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Ellen DeGeneres, The Bachelor, Queer Eye and Qualitative Research

Posted by Kelsey Segaloff

Wed, Sep 26, 2018

on air 2

I watch a lot of television. From dramas to sitcoms to reality shows, I love it all.

And while I watch a range of programs, I’ve noticed parallels between what it takes to be an effective TV personality and a qualitative research moderator.

The art of establishing rapport

Ellen DeGeneres is the queen of establishing rapport. She greets each guest with her warm personality (usually dancing is involved) and alleviates any nerves/discomfort they may be feeling. Her inviting approach helps establish a mutual trust and creates a safe space for her guests.

As a qualitative moderator, it’s also my job to establish rapport with my participants—to create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing.

One of the best ways to put participants at ease in a focus group is by extending an “emotional handshake” to them. Before diving into the session topic, participants are asked a few self-introductory questions (e.g., what’s your name?) followed by a question unrelated to the discussion topic (e.g., what kind of pet do you have?). Once participants have answered some intro questions, the moderator will follow up with a question to complete the emotional handshake.

For example, if participant A says they have a dog, a good moderator might follow up with, “What kind of dog do you have?” By following up, the moderator has shown true interest in what the respondent has to say, thus creating an environment in which participants are more likely to share.

Handling difficult conversations (within time restraints)

Chris Harrison of The Bachelor franchise is another impressive television host. From The Bachelor and The Bachelorette to Bachelor Winter Games and Bachelor in Paradise, Harrison is no stranger to navigating emotional conversations between heartbroken and battered love-struck participants.

Harrison’s moderating prowess really shines through during the live finale episodes at the end of each season. In the live finales, contestants are invited back to recap the season and settle (hopefully) any unresolved disputes between exes and enemies. It’s a tense situation because contestants are often watching (for the first time) emotional footage from the season.

Harrison masterfully navigates tough conversations between contestants by knowing when to dig deeper and when to rein it in—all under the pressure of impending commercial breaks.

As moderators, sometimes we have to dive into sensitive topics with our participants within a certain time constraint. Based on project objectives, we need the judgement to know when to probe further to understand participants’ thoughts/feelings, and when to move along. Like Harrison, we must approach these conversations with empathy to show participants they are truly being heard.

Consulting after the fact

While Karamo Brown of the Emmy-winning show, Queer Eye, is a talented moderator, he’s also an incredible consultant. In the show, Karamo has an honest conversation with participants—listening to their needs and desires—then recommends actionable steps towards achieving their goals.

For example, in the first season, Brown helped a struggling comedian brand himself with new headshots and a formal website. In another episode, Brown supported a transgender man while he acquired a new driver’s license with the proper gender listed. In each case, Brown listened to their struggle—for the comedian, it was lack of confidence, for the transgender man, it was misrepresentation of his identity—and built a roadmap to overcome these obstacles.

We too are consultants in market research. We go into a discussion with questions to understand the thoughts, feelings, opinions, and attitudes of our participants. We listen intently and extract meaningful responses, then use that information to make informed, actionable recommendations to clients.

I never thought I could connect my love of television to my work as a qualitative researcher. But the more people I see on TV effectively navigating dynamic (and sometimes tough) conversations, the more inspiration I draw as I continue to hone my own moderating skills.

Kelsey Segaloff is a Moderator who is currently binge watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Bachelor in Paradise, Castle Rock, and Magic for Humans simultaneously.

Topics: qualitative research

The Cost of Switching Tasks

Posted by Laura Blazej

Wed, Sep 19, 2018

productivity_2

Heading into the busiest time of year, I’ve been thinking about how to be more efficient at work. Often, we want to do everything at once—ensuring each task gets marked off our to do list so we can feel accomplished at the end of the day.

While multitasking seems efficient, it's actually quite difficult to switch between two different tasks.

The difficulty of "task switching" was popularized in a 1995 study by Robert Rogers and Stephen Monsell in which participants were asked to carry out two trials of task A, followed by two trials of task B, then back to task A. 

They found the response times of switching between unrelated tasks was slower than switching between similar tasks--indicating it takes longer to complete different tasks if you switch back and forth instead of doing similar ones sequentially.

Thinking about this on a larger scale (all day) with more complex tasks (the day-to-day tasks of a market researcher), the cost only grows. I lose more time on days when I have lots of smaller tasks for many projects compared to days spent on bigger tasks for fewer projects. 

Returning to the goal of improving day-to-day efficiency, here are four tips to lighten the cognitive load and reduce time spent “getting into a new mindset”:

  1. Schedule similar tasks back-to-back. For example, split your day by number-y (e.g., data cleaning) and word-y (e.g., report writing, emails) types of tasks. 
  2. Take breaks between each task to reset. Often, we’re still partially thinking about a previous task when starting a new one. Take a walk around the office or a simple deep breath to clear your mind before tackling your next “to do.”

  3. Stop trying to do everything at once. Stop reading emails the second they arrive. Block time on your calendar for each task you need to finish. Stick to those blocks by only working on that one thing during that time, even if that means closing Outlook and Skype for an hour. Your mind thinks you’re being productive when you’re doing things simultaneously, but in reality it's costing you time.

  4. Reevaluate your strategies. The second you feel like you’re not being efficient and the day is getting away from you, take a step back and think about how and why that happened. How can you make the most of your remaining time? How can you improve your workflow for a better and more productive tomorrow?

Hopefully these simple tips can help guide your productivity!

 Written by Laura Blazej, a Data Manager I who loves her calendar schedule and hates wasted time. 

Interested in joining a productive and efficient team? We're hiring!

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Topics: CMB Careers

How SoulCycle Stays in the Saddle of Customer Loyalty and Consideration

Posted by Savannah House

Wed, Sep 12, 2018

spin class-1

Scroll through Instagram and you’ll see ads from every conceivable fitness craze—from trampolining and aerial yoga to infrared saunas.

What’s “hot” today (seriously, check out these saunas) might not be tomorrow, and because apps like ClassPass make it easy to try new workouts, it’s an even tougher market for upstarts to break through and survive.

That’s why I am a huge admirer of indoor cycling studio SoulCycle, and how it’s managed to survive and thrive despite the rise and fall of other fitness fads (is water aerobics still a thing?)

Last week at INBOUND 2018, Julie Rice, co-founder of SoulCycle, shared how she built a fitness empire. In just over 10 years, she grew a single studio in Manhattan (Rice herself working the front desk) into a multimillion dollar pop culture phenomenon with a cult-like following.

What is it about a 45-minute spin class that catapulted SoulCycle into the ranks of brands like CrossFit and Nike? A brand that successfully fulfills the functional, emotional and social identity needs of its target customer.

SoulCycle’s workout lives up to its promise

This goes without saying, but SoulCycle is one heck of a workout. It’s more than riding a bike. Riders clip into stationary bikes and pedal to the beat of the music—following the lead instructor by adjusting speed and resistance based on the song.

From a customer experience perspective, SoulCycle delivers on the promise of an intense workout. Having been to a few classes myself, I can attest to how physically demanding their classes are—leaving you sweaty and physically drained (but accomplished).

This, in a sense, is the most tangible and functional benefit SoulCycle provides its customers—presumably the biggest reason why riders pay $36 per class.

But, there are other reasons why riders love SoulCycle beyond the solid workout.

SoulCycle sends riders on an emotional journey

As Rice explained last week at INBOUND, SoulCycle was always intended to be as much an emotional experience as it is physical. Twelve years later, that still holds true.

Words like “athlete”, “legend” and “warrior” adorn the SoulCycle studios. When the studio lights are off, these words are illuminated in white as vibrant reminders of how riding at SoulCycle is supposed to make you feel.

It’s emotionally transcending to be in a dark room with music blasting, pedaling in unison with 30+ other riders, while the words “LEGEND” and “WARRIOR” (and of course the instructor) scream at you to keep pushing. It’s empowering. You feel like a bad ass each time to dig your foot into the pedal.

At the end of the workout, you’re left feeling lifted, encouraged, and powerful. Few fitness brands can achieve this level of emotional connection with their customers—a force that drives riders into the saddle week after week.

The SoulCycle community

A good workout and emotional connectivity are integral to the SoulCycle experience. But perhaps what’s most compelling about SoulCycle is its masterful way of tapping into the social identity of its riders.

SoulCycle has strategically cultivated an “in” community that riders can’t get enough of. Both in the studio and out on the streets, riders gladly sport SoulCycle swag as badge of membership to this close-knit community.

A recent study by Harvard Divinity School researcher, Casper ter Kuile, underscores the importance of community in choosing fitness brands. People are drawn to fitness classes like SoulCycle because they “long for relationships that have meaning and the experience of belonging rather than just surface level relationships,” he continues, “Going through an experience that tests you to your limits…there’s an inevitable bonding that comes from experiencing hardship together.”

SoulCycle is about riding as a pack… and more importantly, being part of that pack.

It’s this feeling of inclusion and being part of a group of likeminded athletes that drives its unprecedented tribal following—a loyalty rivaled only by CrossFit.

And for SoulCycle in particular, maybe it’s the exclusivity—being a member of not just any community, but THIS community—that makes SoulCycle so alluring.

The Final Sprint

In 2011, Rice and business partner Elizabeth Cutler sold SoulCycle to national luxury fitness gym Equinox—forming a united front between the elite brands.

This partnership represents the continued success of SoulCycle as a leading fitness and lifestyle brand—one whose customer loyalty has continued over the years.

Fitness brands (all brands, for that matter) can learn a lot from SoulCycle in terms of what it takes to truly delight and retain customers. Of course, it’s necessary to provide a superior customer experience (a solid workout, in this case) and establish an emotional connection with customers. But, brands cannot forget about the critical role social identity and community play in maintaining customer loyalty.

As markets continue to be disrupted by technology, innovation and new entrants, brands must leverage functional, emotional, and identity benefits to stay in the metaphorical saddle of customer consideration and loyalty.

Savannah House is a marketing manager who is slowly but surely ticking different fitness classes off her bucket list. 

Topics: customer experience and loyalty, BrandFx, Identity

Celebrating our First Year as Part of the ITA Group Family!

Posted by Savannah House

Wed, Sep 05, 2018

Yesterday afternoon we celebrated our one-year anniversary  as a member of the  ITA Group family!

anni1It's been an incredibly busy and exciting year but we took some time to celebrate our success, shared values, and deep commitment to delivering world-class solutions to leading brands. 

We're thrilled to work with, and be a part of, the best in the business in the world of engagement!

Thanks to all of our hard-working and dedicated colleagues and incredible clients for such a successful year. 

Want to join a winning team? We're growing! Learn more about our open positions here:

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Topics: ITA Group, CMB Careers, news and announcements

To Label Me is to Negate Me (Sometimes): The case for occasion-based segmentation

Posted by Peter Cronin

Wed, Aug 29, 2018

beer

One of my favorite lunchtime routines is to walk from my office over to the Trillium Brewing Company in nearby Seaport to grab a 4-pack of their current small-batch, limited-time, freshly brewed double IPA.

As far as Trillium knows, I’m an “Epicure”—a beer drinker characterized by my ardor and appreciation for craft beer.

During the summer months, I occasionally stop at BJ’s Wholesale Club to get a 30-pack of Corona (along with a couple of limes) because I like to have something to offer guests when hosting a cookout. In these instances, I’m looking for value, but not necessarily the cheapest option because quality and image are still important to me. BJ’s might consider me your average “Cost-aware Enthusiast.”

Every year on my birthday, which typically coincides with the start of March Madness, I stop at my local beer store to buy a six-pack of Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout. They probably consider me a “Sports Oriented” beer drinker.

So, who am I? A beer snob, a deal-seeking but conscientious host, or a sports fan?

The answers are “all of the above” and “it depends.”  

In some categories (like beer) the same person may experience a variety of needs in any given time and make different choices based on those needs. Segmenting people by their dominant motivation/need risks majorly oversimplifying reality.

To understand opportunities for growth in categories like this, a better alternative is occasion-based segmentation. Rather than segmenting people into groups, occasion-based segmentation considers multiple use occasions instead of just one. As you can see from my example, I’m more apt to purchase one type of beer over another based on the occasion (e.g., time/day, who I’m with, what I’m doing).

Occasion-based segmentation is particularly successful when anchored in the psychology of habits. When a behavior is rewarding, we tend to repeat it. The more we repeat it, it eventually becomes a habit. For many people, drinking beer is habitual. Take my backyard BBQ, for example. Throughout the summer, I repeat the cycle of having friends and family over, eating good food, drinking Corona with lime, and feeling relaxed, restive and connected. This occasion has all the key components of a habit: my craving (motivation) to host triggers a routine of good food and drink that results in feeling connected (reward). Feeling connected makes me to do it again.

When we ask people about their occasions at CMB, we also ask what motivates these choices and to describe the rewards—including the emotional and functional outcomes. These inquiries become the base of the segmentation. 

Segmenting your market by usage occasion can be a powerful source of insight about your consumers. By linking brands to occasions and understanding the psychological needs and emotions that drive choices, marketers can position their brands to be the preferred choice. They can tailor messaging to each occasion to build engagement, preference and loyalty.  

Brand managers at The Boston Beer Company, AB InBev, MillerCoors, etc., should be less concerned about whether I’m a “High Impacter,” a “Macho Male,” a “Trend Follower,” or a “Chameleon.” Classifying me attitudinally will dramatically underestimate the complexity of my buying habits. 

Instead, understanding the core types of beer drinking occasions (and the driving psychological needs and emotions of each), how much volume each occasion represents, and which groups of people over-index on them, can enable marketers to make informed decisions on where and how to focus their messaging, promotions, and product development efforts.

Peter is a brand guy who is fascinated with understanding how others see the world, and an equal opportunity beer drinker who refuses to be labeled.

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Topics: market strategy and segmentation, research design, quantitative research, brand health and positioning