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
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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
As Randall Hula 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.
It’s common for qualitative research practitioners to cast a wide net to ensure no insight is left unconsidered, and many apply the same logic to their innovation efforts, aiming for the big, blue sky with the hopes of capturing a new, game-changing idea. In practice, however, I’ve seen this approach to innovation not only produce incremental or non-actionable results, but also shelve some of the best ideas to collecting dust. To find success in innovation, it’s important to act deliberately and remain cognizant about where you want (and don’t want) to go. Continue reading
Market Strategies conducts numerous thought leadership studies for our clients. These studies are often released under the client brand so you may not even know they were conducted by us when you read about them in the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, or hear about them on CNBC. While we can’t give away specific findings from our studies, we can tell you that the most recent studies have been impacted by a fascinating polling phenomenon—optimism. Continue reading
A clear definition of innovation, leadership who supports it and employees empowered to execute it are hallmarks of a strong innovation-oriented company. But, as my colleague Paul Donagher noted in Innovation Journey: Is It Better to be Lucky or Good?, the voice of the consumer is also important to product development research though including the right kind of consumer along the Innovation Journey is critical.
To include consumers in idea generation, we need a repeatable and reliable process that produces groundbreaking, market-relevant concepts by bringing creative individuals and forward-thinking consumers into the innovation process. This consumer-oriented process includes the following steps:
I 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.