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3 Search Behavior Trends to Know in 2019

Posted by Savannah House

Fri, Jan 04, 2019

woman using mobile phone-1

Last month, Google published its annual top search trends report—a look into what people were most interested in 2018. From Avicii to Black Panther to polling information, search behavior reflects the events, people, and cultural moments that defined the year.

Beyond a cultural snapshot, search data lets us tap into real insights around what people want, need, and intend to do in their daily lives. And thanks in part to the Amazon Effect, consumers expect to find what they’re looking for faster and easier than ever before. To meet these rising expectations, brands must understand what, how, and when people are searching to better address their needs throughout the journey.

Here are some key search trends brands can leverage to better serve their customers:

Personalized search is on the rise

AI technology has made it easy to be conversational and personal in search. Like asking a friend—or Alexa—for advice, more and more people are using natural language when searching and asking questions. Instead of the traditional utility search (e.g., “best car”), we now ask specific and personally-relevant questions about products and services (e.g., “best car for me”) that feel more human.

In the last two years, mobile searches for “Do I need” and “Should I” have increased by over 65% while “Can I” mobile searches grew by 85%—indicating consumers now trust and expect search technology to answer their most personal and specific questions.

While this hyper-personalization is exciting, the focus must remain on the consumer—not the tech. Because customers are increasingly casual in their search, brands mustn’t lose the human element and use natural language in their product and service messaging. People are busy and won’t waste time on superfluous or overly-technical language.

This trend also suggests people are a lot more comfortable with using technology for a variety of their everyday needs—whether it’s shopping for a new auto insurance policy or locating the nearest open food delivery option. Consumers expect frictionless experiences, so brands need to ensure their digital touchpoints are human and intuitive.

People want things nearby and now

Whether it’s a manicure or a special shampoo brand, people expect something the moment they need it. And not only do they want it right now, it must be nearby.

Google reported a 500% growth in “near me” mobile searches containing a variant of “can I buy” or “to buy” over the last two years. Further, more and more consumers are searching for specific items like “riding boots near me” in addition to general “restaurants near me” queries.

All of this is to say that “near me” search is no longer just about location; it’s about finding a certain thing, in a specific place, at a specific time.

More than ever consumers expect to find exactly what they want when they want. Brands must work to provide the answers consumers are looking for—accurately and quickly—to capture their consideration. You don’t need to be a brick in mortar for this to apply to you. Whatever your business, help your customers and be absolutely explicit about your products and services.

People (and not just insights professionals) are research-obsessed

Today’s research-obsessed consumers use search to make the most of their experiences and optimize their lives. Whether it’s planning a vacation or going out to dinner, gathering information helps get them excited and feel confident about an upcoming experience.

Google reported a 120% increase in mobile searches for "wait times", indicating more and more people want to know what they’re getting themselves into prior to an experience.

This is an opportunity for brands to understand the different moments and mindsets of their customers and become part of their consideration early in the decision-making process. Customers want to feel confident while making planning decisions, so brands should do all they can to empower these decisions.

Make it easy to plan a trip to one of your hotels, for example, by offering pre-built itinerary suggestions. Or if you’re a financial services provider, consider offering a straightforward budget planner if you're targeting new college grads just starting on their financial journeys.

Whatever it is, take advantage of consumers’ desire to research by providing materials/content that will get them excited about choosing your brand.

Search data isn’t a magic bullet, but it’s a critical source of insights for engaging and inspiring today and tomorrow’s consumer. Tell us how you’re leveraging search and what you’re seeing in the comments!

Savannah House is a Marketing Manager at CMB who as a child, received movie times and the weather from SmarterChild, the OG of virtual assistants.

Topics: consumer insights

Why We Still Use Facebook Despite Privacy Concerns

Posted by Kate Zilla-Ba

Wed, May 23, 2018

facebook (cropped)

The kids are on Insta and Snapchat, and even as those are a bit dated at this point, the question for Facebook seems to be how to stay relevant. But recent revelations about how Facebook had been using customer data have led to less of a backlash than might be expected. Why?

Complacency.

We humans tend to normalize things. What was scandalous the first time it came around, is less so over time, until we just expect it.

Why are we so complacent about Facebook? Well, for starters, we live on it. How many posts are things the poster could google, but instead, feels the need to ask the town group—when is the next trash pickup, or how do they get rid of the dead squirrel in front of their house, or… the list goes on. Facebook has become part of nearly 1.5 billion peoples’ daily lives around the world, suggesting most people have become okay (complacent) about how social media might be collecting, sharing and using our information.

And this shouldn’t be that surprising. Back in 2010 (and likely earlier) Mark Zuckerberg was clear that he felt privacy was no longer a social norm, saying, “People have gotten really comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people.”

We’ve come to expect less and less privacy, which is directly associated with the continued growth of Facebook usage—despite what happened with Cambridge Analytica.

We still care about privacy. Just not as much. Maybe if what happened with Cambridge Analytica felt individually targeted and less of a mass invasion of privacy, we’d care more. But it happened to a lot us, so what’s a user to do? Keep posting and sharing seems to be the net answer. Probably even in the EU, where strong consumer concerns about privacy has the EU setting standards for the world with GDPR.

Understanding consumers' psychology, such as Facebook users, is core to market research. What are they seeking to achieve? How do they express that in attitudes and actions? What barriers exist and what catalysts motivate them?

In addition to the normalization of information-sharing, users continue to use Facebook because of the functional, emotional, and identity benefits the brand provides. Facebook is a space where users can feel connected to other people (social identity), can find and share content that animates them (emotion) and is a convenient tool for things like selling your couch or getting recommendations for a reliable plumber (functional). Facebook has done an incredible job providing the right balance of these three benefits, which we know are key drivers of customer loyalty and advocacy.

Knowing all we know, we still use Facebook. We’ve normalized making public details about our lives we would’ve considered “private” 10 years ago—and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. For most of us, the benefits Facebook provides outweigh privacy concerns.

Will you share this when I post it? Like it? Love it? (No sad faces please!)

Kate is a FB user who loves to keep up with old friends and family but rarely posts. Her research background helps keep her eyes wide open (or so she thinks), to the privacy she has given away.

Topics: big data, consumer insights, social media, consumer psychology, data privacy

Consumer-Driven Ideas from Leaders at Keds, NYU, and Alibaba

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, May 17, 2018

Yale header-2A few hundred of us attended the annual #YaleInsights18 conference to listen to leaders at companies and universities including L’Oreal, Warby Parker, Keds, Alibaba, Yale and NYU Stern. Three of the sessions are recapped below. 

Are you seeding the clouds for earned impressions?  Keds CMO Emily Culp talks about the shift from the 2-minute “long form” ad to a more integrated digital strategy that incorporates quick five second video GIFs. This strategy pulls together media impressions from a mix of sources like celebrities (1M+ followers), regional influencers (500k-1M followers) and micro-influencers (1-100k followers). Keds understands that a celebrity can get 150,000 likes on a picture of them wearing Keds vs. the Keds website that can’t get the same brand heat and wholesale interest. Keds is seeding with bloggers and consumers with the goal of getting their shoes in the hands of influential people who will be loyal brand ambassadors. These shoe-wearers in turn create user generated content. Keds then builds on this digital native-first strategy by leveraging their website, social media, PR/seeding, emails, and their sell in/sell through data.

Are you using AI to personalize promotional offers? NYU Stern School Professor Anindya Ghose explained that mobile devices provide atomic levels of behavioral data because they are owned and used by a single person. Specifically, companies can “know” the device’s location with 91% accuracy and within three feet. He says that in addition to location, as researchers, we need to layer in time, context, crowdedness (how crowded the location is), weather, trajectory, social dynamics, saliency and tech mix to really optimize the “in the moment” promotional offers. For example, if I’m walking to the train station during my morning commute, I might be enticed by an offer at a coffee shop I never frequent.  In the evening when I return, I might be more likely to divert my habitual path for a different promotion, but not likely for a coffee. So, depending on the time of day, the offers that need to pop are different.  In fact, commuters are ALWAYS more likely to redeem an offer than non-commuters. 

Can you see the human in your consumer data or are they just IP Addresses?  Alibaba’s Lee McCabe talked about the future of commerce in a connected world. At Alibaba, they’re focusing on context, convergence and contact. Alibaba is fully vertically integrated so they can take data and consumer insight to a whole different level of identifiable, analyzable and reachable. They have real person identity, full dimension analysis (all the sites and businesses they own have a single sign on so they can see across browsing, social, media, purchase, pay, logistics, entertainment, travel) and measure all around touchpoints for the consumer. On 11/11, Singles’ Day, (think of Singles’ Day as Black Friday on a global scale), Alibaba sold 100 Maserati’s in 18 seconds and 350 Alfa Romeo cars in 33 seconds. In fact, 140,000 brands participated in Singles’ Day across 225 countries/territories, and consumers placed 812M orders that generated $25B in sales that one day.   

How are we all using multi-method and multi-source to grow our brands?  These are a few of the ways.

Yale often posts conference content to its YouTube channel to broaden its reach, and we will append this blog post if/when that channel appears.

Topics: consumer insights, conference recap, integrated data, Artificial Intelligence

The Anchoring Effect—Avoiding Bias in Market Research

Posted by Hannah Russell

Thu, Feb 08, 2018

anchor.jpeg

Consider the following questions:

  1. Did Thomas Edison patent more or fewer than 7,000 inventions?
  2. To the best of your ability, estimate the number of inventions patented by Edison.

Unless you retained your 7th grade social studies knowledge, you’d probably have a tough time answering. But based on the context given in question 1, you may guess somewhere in the several thousand range. Why is that?

As Nobel Prize winning author Daniel Kahneman explains, this is an example of the anchoring effect—a cognitive bias in which humans tend to rely on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions. The detail (e.g. number) we automatically “anchor” to then influences subsequent decisions.

So, in the Edison example, according to the anchoring effect, the “7,000” in the first question impacted your answer to the second question.

Consider then, if instead the first question had been: “Did Thomas Edison patent more or fewer than 100 inventions?” Your answer to the second question would likely be a lot less than what it had been in the first scenario.

Our perceptions are often influenced by the stimuli we are exposed to—both consciously and subconsciously. Sometimes, though, this information is useless in helping us make correct judgements (such as the number 7,000 in the example above). Even if we’re aware of an external influence, it can be hard to discount.

As market researchers, we have an obligation to manage and mitigate this type of bias to preserve the integrity of our data.

When creating a survey, we try to avoid anchoring respondents in a particular number (or other pieces of information) and are careful in the way that we order questions. If we’re exposing respondents to various numbers (which is often the case in pricing research), we rely heavily on analytical techniques that ensure randomization and exposure to multiple scenarios.

Ultimately, we can’t avoid priming effects altogether—there is no such thing has 100% unbiased data. But, we need to keep these psychological biases in mind when designing, implementing and presenting data. By recognizing the downstream consequences of something like the anchoring effect, we’re better positioned to find truthful and actionable insights for clients.

Hannah Russell is a Project Manager at CMB who indeed retained her seventh grade social studies knowledge. Thomas Edison accumulated 2,232 patents worldwide, 1,093 of which were in the US.”

Topics: consumer insights, research design, consumer psychology

BrandFx: How to Fix Brands' Consumer-sized Blind Spot

Posted by Mark Doherty

Mon, Nov 27, 2017

Today’s executives are investing money, mind- and man-power into cracking the code of the Empowered Consumer. Every client I speak with understands the importance of developing a consumer-centric culture and strategy, and they are putting millions into making this a reality. But there's a pervasive problem affecting brands across industries—while research and insights have generally kept up with this evolution in consumer-centric thinking (witness the growth of ethnographic work and customer journey mapping), brand tracking has not. Most brands are still tracking their brand health through measures focusing solely on their brand and not on the consumers.

Just as retail stores are transforming their floor plans and service firms are overhauling their operations to enhance their customer-centricity, today’s brand health measurement and tracking needs to change, too. Trackers must put the consumer first and uncover how well consumers see “what’s in it for them”—specifically—how they benefit from being a customer. This is why we’ve introduced a truly comprehensive and holistic approach to consumer-powered brand measurement—BrandFx.

BrandFx focuses on what consumers want from a brand—the benefits driving purchase, loyalty and advocacy—and provides specific guidance and critical, concrete recommendations on what to (and what not to) communicate:

  • Identity Benefits: What should you communicate about who your customers are?
  • Emotional Benefits: How do you want people to feel about your brand?
  • Functional Benefits: What should you say people will get from your products/services?

It’s true that many brand trackers already cover elements of this approach. For example, some have transformed their functional brand attributes into functional benefits, and new thinking about the role of emotion in purchase decisions has led to a battery of emotional benefits in a growing number of trackers.

However, very few have incorporated benefits associated with consumer social identity, and as a result, they are missing out on a critical piece of the brand puzzle: The more the image of a brand’s typical customer represents a “tribe” they connect with or aspire to be part of, the more that consumer will try, buy, and recommend the brand.

 Our research shows that, when consumers identify with their image of a brand’s customer, they are 12-times more likely to consider the brand. And our proprietary assessment of a brand’s performance on these Identity benefits, AffinID, has proven to be a better predictor of brand engagement than the standard brand tracking metrics (functional and emotional) most brands rely upon.

BrandFx4blog.png

Advanced analytics provide insight into how these three types of benefits—Identity, Emotional, and Functional—fit together to explain how they drive the key outcomes of consideration, purchase and loyalty. In the example below we see how benefit composition varies by brand—highlighting key areas for differentiation.

brandpies.png

After three decades of refreshing and reviving brand measurement programs, we know the challenges for insights professionals charged with running trackers. Some of these are technical (making 30-minute questionnaires mobile-friendly), and some of these are strategic (balancing trackability with addressing the needs of a changing market). Brand tracking programs need to be designed with the flexibility to meet these challenges through analytics, technology, and thoughtful strategic planning. We understand these challenges and specialize in working with clients to tackle them successfully.

The bottom line is that consumers aren’t conducting business as usual and brands can’t afford to either.

Does your brand measurement have a blind spot?  Join CMB's Mark Doherty and Kate Zilla-Ba for a webinar: BrandFx: Consumer-powered Brand Measurement to learn more about transforming your brand measurement program into one that is truly consumer powered.

Watch Now

Topics: consumer insights, brand health and positioning, BrandFx