• 12Nov
    Planning for the Future by Bonnie Kenoly
    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. We do this every day in business. 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?

  • Distribution strategy is often an unrecognized or unappreciated, or underappreciated, aspect of marketing strategy.

    An optimal distribution system can help shape and magnify the overall success of and value of a brand and a business

  • Employees are the lifeblood of any business and typically one of the most expensive parts of your business.

    In this video Bonnie Janzen discusses they key aspects of employee engagement strategy and and suggest key questions that might be asked in an engagement survey.

  • Path to Purchase

    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, they force respondents to make trade-offs (or choices), like they do in the real world.

  • This video discusses pricing strategies and methods used to assess them.

    Pricing strategies support the overall corporate strategy. Strategies discusses include: maximize profit line revenue, maximize customer perceived value, customer segment, purchase channel, and new product. Research methods to assess these pricing strategies are also discusses.

  • Path to Purchase

    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 simultaneously encourage product purchase, promote customer goodwill, and, ultimately, maximize profit. Evaluating potential pricing strategies with historical or future-looking methods is critical because missteps alienate customers and damage margins.

  • This video discusses product strategy, and how it helps you get a product roadmap for your organization, for the product, or the product line that you’re working on

    The product roadmap is essentially the product and the product releases that you plan to have for your organization as the product goes forward, and it’s really helping you to understand what this target audience cares about. It's really important to understand in-depth what is important to the target audience as it relates to this product or service that you have.

  • 18Sep
    Path to Purchase

    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 in a brand, a new concept, an existing product line, etc., to come together at one time to begin the process of moving decisions and behaviors through the organization.

  • So, what are some of the core elements of a brand strategy?

    At its most basic level, it involves questions, such as; “Who do we target?” “What’s our optimal target market?” and “How do we position our brand vis-a-vis other brands?” “How do we differentiate our brand compared to other brands?” “What kind of a brand image do we want to project?”

  • Path to Purchase

    In 2016, an important sea change occurred in the way consumers gather information about new HVAC systems prior to purchasing one.

    For the first time, more consumers in Decision Analyst’s American Home Comfort Study reported using the internet, rather than a contractor, to gather information about their impending purchase.

  • 4Sep
    My Path To Purchase by Tom Allen
    Path to Purchase

    How many new products are introduced in the U.S. each year?

    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?

  • Decision Analyst is creating a series of 7 short informative videos on Strategy and Strategy Research and for the next few months with be posting the videos.

    In this introductory video, Jerry W. Thomas, explains the history of strategy, types of strategy, and keys question of ask to optimize your strategy.

  • 13Aug
    Distribution Strategy by Jerry W. Thomas
    Distribution Strategy

    Distribution is often an unrecognized and underappreciated element of strategy, yet it is almost always an important factor in a winning strategy.

    In the business world, the term “distribution” refers to the channels, logistics, and processes to move products and services from the point of manufacture, production, or creation to the ultimate end-users. 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?

  • Customer Optimization

    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. These are the people who interact with customers every day and can make or break a positive experience. How can you ensure employees take an active role in optimizing the customer experience?

  • Strategy Research

    Suppressors are rarely talked about in the marketing research community. They are viewed as the “red-headed stepchild” of statistics: rejected, neglected, and outcast.

    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?

  • 27Jun
    Key Strategy Questions by Bonnie Kenoly
    Strategy Research

    “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? The answers to these questions form the essence of your company’s strategy, and the answers can lead to corporate life or death as well.

  • 29May
    TURF Analysis by Jerry w. Thomas
    Turf Analysis

    TURF (Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency) had its origins in the media planning world, long before it was adapted to marketing research applications.

    While TURF has a place in the researcher’s toolkit, it has major limitations as a product line planning tool. Choice modeling is more expensive, but it overcomes most of the limitations of TURF and produces much more accurate predictions of actual in-market outcomes.

  • Qualitative Research

    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?

  • Market Segmentation Myths

    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.

  • 8May
    Name Testing by Jerry W. Thomas
    Name Testing

    That great new product is ready to go. Concept test results are positive. In-home usage tests of the product are positive. The package design looks great. Oops! Wait a minute.

    What are we going to call this new product? What is its name to be? Here is a little primer on Name Test Research

  • 22Apr
    Generational Gobbledygook by Jerry W. Thomas
    Generational Cohorts

    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 U.S. economy.

    We might miss these giant transformative waves of radical 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.

  • 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.

  • Brand Strategy

    What was your day like?

    You thawed out tonight’s meal from Home Bistro, 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.

  • 26Mar
    Risky Business, Statistically Speaking by Elizabeth Horn, Ph.D.
    Brand Strategy

    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.

  • 13Mar
    February 2019 Economic Index

    The Decision Analyst U.S. Economic Index stands at 119 for February 2019, a 4-point increase from February 2018 and a 5-point rebound from January 2019.

    The overall trend of the Economic Index over the past couple of years is relatively flat, indicating slower growth as the U.S. economy struggles to gain ground in the first quarter of 2019.

  • Brand Strategy

    Recently, I attended PMRC, the Pharmaceutical Marketing Research Conference. What struck me most was the discussion about how we, as marketing research practitioners, are not doing enough to drive the use of marketing research.

    From my company’s work providing marketing research and analytical consulting services across many industries, I know that this topic is broadly applicable, so I wanted to share my thoughts on the topic.

  • Brand Strategy

    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?

  • Brand 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 in the future.

    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.

  • 29Jan
    Customer Research

    We all inherently know about this trap. 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.

  • 21Jan
    Online Sampling

    Online surveys rely primarily on samples pulled from online panels (or access panels, if you live in Europe) or on web intercepts (often referred to as “river” sample).

    Online panels vary greatly in quality, with fraud and error rates ranging from 1% or 2% to more than 20%. 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 screen online samples for robotic respondents, respondent factories, etc.

  • 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?

  • 2Jan
    Upping Your Innovation Game by Heather Kluter
    Automotive Innovation

    Innovation means different things to different people, and so the notion of instilling innovation in your company can be vague.

    Through working with numerous companies, large and small, I’ve seen that 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.


  • 4Dec
    Should We Care About Non-Response Bias? by Elizabeth Horn, Ph.D.
    Marketing Research

    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. Basing important business decisions on research conducted using non-representative respondents is potentially disastrous. There are, however, strategies that may mitigate the impact of non-response bias that do not require large budgets and longer time periods.

  • Marketing Research

    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 accomplish a portion of what we need by the deadline, that will be 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?

  • Marketing Communications

    In this latest video, Felicia Rogers, looks at a couple of key factors in using segmentation to develop marketing communications.

    First, how do we use segmentation work to shape messages for certain audiences? And then secondly, how do we develop a winning communication strategy that will resonate with one segment without turning off others.

  • Helping Business Grow

    Business, like gardening, is not static; it’s a living and changing thing.

    With both, you have to expect the unexpected and be prepared for it. An early frost as well as various insects can derail or completely wipe out a garden. Similarly; recalls, poor product launches, new competitors, the threats of trade wars, etc., can cause businesses to perform below expectations. We do quite a bit of work helping our clients understand and wade through the changing environment they find themselves in, and I believe that several of the principles and rules of thumb used in gardening can apply in a corporate setting.

  • Marketing Strategy

    In this video, Bonnie Janzen, Executive Vice President, discusses applying your segmentation to strategy.

    In this video, Bonnie briefly covers positioning, new product strategy, pricing strategy, promotional stragey, and communication strategy.

  • July 2018 Economic Index

    The Decision Analyst U.S. Economic Index stands at 116 for September 2018, a 1-point increase over the past 12 months, but a 3-point decline from August 2018.

    The U.S. Economic Index has flattened out over the past year, suggesting that the U.S. economic expansion might be reaching its apex. The overall trend of the Economic Index suggests slowing growth, and raises the prospect that the current economic cycle may be reaching a turning point—a turn toward recession.

  • 4Oct
    The Great Proposal Wasteland by Jerry W. Thomas
    Geomapping and Micromapping

    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.

  • 26Sep
    Geomapping and Micromapping

    In this video, John Colias, Senior Vice President of Decision Analyst’s Advanced Analytics Group, discusses taking segmentation to the level of geomapping and micromapping.

    There are three stages to accomplish this: first is data fusion, then predictive modeling, and then the geographic projection.

  • Home Comfort Study

    Decision Analyst is proud to announce the launch of the 2019 American Home Comfort Study (AHCS). This syndicated study will follow our 2016 AHCS plan, including trended data from both the 2016 and 2013 studies.

    The AHCS is a primary-research study among homeowners who made the decision to purchase HVAC equipment for their primary residence in the previous two years, including central air conditioners and furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, and mini-splits.

  • 18Sep
    Big Data

    According to experts, the move to 5G will open new horizons for us all and almost every industry will see monumental changes, from manufacturing and services, to self-driving cars and smarter home appliances beyond the Internet of Things.

    So, what are the implications for the marketing research world? The answers to this question will be revealed over the next several years, as the full rollout isn’t expected until the 2020s. 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.

  • Dig Data

    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.

  • 30Aug
    Segmentation: Persona Development

    In this next Segmentation Series Video, Clay Dethloff talks about personas and persona development.

    Personas are about bringing segments to life. They take those segments that have been developed in the research and bring them to life. Personas really help to diffuse the learning throughout the organization.

  • Dig Data

    Are your consumers paying more to fill their gas tanks or cool their home lately? Are their weekly grocery bills rising? If we, as business people (and consumers too), haven’t noticed this trend yet, we will, according to The World Bank’s predictions.

    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.

  • July 2018 Economic Index

    The Decision Analyst U.S. Economic Index stands at 116 in May 2018, the same score as last month.

    However, the U.S. Economic Index score is up 2 points over the past 12 months. The overall trend of the Economic Index continues to indicate that the U.S. economy will continue to expand throughout 2018.

  • 20Jul
    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.

  • May 2018 Economic Index

    The Decision Analyst U.S. Economic Index stands at 116 in May 2018, the same score as last month.

    However, the U.S. Economic Index score is up 2 points over the past 12 months. The overall trend of the Economic Index continues to indicate that the U.S. economy will continue to expand throughout 2018.

  • Segmentation: Uncovering Motivations & Key Drivers

    In this next Segmentation Series Video, Jerry W Thomas explains how to get insights out of segmentation data.

    He mentions cross-tabulations, factor analysis, and key driver analysis as ways of uncovering motivations.

  • 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.

  • 10May
    Segmentation: Solution Criteria by Elizabeth Horn, Ph.D.
    Segmentation: Solution Criteria

    In this video Elizabeth Horn, Ph.D. discusses marketing segmentation solution criteria.

    Some general criteria for useful segments include: segments should share more commonalities with each group than they do between groups, segments should also be large enough for organizations to mount cost-effective campaigns, and segments should be reachable through most media avenues.

  • 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. 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.

  • 25Apr
    Design Considerations by Felicia Rogers
    Segmentation Design Considerations

    In this video Felicia Rogers discusses three high-level elements in designing your segmentation project.

    Those are the respondent sample, the questionnaire design, and some of the analytical components.

  • 20Apr
    High Performance Research Department

    Recently at a research conference, I attended an presentation on the drivers of a highly effective research/insights function. It was a good attempt, but too many missing variables doomed the project to inconclusive results.

    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.

  • Exploratory Qualitative Research

    In this video Clay Dethloff explains how using exploratory qualitative research helps create hypothesis of the segments, and gives insights for your segmentation project.

    He discusses tips for understanding both the rational and emotional underpinnings, utilizing different survey techniques, such as in-depth and/or in-the-moment to maximize understandings, and more.

  • 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?” 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.

  • 2Apr
    Types of Segmentation by Elizabeth Horn, Ph.D.
    Market Segmentation Techniques

    In this video Beth Horn discusses the different types of commonly used segmentation techniques.

    Techniques mentions include historical techniques, such as; attitudinal segmentation, and needs-based segmentation, as well as newer techniques, such as; location-based, transaction-based, demand-based, and microsegmentation.

  • Media Mix Modeling Optimization

    In this final Media Mix Minute, John Colias, talks about machine learning models, and how these models can be used to optimize the return on media spend.

    this video talks primarily about the digital space. So, imagine as in the diagram that a person is traveling, or journeying through the internet, by clicking on various websites and eventually come to, to my company’s website.

  • 13Mar
    Introduction to Market Segmentation

    Why segmentations sometimes fail, these are common pitfalls that we see in segmentation work.

    The first question is: what is the optimal target market for our brand? or our business? The next big question is what should our product strategy be?  And then, how do we position ourselves, and what messaging, and themes support that positioning? And then what advertising strategy should we explore to try to achieve competitive advantage? 

  • 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.

  • United States Economic index January 2018

    The Decision Analyst U.S. Economic Index stood at 118 in January 2018, two points higher than in December 2017, and up four points from January 2017.

    The past-12-month slope of the Economic Index indicates that the U.S. economy will continue to expand throughout the first half of 2018, and perhaps beyond. The Economic Index tends to lead U.S. economic activity by 6 to 12 months.

  • 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.