Finding the Reality Amongst the Noise

In our modern world, the gap between in-person realities and online perceptions can feel vast.   Life, as seen on social media is filtered, perfected, and potentially polarized. These perspectives can feel exciting for those who have embraced this curated worldview and scary for those who would rather not. 

Connecting with people IRL feels much more familiar and normal.  I still have the same love for my kids. I still laugh and am silly with friends and coworkers.  I still have my hobbies, still celebrate birthdays and holidays, dinners still need to be prepared, etc.  Although my social media interactions have a big impact on the amount of dopamine I have coursing through my body, it hardly tells a full story of how I feel or what my life is actually like at that moment.

As marketers, it is important to acknowledge the macro noise we are inundated with via our devices while cutting through it to reveal actual behavior.  Feelings, attitudes, and senses of security can fluctuate rapidly, and keeping a current pulse on their key customers’ thoughts and mindsets can be very valuable for brand teams.

REAL YearLook is an online community solution we offer that goes deep with a small group of the right people over an extended period of time.  Over a full year, we connect with this same group for three days each month and look at happiness, confidence, shopping, and usage behaviors. Additionally, we introduce specific stim/concepts for feedback, when applicable, and tailor add-on activities to answer specific questions. This longitudinal look is useful for intuition building and concept feedback on digital messaging and communication, promotions, media/shopping channel prioritization, and innovation.  More importantly, the length of time in addition to our experienced researchers enable this digital method to move past the typical social media posturing to create a safe space where participants can be transparent and vulnerable, leading to actionable insights.

Our REAL Intuition Journey is another way to connect with consumer segments in a profound and authentic way while also providing brand teams with the opportunity to personally invest and be impacted by these connections.  This approach involves customizable online and in-person approaches with broad team engagement that builds strong, unified intuition across stakeholders.

We recently completed this type of project for a client in a unique situation. They had been hearing loud complaints from a certain segment of consumers, but simultaneously weren’t hearing much of anything from others.  By cutting through the filtered feedback gathered via social media, the press, etc., they realized there was much more openness and acceptance from the segment they assumed would be adverse, whereas there was more hurt and opportunity to improve relationships with the segment they hadn’t heard from.  This research had a big impact on how they expected to allocate their marketing dollars, the message to communicate, and the audience that needed to hear that message.

As you have needs to connect more authentically with a specific group of people, shoot us a note.  We would love to talk through which approach might be the right fit or at least send you white papers on these methods. 

Labor Division: Revision

Division of labor at the household level manifests differently in each individual home. Parents figure out how to balance work, children, and household duties in a manner that suits their family.  However, when household labor trends change at a national level, it becomes something to which we should be paying attention.  Pew Research recently released a report detailing this shift in family life from a statistical point of view, focusing on two parent, mother/father households.

Raising Kids and Running a Household: How Working Parents Share the Load

According to Pew, the share of two parent households in which both parents work now stands at 46%—which is up from 31% in 1970—and has increasingly impacted how home responsibilities are divided. When asked, tasks such as “handling household chores, responsibilities” are viewed as equally shared by 59% of respondents, with 9% stating that the father does more, and 31% stating the mother does more. Disciplining children was an equally shared task by both parents in 61% of households, and playing or doing activities with children was equally shared by both parents, at least according to 64% of respondents. If both parents in the household do not work full time, the division of in-home tasks differs.

The shift in more households having two full-time working parents is not surprising; what is interesting is the potential shift in purchase decision making that could come as a result. How will home responsibilities and decision making be impacted if households with two working parents increase to 60% or 70%? This shift could indicate a need for businesses to reevaluate their marketing strategies and determine how they will speak to this emerging group of working parents who are redistributing the weight of household chores, shopping, and other responsibilities.

Businesses need to better understand the decision making process in these households in order to appeal to and acquire wider audiences. Marketers must make sure that they are able to reach both moms and dads with their messages, and to do that, both moms and dads must be included in their market research. As home responsibilities become more and more shared between mother and father, the traditional “mom shopper” target will require reevaluation. Keeping a pulse on these shifting demographics is essential for businesses and market researchers because representative populations hold the key to successful, actionable insights. As households redefine their traditional roles and responsibilities, businesses will need to reconsider their traditional demographics and marketing strategies.

-Quinten McGruder, Project Director

Multicultural Mindfulness

Shifting demographics necessitate an evolved approach in how marketers target minority groups. In part 2 of Michael Applebaum’s article Ethnic Marketing Research, the author grounded his ideas on research suggesting that by 2044, “no single racial or ethnic group will lead the country in terms of its overall size.” Such a change means big things for a multicultural marketing industry that has traditionally focused on cultural differences and ignored the reality of the ambicultural shopper: one who moves fluidly in and out of his/her cultural, ethnic, and American identities. The article cites a study conducted by Geometry Global in which the company set out to illustrate how companies can re-think multicultural marketing.  The study showed that marketers need to tap into commonalities of different cultures while looking through a more “sophisticated cultural lens.” Instead of trying to appeal to the differences between ethnic groups, Geometry advocates for focusing instead on similarities in purchase behavior through this lens.

Geometry studied the purchase journey of different ethnic groups when it came to buying a mobile phone and purchasing a snack. They found that initial purchase steps were similar cross-culturally; each ethnic group began the process by researching online or going to a couple stores. What differed, however, was the reasoning and/or behavior attached to that action as well as the commitment/purpose. For example, African Americans did more in-depth research online: looking for deals, reading consumer reviews, and assessing technical details. Considered Long-Term Oriented (LTO), these behaviors place value on investing in the future. In the case of buying a new phone, LTO shoppers want a product that will last. Comparatively, Hispanic shoppers tend to begin the purchase process with online and/or in-store research and often consult friends or family before making a decision. As marketers develop strategies, using this type of research to understand different shopper mindsets will aid in targeting more expansive audiences.

When it comes to market research, clients often have an idea about from whom they are looking to illicit feedback (i.e. male, 20-45, protein driven, etc.). However, Applebaum argues that, “Instead of trying to reach African American moms or Hispanic males ages 18-29, marketers should be thinking about the shopping behaviors that unify or distinguish these consumers.” It is important not only to understand shared behavior among groups, but also to understand when those behaviors differ and why. Doing so can help to create more effective marketing strategies that can reach wider consumer audiences as the multicultural landscape evolves. Research objectives are often guided by the intended purchaser of a given product. By understanding the similarities and differences between cultural groups, companies may be able to expand the scope of their intended audience and reach demographics they never quite expected.

Posted by: Sierra Dooley, Research Assistant

Who is HENRY?

There’s a new kid on the block and his name is HENRY. An acronym for “High Earner, Not Rich Yet,” the HENRY is the up-and-coming high spender that brands need to market to. In a post-recession world, these households—defined as having an income of $100k-250k—are a fast growing segment that is replacing the middle-class/middle-income households that have traditionally been marketing targets.

HENRYs are frequently talked about in regards to their spending on luxury goods, as Pam Danziger does in a three-part article for Quirk’s magazine (Part OnePart TwoPart Three). She concludes that HENRYs are informed shoppers who make purchases cautiously and carefully. They have observed, if not experienced, the effects of the most recent recession and choose to spend their money smartly, or to not spend it at all. In a current state where the true middle class remains slightly inhibited in their spending, the HENRYs have both the income and the group size to make true economic impacts, which raises the question: where and how do HENRYs spread their wealth?

While still building affluence, HENRYs have a different mindset about how to spend their money, and these values will continue to pervade as more and more Millennials come into the HENRY designation. Less willing to purchase their parents’ luxury brands for status, many would prefer to spend their money on experiences or to make educated purchases based on background and values, such as a where and how a product is made. For instance, HENRYs are interested in functional luxury and turn to retailers like Whole Foods over traditional supermarkets to in order to purchase products that make them feel part of a community; for them, the Whole Foods experience is more than just shopping. Some CPGs are already exploring this territory, particularly those in the organic set. By combining their products with a background, customers feel good about their purchase and feel a part of something greater. But what we don’t know, yet, is what brands and products will need to do to stay relevant with consumers.

Danzinger reminds us that “the lives of many HENRYs are still in transition, so companies need to maintain a relationship with these customers in order to deliver relevant products and services.” The Millennial is already a huge target for companies to market to. As brands find successful ways to reach them, they are going to need to keep in mind that adapting as this group progresses in age and income is imperative if they are to benefit from their still developing spending power. The HENRYs have different motivations as purchasers than other segments; if companies are to benefit, they need to build intuition about HENRYs and find ways to position their products and services to not only meet a functional need, but also show how what they are providing also has higher-order benefits.

-Jennifer Carrasco, Associate Project Director