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Euromonitor names top wellness trends for 2014

167314167Editor’s note: Simone Baroke is a contributing analyst at Euromonitor International. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title “Top 10 global consumer health and wellness trends for 2014.”

Simone Baroke – Contributing Analyst
Simone Baroke – Contributing Analy

In 2014, the global health and wellness market will continue to be driven by demand for natural products, with consumers becoming increasingly sophisticated in their expectations. Not only do they want less of the “bad” stuff (and this now includes gluten, lactose, etc.), but they also want more of the good, such as protein, veggie and functional properties. Emerging economies, characterized by poverty and wealth coexisting side by side, are driving global health and wellness growth, and, sadly, the challenging economic conditions mean that food fraud has crept into the spectrum of First World consumer concerns.

Top 10 Global Consumer Health and Wellness Trends for 2014

1. Protein rules

2. Enhanced natural merging with free-from

3. Meat reduction is the word

4. More veggies please!

5. Sugar reduction – by stealth in food but openly in beverages

6. Emerging markets drive global health and wellness growth

7. Cold pressed juice is the new premium

8. Probiotics are conquering the southern hemisphere

9. Wholegrain controversy

10. Health and wellness products under suspicion of fraud

Source: Euromonitor International

Here is a look at five of the top 10 (click here to read the remaining five):

1. Protein rules. Without a shred of doubt, the protein trend is dominating 2014. The boom may have started with Greek yoghurt in the U.S., but now the high-protein badge graces tubs and packets in virtually every packaged food and beverage category, swiftly expanding its geographical spread.

What we will see throughout this year is an increased protein emphasis in breakfast foods as well as snacking. Breakfast foods, and especially cereal-based breakfasts such as toast and jam, croissants and, of course, breakfast cereals, are notoriously low in protein. Standard cornflakes, for instance, provide less than 3g of protein per serving. The addition of milk doubles this quantity but it still fails to turn a traditional bowl of cereal into a high-protein breakfast.

Chips/crisps, like all purely potato-based products, are also very low in protein, and this is the largest sweet and savory snacks category, accounting for 23 percent of the wider category’s global value in 2013. Nuts, in comparison, which are naturally high in protein, claimed just 13 percent. However, nuts were also the most dynamic type of sweet and savory snack in 2013, posting global value growth of 9 percent, double that of chips/crisps.

Another development we are likely to see on the back of this is the proliferation of legume-based snacks. Roasted chickpea (garbanzo bean) snacks, offered for example by U.S.-based snack maker The Good Bean, are a perfect example. The company points out that its chickpea-based snacks, which come in a variety of flavors, including Smoky Chili and Sweet Cinnamon, contain as much protein as almonds, while being low in fat and carbs. Roasted chickpeas, which are tasty, nutritious and affordable, are a popular snack in India and served as the inspiration for this product range.

The appearance of protein combination products is also going to be a hallmark of 2014. Kraft has just launched a snack product under its Oscar Mayer brand called P3, which stands for “Portable Protein Pack.” The pack features three compartments filled with meat, peanuts and cheese.

2. Enhanced natural merging with free-from. Consumer demand for natural products shows no sign of abating and the clean label trend remains in full swing. Zapping suspect artificial additives is still not enough, however. What we have been observing is that, besides hankering after natural products, consumers also want functionality, demanding what may be termed “enhanced natural” offerings. The aforementioned high protein trend is a clear manifestation of this.

Furthermore, consumer expectations that a natural, clean-label product should also confer some sort of functionality do not stop there. To many, a truly healthy food or beverage should be free from substances such as gluten, dairy, wheat, soy etc. This is further fueling the free-from trend, which is not entirely separate from the natural trend at all – a significant overlap exists.

Our data show that over the review period gluten-free food topped the global health and wellness product growth charts ahead of fortified/functional. In the U.S., value sales rocketed by 110 percent. Lactose-free food performed particularly well in Australasia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Latin America.

Life for ingredients manufacturers is not about to get any easier. Finding acceptable substitutes for gluten, lactose and other such widespread food components which convey essential properties during the production process as well as the palatability of the finished product is all but easy to achieve. But, in a world where value erodes increasingly quickly, thanks to private-label and me-too products shrinking the window of competitive advantage, food industry players cannot take their eyes off evolving consumer preferences.

3. Meat reduction is the word. In highly developed consumer markets, the drive towards meat reduction, rather than a switch to outright vegetarianism, is already in evidence. This trend, also popularly referred to as “flexitarianism,” is being driven by four key concerns – health and wellness, animal welfare, environmental issues and tight finances.

Our fresh food data show that over the 2008-2013 review period fresh meat volumes declined by 2 percent in North America and remained stagnant in Western Europe. In the latter region, frozen meat substitute value sales rose by 7 percent in 2013, and in Germany by as much as 23 percent. Earlier this year, the Belgian Superior Health Council, a scientific advisory body to the Belgian government, recommended that no more than 500g of fresh red meat should be consumed in a week per person in order to ward off illnesses like colorectal cancer. Official guidelines advocating the moderation of meat consumption may soon proliferate across the globe.

Consumers are more highly conscious of their protein intake than ever and so eating less meat and maintaining or even upping protein can present quite a challenge. For this reason, 2014 is going to see a boom of foods and beverages marketed as high in vegetarian protein across all categories. Meat substitutes also stand to gain a new lease of life, particularly products that conform to up-to-date consumer preferences, including lactose-, gluten- and wheat-free offerings.

4. More veggies please! Getting one’s five (or six, seven or nine, depending on the country of residence) a day is no easy feat, especially where vegetables are concerned. Fruit is comparatively easy as it mostly already comes ready to eat and the ubiquitous chilled packs of chopped-up mangoes, melons, pineapple, etc., are a boon for consumers wanting to save time on tedious tasks like peeling and de-coring. Dried fruit snacks, 100-percent fruit smoothies and tubes filled with fruit purée that can be eaten on the go are another convenient way to cram one or two extra fruit portions into a busy day.

Vegetables are much trickier. Besides tending to need more preparation than fruit, consumption occasions are more limited because they are not a common breakfast food, nor do they make for a popular dessert choice.

The industry has recently started to tackle this problem in creative ways. For instance, we now have veggie bread. Country Harvest Veggie bread, introduced in Canada last year by George Weston, the country’s leading bread manufacturer, boasts one full serving of vegetables per slice. There are three varieties – Green Pepper and Spinach, Carrot Celery and Leek and Tomato, Red Pepper and Zucchini.

London-based sandwich company Plan Bread is currently bent on re-conquering the U.K. capital’s lunchtime sandwich market by homing in on today’s top health and wellness concerns. The flour for its sandwich bread is made entirely from dried broccoli florets, plus some added fiber. In terms of nutritional properties, broccoli bread has pretty much everything that today’s discerning health and wellness consumer could possibly ask for – it has 70 percent fewer calories than standard bread, has less than a 2 percent carbohydrate content, a low glycemic index (GI), is wheat-free, gluten-free, yeast-free, soy-free and high in fiber.

Meanwhile, Blue Hill Inc., a U.S. dairy company, has been working on bringing about the next dairy revolution – savory yogurt. In the final quarter of 2013, the company launched a range of vegetable yogurts under its eponymous brand. Currently, there are six flavor varieties – Carrot, Sweet Potato, Beet, Butternut Squash, Tomato and Parsnip. The company uses vegetable purée in its yogurts, which accounts for around one-third of the product.

There is certainly plenty of untapped demand for more vegetable products and consumers are sure to welcome any convenient and tasty offerings the industry can come up with in 2014 and beyond.

5. Sugar reduction – by stealth in food but openly in beverages. The war on sugar continues. In January 2014, the global campaign Action on Sugar was launched in a bid to reduce the average consumer’s sugar intake through calling on food manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of food and drink products by 30 percent, primarily through stealth.

Sugar has long been under attack due to its link with obesity, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and its detrimental impact on oral health across all ages. Euromonitor International’s Countries & Consumers data show that globally diabetes affected 660 million people in 2012, with the problem not restricted to developed markets. “Bad Western diets” are increasingly being adopted in emerging economies, driving the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in those markets too.

The stealth approach is favored by manufacturers, as many consumers will remain blissfully unaware that their favorite food and drink products have been altered and they will continue to buy them without being suspicious of their taste or texture having deteriorated in any way.

While stealth is an option for reduced-sugar beverages – Fanta, for example, has been successfully reformulated by stealth – they will fare better than packaged foods if marketed as low/reduced-sugar. Consumers readily turn to low-calorie alternatives, particularly as natural sugar replacers such as stevia are increasingly being used by leading manufacturers and smaller players alike. The category is set to record absolute growth of $4.8 billion over 2013-2018.

Posted in Consumer Psychology, Food/Sensory Research, Health Care Research | Comment

8 traits of great innovation cultures

187729324Editor’s note: Jon Hall is managing partner at Cincinnati research firm SpencerHall. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title “8 traits of high-performing innovation cultures.”

It should be no surprise that the highest-performing companies in the world are near the top of their industries in terms of effective innovation. How do some of the most successful organizations in the U.S. approach innovation?

We recently sponsored a study to help answer that question, and also referenced a similar study by Ernst & Young, a white paper on innovation by 3M and articles about other high-performing innovation organizations. What we learned was that companies that outperform their peers share a number of common features, behaviors and values that, in combination, provide the right conditions for successful innovation efforts:

1. A supportive, committed leadership. Aggressive innovation goals can’t be realized with traditional business models, structures and philosophies; they require organizations to dramatically transform their processes, approaches and mind-sets. Leaders in these companies are willing to be advocates and champions of the change necessary for a refocused culture that will thrive long-term. SAP, for example, slashed the time it takes it to get new products to market by creating more, smaller teams and champions throughout the company to eliminate the barriers teams face. Innovation may be even more difficult in the environment of today, where marketing organizations are facing continued pressure to reduce overhead. But some leading innovation companies continue to commit the necessary resources to feed innovation. 3M, as an example, spends around 6 percent of its annual revenue on R&D in order to fuel its new product pipeline (per a 2012 3M Report on Innovation).

2. The willingness to look ridiculous and occasionally fail. It might be an overstatement to say successful companies welcome failure but certainly they understand that “good failures” can still yield great learning and also serve as demonstrations of a company’s willingness to take smart risks. Great creative thinking can often spring from what might like silly or childlike activities; trust comes from knowing those behaviors are encouraged or even rewarded for what they can lead to. Our study concluded that companies that outperform put far more effort into understanding all the environmental and structural elements that contribute to creativity.

3. A diverse innovation department. The most effective innovative organizations build diversity into team design as a way to encourage new patterns of thought and discovery:

  • They include people with expertise in areas not directly applicable to the project, because too much expertise on a topic can breed conventional wisdom. By including a variety of unrelated perspectives, you get unique insights that help the team venture away from expected approaches
  • …and people from both inside and outside the organization. Insiders have valuable knowledge of the company and its goals, yet too much of that indoctrination will limit the ability of the group to move in new directions. Outsiders can also be more free to challenge an organization’s conventional thinking, because they face few consequences of challenging the status quo
  • Pixar uses “black sheep,” frustrated malcontents who demonstrate a dislike of the status quo. The input of someone who ruffles feathers or who is seen as contrary often shake things up and contribute ideas that spark new thinking.


4. A collaborative approach. Teams in high-performing companies like Google and Pixar work to get everyone in the same room and accept the fact that every idea won’t be a good one – and even a “bad” idea may actually be the genesis of a great one. The key is to set the stage properly, encouraging participants not to filter ideas before sharing. Trust, which can only be built authentically, is a requirement for effective collaborative innovation.

5. A well-stocked idea pipeline based on key business initiatives. Organizations with well-developed cultures of innovation make sure the top of their idea funnel is wide and very full, aggressively pursuing ideas that could turn into successful new products or services. That means putting effort into communicating corporate direction broadly and deeply, while refraining from judging top of the funnel ideas too quickly or harshly.

6. Highly engaged in soliciting consumer/customer ideas. These companies put a very high value on a continuous series of conversations with consumers and customers. Qualitative researchers use a number of methods to observe, test and challenge shopping and consumption behaviors, create opportunities for natural consumer dialogues and provide platforms for spontaneous idea exchange.

7. A stimulating office atmosphere. We’ve all heard about the playground-like offices of Facebook and Google, and they’re not the only companies that work to instill creativity and provoke thought by providing the kind of space that accommodates and encourages it. Pixar, for example, located its restrooms and mailboxes in the very center of its building, away from individual offices, as a way to manufacture interaction. Steve Jobs, who designed the building, realized that when people run into each other – when they make eye contact – “things happen.” So he made it impossible for people not to run into the rest of the company.

8. Aggressive innovation goals. Rather than looking for incremental improvements in development costs, functionality or quality, high-performing companies are looking for significant change, new concepts, dramatic growth and new markets. Their approach is not to improve on what’s out there but to imagine and create products that don’t exist today for markets that are new to them and their industry.

Innovation in major corporations can’t be thought of as a department, a function or even a set of activities. The best organizations view innovation as an attitude surrounded by a deeply held set of values, continually reinforced by behaviors that confirm for everyone involved the critical importance of innovation. We have no doubt that any organization that wants to be considered high performing needs to view these innovation traits as the blueprint to getting there.

Posted in Brainstorming Research, Concept Research, New Product Research | Comment

Tips on helping brand advocates generate shareable stories

Editor’s note: Terry Vavra and Doug Pruden are partners at research firm Customer Experience Partners. Vavra is based in Allendale, N.J. Pruden is based in Darien, Conn. – See more at: http://researchindustryvoices.com/2013/05/23/social-media-listen-or-not-respond-or-not/#sthash.Kq33Qzvx.dpuf
Editor’s note: Terry Vavra and Doug Pruden are partners at research firm Customer Experience Partners. Vavra is based in Allendale, N.J. Pruden is based in Darien, Conn. – See more at: http://researchindustryvoices.com/2013/05/23/social-media-listen-or-not-respond-or-not/#sthash.Kq33Qzvx.dpuf

Editor’s note: Terry Vavra and Doug Pruden are partners at research firm Customer Experience Partners. Vavra is based in Allendale, N.J. Pruden is based in Darien, Conn. – See more at: http://researchindustryvoices.com/2013/05/23/social-media-listen-or-not-respond-or-not/#sthash.Kq33Qzvx.dpuf



Editor’s note: Terry Vavra and Doug Pruden are partners at research firm Customer Experience Partners. Vavra is based in Allendale, N.J. Pruden is based in Darien, Conn.

178088218In a post for our Customer Experience Insights blog earlier this year, we described how a small furniture company in Maine turns 35 customers each year into advocates. It’s a great story but some readers responded that the Moser Cabinetmaker story seemed too small and too involved to be relevant to their businesses. We took that as a challenge to uncover examples at the other end of the spectrum. So, consider how toymaker Lego, with millions of customers and tens of thousands of potential advocates, gets its customers talking and sharing information about the brand. Lego does it all by providing insider information to its most active customers.

Adults and children alike build some incredible structures out of Lego blocks but few can match the scale and scope of the construction seen on the company’s TV commercials. So Lego decided to use the envy of these admittedly grandiose creations to stimulate customer communication. It offered loyal customers and fans a look behind the scenes at how Lego Town has been created and how those commercials are produced. And they spread the word.

But again, this Lego story could be considered just another isolated example that probably doesn’t match the situation in which you find yourself. So, more broadly, what does it take to stimulate advocacy and get your customers communicating more frequently and more positively about your brand? The table stakes certainly include offering a quality product with strong perceived value and providing a good customer experience. But satisfaction is just the starting point. In most cases activating customers requires a brand to:

  • create emotional motivation;
  • direct potential advocates to, or provide them with, opportunities to communicate; and
  • arm the happy customers with stories and content to share – like Lego’s behind-the-scenes videos.


But what kind of content should you give them? There are several different ways to think about content that will stimulate action:

Some suggest customers share content that they feel helps others, entertains those around them, lets the satisfied customer look smarter, allows them to appear as insiders receiving special insights or simply gives the happy customer the opportunity to be the center of attention and own the interaction.

Another explanation of what drives sharing of content comes from Wharton Professor Jonah Berger in his book Contagious. He writes that sharable content must provide social currency; triggers; emotion; a public presence that can be imitated; practical value; and stories.

Put more simply, the process of content-creation is a way to aid your potential advocates in shaping and sharing content that allows them to help others to laugh, to learn or to love.

Posted in Brand and Image Research, Customer Satisfaction, Social Media and Marketing Research | Comment

For innovation, divide to conquer

Editor’s note: Drew Boyd is executive director, MS-marketing program, assistant professor of marketing and innovation, Carl H. Lindner College of Business, University of Cincinnati. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title “The division technique: cutting innovation down to size.”

154081672You can frequently make groundbreaking innovations simply by dividing a product into “chunks” to create many smaller versions of it. These smaller versions still function like the original product but their reduced size delivers benefits that users wouldn’t get with the larger, “parent” product. This is one of three approaches of the division technique called preserving division.

Guitar legend Les Paul used preserving division to produce his multitrack recordings by taking a single piece of media – a tape – and dividing it into multiple smaller tracks that perform the same function as the original large piece of tape.

We see this all the time in the technology industry. For years, computer makers kept increasing the capacity of hard drives. Then an engineer had a brilliant idea to use preserving division to create mini personal storage devices. Today many people won’t leave their desks without placing their thumb drives in their briefcase or pocket. These mini storage units are designed specifically for people who must carry electronic versions of documents with them but don’t want to be burdened with laptops or other computing devices.

Many food manufacturers use the preserving division technique to create more convenient versions of popular products. By taking a regular serving or portion of a product and dividing it into multiple smaller portions, manufacturers allow consumers to purchase food products in more convenient and cost-effective ways. Consumers buy only what they need instead of a larger amount. Recently, manufacturers have even used preserving division to help people curb their calorie intake by providing popular snacks in smaller, more diet-friendly packages. Kraft’s Philadelphia Cream Cheese does this by offering individually-wrapped single-serving-size portions of its flagship product for people to put in their brown-bag lunches or take to the office with a breakfast bagel.

The time-sharing arrangements that many hotels and condominiums offer provide more examples of preserving division. Under time-sharing, a year of “ownership” of a property is divided into 52 smaller units of a week each. Each unit is then sold to a different owner, who has the right to live in the property for that week. Each smaller unit preserves the characteristics of the whole. Ownership has been divided over time.

To get the most out of the division technique, you follow five basic steps:

1. List the product’s or service’s internal components.

2. Divide the product or service in one of three ways:

– functional (take a component and rearrange its location or when it appears);
– physical (cut the product or one of its components along any physical line and rearrange it);
– preserving (divide the product or service into smaller pieces, where each piece still possesses all the characteristics of the whole).

3. Visualize the new (or changed) product or service.

4. What are the potential benefits, markets and values? Who would want this and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?

5. If you decide you have a new product or service that is indeed valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create this new product or perform this new service? Why or why not? Can you refine or adapt the idea to make it more viable?

Keep in mind that you don’t have to use all three forms of division but you boost your chance of scoring a breakthrough idea if you do.

Posted in Brainstorming Research, Brand and Image Research, Product Research | Comment

Bracketology for America’s top 64 brands

Editor’s note: Jay Waters is senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Luckie & Co., a Birmingham, Ala., advertising agency.

For the past three years in March, when the nation is awash in bracketology, Luckie has joined the frenzy with our annual America’s Favorite Family Brands tournament. The 64 brands we chose three years ago, based on their leadership in key categories purchased and by the size and scope of their marketing efforts, have remained the same. We have lots of interesting results in this year’s bracket, but first, here’s a quick overview of how we measure popularity of the brands.

The Luckie Family Panel is a monthly national survey of American parents that we use to keep our finger on the pulse of the daily lives of families in the U.S. We ask questions about how often they eat at home together, about their social media usage and about health care too. We now have feedback from parents on over 350 topics, broken out by age, sex, marital status and political affiliation (Republican or Democrat).

For the annual brand bracket, our premise is pretty straightforward. In our Luckie Family Panel monthly survey, we ask the respondents to fill out a bracket populated by 64 of America’s best-known brands in a variety of categories (fast food, packaged goods, technology, cars, retail, travel, etc.). The instructions are simple: For each matchup between two brands, pick the brand you like best to advance to the next round.

Luckie chose brands based on the following criteria:

  • national brands that are major marketers;
  • leading brands in their categories;
  • brands in categories that are important to families; and
  • brands that appeal to both men and women.


In the first round, each brand is paired head-to-head with a competitive brand. Winning brands advance to a second-round matchup with a winning brand from a similar but broader category.

The further a brand advances in the bracket, the more it begins to compete with brands from different categories.

The eight “sub-regionals” brand categories were:

  • QSR (KFC, Taco Bell, Subway, Quiznos, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Burger King)
  • Packaged food (Hershey’s, M&M’s, Coke, Pepsi, Campbell’s, Kraft, Nabisco, Keebler)
  • Television (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, ESPN, USA, Fox News, CNN)
  • Web (Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia)
  • Retail (Sears, JCPenney, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s)
  • Tech (PlayStation, Xbox, Dell, HP, DirecTV, Dish Network, iPhone, Android)
  • Auto (Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Toyota, Geico, Progressive, State Farm, Allstate)
  • Travel (Hilton, Marriott, Expedia, Travelocity, Southwest, Delta, Universal, Disney)

Note: Although we have kept the same brands in the bracket for three years, the results this year – both in the bracket and in the marketplace – are leading the selection committee to rethink who gets invited to the tourney next year.

Here’s how the 2014 matchups played out.


First-round matchups
All of the first-round matchups featured some of America’s most pitched brand rivalries: Coke vs. Pepsi, Target vs. Walmart, Disney vs. Universal.

The full results of the first-round matchups are noted in the graphic above but here are four of the most interesting.

iPhone vs. Android
In our 2012 bracket, iPhone won this head-to-head matchup and made it all the way to the final eight. In 2013, iPhone again won and made it all the way to the final four group of brands, losing out to the eventual overall bracket champion, Disney. 2014 was a much different story, with Android beating iPhone in a first-round squeaker.

At first blush, this might seem to be a story about one brand overtaking another in the marketplace but the fact is that Android in 2012 and 2013 already had more market share than iPhone. To me, this result is more about the Android brand overtaking Apple as the preferred smartphone operating system, since the question asked in this survey was “Which of these two brands is your favorite?”

CBS vs. Fox
In 2012 and 2013, Fox defeated CBS in their head-to-head first-round matchup but in 2014, CBS squeezed out a win. Again, this is likely the result of a long-term trend in the marketplace, as CBS has been regularly winning the prime-time viewing battle most nights and overall. That said, this seems to be another example of a brand losing steam. Fox won the television network battle in each of the past two years, overcoming CBS in the first round and then defeating the ABC/NBC winner (ABC) in both years.

But the major question is whether Fox is still relevant to American families. American Idol, one of its franchise properties, has seemingly passed its peak. Last year during the last week in March, of the 25 highest-rated programs with adults ages 18-to-49, four were Fox programs, with American Idol coming in fourth. This year, Fox has only two shows in the same top 25 list, with American Idol coming in 20th.

JCPenney vs. Sears
The soap opera that has been the JCPenney marketing story for the past few years, at least for those in the advertising business, seems not to have had much impact on how consumers feel about the brand. For the past three years, JCPenney has beaten out Sears in their head-to-head matchup. Last year, at the height of their marketing issues, they edged out Sears by less than 3 percentage points. This year, the margin widened, indicating that the JCPenney brand is moving back into favor with families.

The story here really is what Sears thinks about these results. Long claiming to be where America shops, Sears has a much broader line of products for the whole family, a stronger group of house brands and little of the marketing drama associated with JCPenney. JCPenney can’t brag too much. It hasn’t made it past the second round in our bracket for the past two years, being surpassed each time by Walgreens.

Chevrolet vs. Ford
This is a battle that has gone back and forth over the past three years. Chevrolet beat out Ford in their head-to-head battle in 2012, with Ford surpassing Chevrolet in 2013. In 2014, Chevrolet won the head-to-head matchup.

What’s interesting is what has happened in the second round each year. In 2012 and again in 2014, Chevrolet not only beat out Ford but also beat out Toyota, three-time winner of the head-to-head matchups with Honda. However, in 2013, when Ford won the head-to-head matchup with Chevrolet, Ford couldn’t get past Toyota and move into the third round. Does this mean Chevrolet is the domestic brand with the biggest edge over import brands? If so, this would be ironic since my perception has been that Ford (unlike other domestic brands) has clearly targeted imports as its primary competition.

On April 14, Luckie & Co. announced the 2014 winner but we won’t spoil the fun if you want to read on and see how the brand bracket played out. Check out Waters’ follow-up blogs, “Our Final Eight Brands,” “Final Four in the 2014 Luckie ‘America’s Favorite Family Brands’ Bracket” and “And the Champion Is…”.

Posted in Brand and Image Research, Quantitative Research | Comment

Why product marketers should care about data privacy and security

463698629The recent experience of Target highlights the risks to a brand of a failure to secure the personal information of its customers. Global brands such as Google and Facebook have been loudly criticized for their data privacy practices. The constant attention of the media on this matter has made data security and privacy front and center in the minds of consumers.

A recent study conducted by Radius Global Market Research shows that consumers take data privacy and security very seriously and are willing to steer their business away from companies that don’t. Consumers expect companies to protect their personal data but don’t feel that any industry or company is doing it particularly well. They accept some responsibility but are looking for an industry to take the lead. The good news for marketers is that an opportunity exists to differentiate their brands in this area – and win over new customers as a result.

How can marketers stake out a leadership position for their brands in the area of data privacy and security? Establishing credibility and trust in this area starts by:

  1. Educating customers on their data privacy practices in a way that provides greater clarity and ease of understanding than the lengthy, legalese-packed privacy disclosures that are currently in practice.
  2. Engaging consumers in a meaningful dialogue about these practices while emphasizing the responsibilities of both parties. Consumers recognize that they share in the responsibility to secure personal data but in most cases place primary responsibility on the company or industry.
  3. Acting as their allies in data privacy and security issues areas rather than an adversary.

Key insights from the study include:

  • Online security, privacy and identity theft are considered more important than thirteen other social issues that included non-tech concerns such as health care, poverty, gun control, obesity and others. Concerns about data security, privacy and identity thefts are particularly strong with older consumers in the U.S.
  • While consumers place high importance on online security, privacy and identity theft they don’t believe that any one industry or company excels in these areas. The implication for marketers is that white space exists to differentiate their brands on issues that consumers take seriously but are found lacking in the market.
  • On the other hand, failure to protect consumer information can have serious consequences for a company. A majority of consumers base their purchase behavior on the perceived ability of a company to protect their personal data.
  • While consumers are concerned about identity theft, many do not actively take steps to avoid it. Few consumers take even simple measures such as changing their passwords regularly. Consumers rely heavily on basic protections such as anti-virus protection and firewalls to safeguard personal information on their own devices.
  • Consumers place the onus on companies to protect their personal information. They are willing to accept some responsibility – particularly with information they provide to social media sites. But they believe that companies have an obligation to consumers to protect their personal information.
  • Consumers express high levels of discomfort with the access that key industries have to their personal data and even higher levels of discomfort to the sharing of information by industries.
  • Financial institutions are regarded as doing a better job at protecting privacy and online data than other industries – including e-shopping, social media, wireless companies, smartphone companies, and operating systems. However, the greatest number of consumers said “none of these” industries are doing the best job. Among financial institutions, PayPal is regarded as the best company at protecting privacy and online data – better than the credit card companies, Square or Google Wallet. In the world of online retail, eBay outperforms others in perceived protection of consumer data. Other industry leaders include Verizon (wireless service), Motorola (cellphone manufacturers), iOS (operating systems) and Facebook (social media).


Jamie Myers and Mark Menne of Radius Global Market Research shared these findings and more in a Quirk’s Webinar in March. Click here to listen to the recorded version of the Webinar.


Posted in Brand and Image Research, Consumer Research, Data Privacy, Research Industry Trends, The Business of Research | Comment

Don’t fear disruption, MR firms. Embrace it.

Editor’s note: Based in London, Richard Thornton is the global sales and operations director at Cint, a Stockholm research firm.

179501303Without a doubt, the trifecta of big data, new technology and social media has disrupted the traditional market research industry as we know it. A study on global market research growth recently published by ESOMAR showed a considerable upswing of 23 percent in the market for new approaches, while spending on traditional practices only grew by 2 percent over the three-year period measured. This would hint that a Big Bang-level disruption is on the way for the industry.

However, the answers become less clear when it comes to responding to this upheaval and weighing the positives against the negatives. On one hand, the significant upsurge in depth and access to consumer insight across the Internet, whether by piecing together a digital footprint or analyzing conversations taking place on social networks, has put our industry in the spotlight – this sudden abundance has created a growing thirst for information as more and more companies recognize the value of insights for decision-making at all levels.

On the other hand, the competition posed by these new players challenges the fundamental business model of many market research firms and those involved with data collection. In order to survive, these agencies must deliver more for their clients, all while operating within restraints posed by downward pressure on pricing and reductions in budget and resources. To meet this challenge, market research agencies need to enhance efficiency, deliver more value for all parties involved in the process and look for savvy solutions.

Enhance efficiency

Rather than fear the new technologies behind this shift in the industry, firms should embrace them. Change may also be forced. Many organizations today are under increased pressure in terms of extracting value out of their existing business models while maintaining operational margins and profitability. One of the most effective ways to do this is to focus on parts of processes and ways of doing things that can be automated, normally through technology. In market research, we are seeing this play out in the way organizations up and down the value chain are reviewing their strategies and workflow when it comes to supply chain management and procurement.

Seamless API integration options, for example, present a valuable opportunity to streamline the entire process of sourcing and delivering insights. (API stands for “application programming interface” – a set of programming instructions for accessing Web-based software so software components understand how to interact with each other). By standardizing some steps and automating others, API “connections” between different platforms and software can save time and energy every step of the way. Additionally, these solutions offer increasing levels of control, transparency and flexibility when accessing intelligence through open panel marketplaces – all of which can combine to help agencies save time and plan expenditures more strategically, thus helping them to deliver on-budget.

For those agencies managing their market research panels, the true costs of conducting research can sometimes be hard to predict and quantify, ranging from recruitment and sourcing costs, which are generally on the up, to the resources involved in ongoing maintenance and management involved in keeping a panel asset healthy and engaged. This is why many buyers of sample are looking towards sourcing from more open, platform-like marketplaces, whilst suppliers are increasingly understanding the benefit of hooking up to such platforms to create a more efficient distribution of their excess “inventory” of respondents.

By accessing reputable double-opt-in research only panels through a hub of open market research communities, agencies can source sample in a very transparent and controlled environment, with fixed pricing, accurate feasibility around delivery and with the opportunity to tap into millions of people’s opinions extremely quickly. Further potential efficiencies can be gained by blending samples from different panels, either by combining insights from the agency’s own panelists with answers from another or by incorporating responses from a few trusted panels representing different demographics to create a more comprehensive picture at a lower comparative cost. This can also help address single source bias within a panel or particular supply source.

Deliver more value for every stakeholder

As the industry adjusts to this new landscape of information sourcing, one key ingredient remains the same: quality. This applies not only to the data being gathered and the insights being parsed but also to the experience of everyone involved in market research interactions. Engaged and committed respondents, especially those who have had positive experiences previously when responding to surveys, participate more frequently and provide more valuable intelligence than those who feel disenchanted, disinterested or noncommittal. Not rocket science of course but it is still extremely frustrating to see a research process in many cases where very little consideration is given to the respondent experience, from questionnaire design to appropriateness of methodology, all the way down the supply chain to how a survey is presented to a respondent.

With the increasing sophistication of survey technology, there has been a remarkable proliferation of online panel communities but they are not all created equal. Many stand-alone survey Web sites offer payments and rewards for anyone to sign up and complete surveys, without stringent screening procedures or techniques in place to ensure honest and reliable answers. While it may be inexpensive to access information from these types of panels, it often can be difficult to identify the companies responsible for running the sites, the entities administering the surveys and the detailed demographics of people answering them. This “catchall” approach and anonymity can undermine trust and potentially cast doubt on the validity of the results.

Fortunately, there are also an increasing number of publishers, brands, non-profits and other organizations that have created open market research panel communities of readers, consumers, supporters and other individuals who feel an affinity for their work and a connection to their brands. As these groups use their panels for their own research purposes, they have a vested interest in keeping the experience relevant, engaging and non-intrusive. Many of these types of panels are also now connecting to panel platforms and marketplaces to offer up further survey opportunities and rewards for participation, which enables the broader market research community and beyond the benefit of tapping into these valuable and affinity-based panels to gather market insight.

Create savvy solutions

Just because the industry is changing doesn’t mean market research agencies must reinvent the wheel. In fact, studies have shown that many of the most successful ideas are not completely original but rather a combination of current knowledge or practice with a twist of novelty thrown in. This means that coming up with a savvy response to the changing climate should involve building on the inherent strengths of longstanding processes, products and experience – then adding a layer of innovation and mixing things up a bit to create a dynamic solution. Change should be embraced as a challenge to celebrate the traditional methods, the power of past successes and the knowledge gained with time and practice by integrating them with the exciting new opportunities flourishing in the industry today – forming innovative offerings that succeed with the just the right combination of the old and the new.

Posted in Panels, Quantitative Research, Research Industry Trends, State of the Research Industry, The Business of Research | Comment

When customers contact companies, phone still preferred

186319409While consumers have been happy to replace the traditional with the digital in so many aspects of their lives, the e-love doesn’t seem to extend to their interactions with companies. A recent study found that the good old-fashioned telephone often trumps the Web and social media as the most satisfying way to talk to firms.

The Touchpoint Study, from CX Act Inc. (formerly TARP Worldwide), a Rosslyn, Va., customer experience improvement firm, aimed to shed light on which contact levers are most important to customers now and in the future, as well as the current state of contact-handling by interaction method and by industry.

With the proliferation of customer contact channels and the rise of digital and social media touchpoints in a Web 2.0 ecosystem, customer experience effectiveness and efficiency is evolving rapidly and becoming a critical focal point for brands, with the potential to either positively or negatively impact bottom-line results and marketing ROI.

The national study of over 3,000 respondents quantifies the result of contact handling on loyalty and word-of-mouth – both online and offline. “In today’s marketplace, product differentiation is no longer enough to gain an edge and stand above the crowd,” said Crystal Collier, CEO, CX Act, in a press release. “The real ability to grow market share comes from differentiating the customer experience. To win on the CX margin, brands must understand the preferred method of contact from their customer base and seek out opportunities to constantly improve those channels.”

Among the key takeaways:

Effective contact-handling impacts the bottom line. Customers satisfied with how their contact was handled are more likely to intend to remain a customer than those who were dissatisfied with contact-handling, by a ratio of 74 percent to 17 percent.

Despite digital growth, customers still prefer the personal touch. Contacting via phone is considered the most effective channel for resolving issues, with little difference by industry: 52 percent reach out by phone, versus 23 percent by e-mail, 17 percent via in-person contact and only 1 percent via social media or mobile app.

Asking questions dominates the customer reach-out. Seventy-five percent of survey respondents contacted a brand simply to ask a question, more than any other reason. And there is still a strong disposition to use customer contacts to complain rather than compliment, by a ratio of 2:1. Interestingly, more consumers still send a letter or a fax rather than post on a company’s social media site or use a mobile app.

Customers are contacting about bills and financial issues. Five of the top-six most contacted industries are either in the financial industry or have a large percentage of their contacts related to billing.

Only half are satisfied; personal touch prevails. Only half of surveyed customers are very satisfied with how their complaint/question was handled in their first interaction; satisfaction is highest for those who contact in-person and lowest if done via social media.

Harsh penalties for brands who fail “first-contact” test. Customer satisfaction scores drop by over 50 percentage points among those who have to contact multiple times to address or resolve an issue or question.

One-in-five shares via social media. Among those who share their experience via social media, Facebook dominates over Twitter by a 4:1 ratio – but Twitter followers are more engaged.

Banks rise to the top on contact-handling. Banks are one of the most frequently contacted industries and also boast the highest industry first-contact resolution and satisfaction rate.

“Consumers in 2014 have so many more ways to reach a company than they did just a few years ago,” said Jim Stone, chief customer officer, CX Act. “Yet when we have a problem or question, the vast majority still prefer the personal touch of a phone call. Social media in customer service is on the front burner and can’t be ignored but brands seeking to excel at customer service need to be certain their call center talent understand the customers’ needs and are prepared to respond appropriately. Failing to properly navigate the new terrain of customer service touchpoints can adversely impact the bottom line, while getting it right can drive profits and deepen brand loyalty.”

A summary of the study can be found here (free; registration required).

The CX Act Touchpoint Study was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2013 through interviews with 3,000 consumers in a nationally representative online panel. The survey queried consumers who had a customer contact experience in the prior 90 days. The survey sought customer feedback involving touchpoint satisfaction and impact of contact handling on loyalty across 16 different industries: investment; auto, home or life insurance; banks; medical insurance; automotive services; credit card issuers; wireless provider; airline; hospital; hotel; consumer electronic; TV, cable or Internet provider; retailer; supermarket; restaurant; and consumer packaged goods.

Posted in Brand and Image Research, Customer Satisfaction, Financial Services Research, Social Media and Marketing Research | 1 Comment

What can advertisers learn from hit songs?

461870433A Newswise press release reports that researchers from North Carolina State University have analyzed 50 years’ worth of hit songs to identify key themes that marketing professionals can use to craft advertisements that will resonate with audiences.

“People are exposed to a barrage of advertisements and they often respond by tuning out those advertisements. We wanted to see what we could learn from hit songs to help advertisers break through all that clutter,” said Dr. David Henard, a professor of marketing at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the research, in the press release. “We also wanted to see if there were specific themes that could help companies engage with consumers in a positive way via social media.

“Our work shows that there is a limited range of widely accepted themes that get at the heart of human experience and resonate with a large and diverse population of consumers,” Henard said. “We’re not saying that every marketing effort should center on one or more of these themes but the implication is that efforts incorporating these themes will be more successful than efforts that don’t.”

The researchers began by compiling a list of every song that hit No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s “Hot 100” song list between January 1960 and December 2009. The tracks ranged from “El Paso” by Marty Robbins on Jan. 4 and 11 in 1960 to “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys in the last five weeks of 2009.

The researchers used computer programs to run textual analysis of the lyrics for all of those songs and analyzed the results to identify key themes.

The researchers identified 12 key themes, and related terms, that came up most often in the hit songs. These themes are: loss, desire, aspiration, breakup, pain, inspiration, nostalgia, rebellion, jaded, desperation, escapism and confusion. But while these themes are common across the 50-year study period, the most prominent themes have varied over time. “Rebellion,” a prominent theme in the ’60s and ’70s, did not break the top 10 in the ’80s – and was in the middle of the pack in the ’90s and ’00s. The themes of “desperation” and “inspirational” leapt to the top of the list in the ’00s for the first time – possibly, Henard noted, due to the cultural effects of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“These themes overwhelmingly reflect emotional content, rather than rational content,” Henard said. “It reinforces the idea that communications centered on emotional themes will have mass audience appeal. Hit songs reflect what consumers respond to, and that’s information that advertisers can use to craft messages that will capture people’s attention.”

The paper, “All you need is love? Communication insights from pop music’s number-one hits,” appears in the Journal of Advertising Research. The paper was co-authored by Dr. Christian Rossetti, an assistant professor of business management at NC State.

Posted in Advertising Research, Consumer Psychology | Comment

The right food marketing can trigger imagined smells

78816134Looking at a picture of a hot chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, you can almost smell it. According to new research from Aradhna Krishna, a professor in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, with that picture and some suggestions, it turns out you can – at least in your mind. And that imagined smell can trigger an increased desire for the food.

“Scents are used often for personal hygiene products like perfume or deodorant but we find that food marketers are missing out,” she said, in a press release on the study. “Even if you can’t embed the smell of a food in the ad, like scent marketers do with a scratch-and-sniff, merely asking consumers to imagine what the food smells like, along with a strong visual, can be very effective.”

Krishna is the lead author on the paper, “Smellizing cookies and salivating: a focus on olfactory imagery,” which was co-written with Eda Sayin, a doctoral student at Koc University in Istanbul who spent a year in Krishna’s sensory marketing laboratory, and Maureen Morrin of Temple University. The paper appears in the Journal of Consumer Research.

The authors performed four controlled experiments to see if and how ads could trigger smell memories, a process they call “smellizing.” Two experiments focused on the interplay between visual and olfactory image processing. They found that test subjects who were prompted to imagine the smell of a cookie while looking at a picture of the treat salivated more heavily than those who were not prompted. The tests also showed that the visual image was necessary to induce the response. “We decided to measure physiological responses, because self-reporting can be fraught with credibility issues,” Krishna said.

Krishna and her co-authors also measured the effect of these types of ads on consumption. Instead of measuring salivation, test subjects were given cookies after the advertising portion and asked to evaluate them (which provided a cover story for the blind test). They were told to put any unfinished cookies back into the bag provided and were asked questions about their hunger level and mood.

Those prompted to imagine the scent of cookies consumed more only when the ad also had a picture. They also found that actual scents in a food ad enhance responses whether or not they’re accompanied by a picture.

Overall, Krishna says her research shows that food advertisers can make better use of real and imagined scents. “Smell is a powerful sense that triggers images and memories,” Krishna said. “But it’s not always possible to present your scent to consumers, especially in advertising. We show a way you can get similar benefits with an imagined smell but you have to accompany that with a strong visual image. So this would be effective in print advertising or television but not so much in radio or a computer banner ad.”

Posted in Advertising Research, Behavioral Research, Consumer Psychology, Food/Sensory Research | Comment