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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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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Targeting Fee-Based Advisors

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New forces are converging that could dramatically alter the advisor landscape in the coming years. As the ranks of financial advisors shrink, fee-based advisors represent an expanding segment signaling a trend savvy asset managers should act on. In fact, predominantly fee-based advisors (those earning at least three-quarters of their total compensation from asset-based fees) now comprise four in 10 financial advisors.

This segment of advisors doesn’t just include RIAs (33%), but is equally as likely to include advisors in the Independent (33%) channel with the National channel a close third (29%). Predominantly fee-based advisors represent an attractive target, managing relatively larger books of business ($152 million, on average) compared with just $71 million for commission-based advisors. Furthermore, predominantly fee-based advisors report relatively higher allocations to mutual fund and ETF products. Continue reading

Go Where the Fish Are Biting: Targeting Investors Who Are Ready to Act

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Any successful angler knows when fish get hungry and what they will bite. The same concept holds true for asset managers and distributors. By definition, affluent investors have portfolios comprising a variety of investment accounts in which their assets are held. However, the majority of affluent investors are unlikely to make an investment in the near future, seemingly content to keep their current investment portfolio unchanged for the time being.

Recognizing how critical it is for distributors and asset managers to identify and understand the subgroups of affluent Americans who are likely to make an investment purchase, we present the “ready-to-act” (RTA) investor segments. Based on purchase intent level, we’ve identified three segments of RTA investors, who are likely to do one of these in the next three months:

  1. Open an investment account
  2. Invest in a mutual fund
  3. Invest in ETF shares

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Doctor’s Orders: Why Patient Engagement Matters

Doctor’s Orders: Why Patient Engagement MattersEnsuring that patients understand, accept and follow recommended treatment plans is the first step towards the best possible outcome—medically for the patient and financially for the healthcare delivery system. Similarly, physicians are in the best position to individualize this treatment plan to one that is optimal for the patient.

Yet all too often patients resist their physician’s recommendation immediately or at the pharmacy, or they initially accept only to abandon treatment later. Why does this happen and what can be done about it?

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Utilities Face Risk, Opportunity with Unmanaged Business Accounts

s16476_cover-imageUtilities are increasingly turning to value-added products and services to increase customer engagement and reduce their cost to serve, but unmanaged business accounts –commercial customers without a key account representative–are a third less likely to adopt these voluntary programs. This is one of the reasons unmanaged accounts score 25 points lower than key accounts on Cogent Reports’ 1,000-point Engaged Customer Relationship Index.

Utilities have a good sense of how to engage key accounts because they have a personal relationship with them but often don’t know how to engage unmanaged accounts, which constitute a third of utility revenues nationwide. Our research shows that there are five clear segments offering distinct engagement pathways for unmanaged businesses. These segments are:

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Welcome Aboard. Now Please Fend for Yourself.

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 “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” –Will Rogers

When you invite people over to your home, you probably would first give them directions (maybe even a couple of route options), offer to take their coat when they arrive and then offer them a seat and a beverage. We want our friends to like us and know that we value their relationship. At the start of a utility relationship, however, we typically ask new customers, or Newcomers, to initiate “start-service requests” on their own and then notify us of the type of bill that they want to receive. Sometimes we ask them to set up a self-service online account so that they can opt-in to more offerings and options themselves. In other words, utilities are sending new customers the message that they are on their own.
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A Researcher’s Perspective on What “Millennial” Really Means

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The term “Millennials,” describing today’s youngest generation to reach adulthood, is thrown around a lot. When you think of Millennials, do you think of privileged hipsters with a knack for tech? If so, let’s take a step back. It’s time to admit that the Millennial has become a caricature. This might produce some great entertainment (like this SNL skit), but it’s not helpful to those trying to glean real information about generational groups. We’ve got to understand that Millennials are not a clique of hip, white 20-somethings with rich parents; they’re America’s largest and most diverse generation, and when it comes to analyzing them or any other age cohort they deserve a fair shake.

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Thought Leadership Is Key to Getting On New Advisors’ Radar

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In sharp contrast to other types of marketing, many advisors would read thought leadership from an unfamiliar mutual fund, ETF or VA provider. In fact, advisors prefer thought leadership and market commentary to comprise a larger percentage of the marketing content they receive in lieu of more product-specific updates.

In March, Cogent Reports conducted 18 focus groups across the US to help providers better understand how to stand out and maximize the impact of their marketing efforts. The groups were held in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and included a representative mix of 85 advisors by channel, Cogent Advisor Segments™ (outlined below), AUM, age and industry experience. Continue reading

Not All Institutional Investors Are Alike

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Uncertainty in China. Falling oil prices. Volatility in US equity markets. The Federal Reserve raising interest rates for the first time since 2008. All of these factors converge to create an unsettling environment for institutional investors. As a result, these investors are re-examining their portfolios and reassessing their use of different asset classes, investment products and asset managers. But the needs, perceptions and behaviors of institutional investors vary dramatically by asset size and category, proving the adage that not all investors are alike.

For asset managers serving the institutional market, the need for focus has never been greater. Determining the right business strategy, product offering and competitive positioning is to a great extent dictated by the segment of the market being targeted. Firms can choose to develop a scalable approach for the smaller institutions or pursue the polar opposite with customized solutions for the largest institutional clients. In either case, understanding the forces driving market needs and the factors impacting the competitive environment is critical. Continue reading