• 20Jun
    INFORMS Marketing Science Conference 2018
    Posted by John Colias, Ph.D.
    Dig Data

    Recently, John Colias attended the INFORMS Conference, (INFORMS is one of the world’s largest analytical organizations). Here are some observations and take aways from the conference.

    To start with; Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, and Deep Learning were the focus of much attention and emphasis.

  • Advertising Copy Testing

    You may remember the series of ads that ran for years in the early 2000s that featured a bespectacled phone technician in various locales asking, “Can you hear me now?” while on his cell phone talking to an unknown colleague.

    The campaign ran for nearly a decade. As is the way with most things in our fast-paced, information-overload, disposable world, the television audience quickly forgot about the Verizon guy in his absence. Or did they? Here are some suggestions for both agencies and brands on advertising testing.

  • Experience Economy

    So how should a brand or business evolve in the Experience Economy?

    It is always important to make business decisions steeped in a deep understanding of how the consumer feels and thinks about your brand or company. That is even more important today when consumers have more choices than ever.

  • Becoming a Qualitative Champion

    Qualitative research is fascinating. What appears to be magic is, instead, scientific and analytical.

    Using well-established methodologies, qual uncovers emotions and motivations associated with human decision-making behaviors. Qualitative insights frame and then explain quantitative insights. It is impossible to measure something without first defining and understanding it. After a quant deep-dive has been conducted, qual answers the “whys” that inevitably arise — something that quant is ill-equipped to handle. In the spirit of fostering insights based on a solid foundation, I offer this friendly advice to my fellow, quant-focused researchers.

  • 20Apr
    High Performance Research Department

    Recently at a marketing research conference, I attended an interesting presentation on the correlates or drivers of a highly effective research/insights function. It was a good attempt, but too many missing variables, too little data, and too short a time period doomed the project to inconclusive results.

    However, the presenters deserve an “A” for attacking the subject and stimulating everyone’s thinking on the topic. The presentation did get me thinking about all of the high-performance research/insights departments, as well as the “dogs,” that I have worked with over the past 50 years. So, here is one opinion about what determines the success of a marketing research/insights function in a large corporation.

  • Marketing Research Dilemma

    Lots of people who specialize in consumer insights ask, “How can we get a seat at the table?” Of course, they’re referring to the boardroom table where high-level management-team discussions happen.

    So I think the hidden question is, “How can we gain the respect of the organizations we work with so that they include us in those discussions?” These are important questions that we, especially my colleagues on the corporate side, often struggle with. What we have to offer is critically important. The information we provide and insights we glean from great research routinely save companies money—big money. But I fear there are still few who see it that way.

  • 27Feb
    On Offering A Magic Carpet Ride
    Posted by Kathi McKenzie
    Brand identity

    There seems to be some confusion on what, exactly, is a brand. It is not a product. It is not a logo. It is not a bunch of personality traits that we marketers try to convey to consumers. It is much more complex than any of these. So, what exactly is a brand?

    It is not enough to have a good product. Consumers have many choices, and you need to understand how they decide on a brand. You must deliver a brand experience that is somehow different from your competitors. Here are a few things to think about.

  • 19Feb
    Survival of the Fittest! Retail Style!
    Posted by Bonnie Janzen
    Path of Purchase

    How can you position your brand and your retail operation for success in a hypercompetitive and extremely fast-moving environment?

    As the world of retail is ever-changing and fast-paced, so must our consumer insights techniques and solutions be! Working with our retail clients, we focus on strategies in a few key areas.

  • 15Jan
    Why 95? The Relevance of 95% Significance Level
    Posted by Elizabeth Horn, Ph.D.
    Significance level

    I wonder how many beneficial scientific insights have been discounted or flat out ignored because of adherence to 95%?

    And in the market research industry, what great nuggets of truth have we inadvertently missed? To its credit, market research is less rigid in its significance testing. Some companies even maintain a standard of 90%, recognizing that 95% may cause them to overlook something important.

  • 7 core Questions for Brand Managers

    Brand managers live in a difficult world of constant pressure, tactical chaos, and unrelenting demands from senior executives.

    Amid all the frenzy of “agile marketing,” demands from manufacturing and operations, questions from major customers, budgetary constraints, and competitive actions, it’s easy for brand managers to overlook or undervalue the critical information they need to strategically (and tactically) manage their brands. To effectively manage a brand, every brand manager should be able to answer seven sets of core questions.


  • 15Dec
    Marketing Strategy

    Like practically everything else, it feels like marketing—especially advertising—is changing at lightning speed. Print is out, digital is in.

    Broadcast no, Social yes. Mass messaging is passé, microtargeting is the new black. Traditional processes? Nah, give me agile please, and let’s add in some programmatic advertising. Right or wrong, these seem to be the prevailing attitudes as technology advances and consumer behavior changes.

  • 6Dec
    The Importance of “Why”
    Posted by Stan Hazen
    Asking Why Questions

    Marketing is essentially about creating, communicating, and delivering products and services that have value for customers. Marketing research is about gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information to help accomplish that as effectively and successfully as possible.

    In marketing, there’s almost always a need for research—a need for information to help identify or assess challenges and opportunities, or to guide decisions and actions. There are also all kinds of questions that might be asked and the most important questions in marketing are always about “why.”

  • 16Nov
    Putting Your Best Face Forward
    Posted by Kathi McKenzie
    Packaging Research

    Packaging remains the last chance for a brand to influence consumers.

    With the proliferation of products, the rise of store brands, the role of online shopping, and increasingly discriminating consumers, the task of putting your “best face forward” is more difficult—and more crucial—than ever.

  • Shopping Research

    In today’s world, what role do retail stores and establishments play in the consumer’s purchase journey?

    What are your customers actually doing inside your retail store or establishment when they purchase a product or service? As a retailer, how do your “brick and mortar” establishments fit into the consumer’s purchase journey, compared to online shopping?

  • Innovation Defination

    We know innovation is important.

    Let’s say management has determined that your company needs to evaluate how Millennials currently impact your business and how they will impact your business in years to come. How can you design innovative products and services for Millennials?

  • 22Sep
    Pricing Research

    How do you know if a new product will be successful?

    Will people like it? Will they buy it? Will they tell others about it? Will they give positive ratings and reviews? Will they buy it a second time? And a third? Will we make a profit on it? How quickly?

  • New product development

    How do you know if a new product will be successful?

    Will people like it? Will they buy it? Will they tell others about it? Will they give positive ratings and reviews? Will they buy it a second time? And a third? Will we make a profit on it? How quickly?

  • 22Aug
    Uncertainty in Marketing

    Market researchers, almost by definition, constantly deal with certainty and uncertainty. If there was no uncertainty in the world of marketing—if everything were reasonably known or certain—there wouldn’t be much need for market researchers.

    But, in fact, the world of marketing is full of uncertainty—things not known, not understood, not ever tried, or not even ever imagined. If what we know in the world of marketing would fill a cup, what we don’t know would fill an ocean.

  • 21Aug
    Bitcoin Brilliance
    Posted by Jerry W. Thomas
    Bitcoin Brilliance

    Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have captured the public’s imagination and investors’ fancy as a new pathway to wealth. Bitcoins traded as high as $4,000 last week (August 2017), but as recently as 2010 you could have purchased a Bitcoin for a few pennies.

    Parts of Bitcoin’s mystique are its high technology, high security, and the massive computing power required to mine (or create) another Bitcoin. We might think of Bitcoin as a type of artificial currency, an imaginary currency, or even a counterfeit currency, but, of course, it goes by the moniker “cryptocurrency.”

  • 9Aug
    Whose Brand Is It, Anyway?
    Posted by Kathi McKenzie
    Customer Horizon

    How much of your brand narrative do you control? The answer is probably “less than you think.”

    Way back when, marketers sent forth advertising messages, and consumers received them. We all knew that there was such a thing as “word of mouth,” and that it could be powerful. Honestly though, your typical consumer didn’t spend a lot of time talking to her neighbor about what toilet paper they preferred. Companies were content that they, for the most part, controlled their brand narrative.

  • 26Jul
    Keep an Outward Focus
    Posted by Clay Dethloff
    Customer Horizon

    Throughout history, we have looked toward the horizon to see what is before us as we chart our ways through the seas.

    We are trying to find the smoothest course or, at the very least, trying to avoid the hidden reefs. In business, we too often look inward within our “ships”  (or companies or organizations) and focus on the here and now, rather than what may be a ways off, out on the horizon. It is not that these internally focused efforts are unnecessary, but it is critical that our organizations also continue to keep an eye looking outward in order to keep watch for paths forward, small areas of turbulence, or for gale-force storms.

  • 17Jul
    Providing More Value
    Posted by Bonnie Janzen
    Providing More Value

    Whether we work in a corporate environment or for an agency, we are all looking for ways to discover and provide better insights to our clients (either internal or external) so that they can excel in this highly competitive environment.

    The first step is to work on your relationships with your clients. They should feel comfortable discussing all the aspects around the business issues with you, whether they are “the good, the bad or the ugly.” Your past performance on previous client projects is the foundation of your relationship with them.

  • 29Jun
    Universe Error
    Posted by Jerry W. Thomas
    Universe Error in Marketing Research class

    The world is awash in data from surveys of all types. The rise of low-cost, do-it-yourself survey tools has added to the flood of survey data. We can scarcely buy a toothpick without a follow-on survey to measure how happy we are with the toothpick.

    All of these surveys and the data they generate (often using relatively large samples, n > 1,000) tend to create a false sense of accuracy, based on the calculated standard error. The standard error is a widely accepted measure of sampling error, and it is typically the basis for the footnote “the accuracy of this survey is 5 percentage points, plus or minus, at a 95% level of confidence” found in research reports or survey research results in newspapers, magazines, or websites.

  • Choice Modeling Mobile Devices

    Replicating actual market decisions in a survey choice task is an important design goal. However, given that survey respondents have moved to devices with smaller screens, it has become increasingly difficult to accomplish the goal of realism.

    For this reason, a summary of the most important elements of realism becomes critical, so that the choice task design can focus on incorporating only these most important elements. Where space is limited, the design must be focused on what is most important to producing realistic choice model outputs.

  • 24May
    Design Thinking For The Rest Of Us
    Posted by Felicia Rogers
    design thinking

    By now you’ve probably heard about Design Thinking.

    Originated by the Stanford University Institute of Design, this is a development pathway that was devised for use by designers and innovation specialists. Essentially, Design Thinking is a process in which various steps are knitted together to help guide innovation in virtually any area of discipline. That is, the process helps develop new products and services, new advertising or promotions, new package functionality or presentation, etc.

  • Survey Data Weighting

    It often happens that a perfectly designed sampling plan ends up with too many women and not enough men completing the survey, or too many old people and not enough young people.

    In these cases, data weighting might make sense, if you want totals that accurately reflect the whole population. The term "data weighting" in most survey-related instances refers to respondent weighting (which in turn weights the data or weights the answers). That is, instead of a respondent counting as one (1) in the cross-tabulations, that respondent might count as 1.25 respondents, or .75 respondents. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when you are thinking about weighting survey data.

  • Marketing Research

    Recently, I saw a spirited discussion on LinkedIn about issues that client-side market researchers sometimes have with research suppliers’ business development efforts.

    That LinkedIn post and subsequent discussion apparently touched a nerve, as it rapidly sparked hundreds of comments and suggestions from client researchers as well as suppliers. It generated follow-up discussions within our office (a research firm), as I’m sure it did in other research firms and client companies. Even as some time has passed, I’ve found myself continuing to think about it, so thought I’d share a few thoughts.

  • 11Apr
    On Being Frictionless
    Posted by Kathi McKenzie
    Customer Satisfaction

    Lately, there have been a number of articles written about whether a company should aim to be truly frictionless, or if perhaps the ability to offer the consumer a memorable experience is somehow at odds with being frictionless.

    In other words, does being frictionless equate to being invisible? I am going to argue no to that notion. Come on! Friction is what gets on our last remaining frayed nerve, so let’s have less of that, please!

  • 28Mar
    We Need to Motivate Those Segments
    Posted by Clay Dethloff
    Motivating Marketing Segmentation

    Market segmentation as a practice has been around for a while now, and companies and organizations around the world are using segmentation to identify those groups of customers who have similar wants and needs and to then try to fulfill those needs.

    As segmentation has evolved, many types of segmentation schemes have been developed; there are segments by product or service needs, sensitivity to price, geographic area, demographic segment, or psychographics and lifestyles. Each of these segmentation types can have their benefits or place.

  • 21Mar
    Business in Cuba

    Now that U.S. travel restrictions have been eased, Americans are joining the mix of Canadians and Europeans who visit Cuba every year.

    The most obvious opportunity is the one for companies in the travel and tourism industries to serve customers eager to visit Cuba for the first time. Cuba’s proximity to the U.S., its natural beauty, and the ideal weather make it a great destination. The country has much more to offer that will appeal to American travelers: beaches, diverse architecture, baseball, cigars, rum, unique dining experiences, and exciting nightlife.

  • Digital Data

    Over the past several decades, Marketing Mix Modeling has been an important tool to assist firms in optimizing the allocation of budget to various types of media, such as television, radio, print, outdoor, and digital.

    In recent years, the digital component has grown out of proportion to more traditional media channels. As a result, digital advertising and the use of influential messaging has grown, and marketers are considering allocating new levels of spending on digital media.

  • 7Feb
    Mother Nature’s Strategy
    Posted by Jerry W. Thomas
    Marketing Strategy

    Planet Earth’s life in its many forms has survived and thrived over a period of at least three billion years.

    During this time, living organisms have survived the most incredible extremes, from worldwide warmth to bitterly cold ice ages, from heavy rainfall to extreme drought. Somehow, through all of these monumental changes and life-threatening events, life in all its glory and beauty has flourished. Might life (or nature, or the natural world) have some lessons to teach us about strategy?

  • 24Jan
    The Curse of the Target Market
    Posted by Felicia Rogers
    Target Market

    We often put the cart before the horse when evaluating new product ideas. How many times have you been in the midst of a new product development (NPD) effort when the conversation turned to the target market?

    Then that conversation seemed to take on a life of its own. I’m convinced that, for some in corporate America, the lens is focused so intensely on the target market that the product idea itself gets pushed into the periphery.

  • Marketing Research

    Curiosity is one of the most powerful forces in the world, and asking questions is one of our most powerful tools.

    Asking questions is critical for virtually all learning and understanding. For all improvement and growth. For innovation. For identifying and solving problems. For evaluating options and making decisions. For prioritizing attention and resources.


  • 29Nov
    Clean and Pure Sampling
    Posted by Jerry W. Thomas
    Marketing Research Sampling

    Sampling, of course, has never been clean and pure. Door-to-door, in-person interviewing was one of the main data collection methods in the United States up until about 1950.

    The arrival of online data collection and the rise of online panels in the late 1990s ushered in the “Wild Wild West” of sampling practices. Many of the new sampling-panel companies were technology companies new to the world of marketing research. Often these new companies were good at building online panels, but they didn’t have a clue about how to pull representative samples. Here are the systems and practices that Decision Analyst employs in its pursuit of “clean and pure” online samples.

  • 8Nov
    E-commerce Blog

    The world of retail has always been fast-moving and ever-changing. E-commerce has accelerated this phenomenon. E-commerce is, in fact, the best thing since sliced bread!

    E-commerce is defined as commercial transactions conducted electronically on the Internet. E-commerce officially began in the United States back in the 1970s. In order to realize the promise of e-commerce, online security had to be improved. Secure socket layer (SSL) technology was introduced in 1994, followed by many other enhancements. By the year 2000, e-commerce was a $27.6 billion industry. By the year 2009, it had grown to $143.4 billion. By 2020, it is projected to be $523 billion. (Figures cited are for United States)

  • 18Oct
    The Brand Awareness Bullseye
    Posted by Felicia Rogers
    Brand Awareness

    As time goes on, building brand awareness is becoming more and more difficult. You might wonder how that is possible? Hear me out.

    Media, in seemingly endless forms, has a huge influence on our lives. We humans are inundated with messages: verbal, written, visual. Experts tell us that advertising messages alone come at us thousands of times each day. Add to those other marketing messages, personal conversations, text messages, email, news feeds, social media activity, and so on. I’m distracted just writing these words.

  • 23Sept
    ESOMAR Congress 2016 in New Orleans
    Posted by Jerry W. Thomas
    Big Data Fusions

    ESOMAR, the European Society for Opinion and Market Research, continues its movement into the U.S. marketplace.

    Historically, ESOMAR has been a minor player in the U.S. because of the strength of U.S. associations, such as the Advertising Research Foundation, the Marketing Research Association, the American Marketing Association, and CASRO. However, ESOMAR members from the U.S. now outnumber its members from any other single country.

  • 7Sept
    Known Knowns and Other Unknowns
    Posted by Jerry W. Thomas
    Marketing Research

    Several years ago, Donald Rumsfeld, then Secretary of Defense, spoke eloquently about Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and the dreaded Unknown Unknowns. Mr. Rumsfeld omitted one category, however, and that is Unknown Knowns.

    These four sets of simple word-pairs convey powerful conceptual ideas with relevance to developing marketing plans and marketing strategies—as well as military strategies. Marketing decisions based on Knowns—truth, facts, and evidence—are far more likely to succeed than those based on hopes, wishes, and mythology.

  • Ethnographic Research

    Ethnography is the study of human races and cultures, according to Merriam-Webster.

    It is "people watching" at a very basic level. In small-town America, previous generations used to go to Main Street after dinner, especially in the summer, to people watch. Those watching (the audience) would sit on a bench and observe couples and families as they walked up and down the street, this audience would notice neighbors and friends gathering and talking. Everyone did a little window shopping and stopped in old-fashioned drugstores for soda or ice cream. It was fun, entertaining, social, and educational, and even some business was conducted.

  • Marketing Research

    When I typed the word "growth" into Google Search and I was immediately (within 0.46 seconds it says) presented with 747,000,000 results.

    There are pictures, graphs, articles, and definitions. defines growth as "the act or process, or a manner of growing; development; gradual increase."

  • 28Jul
    Automotive Marketing Research

    It seems like every week you see or hear articles or news items about driverless cars, self-driving cars, autonomous cars.

    Sometimes with a note of skepticism, but more often with a tone of excitement and of amazement with technology, and with the point of view that it’s coming, it’s inevitable, it’s just a matter of time—and isn’t it going to be great and so much better than having people drive cars.

  • American Home Comfort Study

    When was the last time you sat in a management meeting bemoaning the fact that a competitor, or someone from another industry altogether, had come with a new business practice, product, or service that set the world on fire?

    Everyone in the conference room had talked about it and each had a plan. However, the company was unwilling to commit because they lacked confidence in knowing enough of the right answers to actually make it work and the cost was too high.

  • 22Jun
    Money On The Table: Product Usage Studies
    Posted by Jerry W. Thomas
    Product Usage Studies

    Product usage (or product consumption) studies should be thought of as foundational research to be conducted on a periodic basis.

    With the reduced marketing budgets of the last decade, many traditional product usage studies have fallen by the wayside. Yet, it is very difficult to market a brand without detailed knowledge of how the product is used or consumed.

  • 1Jun
    Food Manufacturers Struggle with Right to Know GMOs law in Vermont
    Posted by Bonnie Janzen and Elizabeth Horn, Ph.D.
    Right to Know GMO laws

    Why should consumers all over the United States care about the packaging in Vermont?

    Over time, other states may adopt the Vermont laws (or similar legislation). Food and beverage companies are scrambling to respond to the changing legal landscape. Because of manufacturing/distribution limitations, any changes made to product labels to accommodate Vermont’s new law would likely be made for all products sold in the United States. Companies actively are seeking guidance to answer key questions:

  • 18May
    Investing Our Way To Poverty
    Posted by Jerry W. Thomas
    Investing our way to poverty

    It’s surely un-American to question the huge flows of investment money flooding into technology firms and high-tech startups.

    After all, it seems like all of these high-tech investments would stimulate a high rate of economic growth in the U.S. True, some of these investments have created spectacular companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook). But are all of these investments in high tech really paying off? Are these ventures really stimulating economic growth in the U.S.?


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