Superpowers and Princesses: A Three-minute Lesson on Projective Exercises

Superpowers and Princesses: A Three-Minute Lesson on Projective ExercisesProjective exercises—the presentation of calibrated stimuli onto which a respondent projects their feelings, attitudes or beliefs—are a critical asset in the qualitative researcher’s emotional toolbox. The technique offers the promise of achieving greater depth and validity of insight by facilitating expression of subconscious or difficult-to-articulate feelings that are less accessible using direct “Q&A.”

But what makes for a good projective exercise?

We put learning into action at a recent market research conference by testing a series of probes that revealed some lessons about projectives.

First, we asked visitors to our booth to help us learn about, “What makes great qualitative research.” We then invited them to post onto a chalkboard their reactions to a probe related to the goal of understanding how to deliver great qualitative research. Our lesson on projectives focuses on contrasting two of several probes that we asked:

  1. What is your qualitative superpower?
  2. What Disney princess would make a great moderator?

Before reading on, what do you notice about these questions? Is one easier for you to answer? Do you suspect one would elicit superior insights vs. the other? Let’s explore what we observed and discuss why one question might better achieve the promise of projective techniques. Continue reading

Going Beyond Consideration

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Understanding the Institutional Investor Journey When Selecting an Asset Manager

Institutional investors yield considerable decision-making power and often involve an extensive list of resources in their process of vetting and hiring a new asset manager. The firms vying for attention need to effectively differentiate yet not over-complicate their unique value propositions. Given the intensity of competition in the institutional market, asset managers need to make the most of every potential mandate to position themselves to win new assets. While many struggle with the challenges of building brand awareness to even get a chance to be considered, the most successful firms arm their sales, relationship management and product teams with insight on the decision-making process in order to maximize their opportunities of being selected.

Common triggers prompting asset manager searches include multiple periods of underperformance, investment team turnover, style drift, and corporate merger/acquisition activity. That said, new-manager hires are not always the result of the need to replace an incumbent, as institutional investors and consultants are open to opportunistic searches for new strategies that could enhance the overall portfolio. While performance and price along with familiarity and strength of the brand are integral in the evaluation of asset managers, a variety of more subjective factors weigh heavily in the final selection decision.

In the process of hiring an asset manager, all institutional investors follow a similar journey, with each type bringing its own nuances to the overall process. Along the journey, asset managers can leverage a number of points of influence to maximize their potential for selection. The people and additional sources of information also involved in the journey vary by type of institution, offering opportunities for asset managers to target their ongoing outreach to specific audiences. For example, consultant recommendations are by far the most influential factor for defined benefit (DB) pensions, yet peer recommendations, either formal or word-of-mouth, can be a gateway for endowments.

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Going Beyond Target Consumers to Drive Your Innovation Journey

Editor’s Note: If you’re attending the 2018 Corporate Researchers Conference, please join Gwen Ishmael and Paul Ponsford of Delta Faucet Company for “#TomBradyFail—An Innovation Lesson from the New England Patriots” on Wednesday, October 10. Their talk will dive deep into this blog topic of how different consumer types can support (or inhibit) innovation. Contact us for a registration discount code.

As  noted in Forging a Clear PATH to Corporate Innovation, it is critical to involve the right types of consumers at the right points along the Innovation Journey. Instead of simply focusing on your Target Consumer, it is important to recognize how other types of consumers—Lead Users, Creatives, Early Adopters and Brand Advocates—can contribute to and strengthen the innovation process.

These different consumer research groups form naturally around shared traits and preferences, the exact kind of commonalities that can spell gold for marketers—and market researchers. But the keys to tapping into their potential lie in understanding and identifying members of each group and knowing when exactly in the Innovation Journey they can contribute most.

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Digital Marketing to Advisors: Maximizing Effectiveness to Boost Brand Engagement

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Advisor marketing is in a state of flux, evolving rapidly alongside all other types of mobile communication and efficiencies in terms of staying connected 24/7. At the same time, advisors are faced with increasing responsibilities and higher levels of scrutiny on how they service their customers. Asset managers are sensitive to that and seem to understand that constantly barraging these busy advisors with marketing isn’t the best way of capturing their attention or providing a solid ROI. In fact, last year, advisor-reported marketing monthly touches from financial services providers dropped in frequency, from 110 in 2016 to only 101 in 2017. With the number of marketing touches dwindling and capturing advisor attention not getting any easier, asset management firms are funneling more and more marketing dollars into digital campaigns. Is that the right move?

Is Digital Marketing the Right Tool?

The short answer? Yes.

In 2017, advisors cited email as the most effective way to communicate with them, even outranking external wholesaler visits. What’s more, after wholesalers, the digital touches of websites, webinars and mobile apps generate the greatest lift in brand consideration. Continue reading

How two tech companies connected with individual buyers, and what they learned from it

How Cisco and Microsoft connected with individual buyers, and what they learned from itIn the technology industry, software and hardware manufacturers tend to focus on the needs of the companies they sell to. When prospecting an organization, they look at what the organization as a whole needs to move its business forward. The idea: if you understand the functional requirements of an organization, you can align your solution to those needs and convince decision-makers to go with your product.

On the surface, this approach seems rational, but in reality, successful sales to business customers calls for a different approach. Studies show that the needs of the people in the organization play a crucial part in the buying process. For instance, a study conducted by the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business suggests that although many stakeholders are involved in a purchasing decision, the process and decision are often dominated by one person.

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How to Avoid a Robotic Approach to Product Innovation

For many of us, robots seem to be more of a concept than a reality. We may receive a shipment from Amazon that was picked from the shelf by a robot, and we may drive a car with electronics and mechanical parts built by robots. Yet, with just a few exceptions, these robots labor behind the scenes where we are largely unaware of their impact and the role they play in our lives.

Enter Walmart, who has begun to test “shelf-scanning robots” in 50 of its stores. Designed to move up and down aisles and determine the stocking status and needs of each shelf, these robots have the potential to reduce labor costs and increase revenues through improved shelf maintenance. Not surprisingly, Walmart feels these robots could add millions of dollars of profit to its bottom line.

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Technology, Language and Educational Capabilities: Key Levers in the DC Market

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While DC plan providers are vetted stringently on their respective abilities to provide personalized, proactive client service and customized plan design, there are other factors that are essential to demonstrate in the recordkeeping suite. When we asked DC plan sponsors, heavy DC advisors and DC consultants which factors can best distinguish a DC plan provider from another competitor or incumbent firm, technology, language and educational capabilities were cited as must-have services with strong interplay.

Technology
Serious investment into technology, making processes more efficient, effective. Designing interactions with participants to be easier, more mobile, transparent, resonating with all types of employees.” DC Advisor, RIA

Language
“If you’re not investing in technology and you’re not investing in language, you’re just milking it. You’re not going to be around in five years. … In this day and age when people can withdraw money at an ATM in fifteen different languages, the fact that someone can’t get literature for their 401(k) in Spanish, it’s appalling.” DC Consultant Continue reading

Acquiring New Business in the DC Market

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External forces confronting the 401(k) industry including the Department of Labor fiduciary rule, provider consolidation due to pricing pressure, and the heavy volume of litigation over excessive fees continue to push defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors to hone in on cost reduction and reevaluate expenses related to all aspects of plan administration and investments.

As such, acquiring new business in the DC market can be arduous, involving multiple influencers and decision-makers. Asset managers and plan providers often struggle to find the right combination of outreach to the various parties involved and, as a result, waste valuable time and resources. With those dynamics in mind, we are excited to kick off a qualitative research effort designed to better understand the process of evaluating and selecting DC plan providers and investment managers from three critical perspectives:

  • DC plan sponsors, those likely to switch plan providers and/or DC investment managers
  • Heavy DC advisors, DC specialists managing $50M+ in DC AUM
  • DC consultants, consultants focused heavily on serving the DC market

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New Research: Pharmaceutical Companies are Overlooking a Key Audience

Pharmaceutical Companies are Overlooking a Key Audience

I never used to pay attention to anything in the healthcare industry. As someone young and healthy with no medical conditions, I rarely went to the doctor and ignored drug commercials. That all changed when I met my husband. After we had been dating for a while, he let me know that he had been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (commonly referred to as UC) when he was 20 years old, and it was not well controlled. My mindset quickly shifted, and I took on the role of a caregiver to someone with a chronic illness. Suddenly everything about the pharma industry fascinated me. I quickly went to find all the information I could on the internet, but it turns out there aren’t a ton of resources available to caregivers for this non-life threatening illness. It was frustrating, to say the least. The lack of resources directed toward caregivers of people with UC seemed to delegitimize their role as caregivers, like they are not even a part of medical decisions.

Luckily for my husband and me, my new-found fascination with the world of pharmaceuticals led me to Market Strategies, where all of my healthcare market research colleagues had seemingly endless knowledge about how to find deep information on diseases and current treatments, as well as treatments in development. I did some independent research on UC and discovered there were better options for my husband than what he was currently prescribed. With my encouragement, he found a more open-minded doctor who prescribed a new medication I had suggested. This new medication was a self-injectable. My husband is brave in a lot of ways, but shots are not his favorite thing. For this new medication to work, I would have to administer the shots. I went with him for his initial loading dose at the doctor’s. My presence at the medical office was viewed as normal, it seems a lot of patients are accompanied by caregivers. The nurse showed me how to inject the medicine and gave us some material from the drug manufacturer.

However, once we got home, it was clear that the manufacturer did not consider the possibility that someone other than the patient would be reading the materials or administering the injection. They did not acknowledge the role of a caregiver at all, which made me feel a little strange as I’m a big influence when it comes to my husband’s medical care. Even after reading the patient-facing materials, I still feel a little bit nervous when I give him his shot, even a year later. That part may come as a surprise to my husband, as I get the feeling he’s pretty confident in my ability. He has to be.

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How Institutional Investors React to Marketing

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Asset managers trying to get the attention of institutional investors must go beyond the typical marketing plan. Getting the attention of institutional investors takes place on a completely different playing field.

In contrast to financial advisors, institutional investors are not being bombarded with as many marketing materials, so in theory getting their attention should be easier. However, institutional investors’ marketing consumption behavior is generally confined to the asset managers they are already doing business with or potential managers they are considering when conducting an RFP. This demands an entirely different element of strategy for asset managers when creating their marketing plan, as the challenge for unknown firms to break through to this audience is incredibly difficult.

  • If I don’t recognize the brand or the name … then I probably wouldn’t even look twice at it.” Benefits Director, $750M DC/DB, NYC
  • “I don’t get that much to be honest with you, but I don’t really look at things from providers that we’re not using.” CFO, $20M Endowment, NYC

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