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Consumer Research

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!



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

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 isResearch 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

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

QRCA Texas Meeting - Project Butterfly presentation

QRCA Texas Meeting - Project Butterfly presentation

Last year, I started a QRCA Texas chapter with 2 of my colleagues, and we had our second meeting down in Austin a few weeks ago.  Guest presenter, Daniel Berkal (VP of Research and partner at The Palmerston Group), spoke about his immersive research study, Project Butterfly. I attended via FocusVision, and Mayuri (my awesome new employee) was able to attend the event in person!

Daniel's research study began when his clients tasked him with a multi-city project to understand the factors that contribute to social interaction and involvement. The research required Daniel's team to submerge themselves into real-life communities and situations to chronicle social behaviors.

He talked about the "speedfriending" experiment as a part of the study.  It involved Daniel and his team recruiting respondents off the streets and asking them to spend a few minutes with other respondents, likely from very different backgrounds. Each person was then asked whether or not he/she would want to be friends with the new person person they met. Interestingly, most people answered "yes," which indicates a willingness in society to become friends with strangers even after meeting for only a short time.

David and team sought to find people who were "social butterflies" in real-life, as well as people who were "hyperconnectors" online. It was interesting how "social butterflies" and "hyperconnectors" differed when approaching social situations. The "butterflies" analyzed crowds, found similarities, engaged, and then gauged interest.

On the other hand, the "hyperconnectors" made highly charged statements and gauged responses in terms of quantity, not quality. Also, "hyperconnectors" were actually not social in-person. The online world did not seem to mirror reality, and those online "appeared to be playing a character."

But what does this mean for brands? The insights Daniel found apply to brands that are trying to interact socially with their audience -- it's much more important to maintain connections than just focusing on building numbers. 

Anyway, it was interesting stuff, and always great to reconnect with the QRCA community!  Wish I had been able to travel to Austin, though:( 

Using Neuroscience for Marketing Research

Using Neuroscience for Marketing Research

Mark Potts of MindShare and Dr. Andrew Pradeep of NeuroFocus gave an excellent presentation about the process of using neuroscience for marketing research in their workshop presentation titled: Neurological Testing Reveals the Truth of Audience Engagement.

Here are the basics:
Respondents are recruited based on research objectives (as in traditional studies).
Respondents wear a "full cap" on their head with 64 sensors attached. These collect data 2000 times every second. This coupled with eye-tracking is the "data collection" methodology.
Consumers can't tell us everything they're sensing. For example, a consumer may look very closely at something on a grocery store aisle that grabs attention but the subconscious areas of the brain don't "tell" the conscious what they think, feel, etc. But it can, however, be measured through brain activity.

3 metrics are measured directly at the brain.

  1. Attention: what are you paying attention to....this is based on the science behind ADD/ADHD clinical diagnosis
  2. Emotion: how are you emotionally engaged ....this is based on the science behind mania & phobia clinical diagnosis
  3. Memory Retention: what is it that you're experiencing that activates your memory....this is based on the science behind Alzheimer's

As with all new technological tools in research, this is not a catch all approach but 3 of the areas where it can be used is when trying to measure:

  1. Purchase Intent
  2. Novelty
  3. Awareness

TMRE Keynote Presentation from Joan Lewis, P&G Officer, Global CMK

TMRE Keynote Presentation from Joan Lewis, P&G Officer, Global CMK

Joan Lewis' keynote presentation was great! As a researcher who strives to present complex insights in a very simple way, I appreciated her storytelling ability. She drew the audience in through three well-articulated case studies on: Pampers, Olay ProX, Secret Clinical. She described how meaningful consumer insights helped them develop and execute a very clear message and full advertising campaign.

The Pampers UNICEF case study she described resulted in this one message: 1 pack = 1 vaccine. You can see the result of this campaign here. Believe me, the video is worth the 1 minute watch time. I want to buy Pampers, and I don't need them!

And in typical P&G fashion, she concluded with a very simple, meaningful, clear message about their company belief: "We believe consumer passion brings innovation and competitive advantage."

And with a quote from their President and CEO, Bob McDonald, "Our purpose inspires us. Our values unite us. And all our innovation capabilities and culture focus us on making small but meaningful differences...every day...for the consumers who have ALWAYS been P&G's boss and our inspiration."

Thank you for your inspiration, P&G CMK April Bell

Getting Shopper Insights Off the Ground at Dr. Pepper Snapple

Getting Shopper Insights Off the Ground at Dr. Pepper Snapple


Jacob Ratner, Research Director at Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPSG) gave an awesome presentation on the organization's road to developing a shopper insights strategy! He touched on some of the trends evolving with retailer/manufacturer relationships.

He remarked on the trend I have also seen the last few years in the relationship between retailers and manufacturers. Retailers are creating their own insights projects vs. leaning as heavily on manufacturer's research findings. They are wanting to be a bigger decision-maker in every stage of research.

He also talked about one of their big 'aha moments' when moving to a shopper insight focus vs. a heavy brand consumer focus: The Shopper is Not (always) the Consumer. Knowing the consumer is one thing....but what if that consumer is not the shopper? Likewise, the shopper is not always the consumer. This insight alone has driven much of their work in the last year. His passion for looking at the shopper and consumer in different ways yet holistically was a key take-away. Thanks, Jacob, for sharing!


The Future of Retail by Herb Sorensen

The Future of Retail by Herb Sorensen

If you missed Herb Sorensen's presentation on on Retailing: The Return to Personal Selling, you should check out his book. No one doubted his passion for the subject as he walked us through the "history of retail" before giving us his take on the "future of retail." "The need for efficiencies" he claims, is the reason the retailer/consumer relationship has evolved to where it is today. "It has always been about efficiencies and where we are today is simply because of this."

The following quote summarized his point: "One hundred years ago retailers ran their stores by watching their customers closely. Somewhere during the last hundred years, spread sheets, slotting allowances, and quarterly performance replaced the basic principles of the business." Norm Myhr, Group Vice President Sales and Promotion and Marketing, Fred Meyer.

He mentioned P&G's early "Soap Opera Ad" and Sears "Wish Book Catalogs" as examples of how we began getting consumer's attention outside of the store when it became difficult to do so inside the store.

And now, "everyone is realizing the system of communicating to consumers 'outside of the store' is not working due to the fragmentation we have" {due to MTV, Facebook, etc.}

Statistics he cited include:

In 95, 3 commercials reached 80% of women 18-49

In 2000, it took 92 commercials to do the job

He concluded with how he sees the future of retail, titled: the "Amazonification" of Retail. "Because Amazon gets it, that the selling is always about the closing... Amazon understood that they had to 'close the sale fast.'" And now, "the real battle in retailing is between Wal-Mart and Amazon." So, how will we get personal selling back in the store? By "pulling the internet into the store," he claims.

Also, other tips he gave for "closing the sale" in the store included:

  1.  Provide only a few "Top Seller" tags in the aisle
  2. Brand call out tags on packaging: "Shoppers #1 Choice"
  3. To make it clear, you can only do that with 1 or 2 items

I think I'll buy the book.

Learning What's Good at Goodyear

Learning What's Good at Goodyear

Kim White presented on how Goodyear used a variety of qualitative research techniques: immersions, peer focus groups, and learning connects to fully understand their consumer's retail experience.

The techniques, developed by MarketVision Research, were creative and insightful...and combined, they allowed the consumer voice to be loud and clear to their c-level management as well as their dealers.

One of the many creative qualitative exercises utilized "Grove" templates. I have also found these templates helpful in a number of different research projects. (You can go online and download the smaller deck of cards ... or you can order larger, wall-size templates for group facilitation exercises.)

The specific template used in Goodyear's research was an Idea Wheel that helped convey consumer's wishes and ideas around the buying experience.

Another very cool exercise included a "Retailer Personality creation" where participants had to "create" the personality of retailers with available supplies. This was an interesting way to gain insight on how retailers are perceived.

Taking this to CEO gave their upper management an understanding of how consumers view them as a retailer and thus, drove change throughout the organization.

April Bell

To discount or not to discount?

To discount or not to discount?

Too discount or not to discount? That is the question on many minds representing the luxury brands. Luxury brands are in a tough position right now. Thin is in, and I’m not talking about weight here, I’m talking about your wallet.

Market studies show that over indulgent consuming is out, and frugal is in. According to a recent study by the New York-based Luxury Institute, 62% of wealthy consumers report that economic conditions have altered their views on luxury purchases. People, even the wealthy, feel bad flaunting their money with people around them losing their left and right. Now is not the time to show off that $5,000 Louis Vuitton bag. According to a recent article, customers that do purchase luxury brand products are being more discreet about their spending, requesting their purchases to be sent to their hotels or for plain bags, instead of the usually coveted designer shopping bag.

On the flip side, market studies consistently reveal that discounting the price of luxury items discounts the value of the brand in the eyes of the consumer. Part of the appeal of luxury brands is that it's exclusive...something that not everyone can buy. Luxury brands work hard for the label "designer" and to build an image of exclusivity and privilege. If they discount, that exclusivity could nose dive.

The luxury brands have got some major brainstorming and research to do to figure out how to survive this recession. Because bottom line, they can’t deny the research that reveals showing off the bling-bling is not the cool thing to do in this economy, but what do they do about it?