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Category Disruption and Maximizing Insights Impact

Posted by Brenda Ng

Fri, Jun 28, 2019

You know it’s time for a new segmentation when significant category disruption is occurring.

framefuture

A successful category segmentation does more than pinpoint your primary and secondary target customers. It helps you and your stakeholders understand how disruption shifts customer beliefs, motivations, and behaviors related to purchase and usage.

Common category disruptors:

  • A new competitor is shaking up the category or maybe it’s you entering a new category. Amazon is one of the best examples of a new, disruptive entrant in a variety of industries. With a good segmentation, you’ll know which segments make up the bulk of your volume, which customers are at risk, and how to compete effectively.
  • One of my favorite disruptors is new technology. In the auto-industry, it’s self-driving cars, electric cars, and online car sales. In financial services, robo-advisors, mobile payments, and financial management apps are shifting the landscape. You could fill a fascinating book with refreshed segmentations for consuming digital entertainment and media in the past 10 years.  Think how much change was enabled by technology with on-demand viewing, streaming content, and alternatives to episodic content.  A new segmentation chapter is ready to be written with 5G, evolution of wearables, smart devices, and AI.
  • New pricing models can create seismic category change and the need to refresh a segmentation. Consider the growth of subscriptions versus transactional, à la carte pricing.  When I was at T-Mobile, it was delightful to shake up the wireless industry and win customers with no contracts and installment plans.

Sometimes your boss or another executive asks for a new segmentation.  That’s a very good reason to consider a new segmentation.  Why?  If they’re not asking for a new segmentation and there’s major disruption in the category, it’s imperative to secure senior leadership support. Senior management endorsement is a critical success factor in adoption of a new segmentation across an organization. 

Next time, I’ll share the recipe to ensure the successful embrace, adoption, and usage of a new segmentation.

Brenda is CMB's VP of Strategy + Account Planning

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Topics: technology research, market strategy and segmentation

The 5 Keys to Successful Segmentation

Posted by Brant Cruz

Mon, Jun 17, 2019

SegmentationIn a world of constant change what can we truly count on?  For me it’s death, taxes, the fact that the Patriots will be playing football long after my beloved Chicago Bears have gone home, and another topic close to my heart: The 5 Keys to Successful Segmentation. 

While the 5 Keys to Success are evergreen, new data sources, empowered consumer behavior, digital disruption, globalization and 24/7 connectivity all impact what it means to build a successful Segmentation. Pair this with a growing consumer obsession with immediacy and personalization and you have brands facing a greater need for consumer-centric market strategies than ever before.

In the next couple of weeks my colleagues and I will share what we’ve learned over the course of conducting nearly 200 successful Segmentations. To start us off, I’m sharing the five critical success factors that ensure our clients not only build a true understanding of their target consumers and how to engage them but to also drive real strategy across the organization—including resource prioritization, marketing messaging, product development and innovation.

Key Success Factor 1: Focus on business decisions from the start

Segmentation is likely one of the largest investments your insights team will make—there isn’t room for failure, much less mediocrity. But, if your stakeholders aren’t engaged, invested, and aligned from the outset, you’re dramatically increasing your odds of failure. This is the opposite of the purpose of Segmentation (see below on Segmentation and Unicorns).

A clear focus on business decisions—communicated from the start and serving as guardrails throughout (and beyond) a Segmentation initiative is key.

Successful brands start by asking and answering questions like: How must this Segmentation support our organization’s goals?  Which specific business processes does the Segmentation need to dovetail with to be actionable, and what connective tissue do we need to build in to make that possible? Are we prepared to truly prioritize one or a small set of segments for better success at the risk of being sub-optimal with others if we can make a case as to why? How much complexity can we effectively handle (e.g., more segments, a matrix of segments) versus a need for a simple, unifying lexicon? 

These brands work with partners (cough, cough) that truly understand your business needs, clearly outline objectives, lay the groundwork, and design questionnaires that directly answer hypotheses. It may not be sexy, but I’ve picked up the pieces of competitive Segmentations and ignore this at your own (and your team’s) peril. You must: engage early and often!

We leverage several proven tools to inspire action and focus from the onset, including:

  • Stakeholder interviews—understand executives’ objectives and expectations
  • Lift-off workshops—identify success criteria
  • Business Decision Worksheet—to tie decisions and hypotheses to the questionnaire

Key Success Factor 2: Account for a wide range of influencers

Look around, consumers people are complex, but traditional frameworks just don’t account for that complexity anymore. Part of the art and science of Segmentation is considering these diverse attributes: motivations and drivers, product preferences, future goals, needs/barriers, beliefs and perceptions, habits, and of course behaviors. A strictly attitudinal-based (or behaviorally-based) Segmentation is always sub-optimal in today’s marketplace.  Age and gender Segmentation have never been less relevant. 

For example, later in this series, my colleague Dr. Erica Carranza will share more about our proprietary Habit Loops Segmentation framework—an approach that delivers more nuanced marketing, communications and product development implications vs. Segmentations based on behaviors alone. Understanding the psychological motives, attitudes and values that drive behaviors can help uncover strategies to activate segments—promoting desired routines and revealing opportunities for disruption.

Key Success Factor 3: Anticipate trade-offs

Segmentation schemes have strengths and weaknesses—there are no silver bullets and it’s nearly impossible (okay actually impossible) to satisfy everyone’s wishes.  If you see an agency promising to deliver anything resembling perfection, avoid them!  Perfection plus Segmentation is a unicorn.  Segmentation is not about perfection, but about increasing your odds of success at the individual level, by having a way-better-than-coin-flip hypothesis about their relevant segment and applying treatments that will yield materially better results than a vanilla product or message

The best schemes will balance those business needs with practicality. This is where the real art comes in—evaluating the trade-offs and making an educated and calculated recommendation for a path forward.

Key Success Factor 4: Leverage existing resources

Most, if not all, of the companies we work with sit on troves of customer data that—when harnessed correctly—provide powerful insight into existing or potential segment groups.  How big a role various forms of “big” data can and should play in any assignment should be drive in roughly equal parts by the three keys above, and the quality of the data your company owns and/or can access.  Coming soon, my colleague Dr. Jay Weiner will discuss some of the technical aspects of marrying survey data with other data sources to complete segmentation missions.  No need for me to try to communicate those complexities concurrently; those of you with sharp data chops know that I’d be a poor surrogate for Jay anyway, right neighbor?  (How was that for a little data geek humor?)

Key Success Factor 5: Empower decision makers to act

The most sophisticated Segmentation scheme will collect dust if it’s not evangelized throughout the business. As I shared in Key Success Factor 1—a laser focus on decisions and getting buy-in from stakeholders starts at the very beginning and must be rigorously pursued throughout.

We keep insights fresh and meaningful, and stakeholders engaged by drumming up excitement and bringing segments to life across the organization.

Our strategic qualitative team draws from a comprehensive toolkit, combining traditional with agile and cutting-edge strategies to foster active participation and build enthusiasm. We frequently leverage activation and socialization workshops, persona development (more on this to come), as well as creative deliverables and immersions.

But it doesn’t stop there. Segmentations are living, breathing frameworks—and should be treated as such. The work doesn’t end when the workshops are over. We help clients realize the potential of these powerful insights and empower executives across the organization to advocate and build empathy for these customers (or prospects, depending on who you’ve segmented). The use for Segmentation extends well beyond marketing and we help executives realize the full potential.   

And even that ending is a new beginning.  Once business leaders have bought in, Segmentation enters the realm of learn>test>re-learn.  Seeing segments come alive and become accessible to researchers and non-researchers is one of the most fulfilling parts of my job, but it doesn’t happen all at once—it takes careful planning, a great team, and experience.

You’ll be hearing more about these key success factors in the coming weeks but you don’t have to wait to learn more, let me know your thoughts in the comments or shoot me an email and let’s chat.

Brant leads CMB's Platforms and Digital Media Practice. 

Learn how we helped Netflix create binge-worthy insights with A Global Segmentation with—and for—UX Designers.

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Topics: market strategy and segmentation

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