Intensions Consulting on Our First Birthday

The start of 2015 was an exceptionally exciting time for Intensions Consulting, with our team conducting research across seven countries and uncovering hidden insights for clients in the health & lifestyle, food & beverage, higher education and financial service categories.

With all the international travel, in-depth interviews and data analysis, we totally forgot to celebrate our first birthday. So now that the dust has settled and the data has been digested, we'd like to share a few birthday facts and feelings.

Intensions Consulting was founded on May 9, 2014, with the aim of helping clients find hidden insights and market opportunities. While many great research firms exist in the world, very few combine statistics and psychology the way that we do. 

It's through this combination of facts and feelings, that we deliver our unique perspective on human experience and behaviour. To quote one of our clients, Dr. Angela Greter, "many research studies have been conducted around the world on consumer preferences and buying behaviour... however, none of these were quite like the research completed by Intensions."

One year on, hundreds of interviews in, thousands of surveys later, we feel honoured and humbled by the incredible staff, partners and clients who have helped to bring Intensions Consulting to life. We would like to thank each and every one of you for your trust, dedication, intellectual power and support - without you Intensions would not exist.

Like an infant Intensions Consulting is rapidly growing, constantly curious, and has an almost limitless capacity for cognitive development. We're excited to celebrate our first birthday, and as a developmental psychologist might say, we can look forward to "assimilating experiences and building new schemas" as we continue to grow.

Happy Birthday Intensions Consulting!

Intensions Consulting Men's Depression & Suicide Study

Last month the Men's Depression and Suicide Network released a small portion of an Intensions Consulting study exploring the levels of public awareness and stigma surrounding men's depression and suicide in Canada. The team at Intensions are proud to contribute our expertise and assistance to this important Movember funded mental health project. If you would like to read the original article you can click here, otherwise a copy is provided below:
Canadian Survey on Men's Depression & Suicide

A national survey has found that almost one quarter of Canadian men surveyed have considered or attempted suicide, and almost half of them have a close male family member or friend diagnosed or treated for depression. The study, by the University of British Columbia’s Men’s Depression and Suicide Network, found low levels of stigma toward others who experience mental health difficulties, but that many men hold negative attitudes about having a mental illness themselves. The survey sampled 901 English-speaking Canadian adults aged 18 to 83.

“These findings show us that a lot of guys hang onto paralyzing negative attitudes about being depressed themselves,” said the network’s co-director Dr. John Ogrodniczuk. “This points to the need for more interventions and programs to help men overcome the difficulty they experience in getting help from a health-care professional.”

Some Survey Highlights

- 23% of Canadian men surveyed have been diagnosed or treated for depression.

- 23% of Canadian men surveyed have considered or attempted suicide.

- 26% of Canadian adults surveyed have a close male family member or friend who has discussed or attempted suicide in the past 10 years.

- 46% of Canadian adults surveyed have a close male family member or friend who has been diagnosed or treated for depression in the past 10 years.

About the Study

These are the findings of a survey conducted by Intensions Consulting between August 29 and September 11, 2014 on behalf of the Men’s Depression and Suicide Network. For this survey, a sample of 901 English-speaking Canadian adults aged 18 to 83 from an online panel were interviewed. The sample was stratified and weightings were employed to balance demographics, ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. While sampling error cannot be estimated for non-probability samples such as the sample used to conduct this survey, a traditional unweighted probability sample of comparable size would have produced results considered accurate to within plus or minus 4.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About the Men's Depression & Suicide Network

In 2013, Movember, a global fundraising movement to raise awareness of men’s health issues, funded the Men’s Depression and Suicide Network. This partnership includes ongoing research and evaluation of how network programs and initiatives are influencing public awareness of male depression and suicide. The Men’s Depression and Suicide Network currently has five projects underway, all with the aim of improving the mental health and wellbeing of men (and their families) of differing ages and life stages. The network’s co-directors are UBC professors John Ogrodniczuk and John Oliffe.

The Nomadic Millennial

Over the past year I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time researching North American millennials on a wide range of everyday topics. Through hundreds of in-depth interviews, and thousands of online surveys, the theme of transience has often emerged.

The nomad, defined as "an individual with no fixed location who wanders in search of pasture," can represent a cultural ideal for this generation. In the face of social and financial pressure, many are attempting to remain free from the feeling of restriction.  

Transience of Home

Millennials often describe feeling at home everywhere and nowhere. Where previous generations define home as a place, millennials often see home in more abstract terms.
Many of the attributes of home (i.e. safety, attachment, relationships) can exist everywhere in the digital environment. With the ability to carry many of these attributes in your pocket, the idea of home has become more transitory and mobile for millennials.

Transience of Objects

Millennials often describe wanting to live light. Where previous generations placed great importance on objects, millennials are often concerned about becoming trapped by stuff.
The objects that are most valued, are the ones that facilitate growth and freedom. Things that provide maximum impact, with minimal inconvenience, are the things that are carried and consumed by these modern gypsies.

So what does this mean for brands?

Paradoxically, despite the desire to remain free, millennials will often feel strongly attached to the things that facilitate detachment. So when a product or brand helps facilitate detachment, it can be highly valued by millennials (think: bikes, smartphones, prepaid visa).

Are Smartphones the Modern Cigarette?

Recently I observed a group of friends in their 20's standing outside a restaurant. In perfect unison they stood staring at their smartphones. Nearby, another group of friends in their 50's were also standing outside a restaurant. In perfect unison they stood smoking cigarettes.

Both groups looked awkward and appeared to be filling time with a pointless activity, which made we wonder, are smartphones becoming the modern cigarette? 

The Control of Time       

For many smokers, the act of smoking can provide a mechanism for regulating and controlling time. Time is a complex and overwhelming concept - studies have found that when people are confronted by time, it can lead to reflection on mortality and changes in daily behavior. Smoking can provide a way to control time, by allowing people to segment their day into smaller sections and avoid moments of emptiness. 

In the same way, smartphones may have become the modern mechanism for regulating and controlling time. People use their phone to start the day, take a break from work, prepare for bed, and fill any moments of emptiness with action. Could it be that we consume a 'data packet a day' to help control time?

The Control of Emotion

For many smokers, the act of smoking can provide a mechanism for regulating and controlling their anxiety and emotion. Studies have found that many obsessive behaviors (like smoking, drinking and over-eating) are actually coping mechanisms for dealing with difficult emotions - allowing people to suppress their feelings with habitual activity.

In the same way, smartphones may have become the modern mechanism for controlling anxiety and emotion. When people feel awkward in a social situation, or frustrated at work, or lonely at home, they can use their smartphone to suppress their feelings with facts and updates. Could it be that we 'chain check' to help control emotion?      

The Modern Cigarette

Realizing the potential parallels between smoking and smartphone use can be uncomfortable. Smartphones have many benefits - I couldn't imagine living without mine - but I also suspect that using any product to control time and suppress emotion isn't healthy.

So what do you think, are smartphones the modern cigarette?