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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As DOL Fiduciary Rule Sits on Ice, Is It Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down for Advisors?

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While the Debate Continues, the Upside of the Ruling Lies With the Investor

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Whether the Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary rule continues to be delayed, eventually takes effect or ends up being repealed, the proverbial beans have been spilled, as many advisors and their respective firms have already taken the actions needed to comply, thus proving some areas of debate true and others false.

Here are the facts: more than one-quarter (27%) of all affluent investors and over one-third (36%) of advised investors—those currently working with a financial advisor—are now familiar with the DOL fiduciary rule, which expands the definition of an investment advice fiduciary. Among those who are familiar, most (74%) have taken action in the form of talking to their financial advisors, reading about the topic online, discussing the ruling with friends and family and/or reviewing the fees paid for the investments they own. Yet, only 4% have considered changing advisors, debunking the myth that the fiduciary rule has the potential to impose heavy churn on advisors’ client base, and suggesting that there’s more than meets the eye to the investor-advisor relationship. Continue reading

Two Common Product Development Mistakes to Avoid

Two Common Product Development Mistakes to AvoidEditor’s Note: Our qualitative researchers go beyond people’s words and actions to reveal the meaningful insights behind them. They have decades of experience across a myriad of industries and brands. But who are they? And what drives their desire to connect with others? Take a two-minute peek into today’s featured moderator: Rob Darrow.

When I first entered the field of market research years ago, the CEO of our small boutique firm routinely stated that “our greatest challenge doesn’t come from other research firms, but from prospective clients who feel they don’t need research.”  Thankfully, most companies recognize that market research plays a critical role in market success, but even that enlightened view is not sufficient to guarantee success.

After all, what does “market research” for any given organization actually mean?  When is it needed?  How should it be applied? Even those who are committed to better serving their customers can find themselves making some very basic mistakes when it comes to using or not using market research.  Following are two common mistakes that businesses make when it comes to market research and product development.

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Financial Advisors and Investors at Odds Over DOL Fiduciary Ruling

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The future of the DOL fiduciary ruling is anything but certain. We do know, however, that the majority of financial advisors have some concerns about the ruling, with six in ten advisors (60%) favoring repeal. Advisors employed in the broker/dealer channels—particularly the Bank channel (82%)—and commission-based advisors (72%) are most likely to support repeal. In contrast, RIAs, most of whom are predominantly fee-based and already consider themselves fiduciaries, are more likely to oppose repeal (45%) than support it (29%).

Advisors Weigh in on the DOL Fiduciary Rule

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Five Ways to Become a Three-Time Utility Customer Champion

2016-12-three-peatWe recently released our 2016 Utility Customer Champions, which awards gas, electric and combination utilities nationwide that have the highest scores on our proprietary Engaged Customer Relationship index. Among this list are 26 utilities that have “three-peated,” meaning they’ve been designated as a Customer Champion every year since we started these awards in 2014.

Here’s what sets these utilities apart, and what your utility can do to get on the path of enduring customer engagement:

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Dear Energy Santa: A Wish List from Your Millennial Customers

Dear Energy Santa

‘Tis the season when your loved ones ask what you need (or, in my case, your kids proclaim what they want)! In the spirit of gift-giving, we penned a letter to Energy Santa with our “wish list” of energy-related products and services. The ideas are based on results from our 2016 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™ study, and although they apply to energy consumers in general, we’re focusing on the group nearly every company hopes Santa will deliver—Millennials.

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Participant Satisfaction: What Can DC Plan Providers Control?

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Investment performance. It is both the biggest driver and one of the biggest barriers of DC participants’ satisfaction with their plan provider. Of course, participants seeing positive rates of return on their quarterly statements are naturally going to be more satisfied than those seeing lower returns. But this can often be rather frustrating for providers, who have limited control over how well the underlying investment managers perform on their line-ups.

But performance isn’t everything and there are a number of key aspects of the DC Participant experience fully within provider control ―website and online capabilities, retirement planning tools, account statements and enrollment processes round out the top five drivers of DC provider satisfaction. Continue reading

Where should I go for care?

Understanding How Consumers Make Healthcare Decisions   

Where should I go for care?

It’s day two of my eight-year-old niece’s fever and it won’t break. Before her parents went on vacation, I promised to take care of her. Sure, she wasn’t feeling well, but it was just a fever and we were doing all the right things: Tylenol, rest and fluids. But as day two progressed, she grew more despondent and refused to drink anything. Now what?

We’ve all had to make choices about where to seek care for an unplanned health event, but today we have more choices about where to go.

Whether it’s extended hours, virtual visits or money-back guarantees, choices are transforming care delivery. Understanding how these choices shape decisions will make or break marketing strategies seeking to increase usage. That is why Market Strategies focused its latest self-funded research study on how people choose where to go when someone is sick. What we learned will help answer a question salient in the minds of every health system professional: “How do we maximize the likelihood that consumers will choose us, when deciding where to go for care?”

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Plan Sponsors Look to Providers for Support

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Plan Sponsors Looking for Provider Support

By most accounts, Americans are not saving enough for retirement and the probability of millions of future retirees running out of money is high. Plan participant reliance on employer-sponsored retirement plans as a top source of retirement savings has never been greater. This presents a significant pressure point that 401(k) plan providers face in an industry that has become highly scrutinized from a legal and regulatory standpoint.

Additionally, plan sponsors have high expectations of their plan providers to offer outstanding service quality and competitive fees without sacrificing strong investment option performance. Alternatively, plan sponsors feel the pressure as internal company directives demand offering a successful 401(k) plan with greater participant engagement using fewer resources and smaller budgets. As such, plan sponsors are focused on cost reduction more than ever and cite plan administration fees as the top reason for switching record keepers. However, despite the demand for cost containment, significantly more plan sponsors indicate that adequately preparing participants for retirement is a top three area of focus for 2016. Continue reading

Robo-Advisors Lacking Key Human Element

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Robo Advisors Lacking Key Human Element

Everyone is talking about robo-advisors, which has caused a lot of tension among financial providers and traditional advisors, but is the popularity of these services overblown? This year, we sat down with financial advisors and affluent investors to discuss how they see the role of the advisor is changing in relation to robo-advisors. What we found is surprising—despite the perception that robo-advisors are taking over, it is clear that the actual role robo-advisors are anticipated to play is neither fully defined nor fully trusted. Investors aren’t looking to abandon their advisor relationships anytime soon.

What Investors Are Saying about Robo-Advisors

While investors may test the waters with robo-advisory services, there is still a strong need for human interaction. As we traveled the country talking to investors, we consistently heard this sentiment:

“I like the idea of robo but there’s something to be said also just for the personal contact….almost like a psychologist, just to reassure.” –An investor in San Francisco

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