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How Advanced Analytics Saved My Commute

Posted by Laura Dulude

Wed, Aug 22, 2018

commuter

I don’t like commuting. Most people don’t. If you analyzed the emotions that commuting evokes, you’d probably hear commuters say it made them: frustrated, tired, and bored. To be fair, my commute experience isn’t as bad as it could be: I take a ~20-minute ride into Boston on the Orange Line, plus some walking before and after.

Still, wanting to minimize my discomfort during my time on the train and because I am who I am, I tracked my morning commute for about 10 months. I logged the number of other people waiting on the platform, number of minutes until the next train, time spent on the train, delays announced, the weather, and several other factors I thought might be related to a negative experience.

Ultimately, I decided the most frustrating part about my commute is how crowded the train is—the less crowded I am, the happier I feel. So, I decided to predict my subjective crowd rating for each day using other variables in my commuting dataset.

In this example, I’ve used a TreeNet analysis. TreeNet is the type of driver modeling we do most often at CMB because it’s flexible, allows you to include categorical predictors without creating dummy variables, handles missing data without much pre-processing, resists outliers, and does better with correlated independent variables than other techniques do.

TreeNet scores are shown in comparison to each other. The most important input will always be 100, and every other independent variable is scaled relative to that top variable. So, as you see in Figure 1, the time I board the train and the day of the week are about half as important as the number of people on the platform when I board. That means that as it turns out, I probably can’t do all that much to affect my commute, but I can at least know when it’ll be particularly unpleasant.

Importance to Crowding_commuter

What this importance chart doesn’t tell you is the relationship each item has to the dependent variable. For example, which weekdays have lower vs. higher crowding? Per-variable charts give us more information:

Weekday and Crowding_commuter

Figure 2 indicates that crowding lessens as the week goes on. Perhaps people are switching to ride-sharing services or working from home those days.

For continuous variables, like boarding time, we can explore the relationships through line charts:

Boarding Time and Crowding_commuter

Looks like I should get up on the earlier side if I want to have the best commuting experience! Need to tackle a thornier issue than your morning commute? Our Advanced Analytics team is the best in the business—contact us and let’s talk about how we can help!

 Laura Dulude is a data nerd and a grumpy commuter who just wants to get to work.

Topics: advanced analytics, EMPACT, emotional measurement, data visualization

Scoring with Emotion: A lesson for brands

Posted by Daniel Alderstad

Wed, Jun 27, 2018

soccer fans

If it’s Sunday morning in the Alderstad household, I’m engrossed in a football match on my tablet. I’m not talking about American football, I mean the real kind.

I’m from Sweden but live in the US, so I like to keep up with my home team—even if it’s an unimportant match against a non-threatening opponent. Following my team keeps me connected with fellow fans, especially when I’m watching alone from thousands of miles away.

I may be watching from my house, but I feel the same cocktail of nervousness and excitement as the other fans who are actually in the stadium. During a match, nothing else matters except for what’s happening on the screen.

Most matches take me on an emotional rollercoaster and leave me feeling high or low. I try to not let those feelings linger and dictate the rest of my mood for the day. 

I like to think that I can separate my feelings from the match, but I know that’s not entirely true. When it comes to my favorite team, eleven players chasing a ball can definitely impact how I’ll feel for the rest of the day.

Why is that?

Because I’m human and humans aren’t 100% rational.

And this is an important lesson for brands. Too often are we assuming a rational consumer—one who is motivated by the seemingly “obvious” and “rational” factors, like the functional features of a product. And yes, the functional benefits a brand or product provides is important. But, we can’t dismiss the power of emotion.

The link between emotions and decision-making has gained considerable attention in psychology, marketing, and even economics. But, I believe how emotions impact our decision-making process is still underestimated and underleveraged.  

At CMB, our solutions are grounded in consumer psychology and we know that consumers are motivated by three types of benefits, including emotional, functional, and identity. We’ve developed proprietary tools that measure how brands and touchpoints make people feel—understanding the emotional payoffs consumers experience, want, and expect from a brand.

Instead of focusing solely on what a product (or in my case, a team) can “do” for the consumer, brands must understand what emotions they should be evoking from target consumers, then create messaging and experiences that elicit such feelings. 

My emotional connection to my team may be a little mad, but isn't the duality of the human psyche—where our thoughts and decision-making are strongly driven by an unending conflict between logic vs. emotions and thinking vs. feeling—something to cherish?

I certainly think so.

Daniel Alderstad is a senior associate researcher who has tried (and failed) to get his peers to acknowledge that "football" is played with one’s feet and a round ball, while "American football" (which he very much appreciates) should be called "throwy-hand-ball-with infrequent-but- guaranteed-to-score-kicks-occasionally".

Topics: emotional measurement, emotion

How to Win Virtual Assistant Rejecters Over

Posted by Chris Neal

Wed, Jun 20, 2018

It seems like every week, tech giants are adding new features to their virtual assistant (VA) tech arsenal. See Google’s new Duplex technology—an AI system for accomplishing real-world tasks by phone. 

While companies are pouring millions into making their virtual assistants smarter and more integrated, most users don’t stray beyond its basic functions like asking for the weather.

Learn about the emotional and social identity dimensions keeping people from adopting and using this tech to its full potential, and what brands need to do to win the VA war.

CMB01_VA_Infographic_07_AW

Topics: technology research, Consumer Pulse, emotional measurement, AffinID, Artificial Intelligence

Why CrossFit Athletes Become Brand Promoters

Posted by Molly Sands, PhD

Wed, May 30, 2018

kettle ball

Earlier this year, 500,000 of my closest CrossFit friends and I came together for the Reebok CrossFit Open—the world’s largest organized sporting event. For five weeks, athletes would eagerly await that week's assignment, then head to the gym (for what I can only describe as some serious pain and suffering) to complete the workout under the supervision of a certified CrossFit judge. 

That type of commitment shows true customer dedication.

CrossFitters like myself have earned the reputation for being diligent promotors – a term used in market research to describe people that are very likely to recommend a brand to others. I often hear jokes like, "The first rule of CrossFit is to never shut up about CrossFit" (and it is). While I know not everyone wants to hear about my max back squat or the latest paleo craze, as a market researcher, I am in awe of how CrossFit has built and maintained its strong brand loyalty.

Here at CMB, we look at three key benefits that drive this type of brand loyalty. I may be biased, but The Open is a clear indicator that CrossFit has successfully capitalized on each of these benefits:

Functional benefits. Does this product deliver the desired result?

I’m not waking up at 5 a.m. to trudge to the gym in the snow to do handstand push-ups unless I see some dramatic improvements in my fitness. Not only can CrossFit be extremely effective for building strength and improving physical fitness, the program also concretely measures your progress to underscore these functional benefits. Athletes are encouraged to keep diligent records of their workouts so you can clearly see improvements over time.

Emotional benefits. How does this product make me feel? Does it fulfill my emotional goals?

There's a known link between physical health and emotional well-being, so it's not surprising a fitness-focused lifestyle would also deliver emotional benefits. However, CrossFit provides a range of emotional benefits beyond just an increase in general well-being, including increased self-efficacy, pride, and emotional strength. Additionally, positive emotions are associated with the sense of community the boxes (translation: box = gym) strive to create. All these result in an “upward spiral” of health and happiness that drives brand love.

Social Benefits. Are the other users of this brand like me? Are they people I want to be like?

When we choose a brand, we consider what the typical brand customer is like. Do we have anything in common with this person? Are we part of the same “tribe”? Are they someone we’d like to be friends with? CrossFit creates a tight-knit community of people who identify with and relate to each other. We regularly do team-based competitions and partner WODs (workout of the day) that help develop strong relationships with other members of the box (remember, that means gym). Everyone completes the workout together, and as we know from social psychology, mirroring physical movements can actually cause people to identify more strongly with each other.

And as you can see even from a few short paragraphs about CrossFit, we even speak our own language (e.g., box, WOD, AMRAP, EMOM, MetCon, etc…) All this helps to create a “tribe” that members identify with. Not only do lots of people love the brand, they also become ambassadors (promoters) that encourage others to use the brand, too!

Overall, CrossFit builds brand loyalty by inspiring measurable progress towards attainable goals, creating an “upward spiral” of health and happiness, and developing a strong sense of belonging to a community.

This is a valuable lesson for any brand looking to build a faithful following. While the desired functional, emotional and social benefits may vary by brand and industry, the importance of highlighting each benefit does not. Brands can utilize these underlying principles—and maybe even some of these exact strategies—(tall, venti, grande sound familiar?) to build brand loyalty in a base of dedicated consumers.

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Watch our short 20-minute webinar to learn more about the three benefits that drive customer loyalty:

Watch Now

Molly Sands is on the Advanced Analytics team at CMB. When she’s not building predictive models, you can usually find her at a local CrossFit box or at least recommending it to somebody.

Topics: emotional measurement, customer experience and loyalty, Identity, BrandFx

Employee Appreciation: The Importance of Providing Emotional Benefits

Posted by Heather Magaw

Wed, Feb 28, 2018

collaborating-resized.jpg

An organization’s people are its most valuable assets.

And in today’s job competitive market, companies finding and retaining top talent need to go beyond “benefits” like ping-pong tables and yoga classes. These tangible perks look great, but on their own they won’t foster employee loyalty and motivate productivity.

A key to a corporate culture that inspires and motivates employees is ongoing appreciation—showing gratitude each and every day. Providing emotional benefits (e.g., feeling appreciated and valued) is one of the most important things a company can do for its employees—in addition to providing functional benefits (e.g., free lunches).

But identifying what employees truly value and what makes them feel appreciated can be challenging. It requires a thoughtful approach to understanding human behavior and acknowledging our intrinsic desire to be recognized, celebrated, and appreciated every day.

At CMB, we found that our employees feel more appreciated by intangible, personal gestures like:

  • Receiving an email of appreciation from a client
  • Finding a “thank you” post-it from a colleague stuck to the desk
  • Getting a handwritten thank you note in your company mailbox
  • Seeing an email of acknowledgement to a manager about an employee’s unique contribution

These small acts of kindness and appreciation can speak louder than a free lunch or Summer Fridays. They are thoughtful, meaningful, and make employees truly feel valued for the work they do.

Springing for a midafternoon ice cream party is a lot easier than encouraging busy colleagues to take the time to write personal notes. But, I challenge leadership teams to foster workplace environments that practice ongoing appreciation. As Stephen R. Covey once said, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”

In an upcoming webinar, join Erica Carranza, PhD., and learn how building meaningful connections promotes workplace satisfaction and productivity.

Register Now

Heather Magaw is VP, Client Services at CMB. She challenges each reader to write 5 emails or notes of appreciation on Friday, March 2, Employee Appreciation Day.

 

Topics: our people, emotional measurement, emotion