Welcome visitor you can log in or create an account

800.275.2827

Consumer Insights. Market Innovation.

blog-page
Recent blog posts

For the past few weeks, there are two big debates raging in our office:

  • Will the configurator eventually replace conjoint in all its forms?
  • Was it the right call to trade Donovan McNabb to the Redskins?

On the surface the only thing connecting them is that we are a choice focused market research company located just outside of Philly, but in reality they are both the same debates...namely, when is it time for the superstar to move on and allow a new star to take charge? In both cases, the answer will depend on your needs and your perspective...in other words, there is no answer that everyone will agree with.

Some variation of conjoint (discrete choice, adaptive, etc) has been with us now for nearly 40 years. It has proven to be a very effective means of understanding the consumer's thinking process...especially when it comes to developing new products. At the same time, it is not without its flaws.

You know them, right? The friends you log into Facebook to check out. They always have something interesting to share and you like to see what it is. That process is one way of measuring influence in social networks and a rather good one at that, according to recent research by Michael TrusovAnand Bodapati and Randy Bucklin. They set out to identify influencers in a social network and did so using some interesting data and analytics. Here’s the story.

Tagged in: Social Media

Putting Money and Mouth Together

Posted by on in Market Research

Ever heard of a Commitment Contract? No we are not talking about marriage. A commitment contract is one where you commit to doing something and sign a contract. If you don’t do what you committed to, the terms of the contract go into effect. The terms are set up in such a way that you could end up paying a penalty if you fail to honor the contract. In other words the incentives are aligned to elicit a specific behavior. The kicker is that you set up the contract and the penalty.

How to Make Better Ads

Posted by on in Advertising

When you leaf through a magazine what of advertisements make you stop? It is not an easy question to answer as so many variables are usually involved. To tackle this question a group of researchers used unique eye tracking data and innovative measures of visual complexity and were able to develop recommendations for making ads that are more attention-getting.

Tagged in: Advertising

During times of upheaval do people naturally choose what is familiar or don’t they? The notion of “comfort food” seems to imply that when faced with trying situations people take comfort in certain old favorites that, well, comfort them. This is conventional wisdom and as we know researchers like to question said wisdom. That is what Stacy Wood set out to do and her findings offer interesting implications for marketers.

Tagged in: Consumer Behavior Food

A few months back I wrote about the dangers of tying results from satisfaction surveys to compensation. The feedback I got was mixed, so I decided to do a quick survey to see what the public thinks.

Of the 72% who were asked to do a follow-up survey after some type of transaction, about 1 in 6 (16.1%) were told by their sales rep what rating to give. While 1 in 6 is alarming, the reality is probably worse because those that do try to influence responses do so repeatedly. My personal guess is that more compensation is impacted the more likely it is that customers will be asked to answer in a certain way.

Unknown Unknowns

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

Let’s pick a topic. Any topic. How much would you say you know on that topic? More than average? How much do you think you need to learn in order to become well-versed on that topic? Not a whole lot? You just may be experiencing what is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. It is a mental bias that seems to afflict people who are unskilled or not very knowledgeable. They routinely make poor decisions because their lack of competence itself denies them the ability to realize their lack of competence. It happens to a lot of us in certain areas like personal financial planning.

Tagged in: Psychology

The Art of Choosing

Posted by on in TRC Book Club

Several popular books have appeared over the last few years on topics related to consumers, behavior, psychology and economics. Perhaps the most popular are the ones by Malcolm Gladwell. While most use academic research liberally to make their points, relatively few have actually been written by an academic. The reasons are twofold. One, you need an academic who has done sufficient research in an area that is worthy and of interest to the general public and two, you need good writers for lay readers. That combination is hard to come by -- which makes The Art of Choosing an unusual and interesting book. It was written by Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University Business School and deals with a topic we are all familiar with – choice. She has spent a couple of decades studying this topic and is hence eminently suited to write on it. The fact that she is blind makes it almost awe inspiring to read.

I'm a regular reader of the Market Research Heretic Blog . The banner above his blog posts reads "Market Research Death Watch". Many great points are made about how we take respondents for granted and how many survey instruments simultaneously gather useless data and reduce the chances of that respondent ever doing another survey again. Most important, the point is made that the market research industry is resistant to change and ultimately that will lead to its demise.

The arrival today of the latest Honomichl 50 list certainly supports the notion that the industry is in trouble. The numbers are the most brutal I've ever seen. Revenue has declined and when you focus only on straight research firms (those doing primary qualitative and quantitative research) that decline is even larger. Employment has dropped even faster (and this is measuring research firm employment, I suspect client side researchers were hit even harder). Jack Honomichl is certainly dour in his column, but I think if anything he is understanding how bad a hit research took this year.

The question is, were the results of this year and last (2008 also showed declines) just related to the recession or do they reflect a trend that will continue long after the recession is officially over? My guess is, we will see some recovery with the better economy this year, but the heretic's warnings should not be ignored.

There was a fascinating news item today on NPR about the use of text mining to understand something about a person’s private life. Ian Lancashire, Professor of English at the University of Toronto used text mining to study Agatha Christie’s novels. While he has done this with other authors before he came cross something particularly interesting in Agatha Christie’s 73rd novel.

Tagged in: Text Mining

Netflix Rental Patterns

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

Have you ever been curious about the popularity of rental movies by neighborhood? The NY Times graphics department was and they got movie rental data from Netflix for a dozen cities. The result is this very interesting visual.

Tagged in: Movies visualization

Mindful and Heartfelt Choices

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

How do you make choices in your life? Even simple ones like chocolate cake or fruit salad for a snack? Are you completely rational about the process, calculating the costs and benefits properly before choosing (also known as the cognitive approach)? Or are you more likely to go by feel, allowing your emotions to guide the choice (the affective approach)? Traditionally, researchers have favored the rational model, but more recently the emotional side has been getting more attention. Regular folks may even argue that they use both approaches depending on the situation, even though they may not know which one predominates without their knowledge. But can your decision-making process, and thus the choices you make, be influenced by external conditions to the extent that you will switch from one mode to another? That was the question that drove two researchers in their quest to understand the process of making choices.

 

Up North and Down South

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

In casual conversation do you use terms like “Up North” and “Down South”? Why? Is north vertically higher than south? Of course not. It is just a common usage of language that we are used to, right? But does it have any consequences for behavior? Research has shown that people often make mistakes in travel related judgment, especially when estimating time and distance. Research has also shown that people associate vertical position with meaning. For example, people are faster to identify the relationship between words like “basement” and “attic” when the word presentation is consistent with their spatial relationship (“attic” above “basement”). Given all that, is it possible that people may consider traveling north to be longer or costlier or more difficult than south bound travel simply because we think of it as being “up”? That is the research question.

Tagged in: Psychology

The research industry has for at least a decade now been facing two conflicting challenges. At the same time the representativeness and quality of data collected is being called into question, our clients are asking us to make our results tie to and be predictive of the real world. I believe that even with the limitations of response rate and respondent behavior, we can achieve good results by asking questions in the right manner. We need to mirror the way people make decisions in the real world…namely by making choices.

For those interested in the visual display of information Edward Tufte is no stranger. He is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Statistics and Computer Science at Yale, but his claim to fame is expertise in displaying information. A quick visit to his website will show you the scope of his work and suffice to say he is a renowned expert. Now he is getting in the act to help the government.

Conventional wisdom says that voter participation in closely contested elections is higher because of the inherent competitiveness. The logic is that people feel that their vote could be decisive in a close election and hence more turn out to vote. But is that really true? Ron Shachar has crunched the numbers from three Presidential elections using some advanced statistical analysis and says that the answer is a bit more complicated than that.     

Menu Engineering

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

First, did you even know such a thing existed? I know of all kinds of engineering, but this was new to me. Okay, so it is not really engineering. Here people tinker with the menu in a restaurant to help maximize profits. But it is quite interesting and you often get to see the results as a restaurant customer.

Here is a nice article on the subject. If you enjoy dining out, you may want to read this article.        

The menu engineer mentioned (Gregg Rapp) can be found here 

Of the things mentioned in the article the one you may remember from your restaurant visits is the removal of the dollar signs from the menu. Apparently it gets people to spend more.

Hits: 4298 0 Comments

What got me thinking about this is the fact that my car lease is ending and I'm shopping.  The last three times I've leased a new car, the process of picking it up has been identical.  I go in, pay some money, sign a bunch of forms I don't understand, get a tour of the car's features and then I'm told that I'll be getting a survey and that I should give the highest marks on everything.   Sometimes the salesman says "if there is something you can't give the highest mark on, tell me what I have to do to earn it", but they always say, "If I don't get the highest mark it will hurt my commission."

I recognize that the car company might not view this or use this as they would pure market research.   In  many respects they are like response cards (like hotels or restaurants use) or invitations to do a survey found on receipts.   Even without all the controls pure market research puts in place, the data generated by these efforts can have tremendous value.   My firm, for example, has used them to help establish the bottom line impact of various attributes.

What are the Odds?

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

One of the painful experiences of my life occurred in early 1991 when I was a student at SUNY in Buffalo, New York. The Buffalo Bills were in their first Super Bowl playing the New York Giants and the game was down to the last seconds. Trailing 20-19 the Bills depended on their kicker Scott Norwood to kick a 47 yard field goal to win it all. I was one of those who was crushed when the kick sailed wide right by a yard. That was perhaps their best chance even though they went back to the Super Bowl (count ‘em) three more times and lost each one.  

The question I have is would they have been more likely to win if that game was played today? 

How to be More Creative

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

It is known that one way to become more creative is to shift one’s perspective.The best selling author of The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown, is said to hang upside down with gravity boots to help shift his perspective for the creativity needed in his novels. Travel is another helpful method for shifting perspective. There is now some new research to show that distance can be helpful in making a person more creative. But the research has an important and interesting qualifier.

Want to know more?

Give us a few details so we can discuss possible solutions.

Please provide your Name.
Please provide a valid Email.
Please provide your Phone.
Please provide your Comments.
Enter code below : Enter code below :
Please Enter Correct Captcha code
Our Phone Number is 1-800-275-2827
 Find TRC on facebook  Follow us on twitter  Find TRC on LinkedIn

Our Clients