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Osmosis: What Happens BEFORE "The Path to Purchase?"

Posted by Marty Murk

Wed, May 20, 2020

Osmosis Blog Opener (1)

When I go hiking, when does my “hike” really start? Is it when my shoes hit the dirt path? When I pull out of my driveway? When I park at the trail head? Or...if we go really “deep” maybe it was when I was six, learning to play baseball, and ultimately built an affinity for exercise.

It can be similarly hard to understand when a buyer’s path to purchase truly begins. In a research-heavy category, like TVs for instance, it’s obvious that you need to measure, dig into, and understand the experiences along a consumer’s journey (the Trigger, Discovery, Evaluation, and Purchase phases)

What about a category like fashion?  In some categories... there are a LOT of ideas taking shape prior to that “foot hitting the dirt path.” In fashion, people absorb what’s on/off trend (colors, styles, shapes) well before they start looking for a new pair of pants. At CMB, this approach is one of the subtle differences between thinking about this as a path to purchase versus a consumer journey. The journey being broader and including pre-category engagement and later stage customer experiences.

Customer Journey Approach

At CMB, we think of this early stage as “Osmosis” (the process of gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas, knowledge, etc.). In the context of consumer journey, it’s the part of a person’s journey, that includes the way they engage with a category prior to a conscious need emerging

Recently, CMB self-funded an online study on the consumer journey exploring the gaming industry.  There’s no silver bullet in measuring the idea of Osmosis, however it’s very easy to miss, ignore or skip during the design phase of consumer journey work.  For this reason, we were extra careful about embedding measurement indicators about the consumer’s background and experience in the category. This study lent itself nicely, given the breadth of gaming categories covered. A few categories that intuitively would rely heavily on Osmosis in the decision process, and few that would rely heavily on the Discovery and Evaluation process.

Below is an example of drivers of the final decision, comparing six gaming categories. You see Peripherals, AR/VR, PC/Hardware relying on traditional Evaluation criteria:  reviews, promotions, etc. However, categories like Games and Consoles, are putting a lot of weight on pieces that have been gathered prior to actively being in the market: trust, and love for instance.

Four Factors Influencing Final Decision

Prior to starting path to purchase or consumer journey work, thinking through internal hypotheses and the notion of Osmosis is critical. Without it, insights risk over-emphasizing parts of the consumer journey, and missing other parts all together. Here are two tips to consider:

  1. When you think about qual, while you are connecting with the consumer—through one-on-one quality time, shopping along, or reliving a purchase—spend some healthy time digging into their background in the category (e.g., the affinity for exercise, the introduction to health and fitness). This knowledge can be invaluable to understanding the consumer broader journey. 
  2. Design any quant to probe on their history in the category, experience with product/competitors, etc. At CMB, we dig into psychological motivations by understanding  the Emotional, Social, Identity, and Functional Benefits to the consumer as well as perceptions of a brand.

In short: be conscious of what happens BEFORE you THINK “the Path” begins.


Marty MurkMarty Murk, Account Director, is an avid runner, and our resident path to purchase guru.

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

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, methodology, path to purchase, consumer insights, marketing strategy, Consumer Pulse, customer journey, engagement strategy, Gaming, consumer journey, osmosis

The Inner Battle Royale: Who Is The Fortnite Fan?

Posted by Josh Fortey

Mon, Dec 16, 2019

Sirens ring out across Dusty Depot. As the ground begins to shake, a rocket erupts from beneath, its pace intensifying as it scars the horizon. Suddenly, the sky cracks and blue rifts appear, rockets raining down; a meteor ruptures the sky, hurtling to the ground. The impact devastates the island as a black rift emerges, engulfing everything that surrounds it. Nothing is left but darkness­­—is this the end?

It is not the end, nor is it a Hollywood movie or HBO fantasy drama. This is Fortnite Battle Royale, the highly disruptive online video game that serves as a barometer for success in this gaming genre. This much-hyped seasonal event attracted a peak 1.6 million viewers on Twitch and a peak 4 million viewers on YouTube. The success of this event is a positive development for the game following recent reports of a 52% decline in in-game spending, lagging viewership figures and general dissatisfaction with the state of its most recent season. Live content spectacles help renew focus away from the all-too-familiar proclamations of a dying game or a dying and oversaturated Battle Royale genre, but Fortnite has a bigger problem that may ultimately destabilize growth: the image of the typical Fortnite player.

In our recent BrandFx 2.0 research, CMB interviewed thousands of gamers regarding more than 30 media, entertainment and gaming brands on this very topic. We found that for players of a game, the most important driver of recommendation is how well the most recent gaming session elicits positive emotion. For non-players, however, the most important driver of considering a game is their perception of that games’ typical player. We also found that for gamers’ who don’t play Fortnite, perceptions of the typical Fortnite player were considerably more negative than perceptions of the typical brand user for prospects of other media brands.

Fortnite_NonUserPerceptionsTypicalUser_Final_JPG

Takeaway #1: The Battle of Divisive Emotions

Among the users and non-users of any of the 33 media brands we tested (and particularly among other gaming brands such as Nintendo, Pokémon and Mario), some of the starkest differences were between how Fortnite players perceive the typical Fortnite player and how non-Fortnite players perceive the typical Fortnite player. This in spite of what is a relatively cohesive perception of audience demographics (i.e. both Fortnite players and non-players perceive the typical Fortnite player as younger male teens).

 Takeaway #2: A Middle School Dance: Fortnite On One Side, Non-Fornite On the Other

Non-Fortnite players are also more likely to view themselves as “very different” to the typical Fortnite player, “very disinterested” in making friends with them and more likely to “really disrespect” the typical Fortnite player. Only two other brands come close to this level of consistent negative perception among non-brand users across all three categories (The Simpsons and Pokémon are the other two).

Fortnite_NonUserRelationshipWithTypicalUser_Final_JPG

Takeaway #3: Converting Non-Fortnite Players

Ultimately, it could be these typical player perceptions that feed into the negative emotional association to Fortnite among non-players, in turn potentially hindering future player growth.  When asked how they imagine it would feel to play Fortnite, the non-Fortnite gamers are among the strongest of the tested brands to state that they expect the experience to be more "bad" than "good" (35%: +15% vs. media average).

While Fortnite continues to defy critics claims of the game’s death, and hold off fierce competition from the likes of Apex Legends and PUBG, its continued success may hinge on changing the substantial negative perceptions of its user base.


Josh ForteyJosh Fortey is an Account Director at CMB, and avid gamer.

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

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, consumer insights, Consumer Pulse, digital media and entertainment research, Market research, Identity, emotion, technology, Gaming

Will Technology Kill the Research Star?

Posted by Megan McManaman

Wed, Sep 18, 2019

Notes from WIRe’s New Directions in Market Research

WIRe Speakers and Moderator (pictured left to right): Jackie Anderson, Blair Bailey, Bridget Nelson, Beatrice Capestany, and Karampreet Sandu.

CMB was thrilled to host and co-sponsor WIRe’s (Women in Research) lively panel this week: New Directions in Market Research. The panelists—CMB’s Blair Bailey, Shark Ninja’s Bridget Nelson, Reputation Institute’s Karampreet Sandhu, and quantilope’s Beatrice Capestany—provided a lot of insight on the challenges and opportunities facing the insights industry. Through their perspectives, we explored how tech is changing the world of insights and the role of the researcher—a topic that’s been the subject of thousands of tweets, thought pieces, industry reports, and an unquantifiable amount of hand-wringing.

Technology Take Over: Friend or Foe?

We’re happy to report there was little hand-wringing about the death of the researcher and much excitement for the future of insights and market research. Our diverse panel agreed technology won’t obviate the insights role—but it is irrevocably changing it by forcing many researchers to re-evaluate where we can add true value to our clients.

Platforms to Consider

The discussion was as wide-ranging as you’d imagine with a topic as broad and nebulous as “technology in market research.” The panelists sang the praises of Slack to facilitate agile solution development and communication, various automation platforms such as Alteryx and quantilope, and the exciting advancements that Virtual Reality may offer to create powerful participant experiences and insight.

Looking Ahead

Ultimately, the question is not, will the insights role survive into the 21st Century, it is who will leverage the right tools while channeling the data fluency creativity, context, and storytelling acumen that bring meet our clients’ challenges?


Megan McManamanMegan McManaman, Marketing Director, is one of CMB's strategists and insight-miners with a passion for storytelling.

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

Topics: consumer insights, professional development, technology

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