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The Art & Science of Selecting a Spokesperson

Posted by Dr. Erica Carranza

Wed, Nov 08, 2017

This article was originally published in Website Magazine.

When is tapping a celebrity to endorse your brand a good idea, and who should you choose? In an age when scandals erupt in the time it takes to share a tweet, getting it wrong is at best a wasted opportunity, and at worst a PR nightmare.

It’s hard to predict a celebrity scandal. Luckily, consumers tend to forgive brands that take steps to condemn bad behavior (when his doping came to light, Lance Armstrong lost eight contracts in a single day, starting with Nike). But what about wasted opportunities? No marketer wants to invest in a celebrity if a less expensive strategy would work—or to pick the wrong celebrity for the job.

To make the right decision for your brand, before signing any celebrity, make sure that you understand your brand’s customer image.

Your brand’s customer image is consumers’ stereotype of the kind of person who uses the brand. It relates to the brand’s overall image, but it’s not the same. For example, consider Subaru:

  • When we ask consumers to describe the brand Subaru, they say “safe” and “reliable.”
  • But when we ask them to describe the typical Subaru owner, they say “middleclass,” “family-focused,” and “outdoorsy.” They picture someone with kids and a dog, who likes to hike, and who supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primaries.
Subaru - hiking family_blog.jpg

There’s a lot of nuance to their image of the typical Subaru customer—including attributes a person can embody, but a brand cannot.

Customer image is crucial because people are social animals. Our social identities shape what we think, who we are and strive to be, how we act and the choices we make as consumers. So truly strategic brands lead consumers to equate using the brand with joining a tribe that expresses an identity. And the secret to creating that connection is a clear, compelling brand customer image. In our research at CMB we’ve seen that consumers who identify with their image of a brand’s customer are 14-times more likely to choose the brand, and 15-times more likely to recommend it. What does this mean for selecting a celebrity spokesperson?

1. First, get a deep understanding of how your target audience sees the brand customer 
Do they already have an image of the kind of person who uses the brand? If so, how compelling is that image? What’s working about that image, and what isn’t? Which assumptions should you reinforce—and which should you work to change—in order to own a customer image that is compelling and unique for your audience, and realistically attainable for your brand?

2. Consider signing a celebrity if the brand customer image is unclear

Given the importance of the brand customer image, having a new or lesser-known brand may pose a challenge: When your target audience tries to imagine your typical customer, they may draw a blank. On the upside, that means you can build the customer image from scratch—and a celebrity endorsement can provide an effective strategy. In additional to pairing the brand with a familiar face, your campaign can draw on consumers’ “built-in” knowledge about the celebrity to communicate what you want them to know about your brand tribe.

3. Consider signing a celebrity if the brand customer image isn’t compelling

Stereotypes are notoriously difficult to change. So it often happens that a brand’s (formerly appealing) customer image is no longer relevant—or even alienating—to new consumers. For example, we partner with many respected, longstanding brands that are working to attract younger generations. A key barrier is the image of an “older” customer. The answer isn’t to put a Kardashian in every ad. (We’ve all seen how that can go…) But snagging the right celebrity can disrupt preconceived notions about the kind of person who buys or uses the brand. Especially when the endorsement seems genuine. This ad comes to mind as great example for having challenged stereotypes of Chrysler drivers and Detroit.

Another great example is the choice of Maya Rudolph by Seventh Generation. Consumers tend to think that people who buy “green” household cleaners are condescending “activist types” who have money to pay a premium for products that don’t work well. That’s not a compelling tribe. But Maya Rudolph, a comedic actress and a mom, gives Seventh Generation customers an image that’s much more relatable and fun. I’m a particular fan of her video promos on the Seventh Generation website.

4. Think twice if the customer image is niche and the goal is to broaden appeal

The image of the Subaru driver shows the impact of ads like this, which have an “every parent” quality. A famous spokesperson could undermine that message. Sometimes signing a celebrity—any celebrity—isn’t the best approach. For example, if you’re a tech company trying to drive adoption of your Virtual Assistant, you’ll need to battle the perception that typical users are a niche group: Young, tech-savvy, affluent, white men. So you may want to show a diverse group of regular people doing regular things with the personal assistant, like Google during this year’s Super Bowl—rather than a celebrity doing extraordinary things, like The Rock using Siri to snap selfies from space.

22261-26696-170802-Rock-l.jpgSource: appleinsider

5. If you take the plunge, pick a celebrity who embodies the top priority attributes you want to convey

Picking someone well-known and well-liked may seem like a safe bet. But it fails to consider how that person might influence the image of the brand customer. Instead, identify specific priorities for what to communicate based on consumers’ current image of your customer, their image of competitor brand customers, and what does (or doesn’t) express their identities and values. Then map those priorities to their perceptions of potential spokespeople.

While there’s no guaranteeing that a celebrity won’t behave badly, at least you can take steps to make sure that you sign a spokesperson who conveys the right image of your brand tribe.

Erica Carranza is VP of consumer psychology at Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB). She earned her Ph.D. in social psychology from Princeton University and has more than ten years of experience leading research for major brands. Prior to CMB, she spent time in consumers insights at American Express, where she was a recipient of the CMO Award for Achievement in Excellence.

Topics: AffinID, Identity, marketing science

A Lesson in Storytelling from the NFL MVP Race

Posted by Jen Golden

Thu, Feb 02, 2017

american football.jpg

There’s always a lot of debate in the weeks leading up to the NFL’s announcement of its regular season MVP. While the recipient is often from a team with a strong regular season record, it’s not always that simple. Of course the MVP's season stats are an important factor in who comes out on top, but a good story also influences the outcome. 

Take this year, we have a few excellent contenders for the crown, including…

  • Ezekiel Elliot, the rookie running back on the Dallas Cowboys
  • Tom Brady, the NE Patriots QB coming back from a four game “Deflategate” suspension
  • Matt Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons veteran “nice-guy” QB having a career year

Ultimately, deciding the winner is a mix of art and science. And while you’re probably wondering what this has to do with market research, the NFL regular season MVP selection process has a few important things in common with the creation of a good report. [Twitter bird-1.pngTweet this!]

First, make a framework: Having a framework for your research project can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed by the amount of data in front of you. In the MVP race, for example, voters should start by listing attributes they think make an MVP: team record, individual record, strength of schedule, etc. These attributes are a good way to narrow down potential candidates. In research, the framework might include laying out the business objectives and the data available for each. This outline helps focus the narrative and guide the story’s structure.

Then, look at the whole picture: Once the data is compiled, take a step back and think about how the pieces relate to one another and the context of each. Let’s look at Tom Brady’s regular season stats as an example. He lags behind league leaders on total passing yards and TDs, but remember that he missed four games with a suspension. When the regular season is only 12 games, missing a quarter of those was a missed opportunity to garner points, so you can’t help but wonder if it’s a fair comparison to make. Here’s where it’s important to look at the whole picture (whether we’re talking about research or MVP picks). If you don’t have the entire context, you could dismiss Brady altogether. In research, a meaningful story builds on all the primary data within larger social, political, and/or business contexts.

Finally, back it up with facts:  Once the pieces have come together, you need to back up your key storyline (or MVP pick) with facts to prove your credibility. For example, someone could vote for Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. because of an impressive once-in-a-lifetime catch he made during the regular season. But beyond the catch there wouldn’t be much data to support that he was more deserving than the other candidates. In a research report, you must support your story with solid data and evidence.  The predictions will continue until the 2016 regular season MVP is named, but whoever that ends up being, he will have a strong story and the stats to back it up.

 Jen is a Sr. PM on the Technology/E-commerce team. She hopes Tom Brady will take the MVP crown to silence his “Deflategate” critics – what a story that would be.

Topics: storytelling, marketing science, data collection

Strength-Based Leadership and Finding the #Boss Within

Posted by Blair Bailey

Wed, Jul 06, 2016

A few weeks ago, I relinquished my year-long membership to the "Broken Screen Club" and bought asgo-logo-home.png new phone. It was a good opportunity to clean up the apps I didn't need. I had two meditation apps, two fitness tracker apps, three nutrition apps, four dating apps, and two hydration-tracking apps. If there was a gap in my life, I had an app for it. 

I was an expert at pinpointing what I wanted to improve about myself and identifying the tools to do it...but was it working? Using these apps reminded me to drink water, but they also served as a constant reminder that I was bad at regularly drinking water.

Recently, I attended Strength-Based Leadership Workshop presented by She Geeks Out (SGO), a Boston-based community of women in the STEAM fields. The workshop was led by Katie Greenman, Founding Partner of HumanSide, a "human-centered consultancy" that works with individuals, teams, and organizations to build success from the inside out. Through activities and lively discussion, we discussed the concept of strength-based leadership and how to apply it in our personal and professional lives.

When it comes to introspection and self-improvement, it’s natural to focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right. Strength-based leadership focuses on emphasizing an individual’s existing strengths and passions. The core belief is that there is higher growth potential in developing strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses.

At the workshop, everyone had a worksheet with about thirty traits listed and had to circle which traits we considered our strengths. For each of the traits listed, I wanted to brainstorm how I could improve on it rather than see if it was already a strength of mine. Next, we listed items from one aspect of our lives and discussed how our existing strengths would help or had helped us achieve our goals.

The last item was: "Something you're not doing so well with." It was easy for me to come up with something to improve upon...but how would my known strengths help? The takeaway is one of the central tenants of strength-based leadership—whether you're succeeding or not at a task, you should focus on your existing strengths to improve or to continue to excel.

Although the exercises focused on the individual, they can also be applied to teams. Focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses allows for diverse, passionate teams that can excel at the tasks at hand. It also creates a stronger relationship between a company's leadership and its employees. Acknowledging your employees' passions can build enthusiasm and promote evangelism. It's important to note that strength-based leaders don't ignore weaknesses altogether. However, they don't focus the majority of their time and efforts on filling the gaps.

Since attending the workshop, I’ve realized how much strength-based leadership plays a role at CMB. I’ve been assigned difficult projects and given unfamiliar roles that I was at first terrified to take on. But during one-on-one meetings, when I was internally panicking, my manager would tell me, “we thought of you for this.” Through challenges we reveal skills that are valuable to a project, a team, and the company as a whole.

Thanks to my "perfectionist" trait, it's still difficult for me not to focus on the negative, particularly my own. SGO's workshop provided me with a new perspective on how to approach my projects, my career, and myself. I still have more than one meditation app, but if that's the worst of it, I think I'll be okay.

Blair Bailey is a Senior Associate Business Analyst at CMB who still doesn’t drink enough water.

Whether you’re a segmentation guru, a tech whiz, or a strategic selling machine, we’re looking for collaborative, engaged professionals to join our growing team. Check out our open positions below!

Open Positions

Topics: CMB Careers, Chadwick Martin Bailey, marketing science, marketing strategy, Market research

CMB Conference Recap: ARF Re!Think16

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Mar 17, 2016

Re-Think-2016.jpgRon Amram of Heineken uttered the three words that sum up my ARF #ReThink16 experience: science, storytelling, and seconds. Let’s recap some of the most energizing insights: 

  • Science: Using Data to Generate Insights
    • AT&T Mobility’s Greg Pharo talked about how AT&T measures the impact of mass and digital advertising. They start with a regression and integrate marketing variables (media weight, impressions, GRPs, brand and message recall, WoM, etc.) as well as information on major product launches, distribution, and competitive data, topped off with macroeconomic data and internal operational data such as quality (network functioning, etc.).
    • GfK’s voice analytics research actually records respondents’ voices and captures voice inflection, which predicts new idea or new product success by asking a simple question: “What do you think about this product and why?” They explore sentiment by analyzing respondents’ speech for passion, activation, and whether they’d purchase. I had to ask a question: since I have a sunny and positive personality, wouldn’t my voice always sound to a machine as though I like every product? Evidently, no. They establish each individual respondent’s baseline and measure the change.  
    • Nielsen talked about its new 40 ad normative benchmark (increasing soon to 75) and how it uses a multi-method approach—a mix of medical grade EEG, eye tracking, facial coding, biometrics, and self-reporting—to get a full view of reactions to advertising. 
  • Storytelling: Using Creative That’s Personal
    • Doug Ziewacz (Head of North America Digital Media and Advertising for Under Armour Connected Fitness) spoke about the ecosystem of connected health and fitness. It’s not enough to just receive a notification that you’ve hit your 10,000 steps—many people are looking for community and rewards.
    • Tell your story. I saw several presentations that covered how companies ensure that potential purchasers view a product’s advertising and how companies are driving interest from target audiences.
      • Heineken, for example, knows that 50% of its 21-34 year-old male target don’t even drink beer, so they focus on telling stories to the other 50%. The company’s research shows that most male beer drinkers are sort of loyal to a dozen beer brands, with different preferences for different occasions. Ron Amram (VP of Media at Heineken) talked about the need to activate people with their beer for the right occasion. 
      • Manvir Kalsi, Senior Manager of Innovation Process and Research at Samsung, said that Samsung spends ~$3B in advertising globally. With such a large footprint, they often end up adding impressions for people who will never be interested in the product. Now, the company focuses on reaching entrenched Apple consumers with messages (such as long battery life) that might not resonate with Samsung loyalists but will hit Apple users hard and give those Apple users reasons to believe in Samsung. 
  • Seconds: Be Responsive Enough to Influence the Purchase Decision Funnel
    • Nathalie Bordes from ESPN talked about sub-second ad exposure effectiveness. She spoke frankly about how exposure time is no longer the most meaningful part of ad recall for mobile scrolling or static environments. In fact, 36% of audience recalled an ad with only half a second of exposure. There was 59% recall in 1 second and 78% recall in 2 seconds. Point being, every time we have to wait 4 or 5 seconds before clicking “skip ad” on YouTube, our brains really are taking in those ads.
    • Laura Bernstein from Symphony Advanced Media discussed the evolution of Millennials’ video viewing habits. Symphony is using measurement technology among its panel of 15,000 viewers who simply install an app and then keep their phones charged and near them, allowing the app to passively collect cross-platform data. A great example of leveraging the right tech for the right audience.

How does your company use science and storytelling to drive business growth?

Want to know more about Millennials' attitudes and behaviors toward banking and finance?Download our new Consumer Pulse report here!

Topics: storytelling, marketing science, advertising, data integration, conference recap

Say Goodbye to Your Mother’s Market Research

Posted by Matt Skobe

Wed, Dec 02, 2015

evolving market researchIs it time for the “traditional” market researcher to join the ranks of the milkman and switchboard operator? The pressure to provide more actionable insights, more quickly, has never been so high. Add new competitors into the mix, and you have an industry feeling the pinch. At the same time, primary data collection has become substantially more difficult:

  • Response rates are decreasing as people become more and more inundated with email requests
  • Many among the younger crowd don’t check their email frequently, favoring social media and texting
  • Spam filters have become more effective, so potential respondents may not receive email invitations
  • The cell-phone-only population is becoming the norm—calls are easily avoided using voicemail, caller ID, call-blocking, and privacy managers
  • Traditional questionnaire methodologies don’t translate well to the mobile platform—it’s time to ditch large batteries of questions

It’s just harder to contact people and collect their opinions. The good news? There’s no shortage of researchable data. Quite the contrary, there’s more than ever. It’s just that market researchers are no longer the exclusive collectors—there’s a wealth of data collected internally by companies as well as an increase in new secondary passive data generated by mobile use and social media. We’ll also soon be awash in the Internet of Things, which means that everything with an on/off switch will increasingly be connected to one another (e.g., a wearable device can unlock your door and turn on the lights as you enter). The possibilities are endless, and all this activity will generate enormous amounts of behavioral data.

Yet, as tantalizing as these new forms of data are, they’re not without their own challenges. One such challenge? Barriers to access. Businesses may share data they collect with researchers, and social media is generally public domain, but what about data generated by mobile use and the Internet of Things? How can researchers get their hands on this aggregated information? And once acquired, how do you align dissimilar data for analysis? You can read about some of our cutting-edge research on mobile passive behavioral data here.

We also face challenges in striking the proper balance between sharing information and protecting personal privacy. However, people routinely trade personal information online when seeking product discounts and for the benefit of personalizing applications. So, how and what’s shared, in part, depends on what consumers gain. It’s reasonable to give up some privacy for meaningful rewards, right? There are now health insurance discounts based on shopping habits and information collected by health monitoring wearables. Auto insurance companies are already doing something similar in offering discounts based on devices that monitor driving behavior.

We are entering an era of real-time analysis capabilities. The kicker is that with real-time analysis comes the potential for real-time actionable insights to better serve our clients’ needs.

So, what’s today’s market researcher to do? Evolve. To avoid marginalization, market researchers need to continue to understand client issues and cultivate insights in regard to consumer behavior. To do so effectively in this new world, they need to embrace new and emerging analytical tools and effectively mine data from multiple disparate sources, bringing together the best of data science and knowledge curation to consult and partner with clients.

So, we can say goodbye to “traditional” market research? Yes, indeed. The market research landscape is constantly evolving, and the insights industry needs to evolve with it.

Matt Skobe is a Data Manager at CMB with keen interests in marketing research and mobile technology. When Matt reaches his screen time quota for the day he heads to Lynn Woods for gnarcore mountain biking.    

Topics: data collection, mobile, consumer insights, marketing science, internet of things, data integration, passive data