Tag Archives: Social Sciences

The Era of Brilliant Alchemy: Data Anthropology

“Show me the numbers,” it’s often said. After all, data IS proof. But data is nothing without context, without a story, the whole story.

As a small child, I was fascinated by historical remnants of societies long gone, Pompeii, Masada, Taino, Aztec… Who were these people? What did they care about? What happened to them? How different were they from you and I? Or were they just like me? 
Anthropology is Dead
It was this intriguing idea of shared commonality/humanity that fascinated me in such a way that for the rest of my schooling, I became of student of the sciences and eventually undertook anthropology as a major course of study. It was there that I found myself being forced to make a choice between the softer qualitative analysis of my studies and the harder quantitative data. I found myself in a quagmire, I could write an ethnography report like nobody’s business, I loved being in the lab and visual data, but inputting spreadsheets made me queasy. Today this dichotomy isn’t as clear cut.
I’ve always been interested in technology, art and design but back then I didn’t have any real interest in marketing. So it’s rather curious for me to see the progression of marketing and business strategy and digital rapidly encroach into a blend of art and science. The era of Big Data demands scientists to organize and identify patterns and other findings quickly and effectively from quantitative data but it also demands an astute anthropological approach to share narratives about the role of the findings in people’s lives. 
Back in my school days, I was told over and over again, that anthropology was one of those dead end majors, were you either teach until you are gray-haired or you spend your career begging for funding, because the market for anthropologists outside of academia was minuscule.
Long Live Anthropology
Today we see in-house anthropologists at Google, Microsoft, Intel, Sandia National Labs, as well as at design, software and analytics, and market research firms the world over, not only exploring cultural insights but also aspects like usability through a social science lens. Pretty sweet for such a “withering” science…
What has happened is that the world we live in today calls for brands and business to not only understand their consumers and clients’ needs and desires but to also deeply comprehend their place, their context in their world, their zeitgeist, and their particular experience and connect that to their offering. Empathy is key.
Dataclysm & The Era of Brilliant Alchemy 

The other day, I received a review copy of the book Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) written by Christian Rudder, cofounder of OkCupid, whom you may remember used to share all those nifty reports based on findings from mining OKCupid member behavior. 
One of the cooler things that struck me about the book’s angle is that “Data scientists have become the new demographers” and we are living in a time of a “brilliant alchemy, in which math is made human and numbers become the narrative of our time.” True story.
Live long and prosper

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Valerie RussoFormerly a senior copy editor at Thomson Reuters, a research editor at AOL,  and a senior web publicist at Hachette Book GroupValerie M. Russo is editor at large of The Front End of Innovation BlogThe Market Research Event BlogThe World Future Trends Tumblr, the Digital Impact Blog, and also blogs at Literanista.net. She is the innovation lead and senior social media strategist for the Marketing and Business Strategy Division of the Institute for International Research, an Informa LLC., and her poetry was published in Regrets Only on sale at the MOMA Gift Shop. Her background is in Anthropology and English Literature. You can reach her at vrusso@iirusa.com or @Literanista

All Emotions Are Not Created Equal

By David Forbes, Ph.D.

I just returned from the Insight Innovation Exchange
conference in Philadelphia, where a broad range of market research scientists
and professionals gathered to talk about techniques for emotional measurement
and emotional research. As I look back on
the three-day event, it seems that the most striking feature was the range of
diversity in both the methods proposed for studying emotions, and in the types
of phenomena under study ‘ all of them called ‘emotion.’

The study of emotions as they drive consumer behavior is
still a relatively new focus for market
researchers
. It seems important at this early point to begin clarifying the
various options for this type of research ‘ the various types of phenomena that
can be called ‘emotions.’ In our work, we focus on one particular type of
emotional force that I heard very little about at IIEX ‘ the type of emotional
force that can pull someone from their armchair at home, move them to their
automobile, and get them to a retail store to purchase a particular type of
product, hoping for a particular type of outcome from that purchase. 
Psychologists typically call this type of emotional force ‘motivation.’
I believe that it’s important that the study of motivation
occupy a central role in Market Researchers’ study of emotion ‘ for several
reasons.
Firstly, the emotional forces of Motivation are what we
should be studying when we seek to uncover new business opportunities in the
consumer lifestyle ‘ because motivational drives which are unfulfilled in a
consumer’s life represent emotional need states that can be targeted by new
product ideas.
Secondly, the emotional forces of Motivation are also what
need to be targeted by marketing strategists who wish to have a product story
that is arousing and compelling. A new product concept is far more likely to
succeed if it offers the promise of emotional benefits that speak to consumer
lifestyle aspirations and frustrations. And finally the emotional forces of
Motivation should be the target of communication impact for advertisers who
want their messages to become a call to action.
Motivations vs. other
emotions
Motivations can be distinguished from other types of
emotion in part because they derive from forces inside the individual, rather
than being primarily ‘reactive’ to outside stimuli. We all carry around inside
us two distinct forms of motivational forces. One type consists of
aspirations that we have to make our experience of life better ‘ a desire for
outcomes which psychology calls ‘positive reinforcement.’ The other type
consists of frustrations that we experience in life which, drive us to seek
relief ‘ that drive for what psychology calls ‘negative reinforcement.’ In
my recent paper in the Review of General Psychology, I’ve attempted
to summarize a great deal of research
on these motives, developing a unified model that identifies nine distinct
types of motivating emotional forces, each of which can be manifest as an
aspiration for positive outcomes, or a search for relief from frustration of
negative situations.
Clearly the concept of emotion can take several other forms
aside from the emotions of motivation. We can study general states of arousal,
we can study the various sensory-emotional states activated by experiences in
life (like excitement), we can study emotion as a pattern of vascular activity
through the technique of brain imaging, we can study physiological expression
emotional states as expressed by the facial muscles (like happiness, or
disgust). And based on my experience at IIEX, I suspect that all of these types
of emotion will continue to play a role in the work of Market Researchers.
I only hope that enough of us decide to focus on the
emotions that drive motivation, and seek to understand the aspirations and
frustrations that drive consumer choices and actions in life.
Want to learn more
about this topic? Attend TMRE 2013 in
Nashville, TN October 21-23. For details, click here:  http://bit.ly/1aOb0Zm We hope to see you
there!  
About the Author:
David Forbes holds a Ph.D. in clinical and cognitive psychology from Clark
University, and was a member of the faculties of Harvard Medical School
Department of Psychiatry and the Harvard Laboratory of Human Development before
beginning his career as a business consultant. He founded Forbes Consulting
over 20 years ago as a strategic market research consultancy dedicated to
creating business advantage through psychological consumer insights. He has
since built Forbes into a major resource for scores of major corporations in
the CPG, Financial Services, and Pharmaceuticals industries, domestically and
internationally. David is the creator of the MindSight?? emotional
assessment technologies, a suite of applied neuropsychological methods for
understanding consumer emotion and motivation, without the distortions of
conscious editing and self-presentation
.  

Why Mobile is a Game Changer’for Research and Dunkin’ Donuts

By David Forbes, Ph.D.
One of the things we love best about using our MindSight??
technology via mobile is that it lets us capture consumers’ emotional responses
right in the moment, while they are still fresh.   Research in memory
consistently tells us that the passage of time works to distort our memories,
so that remembering something for the first time ‘ right after it happens, may
look very different from remembering it hours or days later, because our
memories change with each act of remembering.
One implication of this is that getting feedback about customer experiences right after they happen
can be very important. So, for example, in our recent work for a large Dunkin’
Donuts franchisee, we took to the field and got consumers to tell us about
emotions using their smart phones.
This client was troubled by a few underperforming stores
among his franchises. These franchises seemed very much like his high
performing stores at first glance: they had identical offerings, were the same
size and located in similar areas. They were even staffed by comparable
crews.  And past measures of customer satisfaction indicated little
difference between the stores.
To solve the mystery, we sent researchers
to study the emotional experience of customers at a high-performing store and
at a low performing one.  Over the course of the morning rush, we showed
off the MindSight?? ‘game,’ and invited them to try it themselves on their
mobile devices ‘ what we learned was unexpected.

What wasn’t different between the stores were rational
dimensions of performance like how long the line was, or how accurately the
orders were filled.  Both stores did fine on those criteria.  What
was different was the nature of the emotional experience in these two stores.

Both stores did well on some key elements of emotional
experience ‘ fulfilling a desire to feel empowered and achieved ‘ to ‘start
your engines and dive into the day.’  But the high performing store also
did well in delivering another ‘softer’ type of emotional experience ‘ the
desire to feel understood, and even a little bit nurtured.
At the high performing store, the crew greeted customers
warmly, sometimes even by name. They frequently knew what ‘regulars’ wanted,
and would start on that hazelnut-light-two-sugars even before the customer had
a chance to order it.
At the low-performing store, coffee transactions were less
personalized and nurturing, more businesslike and anonymous. MindSight?? images
chosen by those coffee drinkers to capture the feeling of their customer
experience made it clear that they didn’t feel nurtured here. They felt isolated,
and in fact, they even felt incompetent (about their store choice.)  These
results fit well with earlier work we’ve done in breakfast cereals, that shows
us how people tend to be a bit infantile in the morning, and kind of vulnerable
‘ almost as if they are ‘waking up like infants’ and needing to be gentled.
The ‘no frills’ satisfaction of timely, competent service
reported in both stores did not reveal the important differences in service
experience between the high and low performing stores.  Only a method
focused on the emotional experience revealed the issue.  And a method
using images to get ‘under the radar’ was likely critical.  I doubt many
of these consumers could have articulated the pleasure at feeling recognized
and nurtured if we had asked ‘it’s like confessing that you wish your Mom could
still cut your toast in little triangles and butter it just so.
Finally, a method that allowed us to get ‘in the moment’
feedback was likely critical to the insight ‘ measuring consumers emotions
while they were still in that emotional mood of ‘morning vulnerability.’ 
Cognitive science tells us that memories of negative feelings tend to fade over
time (the ‘Fading Affect Bias’) we suspect that feelings of incompetence, and
of being isolated, during a morning coffee purchase are very good candidates to
‘fade’ (as the day progresses).
Our client is in the process of coaching the staff in
under-performing stores to add those warm touches, asking customers’ names and
treating them like regulars. We’re betting that will be enough to turn those
stores around, so stay tuned.
Want to learn more about
this topic? Attend TMRE 2013 in Nashville,
TN October 21-23. For details, click here: 
http://bit.ly/1eV1G5q We hope to see
you there!  
About the Author:
David Forbes holds a Ph.D. in clinical and cognitive psychology from Clark
University, and was a member of the faculties of Harvard Medical School
Department of Psychiatry and the Harvard Laboratory of Human Development before
beginning his career as a business consultant. He founded Forbes Consulting
over 20 years ago as a strategic market research consultancy dedicated to
creating business advantage through psychological consumer insights. He has
since built Forbes into a major resource for scores of major corporations in
the CPG, Financial Services, and Pharmaceuticals industries, domestically and
internationally. David is the creator of the MindSight?? emotional
assessment technologies, a suite of applied neuropsychological methods for understanding
consumer emotion and motivation, without the distortions of conscious editing
and self presentation.  


How to Take Choice Modeling to the Next Level

At The 2013 Future of Consumer Intelligence conference, SKIM thought leaders, Eline van der Gaast and Joris Huisman, shared new methods and techniques for expanding the ability to create forward looking models accounting for rational and emotional choice behavior. These models enable marketers and product developers to make strategic and tactical decisions. 
For more information about this presentation, visit Skimgroup.

A new way to get insights, everyday

Today we turn our attention to building a better relationship with consumers:
At iModerate, we are constantly asking ourselves – how can we facilitate better communication between our clients and their consumers? 
We believe in the power of individual conversations, not just to gain insight around that big tracker or ad test, but as a way to answer your everyday questions and keep your finger on the pulse of your consumers.
Therefore, we are introducing a new way to work with us, one that enables you to easily establish consistent, fruitful dialogues with customers, fans, and desired market segments. 
iModerate’s new subscription service provides you with a bank of conversations that you and your colleagues can quickly draw from whenever issues or questions arise. 
With just one phone call you have access to professionally moderated qualitative conversations that deliver a level of insight that goes deeper into the minds of your consumers, uncovering what truly matters to them.
Beyond securing a better way to talk to consumers, the subscription offering allows you to achieve savings of up to 20%, secure preferential fielding windows, unlock more deliverable options and enjoy a simplified, streamlined process. 
How transformative can this be? Find out how it’s changed our marketers by checking out our comic strip series’ www.imoderate.com/superhero
About the Author
iModerate is a qualitative research firm that goes beyond the obvious by connecting with consumers through real-time, online, one-on-one conversations. Utilized within an online survey for a hybrid approach or as a stand-alone qualitative method, our professionally moderated conversations deliver candid feedback and give you more of the insight that matters to you.
iModerate Research Technologies is a sponsor of The Future of Consumer Intelligence and The Market Research Event and will join us on site to explore we can transform market research together.