In the world of consumer technology, brands face constant pressure to be a step (or five) ahead of the marketplace. To anticipate the future needs, desires and expectations of consumers, marketers must have a tight pulse on culture and society. Successful product development requires a deep understanding of human behavior that goes beyond self-reported opinions and rationale. Most of us feel we have a solid grasp on our own motivations and reasons for action, but self-evaluation lacks objectivity.
This is where ethnographers come in. Ethnography is consumer research conducted within the context of real-world experiences. It creates an interpretive framework for understanding the consumer by determining what internal (emotional, rational) and external (social, cultural, environmental) influences affect perception and motivate behavior. W5 ethnographers are skilled at uncovering the underlying motivations that yield meaningful insights. So, when the advertising agency for one of the world’s largest consumer technology companies needed to understand how early adopters were integrating technology into their lives, they turned to W5. The following case study is a glimpse into W5’s approach for capturing authentic behavior to help predict future mobile habits.
Last week IIR hosted The Market Research Event (TMRE) 2015 in Orlando – one of the market research industry’s leading events that brings together the best and brightest from across the globe. This year was no exception to past TMRE’s featuring awe-inspiring keynote speakers like best-selling author Seth Godin and Jonah Berger. Additionally, the conference offered over 100+ speaker sessions cover MR topics from Behavioral Economics to Brand Innovation to Consumer Experience and featured leading brands like Kellogg, Procter & Gamble, Lululemon and Anheuser-Busch to name a few.
Heading into the third and final day of the event, notebooks were full and everyone’s gas tank was nearing empty. It has been two solid days of learning and collaborating with peers in the industry, followed by cocktail parties and dinners with friends. But still, we all showed up at 9:00 am with anticipation of the third and final keynote speaker, Dan Ariely.
For those of you unfamiliar, Dan Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University and best-selling author of Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty. Ariely is known for his research and (often amusing and unorthodox) experiments that question the forces that influence human behavior and the irrational ways in which we often behave. Ariely is no stranger to the stage. He has been featured in numerous TED talks since 2009. At TMRE the point of the presentation was simply: we are predictably irrational. Read More
There is a new grocery store coming to a hipster area near you. Whole Foods Market announced plans to open 365 by Whole Foods Market, a new small store concept that is millennial-geared and a lower-cost version of its current grocery store chain in the U.S.
Whole Foods announced the five cities slated for the initial roll out in late 2016: Bellevue, Portland, Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Houston. What do they all have in common? Hipster populations. The first of the new chain of stores is in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, named America’s No. 1 hippest hipster neighborhood by Forbes. Additionally, these are all markets where Whole Foods currently has a presence.
A recent study by Sullivan Higdon & Sink, Our Plight to Eat Right, found that less than half (44%) of Americans say they are firmly committed to a healthy diet while 62% say it’s expensive to eat healthy, citing cost as a barrier. Will 365 by Whole Foods remove this barrier with lower price points and convenience to key neighborhoods? Perhaps. Christy Niebaum, senior FoodThink researcher at SHS, makes the point – “Americans are busy and they look for the easiest shortcut to reach their wellness goals while avoiding extreme changes. Our research continues to show us that certain food choices have an emotional impact on consumers, who will get overwhelmed if marketers don’t offer relevant and simple healthy eating advice.”
To be successful 365 stores may be required to go beyond the appeal of hipster Millennials and target a broader audience of cost-conscious consumers. Whatever the strategy, competitors and marketers alike will be watching very closely as stores roll out in 2016.
This year’s 4A’s Strategy Festival was held in lower Manhattan, featuring gorgeous views of the East River and Brooklyn Bridge. We heard from a number of great speakers and workshopped through topics on content marketing, leadership, turning data into insights, agile planning, brand and social strategy and so much more. The 2015 Jay Chiat Awards for Strategic Excellence winners and case studies were showcased. Droga5 was awarded the Grand Prix for the Under Armour campaign “I Will What I Want.”
Check out the case study here and watch the video below.
My favorite takeaway came from the Mining Cultural Insights session where we learned to explore, identify and map cultural insights. As market researchers, it’s increasingly important to understand cultural nuances, especially when research targets specific markets or cultures. Sparks & Honey shared a few practices to help immerse ourselves in other cultures including: using Google to auto populate, following local newscasters, talking to picture framers, visiting independent bookstores, talking to real estate agents about neighborhoods, analyzing meet-up groups and checking classified ads and message boards in supermarkets. Practices such as these can strengthen ethnographic research to develop a real-world understanding of how lifestyle, culture, behavior, subconscious motivations, and social context influence product selection and brand interaction.
As always, it was a pleasure to sponsor the 4A’s Strategy Festival as it celebrates the strategist community inside agencies and features notables from the periphery of the agency world—academics, researchers, marketers and authors—for inspiration that will help hone our skills and make us better at our craft. We hope to see you again next year!
Even though fall has just officially began, many familiar autumn products have been on the shelves for what seems like quite some time. From flannel and sweaters to pumpkin everything, many consumers suspect fall trends make their way earlier and earlier each year. However, this is more than speculation as some fall products have indeed joined in on extra early releases. For example, this year Southern Tier Brewing Company released the popular imperial pumpkin ale, Pumking, as early as July.
Pumpkin beers, like their warm and caffeinated cousin the Pumpkin Spice Latte, tend to be a love it or hate it product. However, in spite of pumpkin beer’s polarity, there’s no denying the significance of its market presence. In 2013, according to Craft Brewing Business, pumpkin beer sales turned a 125,000 lag in case sales into a 300,000 case surplus. Each year, more and more craft breweries offer up a pumpkin beer for their fall line ups to meet the consumer demand. BeerAdvocate currently has over 900 different pumpkin beers listed on their website, many with delightfully punny names.
Additionally, interest and demand in pumpkin beers also has an earlier start in the year and only shows signs of increasing. According to Brewers Association research, Google searches for “pumpkin beer” in 2014 edged out searches for all other seasonal beers and even outsold the reigning craft champion style, the IPA, in the fall.
As pumpkin beer interest and sales continue to expand past a narrow and arbitrary association with October and Halloween, it will be interesting to see how it influences consumers’ perceptions of craft and seasonal beers. Will beer drinkers accept pumpkin beer in July or year round with open pint glasses or meet it with a raised brow?
For more information on consumers’ seasonal thirst for other pumpkin products, check out the latest report from Neilson here. For a more in-depth look at craft beer in North Carolina, read last year’s W5 blog post here.
Thanks to recent developments in women’s sports – namely, women’s soccer World Cup win, Ronda Rousey, and tennis superpowers – female athletes are no longer an afterthought when it comes to athletic endorsements and spokespersons. Forbes recently published a list of the most high-paying endorsements of athletes. Tennis superstars Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova made it big but overall few women made top 100.