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


Musings on The Right Ambiance… For Love and Meetings, Part 2
March 2, 2012

A few weeks ago I posted 5 Top Tips for designing creative meeting spaces, here are 5 more. And, if you want to learn how I’ve put this into practice in qualitative research, please follow the link at the end to my new article, in QRCA VIEWS.

6 Touchy “toys” bring color, delight, help relieve stress and can inspire

Some people just think better when they are doodling or fiddling with things. When I’m conducting an Innovation Session, I bring along a toy chest of items: pipe cleaners, Play Doh, Nerf like materials, squishy balls, funny glasses, and kaleidoscopes. These are items that I may use in specific creative exercises or just invite people to play with as they choose. I’ll sometimes use them in a research setting and have had great results with populations that are generally not thought of as being particularly creative or communicative. The toys help people relax, and when they are relaxed they let down their guard and are more forthright and candid respondents.

7. Aroma can enhance productivity! Just the way a real estate agent will suggest that a home seller bake bread or cookies to make a home more attractive, you can consciously use aroma for certain effect in a meeting. An orange pricked with cloves might add just a little boost to flagging energy, a diffuser with soothing essential oils like lavender can relax. A vase full of flavors can also bring color and pleasant aroma.

8. Of course you need good food for thought! It’s rather amazing how much food and liquid refreshment can be consumed by an ideating team. Variety is ideal. I make every effort to have “good brain food” that isn’t heavily laden with sugar and fat.

9. Get off campus! Physically moving away from company premises can do so much to improve results and help participants view challenges and opportunities differently. If you have to work at your offices, set clear ground-rules to ensure that typical distractions do not invade your meeting. Collect phones and pagers (or at least have them set to vibrate). In exchange for this distraction-free zone, give participants breaks throughout the day to deal with those emergency office issues.

10. Great space doesn’t have to be expensive. One reason why team meetings are run at home base is to save money. If you can get away, consider alternative venues to high priced conference centers. One type I particularly like working in is a Bed & Breakfast. The article linked below highlights focus groups conducted in such an environment. Other “non traditional” venues include a children’s or science museum, gallery, botanical gardens, ski lodge, golf club house. If a participant is a member you can usually save a lot of money. Recently a few companies have started offering loft spaces and private homes for meetings. They can include catering and audiovisual equipment. I worked recently in a NY loft space and while it wasn’t inexpensive, it more than paid for the quality of the team’s output.

Want more? 

 Laurie Tema-Lyn, Practical Imagination Enterprises, 908-237-2246,


Musings: Baring It All
October 6, 2011

I went on a “gallery crawl” in Old City Philadelphia recently and encountered a provocative sculpture in the Wexler Gallery by Dirk Straschke entitled Standing Woman with PVC Burqua. It’s a finely crafted piece that offers a realistic presence of a proudly standing nude woman, covered in a burqua. But instead of it covering her up, the burqua is clear. Her nude body is revealed, but her eyes partly obscured.

The sculpture is a rich creative paradox. And while I don’t know the artist’s intentions I found the sculpture to be a fascinating representation of an important aspect of my work as a market researcher. Our role is to help reveal some “inner truths” or insights with which our clients can craft meaningful communications or products.

This was exemplified in a recent health care study in which my colleagues and I engaged with women in their homes, in small, intimate focus group settings and on-line about a sensitive health care issue and their strategies for dealing with it. The topic for most women is embarrassing, and for some so stigmatized that they wouldn’t even talk about it with their closest girl friends. Yet these women, in the midst of strangers, opened up to us about their daily struggles with clarity and even humor. Each encounter that my colleagues and I experienced was memorable and powerful. It was cathartic for some women who had never openly shared their “secret,” and a learning experience for both interviewer and research participant. We created an opportunity for them to “bare it all” with our gentle probing, non-judgmental witnessing and attentive listening. The client “won” as well for they are now armed with new insights to guide ways in which they can be more helpful to other women with this condition.

Creating a forum for people to reveal inner thoughts, feelings and aspirations often leads them to be more empowered. I feel privileged as a market researcher.

Your opinions?

Laurie Tema-Lyn

Practical Imagination Enterprises


Musings: Test Tube Burgers– How will they ever market that?
June 6, 2011

I can’t seem to get this story out of my head. Recently NPR’s Terry Gross spoke with science writer Michael Specter about something that’s been going on in labs around the world. Some of those brilliant tissue scientists responsible for growing artificial organs (like bladders) have directed similar efforts toward creating “meat” in the lab. Using stem cell technology they have been able to grow animal muscle in the Petri dish. Pretty amazing stuff! And there’s plenty of reasons why this is potentially a likely good idea to pursue.

• Some climatologists see diminishing water supplies and droughts in many parts of the world beginning to threaten food supplies.
• Globally, livestock are responsible for 20% of the greenhouse gases according to the United Nation’s Food & Agriculture organization.
• Animal welfare activists are increasingly concerned about animals force-fed grain laced with antibiotics and living in cruelly cramped quarters as they fatten up before being taken to the slaughterhouse.
• Additionally, the growth of a middle class in the world’s poorer countries leads to a greater effective desire for diets richer in protein.

If these dire predictors are correct, perhaps it makes good sense to leverage expertise against growing food in the lab in instead of taking up precious water and land resources.

Mr. Specter expects to see test tube burgers available in the market within the next few years–at first very costly, and then priced for the masses–echoing our experience of the cost decreases of other technological innovations.

As a marketer and market researcher this all gets me wondering…how will companies market the stuff? How will they turn the obvious “yuk factor” into something with a palate pleasing expectation? Oh sure, food scientists do some miraculous taste and textural things with soy these days…but will a public ever embrace a burger made in a vat? Or a “Petri Patty?” And what about other types of in vitro meat like chicken and pork?

I can just imagine the intriguing conversations we might have in the focus room as we explore the most appealing language and ways to advertise the first test-tube burger.

But then again, perhaps consumers 5 to 10 years from now won’t find this so strange at all–but rather just another of the accustomed chain of advances.

Are test tube burgers that much more difficult to embrace than frozen prepared meals once were…or fast food? Or microwave cooking? With many people already so removed from a notion of an original food source like a real, live animal, or a home grown fresh tomato, perhaps that first test tube burger will seem like “natural” after all!

Laurie Tema-Lyn,

Practical Imagination Enterprises