WELCOME TO OUR BLOG!

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

Subscribe to Email Updates

BROWSE BY TAG

see all

Who Are Your Fab 5?

Posted by Julie Kurd

Mon, Nov 30, 2020

Fab 5 Blog Opener (1)Who are the 5 people you regularly interact with in your professional life? Michael Veltri asked this key question during his virtual appearance at my company’s Virtual Sales Kickoff. His ideas about connection are especially relevant in a pandemic, where travel is limited, and our worlds can shrink unless we’re engaging regularly with clients, prospects, colleagues, and industry professionals.

Veltri’s points:

  1. CONDUCT A FAB 5 INVENTORY: Who are your current Fab ~5? These are the people who straddle the line between friend and business colleague. You want each other to win and you watch out for ideas/content/innovative methods that they may want to learn about, and vice versa. You show them what you found for them, and you share conversations about goals, plans, and life. You might text, DM, collaborate, video conference, video chat, enjoy virtual drinks, or create groups and book clubs.
    During the pandemic, I’ve also been jogging ‘with’ some of my Fab 5 (well, with their podcasts) 4 mornings a week. With that long-form of listening, I learn a lot, and I rely on their deep knowledge to continue to explore my own interests*.
  2. EXPAND YOUR FAB 5 DREAM TEAM: This network expansion effort is about who you need in your future Fab 5, and vice versa, so that you can drive impact (grow your company’s bottom line, expand your community service impact, realize personal objectives, hire amazing colleagues). Once you identify your future focus, you can make sure that you are investing hours that help bring you to that new reality.
    A friend recently told me her personal trainer calls her every Monday morning before 8am to quiz her on her weekend wellness behaviors. The first call, she was irritated, but after three weeks, she’s choosing healthier options and she can’t wait for those weekly chats. He’s unlocking the value in their relationship by authentically engaging and motivating her future wellness by focusing on her KPIs. She said she’s 75% more likely to renew for his new gym at a 20% premium cost. Is it just a sales ploy? No way. He is just being himself, and he is increasing the probability of his success by being human and learning how her needs dovetail with his solution fit. She was part of his Fab 5, and now he is going to be part of hers.
  3. TAKE RELEVANT ACTION: Veltri encourages us to take actions to build our Fab 5. Action has never been easier to initiate, because participating in virtual meetings and events is relatively frictionless (no travel, no fee in most cases). You can enter the room with your video off and voice muted (no expectations from the group), and you can log off and re-charge at will when you need a break. This incredible velocity of content and access to networking will undoubtedly decline after the vaccine is distributed and we begin commuting again.
    My recommendation is start today with a commitment to yourself to invest X hours getting to know your clients and industry colleagues more deeply. Pledge some time every week to interacting, to helping our industry peers whose jobs were eliminated during the pandemic, to community service, to personal goals, and/or to improving our understanding of our ever-expanding Insights community. Register and participate in the abundance of free events with Insights Association, Greenbook, Quirks, QRCA, ESOMAR, TMRE, Women in Research, Jamin’s Tuesday Series, university offerings, etc.
* If you’re looking for industry podcasts, start with Jamin Brazil’s Happy Market Research Podcast, Sima Vasa’s Data Gurus, Adam Jolley and Adam Dietrich’s The Ride, Priscilla McKenney’s Ponderings from the Perch, and I have a list for non-industry but start with AJ Kieran’s The 16 oz Canvas, which features the humans creating beer can label design and more.

Julie KurdFor more conversation on Fab 5, message Julie or another colleague to continue the dialogue. Julie Kurd is the VP Business Development at CMB.

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

Topics: conference recap, Market research, mrx, Networking

Ignited 2020 | CMB Lights the Night

Posted by Clairese Boser

Wed, Nov 25, 2020

LTN Blog Opener Nov 2020After successfully transitioning to a completely virtual workforce earlier this year, CMB was faced with a new challenge this Fall: how to virtually raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Annual Light the Night (LTN) Walk. Since 2008, LTN has been an integral part of the CMB community, with several in-person fundraising activities we look forward to year over year.

Now that we were all working from home, how could we maintain this important tradition and meet our fundraising goal?

Our LTN core team has always been made up of our Boston-based employees, but this year there were no barriers for a full-time remote employee to participate (me!). Since joining CMB two and a half years ago, I had been looking for an opportunity to become more actively involved in CMB’s community, despite the 700+ mile distance between myself and the office. When I heard about our 2020 LTN goal, I jumped at the chance to not only help transition the events to a virtual format this year, but to also build a baseline for how we can continue to involve remote CMBers for years to come.  

After several brainstorming sessions and input from other CMBers, we successfully re-imagined our usual slate of events:

  • BBQ: Initially, the fundraising team didn’t think that it’d be possible to host our annual BBQ luncheon, which is perhaps CMB’s favorite event of the year. But in the CMB spirit, we refused to miss out on award-winning BBQ from our very own CMB pit master, Jared. It was all hands-on deck, and thanks to everyone’s feedback at CMB, we figured out a way to distribute Jared’s BBQ safety and efficiently. Orders were placed, 83 pounds of brisket and 60 pounds of pork butt were smoked, deliveries were coordinated, and a team of volunteers (masked and gloved) met up in a parking lot to pick up and deliver orders throughout the Boston area. It’s safe to say we made a lot of CMBers—and their families—happy and full.

LTN BBQ Gallery Photos 2020

  • AUCTION: Another fan favorite: our annual live auction, with items donated by our coworkers. Fortunately, it was easier to conduct our first-ever online auction since nonprofits have been leveraging online auction fundraising tools for years. In total, 53 items were donated by our teammates– just a few examples are a Zoom Santa visit, chocolate babka, biscotti, homemade Ruth Bader Ginsburg dolls, knit hats and scarves, virtual bread baking class, and a sake gift basket. While we had fewer items up for grabs than in 2019, we still raised close to same amount! As a bonus, the online platform made for some intense (but friendly) bidding wars – and some of us may have spent our lunch breaks coming up with a plan of attacks for the items at the top of our list.

Live Auction

  • SOCIAL COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES: In past years, the CMB Social Committee has run a variety of in-person events, such as bake sales, soda & candy sales, board game tournaments, and paint nights. Despite obvious challenges, the team pivoted to virtual with ease, running a step challenge, an online board game tournament, fantasy football, and a “Two Truths and a Lie” game.

2 Truths and a Lie

Never underestimate the power of community! While we will no doubt go back to some in-person events after we return to “normal” (whenever that is), we absolutely plan to include several virtual fundraising events in the future to ensure the growing number of full-time remote employees at our company are able to participate. Through this year’s LTN fundraising efforts, we ignited our community and expanded the ways our workforce can engage with and participate in our culture more inclusively. I am proud to announce that despite the limitations this year, we exceeded our $10,000 goal, raising a total of $12,506 completely virtually!

Please join our support of LTN here.


Clairese BoserClairese Boser is a Sr. Project Manager at CMB, based out of her home in Southeast Michigan, and is a proud member of the 2020 Light the Night CMB team.

Other members who contributed to this year's success include: Ashley Harrington, Athena Rodriguez, Adrianne Economu, Jared Huizenga, Cameron Miller, Blair Bailey, Hannah Russell, Lauren Sears, Daniel Alderstad, Saya Higano, and more. 

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

Topics: Light the Night,, Community Involvement, CMB Social Committee, CMB Culture

‘Tis the Season for Change

Posted by Courtnie Hallendy

Mon, Nov 16, 2020

Holiday Season Fin Serv Blog Opener

Impact of Shifting and Alternative Payment Options

The leaves are turning, the temps are cooling (I’ve already had the first snowfall of the year), and I’m about to replace the Halloween candy with Holiday cookies! While the shelves are filling with the familiar touchstones of the holidays, for most of us this will be a very different holiday season.

All year we have been watching and analyzing the impact of 2020 on consumer behavior trends. Some changes, born from the pandemic, seem to have some longevity to them – online grocery shopping and delivery, reduced travel, shifting spending habits among credit cards (especially those whose rewards focus on travel), and increased usage in alternative payment methods. With the possibility of another round of shutdowns, household budgets are tighter than ever. The question is, what do these shifts mean for the next few months of consumer behavior?

2020 Holiday Shopper Anxiety Micrographic

This holiday season I am most interested in two, closely linked, consumer habits: increased online shopping, and changing payment methods. Way back in April of 2020, CMB looked at consumer sentiment and behaviors related to COVID. Though we were just at the beginning of our new normal, 42% of consumers said they were doing more online shopping and 52% said that they plan to continue this after normal returns. Factoring in anxiety around in-store shopping as we enter prime retail sales time, we should look at how payment methods have changed in 2020.

Fin Serv Season for Change Blog Nov 2020 Activities

Like many Americans, since March, I am spending less overall, at different places, and with different payment decision criteria (debit vs. credit and which credit card). For example, in my house most non-household bills went on the one credit card that gave us airline miles. We love to travel, so this just made sense. Well, I don’t see that trip to Spain happening in the next 8 months, so I evaluated credit cards that provided rewards relevant to my current normal and ended up with a new card…Amazon! Now, this is my go-to card, that replaced my airline card and then some… I am putting everything on it – groceries, cell phone bills, vet bills, etc. I am in the group of consumers that are shifting their top of wallet decision criteria and expanding usage to take advantage of rewards that are relevant to me.

For others (especially Gen Z) who don’t have, use, or want a credit card, we are seeing a shift to alternative payment methods. Our own research from late 2019 showed that PayPal had an advantage over the other brands we tested, but this was before most large credit card issuers introduced their own versions of alternative financing.

Fin Serv Season for Change Blog Nov 2020

We have seen an increase in reported shifts away from credit cards and cash to debit or alternative financing options like Affirm or PayPal – especially among those in the lower household income ranges and younger consumers. The CMB Financial Services team is working with clients to understand what this means for their business, what products they should be marketing, and what, if any, partnerships they should be leveraging. The consumer data is supporting what we all know to be true in our own households – our decision criteria is different now than it was before. The decision of what and when to purchase, but also the decision on how to pay for it.

Now is the time when consumers are making their holiday shopping plans. Now is the time to get the voice of the customer to drive the late Q4 strategy. How are they going to make their gift purchases (or the materials they need for the next great Pinterest inspiration)? How are they going to pay for things? A deep understanding of consumer behavior and motivations will help guide us towards the right questions to ask and create meaningful, pandemic-resistant, consumer-centric business strategies.


Courtnie Hallendy

Courtnie 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: financial services research, consumer insights, Market research, BrandFx, COVID-19, Emotional Benefits, financial services

CMB Spotlight: Judy Melanson

Posted by Chadwick Martin Bailey

Fri, Nov 13, 2020

Judy Melanson Spotlight Series Blog Opener (1)

In this very special spotlight, we talk with strategic thinker and empathetic leader: Judy Melanson. Judy has worked with some of the world’s leading brands including Hilton Worldwide, Disney, Avis Budget Group, Scientific Games and Caesars Entertainment on some of their biggest and most innovative challenges. After 28 years at CMB, Judy is heading into retirement, with an amazing support group of her family, friends, colleagues, clients, and the clients who’ve become friends and family.

1. How did you get started in your career?

I started my career as a tour guide in London 1984. The company (that’s since gone out of business) was very disorganized, and I spent most of those six months saying, “I’m sorry; I’m sorry you’re on your honeymoon and you have a twin bed; I’m sorry that you’re here but your luggage is in Hong Kong, etc.” After that, I sold timeshares in Newport, RI, and moved on to selling conference event space for a beautiful resort location on Cape Cod. I learned something from each experience, but most importantly I realized I wanted to get my M.B.A. and forge a new path.

These early jobs gave me an intimate look at the customer experience that I needed when I later become the lead of CMB’s Travel & Hospitality practice. I’ve worked with leading tour companies, leading timeshare companies, leading hotel companies, and I think I’m one of the few market researchers who have been in their shoes. I understood their challenges, because I’ve sat at the desk and listened to a traveler’s complaints. I have so much respect and appreciation for the brands who can do an excellent job, and the teams they’ve assembled.

2. What led you to CMB?

The late John Martin, co-founder of CMB, is the reason I started and the part of the reason I stayed at CMB. I met him while taking his market research class at Babson. John had so many stories about the new and exciting challenges he was addressing. I was transfixed by how market research could influence business strategy, and the range of clients he worked with. I basically begged him to hire me.

I’ve laughed (daily), I’ve cried (once or twice), but I’ve never had a boring day at CMB. The types of projects, and the challenges we tackle executing those projects, have kept me very happy and satisfied in my 28 years at CMB.

 

3. Tell us more about John’s influence in your career, and mentorship.

The list is long for everyone I’d love the chance to thank in my career, but John Martin was a strong influence. I learned so much from him, especially in the art of client engagement and interaction. He helped me figure out how to execute research and to manage the wide range of responsibilities expected of me.

Our clients at Hilton used to refer to John as the “mad scientist.” He’d show up to a meeting in the same blue blazer, disheveled hair, and frenzied energy, which would be dormant while he listened to their pain points and questions. But at some point, he’d find a white board, which was his instrument of choice. During the rest of the meeting, he’d channel his energy into these extremely complex challenges we were discussing, and suddenly we’d see clear action items that structured our research and addressed our client’s key business drivers. He was a master of translating research into the language of business.

It’s funny because I saw John’s “white board strategy” in action during a meeting with our colleagues recently. Brant Cruz used it so effortlessly to capture what was on the team’s mind, validate everyone’s voices at the table, and push the group further.

 

4. At CMB, we like to think ahead. What do you think your clients should be addressing for their longevity? How should they/we be evolving?

I think it’s really exciting for travel and hospitality brands to leverage the insurmountable amount of data at our fingertips, and to give that data purpose by creating more relevant, personalized experiences for its users. Netflix and Amazon provide such a nice standard for this. Both these leading brands leverage the products or content you, and those like you, consume, to serve recommendations tailored to your habits, interests, and needs. The curation of products and services—not just content—is so applicable to brands outside of the entertainment and ecommerce industries. Recommendation engines are hard to execute, but it’s possible. And the rewards could be great, leading future travelers to better experiences and stronger loyalty to your brand.

5. What do the researchers of tomorrow need for their success?

I think 2020 has highlighted this for many, but I’d say empathy. It’s so important in insights no matter the tool or technique you’re using. As researchers, we’re required to understand people as comprehensively and holistically as possible so that we can help brands make decisions. It’s a practice. Even though I think I’m pretty good at it, I’m always struggling to be better. The reality is that I’m a white woman of a certain age; the experiences and learning I’ve had are due to the way world meets me when I come into a room. Researchers must work hard to understand who an individual is, the experiences they’ve had, how that affects their decision-making, and to advocate that back to our clients and their stakeholders.

Some of the work that we’ve done, under the leadership of Erica Carranza, has helped at understanding identity. Our BrandFxSM approaches are super helpful in humanizing insights for our clients, and telling their stories, so that they can be truly customer-centric. The more we can integrate the voices of our respondents to our clients, the more effective our research is.

6. What’s the power of developing not good but great client relationships?

We’re so fortunate at CMB to have incredibly strong client relationships with leading brands (some even before my time at CMB!), who call us back time and time again for our best-in-class analytics, qualitative, storytelling, graphic design, etc. Sometimes that relationship is with the brand—because of how intimately we know their business—working with a variety of team members. Other times it’s with a person—because of how we support them—wherever their career takes them.

Part of the magic is the way we work with people, as people, supporting each other throughout the happy and challenging moments. We act as trusted advisors, with the strong objective of making our clients succeed. We all build those relationships in a slightly different way that’s authentic and honest. CMB gives us the freedom to find the right team, the right clients, and the rights accounts that are a match for us. Because we have a vested interest in the people we work with, as well as the business and industry in which they operate, our commitment as a team doesn’t wane.

One of the pleasures of working at CMB for so long is the relationship I’ve been able to develop. I’m so lucky to consider many of my clients, friends. The fact that I can enjoy my work and participate in the life of the people you’re working with has made my career a pleasure.

 

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

When I first joined CMB, there were only about 12 of us, and we had to be flexible, proactive, and work closely together to get results. I feel closely connected to the growth that CMB has seen—growing from a small, start-up to a Top 50 market research firm of about 100 employees—and feel very proud of that participation.

We’re an extremely collegial organization. If I ask for advice or help from anyone in the organization, I know within minutes support will come. We hold each other up to a high standard, and work hard for each other because we like and respect one another. It’s a joy to work together. We take advantage of every opportunity to congratulate one another.

 

8. Talk a little bit about the CMB culture.

The essence of CMB comes down to couple of things: collaboration, excellent work, and quirkiness. It’s important to maintain our excellent standard of work…but we got to continue having fun. I hope that our quirkiness, our unique personalities, and our ability to have fun always stays in our legacy.

My favorite memories at CMB are when we’re able to gather together, whether it’s to celebrate our accomplishments at a company update, holiday celebration, or to uplift our community like our Light the Night fundraising. Thanksgiving is a perfect example. For the last 15 years, our management team has cooked and served the staff in our office to express thanks for everyone’s hard work over the year. It’s almost serendipitous that I’m retiring after this year’s (virtual) Thanksgiving celebration.

 

9. What’s next for you, Judy?

The best part of this next adventure is that I have no plans. I’ve been working since I was 15 years old. I’m going to take three months just to rest and reflect because I deserve it.

But I do want to discover where I can best add value in this next phase of my life. To ideate for the future, I bought a book on design thinking during life transitions. It’s super interesting to bring some of the principles we use in our research and apply it to me. The prompts are helping me to reflect on my goals, values, and identify where there may be gaps.

I always imagined having a set plan ready when I announced my retirement—what I would be doing, or where I would be going—but I realized that I couldn’t close this chapter of my life and create that plan at the same time. My days will probably be filled with painting, working in the greenhouse, and/or traveling (as COVID-19 permits).

Some of this exploration started when my youngest daughter went to college. I decided to try a new hobby and signed up for some drawing and painting classes. I’ve learned so much as a result of it. Painting is storytelling. You have to decide what the narrative is, what to accentuate or intensify, and what you want your viewer to experience. I’m excited to see where my story takes me next.

Judy Paintings Photo Only


Judy MelansonPlease join us in thanking Judy for her numerous contributions and incredible impact over her career, and congratulating her on her next step. Connect with Judy on LinkedIn 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, InstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Topics: our people, CMB Spotlight Series

Human Motivations Amid Disruption: 5G, COVID-19 & More

Posted by Chris Neal

Mon, Oct 26, 2020

Question: What do a global pandemic, 5G technologies, and puberty have in common?

Answer: Massive disruption as we know it.

Let’s start with the global pandemic. Like everyone, my household has had to adapt drastically in the face of a pandemic. In addition to stocking up on toilet-paper, our family’s digital dependence has sky-rocketed. It has exposed the limits of our internet access and Wi-Fi functionality, and frayed the fragile fabric of our family’s functionality. Our use of streaming video apps is much higher now, and it’s unlikely to go back to pre-pandemic levels long after the pandemic is gone. And we are not alone—in CMB’s COVID-19 tracking research, streaming video app usage across the US has also increased dramatically, and most people don’t expect it to return to pre-pandemic levels even after the virus is contained:

5G Blog COVID Data

Putting this problem into the Fogg model, we see our motivation to try something different/better for our internet access situation has increased dramatically. But, like most zip codes, broadband ISP competition is scarce. Better internet access is competing with toilet paper now in that upper left-hand quadrant of Foggville:

5G Blog Oct 2020 Fogg Model Internet Access-1

And this brings me to 5G technologies, the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks and the successor to 4G LTE.* This technology will increase the ability of many people to significantly improve their internet connectivity and potential, either as a fixed internet access substitute alternative, or for some households who may want to use 5G cellular connectivity as their only internet access (both inside and outside the home):

5G Blog Oct 2020 Fogg Model 5G-2

Oh, yeah: and puberty? My household is also navigating this pandemic with two teenagers, which is a miserable time of life to be stuck in the house with your parents pretty much 24/7. GenZ is the first generation to grow up not knowing life before pervasive mobile internet connections. One of their first waking memories was discovering the delights of a mobile fart app on the iPhone. And while I personally thought that was the pinnacle of potential for the mobile internet at the time, the industry has since risen to much greater heights. 5G is going to open a whole new world of application possibilities, and GenZ will be key in determining which of these take off. Video-enabled communications with friends (TikTok, FaceTime, Zoom, etc.), and online gaming will benefit most from 5G in the near-term. Usage has gone through the roof since the pandemic, and is unlikely to ever fully return to “normal”. The next wave may well be driven by Virtual Reality and/or Augmented Reality-enabled applications. Coincidentally, GenZ have the strongest interest in VR/AR gaming, and we know this generation is using online multi-player gaming for socialization more than ever during the pandemic.

UNDERSTANDING HUMAN MOTIVATION IN THE FACE OF CHANGING TECH ABILITIES

Any company trying to capitalize on the opportunities presented by a dramatically increased ability to deliver new and better 5G-enabled services to people can benefit by analyzing which specific human motivations are most important for any given new service, and how the pandemic may have altered these.

BrandFx Four Benefits Pillars

Let’s take basic broadband internet access in my household as an example:

  • FUNCTIONAL (what I want to do): our existing internet access is insufficient now that two teenagers are doing remote learning most days and two adults are teleworking: all four individuals are spending much more time on video streaming platforms, often simultaneously. This impacts the adults’ work productivity and the kids’ learning. Additionally, we are all streaming more digital entertainment (TV shows, movies, and online gaming for the kids) now that we don’t go out anymore. The Functional motivation is very clear.
  • SOCIAL (where I want to belong): Other people I know have switched to a 5G internet service. I’ve heard through online forums from people I don’t know about their experiences with 5G.
    • My kids rely on fast internet service with low latency for social connections. Problems with Facetime glitching or high ping/latency while playing Sea of Thieves with friends increases their (already high) sense of social isolation.
  • IDENTITY (who I want to be): I’d like to think I’m smart, leading edge, and open to change. I won’t keep to the status quo just because it’s familiar. And I solve practical problems around the household.
  • EMOTIONAL (how I want to feel): I am very frustrated and annoyed by my current internet service plan: the internet quality and reliability doesn’t meet my family’s current needs during this pandemic, I don’t feel like I’m getting value for the price I am currently paying, and I don’t feel respected when I call customer service.
    • I feel anxious, however, that switching to 5G may compromise the security of my internet access. And I am concerned that it may be unreliable (e.g., glitchy when there is severe weather, because I’ve heard about this with satellite TV connections).

Across many industries and products, we have found that the emotional, identity, and/or social motivations are just as—and often more—important determinants of a new product’s success than the functional ones. And the interactions across different types of motivations can be highly prescriptive for laying successful go-to-market plans in the face of extreme uncertainty.

We are neither soothsayers nor oracles, but we do know how to leverage the power of psychology to help navigate a future that promises to be full of change and more disruption.

*No, this is not another conspiracy blog about how 5G technologies caused the Covid-19 outbreak. They did not.


Christopher NealChris Neal, VP of CMB's Tech & Telecom Practice, has over 20 years of experience in high tech, online, consumer electronics, telecom and media insights, analytics, and consulting.

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

Topics: technology research, strategy consulting, technology solutions, mobile, business decisions, consumer insights, millennials, internet of things, marketing strategy, Consumer Pulse, emotional measurement, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty, growth and innovation, Market research, emotion, Artificial Intelligence, BrandFx, consumer psychology, technology, Gaming, Gen Z, AR/VR, collaborative intelligence, COVID-19, consumer sentiment, Next-Gen Gaming, customer centricity, AI, Habit Loops