the New Year comes around and our resolutions remain undone.For market researchers and businesses, the New Year puts a focus on planning for new research and evaluating research already in place, including that tracker that’s important to continue but, over time, has turned stale and “tired.” You continue to track, but it isn’t providing the same level of value or insights as it has in the past. It needs to be rejuvenated. 

At Chadwick Martin Bailey, we believe that if your tracker isn’t helping your company grow, stay ahead of the competition, or set strategic priorities, you need to make a change. If one of your resolutions for 2015 is to refresh your tired tracker, here are some things that will help you achieve that goal this year:  

  • Evaluate your tracker with a fresh eye to make sure you’re asking the right questions, in the right way, to generate insights that support your business decisions for 2015 and the years to come. Even though most of us shudder at the thought of touching a tracker in any way (how many times have you said the words “but what impact will that have on trending?!”), today’s pace of change in business is remarkable. The landscape that currently exists for your business may be very far from what it was when your tracker began. 

Make an honest assessment of the questions you ask and how you ask them. Would you be gaining deeper, more actionable insights if you made a change? Then, make careful decisions about trade-offs, specifically between improving usefulness vs. losing trendability. If you deem a change necessary, create a transition plan. Conduct a parallel pilot test of the change when possible. Have discussions with your stakeholders to ensure everyone understands the trade-offs that will be made.

  • Focus on the strategic and tactical decisions the business needs to make from this tracking researchHave conversations with your stakeholders and information users. Find out which results from the existing tracker are actively used and which results are never touched. 
    • If you find some results are no longer used or cannot provide insights to drive action, consider cutting the questions. 
    • If you find new information needs have arisen that require tracking, add questions that will address them. For any new needs that don’t need to be tracked over time, consider incorporating a “rotating” module into your tracker (a short section of questions open to change wave-to-wave). This helps leverage the tracker to address specific related questions without undergoing the cost and time of a separate research effort. 

What information does your business currently need in order to take action? Knowing the answer to this question and keeping your tracker current to address those needs elevates its usefulness to drive action and decision-making.

  • Ensure your tracker deliverables are telling a story that is relevant to each audience. You should be delivering the right insights to the right stakeholders, and these insights should be in a form that allows them to act. This means no data overload. It’s hard to identify insights when they sit somewhere within a 100 page deck. It’s harder to digest business-changing recommendations when you only have 20 minutes on the calendar to review them before the stakeholders are off to their next meeting. It’s even harder for your stakeholders to decide what type of action they should take when the information is delivered in a “one size fits all” format. 

It’s important to think about how to customize your tracker deliverables in a succinct way that readily speaks to each stakeholder’s role and what decisions they need to make, so you don’t fall into the trap of just delivering updates on the same set of metrics wave after wave.

Topline reports may work well for certain audiences while scorecards and dashboards might work better for others. Don’t be afraid to deliver results creatively and in a visually-compelling format. At CMB, we often include dynamic deliverables such as easy-to-digest infographics, one-pagers, posters, and video/motion graphics. These dynamic deliverables are all focused on communicating the story (not the data!) in a way that is relevant and useful for enabling action across our clients’ organizations. 

So if you’ve made a commitment that this year will finally be the year that you rejuvenate that tired tracker, consider the areas above when setting it up to support confident, strategic decision-making in 2015 and beyond.

Wendy is the Account Director of CMB’s Financial Services practice. She has two children, and she loves Cape Cod, the Boston Celtics, and refreshing tired trackers. Her 2015 New Year’s resolution is to finally make this the year she actually keeps her resolution about kicking her daily Diet Coke habit.

Topics: storytelling, business decisions, brand health and positioning

5 Key Takeaways from NEMRA's Fall Conference

Posted by Alyse Dunn and Hilary O'Haire

Thu, Dec 18, 2014

brand identity, storytellingSince we recently attended the New England Market Research Association’s (NEMRA) Fall Conference, “Advancing Market Research: Challenging the Norm,” we wanted to share our five key takeaways:1. Don’t forget the importance of non-conscious decision-making. 70% of the decisions we make are non-conscious, meaning our brains automatically activate associations outside of our awareness and control. This is often described as "System 1" thinking (coined by Daniel Kahneman), which are our fast, emotional, and more instinctive thoughts. Non-conscious decision-making is often used. . .

  • When making low-involvement or low risk decisions 
  • In quick evaluations
  • In impulse purchases
  • To efficiently include or exclude brands from our consideration set

We need to be looking for opportunities to use methodology inclusive of the non-conscious. It is particularly important to understand its impact on brand evaluations, given that. . .

2. Brands are non-conscious creators of reality. We must strive to understand a brand’s stereotype. There are many similarities between the construction of stereotypes and how we use or think of brands. Both stereotype and brand associations are largely mental representations that are socially communicated through media and culture and encountered passively over time. They are automatically activated by ‘System 1’ thinking and mediated by conscious thoughts or endorsed beliefs. In order to understand a consumer experience, we must aim to understand the brand’s stereotype. We choose to engage with brands in the same ways we choose to engage with anything else. We gravitate towards people, places, and brands that relate to some aspect of ourselves, and this association is most often done unconsciously. For example, we both do not painstakingly think about which brand of detergent to use—we always reach for All. Even at a more granular level, All has about 10 types of detergent options—Fresh Rain, Oxi Booster, Regular, Baby, and so forthand if we seriously took the time to narrow down brands and options rather than using a heuristic to help make the decision, we’d never have clean clothes again. 

3. The power of brand identity. The relationship between brand identity and the way we interact with brand stereotypes can have powerful consequences on behavior, mainly because, as Charles Swann said during his talk, “the ability for a brand to impact our identity is the biggest factor in a brand’s social presence.” We use brands to define who we are and who we want to be perceived as. For example, just think about the clothing you wear and the car you own. Many of the choices we make are influenced by how we interact with the brands around us—the brands that drive their own identity and stereotypes for better or for worse. This all comes down to one key theme—social identity—and the ability for a brand to help drive who we are. The age old saying “consumers own the brand” is truer now than it has ever been. Additionally, there is now a collaborative relationship between the brand and consumer—consumers define what a brand should be and brands become the stereotype that later defines consumers’ identity.

4. Storytelling. Brands are a large part of consumer identity, and, as such, there has always been a deep need to bring insights—research and otherwise—to life and to develop a face of the consumer. At this conference, a researcher from a national company pointed out that because consumers are dynamic, the need for powerful storytelling in research and branding is pivotal for understanding how these consumers behave and move through the purchase funnel. What drives these consumers? What makes the most loyal customers so loyal? Why do we lose customers? Deep insights into consumer behavior can be derived from both quantitative and qualitative research—it’s a matter of presenting the story in a way that humanizes consumers and personifies who a brand is trying to reach. 

5. So what? Throughout the NEMRA conference, there was a plethora of information on non-conscious decision making, brand identity, and socialization of research. The theme that ended every presentation was “So what?” That’s the infamous line we’ve all heard 100 times from various professors, colleagues, and our own minds. So what? It all came down to making any research we do actionable so that brands can adapt to a changing consumer environment. As researchers, we need to think about the behaviors and experiences consumers have and allow those insights to inform the questions we ask and the hypotheses we develop. Doing this will not only lead to more effective branding, advertising, and marketing but to happy consumers as well.

Alyse is a Senior Associate Researcher on the FIH/RTE practice. She is fascinated by Behavioral Economics, Psychology, and what makes people tick.

Hilary is a Project Manager at CMB. Her New Year’s resolutions include how to activate “System 1” thinking about hitting the gym in 2015.     

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Topics: storytelling, conference recap, brand health and positioning