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: Shaking the Foundation—Cheater’s & Repeaters & Manti Te’o
January 22, 2013

Abby Leafe and I, co-chairs of the Philadelphia Chapter of the QRCA, recently reported some sobering findings of our initial research on research. Our small study was just in the Philadelphia market so perhaps it’s not indicative of the market at large. But we discovered a surprising number of “Cheaters & Repeaters”—consumers who found their way into qualitative market research activities like focus groups, in depth interviews and mock juries. We learned a lot about how they get into studies by tweaking the truth (“sometimes I forget I have children.”)  And we learned about their motivations—money of course is a big factor, but having their voice and ideas heard and being in the know about new things were also big motivators to “tweaking the truth” in order to be selected for a study. When they get into a research event that they shouldn’t have been recruited for they have strategies to deal with it—stay quiet and just agree with what others say. The more adventurous respondents prepare so that they will be informed on the topic and be able to contribute.

Abby and I conducted our research by telephone and video chat. Through careful listening and observation (those in video interviews) we felt we could get a good sense of how honest our respondents were to our queries.

Now the news this week is filled with this crazy story of star football player Manti Teo’s, Internet romance with a woman, who it turns out, didn’t exist! It’s one of those stories that makes us shake our heads in disbelief, and I think it’s another sobering reminder of potential pitfalls of market research studies conducted exclusively on line. While many of my colleagues appreciate the benefits of this mode of research, personally, I’ve always been a bit wary. Call me “Old School,” but I prefer to “see the whites of their eyes” and get the fuller meaning behind words that one can only do in a face-to-face situation. When I have conducted online research it’s been part of a hybrid study in which in-person work was also incorporated.

As Abby and I have started to share our findings with others in the qualitative market research community we’re developing a list of strategies and ideas to help us be smarter in our work and minimize the presence of the Cheaters & Repeaters.  We plan to continue our research and brainstorming and share our findings and ideas.

But for the meantime, I can’t help but shake my head and wonder about what is represented as “truth” and “reality” In this digital age.

I welcome your comments!

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