It’s my last day of work in 2016, and I’ve been taking stock of what I’ve done as well as what we as a team of colleagues have done this year: what we’ve focused on, what we’ve written about, and ultimately, what we’ve learned. All told, it’s been an amazing set of adventures and accomplishments. Here at Market Strategies’ FreshMR blog, we’ve been sharing our thoughts on market research since 2011. So far this year, we published 109 posts with 69,706 words and 369,665 characters, covering scores of topics including.
What we do: Research on brand, communications, customer experience, product development, segmentation, syndicated research.
How we do it: Qualitative and quantitative data collection, marketing & data sciences.
For whom: Clients in Consumer & Retail, Energy, Financial Services, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Technology and Telecommunications.
Of all we covered in 2016, a few topics stand out distinctly:
Market Strategies is often asked to recommend research approaches that guide decisions about marketing and product/brand management. A topic that’s been of keen interest lately is brand health. NPS has been the “go-to” measure for some time, but we were curious to compare it to other brand health measures so we used our quarterly consumer omnibus study as a research sandbox.
Specifically, we fielded various questions and used the results to test the efficacy of brand health approaches that would serve clients across industry sectors well. We surveyed more than 1,100 US consumers regarding brands in the social media space: Facebook, Flickr, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine and YouTube. We then used these data to run multiple brand health analyses, ultimately comparing NPS and several brand health measures and indices at how well they predict our dependent variables: frequent use of the brand and intention to increase use of the brand in the near future.
If your company uses NPS and nothing but NPS, you’ll want to download this free topline research report to see the results of our experiment. Here’s additional background for context, if you’re so inclined.
I was joking with our CEO, Rob Stone, earlier this year about how he and I have somehow turned into the unofficial obituary writers here at FreshMR (having between us written about the loss of great thinkers and doers such as Andy Grove, David Carr and Steve Jobs). I’m not entirely sure why this has come to pass, but I can theorize: we’re both intrigued by brands and brand stories—corporate and personal—and we both aspire to be keen observers and storytellers, possibly ones who have an above-average interest in “celebrity” stories in the fields of research, design and media.
Over the weekend, we lost one such celebrity—beloved and celebrated New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, who has documented street fashion as a fashion journalist for the Times since 1978. A self-taught photographer, Cunningham practically invented candid street photo-journalism in the fashion space. He was a master at observing and capturing trends via his lens and then reporting on them in the Times’ “On the Street” feature. What I find amazing about Cunningham—and what I hope we researchers can be inspired by—is twofold:
I’m entering the dating scene again this year after not being in it for 22 years. It’s a bit of a daunting transition, truth be told. The last time I was dating, popular internet “dating” options included talking with people in AOL chat rooms. The way in which I met my would-be-suitors were all via personal connections—through friends and family, through classmates and through colleagues. Things have changed substantially since I was dating in the mid-90s, with meeting romantic partners through friends down notably over that period (from 38% to 29%), as well as meeting through family (down 14% to 7%), and through coworkers (down 19% to 10%). (Note that meeting at college is holding steady at 9-10%, but I’m not in college and don’t plan to return anytime soon, so this seems a moot point.)
While my prior methods are all trending downward, several ways of meeting partners have gone up over this same period. Meetings at bars is up (from 19% to 24%), as is meeting online (from 16% to 22%). This is all well and good, but I don’t really want to hang out at bars all the time, nor am I ready to fill out my online dating profile yet. So…given all of this, might I alter the system a bit so that I can continue to rely on my preferred methods of meeting others and have good results? This is the question I have been asking myself. And over drinks with a friend the other day, I stumbled upon one method for bettering my chances at meeting a potential romantic partner: offering an incentive. Continue reading
Over the last couple of months, I’ve noticed some brands in the midst of resurgence in their marketplace. While doing so, the immortal words of LL Cool J have rung out in my head (as old-school rap songs are sometimes wont to do):
Don’t call it a comeback
I been here for years
Rockin’ my peers and puttin’ suckas in fear
There are a number of “brands”—whether celebrity, automotive, retail or consumer packaged goods—that have been on the rise in the past year or so. When such a brand revival happens, I’m drawn to dig into the reasons behind the resurgence. What allows an older (and sometimes waning) brand to capture the attention of newer, younger fans and customers? Let’s look at a couple of examples and explore why their brand health may be trending up.
As we’ve done the last several years in late December, we’re taking a look back at all that we’ve thought and written about across the year. In 2015, we ran a total of 67,362 words across 105 posts, covering a broad slate of topics related to the research industry, the practice of doing research and the specialties on which we focus: Consumer & Retail, Energy, Financial Services, Healthcare, Technology, Telecommunications, Qualitative and Syndicated.
Looking back at this year’s body of work, we’ve continued to increase our coverage in a few key areas aligning with our 2015 research portfolio.
Recently I was listening to the incomparable Eartha Kitt singing her signature 1953 holiday tune “Santa Baby,” and I was marveling at the audacity with which she asked Santa for some pretty outrageous gifts. Eartha’s wish list spans multiple luxury categories, including furs (a sable, to be exact), vehicles (a ’54 convertible and a yacht), jewelry (a ring and some baubles from Tiffany), some property (a duplex and a platinum mine) and naturally some checks for making future purchases. In the tune, Eartha has an opportunity to influence the gifts she’s likely to receive, and she doesn’t hesitate to ask for the big stuff.
Listening to and talking about “Santa Baby” got us curious about what folks would want to receive now, in late 2015, if some benevolent gift-giver (whether Santa or someone else) was offering, and money was no object. We here at Market Strategies wanted to know what fantastic gifts Americans are yearning for this holiday season, so we ran a poll to find out. We asked 960 Americans the following:
If Santa or some other benevolent gift-giver were to bring you something, what would you be thrilled to receive? Please don’t take price into account in your response—assume you wouldn’t pay anything for the gift (including tax).
We included a long list of gifts across categories—technology, luxury goods, property, vehicles, vacations and experiences, and plain old cash. We also allowed folks to tell us they’d pass on a gift altogether (though only 3% did).
So what would Americans be thrilled to get this holiday season?
If you haven’t heard, AMC’s landmark drama series Mad Men is ending its run on Sunday. Just 75 more minutes of airtime (including the ads), and then the epic storytelling is done. As a researcher who includes marketing and advertising research in her portfolio, I have thoroughly enjoyed the show and the creative and business processes it depicted.
Market research specifically has been highlighted on numerous occasions, and though it was skewered at times, it has been presented as a part of the greater advertising development process. By watching Mad Men, viewers get a window into ideation, concept testing, campaign developments and refinement, client pitches (successful and disastrous), as well as various corporate happenings that are commonplace within the business services space: mergers and acquisitions; account management and growth; hiring, promoting, downsizing; vendors moving to the client side and vice versa. I can see a bit of the real marketing and market research world of today in Mad Men and have, at times, lived vicariously through the main characters.
As my friends and colleagues know, I am fascinated by superheroes. In the past, I’ve shared thoughts on how research specialists are a bit like superheroes, and thus how multidisciplinary research firms are a bit like The Avengers or The Justice League. (I’ve also come to work in a Robin costume and in a Mrs. Incredible costume, but that’s a topic best explored in a separate blog post.) I’m also fascinated by out-of-the-ordinary brand stories (as evidenced here and here). Given these interests, I thought it’d be fun and informative to take an analytical look at some superhero brands to see what stories are revealed. Specifically, I will explore two huge comics and superhero brands (DC Comics and Marvel Comics), what we can learn about each brand’s relative popularity using publicly-available data—comparing search volumes via Google Trends—and, ultimately, how the Batman brand’s ebbs and flows impact the greater superhero brand dynamics.
When the news of David Carr’s untimely passing hit my phone—fittingly via a New York Times breaking news alert—I physically felt the gut punch. How could David Carr be dead? He’s the epitome of what it means to be alive. He’s a fighter, a survivor; he’s one who at times seems literally ablaze with life. Since that news hit, I haven’t yet been able to shake the sadness and shock. He was so young and in active pursuit of enormously important new stories—not even close to being done yet. Just in the last couple of days, he’d been reporting on escalating stories including Brian Williams’ dramatic fall from grace at NBC and Edward Snowden’s national security breaches and the global fallout. Not even close to being done yet.
All that said, why in the heck am I posting this on a market research blog? Why should market researchers care about the death of a great journalist? Why should we stop to consider the man and his impact?