The Five Stages of Travel

Heading into the annual holiday and travel season, I thought you may appreciate a study undertaken by Google on 'The Five Stages of Travel.' While the data itself is relatively bland, the use of infographics managed to engage me in the experience. Happy Holidays.

Stage One - Dreaming:

Stage Two - Planning:

Stage Three - Booking:

Stage Four - Experiencing:

Stage Five - Sharing:

The Community Trust Report

Over the last month, I’ve been involved in a study that explored the topic of community trust in public institutions and political leaders. The study involved online surveys with 1500 people from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, and used the HuTrust model to measure the psychological drivers of trust. Last week, The Community Trust Report was shared for the first time at TEDxSFU.
Figure 1: When people trust their community, 80% will report a crime 
The Benefits of Community Trust

Trust is at the core of a community. Many of the social actions and interactions that embody the idea of ‘community’ are predicated on the need for trust. In fact, our research showed that when people trust their community, 80% will ‘help their neighbors,’ 80% will ‘report a crime to authorities,’ 73% will ‘vote in elections,’ and 54% will ‘volunteer more of their time.’ 

Political Trust in Montreal

From a political point-of-view, our research had some interesting findings on trust in Canadian politics. On average, only 19% of people surveyed in Montreal said they trusted Prime Minister Stephen Harper, versus 44% in Toronto and 46% in Vancouver. 

Among those surveyed in Montreal, the psychological driver that most reduced trust in Stephen Harper was found to be Vision; meaning that people ‘felt his values were less appealing.' In contrast, among those surveyed in Toronto and Vancouver the psychological driver that most increased trust in Stephen Harper was found to be Stability; meaning that people ‘felt he had a strong foundation.’ 

Police Trust in Vancouver

From a social point-of-view, our research has some interesting findings on trust in Police. On average, only 65% of people surveyed in Vancouver said they trusted the Vancouver Police Department, versus 78% in Toronto who trusted the Toronto Police Service, and 80% in Montreal who trusted the Montreal Police Service
Figure 2: The VPD are significantly less trusted than the TPS
Among those surveyed in Vancouver, the psychological drivers that most reduced trust in the Vancouver Police Department were Relationship and Competence; meaning that people ‘felt they were less great to deal with,’ and ‘felt they were less able to deliver what they promise.’

Community Trust at TEDxSFU

The theme for TEDxSFU was community engagement, and it attracted speakers including Jim Chu (Chief, Vancouver Police), John Furlong (CEO, Vancouver 2010 Olympics) and Ryan Holmes (CEO, Hootsuite). Below is a copy of the presentation I made at the event, which includes some of the findings from The Community Trust Report.


Digital Moms: The Drivers of Digital E-motion

Back in March 2011, I was involved in a proactive study that explored the online motivations and drivers of digital mothers (mothers who spent a period of time online).

The market psychology study involved in-depth morphological interviews and online surveys with 500 North American Moms. The outcomes from the study were designed to coincide with a keynote presentation we made at the 2nd Annual Marketing to Digital Moms Conference.

While there’s no shortage of metrics and statistics on the digital environment, the data can often fail to capture the personal human experience of online activity. As our study found, the digital actions of mothers are often influenced and impacted by a range of deeper motivations and feelings. Posting a photo can be a form of self-expression. Online shopping can reflect a desire for change. A status update may be driven by the desire for connection.

“For me it’s about getting the box, opening the box, and looking at all the stuff I bought. But as soon as I open it and look at it, it doesn’t appeal to me anymore. I don’t really know why… There’s something about me that likes the process of ordering, and looking and clicking, and getting, and opening, and then it’s like, okay I’m done.” - Digital Mom (2011)

Digital e-motion is the term we used to describe this deeper combination of action and motivation, and below is a presentation that contains some of the results from our research on the digital e-motions of mothers.


Think Quarterly: Dedicated to Data

Thought you may appreciate a new online magazine launched by Google, called Think Quarterly. Designed to communicate with Google's partners and advertisers, this first issue has been, “dedicated to data – amongst a morass of information, how can you find the magic metrics that will help transform your business?”

Masculinity in American Culture

Over the past few months I've been spending quite a bit of time in the United States – both for business and pleasure. In contrast to many European and Asian countries, one aspect of American culture that always surprises me is the degree to which they embrace ‘masculinity’ in their everyday lives. 

From the way that meetings are conducted, to the car brands that people prefer, masculinity seems to play an important role in mainstream American culture.

Defining Cultural Masculinity

For almost half a century, the famous social psychologist Prof. Geert Hofstede has been conducting research based on six dimensions of culture. One of those six dimensions is masculinity, a cultural dimension in which “social gender roles are clearly distinct: Men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success; women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life.”

Below is a table outlining the social norms frequently found in masculine cultures:
Bigger, Faster, Harder, Stronger

According to the research, America is considered a higher masculinity country, meaning that many of the masculinity attributes listed above also reflect mainstream American culture. To wrap up this post, I thought I’d provide a few practical examples of how masculinity can influence everyday American behavior.

Muscle cars are defined by Merrium Webster as, “American-made 2-door sports coupes with powerful engines.” These powerful cars are an icon of American masculinity, with research showing that “engine power of a car is more important in masculine cultures. In feminine cultures, people may not even know their car engines power.”

Madison Avenue is arguably the home of global advertising, located in New York City, the home of American corporate culture. According to research, “masculine cultures show more confidence in the advertising industry… [it’s believed that] the skepticism of feminine cultures toward advertising is based on their markets having been relatively swamped by advertising reflecting US masculine values.”

In America, information is often presented rationally. According to research, “across cultures it appears that feminine cultures read more fiction and masculine cultures more non-fiction… Members of masculine cultures seem to be more concerned with data and facts: members of feminine cultures are more interested in the stories behind the facts.”

Three interesting things on the interweb

In this edition of interesting things on the interweb, you’ll find three different forms of thinking from one source - Strawberry Frog. For those of you who don’t keep up-to-date with the advertising industry, Strawberry Frog is an independent agency which has been described as “waging war against the dinosaurs of advertising - monolithic global networks and their holding companies.”

Interesting interweb one:

In a five minute interview conducted by Heidu Ehlers, the founder of Strawberry Frog, Scott Goodson, discusses some of the challenges and priorities involved in running a global agency. According to Goodson, “when I founded Strawberry Frog, the challenge was always about fearlessness. You know, am I fearless enough to do it, do I have what it takes. And that question is there every single day.”



Interesting interweb two:

In the Planner Survey 2010, Heather LeFevre reports on the working life of 1578 strategic planners from around the world. Covering topics such as salary, job satisfaction and digital activity, the Planner Survey 2010 delivers some great data in a visually engaging format.



Interesting interweb three:

In an insightful Adweek article titled, ‘Whither Millennial Men,’ Chip Walker shares his insights on the emerging nature of millennial men. According to Walker, “millennial men are taking matters into their own hands and inventing a new version of American male success… a new male success archetype I call the indie guy.” Walker goes on to say that, “maybe the future of marketing to these young men is about giving them hope that a new version of American male success is possible, in a world where the odds sometimes seem stacked against them.”

The NGMR Top-5-Hot vs. Top-5-Not

As part of the Next Gen Market Research group, bloggers from around the world were invited to participate in a group post on the ‘Top 5-Hot vs. Top-5-Not’ topics in market research. The following is a collection of topics and trends that I feel are important to our industry; it may not add up to ten, but that’s what happens when you ask a qualitative researcher to count.

Hot topic 1: Research re-integration
At one time, the market research industry was unified with the marketing world. The purpose of market research, and the insights it garnered, was to inform the development of useful ideas (like the work of Ernest Dichter on Madison Avenue). However, over time, the market research industry separated from the marketing mainland and came to operate as an island.
Recently, I heard an MRIA colleague state that “the definition of useless research is research that isn’t used; and a lot of our research isn’t used.” Isolated on our industry island, a great deal of market research has become boring, habitual, resistant to change and disconnected from the needs of the marketing mainland.

Hence my first hot trend for 2011 is the re-integration of research into the marketing industry, and the re-connection of research and creativity. In order for our insights to be useful, we need to work more closely with those who actually use them.

Hot topic 2: Neuroscience
One of the highest profile research techniques of late has been neuroscience (shout out to my friend and former colleague Dr. Shane Moon, whose company is helping to pioneer this approach in Australasia). While neuroscience has attracted no shortage of public attention, it still faces some significant challenges including high start-up costs, a lack of qualified principals, risk adverse clients, and ambiguity surrounding the insights it provides.

Assuming it can sort out the business model, my second hot trend for 2011 is Neuroscience.

Hot topic 3: Metric Messaging
Back in 1964, Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase, ‘the medium is the message.’ Today, with the advent of social media, it may be worth considering if ‘the metrics are the message.’ In the same way that marketers use research to understand customers, customers use research to understand themselves. As a result, statistics and studies are some of the most viral content available to social media marketers.
Expanding our industry offering, my third hot trend for 2011 is metric messaging, or research companies using findings to stimulate brand conversations in social media.

Hot topic 4: Qualitative with Qualia
The broad definition for the term qualia is ‘the study of feelings and qualities of mental states.’ In today’s highly competitive, increasingly commoditized markets, there has never been more need to properly understand and harness customer’s mental states.

According to Prof. Gerald Zaltman, “95% of thinking happens in our unconscious. Therefore, unearthing your customers’ desires requires you to understand the mind of the market.” This is very much the objective behind the use of deeper qualitative methodologies, like those employed by companies including Olson Zaltman Associates, Censydiam, Psyma, Sinus Institute and Intensions Consulting.



Moving beyond the focus group, my fourth hot trend for 2011 is qualitative with qualia, or the use of qualitative methodologies that are designed to understand and explore the feelings and qualities of mental states.

Hot topic 5: Social Media
To be honest, no blog post on hot topics would be complete without a reference to social media - and the market research industry is no exception.

From a measurement perspective, social media may offer our industry an unparalleled opportunity to understand and explore human behavior. While most research practitioners appear to be behind the eight-ball in terms of social media expertise, clients still have high demand for tools and techniques that can understand human motivations in this medium.

From a management perspective, social media may also end up challenging many of the revenue and business models in our industry. Social media sites make most of their money from marketing - not market research. For them, market research, both sample and analysis, could be given away for free if it leads to more marketing revenue.

Irrespective of whether it ends up becoming a gift or a grenade, my fifth hot trend for 2011 is social media, and the impact it will have on the research industry.
Not topic 1: Online Panels
For the past few years, the reliability and validity of online panels has been one of the most over-exposed topics in market research. Every industry conference and publication seems to perpetuate this ongoing exercise in naval-gazing.
Whilst critiquing the effectiveness of online panels is important, the problem with our continuing focus on this topic is that it distracts us from far greater industry challenges - like how to retain custodianship of customer insights in the future. To quote from a recent blog post:

“The debate over data collection methods (i.e. telephone vs. online) is at the end of the day an old one, to be argued by academics. It is, at best, a sidebar to the greater issue facing the market research industry today: that of relevance and innovation... So much of market research today is merely a dump of data, with no meaning behind the numbers: templated reporting of tables and charts. Data collection, however, is a commodity and market researchers who continue to provide commodity services run the risk of becoming extinct.”

Transmission Global Summit 2011

Last week our team had an opportunity to participate in Transmission Global, one of the most unique and engaging conferences I’ve attended in a while. In my opinion, there were two aspects to this conference that were particularly engaging: the attendees, and the experience design.


From an attendee perspective, there was an incredible mix of musicians, gadgeteers and executives who were willing to share their thoughts and opinions on creativity. Below are a selection of interesting ideas that popped up through-out the day; if you’d like more examples then I’d recommend reading Adrien Sala’s event articles.
Scott Belsky, Founder and CEO of Behance

‘Creatives have a tendency to keep their ideas secret; however creative ideas that aren't shared will tend to die in isolation. In order to increase the likelihood of an idea coming to fruition, creatives should be encouraged to be more transparent with their ideas; to share them with the community. Sharing ideas makes you more accountable for their realization.’

David Neale, Vice-President of Special Projects for Research In Motion
‘It’s too easy to wake up each morning and step back into your comfortable slippers. If you really want to develop, innovate and create, then you’ve got to get rid of those comfortable slippers all together.’Richard Gottehrer, CEO and Founder of The Orchard
‘Through all the integration of technology into our lives, generations coming up are going to be less primordially instinctive… Since everything will be immediately available to us through digital delivery, we are going to lose our connection in physical ways that aren’t yet realized.’

From an experience design perspective, what I found engaging was the process of ‘visual illustration’ that occurred through-out the conference (like the RSA Animate talks on YouTube). By the end of the day, through the process of discussion and debate, the space became a visual synopsis of conversation – an illustration of ideas.

Big thanks to Tyl Van Toorn and his team for putting together an incredible conference. If you have the chance to attend one of their syndicated events in Asia, Europe or South America, I would highly recommend you take the opportunity.


transmission: GLOBAL SUMMIT 2011 from transmitNOW on Vimeo.

The Contagious Report

This week I wrote a post for the Canadian Marketing Association titled, 'The Contagious Report.' The post shared findings from some recent research we conducted at the 2010 BCAIM conference. If you'd like to read the original post you can view it here; or alternatively you can find a copy below. I'm interested to hear if your opinions mirror those of our research participants...

Spending time staring in the mirror is never a good thing for a person, or a brand. In fact, the very basis of marketing involves looking up from our mirrors and out towards the market; towards the needs and motivations of our customers.

Having said that, it can be a lot of fun to sneak-a-peek in the marketing mirror, which is why we thought you may appreciate the findings from a recent
survey of 200 marketers at the 2010 BCAIM Contagious Conference. The survey used real-time handheld electronic devices to explore the hottest issues, trends and topics impacting marketers today.

Social Media:
According to our conference survey, the majority of marketers, 8 in 10, are now using social media to hear what customers are saying online. However, only 36% have a formal system for using social media, in contrast to the 44% who have a mainly informal system.

In addition, those marketers who work for an agency seem to be adopting social media much earlier than their clients, with our research showing that client-side marketers are 8 times less likely than agency-side marketers to be actively using social media.

Customer Insights:
Despite the rise of social media monitoring, only 16% of marketers believe that it provides the best way to understand their customers. In fact, our conference survey found that marketers tend to rely on more traditional techniques for gathering their insights.

Of those surveyed, 30% believed the best way to understand their customers was with qualitative research, followed by 28% who rely on CRM databases, and 18% who believe that quantitative research holds the key to unlocking customer insight.

So what customer segments are marketers looking for insights on? Well according to our study, more than 1/3 of marketers believe that the youth segment will provide the greatest prospect for growth in the next few years.

Workplace & Career:
Much is made of the differences between agency and client work environments; the perceptions of creative agency ambience, versus controlled client conclaves.

According to our conference survey there may be some truth behind those perceptions, because those on the client-side of marketing were most likely to describe their workplace as unplanned and tactical, or secretive and controlled. In contrast, those on the agency-side were most likely to describe their workplace as open and collaborative, or planned and strategic.

Finally, when it comes to career, is cash king or are there bigger concerns? Well amongst senior executives, 4 in 10 cited money as their number one career priority. However more junior and mid-level managers placed greater value on recognition and achievement in their careers.

Check out The Contagious Report:
Spending time staring in the mirror is never a good thing for a person or a brand - but sometimes watching the reflections of others can lead to some great insights. So if you’re interested in taking a longer look in the marketing mirror, and seeing how you compare to your peers, check out the rest of The Contagious Report below:


Marketing to Digital Moms

"My life is the virtual world. If I don't have access [I feel] I'm missing something. I'm a single mom; I don't get out a lot. It's not like I can just get out." - Digital Mom (2009)

Making the assumption that any demographic group thinks, feels and acts homogeneously is a mistake. Within any person, or group of people, there exists a repertoire of motivations that can influence their behavior. Digital moms are no exception; just because they’re mothers doesn’t mean they think and act the same way.

If you happen to be in an organization that considers the needs of mothers as important, then maybe you should be attending the 2nd Annual Marketing to Digital Moms Conference. Held in Toronto from the 27th to 28th of April, the conference will feature a range of expert speakers including Andrew Assad from Microsoft
, Sidneyeve Matrix from Queen's University and Erica Ehm from YummyMummyClub.

I’m also looking forward to participating in this conference, and sharing the findings from a brand new Concerto Marketing study that we’re conducting for the event. Our study will be exploring the deeper motivations of digital moms, and how the online medium influences their lives. For more information on the event, check out the conference website.