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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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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Building Successful Advisory Relationships

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Investor_Advisor_Relationship

Amid an era of seemingly unprecedented political and global change, questions around the health and longevity of the financial markets abound. Investor trust in the financial community continues to be tested as factors beyond investors’ control threaten to jeopardize their retirement savings and financial wellness. Meanwhile, ongoing news coverage on the status of the DOL fiduciary ruling, sharpened emphasis on fees and the emergence of robo-advisory services as an alternative to traditional advice models are creating new challenges in the advisor industry. As such, understanding how investor-advisor relationships are established, the key drivers of advisor consideration, satisfaction and loyalty, and the role of trust and value has never been more imperative for advice providers.

Affluent investors don’t typically seek sweeping changes, especially when their long-term goals are funding a stable and healthy retirement. Nonetheless, when trust wanes and cheaper alternative solutions such as robo-advisors are within reach, change can become an attractive option. With those dynamics in mind, we are excited to kick off a qualitative study to explore the critical factors at stake across the key stages of the investor-advisor relationship life cycle. We’ll explore: Continue reading

Finding Ways to Maximize Engagement for Institutional Investment Products

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Getting through to an intended audience is the constant goal of marketers. There is little value in carefully curating messages and developing a plan for execution and release of those messages if they never capture the attention of a firm’s targets. The most return from marketing activities is created when the right message meets the right person at the right time. This is true across all industries, including the institutional space.

As a follow-on to our successful 2013 and 2016 advisor marketing collateral studies, Cutting Through the Institutional Marketing Clutter™ will expand insights regarding best-in-class approaches for maximizing the reach and impact of institutional investor-oriented marketing efforts. In a series of focus groups and in-depth one-on-one interviews with institutional investors and consultants, we will examine the full spectrum of marketing material, from email and white papers to provider websites and webinars.

What Will We Ask?

To better understand the marketing that is most effective with institutional investors and consultants, we need to understand the type and frequency of messages they are receiving, the aspects of the messages that are capturing their attention and the firms that are producing best-in-class communication. The report will provide insights into the marketing consumption habits of institutional investors and investment consultants, including their communication preferences, perceptions of content and digital marketing experiences. Continue reading

New DOL Fiduciary Ruling Sparking Unprecedented Levels of Advisor Anxiety

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Advisor Anxiety

While advisors agree with the overall concept and spirit of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary ruling, concerns ring aplenty, as the vast majority have yet to be convinced that the new legislation will deliver on its intent. First and foremost, advisors lament that the DOL fiduciary ruling is casting an overall negative industry gloom and is fueling investors’ focus on fees.

Perhaps even more importantly, advisors believe that the DOL action is forcing them toward a fee-based compensation structure and limiting their product selection. As such, advisors fall into two camps: those who are already fee-based see the DOL action as formalizing an inevitable market shift, while commission-based advisors fear that commoditizing their service puts them at greater risk of being undercut by cheaper automated advice services. Continue reading

How Market Research Has Evolved Over the Past Decade

Evolution of Market Research

In July 2006, I boarded a plane to Portland, Oregon. It was the beginning of my service at Market Strategies International. A decade is not a long time but long enough to witness some changes. Let me share with you a quick inventory of what has changed from 2006 to 2016 in the market research industry:

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Where Will Pokémon Go Take Market Research?

2016-07-pokemon
The next tech trend has arrived, and who would have thought that it would come in the form of a 1990s video game revival of Pokémon?

Suddenly seeing Pokémon everywhere evoked memories of listening to my younger sister describe her valiant efforts to “catch ‘em all” as she immersed herself in the world of her coveted GameBoy Color, describing her collections of Pikachus, Bulbasaurs and Mews. Faithful fans, my sister included, would likely cringe at my coarse recollection of their favored childhood diversion, but they are probably too busy wandering into your backyard to capture and train their brood of digital friends via Pokémon Go – the latest, and arguably most viral, generation of the Nintendo gaming franchise.

In case you haven’t noticed the headlines, here is a quick download on the phenomenon (don’t worry, I’ll connect this to market research soon):

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The Future of Financial Planning and Advice

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Many forces are converging that could dramatically impact market expectations for financial planning and advice. Advances in technology, tightening fiduciary regulations and new expectations from the Millennial and Baby Boomer generations are raising the standard of investment advice and causing financial advisors, advice providers and product manufacturers to significantly adapt their strategies.

Advances in Technology

Both advisors and investors have an increasing number of sophisticated technology-based tools at their disposal to aid in making investment decisions. In fact, 33% of advisors currently offer digital investment advice to their clients through their firm’s proprietary platform and 30% of affluent investors are currently using robo-advisors.

Tightening Regulations

The DOL fiduciary rule is imposing fiduciary status on all registered representatives when providing investment recommendations and enforcing new regulations on investment advice in retirement accounts. While some are fighting these rules, others are already adapting, and distributors and providers would be wise to be proactive in adjusting their business models appropriately. Continue reading

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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Putting Your Best Foot Forward

How to Avoid Product Pitfalls through Deep Understanding   
feet under seat 2As a qualitative market researcher who conducts focus groups around the country, it’s fair to say that I know a thing or two about air travel. This exposure has made me notice the many little things that contribute to making a flight pleasurable or miserable. There are so many things, in fact, that I will only focus on one of the details that recently made an impression on me.

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