A Complex Shopping Trip

I feel that it has become increasingly challenging to shop,
contrary to what one may think in a so called modern and effectively efficient
world. For the clich??d fact is true: consumer behavior is changing. In every
company, divisions and individuals are coming up with research and theories and
strategies on how to deal with the evolving consumer prototype.

However, I do
not think that the change is at all alarming. It is a natural, evolutionary
change. In the same way that the earth has become warmer over time, our years
start with the digit 2 instead of 1, and will sequentially continue with 3, 4,
etc., in the same way that writing letters has evolved from slow snail mail to
instantaneous email, or acceptable skirt lengths have gone from ankle length to
barely there, a change in consumer behavior is simply evolutionary.

Here is a vicious circle I have created which encompasses of a handful of elements that are
changing a consumer’s shopping and product selection experience. This is not an
all encompassing list, but still gives a few tips and interesting learnings for
entrepreneurs and businesses, from the perspective of both a consumer and a
producer, to put it bluntly.
Frugality: I am powerful, yet I am frugal

The DIY (do it yourself) culture is a phenomenon that has
overtaken the ready-to-order and ready-to-purchase behavior. While we used to
prefer having things made and sent to us, somewhere along the lines the stamped
on labor cost has begun to bother us. This, along with the need to express
creative freedom and feel a sense of accomplishment after having completed a
manual task has driven individuals to do things themselves.

The success of IKEA
stores is simply one example, but the flattening frequency of house help in
metropolitan cities of third world countries shows how people are looking more
towards their own powers and natures to completing given tasks. Frugality can
be the other explanation for this, too, as individuals get slightly more sure
of what they want, and how they want it. Businesses beware of the increasing
know-how of consumers, and the increased pickiness, which unfortunately
correlates with the increasing options that consumers face for every product
they wish to purchase.

Efficiency: Factors overriding the Experience Element

For some reason, we have lost the ability to enjoy various
elements of life on a standalone basis. Efficiency has caught on like a buzzing
bug. Why, if you can have a phone that handles email, text messaging, entails a
GPS, can play movies and stream television channels, why have a laptop, a
mobile phone, a portable GPS, a Blu-ray player and a television? It is the
efficiency of one product versus many more, at a reasonable cost advantage and
convenience, perhaps. But does it replace the joy of cuddling up in a couch in
front of a television with a bowl of popcorn? I’m not saying efficiency is a
bad thing, I mean the swiftness of checking in on an airplane (lets ignore the
other associated hassles of traveling these days), or the practicality of an
all inclusive printer/scanner/copier are definitely a sign of creative minds at
relevant work.

However, I think product managers, alongside consumers, have
been taking the efficiency element too much out of reach from the human element. Frugality
again may be the cause here. Why buy six things when one can perform the same
task? From an economic standpoint, it’s probably true. From a convenience one,
depending on your adaptability to the sensitive touch screen phones, the
response will vary. 

Consumer Skepticism: Aim, Aim, Aim, Fire

Every brand management course teaches us that consumers are
vulnerable and, plainly put, stupid. But no more. Consumers are much more in
control with what they wish to purchase. They re-evaluate choices much more
accurately, counting the calories and checking the sugar and carb count on food
items, reading the order of ingredients to ensure they aren’t being carried
away; since when ingredients in cosmetics are laid out in order of most to
least, it doesn’t give a strong feeling if water is the first one.  

Skepticism has begun to creep into the frame,
with consumers challenging claims and promises that are made by products.
Perhaps this may lead to a rise in third party data and research, in addition
to a consumer’s own swim through the murk. Frugality, DIY, efficiency all feed
into this element of the cycle. Branded products thus must be offering a viable
and sustainable value proposition that is well differentiated from the others
in the flock. Fluffy, unvalidated, unrequired and questionable claims will thus
need to make an exit.

Product Origins: Made with Care

Part of the skepticism comes from the origins, or
processing, of consumer products. Blame it on the paparazzi, who like to
sensationalize any flaw in a manufacturing process, such as the Tylenol recall
due to moldy scents or trace chemicals, or the publicity around manufacturing
of airplane food in infested areas. Or perhaps, blame it on ourselves, as we
have caught on to the anti-bacterial bug, and constantly wash our hands with
anti-bac soap, place a tissue before opening a public restroom door knob or
faucet, or apply alcohol wipes to clean surfaces, or on our hands after  a public transit adventure.

Besides the fact
that we are consistently drying our hands out of essential oils and moisture
(and of course, in this marketing driven world, there are products targeted
specifically for drying hands and tearing cuticles), this just cements the fact
that we are taking extra care in what we do, touch, breathe, eat, and overall,
do consciously. Companies and brands are under immense scrutiny from
story-lusting spies to mainstream consumers, who want multiple guarantees as to
why things are made cleanly, clearly, and transparently. It is no longer an
assumption, but a claim that requires repeated validation. So, businesses,
watch out, for even the air particles carry microscopic cameras.

New standards: A Paradigm Shift in Shopping

Now the important element of purchasing power: price.
Discounting is everywhere. Every day our eyes are reading the four letter words
that have become synonymous with shopping: s-a-l-e. It’s no wonder that the
upcoming generations are swift at mathematics, what with the varying
percentages off of full price, with extra percentages off with using specific
cards, or the buy several and get several more free offers, it’s almost like
it’s become a standard of shopping. And that in itself is a risk. Consumers often
enjoy seeing the new trends and designs on models, stars, everywhere, but are
willing to wait until they’re on sale. The sale price has become the new value.
It is a self fulfilling prophecy of a downward spiral. Not to mention a
competitive threat to mainstream retailers. It may not affect the retailers who
support their ‘low prices ‘ always’ claim, but those opting for fashion and
lifestyle do not attend the big box stores either.

It may not affect the
premium brands, who claim exorbitant amounts simply for a small embroidered
logo or metal placket on the edge of a pretty ordinary looking item. But these
cater to a very niche market, less than one percent of the world. What this
paradigm shift in shopping standards is bound to do is affect the mainstream
consumers, the bulging and growing bulk of the world. This is the concern,
which is leading to unnecessarily strange behavior. Is an item really on sale,
could be one reaction, when a simple item seems exorbitantly priced even at 50%
off. Inflated initial prices with sales prices that reflect what a retailer
would actually want, for instance. Which again forms a circular loop of
suspicion as a consumer wonders how an item that is marked $80 can possibly
sell for $5, and starts to wonder about consumption habits and the ethics of a
branded product. Fishy times lay ahead, and brands must stay alert.

Social Media: Lets Tweet!

And when consumers are comparing prices, options,
promotions, another factor that comes into play is the rise of social media.
There are too many elements in a product-consumer interface now. The human
element has blended itself into the gap, and people are closer than ever to
their celebrity endorsers and brand managers, reading their tweets instantly,
which relays a message that these are no longer larger than life perfectly
airbrushed bodies on multi story billboards; these are real people, with real
thoughts, real problems, and real grammatical mishaps that occur when they
type. Whilst this may excite many users, who get to know of what their brands
are conspiring on a daily basis, it poses a risk towards the legitimacy and
efficacy of branded products. Are businesses really getting closer to their
consumers, or are they tweeting a different and perhaps misleading tune?

Moreover, social media is difficult to sustain, definitely not cost effective, and while it
is buzzing around professional circles, its not entirely too new. Combine this
with the frugal consumer and the consumer skepticism, and you have an ongoing
cycle of thoughts glistening with question marks. And while social media isn’t going away, we have always been oblivious to the bubbles of the economy until
they burst.

Sourabh Sharma,
Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international
consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering,
marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton
School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and
product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting,
he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every
platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer,
and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called
3FS. He may be reached at s.sharma@skimgroup.com.
Follow him on

Customer Experience Experts Podcast: Dan Hill, What’s the Emotional Story?

In anticipation of our 2013 event, I recently spoke to Dan Hill, Ph.D., President, Sensory Logic and Author, Emotionomics about his involvement and experience with the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit.

We discussed the science behind gauging both verbal and nonverbal, subconscious reactions to advertising, store environments, and product design, packaging and presentation, understanding the emotional story and forecasting engagement and experience based on that emotional connection.

Customer Experience Experts Podcast: Dan Hill, What’s the Emotional Story? by IIRUSA
Join Dan Hill as he delivers a keynote address See, Touch, Buy: What’s the Emotional Story? The Sensory-Emotional Experience that Lifts the Customer Experience and Profit Margin at the 2013 Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit. As a reader of this blog, we’d like to offer you a 15% discount off the standard registration rates, use code TCEL13BLOG.

Visit our website to download the 2013 brochure, learn more about the event, or register.

About the Author
Valerie M. Russo, Social Media Innovation Lead, Senior Strategist at IIR USA, has a background in technology, anthropology, marketing and publishing.  Russo has worked in a variety of digital media roles at Hachette Book Group, Aol, and Thomson Reuters. She is a published poet and maintains a literary blog. She may be reached at vrusso@iirusa.com. Follow her @Literanista.  

Your Invitation to Attend the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit

We’re proud to invite you to attend the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit this month in Boston.

Taking best practices from the TMRE event you’ve come to love, and focusing on linking data driven behavior to business results, the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit will unite a diverse group of customer-focused change makers to share best practices in using insights to drive customer strategy.

Featured sessions for researchers include:
‘ KEYNOTE: See, Touch, Buy: What’s the Emotional Story? The Sensory-Emotional Experience that Lifts the Customer Experience and Profit Margin
Dan Hill, Ph.D., President, Sensory Logic, Author, Emotionomics
‘ KEYNOTE: Discovering Customer Centric Insights to Radically Rethink Performance Metrics, Product Development and CRM for Business Value
Peter Fader, Renowned Behavioral Data Expert, Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Author, Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage
‘ KEYNOTE: Curating the Conversation: Transforming Raw Data into Insights to Drive Your Customer Experience Agenda Forward
Christopher Frank, Vice President, American Express, Co-Author, Drinking from the Fire Hose
Paul Magnone, Co-Author, Drinking from the Fire Hose
‘ Korean Retailer Insights: Emart’s Transformation into a World-Class Retailer
Andres Nicholls, Partner, Prophet
‘ Combining Survey & Operational Data to Increase Insights into Customers Across the Organization
Angi Krauskopf, Senior Manager, Global CS Insights, eBay
‘ Voice of the Customer Insights: Leveraging Consumer Panels for Real-Time Customer Feedback
Paula Harries, Director, Client & Member Research, CVS Caremark
Caron Merrill, Senior Manager, Customer Research, CVS Caremark
‘ The JetBlue App – Always on Insights: Designing a Mobile App that Brings Humanity and Fun Back into Flying
Jonathan Stephen, Head of Mobile, JetBlue Airways
Plus, see who’s already signed on to attend:
American Family Insurance
Bellomy Research
Boston Symphony Orchestra
BP Fuels Value Chain Marketing 
Cafe Britt
Caterpillar Financial
Chadwick Martin Bailey
Chalhoub Group 
City of Ottawa
Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Crystal Flash Energy
CUNA Mutual Group
CVS Caremark
Eli Lilly & Company
Enterprise Storage Division
Florida Blue
Graduate Management Admission Council
Harris Interactive
ICC/Decision Services
Hunter Douglas
Janet LeBlanc + Associates 
Janssen Biotech 
JetBlue Airways 
Johnsonville Sausage 
Le Capitale General Insurance 
Leadership Learning Systems
MAKO Surgical Corp.
Maritz Research
Medical Packaging Inc.
Okemo Mountain Resort
Pacific Ethnography Company
Questback Inc.
RBS Citizens Financial Group 
Schmid Consulting Services
Sensory Logic
Southwest Airlines
Specialty Healthcare Solutions
Station Casinos 
Toyota Financial Services
Triple Peaks 
Tufts Health Plan
Two Men and a Truck 
Working Solutions 
ZS Associates
The Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit will give you the insights and skills necessary to make your customer programs a success. Find out how customer insights can drive your customer experience agenda forward.
We would like to extend a special discount for you to join us this year at the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit. Save 15% off the standard rate (over $500 in savings!) when you register with code TCEL13BLOG
We hope to see you next month in Boston!

How to get a free pass to the 2013 Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit

Be our official TCEL Scribe!

We’re offering an exclusive all-access complimentary pass (a $3,690 value) to the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit taking place on April 8-10, 2013 in Boston, MA!

We’re looking for an experienced blogger with an interest or background in customer strategy to live blog at this year’s TCEL event and contribute several posts afterwards.

In return for your posts, you’ll be able to connect with TCEL speakers and fellow attendees, attend summits and workshops delivered by industry thought-leaders and corporate practitioners on the hottest content areas of customer experience. The pass does not cover travel expenses and hotel.

How to apply:

To apply to be a guest blogger, simply send your name, title, company and a writing sample (a link to your blog posts is recommended) to vrusso@iirusa.com no later than April 3, 2013.

We will review your submissions and contact you directly with more details, if we decide you are a great match.

This opportunity doesn’t come often and we encourage you to apply and join us at TCEL next month!

Individual Voters, Individual Customers. A Paradigm Shift for our Industry?

The MIT Technology Review recently published an article by Sasha Issenberg on how the Obama Campaign used big data to profile, target, influence and rally voters in the 2012 campaign.  Titled ‘A More Perfect Union: How President Obama’s campaign used big data to rally individual voters’, I highly recommend it for anyone interested in politics or data analytics.  I love both, but what most interests me here are the potential analogies to the measurement and management of customer experience.

Much of the article focuses on Dan Wagner, the chief analytics officer for Obama 2012 and the work he and his team did to fuel the campaign.  In particular, it notes:

The significance of Wagner’s achievement went far beyond his ability to declare winners months before Election Day. His approach amounted to a decisive break with 20th-century tools for tracking public opinion, which revolved around quarantining small samples that could be treated as representative of the whole. Wagner had emerged from a cadre of analysts who thought of voters as individuals and worked to aggregate projections about their opinions and behavior until they revealed a composite picture of everyone. His techniques marked the fulfillment of a new way of thinking, a decade in the making, in which voters were no longer trapped in old political geographies or tethered to traditional demographic categories, such as age or gender, depending on which attributes pollsters asked about or how consumer marketers classified them for commercial purposes. Instead, the electorate could be seen as a collection of individual citizens who could each be measured and assessed on their own terms. (italics added.)

The article contrasts the Obama approach to Romney campaign’s, which was much more rooted in the ’20th century tools for tracking public opinion’.  How much Wagner’s team contributed to the surprising (to many) margin of victory will undoubtedly be debated for years to come, but I will be very surprised if the ‘collection of individuals’ approach doesn’t quickly become the new standard for any political campaign.

I want to highlight one other quote from the article before turning to our own industry.  In his conclusion, Issenberg writes:

In many respects, analytics had made it possible for the Obama campaign to recapture [the small town] style of politics. ‘ They enabled a presidential candidate to view the electorate the way local candidates do: as a collection of people who make up a more perfect union, each of them approachable on his or her terms’ ‘What that gave us was the ability to run a national presidential campaign the way you’d do a local ward campaign,’ [David Simas, the director of opinion research] says. ‘You know the people on your block. People have relationships with one another, and you leverage them so you know the way they talk about issues, what they’re discussing at the coffee shop.’

As I write this, I am reminded of a 1990 United Airlines Commercial where a boss addresses his staff after getting fired by a long time account and tells them they are going to have a ‘face-to-face chat with every customer we have.’  They’d lost touch with the individual and replaced personal relationships with a dependency on modern technology ‘ faxes in this era.  This boss was going to use the airline to get back to his customers.

Technology, the very thing that got this fictitious company out of touch with its customers, is what the Obama campaign used to get in touch with 65 million of its ‘customers’.
Customer experience research came of age in the 1990′s and is very much rooted in the social science thinking of the time.  We survey individual customers in order to learn about the group, not about that individual.  The ‘group’ could be the business unit (usually a branch or a region) or the brand itself, but that is the focus rather than the customer.  Yes, most programs incorporate hot alerts and other customer recovery tools into the process and we rarely ignore a customer in need, but our methods and processes are all based on understanding the group, not the individual.  Advocates of the Net Promoter approach will say the 2-question survey is more customer friendly, but it is still a methodology designed to understand the group.  And, while some technology-based companies or even industries claim to be doing things differently, the reality is that they have all adopted the prevailing mindset and are just as dependent upon 20th century social science thinking as the market research industry.  Whether you call it market research or Enterprise Feedback Management, any program that treats all customers as essentially the same and has a one-size-fits-all approach to survey construction and administration is still based on the old social science model.  Anytime the feedback process has been designed for the user of the information rather than the provider of that information, the customer, the program is based on the old social science paradigm.  If there are truly individualized programs out there, I would love to see them.
Note that advocating for an individual approach is not abandoning the need to understand the branch or the brand.  After all, brands and branches are built one customer at a time; they are collections of individuals.  But systemic progress is very difficult when all you have are the individual responses.  Even when you design a program from the customer back, you still need to be able to analyze the aggregated data and use that understanding to improve the overall functioning of the unit.  The MIT article makes it very clear that the Obama campaign relied on the combination of individual voter information and data from traditional research.  And, while I do think moving to an individually-based approach will create measurement challenges, it is worth noting that according to the MIT article, the Obama team was able to predict individual elections outcomes with ‘improbable accuracy’; not with polls, but by counting votes ‘one by one.’
Regardless of what you think about President Obama, the reality is that his 2012 campaign has changed politics.  The use of modern data analytics to understand the electorate through a focus on the individual voter will be with us for the foreseeable future.  The question is: when will these same techniques drive the next generation of customer experience measurement?
* Republished with permission from the original at Maritz Research’s Blog: Sound Check
After a 35+ year career in marketing research, I have developed some definite ideas about this industry of ours. In particular, I am passionate about customer experience research and how this is, or at least should be, different from other forms of marketing research. My blogs will generally focus on these issues, although I reserve the right to play ‘Grumpy Old Researcher’ from time to time and comment on other aspects of our industry.
The above-mentioned 35 years includes 27 years with Maritz, 2 years with Chilton Research, 3 years doing mental health research for the NJ Department of Human Services and various other academic and non-academic positions. I started my career as an analyst and along the way have held various positions at Maritz, including leading what was then our largest business unit, setting up what is now Maritz Research Europe, and heading up our new product development. Today, as EVP Innovation and Marketing Science, I still have a connection into the analytic side of our business, along with being what I call our company’s ‘Chief Tea Leaf Reader’: watching industry and societal trends and designing strategies to ensure we are properly anticipating and preparing for our clients’ needs. In this capacity, I’ve been our internal champion for leading edge developments like data integration and text analysis and had overall responsibility for leading the effort that led to the development of CE3D, our Customer Experience Evolution Framework and for the acquisition of evolve24, our social media aggregation and intelligence business.
When I am not in the office or with one of our clients, you can usually find me on the golf course, driving my 1966 Sunbeam Alpine (which I have owned since it was just a used car), or in the garage up to my elbows in Alpine grease.

Idea Gathering: 2013 Customer Experience Report

Not just hearing but translating innovations and insights is a huge part of the value of the Total Customer Experience Leaders. Our unique idea gathering wrap-ups between sessions facilitate alignment of customer strategy inspiration with business relevant actions and have been one of our most highly rated features in the past.

Here on the blog, we’ll be presenting weekly idea gathering wrap ups of some of our favorite customer experience strategy, design and alignment news and views.

This week we’ll be discussing a recent customer experience report published by the Temkin Group.

The Temkin Group is a customer experience research and consulting firm just outside of Boston. The firm provides insights for some of the largest brands and aids companies in transforming their customer journeys. Besides their consulting work they also release an annual report which rates industries and companies customer experience. The report uses feedback from 10,000 consumers to rank 246 companies across 19 different industries. The guidelines for evaluation were these three questions:

  1. Functional: How well do experiences meet customers’ needs?
  2. Accessible: How easy is it for customers to do what they want to do?
  3. Emotional: How do customers feel about the experiences?
The top five customer experience firms this year according the report were Publix, Trader Joes, Aldi, Chick-fil-A, Sam’s Club and Amazon (tied for 5). It’s interesting to note that not only did Grocery store chains take spots one, two, and three, but as a whole the grocery industry was rated the highest and scored well above the rest. There are definitely lessons to be learned in customer experience from grocery chains.

On the other end of the spectrum, according to the Temkin Group, the worst customer experience in America can be found at US Airways who were given a measly 46% in the report (compared to 84% at Publix). The Airline industry as a whole scored very poorly, not a big surprise considering a recent study ranked Airlines more hated by consumers then the IRS. Other low ranking industrie4s include TV/Internet Service providers and Health Plans.

Notable variance occurred in the Hotel industry where the leader, Mariott, scored a 75% while the worst hotel for customer experience, Days Inn, scored a paltry 48%. Significant variance was also reported in the Insurance industry where consumers ranked USAA an impressive 77% but scored 21st century at just 49%.

The report as a whole gives a great look at customer experience trends and how companies are universally putting a greater emphasis on their customer’s experiences. According to the Temkin Group the number of companies with at least a ‘good’ rating increased has increased 9% in the last year, and 21% in the last two years, and 57% of firms had at least a modest increase.
Where would your company be on this list?
Jeffrey Marino is a contributing writer concentrating his focus on Business Administration, Management Information Systems, and Tech Innovations. He blogs atFordham Nights and can be reached at JMarino@iirusa.com.

Responding with Retailer Strategy

Having understood the emotions that drive purchase for frequent
shoppers, its logical to examine how retailers react and position
themselves to the very same shopper needs. The role of a retailer is to
persuade purchase. In financially troubled times like the wake of the
meltdown of 2008, persuasion is more necessary from a value perspective.

Yet, even in affluent times, persuasion is necessary to hypnotize eager
shoppers to make more than just required and meaningful purchases
(which sometimes result  in shopping blunders when a credit card bill
leaves one wide-mouthed – consumer trends that I have blogged at length about). I believe that in some cases, the type of
shopper emotion seems to dictate the level of persuasion.

Blind Persuasion

For the equivalent of the love emotion,
retailers conjure strategies embodying severe discounts, freebies,
gifts-with-purchase, and the likes. Blinding shoppers with the
hypothetical value they are getting, it is often quite a good deal, but
one that was neither needed, nor wanted in the first place! Retail
management courses have often taught of the layout of grocery stores,
retail stores, etc., whereby enticing items are placed at checkout, or
sale items are kept at the back of the store, as are grocery essentials, so that our unstoppable shopper eyes see much much more than necessary.
The strategy works for retailers since they sell the bulk to
momentarily love-lorn blinded shoppers. All of it.

Pull  persuasion

For the almost emotionless requirement,
the consumers are likely to pull the products towards them due to the
inevitable need for the purchase. It is not necessary to elevate this
need to a want, or to cater to the emotional aspect too much. This is
where retailers can utilize the pull strategy to create singular deals.
As this is a requirement, no extra effort is needed from a retailer
perspective to engage interest, although some knowledge delivery is
necessary. Weekly discounts at stores like Home Depot or IKEA fulfill
this quadrant; consumers there are most likely buying requirement items,
pulling these towards themselves, and singular deals can elevate the
purchase volume.

Push persuasion

 Package deals are pushed towards consumers, either by the pricing
attraction or the physical store placement, thereby enticing shoppers.
Since this arena of products is already something that shoppers crave,
retailers can push the glitzy promotional material towards them. 
Besides a plethora of glossy, attractive and aspirational advertising,
package deals come in handy, as do gifts with purchase (GWP). Getting a
gift card with a purchase, or a host of related freebies, all fall into
satisfying this quadrant. The world of glorified advertising rules the
retailer strategy.

No persuasion

As Oscar Wilde says, you can resist anything but temptation. Indeed,
for that which is high on a desire list, is often not on sale. Although,
sometimes it may be, but is probably in limited quantities. The
scarcity makes the product more valuable, almost masking the need and
want all at once, but enticing shoppers to purchase it. This makes it
more than simply a requirement, more than an itching craving,
transforming it into a burning desire that
drains pockets, trickles time in lines, and sometimes also satisfies.
Think of holiday lines, the rush in stores on peak times, the limited
time Amazon lightening deals or morning-only Black Friday and Boxing Day
ones, and the gratification of getting the good deal on the last item. The retailer wins again!

What is your emotional driver for shopping? Seek your passion for
shopping, and check to see how the retailer is catering to you, giving
you options, but also enticing you to purchase more based on your
emotion. Think about what you are shopping for, particularly during the
holiday season. It has become a cat-mouse game these days, and some label holiday shopping as capitalism!

Controversial for sure, but the truth is that retailers are getting more coy, somewhat more desperate, since the shoppers have become less gullible, more frugal, influenced by social media to investigate the nooks of everything they buy, as I have spoken of in documenting how complex a modern shopping trip has become. Consumers have thus inevitably somewhat smarter.

A smart consumer? It is a retailer’s biggest dilemma. But not to be taken as an impossibility.

Sourabh Sharma,
Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international
consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering,
marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton
School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and
product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting,
he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every
platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer,
and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called
3FS. He may be reached at s.sharma@skimgroup.com.
Follow him on

Rick Smolan Shares Major Changes Revolutionizing the Research Industry

 Rick Smolan, (Photo: Wikipedia)

“It’s like you spent your whole life looking through one eye and all of a sudden you open a second eye. You’re not just getting more vision. You’re getting another dimension.” 

The Future of Consumer Intelligence Keynote Rick Smolan, Creator, Human Face of Big Data identifies how these historical changes are revolutionizing the research and intelligence profession as a whole.

“The ability to gather information, process it, visualize it and then respond to it while it’s still happening is something we’ve never been able to do before.”
The Future of Consumer Intelligence enables you to respond to this shift in a big way by exploring the emerging technologies and methodologies that can used to collect, analyze and evaluate consumer and marketplace intelligence in real time.

At The Future of Consumer Intelligence find out how you can leverage big data and analytics to engage, build and strengthen your customer relationships.

Joining Rick at the event is a world-class speaker line-up, including:

‘ Nate Silver, Founder, FiveThirtyEight.com
‘ Tom LaForge, Global Director, Human & Cultural Insights, The Coca-Cola Company
‘ Alex Hunter, Former Head, Virgin Online
‘ Joshua Kantar, Vice President, Total Rewards, Harrah’s Entertainment
‘ Eric Lucan, Director, CRM Strategy, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
‘ Dinesh Mathew, Insights and Market Research Analyst, Market Trends and Product Innovation, Intel Corporation
‘ Joanne McDonough, Senior Director, Consumer & Market Intelligence, Heineken USA
‘ And more. Click here for the full speaker list.

Download the conference brochure for the full conference program.

Register today to secure your spot and save 15% off the standard rates. Use code FOCI13BLOG to register and save 15% off.

Why You Can’t Miss the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit

There is just one question you have to ask yourself. And it’s not why should you attend the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit in 2013. It’s what you will miss if you don’t.

1. A Holistic Approach to Customer Experience from a Diverse Cross-Industry Speaker Roster. There is no other event that brings together higher-level thinking around the alignment of customer strategy with business relevant aspirations. Gain perspectives and cross-industry learnings from financial services, government, automotive, travel, retail, healthcare, hospitality companies and more.

2. Inspiring Keynotes. Hear from client-side experts and award winning authors on the power of listening and valuing customer feedback (Nationwide), understanding the emotional story (Sensory Logic), the impact of Big Data (American Express), optimize customer experience through social media (Facebook), transforming company culture (Safelite AutoGlass), how ethnographic methods are applied to design research (Pacific Ethnography Company), VOC integration (Maritz Research) and more.

3. Innovative Case Study Presentations. Customer-focused leaders share their insights-rich stories on designing a mobile app that motivates (JetBlue), developing a total customer experience metric (Toyota Financial Services), behavioral economics (GfK), creating unparalleled customer experiences (Eli Lilly & Company), optimize customer panels for instant VOC (CVS Caremark), Emart: global retail perspectives (Prophet) and more.

4. One Collaborative Congress. This high-engagement three-day experience focuses on expertise and interactivity with an integrated experience of all main stage presenters. Developing a balanced agenda on topics to help you advance your organization with a sound customer plan.

Customer Experience Design – Explore how VOC data and design principles can be used to engineer experiences across your organization.

Strategy - Interpret, analyze and evaluate your customer strategy to ensure business relevance

Measurement & Feedback – Drive change and optimize your sales force by measuring customer feedback through the entire customer journey.

Alignment - Integrate and leverage your customer touchpoints – measurement & ROI, linkage, VOC, social media, technology, design principles, operational metrics and senior leadership.

5. Executive Summary. Delivered to you after the event summarizing the key session highlights and game changing trends – a valuable resources as you craft your insights-rich customer story.

6. Interactive Forums. Back by popular demand, Idea Gathering Sessions provide more time to collaborate with conference speakers and attendees on important topics. We invite you to challenge your peers to push boundaries. Companies already signed on to attend include:

Bellomy Research
Boston Symphony Orchestra
BP Fuels Value Chain Marketing
Cafe Britt
Caterpillar Financial
Chadwick Martin Bailey
Chalhoub Group
City of Ottawa
Crested Butte Mountain Resort
CUNA Mutual Group
CVS Caremark
Eli Lilly & Company
Enterprise Storage Division
Florida Blue
Graduate Management Admission Council
Harris Interactive
Hunter Douglas
Janet LeBlanc + Associates
Janssen Biotech
JetBlue Airways
Johnsonville Sausage
Le Capitale General Insurance
Leadership Learning Systems
MAKO Surgical Corp.
Maritz Research
Medical Packaging Inc.
Okemo Mountain Resort
Pacific Ethnography Company
Questback Inc.
RBS Citizens Financial Group
Sensory Logic
Station Casinos
Toyota Financial Services
Triple Peaks
Two Men and a Truck
Working Solutions
ZS Associates

Plus, see what others have had to say about the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit:

This conference is an excellent environment for gaining insight into the customer experience. From the best practices to overcoming challenges, each speaker brings a viewpoint worth considering.”- Scott Swift, Vice President, Customer Information, Hunter Douglas

This event is about leveraging great customer research by linking and aligning it with key organizational issues.“- Bill Barnes, Senior Vice President, Burke, Inc.

The Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit will give you the insights and skills necessary to make your customer programs a success. Find out how creating a customer-centric culture within your organization, through expanded leadership and employee engagement can drive business results.

Mention your Blog VIP code to save 15% off the standard registration rate today: TCEL13BLOG

Email: register@iirusa.com
Phone: 888.670.8200

Webinar Invite: The Non-user Fallacy

Join us for this live presentation exploring How Abreva Leveraged Loyalists to Convert Non-users:

Wed, Apr 3, 2013
11:00 AM EDT
Hosted by: TMRE & Brandtrust

Register here: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/um8mzjrxq165

At the time of the study, the Abreva team possessed considerable knowledge regarding the category and consumer’s needs and motivations. However, the brand did not understand the disconnect between non users desires for treatment and the rationalizations at shelf to choose less expensive, second tier brands. Why was the Abreva team missing the mark with non users when all signs pointed to ‘yes’? They were chasing the wrong idea and asking the wrong questions.

While a typical approach would focus on studying non-users and uncovering their attitudes toward the brand and their rationale for not using the brand, Abreva partnered with Brandtrust to understand how and why non-users became users. By focusing on those who currently use the brand, the brand was able to not only uncover what obstacles prevent non-users from trial but also what motivates non-users to move into trial.

In this live presentation, you will learn:

‘ Why reframing the research question may reveal a more valuable source of insight.
‘ Why studying brand loyalists offers more insight than can be leveraged to bring non-users and rejecters into the brand.
‘ How emotional insights can transform a campaign from one focused on rational benefits to one that connects to consumers at a deeper, psychological level.

We look forward to chatting with you on April 3, 2013.

Presented By Elizabeth Latoracca and Kristian Aloma

Elizabeth Latoracca is the Global Insights Director of Pain Management at GlaxoSmithKline. She has worked within market research and insights for over 20 years, starting her career on the supplier side with Perq, Captone and Spectra, and then shifted to the client side with Warner Lambert, Pfizer and, for the last six years, GSK. Outside the office, Elizabeth enjoys spending her time with her husband and two children, running, reading and cooking.

Kristian Aloma is a Senior Consultant, Team Lead, at Brandtrust, has over a decade of experience in developing and improving brands across industries. He is currently finishing his Ph.D. in Narrative Theory, a.k.a. the psychology of story, with the hopes of understanding better how consumers make meaning of the world around them and how brands become integrated into their personal narratives. Kristian lives in Florida with his wife and two children, and in his fleeting spare time, he loves to geek out on cutting edge technology.

Brandtrust is a leader in deep social science led emotional research methods that reveal the unarticulated needs of consumers specific to your category and brand.