Decision Analyst's experts have written the blogs below on different marketing research techniques, marketing strategy, and branding.

2016 to 2019 Blogs

Nov 19 2019
Planning for the Future

Diving Deeper Into Diversity—Hispanic Research

by: (President of JAM Consulting) and (Senior Vice President at Decision Analyst)

Sampling concerns ranged from fraud to worries over how representative our samples truly are these days. While the prevention of fraud is ongoing and evolving, the issue of representativeness deserves just as much attention. This is particularly true in the diverse U.S. Hispanic market, where the demographics, attitudes, and behaviors can differ from the general population in important ways.

Nov 12 2019
Planning for the Future

Planning for the Future

We are taught to plan, to anticipate, to read reality. We are taught to make adjustments in our plans, and to continually do this as we prepare for the future. So how do we read the current state of reality? How do we plan and then make adjustments along the way? What do you do when the future that you had hoped for didn’t quite materialize as you expected? Or didn’t happen as quickly as you planned for?

Oct 15 2019
Path to Purchase

Going Off The Grid:

Not Just For Hippies & Outlaws

What do you think are the top frustrations for survey-takers? As a marketing research professional, and a customer who takes surveys, I’m focusing on the over-used and abused question format—the grid question. To ease the frustrations of respondents consider using MaxDiff questions, MaxDiff questions force respondents to make trade-offs (or choices), like they do in the real world.

Oct 2 2019
Path to Purchase

Optimal Pricing Is in the Eye of Corporate Strategy

An optimal suite of great products offered at acceptable prices is an integral part of a company’s strategy. But what sounds like a pretty simple proposition is not that easy in practice. Pricing strategies should encourage product purchase, promote customer goodwill, and, ultimately, maximize profit. Evaluating potential pricing strategies with historical or future-looking methods is critical.

Sep 18 2019
Path to Purchase

Workshops: A Conduit For Change

At Decision Analyst we have found that conducting workshops with internal stakeholders after the presentation of the marketing research results can be one of the most effective conduits for change that a business can employ. Workshops allow all of the relevant stakeholders involved to come together at one time to begin the process of moving decisions and behaviors through the organization.

Sep 4 2019
Path to Purchase

My Path To Purchase

Trying to specify consumers’ purchase paths (the behaviors and inputs that impact shoppers’ decisions) is often very challenging. In most cases, purchase decisions are unique to each individual and are composed of numerous decisions that take place subconsciously. These subconscious decisions are also influenced by outside factors, ingrained habits, and biased perspectives that consumers won’t admit to. So why do we try?

Aug 13 2019
Distribution Strategy

5 Essentials For New Product Success

How many new products are introduced in the U.S. each year? I’m sure the number is in the tens of thousands, especially when you count line extensions and other new SKUs. All you have to do is spend some time scrolling through Amazon or take a walk down the aisles of any retailer to get a sense of the number of products that already exist. So how does a new product truly break through?

Aug 13 2019
Distribution Strategy

Distribution Strategy

Distribution is often an unrecognized and underappreciated element of strategy, yet it is almost always an important factor in a winning strategy. When “distribution” is linked to “strategy,” the question is: How can distribution serve as a component or variable to support a company’s overall business and marketing strategy?

Jul 23 2019
Customer Optimization

Your Secret CX Weapon:

In Managing Customer Experience, Don't Forget Your Employees


The customer experience is as important as the products and services a company provides. Any brand’s or retailer’s best path to an optimized customer experience is with its frontlines: their cashiers, waiters/waitresses, store managers, customer-service team members, etc. How can you ensure employees take an active role in optimizing the customer experience?

Jul 9 2019
Strategy Research

Suppressors Demystified:

The Silent Influencers of Data in Statistical Modeling

Suppressors are variables that when added to a regression model, change the original relationship between X (a predictor) and Y (the outcome) by making it stronger, weaker, or no longer significant—or even reversing the direction of the relationship (i.e., changing a positive relationship into a negative one). What can researchers do when encountering problem suppressors?

Jun 27 2019
Strategy Research

Key Strategy Questions

“To be or not to be, that is the question” famously asked by Shakespeare’s Hamlet as he pondered the value of choosing life over death. In business, opposing positions (such as Hamlet’s) often lead to asking more marketing-nuanced versions of this question: What does your brand or your company wish to be? Or what does your brand or company not wish to be?

May 21 2019
Qualitative Research

Breaking Through Information Polarization In An Online World

What is Information Polarization… I think of it as basically giving precedence or importance to information or things that you like, things you are associated with, or things that closely match your own values or desires; and sometimes ignoring or discounting those things you don’t. But what happens when Information Polarization is taken out of the consumers’ hands?

May 15 2019
Market Segmentation Myths

“Segmentation Studies Never Pay Off”

Overcoming The Myth

In the business world, we’ve all heard it: “We did a segmentation, and no one bought into the results.” It’s important to remember that the research and report are just the beginning of the journey. We have found that it’s often vitally important to flank a segmentation initiative with in-person work sessions involving key members of the client organization’s team.

Apr 22 2019
Generational Cohorts

Generational Gobbledygook

Magically, every 10 to 15 years a new generational cohort (like Millennials, Generation Z, etc.) emerges from the shadows to transform and revolutionize American culture and the economy. We might miss these behavioral changes if it were not for the book authors, pundits, consultants, and communications executives who heighten our awareness of and shape our minds to the significance of each new generational cohort.

Apr 11 2019
B2B Research

Steps and Suggestions to Avoid the Perils of B2B Research


I have worked in business-to-business research for many years. When I meet with clients, I often find myself having a similar conversation about the difficulties in conducting B2B research. While B2B research is not easy to conduct, the rewards can be huge. Here are some thoughts and suggestions on improving the quality of B2B research.

Apr 4 2019
Brand Strategy

Analyzing Access

How to Transform Your Innovation and Analytics Strategy to Win in the Subscription Economy


What was your day like? You digitally ran errands on Amazon, put on your outfit from Stitch Fix. If you hadn’t noticed, you’re pretty entwined in “the Subscription Economy.” Business is shifting swiftly, and the way people consume your goods and services has changed—some say in a permanent way. Challenge yourself to come up with a business that can’t be turned into a subscription.

Mar 26 2019
Brand Strategy

Risky Business, Statistically Speaking

Statistical significance testing is fraught with danger. “Getting it wrong” can translate into suboptimal business decisions at best and financial loss at worst. Although there are several potential pitfalls associated with statistical significance testing, these are the two main mistakes: Mistake #1 is a false positive and Mistake #2 is a false negative.

Feb 26 2019
Brand Strategy

Product Testing Is Unnecessary—

And Other Related Myths

A revolutionary new product. An improved product. A problem product that’s been “fixed.” What do all of these have in common? All of these products also need to be tested. But if the product, itself, is never put into the hands of potential users, how strong are its chances to succeed?

Feb 12 2019
Brand Strategy

Is Your Strategy Working?

4 Steps To Help Ensure A Winning Strategy

At its core, a strategy is a plan that is skillfully and carefully formulated and carried out for the purpose of achieving a goal. It seems appropriate to take a look at some of the tools available to help ensure a brand has a winning strategy. From a research and insights perspective, a number of types of studies can be deployed for a solid understanding of how end users will be influenced by a new strategy or a minor pivot in direction.

Jan 29 2019
Customer Research

Rediscovering Your Customers


We think we know exactly who our customers are, and maybe even what they want or need. But what is this “knowledge” based on? Successful market leaders understand that they cannot rely on yesterday’s data to drive tomorrow’s growth. We must constantly seek not only to understand the market, but also to anticipate it, else we risk being yesterday’s market leader.

Jan 21 2019
Online Sampling

The Seven Deadly Sins of Online Sampling

Online surveys rely primarily on samples pulled from online panels or on web intercepts (“river” sample). Online panels vary greatly in quality. Most large research agencies employ fraud-detection systems to identify these errant “respondents,” but many small research firms and Do-It-Yourself research departments do not have rigorous systems in place to identify fraud.

Jan 14 2019
Questionnaire Bias

When Results Lie:

Tips for Overcoming Questionnaire Bias

Biased survey questions wreak havoc on the reliability and validity of the survey which produces junk data. Biased questions increase respondent confusion which then increases error in their responses. This in turn reduces the strength of the relationships between variables. In worse case scenarios, biased questions can return results that may be untrue which favor a specific outcome. So what can we do to avoid bias in surveys?

Jan 2 2019
Automotive Innovation

Upping Your Innovation Game


The notion of instilling innovation in your company can be vague. Encouraging learning and discovery can often be the best way to start if you want to create a culture of innovation. When thinking about encouraging innovation based on customer insights, a couple of aspects to keep in mind for increased learning and discovery follow.


Dec 4 2018
Marketing Research

Should We Care About Non-Response Bias?

Non-response bias occurs when people who participate in a research study are inherently different from people who do not participate. This bias can negatively impact the representativeness of the research sample and lead to skewed outcomes. There are, however, strategies that may mitigate the impact of non-response bias that do not require large budgets and longer time periods.

Nov 7 2018
Marketing Research

When “Good Enough” Isn’t Good Enough …

To Really Drive The Growth Your Business Is Craving

We’re all moving faster and being pressured to further pick up that already-brisk pace. One result of this increasing speed is the tendency to settle for “good enough.” If we can go through just of some of the steps in our time-tested process, that’s good enough. If we can conduct research overnight, even if we’re not representing the whole consumer base, that’s good enough. Or is it?

Oct 23 2018
Helping Business Grow

Helping Your “Garden” to Thrive:

Ideas to Help Your Business Grow

Business, like gardening, is not static; it’s a living and changing thing. With both, you have to expect the unexpected. An early frost as well as various insects can derail or completely wipe out a garden. Similarly; poor product launches, new competitors, etc., can cause businesses to perform below expectations. I believe that several of the principles and rules of thumb used in gardening can apply in a corporate setting.

Oct 4 2018
Geomapping and Micromapping

The Great Proposal Wasteland

A comparison of the proposal-bidding model versus standard-cost model when hiring a marketing research firm. Both bidding models provide stark contrasts in efficiency and time. The proposal-bidding model is far more common in practice, at least in the U.S.. However, the standard-cost model does provide many advantages by reducing project execution times, decreasing costs, minimizing risks, and improving the quality of the research.

Sep 18 2018
Dig Data

Brave New Research—

Looking Ahead to a 5G World


According to experts, the move to 5G will open new horizons for us all and almost every industry will see monumental changes. So, what are the implications for the marketing research world? Here in the present, let’s take a quick look at some of the ways a more connected world, and lightning-fast networks, may impact data collection and other areas.

Sep 4 2018
Dig Data

Helping Legacy Auto Companies Innovate In The New Age


Coming up with and developing great product ideas can be a daunting task. Additionally, how can a marketer know that an idea is really “great” and will be talked about by auto shoppers and enthusiasts? These are the issues that face new vehicle product developers everywhere.

Aug 16 2018
Dig Data

Maintaining Product Quality In The Face Of Rising Costs

Are your consumers paying more to fill their gas tanks or cool their home lately? Are their weekly grocery bills rising? If the situation continues, we could be in for a product-quality crisis. So what’s a manufacturer to do? As soon as the market even hints at commodity prices creeping up and ingredient or component substitutions enter the realm of possibility, a plan for product testing should be activated.

Jun 4 2018
Advertising Copy Testing

Can You Hear Me Now?:

Embracing Advertising Testing

Remember the ads that ran in the early 2000s that featured a phone technician asking, “Can you hear me now?”. 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.

Apr 27 2018
Becoming a Qualitative Champion

Becoming A Qual Champion:

A Short Guide For The Quant-Focused Researcher

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. In the spirit of fostering insights based on a solid foundation, I offer this friendly advice to my fellow, quant-focused researchers.

Apr 20 2018
High Performance Research Department

The High-Performance Research/Insights Department

Recently at a marketing research conference, I attended an interesting presentation on the correlates or drivers of a highly effective research/insights function. The presentation did get me thinking about all research/insights departments I have worked with. So, here is one opinion about what determines the success of a marketing research/insights function in a large corporation.

Apr 3 2018
Marketing Research Dilemma

“How Do We Get A Seat At The Table?”

The Research Consultant’s Dilemma

Lots of people who specialize in consumer insights ask, “How can we get a seat at the table?” 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.

Jan 15 2018
Significance level

Why 95? The Relevance of 95% 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.

Jan 2 2018
7 core Questions for Brand Managers

Seven Sets of Questions Every Brand Manager Must Answer

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


Dec 15 2017
Marketing Strategy

Stability In An Unstable (Marketing) World

It feels like marketing—especially advertising—is changing at lightning speed. Print is out, digital is in. 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.

Dec 6 2017
Asking Why Questions

The Importance of “Why”


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.”

Nov 2 2017
Shopping Research

What Are Consumers’ Current In-Store Shopping Behaviors:

Playing in an Omnichannel World

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?

Sep 22 2017
Pricing Research

Pricing Research:

The Good, The Bad, And The Good Enough

A comparison of 3 different pricing research methods: Choice Modeling vs. Van Westendorp vs. Gabor-Granger. Choice modeling techniques--the “good” pricing methods--should be recommended first to assess product pricing. When clients are budget-strapped and time-pressed though, “good enough” methods, such as the Gabor-Granger analysis, can provide sufficient guidance.

Aug 22 2017
Marketing and Research

Uncertainty in Marketing and Research


Market researchers, almost by definition, constantly deal with certainty and uncertainty. 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.

Jul 26 2017
Customer Horizon

Keep an Outward Focus

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. In business, we too often look inward and focus on the here and now, rather than what may be a ways off, out on the horizon. It is critical that organizations continue to keep an eye looking outward.

Jul 17 2017
Providing More Value

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. 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. Your past performance on previous client projects is the foundation of your relationship with them.

Jun 29 2017
Universe Error in Marketing Research class

Universe Error

The world is awash in data from surveys of all types. 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.

Jun 13 2017
Choice Modeling Mobile Devices

Consider Realism When Designing Choice Experiments, Especially With Small-Screen 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.

May 24 2017
design thinking

Design Thinking For The Rest Of Us

Originated by the Stanford University Institute of Design, this is a development pathway for use by designers and innovation specialists. Design Thinking is a process in which steps 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.

May 11 2017
Survey Data Weighting

To Weight, or Not to Weight

(A Primer on Survey Data Weighting)

A perfectly designed sampling plan can end up with too many of one demographic and not enough of another. 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). Here are some best practices to keep in mind.

Mar 28 2017
Motivating Marketing Segmentation

We Need to Motivate Those Segments

Companies and organizations around the world are using segmentation to identify those groups of customers. 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.

Mar 21 2017
Business in Cuba

Potential Business Opportunities 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.

Feb 21 2017
Digital Data

Digital Data and the Future of Marketing Mix Modeling

Marketing Mix Modeling has been an important tool to assist firms in optimizing the allocation of budget to various types of media. 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.

Feb 7 2017
Marketing Strategy

Mother Nature’s Strategy

Planet Earth’s many forms of life has survived and thrived over 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, life has flourished. Might life (or nature, or the natural world) have some lessons to teach us about strategy?

Jan 24 2017
Target Market

The Curse of the 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? 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.

Jan 10 2017
Marketing Research

For Marketing Success, Keep Asking Questions


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.


Nov 29 2016
Marketing Research Sampling

Clean and Pure Sampling

Sampling, of course, has never been clean and pure. The arrival of online data collection and online panels ushered in the “Wild Wild West” of sampling practices. 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.

Oct 18 2017
Brand Awareness

The Brand Awareness Bullseye

Building brand awareness is becoming more and more difficult. Media, in seemingly endless forms, has a huge influence on our lives. We humans are inundated with messages. 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.

Sep 7 2016
Marketing Research

Known Knowns and Other Unknowns

Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, Unknown Unknowns, and 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.

Aug 25 2016
Ethnographic Research


How It Can Help You Win the Hearts of Your Customers

Ethnography is "people watching" at a very basic level. Today ethnography is conducted with mobile devices (virtual ethnography), so that you can be in the moment of emotion, in the moment of the shopping trip, or in the moment of the product usage, without actually being there in person.

Jun 22 2016
Product Usage Studies

Money On The Table:

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.

Contact Decision Analyst

If you would like more information on Marketing Research, please contact Jerry W. Thomas by emailing or calling 1-817-640-6166.