1. Research Now
  2. Aha!
  3. SIS International
  4. ORC International

Jeffrey Henning’s #MRX Top 10: Socializing the Need to Socialize Research Results

Of the 12,293 unique links shared on #MRX last week, here are 10 of the most retweeted...



  1. Raconteur – Future of Market Research – This free publication, The Future of Market Research, features a range of articles (editorial and sponsored) on the state of research today. My favorite article was “Learning to expect the unexpected in business” by Charles Orton-Jones; great overview of the challenges of predictive analytics.
  2. Census considers asking about race… by not using the term at all – The U.S. Census Bureau is continuing to iteratively redevelop its approach to asking about race and Hispanic origin. It will soon test a single question that asks what “categories” a person belongs to and then lists 8 categories and gives examples (e.g., “Asian: For example, Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, etc.”); the respondent can select all that apply.
  3. 7 books every market researcher should read – Writing for Vision Critical, Ray Poynter highlights seven books we all should read. In addition to some conference favorites, he highlights up-and-coming titles to consider as well.
  4. Microsoft’s Bing Pulse announces real-time market research solution for surveys, live content rating, and response groups of any size – Microsoft now offers its own self-service survey solution, geared especially for livestreamed web events and video tests.
  5. Want Foresight from Insight? Part 2: An Interview with Gongos’ Greg Heist – Braden Kelley interviews Greg Heist about the need for better socialization of insights within companies. “Information wants to be free, right?  If you’re going to create true foresight, your information needs to be freed from traditional organizational silos so that it can benefit the entire organization.” Later, Greg points out, “Disruption is inherently non-linear, so embedding a way for decision makers to integrate non-linear thinking into company strategy is increasingly important.”
  6. Global Smartphone Report: Four Key Trends – A new free report from GfK looks at the growth in smartphone sales around the world; 1.2 billion were sold in 2014, and 2015 Q1 sales were up 7% from the same quarter last year.
  7. Keynote: Innovation, Technology and the Future of Marketing Research by Ashish Soni, USC Viterbi Engineering Startup Garage – Annie Pettit live-blogged the innovation keynote from the 2015 MRA Insights & Strategies Conference.
  8. Digital Analytics | What’s really going on? – ESOMAR is promoting a new conference, RA:DAR (Research Analytics: Digital Advanced Research), which will be held at AOL headquarters in New York in October to discuss digital analytics.
  9. The Memefication of Insights – Tom De Ruyck and Anouk Williems of InSites Consulting have long promoted the need for greater socialization of market research results within client organizations, to move from insights to action and to improve the MRX ROI. In this post, they provide examples of going beyond the traditional results presentation to experientially immerse employees of their clients in the viewpoint of the consumer.
  10. Product/Market Fit & Why it matters to the market research world – The Garage Group looks at a concept from technology startups – how well a product actually fits with its target market – and uses social media monitoring to evaluate that fit for one of its clients.

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.


Cool Hand Deprivation: Footnotes on Media, Marketing and People

What happens when you force people to be deprived of a favourite object, a usual stimulus, or any stimulus at all? You get results you probably did not predict.

cool hand luke



I say coincidental but as always I do believe things connect for a reason. As I was flicking around Youtube looking for references for a new version of my “toilets as social media” speech I came across a marvelous twist on the famous car wash scene. Hopefully you do know the movie, and if you don’t then please buy it on your favorite format and watch. The people at www.worldH2Oday.org have done an excellent job of using celebrity to get people to take notice of their important message by taking classic “water scenes” from great movies and re-editing to point out how different they would be without access to clean water. Which is of course why celebrity is still such an effective marketing tool. It takes the VERY familiar and forces your attention even if you are not interested in the product being commercialised.

But I digress.  Watching the clip then whetted my appetite to watch the actual movie again, for the umpteenth time. My wife who is not such a fan left the room and I sat back for the next two hours loving it over again. Always great.

Of course there is that one fantastic line. When Strother Martin’s character says  “what we have is failure to communicate” every marketer, researcher, advertising consultancy has to prick their ears. It sums up the dilemma we all face : is our message getting through and being acted upon in a way we might hope for.

Clearly the Luke character is not (in the latest poor marketing jargon ) an interactive consumer adding to the brand story through content building. He is in fact what we used to call “a get away”. The person who comes into our brand world through some trick or forced circumstance and then keeps busting out no matter how much we abuse him with incentives to stay.

Now whether you are talking about Cool Hand Luke, or The Shawshank Redemption, or Papillion or The Great Escape (Steve McQueen as the great movie escape artist?) or any other “breakout” movie you are really talking about deprivation and invention. Societies of all kinds have used deprivation as the ultimate punishment. Maybe it was being banned from the tribal lands, sent to a penal colony in Australia, or as we do today placing those who break the rules behind bars and away from the rest of us. Regardless the idea that depriving people from normal social interaction is punishment invariable leads to “hero” stories of those figure out a clever way to overcome their restraints and in doing so, at least in the Hollywood world, teach us something bigger about the human spirit. It’s a classic story stereotype. But that is OK as there are afterall only seven stories in the history of mankind and all that we do is refresh and localise them.

So deprivation and the creation that comes from it is ingrained as a culturally accepted norm.  We like Cool Hand Luke not just because Paul is great looking and that the bit part players are a laundry list of some of the great characters actors of 60s Hollywood. We like it because it makes us feel good. Here is a troubled soul, a restless spirit and here is how he reacts to deprivation

Deprivation that, incidentally, he bought on himself because in greater society he still felt deprived of knowing how he was supposed to fit. So here is a great story of some one having less than we might think the normal situation, and finding inventive ways to entertain themselves, to gain self respect, to tell ‘the man” where he can go. With scene after scene of creativity.

Now why don’t market researchers think about that a bit more. Of course they have. There are lot’s of examples of deprivation studies. Lot’s of examples of marketers “taking away” something that would be scene as normal and seeing what it teaches them. Why not more ?? To ask a bunch of questions, to search massive data sets for patterns of behavior is all well and good. But how often does it lead to confirmation rather than discovery. Ask someone to react to a given stimulus and it soon gets easy to predict. Ask people to fill in a blank with no boundaries and you go off in whole new directions.

My good friend Vanessa Oshima and I have talked about the role of deprivation a lot. And fortunately the organising committee at this years ESOMAR Congress have agreed to give us some main stage time to share our own experiences of quite often by accident discovering that being deprived of something gave us more than expected. Examples like the benefit of not listening the the discussion in focus groups, just watching. Or what happens when you force people to be deprived of a favourite object, a usual stimulus, or any stimulus at all. What you get is results you probably did not predict. Because just like Luke deprivation makes you creative. Go watch that “i can eat 50 eggs” scene again and think about it as testament to our ability to create entertainment from anything when deprived of what we would normally do on our day off. Then think about how interesting it might be in research what people would do if they could not do what is at all normal. I will guarantee new product ideas will flow.

Less is More. Nice idea, coolly played.


Improving Insight Skills, Status, and Impact

Ray Poynter on his upcoming No Nonsense Tour in the United States.



By Ray Poynter

Ray Presenting in Japan

I have just finished an extended visit to Japan where I was lucky enough to be involved in a wide range of projects aimed at energising and advancing insight and market research. I am looking forward to sharing the benefits acquired from this trip with colleagues in North America and globally (find out about my October 2015 No Nonsense Tour of the USA by clicking here).

The approach in Japan was to provide an integrated collection of courses and materials to help move the insight profession forward, rather than just focusing on individual topics.

The sorts of projects I was involved in included:

Ray Teaching in Japan

  • Running trainingworkshopswithShiggy Kishikawa’s JMRX organisation on topics as varied as:
    • What is hot in market research
    • Big data and advanced analytics
    • Trends in presenting
    • From data to storytelling
  • Presenting with Tomoko Yoshida at the ESOMAR Best of Japan event on why and how Japanese researchers could create a bigger impact.
  • Teaching a semester on market research at one of the local universities, using the ESOMAR book ‘Answers to Contemporary Market Research Questions’ as the course text.
  • Session with clients and supplier agencies looking at analysis, storytelling, mobile research, and the process of taking global market research trends and applying them to specific countries, verticals and situations.

Handbook of Mobile Market ResearchThe big lesson that was learned was that insight progress is improved when organisations combine the best of the local with the best of the global, to help identify a plan with impact.

Next, the USA
My next opportunity is to work with GreenBook, Research Now, and Schlesinger Associates to bring a similar impetus for change to the USA. We have organised a tour of workshops for October, covering New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Chicago. The workshops will focus on 3 themes

  1. What works
  2. What does not work (yet)
  3. And what you should be doing now!

The tour is called the No Nonsense Tour because it is going to share the good, the bad and the ugly, to help people learn from the local and global picture to enable them to optimise their 2016 insight performance.

WebsiteThe tour includes 3 different workshops, and all the workshops will be led by me, Ray Poynter, with assistance from local experts:

  • Mobile Market Research
  • Social Media Research
  • Creating Integrated Insights

Find out more about the Tour and/or book a place by clicking here.


As an Industry, We Need to Unite!  Or Do We?

Trade orgs have to accept the fact that they can’t simultaneously stand for change while at the same time serving the current needs of their core base.


By Kevin Lonnie

Dramatic speeches, lively debates, predictions of an impending Armageddon for traditional MR have all been met with a collective yawn.

There seems something noble in the idea of an umbrella organization that would lead/protect and strengthen the MR industry.  But nobility doesn’t always take into consideration practicality and most importantly; need.

Personally, I think we’re doing just fine.   Which is a good thing because I don’t see how any one organization can take on a Lord of the Rings approach to rule them all.

The rise of big data, text analytics, behavioral data, co-creation, neuromarketing and don’t even get me started on mobile have splintered our industry beyond recognition.

That’s why I think it’s damn near impossible for one organization to put a universal arm around all this chaos.  And that’s not a bad thing.  Niche organizations should focus on the concerns of their members and stay on top of issues for them.

Organic flow is happening all the time.  We see it all the time in our client’s industries, whether they’re in media, energy, pharma, CPG or transportation, the business model is constantly evolving.

For my fellow researchers, the only constant is the essence of our mission; providing customer intelligence to inspire, inform and make better decisions.

The larger trade orgs have to accept the fact that they can’t simultaneously stand for change while at the same time serving the current needs (e.g. quality control, government lobbying) of their core base.  Therefore, they will toe the line and try to serve both factions by providing a vision for the future while at the same time securing a safe haven for those who chose to slog it out with yesterday’s toolkit.

This will open the doors wide open for more and more niche orgs to emerge.  Not to mention the proliferation of niche news sources which seem to pop up every few months.

In another 20 years, we’ll still be talking (and talking) about the same crisis.  There will be a group advocating for the quick adoption of the latest tools.  There will be a larger group using the tools of the mid-21st century researcher, all of which were considered cutting edge way back in 2015.

Maybe some cutting edge Silicon Valley firm will figure out a way to do virtual man on the street interviews using pop-up holograms.  Which simply means a century of breakthrough technology will allow us to achieve exactly what George Gallup was doing in 1935.

In the words of “R.E.M”, it’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.


Desperately Seeking Human

Why we need to find the human soul within a brand.


By Michelle Turner

So, let’s play a game. I’ll call it “What Do These Customer Experience Wins Have in Common?” Here goes:

Customer Experience Win #1: After a storm claim debacle with our insurance company, our agent made the seemingly impossible business save by providing empathy for the claim denial, creatively finding us repair funds, and garnering us an improved policy going forward. He was straightforward and authentic.

Customer Experience Win #2: During a recent visit to the AT&T store to get a new device, a representative truthfully offered up that if it was her she’d go elsewhere to buy the device. While a loss for AT&T at face value, my loyalty increased tenfold because of her refreshingly honest service.

Customer Experience Win #3: My favorite online clothing retailer Boden brightens my day with British humor in every communication, survey requests and even emails signed by the founder, and even recently a kids catalog that allowed my children to create their own custom catalog cover. The clever, quirky, and fun brand personality makes me smile every time I get a shipping confirmation email stating that my “lovingly packaged parcel was now winging its way my direction.”

What does each of these experiences have in common?

A) They won over a tired, busy professional and mom who is easily delighted by little “wins” in her day.
B) They showed an authentic and genuine side of their brand.
C) They connected with me on a very human level.
D) All of the above

I suspect that I don’t need to tell you the answer.

The digital world we live in today has brought countless improvements to our lives, but it also has inundated us with more information, offers, and personalized communications than we can realistically consume. To survive we’ve become selective. For companies to stand out of the clutter, you have to do something truly special – connect with me on a very personal and human level.

As corporate distrust and disgust levels rise, consumers today are gravitating toward human brands that demonstrate empathy, honesty, and personality. Trendwatchers.com defines it in their 2015 Trend Report of the 16 consumer megatrends as those that “demonstrate genuine generosity, sympathy, and commitment to deeply help human values.”

Customers today are looking to do business with companies that are real. As CX professionals, how can we ensure that our consumer touchpoints reflect consumer desires for human brands? How can we make sure the survey experience builds the consumers’ perceptions of the brand and not detract from it? Here are a few thoughts of mine:

  1. Commit to the Long Haul with Longitudinal Measurement: Customers don’t have discrete experiences, but a lifecycle of experiences. Most of today’s CX measurement is marked by a single, long survey shortly after a transaction to collect data the company wants. Seems like a pretty one-sided relationship, eh? To create something real, we need to shift from this point in time model to one where we have an ongoing two way dialogue with customers throughout the entire customer lifecycle. The CX of the future will look at single threads of customer’s behaviors, emotions, and attitudes over time. The feel will be different – evolving from infrequent contact with the customer using a long, one sided questionnaire to one where we have shorter, ongoing, two-way dialogue with customers. This dialogue will give the company the experience information it requires, but more importantly, it will provide real value to customers through customer specific product information, support, product incentives, and more.
  2. Understand and Act on Their Emotional State: Connecting on a human level can be messy – filled with emotions from delighted to annoyed to downright frustrated. Understanding the nuances of these emotions can help companies more genuinely respond to customers. The CX of the future will help us respond instantly and accurately to the customer’s state of mind. Emotions are complex, but the capabilities to understand them are becoming increasingly more sophisticated – ranging from stated measurement constructs, to voice recognition technology, to advanced text analytic capabilities that move beyond positive and negative sentiment to measure a wider array of emotions.
  3. Connect With Your Customers: Creating a human brand really comes down to connecting with customers. What does connecting really look like? Perhaps having a cup of coffee with a friend or two at the local coffee shop. Give customers a chance to tell their story with unstructured open ends. Provide relevant communities or venues for customers to connect with the brand and other customers – not just for the sake of connection, but to provide them with useful information, incentives, listening platforms, and even entertainment. P&G’s Home Made Simple is a perfect example of this. Finally, ensure that real connection occurs when service failures arise. In addition to traditional hot alerts, text analytics can also be used to detect a wider variety of service failures in customer comments.
  4. Don’t Forget to Infuse Personality and Be Yourself: Your brand has an image and a personality to convey. It is what sets your brand apart from others. Don’t forget about it during the CX process. Make sure you include language and graphic elements, when appropriate, that foot to the brand customers would expect to see in any of your other communications. Be human in your language. It’s easy to fall into “researcher speak.” If you were sitting across the table from a close friend gathering their opinion, would you ask your questions the same way? Make it conversational and keep it real. Let your brand personality shine through in every way.

As customers, we want to work with brands that create a meaningful dialogue with us throughout our relationship with the company. We want a company to respond to our broad range of emotions empathetically and appropriately. We want to see evidence of honesty and transparency. We would like to be part of brand communities that are not just for the sheer sake of connection, but that provide real value through practical help, incentives, news, and even entertainment. And, if we can ask for just one more thing, we will take a splash of brand personality and fun too.


The Memefication of Insights

Driving new and powerful insights from consumers is silver, but doing something meaningful with those stories, something in support of corporate goals, is gold!
The Memefication of Insights


By co-authored with Anouk Willems

The Problem: Low Return on Consumer Insights (ROI)

More than ever, demonstrating impact is the name of the game for professional marketing services agencies. From our recent Market Research (MR) Impact study (2014), we know that only 45% of insight professionals & marketers believe research succeeds in changing the attitudes and decision of marketers and only 1 in 2 projects leads to change (Schillewaert et al, 2014). This lack of impact is not a matter of budget. Rather than spending more, the critical driver for impact is to maximize the value of spending (BCG study, 2009). Based on 20+ in-depth interviews with MR professionals from the client side, we have identified 11 unmet needs related to the future of consumer insights. While ten of those frictions relate to creating a positive business impact with consumer stories, only one is about finding better insights (Willems et al, 2015). So, the goal is to trigger meaningful actions which turn insights into concrete ideas, stronger brands and future-proof business concepts to deliver better consumer experiences. The million dollar question is: How do we trigger these meaningful actions across the organization in order to create a positive business impact? And how can the insight professional of tomorrow do this in an efficient yet effective way?

The Solution: Going from ‘Insights’ to ‘Memes’

For people to take action on a consumer insight, they first need to learn what the insight is about. In traditional MR, only a limited group of people is involved in this knowledge exchange by e.g. participating in the debrief workshop or managing the research study themselves. This limited group is then able to shape an insight platform by adding own thoughts, observations and/or ideas. By involving a wider group of employees, one better understands the consumer and able to make better consumer relevant decisions. Furthermore, the theory of open innovation teaches us that ‘the one golden idea’ can come from anywhere in the organization, not only marketing or innovation (Whelan, 2011). To increase the impact, all employees across the organization need to learn what the friction is in order to share related observations and ideas. For example, by experiencing how consumers are using their product today, employees see what can be improved. When such an insight is replicated by employees by adding own observations and ideas, it is shared with various people across the organization and it triggers action, the insight is called a ‘meme’ (Dawkins, 1989). An illustration of such a meme is what we did at ATAG, a leading supplier of kitchen appliances. ATAG wanted to move away from a product-driven strategy and introduce a consumer-driven approach (‘cook-centered thinking’). In order to make this shift, they needed to create an internal belief for their new strategy. We invited 400 internal stakeholders to discover the consumer insights and experience themselves how strong the emotion ‘passion for cooking’ can be. The #welovecooks experience engaged over 170 employees, who contributed 125 observations, and resulted in 13 potential internal projects identified by the crowd. The new strategy was shared among employees and turned into the #welovecooks meme.

To turn an insight into a meme, insight professionals need to move away from the traditional research model and shift on 3 levels to establish the ‘Memefication of Insights’:

    1. From reporting to involving (#experience): While 92% of insight professionals believes their research generates insight worth sharing with colleagues, only 65% extensively shares them with their organization. Furthermore, only 1 in 5 researchers organizes interactive workshops to discuss results (Schillewaert et al, 2014). All too often, MR takes such an individualistic approach where executives need to identify their own actions when reading research reports. However, to trigger meaningful actions, insight professionals need to bring insights to life through interaction. Therefore, we have identified 4 building blocks when marketing insights; harvesting, seeding, activating and collaborating. Through ‘harvesting’, we collect insights from internal stakeholders which are already known. Secondly, ‘seeding’ enables insights managers to spread insights via key ambassadors in a relevant way through the organization. ‘Activating’ triggers stakeholders to not only discover but also interact with insights. Finally, ‘collaborating’ connects stakeholders to work together and turn insights into actions and new future projects. At Unilever R&D the combination of these building blocks lead to 640 involved employees of the 1000 invitees, which triggered more conversations about their consumers on the work floor, measured with an increase from 12% to 55%.
    2. From teams to the organization (#reach): In traditional MR, consumer stories and insights are often discovered and owned by the MR department. However, in order to trigger meaningful actions, the insight needs to be co-owned by all employees. First of all, we want extend the MR reach from executives to management to enable higher management to take long-term decisions with a consumer context in mind. Secondly, we involve the front-line employees, who are in almost daily contact with consumers, to shape their consumer feeling and ultimately improve their performance. Finally, involving all other employees that have a rather indirect relationship with the consumer creates a better understanding of the consumer context of the business, making them more motivated as an employee in general. The extension of MR reach calls for a layered approach, like we did for the Belgian bus company ‘De Lijn’ where involved their whole organization with consumer insights about their Gen Y passenger. We seeded the top 10 insights during an internal conference with 200 top managers, we organized a speed date for executives to meet their consumers and finally we activated all stakeholders to play the Gen Y passenger quiz to interact with the key insights.
    3. From projects to habit creation (#structural): For most employees, working with consumer insights is not a routine. If you wish to trigger meaningful actions and enable employees to turn the insight into a meme, it is of great importance that consumer relevant inspirations are integrated into their daily jobs. By identifying the employees’ motivations and behaviours, we can better trigger when and how to use consumer insights on a regular basis. If we learn to shift towards habits, we will be more successful in triggering meaningful actions and increase the impact of consumer insights on the business. For Unilever R&D, we immersed 1000 employees with their consumer in 6 weeks’ time through testing their consumer knowledge through mini-quizzes and organizing collaboration sessions to close their knowledge gaps. As a result of integrating these consumer insight routines, we not only improved their gut feeling but also shaped their ‘consumer feeling’ with a relative increase of 81% (De Ruyck et al, 2012).

Co-Mingling Survey Data with Marketing Data Provides the Context Management is Seeking

Dapresy North America’s President, Rudy Nadilo, explains how to get everyone in your company on the same page by co-mingling your data.

Figure 3


By Rudy Nadilo

Traditionally, when marketing research has presented study results to senior management, they’ve only employed those specific findings. But today, senior management is increasingly interested in how results from one part of the business (e.g. customer satisfaction) correlate with findings from other parts of the business (e.g. advertising spend, social media mentions, sales, etc.). And they want them presented in a way that makes comparing results easy. Far too many marketing research execs can attest to the nightmares of using PowerPoint to accomplish this. But with the advent of online reporting systems, co-mingling data has become far easier and more practical.

Consider a management request to report on customer satisfaction. Depending upon the industry, they may request this report weekly, monthly or quarterly. Historically this has meant going into isolation for hours to create scores of slides for each of several decks that are created for different business needs. Top management may want to see the results presented one way, while product management and sales have separate interests. Beyond the obvious labor challenges, working in this manner makes errors more likely and, in the end, none of the versions really meet the exact needs of a given group.

That gap likely becomes even more evident during meetings with each of these stakeholders. Perhaps the CEO sees a sales dip in March and asks if that coincides with an advertising lull. The head of Product Marketing sees the satisfaction score down in June and questions the impact of that big consumer event. Then the Sales VP sees a dip and asks about the correlation with last summer’s spending cut. One week and many hours of PowerPoint hell later, each group is presented with updated information that may answer most of their questions.

One particularly egregious example of this problem comes to mind. I was working with a large technology company that regularly used PowerPoint slides to present research findings to management. The firm’s CMO related the following:

Anyone who has been in marketing research for countless years has had presentations that are made in silos with no context to other programs or the overall health of the business. In our case, the brand research was presented in a silo and all the core brand metrics were reviewed separately. And where there were areas of issue, such as customer preference, social media measurements, etc., a deeper dive was conducted. This process typically took us weeks, and sometimes months to execute. Once these “key findings” were made, the results were presented to senior management — again in a silo. Results were often one dimensional and had no view of other components of the business.

We weren’t alone in this — this same process was also true for Sales, which put together its own PowerPoint slides. I recall that on one occasion, I was tasked by our president to develop and present an update on our quarterly view of loyalty of our customer relationships via the Net Promoter Score and loyalty ratings from our Customer Satisfaction research. You can see what these slides looked like in Figure 1and Figure 2. When the dust settled and management had evaluated what they had seen, I was chided for some key findings that completely missed the mark. In this case, I hadn’t connected that there was a relationship between our drop in customer satisfaction and brand preference with our decline in sales in a specific region. Had I known about the additional trends, I could have adjusted our advertising and social media campaigns to possibly address these shortfalls. But between the time it took us to separately put together presentations, present them and the “discovery phase,” I estimate that we lost about four weeks in adjusting our advertising/media/social media campaign. I can assure you that shortly after this fiasco, we looked into online presentation systems that allow you to quickly co-mingle data.


Figure 1:

Figure 1

Figure 2:

Figure 2

The good news is that an online presentations system can solve this issue and eliminate the need to manually stitch together results from separate parts of the business. It may be able to co-mingle survey data, sales data, factory shipments, advertising ratings, sales transactions, and others by accepting SPSS, Excel, CSV, Triple-S data formats, etc.

One of the biggest benefits is getting everyone on the same page. Because while it’s too easy to lose track of different versions created for different groups, an online presentation system can ensure that everyone is using the same core set of data. It also puts things in context, since by importing other information on research and events, the information can be presented in a manner that easily lets your specific audience see correlations and obtain actionable insights. And, as must be obvious by now, it can streamline the production and the deployment of accurate information.

Getting back to the first customer satisfaction example above, moving from PowerPoint to an online reporting system that co-mingles data could reveal that lowered advertising GRPs coincided with one drop, reduced spending may have impacted another and a strong consumer event positively impacted a third. This insightful information would be based on real data vs. management guesses, would be available immediately without the time and effort required for building additional slides and would negate the need to schedule and attend more meetings.

Recently, I heard from a CMO at a large technology company that successfully used this approach. Here’s what she told me:

We had built an umbrella dashboard that enabled us to immediately view multiple continuous market research tracking programs, including overall satisfaction by region, brand health as it related to awareness, consideration and preference, Advertising GRP’s and social media trends, along with key sales figures to identify any issues. You can see an example of our dashboard in Figure 3. It shows that while total sales were up and on plan, the Eastern region was down substantially at minus 12 percent. At the same time, we saw that Overall Satisfaction was down in the East and “Preference” from the brand study was also down two percent. Furthermore, Sentiment was down, indicating that social media mentions were negative.


Figure 3:

Figure 3

It became obvious to us immediately that there was an issue in our Eastern Region, as both sales and overall satisfaction were significantly lower there. Coupled with that, was a reduced overall preference for the brand and a significant increase in negative social media mentions of us.

While this graphic shows one dimension of the data for each of these different sources, the data was dynamic and so we were able to click on the preference information, see what was driving the decline in preference, and click on social media data to get a better understanding of what was driving sentiment down.

Once we had the data we wanted, we checked with some other departments, including the Support Center. They confirmed that the issues associated with customer satisfaction, preference and social sentiment originated because of a problem with a component of a product that we distribute in our Eastern Region. This faulty component was causing our product to overheat and shut down. I was relieved that we found the answer so quickly, but also alarmed when I realized that these dissatisfied customers were driving the negative results in the transactional customer satisfaction program, the drop in preference and were behind the large increase in negative sentiment on social media. And to this day, I don’t fully understand why Support didn’t identify this issue to management earlier.

While our “single source of truth” dashboard using co-mingled data did not prevent the faulty component issue, it helped us more quickly identify that there was an issue in the East so that we could address it faster. And while it’s hard to put a price tag on that, we know that all of the marketing areas that had fallen were on the upswing again within a few months after we were able to fix the supplier issue.

To the technology company and all others that are using commingling capabilities, I say, “Congratulations on getting out of PowerPoint hell!”

This article was originally posted on the Dapresy Blog.


CASRO Transformation Series: Vision Critical – A Vision of Transformation

Jeff Resnick continues the CASRO Transformation Series and uses Vision Critical as an example of being one of the most transformative companies in the industry .


By Jeff Resnick of Stakeholder Advisory Services



Vision Critical began 15 years ago with a disruptive concept – that research could be a much more engaging experience for respondents through the use of better visuals and more interesting ways for companies and their consumers to collaborate on research efforts.  It is somewhat poetic, therefore, that this month’s installment of Transform focuses on this highly innovative company (continually ranked in the top five of GRIT’s most innovative companies) from the standpoint of its own strategy for “winning”.   Andrew Reid, founder of Vision Critical, shares the insight gained during the firm’s 15 years of growth to over C$100 million in annual revenues. Vision Critical is a cloud-based customer intelligence platform that helps companies build engaged, secure communities of customers they can use continuously, across the enterprise, for ongoing, real-time feedback.  Let’s take a look at how this developer of Insight Communities has achieved its tremendous growth.

Recognize it is all about value creation.  Andrew is emphatic that the primary mission of any business is to create value – for its clients, employees and shareholders.  The creation of value is not a static event and is the raison d’être for transformation.   What creates value today is not what will create value tomorrow.  Understanding the elements of value creation is essential to a successful business strategy.  The move to a subscription model for Vision Critical’s services is a prime example of value creation.

Get excited about what competitors are doing, then leverage the learning.   Andrew’s film school background launched his career in market research with a different perspective – one which results in the company looking beyond the horizons of market research for a vision of the future.   He is clearly an advocate of embracing new technology – not a surprise as the DNA of a technology company is firmly embedded in Vision Critical. However, he also sees lessons in the success of companies such as LinkedIn, a firm Andrew believes has mastered ongoing engagement with its digital audience.  LinkedIn members are able to reap multiple benefits from the relationship beyond simply being a source of job prospects or the “new resume”.   Its members are able to quantify their “digital self”, including understanding how their behaviors are driving profile visits, where they stand relative to others in their peer set and facilitating activities that can change their digital rankings – all in an environment where LinkedIn has earned the trust of its members.

Move the cheese – often.  The message from the business bestseller “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson M.D. is be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again and again.   This is a key theme for Vision Critical.  As Spencer Johnson wrote “you have to smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old and the quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese”.   Andrew believes Vision Critical has been really good at reading the industry tea leaves.  Their dramatic growth from C$5 million in 2006 to more than C$100 million today argues they have been.  Perhaps the “move the cheese” lesson is one that our industry needs to take more to heart.

Accept the pain of focus.  As Andrew said during the interview, “In today’s world, it is hard to be the best at everything”.  Vision Critical has opted to set its sights on being the very best in the world at Insight Communities.  He spoke of a very painful decision to move away from a well-performing service offering.   The primary motivating factor was a belief that if Vision Critical did not focus on Insight Communities, they would fall short of their goal to be the best in the world. Focus is never easy but the market research world has not been kind to generalists of late.

Take it global.  No one will argue that we live in a global village.  “Think global, act local” is as relevant a message today as a decade ago.  Insight Communities are highly attractive around the world.  However, nuances exist in various markets.   Communities developed by Vision Critical in Singapore and Germany have unique characteristics to align with cultural expectations.  This represents yet another aspect of transformation – global adaption.

Keep the compass on your True North.  For Vision Critical, the confidence in their ability to scale lies in the executive team’s alignment with the company’s True North.  This assures everyone will make decisions from a similar framework, maintain the essence of their cultural values and focus on the same ultimate goals.

Vision Critical was born out of disruption and remains an example of much needed innovation in our industry today.  We know what Vision Critical looks like as a C$100+ million company.  The real intrigue lies in what it will look like as a potential C$1 billion company in the years ahead.   I have no doubt it will get there.


Microsoft Aims To Disrupt Market Research: Here Is The Scoop And What It Means For The Future

Microsoft officially joined the research technology supplier industry, with a potentially highly disruptive offering called Pulse for Market Research.



As long predicted, tech giants are making more and more forays into the research space. Driven by the ubiquity of data available across integrated platforms and the demand for greater efficiencies in cost, speed, and differentiated insights Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and many others have launched various models of research offerings. Today Microsoft officially joined the club, with a potentially highly disruptive offering called Pulse for Market Research, which is an extension of their Bing Pulse product line.

The new solution, which is available now for free, offers more advanced functions, like live streaming and moderated response groups, than any competitor on the market today. Pulse for Market Research empowers researchers to collect data and garner insights in real-time, and researchers can set up and host moderated response groups within minutes, giving respondents the ability to communicate their views instantaneously and in-depth.

Participants can use any internet-connected phone, tablet, or PC to respond to questions and can vote on or rate an embedded video stream, advertisement, discussion, meeting, or audio feed.

The product development was led by the legendary researcher Mark Penn, Chief Insights Officer at Microsoft. Mark was a principle of Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) and is widely renowned as one of the preeminent strategy and insights consultants in the world. That is important because it means this offering has been guided so far by a world class strategist who is also a brilliant researcher, which is different than the path similar products by other tech companies have followed. Now the buzz is that Mark is leaving Microsoft to start a VC firm focused on marketing and research plays, but this product has been mapped out already and you can bet your bottom dollar that this early beta version is just the first step in the development of a very mature product suite that will have big implications for market research suppliers and clients.

It’s also interesting to note that the free solution is in line with the new strategy of the company. CEO Satya Nadella is driving the company to a “post-paid software” model, as evidenced by their recent decisions regarding free upgrades to Windows 10 and even free versions of popular Office products Word and Excel. Considering Microsoft has 1.5 billion users, their decision to focus on “the platform” vs. a more traditional product-centric strategy makes good sense. As Google, Facebook and Apple have shown, keeping users expanding their footprint via platform usage extensions works. What is unique about Microsoft however is that the majority of their business is with corporations rather than consumers. Microsoft is the platform that the vast majority of businesses run on, so beginning to build in insights tools for those users is synergistic, to say the least.

Similar to my analysis when Google Consumer Surveys launched, my key takeaways on why this is big news for the market research industry are:

  • Further disruption from big, data-driven tech giants of the data collection piece of market research
  • The possibilities for platform extensions via Office, Cloud, XBox, Skype, Windows, and all of the other various offerings that Microsoft owns could drive fast adoption
  • Microsoft has been suspected as a possible suitor for SalesForce, Qualtrics and Survey Monkey so the potential integration of any of those three platforms could be monumentally disruptive
  • The further “democratization” of research via even more DIY solutions

All of that is conjecture and possible implications though, so what do we know about the product today? First, it’s helpful to step back and look at the Bing Pulse tool as a whole. The embed below from the home page sets the stage:



And now what does Microsoft say about the release themselves? Here is an excerpt from the press release:


Gaining insights from current and potential customers is increasingly the difference between success and failure for businesses and brands around the world. Knowing those insights in real-time can give any organization an edge in the marketplace and competitive advantage over their peers.

As part of our mission to empower professionals and enterprises small and large, Microsoft’s Bing Pulse is announcing today the availability of Pulse for Market Research – a self-service solution for surveys, live content rating, and moderated response groups of any size.

Bing Pulse for Market Research is the latest offering by Bing Pulse, a leading solution for real-time TV audience engagement. The new product is now available for free and supports instant sentiment tracking and surveys for response groups, ad and video tests, and audience studies of any size. Researchers are able to set up and host a moderated study group within minutes, giving their respondents the ability to communicate their views instantaneously and in-depth. Researchers collect data and garner insights instantly and for free and without conventional hardware limitations, and the insights can be compared across sessions or can be downloaded for further analysis and later reference.

Participants respond from any internet-connected phone, tablet, or PC to questions and can vote on or rate an embedded video stream, advertisement, discussion, meeting, or audio feed.

“This revolutionary product will be a boon for any market research company,” noted Mark Penn, Chief Insights Officer at Microsoft, who founded and led his own market research firm for 35 years, and oversaw the development of the product. “We have put a powerful new tool in the hands of market researchers that offers unlimited quantitative feedback for ad tests, product tests, audience response, and much more, without any capital investment.”

“The days of dinner-time landline calls or expensive clickers in remote focus groups are gone,” added Josh Gottheimer, General Manager of the Strategy and Insights Group at Microsoft. “Demand for mobile surveys is increasing and smartphones and tablets are the new preferred medium through which insights are collected. Pulse for Market Research is at the vanguard of that trend and offers a best in class and mobile market research platform for any researcher, marketer, and business managers out there. ”

Pulse for Market Research offers brands, research organizations, and professionals an important array of features, including:

• Pulsing (stimulus response) and Polling (survey) functions which allow researchers to gain feedback at any point before, during, and after an event, a video stream, or content pushed out for respondents.
• The ability to live stream a video or event through Azure Media Services or Ustream.
• Customizable voting pages that create branded experiences for each session and organization.
• API access to gather the raw data in real-time.
• Researchers can upload content for participants in the platform, and if wanted, participants can exchange ideas and thoughts with one another through Yammer chat-rooms.
• Pulse for Market Research runs a simple web interface that works on any connected device and can be iFramed into any website or app.

To learn more about Pulse for Market Research and sign-up for it, please visit: http://pulse.bing.com/pulse-for-research/.


In essence Bing Pulse is a free, globally scalable tool designed for device agnostic, real-time audience research. There is no limit on the number of participants; it is free regardless of whether you are capturing data from 12 or 12 million respondents.

That is what it does today, but what will it be like in the future? What’s the strategy behind this launch?

To answer that question I spoke with Lee Brenner, Global Business Development & Media Partnerships Lead at Microsoft, and Dritan Nesho, Senior Strategist, Strategy and Special Projects, at Microsoft. We had a great conversation about the history of this initiative, the strategy behind it, and what the future will look like. I didn’t record the conversation, but I’ll try to convey the high points.

First, this product has been in development since 2012, and came out of an observation by Mark Penn and Dritan (who also came from PSB) that the ability to get real time feedback from audiences, especially during live events such as political speeches, debates, or announcements was very limited. They thought that Microsoft could help address that issue with their technology and began testing early versions of the platform with multiple media outlets like CNN and MSNBC. By partnering with them, combined with their own experience as researchers and the support of the technical and research resources at Microsoft, they have refined the system over the past several years until they felt it was robust enough to stand alone.

Bing Pulse sits as a start-up within Microsoft, so the initial drive is going to be to grow their user base, hence the free beta. Long term who knows if it will stay free as the focus shifts to profitability, although as I mentioned above Microsoft is focusing less on software sales and more on enterprise and platform services so it’s entirely possible they will adopt a “Survey Monkey” type model.

Speaking of Survey Monkey, they are absolutely planning on continuing to roll out new features and capabilities, especially within their survey tool, to make it comparable to similar platforms. Bear in mind that also means continuing to expand the qualitative capabilities, something which their closest competitors do not have. They already have integrated asynchronous community capabilities via Yammer and enhanced video group functions via Skype and in the next few months they will be introducing tools like annotation/tagging, real time crosstabbing within their already impressive dashboards, and the ability to import/export data. The vision today is to offer a self-service, enterprise level  platform that can go head-to-head with any other on the market.

For now there is no plan to open the platform to 3rd party developers or open a marketplace model, so all currently planned platform extensions will be driven through internal development resources.  In addition, they are sensitive to privacy issues so there is no plan to participate in any aspect of sampling or recruiting other than what occurs through embedding their widget into other sites for site intercepts, and even then they do not capture or store any PII (which should make growth in Europe much easier!).

In terms of use cases, they have designed the tool to be a real-time feedback system and are going to roll out a suite of specific tools designed for iterative, agile testing of virtually any stimuli. Because it’s already built to encompass dynamic media or to be iframed into any other site, the possibilities for testing concepts, creative and messages as well as usability are exciting. Although we didn’t discuss it, I would not be at all surprised to see them develop norms from these tests and to push these services through their ad networks and Bing as advertising optimization tools.

Oh, and did I mention it was FREE?!

Finally, they are in discussions with every other product line in Microsoft to explore integration, so long term it’s entirely possible we will see Bing Pulse options on Xbox, MS Office, Office 365/Office Live,  Minecraft and even HoloLens, although as of today those are just ideas.

Any regular readers of this blog knows that for many years I have said that the days of the research industry owning quantitative data collection are over, and that tech platforms have irretrievably taken over that very sizable chunk of the research industry. Certainly there are still exceptions to that rule such as telephone or face-to-face, but those are increasingly niche methods. For the vast majority of commercial research the future belongs to technologists. Qualitative has been an exception to that truth as well despite many advances in online qual techniques, but now Microsoft is making a major effort to do to qual what DIY platforms did to quant years ago.

More than anything else, this move from Microsoft should reinforce the fact that it’s time for research suppliers to aggressively shift their business models to either add value with unique and differentiated technology (or data) offerings of their own, or make the shift to pure insights consultancies and partner with the Microsofts, Googles, Amazons, etc.. of the world to use their tools to deliver impactful insights to brands.  That is certainly something Microsoft hopes to see happen, and they will continue to devote the resources to help support that vision,  so we can either be partners with them, or make way for others to do so.

So what’s my bottom line? Bing Pulse for Research is still somewhat limited, but like other tech company entrants into the market the product will evolve in response to market demand. Brands are already flocking to “cheaper, faster, better” and self-service solutions so I expect more of the same with Bing Pulse. It doesn’t replace the need for some operational elements of research like respondent acquisition or project management, nor is there any level of consultancy here, so there is plenty of room for research organizations to incorporate this tool into their toolbox. However, the free nature certainly disrupts the business models of many companies who play in both quant and qual, with any virtual qual (including MROC) providers facing a significant new challenge.

We’ll be hearing much more from Microsoft over the next few years, so get ready now.


How Fetch Rewards Is Going To Disrupt Shopper Insights Forever

Interview with Wes Schroll, CEO of Fetch Rewards, the Insight Innovation Competition winner at IIeX Atlanta.


The Insight Innovation Competition continues to be the funnel for innovative start-ups that are making an impact in the insights industry. Past winners are all making their mark in transforming the industry by supporting new business models and methods that create differentiated insights. Past winners include:

Winners (1)

And now the most recent winner, Fetch Rewards, is joining this fantastic group.

Fetch Rewards was a “Wild Card” selection to present at the live judging round of the Insight Innovation Competition at IIeX in Atlanta last month, going up against an amazing group of finalists that included OpinionsApp, EyeSee, SWAY, Dataga.me, and Metametrix.

They presented in front of an august panel of judges comprised of JD Deitch (Ipsos), Tanya Franklin (Lowes), Ryan Patel (Pinkberry), Kay Iwaisako (Ricoh Ventures), Andrew Reid (Vision Critical), and Jeff Krentz (WPP). Using a 10-point scale for each category, judges rated each presentation on:

  • Originality of concept
  • Presentation quality
  • Market potential
  • Scalability
  • Ease of Implementation

The end result? Fetch Rewards was the clear winner and took home a check for $25,000 to add to their already impressive investment haul.

So what’s the big deal?

In essence, Fetch has built a model to own the value chain between retailers, manufacturers and consumers by empowering the consumers in the store to make the experience easier. Everything from shopping lists to coupons/deals and checkout can be managed through their platform. And that means they are effectively a single-source solution at the consumer level for shopper data.  To make it even cooler, research is part of their DNA and the ability to not just access aggregated data but to target consumers for surveys and ethnographic studies as well as to engage in marketing programs are all part of the platform.

The potential for disruption on multiple fronts is simply huge.

Here is an excerpt from Fetch Rewards competition entry (you really should read the whole thing to appreciate the opportunity!):

We are innovating how shoppers, brands, and retailers interact and engage in the in-store environment by driving value to all three constituents through our smartphone app and patent-pending hardware at POS. Fetch Rewards is a grocery shopping smartphone app that incentivizes users to shop by scanning every item in the store in return for savings and virtual cash back. Since every action in-store is captured on our platform, we give brands a deep and granular look at exactly what the shoppers are doing in-store, what they buy, in what order they buy them, whether they abandon products and why, how much time they spend in-store, and more. Our unique solutions allow brands to not only learn about shopper behavior, but also influence their path through store with our hyper-targeted, personalized deals given to shoppers based on their purchase behavior. This level of in-store insight is extremely hard to capture, given that existing solutions often involve in-store intercepts that bias behavior, or send you on missions in-store that take shoppers away from their usual routine. We have an end-to-end platform that truly captures the actions taken in-store.

I had the chance to chat with CEO Wes Schroll about their plans and am sharing that with you today to add more depth to the story. I had originally intended this to be a video interview, but due to a technical glitch we’ve transcribed the interview below. It’s informal, insightful, and chock full of great information about how Fetch is going to disrupt shopper insights forever, so enjoy!


Wes Schroll

Fetch Rewards CEO Wes Schroll with a Fetch user


Lenny: I am here today with the very special guest, Wes Schroll from Fetch Rewards, the winner of the latest Insight Innovation competition in Atlanta, with a heavy duty bunch of competitors but Fetch Rewards blew away the competition. Wes is going to tell us a little bit about what they’re doing and why they won, so Wes, welcome!

Wes: Thank you so much Lenny for having me here today, I’m excited to tell you a little bit more about it.

Lenny: So tell us about Fetch Awards for people who were not there and didn’t get a chance to experience what you guys are doing first hand.

Wes: Yeah absolutely, so at Fetch Awards we have actually created a mobile application that’s completely free for any customer to use, its available on any IOS or Android device, and it works at any of the grocery stores we have partnered with. From a customer’s perspective once they download the app it will take them to their home screen and look at all types of different coupons or deals that are available to them, on top of any sales the store is already offering. But really for us the bread and butter is the actual instore experience of the application that we’ve enabled by partnering with these different grocers. So when the customer actually pulls up the application and hits the “shop now” button, it’s going to pull up the camera for them, and they’ll be able to pull up the barcodes and scan any items that they are wanting to buy. Now every time they scan the item it’s actually going to look through our database of coupons and if there are any coupons that are relevant or actually could be applied on the product, it will let the customer know instantaneously so we can guarantee them it’s the cheapest way of shopping at that store.

On top of that, it will keep track of the running total and let them know exactly how much they are spending before they get to the checkout lane. We really focus on putting the information and the power in the customer’s hand as they go through out that shopping experience. They’re able to add every item in the store that they could possibly want and when they are ready to check out they will head up to the front end. There will be a single barcode on the customer’s phone, we will have some light integration that’s done on the front end lanes that make them fetch enabled. They will show that barcode to the cashier and transfer that information over into the point-of-sales system. The customer is then able to complete the transaction as they normally do with paying. It’s a quick speedy transaction as well on the grocers end, but that customers essentially getting out of there in twenty to thirty percent of the time on average that they would have normally taken to go through.

 Lenny: So how did you get the idea for the concept of this app?

Wes: When I was in school I went to the University of Wisconsin Madison and I was going from my freshman year over to my sophomore year, as most typically do, and for the first time in my life I was moving out of a dorm and into an apartment. For some reason I wanted to go see as many different grocers as I could. I went to Walmart, Target, some higher end grocery stores, and some local grocery stores. I was just trying to figure out what store I really wanted to shop at. No matter what the store was, there were the same fundamental issues and pain points across every one of these retailers that added up to me understanding why the experience just sucked in general. And it would be anything from not knowing what my running total was, and being a college student budgeting was a big issue, to not understanding why the checkout process had to be so convoluted. Why are you putting everything into the cart just to take it out and put it on a conveyor belt, have it scanned, and then put into a bag to be put back into the cart where it came from in the first place? That didn’t seem to be very logical.

Finally I think it was Target that actually had the audacity to print me off coupons for items that I absolutely would have bought while being in the store but they did it after the fact and I would lose those coupons by the time I would return back to the store. The whole process seemed so frustrating that I figured every single person has such a smart piece of technology in their pocket with the phones that they now have, why can’t we utilize that technology to really be able to enhance the experience of being a customer. So that’s kind of where we started it off at and grew the company ever since then, competing in business plan competitions very early on across the US to get our first seed capital and hire a team. Two years later we’ve grown, we’re still here in Madison, Wisconsin with about thirty four people full time. Now were just focused on the expansion of our retail partner network so we can make this available to as many customers as possible.

Lenny: That’s a great story. So, tell me about that expansion. Where are you now? What chains, what stores? What geography?

Wes: About two months ago we just finished up the beta side of the testing we have been doing. We got into about ten stores across different retail banners, some were independent, some were chains, and we worked with those retailers to test out the entire process from start to finish. We got really lucky in that our first partner, which later happened to be bought out by SpartanNash, were actually kind enough when we went into the store to tell us to not focus on making them more money or any additional benefits that our app could derive for that retailer, rather they told us to build the best user experience that we could possibly build because they believed in the long run that would be what would drive true loyalty to their store. The first year of development when we were really trying to figure out “what is our product and how will customers adapt it?” we really tried to focus one hundred percent on the customer experience; we didn’t care if it was going to increase basket size for retailers or increase through put unless that helped the customer. In the end, those were both byproducts of the platform that we created. Overall, we accomplished what we initially set out to do.

You were asking about the development of our sales channels; we have over thirty stores signed right now, mostly kind of independents. Through the rest of this year were going to move forward with over a hundred stores which are signed and ready to go with the Fetch platform, and were hoping that we will be able to do about ten times that next year to get up to a thousand retailers, which we absolutely believe is doable even with some of the larger chains that we are working with right now. Just that represents a hundred different stores alone, so we are well on our way of being able to achieve those numbers (which are actually fairly conservative numbers in my opinion.)

Lenny: That’s fantastic! Now, different retailers so it’s not just grocery? The application works across FMCG, CPG, etc?

Wes: So right now we initially decided to focus on grocery, because if you think about the one thing that everyone is doing on a weekly basis, grocery shopping is the only form of shopping that everyone is doing. We wanted to start there, be razor-sharp focused and make sure we had something that people wanted. Next year absolutely I think you will start to see us not only in grocery stores but in other auxiliary verticals that will complement the grocery presence that we have. So being able to use the Fetch application for that experience in a grocery store but then also being able to use it at the Ace Hardware next door or the Petco up the street, those type of stores. It would then be a great program for the customer, because they wouldn’t be running into the whole loyalty card program where they open up their wallet and have seven different loyalty cards when you can use the Fetch application across all these different retailers.

Lenny: Well something that’s becoming pertinent is the question: would you function as the “super loyalty card” across all these different retailers?

Wes: Well there absolutely is a reason why we branded as Fetch Rewards when we work with most retailers and sometimes it is that retailer powered by Fetch Rewards, but we like that idea that in order for a player to win in this space in what we’re trying to do here that we really need to be branded as a third party. Take Kayak.com for example, which is what I use to book all my travel. I’ve ran into the issue with Southwest Airlines. Southwest is a great airline, I love flying Southwest, but it isn’t a part of Kayak anymore, so I don’t fly Southwest anymore. But the power to be able to compile all of these other airlines and to be able to search across all of them, or even Uber where you can go to a new city and already know how that application works and be able to get to a car and get to where you need to go. That familiarity is what is going to trump because that’s what the customers are asking for. That’s what we think that we can provide.

Lenny: Well let’s talk more about the insight competition. Arguably I would say that the massive potential in the type of data you’re collecting is almost a byproduct of your solution. So what attracted you to figuring out a way in the Insight Innovation competition and what are your thoughts around your role within that category?

Wes: Yeah we have definitely identified that for us the end goal is getting to a scale of having enough users in our database where the data that we have is going to be a compelling asset that no one else in the industry is going to have and can really be used to glean insight into a number of different areas and we know we can absolutely get there. So for us insight is an area that is up and coming. As you mentioned and as I’ve been talking about, our initial focus was to hone in on the customer experience and growing our footprint but all of that has the byproduct of some really powerful data sets. So for us right now some of the things that were really trying to do is focusing on that and collecting the right information and processing it correctly and making sure that the system that were building is one that can solve a lot of problems.Big retailers need to see where that is we are going now as we move upward. For example we work with Craft Hind which has one of their employees in our office two days a week full time, who were just working with to understand what other areas we can continue to innovate around and that the insights that were throwing off of our platform will be able to solve questions that they have never actually been able to answer before. We have other partners that we’re working with right now like Clorox, Kimberley Clarke, and Wrigley who are all providing the same guidance and help while we pilot our program to make sure were building something in the long run that is really going to be able to benefit all three parties on our platform.



Lenny: So you are pretty disruptive to the current status quo; scanner data, being captured by the retailer, and then being resold to Nielsen or an IRI. Arguably you will be saying “Too bad, we will get more data.” Have you been approached by one of those companies yet? They haven’t said “Hey wait, what are you guys doing over here?” Would you partner with one of those companies? What’s your vision a few years down the road when you have a thousand retailers, millions of customers, recording all of their transactions throughout the day? That’s huge!

Wes: So I’m not sure of the perspective from an IRI or Nielsen that they have taken notice of what we’re doing yet, and that’s great for us because we have always been trying to stay under the radar until recently when we have started to come out of the woodworks. 

Lenny: Well I think they will now! Cats out of the bag buddy.

Wes: Well I think it’s actually good timing for the cat to be out of the bag because we are looking to partner with some of these leaders because this is a model that is designed to disrupt a number of different companies that work off of this industry and feed off of this industry, with scanner data being one of those main components. And as we have the power to scale up the data set and we have the granularity of it, we don’t even need quite as large of a sample size as they would need. One of the biggest defensive barriers that they have is their data size but that’s taken down just by the fact that we have better data. I think that that is really going to lead the disruption there, and that’s where we really view ourselves as the middleman between the brands and the retailers. The retailers are really drowning in all of this data that they have and not really knowing what to do with it or how to process it. And then you have brands on the other side who are trying to get more of that data and comparing different stores.

We’re trying to package that in a way to brands so they can make actual decisions off of it in a more meaningful way; retailers benefit right away because someone else who has more of the bandwidth and processing power will be able to make the decisions that will help their location quickly. So we want to view ourselves as saving the middleman. Now there will be a bunch of other auxiliary areas that we don’t tap into and that were looking to partner with other players in the industry to tackle these areas so that is something that we are certainly open to and will be looking forward towards those conversations. We know that this going to be disruptive, we are convinced of it, so we aren’t looking to hide, we want to get the best partners out there and figure out a way to be disruptive faster.

Lenny: So some would say, you are potentially one of the world’s largest single-source panels. You have to get there, but I see no reason why you wouldn’t expect to have around two million consumers on board within the next two years. That’s a fairly reasonable proposition. And at that level, when you start collecting not just shopping data but profile data, behavioral data. You start linking that to their Facebook profiles of all of their likes and dislikes that are recorded there, or asking questions. I think you’re asking questions now so you’re looking towards building that single-source asset that’s kind of omni channel in nature driven by behavior. Is that correct?

Wes: Absolutely, I think you hit the nail on the head there. I think one of the key differences that will differentiate us from any other source out there is that we may have this all-in-one panel set, but not a single one of those customers would view themselves as being a part of a panel. They are using the application because of the intrinsic values that drives them anyways so you’re illuminating that bias of those people who are going to be predisposed to wanting to partake in a panelist session. I think that’s why a lot of our brand partners are getting onboard and are wanting to work with us.

For the consumer the appeal is the ability to go to your local hardware store, or pet food store down the street, use the Fetch points, get your rewards, you’re your coupons, and check out faster through this application and really start to build a profile out of a life of shopping for that customer and really a life of shopping out of brick and mortar which otherwise doesn’t exist.

Lenny: That’s pretty inspiring man. We have picked some real winners over the last few years through this competition, but you are up near the top. Absolutely with the possibility of what you bring to the table. Which is of course a tendency for any of these winners, but it’s broad with the goals that you’ve set. It’s pretty amazing.

Wes: Yeah upfront I think we definitely understand that what we’re trying to do is very ambitious. However, the industry is coming to a point where every industry is going to be disrupted by this big data movement. Grocery is one of the ones where it is just starting to happen to and we can really be at the forefront of that and really lead that and bring in an age where you look forward to grocery shopping and from the customer’s perspective things will only get better because the companies will really like what we are trying to do. We understand that it is a long road ahead of us but we are excited for the challenge and I can’t be thankful enough for the amazing team that we have here and as we continue to grow and get close to nearly double the number of employees we have now. These people are innovative, they’re outgoing, they think outside of the box and they are not going to take no for an answer. They want to be a part of something that is game changing, and that is what we have surrounded ourselves with here. I don’t sit here and think that I have anything to do with the innovation that is going to come from this company, that is really a kudos to the people that we have working here, that’s going to be something that we continually focus on as we move forward, “How do we invite insightful people who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and go out there and try to do something different?”

Lenny: Very cool. With all of the shark attacks this year at the beaches, I have actually halfway convinced my family to go to Wisconsin for vacation, so maybe we will swing by Madison and barge in and say hello to some of these guys.

Wes: Ha, yeah do it! I don’t think many people expect a company like this to come out of the Midwest, let alone Wisconsin. We’re lucky enough to have an incredible talent pool here in Madison; we have Amazon and Google offices here, we have epic healthcare dominating the healthcare space right now, continually bringing in new talent. Madison is definitely growing. I think it also gives us a more level mindset; we aren’t focused on building a database of three million users at the expense of our corporate partners like some of our West Coast counterparts would be doing. Were more focused on building a sustainable model that can actually drive real value, not just how many users can we get and then we will figure out a way to create value later. We take a fundamentally different approach to it, you won’t see as much viral growth but you will see continual sustainable growth that I think is what you need to change an industry that has been so set in its ways for so long. Having our Midwest roots has really been helpful with that.

Lenny: I would not disagree, I think you’re right. If you were in Silicon Valley you would probably be under a lot of pressure to do some things differently. And obviously you have gotten investment so that hasn’t hurt you, not being in San Francisco.

Wes: Yeah it can sometimes be a bit more challenging. Again, if you have a good idea and a great time you can find funding anywhere. People are willing to get behind good ideas that are disruptive and I do not see truth in the fact that you need to be in a certain geographic location to be successful. You just need to be excited to come to work every day and believe in what you and your team are doing.

Lenny: I think we are going to hear a lot more from you as the years go by. We absolutely will over the next few months because part of the winnings of the competition is that you have space at any of the upcoming IIeX events so we look forward to hearing from you on the stage as things progress. Once you’re in our orbit, you can’t escape. It’s like a black hole. You’re stuck here.

Anyway Wes this was great, congratulations on all of your success, congratulations on a great idea, and congratulations on winning. We look forward to hearing from you again.

Wes: Well Lenny thank you again. I really appreciate it and look forward to being back out there in a couple of months!