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Amy Collier

Amy Collier

Amy tends to weave her love for food and fitness into her blog entries. He unique take provides an interesting read. She often utilizes TRC's online consumer panel to answer her research questions.

Research new food products organicFitness and health have always been important to me, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve become even more self-aware of what I eat and where my food comes from.  A key turning point was a year and a half ago when I watched the documentary “Food, Inc.” by filmmaker Robert Kenner.  After watching it I literally was on the fence for a month contemplating becoming vegan.  But alas, my love for a good piece of steak won out.  However, it did leave an imprint on where and what type of food I buy.  My fiancé is of the same mind so when he moved in we started searching out ways to buy locally sourced food and meat from animals that are treated humanely.  Many of our friends, especially those with kids, tend to be food aware as well.  My parents on the other hand, though health and wellness is important to them, think “organic” is a big grocery money scheme.  This got me thinking…who are the most food aware?  Is there an age difference?
Using our online panel of consumers I asked a series of questions to find out.  When looking at health and wellness attitudes, eating well is important to both young and old.  Where we do see differences are those 44 or younger are more motivated to improve their health and wellness and like dining at restaurants that specialize in farm-to-table.  Bob and I are huge fans of farm-to-table restaurants and have been excited by the recent addition of a few establishments near us.

 Top-2-Box: Strongly agree 44 or younger 45 or older
Improve health and wellness 70%↑ 46%
Dine at restaurants that specialize in farm-to-table 46%↑ 26%
Up arrow indicates significantly higher value at 95% confidence level.

Across the board, younger consumers are more likely to buy organic products.  I think the only time my parents buy organic is when my brother comes to town with his little ones as he and my sister-in-law insist on organic only.

 Buy Organic Always / Usually 44 or younger
45 or older
Vegetables and fruit 69%↑ 32%
Meat 58%↑ 22%
Bath and Body Care 58%↑ 20%
Cleaning Products 53%↑ 19%
Up arrow indicates significantly higher value at 95% confidence level.


Now, when asking about participation in various “green” activities (i.e., recycling, composting, and gardening) we see no difference by age.  However, younger consumers are more likely to participate in farm co-ops and raise chickens.

 Yes % 44 or younger
45 or older
Participate in Farm Co-op 19%↑ 2%
Raise Chickens 16%↑ 3%
Up arrow indicates significantly higher value at 95% confidence level.


From our research, it appears that younger consumers are more engaged in wellness activities related to food than older consumers, even though both groups believe health and wellness to be important.  Buying organic can be expensive – so the question becomes how much are people willing to pay for organic products or meat from animals that are treated humanely.  This might be a good topic for a conjoint study which would pit various product options against one another to see how price comes into play when grocery shopping.

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Conjoint Analysis Home buyingDuring my recent first time home buying experience I learned there are many, often competing, factors to consider.   My last blog discussed how I used Bracket™, a tournament-based analytic approach, to determine what homebuyers find most important when considering a home. My list of 13 items did not include standard house stats like # of bedrooms, # of baths, etc. To measure preference for those items I used a conjoint design.

I framed up the conjoint exercise by asking homebuyers to imagine they were shopping for a home and to assume it is located in their ideal location. Using our online panel of consumers, we showed recent or soon-to-be homebuyers 2 house listings side by side, plus an “I wouldn’t choose either of these” option. Each listing included the following:

        • Number of bedrooms: 1, 2, 3 or 4
        • Number of bathrooms: 1 full, 1 full/1 half, 2 full, 2 full/1 half or 3 full
        • House style: Single Family, Townhouse, Condominium, or Multi-Family
        • House condition: Move-in ready, Some work required or Gut job
        • Price: $150,000, $200,000, $250,000, $350,000 or $450,000

I felt a conjoint was best suited here, because in addition to importance, I wanted to see what trade-offs homebuyers were willing to make between these 5 items that are highly important in home buying. Are homebuyers willing to give up a bedroom to get the right price? Are they willing to do some sweat equity to get the number of bedrooms and/or bathrooms they want?

We found the top three most important factors are # of bedrooms, price and house condition. This made perfect sense to me as I would not consider any house with less than 3 bedrooms. Price and house condition were the next two key pieces. Was the house in my price range? How much work was needed? Did the price give me enough wiggle room for repairs? I was curious to see the play between price and house condition among the recent and soon-to-be homebuyers we interviewed.

Using the simulator I selected a 3 bedroom , 2 full baths, Single Family home. I picked 3 price points ($150,000, $300,000, $450,000) and then varied the house condition. Overall, homebuyers are less interested in a "gut job" compared to "move-in-ready". However, at the $150,000 price point, share of preference drops more drastically going from "move-in-ready/some work required" to "gut job" compared to higher price points.

...

whats important homebuying market researchThe weather is starting to warm up and more of us are venturing outside, myself included. Walking my dog around the neighborhood I’ve noticed a number of for-sale signs and it reminds me of my own recent home buying experience. It was exciting and at the same time stressful. Once I made the decision to buy I started watching all the home buying shows and attending open houses to figure out my list of must-haves and nice to haves. I wondered how my list stacked up against others who went through or are going through the home buying process.

Using our online panel of consumers, I employed TRC’s proprietary Bracket™ exercise to find out what homebuyers find most important when considering buying a home. Bracket™ is a tournament-based analytic approach to understanding priorities. For each participant, Bracket™ randomly assigns the items being evaluated into pairs. Participants choose the winning item from each pair; that item moves on to the next round. Rounds continue until there is one “winner” per participant. Bracket™ uses this information to prioritize the remaining items, and calculate the relative distance between them.

I created a list of 13 things to consider. I didn’t include standard house stats: # of bedrooms, # of baths, etc. as I tested those separately using a conjoint analysis (my next blog will dive into what I did there).

Proximity to work

Proximity to family

...

I'm a runner and enjoy participating in races. Last May I ran the Delaware Half Marathon and had my worst race ever. What happened? Poor planning. I failed to put together a training plan to prepare me for my race.

This can sometimes happen in Market Research. Poor planning can lead to disastrous results that provide little insight or fail to answer the objectives of the research. Planning is especially important when advanced analytics are used, for example, conjoint that is often used during product development or pricing research. There are many questions to be asked during the planning phase of conjoint design. How should we frame up the exercise? How many features should be evaluated? How many levels for each feature? How many product choices should be presented to a respondent at a time? How should each feature and level be described? Should any prohibitions be used? Sometimes we can lose sight of the research objective amid all the details. A good conjoint plan will keep all parties focused on the end goal. These are all issues I'm contemplating as I design my conjoint exercise (stay tuned for results in my next blog!). I'm taking the time now to properly plan and design my conjoint.

A well thought out plan ensures quality results just as a well thought out running plan ensures a good race! After my half marathon disaster I planned for my next race the same way I would for a conjoint. I considered a number of questions while designing my training plan. How far in advance should I train? How many times a week should I run? Should I enlist a running buddy for the longer runs? My goal was to run a good race. I'm happy to report the planning paid off as I completed the Marine Corps Marathon (my first marathon!) in the time I was hoping for.

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