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Don't Over-Generalize My Generation

Posted by Reed Guerino

Wed, Apr 12, 2017

group in park

I’m sure you’ve heard that Millennials are entitled narcissists (or mold-breaking visionaries) and Gen Z expect instant gratification (or they have the most integrity of any generation yet). Of the companies pouring millions of research dollars into generational research, who’s getting it right? Well maybe nobody.

In fact, we can’t even agree on where one generation begins and the other ends. Millennials are generally considered those born between 1980 and 2000, but there’s disagreement over the exact years—some say it’s as loose as the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s while others say strictly between 1980 and 2000.  When you’re comparing mid-1970 to 1980 and 2000 to mid-2000, it’s not a huge discrepancy. However, the point is that there is a discrepancy. And with growing interest in the emerging generation (Gen Z, “Post-Millennials”, "iGeneration", "Plurals"), once again we face an arbitrary age designation and battle over who best understands these future consumers.

As a market researcher myself, I'm the first to admit that researchers will be tempted to define and assign attributes to Gen Z early on because of our natural tendency to categorize and bucket into mutually exclusive groups. However, in our need for clean groups with labels, we forget that some groups aren’t mutually exclusive, and different groups (or in this case, generations) might share some overlapping qualities.

What’s more, generations aren’t as homogeneous as we’d like to think. While normally there are overarching behaviors and attributes assigned to each age group, there can be room for variations among the cohorts. For example, we released a report where we found a segmentation of Millennials revealing five distinct personas with various preferences, attitudes, and behaviors. Our self-funded study focused specifically on financial behaviors, but it can serve as a microcosm for the rest of the generation. You can learn more about it here. This research underscores the potential for inaccuracies that can result from defining a generation too narrowly.

There will always be a place for analysis by generation, but we have a lot more data to consider today than ever before. In his 2013 book "Buyographics", Matt Carmichael reaffirms the importance of demographics, but emphasizes analysis shouldn’t stop there. He explains, "Demographics drive consumer behavior, and that's as true today as ever. We just have better means, thanks to more data sources, of measuring those behavioral impacts and targeting around them. All data needs to be considered through a broader lens and put into context."

Cuts by generation alone ignore the impact of geography and make assumptions about how age influences behavior and psychographics. For example, we often find our psychographics (e.g. our attitudes and aspiration), regardless of age, are good indicators of who we are and who we want to be. In fact, these aspirations (e.g. Who do I want to be?) are strong motivators of brand consideration and loyalty. This means if two people from separate generations can identify with the same type of person, they'll likely share an affinity for the brand because of that identification, not their age.

We'll hear a great deal about who Gen Z is in the next few years until they are eclipsed by the next group. But researchers, advertisers, and marketers should take heed against categorizing Gen Z—and the ensuing generations—solely by their date of birth. Without a multi-faceted approach to understanding consumers (considering demographics, psychographics, etc.), we'll continue to yield narrow insights that may result in marketers producing ads that alienate their target audiences.

Reed Guerino is a Data Manager at CMB who is an entitled millennial on the side and is bitter he missed being the “mature and in control” generation by 1-5 years.

Topics: millennials, research design, Consumer Pulse

A New Year’s Resolution: Closing the Gap Between Intent and Action

Posted by Indra Chapman

Wed, Jan 04, 2017

resolutions.jpg

Are you one of the more than 100 million adults in the U.S. who made a New Year’s resolution? Do you resolve to lose weight, exercise more, spend less and save more, or just be a better person?

Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for 2016:

  • Lose Weight
  • Getting Organized
  • Spend less, save more
  • Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  • Staying Fit and Healthy
  • Learn Something Exciting
  • Quit Smoking
  • Help Others in Their Dreams
  • Fall in Love
  • Spend More Time with Family
[Source: StatisticBrain.com]

The actual number varies from year to year, but generally more than four out of 10 of us make some type of resolution for the New Year. And now that we’re a few days into 2017, we’re seeing the impact of those New Year resolutions. Gyms and fitness classes are crowded (Pilates anyone?), and self-improvement and diet book sales are up.

But… (there’s that inevitable but!), despite the best of intentions, within a week, at least a quarter of us have abandoned that resolution, and by the end of the month, more than a third of us have dropped out of the race. In fact, several studies suggest that only 8% of us actually go on to achieve our resolutions. Alas, we see that behavior no longer follows intention.

It’s not so different in market research because we see the same gap between consumer intention and behavior. Sometimes the gap is fairly small, and other times it’s substantial. Consumers (with the best of intentions) tell us what they plan to do, but their follow through is not always consistent. This, as you might imagine, can lead to bad data. [ twitter icon-1.pngTweet this!]

So what does this mean?

To help close the gap and gather more accurate data, ask yourself the following questions when designing your next study:

  • What are the barriers to adoption or the path to behavior? Are there other factors or elements within the customer journey to consider?
  • Are you assessing the non-rational components? Are there social, psychological or economic implications to them following through with that rational selection? After all, consider that many of us know that exercising daily is good for us – but so few of us follow through.
  • Are there other real life factors that you should consider in analysis of the survey? Does the respondent’s financial situation make that preference more aspirational than intentional?

So what are your best practices for closing the gap between consumer intent and action? If you don’t already have a New Year’s resolution (or if you do, add this one!), why not resolve to make every effort to connect consumer intent to behavior in your studies during 2017.

Another great resolution is to become a better marketer!  How?

Register for our upcoming webinar with Dr. Erica Carranza on consumer identity and the power of measuring brand user image to help create meaningful and relevant messaging for your customers and prospects:

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Indra Chapman is a Senior Project Manager at CMB, who has resolved to set goals in lieu of new year’s resolutions this year. In the words of Brad Paisley, the first day of the new year “is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.”

Topics: data collection, research design

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

Swipe Right for Insights

Posted by Jared Huizenga

Wed, Aug 17, 2016

Data collection geeks like me can learn a ton at the CASRO Digital Research Conference. While the name of the event has changed many times over the years, the quality of the presentations and the opportunity to learn from experts in the industry are consistently good.

One topic that came up many years ago was conducting surveys via cellphones with SMS texts. This was at a time when most people had cellphones, but it was still a couple of years before the smartphone explosion. I remember listening to one presentation and looking down at my Samsung flip-phone thinking, “There’s no way respondents will take a CMB questionnaire this way.” For a few simple yes/no questions, this seemed like a fine methodology but it certainly wouldn’t fly for any of CMB’s studies.

For the next two or three years, less than half of the U.S. population owned smartphones (including yours truly). Even so, SMS texting was getting increasing coverage at the CASRO conference, and I was having a really hard time understanding why. Every year was billed as “the year of mobile!” I could see the potential of taking a survey while mobile, but the technology and user experience weren’t there yet. Then something happened that changed not only the market research industry but the way in which we live as human beings—smartphone adoption skyrocketed.
Girl_and_phone.jpg

Today in the U.S., smartphone ownership among adults is 72% according to the Pew Research Center. People are spending more time on their phones and less time sitting in front of a computer. Depending on the study and the population, anywhere from 20%-40% of survey takers are using their smartphones. And if it’s a study with people under 25 years old, that number would likely be even higher. We can approach mobile respondents in three ways:

  • Do nothing. This means surveys will be extremely cumbersome to take on smartphones, to the point where many will abandon during the painful process. This really isn’t an option at all. By doing nothing, you’re turning your back on the respondent experience and basically giving mobile users the middle finger.
  • Optimize questionnaires for mobile. All of CMB’s questionnaires are optimized for mobile. That is, our programming platforms identify the device type a respondent is using and renders the questionnaire to the appropriate screen size.  Even with this capability, long vertical grids and wide horizontal scales will still be painful for smartphone users since they will require some degree of scrolling. This option is better than nothing, but long questions are still going to be long questions.
  • Design questionnaires for mobile. This is the best option, and one that isn’t used often enough. This requires questions and answer options to be written with the idea that they will be viewed on smartphones. In other words, no lengthy grids, no sprawling scales, no drag and drop, minimal scrolling, or anything else that would cause the mobile user angst.  While this option sounds great, one of the criticisms has been that it’s difficult to do advanced exercises like max-diff or discrete choice on smartphones.

One cautionary note if you are thinking that a good option would be to simply disallow respondents from taking a survey on their smartphones.  Did your parents ever tell you not to do something when you were a child?  Did you listen to them or did you try it anyway? What’s going to happen when you tell someone not to take a survey on their mobile device?  Either by mistake or out of sheer defiance, some people will attempt to take it on their smartphone. This happened on a recent study for one of our clients.  These people tried to “stick it to the man,” but alas they were denied entry into the survey. If you want “representative” sample, the other argument against blocking mobile users is that you are blocking specific populations which could skew the results.

The respondent pool is getting shallow, and market research companies are facing increased challenges when it comes to getting enough “completes” for their studies.  It’s important for all of us to remember that behind every “complete” is a human being—one who’s trying to drag and drop a little image into the right bucket or one who’s scrolling and squinting to make sure they are choosing the right option on an 11-point scale in a twenty row grid.  Unless everyone is comfortable basing their quantitative findings off of N=50 in the future, we all need to take steps to embrace the mobile respondent. 

Jared is CMB’s Field Services Director, and has been in market research industry for eighteen years. When he isn’t enjoying the exciting world of data collection, he can be found competing at barbecue contests as the pitmaster of the team Insane Swine BBQ.

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Topics: mobile, Market research, research design

Do Consumers Really Know You? Why True Awareness Matters

Posted by Jonah Lundberg

Wed, Jul 13, 2016

From hotels to healthcare, brands are facing an unprecedented era of disruption. For brands to compete, consumers need to know and love your brand for what it really stands for. Critical questions for brands include: have folks even heard of you (Awareness), how well do they think they know you (Familiarity), and how well do they really know you (True Awareness)?

Folks probably won’t buy from you if they’ve never heard of you or don’t know much about you. To pinpoint areas to improve and track success, you need to include both Familiarity and True Awareness in your competitive brand tracking.

Familiarity

Familiarity can be a vague metric for stakeholders to interpret, especially alongside Awareness. A common question we hear is “What’s the difference between Awareness and Familiarity? Yes, I’m aware. Yes, I’m familiar. Isn’t it the same thing?”

Not quite.

Awareness is “yes” or “no”—have you heard of the brand name or not? Familiarity gauges how well you think you know the brand. Sure, you’ve heard of the brand, but how much would you say you know about it?

It’s summertime, so let’s use a baseball example–Comerica Park is home of the Detroit Tigers, and Target Field is the home of the Minnesota Twins:

  • I watch baseball a lot, so if you asked me if I was aware of Comerica and Target, I’d say yes to both.
  • If you asked me how familiar I was with Comerica, I would tell you that I have absolutely no idea what its products are. I just know its name because of where the Twins go when they visit Detroit to play the Tigers.
  • Target, on the other hand, I know very well: it’s headquartered in my home state of Minnesota, and I’ve been inside their stores hundreds of times.

In research-talk: I am not at all familiar with Comerica. I am very familiar with Target.

If you’re deciding whether or not to include Familiarity in your competitive brand tracking, you first need to determine whether you want your brand to be widely known and known well or just widely known. Do you want to be the popular guy at school who most people know by name but don’t know very well? Or do you want to be the prom king—the guy everyone knows the name of and knows well enough to vote for? 

Take a look at a real example below, showing Top 10 Brands Aware vs. the Top 10 Brands Highly Familiar in a recent competitive brand tracking study (brand names changed for confidentiality):

Jonah_blog.png

You’ll notice a pattern: a brand that many people have heard the name of (high Awareness) can be trumped by a brand that not-as-many people have heard the name of (low Awareness) when it comes to how well the brand is known (Familiarity) among those who have heard the name (among Aware). It is possible to be more successful in the market with a lower level of awareness if those folks know you well.                                            

This isn’t surprising, since Familiarity is only asked for brands that people are aware of.

However, Big Papi’s Burgers proves that you can be both widely known and known well. Again, though the brand name is a pseudonym, the data is real. So, if you think it’s worth measuring your brand relative to the Big Papi’s Burgers of your industry you need Familiarity to gauge your brand’s standing vs. the competition.

True Awareness

Just because folks say they know you doesn’t mean they actually do. Also, if you find yourself with a lower level of Familiarity, how do you fix that?

While Familiarity gauges how well you think you know a brand, True Awareness asks you to prove it. Familiarity serves as the comparison point vs. other brands, but True Awareness serves as the comparison point of your brand vs. itself: how well do people know you for selling X, and how well do people know you for selling Y and Z?

True Awareness is a question that asks people aware of your brand which specific products or services they think your brand offers. You show them a list of offerings that includes all the things your brand does offer and a few things your brand does not offer.

If people choose any of your brand’s offerings correctly (e.g., they select one of the four correct offerings listed) and don’t erroneously select any things your brand does not offer, then they are truly aware—they do, in fact, know you well. This also helps you identify sources of errors in perception. Folks failing to credit you for things you do, or falsely crediting you for things you don’t, helps you identify areas for improvement in your marketing communications. 

So what’s the point of asking True Awareness? It provides you with more good information to use when making decisions about your brand:

  • When you combine True Awareness with usage data (e.g., how much people use and/or would like to use X, Y and Z products/services in general) you are able to inject vibrant colors into what was previously a black and white outline—your brand understanding transforms from a rough sketch into a portrait.
  • As a result, not only do you understand what people want, you also understand what people know your brand for.
  • Therefore, you know whether or not people think your brand can give them what they want. If people like using Y and Z but aren’t aware that your brand offers Y and Z, then your brand is suffering.

So, True Awareness allows you to discern exactly what needs to be done (e.g., what needs to be amplified in messaging) to improve your brand’s metrics and conversion funnel.

Use both Familiarity and True Awareness in your competitive brand tracking to push your brand to be the prom king of your industry and to make sure people know and love your brand for what it really stands for.

Jonah is a Project Manager at CMB. He enjoys traveling with his family and friends, and he hopes the Red Sox can hang in there to reach the postseason this year.

Topics: brand health and positioning, methodology, research design