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Forget Mac or PC: What's your Digital Ecosystem?

Posted by Tony Salerno

Mon, Jun 03, 2019

apple products

Over a decade ago, Apple rolled out its famous Get a Mac campaign featuring actor Justin Long and author and humorist, John Hodgman. The simple yet memorable campaign comically drew a dichotomy between Mac and PC users.

Since then, Apple has continued to prove itself innovative and relevant.

Earlier this year, Apple announced its expansion into services like Magazines, News, Television, and Gaming. But perhaps the most headline-grabbing of the launches is the highly anticipated Apple Card (available this summer).

While some may consider Apple’s entrance into the credit card space a natural step (Apple Wallet and Apple Pay are current offerings), it indicates a critical trend in where the consumer economy is heading.

Today’s tech titans are introducing products and services that bring consumers deeper into their respective ecosystems at breakneck speed. From Amazon-powered microwaves to Google-integrated security systems, artificial intelligence is turning our homes into data generating machines.

The key, though, isn’t so much the connectivity, but the exclusivity of these integrations. Alexa seamlessly integrates with an Echo but not an Apple Homepod. Siri won’t turn up music playing from your Amazon Dot. If you ask Alexa about Siri, she won’t acknowledge the rival virtual assistant.

As consumers we've found ourselves having to choose one brand—one ecosystem.

As Amy Webb of The New York Times—a self-described “futurist”—writes, "sometime in the next decade, all the start-ups and hardware manufacturers and the rest of the AI ecosystem will converge around just a few systems. All of us will have to accept a new order and pledge our allegiance to one of the few companies that now act as the operating systems for everyday life.”

Leading companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon know today’s consumers expect quick and seamless experiences. The thirst for ease in everyday life helps fuel our preference for one suite of connected products vs. disparate devices.

In this context, the Apple Card is a smart move. It’ll facilitate frictionless spending for those who (and here’s the catch) have an iPhone.

The card itself will connect to Apple Wallet and will earn a 2% cashback reward when cardholders use Apple Pay, and 3% on purchases made in the Apple Store, App Store, and for other Apple Services. Meaning, cardholders will need an Apple iPhone to enjoy the card's benefits.

The Apple Card is set to launch this summer, so it’s still too early to say how it’ll fare. But brands should take note our universe is only growing more connected and with that, people are searching for products that make their lives easier.

In a world of unicorns, tech titans, and hopeful startups, it’s more important than ever for brands to have a firm grasp on who their target consumers are and ensure they’re creating products and services that help, inspire, and delight.

To bring it full circle, today’s consumers literally must ask themselves who they are: A Mac? A PC? An Amazon Family? A Google household?

Tony Salerno is an Associate Researcher by day, finance nerd and Alexa aficionado by night.

Topics: technology research, customer experience and loyalty

This Blog is Dark and Full of Emotional Turmoil

Posted by Dr. Erica Carranza

Thu, May 16, 2019

Includes spoilers through season 8/episode 5.

My love affair with Game of Thrones developed gradually and, by season four, I’d fallen head-over-heels. Like most fans, I enjoyed watching it buck narrative conventions, leaving them littered along the way like so many torched wights. But what really captured my heart was its subtle feminism.

Finally, here was a show where the women were just as varied, complex, and important to the story as the men. They had goals of their own, well-developed personalities, and together they represented an impressive range of attributes—vulnerability, compassion, strategic thinking, naivete, cynicism, resilience, physical strength, and more. They fought the patriarchy, but each in her own way. And, by the time Daenerys met her war council in Westeros, her strongest allies were women. That could have felt like a heavy-handed attempt by the writers to give women roles traditionally held by men. Instead, it felt like the natural result of all that had happened up to that point.

What’s more, even the men of Game of Thrones subverted expectations. My favorites among them were smart and funny—but also kind and compassionate. And few of them had the pretty face or chiseled physique worn by typical epic heroes. In its first season, Game of Thrones inspired the term “sexposition”—yet somehow it had delivered a smorgasbord of compelling male and female characters. And the world was watching.

With all these reasons to love the show, I was worried about how it might end. A happily-ever-after would betray what had made it great. But, truth be told, I didn’t want a villain to win. I was sympathetic to the conundrum the showrunners must be in, and pessimistic about their finding a good way out.

Turns out I wasn’t alone.

Right before “The Long Night” aired (season 8/episode 3), we ran a survey among friends and colleagues. We asked them their predictions for how the series would end, and how they expected to feel about it. While the survey was just for fun—and hardly a representative sample—the results were revealing:

  • Less than a third (30%) thought they’d feel mostly good about how the series ended.
  • A third (34%) thought they’d feel ambivalent (i.e., good and bad in equal measure).
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) thought they’d feel mostly bad.

In total, over half (57%) predicted having strong negative emotional reactions to whatever would unfold in the final episodes (i.e., the 23% expecting to feel bad, plus the 34% expecting to feel ambivalent). Only 13% of viewers—whose lack of emotional investment in the show I’ve come to envy—thought they would end up feeling neutral.

got pie chart

Furthermore, viewers thought they would feel highly activated, energetic emotions.

A bit of background… At CMB, we use a method of measuring emotion (EMPACT) that we developed to capture its two core dimensions: valence (i.e., intensity of the positive or negative feelings) and activation (i.e., their level of energy).

For example, sadness and anger can feel equally negative in terms of valence. But sadness is low in activation, while anger is high. Sadness is low energy and makes people want to withdraw. Anger is agitating—it makes people want to act. Not surprisingly, online content is particularly likely to go viral when it evokes high activation emotions.

When viewers predicted how they’d feel about the way the series ends:

  • Half (49%) predicted highly activated negative reactions. Specifics included feeling frustrated, annoyed, anxious, stressed, angry, and even disgusted.
  • About half (46%) predicted highly activated positive reactions. Specifics included feeling entertained, amused, amazed, happy, and excited.
  • Relatively few (27%) predicted low activation negative reactions (e.g., feeling drained, depressed, disappointed, and discouraged).
  • Even fewer (11%) predicted low activation positive reactions (e.g., feeling pleased, satisfied, and nostalgic).

So nearly everyone expects to feel highly activated—but viewers were split in terms of positive vs. negative valence. That’s a precarious situation for a show as it approaches its series finale.

got valenceLinking viewers’ expected emotion to their predictions for the show also uncovered some interesting trends. For example, those expecting to feel activated positive emotions (e.g., happiness and excitement) were particularly likely to think the “good guys” would survive—including Jon, Arya, Sansa, Tyrion, Samwell, and even little Sam. Other viewers were less optimistic. But, regardless of their predictions, most shared an intensely emotional relationship to the show.

I can relate. In fact, the anxiety I felt about whether Game of Thrones could stick the landing is nothing compared to how I feel now, having watched it ruin most of its best characters:

  • Sansa expressed gratitude (!) for her worst abusers and is now (according to showrunner Dan Benioff) stealing moves from Littlefinger’s playbook. Plus she continually snipes at Dany despite Dany’s essential help in saving the North.
  • Last we saw Brienne—the first and only female Knight of the Seven Kingdoms—she was pathetically bawling in her bathrobe as Jaime rode out of her life.
  • Then Cersei, having finally proven herself her father’s equal, died crying in Jaime’s arms.
  • Varys is burned alive thanks to Tyrion, who continues his two-season track-record of making inexplicably poor decisions. (He used to drink and know things. Now I guess he just drinks.)
  • Grey Worm led the remaining allied forces into a wave of war crimes.
  • And Dany, who locked-up her dragons when Drogon killed a single innocent child, has brutally murdered a whole city full of innocent children. Why? Because she feels threatened by a man, hurt by his rejection, frustrated by the skepticism she met in Westeros, and enraged at the beheading of a friend.

Yes, Dany losing her mind may have been in the cards from the start. But to have flipped in that moment—and for those reasons—didn’t fit with most of what we’d learned about her. Game of Thrones never made excuses for the ascent of powerful women. Now it’s making-up excuses to tear them down.

So it looks like the show that reveled in subverting narrative conventions will end by validating the oldest tropes in the book…

  • The hero where all our sympathies and hopes should lie is a white man. He’s a stoic warrior with a noble heart—and, lo and behold, he’s of noble blood.
  • Women, on the other hand, are weak, petty, manipulative, and overly emotional.
  • Women who seek power are particularly bad. Two women vying for the Iron Throne is apparently worse for Westeros than the Night King and his army of undead.

How does this turn of events make me feel? Discouraged, disappointed, angry, aggrieved… The last Game of Thrones episode has yet to arrive, but my love affair with the show is already over.

And, again, I bet I’m not alone.

__

Erica is VP of Consumer Psychology at Chadwick Martin Bailey. She has over ten years of experience leading market research for major brands across a range of categories—including clients such as Disney, Viacom, Mattel, Instagram, Prudential and American Express. A PhD social psychologist, Erica applies this expertise to give her clients a unique edge in understanding and engaging their target audiences.

Erica has a B.A. from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in psychology from Princeton University. Prior to CMB, she led insights research at American Express, where she was a recipient of the CMO Award for Achievement in Excellence.

Topics: EMPACT, emotional measurement, emotion

2019 Yale Customer Insights Conference

Posted by Ann Mondi

Wed, May 15, 2019

Yale image-1

Last week I joined insights leaders at the 2019 Yale Insights Conference and WOW did I learn a lot!

As a newcomer to both the conference and the industry, I was inspired as speakers tackled some of the biggest trends, challenges, and opportunities shaping the future of insights.

The traditional market researcher role is changing. Industry leaders, including Laurence Bucher (Mars Wrigley Confectionery), Stan Sthanunathan (Unilever), and Ewa Witkowska (PepsiCo) weighed in on what this means for today and tomorrow’s insights professionals:

  1. According to Ewa, trust is one of the most important soft skills that will lead insights teams into the future. Once you establish trust both with colleagues and clients, you have the permission to challenge them. To that end, she encourages fellow researchers to get straight to the point and deliver value faster—to be inspiring and actionable. To do that, we must be trustworthy. What a great message for all of us!
  2. As Laurence pointed out, there’s innumerable amounts of data to harness—more so than ever before. Market research professionals must learn to leverage these sources to deliver sensible and actionable insights to their stakeholders. As digital transformation continues to disrupt business as usual, insights teams (well, any team, really!) need to be honest and vulnerable about what we are doing well and where we can improve. What more, insights professionals must make sense of nuanced emerging generations. Younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z-ers have distinct motivations and needs that make them unique not only from older generations, but also each other.
  3. Looking ahead to the future of insights, Stan said the following: data must become a commodity, insights must be democratized, and ideas must be deliverable. He challenged us to think critically about how we’ll use tools like AI to augment our creativity and intelligence. How will we leverage these trends and become disruptors ourselves These trends are unavoidable, so how will we use them to our advantage and become disruptors rather than the disrupted?

Next, Radha Subramanyam, Chief Research & Analytics Officer at CBS, shared how the media giant uses research and analytics to make data-driven decisions. Some takeaways:

  1. Don’t get caught up in the artificial binaries between "small" and "big" data. "Big" data is a trendy buzzword, but the reality is we need all types of data. More data guards against dissonance and diffusion when interpreting findings.
  2. This doesn't mean we should merge every data stream, rather, we should merge the insights. We need to learn to harmonize—goal being to intellectually harness data to provide a more holistic understanding of the situation at hand.
  3. I loved this part—someone asked how to transition creative-driven organizations to be more data-driven. The answer? Build interest by making data invaluable to successful creative. Radha sends out a bulleted daily email with research and analytics findings. These notes help more creative-leaning teams leverage the insights to evaluate their next steps and success with regards to the company's programming (e.g., marketing optimization before the Grammy Awards and social media listening after the awards show).

It's an exciting time to be in insights—from AI to data democratization, there are many forces shaping the industry. Consider attending next year’s Yale Insights Conference to learn more about topics like digital transformation, artificial binaries and so much more. 

Did you attend Yale Insights this year? What was your favorite learning? Share in the comments below!

Ann Mondi is an administrative assistant focusing her efforts on absorbing everything she can about the multiple facets of CMB and the market research industry at large.

Topics: conference recap

Selling a Driverless Future: Messaging Strategies for the Autonomous Vehicle Industry

Posted by Chris Neal

Tue, May 07, 2019

Emotions play a key role in the commercial success or failure of emerging disruptive technologies. Most recently, we looked under the hood of the autonomous vehicle (AV) industry to understand the specific emotions that drive or deter widespread adoption.

On the wheels of Tesla’s recent announcement to operate a fleet of one million self-driving taxis by the end of 2020, I’ll provide more direction for how tech companies and automakers can most effectively convince various consumer segments to embrace this future.

Message Testing: Different Strokes for Different Folks

As part of a recent self-funded research study exploring the link between emotions and the self-driving car industry (download the full report here), I channeled my inner Don Draper and drafted faux ad concepts selling the promise of a driverless future.

With each concept touting a different benefit of autonomous vehicles (safety, convenience, etc.), respondents were asked to select which would most likely get them to consider a self-driving car.

message testing AV

I’m still awaiting my Ogilvy Award--but until then, let’s dig into the results of this exercise:

  • Safety is unequivocally the most persuasive message—indicating a creative campaign highlighting the public health and safety benefits of widely deployed AVs may help alleviate some consumer anxiety.
    • People who gravitate toward the potential safety benefits tend to skew 50+ years of age and are more likely than other segments to reject the idea altogether. They also tend to feel more positive towards driving their own car (e.g., feeling energized, proud, and in control).
  • Overall, Productivity/Efficiency isn’t a very compelling message, but is more likely to appeal to Gen Z and Millennials who are often less bound to the idea of owning their own car compared to older generations.
    • Consumers who are drawn to these features are more likely to feel “Efficient,” “Productive,"  and “Smart” when imagining themselves in AVs (even before they saw the messages). This is noteworthy because these specific emotions are consistently found to be key drivers to adoption in most of our emerging tech studies.
We then layered on a lift analysis that asked respondents to again consider likelihood to use an AV based on the ad message they had just selected as most compelling. Although the results from this exercise were underwhelming, it did help move some “Ambivalent” Millennials into the full-on “Accepter” category by touting the Productivity and Efficiency benefits.

 lift analysisAs this exercise indicates—and is often the case with new tech trying to “cross the chasm”—marketing to the most swayable early adopters vs. general population can be an effective tactic for gaining traction. Messaging to early adopters will be more nuanced, but when done right, can encourage adopters to spread positive word of mouth to more mainstream late adopters.

The Road Ahead: Evolution, Not Revolution

The Don Drapers of the world can only do so much convincing until more people actually experience the technology for themselves.

Fortunately, consumers are getting a taste of increased levels of ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems) technology as features like auto braking and lane correction become more common in newer cars.

Further, the less common but also rapidly growing “Level 3” vehicles (e.g., Tesla’s “autopilot” mode) that can go on full autopilot—under certain conditions—can also help consumers overcome the anxiety they have about fully letting go.

At the moment, very few consumers said they’d get into anything other than an autonomous vehicle they could—if need be—take over (i.e., “Level 3”). This sentiment could be problematic for the future of companies like Uber, Lyft, and now Tesla, who aren’t about to let passengers take control when they feel like it.

However, people who own Level 2 or 3 vehicles have much more nuanced attitudes towards this scenario—more commonly anticipating that in the future, they expect their primary car to be a Level 4 or fully autonomous at Level 5. And those who already own Level 2 or Level 3 ADAS vehicles have much stronger positive emotions and fewer intense negative emotions when reacting to being in a fully autonomous car.

Driving Full Circle

This leads me back to my own emotional journey with vehicular automation. Recall a run-in with with a faulty cruise control back in the ‘90s left me extremely wary of technical automation (read here if you missed that story).

In 2018, after decades of avoiding this kind of automation, I got my first real taste of Level 2 assisted driving technology while on a road trip with my son to Washington, D.C. We were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic when my phone’s GPS cut out. I took my eyes off the road to futz with the phone when suddenly the car (not me) slammed on the brakes. Turns out I was about to rear-end the car in front of us.

I was shocked, embarrassed, humbled, and relieved. Had it not been for the auto braking, this story would have ended differently (we were only going 30 mph, but you get the idea).

The more I see drivers facedown in their phones at the wheel, the more I wonder if it’s time for us mere mortals to start letting AI take a little more control over our transportation systems. I still have deep anxiety over the prospect of riding in a fully self-driving car, but my emotions towards this possibility are complex and evolving.

With some focused determination, those invested in these efforts can push me—and likely many others—along towards greater openness to a driverless future.

Interested in more?

If you’re interested in learning more about this research, CMB's methodology, or want a live recall of my various run-ins with faulty cruise control, check out this webinar.

Watch Now

Topics: technology research, EMPACT, Artificial Intelligence

IIeX 2019: Insights Innovation and Inspiration

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, May 02, 2019

iiex

From left: Tom HC Anderson, Jamin Brazil, Steve August, and Julie Kurd

This year’s IIeX Conference at the beautiful University of Texas at Austin was a whirlwind tour of what’s next in insights. The content was exceptional across the board, and because others have offered terrific recaps, I’m going to just focus on three other reasons why this conference is such a success:

1. Data Scientists and Data Citizens

One question on my mind is the role “Citizen Data Scientists” will play in democratizing big data—what is the right mix of data scientists to data citizens in the game we are all entering?

I got to see this play out in real life when Anuraag Verma and Aaron Davis of Alpha let us conduct a hands-on experiment to customize the machine learning classifier on their converseon.ai platform.

The engaging experiment became even more fun when Annie Petit (@lovestats), a colleague whose PhD credentials, super intuition, and talent we all admire and I, a curious data citizen (hint: NOT a scientist) approached the algorithm training in very different ways. 

I quickly started focusing on hand coding only the negs to pos where appropriate, where Annie reported proceeding with a balanced approach. At the first level, my trainer number and hers were both over 94%, but the proof is in the model score after it's validated against a larger holdout set of data and machine learning enters the scene. It turns out, the F1s were all fairly well clustered except for a winner (screen name “Kermit the Frog) who was higher than the rest. Our industry needs our data scientists, but the data citizen may yet play a role.

2. Founders on Hand

 I’ve never met more company founders in a 3-day span. Some had their pitch down to 120 seconds, and others, deep in love with their product, were a little less polished but often just as fascinating.  There were so many, to name them would mean slighting someone, but let’s give a few companies I learned about who actually presented or were in the ‘meet the startups’ sessions:

  • ScalehouseIdentify which parts of your business are primed for scaling and growth @kristinluck and @jaranderson
  • FocalCast–CEO Devin Turner @focalcast talked about his live focus groups and interactive stimuli that work on any device, anywhere in the world
  • Adrich’s Adhithi Aje, founder and CEO @adrichtech talks about her thin sticker type IoT sensor that goes on your product, so you can track (with permission) the usage of anything from salad dressing to industrial equipment.
  • @collaborata founders talked about their product being for a buyer who only has $10k left in their budget and they can then pool that extra cash with others for some foundational deep dive research that costs maybe more like $100k but is funded like a multi-client.

3. Voices of the Industry

The IIEX is the most exceptional mix of industry amplifiers and emerging thought leadership, and I participate in a lot of conferences.

  • First, Jamin Brazil was on hand conducting podcasts throughout the sessions. His podcasts were casual and straightforward, the true sign of a master. He even demonstrated live to us with Amy Snow. During the 8-10-minute podcast, we learned that she outlived a terminal diagnosis, has two kids, was a founder of Kelton, built the team at Wonderful, and founded High 8, a firm that occupies the space between traditional research and a consultancy.  Subscribe at the Happy Market Research Podcast. Thanks, Jamin!
  • Greenbook’s Lenny Murphy (@lennysim) and team including Dana Stanley (@danamstanley) and Gregg Archibald (@greggarchibald) brought together an intense mix of amplifiers and founders. Follow this influential bunch on Twitter, including Jeffrey Henning (@jhenning), Tom Ewing (@tomewing), Steve August (@steveaugust), Jamin Brazil (@jaminbrazil), Annie Petit (@lovestats), Reg Baker (@thesurveygeek), Tom Anderson (@tomhcanderson), Kristin Luck (@kristinluck), Jackie Rousseau-Anderson (@jaranderson), Roddy Knowles (@roddyknowles). And if you're not already, you can follow me at @julie1research.

Topics: conference recap