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CMB Spotlight: Lori Vellucci

Posted by Chadwick Martin Bailey

Mon, Oct 19, 2020

Spotlight Series Opener Lori

Lori brings more than two decades of insights experience to her work with leading brands—translating business challenges into action, providing the voice of the consumer for both strategic and tactical initiatives to build brand and drive business results. Lori delivers insights, and the ever-important “now what?” through a deep understanding of consumer behavior, that’s always translated through the lens of business needs and realities.

Lori earned a B.S. in Business Administration from University of Connecticut, is Synectics® trained in brainstorming facilitation, and is a recurring guest lecturer at Stonehill College on Practical Marketing Research Methods and Creative Brainstorming Facilitation.

1. You have a lot of experience in market research. What keeps you excited about your work?

I love being on the vendor side; it’s never boring. I like knowing my client’s business challenges but I also have a broader industry perspective that I can bring to bear. It enables me to better serve our clients because I’ve been able to apply industry insights to new business challenges, and connect those learnings in meaningful ways. The icing on the cake is when we’re able to incorporate consumer psychology frameworks into a project and really dive deep to understand motivations, engagement, and behavior. I also never get tired of hearing our clients share how they implemented our research and the impact on their business and customers.

2. What advice do you wish you received earlier on in your career?

I wish I tackled the art of presenting earlier. I used to be scared to death of it, but somewhere along the line that changed. I love presenting to my clients now and helping others to build that skillset. It pushes me to think on my feet. If you have a challenge or shortcoming like that, understand that it’s not forever. You’re going to grow. You’re going to learn. It can be addressed through time, effort, and help from others.

I also tell younger researchers to get as much broad experience as they can. Raise your hand, ask for challenges, and do projects that are a little bit out of your comfort zone. People will notice that you’re interest and motivated, and it will set you apart. That’s important early in your career, so be sure to find an environment that’s conducive for your growth.

3. Tell us about a project/initiative you’re particularly proud of. What about that experience helped you to adapt, innovate, and/or grow?

We recently sought to understand young investors—those in their 20s and 30s who haven’t invested yet—in a new way. The research included a multi-pronged approach including online and in-home qualitative research, as well as quantitative. It was fantastic, and we got a lot of good insights that can be used to build products and services and talk to consumers in specific ways that resonate and meet consumers wherever they are in their investment journey. One takeaway that was particularly impactful was being able to group like-minded young investors and predict how they will treat their finances moving forward. It’s valuable information to have to fully meet young investor needs and also provides a lens for future studies.

4. At CMB, we like to think ahead. What about this project can Financial Services brands take away from? How should they/we be evolving?

There are so many new offerings, and ways to manage finances—they keep expanding and exploding. Companies with a long history in this business are now competing with those who have been “born online.” Changing the way these organizations work, what they focus on, and how they compete is really important. It’s clear that the investors of tomorrow are going to invest in a different way than we did, and certainly different from our parents and grandparents. They desire social connection online, so their investment journey is starting online, and on newer platforms like Venmo and Mint. Established companies really need to pay attention to this sea change, especially as people are hyper-focused on their finances and investments thanks to COVID-19.

5. And what about market research? How should we be evolving?

Like our clients, a lot is shifting in our industry. But one thing remains the same: we need to talk to the right people, at the right time, to get the insights we need. To get to that, the researchers of tomorrow must be well-versed in using different tools, and ways of doing research, including online (that’s obviously not going away). More importantly, how to work with these new tools and approaches. Many of our clients are finding ways to do some of the research themselves, and that’s ok. It just makes it that much more important for us to translate these insights into actionable results. There will always be new platforms, ways of looking at data and data mining, etc., but someone will always need to be there pulling it all together and extracting the insights.

6. Sounds like another reason to have strong client relationships! What’s your secret to developing not just good but great client relationships?

It starts with delivering superior work. It’s trust; trust that what we’re recommending is the right direction; trust that what we’ll deliver will be insightful and meet their needs and objectives. From there, it’s about knowing their business. We spend a lot of time at CMB understanding the trends, and individual businesses at a macro and micro level. How does our project fit into some of the broader initiatives or challenges that our clients have?

Also, when it’s all said and done, it’s our job to make our clients look good to their own clients and stakeholders. We must deliver insights that help our clients position themselves, and the work, within the organization. It’s so important for market research to show that focused, practical value. For example, for segmentation work, we go the extra mile and do socialization and activation sessions, and provide dynamic and interactive deliverables than can live on within the organization. All of these are quite powerful in helping an organization fully embrace and utilize a new segmentation, making it the framework for all communication and product development.

7. What does “The CMB Difference” mean to you?

It’s our culture and the way that we engage our employees. CMB strikes a good balance between using processes that work throughout the organization, without constricting growth, collaboration, or flexibility. For example, I recently had a proposal draft that I asked my colleagues to look at. Having that freedom to bring in colleagues who aren’t on my business unit because of their expertise is helpful. We delivered a proposal that didn’t miss a beat because of everyone’s ability to stretch into a different job that day and bring their skills to the table. CMB brings great minds from different disciplines to ensure that what we’re delivering is fantastic and insightful. Our clients always have a team working together on their behalf.

8. Tell us something we may not know about you. How does this make you a better insights leader?
My house is full of non-immediate family members. I foster cats, and mentor kids in foster care. These kids tend to be teens who’ve aged out of foster care, and sometimes end up living with me for a period of time. Currently, I have a young woman living with me whom I’ve been mentoring for about seven years, and some very hiss-y kittens.

My interest in fostering started in high school. I was interested in social work, but ultimately chose to pursue marketing. But that desire to help has never left me. About 10 years ago, I told myself “it’s now or never.” Fostering is about patience and perseverance. These are individuals and animals with challenges, and you have to find a way to help. It’s always different; there’s not one formula.

Spicy kittens


Lori VellucciLearn more about Lori here.

CMB's Spotlight Series brings to life the CMB Difference through our people and clients. Read all of our spotlights here.

Follow CMB on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter for the latest news and updates.


Topics: our people, CMB Spotlight Series

TMRE 2020 Takeaways

Posted by Kate Zilla-Ba

Wed, Oct 14, 2020

Post TMRE Oct 2020 Blog Opener

Planning a virtual conference is a job you couldn't pay me enough to do. From what I heard in chatting with this year’s TMRE attendees, sometimes the tech works and sometimes it doesn’t. However, those of us who attended witnessed a great willingness to get the most out of the event and a lot of positive energy. So for sanity’s sake, let’s keep the elephant in the room that is COVID-19 to the side, skip the things we have all heard already, and focus on the most interesting takeaways from this week’s event:

  • What’s Next for Preparedness? Some speakers said you should’ve been prepared for the chaos that is the current  business environment. But most said, “…umm who could have REALLY been prepared for this insanity?!?” For me, the key is how to be prepared for next month and next year. Thankfully, there were lots of tips on what alternative research tools (aka virtual) have been applied successfully and behavioral data was front and center.
  • A Warning for “Agile” Researchers. Talk about being "agile" was everywhere, but in many cases the word was used as a synonym for "fast". While fast can be great, it's not always best. Iterative agility in the traditional sense of the term for research can be amazingly impactful. An iterative approach– develop, measure, change, retest, rinse, repeat– clearly has a role to play in improving the research of tomorrow. But being quick is only as good as being smart. On this note, Abby Finnis, Sr. Director of Portfolio Insights & Analytics at PepsiCo Beverages, made the point of needing to embrace hybrid solutions that bring a variety of sources to bear during her panel session, “How Dunkin’, PepsiCo, and Unilever are Shaping the Future of Research.” To me, that feels more like the best type of agile.
  • How to have a seat at the table. This classic question was reframed a bit for 2020 as how to bring together disparate business users and uses of research to maximize the utility of insights and ensure successful socialization and implementation. Sure, some of this was looking for ways to ensure insights can be efficiently developed once, and be used in a variety of settings and applications. But more importantly, TMRE addressed how we can be more consultative. For some, being more consultative meant forgoing a degree of certainty, which is not necessarily a comfortable space for a researcher, but in the end we must “elevate” the most relevant themes to each stakeholder in order to make an impact, and to have a seat at the table.

These themes were particularly relevant in my colleague Lori Vellucci’s presentation “Wealth of a Generation | Get Inside the Minds of Young Investors,” which explored investors under 40. Her research on young investors, which leveraged our BrandFxSM approach, is a strong example of how brands can understand a diverse and important demographic, based on four pillars of human motivation: functional, emotional, social, and identity. Research like this can help people across disparate organizational silos create roadmaps for change – there’s a way to get your seat at the table; measuring in a focused ongoing way allows brands to keep insights relevant and quick-turn – that’s a way to be responsive to the oft-sought agility; and in a rapidly changing environment where being prepared means predicting right, understanding human motivation sets brands up for future success by, to quote one presenter at TMRE “building resiliency into business strategy.”


Kate Zilla-BaKate Zilla-Ba, Account Director

Don't forget to immerse yourself in our latest financial services research: Get Inside the Mind of the Young Investor. And stayed tuned for more of our findings—experiential and beyond.
Immerse Yourself
Follow CMB on 
FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter for the latest news and updates.

 

Topics: strategy consulting, financial services research, conference recap, Market research, agile research, COVID-19, financial services

Leading 2020 in Mind, Body & Soul

Posted by Courtnie Hallendy

Fri, Oct 09, 2020

Chase Womens Leadership Day 2020 Blog OpenerFor me, 2020 has really solidified the importance of slowing down and listening to yourself – your mind, body, and soul – to be the best possible leader that you can. This was a resounding message throughout JPMorgan Chase’s Women’s Leadership Day—an annual event to fuel female ambition and advance financial equality for all.

Missed it? We got you, girl (and supporters of girls everywhere)!

INVESTMENT

  • Mentorship: Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the 66th Secretary of State and a woman who represents the art of possibility to so many (well said, Thasunda Brown Duckett), spoke a lot about creating a legacy—not for yourself, but for others. Be the first so that others can be the second, and the third, and so on. It’s cause for celebration, in spite of the external and internal pressures you feel. Mentorship is a vehicle to carry this legacy, and it starts with building a genuine relationship. Personally, I have two or three trusted mentors in my life and those relationships were cultivated and have evolved over the course of my career. As Dr. Rice says, mentorship must be earned, gradually and organically in order to reach a place you can encourage each other to be twice as good, and twice as confident. It starts with small steps.

WLD_Rice

  • Spread the Wealth: Sharing our wealth of knowledge includes finances. Janet Alvarez, Personal Finance Expert for the Ascent, emphasized the importance of social connection to empower and educate our community, which as we know, is a particularly important driver for young investors. Start with your #GirlTribe! Use a portion of your zoom book club or virtual wine night to share budget strategies, and investment lessons. Recently, I’ve been sharing with any friend that will listen how the advancements in financial services technology have made making and managing finances so easy.

#POWERHER

  • Power of the Consumer Voice: From trusting your inner voice to lifting the voice of your consumer, humanity is in everything we do. Adrienne Stewart-Gorgon, Co-Owner of Pound Cake Society, shared how her company changed its business model to meet the needs of their community (i.e. making face masks). In this journey, they heard from their newfound customers: vet clinicians, healthcare workers, and their families. In feeling their love, concern, and gratitude, Adrienne felt compelled to share their beautiful stories across the organization to keep them going, from her vendors to volunteers.
  • Rock the Vote: Speaking of beautiful stories (and beautiful voices!), LaTosha Brown, Co-Founder of Black Votes Matter, shined a light on just one of the strong women who’ve empowered her: her grandmother. Her grandmother, a woman denied the right to vote herself, brought LaTosha to the voting booths, instilling in her the “power of the sister vote.” She reminded us that women have always been at the forefront of transformative times in our nation’s history, and we mustn’t forget that. Dr. Rice affirmed this when she challenged the dismay and burnout that many Americans feel. To Dr. Rice, the only way to honor the generations before us, and they progress they made, is to do the work because democracy is hard work. We should be optimistic because the opportunities for further progress have been identified, and we’re building a roadmap forward.

WLD_Brown

HOPE

  • The Essence of Transformation: LaTosha posed the question “What is your radical reimagination of the future?” and “What’s your role in that transformation?” For Mindy Grossman, President & CEO of Weight Watchers (WW) her role is to galvanize hope so that her organization, and its people, can emerge stronger than ever—a message shared by Armin Molavi back in May. Amid disruption, brands must focus on what’s right for their consumer to ensure progress is made in a way that’s authentic, and just. This sentiment was echoed by Ginni Rometty, Executive Chairman at IBM, who urged organizations to recognize their obligation and power to solve the issues we face, and to do so by leading from their core purpose.

All in all, I hope you don’t feel alone in the stresses and anxieties you feel. Because our matter [body] matters, we must view the health of our mind, body, and soul as essential to helping the health and wellbeing of others, as women so often help to manage. Whether that means taking an extra-long shower because it’s the only place you can find some peace and quiet or having a daily dance break (sorry not sorry!), bring joy to your life and #POWERHER.


Courtnie HallendyCourtnie Hallendy is an Account Director at CMB, with more than 15 years of experience in market research on both the client and vendor sides of the business.

Follow CMB on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Topics: storytelling, conference recap, growth and innovation, professional development, COVID-19

Using Design Thinking to Become a More Agile Researcher

Posted by Kathy Ofsthun

Fri, Oct 09, 2020

Using DT Kathy Blog Opener Oct 2020

Last week, I attended IA’s Design Thinking Workshop, led by Brianna Sylver—a topic we strongly believe in to creatively solve business challenges. The framework came out of engineering and design originally but is smartly being applied to market research.

Consider these 5 steps and decide whether this agile approach, or process, could apply to your issues or needs:

  1. Empathize – market research to deeply know your target audience
  2. Define – an agreed upon narrow definition of your problem, or the questions that need answering
  3. Ideate – solution brainstorming
  4. Prototype – a written or physical build out of your solution(s)
  5. Test – user feedback on your idea/prototype

Design Thinking Graphic 5 Stages-1

As Brianna discussed, some problems require only a linear approach. If the objective is clear, agreed upon, similar to past concerns, and has available sources of data to support a decision, then you needn’t apply Design Thinking. On the other hand, if you require a deeper understanding of your customer and their needs or motivations, or your problem needs narrowing or alignment, there are unknowns that past data doesn’t address, or there is limited relevant past data, then the Design Thinking process should be applied.

Know, too, that Design Thinking is an agile process (i.e. a test and learn approach). It doesn’t end at Step 5: Testing. Results dictate what comes next. Do you realize now that you do not know enough about your consumer? Does the problem need restating? Should you ideate further based on what you’ve learned? Are you ready for, or do you need, a different or more detailed/tangible prototype? Revisiting prior steps is part of the process. Though you do eventually converge on the best solution!

You may be asking yourself…what if I’m not starting at Step 1: Empathize? Can I still apply Design Thinking? Of course, you can! For example, research on your target may be abundant and just in need of updating or organizing. Or perhaps the problem is already well-defined and agreed to by all stakeholders (and customers). Some clients have come to us at the Ideate stage, where they need to get creative, think differently, and add consumers to their brainstorming. Others have gotten as far as Prototyping (e.g. concepts, storyboarding), and are ready to test. In all cases, we will remind you that this is non-linear. You may think you’re done after testing, and perhaps you will be. But more likely, you will learn from that test and need to re-think something, such as the target, problem, solutions or prototype.

It may feel circular, but you are making progress!

Design Think Cartoon

With anything that involves art and science, this approach and way of thinking is a craft that requires creative application. At CMB, we have applied Design Thinking in multiple ways:

  • For a large investment firm, we began at Step 2, first bringing internal stakeholders together to align on what was in scope and out of scope, narrowing the problem to an agreed upon solvable need
  • For a theme park we began at Stage 3, bringing together consumers and engineers to build out a vision for an updated park
  • A hotel chain brought us in at Stage 4, once they’d already ideated scores of new ideas for their loyalty program

Ask how we can help you! We are trained and experienced in Design Thinking, Creative Problem Solving, Innovation, Improvisation and more. We welcome the opportunity to apply this to your problem solving.


Kathy OfsthunKathy Ofsthun, VP, Qualitative Strategy + Innovation

Follow CMB on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Topics: qualitative research, Market research, agile research

COVID-Induced FOMO in Young Investors

Posted by Lori Vellucci

Wed, Oct 07, 2020

COVID FOMO Blog Opener

By most measures 2020 has been a sharp stick in the eye. But Millennials and Gen Zers have had it especially rough– in fact, they’ve experienced economic, environmental, and political upheaval for most of their lives. Many have never known a time when the United States was not at war with someone. They arrived to the party with a certain baseline of anxiety and fear shaped by the world and personal events throughout their formative years. As they say, “change happens in a crucible” (thanks, Mack Turner), and with the added stress of the pandemic, many young investors took their anxiety and fear and boldly channeled it into a new proactive approach to investing. They were determined not to miss the market sale, as many of them did for one reason or another back in ‘08/’09. New account openings were at an all-time high this past spring for traditional financial services brands and the plethora of born-online digital platforms.

Who Will Young Investors Turn To?

With this new focus and new money floating around, coupled with the stark realization that the markets go in both directions, these new investors need knowledge and guidance. Many firms have stepped up and made significant efforts to provide both to these less affluent newbies. But the final answer to an important question remains, who will they trust most with their future? There are two knee-jerk responses to this question: (1) the storied and well-established institutions which have reached a hand to these new potential customers OR (2) the born-online, new, fresh tech platforms targeted to these digital natives.

Are YOU Missing Out on the Young Investor?

There’s good reason to choose either of these options as the answer. However, investment firms must consider the four psychological benefits that drive brand engagement: emotional, identity, social, and functional. For brands across industries, leading prospects to expect these benefits drives consideration, and delivering these benefits to customers drives loyalty. And, for investment firms—disruptors and established alike—these psychological benefits are the key to winning the hearts and wallets of young investors.

BrandFx Four Benefits Pillars

We know that financial services brands (traditional or digital) deliver against these four pillars with varying degrees of success. However, there are other players outside of financial services and fintech that bear consideration and a watchful eye (and which already deliver important drivers of engagement in spades). Tech Brands like Apple, Google, and Amazon already have the attention of young investors in other aspects of their lives. Further, some have begun to make forays into financial services through offering of credit cards and mobile payments. It may be a short reach for them to move their customers into high yield savings and investing through partnerships, purchases, or built-from-scratch offerings. While there are certainly barriers in place to jumping in with both feet, the strength of these brands warrant a watchful eye.

So where do financial services firms start? Functional benefits are table stakes, so delivering those benefits alone aren’t enough to attract new investors. It’s therefore crucial for brands to deliver the identity, social, and emotional benefits to drive engagement. Make young investors feel safe and secure (emotional benefits) through every touchpoint. Find a way to help them to express themselves (identity benefits) by ensuring that their financial brand aligns with their values and help them to connect with others as they embark on their investing journey (social benefits).

YI Experience Micrographic Sep20 (2)

Three Takeaways for Investment Firms

As detailed in our latest report: Get Inside the Mind of the Young Investor, here’s what you can do so that you don’t miss out on the young investor:

  1. Ensure representatives are focused on helping young investors leave each touchpoint feeling positive, low activation emotions like peace, calm, and security
  2. Understand your customer identity and ensure campaigns and marketing assets present a compelling image of the typical customer for young investors
  3. Deliver Social Benefits that resonate through ESG and socially responsible investing and building communities of like-minded investors

Lori VellucciLori Vellucci, VP Financial Services Practice Leader
Don't forget to immerse yourself in our latest financial services research: Get Inside the Mind of the Young Investor. And stayed tuned for more of our findings—experiential and beyond.
Immerse Yourself
Follow CMB on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Topics: financial services research, brand health and positioning, Market research, BrandFx, COVID-19, financial services, young investors