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TMRE 2020 Takeaways

Posted by Kate Zilla-Ba

Wed, Oct 14, 2020

Post TMRE Oct 2020 Blog Opener

Planning a virtual conference is a job you couldn't pay me enough to do. From what I heard in chatting with this year’s TMRE attendees, sometimes the tech works and sometimes it doesn’t. However, those of us who attended witnessed a great willingness to get the most out of the event and a lot of positive energy. So for sanity’s sake, let’s keep the elephant in the room that is COVID-19 to the side, skip the things we have all heard already, and focus on the most interesting takeaways from this week’s event:

  • What’s Next for Preparedness? Some speakers said you should’ve been prepared for the chaos that is the current  business environment. But most said, “…umm who could have REALLY been prepared for this insanity?!?” For me, the key is how to be prepared for next month and next year. Thankfully, there were lots of tips on what alternative research tools (aka virtual) have been applied successfully and behavioral data was front and center.
  • A Warning for “Agile” Researchers. Talk about being "agile" was everywhere, but in many cases the word was used as a synonym for "fast". While fast can be great, it's not always best. Iterative agility in the traditional sense of the term for research can be amazingly impactful. An iterative approach– develop, measure, change, retest, rinse, repeat– clearly has a role to play in improving the research of tomorrow. But being quick is only as good as being smart. On this note, Abby Finnis, Sr. Director of Portfolio Insights & Analytics at PepsiCo Beverages, made the point of needing to embrace hybrid solutions that bring a variety of sources to bear during her panel session, “How Dunkin’, PepsiCo, and Unilever are Shaping the Future of Research.” To me, that feels more like the best type of agile.
  • How to have a seat at the table. This classic question was reframed a bit for 2020 as how to bring together disparate business users and uses of research to maximize the utility of insights and ensure successful socialization and implementation. Sure, some of this was looking for ways to ensure insights can be efficiently developed once, and be used in a variety of settings and applications. But more importantly, TMRE addressed how we can be more consultative. For some, being more consultative meant forgoing a degree of certainty, which is not necessarily a comfortable space for a researcher, but in the end we must “elevate” the most relevant themes to each stakeholder in order to make an impact, and to have a seat at the table.

These themes were particularly relevant in my colleague Lori Vellucci’s presentation “Wealth of a Generation | Get Inside the Minds of Young Investors,” which explored investors under 40. Her research on young investors, which leveraged our BrandFxSM approach, is a strong example of how brands can understand a diverse and important demographic, based on four pillars of human motivation: functional, emotional, social, and identity. Research like this can help people across disparate organizational silos create roadmaps for change – there’s a way to get your seat at the table; measuring in a focused ongoing way allows brands to keep insights relevant and quick-turn – that’s a way to be responsive to the oft-sought agility; and in a rapidly changing environment where being prepared means predicting right, understanding human motivation sets brands up for future success by, to quote one presenter at TMRE “building resiliency into business strategy.”


Kate Zilla-BaKate Zilla-Ba, Account Director

Don't forget to immerse yourself in our latest financial services research: Get Inside the Mind of the Young Investor. And stayed tuned for more of our findings—experiential and beyond.
Immerse Yourself
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Topics: strategy consulting, financial services research, conference recap, Market research, agile research, COVID-19, financial services

COVID-Induced FOMO in Young Investors

Posted by Lori Vellucci

Wed, Oct 07, 2020

COVID FOMO Blog Opener

By most measures 2020 has been a sharp stick in the eye. But Millennials and Gen Zers have had it especially rough– in fact, they’ve experienced economic, environmental, and political upheaval for most of their lives. Many have never known a time when the United States was not at war with someone. They arrived to the party with a certain baseline of anxiety and fear shaped by the world and personal events throughout their formative years. As they say, “change happens in a crucible” (thanks, Mack Turner), and with the added stress of the pandemic, many young investors took their anxiety and fear and boldly channeled it into a new proactive approach to investing. They were determined not to miss the market sale, as many of them did for one reason or another back in ‘08/’09. New account openings were at an all-time high this past spring for traditional financial services brands and the plethora of born-online digital platforms.

Who Will Young Investors Turn To?

With this new focus and new money floating around, coupled with the stark realization that the markets go in both directions, these new investors need knowledge and guidance. Many firms have stepped up and made significant efforts to provide both to these less affluent newbies. But the final answer to an important question remains, who will they trust most with their future? There are two knee-jerk responses to this question: (1) the storied and well-established institutions which have reached a hand to these new potential customers OR (2) the born-online, new, fresh tech platforms targeted to these digital natives.

Are YOU Missing Out on the Young Investor?

There’s good reason to choose either of these options as the answer. However, investment firms must consider the four psychological benefits that drive brand engagement: emotional, identity, social, and functional. For brands across industries, leading prospects to expect these benefits drives consideration, and delivering these benefits to customers drives loyalty. And, for investment firms—disruptors and established alike—these psychological benefits are the key to winning the hearts and wallets of young investors.

BrandFx Four Benefits Pillars

We know that financial services brands (traditional or digital) deliver against these four pillars with varying degrees of success. However, there are other players outside of financial services and fintech that bear consideration and a watchful eye (and which already deliver important drivers of engagement in spades). Tech Brands like Apple, Google, and Amazon already have the attention of young investors in other aspects of their lives. Further, some have begun to make forays into financial services through offering of credit cards and mobile payments. It may be a short reach for them to move their customers into high yield savings and investing through partnerships, purchases, or built-from-scratch offerings. While there are certainly barriers in place to jumping in with both feet, the strength of these brands warrant a watchful eye.

So where do financial services firms start? Functional benefits are table stakes, so delivering those benefits alone aren’t enough to attract new investors. It’s therefore crucial for brands to deliver the identity, social, and emotional benefits to drive engagement. Make young investors feel safe and secure (emotional benefits) through every touchpoint. Find a way to help them to express themselves (identity benefits) by ensuring that their financial brand aligns with their values and help them to connect with others as they embark on their investing journey (social benefits).

YI Experience Micrographic Sep20 (2)

Three Takeaways for Investment Firms

As detailed in our latest report: Get Inside the Mind of the Young Investor, here’s what you can do so that you don’t miss out on the young investor:

  1. Ensure representatives are focused on helping young investors leave each touchpoint feeling positive, low activation emotions like peace, calm, and security
  2. Understand your customer identity and ensure campaigns and marketing assets present a compelling image of the typical customer for young investors
  3. Deliver Social Benefits that resonate through ESG and socially responsible investing and building communities of like-minded investors

Lori VellucciLori Vellucci, VP Financial Services Practice Leader
Don't forget to immerse yourself in our latest financial services research: Get Inside the Mind of the Young Investor. And stayed tuned for more of our findings—experiential and beyond.
Immerse Yourself
Follow CMB on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Topics: financial services research, brand health and positioning, Market research, BrandFx, COVID-19, financial services, young investors

CMB Spotlight: Courtnie Hallendy

Posted by Chadwick Martin Bailey

Tue, Sep 22, 2020

Spotlight Series Opener Courtnie

For over 15 years, Courtnie has been a strategic consultant for some of the world’s leading brands. She brings a deep research expertise and a truly collaborative approach to her work with clients including Chase and Fidelity. She earned her undergraduate degree from Michigan State and an MBA from Oakland University.

1. What brought you to work at/in Market Research?

I always knew I needed to do something with math, but I also wanted something creative, which is exactly what this career allows me to do. As I’ve grown, I’ve realized just how much I enjoy the strategic side of the business: pushing myself to think five steps ahead, anticipate challenges, and help clients creatively and proactively problem solve.

2. What’s the secret to developing not just good but great client relationships?

To drive client relationships forward, you need honesty, integrity, and mutual respect. Developing a deep level of trust takes time, and effort. Sometimes it’s not easy, but it’s so worth it. Don’t give up. If it doesn’t work at first, I will try new communication styles and approaches to create that relationship. It’s that tenacity and commitment that speaks volumes to even the toughest critics.

3. Who has been a major influence in your career?

The strongest mentors (I believe you should always have more than one!) in my life are outside of the industry, which I think is important so that you can have a neutral person to confide in, give advice, and act as a source of inspiration of what you can bring to your own industry. It can be harder to find the right one and to start those relationships, but you’ll be surprised at how willing others are to help and invest in your personal and professional development if you just ask.

4. We talk about “The CMB Difference” a lot to clients. What does it mean to you?

When you’re in a professional services industry, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself, but it’s really important. CMB is as committed to its employees as we are to our clients. Our culture is supportive, transparent, and engaging, which shows in our relationships with one other, our clients, and our work. I feel like I’ve always been here.

5. Tell us about a project/initiative you’re particularly proud of. What about that experience helped you to adapt, innovate, and/or grow?

One project that stands out was when I was working at Toyota Financial Services. I was developing its online community, with the goal of engaging with our tough-to-reach demographic. In launching this relatively new format, I was faced with an increasingly restrictive budget (remember the financial crisis of 2008/2009?!), and securing executive buy-in all while trying to think innovatively and creatively, as well as challenge myself to structure research in a sustainable way. This experience affirmed my ability to push myself outside the norm, tackle large initiatives, and be ok with uncertainty, which is critical to growth and innovation.

I’ve applied the lessons I learned at Toyota since. Currently, I am leading a team at CMB to support a major financial services brand developing a system and process for getting research insights on a quick and consistent schedule. We have had to innovate and grow as individuals and as a company to ensure that we are able to execute this important initiative with the high-value and quality research that CMB is known for. It’s exciting to be a part of.

6. If you could have any superpower what would it be/What’s your superpower?

Fly. My husband and I love to travel (in fact, his first Christmas present to me was getting his first passport so we could travel together). It would be great to save that time and money on transportation and get to explore my destination more.

And in the time of COVID-19, I think everyone’s superpower is the ability to just hold it all together (whatever that means for you and your family). Taking that a step further, being the guide and the calm for my teammates and clients is something I really try to strive for every day and would like to say is a superpower. I always try to be a duck: calm above the water, no matter how quickly my feet are peddling below. Maintaining that balance is that’s what having great mentors and managers are for.

7. Show us what a typical day in the life of Courtnie looks like.

Spotlight Day in the Life_Courtnie 2020-1


Courtnie HallendyTo learn more, reach out to Courtnie here.

CMB's Spotlight Series brings to life the CMB Difference through our people and clients. Read all of our spotlights here.

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Topics: our people, financial services research, CMB Spotlight Series, financial services