16
Aug

An Autonomous Future: Consumer Awareness & Opinion about the Emergence of AV

An Autonomous Future: Consumer Awareness & Opinion about the Emergence of AV

For automobile manufacturers, a bold new future has arrived. Technology that adds autonomous features to the driving experience are now available on vehicles by all major manufacturers – inching us ever closer to the day where the driver is a passive, rather than active, participant in the driving experience. To take a closer look at what’s to come, automotive research experts at Market Strategies-Morpace will share their insights in an occasional blog series titled “An Autonomous Future.” In this first blog, we hear from Dania Rich-Spencer, Vice President of Automotive at Market Strategies-Morpace, about how consumers are responding to these new autonomous enhancements.

By: Dania Rich-Spencer, Vice President, Automotive

 

When Chairman and CEO of General Motors Mary Barra wrote an article for the World Economic Forum in 2016, she stated “I believe the auto industry will change more in the next five to 10 years than it has in the last 50.” Given vehicle companies’ quest to transition from a car maker to a valued mobility company offering services that many of us couldn’t even imagine a few years ago, Barra is spot on about the swift transformation of the auto industry.

While automotive manufacturers have historically described themselves as makers of vehicles for personal and commercial use, today’s OEMs refer to their brands as mobility companies. Yes, they still make cars, trucks, and SUVs – but a combination of new connectivity technology and consumers’ willingness to share products and services now enable auto manufacturers to redefine their relationship with customers – and to enhance the vehicle ownership experience.


A Glimpse into Industry Innovation by Today’s Leading OEMs

A Glimpse into Industry Innovation & AV by Today’s Leading OEMs A variety of popular car makers are investing considerable time, money, technology, and talent to make vast transitions within the marketplace. For instance, the General Motors Marketplace app is considered the “automotive industry’s first commerce platform for on-demand reservations and purchases of goods and services.”

Ford positions FordPass as “the app that amplifies your ownership experience…all to help you get from A to B better.”  Lincoln is redefining the traditional lease with a month-to-month subscription service to better meet customers’ needs and attract younger buyers. Cadillac, Volvo, and Porsche are also offering services to complement the traditional car buying/servicing transactional model.

One may argue that the greatest contribution to this transformation is the development of autonomous vehicles (AVs).  While timelines for fully-developed AVs vary by OEM, there is no doubt they are coming.  It reminds me of the quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “…but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” Today, self-driving vehicles are also part of the inevitable! In fact, Mcity Driverless Shuttle, “the first driverless shuttle project in the U.S. focusing on user behavior research” was launched beginning June 2018, on the University of Michigan’s North Campus.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be a part of this automotive industry transformation and look forward to reminiscing with the grandkids about a world before the car was a powerful computing platform that drove itself. However, I often wonder: do other people see this industry transformation in the same light as I do? How does the “regular Joe” feel about the emergence of self-driving vehicles?

Based on my experience as both a vehicle consumer and professional at Market StrategiesMorpace, I know that familiarity drives acceptance of new technology. With that said, how familiar is the general population with AV technology – and how might they see themselves benefiting from these cars?


Insights into Consumer Awareness & Opinion of Autonomous Vehicles Today

Insights into Consumer Awareness & Opinion of Autonomous Vehicles Today To find out, these are some of the questions we explored in the Morpace Automotive Consumer Pulse Study, an online survey* conducted monthly among approximately 1,000 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older.  We noted several surprising findings, including feedback about the level of awareness for self-driving vehicles:

  • Over eight in ten consumers have heard at least some information about companies working on developing self-driving vehicles. This statistic has remained fairly consistent since October 2017, when the study was initially conducted. It is also consistent with other research.
  • While the general public is aware of autonomous vehicles, there is a lot of uncertainty about the implications of self-driving vehicles. People are not sure if there will be more or less accidents and fatalities, whether there will be more or less vehicles on the road, or if personal ownership will increase or decline.
  • When asked how the development of self-driving vehicles will benefit them personally, responses are almost equally distributed in thirds across “Positive/Negative/Not Sure.”

Since factors like media coverage and clear, enthusiastic, consumer-based marketing affect the current and future awareness of self-driving automobiles, the interplay between these two factors will shape the short-term pace and long-term outcome of the industry.


Demographic Differences in Consumer Awareness

Demographic Differences in Consumer Awareness of Autonomous VehiclesOne aspect is for sure, however – young adults, followed by those with disabilities and those who have lost their license, will be the first to use a self-driving vehicle. In addition, more males than females are engaged with this topic and are more likely to embrace using a self-driving vehicle. Other data shows:

  • Twice as many males compared to females say that they have seen or heard “a lot” about cars and trucks that can operate on their own without a human driver.
  • Almost half of males think self-driving vehicles are positive for them, compared to just under a third of females.
  • Compared to females, almost twice as many males provide a Top2Box rating (9/10) to being open to using a self-driving vehicle.

This gender difference is not surprising to me, but I’m wondering if auto manufacturers are paying attention to the information. Is it too early to charm females to autonomous vehicles?  Given that women influence a significant portion of the vehicle purchase decision, it may be prudent for OEMs to start the marketing process now by crafting a message targeted to women around the positive implications and personal benefits of using and owning an AV.


A Future with Self-Driving Cars

The industry and its consumers are also interested to know which auto maker may be the first to offer a fully autonomous vehicle for personal use. Toyota takes top spot, followed closely by Ford. Similar to their marketing of apps and subscription services, trusted vehicle makers like these must make the benefits of AVs clear to both male and female consumers, as well as those young and old. These include the benefits of Advanced Drive Assistance Systems (ADAS) features, as well as how their self-driving business models will make operating these vehicles both safe and beneficial to daily life.

While OEMs and their partners evolve their marketing strategies, I am optimistic about the future of transportation and the role the autonomous vehicle plays. Here’s to the next few years of unprecedented change – and the wonder it will bring!

 

*The data collected by the Morpace Automotive Consumer Pulse Study are weighted to ensure relevant demographic characteristics of the sample matched those of the U.S. general population.  All respondents are weighted to U.S. Census Bureau demographic profiles for the U.S. population 18+ on gender, age, income and ethnicity.

 

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18
Jul

Consumer Impact on the Future of Smart Devices

By: Greg Swando, Sr. Director of Client Services, & Richard Clarke, VP Global Partnerships, Vision Critical

 

Are you ready for an experiment? Spend some time watching commercials during primetime TV, or while waiting to board your flight at the airport. In a matter of minutes, you will notice an ever-increasing number of impressive and exciting ads touting smart Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Whether it’s a lonely grandmother connecting with her far-away family, thanks to Alexa and the Amazon Echo Spot, or a busy father scouting Greek food locations with his LG OLED TV with Google Assistant, IoT devices are the present and future answer to consolidating seemingly endless daily tasks and helping consumers connect with family.

Rapid developments are present everywhere we turn. This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) featured a Smart Home Marketplace more advanced – and promising – than ever before. In addition to efficient and connection-based clocks and televisions, trusted brands like Kohler, Whirlpool, and Honeywell are showcasing retail innovations promising to make homes safer, healthier, and more comfortable.

Whether it’s a refrigerator reminding you that your apples and oranges are about to rot – or a connected dishwasher that starts rinsing your dirty china with a simple voice command – appliances and entertainment technology are joining the ranks of smart automobiles and security systems to become the assistants families and professionals didn’t know they needed.

In fact, a recent feature story in Forbes magazine spotlighted how the aforementioned “Alexa” of Amazon fame is now the latest virtual butler to cater to guests staying at Marriott-branded hotels.

“Customers tell us they love how easy it is to get information, enjoy entertainment and control connected devices by simply asking Alexa,” explained Amazon VP Daniel Rausch in the Forbes feature. “We want to offer those experiences everywhere customers want them.”

Consider how the world recently became captivated by the news that the Google Virtual Assistant had used an eerily human sounding voice (replete with “ums” and “ahhs”) to book a hair appointment by phone. Clearly, our ability to engage in multiple tasks at one time – while enjoying the experience – is advancing at a rapid pace that both shocks and delights the American and global consumer base.

From predictive data collection to nearly overnight developments in natural language processing, consumer-oriented brands in all industries are eager to capitalize off the many benefits these devices provide. While the technology is undoubtedly thrilling, the key for commercial enterprises is ensuring their customers understand it, then accept it as quickly as possible.

Top Factors Driving Smart IoT Devices & Consumer Adoption

To obtain wide acceptance, it is up to various industries, from automotive to healthcare to retail, to convince the public that these products are not only beneficial, but necessary. One of the easiest arguments to make to consumers is that it helps them save time while delivering a needed boost in a world of instant gratification. Though companies are finding ways to benefit on their end of the IoT paradigm, what will they need to overcome consumer resistance to giving up a modicum of privacy and control in order to foster wider adoption of the technologies?

     1. Consumer Brand Loyalty  

In a society dominated by brand loyalty, consumers want to know the trusted entities behind the technology – and these savvy virtual assistants. For example, Marriott’s Guestroom Innovation Lab collaborates with Samsung and Legrand to optimize their stay experience. As a result of this technology partnership, guests will interact with Bixby and store much of their data in the ARTIK platform and SmartThings cloud. Put simply, they must like and trust these brands to want to use them. This phenomenon extends across industries.

A family’s smart thermostat may be powered by Alexa, for example – but there still are a limited number of tasks the assistant can handle. If they do not enjoy using Alexa, their continued adoption of similar technology may dwindle. By the same regard, some products will be powered by Apple, while others will run on Google technology. Whether it is the voice assistant drivers used in their Toyota – or the underlying technology which powers the commands to control kitchen appliances, for example  – helping consumers define the relationship between the perks of their devices and who drives them is key.

While it is possible enterprises will be overthinking consumer loyalty to Apple, Microsoft, or another entity, it will behoove them to help their buyers understand who is owning and collecting their data – and how it helps them to achieve their goals and complete daily tasks. In turn, the organizations creating the technology will benefit by hashing out how their devices and clouds interconnect.

     2. Privacy Concerns and the Race for Data Collection

As alluded to previously, the battle is on for the ownership and collection of data by technology companies. The more information businesses have about people using smart IoT devices, the more they will be able to enhance consumer experience and dominate their marketplace. Like-minded, competitive organizations will not be sharing consumer data, so building trust matters.  Autonomous vehicle manufacturers, smart television makers, and blue-chip appliance giants can be sure that their customers haven’t yet forgotten about the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal – or the almost regular notices they receive about their data being included in a restaurant or bank data breach. It is how they handle consumer perception that will drive future adoption.

There are also concerns about IoT smart device spying – and the potential security risks that come with billions of cars, appliances, and entertainment products being connected by the year 2020. With this discussion, however, comes promise – the global market will grow to up to $475 billion by then – a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of a whopping 28.5 percent.

     3. Consumer Budgets, Product Lifecycles, and Device Efficiency

If you have ever had to argue with Siri to get an answer to a simple question, you know the first-hand limitations of smart tech. At a minimum, all devices need to learn from Google Virtual Assistant’s example — concisely understanding what the consumer is saying and using it to complete myriad tasks. Businesses will have to grapple with people who don’t want to adopt new or difficult technology, so ease of use is essential.

These factors intersect with consumer budget. When weighing benefits of smart IoT devices vs. price, difficulty or affordability of adoption may affect the speed at which the industry evolves. For example, a millennial who recently bought a 2016 KIA Soul has some voice capability in their car, but not the newest technology. While they may think new IoT innovations are neat, they are not going to necessarily invest in a new car until they finish making payments. At the point they buy a brand new vehicle, they will upgrade to the latest technology – and then learn how to use it. Many companies at CES argued about the impact price point will have in the speed of adoption – it will be less painful for consumers to buy a smart dishwasher or clock versus a $30,000 vehicle.

     4. Global Adoption of Smart IoT

While it is relatively simple to predict the future of the smart IoT device industry in the fast-paced, instantly gratified United States, it is additionally important for large organizations to consider how the rest of the world deploys and utilizes the technology. While Apple, Google, and Amazon are among the most trusted and used brands in America, Asian and European consumers prefer South Korea’s Samsung and other local companies while Apple’s popularity declines in large markets like China.

Since there are various technological and societal dynamics across the world, companies interested in capitalizing off smart IoT devices must complete their due diligence via extensive and relevant research to understand the various marketplaces in which they compete.

     5. Growing Consumer Industries by Leveraging the Benefits of IoT

Advancements in IoT devices are undoubtedly useful and exciting to both customers and consumer-based industries. However, it is up to the organizations creating innovative products to transform their knowledge about clients’ emotions, needs, and wants into a trust-building engagement strategy.

Automotive companies, for example, must learn how to balance headlines about self-driving car fatalities with public knowledge about the prevalence and usefulness of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), while large home appliance leaders should leverage data to overcome consumers’ inner battle between cost, budget, and benefit.  No matter how advanced a TV or sedan becomes, consumer attitude will drive adoption. These organizations should focus on ways to engage their customer base to add context and establish the “why” factor in using their products.

It is the everyday mission of Market Strategies International-Morpace to assist companies in understanding these nuances through research about consumer habits to support the value proposition of their devices. The companies who currently make IoT devices are primarily focused on technological advancement and product features but ignore customer perception at their own peril. If enterprises can turn consumer data and sentiment into a strategy that delivers on promises of better efficiency and improved connectivity, the increase in global smart IoT will be coupled with a sentiment that consumers cannot live without it. The drive of habit change is trust – and research to inform development, implementation, and marketing strategies will bridge the gap.

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25
Jun

Changing Tides in IoT New Product Development

By Lucas Lowden
Research Director

In early February 2018, I was lucky enough to embark on what many might consider the trip of a lifetime.

My wife and I, along with three other couples, arranged a bareboat charter to sail around the Abaco Islands in the northeast Bahamas for eight days and seven nights. The chartered 40’ catamaran was our “home” for the subsequent week’s adventure of going somewhere new and different each day.

If you are considering taking a trip like this, I can’t recommend it enough. As Nike says – just do it!

Back home, and finally remembering what I did for my day job, came a realization.

My sailing trip parallels well with the development of innovative solutions here at Morpace, and the lessons we continue to learn in the product development process:

  1. Find someone to captain the ship in unfamiliar territory
  2. Focus first, then iterate development so you don’t end up marooned at sea
  3. Don’t let rough seas deter your development – embrace a flexible and adaptive mindset that comes with new adventures

My focus over the last 18 months has been facilitating a cross-functional team to develop big data and IoT capabilities within Morpace – specifically, our first-ever commercially-released mobile application, DataDialogue™|Pulse. This app takes our knowledge of commercial fleets and their business purpose as well as our experience working with telematics data to provide fleet professionals with an easy-to-use mobile app designed to prioritize performance issues adversely impacting profitability.
With data management and analytics in our marketing research DNA, that sounds pretty straightforward, right? Hardly. It has required deep internal engagements, a lot of perspective, and some key partnerships along the way.

  1. In any new venture, it is paramount to be strategic in your pursuits, working closely with partners, as needed.

Seems like a no-brainer, but it is not always easy. This requires you and your team to be completely honest with yourselves—taking a good, hard look in the mirror. The key is to play to your strengths and find partners to supplement you where needed.

In my boating analogy, a friend in the group is a certified and licensed captain, so we were not required to hire a captain or crew. With the captain in place, the other seven of us were the de facto crew. While this was our second trip as a group, we still leaned on his expertise to navigate us safely through the sea. Who knows where we would have ended up if I was captain of that ship.

As we’ve built DataDialogue|Pulse, there are skills and workflows required that are not necessarily the forte of a traditional marketing research company. After some internal cross-functional efforts and debate, we partnered and consulted with a Michigan-based fleet, data scientist, and application development agency (among others) to supplement our product development process with their deeper subject matter expertise.

We see this in today’s changing automotive landscape as well. OEMs are acquiring or partnering within the mobility and autonomy ecosystems with focused start-ups in hopes of getting a leg up in the race to establish a presence in this emerging space. Generally, the more narrowly-focused start-ups lend a much deeper, specific expertise to the broader-focused OEM.

  1. You want to start with the end in mind. Develop a solution that delivers the minimum acceptable level of value and iterate solutions from there.

Especially in today’s tech-centric approach to development, you must begin with a vision for a minimum viable product – a set of features and content that is essential to the success of the product or service. From there, you can plan for more detailed development around expansion in future iterations.

This also requires you to acknowledge selecting tools that work best for your problem/solution, and not vice versa. For example, we built the proof of concept within Microsoft’s PowerBI offering. This worked quite well for that stage of development, however, we ultimately opted for a custom app build to deliver the long-term scalable solution.

Our trip began and ended at the same marina, so we planned an overall course to achieve this. We certainly couldn’t stray hundreds of miles into the open ocean -after all, we had to end back where we started. This required deciding which islands and cays would best fit into a desirable route. Lastly, we decided on the specifics of choosing which islands and activities we wanted to enjoy.

  1. Despite all the planning in the world, your development process will ebb and flow. In the face of it, you will forge ahead even better if you remain flexible.

Doing so requires an adaptive mindset. Seas and weather change, much as does the business environment. You have to constantly assess your situation for disruption or, if you’re lucky, opportunity. Things do not always go as planned, so you need to be able to think quickly, improvise strategically, and move on.

Fortunately in sailing, if the weather becomes prohibitive, there isn’t much of an option than to stay put and ride it out. In business, that generally isn’t the best strategy. Many times, it may require reversing some decisions or work completed to get back onto the best path of development. Do not be discouraged by setbacks; rather, embrace them and learn from them. Sometimes, small setbacks can be the catalyst for an even better strategy.

In our app, we had assumed a relationship of one fleet manager to one fleet business. We quickly learned that one fleet manager may oversee multiple business lines. This dynamic forced our hand to allow for one user to profile multiple fleets’ data sets. While it was a step back in development, it also gave us a more scalable and robust solution in the long run.

As inspiration to you on your path to new product development, I share a handful of adages that ring true for us on our path to developing DataDialogue|Pulse:

  • Be a trailblazer, take the road less traveled
  • If it was easy, everyone would be doing it
  • Take calculated risks – nothing ventured, nothing gained
  • Embrace the opportunity to learn and grow, but fail fast
  • Enjoy the ride – it’s about the journey as well as the destination

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for dedicating your valuable time. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss our new product development journey, more details about my sailing adventure, or to tell me how much you love/hate my blog at llowden@morpace.com.

And don’t forget to pay attention for more news from Morpace and the upcoming release of the DataDialogue|Pulse v1.0 mobile app!

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12
Apr

Nudging Consumers in the Right Direction

By Steven Welling, Morpace Senior Project Director

Nudging

Recently, I decided to stop putting off updating my iPhone and crossed my fingers that I wasn’t going to risk losing anything that was stored on there (fortunately, everything saved just fine). After my iPhone finished updating, something interesting happened. My iPhone informed me that, in order to finish the update, I needed to add a credit card into my mobile wallet.

I was surprised my phone asked me to do this, as it really wasn’t a requirement for a software update. Plus, I am still more comfortable using an actual card when making a purchase in a store. I did what most people may have done and selected to do it later. The very next day, a reminder popped up on my phone asking me to complete the phone update and add a card into my mobile wallet. Eventually, due to the reminder, I decided to bite the bullet and load my credit card into my phone. My curiosity was piqued since my phone informed me it would help me set it up. Now, even though I haven’t used it in a store yet, I’m tempted to try and make a purchase with my mobile wallet just to see what the experience is like.

Altering Consumers’ Behavior

Thinking about my iPhone update experience, it’s actually a creative way to get consumers to change or try something new. In the behavioral economics world, this is considered a “nudge.”  A nudge is described as a way to alter a consumer’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. This intervention must also be easy and inexpensive (you can learn more from the book NUDGE). Another example of a “nudge” is automatically enrolling people in a program such as a 401k or organ donation, with the option of opting out (instead of the other way around).  Doing this increases participation rates without actually forcing anyone to join. Adding calorie content on menus is another example of a nudge, in which some people may be driven towards lower calorie options they may not have previously considered.

What does this all mean and how does it apply to market research?

When introducing a new product or service, it can be challenging to build awareness and get consumers to try something. With my mobile wallet example, I had heard about mobile wallet for quite a while, but never moved forward with it over concerns about security and usability. Perhaps, I needed just a gentle “nudge” in the right direction.

When conducting research, you shouldn’t simply ask why someone is using a particular product or service, or what got them to start. You should also consider the settings surrounding that event. By probing further into behavioral triggers, you can identify new ways to increase awareness or usage.

Asking the Right Questions

Let’s say we are working for a bank trying to increase mobile app usage. Just asking someone “why they signed-up” or “what would make them sign-up” may not provide the full answer. Common responses may be “an incentive” or “I’m not interested”, which are not very helpful. To understand if a nudge could take place (or has already taken place), you need to understand what happened when current users became aware or started using the app. For example, ask questions that capture the various steps that an individual took:

  • How did you first learn about the app?
  • Where were you when you signed up or started using the app?
  • Were you with anyone?

By understanding and re-creating the circumstances around the event, you may identify similarities around those who have already become aware of, or have started using, the app. You can then leverage those similarities to help “nudge” non-users and potentially increase mobile app usage.

When it comes to nudging, my iPhone update experience was a deliberate attempt to change my behavior and to get me to use mobile wallet. Nudges happen all the time and, in most cases, consumers do not even realize it is happening!

Businesses are always looking for ways to focus your attention somewhere, or get you to do something, all while feeling that you are acting completely on your own choice. In the restaurant example, patrons feel they have free will to order what they want without realizing the calories listed on the menu are meant to nudge them to healthier alternatives.

As a researcher, understanding nudges is important because consumers are motivated all the time by things they do not consciously realize and, as a result, would not be able to tell you about it if asked directly. Who knows…thanks to that reminder I received, maybe I’ll become a mobile wallet user after all!

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14
Mar

Insight Communities – Driving ROI, Not Just Research Value


Richard Clarke, Vice President
Global Partnerships, VisionCritical

For decades, research has delivered powerful consumer sentiment and opinion into organizations – enabling these organizations to put the voice of the consumer into their decisions with the goal of creating more meaningful, successful, and effective products and services.

Methods and modes have changed over the years, with more and more complex solutions being created to get closer to the consumer truth at an ever-increasing speed. Incredible insight has been (and will continue to be) gleaned from consumers, informing multiple parts of clients’ business eco-systems. However, for many clients and users, research is seen as a cost center within an organization – something that needs to be done as part of a process or something that must be purchased as part of the broader vision of the business. The value of research is not generally associated as being an integral and fundamental part of overall business planning and development.

This is why whenever there is a downturn in business performance, or regional/global downturns (ex: 2008 Global Financial Crisis), one of the first areas to be questioned and lose budget is research.

What is the “value” that research is delivering?

There are many answers to this question, both objective and subjective, however, too few times does research itself get directly linked back to business performance. Ultimately, asking about the “value” of research is the wrong question. We should be asking: What is the “Return on Investment” of research? Because that is what research is: an investment into the organization, and not a cost.

There are many ways that Return on Investment in research can be measured, including:

  • More informed/accurate business decisions – what is the cost savings from NOT doing the wrong thing or validating the decision (risk aversion)?
  • Faster to market with the RIGHT product – how much does speeding up the development cycle save?
  • Quicker reaction time to customer feedback and demand – what is the short- and long-term savings of rapidly reacting to the situation or of knowing your customers’ buyer journey and pain points?

For years, I have been an advocate of research and Insight Communities – the idea of engaging with individuals to answer the business issues at hand with engaged members who, ultimately, also drive advocacy for the brand. Insight Communities should not be considered a research “cost” but rather as an organizational asset that both informs business decisions and creates brand advocacy among members.

Forrester Consulting recently completed a Total Economic Impact™ Study on the ROI of Insight Communities to clients. In addition to the cost efficiencies and speed value propositions of Insight Communities, Forrester quantified the financial value of continually engaging with members in a community. The highlights include:

  • $1.7M business value from increased customer insight
  • 590% ROI
  • $546K incremental profit and $4.7M increased sales from community members
  • 39% increase in average order value and 70% lower churn rate from community members
  • 75% reduction in cost compared to traditional market research methodologies
  • 4-6x faster speed to results

This continues to reaffirm the belief that an Insight Community is not only an incredibly valuable tool in providing fast and efficient consumer insight, but also drives business action that results in incremental sales and profit for organizations.

These are just some of the reasons that organizations are implementing communities. The client stories about the impact of an ongoing Insight Community are powerful and continue to prove out the short-term and long-term Return on Investment. Shifting the mindset to consumer engagement is resulting in hundreds of organizations realizing significant returns and outcomes (click here for client stories).

Five years ago, communities were more of a niche solution or emerging technology but, according to the latest GreenBook Research Industry Trends Report (Q3 2017), 82% of respondents stated that communities were either in use (60%) or under consideration (22%). This has led GreenBook to no longer believe that they are an emerging solution but are, in fact, a mainstream solution:

“In future editions of GRIT, it is likely that online communities will also be removed from “emerging methods” now that it is mainstream.” (GRIT Q3/Q4 2017).

Ultimately, these two pieces of evidence indicate that an Insight Community is not only a solution that spreads efficient business insight across organizations but is also an asset that drives revenue and profitability – thereby attaching a real-world ROI to the value of the asset.

Feel free to contact me to learn more about how an Insight Community can become your most powerful asset.

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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.

 

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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