The posts here represent the opinions of CMB employees and guests—not necessarily the company as a whole. 

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New Consumer Pulse: Mobile Users Upending Hotel Path to Purchase

Posted by Judy Melanson

Tue, Aug 26, 2014

Our latest Consumer Pulse report—a study of 2,000 leisure travelers—found that mobile, social, and online factors influence travelers very differently at separate stages of the hotel booking purchase journey.

We know travelers have a ton of information at their fingertips as they plan and book hotels for their vacations. The challenge for hotels is to decide how to align marketing budgets to best intercept potential travelers—delivering desired content on the appropriate device and through the right channels and partners.

For more information on how technology is changing the path to purchase download the full report here and see an infographic with a few of the findings below:

The New Hotel Booking Path to Purchase

Download the full report.

For more on our mobile stitching methodology, please see CMB's Chris Neal's webinar with Research Now: Watch the Webinar

Judy Melanson is the head of CMB's Travel and Hospitality Practice. She just returned from a very leisurely trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Stephanie Kimball is CMB's Senior Marketing Manager and created the infographic above. She can't wait for her upcoming trip to London, Amsterdam, Munich, and Prague!

Topics: technology research, infographic, mobile, path to purchase, travel and hospitality research, Consumer Pulse, customer journey

Observations from the Shopper Insights Conference

Posted by Kathy Ofsthun

Mon, Jul 25, 2011

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I’ve settled back into my routine at the office, and I've been reflecting on what I got from the recent Shopper Insights Conference in Chicago.  I re-connected with old colleagues, and made new connections; so that makes the conference a success in my mind.  But there were also some definite standouts I want to share:

  • A Group Lunch with former P&G CEO A.G. Lafley – I was fortunate enough to be invited to a lunch with A.G. Lafley.  I was struck by his approachability, easy conversation style, and seemingly simple approach to leadership and innovation.  I asked him about timelines for innovation and after a great deal of sincere reflection said we could talk all day on the topic (he didn’t accept my offer to do so)!  We considered the difference between trends, which must be timely, and innovation, which requires experimentation, engineering, design, research, re-engineering, re-designing, etc. Ultimately, innovation isn’t trendy, it’s methodical, collaborative, and it takes time (up to six years for a new Pampers product)!  I saw one as proxy for the other, but now understand how different they are.


  • Path to Purchase – There was a lot of insightful discussion of Consumer Insights vs. Shopper Insights.  Same person, different roles.  It reminded me of when a Director at a large corporation said ‘I know beer drinkers really well, but I hardly know anything about shopping for beer’.  This is a great distinction and great focus for the industry.


  • Overheard – “I feel like I’m in the 50’s.”   My first reaction was “huh?” But then I considered there might be some truth there.  On one hand, I listened to keynote speakers talk about advancements in neuroscience and its relationship to decision making.  On the other hand, several presenters recommended tried and true methods of research, e.g. virtual reality doesn’t trump ethnography.  As I stood in line to buy a hard copy book and have my charge card run through a manual card imprinter, I thought back to that 50’s comment. CPG and Retail have innovated tremendously, bringing us a steady stream of exciting new products and store formats.  So why is there still lingering doubt about embracing new methods of research?  I think the answer may lie with respect, respect for an industry that is innovative if not trendy.  It’s easy to throw innovation into a mission statement or corporate report, but embedding it into a methodical, engineered, and collaborative process is very hard to achieve.  For every new product out there, and every creative new store design, there is a history of smart people working together to bring it to market.  Innovation is in the wings, together with R&D, but it is not absent.


  • Holistic approach for a Win-Win – One of my favorite sessions (besides CMB’s presentation with Electronic Arts!), was presented by Bob Goodpaster from Hershey.  He showed how they are partnering with retailers to bring useable insights to their retail partners, often in the candy department, but also beyond.  Their broad scope, analytic team and collaborative approach were impressive.


Weigh in?  What did you take away?  I’d love to hear from you!


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Are you planning on going to TMRE? CMB is an event sponsor and presenter at the conference. Feel free to use the code: TMRE11CMB when you register for a discounted price. We hope to see you there. Learn more about the conference here.


Posted by Kathy Ofsthun.  Kathy is an Account Director at CMB.   She is training for a late summer triathlon and likes to hike in the Green Mountains of Vermont!

Topics: path to purchase, conference recap, retail research

Trade-offs: What's a nice to have vs. must have?

Posted by Tara Lasker

Tue, Mar 29, 2011

M  CMB Photos and Stock Photography Stock Photography Objects ScaleAs researchers, we move through life a bit differently than other people.  We can’t watch television commercials without thinking about how well the spot tested (or if it was tested at all).  We’ll pause in front of an in-store display and carefully consider whatever’s at eye level.  We spend so much time helping clients understand consumer behavior that it really becomes impossible to turn that perspective off in our personal lives; in fact, in many ways that 24/7 perspective is arguably what makes us good at what we do.  And it can work to our advantage in our personal lives as well.

Recently, I bought my first house – a big decision for anyone.  As I was thinking about the kinds of things most people consider while house hunting (new versus old, proximity to the city, layout, price, school district, commute, etc), I naturally moved in to “research mode” and ran my own mini discrete choice.  I was thinking about all of my options in a way that gauged my purchase interest.  In many ways I was simplifying the “product” (in this case, my house) and my decision by separating “must haves” from “nice to haves.”

When you think about it, discrete choice is everywhere, especially in situations where the “product” has a high value – and therefore more risky. Take another big purchase like an engagement ring, for example. What matters most in the purchase process? What are the “must haves” and what are the “nice to haves”? Once a company understands what the consumer values most in their decision making process, the rest of the story becomes so clear.

We worked with a well-known national jewelry company to understand the value of a branded diamond. Does the brand of a diamond fall on the “nice to have” or the “must have” side of the purchase decision? How much would brand ultimately stand up to the 4Cs (cut, clarity, color, and carat weight) in an engagement ring purchase? The research showed that consumers were far more driven by the 4Cs and confirmation of the stone’s authenticity than they were by the brand name.  Consumers have been “trained” to value those 4C’s as the most important decision factors when purchasing a diamond. In this example what really mattered was value, defined not just by the cost of the investment but also by the return.  What are you really getting for your money?  Unless money is no object, isn’t that what you want to maximize when purchasing a home or any big purchase?  

Investing in, asking, and understanding what moves the customer through the purchase process is far more critical than guessing or assuming an investment is worth making, because guessing wrong can cost way more in the long run.  Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly making trade-offs, in our purchase decisions and in life in general.  We have to.  But for companies, understanding what those trade-offs are and how they differ by customer segment can unlock tremendous value.


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See firsthand how respondents experience and Anchored MaxDiff design with our Ice Cream Flavor Rater.


Tara Lasker, Director of Project Operations, is currently knee deep in renovations but a proud new owner of a 130-year-old Victorian home.

Topics: advanced analytics, methodology, path to purchase

Measuring Marketing Effectiveness By Understanding Your Customer Engagement Spectrum

Posted by Josh Mendelsohn

Tue, Sep 07, 2010

For years organizations have stressed about the best way to measure marketing effectiveness. While many marketing activities are becoming more measurable than ever before (especially online), mapping your current and potential customers along an engagement spectrum can help you understand the total value of your marketing initiatives and tease out which activities and messages are most influential.

In most cases (not generally including consumer packaged goods), customers and prospects do more than simply buy or not buy. They follow a series of steps and decisions, each of which requires its own strategy to move the potential sale forward.  The more “risk” involved in the buyer getting the purchase decision right (high cost, high emotional risk), the more distinct that sequence of intermediate behaviors becomes. 

For example, my wife and I recently purchased a new vehicle – something we hope will last us a long time, be safe for our son, hold lots of stuff, and still be fun to drive.  The process involved a number of steps.  We started by narrowing down the number of brands based on general knowledge and pre-existing preferences, then we read online reviews and asked around to see what people liked and didn’t like, next we test drove a smaller number of vehicles, and eventually settled on both a dealership (thanks in part to the free ice cream novelties they provided) and a specific vehicle before negotiating on price and additional features.  

Certainly every product has its own purchase process, and it is essential to understand how YOUR customers want to buy.  As a starting point for customization you can use a simple “customer engagement spectrum,” which includes six steps: 1) Awareness – the customer is ready to accept information; 2) Positive image – the customer is motivated to seek out information; 3) Purchase intent – the customer is moved to purchase; 4) Ownership – the customer makes a purchase; 5) Positive ownership – the customer is satisfied with the first purchase and makes subsequent purchases (either repurchases or cross-purchases); and 6) Advocacy – the customer recommends or advocates the product of the brand.

marketing effectiveness

Once you’ve mapped out your own purchase process, you should ask yourself four questions to help improve develop a high impact strategy:

  1. How is my target market distributed across the engagement?
  2. What specific elements of value– the “value drivers” – will move my prospects and customers further through the process to initial or additional revenue-generating behaviors?
  3. What are the most effective communications vehicles for delivering the right value messages to move prospects and customers most effectively?
  4. What is the value, in current and future sales, of moving groups of prospects and customers through the various stages?

Armed with that information you can add in the costs of any marketing campaign to begin calculating the return on that marketing investment resulting in more confident projections and a better understanding of the value of customers at each stage of the spectrum.

Posted by Josh Mendelsohn. Josh is our VP of Marketing and loves live music, tv, great food, market research, New Orleans, marketing, his family, Boston and sports. You can follow him on Twitter @mendelj2.

Topics: methodology, path to purchase, customer experience and loyalty