“Pawrents” Spending More During COVID-19

Pet Owners Motivated to Spoil Furry Friends in 2020

For those of us with a furry friend or two—or more—at home, one of the best parts of staying home during COVID-19 is getting to spend more time with them. Many of us who had dogs to walk were very grateful for that during full lockdown earlier in the pandemic, and it has been great fun on our many Zoom calls to see colleagues and contacts bring their cats, dogs, and other furry friends into view on camera. In fact, in our recent study 29% of participants report that their pet is also their “work buddy”, attending meetings and “chatting” with co-workers on video conferences.

Those of us without a furry friend at home felt left out and—according to our recent study—14% of participants welcomed a new pet since mid-March 2020. Study participants also report greater feelings of love, companionship and friendship with their pets as 2020 put the brakes on commutes, travel, activities outside the home and other distractions from the pet relationship. During our recent webinar, “The Not So Secret Life of Pets,” an in-session poll found 68% of attendees are spending more time with their pets. And it isn’t just more love, pets have helped (55%) people maintain routines during a time where life is anything but routine—providing comfort in times of uncertainty.

With all this extra “pawrent” time, pet parents are projecting emotions on to their pets as well, seeing a rise in clingy behavior, confusion and anxiety—especially now that parents, after being fully stuck at home for many months, now may be more out and about as restrictions are lifted.

More time with our pets has been correlating with more spending on our pets. Our study participants report spending more money on treats​ (23%), buying more soft treats​ (20%), and buying more biscuits​ (18%). Motivations for this increased buying behavior include desire to spoil our pets, give them treats for good behavior, stocking up in case of future shortages, and providing variety for perceived pet boredom.​

To find out more about consumer behavior regarding our precious pets, access our recent webinar, “The Not So Secret Life of Pets.” You can also visit our ongoing consumer behavior study for more information.

Disrupting Marketing through Hybrid Research Design

By Kayte Hamilton & Chuck Rodriguez

In most research settings there’s been an on-going battle between which methodology is best suited for the job; do we need something statistically valid in a quantitative environment or are we looking for deep context through a qualitative session?

Many researchers often feel they must choose one route over the other. On top of that; in the last few years there’s been an explosion of new tools that blur the line between what traditional methods mean—things like eye-tracking and neuroscience tools, automated interviews and data tracking. At InsightsNow, we find the highest value to our insight mining comes from our ability to recognize the benefits of certain resources and cherry-pick a custom solution. An agile approach to research design also allows exploration of the data collected in a best use case scenario.

Banner 40 graphic on gray

Disruptive Innovation and Hybrid Research

Disruptive innovation is an interesting concept. To many; innovation means something technology or tech-driven (simply run a search for “innovation” in Google imagesand you’ll see what we mean). However, disruptive innovation is a more basic idea of introducing something new to your processes and that’s exactly what we’re doing here with our hybrid research designs. The tools and resources aren’t new (so to speak), but when they are combined it makes for a unique research solution—solutions driven by the need to deeply uncover consumer behaviors and motivations without adding time to the fieldwork.

In August, we presented a webinar (you can find the recording here) that explored this hybrid quantitative and qualitative research design through the lens of two case studies. While about 70% of the webinar audience admitted to already using hybrid designs, 100% of the audience felt they learned something new from our presentation.

Case Study #1: Message Testing in the Consumer Technology Space:

The first of the case studies we referenced in our webinar focused on a study based entirely on messaging communication. In order to optimize the time our qualitative moderator had with participants across sessions, we uniquely leveraged our initial engagement with these folks—by activating something more powerful than the often used high-level homework primer. After mulling over a bunch of approaches, we decided to go with InsightsNow’s Implicit Test to capture reactions toward the messaging.

The benefit of going this route was obtaining those System 1 and System 2  reactions before participants even stepped into a room with us. These responses were provided in a vacuum, so to speak, which not only afforded us insight related to the messaging but also into our participants’ minds. Learnings could be used for more effective probing to identify key presumptions and gray areas that contributed to those initial reactions toward the messaging.

Leveraging a quantitative resource before our sessions allowed us to:

  • Interpret the measured response times to dig for disruptive components in each message, “What slowed you down?”
  • Create a hierarchy of performance rooted in behavior and the deep dive discussion in the room.

Now, one of the questions that was posed during this project creation included the strategy behind the idea:

  • If Only Quant = We would have known WHAT metrics, without the why or context in each message.
  • If Only Qual = It would have been difficult to establish a definitive winning proposition; which was one of the project objectives.
  • If Multi-Phase = This would have been costly and time to actionable results would have been considerably longer. We utilized the focus group participants rather than two distinct sets of recruited consumers.
Implicit Test Q
implicit message results

Case Study #2: Market Understanding & Consumer Needs in the Health Care Industry:

For the second case study example, we pulled from another industry entirely, designed to shed some light on consumers within the health care space. Our client was interested in understanding perceptions of health care in their region, both more broadly and among a handful of giants that occupied the space. One of the underlying objectives was to also obtain direction for use in their messaging. As it turns out, the still very current health crisis we’re all so familiar with was having a considerable impact on preferentiality and our client’s brand was seeing a decidedly negative impact. They needed insight to clearly define new messaging, regain lost loyalty and reinforce their mission.

In this research design, we again used quantitative to guide our qualitative discussions…in more ways than one:

  • Helped determine key indicators used to operationalize TWO segments of health care consumers (those who favored our client and those who were apathetic).
  • Provided detail used to determine the ‘short-list’ of services and amenities for exploration among well-curated, target segments.
  • Provided a market-level baseline read on messaging reception for comparison to both segments to tease out key differences and similarities.

While this study began as quantitative first; the bulk of the execution was a five-day online board/short-term community. Throughout the week we rotated quantitative tasks within the qualitative discussion allowing us to deep dive into the aggregate results rather than trying to discern individual results all week. This helped ground the discussion and got the consumers thinking in more detail as they caught on to the design.

To focus the qualitative discussion, we used surveys to quantify large “bucket-sorting” tasks for preferred brands, brand attributes, and InsightsNow Implicit Test again for brand messaging. Those results were tied into group and individual assignments in the discussion by highlighting keep themes in the aggregate. By moving any short-response type questions in the surveys, we could tie back their larger discussions to their customized survey responses (if needed).

Other Hybrid Research Design Ideas:

While we’ve been using our Implicit Test on a wide range of research applications; our executions aren’t limiting to just this resource.

  • Integrate Social Intelligence analysis before you develop any discussion guides or assignments. “What do you already know” >> “What do you want to know MORE of?”
  • Utilize Passive Metering to find out what consumers do, not what they say they do.
  • Complex rankings? Use a Tournament or MaxDiff survey design before or after sessions to better organize the data. Can also use surveys in real-time with digital respondent packets.

When deciding if a hybrid research design is best for your business objectives; we challenge you to consider these types of questions. We’re also available to help you brainstorm your next successful execution!

  • What are you running sequentially that you can combine for more agility?
  • What more information do you find yourself asking after an execution?
  • What do you wish you could learn, yet haven’t been able to decipher?
  • In what situations are your answers too generic?
  • How often do you find it tough to make decisions after a research project?
  • Are you missing a behavior or subconscious cue you need to understand?

Consumer Trust and the Future of The Restaurant Industry

By Greg Stucky, Chief Research Officer, InsightsNow 

While many industries have been hit hard by the fallout from COVID-19, the restaurant industry reached an estimated $145 billion in losses during the first four months of the pandemic. While recent months have seen a slight uptick in restaurant business as stay-at-home orders relax and restrictions are lifted across the nation, the long-term negative impact of this business interruption will continue for quite some time.

Creative solutions to impact bottom line

Even though restaurants have largely been allowed to reopen and limited in-restaurant dining is now permitted in most areas, there are strict capacity limitations and distancing requirements in place. When capacity to serve goes down, it is extremely impactful on the already narrow profit margins under which restaurants operate. Restaurants and cities have been coming up with creative solutions to support these businesses, like blocking off sidewalks and parts of city streets to expand the dining footprint (and allow outdoor seating).

Consumer behavior regarding restaurant visits

In a recent wave of our InsightsNow ongoing study, “COVID-19 Tracker on Clean Living Behavior,” we uncovered insights into consumer behavior regarding restaurant visits. The research delves into insights from our proprietary, trend-identifying Clean Label Enthusiasts® (CLE) consumer research community.

Our results show that the majority of people are still quite unwilling to go INTO a restaurant to eat. As time goes on and the weather stays mostly pleasant in many areas of the country, more and more CLE are willing to sit outside at a dining establishment—and even more willing to go through the drive-through of a fast food restaurant. However, sitting inside is not changing.

Trust in Foodservice safety

Consumer Trust in Restaurants

This avoidance of indoor seating is primarily driven by a lack of trust in the restaurants' ability to keep everything clean enough to prevent the spread of the virus. Some consumer quotes from our study illustrate the tension.

Personally, I don’t think self-serve drink stations, touch screen kiosks and silverware wrapped in napkins are fully safe nor clean. How do we know that the person asked to wrap the silverware has washed his/her hands, wore gloves or even a mask? So many questions, so few answers. 

I went to a restaurant recently and sat outside. Waitress was very cheerful, no wait and had a wonderful breakfast on real plates and used real utensils. Everything was very clean, and I really enjoyed it.  I do think that you should be careful when going to restaurants though. 

“Individual packages seem to be safer than containers left on the table in which everyone at the table touched or breathes on. I am more concerned with the people who handle my food. Did they wash their hands?  Do they live in a home with 10 or more people? I don’t trust others' hygiene routines compared to mine.’” 

Combine this with the continual fear of being in less control of your own safety when inside closed rooms, and it is clear it will be quite some time before dining patrons are willing to risk sitting indoors to enjoy a meal at their favorite restaurants again, and we will see continued impact on the bottom line for restaurants across the country.

To learn more about consumer behavior regarding dining choices, view the recording of our recent webinar on Restaurant and Fast Food Behaviors: Sustainability Trade-offs during COVID. 

Uncovering Innovation Opportunities Through Consumer Motivators

How to gain insights into choice drivers during pandemic-related disruption  

By Greg Stucky, Chief Research Officer, InsightsNow 

The landscape of our lives has undergone incredible, seemingly unpredictable, change as COVID-19 continues to sweep the globeand we have been in a state of constant revision for how we live, interact, work, play and shop. Yet amid the chaos there actually is a good amount of predictability to how these constant revisions take shape. By focusing on how people work through disruptions emotionallyInsightsNow has been able to leverage behavioral psychology to predict how people will react and how marketers and innovators can help them through their journey.  

Consumer Emotions During COVID-19

All of us as a global society are working through emotions as we slowly define our own new normal. When COVID restrictions first began we all reacted with surprise, fear, and anger; many of us then moved on to sadness and disappointment.  We started seeking comfort and were experiencing dissatisfaction in the alternatives we were forced to use due to the pandemicA feeling of relief came when our favorite products were available again, but then came boredom with our situation and context. As stresses started to mount during these past months—and we realized this wouldn’t be over anytime soonwe started looking for ways to lift our mood and find enjoyment and reliefSome of us are settling in and looking towards the new and intriguing opportunities, but most of us still struggle to have hope and find new hope and new desires.  

8-11 emotions motivations

Predicting Consumer Behavior

How do we predict and examine behavior for brand success in a time when nothing seems predictable, and daily lives and expectations seem to change constantly in ways beyond comprehension? InsightsNow looks at emotional and behavioral frameworks to examine and foretell behaviors. The foundation of the emotional model most useful for this pandemic-related disruption starts with classifying the motivators of our choices into four categories: functional, social, psychological and sensorial.

    • Functional Motivators are a central motivator right now as consumers feel their basic human needs are threatened—needs like safety, protection, health and preparedness.
    • Social Motivators are important due to ongoing changes happening in family relationships, peer-to-peer social relationships, who we trust and our feelings toward ourselves.
    • Sensorial Motivators are important as people look for products and experiences that help them cope—and potentially provide them with enjoyment and relief.
    • Psychological Motivators are important in helping people achieve balance in their lives, and this psychological balance is achieved through mood change.
INI Emotions Insights Wheel FULL

In order to look more closely at these motivators, InsightsNow has been tracking insights from our proprietary, trend-identifying Clean Label Enthusiasts® (CLE) consumer research community. These ongoing study participants are primary shoppers with a specific set of behaviors around the clean-living movement, behaviors that strongly influence their buying decisions. Looking at this set of shoppers is helpful because this group has been shown to be at the forefront of identifying what is to come for the larger populationThese shoppers offer rich insights into how brands and products need to communicate, shift and innovate to reach consumers during COVID-19. 

Consumer Motivations During the Pandemic

While behaviors are changing, people are currently pre-occupied with the motivation to find a comfortable pattern in daily activities, activities which are ever evolving due to safety mandates put in place by external entities like governments and schools. This is keeping us constantly driven by a higher than typical level of Functional motivatorsmostly a sense of safetyAs this new and unexpected way of life continues, many are experiencing increased stress for a variety of reasonssome are struggling with isolation, others are feeling overwhelmed, and many are fighting varying levels of depression during this timeStemming from these emotions, InsightsNow finds Social and Psychological Motivators are now outpacing functional motivators in the choices people make.  

To cope with these constant disruptive changes, we are seeking products and experiences which will provide a pleasurable or relaxing distraction.  Specifically, Sensorial Motivators have been found in InsightNow’s ongoing study to be growing in importance as consumers report an increased desire for products to satisfy sensorial cravings, and Psychological Motivators are now topping the charts as most important as we seek products which will lift our moodFor marketers, this means you can help improve consumers’ lives by introducing products which offer those benefits. For innovators, this means finding ways to add a delightful twist to the common brands they know and love 


Itll be a bit of time yet before everyone truly gets a sense of the new normal, when consumers start to truly desire completely new-to-the-world offerings and are ready to take on greater and more exuberant risks with products and experiences. However, monitoring emerging motivational patterns while studying consumer behavior through an emotional framework will lead to better predictions about when this will occur. 

To follow along with InsightsNow’s tracking of these motivations and behaviors visit: https://www.insightsnow.com/custom-communities/responses-to-covid-19/ or reach out to us at info@insightsnow.com. 

The Quirks Event Virtual: New Market Research Learnings

It's been a year of new ways to work, new ways to learn and new ways to make connections with others. And we've never been to a Quirk's Event quite like the new Virtual event this July. It isn't easy to capture the energy and excitement of the traditional in-person event through an online experience, but we are all adapting. Despite some technical challenges like accessing on mobile, visibility into platform followers and finding booths, we still left the virtual conference abuzz with new ideas and new connections.

At our booth, we shared the latest and greatest about our research on global health and wellness, talked about new trends in on-demand research, and what's happening in the field of clean label consumer behavior. Some of the content we enjoyed at the conference included presentations on AI and machine learning, on secondary research leveraging social intelligence, and on analytics generating deliverables aligned with the original research's value proposition. Did you miss what we shared or any other booths or presentations at Quirk's Virtual? No worries, the conference is set up to allow registrants access for two more months (or reach out to us and we can send you our booth content directly to review).

If you were there, how did you like the social media platform conference approach? We liked connecting with presenters via live chat, earning our "badges" for our various interactions at the event, and learning what's happening out there during the sessions. We sure do miss face-to-face, personal meet-ups, but until then... we hope to see you online at another conference soon! 

IFT20 “Global Design of Clean Label Foods”  Live Virtual Forum

Forum with Global Innovation Experts for Q&A

Tuesday, July 14, 2020      2pm CT

Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) annual conference is online with SHIFT20—a virtual event where you can attend to see food innovation with a whole new lens. InsightsNow is participating in this event by presenting a symposium on the “Global Design of Clean Label Foods”, available now by registering.

On July 14th, join us for a virtual forum followed by a Q&A session to take a deep dive into the growing clean eating trends across the globe with industry-leading experts.

We will discuss current challenges—and solutions to those challenges—as well as talk about the complexities of building successful new products that meet consumer expectations and demands. Don't miss these valuable perspectives and insights about how to approach research and product design when seeking to build new clean label products for different countries and cultures around the world.

You can attend the forum without an IFT20 registration. Bring your questions!

Forum Panelists

Carol McCall

Carol McCall

R&D Director Global Foods Culinary and Consumer Discovery & Applications, PepsiCo Foods
She has been with the company for 20 years and is based in Plano, TX. She has held a variety of positions both Global and Regional, innovating and conducting research on a broad range of snacks and foods platforms and brands including Lay’s, Ruffles, Lay’s Kettle Cooked, Oven Baked Lay’s, Red Rock Deli, Off the Eaten Path and True North Nut Snacks. Additionally, she established and implemented an R&D Stage Gate process and governing forum for Frito-Lay US Snacks to ensure R&D has met key technical requirements and leveraged the New Product Development (NPD) approach with the appropriate rigor given critical technical and business risks. Her experience lies in new product development process and management, fuzzy front end innovation, consumer based product design, culinary integration to NPD, sensory evaluation and product commercialization. Carol received her PhD in Food Science from the University of California, Davis and her BS in Food Science from Penn State. She is also a Certified Culinary Scientist (CCS), bringing the disciplines of Food Science and Culinary Arts together in her approach to product development. She currently lives with her husband, Doug and two children, Ava and Mia in McKinney, TX.

Jonny Tomlin

Corporate Executive Chef, Global Business Development, Griffith Foods
Chef Jonny Tomlin started his culinary career in fine dining before attaining a food science certification from the University of Guelph and his Certified Research Chef (CRC) designation from the Research Chef’s Association. Chef Jonny is currently the Corporate Executive Chef on the Global Business Development team of Griffith Foods, a global product development company specializing in sustainably created food ingredients whose Purpose is “We Blend Care and Creativity to Nourish the World.” He currently contributes to the company’s Purpose-driven strategy by engaging animal and plant-based protein development opportunities between Griffith Foods’ protein processor clients and customers in various import and export markets around the globe.
Janet Carver-1

Janet Carver

Director, Global Culinology®, Ingredion Incorporated
Global Co-Creation & Open Innovation Group Janet is responsible for refining and executing Ingredion’s strategic plans for Culinology®, leveraging the Culinology capability, and working closely with select customers to drive rapid product development, co-creation and innovation. Janet was instrumental in bringing culinary arts to the company and merging it with in-house food technology expertise to form Ingredion’s Culinology capability as a differentiating service for customers. Under Janet’s leadership the Global Culinology Capability was developed and has grown in a key enabler for the organization. Ingredion now has Culinologists and R&D Kitchen Facilities in all of their regional HQ locations along with our kitchen, led by Nelson Serrano-Bahri – Culinology & Innovation Manager, at The Hatchery Chicago that supports Emerging Business.

Menexia Tsoubeli

Vice President, NA Savory, Firmenich
Menexia earned her Ph.D. in Food Science and a M.S. in Food Science and Nutrition from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece. Menexia started her career as a Research Scientist working for the US Army Natick Labs, in Natick, Massachusetts. During her 20+ years of progressive leadership in Research and Development, Menexia has been successful in developing strategic alliances and partnerships to identify market opportunities. She has built critical technical capability through innovation ecosystems to accelerate innovation across multiple categories. She has a strong record in formulating strategies that extract value from science to capture consumer differentiation in the market place and to drive sustainable revenue growth. She has pioneered the utilization of consumer Co-Design methods to maximize market success.   Menexia is passionate in developing people and has been an advocate for advancing women in technical fields. She has served as the Chair of the Women of Campbell R&D, the Chair of the STEM Innovation Taskforce (Washington, DC) and she is a Strategic Advisor for the STEM Connector (Washington, DC).

Symposium Speakers

Greg_Stucky-282x300 round

Greg Stucky

Chief Research Officer, InsightsNow Inc.
Mimi Sherlock

Mimi Sherlock

Global Director, Strategic Insights - Flavors, IFF

Webb Girard

Director of Research & Development, CuliNex LLC



Sarah Kirkmeyer

Sr. Director, Client Partnerships, InsightsNow Inc.

Quirks Event Virtual

Look for our exhibit at Quirk's Virtual coming up soon!


July 14 - 16, 2020

Register by July 10!

How do you capture the energy and excitement of a Quirk's Event with an online experience?   Catching the pulse and leading edge of the industry through the presentations, formal and informal meetings, parties, side conversations, and exploring new venues with partners and colleagues are hard to duplicate.  But we're adapting and helping clients move forward.

It will be different, but we give Quirk's kudos in advance for what we anticipate will be a warm and personal professional online "gathering".   We hope to see you there and invite you to register as soon as possible before the July 10 deadline.

With virtual exhibits we can extend your list of presentations available. Find insights and DIY tools that jump start research to speed your market success.

Our showcase will include:

    • Global Health & Wellness Behavior Webinar
    • Introduction to the Behavioral AppStore
    • Clarity through On-Demand Behavioral Research Webinar
    • The Clean Label Ingredient Score Ebook  (based on consumer perceptions of "clean label")
    • Beyond Impossible: Behavioral KPIs Ebook

Also, collect points in the Event game and win a free behavioral report!

While this is a virtual conference, It promises to be busy and stimulating.  We're excited for the many touch points available during the three days for personal conversations and roundtables that are a large value of these events.

You're invited to stop by our booth and see how we can improve your agility in the market with consumer behavioral insights.

Come meet Ann, Amissa, Kayte, Charles, and Jaclyn "on-site" to learn more.

Coronavirus Impact on Food Behavior: Clean Label Eating on the Rise

As the novel coronavirus has made its way across the globe, we have watched the statistics mount describing its toll on human life and consumer markets. Much speculation is centering on what might become the new normal to help consumer product companies effectively pivot. As a behavioral research company, we are tracking not only coronavirus-impacted behaviors, but the whys underlying those behaviors. This disruption has led to two different research initiatives which are helping companies make those pivots.

First, we tracked a segment of U.S. primary shoppers called Clean Label Enthusiasts® throughout this initial period of the current crisis (and had been tracking prior to this disruption). These consumers are known to be lead indicators of broader shopping behavior change.


Secondly, we also took a November 2019 read of global primary shopper behavior as a baseline and compared it to a read in April 2020. This study compared the buying trends among primary shoppers in ten countries including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China, India, Turkey, France, Germany and the U.K.

Clean Label Enthusiasts

What did we find?

Around the world, interest in clean label products is on the rise. More than half of all primary shoppers in China, Turkey and Mexico are Clean Label Enthusiasts®—consumers who preferentially buy products that are free of artificial ingredients and that support ingredients from natural sources...

For the rest of the story, please add your email here.

There's more information:

  • What countries are seeing change in Clean Label eating and how much?
  • How is trust in news sources for food information different across different countries?
  • How has trust changed due to the pandemic?

CPGMatters Virtual LEAD Conference

Join us on Wednesday, May 20th at 2:30PM ET for the CPGMatters Spring 2020 Virtual LEAD Conference where we will be giving a presentation of “The Future of Clean Living; a Peak into Changes in Purchases and Behaviors in the face of COVID-19 ”.

Register so you can hear more about how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted consumers, companies and the markets they serve.

Pre-pandemic clean living has been a key driver of consumer behavior across the spectrum of fast-moving consumer goods.  Will this trend continue into a post pandemic new normal?  This presentation will provide actionable insights into this question.

Insights will be provided from a unique tracker into the behaviors and motives of primary shoppers from a community of Clean Label Enthusiasts®.  The talk will also offer some foresight into what might be the future of clean living. This session will be led by our Chief Research Officer, Greg Stucky.

Bring your questions!

The Spring 2020 Virtual LEAD Marketing Conference is produced and hosted by CPGMatters. Sessions covering all aspects of LEAD (Loyalty, Engagement, Analytics, and Digital Applications) will be presented between 9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 20th.

As a virtual conference, attendees can enjoy the live, interactive presentations from the comfort of their own office or home. You have the option of attending the entire day-long event, or simply log in for our session. Additionally, all sessions will be recorded and made available to conference registrants for on-demand playback at a later date.

We hope you can join us!

Natural Products Expo West

Update:  Although, NPE-West was postponed, we expect to attend the event when it is rescheduled.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Is Your Label Clean Enough?

What do consumers think?

NPE West logo 1575963467529

If you are looking for ways to improve your products' consumer perception, InsightsNow and partner CuliNex will be at Natural Products Expo West and want to talk Clean Label optimization.   

Come ask us about ...

  • your product ingredient score against category ideals
  • our extensive product development expertise and market successes
  • CRAEVS - a new agile partnership of consumer behavior insights and culinology/product development expertise to quickly create or renovate a home run product

Please look for us at Booth N-1302

March 3-5, 2020

Location:   Anaheim Convention Center