Quirk's Blog

Consumer engagement: television vs. digital

Editor’s note: Tyler Loechner is a reporter at MediaPost Communications, New York. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “Pay attention to this: TV engages people half as long as digital, Neilson Lab study finds.”

Consumers may tune into TV on a regular basis but they mentally tune out rather fast in favor of the array of second screen options.

On average, television holds a consumer’s attention only 39 percent of the time – a rate that pales in comparison to the attention rates that laptops (70 percent), tablets (76 percent) and smartphones (77 percent) command.

TVThat’s according to a new report from digital video ad tech firm Nielsen and YuMe.

Over a two-month period, Nielsen and YuMe conducted in-lab observations on 200 consumers in Las Vegas. The consumers were told to engage with any of the devices (TV, smartphone, tablet and laptop) as they would at home for 20 minutes, and their actions were recorded. Nielsen and YuMe ended their experiment with 50 hours of video footage and they claim the footage was then analyzed second-by-second to measure consumer attentiveness.

The television was on more than half the time (53 percent) during the experiment – tops among all screens. Laptops (48 percent) were second, followed by tablets (38 percent) and smartphones (17 percent).

Tablets and smartphones are both passively on at all times, sending users’ notifications and vibrations as alerts that something new is happening. That passive on mode – compared to televisions and laptops, which are of little to no use when off – may help partially explain why the TVs and laptop screens were turned on for significantly more time.

On the flip side, TVs have a passive effect once they are on. After a consumer turns the TV on and chooses a channel, there is little interaction required. On a smartphone, unless a video is being watched, constant interaction is required if the consumer wishes to engage with new content.

Perhaps that’s why consumer attention to television rapidly deteriorated shortly after the screen was turned on during the test. Nielsen and YuMe note that attention to television dropped from over half in the first four minutes to under 20 percent in the final 16 minutes.

In addition to overall attentiveness, the report also notes how much consumers paid attention to ads on the respective screens.

When multitasking, consumers become even more focused on the second screen. In multitasking situations – defined as situations in which consumers had at least two screens on at the same time – ads on television were only paid attention to 30 percent of the time, compared to 71 percent on laptops, 93 percent on tablets and 100 percent on smartphones.

Paul Neto, director of research at YuMe, acknowledged that the smartphone sample size was low, and that smartphones are likely more similar to tablets.

“Ad load was not controlled during the experience, thus they would occur as they naturally do on the devices being used,” Neto said to MediaDailyNews. “Ad attention is when an ad occurs while they were paying attention to the device thus in attention view. For example, respondents were paying attention to the television 39 percent of the time it was on, and during that time, 30 percent of total ads were seen on average. Thus, 70 percent of ads were missed as the respondents attention was elsewhere.”

Neto said attention was defined “as when the respondent [was] looking at the screen.”

“No one is debating that consumers are multitasking. This ethnographic study was specifically designed to garner insights into users’ behaviors and preferences while multitasking,” Neto said in an earlier statement. “Despite distraction levels among consumers, it will be important for brand advertisers to continue running campaigns cross-screen, as viewers continue to show they are more attentive on laptops, tablets, and/or smartphones while ‘watching’ TV.”

The study also found there’s significantly more multitasking done in group settings than when alone; consumers multitask four times more often when with other people.

Nielsen and YuMe also found that Millennials multitask 33 percent more than those over 35. However, among all age groups, the report found no significant relationship between gender and multitasking habits.


Posted in Advertising Research, Behavioral Research, Consumer Research, Ethnographic Research, Market Research Findings | Comment

Snapchat Discover helps traditional media stay relevant

Editor’s note: Blair Bailey is an associate researcher at market research and consulting firm CMB, Boston. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “Are you there, news? It’s me, Snapchat.”

Sitting in my cozy Boston office, sipping coffee, I’m suddenly transported to Washington State’s Cascade Mountain Range, soaring above the mile-high Cowboy Mountain and scanning Tunnel Creek, a popular, snow-powdered trail and the site of the tragic 2012 Stevens Pass avalanche.

Clear azure water of Jade LakeThis is the genius of the graphics that accompany “Snow fall: The avalanche in tunnel creek,” a story that debuted in 2012 on The New York Times’ online edition. Although the rushing show and biting winds are only graphics embedded within the article, they are so well done you feel like you are there. In recent years, The New York Times, a stalwart of traditional print news, has dominated digital storytelling, integrating stunning and sometimes interactive graphics within its pages.

As beautiful as these features are (and they are still stunning three years later), where does this interactive, visual storytelling fit within our 140-character, six-second-film, top-eight lives? (Forgive the MySpace reference, but nothing conveys digital restrictions more than fitting your most prized friendships into a 2 x 4 grid.)

Snapchat, an app notorious for its not-so-lasting impressions, recently released Discover, allowing traditional media companies to feature public content, like trailers and current events, within the app. The media outlets range from Cosmopolitan to National Geographic and tease users with graphics and sound bites as well as the traditional flashy headlines. After hitting the purple dot in the upper right corner, users are presented with an array of publications to choose from. Once a publication is selected, users can swipe left and right to move through stories, swipe up to read more, or swipe down to exit the publication and return to the Discover menu.

By now, most publications have a mobile presence of some type. So, why is Snapchat’s most recent move something we should care about? Although it’s not an entirely novel idea, Snapchat’s new feature adds several unique twists to digital storytelling.

  • In keeping with Snapchat’s ephemerality, Discover’s content is only available for twenty-four hours. While the content can be viewed as many times as desired during that period, the news outlet invites users to come back tomorrow for new stories.
  • Unlike Facebook and Twitter, both of which typically lead the user away from the platform, all Discover content – articles, videos, photo sets, trailers, music videos, etc. – is contained within the app.
  • Snapchat also serves a very different demographic than most social media sites. Discover is targeted to Millennials, but, as of July 2014, over 50 percent of Snapchat users are between 13-17 years old and over 80 percent are under 24 years old. Many of the publications on Discover may be taking an initial risk straying so far from their key audiences.
  • Discover is also a fresh idea to existing Snapchat users. Unlike Twitter, where incoming brands have to adhere to the existing 140-character boundaries, Discover breaks the Snapchat mold without straying too far from its original purpose. The format is different enough to interest users and keep them coming back but still familiar enough that users recognize the Snapchat interface.

While the selection of publications could be tweaked further, Discover shows that Snapchat knows its users. Short, (mostly) teenage attention spans still get their familiar bite-size content but in a format that’s new enough to hold their attention. Discover also holds the potential to keep Millennials coming back for more than momentary embarrassing videos and wacky photos. It adds value to an app that has seen a lot more selfies than the average person could probably handle.

With over 1.2 billion Web sites cluttering our networks, storytelling has become increasingly important to stand out among the dot nets and dot coms. And it’s not just apps and news sites. In data heavy fields like market research, it can be easy to let storytelling take a backseat. That’s why we’re investing more time and resources into creating dynamic storytelling through infographics, video and mobile. This engaging, inspiring and motivating content brings results to life and helps us strengthen the relationship between our clients and their audiences. And best of all, we do it without all those selfies.


Posted in Advertising Research, Consumer Research, Media Research, Millennials, Social Media and Marketing Research | Comment

Fear of Amazon declines as e-commerce matures

Editor’s note: Paula Rosenblum is managing partner at Retail Systems Research (RSR), Fort Lauderdale, Fla. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, Amazon: Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?”

While Amazon had a surprisingly profitable fourth quarter, according to RSR’s recent e-commerce benchmark fewer than half of retailers view the online steamroller as a competitive threat. In fact, these retailers have lost their fear of most of the usual suspects – Amazon, Walmart, Google and even their own suppliers.Amazon.com

As it turns out, their biggest concern is with the consumer and finding ways to engage and retain attention. We can’t disagree.

In one sense, there’s nothing new here. We’ve seen the concern over consumer engagement before – it consistently ranks as a top-three business challenge by a plurality of retailers – but we never asked such a direct question about the elephants in the room in earlier studies. I confess to being gob-smacked by the responses.

The truth is, very few retailers could survive on Amazon’s margins, and most can’t bring in quick money with memberships in free shipping clubs (warehouse clubs excluded). And Amazon has started coming under real pressure to deliver bottom-line results to go with its top-line growth. That’s a tough row to hoe for a company that’s decided to be the perennial low-cost provider.

The Street reports that even with earnings two and a half times consensus estimates and a rapid rise in Amazon’s stock, other key metrics lag the market and similar companies. In fact, their stock raters are calling Amazon a “sell.” Far less buzz was generated by this season’s pre-Cyber Monday report of robots picking product than last year’s drone delivery experiments.

None of this means that retailers are ignoring Amazon’s strengths. They know they have to improve fulfillment processes, leverage the most expensive asset, the store, and keep their prices sharp to stay in the game. But realistically speaking, there are retailers making a lot more money than Amazon does and maintaining reasonable growth trajectories. As fourth-quarter results are trickling in, we’re seeing some strong performers.

Retailers are still investing in e-commerce platforms but they’re looking at it in a very different way than just a couple of years ago. They think about extending the use of those investments across other selling channels. More specifically, they want to bring those capabilities into the store.

Tech investments will continue – with a focus on streamlining back-end processes and inventory reductions – but the context is very different. Retailers are looking at their enterprises much more holistically than they have in years.

My fellow Forbes contributor Walter Loeb has called Millennial consumers, “cybrids.” They do much of their product research online, always have phones in hand and have a lot of social interaction in cyberspace. But they still like the experience of shopping in stores.

Our e-commerce benchmark certainly indicates that retailers feel the same. They’re gearing up to meet their customers any place the shopper is willing. It is fascinating to see how this plays out in planned technology investments.

It’s always fun when retailers surprise us. And it turns out, they just might be right. Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Not nearly as many retailers as there were a few years ago.


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

Millennial desire for a rich food experience is changing the industry

Editor’s note: Scott Anderson is vice president, marketing communications at social media SaaS company, Bazaarvoice, San Francisco Bay area, Calif. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “Food is an experience for Millennials.”

Rolling up to the drive-through window. Choosing between pasta brands in the grocery aisle. Watching the game at a wings spot. All of these are food experiences. And for Millennials, the food experience is what matters.

We’ve written about the ways in which Millennials gravitate toward rich and/or “frictionless” experiences, as opposed to ownership and the bland, transactional dimensions of commerce, and food is a natural extension of this generational trait. So is the desire to shape one’s identity through spending habits and brand choices.

Multiple min beef hamburgers.The data is fascinating:

  • Sixty-four percent of Millennials enjoy grocery shopping, compared to 54 percent of American shoppers in general, according to Acosta.
  • Food gardening among Millennials increased by 63 percent from 2008 to 2013, compared to a 17 percent increase in the overall U.S. population, according to the National Gardening Association.
  • The food itself is the primary driver of restaurant loyalty for Millennials, whereas price is the most significant driver of non-Millennial loyalty, according to BBDO.


But Millennials aren’t keen on just any food experience. Specifically, they’re losing interest in dining out and “have cut back annual restaurant visits by 21 percent over the last seven years,” according to the NPD Group via Forbes. It doesn’t seem to be a strictly financial decision, as “higher-income Millennials are cutting back on restaurant visits at a faster rate than lower-income Millennials,” per the same study.

Many restaurant chains are fighting back by investing more in frictionless experiences and the stories that surround fare.

Chipotle’s app lets customers skip the line and place their orders in advance. Starbucks pioneered mobile payments, and brands like Dunkin Donuts are following suit. Wi-Fi is quickly becoming an industry standard, as the happily connected customers of Panera Bread, Schlotzky’s, Wendy’s and many other chains will attest.

McDonald’s, attempting to reclaim its diminishing Millennial customer base and knowing that Millennials value transparency, launched a MythBusters-like YouTube series about its ingredients. The campaign netted “brief quality perception and purchase consideration lifts” with Millennials. Taco Bell took their messages directly to the Millennial stronghold Reddit with a successful (and humorous) AMA (“Ask me anything”) featuring company president Brian Niccol. Some entertaining moments:

Q: What’s really in your meat?

A: This is going to surprise you… our beef is beef with wonderful seasonings and I eat it every day.

Q: How much have your sales increased in Colorado since the legalization of marijuana?

A: 420 percent (But seriously what is 4/20?)

Both of these efforts told a Millennial-optimized story, designed to make Millennials feel more comfortable with these brands. Chipotle’s approach focused on educating patrons about its ingredients but it’s far less reliant on advertising to do so than other brands:

“Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) spent 1.4 percent, or ~$44,000, of its revenues in advertising and marketing expenses. McDonald’s (MCD) spent 3.1 percent, or $808 million, of its 2013 revenues in advertising. Panera Bread (PNRA) spent 2.3 percent, or $55 million, and casual restaurant Darden (DRI) spent 4 percent, or $252 million, in advertising in 2013.”

Millennials will have more buying power than any other generation by 2017. As these food trends show, they are already shaping the market around their preferences.


Posted in Advertising Research, Behavioral Research, Brand and Image Research, Consumer Research, Customer Satisfaction, Food/Sensory Research, Lifecycle/Lifestyle Research, Millennials | Comment

Neuroscience in health care MR – a no-brainer?

Editor’s note: Huw Davies is qualitative services manager at U.K. research firm Gillian Kenny Associates.

As market researchers, we’re always on the lookout for new ways to collect data more effectively and improve our fieldwork. The industry’s been this way since taking its tentative first steps back in the early 20th century. This constant drive to evolve means market research has seen lots of ground-breaking innovations over the past 100 years or so. Now, we’re wrestling with the best way to use one of the newest kids on the block ­–­­ neuroscience.

Neuroscience is the study of the brainNeuroscience is the study of the brain, in particular how the billions of tiny interconnected neurons we have whizzing around have an impact on our thoughts, actions and behaviors. It uses clever technology, including eye tracking, facial coding and brainwave measurement, and measures things like sweat, heart rate, breathing and movement, to help understand what respondents are actually thinking. It’s able to map their reactions to stimuli in seconds, track their emotional responses in real time, understand their brain responses and capture them at a subconscious level. It can even help explain why people say one thing but do another. Pretty nifty, eh?

Neuroscience is at work in lots of areas of market research – retailers use it to test packaging and shelving, film studios to test movies, the list goes on. It’s ­proving itself to be highly effective. No wonder then that companies like consumer giant Procter and Gamble continue to invest in it so heavily. But can using the same techniques in health care market research benefit the medical industry and help patients and health care professionals?

Neuroscience already plays a vital part in new medical procedures. It helps people suffering from dementia and seizures, for example. Despite this, its use in health care market research lags far behind the rest of the industry. Why is this? Well, it can be difficult to find the right type of project in which to use new methodologies and technologies such as this. Maybe the amount invested in traditional methods of collecting health care market research data is standing in our way. Maybe there’s a bit of mistrust or ethical worry about how the data is collected. Whatever the reasons, rather than seeing neuroscience as something in danger of taking over, perhaps it’s better to see it as another useful string to the bow for measuring behavior and emotional response.

Where could it fit in?

We know qualitative and survey methods are most vulnerable to distortion when they involve sensitive material. After all, talking about your health, answering questions and being open about your feelings when it comes to a medical condition can be tricky. Getting a good grasp of how patients are feeling about certain medical procedures, aftercare, health equipment and their attitude to medication, can be misleading. Patients might be embarrassed to tell the truth, or genuinely mean what they say (“I’ll definitely keep a proper eye on my blood sugar levels from now on!”), only for their good intentions to desert them a few days or weeks down the line. They may feel better, so their thoughts or memories of their illness may change leading to unreliable data. This is where neuroscience could step in. It can uncover the emotions involved in decision making, separating them from the rational. And, as it doesn’t rely on explicit questions, it has the potential to reveal unstated attitudes more effectively. It’s possible that using 3D computer simulations and facial coding to identify emotional responses at a subconscious level could even help people stay healthy. Add the possibility of giving health care professionals more insight into how to support patient’s efforts and we could be onto a winner.

Of course, there are concerns about using neuroscience in this way, with implications for ethics and guidelines. Being hooked up to sciency-looking machines may be a bit daunting or even intimidating, especially for people feeling poorly or vulnerable. Respondents may feel they can’t say no, or they might not fully understand what’s actually happening and be afraid or unable to ask questions. Another possibly contentious area could be how market researchers get consent. However, used in the right way it’s feasible that neuroscience could take its place alongside traditional data-harvesting as an important tool.

Predicting behavior change in health care market research is a huge asset. Finding new, accurate and reliable ways of doing so could also be of great benefit to the medical community. Neuroscience could help give more accurate data on everything from packaging testing to ad concepts, and from purchasing decisions to enhancing product positioning. This could help patients by giving them easier to follow packaging, so they stick to their prescriptions and speed up their recovery. It could also help save the medical industry time and money by offering deeper insight, allowing them a better understanding of how their products are viewed and the best ways to improve them.

Whatever health care market researchers think of neuroscience, it looks like it’s here to stay. It’s time to decide the best way forward for yet another new innovation in the ongoing market research journey.

Posted in Consumer Research, Health Care Research, Neuromonitoring, Research Industry Trends | Comment

What marketing researchers are discussing

Editor’s note: Susan Frede is vice president of research methods and best practices at online research firm Lightspeed GMI. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “What are marketing researchers discussing?”

The Cincinnati AMA Marketing Research Shared Interest Group meets on a monthly basis to discuss industry issues, trends, techniques and methodologies. During the January 2015 meeting, we debated the group’s burning research questions.

Question marksHow to gather deeper insights? The discussion started with how to gather deeper insights. Doing a blend of quantitative and qualitative research can go a long way to getting to the why. Qualitative, however, doesn’t have to be face-to-face. Several attendees have used online discussion boards quite successfully. With a good moderator you can really probe and clarify, plus participants will build on each others’ comments.

What are the benefits of geofencing? The discussion then moved to new tools that can help with consumer insight. Geofencing is opening up a new world where researchers can reach consumers in-the-moment. This may help increase accuracy although – even if asked questions in-the-moment – many consumers don’t know why they do something as many purchase decisions are made unconsciously. It could be that they have always bought a particular item and as long as they are happy with the product they don’t consider other brands or options. Daniel Kahneman discusses two ways of thinking in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Fast is more intuitive while slow is more deliberate. Many purchase decisions seem to take the fast route. One challenge with geofencing is the fact that respondents still wait and take surveys at home – even when the survey reaches them a mobile device – so it can be hard to reach them in-the-moment.

Are physiological tools useful? Physiological tools such as eye tracking, facial recognition and other biometrics were also mentioned. Technology is making these techniques more readily available. For example, facial recognition can be accomplished with just a Webcam. Some caution should be used with these tools because not everyone will agree to participate, which can impact your sample’s representation.

How to improve survey design? The discussion then turned to bad survey design. Many are seeing unrealistic surveys that simply haven’t been thought through. Researchers need to spend more time thinking about how survey instruments impact the quality of their data and ultimately the accuracy of business decisions. This has become even more important given the increasing number of respondents using mobile devices to take surveys. The best surveys have to be device agnostic. Unfortunately, even when presented with research-on-research suggesting better survey design, there still seems to be a lot of resistance to making the necessary changes.

What is the impact of big data on marketing research? Finally, there was a short discussion on big data and the fact that most in the marketing research industry have been using it for years. We just didn’t necessarily call it big data. Everyone agreed that the big data craze shouldn’t make marketing research obsolete.

Posted in Big Data, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Research, Customer Satisfaction, Data Processing, Product Research, Qualitative Research, Quantitative Research, Research Communities, Research Industry Trends, Shopper Insights | 1 Comment

The moral dilemma of setting unrealistic survey goals

Editor’s note: Lindsey Dickman is a vice president of market research firm Market Strategies International. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “A researcher’s moral dilemma with unrealistic goals.”

January was a glory month for people like me: Type A, perfectionist and other less-appealing descriptors. I will exercise more. I will eat better. I will perfect things that I thought I might have perfected last year, only to realize more perfection was possible. My tendencies don’t drop away completely after January but fortunately the fire isn’t always fanned by countless articles emphasizing ways to do better. Unfortunately, not everyone has this reprieve after January and a recent experience reminded me of the goal-setting perspective I aspire to this year.

The following examples Customer Surveytook place years apart but seem eerily similar: my husband and I purchased a car, had a good experience with the salesman and were advised that we would be asked to complete a survey. And when we complete that survey, we should give all 10s because otherwise the salesman would not get a bonus. More recently a salesman even went so far as to note that we would be asked if we had been encouraged to give certain responses, and we had to say “no” to ensure this bonus.

As a researcher, this presents a moral dilemma. Am I willing to move what would have been a nine one notch to a 10 in order for this helpful salesman to get a bonus? Probably. Should I be feeling the weight of that responsibility while answering a survey question? No. Can I honestly say that I was not encouraged to give certain responses? Probably not.

As a person, this decision pains me because requiring all 10s is an unrealistic goal. This salesman did a good job, and someone in his organization has decided that only a job of all 10s was a bonus-worthy job. Some folks simply do not give 10s. Apparently these folks are stymying car salesmen everywhere. And if you’re using a scale that includes 11 points, it seems like cruel punishment to say that getting 10 out of 11 isn’t worthy of a bonus, especially when that performance ended with the successful purchase of a car.

I’ve been collecting and morally weighing similar instances for years:

  • “It is important to all of us here at <<location>> that you feel 100 percent comfortable rating us a “9” or “10” on the survey question about your overall experience as a guest in our hotel. If your visit with us is anything less than perfect, please let us know so that we may be able to correct your issue right away. Any other rating such as “8” and below on this question is considered below expectation by our own <<corporate location>> standards.”
  • “Our goal is to make sure your stay is worthy of a “10.” If you have any issues or challenges during your stay that prohibit you from rewarding us with a “10,” we want to know about it.”
  • “We want you to be ‘highly satisfied.’”


I will continue to weigh my reaction to these experiences but they do teach me two lessons that I aim to carry through this year:

  • Set achievable goals. As a core goal-setting principle, this isn’t a groundbreaking idea but it’s easy to get carried away with lofty goals, especially when there is a lengthy time frame for achieving them or you are far removed from the day-to-day that is contributing to them. This applies not just to personal lives and overall business goals but to advising our clients on where to set thresholds for research metrics, such as customer satisfaction scores. It’s a good reminder to not lose sight of what is attainable and worthy of being called “good” or even “great” at the individual level instead of just at the aggregate level.
  • Leave room for dialogue. The more comfortable examples above do not dictate what rating should be given per se; they ask to talk it out if there is hesitation about giving a top rating. Personally and professionally there are ample opportunities to do this, using the scores as tools just as much for the rater as for the one being rated and encouraging us to speak up as soon as “performance” strays from a nine or a 10.


I’ll need to set up a checkpoint for myself mid-year to ensure I’m following through but these are my goals for goals. And for those waiting nervously for the outcome of the salesman and his bonus: this time my kind husband let the salesman know that it’s in the salesman’s best interest to keep me out of the survey part of the program, which I am pleased to assume means the salesman has a bonus on the way.


Posted in Consumer Research, Customer Satisfaction, Mail Surveys, Online Surveys and Research, Survey Development | Comment

Millennials: a primer

Editor’s note: Susana La Luz-Hawkins leads design research projects for Lextant, a Columbus, Ohio, qualitative research firm. This post originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of Quirk’s as a sidebar for the article titled, “Qualitative approach aims to have Millennials dig deep.”

Brand loyalty is declining. Millennials are more willing to buy from lesser-known brands. This could be due to the need to balance spending with lower incomes, their desire for new experiences and/or wanting to support “maker” culture. This can be seen in the declining performance of certain fashion brands and in the influx of small start-up or boutique brands.

Ownership is not an aspiration. Millennials seem to subscribe quickly to sharing, borrowing and renting when available. Their “collective” mind-set sees value in using something only for the period of time when they want or need it – and allowing others to share in its use. This can be seen in the widespread use of services like Craigslist, Spotify, community gardens and even shared living spaces.

Suburbs are out. Urban is in. Millennials see cities as prime places for discovery, exploration and socialization. As a result of this, they seem to gravitate towards living in or nearby larger, urban areas. Within these cities they seek out environments, neighborhoods and even virtual communities that fit within their value system and within their budgets. This can be seen in the development of abandoned warehouse or industrial spaces for socialization and creative events and in the upscale boutiques and restaurants cropping up in unlikely areas of town.

Passion for work-life integration. Whether they are making a living from something they are personally passionate about or integrating the things that they are passionate about into their professional lives, Millennials want work-life integration. This blend of professional and personal can be seen in the development of workplace communities and online entrepreneurial services. For example, Web sites like Kickstarter and Etsy allow people to showcase and make money from projects that they are passionate about.

Living healthy is cool. Millennials may be the first generation to combine enjoyment with healthy behaviors. They are making exercise fun, demanding food that is both nutritious and delicious and making conscious efforts to stay stress-free. This can be seen in the popularity of organic foods, health-related sporting events, the gamification of health goals and the surge of exercise studios that focus on both mental and physical well-being.

Technology is not the future. While the latest technology is aspirational, exciting and seen as a necessity, Millennials develop more meaningful relationships with experiences that are real time, hands-on, even analog. This could have huge implications for brands that want to connect emotionally with this generation.

Transportation is being redefined. For Millennials, transportation is key to new experiences, independence and productivity. While it is possible that they may value transportation more than any other generation historically, they also do not equate transportation with owning a car. Services like car-sharing and bike-sharing are cropping up quickly across the country, giving Millennials flexible and cost-effective solutions for their transportation needs.

Posted in Behavioral Research, Consumer Research, Millennials, Qualitative Research | Comment

Valentine’s Day love for non-traditional brands (infographic)

Editor’s note: Phil Ahad is vice president at Toluna QuickSurveys, Washington, D.C.

Is Valentine’s Day an opportunity for unlikely brands to tap into a new consumer base? It very well could be. According to a national survey conducted by Toluna Quicksurveys, many of the 1,000 respondents suggest that the reason they exclusively shop holiday staples like flowers, chocolate and jewelry is because those seem to be the only retailers marketing to them aggressively this time of year. Big mistake? Perhaps. We’ve broken down the data to support this heartbreaking theory.

Up to 73 percent of respondents will celebrate the ever popular Hallmark holiday. At least 53 percent of respondents plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year – 20 percent are still unsure but brands should count on the potential of swaying these folks as well. What do consumers think of the marketing campaigns out there?

They want to know: Where are the Deals? A whopping 69 percent say that it seems the only retailers that have sales and deals for Valentine’s Day are those selling jewelry, flowers and candy.

Non-traditional Valentine’s Day brands: Seventy-one percent say they’d like to see more retailers – besides those selling jewelry, flowers and candy – offer sales and deals for Valentine’s Day. Additionally, brands are not making potential consumers feel the love this time of year (which is essentially the point, no?):

  • The marketing efforts consumers see do not impress them: Twice as many respondents say Valentine’s Day commercials just remind them they’ll be alone on the holiday (24 percent), as opposed to the items they see on store shelves (12 percent).
  • Thirty-five percent say they’d be more likely to purchase Valentine’s Day gifts for others if more retailers had sales for the holiday so they could get a good deal.
  • Thirty percent say the commercials make the holiday feel superficial and that Valentine’s Day is more about material items than those we love.​


All of this said, we will see a plethora of Valentine’s Day marketing efforts, products will be sold but consumers have spoken. It’s time for brands to think outside of the heart-shaped box.

Valentine's Day infographic

Posted in Advertising Research, Consumer Research, Market Research Findings, Shopper Insights | Comment

7 strategies for increasing social media engagement

Editor’s note: Bernard Perrine is co-founder and CEO of marketing tool SocialCentiv and is based in Dallas, Texas.

The key to success on social media is engagement – connecting with your followers and friends. Small businesses not only want their social media content to resonate with customers and potential Social mediacustomers but create loyal brand ambassadors who 1) spend money and 2) encourage others to spend money.

Small businesses need to look at ROI in terms of social media. Time is a precious commodity when you’re running your own shop. Business owners shouldn’t be doing anything that doesn’t contribute to the bottom line – directly or indirectly. And that includes social media.

Here are seven strategies to help increase your social media engagement:

Pick your platform. Not every social media platform is right for every business. Think about all the things you know about your target customers, which will give you an indication about the social media platforms they’re likely to be using. Pick the handful of channels that make sense for your business and then post regular, consistent content.

Target your audience. Social media is about finding followers and friends who are interested in your content. That makes them relevant to your business and more likely to become customers. To create targeted content, share tips, trends, quotes and information that will start a discussion, and also pose questions and article links.

Increase your views with photos and videos. In the same vein, your followers and friends are more likely to click on infographics, photos and videos. Images are highly engaging, so use them wherever you can! Need proof images engage? Half our brain is involved in visual process, and we can make sense of a visual in less than one-tenth of a second! On the flip side, we only read 28 percent of words on any give page. According to Kissmetrics, images on Facebook receive 53 percent more likes, 104 percent more comments and 84 percent more click-throughs. Buffer shows that using images on Twitter increases retweets by 150 percent and click-throughs by 18 percent.

Ask your followers and friends to be brand ambassadors. As a small business, you can tell the world how wonderful you are. But when your followers and friends say it, the recommendation carries much more weight. Simply encourage them to talk about their experience or merchandise they’ve purchased, and feed them interesting and relevant content they’ll want to retweet and share.

Ask your employees to be brand ambassadors. The same goes for your employees. Simply ask them to like, retweet and share information on the company channels. Proud employees are happy to help – and by tapping into their networks, you exponentially increase your exposure.

Share deals and discounts. Make your friends and followers part of an exclusive club by creating offers available only to them. It makes them feel special and they’ll come back for more.

Survey your followers. Stumped for content? Simply ask friends and followers what they’d like to see, what they think of current trends and what they’d like to see from your business. USA Today found out long ago that their reader surveys were one of the best-read pieces in the paper because it not only engaged readers but also gave the paper content to print.

Posted in Advertising Research, Brand and Image Research, Consumer Research, Market Research Findings, Public Opinion/Social Research, Social Media and Marketing Research | Comment