Is it Worth it? Key Considerations for Social Media Research

By: Terry
Lawlor, EVP Product Management, Confirmit

The role of social media in delivering
business insights is a tricky business. While most researchers consider it to
offer real benefits, the big question is ‘how do we do it properly’? In our
recent survey of Market Research professionals, we asked respondents about
their feelings towards social media. Overwhelmingly, the most popular response
from the five choices offered was ‘A
useful addition to a Market Research project if we can bring the data together

The word to look at there is ‘if’.
For many businesses, that ‘if’ is
surmountable, and for others it isn’t ‘ at least not yet. There are a number of
things to bear in mind.
is Your Audience?
The changing dynamic of the consumer has a
significant impact on research. Millennials behave differently when it comes to
researching, buying and complaining about products. The audience you’re
targeting has a huge role to play when it comes to establishing the part that
social media has to play in your business.
Takes More Than Technology
There’s no silver bullet for social media.
It takes a combination of people, process and technology to be successful. You
need technology to sift through the vast quantities of information ‘ to find
and filter data sources, provide intelligent sampling of massive amounts of
content, and perform categorization and sentiment analysis. However, you will
still need people. In our recent study, Political Buzz, we used social media
(as well as traditional surveys) to monitor topics for the UK election. One of
our key findings was that the role of people was critical in researching the
key social and online media channels, and in building the taxonomies on which
your technology must function.
More Than Just Social
When thinking about social media, most
people immediately think of Twitter and Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, perhaps
YouTube and Pinterest. There are actually many more social media sites than you
think, and there are many different feeds within each social media platform.
And there is a huge array of online media, where people post comments and
stories, and review sites that cover many different categories of products and
services. So you need to think about online media as much as social media, and
you need to think about data sources that amount to tens or hundreds of
thousands of different media channels.
Double-Edged Sword
As with every ‘next big thing’, social
media research is a double-edged sword. On one hand, because it is largely
unsolicited, you can uncover insights that you never anticipated. However, also
because it is largely unsolicited, it might not address anything useful for
your research program. You may want to research a particular topic but no one
is discussing it, or your target audience just doesn’t use social media.

the Author: Terry Lawlor has the responsibility of all aspects of product
management, including strategy development, product definition, and product
representation in client and marketing activities. Terry is a seasoned and
highly professional enterprise software executive who possesses a wealth of
expertise in the Market Research and customer experience markets.

Tech-Fueled Retail: In-Store and Online

Over the
past few weeks, the Stylus Life team has been tracking the latest
innovations in retail tech ‘ the online tools making shopping seamless, and the
in-store tech that will encourage customers to head back to the high street.
are always seeking new ways to entice customers and encourage loyalty, particularly
looking to create convenient purchase journeys that fit around shopping habits.
This strategy is seen through Mr Porter’s recent partnership with Apple TV. A first for luxury content-commerce
mergers, the collaboration sees the e-tailer monetise its editorial video
content, letting shoppers buy directly through their TV.
Similarly, Instagram recently announced it would soon start
testing retail tools that enable users to buy items found in their image feed ‘
a move that will help both brands and tastemakers to drive revenue through the
platform. The new feature, kicking off in the US with twenty retailers, ties in
with recent stats showing that consumers increasingly shop via their mobile
The consumer
desire for convenience and curation is also highlighted in recent research that discovered 43% of US consumers are
likely to do their holiday shopping via online marketplaces such as eBay or
Amazon, compared to just 15% purchasing via an individual retailer’s website. This
dramatic difference is due to marketplaces’ ability to offer shoppers a simpler
experience, with a wider variety of products at the best prices ‘ all in one
So if
shopping online is easier, what will send customers back to the store? Well, a recent survey has found that 63% of UK shoppers still
prefer the high street, but are more likely to be enticed by tech-fuelled
retail spaces. The convenience of contactless and mobile payments was described
by some as ‘life-changing’. Meanwhile, shoppers are more likely to visit stores
with technology such as virtual reality (57%) or smart fitting rooms (57%), which
provide experiences that can’t be replicated at home or online.
Tesco is
capitalising on this consumer desire for technology, trialling digital receipts that offer shoppers personalised offers,
while also taking another step towards paperless transactions. The trial,
running through November, aims to give customers more choice. Beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury has placed digital interaction at the centre
of its new store, using virtual mirrors to help shoppers select their perfect
look, and in-store screens to showcase social media inspiration.
Brought to you by Stylus Life, creativity and innovation news from around the web.

Innovation Inside the Box: A Systematic Approach to Link Innovation and Marketing Strategy

Inside the Box: A Systematic Approach to Link Innovation and Marketing Strategy
By Drew Boyd, Executive Director of the Master of
Science in Marketing, University of Cincinnati 

End of Innovation Conference Keynote: 2016

The thesis of this talk is that Creativity is a skill, not a
gift. This practical advice starts with a promise from Boyd: ‘I’m going to
teach you how to use your brain to innovate anyway you want.’
He then discussed the origin story of the ‘think
outside of the box’ mythology. When you send people outside of the box, the
mind suffers anxiety. The mind works better inside the box, he says, with
He then quoted Beatle Paul about ‘templates’ for
songwriting. All artist use patterns, he claims. But the artists don’t want you
to see the patterns. Patterns boost the creative output. ‘Innovators and
inventors use patterns, too, and they are embedded in the products and services
you see everyday.’
The method is Systematic Inventive Thinking’and
there are only five patterns. ‘Innovation follow as set of patterns:
Subtractions, task unification, multiplication, division, attribute

Using these patterns you can move from solution
to problem, rather than problem to solution.
To use this method, start with an existing
situation, and then apply one of the five patterns from above. This thinking
tool will yield a virtual product, then vets if it is desired and feasible. At
this stage, an idea is born.
Let’s we examine the Subtraction technique. Here’s
the method: remove a component, then visualize the new prototype, identify user
needs, and then adapt as needed based on the factors of ‘the closed world.’
Taking each piece out and thinking about the possibilities opens up new paths
of innovation.
This method forces you to create combinations
that you wouldn’t create on your own.
Task Unification is the next method we explored.
Here you assign an additional task to a component and walk through the
remaining steps of can we and should we do it.
We used ‘How we can keep consumers in grocery
stores longer’? as an exercise. We listed all components, chose one, and then
create ideas quickly, with time constraints.
The exercise demonstrated the effectiveness of
the technique. Many new ideas were generated. The constraints forced new
thinking, new potential value.
Boyd then gave many examples of the five
techniques. The book explaining these methods is called Inside the Box.
Many of the innovators were excited about this
technique, which works backwards from the empathy-first methods so popular
today. Boyd claims that these methods improve the efficacy of brainstorming
Michael Graber is the
managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic
growth firm based in Memphis, TN and the author of Going Electric, and also serves as VP Innovation at Hunter Fan. Visit to learn more.

Old Brains, New World: The 3 Fs Of Shopper Activation

At the OmniShopper International conference in London this
week, the focus was on how we shop now. Technology has made shopping easier
than ever. But it’s also given birth to a myriad of new technologies for
tracking, targeting and sales activation ‘ one speaker estimated that there
were now more than 3,500 start-ups operating in the space between a brand and
its end buyer.
In this forest of complexity, how do we see the wood for the
trees? In a morning keynote, BrainJuicer’s Chief Juicer John Kearon suggested
we were answering the wrong question. How we shop is changing at a breakneck pace. But how we decide ‘ the cognitive tools we bring to
bear on shopping ‘ hasn’t shifted at all. 
This isn’t to say shopper insight is business as usual.
Insights from the behavioural sciences are often paid lip service to, but it’s
harder to actually implement them at scale. The effort is worth it, though, as
getting behavioural activation right is a powerful route to profitable brand growth.
As behavioural scientists tell us, we decide using our fast,
intuitive System 1, and then our slow System 2 generally rubber stamps the
decision. Only a tiny minority of choices involve System 2 at all. And yet an
enormous amount of promotional and shopper insight activity is designed to
excite it by creating cut-through and trying to stop people and get them to
think. Instead, why not put System 1 at the centre and focus on making it easier to buy a brand?
Marketing analysts Les Binet and Peter Field invoke the 60/40
rule, which their analysis suggests holds true even in a digital era. 60% of
your budget should be spent on brand building, 40% on activation. Shopper is
clearly a huge part of that 40%, so getting at the System 1 heart of the buying
experience should be a serious marketing priority. But how to do it?
For brand building, we know that the key decision-making
heuristics are the 3 Fs: Fame (how easily something comes to mind), Feeling
(how good it makes people feel) and Fluency (how easily recognisable its unique
assets are). The 3 Fs explain how brands grow. They also let Kearon predict how
close the US election would be ‘ Hillary Clinton had a small advantage on Feeling,
but ultimately Donald Trump beat her on Fluency.
But activation ‘ the heart of shopper ‘ requires a different
set of factors. Kearon introduced the activation 3Fs ‘ more direct levers of
consumer behaviour at the point of decision. These are Framing (the world
around us), Following (the world between us), and Feeling (the world within
us). Feeling ‘ the need for an experience to create positive emotion ‘ is what
Activation and Brand Building have in common. Kearon described a study of online
shopping where analysis of emotion showed that people who felt happy when shopping
spent almost twice as much on average as those who claimed to feel nothing.
Positive emotion is vital at every stage of the brand building and activation
But Following and Framing are unique to the purchase moment.
Framing is all about managing the choice architecture around a purchase to make
certain choices feel more obvious or easy. This can be done through pricing ‘
Kearon showed how a charity setting its default contributions higher raised its
average contribution dramatically, even though givers could still give as
little as they wanted. It can also be done through promotion ‘ making an offer
limited, for instance, is a reliable way of boosting take-up. And it can be
done through subtle changes in the environment ‘ as in the famous experiment
where German and French music played in an off-license boosted sales of wines
from those respective countries.
Following, meanwhile, is all about what other people are
doing: we are social animals and make System 1 choices based on information
about other humans and their choices.
Kearon described an experiment designed to make pub drinkers drink more water
to reduce or dilute their alcohol consumption. The most effective intervention,
he said, turned out to be a poster simply showing somebody drinking a glass of
water. Mirror neurons in the brain meant people seeing the poster wanted to
drink themselves ‘ and take-up of the free water in the bar shot up.
These examples of Framing, Following and Feeling were
entertaining, but is there a way to apply these ideas at scale without taking a
gamble on real-world profits? This is where new technology does start to help,
said Kearon. The upsurge of interest in virtual reality, and the rapid
improvement of virtual store technology, creates the possibility of a gigantic
laboratory where A/B testing of in-store behavioural activations can happen.
Wild theories ‘ like Kearon’s notion that pet treats would sell better in the human
sweets aisle! ‘ can be tested at vastly less expense and risk. The culture of
optimisation that already exists in online commerce can come to physical
retail, and the lessons of Framing, Following, Feeling and System 1 decision
making can be truly absorbed.

The polls got it wrong (again) but don’t lose faith in quantitative research

By: Jim
Like many, I woke unusually early on
Wednesday and reached nervously for my mobile phone. It was US election night
and I was eager to see if, from my perspective, crisis had been averted or the
world really had gone mad. Before I had a chance to tap my favourite news app I
noticed a message from my brother: ‘Another resounding victory for the
polls bruv!’ Detecting sarcasm (I’m smart like that) I knew this could
only mean one thing. Sure enough, Trump was well on course to a victory that
nobody, least of all the pollsters, was anticipating. For the third time in
eighteen months (following the UK general election and EU referendum) the
pollsters had got it wrong!
In the period since May 2015, I’ve had
countless debates with polling sceptics like my brother. His, fiercely
articulated, view is that polling is not simply inaccurate, it also has the
potential to sabotage itself. He’s not alone in this belief. Behavioural
economics shows that people generally wish to follow the herd. Therefore, a
poll showing that the majority think in a particular way is likely to
influence, albeit subtly, what they themselves believe. Furthermore, there are
those that cite the possibility that polls could impact rates of voter turnout.
After all, why bother to turn out to vote if the polls have created a strong
belief that your favoured candidate is either assured of victory or has no chance
of winning?
Polling, when first popularised by George
Gallup in the 1930s, was hailed for the positive contribution it made
to the democratic process. Gallup himself was, understandably, steadfast in
this belief. Elmo Roper, another pioneer of the public opinion poll, described
it rather hyperbolically as ‘the greatest contribution to democracy since
the introduction of the secret ballot’. 

But there have always been critics, and
the anti-polling arguments inevitably gain traction when the pollsters get it
wrong. Failure is not a modern phenomenon either. Immediately prior to the 1948
election George Gallup predicted that Dewey would beat Truman in the election
and stated, unwisely as it turns out, ‘We have never claimed
infallibility, but next Tuesday the whole world will be able to see down to the
last percentage point how good we are’. Dewey lost. The anti-polling lobby
had a field day.

So criticisms of polling aren’t new and,
let’s be honest, they would remain niche concerns if the polls were accurately
predicting results. But they’re not and on the back of a series of high profile
failures it’s increasingly common to deride polling as a ‘devalued
pseudo-science conducted by charlatans’. Yep, my brother again. I hate to give
him the last word so, in order to provide a flavour of wider opinion, I’ll
quote the Guardian’s post-election editorial instead. ‘The opinion polls
and the vaunted probability calculus rarely trended in his (Trump’s) direction;
both are discredited today.’
The purpose of this blogpost is not to
defend political polling; I have my own concerns in that direction and it’s
undeniable that the work of pollsters is becoming harder, due to a combination
of methodological issues and a more fluid, less predictable, political
landscape. However, for the sake of fairness I’d like to mention two things,
neither of which is intended to exonerate the practice.
First, most polls reflect public sentiment
within a nationally representative sample. In the main, but not exclusively,
the polls conducted immediately prior to the election found that, by a
relatively small margin, more Americans intended to vote for Clinton than
Trump. In this they were correct. At the time of writing, the figures show that
59,814,018 Americans voted for Clinton whilst 200,000 fewer (59,611,678) voted
for Trump. However, due to the distribution of votes and the vagaries of the US
political system, this translated into 279 Electoral College votes for Trump
and 228 for Clinton.
Second, most polls conducted by reputable
polling organisations produced results that placed the result well within the
margin of error. ‘What’s that’? I hear you ask. Well, tucked away at the
end of most reports based on a public opinion poll will be a small note about
margin of error. This margin will differ depending on the number of people
interviewed for the poll but, for a standard sample size of 1,000, the margin
of error is +/- 3.5%. This essentially means that if the poll results show that
Clinton is projected to win 47% of votes, the reality is likely to be somewhere
between 50.5% and 43.5%. Within this context, the result of the election was
well within the margin of error of most polls. It wasn’t so much the polls that
got it wrong, it was the reporting of the polls that failed to sufficiently
stress that the result really was too close to call. But people don’t like
uncertainty so these boring, statistical caveats tend to get overlooked.

OK, but I said this blog wasn’t designed to
defend polling. So what is it about? Well, I don’t feel the need to defend
polling because I’m not a pollster. However, I am a market researcher working
with quantitative surveys and, what concerns me, is the fear that growing
scepticism around polling will negatively impact trust in all forms of
numbers-based research into public attitudes. Maybe I’m just a worrier and
people are perfectly able to distinguish between different forms of survey
based research. However, my own experience suggests that isn’t always the case.
In May 2015 I was working at the Guardian.
The Guardian has invested significantly in data journalism over recent years
and coverage and analysis of polls was given a high degree of prominence in the
run up to the UK general election. At the Editorial conference, held the day
after the election, the mood was subdued. When the conversation turned to the
failure of the polls some journalists questioned the prominence given to
polling numbers, especially as those numbers didn’t chime with their instincts
and the evidence of their own, on the ground, experiences. The upshot was a
policy decision, only recently reversed, that editorial coverage of polling
should be suspended. The coverage of polls in the run-up to the US election was
reported under the banner ‘Sceptical polling’, which gives a pretty good
indication of the mood around the organisation.  
As Head of Consumer Insight at The
Guardian, a key element of my role was to advocate for use of consumer research
and promote evidence-based strategic decision-making. My internal clients were
ranged on a spectrum that ran from research enthusiasts to rejecters. This
latter group, a minority it should be said, believed there was little to gain
from engaging with research. The great polling disaster of 2015 provided a
tailor-made reason to disengage. After all, research had been shown, in the
most public way imaginable, to be unreliable and wrong! Hadn’t it?
I’m sure the Guardian is like most
organisations in having research stakeholders ranging from enthusiasts to
sceptics. To the latter group I would make this plea; don’t conflate political
polling and other forms of quantitative market research and do not deny
yourself and your business an incredibly powerful, consistently proven aid to
decision making simply because political polling has been shown to not be a
perfectly accurate crystal ball. As mentioned, polling isn’t quite as
inaccurate as some would have you believe. Furthermore, the stakes are simply
much higher for polling: A couple of percentage points either way (generally
within the margin of error, remember) is the difference between two
diametrically-opposed outcomes and the profound repercussions associated with
that. In contrast, if a representative survey of consumers in a particular
sector suggests that awareness of your brand currently stands at 34% whilst
that of a competitor is 64%, does it really make a huge difference to the
decisions your company will take if the reality is a couple of percentage
points either side?  
Of course, some decisions do require a
higher degree of accuracy. In these instances, market researchers have two huge
advantages over pollsters. We can increase the number of people interviewed in
the study, thus reducing the margin of error and increasing confidence levels.
We can also utilise robust sampling techniques such as random probability
sampling. Generally speaking, neither of these options is available to
pollsters because they are simply too time consuming. Pollsters are required to
provide an almost instantaneous reading of public sentiment, before new events
have a chance to change it, and anything that slows that process is, by
necessity, discarded. If pollsters were given the freedom to use these tools,
it’s likely they would provide far more accurate predictions. How do we know?
Well, following the 2015 general election most polling companies conducted
re-contact surveys with pre-election poll respondents to try and understand
what went wrong. What they discovered was that, even when conducting post-event
research, they were unable to accurately replicate the result. The inquiry
conducted by the Polling Council of Great Britain concluded that the reason was
their use of (attitudinally) unrepresentative samples drawn from panels and
that a random probability sampling approach (that gives every member of a target
population an equal chance of participating in the study) would counteract the
problem. Tellingly, the survey that best replicated the election result was the
British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey conducted by NatCen Social Research. Need
I say that BSA is based on a large sample (3,000) and utilises random
probability sampling?
I’ve rambled on too long and exceeded my
word count limit by a distance so I’ll finish by saying this: The great jazz
musician, Duke Ellington (or possibly Richard Strauss, it’s disputed) is quoted
as saying ‘there are only two types of music: good and bad’. Market
research is much the same. When done properly it is an incredibly powerful
diagnostic and forecasting tool that can provide a highly accurate picture of
consumer sentiment as it currently exists. Pollsters, through no fault of their
own, are sometimes unable to do it.
Researchers, however, can and do. 
Jim Mann is a senior quantitative director
at the numbers lab @ Firefish

It Takes a Village to Help Brands Through their Omnichannel Journey

By: Owen
McCabe, Group Solutions Director, Kantar Retail
There’s a well-known African saying that it
takes a village to raise a child ‘ i.e., that a child has the best chance to
grow and become a healthy productive adult if the parents allow their extended
family, neighbours and broader community to contribute to its rearing. I always
liked this saying.  Growing up in small
town Ireland, with lots of relatives living nearby, and local sports clubs
playing such a big part in the community, it rang true to my own experience.
It’s also a saying that rings true when I
reflect on Kantar Retail’s experience over the past 4 years of helping brand
owners take the next step on their Omnichannel/ecommerce journey. Put simply,
the winners tend to be those who have understood that in order to grow and
integrate their infant ecommerce channels, they need to not only upgrade their
parenting skills but also actively allow others to help.  The corollary is also true, all too often, we
find the go-it-alone companies among the strung-out ‘parents’ at the back, overwhelmed
with responsibility for a whole new set of competencies that their companies do
not understand or appreciate (Digital Asset Management, On-Site Media, Search
Optimisation, etc).

In next week’s Omnishopper International
Conference, I will go into more detail on this as well as share some examples.
However, in the meantime here are some of our key observations.
Firstly, the brand owners who are doing the
best job of upgrading their in-house parenting skills are the companies that
aren’t afraid to totally reinvent their marketing and channel management models
to do a better job of engaging with the next generation of connected shoppers.  The common feature across these new models is
the centricity of their focus on the connected shopper journey.
Secondly, the brand owners who are making
the largest omnishopper impact are those who are purposefully forming their own
Virtual Village to raise their eCommerce Child. 
These companies are augmenting or replacing their singular
supplier-buyer relationships with cooperative ecosystems of specialist partners
to better influence conversion across the connected shopper journey.  These specialist partners include the
retailers’ own media groups but also include 3rd parties covering disciplines
such as Content Management and Distribution, Data Analytics, Search Marketing,
Programmatic Advertising, and Digital Shelf intelligence.  At the same time, we see that those who stick
with the status quo are starting to realise that the deck is stacked against
them ‘ that trade relationships without reciprocity are not really
relationships at all. 
In the future, it probably won’t take a
village to raise a child – either in society at large (we already see parents
using iPads as a surrogate babysitter) – or in Omnichannel terms.  We already see companies investing in becoming
more centred and self-sufficient in their focus on the connected shopper
journey.  However,  in
the short term, life on the Omnishopper savannah is a race for Brand Owners to
form their own purpose-built eVillage with the right partners to allow them
survive and thrive in the post-digital world without becoming someone else’s

See you next week!

Facts Don’t Have to Die

This post was
originally published on the Sentient
Decision Science Blog

‘Stories last and facts die,’ Kelsey
 stated on day four of TMRE.
The Schwan Company’s manager of consumer insights and
analytics held a fun workshop called ‘Your
Voice’the Power to Slay the Two Dragons of Storytelling.’
 By leading
participants in two creative writing exercises, she encouraged market
researchers to ditch the corporate speak that plagues our presentations and
find our own human voice.
If it sounds like Saulsbury didn’t know her audience, be
assured she did. She addressed the certain skepticism held by any data
analysts or behavioral scientists in the room by conceding that the type of
presentation should depend on the client.
‘A client once told me before a presentation that if I
showed him one number, he’d walk out,’ an audience member offered.
Saulsbury nodded, asking audience members to cut down on the
slide decks and get to the point faster.
‘When putting together reports we’re often afflicted by the
No Data Left Behind Syndrome,’ she said with a laugh. ‘Less is not lazy.’
Big Data Dominance

Are executives so exhausted by tables and charts that
they’re letting data die? According to Alec Ross,
there’s no way. As data becomes more abundant, industries become more efficient.
And data is incredibly abundant.
‘Ninety percent of the world’s data in the totality of human
history has been produced in the last two years,’ said the former senior
advisor for technology and innovation at the State Department.
‘The sum of all the data from paintings on cave walls to
2003, we now produce that amount of data every two days’ over 16 billion
networked devices.’
So how do we leverage that?
In ‘We
Are Not in Kansas Anymore’Consumer Insights in the Age of Big Data’
Senior Director of Consumer Insights and Analytics, Heiko Schafer,
admitted it can be overwhelming.
‘Big CPGs are under tremendous pressure,’ he said.
Schafer quoted Ross’s note about how 70,000 data points are
available about all of us. The pressure comes in reconciling these new
data streams and business models.
Companies like Walmart use the newly available data sets to
integrate things like geolocationing, sensors, and digital media into their
skill set. The result can be incredibly informed, targeted marketing.
Data as a Storyteller
We urge our analysts at Sentient to also highlight
conflicts between data and its context. Those conflicts might reveal important
insights the client wasn’t even looking for.
Saulsbury suggested that researchers begin presentations
with the most compelling findings. ”Don’t bury the lede,” she quoted.
Schafer illustrated with a study about the sales
of colored pencils.
Data in graph form showed peaks in colored pencil sales
where you might expect them’Christmas, Easter, and at the start of the school
year’as well as a general increase in year-over-year sales.
Researchers could have accepted the numbers as they stood,
but they knew something was off. Birth rates in the United States had dropped
off in the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and so there are actually fewer
school-age children enrolled in the areas they were looking at.
‘What is going on [with the data]? What’s driving this? Why
is it happening’? Schafer posed.
As it turns out, the reason colored pencil sales are going
up is because the sales of adult coloring books are going up. Why was that
happening? Researchers then looked at social media conversations and Google
Trends and saw that a lot of adults are stressed out. They’re looking
for creative escapes.
Where the data says sales of colored pencils are up, the
true story is that sales of colored pencils are up because burned out adults
are looking for catharsis in coloring books.
Imagine how much money could have been wasted on marketing
to the wrong demographic.
Truth Is Important;
So Is How You Share It

If data equals truth, truth should trump all in market
research, right? Not if no one is listening to it.
That’s why storytelling is part of Sentient’s DNA.
Yes, we are a company that’s expert in advanced
implicit research technology, the consumer subconscious, and quantifying the
impact of emotion on choice. Our technologies are coupled with deep knowledge
of behavioral economics, emotional branding, and quantitative models of the
drivers of human behavior.
But the value of our insights comes from the stories we tell
about data.
People support and share ideas they have an emotional
connection to. By crafting our insights in a way
that inspires emotion, we give data a better chance to resonate with
our audience. We don’t just reel off numbers, we help clients understand
why they should care about those numbers.

Facts and data don’t have to die. We can use stories to
help keep them alive.

Enter to Win 2 Free Passes OmniShopper International in London

Are you a retailer? Do you like free things? Well, submit
your information to win 2 passes to OmniShopper International taking place
15-17 November at the London Marriott West India Quay in London:

You will join a roster of leading retailers, FMCG manufacturers and industry
experts from all throughout the European market including:

‘ John Lewis
‘ Samsung
‘ Tesco
‘ Harrods
‘ Mothercare
‘ Dreams UK
‘ Shell Retail
‘ Coca Cola
‘ Kimberly-Clark
‘ Barilla France
‘ Beiersdorf
‘ Ferrero
‘ Fjordland
‘ Johnson & Johnson
‘ Mondelez
‘ Nestle
‘ Ontex
‘ PepsiCo
‘ Perfetti van Melle
‘ Strauss Group
‘ Swedish Match
‘ Unilever
‘ Heineken
‘ Philips
‘ And many more!

Visit the website for more information about the full program:

Enter to win here: for a chance for you and a
colleague to join 250 like-minded retailers and FMCG manufacturers and
suppliers. Good luck!

We hope to see you in London!

The OmniShopper Team

Successful Retailers Drive Emotional Connections with Consumers

We recently sat down with Bridget Brennan, Author, Why She Buys and CEO, Female Factor. In
our conversation, she shed some light on how omnichannel is impacting retail,
how shoppers are shaping the future of retail, where retail is going in the
next five years, and more.
Here’s what Brennan had to say:
What can retailers do
better to embrace the omnichannel customer journey and experience?
Brennan: Staying
centered on the very human reasons of why people buy (and why they don’t) is
the best compass for anyone. No matter what channel or technology is being
used, retailers that drive an emotional connection with consumers do it through
elements like great service, inspiring experiences, excellent products, good
value and a brand that people want to be a part of. The opportunity is to
play to the strengths of each channel to deliver these elements. One of the
most effective ways to stay in tune with the modern consumer journey is to
conduct qualitative consumer research on a regular basis.
How are shoppers
shaping the future of retail?
Brennan: One of
the big shifts we see across age groups is the desire for services and
experiences. For brick-and-mortar locations, there is an enormous opportunity
to deliver the kind of experiences that people can’t get through a screen. My
local Nordstrom now has a beautiful bar on the second floor, right in the
middle of the men’s section. Every time I go, it’s full of people who are
clearly enjoying themselves. I predict we’re going to see more and more
retailers add both experiential elements and helpful services to their
brick-and-mortar locations.
How is digital
reinventing retail?
Brennan: In too
many ways to count.  Here’s just one: e-commerce has changed the very
definition of ease and convenience.  Which means it won’t be long before
brick-and-mortar retailers change the very definition of what it means to be a
What are some key
points attendees can expect to take away from your session at the event?

Brennan: People
will walk away understanding the most important trends driving women consumers,
and how they can leverage these as a blueprint for meeting women’s wants and
needs.  Women drive 70-80% of consumer spending with their combined buying
power and influence. My goal is to provide actionable insights that help
retailers stay relevant with the world’s most powerful consumers in 2016 and

Implicit Bias and How Smirnoff is Transforming Global Attitudes Towards Others

This post was
originally published on the Sentient
Decision Science Blog

The phrase ‘implicit bias’ often carries a nasty
connotation. Here’s just one headline from the last four months: ‘How Racism
Persists: Unconscious Bias May Play a Role.’
Partiality. Prejudice. Racism. And this bias is thought
to be all the more insidious because it’s locked away in our subconscious where
we can’t do anything about it.
But as Dr. Aaron Reid explained in his TMRE 2016
presentation Wednesday, implicit bias is not necessarily negative or
positive’it’s both.
‘Implicit bias is simply a systematic tendency toward
something,’ Dr. Reid explained. ‘It’s the automatic associations you have in
your mind, and those associations can be positive and they can be negative.’
Implicit Bias and Behavior

While System
1 certainly influences behavior
, it’s not the only thing that determines
how people act. If we have the motivation and the opportunity, we can
influence whether our System 1 mind impacts our behavior or not.
‘When you have either low motivation or lack the opportunity
to reflect and reason, your implicit attitude has a much stronger impact on
your judgment or behavior,’ said Dr. Reid. ‘But when you’re motivated and have
the opportunity, your System 2 thinking can intervene if you don’t want
an implicit attitude to influence behavior.’
Science provides methods for quantifying implicit
biases, both positive and negative. Sentient
Prime implicit research technology
, for example, can give you a read on
your degree of biases both toward and away from people, from brands, products,
and advertising.
It’s called implicit association testing and it’s a powerful
tool that helps measure the impact of the non-conscious.
Can We Change
Implicit Associations to Be More Inclusive?

In the Spring of 2016, Sentient examined implicit
biases in a study with Smirnoff. The project objective,
born from the mind of Smirnoff’s Luke Atkinson, was to make a real
contribution to the world with the idea of a brand that ‘welcomes everyone’ and
stands for ‘good times together.’
Atkinson wanted to focus on inclusivity.
Opposite the concept of implicit bias, inclusivity
moves people from thinking, ‘How do we prevent or reduce prejudice,’ to ‘How do
we promote inclusivity’? And that positive, welcoming feeling is
what Smirnoff wanted its brand to inspire.
Implicit Association
Testing in Action

We captured baseline data in two studies about
inclusivity from 1,400 United Kingdom respondents and 1,300 from the United
States. From there, we could see if the creative content produced by the
Smirnoff brand could actually make people feel more inclusive toward
We utilized implicit and explicit measures from the
behavioral sciences in five comprehensive areas of inclusivity:
Feeling included
Sharing identity
Motivation to act inclusively
Inclusive lifestyle choices
Inclusive socializing
Three segments emerged from the data in both the U.S. and
the U.K:
The Isolated: those who feel excluded and act
Excluded Strivers: those who make inclusive
lifestyle choices but feel excluded

Inclusive Included: those who feel included
and also act more inclusively
We were then able to analyze implicit attitudes toward
groups of people’based on race, gender, sexuality, and more’and split the
results by segment. Some of the results were sobering.
‘If you ask people an explicit question like this, you’re
not going to get the real answer,’ Dr. Reid said.
‘But if you measure it implicitly you get really keen
insight: a significant portion of the population has a negative implicit
bias toward ‘old people’, toward ‘poor people’, and toward ‘disabled people’.’
Smirnoff Opens Up to Promote Inclusivity
Based on our baseline data, Smirnoff created an
ad targeted at changing attitudes toward disabled people.

Smirnoff was proud of the creative. But would it have a real
Sentient performed a Subtext’ ad
 to see whether exposure to the ad was changing the implicit
memory structures within Smirnoff’s target audience’s mind. Using consumer
neuroscience tools, we measured the four key components of
advertising effectiveness:
Desirability (a combination of System 1 and
System 2)
Emotional preference following exposure to the ad showed a complete reversal
following a single exposure to that 40-second clip.
‘From a brand preference perspective,’ Dr. Reid noted, ‘this
is a very successful ad.’
Digging Deeper Into the Data
Emotional memory analysis carried the study a step
further by analyzing which elements of the ad are responsible for the
change in implicit attitude.
‘The implicit memory connections are changing in the
minds of consumers when you show them your ad,’ Dr. Reid explained. ‘We can cut
the data to see the moments of the ad that are related to those
memory changes that you’re trying to affect.’
Among female viewers, there were clear positive
emotional deviations at the moments that the primary female student was telling
her story and began to feel the joy of dancing.
So impact on the brand is clear. What about inclusivity? Did
we strike an impact? Did we change people’s attitudes to feel more inclusive?
Only among women.
‘The storytelling at the beginning of the ad isn’t
resonating in a positive way with men on average, it appears to reinforce a
negative bias toward disabled people among the ‘Isolated’ segment’ noted
Dr. Reid. ‘It provided insight into how to optimize the creative with cuts that
tell the story of the male focal character, Chris Fonseca, in a clear and
compelling way to men.’
For the Isolate segment, what may be missing
is motivation. Opportunity to change their judgment is there, but
without motivation, there’s no override for that System 1 bias.
Next Steps for Smirnoff (and the Rest of Us?)
For its part, Smirnoff is planning a global rollout of the
‘We’re Open campaign.’ The next ad being tested:
Regardless of the results, Smirnoff’s efforts show how it’s
possible for us to address implicit bias in this country and globally. First we
need to understand that System 1 mind’where it comes from’then we can focus on
how to influence change.

As Dr. Reid said: ‘We need to understand how
reason and emotion work together 
to drive behavior.’