Heidi Hitchen

Recent Posts

The 7 Types of Loyalty You'll Find in the 7 Kingdoms

Posted by Heidi Hitchen

Mon, Jun 01, 2015

game of thrones logoWarning: This post contains spoilers for George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones.

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” This is the message of popular book series A Song of Ice and Fire and hit HBO TV series Game of Thrones. In the fictional world of Westeros, you learn pretty quickly that honor, duty, and loyalty will get you nowhere.As market researchers, we can learn a lot about loyalty from Westeros. There are more kinds of loyalty than there are self-proclaimed kings of the 7 kingdoms—and just like those kings (sorry, Tommen), these types of loyalty aren’t all created equal. Luckily, we have a way of categorizing (and then quantifying the value) of different types of loyalty—a concept I’ll illustrate using some of our favorite Westerosi characters.

In the world of loyalty measurement, everyone starts in the first archetype, which is just plain “Loyal.” Assuming that everyone is loyal in some way is certainly a dangerous assumption in Westeros, but we’ll take our chances and put everyone who isn’t a Wildling into that category to start.

True Loyal: You can argue that as the sworn sword of Renly Baratheon (deceased) and Catelyn Stark (also deceased), Brienne of Tarth has not been terribly successful. But, you can’t deny that she’s gone out of her way to fulfill her vow of reuniting the Stark girls. Come the Hound or high-water, she’s devoted. This is the type of customer (or sworn sword) we’d all like to have in our corner.

At-Risk Loyal: Varys may say he’s true to the 7 Kingdoms, but the former Master of Secrets’ loyalty extends only so far. . .which Tywin Lannister (RIP!) learned a little too late. In Westeros, and in the marketplace, this type of loyalty is the one you’ll have to work to hold on to.

Deal Loyal: Your customer may enjoy your product as much as Bronn enjoyed being with Tyrion, but don’t forget that sell swords and Deal Loyal customers are primarily motivated by bags of gold—or discounts.

Uninvolved: This could have described our friends in Dorne until very recently (thanks, Cersei), but perhaps the most accurate example of the Uninvolved are the average citizens of Westeros. These people don’t hold much allegiance for any king—they just want to make it through another winter with their heads attached. It’s the same (well, not exactly the same) for your uninvolved customer. They use your brand but are pretty indifferent overall.

Distribution Loyal: Petyr Baelish’s allegiance is questionable at best. Baelish (who is better known as Littlefinger) spreads his loyalty across the kingdom, manipulating people and resources to slowly claw his way into power. He may be loyal to House Tully (and the Starks by extension), but we know he’s also made major plays for the Lannisters. It’s all about the end game for Littlefinger, which is why he’ll use people as a means to an end and then switch when something better comes along.

Captive Loyal: Poor, poor Sansa. Can’t a girl catch a break? She’s had three fiancés and two husbands, and she's still held prisoner by her claim to the North. While she’s recently learned how to use her circumstances to her advantage, I’ll go out on a limb and say she’s probably on the lookout for a better option—the North remembers. Like Sansa, Captive Loyals aren’t satisfied with your product, but they’re likely to continue using it for the time being.

Where does your loyalty lie?

Heidi Hitchen is a true loyalist to House Stark. She’ll continue to root for the King in the North until the White Walkers come for her. Winter is coming!

Watch our recent webinar to learn about our results-focused emotional measurement approach we call EMPACT℠: Emotional Impact Analysis. Put away the brain scans and learn how we use emotion to inform a range of business challenges, including marketing, customer experience, customer loyalty, and product development.


Topics: Television, Customer Experience & Loyalty, Media & Entertainment Research

Discrete Choice and the Path to a Car Purchase

Posted by Heidi Hitchen

Wed, Jun 11, 2014


One chilly night in February, I was heading home from a friend’s birthday festivities when my car just stopped working. I had just enough oomph and momentum from the hill I was on to pull off to the side of the road. I found myself stranded in the middle of the city, waiting for a tow truck until 4AM and vowing to myself the whole time that I wouldn’t deal with this clunker anymore. It was time for a new car. During the next two weeks, without wheels, I did my research on the Internet and made my way over to a local Toyota dealership. I walked in knowing exactly what I wanted: a 2014 green Corolla. I even knew the various payment and financing options I was prepared for. And wouldn’t you know it—I ended up getting exactly what I said I wanted.As easy as that sounds, my path wasn’t straight to the doors of the Toyota dealership. I had gone through a variety of different makes, models, financing options, and colors. At the end of researching each car, I asked myself not only if I would really buy this car, but also if I would truly be happy with it. It wasn’t until I asked myself this question for the first time that I realized I was essentially creating my own Discrete Choice Measurement (DCM), specifically a Dual-Choice DCM (DCDC).

DCM is a technique that presents several configurations of product features to respondents and asks them to pick which configuration they would most prefer. In a Dual-Choice DCM, a follow-up question is asked to determine whether the respondent would actually buy the preferred package. This second question is crucial—I might choose a Lamborghini but there’s little chance (OK, no chance) that I will actually purchase one.

Dual-Choice DCM scenarios are the gold standard for product development work and can lend more accurate insights into a buying scenario by:

  • more closely representing a consumer’s purchase decision
  • helping us better understand consumer preferences
  • more accurately reflecting market potential
  • dissecting the product into pieces, which allows us to measure price sensitivity and willingness to pay for the product as a whole as well as individual components
  • simulating the market interest in thousands of potential product packages for product optimization as the analysis examines how a product can be changed to perform better by identifying (and tweaking) individual product features that affect purchase decisions

Being able to produce more realistic results is obviously an important part of any research, and it just goes to show that DCMs can truly help with any decision making process. Running a DCM in my head prior to purchasing my car was truly helpful, so it’s no surprise that our clients often rave about the DCMs and Dual-Choice DCMs in our analytics program.

Heidi is an Associate Researcher who graduated from Quinnipiac University with a dual-degree in Marketing and Over-Involvement. After realizing she lacks hobbies now that student organizations don’t rule her free time, Heidi is taking sailing classes and looks forward to smooth sailing on the Charles River by the end of the summer.

Want to know more about our advanced analytic techniques, including our innovative Tri-Choice Approach? Let us know and we’ll be happy to talk through how we choose the right techniques to uncover critical consumer insights. Contact us.

Topics: Advanced Analytics, Research Design