Imagine the powerful business insights you could gain from an organic form of market research where the focus group was made up entirely of people already engaging with your brand or your industry...
Is social listening the answer?
Imagine the powerful business insights you could gain from an organic form of market research where the focus group was made up entirely of people already engaging with your brand or your industry...
Is social listening the answer?
It's quite fascinating to reflect on how irrational people can be.
And it's perfectly normal to be irrational. We can't be completely rational all the time right?
This irrationality is part of our bounded rationality. According to Herbert Simon, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1975, people have cognitive limitations and because of that, we go about making sub-optimal decisions in our everyday lives. Through this lens, people unconsciously act as "satisficers" in their decision-making, seeking to make a satisfactory decision instead than an optimal one. In order to facilitate the decision-making process, we act on instincts, habits, heuristics, cognitive illusions, and biases - leading us to "satisficing" decisions.
This is innate within all people. During this unconscious part of the decision-making process, we formulate stories - stories that support our beliefs.
Thomas Gilovich, Author and Professor of Psychology at Cornell University who has contributed to the behavioral economics field, describes these stories as a result of "Patternicity", the tendency to create meaning from events. While this evolved trait (think hunter-gatherers hearing rustling in the grass and believing it might be a predator) greatly served our ancestors, "patternicity" leads to irrationality, poor decision-making & bias.
While the topic of ethics relating to behavioral economics makes for another blog post, marketers have been using the underlying biases in "satisficers" to create effective marketing campaigns advantage for decades. From loss aversion to anchoring, there are plenty of biases for marketers to utilize. With that being said, potential consumers can offset this targeting by being "intuitive scientists" - a nice little secret from Thomas in the video above.
... Now this was fascinating and quite entertaining to watch.
Being a religious Marketing Week subscriber, I've come across Mark Ritson's contrarian, but logically sound opinions before. While Mark make a valid points with the three sins addressed in his initial argument, Michael Rocha from Interbrand, Doreen Wang from BrandZ, and David Haigh from Brand Finance make solid rebuttals. A few things I took away from this were that:
I understand where Mark's coming from, but I would have casted a vote for brilliant.
It goes without saying - time has a tendency to fly by.
We wrapped up our second term in the Masters program last week, which felt surprisingly shorter than the first term. Both terms were both the same length of time, but I think there was a handful of reasons why this term felt so much shorter. Beside the fact that I've been keeping a bit busy with juggling school, my work with Inside ETFs, being an IE Marketing Club Officer, in addition to keeping a social life and sustaining a steady weekend workout regimen, I felt better prepared for this term than the first. Time management has always been a personal forté, but this time around I felt like I had a better grasp of how the program courses were going to be run, the potential workload, and my classmates (which whom I was going to be working with in our assigned team for the classes for the duration of the term).
Nevertheless, it was still a demanding couple of months.
One class in particular - Managing the Customer, taught by stock market investor, entrepreneur & activist, Pedro David Sañudo - was a bit brutal to get through (it was an intense. week-long crash course), but enlightening. Our team project consisted of implementing a Customer Management Framework to a company of our choosing. Being that Snapchat was undergoing a backlash from users because of its latest app redesign, we thought it'd be the perfect chance to work on a current customer-related issue.
Funny enough, I had coincidently opened up my Snapchat app at a concert a few days prior to our selection of the company for the project, and had absolutely no idea what was going on. You could say that, along with the 1.25 million users that petitioned for Snapchat to revert back to its old design, I wasn't intially very enthusiastic about the new app design. Our team used the CMF to dive into all customer phases: development, creation, growth and retention. With a focus on retention, we provided suggestions for Snapchat to retain their core users. Being that I had previously worked on the initial stages of an entrepreneurial project based the Snapchat advertising platform, this was an enjoyable project.
All in all, it was an extremely insightful term.
A plus - my first term group and I received a little surprise from the Kantar Business Challenge we won last December. Receiving the plaque was quite an honor. It's a nice to receive a little recognition for hard work.
Now that I'm on spring break, I've been looking over syllabi for the upcoming third term and I gotta say, I'm pretty excited. We're going to be covering Behavioral Economics (big Dan Ariely fanboy here), Neuromarketing, Anthropology, and Customer Experience to name a couple of topics. The third term is also going to consist of the term-long Telefonica Integration Challenge, the capstone project for the Master in Market Research & Consumer Behavior where we'll be examining business needs, translate them into desired research methodologies, conduct research, analyze research results, and propose effective/viable business solutions for Telefonica. Couldn't feel more ready to tackle this!
Anyway, I'm off to Morocco to enjoy some home-cooked couscous in a few days.
Here's to crushing the next term.
Spotify: One of the handful of monthly subscriptions I don't mind dishing out a few bucks for. While most on-demand video-streaming services rely on new content to draw viewership, the consumption of music on the Spotify platform relies on its back catalog, hence its significant marginal costs - the royalties it pays the music industry.
The music-streaming company filed to go public last week. With competition like Amazon Music and Apple that have an overwhelming amount of financial backing, in addition to the cost of revenue that Spotify has to pay to record labels, it's going to be interesting how Spotify navigates the music-streaming seas. At the same time, there's potential to leverage the data acquired from their platform (I recently saw a tweet that mentioned that Metallica was adjusting their concert playlist in particular cities based on local Spotify listening data) and for the company to launch its own record label. Whatever the case, Spotify's expected to make a big splash when its shares begin trading.
In light of the upcoming IPO, I thought it was worthwhile to share a bit about the business.
I haven't been able to write on here since our second term started, but thought I'd post this video I came across lately.
Firstly, happy holidays! I'm visiting family here in Stockholm, and I'm sitting here early xmas morning, reflecting on the last couple of months. As mentioned previously, I'm currently working towards getting my Masters in Market Research and Consumer Behavior and I just wrapped up my first term last Friday.
The program has a heavy focus on group projects, one of those being the Millward Brown Business Challenge this last term. The case, which involved the evaluation of a Skittles advertisement, was given to us, along with the case prompt & real supplemental primary and secondary research from Kantar Millward Brown, on a Friday. We had to present our conclusions and next steps to a panel of market research experts the following Monday. Saying that it was an intense weekend would be an understatement. Anywho, looks like christmas came a bit early (we found out that we won the challenge last week).
One of the supplemental research documents given to us for the challenge was an eye-tracker analysis for the advertisement. The technology's quite fascinating. According to Jaime Veiga, marketing professor at IE, we come across 4,000 to 10,000 brand impressions a day. At a supermarket, we have 30,000 to 50,000 products to choose from. Due to the cognitive overload we come across in our everyday lives, brands are failing to connect with potential customers. How are brands supposed to connect with their customers when it seems like every brand is trying to yell over the other in a crowded room? The solution - optimization via biometrics.
During the term, I had the chance to sit in on a talk led by Thomas Ramsoy, Founder and CEO of Neurons Inc, a Neuroscience consultancy company, where I first saw the eye-tracking technology in action.
Purchasing decisions happen in fractions of a second. To capture the attention of customers, brands have to understand how consumers think. Although traditional market research methods help gather consumer information to provide insight, new technologies like EEG scanners or eye-tracking devices provide measurements to how the brain and/or the body reacts to marketing stimuli. According to Thomas, these technologies can predict an accuracy of about 80%. With that being said, I can't wait for my neuromarketing class in the third term.
Overall, it was a great first term. Lots of ups and downs, but a learning experience nonetheless. In 2 weeks, I'll be starting up my second term. Some of the classes include:
I'm going to take the next two weeks to get some much needed R&R to get ready to crush this next term. See you guys in 2018!
It's been super hectic since landing in Madrid (with having to set up a bank account, getting a Spanish cellphone, and what not before the school semester started), but I was lucky enough to catch an event put on by the IE Marketing Club on last Wednesday.
The PepsiCo: Driving Innovation and Brand Through Design event featured Mauro Porcini, SVP and Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo. During the event, Mauro explained how design creates relevant brand experience and drives innovation in today's crowded digital business environment.
People don't buy products anymore... They search holistic solutions, meaningful experiences and authentic stories.
Coming from a visual arts background, I have a pretty good grasp of how impactful design can be. In his presentation, Mauro made the point that when designing a product, brands should not only produce something aesthetically "pretty", but the brand should also stand for something. We might be inclined to choose a well-designed product over another one, but as we form deeper relationships with frequently purchased brands, we tend to purchase products that complement our self-identity, whether consciously or not. This relationship between consumer and product is referred to as a self-concept attachment, in which the product helps to establish the user’s identity.
Let's take a Tesla Model 3 as an example. When we see someone driving a Tesla, we might associate certain words with the person. Neophile. Innovative. Bright. The person who purchased the Tesla was more than likely aware of the brand association and chose to purchase the car to be associated with those same words.
Another point that I also took away from the presentation is that Mauro stated that without consumer insights, companies can't innovate. Being that getting my Master's in Market Research and Consumer Behavior, this sentence put me at ease knowing that I'm in an area of study crucial to product innovation.
After doing a bit of research on the web, I managed to find the same presentation that was given at event. Whether you're a UX designer, a brand strategist, or CPG marketer (and have about 40 minutes to spare), I'd suggest checking it out.
I flew to Madrid a couple days ago, and it gave me a great chance to start listening to Small Data by Martin Lindstrom as per a friend's recommendation. It's been a great audiobook so far and I noticed that it's made me a little more hyper-aware of behavioral nuances and my surrounding environment.
Once I arrived to Madrid, I had to figure out how to get to apartment. It was to my surprise that I saw a slew of taxis but not one car with an Uber logo. I caught a taxi and chatted with the driver about Uber's presence in Madrid. As it turns out, that the city council in Madrid reported Uber to the Spain's national antitrust watchdog, the CNMC, for unfair pricing earlier this year. With potential plans to set up an office in Madrid, it doesn't look like this is going to stop Uber from encroaching into Madrid territory.
Reading Blink for my freshman year psychology class in college was an eye-opening experience (no pun intended). I became fascinated with psychology and the factors in decision-making. This interest has stayed with me throughout the years.
From my previously pursued career path in the visual arts, I became increasingly aware of the effects of visual aesthetic elements on emotional perceptivity. From color selection to other product design characteristics, the relationship between my design intuition and marketing elements I came across during my daily routine became increasingly evident. This interest/awareness ultimately to my newfound obsession with neuromarketing.
For those who might not know what neuromarketing is, according to Wikipedia, "neuromarketing is a field that applies the principles of neuroscience to marketing research, studying consumers' sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli". In order to measure these responses, researchers use technologies to assess how your brain and body reacts to the color of a logo or the sound the car door makes when shut, for example.
A great example of neuromarketing at work is a recent study put on by eye-tracking firm, Tobii Pro, for Toyota where they had 92 participants wear proprietary wearable eye-tracker glasses and they measured what the users paid attention to, how long they focused on something and what they ignored. The business implications were to use the results to improve the showroom car tour, an important part in the potential car customers decision-making process.
What I've learned in my experience with market research (and pretty much life in general) is that people sometimes don't/can't say what they want. This might be for various reasons (which is why running a research study with acquaintances might not be the best idea). In some cases, people can't really articulate what they want. Or perhaps, what people say isn't what they want. People are fascinating in this way and what neuroscience does is tell it how it really is. It provides a look at why people do what they do, regardless of what they say.
I recently discovered Roger Dooley's podcast and I have to admit that I'm a pretty avid fan. At one point in the recent episode, Brand Marketer Jonathan Gabay, mentions that although big data provides helpful insight in consumer behavior for marketing purposes, from a psychological point of view, neuromarketing differs from big data in that it's not how or where people click, but why they click. To quote him, "Neuromarketing is the way forward."
I'll be writing a longer post on blockchain soon.
I recently came across an article on the importance of market research and felt obliged to write my personal experience with it (since I'm going to be getting my Masters in Market Research & Consumer Behavior 'n all).
I wrapped up my Peace Corps service in Morocco in April 2015. I loved my service (a topic for a future blog post), but as I got closer to the date when I was going to be back in the states, all I could think about was eating foods I wasn't able to have for over 2 years. When I came back, all the foods I had craved seemed to taste exponentially better because of my heightened attention in my consumption. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
One afternoon, my mom prepared a traditional Peruvian dish, Papa a la Huancaína. I had always been a huge fan of the lightly spicy Huancaína cheese sauce served over the potatoes and then the thought hit me: "Why isn't the sauce available for purchase as a ready-to-serve, packaged product in stores? Heck, I mean, I'd totally buy it (at the time being a single 29 year old self-proclaimed foodie/convenience-seeker)."
That idea sent me on a bit of an entrepreneurial journey to bring my mom's Huancaína sauce to market.
I had an inkling that our target demographic would be affluent foodies if the product was marketed as an organic, gluten-free product and stocked in local "healthy" grocery stores. This involved tinkering around with the recipe. And we did. But in order to see how this sauce compared to the original, I decided to learn as much as I could about market research to find out what people thought.
I came to find out that there are 2 types of data collection: quantitative (online, mail and telephone surveys) and qualitative (i.e. phone interviews, face-to-face interviews, focus groups). With the data from quantitative research being highly structured, one could use the data to recognize patterns and draw broad conclusions. Qualitative, on the other hand, is less about the volume of data you'd collect from surveying and more about capturing in-depth options and experience about your business, product, or what have you.
My first step was to test my theory about the initial demographic I had in mind for the potential sauce product. I decided to pass out samples of the sauce, along with surveys, at farmer's markets and pretty much any place where you'd find foodie's congregate.I also just happened to be taking a Consumer Behavior and Advertising class at the San Francisco City College (CCSF) during this time, so I decided to approach my teachers with the idea of handing out samples and running surveys with their class. They agreed. The results were interesting (folks kept comparing it to Velveeta, which was a thought that had never crossed my mind), but the data was not as statistically significant as I would have liked it to be.
Next, I decided to approach the culinary department at CCSF to see if they'd be able to let me run a few focus groups with the students in the culinary program. Since they had a bit more of a refined taste palette, I thought it'd be great to get their opinions on our original sauce and the organic version. Some insights included that the organic version tasted earthy, perhaps a little too spicy, and the texture wasn't as pleasing as the original version.
Now, mind you, this was my first foray into market research. In retrospect, there were several biases in the implementation of my experimentation. But, overall, it was a fascinating learning experience. I learned how difficult it is to select the right, unbiased candidates for focus groups, how tricky it can be to create good surveys (from which you'd be able to pull valid insight from), and how powerful marketing research could be a tool for business growth. Some important reasons for a business to conduct market research include:
After a couple months of research, we decided on shifting the business model from sauce production company to an import & distribution company. I had to dissolve the business because of my move to Madrid for my masters program, but lots more market research posts coming up in the near future.
My fascination for branding stems from my photographic background. Yes, once upon a time, I pursued a career in the fine arts. What originally began with a passion for the still image shifted towards an all-encompassing enthusiasm for visual communication. I loved creating narratives with images and realized the importance of curation in order to reinforce the idea behind the narrative.
I recently came across an article from Fast Company titled "Domino’s Instagram Is Gross. That’s By Design" that caught my attention. Having been previously commissioned to shoot product photography, I thought it'd be interesting to analyze the strategy behind the less-than-perfect photographic aesthetic.
"The Domino’s feed is not appetizing by any objective measure. But if you look at it long enough, over enough time, the cadence of grotesqueness begins to sink in. The studio lighting and Photoshop-enhanced pepperoni of Papa John’s and Pizza Hut start to look like the culinary equivalent of a French manicure and a spray tan. Fake."
After reading the article and checking out the Domino's Instagram account (as well as, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, and Little Cesar's), it was obvious to see that Domino's was putting an emphasis on the food. Front and center was pizza. Just pizza. The same kind of pizza you'd be looking at if having it delivered from Domino's. From a branding perspective, the visual identity of their Instagram account, through the photos they curated, depicts transparency & highlights one of their core values - authenticity.
In the late 2000's, Domino's gained a reputation for horrible pizza. In fact, research showed that if consumers knew the pizza was Domino’s, they liked it less than if they just thought it was a random unbranded pizza.
After improving their pizza recipe, the head honchos at Domino's decided to rebrand the company by setting off on advertising that depicted their transparency - their Instagram platform being one of many channels. Their "We're Sorry for Sucking" campaign led to Domino’s went having a 9% share of the pizza restaurant market in 2009 to 15 percent in 2016.
The less-manufactured, natural looking photos serve as a collection of brand elements that come together to create their brand identity. Domino's acknowledges how bad their pizza was, and through this visual medium, they're saying: our pizza's improved and we have nothing to hide by falsifying how our pizza looks.
At the end of the day, branding's about story-telling. Humans have been communicating with stories since prehistoric times, so I'd say this is a pretty important concept for companies to understand - which also brings me to my closing tip for entrepeneurs: good photography and design is worth the money. I understand that there are insurmountable expenses when running a business, but don't be cheap when it comes to extensions of your brand (unless you're in Domino's position). Photography's just another way to tell a story.
"One notorious retailer that received a lot of press for its clever use of social messaging last December is Nordstrom. Seizing the holiday season as an opportunity to launch its chatbots, the team used AI technology to interact with consumers through Facebook Messenger and provide them with gift recommendations for their loved ones."
I had previously read about the rising popularity of businesses using chatbots as part of their digital marketing/customer service campaigns, but the quote above caught my attention. With the Nordstrom mobile chatbot campaign, users who engaged with the bot via Facebook messenger or Kik were asked a couple questions about the person they're shopping for. The bot then provides gift ideas, products that were sold thru the Nordstrom website.
This got me thinking: yes, it's pretty neat that a user provides information to this chatbot about the person they're shopping for, but what if a partnership with social media platform, let's say Facebook for example, allowed a chatbot to offer gift suggestions by data collected without the user input? In this scenario, the user would select the occasion, whether it be a birthday, bar/bat mitzvah, kwanzaa, and the chatbot (linked to Facebook) would offer suggestions based on likes, posts published, events attended, etc.
Business ethics, of course, would come into play. Thinking of the social media company providing your data in this manner seems quite scary no? But, they're already doing it.
Could this disruption of the shopping experience be something we see retailers do in the digital space in the future?
Note: Pretty neat/innovative stuff for Nordstrom to take part in. Guess that's why the popular retailer could be the next acquisition target for Walmart or Amazon.
Last week, I read that Square opened up their first brick-and-mortar store. I found this hilarious. Nothing to do with Square and the showroom, but hilarious because a couple months ago, I had worked on gravity analysis for a hypothetical Square brick-and-mortar store (it was for a Marketing Analytics class I was taking at UC Berkeley Extension at the time).
With that being said, something came to mind when reading the Bloomberg article. It feels a bit odd how online companies are transitioning over to physical stores. I mean, you're cutting overhead by not having a stores right? With all this talk of the "death of brick-and-mortar" retailers and corresponding stocks not doing so well, it's fascinating to think why Square decided to open up this showroom. I guess it goes to show how powerful in-customer experience could be.
On a separate but related note, Amazon recently acquired Whole Foods (for various reasons, not solely for the purpose of experiential marketing). Looks like even online retail behemoths are investing in storefronts. Is brick-and-mortar really dying off then?
I had the chance to attend an American Marketing Association event last night. Leveraging digital tools, Paolo Parigi (Lead Trust Scientist at Uber and Adjunct Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University) gave a presentation on the topic of trust - an important psychological factor in business, specifically within the sharing economy. His methodology, referred to as an online field experiment (ofe), in assessing how interactions and user experience creates, increases, or decreases trust and how to discover which is happening and what might be causing it, involved the usage of investment games. Below are a few snapshots I managed to capture during the presentation. Parigi addressed certain scenarios when it would be best to use ofe's and, taking into consideration how varied trust can build across different cultures, acknowledged that ofe results would vary across countries. All in all, an insightful presentation.
Someone in my graduate program shared this with the rest of our classmates in a WhatApp group we have going on (shout out to the IE MRCB Class of '18).
Nowadays, the usage of acquired data by marketers can come off a bit creepy. But, in order to create relevant products & corresponding ads & messaging, the question arises: is being creepy the only way to produce ads that'll capture the attention of potential customers? This reminds me of this Cost Plus World Market ad campaign I came across recently.