The world recently observed Earth Day so it felt natural to check in and take cultural stock of how the US environmental ‘movement’ is doing in 2016.
Much of today’s eco-messaging seems geared at myth busting and actively trying to reposition sustainability around ‘smart’ business, valuing workers and the experiential benefits of ‘going green’. The end goal appears to distance itself from the stereotypical ‘tree hugger’ persona and incentives limited to the moral ‘feel good’ factor.
Cultural trends tend to be behavioral markers of broader, deeper attitudinal movements and shifts so it makes sense that different trend categories can share the same perceptual foundations. Finding those connections between categories is the fun part. Below are some armchair observations on possible areas of cultural overlap:
- Minimalism Is In – Beyond design or aesthetics, this trend is also informing lifestyle choices and consumption habits (who doesn’t have a copy of Marie Kondo’s book?), and the back-to-basics/whole foods/locavorism movement. Consumers want to buy less, and buy better. The impact this has on sustainability means less waste and a greater emphasis on ‘mindful consumption’.
- Go Big or Go Home – Much like the diehard adherence to certain trends around exercise (e.g., Crossfit, High-Intensity Interval Training – HIIT) and diet (e.g., Paleo, veganism) there appears to be manifestations of extremism in “green” behaviors as well, with the philosophy of ‘go big, or go home’ infusing the conversation around how much of a ‘true’ environmentalist one is (e.g., zero waste proponents, air travel abstainers).
- Empowering the Consumer – Much of the messaging is about raising literacy levels so consumers can make informed choices and effect change with their purchase decisions. The idea is that informed demand can and will affect supply, making sustainable options the norm rather than the exception at the store or workplace.
- Worker’s Rights – Think of the Occupy movement and conversations around minimum wage, not to mention presidential nominee platforms. Emphasis has shifted to workers’ rights, the 99%, and resource intelligence that extends beyond natural to include human resources. Corporate responsibility, fair trade, and profit sharing are all practices some consumers now actively seek out in their brands.
It will be interesting to watch the continued ‘mainstreaming’ of the green movement — and its interplay with broader cultural forces – as well as how the national and international conversation (and legislation) changes as a result.
Last week, W5 attended the 2nd annual Quirk’s Event in Brooklyn. The two-day conference offered inspiring sessions, fruitful networking and even a MR Jam Session. While we were unable to attend all the sessions, we wanted to share a few of our favorites. Here is our third highlight summary.
At Quirk’s 2016, Millennial insights provider Ypulse shared a few stats and insights gleaned from its ongoing surveys of Millennials and Teens.
If you are even remotely involved in the marketing world, you may feel you’ve heard the word “Millennial” so many times it has started to lose its meaning. Suffice it to say, Millennials make up a large portion of the population and hold significant spending power. The definition of Millennial seems to differ by source, but Ypulse defines this audience as those born between 1982 and 2004, putting them in the 12-34 age bracket in 2016.
The presentation described Millennials as individualistic, with a somewhat entitled mindset, largely influenced by Boomer parents, and a lifestyle of constant connectedness. Among the many social implications of a tech-dependent life, a key insight from Ypulse was that Millennials “crave moments of surprise and delight.”
Constant connectedness means instant gratification, predictability, immediate answers to questions, and a world at their fingertips. This leaves little surprise in life. Millennials are often unimpressed by marketing, in large part due to predictability. They not only recognize, but understand how and why an ad is following them throughout their digital day. According to Ypulse, 74% of Millennials say brands rarely do something that surprises them. Ypulse also hears from Millennials that they want brands to act “human.”
Below are a few examples that were shared, showcasing brand and company efforts to capitalize on this idea of “moments of surprise and delight,” thwarting predictability:
- SHIP YOUR ENEMIES GLITTER – check out this business of Glitter Bomb pranking here.
- SEAMLESS ROULETTE – this service has since been closed (at the request of Seamless), but it was essentially an online food order and delivery service with a twist: you don’t know what meal you are getting until it arrives…surprise!
- OREOS MINI DELIVERY – This campaign is also no longer live but the brand created a microsite for fans to order a tiny package of Oreo Minis for delivery to a friend/loved one, along with a personalized note. The catch to create demand was that only 500 boxes per day were available for order and the campaign was only live for a period of 11 days. The Ypulse presenter talked about her multiple attempts to order, which were always met with the ‘sold out’ message.
- DORITOS ROULETTE – Doritos Roulette chips have one extremely spicy chip per bag. You of course don’t know which it is until you get to it. The Ypulse presenter described groups of millennials sitting around a circle taking one chip at a time until one lucky person got the spice bomb.
All entertaining examples, but there may be ways to “surprise and delight” that aren’t quite as overt. Surprise and delight can also come from being relatable in subtle, unexpected ways. The quote about Millennials wanting brands to act “human” definitely resonates.
Last week, W5 attended the 2nd annual The Quirk’s Event in Brooklyn. The two day conference offered inspiring sessions, fruitful networking and even a MR Jam Session. While we were unable to attend all the sessions, we wanted to share with you a few of our favorites. Here is the first highlight summary in our series.
Highlights from The Quirk’s Event 2016 (Recap 1 of 3): USE YOUR CUSTOMERS AS ETHNOGRAPHERS
Hallmark knows understanding the target consumer (moms with kids) is essential to all aspects of the business. From marketing, to product development, to campaign and advertising effectiveness. To get to know these moms as individuals, Hallmark leverages the power of ethnography in a unique way that allows the customer to be ethnographer.
The good news for the research industry is people are already doing this. It is not a new concept. Technologies such as selfie sticks, Fitbits and wearable video cameras are making people comfortable documenting their own calorie consumption, sleep patterns, heart rate and daily experiences. Now, research companies must build trust with consumers to leverage these habits to align with research objectives.
The question then becomes, how do you trigger them to become ethnographers in a way that produces insights to drive a business forward? During the Quirk’s session, Hallmark and c_space share those strategies. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when conducting ethnographic research:
- Create an opportunity to capture rituals
Provide customers with an intrinsic reward. Allow them to feel personal satisfaction from a job well done by asking them to chronically record events or rituals – giving them the power. The goal is to be in the moment, but outside the moment (about as qualitative as it gets).
- Strive to capture sensory and emotional triggers
Ask customers to capture moments that happen in and outside of the category. For example, have a mom journal every time they come across an emotional or sensory experience, regardless of the category. This allows for unexpected reporting that may inspire insights that might otherwise be missed. Think like a customer and create triggers around something that can be easily memorable.
- Simple, structured assignments
There is much gained from simple, structured assignments. Keep things bite-sized. For example, an activity might be to go to the oral care section of the grocery store and chronicle what you see, feel, and are confused by.
- Latitude, Longitude
How do we blend active and passive data points? Look to capture both location data (passive) and the key moment (active). Location data can be actionable in the short-term. For example, a customer service or merchandising problem at a specific location can be addressed quickly.
- … and Longitudinal
When appropriate, work to capture every aspect of the journey. This will allow you to see emotional drivers and influencers over the course of time and uncover key touchpoints.
Hallmark goes on to discuss how ambient ethnography allows for openness and non-judgement as a research approach. How do they actually use the insights gleamed within the organization? Hallmark gave a case study on how this approach allowed them into Christmas morning with moms, which had previously been a huge gap in learning. (How many people want to take an online survey Christmas Eve or morning?) Moms were not only willing to participate, they were appreciative of the ask, stating they were glad to have a record of the morning for themselves. A win-win.
Takeaways from this presentation:
- Brands must go beyond evaluating business through the customer lens and partner with them in order to achieve growth.
- The outcome of consumer-conducted ethnography is not just to reveal unmet needs and innovation opportunities, but humanize customers for the brands that serve them.
- Companies have greater success when they give customers short, focused assignments, particularly those that capture moments of strong emotion.
Keep an eye out for more The Quirk’s Event highlights to follow.
Every once in a while, we like to share what we’ve been up to, including how our research engagements have helped our clients achieve their organizational goals and some of the lessons learned. This case study highlights W5’s successful use of a hybrid research approach for a well-known national health advocacy nonprofit seeking to inform its positioning strategies for educational campaign initiatives.
W5’s previous healthcare-related research revealed a tipping point near the age 45 among adults and their awareness, attitudes and behaviors towards health. As a result, we designed our research approach with this ingoing hypothesis in mind, using participant age breaks that allowed for commonalities both within and across life-stages, behaviors, etc. to emerge. In doing so, we were able to provide our client with a strategic approach to messaging that would drive awareness and action among audiences both broad and targeted (e.g., Millennials).
Today there are more than 115,000 English-language podcasts available on the internet. Not only are podcasts a great source for learning and entertainment, companies and brands see the untapped value of expanding into podcasting. Building recognition for certain SEO keywords, appealing to people who like to listen instead of read and offering a weekly reason for listeners to come back and engage with the brands are just a few.
With the holidays upon us and road trips, airport lounging and long flights on the horizon, we wanted to share a list of our favorite podcasts here at W5, along with a few others.
The Unconventionals is PJA’s award-winning podcast tells the stories of brands and business leaders doing business the other way
Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.
99% Invisible with Roman Mars is a Tiny Radio Show about design, architecture and the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world. Check out Mars’ recent Ted Talk, too: Why City Flags May Be the Worst Designed Thing You’ve Ever Noticed.
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.
Metalworks, the research arm of WPP media agency Maxus, recently published consumer trends research and offered marketing tips to adapt to them.
Though not surprising, the study found a great consumption of craft beer. The growing movement, however, changes how consumers view liquor brands as they’re placing more value into the craftsmanship of liquor.
As tech finds itself more deeply entrenched in the industry, alcohol brands are rushing to update their reach. Everything from apps to password-protected speakeasies are becoming the norm. Read More
Late last week, Target announced a new move away from in-store gender-based signs. Starting over the next few months, the big box retailer will no longer include gendered signage for departments such as Toys, Home, and Entertainment. Gendered signage includes distinguishing products for use by a specific gender, such as “Boys’ Bedding” and “Girls’ Building Sets”. Target will also remove gendered backgrounds, such as primarily pink or blue aisle backgrounds in these departments, among the changes.
This move away from gendered signage was driven in part by consumer feedback. As Target describes in the official statement:
“[…] we never want guests or their families to feel frustrated or limited by the way things are presented. Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender. […] But we know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.” (full statement)
The change comes amidst a time when the subjects of gender and gender identity have become increasingly larger topics of public discussion, from Facebook’s expanded list of gender options last year to Caitlyn Jenner’s recent Vanity Fair cover and 2015 recently declared the “Year of the Gender-Neutral Baby Name”. However, strong reactions to gendered marketing are nothing new.
Every once in a while, we like to share what we’ve been up to, including how our research engagements have helped our clients achieve their business goals and some of the lessons learned. This case study highlights W5’s qualitative approach to Consumer Journey mapping for a retail industry client to help uncover the unique and complex realities, needs, obstacles and motivations in the shopper’s path-to-purchase.
Shoppers have many choices as to when, where and on what they choose to spend their money, and numerous factors play into their decision making. Attitudes and behaviors are greatly influenced by culture, by context, and yes, by marketing. When exploring the consumer journey it is important to assess and explore all these facets holistically and comprehensively to reveal authentic paths-to-purchase. Just as the path has many steps, so should the research methodology which is why W5 employs a qualitative approach – both immersive/ethnographic (in-person) and virtual (online) – that ‘checks-in’ with the consumer before, during and after they shop, to determine their fluid hierarchy of needs, pain points and ultimate purchase triggers.
“PATH-TO-PURCHASE/CONSUMER JOURNEY” CASE STUDY
A leading American discount shoe retailer wanted to better understand the context in which their target consumers make purchase decisions and leverage possible triggers and touchpoints involved in their journeys to improve consumer relevance and drive sales.
W5 engaged target consumers in several strategic markets using a three-step complementary approach designed to capture the entirety of the shoe-shopping journey including key motivations, triggers and touchpoints. The approach included Online Journals (pre-shop), Shop-Along Interviews and In-Store Intercepts (during shop), and Webcam Interviews (post-shop). The juxtaposition of immersive/ethnographic and virtual methodologies allowed for real-time, in-context observation of the path-to-purchase as well as asynchronous conversations that afforded consumers the time and flexibility to fully reflect and respond to areas of questioning. Combined, these methodologies capture steps leading up to purchase (e.g., context, motivations), the purchasing moment (e.g., retail messaging, purchase triggers), and steps taken post-purchase (e.g., sharing on social media) revealing crucial brand touchpoints to encourage action.
By employing complementary and iterative qualitative methodologies that assessed the path-to-purchase triggers and barriers, communication strategies, media channels and the competitive landscape, W5 mapped the consumer journey and provided deep and actionable insight into brand affinity, awareness and permission as well as target consumer motivations, barriers to inform product development, messaging strategies and the retail experience.
Spotlight is a special feature of the W5 Blog showcasing W5 consultants’ approach to designing marketing research studies, creating engaging deliverables, and informing strategy. For more information on W5’s approach to qualitative or quantitative research contact: inquiry@W5insight.com.