Quirk's Blog

Who won the Rio Olympics? 5 ways of keeping score

Editor’s note: Nik Werk is research manager at market research firm B2B International’s New York office.

It should be relatively straightforward to determine who won the Olympics but it’s not. All over the world, different news media have different ways of keeping score – some count gold medals, some count total medals, some allocate a value to the medals and some also take number of athletes or population into account – all giving completely different outcomes. In this article I will take a look at some of the common ways of keeping score.

  1. Counting

The most basic way would be to count the number of total medals or gold medals. It is uncontroversial, because there is no biased interpretation but also seems unfair, as the largest countries have a huge advantage. In this case, the top three are the U.S., China and U.K., depending on which type of medal we count.

Olympics - most medals

  1. Weighting the medals

Some have tried to make this more sophisticated, like the New York Times, by weighing the medals on importance. They suggest that a gold medal is twice as important as a silver, which is twice as important as a bronze – the 4-2-1-point system. This is more controversial, because of the difficulty of assessing the relative importance of the three medals. However, it also seems fair in that it acknowledges the relative importance of medals, which the total number doesn’t. Again, the U.S., U.K. and China come out on top.

Olympics - weighted medals

  1. Accounting for population

Because it takes the value of medals into account, this weighted medals method makes more sense than total number or just golds, and is therefore the method of counting we will use for the remainder of the article. However, our model is not complete, as total numbers give an unfair advantage to larger countries with more chances to win medals. For instance, Indonesia, a country of 257 million, won eight medals and would therefore be considered more successful than Bahrain who won six medals with a population of only 1.4m. We have to even the playing field.

To make up for this, we can plot the population per medal so as to not favor large countries. However, this seems to skew results too far towards the small countries. Could we really say that Grenada, who won one silver medal (worth two weighted medals) is really the winner of the Olympics?

Olympics - population per weighted medal

  1. Participating athletes

One issue with population size is that it really doesn’t apply to athletics. A large country does not necessarily have a large number of athletes. The fairest measure, in our view, is the number of participating athletes. It seems unfair that a country whose athletes perform better on average falls behind one that just has more participants. For instance, Jamaica won 32 weighted medals with only 68 athletes, while New Zealand won just seven more with almost three times as many athletes.

This gives us what is arguably the fairest measure – weighted medals by number of participating athletes. It still seems to favor small countries too much.

Olympics - weighted medals by number of athletes

  1. Context

This is the same graph as above – it just has the number of participating athletes plotted next to the weighted medals by number of athletes. While Tajikistan has a superior conversion, it still seems wrong. Surely it is more impressive to win 53 weighted medals per 100 athletes with a huge team of 554 participants, than getting a slightly better return with only seven athletes. Yet this model says Tajikistan won.

In searching for the fairest possible measure to calculate the winner of the Olympics, without biasing findings one way or the other, we still get what seems like a wrong result. Most people looking at this data would say that the U.S. performance is more impressive.

Olympics - weighted medals by number of athletes_2

Models and formulas: keeping context in mind

This demonstrates a shortcoming of the formulas and models we often apply in market research. When we try to find a suitable, unbiased and accurate measure, we risk losing sight of the context. The “best” model we could come up with is suggesting that a country with 100 athletes, which takes home 99 weighted medals, is doing worse than a country which sends one athlete and takes home one weighted medal. Data analysts and market researchers plays a vital role in applying judgment and interpretation to the data. We cannot rely on models and formulas in isolation. Unless of course, you truly think Tajikistan won the Rio Olympics.

Data source: medalspercapita.com.

Posted in Market Research Best Practices, Market Research Findings, Market Research in the News, Market Research Techniques, Market Studies | Comment

Bringing out the best in focus group participants

Author name: Lisa Boughton is director at research firm Angelfish Fieldwork, Cheltenham, U.K. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “10 moderating tips to follow for successful focus groups.”

Running successful focus groups requires a great moderator who can bring out the best in participants, ensuring that you get the insight you are looking for. Here are our 10 best tips for how to moderate a focus group successfully:

tips and tricks1. Learn the skills
Moderating focus groups requires a particular skill set. Before taking on the role of a moderator, one must first understand what it takes to guide a productive conversation, which includes honing people skills and developing the ability to tease out informative responses from a variety of people in a timely manner. Important skills an effective moderator should build on include listening skills, ability to be flexible, management and organization skills.

2. Develop an interview schedule
First up, you need a solid discussion guide but it’s also a good idea to have a plan and a timing structure for which questions you will ask and at approximately what point you will ask them during the session. This will also help you keep the group on track for your available time. Questions should start out fairly general and then get more specific as the session progresses while adhering to the outlined discussion guide.

3. Include a variety of exercises
A focus group moderator should always try to vary the exercises in order to maintain interest and enthusiastic engagement among the participants. An example of this could be rating scales, role-playing or word associations to try and keep the session varied. This can be especially critical in a longer focus group, which can run two to three hours, as opposed to a more typical 90-minute session.

4. Create a relaxed environment
It is important to help focus group participants feel comfortable right away by establishing a warm atmosphere. Personally greet participants and thank them for coming – make them feel comfortable. Giving everyone a badge so that they know each other’s names can also make the environment feel friendlier.

5. Establish the rules at the start
Moderators should begin focus groups by going over some basic housekeeping rules, such as a recap of the focus group duration, what’s going to be included in the session and telling people if they need to turn off their phones. If a session is taking place at a market research facility, you should be certain that participants are informed of that fact the session will be recorded at recruitment stage but also include a reminder before the session starts. Find out more about this in the MRS Codes of Conduct.

6. Conduct an ice breaker
An ice breaker can be a moderator’s best friend, as it helps to ease the participants into the swing of things. Starting off by asking everyone to answer one or two simple questions such as, “Where do you live?” or “What is something unusual about yourself?” This can help make participants more comfortable with each other and more willing to provide in-depth answers during the focus group.

7. Moderate without actually participating
It’s important for the moderator to remain neutral and to avoid asking leading questions that might influence participant’s answers. Remember that the job is to guide the discussion and keep it focused, not to join in or dominate it.

8. Ask open-ended questions
Although you will be directed by your discussion guide, try not to ask yes or no questions. Moderators should take care to phrase questions in a way that encourages the participants to elaborate on their answers and avoids misleading them.

9. Always seek clarity
Never assume that you know what the participant means. If there is anything fuzzy or hard to understand about a person’s answer, the moderator should probe the respondent to get a clearer understanding of what he or she is trying to say.

10. Watch your body language
As a moderator, it’s not just what you ask but how you ask and how you listen. Your body language and posture should demonstrate to participants that you are interested in what they have to say. Listening attentively and making eye contact helps participants understand that you find their input valuable, which encourages them to share even more.

Posted in Market Research Best Practices, Moderating | Comment

Why Budweiser’s ‘America’ can is a great idea

Editor’s note: Daryl Weber is a brand consultant and author of Brand Seduction: How Neuroscience Can Help Marketers Build Memorable Brands.

You can’t think of American beer without thinking of Budweiser. While in many ways it’s just another massed produced, non-offensive, bland domestic beer, it seems to have a stronghold on being the most American beer there is. Even with being owned by AB InBev, the massive beer conglomerate based out of Belgium and Brazil, it still manages to feel quintessentially, iconically, American. It has authentic, hardworking, blue collar roots that fit right at home at a frat party, 4th of July BBQ, next to a burger, and at the Super Bowl. Add in the majestic Clydesdale horses featured in many of its ads and it just seems as star spangled American as you can get.

Budweiser-America cans

Clearly, the marketers at Budweiser know this is their strength. Over the past few years, they’ve been playing up their American equity more and more. It wants to be (and arguably already is) the iconic American beer. Since 2011 they’ve released special edition cans that featured the American flag’s stars and stripes, and even the Statue of Liberty. But you probably didn’t hear about those. They didn’t stir up quite the buzz that we’re now seeing with their latest idea – to actually change the name on the can to “America” until the presidential election in November.

Despite the backlash, I like this idea for a few reasons. First of all, the overall brand strategy of becoming known as the iconic American beer seems to be a good choice. Of course, all of Bud’s domestic beer competition can also claim to be American (maybe even more so), but none have the depth of equity in it that Bud has. Budweiser is uniquely positioned to own that space, and clearly consumers like things that are “made in America” and that can proudly represent their patriotism. This is especially true for the Budweiser target: think middle America, pickup trucks and country music. They are proudly American, and so is Budweiser.

Secondly, changing the name of such a well-known brand is a bold move. It’s going to get a lot of free press and attention, which is already happening. It’s remarkable and worth talking about, so people are. Sure, a lot of people hate it and are taking to social media to say so but even that helps solidify Budweiser’s Americanness in people’s minds.

But the real reason I think this name change is genius is subtle. Most brands of course are not in a position to change their name. They don’t have the recognition and familiarity to do it. But Bud clearly does. You can see a can of Bud from a mile away and know it’s a can of Bud. You don’t need to read the label. Any beer drinker has seen so many bottles and cans of Budweiser around – at parties, on shelves, in ads, even on the side of the road – that it’s easily recognizable without actually reading the name. So I’d argue that many people who go to pick up one of the new “America” cans, won’t even notice the name has changed. It’ll just be there – a subliminal reminder that Bud is America’s beer.

In psychology this is referred to as implicit learning. It’s the idea that your mind is learning about things in your environment all of the time, mostly without you realizing it. So even if you barely notice the name change on a can in your hand, your brain may have noticed, and in doing so it strengthens the idea that Budweiser is the all-American beer. Of course, if you also hear about this name change in the news or on social media, that brand association further gets strengthened in your mind, both consciously and unconsciously.

Coca-Cola tried something similar in 2011 when it changed the color of its iconic red cans to white in an effort to grow awareness for a save the polar bears campaign. It seemed like a nice idea that would also get a lot of free publicity for being a bold move but it backfired. It strayed too far from the iconic look and feel of that brand. The red color is core to that brand and cannot be messed with. Consumers even reported that the soda inside tasted different in the white can, and there is research to support that that would be true. Our perceptions, including taste, are strongly guided by our expectations, and the color of the can is a powerful cue for what we’re about to drink. It just doesn’t taste the same coming from a white can. Many were also confused and thought they were buying Diet Coke.

Budweiser’s can change is subtle. It keeps all of the important graphic elements that cue the brand and all of the equity that comes along with it. Interestingly, it would seem like changing the name – such a core piece of any brand – would be a bigger change but really, most consumers are so familiar with it that they’re not reading the actual name anymore, they’re just recognizing the whole thing. The “gestalt” as psychologists say – the brand’s whole impression – has stayed the same. In the Coke example, the gestalt or overall image became far too different.

So it’s really the combination that is powerful – the bold move Budweiser has taken in changing their name will get them a lot of publicity and buzz in a conscious way. But because the change of the look of the can is so subtle, they’re barely changing anything, so there is no risk of consumer confusion and the mental association of Budweiser as “America’s beer” can also be built unconsciously. It’s a one-two punch that I think will serve the brand well in the long term, despite what the critics are saying. Cheers to that, Budweiser.


Posted in Advertising Research, Brand and Image Research, Business and Product Development, Consumer Research, Neuromonitoring, Product Research | Comment

Athletes aren’t the only ones competing during the Olympics

Editor’s note: Mark Simon is managing director, North America, at market research firm Toluna, Wilton, Conn.

The summer Olympic games are an exciting tradition for both participants and spectators. Prior to the game we surveyed 1,000 respondents in the U.S., U.K., Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Australia, China and Japan about the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio, and again after 10 days of coverage. We asked about plans to watch the games, favorite sports and athletes, as well as awareness of sponsors and advertisers.

With all the various options available to us today to consumer media, it seems Americans are tuning in more than they intend to. While only 68 percent of respondents in the US planned to watch the Olympics, 78 percent have reported watching.

It’s easier and easier to consume media on the go digitally, and we saw a significant increase in people who are watching the Olympics in the middle of the day. Thirty-one percent planned to watch coverage midday but 41 percent are actually watching at that time.

The top sports respondents surveyed are looking forward to watching this year across the globe are swimming (59 percent), gymnastics (51 percent) and athletics or track and field (42 percent). Americans are most looking forward to gymnastics (70 percent).

The survey asked respondents to mention the athletes they were most excited to watch compete. Not surprisingly, in the U.S., the fan favorite athletes are Michael Phelps (18 percent), Gabby Douglas (7 percent) and Simone Biles (5 percent). Overall, 28 percent in the U.S. don’t have a specific athlete they’re rooting for – it’s all about Team USA!

team USA

Each region is hoping to the next host city will be close to home! The 2024 Olympics are still being decided but respondents in the U.S. are voting for Los Angeles (58 percent), respondents in France are voting for Paris (66 percent) and respondents from U.K., Italy, Spain and Germany are voting for Rome (43 percent).

Sponsors and advertisers

With all that brands spend on sponsorships and advertising in the Olympics, it’s important to gauge how much exposure companies are truly getting. NBC has sold $1.2 billion in advertising, and there has been controversy surrounding the loosened restrictions of advertisements from non-sponsor brands. Prior to the games, more than half of respondents were able to identify brands like Coca Cola (68 percent) and McDonalds (55 percent) as official sponsors. Forty-two percent identify Nike as an official sponsor, as they are the official uniform partner for this year’s games. Forty-one percent of respondents globally identify Adidas as being a sponsor of the Olympic games, even though they are not sponsoring in 2016. Adidas was the official sportswear sponsor of the 2012 games in London. They are seeing the benefits of that sponsorship four years later.

After watching 10 days of Olympic coverage, unaided awareness of Nike as an official sponsor brand rose from 8.8 percent to 9.9 percent, while the other top brands remained fairly flat. Nike’s position as the official uniform partner lands them in the mix with the other top Olympic partners who pay $100 million for their four-year deals, even though Nike paid much less for their position as a supplier.

The top-rated unofficial Olympic sponsor ad was the Under Armour Rule Yourself commercial, featuring Michael Phelps. This ad ranked ninth on our list in mentions.

Overall, advertisers don’t appear to be making a big splash with their ad-spend thus far during the games. Most have remained flat or even decreased in awareness after 10 days of coverage. Some other advertisers have capitalized on their ad placements to increase awareness and cut through the clutter. Of all of this year’s unofficial sponsors, it appears Under Armour is ahead in taking advantage of the looser guidelines of Rule 40 this year to increase awareness through smart advertising – while their awareness remained flat, they were the one of the Top 10 mentioned ads on our list. Other brands are coming out on top and being identified as official sponsors even though they haven’t paid the big price tag for that title such as Gatorade (31 percent), Adidas (31 percent) and Toyota (27 percent).


Posted in Advertising Research, Brand and Image Research, Consumer Research, Market Research Findings | Comment

5 tips for pain-free survey translation reviews

Editor’s note: This is an edited version of a post that was originally published here by Daniel Stächelin, editor and writer, client insights at Language Intelligence, under the title, “Survey translation review: 5 steps to quality.”

Hello Word Cloud in Speech BubbleI often hear from market researchers that the survey translation review process is one of the most difficult stages in gathering and delivering data. It can push back deadlines, lead to version control issues and cause a lot of stress and frustration. But survey translation reviews don’t have to be a headache.

To get the best results, try out these five steps:

1. Plan your survey translation review in advance

When it comes to projects, people don’t like last-minute surprises. The same goes for survey translation reviews. But by letting everyone know in advance that a review stage will be part of the project, you’ll go a long way toward avoiding surprise overruns on cost and timing.

2. Involve your translation partner

This point can’t be stressed enough. Your translation vendor knows a lot about managing review cycles and they’re there to help. It’s also important that any changes your client makes are reviewed for linguistic accuracy by a professional translator and then added to your translation memory database. For best results, involve your translation service provider – they know all the ins and outs.

3. Choose only the best reviewers for the job

The best way to get great feedback – to improve the quality of the translation – is having highly qualified survey translation reviewers on board. Good reviewers are defined as native speakers of the target language who are also fluent in English. Ideally they’ll have excellent written communication skills and knowledge of the subject matter.

4. Set clear expectations

Do you need all changes back by a certain date to make it to field on time? If so, make sure your reviewers know. Most client reviewers have a lot of competing priorities. If you want to prioritize the survey translation review step, reviewers need to know how to schedule their time so they can help you reach your deadlines on time.

It’s also important that reviewers know what to look for. You might want them to look over any visible programming language, for example. They should also be aware that when reviewing translations, they shouldn’t be looking for errors that should have been taken care of before – such as spelling or grammar errors.

Instead, a quality reviewer will be making sure that wording is consistent with their company’s brand and that any terms that are specific to that company match the way it represents its products or services in the target language.

5. Make sure all changes are tracked

Make sure all changes in the survey translation review process are tracked. It’s up to you how you and your reviewers want to achieve that. You could either track changes in a Word document, or you could use an online tool.

If you try out all these steps, you’ll not only save yourself a headache but you’ll also save yourself time and money, and, most importantly, you’ll get accurate results from your surveys.


Posted in International Research, Market Research Best Practices, Marketing Best Practices, Marketing Research Resources | Comment

Understanding Millennials and the Olympics

Editor’s note: This post has been removed per the request of Olson Zaltman and its client involved in the study.


Posted in Advertising Research, Brand and Image Research, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Research, Millennials, One-on-One Interviewing | Comment

Connecting with eco-friendly audiences

Editor’s note: Tiffany Tran is a market researcher at social media technology firm, Infegy, Kansas City, Mo. This is an edited version of a piece that originally appeared here under the title, “Why marketers struggle to connect with eco-friendly audiences.”

Marketing to environmentally conscious consumers isn’t necessarily something new. Brands have been capitalizing on this for some time now, and much of those efforts have been abused because of the ambiguous rules of what sustainable marketing is.

The FTC has since (2012) revised its “Green Guides” in hopes of better-protecting consumers from being deceived by deceptive advertising and marketing.

However, the question is, even with revised rules, can marketers still entice these consumers to listen?

One company that’s doing it right is TOMS Shoes, arguably the most successful social enterprise lifestyle brand today. Since the beginning, people have known it is as a one-for-one company. Buy one pair of shoes and they’ll give a pair to someone in need.


While the mission is to help those in need, TOMS also strives to present the brand as more environmentally friendly and are increasingly honest and transparent about their efforts.

TOMS mission statement

Is it easy to market to eco-friendly consumers?

The days of slapping eco-friendly on a product is becoming less and less effective as many consumers feel overwhelmed by the volume of messages in the marketplace. According to Cone Communications’ Green Gap Trend Tracker report, consumers today expect brands to be able to give them more depth on what makes their product(s) green.

Another important signal for marketers and brands all around is to be honest in their messaging, as 78 percent of respondents say that they would boycott a product if they discovered an environmental claim to be misleading.

Vizeum and Clownfish released a report that covered sustainable consumers across North America, Europe and Asia, and found a gap between consumers’ interest in sustainability and their resulting action. It is an indication that there are different types of environmentally friendly consumers in the marketplace.

Understanding the complexity of eco-friendly consumers is essential to success. Consumers who consider themselves environmentally friendly are vastly different in terms of interests and buying power. Researchers should consider approaching these differences by pairing consumer research with social media research.

Posted in Consumer Research, Customer Satisfaction, Shopper Insights, Social Media and Marketing Research | Comment

Qualitative is making a comeback

Editor’s note: Roy Eduardo Kokoyachuk is managing partner at market research firm ThinkNow Research, Los Angeles. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “The resurgence of qualitative research.”

Database of different people in woman silhouetteWhen big data came on the scene a few years ago there was a lot of hand wringing in the market research industry about what the future was going to look like if all online consumer data was going to be available for marketers to analyze and exploit. In-person qualitative research, with its old-school approach and methodology, seemed to be a good candidate for extinction in an age of pixels and clicks. Why would marketers want to talk to consumers if they could see their every purchase and eavesdrop on their online conversations? Wouldn’t consumers reveal their likes, dislikes and motivations for all to see and marketers to exploit?

Now, in mid-2016, we have a pretty good sense of how things are shaking out. While it’s true that we share quite a lot about ourselves online, it’s not always the type of information that marketers can use. While Amazon, Google and Spotify do indeed know a lot about our purchase behaviors, browsing habits and music preferences they don’t know why we bought something, looked something up or chose a certain song to listen to. All the information Amazon, Google and Spotify work with was created after we’ve searched for or clicked on something. They have a limited view, however, as to why we went to their sites in the first place. Without the why, marketers are left guessing as to how to incite future purchases or gauge interest in future products.

Social listening

The why was supposed to come from the social listening side of the equation. Facebook, Twitter, etc. were going to tell us what motivated people to do what they do. While they do uncover interesting insights there’s something coloring many of those findings: social acceptance and vanity. A significant predictor of whether an online conversation approving of or disproving of a product or service is often the content of the first comment in the string. Subsequent respondents then echo the initial sentiment to gain social acceptance.

Additionally, the comments and images we post online for all to see are not necessarily reflective of our real selves. If they were, a large proportion of us would be walking around staring into mirrors, making duck lips and tilting our heads just so. Our “better” online selves are happier, enjoy life more and have more friends than our offline selves. The problem for marketers is that in 2016 it’s still the offline self that spends money on products and services. Amazon can set their algorithms in motion once we’ve clicked on something or made a purchase but until we do they’re clueless as to what to say to us.

Qual’s comeback

While everyone was distracted by their glowing screens something interesting has been happening in market research – old-school qualitative research has been making a comeback. After a lull in qualitative research which occurred while consumer insights teams absorbed the new tools they had at their disposal and figured out what they could and could not do, we’re experiencing a resurgence of interest in ethnographies, focus groups, shop-alongs and IDI’s. In a nod to the new online world, some of it is happening online but a lot of it is reverting to face-to-face methodologies.

We recently conducted a series of focus groups among individuals without health insurance. Not having health insurance is not something people brag about on Facebook. In fact, one might get the impression from online posts that Americans are perpetually smiling, spend most of their time on vacation and are living the dream. Listening to group members describe their struggles with health insurance access, fear of financial catastrophe and concerns about their and their family’s health, one realizes that this type of conversation can only be had in-person. Several group participants hugged the moderator on the way out and thanked him for allowing them to share their feelings on the topic. The moderator had done little more than listen attentively and probe for more information but an intimacy was achieved in those groups that felt intensely human.

Of course, not all focus groups revolve around such weighty topics but a good moderator can help people uncover the inner motivations for their preferences. An online post can tell us, “Mustangs are cool!” but it doesn’t usually reveal, “I want a Mustang but work in a law firm where most people drive Audi’s and BMW’s so I’m kind of embarrassed by wanting one.” Further probing might lead an ad agency to have an ah-ha! moment that could lead to an ad campaign that drives buyers to showrooms. Knowing that someone clicked on a picture of a Mustang is interesting but will only get you so far in developing resonant marketing messages. As long as marketers are selling products and services to human beings there will be a need to understand them on an emotional level and thus a need for qualitative research moderated by humans.


Posted in Behavioral Research, Brand and Image Research, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Research, Customer Satisfaction, Innovation in Market Research, Market Research Best Practices, New Product Research, Qualitative Research | 1 Comment

How brands are connecting with consumers during the 2016 Olympics

Editor’s note: Daphne Kasriel-Alexander is a consumer trends consultant with research firm Euromonitor International, London. This is an edited post that originally appeared here under the title, “The Olympics 2016: How can brands connect with trend-aware consumers?”

Sprint start on race trackBrands are keen to engage the millions of viewers globally who will be glued to screens, portable and big, often simultaneously, for the Rio Olympics. This year’s Olympics have already been dubbed the “Smartphone Olympics” as many younger digital native consumers are expected to view the August competitions on mobile devices.

Savvy marketers are also aware that engaged audiences will expand beyond the typical sports fan and that this is one of just a few positive large-scale media events that capture the attention of consumers across demographics and ages. Even sharing economy trends are represented in Rio. Airbnb signed an agreement in March to become the official provider of alternative lodging during the event.

Ad campaigns, notably from luxury labels, are also keenly aware of the value of authenticity as a way to move consumers to develop an emotional bond with brands, even if purchases remain aspirational.

The Rio Olympics come at a moment when consumers worldwide are signifying that well-being matters in their lives by looking workout-ready even if not gym-bound. This interest in athleisure means that increased consumer purchasing of sporty apparel at this time is very likely, and has led the creative director at Lacoste outfitting the French team this year and one of a roll call of designers engaged to inject glamour into athletic attire, to call this Olympic season the longest fashion season.

The International Olympic Committee’s stringent advertising rules have been relaxed somewhat for Rio 2016, opening the door for more brands to benefit from their ties to the competitions, even if they aren’t official Olympic sponsors. This has spurred more creative efforts to associate brand campaigns with The Olympics in the minds of consumers. The wisdom of doing so has been backed by a recent poll of 1,000 U.K. consumers from tech firm RadiumOne. Asking about brand associations in sport, it revealed that six of the Top 10 brands most associated with Euro 2016 weren’t even sponsors of the tournament.

One eye on the TV screen

In what has already been dubbed the “Smartphone Olympics,” sports fans are set to have one eye on the TV screen and the other on their mobile devices when following the August competitions. With 42 events set to overlap, more consumers will feel compelled to use their smartphones and tablets to check out scores, world records and other developments in real time. In these Rio Olympics, any brand thinking about offering mobile solutions must be driven by real-time results. A sports shoe brand, for instance, will be looking for stories on shoe malfunctions hampering sporting success. It can then target mobile/desktop searches for multiple variations of what consumers’ might be searching for – such as “running shoe accident” and use ad copy or images to appeal to consumers. They could also be done across multiple digital channels such as Yahoo, Facebook ads and Instagram.

As The Olympics will focus the world’s attention on mobile digital apps, global media outlets are customizing their offerings to increase viewing of TV coverage. For instance, SportTV, a brand owned by Globo, the largest media company in Latin America, is launching an app that will alert users in advance of events and when their favorite athletes feature. Creative ad campaigns include one from Telstra, Australia’s biggest telco player, urging consumers to “Go to Rio” with an ad promoting their “Olympics on 7” app.

Apps focused on hospitality, transport, eating out and entertainment are also aiming to assist the 380,000 tourists expected to land in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympics.

Ad agency Rubicom has been working with brands who aren’t official sponsors or paying for major TV spots to create a presence on the second screen. Its Rubicon Project has just shared findings from a new survey of over a 1,000 sports fans supporting the view that the shift in how consumers engage with content is making the 2016 Olympics the first anytime, anywhere Olympics. Significantly:

  • 79 percent of Millennials plan to watch the Olympics live online;
  • seven out of 10 plan to watch on their mobile device, advancing the “always on” evolution of today’s fans;
  • eight out of 10 Millennials will have a second screen open “most of the time” they watch the Olympics, consuming content related to what is on the television;
  • 57 percent of Olympic followers have an annual household income above U.S. $50,000 (vs. 32 percent non-followers).


Appeal of authenticity in sports marketing

Authenticity in brand messages and campaigns holds appeal for consumers globally. While Olympians are aiming for a place on a pedestal, brands are aware that Olympic marketing campaigns should be relatable. While an Olympic medal remains out of reach for most, all can relate to Olympic values such as the pursuit of excellence, teamwork and dedication.

A good way to woo consumers turned off by traditional advertising but used to seeing authenticity online is to incorporate actual images shared by users of a brand and using them to build links with existing and potential customers. U.S. hotel and resorts brand Loews has done this in its #TravelForReal campaign, which used user-generated images, making views feel part of the part of the high-end world.

An awareness of the value of authenticity seems to color the choice and approach regarding sports celebrities in brand campaigns. History has shown that athletes can sell products and importantly can create connections between brands and consumers but authenticity is increasingly emphasized, (despite the risks of scandal-prone sports stars letting brands down). Mr. Mille, the luxury contemporary watchmaker, insists that his ambassadors don’t merely appear in campaigns but wear the watches while they play. This belief has led the brand to adapt timepieces, with the involvement of athletes, to be light enough to not obstruct Rafael Nadal on the tennis court and resistant enough for the G-force of Felipe Massa’s Formula 1 car. Just 50 of Nadal’s U.S. $775,000 watch, the RM 27-02, were for sale and they were bought up immediately. Brand strategists also feel that they can tell their story when featuring sports stars in marketing in a more authentic way in the digital sphere compared to traditional media. As an example, it was reported that fans and influencers generated 78 percent of the social media buzz surrounding the Nadal introduction, while just 22 percent came from the brand.

The extent to which authenticity in campaigns can resonate with consumers in luxury campaigns for items that remain out of reach of most consumers has been the subject of debate. Various luxury brands have justified targeting mass-market sports’ consumers with the reasoning that they can build awareness of a luxury name in the minds of these consumers, many of whom are set to be upwardly mobile as the middle class expands.

Fashionable athleisure to drive interest, purchasing

In terms of apparel and fashion influence, the 2016 Olympics are likely to be greeted by a very receptive consumer base due to the current global popularity of athleisure. It echoes the consumer embrace of a holistic attitude towards optimal physical and mental health and is already occupying more retail floor space as well as space in consumer wardrobes. As consumers look up to fitness, commentators observe, workout gear becomes equated with style, communicating to everyone that wearers consider health and wellness to be a key part of their lives. This clothing and footwear is worn on the streets, in restaurants, when shopping, at social occasions and on the catwalk (Spring/Summer 2016 collections from Chloe and Valentino feature tracksuits, for instance). It can also be seen on the way to and at work, sparing workers the need to carry extra gym outfits to the office and driving a trend for high-end gym wear.

Athleisure is a global hit. In China, as luxury goods have become less accessible to the growing middle class, in part due to last year’s anti-extravagance campaign, the tastes of the elite have also shifted away from visibly branded goods in favor of quality, newness and lifestyle. This shift sees Chinese consumers spending on sportswear, quality athletic clothes and accessories – with an emphasis on wellness and a healthy lifestyle. Reuters recently reported that GPS watches, hydration packs and compression leggings are the new must-haves for wealthy Chinese consumers. Euromonitor data shows that the sportswear market in China grew to U.S. $25 billion in 2015, and is forecast to grow to U.S. $40 billion in real terms by 2020.

As has been seen in recent Olympic events, most notably in 2012, a bevy of fashion designers working for labels including Giorgio Armani, Prada, Hermès, Stella McCartney and Ralph Lauren, have been engaged by countries to inject fashion into all aspects of the events from competition to opening ceremonies. Aware that the attention of fashionistas will be focused on Olympics apparel, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, creative director of Lacoste and designer of outfits for the French team calls the Olympic season the longest season in fashion.

Posted in Advertising Research, Brand and Image Research, Consumer Research, Market Research in the News, Shopper Insights, Social Media and Marketing Research | Comment

Why luxury brands should take advantage of consumer-generated content

Editor’s note: Maria Di Martino is senior PR manager EMEA at social media SaaS company, Bazaarvoice, London. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “The voice of the customer is revolutionizing the British luxury market.”

Louis Vuitton StoreIt was only a few months ago that headlines were populated by the news of luxury brands, including Burberry and Tom Ford, announcing see-now-buy-immediately collections, meaning latest collections are made available in-store right after they are shown on the runway. Although initially perceived as a significant change, it should not come as a surprise – the most recent industry changes, brought by consumers’ access to new technologies and digital transformation, have naturally led fashion brands and retailers to become more customer-centric than ever before. Let’s take a closer look at how luxury brands are putting the customer at the heart of their business by embracing and leveraging consumer-generated content (CGC).

Across the industry we have seen how brands and retailers recognize the power of the consumer’s voice and that meeting today’s audiences’ needs can lead to positive business outcomes. Yet luxury brands born way before the explosion of social media, like Louis Vuitton or Chanel, are still very protective of their prestige and exclusivity, which remains their primary brand strategy. However, exclusivity is no longer what makes a brand appealing to consumers; today’s consumers are seeking peers’ validation before making a purchase. Deloitte’s Digital Democracy survey revealed that personal recommendations (81 percent), including those within social media circles (61 percent), play a major role in purchase decisions. As a result, luxury brands need to start opening up to a wider audience or they risk falling behind more digital and consumer-savvy brands.

On top of having access to CGC (online reviews, questions and answers, star ratings, blogs and brand-related photos and videos), consumers are also eager to share their own brand-related experiences, whether that is by leaving a review of their latest pair of shoes on a brand’s Web site or posting a picture of their new dress through social networks and apps. A recent McKinsey study confirms British luxury consumers appreciate the addition of customer reviews and recommendations, and research reveals 87 percent of consumers would recommend a premium brand product to a friend.

When it comes to fashion commerce, consumers’ choices are particularly influenced by visual content and with 80 million photos a day shared on Instagram alone, it’s clear that brands need to embrace customer recommendations and integrate visual CGC from social networks into product pages and other marketing assets. A Bazaarvoice study confirms the significance of displaying visual content on a brand’s Web site – 25 real shoppers looked at product images first, before any other product page content, without fail. British retailer John Lewis is well aware of the impact that CGC has on building stronger relationships with customers. John Lewis sees the value of consumers as brand ambassadors with the #MyShoeStory hashtag campaign. The retailer curates Instagram pictures of customers modelling their new shoes that are then leveraged into a variety of media channels, to provide customers with inspiration and create further customer engagement.

CGC not only helps brands provide customers with relevant content but it’s also a great source of insights for business development and product improvement. For instance, Ulla Popken, a German retail company specializing in plus-size fashion, faced a challenge that’s familiar to many companies with successful histories in traditional brick-and-mortar environments: how do you create the same type of close and personal relationships customers have enjoyed with their local store staff in the online world? Here is a recent example of Ulla Popken’s implementation of customer feedback, which resulted in a better product: a pair of trousers sold so well that it never occurred to the retailer that there might be a problem with the product but reviews consistently mentioned that the trousers were too long. A change in specifications resolved the issue, opening the way for better future sales. Ulla Popken is seeing a lift over 40 percent in conversion rates from online visitors who are interacting with reviews. This example clearly shows the value of CGC as a new source of valuable insights leading to product improvement and overall better business results.

The same study mentioned above shows that 92 percent of reviews on premium items are four stars and above, while reviews ranging from three to four stars offer the most suggestions for product improvements and future products.

Some luxury brands neglect to embrace customer feedback in favor of remaining “exclusive,” but the reality is that consumers are talking about them regardless of the brand’s engagement. Brands who turn their back to the voice of the customer will not protect their reputation, rather this prevents them from receiving invaluable insights and the chance to be seen as an open and digitally innovative player that is eager to build stronger customer relationships. Conversations are happening, and it is time for premium fashion brands to make the most of customer feedback or risk losing consumer preference.


Posted in Brand and Image Research, Consumer Research, Customer Satisfaction, Product Research, Shopper Insights | Comment