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Ready, Set, Pokémon Go – MRX and the Augmented Consumer

Pokémon Go has already changed the exercise habits of millions. How might Augmented Reality in general change consumer habits?



By Jeffrey Henning

Pokémon Go has rapidly become the most popular Augmented Reality (AR) game ever. Already, it has more daily users than Twitter and consumes more of users’ time than Facebook.

Rather than travel in a virtual world within the video game, players must walk around the real world to find and collect Pokémon. Pokémon Go augments reality by superimposing Pokémon over physical locations:

Pokémon Go has already changed the exercise habits of millions. How might Augmented Reality in general change consumer habits?

Driving store selection by reviews rather than by brand awareness.

Visiting my father-in-law in Florida, I needed to pick up some pool supplies for him. Google Maps augmented my reality by showing me nearby stores along with their Yelp ratings. I used that information to pick the store I shopped at, selecting a local chain that I had never heard of rather than the national chain. The Yelp app in fact has offered an augmented reality view since 2010 (it’s most useful in urban areas):

Providing more information, and promotions, at the retail shelf.

The app Blippar provides more information about objects (hold the camera up to a starfish, for instance, to learn facts about it) and products. Besides reviews, the app offers product usage tips and product line information; personalized promotions are on the roadmap.

Envisioning purchases in context.

The ultimate type of product information is what your world will look like after you’ve bought and installed a product. You’ve probably heard about apps that show you what a new piece of furniture will look like in your living room:

But how about visualizing what your next tattoo will look like before it’s inked?

Reading automatic translations of foreign languages.

The Google Translate app will translate text picked up directly from the camera. You thought it was hard to convince your high school student to study a foreign language before?! Now consumers you didn’t even target will be able to read product information:

Part of the impact on research will be that researchers will want to know what AR apps are being used, and marketers will want to know how to influence the information provided by such apps.

For Augmented Reality will offer consumers ready access to ever more information, both objective and subjective. While Pokémon Go’s viral success is driven by the twin emotions of nostalgia and attachment, the impact of Augmented Reality on consumers may to be make purchasing decisions less emotional and more rational.

More articles to read:

  1. Pokémon Go: Gamification Lessons For Research – GreenBook
  2. Pokémon Go, explained in fewer than 400 words – Vox
  3. Survey Gives First Systematic Study of Pokémon Go Players – MFour
  4. Pokémon Go’s Success Could be Short-Lived – Euromonitor
  5. Where Will Pokémon Go Take Market Research? – Market Strategies
  6. Pokémon Go will Make You Crave Augmented Reality – The New Yorker
  7. The 17 Remaining Pokémon Go Headlines – The Awl

Can’t catch ‘em all.

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“Future Back” To See Where You’re Going

In the investing world they say, “The only certainty is in retrospect.” In the product world we “reverse engineer”. Using narrative research techniques, MarketResponse is able to bring consumers and business teams to the future and back with increased focus and a new set of priorities.  

future back visual flower

Once participants in Future Back exercises arrived at their desired future, they’re able to re-prioritize the efforts of today.  These groups are then able to define a detailed path for their organizations, products and relationships with customers.

By Mark Murray

The term “Storytelling” has been thrown around a great deal over the years.  When we use the term in a true research context, we’re referring to a highly structured forum designed to prompt a participant driven dialog.  The skill is in observation, not leading.  Respondents own the conversation.
When fielded properly, we believe these explorations are able to go deeper than ethnography.

The fundamental premise of narrative methodologies:

  1. Humans are fundamentally shaped by and shape the narrative structures of their existence.
  2. Narrative stories and anecdotes tell us what people really internalizebased on their experiences.
  3. People’s perceptions are hidden in their stories and anecdotes – What people retain from and take out of their experiences and pass on to others. This “take-out”influences their decisions and behaviors.

Stories include characters, a time and place. We carefully watch and observe behaviors (some of which we can probe if it doesn’t interrupt the narrative).

As you know, stories have an arc. You’re able to get a good idea of the where, who’s involved and what is the focus of the activities.  We’re able to reveal areas of conflict. We’re looking for an incident or trigger event that leads to a specific call for action.

There’s richness in framing the discussion around a “Hero’s Journey”.  In this format or forum we more easily get to core emotions and the struggles that need to be overcome.

The Storytelling consists of Characters, Moments In Time, Location, Incident/Trigger Events, Emotions, Struggles & Conflicts, Transformation, Resolution, Overcoming Obstacles, and a Hero’s Journey.

It’s been our observation that people are much better storytellers than listeners.  The Researcher is the trained listener as participants are in the comfortable role of Author.

A favorite technique for Storytelling or Narrative exploration is “Future Back.”

Step 1:  As a group, participants are instructed to identify elements that would describe a best and worst future imaginable.

Step 2:  The group is then asked to identify a significant event or turning point that immediately preceded and helped shape this future scenario.

Step 3:  This process is then repeated, identifying the events that preceded the “turning point.” The process continues, event-by-event – working back in time to identify how specific events determined the end state (both favorable scenarios and worse case outcomes)

Finally, common elements are combined and organized by the group into coherent paths that lead to future outcomes. Now you’re ready to plan with a future vision that unites teams.

It’s something to look forward to.


MarketResponse International is a full service, global research firm based in Minneapolis, USA.  The firm works on a global scale for leading brands in financial, automotive, retail, and consumer products.  Founded in 1992, MarketResponse is recognized as the most experienced firm in the field of Motivational Research.

For these and other narrative techniques, MarketResponse moderators are accredited practitioners of Cognitive Edge.  Founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden, Cognitive Edge builds methods, tools, and capabilities to utilize insights from Complex Adaptive System theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems.


The Return on Investment from Insights Part 2 – How to grow your budget

A ROI audit is the foundation of a strong client-agency partnership. Andrew Cannon shares his tips on how to successfully implement a ROI Audit at your organization.


By Andrew Cannon, Executive Director, GRBN

Part 1 of this blog focused on why you need to care about the ROI from insights, and just in case you missed it; here’s the link. The first part of the blog ended with a plea for you to make a ROI audit the foundation of a strong client-agency partnership, which unites everyone behind a common objective, which in turn will help ensure that everyone’s budgets grow. Part 2 of this blog shares tips on how to successfully implement a ROI Audit.

The importance of measuring the return on investment from insights was highlighted during our panel discussion at IIeX, which featured Simon Chadwick (Cambiar), Kathy Cochran (Boston Consulting Group), Lisa Courtade (Merck) and Alex Hunt (Brainjuicer). Alex and Simon both shared data highlighting the fact that still today few insights teams are considered to be strategic consultants by their senior management. Importantly the data shows that there is a clear correlation between the measurement of ROI and the perception of the insights team as a value-adding strategic partner.

You can learn more about the findings from the two projects through these links:

WFA Future of insights project in co-operation with Brainjuicer

BCG, Yale CCI, and Cambiar 2015 Consumer Insights Benchmarking Study

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kathy, Lisa, Alex and Simon for being on the panel and sharing their knowledge, and I would like to share with you a few key take-outs from the panel discussion.

Become a Strategic Partner

This is key to budget growth. To be a strategic partner you need a strategic handshakeplan for the insights function, which is aligned to the business functions and processes and has a sharp focus on where and how insights can best add value on a strategic, tactical and operational level. Using this type of framework will not only help you partner with key stakeholders throughout the business, but will help you get the opportunity for C-Suite discussions.

The importance of communication cannot be underestimated, with you need to make insights famous for driving business growth. You also need to be seen and heard within the organization outside of research projects: you need to have a point-of-view and share your perspectives on the issues of most importance to the business, ideally in a compelling story-like format.

The measurement and communication of the business contribution, as well as the return on investment from insights, is also key. Getting senior management buy-in is critical to the success of the insights function and ideally the insights team should be championed by at least one member of the Executive Team. In my opinion the CFO is an ideal candidate for this role, since the CFO if anyone will understand and champion the ROI Audit.

If you work on the client side, I hope above insights help you become a strategic insights partner. If you work on the agency-side, I encourage you to use the above insights to help your clients’ insights teams become strategic consultants.

10+1 tips for setting up a ROI Audit TODAY

I’m a great believer in doing things and doing them now. Doing an ROI Audit is not an exercise in perfection; but it is about being methodological, as well as creative, and it is about employing a healthy mixture of science image2and art.

Few people argue with me about the importance of measuring the return on investment from insights, but not everyone I have spoken to knows how to go about it in practice.

I hope therefore that the following tips encourage more people to take the plunge and start measuring their ROI.

1. Be realistic

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Match the complexity of your audit to your current situation by taking into account how readily available the required information is and the time you have available.

2. Get Senior Executive buy-in

Use an inside-out approach by matching your audit to the organization and the cost/profit centers.

3. Segment your projects

Create a list of relevant segmentation attributes for your projects, including internal client, supplier, type of research, method etc and code each project using those attributes.

4. Define your ROI variables

Whilst direct financial variables are best i.e. dollars earned / dollars saved, the impact of insights on the business is not always straight-forward. Create a list of surrogate measures for the direct financial variables. These will vary from business to business, but could include customer life-time value (one of my favorites), share of wallet, brand consideration, brand loyalty, NPS… Make sure you know the link between each variable and the direct financial variable.

5. List your assumptions

Especially with respect to measuring longer term ROI, no-one expects you to have a crystal ball. When you’re forecasting the ROI on a new factory investment one of the key variables will be the price of raw materials over, say, the next 20 years. No-one has that information, but so long as the assumptions on which the forecast are made are transparent, that is good enough. You should approach the long-term ROI from insights in the same way. Ask your finance team for assistance.

6. Don’t forget cost savings and cost avoidance

We often like to focus on topline growth, but it is just as important is to measure the impact of insights on cost savings, which can often be an even more important short-term metric for the C-Suite. One important driver of costs is time, so don’t forget to look at the ROI of insights from a time-saving perspective either. Finally, insights can also play a major role in cost avoidance, for example a poor investment in a new product, which is also a clear measure of the ROI from insights.

7. Don’t forget qualitative evidence

Whilst numbers are great, stories are just as important. For some projects you won’t be able to come up with a hard number, but perhaps there is a story to tell. For example, a quote from department head explaining how insights made a decision process more efficient and reduced the investment risk.

8. Start with your budget hogs

You probably won’t be able to quantify the ROI on every single project, so start on the ones that take the biggest slice of your budget. If you can demonstrate the ROI on the 20% of the projects which account for 80% of the budget, you’re be well on your way to proving your ROI.

9. Identify the drivers (and barriers) to ROI

If you follow these tips, you’ll end up with a list of projects along with the ROI (actual or estimated) for at least some of the projects along with (hopefully) some juicy stories. You can now use your segmentation variables to explore where you have been most and least effective at delivering ROI. Use this analysis along with a qualitative evaluation of the projects, especially in terms of process, to identify the factors which lead to a higher ROI, as well as the factors which limit the ROI delivered.

10. Get your agencies on-board

Share the findings from the audit with your agencies. Work with them to improve the ROI on the projects they deliver.

10+1 Shout all about it

Present your ROI audit to your boss as well as the CFO. Communicate relentlessly about the value generated across the business, in particular using case studies and inspirational stories of successful partnerships with internal stakeholder. Make insights famous for driving business growth. Finally, don’t forget to ask for a bigger budget for next year based on the ROI you have delivered.

Of course the process doesn’t stop here. You want to take action based on the audit and start planning for next year’s ROI Audit.

In terms of actions; make immediate changes to your processes and your budget in order to capture low hanging fruit. Start planning for longer term changes to your processes and budget allocations. Make your agencies ROI partners and share with them your knowledge about the ROI triggers and barriers. Challenge them to not only change what they are currently doing in order to improve ROI, but to also propose new ROI generating solutions.

In terms of next year’s audit; make life easier for yourself by adding a ROI section to all internal and external briefing documents. Make sure your internal stakeholders include the expected ROI in their briefs, and make sure your agencies state the anticipated ROI in their proposals. Consider using a tracking tool to measure your ROI performance half-yearly, quarterly or even monthly.

If you work on the client-side I hope you find these tips useful. If you work agency-side, why not share these tips with your clients?

Ready to act? Take the GRBN 100-day challenge!

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog. I hope I have inspired at least some of you to action. In which case, please go to http://grbn.org/grbn-100-day-challenge/, where you will find a couple of challenges related to value to clients and the return on investment.

The aim of the 100-day challenge is to create a global movement of positive change for the research sector by taking on critical success factors for our sector: one person, one company, one action at a time. So please go ahead and sign up.

If you are a client-side budget holder, perhaps a suitable challenge for you to take over the next 100 days could be:

“I’m going to make an ROI Audit and propose a 20% increase in the insights budget for next year based on that ROI.”

If you are on the agency-side and work with clients, perhaps a suitable challenge for you to take over the next 100 days could be:

“I’m going to ask my clients to evaluate the ROI we have delivered to them over the 12 months and work in partnership with them to make changes needed to significantly increase that return over the next 12 months.”

Is there really any good reason why you shouldn’t act today?

Good luck!


The Extinction of Consumer Feedback: Applying Micro & Macro Lens to Reengage Consumers

Clients and agencies alike need to look in the mirror and realize, to paraphrase Oliver Perry, “we have met the enemy, and he is us.”

By Greg Heist, Chief Innovation Officer & Jill Heist, Methodologist

Organizations have relied on the steady flow of thoughtful, high-quality consumer opinions for decades. They’ve counted on these mostly anonymous groups of people to assess products, provide feedback on experiences, and share intimate details of their lives. This knowledge loop has shaped a flourishing multi-billion dollar industry, while supporting the livelihood for hundreds of thousands of professionals and their families.

The Extinction of Consumer Feedback: Applying Micro & Macro Lens to Reengage ConsumersBut it’s all in jeopardy.

The steady drumbeat of warnings from journal articles, conference presentations, and blog posts (including this one in 2012 “MR Has a Global Warming Problem – here are 5 ways you can fight it”) has been reverberating for so long that we seem to have become tone deaf to it.  Yet old habits die hard. Clients and agencies alike need to look in the mirror and realize, to paraphrase Oliver Perry, “we have met the enemy, and he is us.”


Behind these warnings lies the ever-decreasing pool of willing research participants. Looking at all modes of research, the industry has witnessed 85-95% drops in response rates over the past 15 to 20 years. Response rates are now in the single digits.1 And, even when we do catch someone’s attention, it is fleeting at best, as the average adult attention span is now only eight seconds. 2 It’s time to listen to the drumbeat and change.

As generally optimistic people, we believe that this challenge can be met head-on at both the micro and macro level. Similar to the way individuals and governments must work cooperatively to address climate change, winning back the attention and hearts of consumers will require action at the individual level, as well as at the institutional (client organizations, agencies, and panel providers) level.

In that spirit, we offer a series of recommendations to help confront our discipline’s existential crisis head on.


It’s been said before that in the workplace and in life, we are little more than the sum of our habits. At an individual level, forming new habits takes both repetition and discipline. The below tactics center around following four simple actions: reframe, reduce, reengage,and reimagine.

The Extinction of Consumer Feedback: Applying Micro & Macro Lens to Reengage Consumers REFRAME:
Today, we live in a data-driven society that needs to be leveraged at every available opportunity. Consideration and incorporation of data sources such as social, transactional, and enterprise data should allow us to reduce the volume of primary data collected through surveys and qualitative avenues. In other words, why overtax consumers by asking questions we can obtain by other means?

The Extinction of Consumer Feedback: Applying Micro & Macro Lens to Reengage Consumers REDUCE:
Once we have outlined the primary research objectives, we need to become more economical with our words—incorporating only questions that target objectives. This requires more thoughtful construction on our part, but ironically more design time. Yet, before we sharpen our ability to minimize instructions, scale labels, and question wording, we first must trust that participants will “get” our line of simplified questioning.  In fact, we often confuse the true meaning with excessive language.

The Extinction of Consumer Feedback: Applying Micro & Macro Lens to Reengage Consumers REENGAGE:
The legacy of primary research lies in a formal clinical tone born out of academia. Today, we can gain valid and reliable insights while moving away from formal language and implementing more humanistic approaches. This kind of engagement can be done through gamifying questions, conversational vernacular, inserting humor, and building connections through a variety of techniques. Imagery, audio/video and other stimuli should be employed whenever possible and plausible. Our experience has also shown us that consumer connections are strongest in ongoing member-based community interactions, where response rates hit 40% and higher.

The Extinction of Consumer Feedback: Applying Micro & Macro Lens to Reengage Consumers REIMAGINE:
Finally, and perhaps most excitingly, the current climate of so-called consumer “disengagement” allows us to reimagine the world of research. It forces us to create new ways of interacting with consumers. This often means leaving the sterile four walls of a focus group facility to experience in-the-moment consumer interactions. Or it may be collaborating with analytics teams to employ techniques that effectively use information from partial surveys. Perhaps it is through snack-sized surveys conducted over time to develop a more telling, start-to-end consumer story. Whether it’s through digital or physical means, interactive activities drive consumer engagement.  The two truly go hand in hand.


Many parallels exist within addressing climate change and solving the insight industry’s consumer engagement dilemma. While it’s critical for individuals to take action, it’s also clear that without intergovernmental commitment to policy reform, change would come too little and too late to avoid environmental calamity. Likewise, without shared commitments to change the status quo by client organizations, insights agencies and panel providers, reversing the steady decline in research engagement will simply never happen.

The Extinction of Consumer Feedback: Applying Micro & Macro Lens to Reengage Consumers While the CASRO Tech Conference in early June focused heavily on this dilemma, as a collective industry, we need to move toward unification and action. In this sense, the Tokyo Climate Protocol of 2005 provides a model that the industry would do well to follow. Broadly speaking, it secured intergovernmental acknowledgement of the dangers posed by carbon emissions and established commitments to reducing them over a specified period of time.

The challenge for our industry to confront the extinction of consumer feedback is not unlike the challenge for governments. It requires education, awareness and commitment—all based on a deep understanding that these changes are critical, not just nice to haves. And while there isn’t a United Nations for our industry, an industry-level coalition needs to heed this call-to-action and spearhead a recovery plan.

With such a plan in place, client organizations, agencies, sample providers and technology firms would assemble to collaboratively tackle the root causes of this consumer engagement extinction. Most importantly, though, this coalition would need to establish binding commitments around tactics, such as:

  • Reducing the length of the average survey by 50% over the next 36 months
  • Committing to question length not exceeding a prescribed character limit
  • Targeting average survey completion times to be reduced by 10-20% within 24 months
  • Establishing norms for modularizing surveys and associated data stitching techniques

With agreements of this kind in place, the coalition would also cooperatively work on developing solutions that transform the commitments into reality. In the end, the most profound benefit from these micro and macro changes will come from creating a broader, more reciprocal relationship between consumers and corporations. With this lifeline firmly re-established, the insights industry will find itself on a sustainable path into the future and corporations will make choices that truly reflect a deep connection with the humans they utterly depend upon for their future growth and prosperity.

1 PEW RESEARCH CENTER 2012 Methodology Study.  Rates computed according to American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) standard definitions for CON2, COOP3, and RR3. Rates are typical for surveys conducted in each year.
Online Research response rates based on Gongos’ Emilio Ditrapani’s experience and observations with panel research since 2002.
Attention Spans, Consumer Insights, Microsoft Canada, Spring 2015

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Jeffrey Henning’s #MRX Top 10: Sharing On The Future Of Insight ROI

Of the 7,490 unique links shared with the #MRX hashtag on Twitter in the past two weeks, here are 10 of the most retweeted…

By Jeffrey Henning

Of the 7,490 unique links shared with the #MRX hashtag on Twitter in the past two weeks, here are 10 of the most retweeted…

  1. Five Reasons Why the Market-Research Industry Is Ready to Join the Sharing Economy – Peter Zollo of Collaborata, an MRX marketplace, expects researchers to join marketplaces because 1) data is less proprietary; 2) collaboration happens absent a tech platform anyway; 3) collaboration provides better outcomes than going it alone; and 4) sharing drives down costs. His fifth point was about his company’s platform, but in fact there are a wide range of marketplaces that already serve the research industry or the broader consulting industry.
  2. Increasing the Return On Insight – Niels Schillewaert of InSites Consulting shares the results of recent roundtables at IIEX on the lifecycle of an insight.
  3. 4 Growth Predictions for Market Research – Writing for Vision Critical, Ray Poynter expects to see growth in agile research, text analytics, advanced analytics, and guidance of non-researchers. “Researchers have many skills that can effectively drive the democratization of insight. This role includes training, helping shape software and processes, and consulting during both the design and analysis stages. It also involves providing pathways to more complex solutions when needed.”
  4. Research on Research Respondents: What Have We Learned? – Kerry Hecht discussed the results of a qual-quant study of research participation. A key insight that emerged was dissatisfaction with screeners: screeners take too long to answer, confuse respondents about what is expected, and make respondents feel misled about surveys.
  5. Virtual Reality in Market Research Today – Rich Scamehorn and Amy Hebard of InContext Solutions gave a presentation at OmniShopper to encourage researchers to experiment with virtual reality. One application: have consumers provide commentary while shopping a virtual store, which could prototype store layout changes, show packaging that doesn’t exist, or display products with new designs.  
  6. Two in three say Labour should change leader before next General Election – A telephone survey of over 1,000 British adults found that 55% believe the new Prime Minister May “has what it takes to be good PM”. For Labour leader Corbyn, it’s 23%.
  7. What Does Marketing Science Bring to the Table? – Kevin Gray and Koen Pauweis shared an introduction to marketing science, providing examples of the use of advanced analytics beyond that offered by either market researchers or data scientists.
  8. Day Two OmniShopper Threads and Nuggets – Aaron Keller and Kitty Hart of Capsule shared an overview of the second day of the OmniShopper conference, including the future of retail, with “some countries in the world going from open markets to digital markets and skipping ‘the mall’ economic phase entirely. Based on what we heard, retail has a vibrant future when it is properly blended between physical and digital.”
  9. Going Big with #Qualitative Market Research – Adam Rossow of iModerate emphasizes that qualitative research can be done at scale: you can ask a thousand people a few open-ended questions to develop a picture of a market.
  10. Looking to the Future [subscription required] – Jain Bainbridge of the Market Research Society interviewed Dr. Nicola Millard about her thoughts on how technology will continue to change the workplace.

Note: This list is ordered by the relative measure of each link’s influence in the first week it debuted in the weekly Top 5. A link’s influence is a tally of the influence of each Twitter user who shared the link and tagged it #MRX, ignoring retweets from closely related accounts. Only links with a research angle are considered.


Pokémon Go: Gamification Lessons For Research

How has Pokémon Go garnered such success so quickly? What can we learn, as researchers, from the first legitimately successful augmented reality application?



By Jason Anderson

Gotta Catch ’em All

You’re reading this on the Internet, so it’s a safe assumption you’ve heard of Pokémon Go. It might even be a decent bet that you’ve played it: In just over a week, it has passed the daily user base of Twitter and users are spending more time with Pokémon Go than Facebook. How has Pokémon Go garnered such success so quickly? Why it is so engaging? What can we learn, as researchers, from the first legitimately successful augmented reality application? And what can we learn, as businesses and an industry?

A brief Poké-history

To understand how an app could blast off so rapidly, it’s important to understand the brand we’re talking about. Pokémon is a mammoth, global, wildly successful franchise with over 20 years of history spanning games, trading cards, comics, TV series, and 19 films. The franchise has sold nearly 300 million units of software; its estimated global market size is larger than the global research industry.

In other words, Pokémon was huge before Pokémon Go hit the scene.

Also relevant: Pokémon has never had a major game for smartphones. Niantic Labs (the developers of the game, themselves a spinoff from the Google Maps team) uncorked two decades of childhood memories and installed them on your phone.

Why is Pokémon Go so successful?

Setting aside for a moment the brand strength and history of the franchise, Pokémon Go does several very clever things very, very well:

  • It gamifies everyday life. In particular, it provides an endless supply of opportunities to engage while you’re traveling between point A and point B with nothing better to do. Your game profile levels up the more you play, unlocking new capabilities over time.
  • It fully leverages your mobile device. The experience uses your smartphone camera, GPS, social media connections, and mapping data in a way that is frictionless. The functionality of the game itself is fairly limited; it only comes to life because of the immense amounts of geocaching data that have been collected and tagged on Google Maps and other GIS platforms.
  • It is “free.” More accurately, monetization is an optional decision left solely in the user’s control.
  • Gotta catch’em all. The core of the Pokémon experience has always been the never-ending effort to collect as many different types of Pokémon creatures as possible.  This collection is dynamic (and the scarcity of rarer types of creatures) is no different than a bird watcher spotting a rare Californian condor.
  • It is socially aware. Unlike most other mobile games, playing Pokémon Go requires the user to register an account before playing (which makes its success even more impressive, when you think about the additional barrier to trial caused by user registration processes).
  • It is viral by design. By making it easy to share pictures of Pokémon in an augmented-reality view, it taps into widespread photo-sharing behaviors as a way of spreading the word.

What does this tell us about the opportunity for augmented reality?

As a games researcher and a research gamification professional, I’m hesitant to make any proclamations about the world after one week. There are many, many, many stories of games that catch fire and either fizzle out or don’t have any lasting impact beyond the original experience. Other titles become the inspiration for an entire genre that may endure for decades.

Which games do you think have had the largest cultural impact?

We don’t know how much overlap exists between the Pokémon Go audience and pre-existing Pokémon affinity, but I think it’s fair to predict:

  • People are OK with augmented reality, done right. Google Glass was too complex / expensive / awkward for the general population, but fitting an A/R experience onto existing devices doesn’t have any barriers to adoption.
  • Within weeks, you will see copycat games flooding the App Stores. The notion of geocaching or augmented-reality games as a new type of experience has been unleashed, much like Angry Birds ushered in a still-flowing stream of physics games.
  • Augmented reality will precede virtual reality. As an early adopter, I’m super-excited about VR tech, but also pragmatic. Augmented reality is a natural stepping-stone, and will likely see much broader adoption before VR can break out of the gaming silo it’s going to be stuck to for the next 5 to 10 years.

What do you think? Which of these games had the greatest impact?

Does any of this help or hurt me as a researcher (or research business)?

Pokémon Go presents an opportunity, and a warning. From a gamification perspective, we recognize how powerful gamification engagement techniques can be at driving behavior (such as motivating millions of people to walk around their communities). It’s accomplished in a couple of weeks what FitBit has failed to do after nearly a decade. So, when used properly, gamification can encourage desired behaviors that are normally quite challenging to realize.

The warning, however, comes from Pokémon Go was actually developed. If you explore the types of roles that work at Niantic Labs, you will find:

  • Machine learning engineers
  • Software engineers (obviously)
  • Community managers (a common role at game companies, that publicly interacts with an audience for sharing and gathering information)
  • Game designers
  • QA/testing

There’s a complete lack of traditional insights agents or research managers, which is typical of most mobile game companies. “Insights” are gathered primarily through user testing, beta test programs, analytics and machine learning, and community engagement on social media or message forums…which seems to have worked just fine as far as they’re concerned. Pokémon Go is a new billion-dollar machine that will generate no business opportunity for traditional researchers. Niantic will create their own insights.

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Adopting an ‘Outside-In’ Approach to Organizational Empathy in a Consumer-Centric World

Rather than managing teams and systems for operational efficiency, organizations need to get better at emulating consumers and the worlds they live in, and leverage the power of an “outside-in” model.


By Camille Nicita, President & CEO, Gongos, Inc.

Nature vs. nurture? While this topic has been widely debated for centuries, evidence suggests that nature (a person’s inherent genetic make-up) and nurture (environment and external influences) have equal influence on shaping who we are, how we live, and the decisions we make. Or put another way, our ability to survive and thrive.

Yet, if we look at this debate through a corporate lens, it appears most organizations place a disproportionate focus on an “inside-out” approach. Rather than managing teams and systems for operational efficiency, organizations need to get better at emulating consumers and the worlds they live in, and leverage the power of an “outside-in” model. This laser sharp consumer-centric orientation is what will bring organizations closer to creating true reciprocal relationships with the consumers they serve.

The world of biology—and to an extent, the practice of biomimicry—teaches us a simple, yet profound, lesson: an outside-in approach is akin to survival of the fittest. An organism’s necessary evolution is often sparked by environmental change. Those that successfully adapt to their environments are more skilled at managing change, and thriving, than those who do not.

The Corporate Parallel

While many companies claim consumer-centricity as a key priority—and have for decades—how many truly prioritize the consumer in their decision making? Recently, I was asked to partner with Forbes.com contributor, Christopher Skroupa, to co-curate a feature article on this “outside-in” approach. In it, we postulate that in order for B-to-C organizations to create sustainable differentiation, consumers must become the focal point in decision making. Sounds easy—even logical—but why do so many companies fall short on this?

In our discussions with Global 1000 companies, two interdependent themes seem to prevent this reality—structure and mindset.

Flipping the Fundamentals 

An inside-out approach to business relies heavily on legacy issues (i.e., existing resources and operational efficiencies). Oftentimes the consumer’s voice is represented, but only to get a reaction to a concept or innovation that was thought up by someone in the C-suite, R&D, and/or marketing. This somewhat force-fit model encompasses the consumer voice, but only in retrospect.

On the other hand, an outside-in model predicates that all decision making is based on customer and market trends, therefore solving consumer needs and pain points. Not only does it rely heavily on interactional patterns between the business and consumers, it’s evolving to suit the changing world in which it exists.

The barriers of an inside-out structure can be significant because many will resist and claim “it’s the way we’ve always done it.” But opportunity exists for forward-thinking companies to flip the fundamentals and live by the mantra “if the consumer wins, we all win.” Yes, even if it means short-term performance metrics become secondary, while the company recalibrates consumers as its “new North.”

With structure in mind, many companies have an insights team with a mandate to bring the “voice of the consumer” to the decision-making table. Arguably, this one-department charge is not enough. Consumer-inspired decisions require the consumer to be in the mind’s eye of all stakeholders. Just as in the natural world, if only a cross section of an organism changes, successful adaptation will not be achieved. The entire organism (or all teams within our corporate example) must adapt to the consumer.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Beyond impacting behavior and workflow, an organization’s structure is a cue to its mindset and priorities. Consumers don’t think or act in silos, yet many organizations function with divisions that lack intra-organizational collaboration to support the sharing and internalization of consumer wisdom. Just as the world is becoming less hierarchical, so too must our organizational structures, process and systems morph into an interdependent ecosystem with the consumer as the hub.

When organizations are faced with the tensions of urgent-vs-important, urgent wins out most days. Unfortunately, days roll into years, and years become decades and a cycle of short-term focus perpetuates. Shareholders, Wall Street, governmental regulations and the global economy are real pressures; and in comparison, consumer-centricity can unintentionally become idealistic rather than realistic. Creating a consumer-driven strategy within the corporate confines requires discipline, focus and a long-term orientation. It simply cannot be achieved without an agreement between both top-down and bottom-up corporate mindsets that emphasize empathic human connections, both inside and outside the proverbial walls of the organization.

The potency of leadership, in this case, is more important than ever. Talent management and people practices must cultivate a corporate culture that rewards our ability to make a positive impact on employees and customers. If we wish to truly understand and advocate for the consumer, we must first model that behavior with the people inside our organizations. This “pay it forward” approach is the first step to replication and the creation of a resounding ripple effect on talent retention and consumer loyalty.

Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? It may not be easy, but I promise it is worth it.

What Should We Do? Cultivating Discipline, Clarity & Long-Term Focus

Just like nature vs. nurture, the right solution is not choosing one over the other but finding and maintaining the appropriate balance. Consider these points:

  1. Ground yourself in the company’s core values and core competencies – those are non-negotiable, like human Once those are set and organizational alignment is achieved, establish the vision, and break down the steps that are required to get there.
  1. Find peace with sacrificing short-term metrics in the name of long-term growth and gain. Important work takes time, ingenuity and agility. Rome wasn’t built in a day and each brick laid was part of an ever-evolving Be devout to the long term goal, yet open to the continuous ebb and flow of the environment in order to stay in sync.
  1. Become adept at hiring talent that mirrors the dynamic and diverse nature of your Acknowledging this also takes time, in the short term; consider commissioning a customer advisory board to infuse a steadfast empathic connection while transforming the talent base.
  1. Organize around the “consumer journey” and how she/he thinks, feels, acts and comes to This step alone has the potential to produce profound shifts in the organization’s ability to cross-collaborate and internalize consumer wisdom.

Just as with biomimicry, we can learn from organisms inside nature and how they innovate while becoming more resilient to changes and the inevitable forces amongst them. The transition to an outside-in approach could very well be the market research industry’s environmental trigger to adopt methods that drive a more empathic connection, which requires organizations to be in tune with the body, mind and heart of the consumer. If talent, processes, systems and structure are equally envisioned with the consumer as the guide, these marching orders will become not only intuitive, but inspiring… and fruitful for all.



What Does Marketing Science Bring to the Table?

In some ways, marketing science has long been a kind of secret weapon for savvy marketers; it is a vital tool for marketing research now and will be even more so in the years ahead.



By Kevin Gray and Koen Pauwels


Why marketing science?

Imagine that…

  • You’re a brand manager and looking at piles of data that are each telling you a different story about the health of your brand.
  • You’re a research director at a marketing research agency struggling with a proposal for a major client. This is a competitive bid and you know you will need something extra to have a chance to win the work.
  • You’re a data scientist at a manufacturer and out of the blue have been asked by marketing to dig up insights from existing consumer survey data. You don’t know much about marketing or survey research and you don’t even know where to begin.
  • You’re a research executive at a marketing research agency, and will need statistical support to conduct a sophisticated key driver analysis and segmentation for a project you’re writing a proposal for.
  • You’re a CMO and have been challenged to increase revenues by 20%. Beyond your extraordinary creativity, you’ll need more than a repeat of last year’s plan and want to know what has worked in previous years and what hasn’t.
  • You’re an IT director and have been asked to set up a data mart for marketing analytics. You know a lot about data and data bases but next to nothing about marketing or analytics.

But, what exactly is it?

These were just a few examples of where marketing science can come to the rescue and add significant value.  But first, what exactly is marketing science?  Here is a fairly bland definition from Wikipedia:

“Marketing science is a field that approaches marketing – the understanding of customer needs, and the development of approaches by which they might be fulfilled – predominantly through scientific methods, rather than through tools and techniques common with research in the arts or in humanities.”    

It’s actually a lot more interesting than this!  Besides project work, many marketing scientists are involved in R&D, quality assurance, training and business development.  They typically wear many hats.

What skills do marketing scientists need?

Marketing science, as its name implies, requires a solid grasp of the scientific method which, contrary to the impression some may have, is not just math and programming. Besides marketing, some background in the social and behavioral sciences is also very helpful.  In our view, a marketing scientist is essentially a quantitative social and behavioral scientist specializing in marketing and not merely a number-cruncher. In other words, context matters.  Business matters.  A lot.

Contrary to what some software vendors may claim, advanced data analysis can seldom be done proficiently with automated software.  One reason is because the analyst often must choose among competing statistical models that are very similar according to model assessment criteria such as the BIC or AIC, yet suggest different courses of action to decision makers.  The meaning of the various models to decision makers is the decisive factor, and judgment and experience on the part of the analyst are essential. The exception to this rule is when all that is really required are predictions that beat chance expectation and there is no need to understand the mechanisms underlying the data. In other words, all we need to know is the “What” and we don’t care about the “Why”.

Even in these cases, though, costly errors can be made. For instance, Google Trends was heralded as a wonderful predictor of flu epidemics, but then faltered because Google did not examine the complex drivers of searches for flu symptoms (especially with Google Autocomplete). Likewise, the predictions may be correct, but the execution requires human sensitivity, as in Target’s sending pregnancy-related coupons to a family who did not yet know their teenage daughter was pregnant. Relying on automated software has been likened to drinking and driving…

Being able to understand the qualitative aspects of quantitative research, therefore, is an aptitude good marketing scientists must have.  Good marketing scientists are tenacious but, at the same time, creative problem-solvers who can feel what the data are saying.  There are analogies with music – a technically gifted classical musician is unlikely to go very far if he or she is unable to play with feeling.

Interpersonal and communication skills are important for many jobs and marketing science is no exception; an analyst who is clever technically will be underutilized if he or she can’t get along with people or communicate with them in language they can understand!

Unexploited opportunities in old and new data

“Old” research techniques continue to show key unexploited opportunities. Take surveys, which so often are short one-off affairs or, conversely, monstrously long and contaminated by respondent fatigue. In either case, the analysis often consists of simple cross tabulations and perhaps a correspondence map or two… Piles of crosstabs can be both hard to interpret and misleading. Typically, cross tabs only examine two variables at a time and running lots of them increases the risk of capitalizing on chance, even when adjustments such as the FDR are made to significance levels. Piecemeal approaches to data analysis thus give us an incomplete or misleading picture of the puzzle. “Bad surveys are a booming business,” in the words of one veteran marketing researcher.

However, this need not be the case. A well-designed survey can gather a great deal of useful data that can be leveraged with more sophisticated analysis such as Structural Equation Modeling, Vector Autoregression or Hierarchical Linear Models.  We’ll show you some examples in a bit. Though advanced analytics are frequently conducted “after the fact” they generally work best when “designed into” the research, which usually requires the involvement of a marketing scientist early in the process. This person will assist in designing the research and, ideally, will be the one who carries out the modeling. Combining and analyzing data from other sources (e.g., customer records) with survey data is becoming increasingly popular.  Again, marketing science comes into play here.

As for the “new” research techniques, much of what is now called “Data Science” tends to be focused on data management, which is understandable because the requisite computer science skills can be quite specialized.  The analytics, however, are usually fairly basic and often consist of predicting whether a customer falls into one bucket or another, for instance.  Most data scientists do not have strong statistical skills – knowledge of causal modeling1 in particular is rare – and have little knowledge of marketing.

This is not a criticism – theirs is a different role requiring a different skills set. Few data scientists are marketing scientists and few have been trained or hired to do marketing science. Looked at from the opposite angle, few marketing scientists would be competent in an IT-centered role, either.  Agendas from a major Data Science conference a major conference on Statistics point to the many differences between these two fields.

Marketing science in action

Marketers, marketing scientists and data scientists can, however, combine and synergize their skills and experience in an ad hoc fashion that does not require substantial investment or organizational restructuring.  Here are a few simple examples of marketing science in action:

  • A software company conducted a UX and satisfaction study among a sample of its customers. Key driver analysis was performed with an advanced variation of structural equation modeling (SEM) and the results used for new product development as well as revision of user manuals and customer online help.
  • An online retailer wanted to reallocate marketing across tens of options. Suspicious of last-click attribution, they commissioned Vector Autoregressive (VAR) modeling that considered long-term effects and interactions of not just bringing prospects to the retailer, but also of increasing check-out and revenue. They found a much higher revenue impact of content-integrated marketing actions (e.g. affiliates and price comparison sites) versus content-separated actions (e.g. emails, retargeting) and increased revenues 17% with the same overall marketing budget.
  • A credit card company wanted to ascertain what certain consumer segments are seeking most, and a conjoint and segmentation study among general consumers was conducted. The results challenged some important assumptions long taken for granted, while also providing context for some earlier marketing research the company had commissioned.
  • A fast moving consumer goods company wanted to adapt its global dashboard to reflect different performance effects across mature vs. emerging countries. A Hierarchical Linear Model showed that advertising awareness and brand love are key in the former, but consideration and word-of-mouth are key in the latter.
  • A financial services company undertook a segmentation study among general consumers and a sample of its own customers. Internal customer data were leveraged to enrich the survey data and flesh out the segments, and to help management better understand the Why underlying the What for their own (and possibly competitor) customers.  For example, one key finding was that risk acceptance/aversion, general financial sophistication and other attitudes predicted interest in new investment vehicle concepts beyond that explained by life stage, demographics and historical behavior. 

Future directions

Like marketing itself, marketing science is continuously evolving and in 20 years time will probably look quite different from the way it does now.  Though there has been tons of hype about Big Data, the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, they are likely to have a real impact on our lives as citizens and as marketers at some point in the future.

Marketing science increasingly requires high levels of technical sophistication (e.g., Bayesian statistics, Support Vector Machines) and advanced computer science skills.  While this may seem impressive, a potential drawback is that fundamental skills will be watered down because there is too much to learn in too short a time.  Moreover, there are now many analytics software products on the market that are very easy to operate but require almost no knowledge of research or statistics, and untutored users can easily make costly mistakes.  Consequently, though marketing scientists can accomplish things they could only have dreamed of a few years ago, the risk of shoddy analytics has also risen.  There are always downsides to progress, though, and we don’t wish to single out marketing science.

In some ways, marketing science has long been a kind of secret weapon for savvy marketers.  Though it has not received the sensationalized press coverage many other professions have and, in our view, has been underutilized, it is a vital tool for marketing research now and will be even more so in the years ahead.


1 “Causal modeling” involves the analysis of potential causal associations but the term does not necessarily imply that the researcher is attempting to prove causation.  This is extremely difficult – some would say impossible – even in experimental research.


Co-Author Koen Pauwels is Professor of Marketing at Ozyegin University, Istanbul and Honorary Professor at the University of Groningen.  He received his Ph.D. from UCLA, where he was chosen “Top 100 Inspirational Alumnus” out of 37,000 UCLA graduates. Next he joined the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, where he became Associate Professor in 4 years and received tenure in 6. Prof Pauwels is Associate Editor at the International Journal of Research in Marketing and has received the most prestigious awards for more than 30 top publications. He consulted large and small companies across 3 continents, including Amazon, Credit Europe, Inofec, Heinz, Kayak, Knewton, Kraft, Marks & Spencer, Nissan, Sony, Tetrapak and Unilever.

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Transformation IQ: Join the Journey

Jeff Resnick provides a glimpse into his new e-book, Transformation IQ, through ten themes for transformational success.


By Jeff Resnick

I am excited to release my e-book, Transformation IQ, through GreenBook today. The e-book is a compilation of blog posts completed over the past 18 months with leading CEOs in our industry and focuses on what it takes to remain competitive in today’s rapidly evolving research and insights industry.  I would like to personally thank each of these CEOs for the time and insight provided. This edition of the Transform blog provides a glimpse into the book’s content through ten themes for transformational success.

Theme 1:  The goal is to increase the enterprise value of the organization

Make no mistake, the ultimate goal of any transformational effort is to increase the enterprise value of the organization. While transformation will certainly improve your ability to serve clients well, the ultimate goal is to increase the value of your organization and its profitability. If there isn’t a financial benefit, I question whether the time, effort, and sweat that goes into the transformational process will generate a reasonable ROI.  Without financial strength, the future for any organization is always a challenge.

Theme 2: Be a student of trends outside the industry

Jim Bryson of 20|20 Research says “to get ahead of the adoption curve, firms must look for the intersection of technology trends and market research trends. This intersection is a sweet spot that requires less sales and marketing capital and can result in explosive growth”.   It is essential that the focus is understanding changes in the world around us, the impact on our clients and consumers in general.  This is the only way to ensure you stay ahead of the curve.

Theme 3: Love customers who want to be pioneers

Steve Schlesinger of Schlesinger Research has a phrase I just love. It is “cliff jumping with clients”. An important element of innovation is collaboration. You need to find customers who value innovation as much as you do and work with them to find new and better ways of addressing business issues. Not every customer is going to fit the mold-but when pioneering spirits merge, magic will happen.

Theme 4: Fail fast and forward

This was one of the most common themes across the CEOs I spoke with.  To move forward we must be accepting of failure. It is a normal part of launching new initiatives and transformational efforts.  An essential element of any organizational culture that engages in transformation is to ensure employees know failure is an accepted part of the culture as long as learning is associated with that failure.

Theme 5: Plan strategically and thoughtfully

Strategic planning is about creativity, planning and rigor in execution.  A strategic plan needs to be a living document, not something that sits on the shelf. It doesn’t matter whether the plan addresses a 3 or 5-year time horizon. What is important is that the plan is developed as a group activity and is embraced by the organization. Additionally, the best strategic planners mandate rigorous execution and quarterly checks on milestone achievement.

Theme 6: Innovate pragmatically, never bet the farm

How many times have you heard the story of someone going “all in” on an idea?  While occasionally a long shot wins, it is far better to implement an ongoing series of short shots. Pragmatic innovation is all about vetting new ideas, providing some initial funding but not going large-scale on the investment until there is proof that the idea will be commercially successful.

Theme 7: Embrace co-opetition – make new friends

I have little doubt collaboration with other service partners will become the norm for most of our industry. We cannot be experts in everything nor can we afford it.  Invest in what is core to your business and find partners for most everything else. You will make new friends and have fun in the process.

Theme 8: if an employee doesn’t want to be on the train don’t sell them a ticket

Never manage attitude. It is a waste of time, energy and effort. An important key to any transformational effort is getting the team to move in the same direction. Individuals who become distractions will only hurt the effort.

Theme 9: Communicate communicate communicate

As George Bernard Shaw said “the single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. During times of transformation, it is virtually impossible to communicate too frequently. Communication reduces the fear of the unknown. Make it personal, not email.

Theme 10: Dream big – sometimes dreams become reality

If the world didn’t have dreamers where would we be? Dream about what your organization can achieve. Don’t sell yourself short. However, also recognize those who stray too far from their DNA or “true north” oftentimes do so at their own peril.


The e-book is designed as a fast easy read with something of interest for everyone. Download a copy by clicking on this link. Once you’ve read the book I’d love to hear your thoughts. Many thanks to everyone involved with its production.


Six Reasons Why Microsurveys Are a GRIT 2016 Trend to Watch

The latest Greenbook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report confirms that microsurveys have gone from being a buzzed-about approach the industry was considering, to one that’s real and here today.

Survey image

By Tom Lancaster, Chief Technology Officer, InCrowd

The latest Greenbook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report confirms that microsurveys have gone from being a buzzed-about approach the industry was considering, to one that’s real and here today. Not only have they gained tremendously in popularity – microsurveys are overtaking other survey methods that have enjoyed greater buzz, like behavioral models, biometrics or wearables-based research.

“The two approaches that show the largest growth in adoption are Mobile Surveys and Microsurveys, underscoring the trend towards agile research,” GRIT states (page 18). Micro and Mobile Survey use are up 10 percent since early 2015, with more than one-third reporting they are currently using these methods and another quarter stating that they’re considering it.

This trend is in large part due to the increasing difficulty in reaching prospective respondents, or what the GRIT report calls “the single largest area of concern for the industry.” According to one market research executive: “There are demographic groups who are simply refusing to engage in research these days: high-end C-suite, young males and essentially anyone who is busy.”

Anyone who is busy. Sound like anyone you know or want to reach?

Microsurveys, as the name suggests, are brief—usually 10 or fewer questions that can be answered in minutes. They’re closely related to mobile surveys, which are formatted for easy participation from a smartphone or other mobile devices. But there’s more to a successful microsurvey than just getting the font size right.

The essence of microsurveys is meeting respondents where they are and on their terms. The “where” part is relatively easy—mobile-friendly, responsive design solves for that. On their terms, however, requires an approach to market research that centers around respect for a respondent’s time. Precious few people are willing to answer the mile-long questionnaires still so common in traditional surveys, no matter what the format. But they will answer a few questions, so the key is prioritization—focusing on what you most need to know now and saving other inquiries for later, with “later” being as soon as the next day.

Many companies accustomed to using long surveys were skeptical at first of the micro approach. As they started using microsurvey technology, however, they began to wonder why they’d always felt the need to ask so many questions. They quickly realized six very real and immediate benefits:
1. Paring your list of questions down to an essential few focuses the survey and increases response rates and speed.
2. Respondent feedback is available almost immediately.
3. Data is far less likely to be skewed by over- or under-representation of certain groups based on willingness to participate.
4. Because microsurveys are convenient, respondents are more likely to participate more often.
5. When a microsurvey yields unexpected results, you can drill down with follow-up questions in another survey for the same group or different groups, or both.
6. And, respondents are more likely to respond quickly, making it easier to get first impressions after, say, a product launch, sales rep visit, or a conference.

Market research has always relied on putting good questions to the right people. Microsurveys make this easier and more cost-effective than ever, and offer the kind of flexibility and immediacy so elusive to traditional long-form surveys. We expect future GRIT reports to show even more widespread adoption.