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See Spot Learn About Segmentation

Posted by Alyse Dunn

Tue, Mar 01, 2016

millennial_with_dog-1.jpgIn the past 5 years, pet ownership has increased by ~3%. 3.7 million more Millennials own pets than their Boomer counterparts, and these numbers are expected to increase. Like millions of other American households, my fiancé and I have a dog. But, as some of my friends have pointed out, we are a very specific type of dog owner. We go out of our way to look for pet events (we went to two dog Halloween parties last year) and pet friendly vacations, and we have even stopped staying out late because we need to get home to her. She’s not just a dog—she’s our fur baby and a member of our family. We’re part of a growing “Pet Connection” movement that was unheard of 20 years ago.

In the “Pet Connection” movement, owners see pets as family members and desire to involve their pets more in the day-to-day. These owners are, on average, twice as likely to spend more on their pets to ensure their pets’ health and happiness. This growing population is a great example of why segmentation research has an expiration date—behaviors change, disruption happens, and segments evolve.

Companies conduct segmentations to better understand types of consumers and how those consumers will behave. The critical element to any segmentation scheme is an affirmative to this question: “can we act on this?” If your segmentation doesn’t accurately represents consumers’ behavior, it’s a waste of time and money. Your segmentation’s expiration date is highly dependent on industry and disruptions in the market—there’s no hard and fast timeline. However, it’s important to keep a critical eye on the market and the changing needs of your customers to understand if your existing segmentation is still useful. If there’s a lot of change in customer behavior or if a segment is not acting as expected, it may be time to renew and refresh the research.

If this dog movement has taught me anything, it’s that people do change (myself included) and things people may have advocated for previously may no longer fit in with their lifestyle. It’s important to recognize that those changes can happen in any industry and can occur for any reason (it isn’t always about man’s best friend). So, to continue to stay ahead of the market and to deliver to customers, you need to understand how your company’s segmentation is being used and evaluate whether the segmentation needs to be refreshed so you can keep up with your customers and their four-legged friends.

Alyse is a Data Manager at CMB. She has a 1.5 year old long haired miniature dachshund and is known to embarrass herself for the love of her dog.

We recently did a webinar on research we conducted with venture capital firm Foundation Capital on Millennials and investing. Insights include a Millennial segmentation, specific financial habits, and a look into the attitudinal drivers behind Millennials' investing preferences. 

Watch here!

Topics: millennials, market strategy and segmentation, retail research

Punxsutawney Phil Predicts a High Open Rate

Posted by Caitlin Dailey

Thu, Feb 18, 2016

groundhog_day.pngRemember when clerks asked for our email addresses? Now, at many stores, we’re just told to give it. The result is an inbox flooded with promotions and “flash sales” from so many places that you can’t keep track of which brand is offering what. We’re bombarded with so many emails—which we may not have even wanted in the first place—that hearing the ding of a new message has become more of an annoyance than a delight. Are people even reading these emails anymore? And if they aren’t, just how effective are email marketing campaigns these days? 

Over the past couple of years, people have debated whether email marketing is still lucrative. Email services like Gmail are getting smarter—allowing consumers to curate their emails more effectively, which further complicates the matter for marketers. Still, most marketers agree that while it’s a viable tactic, email marketing strategies need to be adjusted so emails ultimately deliver positive interactions that drive results. This means ditching the “batch and blast” and moving to a more personalized approach. Combining market segmentation and database analytics, marketers can be smarter about which messages get delivered to which customers. 

Segmentation is indisputably powerful, but, once you’ve targeted your audience, there are rules of thumb for creating emails worth opening. According to this Entrepreneur article, your email should do one (or more) of four things: solve a problem, save your recipients money, make them smarter, or entertain them. I recently received an email that checked off two of these boxes, creating interest for me to read past the subject line...

On February 1st, DSW sent me a promotional email with the subject line: “Tomorrow, Phil’s deciding our deal.” Because the next day was Groundhog Day, I was interested enough to open the email and see how this related to a shoe sale. The email said that the deal would either be 25% off boots or 25% off sandals. The next day, I got the following message: “Groundhog says. . .25% off sandals for an early spring!” If Punxsutawney Phil had predicted 6 more weeks of winter, we would have received 25% off boots. It was a really clever and engaging (and money saving) way to stand out among the sea of promotions and campaigns I receive every day. Now, I can only hope that I’ll get a chance to wear my new sandals before May. 

If you’re looking for new ways to reach your customers with more personalized/relevant messages and you need help targeting them, check out our segmentation capabilities here

Caitlin Dailey is a Project Manager at CMB. Outside of work, she is a company dancer with DanceWorks Boston. After last year’s winter, she is glad that Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring!

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Topics: marketing strategy, customer experience and loyalty, market strategy and segmentation, retail research

Will the Sun Set on British Brands?

Posted by Josh Fortey

Thu, Feb 04, 2016

British-brands.pngAdele, One Direction, Burberry, Downton Abbey, Kate Middleton, the Royal Family, and, of course, myself… the British are once again invading the shores of the U.S.

Young British musicians continue to take the American music industry by storm—in 2012, four out of five of the top five selling albums in the U.S. were from British artists. Just last December, approximately 10 million fans fought over 750,000 tickets for Adele’s upcoming 2016 tour. The entertainment industry is not the only one seeing dollar signs with this British Invasion. Coffee shop and fast food chain, Pret a Manger, plans further U.S. expansion after successful stints in Boston, New York, Washington DC, and Chicago, building on its brand of fresh, prepared products.

It’s clear that Britain as a brand has been riding a positive wave in the U.S. in recent years with the London Olympics and the birth of the Royal Prince and Princess acting as potential catalysts. The allure of international expansion into the American market, therefore, seems the most logical step for British brands looking for the next stage of growth. According to a Barclays study in 2013, the U.S. was considered the top current market for sales growth for British retailers, but it was also considered the toughest overseas market to break. British supermarket chain Tesco found out firsthand the difficulty of attempting to break the American market. Pre-packaged, fast-food meals have been a staple product on the shelves of British grocery chains for years, and the research, Tesco believed, seemed to suggest this could work among U.S. consumers. However, a lack of familiarity with this style of eating, the onset of the 2007 depression when Tesco’s “Fresh & Easy” chain launched, and the higher associated costs in comparison to buying fresh produce ultimately resulted in a failed $1.8 billion gamble when Tesco withdrew from the market in 2013.

The notable failure of Tesco is a stark reminder of the potential pitfalls for British retailers looking to expand into the U.S. market. While there is clear admiration for the quality and culture of British brands, any decision a British business makes in deciding to jump over the Atlantic should be highly researched and strategized. Any brand looking to break into a new international market should build their decision on a solid foundation of research, with some key research criteria identified below:

  • Identify a target market: The world is a big place. With over 200 possible markets, identifying the correct target market is critical. How have previous brands fared when venturing into new potential markets? How do exports fair? What are the current economic conditions, and do these favor new entries into the market?
  • Market conditions: GDP growth, birth rate, employment rate, and inflation rate—all of these are among a variety of macro-level economic indicators that can help gauge market condition.
  • Opportunity: Is there identifiable demand for your product in the market, and do consumers have a familiarity with your offering? Is the market existing and mature, or is it in its infancy?
  • Consumer preferences: While consumers can appear to share certain elements of cultural identity, this does not necessarily mean that they share the same purchase and consumption culture. Pret a Manger has understood this, adapting its style of service and menu for the U.S., where its coffee is self-serve, unlike the Barista approach taken in Britain.  
  • Competitive situation and positioning: Understanding the competitive situation and brand positioning of competitors can help you gauge how to uniquely position your brand to acquire market share. British brands seeking to enter the U.S., for example, can leverage perceptions of heritage and quality to command a greater price premium, but must emphasize its position and point of difference in ways that meet consumer needs.
  • Market sizing and growth potential: Have we identified our target market? Are we confident there is an opportunity? Do we have an idea of the kind of consumer we could attract and where our brand sits? Do we understand the current competitive landscape and current levels of competitor usage? Knowing the answers to these questions when entering a new market requires a market sizing task to understand the financial opportunity or return on investment. 

There has been a lot of buzz in the CMB office recently around the Boston debut of low-priced fashion retailer Primark (which is only about a half mile walk from the office). This is a hugely successful and cult brand in the U.K., but time will tell if the Irish retailer has effectively researched and gauged its ability to seduce the American consumer with its own brand of discount fashion, or whether, like many before it, they have underestimated the difficulty of breaking the U.S. market.

Josh is a Project Manager at CMB. Having recently entered the U.S. market himself, he is hoping his own brand of British fares better than Tesco’s.

We recently did a webinar on research we conducted with venture capital firm Foundation Capital on Millennials and investing. Insights include a Millennial segmentation, specific financial habits, and a look into the attitudinal drivers behind Millennials' investing preferences. 

Watch Here!

Topics: international research, brand health and positioning, market strategy and segmentation, retail research, growth and innovation

Black Friday Is Dead…Long Live Black Friday

Posted by Megan McManaman

Tue, Dec 22, 2015

retail2.pngIf you noticed the annual coverage of Black Friday shoppers seemed somewhat muted this year, you weren’t imagining things. While Cyber Monday sales were the highest since its debut in 2005, Black Friday sales were at their lowest since 2011. We all know how many elves flew (or didn’t) off the shelves, but to learn more about consumer holiday shopping behaviors, we partnered with Research Now for a quick survey of smartphone owners, ages 18 and up. 

Does 2015 mark the end of Black Friday—retail’s highest and holiest holiday? One retailer, REI, even opted out of this year’s Black Friday altogether, though their website did allow shoppers to make purchases online. The 87% of respondents who reported shopping on Black Friday might suggest that its imminent death is exaggerated. But the 81% of those Black Friday shoppers who did at least some of their shopping online suggest the explosion of ecommerce may have circumscribed the usual Black Friday frenzy.   

And then we have mobile—2015 marked the introduction of app-only deals from retail giants Amazon, Walmart, and Target. Of respondents who did shop from their smartphone or tablet, on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday, a full 27% purchased through an app. Still, a Cyber Monday dominated by in-app sales may be a few years away—61% of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday online shoppers used a PC to make their purchases. 

Need further evidence that online shopping and mobile technology are disrupting the traditional holiday shopper customer journey? “Just” 67% of Black Friday deal-seekers said they actually braved a brick and mortar store—this on a day once defined by the in-store experience. Is nothing sacred? 

Megan is CMB’s Senior Product Marketing Manager. She can’t stand Christmas music and was once visited by 3 ghosts. 

Topics: technology research, mobile, retail research, customer journey

Star Wars Marketing: Full Light Speed Ahead

Posted by Julia Powell

Thu, Dec 10, 2015

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens-1.jpgUnless you have been living in exile on the swampy planet Dagobah, you may have noticed that December 18th marks the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There are reminders in every corner of the consumer landscape from Chewbacca Spiced Latte Coffeemate peering out of the dairy freezer to Limited Edition Star Wars lipsticks from Covergirl (including silver and gold but not Chewbacca). Star Wars-licensed clothing abounds from discount retailer Primark to The Gap and more. There are Star Wars shoes available ranging from Crocs (complete with Yoda-sound emitting add-ons) to customizable Superstar 80s from Adidas.

Of course, there are toys, too, featuring characters from the previous films and The Force Awakens. These were launched in grand fashion with “Force Friday,” which took place on September 4th 2015 (falling conveniently ahead of the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons). There have been three months of merchandise build up, with more character items set to be released after the full plot of the film is revealed. While witnessing the amazing treasure trove of merchandise and brand tie-ins, I couldn’t help but wonder, how did LucasFilm’s promotion of the first film compare to Disney’s current efforts with The Force Awakens?

A long time ago (38 years) in a galaxy far, far away, the first Star Wars installment opened on May 25th in just 32 theatres. Initially marketed only to a small science fiction fanbase, momentum grew as the film received positive reviews and word of mouth spread. By August 1977, the movie was on over 1,000 screens. The film itself appealed to children and adults, and it featured ground-breaking 4 channel Dolby sound, adding to the overall cinematic impact (and audiences’ desire to repeatedly return to the theater). It dominated the box office in 1977, grossing over $461 million dollars domestically (over $300 million ahead of another sci-fi classic: Close Encounters of the Third Kind). To put this in perspective: that’s over 1.85 billion when adjusted for ticket price inflation.

 By Christmas 1977, Kenner Products, which held the original licensing rights to Star Wars action figures, was underprepared to meet the production demand the surprise sensation. What was a toy retailer to do when faced with the inability to deliver the characters every kid (and some adults) wanted? Easy: sell empty boxes. Ahead of the holiday shopping season, Kenner cleverly sold “Early Bird Certificate Packages,” including a certificate for action figures (available in February 1978), a diorama stand, and a Star Wars fan club membership card. Waiting to redeem those certificates must have been agony.

When Star Wars was first released, there was nothing else quite like it, and there was no way to anticipate the film’s success nor the audience’s desire for merchandise. With The Force Awakens, Disney knows its audience and has guaranteed there are enough items available to drive interest ahead of the film. There’s also enough stock on the shelves as families head to the theaters (in sharp contrast to Disney’s 2014 Frozen toy shortages). On top of the items available ahead of the release, there are several characters yet to be revealed, including Andy Serkais’ Supreme Leader Snoke, which means that there’s even more to come.

Have you ever waited in line for a pre or post-release movie toy? Will you be headed out to see The Force Awakens sporting any character socks?

An Associate Researcher and owner of a now vintage, non-mint condition Ewok village Julia Powell is. 

Topics: marketing strategy, digital media and entertainment research, retail research