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

An Exploding Stove, Epic Hold Music, and AI that Measures Consumer Emotion

Posted by Dr. Erica Carranza

Wed, Jan 27, 2021

AI Music and Kichen Blog Opener Erica Jan 2021 (1)

Emotion is a powerful motivator—arguably THE most powerful motivator—and can make or break a consumer relationship. Case in point: Me and KitchenAid.

I recently bought a KitchenAid gas cooktop. It was a gorgeous model I loved—until one of the burners exploded. Thankfully no one was hurt, but it could have been bad. So, I called the KitchenAid helpline, which is run by their parent company, Whirlpool. Then I waited. And waited. And waited… In total, I spent nearly TWO HOURS on hold.

Waiting hours to tell a Whirlpool rep our cooktop caught fire should have been infuriating. But it wasn’t. Why? Their hold music! It cooled my hot temper and warmed my cold Gen-X heart. I heard songs like Don’t You Forget about Me, Eye of the Tiger, and Don’t Stop Believin’. It was just too hard to stay mad with Journey crooning in my ear.

Then, when a rep finally heard my story, she said I should talk to their Safety Department. In order to do that, I sat on hold. AGAIN. But this time their music was different. Take a listen—it may ring a bell: [click to listen]

My fellow Game of Thrones viewers will recognize that as the song that played when Cersei blew-up the Sept—which, in GoT laymen’s terms, involved using a fantastical kind of gasoline to blow-up a church full of people.

GOT GIF

Yes, that is what I listened to as I waited on Whirlpool’s “Safety Line” to talk about how my cooktop exploded. All I could do was laugh. To the person at Whirlpool who picks the hold playlist: I salute your musical taste and twisted sense of humor!

Music’s effect on emotions is mostly involuntary and hard to combat. In this case, it saved me from losing my mind on a rep who wouldn’t have deserved it, and trashing KitchenAid on every public platform possible. So this story speaks to the power of music to tame the angry consumer—but, more broadly, it’s a study in the importance of understanding and actively managing consumers’ emotions.

All emotions fall into one of four types that can be plotted on two axes: Negative to Positive (i.e., feeling bad to good) and Passive to Active (i.e., low to high energy). The importance of which types of emotions a brand inspires depends on the matter at hand. For example, teams tasked with new customer acquisition should focus on inspiring ACTIVE positive emotions, while teams tasked with driving customer loyalty should focus on inspiring PASSIVE positive emotions.

Negative Positive Passive and Active Emotions Chart

Industry also matters! For example, most brands should aim to minimize negative emotions, especially ACTIVE negative emotions, which inspire reactions like trolling the brand online and posting bad user reviews. But stirring some negative emotions can be good for media brands as long as they ultimately inspire more positive than negative. Game of Thrones is a good example of this. It started out with a good balance of positive-to-negative emotion, but ended-up inspiring too much active negativity.

Because of the importance of understanding consumer emotions—and the utility of this particular framework—we’ve worked hard to develop AI that reliably captures emotions in each quadrant from what consumers say about how they feel.

Our custom-built AI enables us to take text from things like survey open-ends, or transcripts of video/audio recordings, and quantify how much a brand, product, service or experience inspires each of the four core types of emotions. Plus, we have benchmarks in major industries.

Building the AI has been a long, arduous process involving an exhaustive analysis of emotions expressed by all kind of consumers, and regarding all kinds of brands and experiences. And it’s taken a lot of HI (human intelligence) to ensure that our final AI solution works well. But the effort was worth it. We have a validated approach to capturing each type of emotion using scales, but the best way to unpack emotions almost always involves asking consumers to tell us in their own words.

And, incidentally, there is no scientifically valid way of uncovering emotions that beats asking the right questions and listening in the right ways. To quote the Handbook of Research Methods in Social and Personality Psychology, a favorite from my grad school days, “In practice, objective measures in the brain and body tend to be weakly correlated with one another, and together they do not consistently and specifically distinguish between instances of anger, sadness, fear, and so on. If we want to know whether a person is experiencing an emotion, we have to ask her/him. Self-report is currently the only valid way of assessing subjective emotion.”

Consumers are people. And, today, we’re all wearing our humanity on our sleeves. Between the surging pandemic, political turmoil, social unrest, remote schooling, and an uncertain economy, we’re all like raw nerves riding a rollercoaster. People weren’t designed to be this stressed, on so many fronts, for this long. It’s never been more critical for organizations to stay in touch with how their products, marketing, and experiences are making people feel.


Erica CarranzaErica is CMB’s VP of Consumer Psychology. She holds 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.

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

Topics: emotional measurement, brand health and positioning, BrandFx, consumer psychology, consumer sentiment, Emotional Benefits, AI

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

IIEX North America Roundup

Posted by Julie Kurd

Tue, Sep 15, 2020

Copy of IIEX 2020 Virtual Conference Roundup Blog Opener

This morning, I listened to a podcast about Maya Shankar, an exceptional violinist who studied under Itzhak Perlman before a hand injury forced her to shift course. She finished her doctorate in Cognitive Neuroscience and now works at the intersection of behavioral science and policy research to drive meaningful change. You can find out more about her here. She pivoted. She figured out her path forward. Pivoting is something we’re all learning to do and IIEX, like other formerly live events, is no exception. Like Maya, they’ve found avenues through the obstacles and persevered. Here’s the roundup of the IIEX North America virtual conference:

  • Jamin Brazil interviews Jon Derome, the GM of Customer and Market Research (CMR) for Microsoft, about Jon’s journey to GM. After Reed Cundiff moved to Kantar, the GM role opened and Jon, a 10-year veteran of the department, wrote an 8-page application to CVP of Brand, Global Advertising, and Research, Kathleen Hall for the role. Jon understood his role would be to make good decisions rather than quick decisions, and his decision to embark on a listening period shows his deep ability to reflect. He conducted 100+ one-on-one sessions and three surveys (among the CMR organization, the stakeholders they serve, and vendors) and his key takeaways were that 1) they needed to reorganize away from the former deep concentration by product (Xbox, Azure), because that was too siloed for Microsoft’s next epoch of growth, and 2) they needed to shift from tight/closed relationships between siloed stakeholder-researcher groups to visible/transparent relationships and collaborations within the CMR team and to the stakeholders and vendors. The CMR team felt very visible to their individual silo’s stakeholders but invisible to one another. While Jon humbly admits they are ‘still learning’ and ‘have had some failures and some successes,’ his vision for the group is to practice in a way that leaves spaces to talk and invite all voices in the team (quiet and loud) to the conversation.
  • Roben Allong asked “What is culture?” Allong, CEO of Lightbeam Communications, described how she mines cultural insights with a six-step process to help brands know what, where, and how to look for cultural codes and artifacts that impact the behaviors, attitudes, perceptions, and choices of today’s consumer. She talked about the steps of cultural consciousness, unbiased curiosity, informed observation, structured exploration, cultural insight discovery, and the insight validation stage. In one case example, Allong and her team tested some Haitian Creole print ads and discovered that younger people use Haitian Creole as spoken dialect not written. The marketing materials would have most impact as audio/radio ads vs print. She went on to talk about rising cultural trends such as digital empowerment, inclusivity of all voices, gender fluidity, green shaming (shaming brands that have acted environmentally irresponsibly), virtual living (reinventing behavior and social constructs) and AI integration.
  • The Power of Podcasts to Talk Culture. During IIEX, Sima Vasa’s Data Gurus, Jamin Brazil’s Happy Market Research Podcast and Priscilla McKinney’s Ponderings from the Perch podcasts were at the same time slot. I chose by putting 3 numbers into my cup and that’s how I clicked into Priscilla’s. But I regularly listen to all three of their podcasts and I highly recommend them all!
    IIEX Schedule Screenshot Podcasts 2020-2
    During Priscilla’s session, she spoke with Bianca Prior (BET) and Chrystal Day (YouTube). They had tremendous trust and rapport with one another as they spoke about culture and our unique opportunity within the #mrx industry. Bianca talked about getting involved at any level you can.
    Later in the IIEX program, the MR Podcast Award of the Year was revealed. 16 podcasts were nominated and the awards were granted. I am so excited to listen to the podcasts I haven’t listened to yet, as I am one of those “all media” people.
  • Jessica Sage, Ashley LeBlanc, Priscilla McKinney and Michelle Andre co-hosted the evening Women in Research (WiRe) sponsored event where 77 of us participated, listened, laughed, and text chatted as we answered famous women in history trivia questions. In a non-COVID-19 world, we would have been at WiRe enjoying some appetizers and a drink in a very energetic room with industry colleagues, but it was great to keep a sense of connection among a close-knit community. WiRe is organized into regional chapters and both women and men can participate. I highly recommend getting involved for the seminars, the trivia, and the networking!

IIEX Sep WiRE event screenshot 2020

I’ve now been to over a dozen virtual events and they keep getting better. While I look forward to getting back to seeing everyone in person, I’m going to continue to put on my best Zoom shirt and lean all the way in.


Julie KurdJulie Kurd is the VP, Business Development at CMB.

For more insights, please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Topics: conference recap, Market research, agile research, AI