Tag Archives: April Bell Research Group

Using Design Thinking for a Family Glamping Trip

How can we make our marketing research projects even
is a question we often ask ourselves here at April Bell Research Group.  So, it’s awesome when you find a framework to
do just that! I first learned about Design Thinking from Lisa Helminiak, founder of a
human-centered design firm, Azul 7.  We met at a women-owned businesstraining event, where she turned me on
to some great resources from Stanford’s Institute ofDesign: d.school
Since then, we have
used this thinking in many of our research projects.  When I heard about Azul 7′s Design Thinking Workshop/Bootcamp, I decided to trek up to Minneapolis to attend.  I wanted to deepen my
understanding and find new ways to implement it into our research
practice.  What I discovered is that
Design-Thinking is more than a ‘process’, it’s a way of life.
This mindset includes:
  • Focusing on what others need
  • Feeling free to experiment while working through
    a process
  • Getting really clear about what you’re trying to
  • Having a ‘bias toward action’
  • Radial collaboration

It’s a simple process to reshape thinking. You state the challenge, and then
follow 5 steps ‘ Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test ‘ to elevate
creative thinking.
Creativity is an
essential skill for leaders trying to make a difference. Yet developing the
ability to think and act creatively remains a thorny challenge. While there’s a
hunger for skill development, elevating creative confidence doesn’t happen via
traditional modes of executive education.
Tim Brown, IDEO’s President and CEO
Here’s how I incorporated Design Thinking as I planned my
trip to the Boot Camp!
State the Challenge:  How can
I take 3+ days away for training when I have so many obligations with work and
The Steps:
  • Empathize
    ‘ immerse yourself, observe what people are doing, how they’re doing it and
    why. Discover other’s views.  Sidenote: this is MUCH easier to do
    professionally as a moderator than it is with your immediate family!!! 
    But here’s what I got from the ‘empathy
    gathering’ stage:

My husband and daughter didn’t want me to drag
them along on a trip where I was unavailable for most of the day.
They also didn’t want me to go on a trip unless
it was a ‘real vacation.’
They wanted to go ‘camping’ ‘ I did not.
I didn’t want to feel guilty about going.
I wanted to create a great experience for

  •  Define
    ‘ this is tricky because you’re still not solving ‘ you’re just unpacking what
    you learned, and getting clarity on WHAT needs to be solved. ‘Unpack’ all of
    your learnings, then translate these into a Point of View statement ‘ (User)needs‘ (Need) ‘because’ (Insight)

My definition: 
The Family
(User) needs’
‘to find individual
activities while vacationing together
(Need) because’
‘we want
to be together yet have our own idea of what ‘fun’ looks like!
  • Ideate ‘ our ‘family’ brainstorm looked a little different than the typical innovation ideation sessions we facilitate with our clients but let’s just say our little familia ‘tried‘ to build on each other’s ideas.  And we ‘tried’ not to judge each other’s opinions (some of us were better than others but I’m not pointing any fingers!)  And, my 5 year old is DEFINITELY the most creative and best ‘ideator’ of the family!
  • Prototype
    ‘ You stop talking (and thinking) in this step – and start building.  It’s a challenge because our nature ‘ at
    least mine ‘ is to get it right, get it perfect before showing others. This
    step forces the reverse thinking.  To get
    better, you must build/create something to test SO THAT IT CAN get better for
    the user! 
  • Test ‘ Then,
    we tested our first ever 10-day Family Glamping + Training trip!  Our user testing was ‘doing it.’  Would we do it differently next time?  Yes, we would tweak a few things like making
    sure our A/C in the camper was working properly before departing.  And allowing 2 weeks for the trip, not 10
    days’but we learned a lot.  This was our

Pull camper from Dallas to Oklahoma, spent
our first night in Sequoyah State Park in Hulbert, OK
to Des Moines, IA where we played with our friends, then left our daughter +
camper to play longer.
and I drove on to Minneapolis where I attended Azul’s Design-Thinking Boot Camp and
hubby happily biked in a city with some of the best biking trails in the US.  
we made our way back home, picking up our daughter and camper in Iowa
2 more nights in Kansas before heading back to Dallas.
Here’s a visual map we made
with Fotor, another fun tool we’ve added to our tool kit. That
and PicMonkey are
both great  at quickly helping you bring
ideas to life visually for ‘quick DIY design needs.’
Loved the Boot
Camp. And Design Thinking has not only enhanced our innovation projects but
also helped us create a mindset for innovation in our boutique business and even personally!
April Bell. Owner, Researcher, Facilitator and the ‘force of nature’ at April Bell Research Group, a full service boutique market research agency helping researchers shine.

5 Ways to Work it Like a (Go) Pro

We love doing
in-context or ethnographic research. 
It’s so fun to immerse ourselves into a respondent’s environment and
learn ‘what’s really going on’ vs. ‘what respondents say’ in a focus group
setting. And, yes, video is a great way to effectively capture the interviews ‘
it provides authenticity but also comes with some drawbacks. Regardless of someone’s
moderating skills, it’s more awkward for a respondent when you add a video
camera to the mix.  For the last few
years, we rarely take video during our
ethnographies due to the ‘cumbersome nature’ of the equipment.   

 To solve one of these problems, we could enlist the help of our clients.
However, walking them through operating a camera is technical and takes away
from the ‘in the moment’ learning.

At ABRG, we found
a small and mighty answer to this multi-layer dilemma. Insert GoPro Hero 4 Silver! 
We chose a GoPro because its versatile capabilities allow flexibility for any
ethnography or in-context research situation.

  1. Mounting accessories:  we love the Go Pro’s various accessories and bought
    the suction cup, flex clamp, and hand grip. These make it easier to walk with it
    or mount it wherever you need to take video ‘ bathroom, kitchen, etc. The clamp accessory especially,
    is useful doing in-homes because furniture can easily become camera equipment.
  2. Size:  It’s tiny, which is another asset when
    recording. Because it’s not bulky, respondents don’t notice it when they are being interviewed ‘ it fades
    into the background.
  3. Great
    quality video at close proximity
    ‘ the video quality on a GoPro is stellar,
    especially when it’s put on the ‘narrow’ setting.
  4. Mark-up ability:
    it is easy to mark up interesting, noteworthy parts of the interview in the
    moment!  This makes sorting through
    footage later so much less painful!
  5. Remote
    control via iPhone app
    : the GoPro contains a remote feature that allows you
    to control angle, start/stop, etc. from your iPhone, which is awesome.  If needed, the interviewer can both record
    and conduct interviews without enlisting the help of another team member or client.

All of these features are great but getting up to speed and
feeling comfortable with it requires bit of ‘ramp up’. We believe in creating step-by-step
Process Documents to keep us from reinventing the wheel so we put all our
knowledge into words in the format of a laminated Process
Document containing
the ins-and-outs of ‘how to use a GoPro.’ To easily access this guide when we are in the field, we made it so that
it easily fits inside the GoPro’s case and color-coded it based on topic.
Additionally, the GoPro, its parts and mounting accessories are labeled and
correspond with the user guide as reference.  In conjunction with the
process document, we also labeled all of the parts of the GoPro and the
different mounting accessories. Wherever
the GoPro goes, a user-friendly guide goes with it.
To GoPro or not?  That
is the question.  So far, we’re loving
April Bell. Owner, Researcher, Facilitator and the ‘force of nature’ at April Bell Research Group, a full service boutique market research agency helping researchers shine.

Is online qualitative research as effective as in-person research?

By:  Shelley Miller, April Bell Research Group
We’ve had some of our long-term clients wanting to explore
different ways to ‘replicate’ in-person focus groups online. Surprisingly, this
is being driven not only by time and money constraints but also by scheduling
conflicts.  Although in-person qual facilitates
the kind of rapport and connection that is challenging to replicate online, we
also believe conducting online qual can give insight ‘ if you use the right
methodology and platform for the objective.
We currently have a great bulletin board platform (Recollective) we use for gaining
in-depth exploration into consumer’s habits and practices ‘ it’s a great tool
and we use it often as a supplement to in-person.
But finding the right tool to ‘replicate’ an in-person
experience ‘ where stimuli can be shown and feedback can be given in context
requires a synchronous platform (not a bulletin board ‘ asynchronous platform)
So we recently renewed our discovery process to review new
platforms and we were pleasantly surprised by how advanced the technology has
become. Although not perfect, it’s clear that many of them have become more  ‘researcher friendly.’ So, while it can seem
overwhelming based on the number of options available, we found the following
process can help narrow the choices in order to choose the best platform for
your needs.
the Experience:
With so many bells and whistles, it’s easy to get swept
away with a lot of the features available. 
We found as we were doing demos, that clarity was found if we focused on
what the experience would look and feel like as we were conducting the
Decide: Asynchronous
or Synchronous?
  There are pros and
cons of each but both can be beneficial based on what you are trying to learn.
For example, Asynchronous is great for ‘exploration’ or ‘going deep’ with individual
consumers while allowing flexibility for both the researcher and respondents;
however, the analysis is typically more disjointed and time-consuming.
Synchronous platforms, on the other hand, require a specific ‘meet up’ time.  They work well when you want group feedback
(ex: stimuli) because they allow data to flow in context ‘ and the analysis is
Text only or Webcam?
  This is an
important step when determining which platform to use because some platforms
are better at conducting Webcam interviews/groups (Intervu by
FocusVision) while others provide a great Text Chat Group feature (Inside Heads and Visions Live).  Again, there are pros and cons to each method
that should be carefully evaluated based on your client team’s wishes. For
example, Text Chat Groups do not allow you to see and hear respondents while Webcam
groups require much more technology requirements.
Creating an ‘evaluation process’ not only helped us identify
the right platform for the need, it also helped us overcome technology
‘overwhelm’ and create excitement for a shiny, new research tool! 

Live from #TMRE13: Learning from Meaningful Brands

Nigel Hollis, Chief Global Analyst at Millward Brown began the session speaking about The Meaningful Brand and how quickly our brains react to information due to instinct.  

In fact, he said, it only takes 1/20 of a second to decide the appeal of a web page.

He went on to discuss the 3 basic types of mental associations which create a meaningful brand.
1.  Emotion
2.  Knowledge
3.  Experience

And then, the stellar panel discussed a bit about how they’ve been able to create meaningful brands:
  • Brenda Armstead, VP Global Strategic Insights at Johnson & Johnson —  Neutrogena
  • Ellen Zaleski, Director of Consumer Planning at Diageo – Johnnie Walker
  • Mike Quinta, Director Strategic Insights Global Brands — Lay’s 
The key themes were:
  • Foundation – understanding who and what the brand stands for 
  • Communication – stay focused 
  • Shelf space (if applicable) – keep it and expand it
  • Key stakeholders – keep them aligned

April Bell is Principal and Founder of April Bell Research Group, a boutique, full-service marketing research firm, committed to delivering fresh insights you can act on! Learn more at aprilbellresearch.com.  

Live from #TMRE13: Malcolm’s Keynote – Everything in Moderation

This morning’s keynote, Malcolm Gladwell, was introduced by Joan Lewis, Global Consumer and Market Knowledge Officer, Procter & Gamble.  She mentioned that when he was asked how he is able to write such amazing books, he said:  “I like to collect research that’s interesting and I like to collect stories that are interesting’and then I put those together.”  As a researcher, that hits home!
His focused his presentation on his latest book:  David & Goliath.  It was fascinating to hear him talk about how “too much of a good thing” is not a good thing and the role that plays in larger systems. 
He discussed his thoughts around crime and the American public education system.  He questions:  “Is there a point when classroom size becomes too small?”  
When teachers were asked this question, virtually everyone said that a class size of less than 20 is too small’.because it gets more difficult to control opposing views of children.  “It’s like having 2 squabbling teenagers in the back of a car while driving across country.”  

Because “the single most determinant of success with a struggling student is whether they have a peer or not to help them”  true learning occurs when the classroom is full of discussion.  So, when you don’t have enough discussion —  you have dead classrooms.  Not enough interaction with each other.
When all you think about is your child’s relationship to the teacher, you get locked into how to maximize that relationship.  However, when you think about the classroom as a community, you also start to maximize that part of the learning as well.

He also brought it back to parents and how it’s not only difficult for those with very little money but also those with “too much” money.  Being a “good parent” gets hard again because you have to try to explain concepts such as “hard work” in an atmosphere where those type of lessons do not make intuitive sense. 

Key take away for me – more is not always better…

April Bell is Principal and Founder of April Bell Research Group, a boutique, full-service marketing research firm, committed to delivering fresh insights you can act on! Learn more at aprilbellresearch.com.  

TMRE: Shifting to an Emotional Lens in the Drive-Thru

The majority of our thoughts take place in the subconscious mind. Usually, we don’t know WHY we are doing something if we are asked directly, but there is usually an emotional reason for it hidden in our subconscious. 

The folks at Coca-Cola were curious to learn about people’s experiences in the drive-thru. Instead of conducting this research ethnographically, which would involve being right there with consumers in the drive-thru to observe their actions and emotional reactions, Coca-Cola decided to take a different approach and do 30 one-on-one IDIs (in-depth interviews). 

The way they did this successfully was by asking respondents to go through the visualization process, to mentally bring them back to their drive-thru experience. “If you ask them to tell you about one of their memories or experiences, they tell you something you might not have heard otherwise,” says Kristian Aloma from Brandtrust. His team even asked respondents close their eyes while answering some of the questions for better recall of the event. “The key is NOT asking them why. There are ways a trained researcher can get past the surface to uncover their actual experience,” Aloma states.

To Coca-Cola’s surprise, many respondents revealed very emotional experiences at the drive-thru. For some it was a place where they could go in the morning to brighten their day; for others it was a get-away from their hectic routine where they could have someone else take care of them. It was a part of their ritual, and it made them feel good.

The presentation was definitely intriguing, and it was also very educational. I learned a lot about the different techniques that can be used to get respondents to open up about their experiences, especially if an ethnographic study is not possible. I’m eager to tell my team members about the interesting findings of this research!

Mayuri Joshi is Research Magician at April Bell Research Group, a boutique, full-service marketing research firm, committed to delivering fresh insights you can act on! Learn more at aprilbellresearch.com.

Live from #TMRE: Turning Facts into Ideas

Christopher McKinney with Mead Johnson and Cynthia Ryan/Shari Morwood with Ideas To Go presented on how they turned facts into ideas.

It’s always interesting to hear new ways for generating ideas for innovation, especially when the company has a  “new science or technology” and need to ensure the ideas will work with overarching brand positioning as well as benefit the consumer.

The speakers walked us through the process of how this came to life when innovating for their brand, Enfamil.

They began with a team of  “experts” who ideated, giving a variety of perspectives:  
  • a futurist who could give a  “Big Data” perspective
  • a brain imaging specialist who provided a view about brain development
  • leaders in pediatric medicine 
  • creative consumer moms
Then, they utilized a list of  “general facts” about the brand or category as creative stimuli, and from that, the team created 3000+ ideas.  Wow!  
Utilizing this process, they were able to restate, categorize, and select a series of 28 potential ideas to move forward with for further testing.

April Bell is Principal and Founder of April Bell Research Group, a boutique, full-service marketing research firm, committed to delivering fresh insights you can act on! Learn more at aprilbellresearch.com.

Live from #TMRE13: How CareerBuilder Builds Research Advocates Internally

Kassandra Barnes, Research and Content Manager at CareerBuilder began her presentation giving us her definition of “viral” — “the art of making something popular and shareable with minimum effort (or at least making something look like it’s minimum effort).”
Her “viral” goal was to create an internal buzz for research at CareerBuilder.  As a single researcher in a sales organization, it was not the easiest thing to do.  Because, she said, “In a sales organization, the typical research timeline doesn’t fly!  You have to be extremely agile!”
She gave us 6 steps to create internal advocates in an organization which needed extremely quick information:
1.  Do research “they” care about  -  Create the purpose before the research:  What’s the headline, So What?, Who Cares?
2.  Build a Braintrust (from cross-functional departments’including sales!)  This creates a group of brand ambassadors before the research even starts!
3.  Create Content – Using “The Four A’s” (Audience, Assets, Assess, Advertise)  
4.  Be Your Best Salesperson
5.  Train People on Research
6.  Build Partnerships

April Bell is Principal and Founder of April Bell Research Group, a boutique, full-service marketing research firm, committed to delivering fresh insights you can act on! Learn more at aprilbellresearch.com.  

Live from #TMRE13 Safely Connected…How AT&T Is Using Consumer Insights to Help Seniors Age in Place

I was excited to hear about some amazing new technology from AT&T that is currently in the early testing phases. Stefanie Elder delivered a presentation about How AT&T Is Using Consumer Insights to Help Seniors Age in Place
There are over 40 million seniors in the United States. Most of them face the reality of having to move into an assisted living facility at some point in time – only a few are able to stay in their homes with full time care. AT&T found that the vast majority of seniors would much rather stay in their own home yet lack the care or help they might need.
This is where AT&T is stepping in with Digital Life – a security and home automation system that includes video monitoring and sensors that will make it possible for seniors to safely stay put in their homes. Some of the most innovative features will utilize sensors – one of which will keep track of when the person gets out of bed and alerts someone (via mobile technology) if they don’t. Monitoring for the system will be available 24/7 via web or app access.
They are currently testing this technology, which is available to AT&T employees and their families. They are collecting feedback from seniors and their caregivers who are in many different situations – giving them a broad range of ideas and possibilities. With this new technology, the future is looking pretty bright!

Talia Short is Chief Wrangler at April Bell Research Group, a boutique, full-service marketing research firm, committed to delivering fresh insights you can act on! Learn more at aprilbellresearch.com.

Live from #TMRE13: Synthesizing Multiple Data sources at Panera Leads to New Insight

Yesterday, I enjoyed listening to the presentation give by Shawn Utke, VP, Brand Insights & Research, Panera Brand.

He discussed how marrying attitudinal segmentation data with behavioral data revealed interesting insights.
At Panera, they originally identified a singular target through their segmentation research:  The “EFI” (female oriented, higher income target) who had a propensity to fall in love with Panera and acted like brand advocates.
Panera wanted to do something different than what many in the category call “food porn.”  So, they targeted their messaging and called it, “Make Today Better” which was about leaving Panera better than when you came in.  They also added some of the yummy items I love (I guess I’m an EFI:)’Strawberry Poppyseed dressing and Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, Egg White sandwiches.  Yummy!!

However, after collecting and analyzing behavioral data along with their segmentation data, it suggested their customer target might not as valuable as they originally thought.  Once you have ‘big data’”, he said, “it’s a blessing and a curse because you start learning what you don’t know.”  The next question became “why the gap?”
Is the former target still the right target?
Is there a secondary target we should be directly serving?
This gave them the opportunity as an organization to strategically search for a solution based on their most important dimensions:  media buying, time of day, specific menu items.  And ultimately, led them to a more focused strategy.
Good “food” for thought regarding segmentation, big data, and bringing it together for greater insight!

April Bell is Principal and Founder of April Bell Research Group, a boutique, full-service marketing research firm, committed to delivering fresh insights you can act on! Learn more at aprilbellresearch.com.