IIEX North America Virtual – Learnings with Online Fun

We recently attended Greenbook’s new online version of IIEX North America, that was postponed from its usual spring time slotand reimagined in a virtual setting— as we are still unable to meet in person in the usual venue of Austin, Texas, due to the pandemic. Our attendees picked sessions that were the most interesting to them, reported back to the wider team on our learnings, and we share them here with you! 

Our Learnings

Our Chief Research Officer, Greg Stucky, dropped in on “Becoming Behavioral Designers: The Journey to Make Behavioral Research Pervasive” with Carlos Navarro (Principal Financial) and Will Leach (Mindstate Group). Session attendees heard about focusing marketing communications on behavioral motivators to gain clear resultssomething we are big fans of doing here at InsightsNow as well. This talk touched on mental mind states, showcased how to go beyond personalities to understanding decision-making, and discussed communication strategies for target audiences. We have found the areas they covered to be true in our own innovation research—you must go beyond merely correct marketing messagingbut also ensure the product or service delivers on the promise of the message. This allows the offering, the messaging and the experience to be in complete harmony. Greg also popped into some planned networking sessions, including trivia night with Women in Research (WIRe). InsightsNow recently became a corporate donor supporting the WIRe organization, and we had a fun night answering trivia questions about famous women making history. 

Kristen Dale, InsightsNow’s Vice President of Client Partnerships, joined the Renee Smith (Gutcheck) session on a “Modern Look at Personality & Consumer Behavior” to take a deep dive into some interesting work within neuroscience. Some techniques discussed included ways to unlock subconscious mindsets and core personas to create effective product engagement and communication, with presentation points on personality measures, eye tracking, language-based assessments and more.  Kristin also went to a “The Future of Insights” session with Phil Ahad (Toluna) and Michael Lancor (Procter & Gamble) where they discussed ways they’ve been helping P&G in their quest for constructive disruption. Research approaches for the brand to stay ahead of the fast-changing market included quick learning techniques, and also what might be a stop gap in the product space. Both her session choices resonated with the consumer behavior and disruptive research that InsightsNow has been focused on for our research studies.

Our business development and membership services associate, Amissa Sugden, decided on “Storytelling with Data” with Jason Alleger (Traeger Grills) for one of her IIEX NA sessions. He started out by comparing the story structure of “The Three Little Pigs” to data storytelling, noting that the fairy tale has an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. The problem with presenting data is many data stories don't bring people along a journey like this. During the talk, attendees learned about storytelling templates, graphs and creating focus, the words we use to describe data, and some great examples for inspiration. Applying some of his tips is sure to make any data presentation anything but dry, and we were glad for Amissa to bring back these tips to the team!

Sarah Kirkmeyer, who is a senior director of client partnerships at InsightsNow, went to “A Winning First Impression:  How to Create Appealing Product Designs by Leveraging Implicit Research” with Quantilope where they showed a platform for pulling in and displaying implicit results. She also popped into “Spiritual Design: Making Room for Meaning” with Dr. Stephen Wendel (Morningstar) where attendees learned about intentionally designing one’s environment (physical, social, temporal) to remove distractions and make room for a meaningful spiritual life.

We gained a wide array of knowledge from the presentations at this year’s IIEX NA, and enjoyed seeing some colleagues, researchers, friends and clients online – and can’t wait to meet up with everyone in person soon.

Insights Association Open Mic Night

By Greg Stucky

At the end of August, I had the pleasure to take the microphone for a few minutes at the Insights Association, Northwest Chapter's Open Mic Night. It was a fantastic session featuring five “speakers” who had the opportunity to engage with the audience on a wide variety of topics relevant to the market research industry and the work we have been doing lately.

Consumer Behavior at Restaurants

I spoke about the interesting phenomena our tracker study is seeing regarding restaurant behavior right now, where very few people are willing to go into a restaurant to eat, but a quickly growing number are perfectly willing to eat outside at a restaurant. At the event, we had a great discussion about the driving forces behind this behavior: consumer lack of trust and consumer lack of control are generating fear of sitting down inside a restaurant to eat. [Restaurant Behavior]

What Speakers Shared

We also heard more about COVID-19 influenced behaviors from Kaben Clauson at TruePublic where they are seeing some fascinating changes in attitudes toward marriage—and other social behaviors—including how high school and college students really feel about returning to school.

Roger Straus provided us all with some fantastic tips about coordinating virtual focus groups, including simple things like how to work with your team to manage technical issues and get people focused and conversational.

We all learned more about how low-vision/blind people have organized their technology and thus helped us gain new perspectives on caring for everyone in research with Mary Ann Mendez. She talked about Being Inclusive of Those Who Are Low-vision/Blind in Research, we are all going to be using #altext and labeling form fields and elements way more often now! It was great to hear some easy steps to take to be more inclusive.  

Amanda Durkee gave testimony on how she has used mediation and other relaxation techniques to improve her stress levels. Good advice for all of us who are working in newer, and often more chaotic, environments. We can all add simple daily activities designed to help us relax to stay happy and healthy in our new work environments.  

And to top it all off, Brian Fowler provided us all with education we never knew we needed about the ukulele and allowed us to join in a mini jam session.  

It was a great session full of new information and new connections. Looking forward to many more! 

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?

In-Person Consumer Research During COVID-19

By Greg Stucky, Chief Research Officer, InsightsNow 

As we continue to recover and work through pandemic-related changes to consumer research, we have seen a steady increase in the number of research requestsboth quantitative and qualitativewhere in-person executions are preferred or necessary due to stimulus/product handling requirements.  Finding ways to balance consumer safety while maintaining high quality in-person research has been a priority for InsightsNow and our clientsBy continually monitoring news, local and national guidelines, we are able to advise ways to make in-person research safer during the pandemic. Here are some ways we have managed to continue onsite testingand some options which can be considered to continue providing high levels of safety while conducting in-person and face-to-face research.    

agile gymnastics

Creating Flexible Plans

First and foremost, create flexible back-up plans. Things are changing day-by-day and sometimes we need to pivot to an alternate plan, like a change to serving schedules, moving to a different market or adjusting timelines. Agreeing on a back-up plan early allows you to flex quickly when changes arise. 

People group

Limiting In-Person Group Size

Reduce the number of consumers per timeslot or session to adhere to the national and local COVID-19 safety guidelines. This ensures consumers experience less contact in the waiting room, while participating in a CLT or even within a focus group. Ideas for implementation include more sessions in a day or considering spreading sessions across multiple days. Pay special attention to overlap time periods where people are arriving and leaving and plan for the least number of people overlapping as possible. By having fewer consumers come in at once, facilities can provide more personalized attention for quantitative studies, and moderators can probe deeper during qualitative studies. 

Person at cafe table

Adjusting Facility Room Set-Up

With smaller sessions, you can consider changing the room setup. Pulling inspiration from restaurants, we have been spreading consumers throughout the room for in-person sessions. The room, tablets, and any supplies are sanitized thoroughly between consumers. Bleveraging news and following safety guidelines your participants may have heard about regarding how restaurants keep people safe, you make everyone more comfortable with the study and the in-person parameters.


Conveying the Right Mask Message

Any consumer completing onsite testing is required to wear a mask at all times, except when they are seated and actively tasting or drinking samples. The mask requirement can bring both comfort and fear, so researchers must carefully consider what subconscious cue to conveyespecially if the research is branded in any way. Making everyone wear a blue medical mask gives a different room vibe than allowing people to bring their own mask and use it to share a bit about their personality—perhaps as part of an ice-breaker session. There are tools/tricks that moderators can utilize to overcome communication challenges that arise from wearing masks. 


Finding Options to Traveling

Requiring research team members to travel to facilities can also be difficult, with many states imposing quarantine guidelines for travel across state lines. For those able to attend, facilities are recommending reduced numbers for kitchen prep or back room viewing. In our experience, there are many ways to have a “hybrid” experience that allows consumers to come in person for control of products, yet virtually interact with other consumers, researchers and client teams. This eliminates the need for team members and moderators to travel yet allows for an in-person experience from a product perspective. Just because you need consumers to come to a controlled location doesn’t mean the interviewers or moderators also need to be in that location – you can run a video interview with each consumer at their own separate station with the moderator and viewers all remote.  

Thought bubble dark

Are you struggling with how to execute an in-person protocol during COVID? Give us a call and we can discuss options to keep everyone as safe as possible and help you think through designs which require the least amount of face –to-face interaction for the safety of all involved.  

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.