Paul Donagher

About Paul Donagher

Paul Donagher is a former Managing Director of the Consumer & Retail Research division of Market Strategies International.

Using Research to Revolutionize Innovation

A few days ago, I was in a meeting where someone defended a decision to cut Voice of the Consumer research before new product ideation sessions, citing a 1985 Playboy interview with Steve Jobs. To paraphrase, Apple wasn’t going to do market research on the Mac because they were the best judges of what’s great and what’s not. Jobs later added, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

For many marketers, the failure rate for new product introductions hovers around two-thirds. The inclination to drop research because discovery is not yielding new information is understandable, but killing consumer research because it’s somewhat costly and time consuming, or worse because the team thinks it knows better than its customers, is a perilous strategy.

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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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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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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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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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Embarking on a Consumer Journey at The #QuirksEvent

quirks-event-logoMarket Strategies has spent a lot of time researching ways to illuminate the Consumer Journey. It has been a fun ‘journey’ for us as researchers, as it challenges us to think about different ways to bring the consumer to life. To us, this phrase means understanding the consumer in as many ways and in as much detail as possible–particularly important when something as complex as a Consumer Journey can lead to loyalty or switching behavior.

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Scottish Independence—Referendum Tomorrow to Split Up the UK

2014-09-scotlandI have had so many people ask me about this, I decided to do a quick blog (for those of you reading who do not know me, I am a Scot living and working in the US).

Having followed the polls in this campaign closely, even a few weeks ago I thought it a very long shot indeed that the Scottish people would vote “Yes” to independence. The first poll I became aware of to suggest that a Yes vote was even a statistical possibility was published only 10 days ago. Now a few polls have shown the same.

The most recent polls published yesterday and today all show an approximate 4% point lead for the “No” campaign, though anywhere from 8-14% of people who intend to vote are still undecided. Last Sunday’s newspapers showed polls that varied from an 8% lead for No to an 8% lead for Yes (though I would describe the ICM poll for the Telegraph showing the large Yes lead as an outlier, indeed it had a slightly smaller sample size than usual). Continue reading

Millennials & Social Media [Infographic]

2014-06-millennialsStill wondering how to talk to Millennials? Unfortunately, this is not parental advice! However, if your brand needs to understand more about what to say, where to say it and where to listen to Millennials, read on!

At Market Strategies International, we make it a habit to listen closely to our clients to find out what’s on their minds and to help answer the questions that are keeping them awake at night. As marketing and brand teams embark on their strategic planning process for 2015, many clients have asked us to provide best practices for targeting and connecting with the largest generation in American history. Marketers say they want more factual research on communication with Millennials, including guidance on tone and content. So we set out to find some answers in our recent study, “Marketing to Millennials.” We are often told that Millennials think and act differently from other generations, and we wanted to find out if this was indeed the case and, if so, in what ways.

In this first installment of our findings, we are focusing on communicating via social media. Our research reveals that Millennial shoppers trust social media more than do other generations but are diversifying beyond Facebook. In fact, we’ve discovered that YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other platforms play specific roles in how Millennials research products and build brand relationships. See our infographic…

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Adding Value to Traditional Qualitative Research

Recently, a group of Market Strategies’ most senior executives got together to share best practices. These knowledge-sharing sessions are invaluable for researchers on the supplier side—it’s all too easy to get immersed in our own client issues and miss out on new ideas and methodological advances that could elicit tremendous insight given the right business situation.

Technology-Enabled Qualitative
My colleague, Bob Ferguson, gave a most interesting talk about technology-enabled qualitative market research methodologies such as online diaries, virtual ethnographies, bulletin boards, online focus groups, web-enabled interviews, social media “scrapes,” social media netnographies and in-situ deep dives. These are all very interesting methodologies in their own right, but Bob’s point was that they should only be used when the business objectives support their deployment—and then perhaps in conjunction with some more traditional qualitative techniques. That is where the true value of technology adds a whole new layer of context to traditional qual—not for the sake of trying something new but more to be aware of the technological solutions that can be used when the time is right.

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