Bacon? Bacon, bacon, BACON!
Wait! What do you mean you were only joking? I can’t actually buy bacon-flavored mouthwash? What a cruel April Fool’s Day joke. In a stunt that has gone viral on social media for a couple of years now, Procter & Gamble seems to be unveiling bacon as the latest in trendy, savory flavors for mouth refreshment.
How did this new product hoax go viral while so many other new product launches fail to succeed? In the Heath brothers’ book “Made To Stick,” they lay out a communication framework for lasting ideas:
- Unexpected: Get people to pay attention. Bacon-flavored mouthwash vastly differs from the typical mint flavors that it inhabits a space all its own.
- Concrete: Understand and remember it. I saw a picture of the packaging and could visualize the product sitting on the store shelf and in my medicine cabinet at home.
- Credible: Agree and believe. The product had its own website and it’s on Facebook (so it MUST be true!). Also, the longer it perpetuated after April Fool’s Day, the more believable it became.
- Emotional: There are some who care deeply about bacon and there are those, like me, who just salivate Pavlovian at its mention. Bacon elicits an emotional response.
- Story: The call to action to soon purchase at a store near you prepped us to buy and participate.
Projective 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:
- What is your qualitative superpower?
- 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
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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.
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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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
In 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.
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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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.
“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
“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
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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