19
Feb

Implicit Measurement in Consumer Research

By: James Leiman, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President

 

Implicit measurement.

How does it contrast with more traditional forms of measurement in marketing research?

Can implicit measurement provide novel insights into consumers’ attitudes and behaviors?

Many market researchers are looking for answers to these questions.

Current interest in implicit measurement is motivated, in part, by the following beliefs about consumers:

  • People are not able to always articulate the reasons they do what they do.
  • There is a difference between what people say and what they believe.

What is the basis for these beliefs?

The answer can be found in recent developments in the field of cognitive neuroscience. First, much of our thinking and decision making occurs at an unconscious level. Second, emotion plays an important role in cognition.

If both of these are true, it is incumbent on us to examine research protocols that access this implicit level of response.

So, what exactly is ‘implicit measurement’?

It is any measurement that does not include consumers’ direct reports obtained through surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews.  Implicit measurement includes the use of tools and techniques that presumably measure consumers’ feelings, thoughts and attitudes occurring below the level of conscious awareness.

Biometric measures from the study of human physiology are one group of such tools.  These include measures of facial expression, eye movements, EEG (brain waves), ECG/EKG (heart rate), EMG (musculature response), and GSR (electro-dermal activity).  Except for measures of facial expression, biometric measures are essentially limited to measuring degrees of activation and orienting responses.

Semantic priming techniques are another group of such tools.  These techniques, largely developed by cognitive and social psychologists, have been used to measure such things as the structure of memory, online language processing, and ethnic and social biases.

In the marketing research field, both biometrics and semantic priming are now being used.  Semantic priming studies generally consist of presenting observers with one stimulus – the ‘prime’ – followed quickly by another stimulus – the ‘target.’  Observers are then required to make some type of speeded response.  The speed of the response is the dependent variable in these studies.  The experimental manipulation is the relationship between the prime and the target.

This technique taps into what has recently come to be known as System 1 thinking.

Used extensively by psychologists to study the internal structure of concepts, one can see why market researchers have used semantic priming to explore a topic near and dear to our hearts – brands.

  • What associations do consumers automatically have to different brands?
  • What associations occur without conscious reflection?
  • How do associations differ across brands?

At Morpace, we recently completed a pilot test of implicit associations consumers have to automotive design elements using semantic priming.  These were, in turn, compared with their explicit associations.  This study confirmed that System 1 responses provide a somewhat different perspective compared to traditional System 2 questioning approaches.

To learn more about this study and obtain additional background information about implicit measurement, click below to obtain a white paper on this topic.

 

More
9
Jan

The Secret to Unlocking Your Perfect Creative Process

By Jaeger Senn-Flinn
Story Architect

So I’ll admit, that title was just clickbait promising the moon, but you probably already knew that. We as humans are always searching for that lightening in a bottle. But just like get rich quick schemes and fad diets, there are no magic beans for the creative process. If you think there’s a magical formula to instantly make all of your work start oozing with “creativity”, it’s time to give up on that pipe dream now. The thing about the creative process is that it’s different for everyone ─ just like how some people are visual learners, while others are auditory; what you need to kick start your trek down the creative rabbit hole is likely entirely different than what I do. When it comes down to it, creativity in its base form is being able to look at something differently. So, stop trying to cram a square peg through a round hole and start experimenting to figure out what helps get you in the mindset to see things in a different light. While the creative process may vary for each person, here are a few tips I use to pull myself out of a creative rut.

Iterate Like Nobody’s Business

You may think of “creative people” as these individuals who pull magnificent ideas from the sky without much effort or difficulty, but a) they’ve likely just refined their own creative process, so they already have some notion of which ideas work and which don’t and b) you never see the trash can filled to the brim with ideas they crumpled up and threw away. Part of determining your ideal creative process is coming to terms with the fact that you’re going to have bad ideas and hate 95% of what you come up with. We often come up with a few bad ideas and think, “That’s it, I’m not creative and I’ll never make this work!” It’s so easy to give up at this point, but if you were to continue iterating new ideas, you’d eventually stumble across that golden nugget! It’s often these so called “bad ideas” that aren’t working that inspire the one you’re looking for. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve Frankensteined together ideas I was going to discard that ended up fitting together perfectly; or times I realized that one of the discards was actually a good idea that merely needed a little tweak to make it work. The trick is to not give up when you feel discouraged ─ only by having those bad ideas will you know the good one when you see it.

Just Give Up (For Now)

As important as it is to keep iterating and no matter how bad we want that holy grail of an idea, sometimes you get truly stuck and you’re not budging. At this point, just give up; that’s not to say you raise the white flag of surrender. It is more of a retreat and regroup – sometimes you need a break from whatever you’re working on. Get up, go for a walk, get a drink of water, lie on the ground if you feel so inclined ─ get away from your desk or wherever you’re working for a few moments. Heck, I’ve done it a couple times just writing this! Taking time to clear your head helps you start anew and see things in a different light. Think about it: if you were trying to move a boulder but couldn’t get it to budge, you don’t keep pushing it the same way expecting it to move; you walk around to get a new perspective and find another way ─ like using that piece of wood you didn’t notice wedged under the boulder. It’s the same thing with your mind. Don’t keep pushing that problem you’re stuck on hoping it’ll budge through sheer will. A change of scenery helps you come back to whatever you’re working on with a new perspective.

When in Doubt, Google It

Where do you go now when you want answers to questions? Unless you’ve been living under that proverbial boulder I previously mentioned, you more than likely head straight to Google in search of the answer to your nagging question. We use the dazzling wonder of Google for every question under the sun, so why not use it when you’re stuck solving that creative problem? At a loss for color palette? It’s just a few keystrokes away. Unsure of how to build a layout for the info you’re portraying? I bet someone has the answer for you! Now, I’m not saying you should go out and copy someone else’s work exactly, but most of us are simply looking to design something better, not to be the first to create an entirely new design movement or technique. Use the internet as a plethora of inspiration, so you do not have to think up everything from scratch. Find an example of something you love and make it your own!

Just like everything else you want in life, it takes work to be creative. There is no lightening in a bottle, one size fits all, or specific set of rules to magically be creative. Even those who may have a natural predisposition for how to look at something differently become great because they work at it. Michelangelo, once said “if people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.” The idea may seem daunting but it also means that anyone who has the motivation to be creative can do it. So, keep coming up with new ideas, give up for a little while if you need to, and if all else fails, Google it! Happy creating!

To learn more, click here.

More
11
Dec

The IoT Frontier: As Seen In Trade Shows

By Lucas Lowden, Research Director

As professionals, we often hear about expanding our horizons. How frequently do we actually do so? In reality, not very often. We get comfortable, and, we are experts at what we do anyway, right?

Commercial Vehicles. Fleets. Construction Equipment. I’ve done plenty of research projects with these professionals.

Big Data. Internet of Things. I’ve heard plenty about these concepts, and do work with a lot of data.

Now put all those ingredients into a pot and distill them into something useful for professionals in those industries?  That’s a different kind of problem. It requires new tools. New skills. A new way of thinking. A new understanding.

Truthfully, everyone’s reality is different and being made uncomfortable is not easy for most.

The last two years of my career have been a whirlwind of discomfort for me. And I’ve loved every minute of it. Learning, growing, helping – each in parallel with teammates and partners alike. In establishing a data-driven mindset we’ve embraced a new way of thinking to get to a new understanding. It’s been incredible!

It’s now late into 2017, and I recently attended the North American Commercial Vehicle Show, NTEA Executive Leadership Summit, and EquipmentWatch’s Traction 2017 show.

Interacting with fleet and equipment professionals at the trade shows forced me to personally broaden my horizons, and embrace the pain points that may make those professionals uncomfortable. I quickly realized that my reality as a Market Research professional differs greatly from that of a Fleet Manager or an Equipment Manager.

Which brings me to the first theme that became apparent to me.

Theme 1: Big Data Is A Big Deal, Getting Bigger With IoT

Let’s start with something that most industries in existence are familiar with – Data. Data. Data.

Data has long been available from an enterprise perspective – financial data, employee data, customer data, and transaction data, among others. Most have utilized each source of data independently for their own practical, everyday needs. Some have integrated the data for a broader application.

Operational data is becoming much more prevalent today – passive data coming in from sensors integrated with all types of equipment and applications used to conduct our everyday business and in our personal lives.

With the IoT I expect the growth curve of data to be an exponential factor the likes of which we may have never seen before. I’ve heard the term 4th Industrial Revolution thrown about. I’m not totally sold on that scope just yet, but it seems more possible than not from my perspective.

Getting the data is often not terribly difficult. Making sense of it is slightly more difficult. Harnessing the power held in these disparate data sources? Broad success stories are far and few between.

So how do we get past this hurdle?

Theme 2: Integration Is Key

Everyone has data. Few have truly harnessed the power of integrating their data to the extent it could be today.

To use an example from a long haul transportation perspective, integrating truck telematics data can give you the amount of fuel burned while a tractor is idling. Layer contextual feedback from a driver survey to understand the idle situation to deem an idle event necessary or unnecessary from a business perspective. Lastly layering that with fuel spend, and you can see how much money lost due to unnecessary idling.

There are lots of high quality solutions in the burgeoning market that provide services around the IOT ecosystem – telematics hardware, internal/external CRM, database architecture, reporting dashboards. As of yet, not many have fully embraced data integration.

That doesn’t even get into what I feel like is the next technology wave of data integration– blockchain. That’s a whole topic in its own right, so will save this for a later post.

For small to midsize organizations this highlights a challenge – they often don’t have the time available or skill set needed to integrate their own data across platforms.

Ultimately, baby steps are critical to integration efforts. Partner. Discuss. Get smarter. Get better. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Integration of data and systems is a natural progression to the final theme.

Theme 3: Any IoT Solution Has To Be Easy To Use

The integration of data at the business level leads to a “what’s next?” question of sorts.

Sometimes, a reporting dashboard can be a solution. For others, it’s an app delivering their data and insights.

Any solution in this space needs to be data-driven and actionable to be most useful and effective for industry executives.

It also needs to be simple and easy to use. Time is money.  Difficult to use and hard to understand solutions cost a company more time and more money.

Currently I’m contributing to a data-driven solution that delivers descriptive dashboards and actionable light-prescriptive reports that, with ongoing interaction, can develop into full predictive and prescriptive systems.

From my perspective, full prescriptive and predictive analytics come with nothing more than time and data pumped into the appropriate systems. Those claiming the ability to do so already are quite far ahead of the curve.

Recap & Conclusion

To work through these steps requires some keen self-awareness and the desire to embrace a data-driven decision making approach around business and competitive intelligence.

In each case, we get there one way – by data.

New technologies are allowing data to be brought in, analyzed, and presented to stakeholders in ways never before imagined.

Doing so represents a whole new batch of challenges at the same time.

Do we have the time? Do we have the people? Do we have the money?

Yes. Yes. Yes. You have to.

If you answer “yes” to all the above then you’re golden. If you don’t answer “yes, I do internally” to all the above that’s ok too. One way to shorten your timeline is to say “yes, I do by partnerships”.

The risk of not saying “yes” and taking action in this new frontier is potentially greater than taking action and failing, but still learning along the way.

More
14
Nov

How to Market Products Using China’s City Tiers

By Jenny Zhang, Research Analyst

Companies looking to market in China will hear about the country’s city tiers and wonder what it’s all about. It’s no question that the world’s most populated country would have the highest consumer demand. Their consumer expendable income is also on the rise, and with a flashy, name-brand-recognizing culture, marketing is more important than ever. The question is, can we market products to these so-called “tier cities” and how can we do so? I’ll start with a little explanation and let’s work on answering that question.

I’d like to reference South China Morning Post’s (SCMP) interactive definition of tiers. Here, they divide 613 cities into 4 tiers, but another popular approach is 6 tiers. As you can see, there is no standard way of defining tiers from the government, but the highest tiers, 1 and 2, are generally agreed upon by economists, politicians and the public.

Name a city in China: Beijing? Shanghai? These are Tier 1. The combination of GDP, Politics and Population classifies cities into the four tiers, however, some cities rank differently in the three areas so the average is taken to identify the tier, says SCMP. You can start to see how companies would want to understand tiers so they can target certain people. Consumers in Tier 1 cities tend to be more affluent and highly educated. Tier 4 cities are in the rural parts of Western China. Population is scarce and so are resources. They include provinces such as Tibet and Inner Mongolia. Are you starting to get ideas?

Advertising needs to appeal to the demographics. Same with promotions or deals. We will start asking what kind of media to advertise on based on what the consumers have access to. So the answer to the question we had in the beginning is “yes”, we can market products to different tiers and the way to do so depends on your product. The next time a client asks you about marketing in China, suggest looking at tiers and see where your research takes you.

More
8
Nov

Tactics For Humanizing Data From Connected Devices and IoT To Drive Business Outcomes

By Lucas Lowden, Research Director

Connected devices. Automation. Machine learning. Artificial intelligence.

Just a few short years ago, we would’ve thought we were watching a science fiction movie.

There is much discussion around these technologies – and for good reason! Each are critical components of scalable Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

Today, it is the reality of our day jobs. With the support of various functions across the organization, we are actively establishing Morpace’s thought leadership and positioning for what we believe will be the future of the market research industry.

In support of these technologies, the importance of the human element should not be discounted.

There are numerous human interactions that provide crucial inputs to enable successful automation of machine processes. Doing so allows for a broader understanding and application of big data to produce actionable insights for business outcomes.

With several years growing in this space, we have developed a passion about leveraging big data and IoT systems. We have also realized the importance of Big Context – the intersection of man and machine that layers contextual understanding and lends business meaning to these massive data systems.

Are you leveraging Big Context in your business? Are you finding the humanity within your organization’s data?

Join the Strategists on Morpace’s Growth & Innovation Team – Jason Mantel (Sr. VP), Dania Rich-Spencer (VP), and myself, Lucas Lowden (Research Director) – for our webinar from Qualtrics’ Experience Week, Big Context: Humanizing Big Data From Connected Devices” and learn about tactics for driving positive business outcomes. To sign up and view our webinar, click here.

In the webinar, we explore the tenants of Big Context and how we have proven the importance of the human element and answering the question “Why?” for an automotive manufacturer and a transportation & logistics fleet.

We encourage you to reach out to us directly for any questions or further discussion around humanizing your organizations’ data at information@morpace.com.

 

More
10
Apr

The Power of One Voice

By: Donna Taglione, Vice President

Prior to the Corporate Researchers Conference in late September 2016, David Almy, CEO of the Market Research Association (now Insights Association), wrote a short email promoting the event. In his message he said, “You only need one great idea to truly succeed, or one great innovation to truly advance.” Even though his note was endorsing seminar content, the notion of “one” got me thinking. In the age of Big Data, how important is one voice?

In my world of one-on-one interviews and focus groups, hearing the voice of one is critical. No matter the location or space, offline or online, one common thread I’ve seen in nearly every interview I’ve conducted is the presence of doubt in the consumer’s mind. I try to reaffirm to them at the start of every conversation that their perception, their voice, is important. I learn something new or different from each and every person I talk to and some of the most insightful comments are prefaced with qualifiers of uncertainty – “I don’t know if you want to know this or not …” or “I don’t know, maybe I did something wrong, but I noticed…” Respondents are always afraid they’re not telling us the “right” thing.

Big, little, obvious and not so obvious – it’s all important and nothing is “wrong”. The collection of individual voices helps to uncover patterns on a larger scale. Patterns that point us in a direction; patterns that help us weave a story. The beauty of qualitative research is that sometimes these patterns and collective voices force a u-turn because some “wrong,” off-hand comment by a few individuals turns into something of sheer brilliance – the “why didn’t we think of that” revelation.

These are the revelations we seek. In the aftermath of these moments, comes insight and direction. But there are times when client observers believe that the power of one voice can be negated, particularly if that voice does not solidify objectives but alters the direction of project. The remedy is to have open and honest discussions between the moderator and observers after the interviews are complete.

The easel is my best friend in a back room debrief, helping me chart confirmations of previous learning, note questions that still linger and record the gems of any project – the a-ha’s – those things that opened eyes to a new or different way of thinking and/or doing. The best intel often comes from an innocent remark; a remark that inspires a packaging engineer to rethink the design of a container or an advertising person to redirect the creative approach with greater clarity and understanding.

John F. Kennedy once said: “One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” In qualitative research, I know first-hand the importance of one person’s experience and opinion. It is the everyday experiences of individuals that aid product developers, designers and advertisers to make and market better products. We should all keep trying to hear the customer’s voice. It’s the one voice that can, and does, make a difference.

More
2
Mar

The Challenge of Selling Electric Vehicles

By Bryan Krulikowski, Senior Vice President

While automotive manufacturers continue to push forward with electrified plug-in vehicles in the United States, an important question begs to be answered: Who is going to buy them?

According to Morpace’s 2016 Powertrain Acceptance and Consumer EngagementTM (PACETM) study, more than one-third of current gasoline-powered vehicle owners plan to purchase an alternative fuel vehicle. While this shows high upside potential for EVs and Plug-In EVs, further analysis shows that consumers may not be completely comfortable making this leap from gasoline quite yet. In some sense, electrified vehicles are outside of most consumers’ comfort zone.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Looking at data from the PACE study and leveraging our powertrain experience, we see that consumers prefer technologies that follow the GEMO principle—Good Enough, Move On—and prefer the least change to their lifestyles as possible. Technologies that offer both of these attributes include Hybrid EVs, turbocharged gasoline-powered vehicles, and the conventional internal-combustion engine. Automotive manufacturers have made significant strides in improving the fuel economy of gasoline-powered vehicles and, for a significant number of consumers, the fuel-savings realized by these technologies—and the lower incremental price charged for them over electrified powertrains—provides a “good enough” level of performance and efficiency. Further, neither of these technologies requires consumers to install re-charging equipment at their home, be at the mercy of infrastructure limitations when looking to re-charge away from home, or worry about other issues related to range anxiety. If you run low on gasoline, one can almost always find a refueling station nearby; for electrified vehicles, ease of finding re-charging stations is still the exception not the rule.

Not Motivated to Change

Further, the lack of a major market event is curtailing interest in electrified vehicles among mainstream vehicle buyers. Specifically, fuel prices in the U.S. are not driving consumers to consider electrified vehicles at an accelerated rate. In fact, the lower prices we have enjoyed in the U.S. have resulted in the opposite effect.

According to the PACE study, today’s national gasoline prices are below the price consumers have indicated is low enough for them to consider a less fuel-efficient, larger vehicle. This is one explanation for the market shift we are seeing away from sedans to SUV/CUVs and Trucks. In fact, gasoline prices would have to reach $5.20/gallon for the average consumer to consider a more fuel-efficient vehicle than what they have now—nearly $3.00/gallon more than today’s average.

But… There is Hope!

While the above commentary suggests a less-than-pretty future for electrified technologies, this certainly does not have to be the case. Perhaps the most important finding from the PACE study is that virtually all current owners of PHEVs or EVs will remain an electrified vehicle owner in the future. Once consumers move away from gasoline-powered vehicles, they are extremely unlikely to go back to them. However, a daunting challenge is ahead of automotive manufacturers as they need to not only offer electrified vehicles in the right package and at the right price, but they also need to rely on a dependable and comprehensive infrastructure to support these vehicles on a mass-market level.

It will certainly be exciting to see how electrification strategies play-out in the coming years.

More
7
Feb

Patient Experience: When Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast


By Debra Fin
Vice President

This provocative statement is attributable to Peter Drucker, widely regarded as the father of modern management thinking. In healthcare, strategy can be devoured by culture’s hunger for maintaining the status quo especially with the relentless pace of change occurring in the industry.

Culture is the way of life for a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next. You know culture when you hear hospital employees state, “We don’t do it like that here” or management talks about “our way of thinking”. Culture is the soul and traditions of an organization and, most often, the obstacle to embracing change that focuses on the customer.

C-suite directives to improve customer centricity and focus on improvement of the patient’s experience can authorize CX leaders to gather patient data, hold focus groups and build touchpoint roadmaps. Armed with these insights and tools, operational changes are recommended, communications are built and new services are rolled-out all in an effort to meet the expectations of future patients, improve metrics and increase revenue. Everyone from Administration to Housekeeping waits to hear that patient experience has improved.

Only to find out that the culture on 3West devoured breakfast and is on its’ way through lunch!

Changing the structure, staffing and services of the organization will not suffice to improve patient experience based on patient insights alone. As our most recent Patient Experience case study demonstrates, the culture and values of the organization and its’ employee voices are vital to understanding how to meet the needs and expectations of patients. Equal time must be spent clarifying values, needs, and expectations at both the customer level and at the organization’s human capital level.

Engaging employees is as important as engaging the patient population. Doing both gives you a better eco-system view on how to achieve better service, meet expectations and empower employees to satisfy patients and families. Employees are the engine that delivers on your brand promise by meeting the expectations that define excellent patient experience.

Market research gathering employee insights and reactions to the ideas and expectations of patients can identify the barriers and best practices to delivering on a best in-class patient experience. Employees know how things really work and how to get things done; they can identify where the collaboration chain breaks down in bed scheduling and what families of inpatients really need. Best of all, collectively they have many solutions to improving their patient’s experience and want to be instrumental in creating both better health and better customer loyalty. All you need to do is ask them.

Armed with this 360° view, cultural mores and traditions can be addressed and both the patient and the hospital employee are equal partners in designing the patient experience solution.

More
4
Jan

The Problem with “Pretty” Design

The Problem with Pretty Design

By Jaeger Senn,
Research Analyst

As someone who dabbles in graphic design, I’m often asked to “make things pretty”, causing me to cringe a little inside as there is so much more to design than simply being pretty. How could there be a problem with making a design pretty, you ask? Well, there’s nothing inherently wrong with aesthetically beautiful designs. They capture our attention and draw us in; they keep us interested in what we’re looking at; they can even inspire us. Visual elements in design play an essential role in the readability of information, conveyed importance, and the emotions that viewers feel while looking at content.

Pretty is defined as “an attractive thing, typically a pleasing but unnecessary accessory.” The issue is that when we think about pretty designs, the visual elements often become an afterthought (or an unnecessary accessory) to the content. It’s an easy misconception to think that content and visual elements reside in two different buckets when developing materials, and that the visual components can wait to be added until after you have all of your content in place. In reality, both content and visual elements are design features as a whole. In essence, design is all about finding the best way to communicate with an audience; to make truly great designs, the ideation of content and visual elements should be a concurrent thought process to develop the most effective balance.

While there are many forms of visualization and ways to present information, let’s use an example of one we’re all intimately familiar with: PowerPoint. Tell me if this rings a bell – we have our content loaded on a slide that’s packed to the brim with information, and then we think, “How can I make this look nice?” This leaves us dressing up a slide that doesn’t lend itself to much creative freedom. Any potential layout, formatting, or other visual/aesthetic changes are limited by what little space we have left around our text, often forcing a best-case scenario of cookie-cutter templates and dull slides.

At this point, you may be thinking, “But I’m not a designer – how does this really apply to me?” We may not all be designers in a traditional sense (i.e. graphic designers, web designers, UX designers, videographers, illustrators, etc.), but we are all designers in our own right. Each of us is given the chance to influence how viewers will interact with the information and content we present them with, and that’s what design is all about!

How can we make this happen? The key to achieving the balance between aesthetics and content is planning. It may seem that planning and creativity don’t play nice together, but it’s quite the opposite; planning doesn’t restrict creativity, but actually helps give us a path or direction through which we can channel it. Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves to help plan for the best balance before we put anything on the slides, page, website, or whatever medium we’re communicating through:

Where are we going?

Whatever content we are sharing, remember that it is a story, which should flow throughout the entirety of the deck. It’s our job to make sure that the story we share makes sense and follows a logical order. We likely have a plan of how we anticipate things will go and how the story will play out; in market research, this can often be the case with discussion guides or surveys. It’s essential, however, to remain open-minded to how the story develops as we collect and fill in information, because many times the actual story doesn’t follow the path we initially thought. By following where the story leads, we can ensure that viewers don’t get lost, and therefore remain engaged with our content.

A great tool for planning and staying true to the story being revealed is storyboarding. Storyboarding gives us the ability to make sure our story follows a logical order by laying out what we learned in an easily moveable format, such as on sticky notes. This allows us to quickly move things around to find the best order to tell the most engaging story.

The flow of content applies on a more granular level as well. Using the example of presentation slides again, all of the content on the slides needs to be read in a particular order for it to make logical sense. It’s our job to make sure that viewers are able to easily read our content in that order. We do this by the way content is laid out and purposefully using imagery or visual divides (lines, shapes, etc.), as it affects the flow of reading for viewers.

Slide 1

slide 1

Slide 2

slide-2

Looking at the example above, we can see just how much of an impact these factors make on the readability of the slide. Due to the unclear layout and flow of slide 1, we’re left with many questions:

  1. Is the “Mandatory First Step” only “Customer Strategy” or does it also include “CRM Data/Customer Logs”?
  2. Are “Customer Strategy” and “CRM Data/Customer Logs” completely unrelated, and that’s why they’re divided by that line?
  3. Is the text in the gray box on the right a note regarding “Customer Strategy” and/or “CRM Data/Customer Logs”, or is it meant to comment on the entire slide about “Existing Data”?

The design of slide 2 give more clear answers to questions previously being asked about the first slide.

What’s the point?

You know what’s the most important piece of information on your slide, but is it apparent to an outsider that this is the main point? When we’re so intimately familiar with our content, it can be so easy for us to think, “This is clearly the main point.” However, we need to take the time to put ourselves in the viewers’ shoes to see if that needs to be clearer.

In an ideal world, we could do this by only having one point per slide. This is certainly manageable for slides meant to be presented to an audience, but in reports where clients and others want as much information as possible, it may not always be realistic. We should, however, try to stick to this concept as much as possible by aiming for only a few points per slide. The next step is to make sure we differentiate those main points, so they don’t become lost in the rest of the content. By doing this, we help the viewer to understand the points we’re trying to make much more quickly – without having to search through all of the other content.

Slide 3

slide-3

Slide 4

slide-2

Using the same slides as before, we can see the clear difference between them. In slide 3, it will take us an extended period of time to determine what the important points of the slide are. However, in slide 4, we can gather that “Customer Strategy” and “CRM Data/Customer Logs” are important points by their distinction with the green bars and their separation from the rest of the content, as well as that “Customer Strategy” is the “Mandatory First Step” – even at a quick glance of the slide.

Can this be some sort of imagery?

Pictures, icons, and diagrams are some of many ways to better communicate what you’re currently saying with words. Often times, it can be as simple as showing an image of what you’re talking about. Seeing what you’re reading about makes your content more interesting and helps the viewer to know what’s being talked about before they even read any of the words. Pictures (such as the one in slide 6 below) are also a valuable tool to convey emotion and abstract concepts, which will not only enhance the viewers’ connection with your content on a deeper emotional level, but also gets the point across more effectively.

Slide 5

slide-5

Slide 6

slide-6

Slide 7

slide-7

Perhaps we could also consider using diagrams and visual elements other than pictures; while not always as emotive as images, they can aid in a viewer’s understanding tremendously. A well-executed and organized diagram (such as slide 7) is going to be far better at combating viewers’ eye-glazing than a paragraph of text. So, before you type it all out, ask yourself “Do you really need that paragraph of text?”

All in all, there isn’t really a problem with pretty design. Actually, good design is pretty, because it helps make viewers want to look at your information without feeling bored. The real problem is that visual elements need to be included in the discussion from the beginning. Content and visual elements lean on one another to communicate information in a way that gets your point across in a clear, understandable, and interesting manner. Go forth, think, plan, and create!

More
8
Dec

5 Holiday Wishes for the MR Industry

5 Holiday Wishes for the MR IndustryBy Kea Wheeler, Senior Project Director

It’s the time of year for giving and receiving gifts. While I do believe in the old adage that it is better to give than to receive, who doesn’t like to receive a gift? I particularly enjoy the ones that are able to bring greater joy or more convenience into my life. So, this wish list may skip the items I sent to my family for our annual gift exchange, but it does include my wishes for the market research industry this holiday season and into the New Year.


Wish 1: To be regifted past research.

I know some people look down on regifting, but what could be better in the market research industry? Receiving research that has already been conducted and is relevant to a new study being fielded offers the opportunity to understand what was already asked and what insights were already gleaned. This allows for the new study to confirm what was learned previously, but also to go above and beyond those learnings to find something new.

There is nothing worse than conducting a study and hearing the client say “we already knew that.” Therefore, please regift previous research, so new research can focus on discovering and reporting what is in fact an insight, instead of only confirmation of past learnings. That is something both parties can be thankful for.


Wish 2: To be able to mingle with everyone.

Many times in research studies, we only speak with or survey those consumers who have purchased our client’s product or used their service. If we really want to get fancy, we may also include consumers who purchase or use a competitor’s product and service. But are we missing out on not speaking with those outside of a category entirely?

This is particularly relevant for finding out how a brand is perceived in the market place. These consumers can offer a unique perspective on how they view others that buy a particular brand and why they consider them, to be or not to be, a member of the island of misfit toys.  However, understanding how these consumers perceive others associated with this brand will help companies understand the barriers they need to overcome to entice potential new customers.


Wish 3: To immerse oneself in someone else’s reality.

Just like the different variations of Santa Claus, consumers have different realities from what the client may expect. I have been in debrief meetings where a client wants to entirely reject a participant’s comments because what they said was “not true,”  or “used a product in a way other than originally intended,” or “are understanding the message wrong.”  What some clients fail to realize is that the consumer’s feedback is their truth as it is how they perceive the topic at hand.

Instead of questioning their perception, it is better to devote time on how to overcome the consumer’s perceptions and bring them closer to reality that the company intended.  Ask oneself, if the consumer is using a product in a different way than suggested, how can the instructions be clearer? If the message is being taken in the wrong light, what language can be changed to make it more relevant? Asking these questions will provide an avenue to more actionable and relevant tasks for the research team.


Wish 4: To have more time to tell stories.

The must-have item on everyone’s list, in and outside of the market research industry, is story telling. Story telling has been touted as the way to establish a connection between the audience and whatever is being presented. But in market research, we are held to producing a report with details about all of the findings from a particular study.

While some of these findings go into making a story, not all are necessary in telling the story. However, one will quickly be put on the naughty list if they don’t provide an answer to all of the questions asked or all the observations witnessed in a report of some kind.

With this evolution, two deliverables are becoming necessary — the story presentation and a detailed appendix report. One client researcher describes this growing desire in the 2016 Quirks Corporate Research Report:

I wish I would receive two reports – one for me, the client researcher, with all the detail including crosstabs, and one for presenting that REALLY boils down the learning to an easily digestible story that we can take action on.

But the lump of coal in this wish is the fact that reporting time lines are regularly being reduced. Two reports will take more time, energy, and a greater budget to complete. If presentation stories and a detailed appendix report is truly the wave of the future, it must come with the expectation of either increased reporting time lines or increased budget for more people to report simultaneously. Bah humbug.


Wish 5: To get invited to the party.

If the end of many of my projects could be summarized in a sentence, it would be “all dressed up and nowhere to go”. There are plenty of projects where we have fielded the study, created our story, and are asked to hand over the findings with no invite to present to the larger client team. While we strive to create presentations and reports that can stand on their own, having the voice of the one who fielded the research participate in presenting the findings can add so much more richness and depth to the results. But rarely are we asked to the big dance.


Perhaps it is time for market research professionals to throw their own party? What can be done to make our voice indispensable at meetings? Perhaps we need to be better at presenting our findings to our internal contacts. Let them see that our voice – our passion – cannot be duplicated and it’s best to bring us as a date to the big meeting. So, scratch this wish, maybe I’ll wish for stellar hostess abilities instead.

That concludes my holiday wish list for the marketing research industry for 2017 and beyond. Let’s see if I made the nice list and St. Nicolas brings me these gifts. If not, I could always follow up with the Easter Bunny – I hear he can be bribed with chocolate.

More