Innovation Journey: Is It Better to be Lucky or Good?

Is it better to be lucky or good?

Editor’s Note: Our Consumer & Retail team is launching a blog series for the retail and FMCG industries. In the coming months, we’ll share our thoughts on recent advancements—backed by real-world examples—around the consumer journey from innovation and personalization to channel attribution/interaction and omnichannel marketing. Subscribe to FreshMR now so you don’t miss any updates.

The retail and FMCG industries face an uncertain marketplace where prior known certainties can no longer be relied upon. In that reality, there is nothing quite as exciting in product development research as helping clients discover the products of the future.

One notable example is the number of clients who have asked us to help them develop “company-specific norms.” Many clients have relied on ‘generic’ norms for their simulated market testing, but they’re now ready to move in a different direction. Why? One client responded quite clearly, “We’ve found ourselves developing concepts to ‘beat’ the testing process to move forward, rather than to actually meet consumer and market needs.” The tail was wagging the dog, and potential new products were being designed to beat the process. As a result, the process had become more important than the outcome. Changing the way they looked at normative data was just one way in which this company was trying to reassess their innovation journey to change success/failure outcomes.

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Finding Our Groove at The Quirk’s Event

vinylI was recently explaining the idea of an in-home interview to my husband. “You would never let someone into the house!” he replied, knowing that I would be skeptical, at best, if invited to participate in one. However, I would agree to participate in this type of immersive research. Even though I am unabashedly, undeniably and thoroughly biased, I believe that helps me understand why some of the busiest professionals working in some of the most sensitive and regulated industries agree to do the same.

Yes, financial advisors are busy. Yes, doctors have to be careful about what they say and share. Yet both are willing to meet with us at their offices and talk for rather lengthy periods of time. There are certain industries—financial services and healthcare being two prominent examples—where compliance concerns, traditional thinking and precedent can falsely limit the qualitative method possibilities.

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How to Untangle the Omnishopper Journey Web

How to Untangle the Omnishopper Journey Web

Editor’s Note: Download “The New Journey Dynamics: Understanding Today’s Shopper” for a brief, easily shareable presentation that outlines the process we use to help you identify why and how shoppers choose, buy and re-buy their favorite brands.

Earlier this year, we provided a sneak preview into our Omnichannel Brand Index (OBI) at a couple of conferences. I’m glad to report that our approach was well received and has helped some of our clients solve part of the conundrum that is the omnishopper journey. More and more of our clients are looking to innovative research to understand this complex consumer, inextricably linked to the consumer and shopper journey that is already one of the most intricate of research problems. To be clear, the omnishopper journey adds a layer of complexity that pushes the boundaries of traditional research methodologies. Furthermore, traditional purchase funnels and loyalty loops do not always take into consideration the holistic understanding of the person making the decision, and this phenomenon is exacerbated when one of the guardrails we can use in our purchase evaluations is technology.

Our own research into the omnishopper journey has defined a clear decision-making ecosystem that takes into account the person—and not just the consumer—making the decision. Cultural beliefs, demographics and lifestyle choices form the gateway to our purchase decisions and these inform who the person becomes at the point of sale.

If you’re struggling to untangle the omnishopper journey web, this article will:

  • Reveal the three core needs of the omnishopper, as we believe it is impossible to understand one without the other
  • Share a few of the brands and sectors that omnishoppers believe are setting the standard, according to our self-funded research
  • Outline some of the research techniques you can use to untangle the web that is the omnishopper journey

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Legacy Restaurant Brands Show Appetite for Millennials


In May of this year, Applebee’s introduced its “hand-cut steaks over wood-fired grill” menu. It was a $40 million investment, and it hasn’t gone too well. In fact, Q2 sales were down 4%. It seems that, as far as consumers see it, wood-fired grilled steak is a blip for a brand that needs to do more than reconfigure kitchens to grill steaks. It’s still a steak at Applebee’s, and consumers aren’t biting (so to speak).

But the question that led to the initiative was right: how do you stay relevant when Millennials shun big chains and brands? Continue reading

The 3 Things Retailers Must Be to Satisfy Omnishoppers

consumer shoppingEditor’s note: Amanda Ciccatelli is a content marketing & social media strategist at Informa, New York. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “Insights as a Vehicle for Influence: Digital Reinventing Retail.” 

Amanda recently sat down with Paul Donagher, managing director of the Consumer & Retail division at Market Strategies International, to discuss how omnichannel has impacted retail, how shoppers are shaping the future of retail and why it’s important to link digital and physical shopper marketing.

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The Participant is in Charge

Businessman Filling Survey Form

I had the pleasure of attending “How Advertising Works Now: The Consumer and Customer in Charge,” a really cool event run by The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) in Minneapolis last week. The day was hosted by UnitedHealth Group (UHG) at a facility owned by its Optum brand. This was very appropriate as the day focused a good deal on data, analytics and creating meaningful insights—a bit like Optum. Of course, these are issues we focus on every day—how to best use the data at our fingertips to help clients make confident business decisions.

While Market Strategies has a long history in advertising and communications research, this event featured some great speakers and original research that the ARF had commissioned, so even for those of us who have been in the business a long time, it was of great interest.

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Explaining Research Results by Local Culture

Recently, a market research project made my mouth water–literally. We conducted a study on the food people eat and how they cook. It was an online bulletin board across the US, Brazil, Poland and China. I want to make your mouth water, too–below are photos of homemade pasta and noodle meals taken and posted by respondents.

2016-03-local-culture-1     2016-03-local-culture-2

2016-03-local-culture-3     2016-03-local-culture-4

2016-03-local-culture-5     2016-03-local-culture-6

2016-03-local-culture-7     2016-03-local-culture-8

Can you guess which meal is from which country? (Answers are at the end of this post.)

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Santa Baby, Please Bring Me Some Cash…or Perhaps a Laptop

Santa Baby

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?

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New Methods to Explain the Consumer & Shopper Journey

consumer shoppingThree years ago, Harvard Business Review labeled Data Scientist the sexiest job of the 21st Century. This pronouncement sent The Big Bang Theory to the top of syndication and made a Data Insights Department de rigueur in every firm that wanted to be taken seriously in marketing research consulting.

“Big Data” promised to be a death knell of classic primary marketing research. But as one salty veteran said to me: “This is what we did when scanner data came along in the 80s, but you still have to know why consumers bought the potato chips.” No doubt data analytics is a critical tool in predicting consumer behavior, but savvy research firms are combining this data with attitudinal data collected using creative methods to help brands better understand the reasoning behind the behavior.

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Market Research is Killer App for Omnichannel Marketing

Announcing Market Strategies’ Omnichannel Brand Index

Omnichannel MarketingOmnichannel marketing—the use of multiple channels in a customer’s shopping experience—has developed at a furious rate as brands develop their strategies around ever-increasing marketing opportunities. Whether using traditional methods for brand differentiation or venturing into mobile, social and online channels, brands have to strategize, measure and evaluate their activities to maximize ROI. We have found that at these three stages in particular, properly designed and executed market research is the killer app for omnichannel marketing.

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