The posts here represent the opinions of CMB employees and guests—not necessarily the company as a whole. 

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Why Standing up for the Census Still Counts

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Wed, Nov 07, 2018

busy city street

Over a year ago, I wrote about the critical state of the U.S. Census. To recap: to stay within budget, the US Census Bureau planned to add online and phone data collection to the traditional mail and face-to-face fielding. As any good researchers would, they planned to test this new mix of methodologies using a series a field tests and an end-to-end test. 

After cancelling several field tests earlier this year, last month the bureau completed an end-to-end test in Providence County, RI, and are “ready to transition from a paper-based census to one where people can respond online using personal computers or mobile devices, by telephone through our questionnaire assistance centers or by using the traditional paper-response option.” Click here for an infographic with all the details.

Whew, right?  Not so fast—there’s still another problem. A big one.

Against the recommendation of the Census Bureau, the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, is fighting to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

In a memo sent to the DOJ, the bureau’s Chief Scientist and Associate Director for Research and Methodology, John Abowd, wrote the inclusion of a citizenship question would be "very costly, harms the quality of the census count, and would use substantially less accurate citizenship status data than are available from administrative sources.”

In response, opponents of the question, including the state of California, New York, and the American Civil Liberties Union, have filed lawsuits against the Federal Government—echoing Abowd’s fears that the citizen question would discourage participation and compromise the integrity of the census.

Despite a request by the Federal Government to postpone, the trial began on Monday, November 5, in New York City, and is expected to last two weeks.

As I wrote in my earlier blog, the US Census is critical to market research. It serves as the foundation for things like sampling plans, weighting data, sizing audiences, and determining who to target.

If the citizen question goes through, it may deter non-citizens from participating. This would seriously harm the quality of the data and pose a threat to the integrity of our industry—not to mention impact federal budgeting and the number of House seats.

As market researchers, it’s our duty to preserve the integrity of the US Census. Whether you support or oppose the citizenship question, I encourage you to pay close attention to how the decision plays out. We’re still a year away from the census, but what’s decided now could have far-reaching ramifications for our industry and country.

Athena is a Project Director at CMB who really hopes the next time she blogs it will be about a satisfactory resolution to this ongoing issue.

Topics: Market research, data collection

The 5 P's of ITA Group: A recipe for success

Posted by Heather Magaw

Wed, Oct 31, 2018


The 5 P's of ITA Group (3)

You might be familiar with the 5 P’s of marketing (product, price, place, promotion, and people), but last week at the ITA Group annual sales kickoff meeting, I was introduced to another powerful set of P’s: The 5 P’s of ITA Group.

While the 5 P’s of ITA Group are guiding principles that knit together the ITA Group Family (which includes CMB), they’ll also resonate with any business committed to providing world-class service to clients and customers

It all starts with PASSION, an intrinsic motivation to do right by our clients and colleagues while being true to ourselves. While the drivers of passion may vary between individuals, the collective force of a passionate group of employee owners is a powerful one.

The second P is PRIDE. There’s tremendous individual and shared pride in the vision, mission, and values of our organizations, as well as in the value of the products and services that we provide. The strong history of excellence of all these organizations and the combined strength of their current offerings also contributes to a palatable sense of pride.

PARTNERSHIP is another key element that all members of the ITA Group value. We partner with one another to leverage the strongest possible talent to deliver the highest quality experience for our clients, as well as their employees, business partners, and customers. We also value partnership with our clients to ensure their experiences working with ITA Group organizations is extraordinary.

The fourth P, PERSEVERANCE, is a key underpinning of the equation. Change is inevitable, as is the unexpected. Yet, perseverance and strategic problem-solving are critical for successfully navigating complex programs and projects, as well as competitive pressures and disruption. Time and time again at the sales meeting, I heard stories about teams and individuals overcoming significant obstacles to meet or exceed client expectations.

The final—and arguably most important—P is PEOPLE. ITA Group, CMB, and Hartmann Studios (newest member of the ITA Group Family) are in the business of engaging with people, whether it’s engaging people with the brands, products, and services they use or partnering with clients, employees, channel partners, advocates, community, friends and family.

Whether you’re a large F100 or a small B2B startup, the 5 P’s of ITA Group—Passion, Pride, Partnership, Perseverance, and People—can be a powerful formula for success.

Heather Magaw is the VP of Client Service at CMB. She had a great time last week on her first trip ever to Iowa engaging with a passionate group of proud, ITA Group employee owners.

Topics: ITA Group

TMRE 2018: Gen Z, AI, and Ferraris

Posted by Savannah House

Mon, Oct 22, 2018

This article was cowritten by Savannah House, Julie Kurd, and Megan McManaman.

TMRE 2018 recap cover-1

Last week we headed to the Arizonan desert for TMRE 2018. Amid the cacti, snakes, and breathtaking desert sunsets, TMRE was bigger and better than ever as insights leaders challenged us to embrace innovation, inspire change, and push the industry forward.

If you couldn’t make it to TMRE 2018 or just want to relive the magic,  here are some highlights:

Marrying MR with data science. Market research and data science offer parallel tracks to answer critical questions—but all too often they are completely siloed. Members of Viacom’s very cool Content Innovation Analytics team, including Thomas Grayman, Tetiana Nosach Quignon, and Bingqing Ge, gave a fantastically meaty presentation with examples of how they integrate market research and data science techniques to leverage the best of both worlds and offer deeper insights to fuel program development and market strategy than relying on just one approach.

Staying focused in a $500B business. Linda Vytlacil, PhD, and Salome Aguilar of Walmart introduced us to the company’s $500 billion revenue line through the lens of insights. Researchers at Walmart have a maniacal focus on business objectives (e.g., to make every day easier for busy families) that serve as guide posts for their work—they marry transactional and survey data together for a multidimensional approach to understanding the customer and delivering value.

Vytlacil and Aguilar remind us to:

  • Keep the main goal (“easier”) the primary focus
  • Identify and remove unexpected friction points
  • Never underestimate the power of extreme ownership because transparency and accountability lifts everyone’s game
  • Invest in relationships with your consumers

Walmart customers aren’t necessarily seeking great stores with easy pickup, ship to store, scan and go, etc. Instead, they’re focused on living connected and happy lives with family, friends, purpose and community. As researchers, we need to connect with the main goal.

Research that inspires change. Yoni Karpen of Airbnb believes his research doesn’t matter unless it informs or inspires decisions. His goal isn’t to tell people what to do or how to think, but to provide structure to a chaotic and ambiguous world. For example, Airbnb strives to help hosts be better hosts—to master the art of hospitality. To do this, Yoni’s team explored various dimensions between high and low performing hosts—their focus, motivations, effort, responsibility, self-perception, etc. By understanding the nuances between these distinct groups (e.g., high performing hosts are motivated by pride and passion for hospitality while low performing hosts are motivated by money), he introduced a framework for hospitality that his stakeholders can leverage to move hosts up the ladder. Yoni’s research doesn’t exist in a vacuum—it’s used across the organization to help drive Airbnb forward.

Yoni at TMRE

Yoni Karpen of Airbnb highlights the stark differences between high and low-performing hosts.

Will AI replace market researchers? It’s a question many of us likely think about as AI continues to shape and reshape the industry. In an Oxford style debate, experts from both sides shared their thoughts. David Ginsberg of Facebook argued AI will not replace market researchers. In fact, as Facebook continues to leverage AI, his research team has grown because no machine can uncover the intimate details—the why. Similarly, Marina Kosten of 20th Century Fox’s team interrogates data produced by AI. She admits, yes, AI will continue to get better and better, but only humans can take this data and turn it into meaningful insights through storytelling. On the other side of the debate, Anthony Lambrou of Pfizer posits AI might not eradicate the need for researchers entirely, but will change the traditional role of market researchers. AI systems will take on some tactic responsibilities like data collection, leaving more time for  researchers to focus on digesting and turning the data into a story.

Are you ready for Gen Z? Sheila Dreyer Van Buskirk of Synchrony and Lori Vellucci of CMB took the audience through an immersive and in-depth look at Gen Z. With over $44 billion in collecting purchasing power, Gen Z is on track to be the most disruptive generation yet—upending all industries from financial services to travel and hospitality. We may be a little biased because this was our presentation, but as researchers, it’s critical to stay ahead of these emerging generational trends so we can work with stakeholders to provide services and experiences that excite and resonate.

Connections and serendipity are often underrated at conferences. While of course it’s critical to attend as many sessions as possible, it’s also important to spend time at the sponsor booths. You’ll expand your knowledge (and your network) while learning about the latest and greatest market research innovations—you also might get a chance to ride in a Ferrari like Julie did with the Qualtrics team.

Want to learn how Synchrony ditched PowerPoint and created a dynamic and compelling research report that excited and engaged stakeholders? Reach out to learn more!

CRC 2018:  How to Engage Today’s Corporate Research Buyer

Posted by Julie Kurd

Wed, Oct 10, 2018

To kick off the Corporate Researchers Conference, a panel of experienced corporate researchers spoke in earnest about what they value in their ultimate research partner. What they value and look for coincides with the “TUFA” strategy that every supplier should practice when building relationships with prospects and clients.

TUFA (them, us, fit, action) is the playbook for real business to business partner relationships that F500 clients yearn for. TUFA involves understanding them (the client/prospect), highlighting what of your research consultancies may be useful to them given their context, demonstrating the business fit between the two companies, then understanding the actions and positive impacts of a successful partnership. 

 Here’s a summary of what we heard:

  • Them. Each of the panelists begged suppliers to please understand their business, products, their goals and direction. Account intelligence is the basic blocking and tackling and it’s important to really understand the client/prospect before attempting to persuade them you’re the right fit. Corporate researchers are inundated with requests for meetings every day and their time is precious. What’s in it for them? For example:
    • Kelly Bowie, insights leader at Guardian, said to please know what lines of business Guardian is in before calling on her. 
    • Amy Basile, Sensory and Consumer Insights Manager at Little Caesars, simply said, “Know my brand and know how to spell it.”
  • Us. Corporate researchers schooled suppliers in what they hear from every Gold Top 50 research company: you are a full service, primary market research firm with exceptional execution, advanced analytics, compelling storytelling, and are innovative and global. As the panelists added to the buzzword pile, the audience collectively groaned.
    • Colette Thayer from AARP challenged the concept of “full service.” If you’re strong at statistics, modeling and sampling, are you also really excellent at writing? Know your firm’s strengths and highlight appropriately as they relate to your clients’ needs.
    • Cole Horton from EA says, “Don’t fake it.” Researchers supporting EA need to fully understand games and need to obsess about gaming themselves. He added, “Don’t overpromise and please be honest if you can’t do something”—citing a time when a supplier wasn’t able to do basic skip logic in the research design but wasn’t upfront about it.
  • Fit. Identifying the best fit requires understanding the client/prospects’ business and understanding our own unique value proposition. Some of the corporate researchers believed not much has changed in terms of turnaround times in the last 10 years. Understandably, they want better and faster for less money because they’re being pushed by stakeholders.
    • Colette from AARP says it’s a huge risk and time investment for a corporate researcher like her to onboard a new research partner, so she wants proof the marriage will likely endure. For example, she asks to see a sample report or other exemplary evidence the investment is worth her time and resources.
    • Amy Basile from Little Caesars said business fit can be as simple as, “Be sure you can connect me to real customers who patron my brand in a cost-efficient way.” She cited challenges that come with panel sourcing, for instance.
  • Action is what happens next.
    • Kelly from Guardian says that while an insights partner might feel like they’re doing all the work, it’s her team that’s bringing the insights to life at the company. Don’t underestimate that side of the partner equation and the importance of business activation.
    • Cole from EA wants research partners to get beyond the basics—to take on a proactive and consultative role and “bring the outside world in.” He acknowledges it’s hard to find and tell a story that is new and actionable, but actionability is the key to moving forward.

There were valuable lessons to be learned from this corporate research panel. Fundamentally, they want research partners (not suppliers) who truly understand their business, can clearly communicate the business fit, and provide an action plan/next steps.

CRC image for blog

What stops a supplier from meeting a buyer's needs? An inability to execute on the fundamentals!

For more on TUFA and the approach, please connect with our partners at IMPAX.

Julie Kurd is the VP of Business Development at CMB and will be at TMRE next week in Scottsdale. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn before the conference. 

Topics: conference recap

Team CMB Lights the Night for Cancer Research with Annual BBQ + Auction

Posted by Catherine Shannon

Fri, Oct 05, 2018

When I was diagnosed with cancer, one of my friends told me, “Cancer is a team sport and you are taking one for the team.” It’s true, cancer is a team sport.

My team of family and friends supported me through my battle with cancer.

So did the team of doctors, nurses, radiologists, surgeons and many others who worked relentlessly to provide care.

Even my colleagues became teammates when they pledged to raise money for Light the Night to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society the year I was diagnosed.

Ten years later, even though I’m cancer-free, I’m still a member of this team. We all are. Since 2008, CMB has continued to support Light the Night through various fundraising events, like trivia nights, cornhole tournaments, and other fun events.

Earlier this week, we hosted our biggest fundraising event, the annual CMB Light the Night BBQ + Silent Auction.

Each year, Jared, CMB's Field Services Director by day, award-winning pitmaster by night, assembles an incredible barbecue menu while CMBers can peruse and bid on silent auction items.

Group with Jared

Since 2008, CMB has raised over $100,000 for Light the Night!

Group eating

Funds raised from Light the Night directly support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS)—the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding research, finding cures and ensuring access to treatments for blood cancer patients. Many of the advances made in blood cancer research can be used to treat other types of cancer—broadening the impact of our fundraising efforts.

I learned the power of teamwork through my battle with cancer. My family, friends, colleagues, doctors, nurses, and many others stepped up to join the fight with me.

In a couple of weeks, our team will show up for the eleventh time and stand next to survivors, patients, advocates, and family and friends, at the annual Light the Night Walk in downtown Boston. It’s a powerful night of hope, love, and support as thousands of lanterns literally light the night sky as a single unit—a team.

If you’d like to join us in the fight against cancer and be someone else’s teammate, please consider donating to the CMB Light the Night team here or meet us on Wednesday, October 17th at 5PM on the Boston Common.

Donate Now

Catherine is CMB’s Director of Finance and a two-time cancer survivor who will be stepping up with her CMB teammates at Light the Night on October 17.

Topics: Community Involvement, Light the Night,