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Live from #TMRE13 Keynote: The Pragmatic Brain

Live from #TMRE13 Keynote: The Pragmatic Brain

Stereotyping is a natural human tendency. Brands are stereotypes. When you think of Disney, what comes to mind? Nike? BMW?

Brand stereotypes create reality. For example, Coors - cold activated cans, Rocky Mountains in the background, frosted bottles. You've seen all the commercials. They create the idea in your mind that Coors' beer is actually colder and more refreshing than other brands. They are tapping into your unconscious and making you believe it.

Stereotypes resist change, but CAN change. In research studies, most people won't change their minds, even after contact itself. Those ideas are so deeply embedded in their minds, that actual proof which negates it, doesn't affect them. However, a few of those who came in contact, actually did change. In order to change your brand's stereotype, you must first make small, significant changes to tap into your consumer's unconscious.

The interactions must feel cooperative. If consumers feel you have the same ideals/goals they do, you will see positive change. For example - Guiness. Not a beer you normally associate with sports. If you saw a commercial of a bunch of guys sitting around watching sports, eating chips and drinking Guiness, nobody would believe it. In this commercial, they associate themselves with loyalty, friendship and having the same values you do, which sets the context for their desired change.

You must drive change with the right type of contact - it must feel authentic. Stereotypes are part of who we are. Find out how people see themselves and how they see your brand. You will then be able to align the two and position your brand the way YOU want people to see it.

Bottom line for market research professionals. Think of your brand as a stereotype and strive to understand the full stereotype. Then you will be able to affect change.

Safely Connected...How AT&T Is Using Consumer Insights to Help Seniors Age in Place

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 system and home automation that includes video monitoring and sensors that will make it possible for seniors to 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, in partnership with Burke, 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 for the future. With this new technology, the future of seniors is looking pretty bright!



Where Have All The Good Ideas Gone? #TMRE13

Where Have All The Good Ideas Gone? #TMRE13

Steve Landis and Andy Smith spoke about opportunities to help grow your business in Where Have All The Good Ideas Gone? In this rapidly changing world of consumers, there are more products and options available than ever before. So, how does a company make it in this cut-throat market?

Change your ways. The changing marketplace is forcing companies to change their way of measuring success. It's not longer acceptable for survival to be the main goal. Your main focus MUST be growth - growth = success.

Traditional measures don't link to growth. Old ideas that may have worked before, are no longer relevant in this day and age. What makes a good idea? Those that will grow your business, not those that will just boost sales. Ones that may seem crazy at first, but will benefit your company in the long run.

Live from #TMRE13:  Learning from Meaningful Brands

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  

Live from #TMRE13: Malcolm's Keynote - Everything in Moderation

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  

Live from #TMRE:  Turning Facts into Ideas

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 consumermoms

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.

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

Live at #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

Live at #TMRE13:  We're Not Just Researchers

Live at #TMRE13: We're Not Just Researchers

Dan Pink's keynote this morning was great!  He talked about his new book, 

To Sell is Human:  The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

His primary points included:

1. Like it or not, we're all in sales now. 

 He described what we all know -  that most people had negative connotations of "salespeople."  Note the word cloud of adjectives generated when 7000 Americans were asked the question. 

"When you think of "sales" or "selling", what's the first word that comes to mind?"

2. Sales of anything is not what it used to be. 

 It's a move from "buyer aware" to "seller beware."  The old way, he stated, was like Alec Baldwin's 

Art of Selling in Glengarry, Glen Ross.

  • A - Always
  • B - Be
  • C - Closing

Whereas, the new way is about:

  • A - Attunement - can you get out of your own head and understand where someone else is coming from?
  • B - Buoyancy  - can you stay "afloat in an ocean of rejection"?
  • C - Clarity - can you curate (edit, distill, determine relevancy of information)?

He also made an insightful point about how power leads individuals to anchor too heavily on their own vantage point, insufficiently adjusting to other's perspective (Adam Gallinsky). And that there is an inverse relationship between feelings of power and perspective.

He suggested one way to increase your effectiveness is by briefly reducing your feelings of power.  And that the really sustaining kind of influence is by lessening your "muscle."

When negotiating, it's less about emotional intelligence, but about understanding the other side's interest.

Live from #TMRE13:  Connect.Dream.Create.

Live from #TMRE13: Connect.Dream.Create.

Yesterday, I was able to attend Connect.Dream.Create. presented by Laura Flessner of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and Marty Gage of Lextant. Laura and Marty talked about "DCE's" - Desired Consumer Experiences and how being able to connect the aspirations of your customers with specific design attributes provides a concrete, actionable foundation for innovation!

As Pfizer strives to become a more design-oriented organization, they knew they had to create a framework to enhance their innovation process…something that could give their consumers an experience they desired. (i.e. Starbucks' sensory cues: their menu language, music, type of furniture, baristas).

And what they discovered about using this DCE model is that once it gained internal momentum, it became repeatable!!

 Speaking of innovation, I loved Laura's innovative use of her Cowboy Boots with her suit! I'm trying to figure out what brand they are because I love them!!

Live from #TMRE:  Improv Improves Innovation

Live from #TMRE: Improv Improves Innovation

For the 2nd workshop today, I was glad I stayed in the Professional Development track.  As an information hound and being in this business for many years, it's always fun when I feel like I learned a new way to approach innovation.  And that was what this was all about. Michelle James, Chief Emergence Officer of The Center for Creative Emergence, took us through several exercises designed to break us away from the common fears we all have:  worry about not looking good, fear of saying something stupid, etc.


The Improv Principles and Improv Mindsets

she discussed (and we experienced) are all about acting "as if" what others are giving you is a gift...and then "adding to it."  And from that, there is freedom.  Feeling free, and that you will be accepted allows teams to STOP worrying about fears and in that moment, begin to create.  I love that:)

She also mentioned how natural it is to come to the edge of your comfort zone with resistance but that forcing through it (i.e. 'playing' by these principles), a new environment is created with those around you...and those who feel like they helped create, also feel as if they own the outcome!