Recap: The Future of Consumer Intelligence 2014

Imagine a line drawn in the sand that is filled with hot
burning coals. To the left of the burning line stands
a group of people. And to the right of the burning line stands another group of people. The
group of people on the left are all directly facing the burning line drawn in the
sand and are staring at the opposing group. The group on the right are also all facing
the burning line drawn in the sand, staring directly at the group on the left.
The burning line drawn in the sand represents trust. The
group of people on the left believe they are entitled to the right group’s
trust because they are trying to help them. The group on the right believes
trust is earned and will not easily give it to the group on the left. The tug of
war between the two groups over trust causes friction and creates the burning
line drawn in the sand that neither can cross without the right tools.
The above scenario is analogous to what was presented at the
recent 2014 Future of Consumer Intelligence conference (#FOCI14). The group to the left was Big Business, the group to the right was the Public and we as
attendees were willing and able to sit right on the burning line drawn in the sand and
discuss how to bridge the gap between groups.


As marketers and researchers we love to collect lots of data
with the intention of using personal information to improve products, services,
and lives. But at what point is it considered invasion of privacy? Do consumers
really know how their data is being used, regardless of whatever they agreed
to? At FOCI14 it was made evident that as marketers and researchers, we teeter
on the brink of ‘Empowerment vs. Endagerment’. The path to maintaining the
balance and bridging the gap on the subject of data between Big Business and
the Public was made evident: provide clear, concise rules and guidelines for
how consumer data is used that moves past legality and into the territory of
Clearly our industry is at a point of disruptive innovation as
new technologies and methodologies allow researchers to get a clearer picture
of consumer insights. But who are behind all of these insights? That’s right,
people. In our industry we label people as consumers, customers, shoppers,
respondents, target markets and more. But remember that behind all of our
studies are people. And sometimes we can act as a barricade between companies,
their brands, and their consumers in an attempt to remain unbiased and objective. So how do we
bridge the gap?
For starters, John Havens, Founder of The H(app)athon Project, suggests we
can begin by switching out the label ‘consumer’ with ‘customer’. Whereas Elizabeth
Merrick, Senior Customer Insights Manager of HSN suggests we consider research
as another touch point of the brand, ‘We should allow customers to contribute
to a brand, not just consume it.’
So it appears the segue between marketing science and people
is essentially personal treatment and recognizing that customers are more than
a data point within a spreadsheet.

From John Havens, The H(app)athon Project
The more I thought about it, FOCI14′s tagline of The Convergence of Technology, Marketing
Science & Humanization of Data seemed unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) dichotomous where both Big Business and the Public were descending upon the line drawn in the sand. So
it goes with technology & humanization.
There is no doubt that technology improves lives at
blistering speeds. Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering for Google pointed
out that, ‘Information Technology expands exponentially across time, not
linearly.’ But as we become more technologically advanced, do we lose a piece
of our humanity and our identity?
As we discussed more and more about the subjects of technological advances, psychological
habits, triggers, and touch points at FOCI14, it seemed the key to closing the
gap between technology & humanization of data relied upon engagement. If new
technologies enable to us to engage with customers in a more meaningful way and
people are able to build stronger psychological connections with each other,
then the gap is bridged. If on the other
hand, the research community were to stand disengaged with customers and people, then technology & humanization in
the field will stand diametrically opposed on a bridge that is about to
So the real question in all of this is, ‘Has your
organization bridged the line drawn in the sand’?

Tom Krause, VP of Client Services, Gongos Research
“It’s all about people”
Chris Ruby is an award-winning Marketing Research & Consumer Insights Executive with Fortune 500 consulting experience. His niche is the ability to turn complex data into compelling stories that induce a call for action among key decision-makers. His work has been featured by MRA, MRIA, IIR, Norstat Times, Chadwick Martin Bailey & the Optimization Group. Keep up with Chris Ruby by following him on Twitter @ChrisRubyMRX or by reading the Chris Ruby Market Research Blog.

Introducing The North American Consumer Insights Event

The team behind the World’s Best Insights Event – The Market
Research Event, and Shopper Insights in Action have done it again. Bringing the
caliber of actionable content, inspiration and peer-to-peer networking you have
come to expect to Canada.

The Canadian retail industry is in a constant state of change.  With new
entrants like Target Canada, rapid changes in technology and increasingly
discerning customers, you are being challenged to remain relevant.

Introducing The North American Consumer Insights Event, September 29-October 1,
2014 in Toronto.  A 3 day experience focused on the power of insights in
motivating smarter decision making.  In honor of its host country, the
2014 event will shine a particular lens on the local flavor of shopper insights
in Canada. Download the brochure for full details:

Keynotes include:

  • Falling in Love and Having a Relationship are Two Different
    Things, John Rocco, Director of Marketing, Brand & Category, Target Canada
  • How to Embed a Culture of Customer Experience in your
    Organization, Kelly Harper, Director Customer Experience Learning, BMO Institute for Learning
  • The Art of Engagement: The Importance of Connecting with
    Customers in a Multi-Channel World, James Ryan, VP, Living Merchandising Division, Canadian Tire
  • Walk Your Talk, (Authenticity is Key), riCardo Crespo, Chief Creative Officer, Th13teen
  • How Current Trends are Shaping The 10 Growth Areas of
    Tomorrow, Jared Weiner, Futurist and vice President, Weiner, Edrich Brown
  • Why Business is Personal: An Entrepreneur’s Journey to
    Creating Systematic Societal Change through Insights to Drive Innovation, Ken Sim, Co-Founder, Nurse Next Door
  • The Future of Big Data & Small Data,Tim Benner, Director, Consumer Insights & Analytics, Samsung
    Telecommunications America

And more!
Download the brochure
for the full agenda and session details:

Plus, as part of your conference registration, you’ll receive BONUS ACCESS
to FEI: Toronto,
brought to you by the producers of the World Leader in Advancing Innovation.

All the best,

The North American Consumer Insights Event Team


Which Comes First: Business Strategy or Customer Experience?

Photo by paul bica

Following up on yesterday’s post, “Making Promises, Keeping Promises: Building Brand and Loyalty through Customer Experience,” organizations must transform by aligning toward customer experiences to gain a competitive edge, as explained in “Customer Experience: Is it the Chicken or Egg?” by Christine Crandell.

During last month’s Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit, brand strategists, innovation experts and other thought-leaders shared their insights and best practices for driving a customer-centric culture. Here are some highlights to help you design and deliver exceptional customer experiences:


Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and on her website at

Making Promises, Keeping Promises: Building Brand and Loyalty through Customer Experience

Photo by paul bica

Would you be willing to pay more for a better customer experience?

According to Kerry Bodine, former VP and Principal Analyst, Customer Experience Research Practice for Forrester, most people would.

During last month’s Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit, Kerry indicated that 81% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. In addition, she stated that:

  • 70% of consumers stopped buying goods or services from a company after experiencing poor customer service
  • 64% made future purchases from a company’s competitors after experiencing poor customer service

These sobering statistics show that customers’ perceptions have a profound impact on every organization’s brand equity, customer loyalty and revenue. Here’s how you can help successfully define, implement and manage your organization’s customer experience to deliver on its promises:

  • Come to terms with what your brand really stands for
  • Determine how your brand is (or isn’t) reflected in your customer experience
  • Help employees discover the role they play
  • Align your marketing with your actual customer experience

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and on her website at

The Man Who Invented the Synthesizer has a Lesson for Market Researchers

On the last day of FOCI14, Ray Kurzweil gave an inspiring
talk about rapid rates of innovation advancement, and how most people
underestimate them. Kurzweil
is uniquely qualified to talk about innovation; unlike most speakers, he has
actually accomplished it. He’s the inventor behind optical character
recognition (OCR), print-to-speech reading for the visually-impaired, and
perhaps most famously for the first music synthesizer that recreates orchestral
instrument sounds, including the piano. Use Dragon dictate software? Thank Ray.

So what does this have to do with market research? Why would
the Future of Consumer Intelligence have Ray as one of their featured keynotes?

The connection is actually pretty simple; we market researchers
struggle with innovation in our industry.  We often debate:
??    Which innovations are likely to be adopted by
actual paying customers (whether corporate researchers or research firms)?
??     Which ones are just hype?

After all, nobody wants to ‘miss the boat’, but we also don’t
want to get distracted by false hopes.

But while we struggle with it, Ray seems to have developed some
ways of thinking about innovation that may help.

Exponential versus
Linear Thinking

First, Ray promotes the power of exponential growth, which
he himself stated can be hard to understand. And, he said, the concept of exponential
growth can be met with skepticism. As evidence, Ray mentioned how in the early 1980s,
he predicted a worldwide internet connecting 100s of millions of people by the late
90s. But back then, his colleagues thought he was crazy because at the time the
ARPANET (the DOD’s network which is often credited as the ‘first’ version the
internet) was connecting only 2,000 scientists. But Ray points out that their assumptions
about potential growth and scale was based on linear thinking. He was thinking exponentially. And now we know, he was right.

Of course, predicting future outcomes based on ‘exponential’
growth assumptions isn’t perfect. Though Ray asserts that of his many predictions,
86% have been correct.

Or more simply: some innovations are poised to be
revolutionary, and they will grow exponentially.

So are there innovations in market research that y be hard
to grasp because they represent ‘exponential’ versus linear growth? Hold that
thought! Let’s get to part two of his thesis first.

All in the Timing

In part of his FOCI14 keynote, Ray pointed to the well-known
hype curve, a model of thinking about the phases of adoption for innovative products.
While the hype curve’s validity can be debated, and is (see
), the basic concept is certainly supported by lots of anecdotal cases.  An innovative new technology or invention
gets launched, and phases of early-enthusiasm lead to over-inflated expectations
(hype), get followed by phases of disillusionment, then ultimately, actual
growth. Well, for successful products, growth. For the others, a slow death may
be the outcome.

Or more simply, some ideas put forth as ‘innovative’ simply
are not destined for success; these things will likely die in the
disillusionment phase, or remain very niche markets.

Exponential Thinking
Tempered by Timing

As Ray was giving his talk, his two lessons seemed to
intersect. On one hand, we have to be prepared for innovations that truly can
develop at an exponential rate’causing significant disruption to existing ways of
doing things.  On the other, we have to
be cautious about overhyped innovations’not every innovation presented as an ultimate
growth area will survive the disillusionment phase; some will simply die.

How does this apply to market research? I see three take aways:

1.   Watch out for ‘innovations’ in the hype phase.
Big data and social media research both seem to be on the cusp of the disillusionment
phases; overhyped and maybe overpromised. Does that mean they will end up
discarded? I don’t think so (I for one have had some great successes with SMR),
but rumors of their market research world dominance will certainly be adjusted.

2.   Have a way of assessing if something is truly
. We have to be wary of what gets promoted as innovative. To me something
is only a market research innovation if it fundamentally changes the cost,
speed and/or qualify of our work as researchers.  Something that is cool, but doesn’t actually
bring anything new to the table in terms of how we discover or measure customer
attitudes and behaviors, is likely to be an interesting diversion’not something
destined for exponential growth.

3.   Take lessons from past market research innovations
that have grown exponentially
. The only example I can think of that comes
close is the growth of online surveys. No matter how you measure it, the growth
has been more than linear: number of projects, number of completes, or revenue (from
software sales, online panel sales, and related online survey tools). So ask
yourself, of all the solutions being put forth as innovative in research today,
do you see any as likely to grow as rapidly as did online surveys?

This post was written by Kathryn Korostoff. Kathryn is the President of Research Rockstar, the only independent company dedicated to market research training (online and in-person).  Many of Research Rockstar’s classes are MRA-certified, and Research Rockstar offers class bundles leading to MRA Certification. She is also offering FOCI attendees a free class here: CLICK., 508.691.6004 ext 705, @ResearchRocks.


Part 2: The Endless Possibilities of Mobile Market Research

In part 1 of “The Endless Possibilities of Mobile Market Research” we examined how a mobile device is in essence a miniature, mobilized focus group facility with GPS enabled capabilities that offers endless iterations of how mobile research can be conducted. In part 2, we will examine the methodology of an actual Mobile Market Research tracking case study that was recently presented at the 2014 Future of Consumer Intelligence conference (#FOCI14).

The case began with Jim Kohl, Director of Consumer Insights at the Career Education Corportation (CEC), a postsecondary education provider with campus-based and online curricula. Over the past several years Kohl has conducted an internal “Voice of the Customer” research project and found that his students had a great online educational experience, although their online research experience was subpar. Additionally, as CEC moved forward with a tracking study, Kohl was concerned if conducting a sole online/mobile research study would be representative of his student populous. One of Kohl’s main objectives was to insure the insights were indicative of their customer base.

Jim Kohl, Director of Consumer Insights, Career Education Corportation

In an effort to address these issues, Kohl partnered with Added Value, a full service Top 50 Honomichl research company. At FOCI14 both Brian Kushnir, EVP, Managing Director & Wai Leng Loh, VP of Added Value presented 3 key sampling and methodological takeaways from CEC’s current online/mobile tracking study:
Members of the mobile and online world who were sampled for the tracking study were indicative of students who utilized CEC’s services in terms of demographics and online behavior. Therefore, the online/mobile tracking study was based on a representative sample that did not exclude core customers and any insights derived from the tracking study would provide an accurate reflection of their target audience’s opinions. Interestingly, the in-progress study found the demographics of iPhone users tend to skew slighter higher than Android users (higher income, higher age).

Wai Leng Loh, VP & Brian Kushnir, EVP of Added Value


Survey takers should be able to seamlessly participate in surveys, anywhere, anytime, regardless of platform (online, smartphone, tablet, etc.)

Third, LET IT GO.

As researchers, we often like to ask tons and tons of questions, in order to gather as much data as possible, so that our results “stick”. However, new evidence suggests mobile device users are more engaged with their devices and consequently, less willing to spend as much time taking surveys on their devices. As such, we as researchers need to “Let It Go” when we conduct mobile research by: (1) shortening the length of survey questions, (2) limiting buttons and images within the survey, and (3) reducing survey questions to basic common denominator questions within select categories.

In other words, a traditional survey will suffice in the online world. However, with mobile, the same survey should be streamlined and broken down to basic elements in order to enhance completion rates while keeping both the online and mobile portion of the study intact.

Online vs. Mobile Survey Design

Case in point: although CEC’s study is still in the field, the aforementioned mobile research methodology has enhanced the user experience and improved completion rates. It will be interesting to see the final results of the online/mobile tracking study as it moves forward.

Chris Ruby is an award-winning Marketing Research & Consumer Insights Executive with Fortune 500 consulting experience. His niche is the ability to turn complex data into compelling stories that induce a call for action among key decision-makers. His work has been featured by MRA, MRIA, IIR, Norstat Times, Chadwick Martin Bailey & the Optimization Group. Keep up with Chris Ruby by following him on Twitter @ChrisRubyMRX or by reading the Chris Ruby Market Research Blog.

Put People First – Your Success Depends On It

Photo by paul bica

“Those that will always help a friend, will always have a friend.” – Anthony Douglas Williams, inspirational author

When you put people first in everything you do, you will be rewarded in many ways. Companies that put people first – their employees as well as their customers – achieve new and higher levels of loyalty.

Putting people first allows you to understand the key drivers of employee and customer satisfaction so you can leverage empathy to improve their experiences.

Is your company customer-focused or operations-focused? Find out by reading
“Six Differences Between Customer-Focused Companies and Operations-Focused Companies” by Shep Hyken.

If people are your priority, use these insights from this year’s Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit to help you design and deliver exceptional customer and employee experiences:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and on her website at

    Research & Branding Join Forces

    When you think of a brand does research as a part of the
    brand typically come to mind? Well in HSN’s world it does (formerly Home
    Shopping Network).

    Elizabeth Merrick, Senior Customer Insights Manager of HSN and Katy Mallios,
    Consumer Insights & Intelligence Consultant of Spych Market Analytics, gave
    an amazing presentation at The Future of Consumer Intelligence Conference
    2014 entitled, “Customer Insights as a Brand Engagement Tool.

    In essence HSN considers market research as an opportunity
    to personally engage with their customers in a very customized and tailored way
    that acts as another touch point of the overall customer experience. 
    Consumer Insights departments almost act as a barricade between the brand and
    the customer. HSN seems to have found a happy medium between the two. Herrick
    explains, “We are no longer researchers but brand facilitators. We want
    our core customers to participate and contribute to our brand, not just consume
    In fact, members of  their research community have
    become so engaged with the brand that they willingly receive exclusive
    non-monetary incentives to engage with the HSN brand instead of monetary
    incentives. How would you like to have a birthday party with Wolfgang Puck as
    an incentive? Well, one of the HSN Insiders did LIVE on the air. The result, an
    extremely engaged research community that strengthens the research, the 
    brand and the overall customer experience. (By the way, the HSN Insiders formed
    their own Facebook group. Has your company’s research community formed theirs?)

    MrChrisRuby is
    an award-winning expert Marketing Research & Consumer Insights Executive
    who has consulted with several Fortune 500 companies. He is passionate about
    augmenting product development, the customer experience & corporate
    revenue. Follow MrChrisRuby on Twitter @MrChrisRuby,
    email him at or
    read The Market
    Research Insider

    10 Mobile Trends for 2014 and Beyond via JWT

    “This fantastic report covers significant drivers and manifestations of these developments, and their implications for brands. ’10 Mobile Trends for 2014 and Beyond’ is based around on-the-ground research shared by JWT.”

    Today ‘mobile’ connotes not only our phones and tablets but other connected devices like wearables and cars, and ‘smart’ objects and systems (aka the Internet of Things). Some of this tech is in its infancy, but it’s maturing quickly, as evidenced by the many connected cars and wearables debuting this year and heavy emphasis on the IoT.   

    We’re hurtling toward a world steeped in and vastly impacted by mobile technology, with mobile driving fundamental changes in the business landscape and in consumer behaviors and expectations.   

    Certainly consumers are spending ever more time with mobile screens. A Millward Brown study released in March reports that across 30 countries, people spend an average of 147 minutes a day using a smartphone, which now outranks the TV or laptop screen. And this figure may soon seem low, considering that phones are the only available route to the Internet for many of the newest mobile consumers. Already Facebook has more mobile-only than desktop-only users.   

    As phones and many other connected devices become integrated into every part of our lives, the real and virtual worlds will get increasingly blurred. Marketers will need to transition from focusing on the mobile platform in and of itself to thinking holistically about how mobile affects and interacts with everything else.

    The 10 Mobile Trends for 2014

    1. Holistic connectivity is on the horizon
    2. Wearables break out
    3. Mobile is the prime screen
    4. Mobile changes how we socialize
    5. Shifting to visual
    6. Outsourcing to the machine
    7. Privacy and security fears change the game
    8. Raging against the machine
    9. Bringing mobile to many
    10. Mobile disrupts everything

    JWT: 10 Mobile Trends for 2014 and Beyond (May 2014) from JWTIntelligence

    This is an abridged version of their in-depth 124-page report, visit them at for full access.

    Privacy by Design: Are you planning for privacy or getting into trouble due insufficient privacy?

    Today’s talk on Big Privacy and Privacy By Design by Ann
    Cavoukian was my favourite of the day. She spoke mainly in relation to big
    data but everything she had to say relates to completely to all aspects of
    marketing research.  She is responsible
    for the Privacy By Design concept which has seven foundation principles. Here are
    the principles along with my thoughts on how they relate to traditional
    research methods.
    1. 1.     
      Be proactive not reactive: In a research
      business, many employees have access to personal information. This includes the
      database team that is responsible for housing information like names, email
      addresses, and data about children and income. A proactive survey team is one
      that identifies technical weaknesses that might make the databases susceptible
      to hacking. A proactive team also includes the project management folks who are there to ensure
      that survey authors don’t ask questions that could reveal private information
      or, at least, ensures that if private information must be asked, that
      responders are aware and this information will be handled with the utmost in care. Everyone is responsible for ensuring that any potential privacy problems are identified and dealt with before they actually become problems.
    2. 2.     
      Privacy is the default setting. In this area,
      survey responders should never have to check with a research company to find out if their privacy will be
      maintained. Their data should be automatically encrypted and stored behind lock
      and key, as well as anonymized at every possible opportunity. Without asking.
    3. 3.     
      Privacy is embedded into the design. Privacy
      features should never be part of agile programming. It should be planned. If
      you’re going to build a brand new mobile survey app or website tracking system,
      privacy features should be planned and built in from day one. Programmers will
      always tell you that add-on features are far less stable and reliable than
      planned systems so do it right from the beginning.
    4. 4.     
      Full functionality such that it is positive sum
      not zero sum
      . Marketing research is founded in the trust that our research
      participants have in us. The more we can prove to them, demonstrate to them,
      that we are doing our utmost best to maintain their privacy, the better it will
      be for us and for them. They retain their privacy and are assured that the
      opinions they share with us will always be confidential. We, on the other hand,
      make our responders happy thereby retaining them as responders, happy
      responders, for much longer. Privacy truly is a win win situation.
    5. 5.     
      End-to-end security. Have you ever tried to
      unsubscribe from a newsletter, only to have to jump through hoops to find an
      unsubscribe button and then still try to figure out which email address to type
      into the unsubscribe box? Well, that is a perfect example of poor design for a
      departing client. When research participants want to join a panel, leave a
      panel, see their information, or delete their information, it should be easy
      and it should be complete. And of course, these processes should be planned and
      built into the system to avoid bothersome hoops.
    6. 6.     
      Visible and transparent. Have a privacy policy.
      If you don’t, you’re already in big trouble. Have a full explained policy and an
      easier to read policy. Explain how research data is used, how it is stored, how it is shared, and when it is deleted. The more open you can be, the more your research
      participants will appreciate you and stick with you. Again, it’s a win win situation.
    7. 7.     
      Respect for user privacy. Remember that you
      would not have a business without the people who answer your surveys or
      participate in your focus groups. Treat them well. Treat them as you’d wish to
      be treated. If there are things that you wish you knew about the research
      process, chances are that your research participants also want to know. So tell
      them. And tell them nicely.

    And on a completely unrelated note, did you know that Ann’s
    brother is Raffi, a very popular children’s entertainer? When I was a babysitter, putting on a Raffi  ‘record’ was a great way to quiet kids down and get them to bed. The Cavoukian family is certainly accomplished!
    Annie Pettit, PhD is the Chief Research Officer at Peanut Labs, a company specializing in self-serve panel sample. Annie is a methodologist focused on data quality, listening research, and survey methods. She won Best Methodological Paper at Esomar 2013, and the 2011 AMA David K. Hardin Award. Annie tweets at @LoveStats and can be reached at