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Category Disruption and Maximizing Insights Impact

Posted by Brenda Ng

Fri, Jun 28, 2019

You know it’s time for a new segmentation when significant category disruption is occurring.

framefuture

A successful category segmentation does more than pinpoint your primary and secondary target customers. It helps you and your stakeholders understand how disruption shifts customer beliefs, motivations, and behaviors related to purchase and usage.

Common category disruptors:

  • A new competitor is shaking up the category or maybe it’s you entering a new category. Amazon is one of the best examples of a new, disruptive entrant in a variety of industries. With a good segmentation, you’ll know which segments make up the bulk of your volume, which customers are at risk, and how to compete effectively.
  • One of my favorite disruptors is new technology. In the auto-industry, it’s self-driving cars, electric cars, and online car sales. In financial services, robo-advisors, mobile payments, and financial management apps are shifting the landscape. You could fill a fascinating book with refreshed segmentations for consuming digital entertainment and media in the past 10 years.  Think how much change was enabled by technology with on-demand viewing, streaming content, and alternatives to episodic content.  A new segmentation chapter is ready to be written with 5G, evolution of wearables, smart devices, and AI.
  • New pricing models can create seismic category change and the need to refresh a segmentation. Consider the growth of subscriptions versus transactional, à la carte pricing.  When I was at T-Mobile, it was delightful to shake up the wireless industry and win customers with no contracts and installment plans.

Sometimes your boss or another executive asks for a new segmentation.  That’s a very good reason to consider a new segmentation.  Why?  If they’re not asking for a new segmentation and there’s major disruption in the category, it’s imperative to secure senior leadership support. Senior management endorsement is a critical success factor in adoption of a new segmentation across an organization. 

Next time, I’ll share the recipe to ensure the successful embrace, adoption, and usage of a new segmentation.

Brenda is CMB's VP of Strategy + Account Planning

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Topics: technology research, market strategy and segmentation

The 5 Keys to Successful Segmentation

Posted by Brant Cruz

Mon, Jun 17, 2019

SegmentationIn a world of constant change what can we truly count on?  For me it’s death, taxes, the fact that the Patriots will be playing football long after my beloved Chicago Bears have gone home, and another topic close to my heart: The 5 Keys to Successful Segmentation. 

While the 5 Keys to Success are evergreen, new data sources, empowered consumer behavior, digital disruption, globalization and 24/7 connectivity all impact what it means to build a successful Segmentation. Pair this with a growing consumer obsession with immediacy and personalization and you have brands facing a greater need for consumer-centric market strategies than ever before.

In the next couple of weeks my colleagues and I will share what we’ve learned over the course of conducting nearly 200 successful Segmentations. To start us off, I’m sharing the five critical success factors that ensure our clients not only build a true understanding of their target consumers and how to engage them but to also drive real strategy across the organization—including resource prioritization, marketing messaging, product development and innovation.

Key Success Factor 1: Focus on business decisions from the start

Segmentation is likely one of the largest investments your insights team will make—there isn’t room for failure, much less mediocrity. But, if your stakeholders aren’t engaged, invested, and aligned from the outset, you’re dramatically increasing your odds of failure. This is the opposite of the purpose of Segmentation (see below on Segmentation and Unicorns).

A clear focus on business decisions—communicated from the start and serving as guardrails throughout (and beyond) a Segmentation initiative is key.

Successful brands start by asking and answering questions like: How must this Segmentation support our organization’s goals?  Which specific business processes does the Segmentation need to dovetail with to be actionable, and what connective tissue do we need to build in to make that possible? Are we prepared to truly prioritize one or a small set of segments for better success at the risk of being sub-optimal with others if we can make a case as to why? How much complexity can we effectively handle (e.g., more segments, a matrix of segments) versus a need for a simple, unifying lexicon? 

These brands work with partners (cough, cough) that truly understand your business needs, clearly outline objectives, lay the groundwork, and design questionnaires that directly answer hypotheses. It may not be sexy, but I’ve picked up the pieces of competitive Segmentations and ignore this at your own (and your team’s) peril. You must: engage early and often!

We leverage several proven tools to inspire action and focus from the onset, including:

  • Stakeholder interviews—understand executives’ objectives and expectations
  • Lift-off workshops—identify success criteria
  • Business Decision Worksheet—to tie decisions and hypotheses to the questionnaire

Key Success Factor 2: Account for a wide range of influencers

Look around, consumers people are complex, but traditional frameworks just don’t account for that complexity anymore. Part of the art and science of Segmentation is considering these diverse attributes: motivations and drivers, product preferences, future goals, needs/barriers, beliefs and perceptions, habits, and of course behaviors. A strictly attitudinal-based (or behaviorally-based) Segmentation is always sub-optimal in today’s marketplace.  Age and gender Segmentation have never been less relevant. 

For example, later in this series, my colleague Dr. Erica Carranza will share more about our proprietary Habit Loops Segmentation framework—an approach that delivers more nuanced marketing, communications and product development implications vs. Segmentations based on behaviors alone. Understanding the psychological motives, attitudes and values that drive behaviors can help uncover strategies to activate segments—promoting desired routines and revealing opportunities for disruption.

Key Success Factor 3: Anticipate trade-offs

Segmentation schemes have strengths and weaknesses—there are no silver bullets and it’s nearly impossible (okay actually impossible) to satisfy everyone’s wishes.  If you see an agency promising to deliver anything resembling perfection, avoid them!  Perfection plus Segmentation is a unicorn.  Segmentation is not about perfection, but about increasing your odds of success at the individual level, by having a way-better-than-coin-flip hypothesis about their relevant segment and applying treatments that will yield materially better results than a vanilla product or message

The best schemes will balance those business needs with practicality. This is where the real art comes in—evaluating the trade-offs and making an educated and calculated recommendation for a path forward.

Key Success Factor 4: Leverage existing resources

Most, if not all, of the companies we work with sit on troves of customer data that—when harnessed correctly—provide powerful insight into existing or potential segment groups.  How big a role various forms of “big” data can and should play in any assignment should be drive in roughly equal parts by the three keys above, and the quality of the data your company owns and/or can access.  Coming soon, my colleague Dr. Jay Weiner will discuss some of the technical aspects of marrying survey data with other data sources to complete segmentation missions.  No need for me to try to communicate those complexities concurrently; those of you with sharp data chops know that I’d be a poor surrogate for Jay anyway, right neighbor?  (How was that for a little data geek humor?)

Key Success Factor 5: Empower decision makers to act

The most sophisticated Segmentation scheme will collect dust if it’s not evangelized throughout the business. As I shared in Key Success Factor 1—a laser focus on decisions and getting buy-in from stakeholders starts at the very beginning and must be rigorously pursued throughout.

We keep insights fresh and meaningful, and stakeholders engaged by drumming up excitement and bringing segments to life across the organization.

Our strategic qualitative team draws from a comprehensive toolkit, combining traditional with agile and cutting-edge strategies to foster active participation and build enthusiasm. We frequently leverage activation and socialization workshops, persona development (more on this to come), as well as creative deliverables and immersions.

But it doesn’t stop there. Segmentations are living, breathing frameworks—and should be treated as such. The work doesn’t end when the workshops are over. We help clients realize the potential of these powerful insights and empower executives across the organization to advocate and build empathy for these customers (or prospects, depending on who you’ve segmented). The use for Segmentation extends well beyond marketing and we help executives realize the full potential.   

And even that ending is a new beginning.  Once business leaders have bought in, Segmentation enters the realm of learn>test>re-learn.  Seeing segments come alive and become accessible to researchers and non-researchers is one of the most fulfilling parts of my job, but it doesn’t happen all at once—it takes careful planning, a great team, and experience.

You’ll be hearing more about these key success factors in the coming weeks but you don’t have to wait to learn more, let me know your thoughts in the comments or shoot me an email and let’s chat.

Brant leads CMB's Platforms and Digital Media Practice. 

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Topics: market strategy and segmentation

To Label Me is to Negate Me (Sometimes): The case for occasion-based segmentation

Posted by Peter Cronin

Wed, Aug 29, 2018

beer

One of my favorite lunchtime routines is to walk from my office over to the Trillium Brewing Company in nearby Seaport to grab a 4-pack of their current small-batch, limited-time, freshly brewed double IPA.

As far as Trillium knows, I’m an “Epicure”—a beer drinker characterized by my ardor and appreciation for craft beer.

During the summer months, I occasionally stop at BJ’s Wholesale Club to get a 30-pack of Corona (along with a couple of limes) because I like to have something to offer guests when hosting a cookout. In these instances, I’m looking for value, but not necessarily the cheapest option because quality and image are still important to me. BJ’s might consider me your average “Cost-aware Enthusiast.”

Every year on my birthday, which typically coincides with the start of March Madness, I stop at my local beer store to buy a six-pack of Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout. They probably consider me a “Sports Oriented” beer drinker.

So, who am I? A beer snob, a deal-seeking but conscientious host, or a sports fan?

The answers are “all of the above” and “it depends.”  

In some categories (like beer) the same person may experience a variety of needs in any given time and make different choices based on those needs. Segmenting people by their dominant motivation/need risks majorly oversimplifying reality.

To understand opportunities for growth in categories like this, a better alternative is occasion-based segmentation. Rather than segmenting people into groups, occasion-based segmentation considers multiple use occasions instead of just one. As you can see from my example, I’m more apt to purchase one type of beer over another based on the occasion (e.g., time/day, who I’m with, what I’m doing).

Occasion-based segmentation is particularly successful when anchored in the psychology of habits. When a behavior is rewarding, we tend to repeat it. The more we repeat it, it eventually becomes a habit. For many people, drinking beer is habitual. Take my backyard BBQ, for example. Throughout the summer, I repeat the cycle of having friends and family over, eating good food, drinking Corona with lime, and feeling relaxed, restive and connected. This occasion has all the key components of a habit: my craving (motivation) to host triggers a routine of good food and drink that results in feeling connected (reward). Feeling connected makes me to do it again.

When we ask people about their occasions at CMB, we also ask what motivates these choices and to describe the rewards—including the emotional and functional outcomes. These inquiries become the base of the segmentation. 

Segmenting your market by usage occasion can be a powerful source of insight about your consumers. By linking brands to occasions and understanding the psychological needs and emotions that drive choices, marketers can position their brands to be the preferred choice. They can tailor messaging to each occasion to build engagement, preference and loyalty.  

Brand managers at The Boston Beer Company, AB InBev, MillerCoors, etc., should be less concerned about whether I’m a “High Impacter,” a “Macho Male,” a “Trend Follower,” or a “Chameleon.” Classifying me attitudinally will dramatically underestimate the complexity of my buying habits. 

Instead, understanding the core types of beer drinking occasions (and the driving psychological needs and emotions of each), how much volume each occasion represents, and which groups of people over-index on them, can enable marketers to make informed decisions on where and how to focus their messaging, promotions, and product development efforts.

Peter is a brand guy who is fascinated with understanding how others see the world, and an equal opportunity beer drinker who refuses to be labeled.

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Topics: research design, quantitative research, brand health and positioning, market strategy and segmentation

Secret Segmentation Schemes: From the Backstreet Boys to JetBlue

Posted by Will Buxton

Wed, Nov 22, 2017

segmentation abstract.jpg

I learn something from every project I work on, and the sizable segmentation initiative I’m managing right now is no exception. The client is an incredible partner, and the work is challenging and rewarding—the trifecta! As a result, I’ve found myself more and more consumed with segmentation analysis and it’s begun to creep into my non-CMB life (doesn’t it always work like that??). Segmentation schemes are being implemented all around us, here are a few examples:

  • Airport food: Whether you’re the solo business traveler minutes away from missing your flight or the parent who gets their kids to the airport 3 hours early, there is an eating experience designed for you. The sit-down restaurant didn’t magically land next to the grab and go; restaurant options and placement are carefully cultivated to cater to all unique traveler types. Airport dining options are developed to provide an option to high-yield customers—paranoid parents and late travelers alike.
  • The Backstreet Boys: I was blessed to attend a Backstreet Boys concert (get off your high horse) at Fenway Park last summer. Throw Nelly and Florida Georgia Line into the mix and you’ve got yourself an unexpected synergy of musical talent. While my wife and friends argued over who their favorite BSB member is, to my right two cowboy-boot-wearing Gen Z-ers rolled their eyes in anticipation for Florida Georgia Line. Meanwhile, the guy in front of me lamented for the bygone days of “Hot in Herre”. I’ll admit on paper it seemed like an odd pairing, but this concert was in fact a carefully curated experience meant to cater to a variety of consumers.
  • Vacations: My wife and I tend to take the same beach/relaxation vacation every year, because as with most couples, “it’s what we did last year". But when JetBlue announced a partnership with UTrip, an AI-powered personalized itinerary travel platform, I thought I’d take a peek and see how it all worked… maybe it’d recommend we shake things up for 2018’s Buxton Bonanza. The gist is you answer a handful of questions about preferred types of travel activities (relaxation versus hiking, street food versus three course dinners, etc.) with the end result being a “traveler profile”. It’s a personalized experience designed just for you. Since we are, in fact, considering switching up our annual trip and going to Europe—trading little umbrella drinks for red wine—I chose Croatia as my destination of choice on the app and was immediately presented with a week-long personalized itinerary of activities, restaurants, and accommodations based on feedback from travelers with a similar profile as myself.

One of the joys of working in insights and for our incredible clients (not the Backstreet Boys) is in noticing how data is being turned into decisions all around us. As we head into the holiday season, take a look around and consider the vast amount of data, the advanced analytics, intensive qualitative research, and the thoughtful analysis that went into making every decision.

Will is a Project Manager II on the Financial Services team. He one day dreams of hosting a TV show with Chip and Joanna Gaines.

 

Topics: customer experience and loyalty, market strategy and segmentation

OMG! You Won’t Believe the 3 Things Segmentation and BuzzFeed Quizzes have in Common!

Posted by Amy Maret

Wed, Aug 31, 2016

19t0cg.jpg“Which Starbucks Drink Are You?” “What Role Would You Play in a Disney Movie?” “Which ‘Friends’ Character Are You Least Like?” These are the deep existential questions posed on websites like BuzzFeedand PlayBuzz. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are continuously flooded by friends posting their quiz results, and the market researcher in me can’t help compare them to the segmentationwork that we do at CMB every day.

So let’s take a closer look at a few of the basic concepts segmentations share with Buzzfeed quizzes and learn why I’m not too worried about losing my job to BuzzFeed writers just yet:

  1. You answer a predetermined set of questions. In the Starbucks drink quiz, you might be asked to identify your favorite color or your ideal vacation spot, even though these questions have nothing to do with Starbucks. At CMB, we focus on the product or service category at hand, we make sure we include questions that measure real customer needs. That way, we know our final solution will have implications in driving customer behavior. It’s much easier to see the relevance of a solution when the questions we ask have face validity.
  1. You are assigned to a group based on your answers. While I don’t know exactly what happens on the back end of a BuzzFeed quiz, there must be some basic algorithm that determines whether you are a Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino or Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher. However, as far as I know, the rules behind this algorithm are entirely made up by the author of the quiz, probably based on hours hanging out at their local Starbucks. When we conduct a market segmentation study, we typically use a nationally representative sample, which allows our clients to see how large the segments are and what true opportunities exist in the market. We also ensure that we end up with a set of clearly distinct segments that are both statistically solid and useful so that our clients can feel confident implementing the results.
  1. Each group is associated with certain traits. When your quiz results pop up, they usually come with a brief explanation of what the results mean. If you are an Iced Caramel Macchiato, for example, you're successful, honest, and confident. But, if you are a Passion Iced Tea, you are charismatic and hilarious. As a standard part of our segmentation studies, CMB delivers an in-depth look at key measures for each segment, such as demographics, brand preference, and usage, to demonstrate what makes them unique, and how they can be reached. We tailor these profiles to meet the needs of the client, so that they can be used to solve real business problems. For example, the sales team could use these segmentation results to personalize each pitch to a particular type of prospect, the creative team could target advertisements to key customer groups, or finance managers could ensure that budgets are being directed towards those with whom they will be most effective.

I’ll be the first person to admit that personality quizzes are a great way to waste some free time and maybe even learn something new about yourself. But what’s really fun is taking the same basic principles and using them to help real businesses make better decisions. After all, a segmentation is only useful when it is used, and that is why we make our segmentation solutions dynamic, living things to be reapplied and refreshed as often as needed to keep them actionable.

Amy Maret is a Project Manager at CMB with a slight addiction to personality quizzes. In case you were curious, she is an Espresso Macchiato, would play a Princess in a Disney movie, and is least like Ross from Friends.

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Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, research design, market strategy and segmentation, Market research