Archive for the ‘qualitative market research’ Category

Musing: Stand-Outs from the 2018 Fancy Foods Show
July 7, 2018

Spending a day at the NY Summer Fancy Foods Show is a sensory overload- but an experience I relish, as I’ve been attending the annual Show for most of the past 25 years.

There are thousands of exhibitors from around the world, packed into 4 floors of the  Javits Center.

Because of the enormity of the Convention and the limited time I have to spend there I plan my visits ahead of time to focus on a select handful of categories or companies, wear comfortable shoes, and pace myself as I take in a multitude of tastes, aromas and stories from entrepreneurs, as well as larger companies who exhibit primarily to showcase their products to the trade. My lenses are not that of a food buyer, but as a market researcher and creative catalyst working with many clients to help them develop product pipelines or hone their positioning or messaging.

My tour visit lenses this year: scanning for macro trends, plus focus on the world of snacks (savory and sweet) and beverages. I was not disappointed!

There were dozens of exhibitors that were intriguing to me, from the moment I entered the convention hall.

My first stop was at the Alpha Food Labs Future Market Exhibit. The interactive concept store presented a variety of trends as product concepts of the future. The macro trends include:  total personalization/customization, sustainability, re-use. Among the exciting imagined products of the future…

  • Custom Culture– precision microbiome yogurt designed to meet the individual’s precise needs
  • Analyze me– via pills that conduct an analysis of an individual’s microbiome
  • Alga Marina– sea nutrition based pasta
  • Nano Farm, an aeroponic horticulture system that allows you to grow farm-fresh foods at home
  • Aquapur– eco-friendly hydration using “ghost plastic” packaging- which does not use plastic
  • Refuel– precision nutrition 3D food printing cartridge which calibrates the individual’s nutritional needs to the microgram
  • Trim Snack– each bag contains 2 oz. of “food waste”- zesty BBQ crunchy veggie chips and jerky mix

Continuing a theme of the last decade, an emphasis on “Healthy” foods was pervasive. The majority of products I noticed contained a long list of “No bad ingredients.” (Organic or all Natural, non-GMO, gluten free, nondairy, or were targeted to specific diets: Vegan, Paleo.) Furthermore, the line between “good for you” and functional foods or nutraceuticals is blurred. But taste is still important!

Among the intriguing “healthy” snacks…

  • Eat Real organic veggie twists, lentil chips, hummus chips, quinoa puffs
  • Aree almond rice snacks had delicious combos in their new Crisp ‘n Chips line: black pepper & mustard, Sriracha & Cheese, Butter & Corn, Rosemary & Tomato, Barbeque & Salty Vinegar
  • LUKES featured organic white truffle & sea salt potato chips (“urbani Italian white truffles with french grey guerande fleur du sel salt) with this appropriate tag line: “Snack like a kid live like a grown up.”
  • Living Intentions offered ACTIVATED Superfood Nut Blend: Honey Sriracha, Thai Curry, White Chocolate, Malted Maple

These ingredients popped up in a wide range of snacks and other product categories:

  • Quinoa
  • Turmeric
  • Mushrooms
  • Coconut
  • Maple syrup
  • Hemp
  • Chick Peas
  • Flax seeds

From the snack world: Undercover Quinoa– dark chocolate and seeds– crispy organic quinoa lightly covered with premium chocolate or milk chocolate and currants.

Yes, chocolate is good for you! Especially when it’s dark chocolate, organic, single origin, paired with a Superfruit or super grain.

Natierra offered organic chocolate mango, banana slices – “real fruit with Amazon rainforest chocolate.”

Even traditional, hand-made pasta is being contemporized with health-focused ingredients: hemp, chick pea, flax seed, brown bean and spirulina.

A newcomer to the grain world is FONIO– a West African supergrain which, according to the exhibitor, “has an impressive nutritional profile.” One to watch for.

Super fruits and Super veggies continue to be strong with Acai Roots presenting the Super fruit Lifestyle…”More than a berry. A lifestyle.” The lifestyle is symbolized by a beautiful athletic looking woman eating a bowl of Acai Roots Superfood Bowls. The Bowls are also available in hemp, coco nibs and goji berry flavors.

Maple Syrup is not just for pancakes and waffles. Continuing a trend seen the last few years, it’s become a more sophisticated and versatile ingredient. Runamok Maple has their Sugarmaker’s Cut (the best of the season). It’s a line of barrel-aged, smoked and infused maple syrups.  Flavors include: smoked with pecan wood, hibiscus flower infused, cardamom infused, merquén infused – (merquén is an ancient spice with smoked chili peppers from Chile). It’s a delicious ingredient for vinaigrettes, BBQ, mixed into sweet potatoes or with cheese.

In the world of beverages, shots are hot!  

  • Ginger People has three Rescue shots from which to choose: ginger shot with coconut, with wild turmeric and with lemon & cayenne.
  • Fire & Brew has a line of premium health tonics that strengthen the immune system- Vitality Boosters with apple cider vinegar comes in citrus, chai, and strawberry.
  • Kings & Queens: offers antioxidant adaptogenic teas in peach, blackberry and lemon, that are based on the “seriously functional immune system boosting power of mushrooms.”
  • Mingle: presented delightful handcrafted sparkling mocktails; these are nonalcoholic with natural botanicals for use as mocktails or mixers. Flavors: Moscow Mule, Melon Mojito, Cranberry Cosmo, Blackberry Hibiscus Bellini.

Two of the most intriguing, innovative products were in the water category:

  • ASARASI presented USDA Organic water harvested from trees! Sparkling and still waters that are sustainable and renewable. The water is a bi-product after 100% of the sugar is removed from the maple sap.
  • O. Vine offered wine grape infused water- now there’s a combo of two of my favorite beverages! The delicious nose of white or red wine in a non-alcoholic, fresh clean still or sparkling water beverage.

Often the story behind the food is the compelling idea, and there were many fascinating tales of the founders and impetus behind products. Some were developed by desired to create healthy alternatives for children or for people with food intolerances, others were driven by social mission.

Ziba products from Afghanistan had two offerings at the Show:  Afghani Sun Dried Kandahar Figs and Shakhurbai Almonds– roasted & salted. They are “biodynamic superfoods, sustainably sourced, nutrient dense”; but perhaps more important is that they are dedicated to “improving the lives of women and farmers in Afghanistan.” The women and their photos are on the back of each package.

Want to know more? Send me a note or call.

Laurie Tema-Lyn

Practical Imagination Enterprises

laurie@practical-imagination.com

908-237-2246

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Musings: A riff on Pi, π 3.1415926… on a snowy March 14th
March 14, 2017

Happy Pi day!

Math Geeks, Princetonians and yours truly have a special fondness for this day, in honor of the Greek letter that represents the symbol for the ratio of a circle to its diameter. Pi is expressed as 3.14 with an infinite string of decimals trailing behind it. It’s that long string of decimals that make Pi such a fun challenge for the mathematically motivated to memorize and to calculate to more and more digits.

My emotional connection to Pi is that it’s the shorthand nickname for my business, Practical Imagination Enterprises. At PIE we think big and we drill deep. We stimulate our client and consumer teams to dream, engage imagination and intuition as we tackle business challenges. Then we drive the insights, stories, and ideas we gather into actionable strategies, tactics, product and communications concepts for our diverse set of clients. Our programs are custom-designed, collaborative and fun.

Now here are some more fun facts about Pi…

  • Pi is a Transcendental number, which is any number that is not an algebraic number.
  • It’s intriguing that Transcendental brings with it other realms of meaning –spiritual or non-physical world, visionary and idealistic.
  • One of the world’s greatest scientists, Albert Einstein, is a Pi baby, born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany. But he moved to Princeton, NJ in 1935 where he lived and worked for the Institute for Advanced Study until his death in 1955.
  • Princeton is a short jaunt from where I live and work. And among Princetonians, Pi day has long been a cause for celebration with many events scheduled, from the playful to the intellectual.

But on this Pi day the wind is howling, the snow and sleet falling outside my window.

It’s a good day to work indoors…and perhaps top it off with a tasty treat this evening of some hot chocolate and a slice of pie.

Happy Pi Day!

Drop me a line or give a call if you would like to know more about how we engage rational, logical, emotional and imaginative thinking to solve tough business problems.

Laurie Tema-Lyn

Practical Imagination Enterprises

laurie@practical-imagination.com

908-399-9460

Musings: Planting Peas and the Low Growth Trap
June 8, 2016

Dear Readers;

It’s been a long tradition of mine to plant my seeds for sweet peas in the ground on Patriot’s Day (this year it was on April 18). I get to harvest them before the 4th of July. As I was working the damp, rich soil, I thought of parallels to the work I do as creative catalyst, consultant and qualitative market researcher.

I plant peas in early Spring with the expectation of a hearty yield in summer. I become “Earth Mom” to my seedlings, committing to nurture and protect them with water and compost, thinning when needed, and providing support stakes as they grow. I know from years gone by that I’ll worry about their conditions when my business takes me on the road and hope my husband has the good sense to water them. Of course, there are no guarantees! Peas need the sustenance of natural forces–sun and warmth, a kind wind and non-invasive pests. As a gardener for many years I know the success rate is never a 100%, but it’s always bountiful and delicious.

I’ve heard that peas can grow under artificial light, but if they receive just a one second burst of natural, full-spectrum light they will open their leaves every 24 hours after that to look for more? I like that I don’t have to teach peas how to be peas; growth decisions are built in if they get what they need, when they need it. If the afore-mentioned clueless husband forgets to water them for 3 days and then drowns them right before I come home, in hopes I won’t notice, I will…and the plants will suffer. Delivering the right stuff but too late for the growth cycle just encourages decay, pests and the wrath of Mother Nature.

A report just issued by an international economic agency, The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development noted that there is increasing pessimism about global economic growth. This is due to volatility in financial markets, the potential British exit from the European Union and Europe’s inability to find a common response to the refugee problem. OECD said that this weak growth was becoming chronic. “This low growth trap involves a cycle in which diminished expectations become self-fulfilling,” said Angel Gurria, the OECD’s Secretary-General.

We’ve seen this cycle repeated many times. In periods of uncertainty many firms cut back on expenditures, and are cautious about innovation. While this financial strategy may make sense for the short term, we all know that it’s sure to have impact on what can be brought to the table in the future. Conserving resources, especially during drought, is prudent for the crops we have in the ground already. But planting for future crops we’ll need is an absolute requirement so we don’t eat up all our past work.

How to get more “bang” for the investment dollars you do have? Perhaps this year’s innovation activities are not focused on new products, but on ways to make better use current resources.

Some years ago we worked with a major brand that was being asked to slash 10 million dollars in business expenditures! A mind-boggling number for sure, and the first reaction was to consider letting go of large numbers of personnel. Fortunately a visionary leader intervened. We worked closely together with him running a series of innovation meetings with different business stakeholders: from first line supervisors at the plants, to members of the executive leadership team. It was the creative factory workers who first noticed significant ways to save money through some easy-to-implement changes. Continued idea development resulted in short term net growth! The long-term result was huge savings to the business and no one was let go! We’re very proud of that work.

For other clients, innovation investment in lean times has focused on developing deeper insight into existing customers’ needs, creating more distinctive and compelling communications or improving upon product packaging to make it more user-friendly.

Would your business like to have a great harvest this year? If so, let’s talk! We can strategize about an ideation or research plan that’s effective, productive and mindful of your dollars.

Laurie Tema-Lyn

Practical Imagination Enterprises, laurie@practical-imagination.com

Office: 908-237-2246; Mobile: 908-399-9460

Musings: Engaging Research Respondents, vs. Bribery
April 5, 2016

April 5, 2016

Dear Readers;

The remark almost went unnoticed: “Is there an extra incentive in there if we do this exercise?” At the time I was facilitating a Co-Creation Session and I asked my research participants to sketch out their ideas for an eye-catching package that would succinctly tell our new product’s story. I breezily responded: “Well I certainly hope that everyone feels that they’ve been fairly compensated for their time and brainpower!” (Our panelists were being paid $150 for 2 ½ hours of their time.)

In the flurry of analysis and report writing I forgot about the incident until a week later. I was listening to a webinar on the use of Gamification in online consumer research. It’s a growing trend in our industry. Research platform providers are incorporating video game-like elements into research design to incentivize participants to answer questions or to do activities. While respondents get paid for their overall attendance in the online discussion, they are also rewarded with points or money for completing particular exercises. For example: upload a selfie eating your favorite snack for an additional $15. Answer a question in another section of the discussion and get an extra $10, etc. The providers’ rationale is that these games and rewards engage respondents and make the research more fun.

I’m all for fun and making research engaging, but I can’t help but feeling uneasy.

My concern is that as a research industry and culture, an emphasis on gamification is potentially creating a monster. We may end up attracting even more people who are just looking to “game” the system. We already know that there is a danger in the “professional” recruits, the “Cheaters & Repeaters.” Abby Leafe and I reported results of our study into this problem (50 Shades of Respondent Grey) at the QRCA National Conference in 2013 and we continue to share new ideas and strategies to mitigate against this danger.

How can we increase engagement without ”bribery” — buying completion of discrete sub-tasks?

In my experience, the major responsibility for engagement rests on the shoulders of the research consultant who should create an environment that is comfortable, safe, non-judgmental and friendly, even if it’s not filled with fun activities.

Nurturing engagement starts at the very beginning of a research conversation. I like to begin a group or interview by thanking my panelists for taking time out of their busy lives to join us. I underscore how important these conversations are for company personnel to learn how they can improve their products and services for all who use them. At the conclusion of the discussion I confirm that their voices have been heard, and thank them for their contributions. I’ve received enough feedback over the years from participants to know that these actions contribute to feelings of accomplishment, enjoyment and personal satisfaction, and they are not linked to the financial compensation they receive for their participation.

I also think we can also do more to recruit the “right” participants in the first place. Beyond demographics, product usage (and even) creativity and articulation questions, we can include some recruit questions to help find those people who are also more intrinsically motivated, internally satisfied. These are the people who feel enjoyment from doing a task itself.

Contrast that to those who are predominantly attracted to external rewards, or are extrinsically motivated.

Dr. Teresa Amabile, currently Professor of Business Administration in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School, has developed an extensive body of work on motivation and creativity in individuals, teams and organizations. I have oversimplified her findings in this article. Teresa and her colleagues have produced landmark studies on extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and how the work environment can influence creativity and motivation. The following is an excerpt from What Doesn’t Motivate Creativity Can Kill It (Harvard Business Review, April 25, 2012) by Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer.

We all need equitable, sufficiently generous compensation for our work, to avoid the distraction of financial worries, and to feel that we (and our work) are valued by our organizations. Recognition is another essential form of reward; it, too, signals that the person and the work are valued. Neither of these extrinsic motivators need damage intrinsic motivation or creativity. But when people feel that material rewards are being dangled before them like carrots on a stick, they come to feel externally controlled — a primary damper of intrinsic motivation.”

It strikes me that these findings should be applicable to our world of market research. In my quest to “up my game,” I’ll be experimenting with additional approaches to recruit and nurture more of these intrinsically motivated research participants. And I will continue to design ways to engage them in candid interchanges within the research arena.

Surely more to come on this.

I invite your comments!

Laurie Tema-Lyn

Practical Imagination Enterprises

laurie@practical-imagination.com

Musings: Senior Lives Matter too
March 8, 2016

Dear Readers;

The world is focused on Millennials, that sexy segment of the population that is under age 34. As a market researcher I continually see client requests seeking insights into the hearts and minds of Millenials. What makes them tick? What attracts them to brands? How can we motivate them to shop our products?

Millennials are important of course, but senior lives matter too.

Boomers, born between 1946 and 1954 buy candy and liquor and sexy lingerie. They drive Harleys and renovate homes, they exercise and do yoga. They work, they retire, fall in love and travel. They make up a larger segment of the population than ever before, and have more discretionary income. According to a Forester report in 2015, Boomers drove 35% of all discretionary spending.

So why are Boomers and even the generation beyond being ignored from consumer research except for health care products and services specifically targeted to “older people?”  Why are we continuing to recruit participants aged “25-54” in most research forums? Is it bias? Discomfort with confronting mortality? Or just the expectation that the potential for customer longevity is longer with Millennials?

I think many marketers are missing the boat!

Senior lives matter- not just for their buying power, but also for their brains, insights and experiences in living longer. Effective market research and marketing to seniors requires deep understanding of their culture, survival tactics, expression and more. As we see in Millennials, Boomers are a complex, multi-faceted generation.

Let’s not ignore them.

 

Laurie Tema-Lyn

Practical Imagination Enterprises

laurie@practical-imagination.com