Nov 19 2013
Are you looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday? Extremely? That’s fitting, since Thanksgiving is the holiday of extremes.
It’s when 87 million Americans will burn 70 calories per hour sitting on the couch watching football players burn 544 calories per hour.
It’s Americans’ second favorite holiday, but 58% of them will nap through some of it.
PumpkinPieWholeSlice. “Wikimedia Commons.” commons.wikimedia.org 19 Nov. 2013.
Then there’s the food. $2.3 billion spent on food nationally. 48 million turkeys, 50 million pumpkin pies, 40 million green bean casseroles (made, not eaten). An average of at least 2,500 calories per meal – after which someone might suggest taking a little stroll to “walk off the meal”. Where are you walking to, Samoa?
One thing that’s not as extreme as it once was: women doing the majority of the cooking. One survey revealed that 42% of men play a significant role in either preparing or cooking the turkey. (The survey didn’t break down who was cooking the other 14 dishes, but we can guess at those numbers.)
Then there’s the day after, “Black Friday”. The day when millions get a start on holiday shopping by clawing through crowds and bargains, right? Nope. Research shows that most people are buying stuff for themselves. Guess the holiday spirit starts on Saturday.
Anyhow, ColemanWick is thankful – for everyone who reads our newsletters, for our wonderful clients, and for companies like Butterball and Dunkin’ Donuts for spending the time and resources to ask survey questions about taking naps on Thanksgiving.
Nov 06 2013
We know you are doing things to help your non-profit fulfill its mission, to better serve your constituents, to enhance the well-being of your community. It’s a never-ending effort to raise money, get the word out, and run your organization while always conserving organizational costs.
So ColemanWick, LLC. has launched a research project to help inform non-profit leaders about ways to improve their outcomes, by gathering facts about the use and performance of data and management techniques.
The survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete. The answers you provide are confidential and anonymous, and all findings are reported in the aggregate. As a token of our appreciation for completing the survey by Friday, November 15, 2013, we will send an executive summary of the findings. Thank you in advance for your time.
Oct 23 2013
We can all come up with better things to do with $330 million, but the point here is, we’re a country of 315 million – it’s not like Americans have some weird fixation on pet costumes. Maybe each of us lives a couple blocks away from someone putting a top hat on her pooch.
Pug Star Wars. “RedSnapperVeryTasty.” Photo. www.redsnapperverytasty.com 22 Oct. 2013.
So we can’t get worked up when we see numbers like $76 billion spent each year on soda, $60 billion on lotto tickets, $7 billion on ATM fees, $10 billion on romance novels, or $5 billion on ringtones (okay, that one is a worldwide number – but it’s still amazing.)
Sure, people could be smarter with their money. But obviously, these are things we want in our life. And unless someone comes up with a way to inspire Americans to redirect the money they would’ve spent on something (stop buying fireworks for one year: $967 million), there’s no point in getting frustrated when seeing these numbers.
How are we going to connect this subject to ColemanWick, you ask? Well, you’d be surprised how often perspective is crucial to understanding findings we dig up – and that works in both directions. Companies and organizations can get too excited at numbers that aren’t as impressive as they think, or be disheartened at numbers which, once we place them in context, are seen to actually be very positive.
For instance, on a recent project we found a stat that said women-owned U.S. businesses would generate $1.3b in revenue in 2013. A colossal number – an important number, which would seem to indicate a gold mine for certain products and services. But when we took a closer look, just 3% of those businesses were generating over $1m in revenue – in reality, there’s just a ton of women who own small businesses!
A good example of how at ColemanWick we consider every potential factor before drawing conclusions from data we find.
In short, raw numbers mean very little out of context. So this October 31st when you see an English Bulldog dressed up like a French maid, don’t think about the $330 million.
Sep 11 2013
Last year, 40 film trailers were shown to more than 1,000 people, measuring their heart rate, breathing, how much they sweated, their motion responses, and what their eyes focused on. Using the results, they found they could predict box office hits.
According to Fast Company magazine, “If a film’s trailer fails to reach a specific emotional engagement threshold, it will very likely generate less than $10 million in revenue on opening weekend.” But a film whose trailer exceeds a certain engagement threshold “will very likely earn more than $20 million the first weekend”. This got executives at Fox and Paramount to take their feet off their desks.
Neuromarketing is here, big time. It uses tools such as magnetic resonance imaging to map the brain as it reacts to TV and print ads, websites, logos, new products and packaging, etc. By observing which areas in the brain react, neuroscientists can, to varying degrees, predict consumer preference.
So ColemanWick has jumped on the neuromarketing brainwagon. In fact, we now have access to the most sophisticated research tools in Northeast Ohio. And why not? Ignoring this remarkable way to understand consumer behavior would be as absurd as pathologists refusing to use microscopes.
But results must be interpreted carefully – excitement and interest doesn’t always translate to sales or brand loyalty. For instance, sandwich chain Quiznos ran an ad that featured cartoon-like rodents, and it was generally deemed funny, likable and engaging…people even remembered it. There was just one problem: people don’t want to associate rats with food. It wasn’t too successful.
By the way – if you find all of this to be a bit creepy, 27% of consumers agree with you (we’re researchers – we know these things.) Fortunately for us, and for clients everywhere, most people are okay with it. In fact some people really get into it – they readily volunteer for such research projects in part because they find it fascinating to learn deeper truths about themselves.
We’re not controlling reactions, for heaven’s sake. We’re just observing and interpreting them…
Unless you count the fact that we kept your interest to the end of this newsletter.
Jun 05 2013
Anyone who has spent a decent amount of time in the field of market research has plenty of anecdotes about companies that either didn’t see the value of research, or claimed they couldn’t afford it, only to find themselves with a financial calamity that properly conducted research would have circumvented.
A fairly recent study conducted by AcuPOLL Research showed that 80-95% of new product introductions fail. It’s been estimated that one out of every five thousand inventions progress to successful product launches. One third of all new businesses fail within their first six months.
Heaven only knows what percentage of business initiatives fail, or, perhaps more commonly, drain enormous amounts of company time and resources before being shelved for what could be any one of countless reasons.
The fact is, people make mistakes. All the time. Smart people, experienced people, successful people all make mistakes. Heck, ex-Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan admitted he had put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets. The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards didn’t think “Satisfaction” would be a hit. There are a million stories like these. There are a million books about stories like these.
So “What’s the cost” isn’t the important question about market research. The important question is “What will it cost me not to conduct market research”?
Mar 27 2013
“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.”
– Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
Holmes goes on to say that when one theorizes before having data, “Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
You say at the office you never twist facts to suit your own theories? Remember, we’re talking about an often unconscious act here. Aside from unscrupulous business folks who knowingly twist facts to support their agenda, many people have no idea they’re distorting or denying the truth – such is the all-too-human difficulty in admitting we don’t have answers.
Certainly most business mistakes and missed opportunities would have had different outcomes if some analytics had been conducted. Actually, research helps businesses to greater success.
What we’re talking about is pragmatism. Sherlock Holmes might be the most pragmatic character in the history of literature: always trusting evidence rather than theory; looking at the specifics of the situation rather than some overarching narrative; preferring what works to what fits any preconceptions; willing to test ideas and change direction as is necessary.
Pragmatism isn’t practiced in Silicon Valley, where venture capitalists fund countless business projects on the assumption that most of them will fail. But there are still some Northeast Ohio businesses that could benefit from being a bit more pragmatic, which they resist because it requires gathering evidence, which is time-consuming, difficult to put across in a sound-bite, and, frankly, boring.
Nov 27 2012
Enter our hero, the LinkedIn Data Scientist. “He began forming theories, testing hunches, and finding patterns that allowed him to predict whose networks a given profile would land in.” His colleagues ignored his work, but his CEO listened.
So, you know those people LinkedIn suggests that you might want to connect with? That’s the result of this data scientist’s work, and it’s been a big success for the site.
The article describes a data scientist as “a high-ranking professional with the training and curiosity to make discoveries in the world of big data.”
Data scientists work with analytics–”the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data.” ALL companies have data that could reveal meaningful patterns. Heck, someone analytical in nature can assimilate data and find patterns within a 6-year-old’s lemonade stand history.
Your company or organization has treasures of information within its walls, within the experience of your staff, your audience, your constituents. No doubt there are patterns within that data.
Those patterns would almost certainly tell you some things you’re not aware of, that will help you accomplish more, or reach a wider, or more targeted, audience, or run your operation more economically, something.
ColemanWick LLC. Sex gods for hire.
Sep 13 2012
Market research, like a computer, becomes outdated in three years.
A lot can happen in three measly years. Just ask Lord Kelvin – you know, the guy whose name is on the scale of absolute temperature. Around 1892 he proclaimed that “X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” Three years later he had his hand x-rayed.
In 2009 the Indianapolis Colts were AFC champs. Last season they won all of two games.
When it comes to market research, three years is a lifetime. Generally speaking, three years is considered to be the average life span for the validity of most market research – after that the validity of most data becomes a bit suspect.
At ColemanWick LLC, we’ve observed that a lot of Northeast Ohio for-profit and nonprofit folks – whether they’ve been at their job for five years or twenty – tend to think of their audience, and maybe even their marketplace or community, in pretty much the same way as they always have. Guess we humans are simply creatures of habit…unless something unexpected comes along to jar us, assumptions tend to stay assumptions.
But consider that over the last three years, while you were busy running your organization (commendably, no doubt), your audience was aging, shifting, experiencing personal growth, expanding their minds (some of them, anyway), earning more or less money, acquiring new tastes and sensibilities. Plus, over that time you have gained new customers or constituents and lost others.
Yup, a whole lot can happen in three years. If you haven’t done market research in that long, chances are dang good you’re missing an opportunity or three.
Jun 29 2012
Amazingly, many business people assume that their instincts and experience are enough to fully understand how customers think, and in turn, how they’ll behave.
Well guess what. When companies or organizations actually conduct market research, they always learn things they didn’t know. Even more importantly, it’s not uncommon for management to find they had made assumptions that were utterly, completely wrong.
Experienced, smart, successful people make faulty assumptions all the time. Even the smartest person in history made a colossal faulty assumption: Albert Einstein claimed nuclear energy would never be attainable.
But it’s not always just a matter of being mistaken. Robert Kaplan, professor of management practice at Harvard, says the biggest danger lies in not realizing a decision is based on an assumption in the first place.
Maybe it’s simply a function of the times in which we live, the accelerated pace of our lives—we want to act now…damn the torpedoes.
Speaking of torpedoes, H.G. Wells didn’t believe submarines were a viable idea.
So you can see why ColemanWick, LLC suggests you go ahead and invest in research. All of us, like Einstein and Wells, know a bit less than we think we do.
Jun 05 2012
Every one of us is an experienced researcher. Before crossing a busy street we look both ways. That’s research. Before biting into old cheese from the fridge, we smell it. Research.
Though you’ve successfully eaten cheese your whole life, you recognize those times when you don’t have enough data to eat it straight away. What’s the lifespan for this particular cheese? How long has it been in the back of this cheese drawer?
Yet within the professional world, far bigger decisions are made every day, based on little or no research whatsoever.
An ice cream company introduces a new flavor without realizing customers find the packaging unappealing. An industrial giant is unaware that if their hydraulic hoses were priced lower, they would have seen higher net profits year after year. A non-profit organization has no idea that their name misleads people about what they do. The list is endless.
Why in some situations are we able to admit we don’t have all the answers, but not in others?
A question for another day, another newsletter.
But there are some who totally grasp the crucial value of market research. Before opening his B Spot at the Q, Michael Symon did market research to make sure the concept made sense for Cavs fans, as well as what prices were within fans’ comfort zones. More than providing just raw numbers, the market research helped Symon and his team fully understand the fan experience – how the emotions tied to food connect to the emotional side of attending a game. He also tapped into the connections between hometown pride for the Cavs and hometown pride for a local celebrity chef.
At ColemanWick LLC, we’ve observed how, whether it’s to become aware of unknown or misunderstood metrics, or to better understand the sensibilities and preferences of a given audience, nearly every company and organization, large and small, stands to gain a hefty ROI when conducting market research