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The Power of the Brand: The Peloton COVID-19 Story

Posted by Daniel McDonald

Mon, Jun 15, 2020

Pelaton Blog Opener

“You have a Peloton? Are you crazy?” I’ve heard this multiple times from people who are shocked that I was willing to pay “that much” for an exercise bike. Yes I did, and frankly, my fiancée and I love it (#NotAnAd).  I still remember the first Peloton commercial I saw. It featured a fit younger female biking in the middle of her living room in what appeared to be a penthouse in New York City. It came off as a luxury, a product for the rich, not something that belonged in the corner of your dining room where the only view is an outdated china cabinet. Fast forward to Christmas 2019, Peloton takes a seemingly innocent—now notorious—approach to being more obtainable with the slogan, “for anybody that wants it.” Peloton’s attempt to balance luxury with affordability and attainability has proven challenging.

Enter COVID-19, suddenly, that initial sticker shock seemed rather small when my only option is working out at home. In the past few months I have heard more and more of my friends buying a Peloton bike, including a few that called me crazy when I took the plunge a year ago. Peloton has recently reached over a million subscribers and their biggest problem is delivering bikes fast enough. So how does a brand go from a widely panned marketing flop to selling more products in a few days than they expected in the entire month?

It's not a complex formula, when you take away an outlet for people, they are going to look to fill it somehow. That’s exactly what’s happening for Peloton during COVID-19, they’ve been able to capitalize on a bad situation. But what happens when gyms reopen, and people adjust to the new normal? How does the rapid growth Peloton has been experiencing become more than just an outlier? True, this won’t be a toilet paper situation, they can’t expect people to start hoarding exercise bikes, but that doesn’t mean Peloton can’t become the first-choice outlet for working out.

Peloton has always been willing to spend money on advertisements, and even the infamous ones, have made Peloton a well-known name. In fact, I would argue that the average person can’t name more than 2 or 3 stationary bike brands. This means, that even though the market is oversaturated, people only recognize a few brands. Now more than ever Peloton should continue pushing their advertisements, but with a different approach. Recently, we’ve seen a shift in advertisements due to the pandemic, whether its poking fun at the fact that there is always that one person who can’t figure out how to unmute themselves on Zoom, or just showing their compassionate side towards the situation. The main point is brands are acknowledging our experience in a timely manner. Peloton is a unique brand because even during this troubling time, they can remain almost fully functional. They have trainers constantly putting out new classes, both from the comfort of their own home (safely and alone) and inside one of their New York studios. They must let everyone know, whether they are an existing customer or not, that they remain focused on physical fitness and can provide anyone the opportunity to stay healthy. Now more than ever Peloton can realize their goal of providing fitness “for anybody who wants it”.

One thing is for sure, change is inevitable for everyone. People are eager to get back to a gym or spend the money on advancing their own home gyms. No one can be sure what the new normal or long-term impact will be like when this is over, but in a time where interaction is unfeasible, connection is critical. Brands like Peloton, Netflix, and HelloFresh are emerging as leaders because they are focused on the human element. They clearly benefit from more people staying at home but what happens when those people start to leave? How do the brands that have seen exponential growth during COVID-19 transition themselves into the new normal? But humans are creatures of habits, and as long as Peloton continues to stress their flexibility, compassion, and purpose, exercising at home will remain a habit.


Daniel McDonaldDaniel McDonald, Associate Researcher, is a proud first-time homeowner, which is the perfect addition to his Peloton bike.

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Topics: consumer insights, advertising, marketing strategy, brand health and positioning, growth and innovation, Market research, retail, consumer psychology, COVID-19

Find the Truths That Matter Most in Next-Gen Gaming

Posted by Brenda Ng

Tue, Apr 28, 2020

If you’re a studio, developer or marketer of games and/or gaming platforms, you know there are evergreen customer truths in developing a successful product, experience and go-to-market (GTM) strategy. For example, applying an influencer strategy for launches. But do those truths apply to new gaming platforms such as cloud gaming, VR, or the impending next gen consoles?

Some gaming truths are vitally relevant to these nascent platforms. But there are a few new surprises from A Gamer’s Journey. This comprehensive study of nearly 4,000 U.S. gamers rigorously explored how gamers become aware, evaluate, buy, and use traditional and emerging gaming platforms.

The three implications for studios and platformers roll up to partnering and planning even closer together to deliver the best player experience and longevity for the franchise and platform. As you read the below, the dance steps are similar, which makes dancing together much easier.

1. FEED THEIR CURIOSITY & EASE THEIR EFFORT
Even though VR products such as Oculus and Vive debuted in 2016 and cloud gaming has been around even longer, gamers spend significantly more effort in VR purchase journey (and expensive gaming PCs) compared to consoles, games and peripherals.
Next Gen Gaming Blog Slide 23
Within this category, comparing and researching products are first and bigger steps compared to more established gaming categories. That’s a lot of motivation and curiosity to feed!
Next Gen Gaming Blog Slide 16
With so much time and effort comparing platforms, there’s more receptive ‘reach and frequency’ available to raise awareness of your game if it’s available on multiple VR headsets and cloud gaming services. In other words, if your game isn’t exclusively on a single product or service, it’s in studios’ and platformers’ best interest for the gamers, to feature available games with the core hardware or service specs—not a one or two clicks away or purely separate ads for games.


2. DON'T TREAT EVERYONE THE SAME
If VR and cloud gaming have been around for over four years, what type of gamers do you need to reach, and does it change your GTM strategy? It turns out the biggest detractors are casual gamers.

Next Gen Gaming Blog Slide 6

Most surprisingly, the assumption that everything you do to reach hardcore gamers is not the same for casual gamers. Yes, word-of-mouth is the top purchase trigger. But you can save on advertising with casual gamers because they are less attuned. However, the investment you make in providing available trials and earning solid reviews with hardcore gamers will reverberate and trickle down through word-of-mouth to casual gamers.

3. LOYALTY STARTS WITHIN
Managing your studio’s or platform’s reputation is reflected by how you treat your employees. With the movement of activist employees in high tech, gamers are noticing, and they care. When asked what is important to a studio’s reputation, all gamers (regardless of age, self-identified gender, platform, core or casual) agreed the top priority for studios is improving treatment of employees: “I’m more likely to buy a game from a studio that treats its employees well.”  This is much more important than managing the perception of putting profit before players or confronting wider societal issues.  People--employees and players--first. Now that’s a welcomed universal truth, pre-COVID-19, that will likely endure.

In a coronavirus world, one thing for certain is the uncertainty of the supply chain hitting next gen consoles’ Holiday 2020 launch timeframe and delivering significant unit volume availability.  And with E3’s cancellation, feeding and managing gamers’ expectations requires intense, dance-like synchronization between studios’ and platformers’ game experience availability.  The good news is this close partnership applies to cloud, PC, VR and mobile gaming too.


Brenda NgBrenda Ng, VP of Strategy, specializes in applying research to product development and GTM strategy and decisions, with expertise and global experience in high tech.

For more insights, please follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Don't forget to immerse yourself in our latest gaming research: A Gamer's Journey | The Virtual Reality Edition. And stayed tuned for more of our findings--VR and beyond.

Explore A Gamer's Journey

Sample provided by Dynata

Topics: strategy consulting, product development, advertising, marketing strategy, Consumer Pulse, growth and innovation, customer journey, Market research, technology, engagement strategy, Gaming, AR/VR, Next-Gen Gaming

CMB Conference Recap: ARF Re!Think16

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Mar 17, 2016

Re-Think-2016.jpgRon Amram of Heineken uttered the three words that sum up my ARF #ReThink16 experience: science, storytelling, and seconds. Let’s recap some of the most energizing insights: 

  • Science: Using Data to Generate Insights
    • AT&T Mobility’s Greg Pharo talked about how AT&T measures the impact of mass and digital advertising. They start with a regression and integrate marketing variables (media weight, impressions, GRPs, brand and message recall, WoM, etc.) as well as information on major product launches, distribution, and competitive data, topped off with macroeconomic data and internal operational data such as quality (network functioning, etc.).
    • GfK’s voice analytics research actually records respondents’ voices and captures voice inflection, which predicts new idea or new product success by asking a simple question: “What do you think about this product and why?” They explore sentiment by analyzing respondents’ speech for passion, activation, and whether they’d purchase. I had to ask a question: since I have a sunny and positive personality, wouldn’t my voice always sound to a machine as though I like every product? Evidently, no. They establish each individual respondent’s baseline and measure the change.  
    • Nielsen talked about its new 40 ad normative benchmark (increasing soon to 75) and how it uses a multi-method approach—a mix of medical grade EEG, eye tracking, facial coding, biometrics, and self-reporting—to get a full view of reactions to advertising. 
  • Storytelling: Using Creative That’s Personal
    • Doug Ziewacz (Head of North America Digital Media and Advertising for Under Armour Connected Fitness) spoke about the ecosystem of connected health and fitness. It’s not enough to just receive a notification that you’ve hit your 10,000 steps—many people are looking for community and rewards.
    • Tell your story. I saw several presentations that covered how companies ensure that potential purchasers view a product’s advertising and how companies are driving interest from target audiences.
      • Heineken, for example, knows that 50% of its 21-34 year-old male target don’t even drink beer, so they focus on telling stories to the other 50%. The company’s research shows that most male beer drinkers are sort of loyal to a dozen beer brands, with different preferences for different occasions. Ron Amram (VP of Media at Heineken) talked about the need to activate people with their beer for the right occasion. 
      • Manvir Kalsi, Senior Manager of Innovation Process and Research at Samsung, said that Samsung spends ~$3B in advertising globally. With such a large footprint, they often end up adding impressions for people who will never be interested in the product. Now, the company focuses on reaching entrenched Apple consumers with messages (such as long battery life) that might not resonate with Samsung loyalists but will hit Apple users hard and give those Apple users reasons to believe in Samsung. 
  • Seconds: Be Responsive Enough to Influence the Purchase Decision Funnel
    • Nathalie Bordes from ESPN talked about sub-second ad exposure effectiveness. She spoke frankly about how exposure time is no longer the most meaningful part of ad recall for mobile scrolling or static environments. In fact, 36% of audience recalled an ad with only half a second of exposure. There was 59% recall in 1 second and 78% recall in 2 seconds. Point being, every time we have to wait 4 or 5 seconds before clicking “skip ad” on YouTube, our brains really are taking in those ads.
    • Laura Bernstein from Symphony Advanced Media discussed the evolution of Millennials’ video viewing habits. Symphony is using measurement technology among its panel of 15,000 viewers who simply install an app and then keep their phones charged and near them, allowing the app to passively collect cross-platform data. A great example of leveraging the right tech for the right audience.

How does your company use science and storytelling to drive business growth?

Want to know more about Millennials' attitudes and behaviors toward banking and finance?Download our new Consumer Pulse report here!

Topics: storytelling, marketing science, advertising, data integration, conference recap

Brands Enter the Fight Against Holiday Shopping Creep

Posted by Becky Schaefer

Mon, Nov 23, 2015

While Black Friday marks the unofficial start of the holiday season for U.S. retailers, visions of sugar plums dance in retailers’ heads (and on their shelves) well before Halloween. The so-called “Black Friday Creep” in which sales and decorations start on or before Thanksgiving, has gotten a lot of press. Remember this Kmart ad from SEPTEMBER?!

The backlash was inevitable—too many news stories about workers forced to forgo their Thanksgiving dinners and deal-seekers trampled over new flat-screen TVs. In reaction, several high profile retailers are taking a stand against staying open on Thanksgiving. Nordstrom’s gotten great press for continuing its tradition of closing all 118 locations in the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day and reopening on Black Friday. Fun fact: this is not the only “creep” that Nordstrom avoids—it also avoids the “Christmas creep,” a trend in which retailers start decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving even happens. Nordstrom believes in “celebrating one holiday at a time,” and does not decorate for Christmas until Black Friday.

Here’s my favorite example of a company combatting the creep—equipment company REI recently announced that it will not only close on Thanksgiving, but also remain closed on Black Friday. The brand has taken this unusual move and used it as a branding opportunity as part of a new campaign called “Opt Outside” (#optoutside). REI encourages both employees (who will be paid for the day) and customers to skip the mall and spend Black Friday enjoying the outdoors instead of shopping. Over 800,000 people have already committed to Opt Outside this Black Friday, and you can choose to join directly on REI’s website. It’s a brilliant idea, and it works because it’s consistent with REI’s brand promise and its customers’ values.

What are your Black Friday plans? Are you planning on spending your Black Friday racking up holiday deals? Or are you going to Opt Outside with REI? Let us know in the comments!

Rebecca is part of the field services team at CMB, and she is excited to celebrate her favorite time of year with her family and friends.  

Topics: advertising, marketing strategy, brand health and positioning, retail research

Brands Get in a Frenzy Over Shark Week

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Summer brings many joys—BBQ’s, the beach, and one of my favorite holidays. . .I’m referring, of course, to Shark Week. For over 25 years, the Discovery Channel has loaded as much shark-related content as possible into a 7-day period, including TV programming, online content, and social media frenzies by both the network and other “official” (and non-official) partners.While some of these partnerships are no-brainers (e.g., Oceana, National Aquarium, and Sea Save Foundation), other less obvious partners such as Dunkin Donuts, Cold Stone Creamery, and Southwest Airlines, must get creative with their marketing to connect their brands to “the most wonderful week of the year.” Southwest, for example, offered flyers the chance to watch new content via a special Shark Week channel and to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to swim with sharks. Both Cold Stone Creamery and Dunkin Donuts debuted special treats (“Shark Week Frenzy”—blue ice cream with gummy sharks—and a lifesaver donut, respectively).

brand engagement, shark week, television

But it didn’t stop there—brands on social media found ways to tie in products to Shark Week in every way possible. Just take a look at these posts from Claire’s, Salesforce, and Red Bull.

shark week, brand engagement, television

So, what’s in it for these brands? Why go out of their way to connect themselves to something like Shark Week, which is seemingly unrelated to their services and products? It’s as simple as the concept of brand associations. Since brand associations work to form deeper bonds with customers, brands are often on the lookout for opportunities that will boost their standing with customers. Shark Week attracts millions of viewers each night, and since it’s one of the few true television events that remains, it presents the perfect opportunity for brands to engage with customers in a way they don’t often get to do. Furthermore, it demonstrates that these brands are in tune with what their customers like and what’s happening in the pop culture world. And, judging by the amount of interactions brands received from consumers, I’d say it worked.

If you missed the fun of Shark Week last month (the horror!) or just want more, don’t worry—Shweekend is just around the corner (August 29th), and I’ll be anticipating what brands can come up with this time. . .

Athena Rodriguez is a Project Consultant at CMB, and she is a certified fin fanatic. 

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Topics: advertising, marketing strategy, social media, television, brand health and positioning, digital media and entertainment research