Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 572 – A Guide to Tracking Research with Emmanuel Probst, the Global Lead of Brand Thought-Leadership & Senior Vice President of Brand Health Tracking at IPSOS

My guest today is Emmanuel Probst, the Global Lead of Brand Thought-Leadership & Senior Vice President of Brand Health Tracking at IPSOS, Author, and Professor at UCLA.

Founded in 1975 and headquartered in Paris France, Ipsos is among the largest global market research and consulting firms. Ipsos has over 18,000 employees and serves more than 5,000 brands. 

Find Emmanuel Online:

Find Jamin Online:

Find Us Online: 


This Episode is Sponsored by:

The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research Program delivers the #1 ranked insights and analytics graduate degree in three formats: 

  • Full-time on campus 
  • Full-time online 
  • Part-time online

NEW FOR 2022: 

If you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their 3-course certificates: Insights Design or Insights Analysis. 

In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build toward your graduation.

If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s programs at: broad.msu.edu/marketing.

HubUX is a research operation platform for private panel management, qualitative automation including video audition questions, and surveys. 

For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com


Jamin Brazil: Hey, everybody. I’m Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. My guest today is Emmanuel Probst, the Global Leader of Brand Thought-Leadership and Senior Vice President of brand health tracking at Ipsos. He’s also an author and professor at UCLA. Founded in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, Ipsos is among the largest global market research and consulting firms. Ipsos has over 18,000 employees and services more than 5,000 brands. Emmanuel, thank you very much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


Emmanuel Probst: Jamin, thank you for having me on your show. Really appreciate it. Always great connecting with you and your listeners.


Jamin Brazil: The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in marketing research program delivers the number-one ranked insights and analytics degree in three formats. Full-time on campus, full-time online, and part-time online. New for 2022. If you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their three core certifications, insights, design, or insights analysis. In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build towards your graduation. If you’re looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSN news program at broad. msu. edu/marketing. Again, broad. msu. edu/marketing. HubUX is a research operations platform for private panel management, qualitative automation, including video audition questions and surveys. For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com. This interview is part of a series on market research basics, and our conversation is going to be focused really on your wheelhouse, which is tracking research. You’ve done this for decades. It’s amazing.


Emmanuel Probst: For a number of years, indeed.


Jamin Brazil: Number of years. And for some of the world’s – actually, the world’s largest brands across sectors, which is really interesting. So my first question, and let’s provide some context for the listeners. What business questions does tracking research address?


Emmanuel Probst: So it’s important to keep in mind that tracking research is at the end or towards the end of a research continuum. And what I mean by this is, people first, brands first, need to understand their market positioning, and need to establish their brand identity, and need to understand their audience. What are the demographics and psychographics and attitudes and behavior of people they’re going to market to? And ideally, understand some of the competitive environment. And that’s what I mean by tracking being towards the end of a research continuum because, first, it’s important that brands establish who they are, what they stand for, who do they want to market to, what is their competitive environment. Now, standout business questions that brand tracking address. The main one is how is my brand doing versus its direct competitors? That’s really what 99.9% of our clients want to measure. I want to establish how well my brand is doing versus my four, five direct competitors. And importantly, how am I trending over time? It sounds obvious, but tracking is about tracking. It’s not a point in time study. So what’s colorful, what’s insightful, what’s interesting, what is valuable, is to understand how the brand evolves over time. If it goes up if it goes down, and on what metrics, what territory the brand is trying to own. So, quick pause here, Jamin. But that’s really the main business question that everyone wants to answer through tracking.


Jamin Brazil: Clarification question for you. I really like how you framed it. It’s at the end of the research continuum, but it also spawns research, doesn’t it?


Emmanuel Probst: It does indeed. And what’s compelling, actually, that’s a good segue into the second research question that tracking answers is we want to uncover and understand market trends. We want to understand market shifts and market dynamics. And to your point, Jamin, in term if the tracking instrument is going to prompt some new research questions and some new research projects.


Jamin Brazil: Perfect. Are there any other business questions that we should highlight here?


Emmanuel Probst: I think those are really the main ones. Now we have a range of key performance indicators. Some of them are very standout, and I’m sure we’ll talk about this later on in this interview. Some of them are more custom depending on clients. But really, let’s simplify and clarify for our listeners today, the point of brand health tracking is to assess, measure the performance of your brand over time versus its competitive set.


Jamin Brazil: Perfect. So let’s move into the next framework or question, which is really what common analytic techniques are used?


Emmanuel Probst: So I’d say two things that are not disruptive. And I mean it this way, number one, we very often rely on the funnel. And as a way to look at how do people go through this consumer journey, if you will, between establishing a need or want and buying the product, and buying the product again, and recommending the product to friends and family. Now, I know a lot of people in our industry criticize the funnel, and rightly so for all its shortcomings. The marketing funnel is not as linear as it appears in textbooks, for example. However, I find it to be a very useful framework because everyone can relate in our industry. You might be a CMO with 20 years’ experience at a large CPG organization, or you might be an intern, or a new hire six months out of school, and you can relate to the funnel. It’s also a great way to communicate with people in our industry to understand how they contribute, where they contribute. So what I mean by this is when you meet someone at a conference, for example, you don’t know what this person is doing. You don’t understand the product and the agency very well. You can always ask, where are you at in the funnel? How do you contribute in this funnel? So long story short, Jamin, the funnel is really a very useful framework. Again, I acknowledge the shortcomings. But it’s a useful framework because it’s a framework we can all relate to. And in terms of the analytical techniques, I think what’s most important is to be consistent with the sampling plan and with the methodology. It’s very important to be consistent over time, remember that we track, so we need different waves month by month, quarter over quarter to be similar, so that we can accurately measure the performance of a brand over time. In short, the analytical techniques. Now, of course, we have advanced analytics, but the core concepts are simple. And I’m saying so in a good way. They need to be simple, relatable, and consistent.


Jamin Brazil: I like how you succinctly put that. Crosstabs, of course, is used consistently when analyzing changes among customer personas or segments over time. Do you see NPS as an analytic technique, or is that more broadly a different type of research?


Emmanuel Probst: So NPS is a very interesting one, and it goes back to my comment on the funnel. Is the funnel perfect? Absolutely not. The funnel is also incomplete, arguably does not thoroughly describe today’s consumer’s journey, yet everyone can relate. NPS is exactly the same thing. Meaning from a methodological called standpoint, NPS, Net Promoter Score is pretty shallow. It’s one number. Detractors and promoters of your brand, and how does that look? But here again, why do people love NPS, and why is NPS relevant? Well, just like what we discussed about the funnel, if you’re a CMO with 20 years’ experience at P&G, you know about NPS. And if you’re a student at UCLA, and you’re 22, and you’ve done one internship in marketing, you also know about NPS. So it is a metric that everyone can relate to. When I worked in customer experience management years ago, I was in particular, I was on Victoria’s Secret, and we would use NPS all the time simply because it’s one thing to discuss brand performance in a boardroom in Columbus, Ohio. It’s more challenging to have this conversation with a 17-years-old that works Saturday only at store level in wherever at a shopping mall. The point is you can teach NPS to anyone. I can teach NPS to a high school student in 10 minutes on a shop floor. So NPS is useful because it is a metric people can relate to no matter what level they are at. However, NPS is shallow because it is just one number. It has no depth, no colors, and it shows no opportunities for the brand and its managers.


Jamin Brazil: Let’s move into the operational considerations. So there’s been a rise in the last three years, especially through COVID, with research ops or research operations. This is specifically around how we actually gather the data. You’ve addressed this already, but I want to call it out as a separate question. Are there any common research operations considerations that need to be taken into account when you’re conducting tracking research?


Emmanuel Probst: Yeah. So I feel that tracking research is one of the riskiest things you can do in research. Let me explain. You need consistency wave over wave. When you deliver an ad hoc project? Well, if things go wrong, you can refill then you can do some weighting and all that. Now, of course, you can do some of this in tracking. But again, you have to stay consistent wave over wave, not only in terms of demographics, and psychographics. But the blend in terms of sample vendors, so that’s why the SKEW you have remains consistent. You need to be consistent in the ways you analyze the data. That’s all to say that research operations in tracking is a beast. I’m not going to wordsmith it. It’s an important, it’s a crucial backbone. It is very high touch, if you will. It needs a lot of attention. So I don’t know if I will describe common research operations. I will set out some best practices. Again, I would say that the sheer size of a tracking program and the need for consistency, it makes it difficult to do it yourself. That’s the way I would put it.


Jamin Brazil: And there’s a lot of risk in doing it yourself. I had one of my largest clients, this goes back in 2005, they launched a tracking study, as soon as they had filed their IPO. It was specifically NPS. And for those that don’t know, Net Promoter Score is an 11 point scale from zero to ten, and it’s shown from left to right. This is pre-smartphone. Well, over the following five years in that tracking study, their NPS continued to drop materially. When you look at their actual survey, this was the point of- We got actually fired from this account. When you looked at the survey on a smartphone, it turns out that you actually had to scroll to the right in order to get into the top three box, which forced respondents basically into that bottom segment. And so they were disheartened because the growth of the iPhone was directly correlated with their decrease in NPS, it was just a technology issue, as opposed to it actually reflecting the score or the populations view of the platform.


Emmanuel Probst: See, and that’s where it gets tricky. And that’s what I mean by high risk versus aspects of harvest surveys, worded harvest surveys displayed on a screen. That’s where there is no wiggle room, if you will. And your example is very valid, albeit painful, of how you can SKEW the results, and frankly, invalidate the results in that case because of research operations that were lacking. And when I say this, I don’t mean to be overly critical because it’s very hard to do something simple. It’s very hard to create surveys that fit on a screen that are short enough to get people’s attention, to address professional respondents and show data quality. All those things, high risk in quantitative research in general, particularly in tracking. In my experience, brand health tracking that and ad impact measurement. Those are the two riskiest research projects one can undertake.


Jamin Brazil: Do you have a favorite case study?


Emmanuel Probst: Of course, what’s frustrating in our industry and like advertising agencies is we cannot disclose, and we cannot talk at length about the measurement we do for our clients for this reason. And so it’s sort of a value of that measurement is very strategic. With that said, I have two things that come to mind. One is for technology brand. So what I mean by technology brand, think first of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Meta, Twitter, TikTok. Those are technology brands in my book. And what we saw in that measurement is we saw Tesla bubbling up as a technology brand. And I think that’s interesting from a methodological standpoint in market research, also to show what the tool can do, meaning the brand health tracking program, and finally, the world we live in. So the tool enabled to surface that Tesla was considered as a technology brand. And the larger implication is to discover that consumers think of Tesla. Just like them, I think of Meta, and they might think of Google, if you will. Meaning what comes to mind, of course, Tesla is a car but people are so impressed with the technology. And people are also aware of what we call a data exchange, meaning Tesla collects a lot of data while you’re driving. What does Tesla do with this data? Does Tesla monetize the data or only uses the data to make the product better? But long story short, I thought that was very compelling to see Tesla bubbling up as a technology brand.


Jamin Brazil: That’s very interesting and disruptive to your quadrant map slightly.


Emmanuel Probst: Indeed. So that leads to the question, which applies in tech, but not only, what is your competitive set these days? What market does Tesla compete in? So Tesla makes cars. We pretty much all know this by now. However, Tesla also accumulates data. Is there value in the GPS signal, for example, that Tesla collects? Is there value in collecting data about people’s commute to work, or people’s activities, if you will, when they take their kids to soccer, and so on and so forth? And so, I’m going on a tangent here, but the point is to uncover that wealth of data, and what does it lead to for Tesla as a brand? How is Tesla going to position its brand? Is there an opportunity to develop a stronger ecosystem, for example, that’s with your solar panels and your power walls at home that might be linked to your car, and maybe your home thermostats? So this opens a range of opportunities for a brand in isolation, but also for the world we live in.


Jamin Brazil: And as we’ve seen the move to supporting Spotify and Netflix directly in car just continues to blur the lines of where they actually fit from a sector perspective.


Emmanuel Probst: Precisely. And that’s a shortcoming of traditional market, not a shortcoming, but that’s something you could do in traditional market research, that is being challenged with technology brands or brands that involve technology. In other words, in the old world, you could absolutely look at, let’s say, Aquafresh versus Colgate versus Sensodyne. That’s a pretty clear competitive set because they all make toothpaste. And granted, one might whiten your teeth, and one might be better for your gums, and so on and so forth, or at the end of the day, the products are pretty similar. And if anything, they sit on the same shelf. Put it this way, if anything, they sit on the same shelves. But here with Tesla, what are we looking at? Well, it’s a driving machine, it takes you from point A to point B that’s one thing, but does it have the ability to optimize your commute? Does it have the ability to recommend places you can stop at to eat or to recharge your batteries? And as you said, co-branding opportunities? How about a co-branding opportunity with Spotify? How about a co-branding opportunity with Netflix and so on and so forth? So as you said, the lines are blurred. Those are things that tracking tools help and cover and address.


Jamin Brazil: How much should companies expect to spend if they’re going to launch and maintain a tracking project?


Emmanuel Probst: The true answer is it depends. So short answer, tracking goes from 150,000 to 20 million dollars. I’m realizing that giving such a wide range is not helpful to our listeners today. So let me tell you what drives this. Well, first, how often are you going to track? That’s because sometimes I don’t recommend tracking monthly, for example. The needle is not going to move that often. Let’s say you want to try barbecue, for example. If you want to try Green Egg versus Weber grill versus Traeger? Well, it’s unlikely that people’s perception of barbecue brand is going to evolve from one month to the next. What’s most valuable, however, is to do some deep dives at points in time around fourth of July, Memorial Day, when people barbecue a lot. So number one, the cadence. Number two, of course, how much sample do you need? How much sample do you want? Depends if you have one market, one country. It depends also on the penetration of a product. It’s obviously much easier to track toothpaste than barbecue, than it is to track people interested only in self-driving cars, or in autopilots like you have in a Tesla. Now we can do this, but it gets a lot more expensive. That’s because of the sample. And the last main driver of cost, not many of us, but I’m focusing on what’s most important here. The last one is how complex or how straightforward the analytics will be. In other words, you can do cross-tabulations, as you suggested, and you can say, “Hey, there we go, Mr. Client. Here’s your brand versus your five key competitors.” Or you can deliver some insights. So what you add is, Mr. Client, this is with so what, now what, what does this mean to your brand, what you should do next. And you can also add some advanced analytics, meaning you want to understand the drivers. How do people came to the conclusion that Tesla was a technology brand, and here we want to identify the attributes that lead people to believe that Tesla is a technology brand. So that’s an additional layer of complexity, of course, which commands additional funding. The last one is, how many sources of data? What are the different sources of data you want to include? That is a lot of tracking programs rely on surveys. And that’s fine. Now you can add to this new signal, and legislative publications, and social media listening, and CRM data. And all those data sets will make your research instruments stronger, potentially more insightful, yet the data onboarding is expensive. So that’s the answer to what drives the cost of a tracker. And again, that range of $100,000 to 20 million is a very wide range, yet very accurate.


Jamin Brazil: Probably a very similar answer to this question. How long does it take to actually execute tracking research?


Emmanuel Probst: Well, the key benefit of tracking is to track and I keep making things so basic like this, but I sincerely mean it. So how long does it take? Well, depending on the complexity of your program, but obviously, we have tools, and templates, and tweaks, and shortcuts. You can probably get a program up and running in six weeks or less. You want again, the benefit of tracking is to track over time. So you will want to track for several years. I think what’s insightful is to track for two years or three years, ideally for longer because no matter what product you work on, you’re going to want to see a full cycle if you were not aware. Mind you, you will extract some learnings much earlier. You’d extract some learnings from your tracking program at the end of the first month. But to guide your brand strategy over time you really want to stretch it. Ideally, your brand tracking program is just embedded in your brand strategy. And you stay consistent on the methodology and the sample mix and you keep consistent with just tracking on a regular basis. You keep the cadence consistent.


Jamin Brazil: How about setting it up? When you launch a project, a new tracking initiative with a brand, is it about a three-month process to get the initial set of data or is it longer or less?


Emmanuel Probst: I mean, three months is a good reference point, if you will. That said, a lot of people want to see learnings faster so you’re going to extract at an earlier stage. You can extract some tactical insights. Let’s say for example, that you have a specific marketing push, and you just embarked in a co-branding opportunity with a music festival. I’m just going to make things up. Or we have FIFA soccer coming up. So let’s just say for sake of argument that you’re sponsoring FIFA soccer. You will do a deep dive as part of your tracking study to understand the impact of this specific marketing tentpole event. So to your point, to really understand how your brand is trending over time versus competitive sets, you will need several months of data. However, to understand the impact of a specific marketing tentpole activity, or something that might be very technical in nature, you can tease out some learnings much sooner. Long story short, it’s all about the types of learnings you need and you want. You can extract some very valuable sound bites after a few weeks. For the most strategic work, indeed, you’re going to need several months of data.


Jamin Brazil: Tricky question for me to ask you considering who you work for, so I apologize ahead of time, but are there any DIY solutions that you’re aware of?


Emmanuel Probst: You know, Jamin, I’m actually very comfortable answering this question because I don’t sell the dream. I’m going to be very honest. Sometimes you want the involvement of a big agency. Sometimes you might not need that. So let me articulate. Begin with the end in mind, meaning, what decision are you making as a brand? How important is this decision for you? Because if you’re deciding on a $200 million media investment for the year, or marketing activation for over a year, that’s a very different deal than if you’re a startup, and you’re just getting your feet wet, and you’re just trying to understand your competitive landscape. So what is the size of the price, and what is the risk for your brand? And also, a very important question is, are you willing to take responsibility for the outputs? Because the upside of working with an agency, as opposed to working on your own is you transfer the responsibility, and you transfer the risk onto the agency. Meaning when things go right, you leverage the agency as your stamp of approval, and you say, “Ipsos said that blank.” And that carries some credibility for you in your organization. Conversely, if things go wrong, you blame your vendor. The major downside of doing things yourself, in my experience, is now you have to take responsibility for it. Meaning if things go wrong because you messed up your sampling plan, you’re on your own. So the honest, ethical or humble answer to your question is there is room in the marketplace for do-it-yourself tools, do it yourself solutions, whether it’s in tracking or in any other aspect of research. And I actually commend those firms in developing strong technology offerings. They have tools that are intuitive, that you can easily access online, you don’t need tons of training, and they serve a purpose. However, if the program has more visibility, the brand is more mature, throws out big decisions, and you need to transfer responsibility, of course, all this implies that you have the bandwidth. So when you want to do it yourself, that implies that you have 20 hours a week to dedicate to your program. Well, you want a big agency when you’re going to need the reach, also when you’re going to need global capabilities and I think most importantly when you’re going to need a stamp of approval.


Jamin Brazil: Well said across the board. My last question. Who are the go-to partners that companies should consider working with? Obviously, Ipsos and congratulations by the way of being the most innovative company, according to Career Report in market research. So obviously Ipsos is in that mix, but who are some other companies that we should be thinking about?


Emmanuel Probst: So, of course, that question, it becomes cheeky as we would say.


Jamin Brazil: Very cheeky. We see Nielsen, of course, has had a position in the market relative to media tracking, I think, historically.


Emmanuel Probst: Well, with no disrespect for Nielsen, I believe they are being very challenged.


Jamin Brazil: You’re seeing that of course.


Emmanuel Probst: From what I read recently. Look, and here again, I give you a humble, honest answer. I think it’s about the expertise, the vertical expertise of the team you work with. I live in Los Angeles. Here, you have smaller shops that do very well at tracking movies, for example. That’s a very niche industry. Or you have firms that specialize in tracking high-end luxury brands. Those are very niche, very tricky industries. I think at the end of the day is when you meet with your vendor, are you talking what’s most important? Are you talking with experts in their field? If you’re a DTC brand, if you’re in CPG, if you’re in tech, if you’re in pharma, you want to talk with people that have tons of experience in the field because they will be able- See, that’s where the value added is. They will be able to read those results in light of the competitive environment, the category, what they know about your market. So to me, it’s about what is the methodological and the vertical expertise of the team you work with, number one. And number two, it’s about this chemistry. Again, sounds very obvious, but it is so important that you align. I was going to say you get along, but you have a similar vision for the industry and for the program between the agency and the brand.


Jamin Brazil: Outstanding answer. I love the rubric that you’ve provided, and I think that’s exactly how I would think about it if I was commissioning a tracking study. Our guest today has been Emmanuel Probst, the Global Lead of Brand Thought-Leadership and Senior Vice President of brand health tracking at Ipsos, author and professor at UCLA. Emmanuel, thank you for joining us on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.


Emmanuel Probst: Jamin, thank you so much again for having me on your show. Thank you to all our listeners. Really always a pleasure connecting with you.


Jamin Brazil: It’s such an honor having you on the show and we all appreciate it greatly. For you tuning in through audio only, there will be a blog post associated with this particular episode. That will be hosted at the happymr.com website. And you can find a link to that in the show notes. Additionally, you’ll have links to Emmanuel’s LinkedIn, etcetera, etcetera in the show notes as well. So with that, I hope you have a great rest of your day.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 571 – Kate Ioas, Senior Customer Insights at Abercrombie & Fitch, on the 4 Types of Segmentations and When to Use Them

My guest today is Kate Ioas, Senior Customer Insights at Abercrombie & Fitch.

The original Abercrombie & Fitch was founded in 1892 in New York City by David T. Abercrombie as an outfitter for the elite outdoorsman. Today Abercrombie & Fitch has over 44,000 employees serving 854 locations. 

Prior to joining Abercrombie & Fitch, Kate served in the research function at Disney Parks, Doner, The Martec Group, and Rocket Companies.

Find Kate Online:

Find Jamin Online:

Find Us Online: 


This Episode is Sponsored by:

The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research Program delivers the #1 ranked insights and analytics graduate degree in three formats: 

  • Full-time on campus 
  • Full-time online 
  • Part-time online

NEW FOR 2022: 

If you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their 3-course certificates: Insights Design or Insights Analysis. 

In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build toward your graduation.

If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s programs at: broad.msu.edu/marketing.

HubUX is a research operation platform for private panel management, and qualitative automation including video audition questions, and surveys. 

For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com


Jamin Brazil: Hi, everyone. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. I am Jamin Brazil, your host. Our guest today is Kate Ioas, senior customer insights at Abercrombie and Fitch. The original Abercrombie and Fitch was founded in 1892 in New York city by David T. Abercrombie. He was an outfitter for the elite outdoorsman. Today Abercrombie and Fitch has over 44,000 employees serving 854 locations. Prior to joining Abercrombie and Fitch, Kate served in the research function at Disney parks, the MarTech group, and rocket companies. Kate, welcome to the podcast.


Kate Ioas: Thank you so much. Really happy to be here.


Jamin Brazil: The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in marketing research program delivers the number one ranked insights and analytics degree in three formats. Full-time on campus, full-time online and part-time online. New for 2022, if you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their three course certifications, insights design, or insights analysis. In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build towards your graduation. If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSU’s program at broad. msu. edu/marketing, again, broad. msu. edu/marketing. HubUX is a research operations platform for private panel management, qualitative automation, including video audition questions and surveys. For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com. It’s a huge honor to have you here. And as always, I like to provide a little bit of context for our listeners. Let’s start with the first question. What did your parents do, and how did that inform what you do today?


Kate Ioas: For sure. So kind of interesting. So I’m obviously big in the corporate world and neither of my parents really were. My dad was actually a teacher growing up and he volunteered a lot in our school, as did my mom. Taught us art lessons, were involved in all the school carnivals and after prom and all that. And my mom managed a doctor’s office. So totally different than the path that I ended up on, but both really good parents.


Jamin Brazil: And I imagine pretty supportive of the career choices you made. How did you wind up in market research?


Kate Ioas: I think everyone kind of winds up in market research different ways, but mine, originally I wanted to be an architect because I liked math and science and art. And I kind of thought that was the only career path that was artistic and kind of math focused. But the older I got, I got really drawn into psychology and ended up studying psychology in college. And for some reason in there, I was really drawn to stats. Stats was kind of the class that I felt like I did really well in and really enjoyed. And so then, I don’t know, one thing led to another and this is kind of a long story, but I ended up interning at Curiosity Advertising and I basically didn’t know what I was getting into. But the president at the time had told me like, hey, I think with your psychology and stats background, you’d be better on our insights team than doing something creative or on an account or something. And so that was kind of my first exposure to the market research world. And I just kind of fell in love with it right away in college. And then from there, I just knew that that’s kind of what I wanted to do. It was my perfect balance of art and math, I guess.


Jamin Brazil: And it’s interesting how much art is actually involved in the science of statistics.


Kate Ioas: Yeah, totally. I think people don’t always consider statistics as creative, but I think when we think of things like, I think our topic for today segmentation is super creative. And I think, figuring out ways to tell stories with data is also really creative.


Jamin Brazil: Since you’ve already done my segue, thank you. As you know the research industry has evolved over the last 10 years. There’s a ton of new blood, thankfully, that has entered in, and they have not really been many of them exposed to applied statistical techniques. Meanwhile, so the counterpart of that is customer segmentation. It becomes, or has become a cornerstone for fast growing brands. So my question is, what is customer segmentation and how is it used by business stakeholders?


Kate Ioas: Great question. And I think before I even talk about segmentation, I think it’s really important to kind of describe the difference between segmentation and personas. Because I hear them used interchangeably a lot, but I do think that they’re different and have different uses. So I don’t know if you think about them kind of the same or differently, but segmentation is a group of people, it’s Gen Z, it’s dog moms, it’s tech savvy consumers. It’s a way to describe a group of consumers. Whereas a persona is more of like a, it’s a personified profile of a person. So it’s like, yinessa the yogi or something, a person to describe a full group. So today we’re talking about segmentation, not personas.


Jamin Brazil: That’s a really good point. And they are very different. The personas enable brands to connect to consumers with- in a way of like- a way of empathy. What segmentation does, at least how I’ve applied it through my career is it provides us the size of the market opportunities by various segments, market segments. And it can be used, segmentation can be used to, very effectively to help craft the actual personas that the customer or the brand is looking to craft. And a good example that just occurred to me. You think about the world that has maybe, I don’t know, let’s say it’s 8 billion people in it, and let’s pretend that China has 2 billion people in it. So if you just look at the math, So what is that, reduced one in four. So one in four of your children are going to be Chinese, which we know doesn’t actually work that way. Mathematically though, you can see how you can kind of like lean in there. So the broader point that I’m trying to make with a little bit of humor is that segmentations tell a big part of the story of who the consumer is, but it’s really important to kind of roll that into your persona work, which is usually a little bit more qualitative in nature. Is that kind of how you think about it?


Kate Ioas: Yeah, I think so. And I think you touched on this too, of personas can often be based off of segmentations. Where it’s like, you understand this group so well, and now you want to pull someone out and use this one person as something to describe the whole group. And I think you’ve- we’ve talked about this before too, of like, if you’ve got a good segmentation and you want to use a typing tool to recruit for focus groups and then you can talk to people that are in that segment and really personify them that way too. So there’s so many ways to kind of build creatively off of segmentation to further kind of personify and connect with your audience.


Jamin Brazil: So let’s get into the question. What exactly is customer segmentation?


Kate Ioas: I think a lot of people think it’s like black magic on the back end. It’s like, I wonder how it all works. From the root of it, it’s a data reduction technique. So in my mind, I think there’s two main data reduction techniques. The first one is factor analysis. So if you’re picturing a raw data set, you’ve got columns and your columns are your different variables. You’ve got maybe gender, age, satisfaction with different things in the columns. But then in the rows is individual responses or individual people. So factor analysis is combining the columns. So lumping different variables together. So maybe you’re creating meaningful buckets of different demographics or different experience related metrics or different product related metrics. That’s factor analysis, where you’re combining these variables by the columns. But where segmentation comes into play is the other type of data reduction technique, which is cluster analysis, where you’re actually combining the rows. So you’re clustering individuals based off of how similar or different they are in the column. So I think cluster analysis, you’re basically clumping people together based off of how they answer certain things or how they react to certain things or fit in certain categories. And each cluster is going to be similar to each other, everyone’s kind of similar to each other, and they’re significantly different than the next cluster. So it’s, I think at the root of it, it’s just a data reduction technique.


Jamin Brazil: In both ways. And I think you’re- you’ve done Michigan State’s program very proud, with the way that you framed it. And it’s funny because I’ve done this over 20 years and I’ve never heard anybody articulated exactly like you did. And I think it’s totally on point. So factor analysis is functionally just reducing the number of variables into these common themes. And then cluster analysis is then combining the people groups by those factors. So you can see how they relate strongly or negatively to those factors or to those variables. And what’s interesting about that is we can only hold so many things in our head at once. And so when you think about a- the variables that go into a segmentation, it’s usually quite a few that you’re looking at and trying to understand the relationship between the interaction effects and things like that. And so my question is, is as you hold those things, like number of segments regarding cluster, as you cluster the- your population into segments, how do you usually frame that out? Do you try to start with- do you have a in- number in mind? Is it five, is it three, is it eight?


Kate Ioas: You have to think about the end goal of it, as you’re trying to understand your audience, so that marketing likely can target them in a better way. And you can only appeal or understand so many groups. And so what’s interesting is if you’re thinking about a cluster analysis academically, you don’t want to set any limits on it because the kind of modeling in the program will pop out the exact number of clusters that’s the most statistically significant. But I think from a marketing standpoint, I usually think anywhere from three to five is ideal. Anything more than that starts getting kind of overwhelming, or maybe your groups aren’t meaningfully different. And I think that’s the part that you have to think about kind of that art that we talked about of like, maybe they’re statistically different, but from a marketing standpoint, or just a general understanding standpoint, these groups aren’t super different. So you want to think about it in that way of like, they have to be different, but also meaningfully different for marketing to actually take any action with it. So I think three to five is usually what I go for.


Jamin Brazil: So cluster analysis of course, is a statistical technique by which you’re able to reduce an audience or segment an audience. What types of segmentations are there, and when should they be used?


Kate Ioas: That’s a good question. So I think generally, there’s four types of segmentation that you think about. And I have admittedly all of my experience is pretty much in psychographic, but I’ll go over the four that I’ve seen. So demographic is a pretty simple one. It’s could be generational, it could be life stages, it could be targeting women, it could be targeting high income audiences. That’s usually used for targeting ads or messaging. So maybe you’re looking to target families with small children with an ad, or maybe you’re looking to target certain occupations with certain resources that might help them. So really functionally, just targeting certain audiences based off of who they are as people. So that’s the first one. The second one, like I mentioned is psychographic. So this is the one that I- is personally my favorite, maybe just because I have the most experience with it, but I’ve heard it also referred to as attitudes or needs based segmentation. Where you’re really getting into the root of who these people are and what makes them tick. So we’re breaking up people by their motivations or their beliefs, or why they purchase a certain product. Really just understanding them on a slightly deeper level because you could have millennials, but then you’ve got millennials who maybe do certain things for certain reasons. And you have to get kind of that one level deeper than kind of that demographic. So this psychographic segmentation is used, I think usually for marketing, for messaging, for campaign targeting. And I think my personal favorite is just understanding customers, creating empathy with your clients. Or as a company, just really understanding them and thinking about who are we solving problems for, who are we talking to, who are we kind of thinking about when we’re creating these products or these marketing messages.


Jamin Brazil: And that really gets down to sort of the why of their purchase?


Kate Ioas: Yeah, because I think good marketers understand that just by understanding this high level stuff, you’re probably not going to get too far with customers. But by understanding the why, why do they purchase the way that they do and in targeting that is going to be a lot more powerful than certain other things.


Jamin Brazil: Let’s talk about typing tools.


Kate Ioas: Wait, let me tell you, so the other two.


Jamin Brazil: [CROSSTALK] two more, right?


Kate Ioas: Yeah. The other two are pretty similar. Geographic, just like you don’t want to target someone in Florida with a winter coat, doesn’t make sense. And then behavioral or transactional, which is basically how a customer interacts with your company. So it could be their browsing and spending habits online. What type of products they purchase with you. From my experience, that’s usually a little bit less of the market research team doing that and more of a data and analytics or strategy and analytics team kind of segmenting customers that way. But I just wanted to squeeze in those last two as well.


Jamin Brazil: Of course. How much do you see things like demographics and if you think about, at a company level firmographics or psychographics, et cetera, all feeding into a single segmentation?


Kate Ioas: That’s a good question. When you create a segmentation, you have input variables. That’s how you divide up the audience. I don’t usually see them all combined together to divide up an audience, because you can see- this is getting a little nerdy of me, but input variables have different weights. And if you were to use a demographic input variable, a psychographic and a geographic, you’ll find that there are certain variables that just have a lot more weight than others, and then the segment becomes uninteresting. So if we find out that being 18 years old has a much bigger impact than the reason that you buy a product, then that segment is basically just going to be based on age. So you can’t really mix. Maybe every once in a while you can, but for the most part, it’s going to be really tricky to mix in these different types of variables as inputs, because some of them are going to have a lot more strength and weight than others, and it’s going to become less meaningful. But the way that you could kind of add in and kind of layer on those things is, after you create the segment or in the survey that you’re kind of creating the segment based off of, you could kind of layer in these other things as kind of like descriptors of the segment. So you could say, this is a psychographic or needs based segmentation. We got these four groups from that needs based segmentation, and now within each of those groups, we can say, this group skews to be a little bit more female, or this group skews to be a little bit older. So you could kind of use them as descriptors, but I wouldn’t think that they could all be inputs for one segmentation.


Jamin Brazil: When you think about your methodology that you apply to segmentation, you mentioned that you’re most commonly using psychographics. What is the methodology? Do you start with factor analysis and then you move to correlations or cluster analysis? What is the flow for you?


Kate Ioas: So my experience is primarily writing surveys with the intent of we’re going to do a segmentation with this survey data. And so I think the best segmentations come from really well thought out surveys. And usually the way that I found makes the most powerful and kind of meaningfully different segments is agreement statements actually. So just how much do you agree or disagree, scale of one to five or one to seven with these statements. And really understanding how do they feel based off of these agree statements, how well do they describe them, five times out of six, I don’t know what that statistic. How about, probably nine times out of 10, I’m doing a segmentation based off of agreement statements, because they really get at kind of the why. If you have a bunch of agreement statements or something like that, then sure, maybe do a factor analysis to kind of cut down how many agreement statements you have as input variables. Because if you have a bunch of input variables, it starts getting a little mucky, the segmentation isn’t maybe as powerful. So sometimes sure, start with a factor analysis to kind of, like we mentioned, kind of combine the columns and then go into a cluster analysis where you have to do a kind of, a lot of trial and error. Where you’re figuring out which variables hold weight, which variables predict these segments well, and how well they divide up the audience in a meaningful way. So it’s- it really is a lot of trial and error and hoping that the questions that you asked in the survey and the variables that you have are going to meaningfully divide up your audience.


Jamin Brazil: I guess one of the most common mistakes I see with new researchers that are getting into segmentation is their expectation is that there’s a clear math formula that they then plug the numbers into. Run the script, or what have you, and then you’re going to get the output that these are your clusters or your segments. And the reality is that just isn’t- it never works like that.


Kate Ioas: I think- I don’t know if it’s my favorite part, but I think it’s one of the parts that makes it so satisfying at the end is like, when you have a good set of input variables, it works out really well. And you look at the segments on the back end and you’re like, oh my God, I can totally picture this person in this group. I can totally picture this segment. So that trial and error is kind of what makes it a little bit challenging. And you have to have a little bit of experience to figure out, if this variable holds a lot of weight, maybe I take that out and I try this variable or whatever. But it’s all figuring out what’s going to be meaningful for our stakeholders on the back end.


Jamin Brazil: I’m going to take the bait. What is your favorite part?


Kate Ioas: My favorite part. This is going to be cheesy, because I think, I clearly like the creativity aspect of it. And I think the way that I do segmentations is almost like borderline a persona at the end of it, because I love running the cross tabs with the segmentation as the columns. And really understanding how this segment answered every single question in your survey and just feeling like you’re getting to know a friend or something. But then getting to know them, naming them in a fun, creative way, and then actually putting it into a document that stakeholders would see and get pumped about. So I love the aspect of creating this profile page for a segment where it’s like, I am just putting all of this juice out there. I’m putting some quotes from the survey from open ends. I’m showing you exactly what this segment is, and that’s the part that kind of hypes me up, because it’s like, this is the part that people are going to see. They’re not going to see all the trial and error on the front end. They’re not going to see the factor analysis. They’re not going to see all that hard work. They’re going to see this juicy creative segment on the back end, and that’s the stuff that I get really excited to present.


Jamin Brazil: Can we talk about typing tools now?


Kate Ioas: I guess, yeah. Yeah, we can do that.


Jamin Brazil: So one of the best tools for segmentation is a- defining a sample frame based on what’s called a typing tool. And typing tool has been defined very simply as an abbreviated set of questions for classifying new respondents into existing segments. So going back to Kate, your example, you might have something like a 100 questions, agreement questions. And you would reduce those down and then through- into even factors. But you could reduce that further into maybe three questions or five questions that you would ask new participants. And then the typing tool would automatically assign those people to the specific segments. So practically speaking, from your vantage point, what is a typing tool, and how and when should research professionals use it?


Kate Ioas: So I’ll try to do the Michigan State program proud again, by kind of breaking down the black magic or the statistics behind it a little bit, just because I think typing tool is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot. And a lot of people probably don’t know how it actually works. They just know, I ask these questions and it pops you out into a segment, I wonder how that works. We talked about the data reduction techniques, so that’s how you get to the clusters, but it’s kind of like, I guess the reverse of the more predictive and classification techniques. So prediction, I think a lot of us are familiar with multiple regression. You’re predicting a dependent variable like NPS or something like that. There’s also classification techniques, and that’s what a typing tool essentially is. Where under that kind of classification umbrella of analyses, I usually think of logistic and discriminate. And discriminate is the one that we usually use for a typing tool, where it’s really similar to multiple regression, except the output is sorting respondents into one category or another. And so it’s basically predicting based off of the questions that you ask or the input variables that you have, predicting which category this person’s going to fit into. And so a typing tool is basically taking that output from that discriminate analysis, having a formula, very similar to a multiple regression or something like that. And then based off of the answers to a question, it would be plugged into that formula and then it’ll pop out which segment they are. And typing tools can be really accurate or not very accurate depending on how they’re made. So you want to make sure that it’s pretty effective and pretty significant. But in short, it’s a discriminant analysis where you’re just predicting and classifying people based off of input variables.


Jamin Brazil: When should researchers use it?


Kate Ioas: So I’ve seen them used a variety of ways. So one, and I know that we’ve talked about this, is recruiting. So say you have these segments that are really well defined and you want to just get to know them. You’re like, wow, I wish I could do a focus group with people in these segments. You could use them for recruitment. So a screening survey to kind of type people out and say, this person fits in this segment, let’s talk to them. So they could be used for recruitment. One of my favorite use cases that I’ve seen was actually a membership company. They had a bunch of members and we had done a segmentation for them where we segmented out their members. So they knew exactly how to market to these members, they knew exactly what type of materials to send them, to make them feel better about their jobs and more confident or whatever. They had a survey that they sent out to all new members and it would type them into a segment immediately upon joining this company or this membership. And so then from there on out, every new customer was sorted into a segment and then they immediately knew how to appeal to them. They felt like they understood them a little bit better and they knew how to talk to them. So that was one of my favorite. And then another one that I’ve seen a lot of is just kind of layering on additional insight to these segments. So say you’ve got these segments, they’re used widely throughout the organization, and you’re like, wow, I wonder what this segment thinks about this new idea. Or I wonder what this segment thinks about X, Y, and Z. You could do another survey, have this typing tool in that survey and ask those questions. And then you can see, how did this segment react to this, how did that segment react to that. So those are kind of three ways that I’ve seen it used. I’m sure there are other ways, I don’t know if you had any other ones top of mind?


Jamin Brazil: Yeah, I have. I- and I- but I wanted before I mentioned that, I want to go back to something you had started with, which is the ability to use a typing tool for qualitative recruiting. That’s something I see done a ton. And again, the benefit just for the audience’s sake is with a typing tool is that you’re able to actually perform that segmentation project that might have cost you a quarter million dollars in order to create, define the segments and then classify people accordingly. You’re able to actually do that classification on the fly with as little as three to 10 questions. So it’s like, it’s such a shortcut in order to leverage the body of work that you’ve already done, which creates this renewable resource for research, which is one of those things that I just, I love talking about. In terms of things that I’ve- unique ways that I’ve seen it applied actually in a sales context, I- a segmentation tool that I created was used by a top two phone company in their stores and in their retail locations. And they- it’s a telecom. And they would ask the customers when they would walk in a series of five questions, and based on their five questions, they would know what segment the person would fit. And they also then knew what the drivers were for the purchase. So you can imagine the power that information gave a salesperson, and yet it’s able to- it was able to be executed at a very- by quite literally anybody. So very, very powerful application of that in a direct sales context.


Kate Ioas: I love that. And I feel like I’ve-. I love typing tools and segmentation obviously. And so I feel like if I ever get asked a series of questions on a website or something, I’m always like, I wonder if this is sorting me into some sort of bucket. Because I think there are some kind of trendy companies out there, I think like Stitch Fix or places like that that ask you a bunch of questions. And I’m like, I feel like they’re typing me into something right now.


Jamin Brazil: I wonder if they are, I don’t [CROSSTALK].


Kate Ioas: I hope they are.


Jamin Brazil: I hope they’re too. We’ve covered a lot of stuff and we’re really just scratching the surface in truth. I’m hoping that we can come back- you’ll come back on the show and talk more about segmentation next month. But before we kind of move on and I know we’re at time, I do want to say how grateful I am for Michigan State’s MSMR program. As you know, they’re a sponsor of this particular show and a huge supporter of the insights community at large. You are a graduate of that program, and so my question to you is what benefits did you get out of the program and how has it impacted your career?


Kate Ioas: One, I love the program. I think the professors that they have in the program, the coordinators, everyone is just really great, really polished, really knows their stuff. Can’t say enough good things. I would say, as far as how it’s impacted my career and everything like that, I would say I kind of break it down into three buckets. So the first one is just confidence in my market research toolkit. The amount of methodologies that I learned about, like different analytics, as you could probably tell from this call that I love. I just, I’ve gotten so much confidence, and if I have a business question, I could figure out how to answer it with one method or another, because of all of the exposure that I had in the program and kind of the deep level of understanding that I have of all of the topics and all the different methods. So I think that really helped. I think the second one is just telling a really compelling and visual story with data. I think that’s something that a lot of people could probably focus on based off of what I’ve seen out there. But really just figuring out how can I tell a full story with this information. And there was a class in the program, I think it was called marketing communications. And at the time I was kind of like, I don’t know if this is going to help me, whatever. I know how to make a PowerPoint, but the tips that I got from that just were so helpful. And when to use a research report versus an executive summary versus a high level presentation, catering to your audience, figuring out how to even use design principles to visualize your data in a way that’s going to make it powerful. That class was awesome. And I think like you’ve probably picked up on, is I love the creative aspect of market research. So just the visual aspect of that class was really, really cool. And then the last kind of third point about the MSMR program was really just the connections and kind of the community. I don’t know that I would’ve found this market research podcast without the community that I’ve made through that program. So just the support. There’s constantly jobs that are being thrown around in that community of just figuring out how to help other people who’ve been in the program and everything like that. So I think the community is really good as well.


Jamin Brazil: And the fact that they have, I believe it’s 80% of their graduates placed in jobs six months prior to graduating is pretty impressive.


Kate Ioas: I believe that there aren’t too many market research programs out there. And so I feel like it really is a good way to make you stand out and say like, hey, I didn’t just stumble into the market research world. I want to be here and I want to be here for the long run.


Jamin Brazil: My last question, what’s your personal motto?


Kate Ioas: This is a really hard one. So admittedly, I was talking to my husband about this yesterday, because I was like, I think I need to think of a personal motto for this podcast. And we were tossing around really stupid ones, like if you ain’t first, your last.


Jamin Brazil: Ricky Bobby.


Kate Ioas: Which is absolutely not mine, but I do think it sounds really cheesy, but just the work hard and be nice to people, I think is more of my motto. Of just be a good person, be nice to people, and put your head down and do some good work. Because I think it’s just as important to be nice as it is to work hard.


Jamin Brazil: Work hard, be nice. Kate Ioas, senior consumer insights at Abercrombie and Fitch. Thank you for joining us very much on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.


Kate Ioas: Thank you so much. It was a great time.


Jamin Brazil: Everybody else, I hope you found a ton of value here. If you have questions about segmentation, feel free to DM myself or Kate on LinkedIn, either of us would be happy to chat. Have a great rest of your day.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 570 – Ashley Le Blanc, Executive Vice President of Little Bird Marketing, on Insights Marketing Day 2022: Marketing Expertise for Market Research Companies 

My guest today is Ashley Le Blanc, Executive Vice President of Little Bird Marketing.

Insights Marketing Day 2022: 

Find Ashley Online:

Find Jamin Online:

Find Us Online: 


This Episode is Sponsored by:

The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research Program delivers the #1 ranked insights and analytics graduate degree in three formats: 

  • Full-time on campus 
  • Full-time online 
  • Part-time online

NEW FOR 2022: 

If you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their 3-course certificates: Insights Design or Insights Analysis. 

In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build toward your graduation.

If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s programs at: broad.msu.edu/marketing.

HubUX is a research operation platform for private panel management, and qualitative automation including video audition questions, and surveys. 

For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com


Jamin Brazil: Hey everybody, you are listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. This is a special episode. I am partnering with Little Bird Marketing. I have my good friend, Ashley Le Blanc, who is joining us today. We are going to be talking about Insights Marketing Day. This is an annual event that is hosted in Chicago, and I hope you can make it. So Ashley, welcome to the show.


Ashley Le Blanc: Thanks for having me. I’m excited to talk about Insights Marketing Day. It’s one of my favorite events.


Jamin Brazil: You know, mine, too. I’ve been to it for the last couple of years. I always get a ton out of it. You have a great speaker lineup. So why don’t we start there? Talk to us a little bit about some of your highlighted speakers.


Ashley Le Blanc: What I love about our speaker lineup- of course, this is an event that is geared towards people with a marketing mindset, but we really try to pull our speakers from lots of different industries. So we have Andy Crestodina, he is a fan favorite. He’s been at several of our Insights Marketing Day. He’s Chicago based, he’s from Orbit Media, but he’s kind of like our web and SEO guru. So for anyone who has questions about how do I rank for certain keywords, how do I get my website optimizing the correct way, he is the go-to person. He’s personally one of my favorite speakers. We’ll have other insights professionals like Sequoia Glen, Bob Farrow from Trusted Talent. He’s going to be talking a little bit about employee retention, which is always a fun topic. David Paul from Dialsmith and Lillian Labs. So lots of people from in the industry and then several people that are from more of a marketing background or even a growth strategies background too.


Jamin Brazil: And of course we have Priscilla McKinney who will be opening the day, as well as I believe speaking. She’s got a couple topics, one centered around five LinkedIn tips for conference follow up. By the way conference follow up, conferences are the biggest marketing expenditure in most of our budgets. And we leave so much money on the table because we are not really farming the land after we’ve sewn the seed, using the metaphor. And so that’s going to be super valuable. And then the other topic she’s covering is interactive networking or- and hosting an interactive networking break. And can you talk to us a little bit about the benefit and the opportunity to be able to network with marketing peers in the space?


Ashley Le Blanc: So one of the interesting things about Insights Marketing Day is it’s not like your typical industry event, where you sit in a chair, maybe you say hello to the person next to you, and then you move on to the next session. We’ve really set up the day. So if you show up, yes, you get to experience incredible speakers, but you really get to network with the other people in the room. So we all know we’re big. at Little Bird, we’re big fans of industry collaboration. We think that’s how we push our own companies forward, but also how we’re going to push the industry forward. So there will be so many opportunities to network with peers, with people at other companies trying to do the exact same thing that you’re doing. But of course, right after Priscilla gives all of her tips for LinkedIn, we’re going to go into a networking break and rumor has it that there’s also going to be maybe some gelato at that networking break.


Jamin Brazil: Last year, I think, was it gelato that you guys brought in? I think it was.


Ashley Le Blanc: Yeah, I think it was. I think we’re bringing back the same people, because it was such a favorite that we had a multiple people request that it made a comeback.


Jamin Brazil: It’s almost like if you’ve ever had a street vendor or something along those lines, it’s like a super professional pop-up that goes, it’s like, where did that come from, wow. It’s a pretty good experience.


Ashley Le Blanc: Everyone needs 3pm gelato.


Jamin Brazil: That’s right. I totally agree with that. That should be in all of our benefit packages. You have Doug Potters, who’s going to be speaking. He works for CIVC Partners, a private equity company. Which I thought was really interesting and definitely connects into marketing. Is the event strictly for marketing professionals or are you seeing some C-suite folks move in as well?


Ashley Le Blanc: Yeah, definitely. And my encouragement is anyone that is in a company, in a research company that has a growth mindset. So whether you’re on the sales team, the marketing team, in the C-suite, leadership team, this event is really beneficial for you. Like I mentioned before, while we have people speaking on marketing, we have people like Doug, even like our end client panel. When we talk about brands as a whole, when we talk about lead gen best practices, that goes so much further than just marketing. That ties into how are we growing our company, how are we scaling our company. So I would encourage anyone who has big growth goals for this next year, this event will be really beneficial for you.


Jamin Brazil: Ashley, you partner with Greenbook or more broadly Little Bird Marketing partners with Greenbook to put this event on year over year. Talk to us a little bit about what’s unique about Little Bird, and why you guys are the chosen marketing company to partner with Greenbook.


Ashley Le Blanc: So we’ve had a long term partnership with Greenbook, and as many people know Insights Marketing Day is not a new event. It was actually the first insights event, Little Bird attended, I think back in 2016. It’s how we broke into the industry. So it’s- we love that now we get to host it. But Greenbook, obviously with all of their other incredible events, they just, they outgrew the capacity. So we were able to take that on. It’s really a true marriage of what we are best at. We get to combine our in depth knowledge of the industry with marketing best practices and bring those two things together for professionals in the research industry to have marketing broken down for them specifically. There’s not a lot of- of course you can go to a large marketing conference, but to go to a marketing conference that’s specific to your industry, those are honestly few and far between. So since 2016 Little Bird has been serving the market research industry and we know the buyer, we’re at the events, we know the space. So partnering with people who are in the industry or even support services of the industry, that’s who our ideal partnerships are with. And because we have knowledge because our team knows market research, because our team is at the events, it makes the partnership really easy. Because you’re not hiring a marketing agency and then spending a year teaching them about market research. We already bring that knowledge to the table and we’re able to get started on actual marketing efforts from the beginning, instead of learning about the industry or the trade for that first year. So makes us a little bit different.


Jamin Brazil: So attendees will walk away with very tactical things or techniques that they can leverage to have better return on their marketing ROI, as well as drive improved SEO. We’re seeing in the last couple of years, we’re actually, since COVID seeing SEO becoming more important than ever before for discoverability with new customers. And so to that end, and what Andy brings in the speaker lineup, I think is just so vital, is exactly how to look at your Google Analytics, understand where traffic’s coming from, analyze it in a cohort framework, build on that over- on your SEO over time. So you can get that front page placement. Tickets are relatively inexpensive, under $300, $297 for the in-person conference, but you also have a virtual aspect. Is that right?


Ashley Le Blanc: We do. We will be recording all of the session. So it’s not virtual in the sense of, on demand when they’re actually happening, but you can buy, I think it’s maybe $100 and you get access to [CROSSTALK].


Jamin Brazil: $97.


Ashley Le Blanc: You get access to all the video content post event, and that is life- for a lifetime. So you can download those videos, you can keep them, you can watch them as a team. We do not record the panel sessions. It’s just a little bit more difficult with all the multiple mics, but all of the keynote sessions are recorded and you can even add that on if you’re coming in-person and you want, you’re like, hey, I want to replay that. We’ve all been there, right, to a conference, you heard something you’re like, I want to re-listen to that. You can add it on to your in-person ticket and have video access post event as well.


Jamin Brazil: So listeners, if you would like to learn more about Insights Marketing Day, you can find out specific information at insights-marketing.org. Again that’s insights-marketing.org. As always, you can find links in the show notes. Ashley, thank you so much for spending a few minutes with me today and us today, telling us about the event.


Ashley Le Blanc: Thanks for having me.


Jamin Brazil: Everybody, have a great rest of your day.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 569 – The Art of Research with Susan Fader: When and how to Apply Cognitive Demographics

My guest today is Susan Fader, founder of FaderFocus.

Susan has run FaderFocus as a Business Strategist and Transformationalist Catalyst specializing in qualitative methods and strategic consulting. 

She helps clients achieve focus and get “unstuck”, reframing their energies, their confirmational biases, and the traditional ways of segmenting their customers. 

Find Susan Online:

Find Jamin Online:

Find Us Online: 


This Episode is Sponsored by:

The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research Program delivers the #1 ranked insights and analytics graduate degree in three formats: 

  • Full-time on campus 
  • Full-time online 
  • Part-time online

NEW FOR 2022: 

If you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their 3-course certificates: Insights Design or Insights Analysis. 

In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build toward your graduation.

If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s programs at: broad.msu.edu/marketing.

HubUX is a research operation platform for private panel management, and qualitative automation including video audition questions, and surveys. 

For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com


Jamin Brazil: Hey, everybody. You are listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. This is a segment that we’ve been starting, gosh, this is our second installment called Fader’s Corner. I just made that up. Susan Fader, founder of FaderFocus. What do you think about the name, Susan?


Susan Fader: We’ll come up with a better one.


Jamin Brazil: Anyway, many of you already know Susan. Susan has run Fader Focus as a business strategist and transformalist catalyst specializing in qualitative methods and strategic consulting, and she’s done that for a little while. She helps clients achieve focus and get unstuck reframing their energies, their conformational biases, and the traditional ways of segmenting customers. Susan, thank you for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


Susan Fader: It’s wonderful to be here.


Jamin Brazil: The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research program delivers the number one ranked in science and analytics degree in three formats: full-time on campus, full-time online, and part-time online. New for 2022, if you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their three course certifications, insights design or insights analysis. In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build towards your graduation. If you’re looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s program at broad. msu. edu/marketing. Again, broad. msu. edu/marketing. HubUX is a research operation’s platform for private panel management, qualitative automation including video audition questions, and surveys. For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com. So part of every researcher toolbox is customer segmentation. Everybody that listens to this podcast has had some level of exposure and probably is a practitioner of customer segmentation but just to level set, this is the process by which you derive your customer segments. You move the broad audience into individual groupings and those groupings are based on common characteristics, most commonly things like income, gender, ethnicity, purchase behavior, etc. These customer segments they help inform a brand’s messaging and positioning to ultimately drive, as you know, revenue or income or sales for the business. Now the problem with traditional customer segments, and this is something that we’ve all known for at least my entire career, is that customer segments are really sterile and they’re abstract. My favorite go-to quote there is you may have a segment called, “Dads,” which will have a variable called number of children, which obviously is greater than one but nobody has 2.3 kids, right? And yet a customer segment that is strictly based on the numbers is going to have some sort of a report like that. And so in an effort to build the segment that brands can more easily understand and relate with, market research professionals like us, we build upon these customer segments, and we create personas, and personas include additional information like behaviors, attributes, what their purchase journey is like. Oftentimes it may include things like video excerpts or even quote. So anyway, that framing it out just for the audience here, if you have customer segmentation and then part of that process, or the endpoint of that process, is oftentimes personas. And the personas are really leveraged to help create empathy between the brand and who they’re ultimately trying to sell their products or services to. Now, Susan, you came up with a, and in my opinion, revolutionary framework for profiling customers called, “cognitive demographics.” I’d like to start out with understanding what is the catalyst? Or what was the catalyst for you coming up with this approach?


Susan Fader: When you think about it, demographic profiles are really one-sided. It’s the company trying to figure out groupings of potential customers so that they can target and sell more stuff to them, and they usually align with the way the businesses are structured. So I felt what was missing the person’s perception of who they are and at the same time, part of the recruiting process when they have behavioral questions they tend to tie to purchase or things, information that the company needs. And I started asking an open-end on my screener’s called, “Motto,” from the streaming group with moms, I would say, “What was your mom motto.” And I started getting back wide-ranging things, even though demographically they were supposedly all in the same demographics like one mom might say, “I’ll do anything for my kids,” and the other said, “I go with the flow.” Obviously those moms are going to make very different purchase decisions and see the world differently but, yet, they were in the same demographics so that was really a profile that these companies have put together. So that really was the catalyst for me starting to develop cognitive demographics.


Jamin Brazil: The word, “cognitive,” is defined as conscious intellectual activity and demographics it means relating to the structure of a population. So you put these two words together and, of course, I did a Google search in preparation for this to see if there’s any other works that had defined cognitive demographics, and you’d be surprised I didn’t find any. What is cognitive demographics in the context of consumer insights?


Susan Fader: For me, it’s making sure we incorporate how people self perceive and how they create their value hierarchy. There’s a basket of stuff that is part of everyone’s decision making but something rises to the top. It could be family; it could be the most important and need to make every decision through that person. It could be career as the most important or a set of beliefs or religion. And you have to kind of understand the perspective of where people are coming from and how they see the world, and I think my example of the motto just before was it was a very simple way of showing if you don’t do that, you won’t be able to understand how people are reacting to any ideas that you’re sharing with them.


Jamin Brazil: When you added that question, was the question in a survey or was that a question that was done in focus groups or IDIs?


Susan Fader: Initially in a recruiting screen or where you’re trying to figure out whether someone qualifies for a discussion. There has historically tended to be an open-ended question at the end to see if the people could articulate thoughts and put two words together, and they were things like, “give me five things you can do with a paper clip,” which really had nothing to do with anything, and I just started using my open-ends tying to the project, not to gather more data, but to help me get some insight into who the person was, at the same time, for having the person having to do some self-diagnostic ethnography on themselves of how they self-perceive their role. It might not have been anything they had thought of before.


Jamin Brazil: It is interesting how a lot of the pre-work that we do in research that leads up to the actual groups or surveys, whatever, that can be useful data to help inform our insights.


Susan Fader: But I want to make sure, clearer to people who are listening. I don’t see those types of questions as data collecting. It will provide us with information in context. I see it more as helping the person bring to a conscious level and articulate how they’re perceiving something and for us, the researchers and marketers, better understanding the context of how people are going to make a judgment call.


Jamin Brazil: Yeah, it is exactly right, and I’ll give you an example personally. I used to have the standard question I would ask in my screeners, “What’s your favorite vacation destination and why do you like it?” So clearly it’s getting to articulation, and then I’ve started changing that over the last couple of years to be something that is maybe adjacent or relevant to the topic, obviously not in line with the actual subject that we’re going to do, or discuss, or interview them on. But it does blur the line for me in terms of useful data versus strictly screeners, but I totally take the point.


Susan Fader: I think you could always use it but not – I think for people fall down is where they say we don’t have time to ask this during the interview or the focus group or the online board, so let’s put it in the pre-work and we can gather it there, so I’m pushing back on that. I’ll give you another example of how I used it. This was for I was doing a whole study on appliances in the kitchen and so the question I asked my open-end, was what’s your favorite meal to prepare and why? And it was fascinating. You had the spectrum of this is very quick and then I can sit down and really enjoy time with my family, or this is the meal that I learned from my grandmother and shows my love to my family. It didn’t really matter what dish they were making; it was how they perceived that aspect of cooking. And if you’re talking about an appliance, that’s kind of helpful because it kind of identifies what a touchpoint could be.


Jamin Brazil: Oh my gosh, so it reminds me of the Betty Crocker study, I think it was Betty Crocker Instant Cake Mix and probably half the audience knows this anecdote or story, but when they launched instant cake mix, they were very excited because it was like checking all the boxes, and it was equally as tasty as homemade against the taste tests that they were doing. And yet, they couldn’t really sell it for almost 20 years, and it wasn’t until they realized that it was less about the cake and more about the effort that went into making the cake because that was an expression of the love. And that’s why until this day, you still have to add an egg to the cake because it makes you feel like you’re putting effort into the process which gets enjoyed by the people you care about.


Susan Fader: It is that aspect of creativity that – because they have originally done it so that you didn’t really – all you had to add was water and now you have to add oil and eggs because then they felt that they were actually baking and creating.


Jamin Brazil: Yeah, that’s right. It’s fascinating. When should researchers apply cognitive demographics to their methodology?


Susan Fader: Always. All the time.


Jamin Brazil: When you say all the time, do you do it categorically on every project you launch, or is it done at the early of the research project or –


Susan Fader: I feel you have to understand the person’s perspective. It could be during recruiting or it could be at the very beginning of the conversation you’re having with the person. For example, I do a lot of work with doctors and they tend to be very clinical and doctors are really prepared for you asking or immediately jumping in clinical questions, and I started saying, “Hi,” they do the introduction, this is my specialty, this how long I’ve been practicing, I’m solo and I prescribe this medication 14 times. And then normally you go and question and answer very clinical. I turned it around to make this personal connection. I said, “In two or three sentences, can you quickly tell me why you became a doctor and why your specialty.” And it’s amazing, you kind of see them let out a sigh and sit back and smile because you’ve made that personal connection, and they’re sharing with you what is basically their life but get insight. Was it biology? They like biology and chemistry. Was it the mystery of trying to solve a problem? Is it important to them to have that human interaction with their patients? You can do it any stage, but you have to do it I feel at the beginning, so you get that contextualization of understanding how they’re interpreting things in making decisions.


Jamin Brazil: And then you use that, the answers to that question, which are probably abstract if your customers in the back room watching the interview, they’re probably thinking I want to know how to get this guy to sell more drugs, not whatever, why you fell in love with the thing.


Susan Fader: But what it does it it helps us understand because when you think about healthcare and doctors, they’re generally segmented by specialty, how long they’ve been in practice, what type of practice they have, and how frequently they’re doing the procedure or prescribing and seeing the number of patients. And that’s basically the end of the segment. And once we started adding that question, we saw that there were splits within the specialty, that it wasn’t so cut and dry, and it made a real difference in terms of identifying touchpoints and developing the communications to doctors.


Jamin Brazil: I know you’ve really touched on a couple already, but do you have a specific example of a project that you maybe have recently done where you used cognitive demographics and then what the actual impact was from the customer’s point of view?


Susan Fader: It was on natural supplements and we were talking to people who self-defined as leading healthy lives and that fitness played a role. And then what the client had initially segmented them by people who will exercise this many times of – by frequency of how often they exercise and their length of their exercise and the type of exercise. So we had this one group that was running like 25 miles a day pulling a sled with a 25 pound pack behind them, those extreme, and then the ones who were going to the gym but weren’t taking any classes. And what was amazing was how they self-perceived because you would think the people who were doing – the mothers and running the marathons and training six days a week would see themselves as fitness freaks. And what we found was for many of them it was about getting themselves in the right head space. For them it was about their mind and about joy they got from it. While the people on the other end, it was all about losing weight and being fit. It didn’t bifurcate the way the client originally thought. It turned out to be very, very different.


Jamin Brazil: That’s super interesting. Susan, thank you for joining me on our news segment soon to be properly named, but for now is The Fader Corner.


Susan Fader: Thanks so much.


Jamin Brazil: Everyone else, I hope you found this very enlightening and useful. I always learn something when I have the opportunity to chat with Susan. As always, if you screen capture and share this episode on episode on social media, tag me and I will send you a t-shirt. Have a great rest of your day.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 568 – How to Measure Consumer Emotions Using Passion Points with George Carey, Founder and CEO of The Family Room 

My guest today is George Carey, Founder and CEO of The Family Room. 

Founded 29 years ago, The Family Room is a market intelligence company that helps brands connect emotion to brand relevance and growth. 

Fifteen years ago, The Family Room launched a global longitudinal tracking with a proprietary framework called Passion Points. This data is used by top brands including Nike, HBO, YouTube, McDonald’s, LEGO, and Disney.

Prior to starting The Family Room, George was a Senior Vice President at Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising. 

Find George Online:

Find Jamin Online:

Find Us Online: 


This Episode is Sponsored by:

The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research Program delivers the #1 ranked insights and analytics graduate degree in three formats: 

  • Full-time on campus 
  • Full-time online 
  • Part-time online

NEW FOR 2022: 

If you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their 3-course certificates: Insights Design or Insights Analysis. 

In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build toward your graduation.

If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s programs at: broad.msu.edu/marketing.

HubUX is a research operation platform for private panel management, and qualitative automation including video audition questions, and surveys. 

For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com


Jamin Brazil: Hi everybody, welcome to the podcast. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. I’m Jamin Brazil, your host. Our guest today is George Carey, founder and CEO of The Family Room. Founded 29 years ago, The Family Room is a market intelligence company that helps brands connect emotion to brand relevance and growth. Fifteen years ago, The Family Room launched a global longitudinal tracker with a proprietary framework called Passion Points. This data is used by top brands including Nike, HBO, YouTube, McDonald’s, Lego and Disney. Prior to starting The Family Room, George was a Senior Vice President at Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising. George, welcome to the show.


George Carey: Thanks, Jamin. I’m happy to be here.


Jamin Brazil: The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research program delivers the number one ranked insights and analytics degree in three formats. Full time on campus, full time online and part time online. New for 2022, if you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their three core certifications; Insights Design or Insights Analysis. In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build towards your graduation. If you’re looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSN news program at b-r-o-a-d dot m-s-u dot e-d-u/marketing. Again, b-r-o-a-d dot m-s-u dot e-d-u/marketing.

WX is a research operations platform for private panel management, qualitative automation, including video audition questions and surveys. For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit have u-x dot com. It’s a huge honor to have you here. I got a fair amount of exposure to Passion Points. I’m excited about talking about that topic but I wanted to provide a little bit of context for our audience. Everybody knows that emotion is really important. In fact, it has never been more important for brands to connect to consumers at an emotional level. We’ve kind of moved away from the commodity framework and more to the emotional framework which is an interesting transition. How are brands doing this?


George Carey: Jamin, I think it falls into a number of different approaches. Different brands and different categories are trying to find emotional connections in different ways. One approach is the kind referred to as put your finger to the wind a little bit. You start with a hunch and work backwards from there. So you might have a hunch that Gen Z are really all about the environment and so you will work backwards from there into a campaign or a product or some content that speaks to that. The trouble with that is, you may beyond a hunch which really isn’t held by the broad population that you’re after. Another approach is to start with a social cause. I think people often conflate the idea of emotion and social purpose and work backwards from there. There’s lots of people who are doing lots of work in the social causes as a way to create more strong emotional connections with their consumer. Then there’s a few people that start with a human and work backwards from there. To me, that’s where the real sweet spot of this emotional marketing comes from. People are people first. They are consumers first and so to the extent that you can find a genuine human truth which is true and authentic beyond any category or any brand connection and work from there back to what works with your brand. That tends to be the most successful.


Jamin Brazil: Are there brands that you’ve identified or see that have done this really well and if so, can you think of a specific example?


George Carey: Yeah, well, there’s many number of brands that have aligned themselves with a social cause. Climate change and sustainability is probably the most frequent one and frankly, it’s the one which can be often sounds the most tin or the most hollow because I’m not exactly sure what many of these brands have to do with climate change. So without naming any names, that tends to be one of the problematic areas. Then there’s other brands that have more of a natural authentic connection to one of these emotional triggers for kids or for adults or for teens for that matter. Crayola for example has taken a huge standard promoting kid creativity. Now that makes sense. Create Crayola stands for creativity. It has always been about creativity and so for them to be a champion of creativity and the emotional connection between creative self-expression is a perfect one. And of course our friends at Nike who often gets cited in these kinds of podcasts are also brilliant at this. Their whole connection with this whole idea of agency and personal advocacy and not being pushed around by the authorities and having the courage to make sacrifices for your beliefs, that’s very much a part of their brand DNA. There is very much a part of the emotional connection they have with consumers. Beginning with Colin Kaepernick and working back to the future, they have done a brilliant job of prepping that alive in a very authentic fashion.


Jamin Brazil: It’s interesting you brought up Crayola. I just did an interview with a Black professional and she was talking to me about her identity. This was relative to DNI and growing up, she had Crayola just like most people do in the US. She would draw her family not using the black crayon but using the brown crayon and because of that she’s self-identified. This is a woman now in her 50s until very recently identified herself as Brown which speaks to the power of brand at connecting to consumers and then how that consumer then connects to the world at large.


George Carey: That’s exactly right Jamin. I refer to it like a motion done right as Goosebump Marketing. By that I mean it’s when you sort of on those rare occasions, where you have nailed like an emotional imperative at a human level for your consumer audience. And you have connected it in an authentic, completely honest way back to your brand. It’s like when those stars align, goosebumps, and that sort of be provoked in the in the consumer audience and suddenly, your brand becomes something you must have.


Jamin Brazil: That’s so funny I’ve never- it is interesting how that’s a really nice segue into my next question which is around Passion Points. But before we do that, it’s interesting how you, like your culture, it sounds like is and your views which is culture of the world is really framed around an emotional experience like you said goosebumps. Literally when she talked to me about that Crayola framing, I literally got goosebumps at that moment.


George Carey: And that’s a really good test. If you don’t get goosebumps when you see a concept that is meant to be an emotionally evocative, there’s something wrong there. The cause isn’t really a genuine emotional imperative or there’s not the real authentic connection to your brand.


Jamin Brazil: At The Family Room, you’ve created a tracking tool that measures consumer emotions towards brands, products, services and categories. I’d really like you to talk to us about that framework.


George Carey: It began with our, just, fundamental belief philosophically that as much as we would like to convince ourselves that we as people are these rational, empirical, logical individuals who make decisions based on good sound reasons, we are absolutely not. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have these emotional impulses that emanate from deep within us. They tend to be the triggers of our choices and once we have them, we then look for rational reasons to support them. It’s not the other way around. Our belief is that feelings come first. That you feel things before you do things and it seemed to us that if we could create a data set that turn that whole notion of human emotion and these emotional triggers in the concrete data, rather than kind of supposition or qualitatively defined hypotheses or worse, then that would be a really good service to the market in the content community. That’s what Passion Points are. In its simplest form, Passion Points quantify human emotion. And we look at these passion points through three different lenses. At a human level, we just measure on a quarterly basis among 80,000 consumers around 11 markets around the world, which of the 80 emotional priors that we track are most and least relevant to that given audience at any given time. We just want a quarterly basis. We’ve been asking the exact same Passion Point priorities for the last five years. And so we can now measure over time exactly how the wobbles in our world and there have been plenty of wobbles in the world lately, how those are impacting who we are as people, as humans. The second lens is to apply those human priorities in the categories. We tracked 11 different categories and from that, we can see the emotional jobs that kids or teens or young adults or parents expect of any one of these categories to perform. So this is not looking at the world of say gaming or restaurants through the traditional lens of category drivers, it’s much more at a human level. What is it that I expect for you to do for me as a person? Then the third lens is for subscribers of this research. We also put in your brands and if you’d like us to we compare the brands. And at that point we have this beautiful red thread that connects the dots from a bona fide, certified human priority, to an emotional job of your category, to a legitimate emotional asset of your brand. And when you put those three things together, in great content or marketing, and guess what you get Chairman? Goosebumps.


Jamin Brazil: I know you do work with McDonald’s or as their subscriber, and I’m happy to be a big fan of McDonald’s as a brand, been a consumer my whole life and still to this day, there was cash pre pandemic. They started this two for whatever breakfast sandwich thing in the mornings and it happened to be this remarkable deal for like $3. It was just such a materially better deal than any other menu options. So I was buying this thing over time and then I attended this conference where I actually got to hear the VP insights, give a presentation on the exact topic of how they had decided to partner with their customers, their constituents so that they could offer the best financial deal for basically calorie to dollar for them but in a highlight way. So it’s not like categorically across a menu, it was specific to individualized package deal. So, it is really interesting to me how a brand is rethinking that whole paradigm and how they are, it’s not about extraction from the consumer, it’s more about enablement or value their partnership that they’re getting with the consumer.


George Carey: Yeah that’s right Jamin and they’ve gone on beyond that to use our work to help them on a couple of other fronts. One is as you certainly are aware is the use of their celebrity meals. They’ve gotten various influencers to say this is my meal, this is what I like to have at McDonald’s and suddenly, they have now imbued the same old quarter pounder with the emotional cachet of some of these incredible influencers in the world and that seems to have done amazing things for their business.


Jamin Brazil: Sorry as we kind of fan boy on McDonald’s a little bit more, I have two young children, a five and a six year old, you would never guess what their favorite meal is?


George Carey: Tell me?


Jamin Brazil: Happy Meal. It’s still. Like even me growing up and for them today because there’s this emotional reward. It’s the free gift at the bottom of the Cheerios or the bottom of the cereal box, right? That is the big motivator there. It’s not the cereal. It’s the reward part of that.


George Carey: Yeah, but then we can also help them look forward. One of the things that we track is as a group of Passion Points that speak to our desire to engage in the world. It’s like get out of our shell and go out in the world and have fun and spontaneity and surprises and connection, versus our need for shelter, psychic shelter. And by that I mean, staying close and safe and in the home and around familiar people. And we can track exactly how say teenagers or young adults for example are trying to ignore that. Are they in a shelter mindset or an engaged mindset. And that has huge implications for McDonald’s because if you’re in a shelter mindset, that’s Drive Thru. I’m going to be buying my food through the Drive Thru, I’m not coming into your restaurant. And if I’m in an engaged mindset, that’s, hey, let me come out, let me get into your restaurant with my friends. So understanding that the reality that most young adults are still completely in the sheltering mindset and going up more by the day. Being away from pandemic has not made us any more inclined to reengage with the world because other things have replaced it as fear points for young adults. That has huge implications on how McDonald’s plans to invest their money in their marketing, based on Drive Thru dining versus in store dinning.


Jamin Brazil: Yeah, versus Apt To which works both ways.


George Carey: Exactly.


Jamin Brazil: So, can you talk to me a little bit about the construct of Passion Points. Is it a derived variable or is it like a stated variable?


George Carey: It’s stated variables. We began with Maslow. We wanted to route this in a pretty respected and well established model of human behavior in decision making. And that’s one that everyone can get their head around. Maslow was very clear about the hierarchy of human needs and that each needs to be filled before they can move on to the other. So we began with five categories of human emotion based on Maslow’s model and then we populated that with a number of individual expressions of that. And these are the Passion Points, these are these emotional priorities. So for each one of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we have about between five and 20 Passion Points. So we have this really nice contemporary expression of a very well respected academic theory. And then we do it through survey based research. It’s almost all done through a mobile platform. We ask respondents to tell us which of these are most and least important to most at least connected to our brand or category every quarter again for the last five years. We we’re able to look all the way back to that simple innocent time before the pandemic in 2018 and quarter by quarter, period by period, see exactly how these unchanging survey items, these passion points are shifting. And one of the thing is that you quickly realize Jamin as you do this is that a generational marketing is kind of a thing of the past in the sense of it does not take 20 years for people’s values to change. It used to have, we had this notion that yeah, over 10 years, 20 years, the notion of the very core essence of childhood or teen hood, things might shift there. That is not the case any longer. These human values, these emotional priorities shift quarter to quarter. I can only imagine what the US data is going to look like in our next wave when we have that the school shootings in Texas is a part of our cultural ecosystem. It is going to completely change this whole idea of child shelter versus engage and that in turn is going to change the kinds of snacks, the kinds of restaurants, the kinds of toys, the kinds of games that these young people want to play.


Jamin Brazil: It’s interesting from a longitudinal perspective, a lot of companies, they threw away their old trackers. In fact, I did, gosh, maybe 200 interviews, 50 of which were with major brands through the pandemic or after that 18 month period. The thing that stood out to me was the old way of doing tracking was useless. For example, they were thinking about set top box or rather TV viewership has completely changed. And they hadn’t accounted for that in their trackers materially to streaming services. Now, this is just a little carve out right but then once the pandemic hit, they realized, wow, our trackers are so disconnected from the actual consumer and their day to day life that we’ve got basically all the stuff that the 20 or 30 or 50 years of content that our data that we’ve collected is no longer valuable because the normative data set just doesn’t have a comparative point in the pandemic. What is interesting about Passion Points is you have a pre during and post point of view.


George Carey: Correct. Yeah, that’s exactly right. You can begin doing this kind of research today if you wanted to and you will see that 35% of teens think climate change is a huge emotional priority for them but like OK, big number or small number? Should I be paying attention to that or is that insignificant. So it’s through that movement that you can really begin to see the cultural zeitgeist.


Jamin Brazil: In that comparative against your normative database is the value, right? I mean to your point.


George Carey: Yeah.


Jamin Brazil: It’s like a balance sheet, a financial balance sheet. It’s are we doing better or worse. We’re doing good or bad and you can’t get to that question in the silo of a single project. It has to have that performance over time.


George Carey: Yeah, you’re exactly right Jamin and the thing that makes it not to beat our drum a little too loudly but, there’s lots of data out there but most of that data measures two things, behaviors and transactions. How often did you watch this show? What time did you watch this show? How much did you spend? That’s really important data. But it’s all about the behavioral what. And what our data tries to sort of fill in is the emotional why. Behind most data is a transaction or behavior. Behind our data is a human being expressing in their simplest possible way what’s really sacredly important to me. And so ours is a really nice kind of the end of the end behavioral data that gives you the emotional why.


Jamin Brazil: You’ve given us a few examples so far. I feel like it’d be useful if you could end on maybe one more example if you need to sanitize or redact the brand, that’s fine. But did you have any moments of surprise of what consumers were stating in the last few years?


George Carey: Yeah, there have been some to me some really remarkable things. Some of it’s been good news. I have to say has been hopeful news. There’s so much sadness, if you look and you read about the emotional stress and the anxiety that people are under right now but a couple of just super quick things that I have been surprised by and given hope by. The first one is the trend which we have named multicultural melding. And by that I mean out of all the terrible things that came out of the pandemic and God knows the list is a very long one, perhaps one of the bright spots is that through the shared suffering that everybody went through, it didn’t matter whether you were rich or poor, you’re Christian or Muslim, and importantly, Black, White, Hispanic or Asian. Everybody suffered. Everybody lost something. And it was through that shared experience that the emotional values across these multicultural segments came much, much closer together. If you look at the human values of multicultural Gen Z before the pandemic, they were very disparate, very far apart. Today, much closer together. And if you’re a brand or a property trying to find more inclusive content or inclusive brands, this has a huge impact because it’s not so hard anymore. If you know what these shared human values are, you can become much more inclusive much more quickly. So that’s one surprise. And then the other one is, there’s been some really remarkable changes in gender roles through the pandemic. One of the things that we’ve seen over the last four years is that girls and by girls, I mean, Gen Alpha girls, are absolutely done being pleasers. I’ve got two daughters so I can speak with some authority on this from my sample of two. But girls used to be very focused on doing things that got them praise and love from the outside world. And they are done with that. Girls’ interests in making my parents proud went from a number three emotional priority to number 32 over the course of a pandemic. Whereas boys, Gen Alpha boys, there’s this really interesting movement towards what we call the softer side of boys. They’ve become much more sensitive, much more spiritual, much more interested in creative self-expression. Much less interested in winning and domination. So anyway, you never know what the world’s going to throw at you and you never know how it’s going to change but this data gives us some insight we didn’t have before.


Jamin Brazil: I have one last question for you, what is your personal motto?


George Carey: Well, I’ve used it once before but I’ll just kill it and restate it. Feelings come first. That’s my motto. We feel things before we do things. And the more that brands and media properties can begin to orient themselves in that way, to start with a human and work backwards from there, the more relevant and I suspect commercially successful they’ll be.


Jamin Brazil: Our guest today has been George Carey, founder and CEO of The Family Room. George, thank you very much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


George Carey: It’s been great Jamin. I’ll see you soon.


Jamin Brazil: Everyone else, if you found value in this episode, and I believe that you did – I certainly did and I’ve only done 400 plus of these – I hope you will screen capture and share this on social media. If you tagged myself or George, I will send you a t-shirt. How about that? Also you can find contact information for George and The Family Room in the show notes. I hope you have a great rest of your day.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 567 – Importance of Capturing the POV of Healthcare Customers with Daniel Fitzgerald, CEO and President of Apollo Intelligence

My guest today is Daniel Fitzgerald, CEO and President of Apollo Intelligence.

Founded in 2020, Apollo provides access to 2M healthcare stakeholders worldwide — including physicians, patients, caregivers, and allied healthcare professionals — serving the life science insights industry on its mission to accelerate health innovation to improve life. 

They support 80 of the top global-100 life science firms, as well as global market research agencies and consultancies, across 14 different countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

Prior to joining Apollo, Dan has been part of the bedrock of the market research industry serving as CEO of InCrowd, Managing Partner of Reimagine, Chief Client and Marketing Officer of Lightspeed, and GM of Global Market Insite.

Find Daniel Online:

Find Jamin Online:

Find Us Online: 


This Episode is Sponsored by:

The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research Program delivers the #1 ranked insights and analytics graduate degree in three formats: 

  • Full-time on campus 
  • Full-time online 
  • Part-time online

NEW FOR 2022: 

If you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their 3-course certificates: Insights Design or Insights Analysis. 

In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build toward your graduation.

If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s programs at: broad.msu.edu/marketing.

HubUX is a research operation platform for private panel management, and qualitative automation including video audition questions, and surveys. 

For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com


Jamin Brazil: Hey everybody, you’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. This is take two. I’m with Dan Fitzgerald, CEO, and president of Apollo Intelligence. Founded in 2020, Apollo provides access to 2,000,000 healthcare stakeholders worldwide, including physicians, patients, caregivers, and allied healthcare professionals, serving the life science insights industry on its mission to accelerate health innovation to improve all of our lives. They support 80 of the top global 100 life science firms as well as global market research agencies and consultancies across 14 different countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Prior to joining Apollo, Dan has been part of the bedrock of the market research industry, serving as CEO of InCrowd, managing partner at Reimagine, chief client and marketing officer at LIGHTSPEED, and general manager of GMI, Global Market Insight. One of my biggest customers at Decipher. Dan, it is an absolute privilege to have you on the show. Thank you for joining me.


Dan Fitzgerald: Hey, Jamin. And it’s great to be with you as well.


Jamin Brazil: The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in marketing and research program delivers the number one ranked insights and analytics degree in three formats. Full time on campus, full time online, and part-time online. New for 2022 if you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their three course certifications. Insights design or insights analysis. In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build towards your graduation. If you’re looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSM U’s program at B-R-O-A-D dot MSU dot edu slash marketing. Again, B-R-O-A-D dot MSU dot edu slash marketing. HubUX is a research operations platform for private panel management, qualitative automation including video audition questions and surveys. For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit HubUX dot com.


Jamin Brazil: I’d like to start with a little bit of context. Tell us about your parents. What did they do and how did they inform what you do today?


Dan Fitzgerald: So interesting question to prompt the beginning part of the conversation here. You know, as I think back at my dad, my dad was really in middle management. He was a professional. He worked for large engineering firms and was on sort of and in contracts and supplier management. You know, did very well. Progressed. I think made the people he worked for look very good. And my dad was an only child that married his grade school sweetheart, my mom. He had four boys. Or they had four boys very early on. I was the youngest of four boys. So, what I took away from my dad thinking back on his professional journey and career was that he was an exceptionally hard worker. Super reliable, responsible, but always seemed to be there for the family. So as an image what I learned from him was the importance of, you know, hard work and getting up every day and making a difference.


Jamin Brazil: Talk to me a little bit about your mom.


Dan Fitzgerald: So, my mom was the big supporter in the family. The biggest fan. The one that sort of kept everybody together. Was really a stay-at-home mom for the most part. Although she did work in a dentist’s office as a dental assistant and a real estate office as an administrative assistant at different points in time when we were in school. Predominantly to make extra money and be a contributor to the family. But my mom was the big fan, the big cheerleader, the constant supporter, the one that was there to encourage me every day.


Jamin Brazil: We’re facing an interesting time. It’s the great resignation as it’s framed right now. As you think about sort of the willingness of people to be very transient in their careers versus- Framing it out a little bit about your father and certainly mine as well in more longstanding established careers at the same spot. Do you think it’s just that evolution is just like here to stay? Or do you think we’re going to go back towards a time where people are more career stable?


Dan Fitzgerald: I mean, that’s a very provocative question. Very interesting question. We have been on an interesting I’d say journey and rollercoaster. And, you know, I can look back to my own career where I made a couple of decisions early on to try new things. To, you know, swing for the fence, and was constantly looking for what was next. And then as things kind of settled into my career, I learned the importance of, you know, planting your feet and seeing something through a little bit further. You know, maybe completely over the finish line. And I’m not sure that some of the workforce today has experienced some of the adversity and the economic difficulties that the two of us have seen in our careers. Navigating through good times and bad times and downsizing moments. And so, I do expect there’ll be a bit of an awakening on some of these points and potentially a swing back to more stability and more sustained commitment to the businesses that they’ve been committed to.


Jamin Brazil: And in fact, we’ve enjoyed a long-term economic prosperous environment really since 2007 or ’08. You know, we had that great recession, and we really haven’t seen a downturn in any way shape or form at least in a material way, which of course has led us to this, like, boom that we have had. And then subsequently you’ve got managers and even executives who because they haven’t had that- You know, had to do layoffs or what have you. You’ve got these pretty material missteps that are happening right now. In fact, I just saw the statistic this morning at layoff dot FYI, which is a published- It takes known information and consolidates it on layoffs that are happening specifically in the tech sector. But there’s been 333 startup companies that have done layoffs this year impacting almost 60,000 people which is pretty- Which is a pretty remarkable point. And so, one of the things that I’m looking forward to later in our conversation is picking your brain on things that executives can really be thinking about so that they can be prepared to handle some of the challenges that may be awaiting us in the future. But before we do that, I want to talk about Apollo specifically. So, I live in the central valley of California. California has a thriving economy. However, in the center of it is actually one of the poorest zip codes in the United States. Most people don’t know that. With the rising costs of healthcare and growing systemic diseases like- And I see this all the time. -childhood obesity and of course COVID. It has never been more important to bring the customer’s point of view to decision makers as they’re making those decisions. And so, my question to you is what is the market opportunity? And how are you addressing it?


Dan Fitzgerald: In terms of clarity and the markets that we support today as you outlined in your intro, one of our brands serves the direct to pharmaceutical and life sciences brands and therapeutics with a very progressive technology-agile research platform. And then another brand, Survey Healthcare, supports the agencies and consultancies out there in the marketplace, getting first-party data from, patient, voice of the consumer, if you will, and voice of the healthcare professional, to support those product and drug life cycle advances through their pre-launch to active launch and post-launch. And what I’d start with before I get to the opportunities is really the importance of the customer point of view in the decision-making process. It doesn’t really matter what market I’ve ever worked in. And you and I have worked in parallel businesses through much of our career. Access to the critical customer journey segments is essential. It’s essential to business. And life sciences is no different. And the work our clients do understanding kind of the market that we serve now is critical to addressing both healthcare costs and healthcare illness. And in fact, if you look at Apollos’s mission as published, our mission is to accelerate health innovation to improve life. And we’re doing that by reinventing the paths to insights and creating new paths to learning if you will. And that path has traditionally been very slow. It’s been manual. It’s been accepted by industry stakeholders and consumers despite some of these failings, you know, far too long. so our real time data and insights platform enables global pharma companies to officially develop, refine, deliver. You know, these life changing innovations or products or drugs. And time is the precious asset. Our ability to collect this feedback and support critical decision making with both speed and quality is transformative to our clients and these pharmaceutical decision makers. Because speed to insight facilitates speed to innovation, which directly enhances our client’s power to address, you know, the growing systemic diseases in our society as well as the high cost. So, to really sort of influence and impact health outcomes and improve life as a result. So, these medications and therapies that we are working on and supporting through the insights and through the knowledge that we’re bringing, the learning that we’re bringing to support their advancement in many cases cannot only cure disease but prevent them. And keeping people from becoming patients. So, the market opportunity for our business and the market opportunity that we’re serving within the pharmaceutical and life sciences segment of the industry is really a mess. And, you know, it’s interesting Jamin, we’ve- You and I’ve traveled, you know, this road of transformation within insights and research for over a decade on the broader cross vertical market consumer landscape. It’s interesting. Three years ago, when I formulated Apollo and with some investors acquired InCrowd and began to build this platform and build this business, I discovered a McKinsey report identified that the pharmaceutical industry is second to last only to the public sector in terms of digital maturity. Now clearly that’s a lot different on the scientific and R&D side. But a very sort of shocking data point. But things are changing very rapidly. And the pandemic has created the sense of urgency that might have been needed and has affected a great deal of change there. And across the pharmaceutical and life sciences segment these agile processes are taking hold in all facets of the business functions. So, despite this digital maturity gap if you will, this is a very competitive market with constant growing consumer demand. There’s tremendous competition. There’s tremendous investment. Rapid change. Pressure to bring drugs and therapeutics to market faster. Stakes are high. People’s lives and wellbeing is at stake. There’s growing investments and new compounds, R&D, and therapeutic categories. Proliferation and expansion of clinical trials. Investment and data modeling and predictive analytics and applications for AI. So tremendous amount of motion and activity in this market. And the secular tail winds, you know, that are driving demand for high quality speed to insight. And really a new dynamic learning environment that can keep pace with the market is phenomenal. And that’s really where we sit at this intersection of access to critical stakeholders in our client’s journey. The application of technology, the importance of quality and pharmacovigilance, and strong expertise in the space. These pieces kind of working together. So, the opportunities have never been I think richer for the area that we participate in.


Jamin Brazil: You know, it used to be the case that as a patient you would go to your doctor, and they would make a recommendation for you if you needed some sort of prescription. And form there you would buy the prescription. Now it’s the case that consumers are seeing- being marketed to directly for prescriptions and bypassing the filter of their primary care physician or whatever professional may be there, which creates eventually confusion or even misinformation or misinterpretation of information on behalf of consumers. Now obviously that’s never going to go away. In fact, it’s continuing to grow. A big pharma company I can’t name- But they were telling me that one of the biggest problems they’re seeing is influencers. Social media influencers making recommendations for healthcare. And just completely blindly their followers and fans will start demanding and looking for these types of drugs. And so completely unfounded medical information and recommendations. And yet people are just all in on that. Is that component, the B to C framework of medical- Is that part of the narrative that you’re addressing? In other words, trying to get consumer insights faster to whoever your customers are so that they can help inform the marketing decisions that are made?


Dan Fitzgerald: Yes. I think what you’re hinting to is sort of the direct-to-consumer marketing has been prevalent for many, many years. And what’s happened now is all these different sorts of motions and disruption with the pandemic, with the increase in telehealth. The fact that pharmaceutical sales reps have been disconnected from coming in and educating physicians and providing some of the continuity that existed for many, many years. So, there’s quite a bit of disruption in the customer journey process, which is creating more change, more complexity. So, continuing to stay close to the market. And we talk about dynamic learning. An environment where you kind of have an always on access so that as you are observing and tracking trends and patterns and the success of certain launches and programs that you’re able to quickly diagnose the behaviors that you’re seeing with the insights. Connecting the why to the what if you will. So, these are things that are very much in flux and create that need for constant agile iterative learning because things are moving that quickly.


Jamin Brazil: You know, COVID is a great example of that in terms of influencers having a controlling or really framing out for their constituents what people should think about medication as opposed to health care professionals. What you’re describing it sounds a lot like a tracker. But technology enabled tracker which allows you to then insert dynamically questions. Am I thinking about it correctly?


Dan Fitzgerald: Yes. So, think about an environment where I can quickly gain access to my critical stakeholders, physicians in a certain specialty category that are seeing patients with a very specific condition and being able to deliver a short survey to them on their mobile device and get an answer within 24 to 48 hours.


Jamin Brazil: Which is largely unheard of today especially if you’re talking about niche or low IR, difficult to reach audiences.


Dan Fitzgerald: And so that’s- the power of the Apollo platform is not only transforming how research and insights have been collected, but also unlocking new possibilities that didn’t exist at this level of quality and sophistication before. So that’s what we’re passionate about. That’s where our focus is. But the influencer category that you mention and some of those dynamics, it’s interesting. During the pandemic we did quite a bit of research. Actually, won some awards for our COVID series. We were tracking frontline treaters and the preparedness and the experiences of frontline treaters before any COVID cases emerged in the United States. And we tracked that continuously for about 15 months in many different categories and segments. And I’ll tell you that what I’ve learned over the last few years is, providing the voice of the physician or the healthcare professional is a very important piece of the puzzle. And they don’t feel, often, that they’re as heard as they should be. So, they almost feel like their voice has been muffled through all that we’ve experienced over the last few years. And there’s a lot of dimensions to that that probably could be covered in another series. But you’re really highlighting just how transformative the healthcare and the patient journey process is right now.


Jamin Brazil: How important are benchmarks for companies that you’re dealing with?


Dan Fitzgerald: Well, I think that being able to provide normative data and establish baselines and track performance trends is absolutely critical. And that’s a big part of what we are leaning into as we’re collecting more short form data and insights is building better normative databases that we can share, you know, with our clients to help them understand what good, better, best is. What the watermark should be as they’re constantly measuring and diagnosing and analyzing trends.


Jamin Brazil: It is interesting in our space the things that healthcare companies needed to pay attention to has definitely gone through an evolution. And I believe will continue to do that. You have been a successful executive in the consumer insights space for a couple of decades. Hope I’m not outing you on your age.


Dan Fitzgerald: I’m like 100 years old.


Jamin Brazil: At least. You have been instrumental at at least one turnaround at GMI that I know of. And maybe even others. And helped build very attractive businesses for employees, for customers, and for executives. So as an operator myself- And I’m sure my audience would love to hear the answers to this question as well. What are three tips that you’d give other executives to help achieve an environment that is great and thriving for employees, customers, and investors?


Dan Fitzgerald: So, a couple of categories of areas. And, you know, there’s so much to dig into here. But I would say as you outlined, I’m an operator and I’m a builder at the core. So, for me it doesn’t matter what you build, what you deliver, what market you’re in. For me it begins with striving to be the best version of yourself and do what you do as well as you possibly can and always strive for excellence and steady improvement. So, focus on continuous improvement and refinement. And the point here is build value. And this may seem simple and corny. But build value and focus on sustained success. You know, think long term while operating in the moment. You always have to understand where you’re headed, where you’re going. And for me I haven’t found a lot of shortcuts to success. You know, building value and sustained success comes from allowing and building the different parts of an organization to work in tandem and to work in concert. And building value at the core will always give you a lot of options. And optionality is the key. So do it right and do it to the best of your ability. It doesn’t matter what you do. Continue to strive, to learn, to grow, to refine what it is that you’re focused on. But build sustained success. Focus on value. Don’t look for shortcuts. That’s kind of number one. I’d say number two is a big part about people and team. That of course drives the business and is the magic. And our job as leaders to assemble and forge strong teams. Provide vision, focus, set priorities, empower, challenge, support the heck out of them and reward them. And some concepts that are important. Know the limitations of your team and your organization at all times. And be honest with yourself. Because good ideas, the right plan, the right thing to do can still fail because you don’t have the right channel or the right skills or the right operating acumen at that point in time at that moment. So, things can break down. So, understand what’s executable at any point in time and what you’re capable of. Be realistic and don’t get out of sequence with some of those different areas. And I’d say the third area is really about building high performing teams and leading. You know, to me I never set out to be the most popular leader. I set out to be trusted, to be respected, to be my authentic self. To be consistent and steady with my decisions and allow the team to see that I’m always driven by what’s in the best interest of the company, the employees, the clients. And some concepts that are important to embrace here is make time for your people, the team around you, your employees, even when you don’t have the time or don’t feel like you have the time. It will always pay dividends if you just sit and listen and share and provide perspective. Those interactions, that active participative management and leadership will pay dividends and build a culture where everybody plays a critical role. No one does it alone. And ensure that questions can be asked about the business. It’s ok to ask why we’re doing something. Because you want people to be critical thinkers, and you want them to understand why they’re spending so much time doing a certain task. And if you can’t give them a good answer, then there’s probably not a good reason for them to be doing that. And you want them to be critical of identifying other ways that they can potentially make improvements and do a particular task more effectively. So those are some concepts that I think have always served me well.


Jamin Brazil: Dan, my last question. What is your personal motto?


Dan Fitzgerald: So, there’s kind of two here. They’re connected. So, life is a journey. Constantly be learning and growing. And then life is short. Make a difference. Make it count every day. So those are connected. So, every day I wake up and I’m grateful and I try to make a difference through my actions, and I try to make the day matter. And in order to do that you have to be open and learning. So those two moves together.


Jamin Brazil: Our guest today has been Dan Fitzgerald, CEO, and president of Apollo Intelligence. Dan, thank you so much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


Dan Fitzgerald: Thank you, Jamin. Appreciate it.


Jamin Brazil: Everyone else, I hope you found as much value in this episode as I did. This is a huge honor having Dan on the show. If you’d like to contact him or learn more about Apollo Intelligence, you can check out the show notes. I’ll have his contact information as well as a link to the website there. Have a great rest of your day.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 566 – The Art of Thinking Differently about Business Challenges with Susan Fader: What is Contextual Intelligence

My guest today is Susan Fader, founder of FaderFocus.

Susan Fader is Business Strategist and Transformationalist Catalyst, as well as a sought after Speaker for her original thinking of reframing business challenges and baseline assumptions. She specializes in strategic consulting and qualitative research methods.

She helps clients achieve focus and get “un-stuck,” reframing their energies, their confirmational biases, and the traditional ways of segmenting their customers. 

Find Susan Online:

Find Jamin Online:

Find Us Online: 


This Episode is Sponsored by:

The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research Program delivers the #1 ranked insights and analytics graduate degree in three formats: 

  • Full-time on campus 
  • Full-time online 
  • Part-time online

NEW FOR 2022: 

If you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their 3-course certificates: Insights Design or Insights Analysis. 

In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build toward your graduation.

If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s programs at: broad.msu.edu/marketing.

HubUX is a research operation platform for private panel management, and qualitative automation including video audition questions, and surveys. 

For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com.


Jamin Brazil: Welcome you’re listening to the happy market research Podcast. I’m Jamie Brazil your host. Today we have a special guest, Susan Fader. Founder of Fader Focus. For the last 34 years Susan has run Fader Focus as a business strategist and transformationalist catalyst specializing in qualitative methods and strategic consulting. She helps clients achieve focus and get in quotation marks unstuck. Reframing their energies, your energies. Also helping them with really addressing the conformational bias that all of us have when we’re approaching specific problems or market challenges. One of the things that I found really standoutish about Susan is she applies a no holds barred or no sacred cows view or approach to the problems that her clients are facing or even the market is facing more broadly. And so, with that kind of a framework it really allows someone to come in with a fresh perspective and reframe for us as researchers or as executives, the market what they want and what we can deliver to them. And so with that, Susan, I wanted to welcome you to the Happy Market Research podcast. 


Susan Fader: Thank you. Very excited to be here.


Jamin Brazil: The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in marketing research program delivers the number one ranked insights and analytics degree in three formats. Full time on campus, full time online and part time online. New for 2022, if you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their three core certifications. Insights design or insights analysis. In addition to the certification all the courses you complete will build towards your graduation. If you’re looking to achieve your full potential check out MSNU’s program at B-R-O-A-D.M-S-U.E-D-U/marketing. Again, B-R-O-A-D.M-S-U.E-D-U/marketing. HubUX is a research operations platform for private panel management, qualitative automation, including video audition questions and surveys. For a limited time user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account visit hubux.com. In April, 2021 quarks published an article that you wrote. The title of the article is one of these things is not like the other. Using cognitive demographics to reframe how we think of and categorize people. Now in this particular article you compare the traditional approach to segmentation which as my- As the audience knows and of course all of us know is largely framed around demographics like gender, age, household income, attitudes, usage, that sort of stuff. And you had a new approach that you introduce as cognitive dissidence sort of framework that the article then moved from that to a self-defined or how we view consumers view and we view, I’m a consumer as well. How we view ourselves and how we view the world. And so really it’s this like, this juxtaposition of like who gets to define the world and the consumer? Is it the brand that defines them or is it the individual who defines it? And the core issue really centers around that. So the brands they create business units around their view of the world versus how the consumer frames themselves and frames their world. You call this cognitive demographics and this really helps brands understand how consumers self-affiliate and make decisions. So my first question for you is, did I get it right and how did you come up with cognitive demographics as an approach?


Susan Fader: So let me just tweak something that you said. It’s more about the reality is we have to categorize in order to process any information. And if you think of yourselves as a little child, you were grouping by colors and grouping by shapes because otherwise you have absolute chaos. Businesses are setup as business units. And they have to create some sanity. So they group but those groupings are based on the needs of the business units. And traditional demographics, now they think by just putting an attitudinal question in or here or there or a frequency question, they’re getting information about people. However, they’re not taking into account that people demographically can be the same yet make decisions differently. One of my classic examples is mom mottos. If you ask a mom what her motto is, and one says, I go with the flow and the other says, I’ll do anything for my kids. It doesn’t matter if they’re the same demographically they’re making purchases decisions totally differently and they’re seeing the world totally differently. And that’s what I think a lot of companies are missing out.


Jamin Brazil: You raise a really important point which is demographics or segmentation it creates a framework by which we’re able to understand and internalize the world and make decisions about that. How much of the difference between traditional segmentation and your alternative approach is centered around the psychological framework as opposed to the more traditional demographic approach?


Susan Fader: So first of all, I’m not saying throw out traditional demographics. Traditional demographics have a role, they will always have a role. However, what I’m saying is you need to stand back and understand what I call people’s hierarchy of values. And there’s some just basic things that exist. Family, work, religion type of things but what the priority someone puts on it makes a difference. If you put family first and you’re living in Ohio and you’re making $47 an hour and the factory closes and they offer to move you to Texas for the same thing and you say you don’t want to move. An outsider would say how irrational is that person being? But if family is most important to you and all your family lives in Ohio then it’s a very rational decision for you. So I think what happens is with behavioral economics and behavioral science, we as the outsiders as researchers and marketers are making judgment calls on people’s behavior and saying it’s irrational because it’s by our metrics. But if we understand how they see the world, they are making a rational decision for themselves even if we as outsiders don’t think it’s rational. And that’s the part I think that a lot of marketers are missing.


Jamin Brazil: The issue for me as a practitioner is the delta or the difference between the approaches. Is it binary? Meaning it’s this versus that and it sounds to me like that’s not the case. It sounds like it’s additive, meaning we take the current segmentation approach and then we layer into this the self-affiliation and how we make decisions as part of the bundling of the segments.


Susan Fader: But there also has to be at the starting point the recognition that companies have set up segmentations to match their businesses. So if you really start with that it gives you the ability to stand back, OK, this fits our business need. Let’s just make sure that’s how whoever we’re talking to or at consumers it fits their world view too. That’s the way they’re seeing the category, that’s the way they’re making decisions.


Jamin Brazil: So let’s talk a little bit about the hierarchy of values. I liked your example of the two different types of moms. The mottos that you had articulated. How does that influence how people make choices?


Susan Fader: Well I just gave the example of if family is most important to you you’re not going to move. And if family- If job was most important you would move. So that is an example of that. But there’s also the analytical and holistic way you have people are making purchase decisions. And I don’t think that’s most companies incorporate it. They just look at what the final decision is and they don’t look at the pathway of how people have made a decision. And the example I have in that article is analytical is linear. It’s based on rules while holistic is you’re stepping back and seeing the big picture. So an example of that if you had a pig, dog and apple, what is the commonality? If you’re linear or analytical you’d group the pig and the dog together because they’re both animals. But holistic would group a pig and a dog together because the dog protects the pig. Which is, the end result is the answer is the same but the whole thinking and the world view is radically different. And that’s what I think is also missing in traditional demographics. They’re not understanding how people make decisions can be radically different and still arrive at the same decision. But then it impacts what your touch points are in terms of how you communicate with them and what products they want to see.


Jamin Brazil: One of the things that I’ve been finding very interesting as I’ve been getting to know Gen Z through research over the last couple of years is, and this actually just hit me a week ago. Just sad. We as researchers or marketers, we need to spend time getting to know the customer. And the reason why is because we can then internalize their points of view as opposed to just saying OK, a 50 year old male, they’re at this life stage and this is the thing that they want. Which in a lot of ways it’s going to stick, some of the time but not most of the time and maybe even offensive in today’s frameworks. So the point is that marketers, branding professionals, companies need to take into account the like get to know at a relational level what makes people tick? Why they’re buying the things that they’re buying? Are they a good fit for your brand, product, service, whatever is it you’re trying to sell them. The challenge if that’s true for a researcher is how do you structure an ongoing relationship? Because relationships are basically over time. They’re not just a one and done in a research brief. How do you structure that research so that it is an evolution as opposed to more of this P and L or specific Q1 perspective?


Susan Fader: Well I think part of it is, we’re living in a world of so much data that there seems to be a race to see how much data you can collect. And then use all these AI and technological tools to analyze the frequency and all that. And what gets lost is the individual. Is the- One of the things, we were at a conference. I think you were up on the stage and one of the comments was people are not sample. People are people. And each person is different and we have to listen better and not assume what was valid a year ago is valid now. And I think that gets lost especially when you’re fielding a lot of research, you just keep building on what the past without stepping back and saying, are our assumptions still correct of who the people are we want to talk to? Who the competitors are? Are they thinking the same way? Just because you’re PNG and have a warehouse of data on how people do laundry doesn’t mean you should stop investigating because things can change.


Jamin Brazil: And then the challenge of course is you got to rethink your whole market research plan on an annual basis. Because you’re talking about a conversation as opposed that is again, over time, it’s a relationship. As opposed to OK, I’ve got this new product, what does the market think about it? t


Susan Fader: There needs to be a balance of, quantitative is very very important. But you need to incorporate qualitative. And qualitative you have to make sure you’re not just doing question answer, question answer. True qualitative is really about wide open listening. And in the beginning letting the people you’re talking to define who they are and the pathway the conversation is going to be. I think of qualitative as a long hallway with many doors and each door is numbered and behind each door is a different area of questioning. And the way we operate is you work out a guy and you’re supposed to ask it very linear. But that’s might be how people think and if you’re asking very linear people put horse blinders on and they say, oh they only want me to talk about this, so I’m only going to talk about this. But if you let the person start the conversation they might start at door five and then go to door seven and then go to a door you didn’t even know. And you’re going to uncover a lot more than if you say let’s go to door, hold their hand. Door one, door two, door three, door four. So at the beginning of any qualitative work I do, what I’m doing is not data gathering I’m not doing an icebreaker. I’m giving people a framework which to share their perceptions. If I’m doing the flu vaccine it can be what are five randomly different things that are going through your head when you think of the flu vaccine? Just let them tell you, share and then you kind of get a baseline of where they’re thinking. Another thing you have to do is to check in and make sure terms, the way you use the term or it taxonomy is the same as they see it. And one of the classic examples I do a lot of work in financial services is that financial services if you ask people what it is, nine out of 10 people will forget to include insurance. So if you’re having conversation and you happen to find it, the people you’re talking to might not even be thinking about insurance which means your feedback is totally messed up.


Jamin Brazil: That’s a really good point. Like the words that we use is really important because they offer an insight into how a human frames and understands the world.


Susan Fader: And that’s another thing is very important. If you have terminology. I don’t define it for them. I ask them first how they would define it? And then if it’s different I say well for this they haven’t included insurance, I’ll say for this conversation we are going to include insurance. And it’s important to have them first answer and then for you to then redefine and then becomes sticky. But if I started out and said, oh financial services included insurance, you’re going to go, oh yes I knew that. But they didn’t know that. They kind of need the little shock of oh I forgot it, I won’t forget it now. So there’s a process of just don’t ask questions you have to have more of a storytelling structure where they- And a framework where they can determine the pathway of how the conversation is going to be and clarity on the terms.


Jamin Brazil: I chaired this year the MRMW’s North America Conference at Gallup headquarters in Washington DC. In that they had the head of insights from Mondelez presented. He talked about the important- Growing importance and utilization of qualitative research in Mondelez at a global level. The interesting thing for me was that they’re winning by subtraction, meaning they are reducing the number of actual questions inside of their discussion guides and leaving white space for the person, the participants to be able to just articulate their points of view and really explore whatever direction the participant wants to see things. Is that kind of what you mean by a long hallway with many doors?


Susan Fader: Yes, and one of the things, I know there’s the big joke about people getting 13 page guides in how you’re supposed to do it. I get 13 page guides all the time but I have permission from my clients to do it whichever way I want, as long as I cover everything. And I have found by doing the upfront, we’re letting them initially lead. Usually get 80% of what you’re looking for on a day to day basis. And I think that’s what Mondelez is talking about. It’s enabling people getting out of the question answer and having a conversation with people. But again, you have to provide a framework to start the conversation because people are not storytellers. And you’ll just get yes, no and you just have to let them step back and kind of think for a moment.


Jamin Brazil: It’s very challenging because oftentimes the 13 page discussion guide, which of course I’ve done a lot of, embarrassingly so by the way. Is being driven by a client who is entering into the research with a bias naturally. In other words they think they already know all the right questions to ask, they just need the answers to it. And inherently in a qualitative framework that just oftentimes isn’t accurate.


Susan Fader: I spend a lot of time redefining what the research objectives are. Because they come in and they have research objectives and a list of questions many times that they think that are going to get them the answer. So it’s not getting the whitespace in the guide, it’s what is the research objective? Why are you asking it? What are you going to do with the information? How is it going to impact and once you get clarity around that, and then you kind of, there’s an insurance. I’m going to cover all the areas you want, I’m just not going to ask the questions where you ha them. And it’s part of it is building a relationship with the client which I’ve done over the years. But I have permission to if there are one section has 10 questions and I framed it a different way and haven’t asked them exactly that but I’ve covered all those areas. That’s a much better way than asking 10 questions. Who wants to be asked, what do you think? How do you feel? Why? It’s boring. It’s not a conversation, you’re being interrogated. No one wants to be interrogated, you start getting very defensive and hold back what you’re going to share. But if you’re having a conversation you’re giving people the opportunity to lead and it creates really something engaging and you hear things.


Jamin Brazil: I recently was talking at a virtual conference or actually sorry it was webinar done with wire and in that one of the things that surfaced is that, in a b2b framework, meaning that companies that are selling big things like an Oracle to an Apple or what have you. So these big transactions. They are oftentimes reduced to an emotional decision. Meaning that the buyer is framing out, is this what I need? Does it meet the basic criteria and then from there they’re making an emotional decision that is driving oftentimes something beyond what’s on the terms of trade. So it might be something like, is this going to be good for my career? Is this going to make my life better? Am I going to be able to sleep better at night? Like these intrinsic sort of drivers that never really surface or even are articulated in the sales process. So whether we’re thinking about the cereals that consumers buy or the next million dollar annual contract that they’re going to sign. A lot of times the actual purchase decision is being made at an emotional level as opposed to an intellectual level? Are there tools or tips or tricks that you use in order to help surface those things while you’re doing your qualitative?


Susan Fader: Yes, it really goes back to the beginning where you set the tone and based on how the person is answering then you frame what you’re doing in a way in qualitative research I believe you have to be a chameleon. And you have to adjust to the tempo of the person. Some people need more time to think, some people more fast paced. Some people want to give long answers, some people want to give short answers. Some people need a little more hand holding in terms of giving them a framework to answer or more set up. And there has to be a recognition that you do that and you’re respecting the person you’re having a conversation with. And I think that’s incredibly important. And you touched on really functional and emotional benefits. A lot of companies are about functional. We’ve made it better, stronger, it’s faster and they leave out people really making decisions on emotional. People buy products that aren’t necessarily best but emotionally they connect with it. Might be a better design or if it’s a color they like type of thing or it’s from a store they liked the salesperson. So that is not factored in enough to have companies position and develop products nor in the conversations they have with consumers.


Jamin Brazil: Let’s talk about podcasts. One of the things that I like are podcasts. I feel like they’re underutilized in a business context. Remarkably I actually think they’re a very effective way to communicate insights, which I don’t think anybody’s doing by the way. I’m probably wrong but I haven’t heard of it. What I mean by that is, imagine if you’re doing a research presentation and you were to take that presentation, convert it into a podcast and then let your stakeholders distribute that to their internal stakeholders for passive consumption. It could be an interesting way of a medium by which people consume insights. But that’s not really the core of my question, sorry. What do you see as the role of podcasts in helping businesses get a better handle on who people are?


Susan Fader: I think podcasts are the diamond in the rough. They are most unbelievable source of information. There’s a podcast on anything for any demographic. There could be a podcast of people who are bird watchers who have red hair, type of thing. You can go to such specific things. So if you’re going into a category, you want to know about something. You can really go there for like if you are one of the things in the last couple of years has been people drinking pickle juice for electrolytes and energy. And that came out of really listening to weightlifters and seeing what they were doing. And it was a byproduct that they were using as a source of energy. But it came out of listening to that specific group of people. How would pickle makers know how to do that? They learned from the weight weightlifters.


Jamin Brazil: That is so interesting, I’ve never heard that before.


Susan Fader: If you’re interested in any demographic, listen to the podcast. Listen to the conversations people are having and you will learn so much.


Jamin Brazil: It’s fascinating. It’s like I’ve never- I can’t believe this. I’ve never even as a podcaster for years, I’ve never considered using a podcast as my- A source for secondary research.


Susan Fader: They’re incredible. And just listening to these- These free flowing conversations and the subjects they talk about and who they have on. And you can really learn a lot because it’s a true conversation about people who are passionate about something.


Jamin Brazil: How do you frame out your methodology to your customers? Is it fairly detailed? Where it’s like OK we’re going to do secondary research with podcasts, Google Analytics, whatever and then that’s going to feed into around of qual and then that’s going to go into something or is it loose, more? Is it different?


Susan Fader: First of all I always give options. If you get an RFP, generally a lot of times they’re very specific of what they want. So I always answer that. And then I generally give at least two other options based on what I’m seeing, my experience. And also, one of the things I always build in is time to get clarity and buy in from everyone on what the research objective is. And there can only be one primary research objective and there can be two or three secondary. And that really determines the hierarchy of the methodology. And sometimes I’ve spent as long as two weeks with a client getting clarity on that but once you have clarity on that everything else falls into place and determines what can be done. And it determines whether you’re doing individual interviews, whether you’re doing groups, whether you’re doing an online board. Whether you want to do something in person, whether you don’t, whether it can go straight to quantitative but there’s not enough time spent on getting clarity on the research objectives and what is going to be done with the results? And why they’re even doing the research?


Jamin Brazil: I have a consulting customer. They just use me for hours to give them feedback on a monthly basis. And so it’s varying the types of things they ask me for. This morning they had a survey and they wanted to get my feedback on the survey. And so, they started the conversation looking at Q1, Q2 and I immediately at that point I’d stopped and they said, let’s write at the top of the survey what the objective of the research is? It completely change all the questions that were asked.


Susan Fader: And that’s, what happens is people generally take whatever is stated as a given. You can’t take it as given. You have to kind of, that’s where all my strategic and business consulting comes in. It’s like guys let’s think this through, let’s understand, let’s get clarity. Who are all the people involved? Let’s make sure we get buy in from everyone. So that no one says at the end, oh I thought we were going to get this, or why didn’t we get this or why didn’t we do this? You have to get, make sure everyone buys in and agrees.


Jamin Brazil: That’s well said and sage advice. Our guest today has been Susan Fader. Founder of Fader Focus. Susan, thank you for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


Susan Fader: Thank you so much. It’s really been fun.


Jamin Brazil: Everyone else, I’m hoping to secure Susan on a quarterly or maybe even more frequent basis. I’m not sure what we’re going to call it, Susan’s corner, something like that. Maybe something a little more catchy but anyway to provide us some qualitative ideas, tips, tricks, trends etcetera etcetera. If you would find that interesting, please do me a favor, DM me on LinkedIn. I would love to hear what you would like us to talk about relative to qualitative research. With that have a great rest of your day.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 565 – HMRP Monday Edition: Intergenerational Views on the Job Market – Part 2

Find Jamin Online:

Find Us Online: 


This Episode is Sponsored by:

The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research Program delivers the #1 ranked insights and analytics graduate degree in three formats: 

  • Full-time on campus 
  • Full-time online 
  • Part-time online

NEW FOR 2022: 

If you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their 3-course certificates: Insights Design or Insights Analysis. 

In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build toward your graduation.

If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s programs at: broad.msu.edu/marketing.

HubUX is a research operation platform for private panel management, qualitative automation including video audition questions, and surveys. 

For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com

This is the second and final post in our series on how generations are viewing the job market and what you can do to ensure you are well prepared for whatever comes. 


In our first episode in this series, we talked about the impact of the US economy on the job market. We also looked at how concerned people actually are about being laid off in the next 12-months. But, with every cloud is a silver lining. In this case, that silver lining is for employers who expressed that there will be some major benefits with a more balanced job market. 

If didn’t tune into that episode, you can find the link in the show notes:

Today, we will be addressing:

  1. How are generation preparing for changes to the job market? 
  2. What advice would members of different generations give to the unfortunate souls that are laid off?

Why Do Companies Do Layoffs? 

Bad news is bad news. But, understanding the why can help many of us mentally cope with aftermath. 

So, you may find it helpful to understand the business rational for layoffs. And, by understanding a bit more about why companies do layoffs you are more likely to recognize when they are coming and be proactive to avoid or even profit from them. 

Overall, the 300 people we interviewed were positive about the job market despite the difficulties many companies are and will face because of the recession. There will be a lot of job transition as some companies thrive while others suffer and even go out of business. Here is what a few people said,

I can speak to the topic of layoffs with some authority. Having built a company from 0-200 full time employees and having been the CEO of a 400-person firm, layoffs are a normal part of any company’s lifecycle. There are a few reasons for this:

Reason 1: Obsolete Function

Healthy companies are in a perpetual state of improving both profitability and growth. Put simply, they invest in systems, people, and technology that allows them to make more money with less resources.  

Here is an example from the warehousing industry: Hiring challenges, workers’ comp, and the promise of more efficient and profitable operations are forcing companies to invest in warehouse automation. Definitionally, automation is designed to replace people. By replacing people companies realize a significant amount of savings over time along with productive improvements. 

Reason 2: Improved Profits

Lower wages in other countries are driving companies to move jobs from the US. For many US companies that have 50+ employees doing a similar job function, like program or QAing surveys, they can realize a significant cost savings by moving those jobs to countries like Bulgaria or India. I know because I’ve done it. This isn’t an easy transition, takes a long time, and is usually easy to spot if you are employee. 

Reason 3: Economic Downturn 

This is the hardest one to cope with because employees usually don’t have visibility that there is an issue until they are laid off. And, as we enter a recession this is what many of us will face. 

In all cases, layoffs have nothing to do with the employees that are impacted. Tens, hundreds, or even thousands of your peers are losing their jobs too. You are not alone. 

However, even with the knowledge that you are not alone, being laid off will likely put you on tilt. And, that is why it is important to have a plan while you are in a sane and safe state of mind. 

What to do if you get laid off? 

We asked 300 people what they’d recommend to those who have been laid off. 

Our survey included a few video questions and here is what they said. Please note that I choose the videos that had the broadest representation of what was said. If you’d like access to this data, please email at jamin@hubux.com or DM me on LinkedIn. I’m happy to share it with you.  

As of today, August 15th, 2022, there is no question that companies are starting to do layoffs. Here are some helpful tips to ensure you are well prepared for whatever comes. 

Tip 1: Stay Positive & Proactive 

Here is one of our participants talking about the importance of being proactive and staying positive. 

Tip 2: Start Saving

Having a savings is vital. This was the number one tip given by our participants who were 30+ years old. 

Standard financial advice says you should have enough cash in your savings account to live on for three to six months. Sadly, according to research done by Bankrate, “51%, of Americans have less than three months’ worth of emergency savings.” 

Tip 3: Create a Budget 

Having a budget is the best place to start when increasing your savings. As you go through the budget process, classify each of your expenses as “mandatory” or “optional”. This will give you two numbers:

  1. Your current budget
  2. Your emergency budget

Tip 4: Add Margin to Your Budget

Margin is vital to successful planning for a difficult financial time. The most common rule of thumb for creating a household budget is that “At least 20% of your income should go towards savings. Meanwhile, another 50% (maximum) should go toward necessities, while 30% goes toward discretionary items.”

Add margin in your budget.

By identifying discretionary budget items you can remove, like $8 dollar coffees, you’ll be well prepared to react to whatever comes rather than trying to figure things out when you are emotionally and mentally on tilt. 

Tip 5: Your Network

The size and quality of your personal network is directly connected to the number and quality of the job opportunities you have. So, invest in your network. 

Tip 6: Your Skills

For most of us who have jobs, especially for a long time, we slowdown or even stop investing in learning new skills or developing the ones we have. We need to be in a constant state of learning and evolving to keep pace with today’s work. 

Tip 7: Side Hustle 

Developing a side hustle such as occasionally driving for Uber or doing some side consulting will ensure you are setup to lean into these income sources if you are laid off. 

Tip 8: Minimum Wage Job (Be Humble) 

If you have bills, then you likely need an income. Too often people who are capable of doing menial labor but have spent the last 20 years in management simply can’t “lower” themselves for a few months. Not only can this help put food on the table but it may offer you a new perspective on challenges facing frontline workers which may serve you very well in your next gig.

Tip 9: Recruiters

Be sure to get to know the staffing agents and recruiters in your field. For Market Research, you can join the weekly MRxPros’ Virtual Lunch (DM me for a free invite) as well as the Insights Association to easily make those connection. 

Tip 10: Unemployment & Food Stamps

Don’t be too prideful. These are services that you have paid into and are setup to help you get through tough times. 


I’m thankful for the advice given by our participants. Through them, we have created the most comprehensive list of both preparation and survival tips to not just survive a layoff but thrive through it. 

If you would like to learn more about this research or about how you can use HubUX to shorten timelines and save money, you can find me on any social platform or email me directly at jamin@hubux.com. 

Happy Researching! 😊

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 564 – Transitioning Into a new Career with Joe Mulvaney, Senior Vice President of NA for Qualitative at Schlesinger Group

Today I’m joined by Joe Mulvaney, Senior Vice President of NA for Qualitative at Schlesinger Group. 

Schlesinger Group is a technology-led data company that delivers a broad range of qualitative and quantitative research solutions to connect human answers to business questions as a single point of access to your worldwide audiences. 

Prior to starting joining Schlesinger, Joe founded Quotus, a research operations company. He also served as Senior Vice President of Operations at Ipsos and Sr. Manager – Competitive Intelligence at Procter & Gamble. 

Additionally, he is a Mentor and Entrepreneur in Residence at Cedarville University. 

Find Joe Online:

Find Jamin Online:

Find Us Online: 


This Episode is Sponsored by:

The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research Program delivers the #1 ranked insights and analytics graduate degree in three formats: 

  • Full-time on campus 
  • Full-time online 
  • Part-time online

NEW FOR 2022: 

If you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their 3-course certificates: Insights Design or Insights Analysis. 

In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build toward your graduation.

If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s programs at: broad.msu.edu/marketing.

HubUX is a research operation platform for private panel management, qualitative automation including video audition questions, and surveys. 
For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com.


Jamin Brazil: Hey everybody. This is Jamin. Today, we are joined by Joe Mulvaney. Senior vice president of North America for qualitative at Schlesinger Group. Schlesinger Group, as all of you know, is a technology led data company that delivers a broad range of qualitative and quantitative research solutions to connect human answers to business questions. Prior to joining Schlesinger, Joe founded Quotus, which is a research operations company. He’s also served as senior vice president of operations and Ipsos, and senior manager of competitive intelligence at Proctor & Gamble. Additionally, and this one is near and dear to my heart, he is a mentor and entrepreneur residence at Cedarville University. Joe, welcome to the podcast.


Joe Mulvaney: Thank you, Jamin. Happy to be here.


Jamin Brazil: The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in marketing research program, delivers the number one ranked insights and analytics degree in three formats. Full time on campus, full time online, and part time online. New for 2022. If you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their three course certifications. Insights design, or insights analysis. In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build toward your graduation. If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSU program at broad. msu. edu/marketing. Again, broad. msu. edu/marketing. HubUX is a research operations platform for private panel management, qualitative automation including video addition questions and surveys. For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit HubUX.com. It is an honor to have you. I saw your note on LinkedIn or your update on LinkedIn regarding your transition to Schlesinger I want to say about a month ago. I thought that was so interesting. That you as a founder, you started Quotus in 2018 I believe. You had wrapped that up and then decided to move back into corporate America. I wanted to start and pull back because you left a really good, actually a very prestigious job at Ipsos as senior vice president of operations. Why did you leave that job to start Quotus?


Joe Mulvaney: It’s a great question. I think it was two-fold really. One was the desire to always start my own business. To see if I could start it, run it, keep it going, make money in it. Always something that was a goal of mine that I wanted to try and do. But the Quotus aspect of that was in my time at Ipsos, I saw really a need in the qualitative industries specifically for good project management service. For independent moderator, independent researchers, or smaller research firms that didn’t have the resources of the bigger firms like in Ipsos or Kantar. Talking with folks doing my own market research, really saw that as a need for folks out there. Having led the project management team at Ipsos, I wanted to give project managers the opportunity to grow their careers in that way. And be able to choose their clients, choose their projects that they work on, and take more ownership of their side of market research. That’s really what drove me to starting Quotus. It was a success and really had no desire to close it until Schlesinger came with this opportunity.


Jamin Brazil: Got it. The opportunity presented itself from Schlesinger. Why did you decide to take it?


Joe Mulvaney: Couple of reasons. One was when I started Quotus in 2018, obviously pre-pandemic. The industry looked completely different than what it looks today. The industry is moving very fast and has continued to move very fast towards a digital DIY tech focused industry. Versus there was more hands-on and project management I think was more of a need prior to the pandemic when you had a lot of more logistics involved in the research. You had folks traveling to certain cities. You had folks needing tech set up in facilities or outside of facilities. There was a lot of vendor management that project managers have to take care of. A lot of that has changed. A lot of tech partners in the industry have upgraded their systems to be more DIY. At the same time, they are starting to offer project management services within their own businesses. From their economies of scale, it was more of a strain on me kind of the small guy. But more importantly, I think was the opportunity to join Schlesinger and just the amazing team that we have there. And that I get to work on a daily basis with some of the top minds in our industry, and some of the folks that have been in other companies like myself that have joined Schlesinger and brought years of experience. The chance to collaborate with them and to help make their team even better than it is today with my experience, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Definitely happy to be there.


Jamin Brazil: For me, at HubUX which is a small research operations platform with some services layered, I could probably uniquely relate with you. You go from a big company where you are interacting with lots of people. Many of them very senior. May have been in the industry 10 plus years. To kind of your own fiefdom where you are the senior person. Then there is this vacuum or for me anyway, desire to connect with other people at a peer level on a day-to-day basis that you just lack.


Joe Mulvaney: Absolutely. I had the chance to actually work with Eric and your team on a project or two. It was fantastic. You guys have a great platform. You are exactly right. It was a hard choice to make and deciding to do I continue to stay running my own shop or join this bigger organization. But knowing I feel like as much as starting my own business and starting Quotas and going through that for four years. I’m happy to say in the black, all four years. Grew the business through the pandemic. Really stretched myself in terms that I didn’t think was possible. But I looked at the opportunity as Schlesinger Group too as another challenge for myself to get out of my own comfort zone, and to continue to push myself in new ways.


Jamin Brazil: The topic of personal disruption is something that comes up periodically. In fact, Harvard Business Review has done a few important pieces on this specific topic. In a lot of ways, we all seek growth even though growth inherently requires change which is painful. How much of that drive for personal growth was why you started Quotus? Excuse me.


Joe Mulvaney: A lot of it. It’s one of those things that I think a lot of us have inside of us to- it’s that what if question of can I do this or what if I did this? What would happen? Could I succeed at this? I think one of the biggest surprises for me in starting Quotus was truly learning what I was truly capable of. We are more capable of what we give ourselves credit for, I think. In starting Quotus, the biggest fear that I had was how am I going to sell it? I’m not a salesman. There are people out there that are better at sales than I am. But just being myself going out, creating relationships which is what a lot of our qualitative industry specifically but really across the market research world is built on relationships. Just focusing on my strengths. Focusing on those things and not going into it like I have to sell this. No. I went into is as I just want to create a relationship with this person. See if I can help them. Maybe they can help me. Before you knew it, I was making money and things were great. But that aspect of truly pushing yourself and getting out of your comfort zone. That was something that was very enticing, but also a little scary.


Jamin Brazil: What was the biggest surprise or some of the biggest surprises that you found in running your own business?


Joe Mulvaney: One was definitely finding out what I was truly capable of and finding out things that I didn’t think that I would be successful at. Be it sales or be it just managing each aspect of the business. Because as you know, when you start your own business, you are the sales guy. You are the accounting guy. You are the finance guy. You are the procurement guy. You have to do all of those things. The biggest surprise was just having confidence or believing in myself that I could do it. Then seeing that come to fruition was fantastic. Another surprise was just how or lack of a better word, how friendly the qualitative research industry is. I got a lot of support from folks that I didn’t even know before starting Quotus. Some of those folks just really pouring into me, giving me advice and help along the way was a fantastic surprise that I was not expecting.


Jamin Brazil: It is a remarkably supportive community in the qualitative space and the quantitative space. I think market research in general, one of the things that I found remarkable is that we are friendly. There are some assholes, but we are generally speaking, we are a friendly bunch. Anybody that stays in it certainly seems to fit that bill. I’ll also say the Schlesinger Group, and they are not paying me to say this. But having worked with them for many, many years. In fact, two decades. There are some really nice people over there as well. Steve Schlesinger has built with his family and private equity company, it’s just absolutely remarkable and exciting to see where they are going to keep taking.


Joe Mulvaney: You are exactly right. I think that was part of that surprise that I was talking about. Was some of the biggest supporters that I had come from the least likely group of people that I didn’t expect. The folks that I thought would be there and some of my what I thought would be the biggest supporters, they weren’t. That’s just one of those things that as an entrepreneur you just have to keep being you, and you have to put your head down and just trust the process. And continue focusing on your goals not worrying about what the people out there are doing, or who is supporting you, who is not. But you are exactly right. The industry is filled with a great group of people. They are happy to see everybody else succeed which is fantastic.


Jamin Brazil: Totally. You are stepping into a new phase. A new job which I always think of that as this exiting a room and walking into another room is my metaphor. What advice would you like to give your 10-year younger self?


Joe Mulvaney: Wow. Great question. I think the first is just confidence. Trust yourself. Trust yourself. Trust your gut that nine times out of ten, your gut instinct is going to be right or at least that’s what I found. Chase your goals. That was one of the things that hesitated on for a while. I ended up starting Quotus in 2018. I started thinking about it in 2015, 2016. It took me a while to really make that jump and get out there and do it. But I’m happy that I did. I think some of the advice that I would give to myself is just trust your instinct. Go for it. That applies to you said 10 years. My wife and I we’ve been together eight years. One of the pieces of advice I would say is ask your wife out sooner. Start that adventure sooner too because that’s the other piece. Without her behind me, without a strong partner behind you. I don’t know how successful it would have been. But knowing that I had her encouragement and confidence behind me every day, that was a huge help.


Jamin Brazil: I have one last question for you. What is your personal motto?


Joe Mulvaney: Be authentic. Be yourself. That’s who I’ve always tried to be. Just tried to be honest and be authentic with people. Not try to be somebody that I’m not.


Jamin Brazil: Our guest today has been Joe Mulvaney. Senior vice president of North America for qualitative at Schlesinger Group. Joe, thanks for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


Joe Mulvaney: Thanks, Jamin. I appreciate it.


Jamin Brazil: Everyone else, have a great rest of your day.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 563 – Why you Should use TikTok for Research and how to get Started with Daniel Berkal, SVP of Research at The Palmerston Group

Today I’m joined by Daniel Berkal, SVP of Research at The Palmerston Group.

Founded in 2008, The Palmerston Group is a qualitative market research agency. 

Prior to joining The Palmerston Group, Daniel served in senior roles at Young & Rubicam, Research International, and Synovate. He is also a professor at Humber College in Toronto Canada. 

Daniel has two active TikTok channel. danielberkal and thepalmerstongroup. 

Find Daniel Online:

Find Jamin Online:

Find Us Online: 


This Episode is Sponsored by:

The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research Program delivers the #1 ranked insights and analytics graduate degree in three formats: 

  • Full-time on campus 
  • Full-time online 
  • Part-time online

NEW FOR 2022: 

If you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their 3-course certificates: Insights Design or Insights Analysis. 

In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build toward your graduation.

If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s programs at: broad.msu.edu/marketing.

HubUX is a research operation platform for private panel management, qualitative automation including video audition questions, and surveys. 
For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com.


Jamin Brazil: Hey, everybody. Today we are joined by Daniel Berkal. He is the SVP of Research at the Palmerston Group. Founded in 2008, the Palmerston group is a qualitative market research agency. Prior to joining the Palmerston group, Daniel served in senior roles at Young and Rubicon, Research International, and Synovate. He also is a professor at Humber College in Toronto, Canada. Daniel is a huge TikToker, in fact, I believe that he has the number one channel in TikTok for market research purposes. You can find him personally under his first and last name altogether, Daniel Berkal, and you can also find him with the handle The Palmerston Group, and I’ll include links to both of those in the show notes. Daniel, welcome to the show.


Daniel Berkal: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to talk to you.


Jamin Brazil: The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research Program delivers the number one ranked insights and analytics degree in three formats. Full time on campus, full-time online, and part-time online. New for 2022, if you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their three course certifications. Insights design, or insights analysis. In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build towards your graduation. If you’re looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s program at BROAD.msu.edu/marketing. Again, broad.msu.edu/marketing. HubUX is a research operations platform for private panel management, qualitative automation, including video audition questions and surveys. For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit HubUX.com. So you had jumped in with both feet into TikTok, both from an educational perspective and also as an entertainer. The content that you generate is just fantastic. You post, I think you post daily. It certainly feels like that, from my feed. The topics that you post about for market research purposes, some of my favorite ones, The Perils of Market Research, Tips for Better Ethnography, a Four-Week Crash Course on Creativity in Research, and How to Approach Creative Testing. Why are you making the investment when the rest of the market research space is basically not there, they’re all in on LinkedIn?


Daniel Berkal: So it’s interesting. The world is very complicated, and there’s lots of ways of going about things. And there’s no way of minimizing the importance of LinkedIn, there’s no way of minimizing the importance of any channel you connect with your consumers, your audience, or your participants. But at the Palmerston Group, we believe strongly in authenticity, and we’ve really been on top of media. So we jumped into Clubhouse when that was the thing, we jumped into – then TikTok has been an incredibly vibrant place. TikTok’s a really, really interesting way of connecting with an audience. It’s based around this incredible algorithm that really learns who you are and learns what you like. And it’s educational and interactive and natural, but it’s human. And so we’ve used TikTok in some really interesting ways, I think you’ve seen some of them. As ways of connecting with a whole range of audiences on a brand new level, on a recruitment level, and as a way of building our brand as a human entity, as opposed to just a faceless research company.


Jamin Brazil: And what is interesting about TikTok for me, one of the many things I find interesting about TikTok, is really the ability to use the content creation functionality inside of the app itself. It’s actually quite good for creating really short snippets of information, and then it encourages you to story tell in a 15 or 30-second piece of content.


Daniel Berkal: Oh. It’s wildly creative. It’s not only a little bit good, it’s I think the best possible way of telling narratives in a really short and effective way. It’s a way of connecting deeper. The email doesn’t do well, that – very few things do as well as this. Human connection obviously does it well, but it’s very – it allows you to connect at scale also. It’s so easy to use, that it’s allowed the most simple and the was complicated players to have a voice.


Jamin Brazil: And the buyers and market research are changing. We’re seeing obviously, they’re getting younger, or maybe I’m getting older. But I’m casting them as the new buyers, that is the Gen Z, young millennials. They’re all on the platform, using it regularly, and they have purchase power relative to what agencies or research technologies are going to be used by corporations that they’re – they’re working for. And TikTok offers a really unique opportunity to create this edutainment around – and thought leadership around market research so that you can actually distinguish yourself.


Daniel Berkal: And even though you see, the humans that you see on TikTok are often very young. I’m saying young because you can’t see on a podcast but I’m an old person. And even though the look of TikTok is young, the actual people that are hitting it or actually watching it or not. More people watch content on TikTok than create content. It’s not only a little bit more, it’s considerably more. And so what we’ve noticed is, our audiences that are reaching out to us are people who you’d never expect to find on TikTok. Including ourselves, both me and you.


Jamin Brazil: And it really doesn’t surprise me because again, it’s such a – it’s such a powerful mode of communication. This is quite literally revolutionary, in the same way that Instagram was revolutionary in its day. You know? It’s –


Daniel Berkal: Yeah. And just to kind of clarify that a bit more even. For our business, for market research, which is all of us are in market research. We know how interesting and dynamic it is, this platform works so well, because it creates it – an interesting environment to showcase our passions. I get to work on some of the most interesting things in the entire world, and this lets me showcase some of them.


Jamin Brazil: It’s funny you say that. One of the things that I’ve enjoyed the most – actually biggest benefit I get out of creating content on TikTok and watching other people’s content is, it’s teaching me to be a better storyteller.


Daniel Berkal: Right, and exactly. It teaches you how to tell stories in a more effective way, it teaches you to consume stories in a more effective way, and it’s fun on top of that. And so the business advantage is very clear for us, but the fun part of it is just kind of icing on the cake.


Jamin Brazil: TikTok is expected to hit 1.8 billion users by the end of 2022. Why do you think it’s growing so fast?


Daniel Berkal: Oh. It’s such a powerful animal. When you think about 1.8 billion, that number on paper looks like a number. But think about that in terms of actual humans. It’s an astronomical amount of people. It’s essentially everyone who has a telephone, give or take. Maybe not, my math isn’t so good. I’m a qual, not a quant guy, but TikTok is dynamic, entertaining, fun and interesting. It learns who you are, it adapts to you. It’s not one size fits all, and I think that media trends in and out, so you get things that trend up and turn down. Will TikTok be around in X number of years? Probably not, and something else will come and be just as rich, or more rich, or more consumable. But right now it seems to hit all the right watermarks for a society that lives on our cell phones, that’s been locked inside for three years, and that wants to tell stories.


Jamin Brazil: Tell stories, it’s so interesting. I – my – I have some teenage children and they follow me on TikTok, and I follow them, of course. And some of their friends follow me as well, as it turns out. And they’re really enjoying the market research content that they’ve found on my channel, but then also yours, interestingly enough. So what’s funny about that is, most people don’t even know what market research is. Certainly none of them knew before they joined the channel. It’s like – it offers us an opportunity to evangelize, if that’s the right word, what market research is and how it is used.


Daniel Berkal: Absolutely. And there’s so many interesting elements of this that we didn’t think of beforehand but connecting with audiences who are interested in going into the field, potentially. With our colleagues, I get so much feedback from colleagues at different agencies, telling me comments about things that they’ve seen on there. With participants, it allows participants to quickly check up on you, to make sure you’re not some evil corporation trying to take their data. And with clients – the qual business which I’m in, is a very human business, and clients like to choose their moderators, choose their qual partners based on their personalities. And TikTok is a really good way of showcasing quickly and effectively, who you are and what you stand for.


Jamin Brazil: So market researchers and I would say most adults in general, if they have not been on the platform, they probably have some misconceptions. What are some misconceptions that insights professionals bring to TikTok?


Daniel Berkal: I think all of us have our misperceptions. When I first heard of TikTok a couple years ago, and when I first started seeing participants on it, and my cousins for that matter or my relatives, I thought it was all dance videos. I thought it was all flippant content that had no value. I thought it was people dancing to cool songs, or doing pranks, or – it was just young people. And that’s a huge misperception now. It’s a medium that has exploded in its depth of audience, and the content on TikTok is not all flippant. It can be a legitimate business tool, it can be a legitimate branding tool, they’re pouring so much effort and money and time into making it so that it has real value beyond just dance videos. That’s like saying Facebook is just for telling you – for showing you pictures of your grad classmates.


Jamin Brazil: One of the things that people always anchor to – I say always. Most people anchor to if they aren’t – have not been on the platform before, is really it’s a China-based organization or owned company that is there to extract data. Which – it is certainly owned by China, but – and it is extracting data. And then it’s leveraging that data in order to inform the algorithm to serve you content that you find interesting and engaging. Is that something that you hear very often or are concerned about?


Daniel Berkal: Do I hear it often? Absolutely. Am I concerned about it? Yeah. No doubt. All social media doesn’t exist just so we can have fun and share stories, these are -all media for that matter in general. The television networks don’t make shows about cops and people on the beach because they want to make us happy. They want to sell us products, and TikTok is a really good machine for learning who the people on it are, and then selling them things. That part I think, is one of the bargains we make when we engage in any kind of medium, but the China part also concerns me. But what – then when I started thinking about all mediums and all businesses I interact with, and all points cards I use – I went to get a coffee this morning. I used my loyalty card to get the coffee. I don’t think about that harvesting my information and using it to sell me more coffee, but it is. I think similarly, I think that all platforms have some role in making money for themselves and in harvesting the information of who they’re talking to. It’s a double-edged sword, I don’t think it’s all goodness. I think there are some concerns that do have to be addressed.


Jamin Brazil: I was recently looking into how much money Google makes on a free Gmail account, and it’s $1,600 a year. So the monetization power of companies to extract and analyze your behaviors via digital means, and then leverage that to sell space for advertisers you will connect with is just continuing to expand and grow. Creating content on TikTok has definitely impacted me, as we’ve – as we’ve mentioned a moment ago, I am curious. How has it impacted how you present your research results today?


Daniel Berkal: So I don’t think it has really changed how we present our results. Every project we work on is custom, everything has a custom audience, and so on. And we do lots of ethnography, and the pieces of the puzzle don’t work very well using TikTok as a reporting mechanism, but it’s fundamentally changed the way that we – that audiences consume content. Nowadays, it’s not unheard of to tell stories in very short clips. I think it – that TikTok over time and things like TikTok will change the rules of what’s allowed. It will allow you to play with multimedia in much more seamless ways when presenting, but I don’t think it’s directly presented our research results right now. But I think over time, things like this have a potential to do that.


Jamin Brazil: Have you done any partnerships, or used TikTok to recruit participants?


Daniel Berkal: So yes, we have. We’ve used TikTok to recruit in – for a number of projects, especially for hard-to-find audiences. And we haven’t done that – so there are various ways we’ve used many channels. But for this channel, our business account the Palmerston Group, that’s basically just kind of a billboard on the highway that people can pass by and say, “Hey. What’s up?” But we actively go into audiences in different platforms including TikTok, and we’ll look for very specific niche audiences. We’re known for finding the hardest-to-find people, and it’s good for that, because if you’re looking for someone who uses a specific product, you can do a search on the TikTok search engine and find someone who’s made 30 videos about that product. And then you can reach out directly to them and say, “Hey. We’re doing a project on so and so.” And that’s a pretty effective way of not only connecting with that person, but also legitimizing that interaction.


Jamin Brazil: That’s – that’s super powerful. It’s a great – that’s a great tip everybody, who picked that up.


Daniel Berkal: Also on the same notion, clubhouse has been phenomenal for that as well.


Jamin Brazil: It’s funny, because I never jumped onto clubhouse for whatever reason, I just – that completely skipped me. Although I of course, have used it maybe a handful of times, but it just – it just never resonated with me.


Daniel Berkal: In this business, you got to be smart and you got to be fast. And especially in the business of humans, you got to be where the people are. And it seems at least, that at this particular moment in time, people are in this place, and so that’s why it works so well for us.


Jamin Brazil: A lot of people are gonna listen to this podcast, and they’re gonna be thinking, “I should not just be a viewer of TikTok, but maybe I should start playing around and creating some content.” What are three tips that you would give an aspiring content creator?


Daniel Berkal: Ah. That’s such a hard question. So there are different ways of using any platform. So – and you mentioned at the beginning of this, that I run a personal thing, and I’m the face of the company I work at. I think that because it’s a human platform, if you’re using TikTok in a business context, keeping it personal. So we’ve made a concerted effort that I’m always the face of the business, just because it keeps it human. And it makes people watch and feel like they’re talking to someone they know, which is quite important. But the three tips I think, number one is be yourself, and no one can be as good at being you as you are. One of my colleagues always tells me, “Be the best Daniel you can be.” Cool. So I go with that, and I be myself always. Number two is, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Everything is permanent, but everything is also forgettable on the internet, and you can make mistakes, and no one will remember it two minutes from them. And you can see what works, so number three is see what works. Trial and error, but I think differentiate in your personal and your professional, like my personal account is just pictures of me and my toddler, because that’s just fun. It’s just – it’s toddler videos, and dog videos. But the professional thing that I work on, is very finely focused on market research, and especially on qualitative research. On demystifying it, on making it more accessible. Tik Tok becomes a calling card for us, a recruiting tool, and a way of connecting deeper.


Jamin Brazil: It is interesting to me that larger corporations haven’t figured that out. You have Gary Vaynerchuk who’s probably one of the biggest personalities, and represents Vayner Group, whatever it’s called. His billion-dollar ad agency, but he’s – it’s – the whole thing is built around him and his personality. When you see companies like Ipsos, great company, they’ll do a social post and it’s gonna get maybe two or three likes on LinkedIn, and zero on Twitter. There’s almost no engagement with corporate posts that are not boosted, and at the flip side, if they were to change that and actually have the – put a face in front of it, then it creates a personality that people are able to connect to and they might even want to.


Daniel Berkal: Exactly. And that’s actually the exact model we use. We’re a research business. We do research projects, and we do things that are not very photogenic, let’s say. Doing reports, and that’s not very fun. But if you put a person and you put them in a consistent situation, and you make that person accessible, saying the same lines, in this case that person for the Palmerston group is me. I end up being the face of everything we do. And similarly to the examples you mentioned, Gary’s channel, it’s not just Gary. There’s lots of people working on that, but it seems just to be him talking normally. Similarly, I like to believe that it comes across as human because it is, but I think that making that effort to keep it as simple and as clearly focused on the human element as possible, it is a real benefit for us.


Jamin Brazil: Talking about tactically, what sort of investment or things should people buy, whether it’s software or hardware in order to make effective videos?


Daniel Berkal: Oh, awesome. So the coolest thing is that you don’t really need anything. And by anything, I mean anything. You need – you need a smartphone, but I think every – every person listening to this podcast based on the fact that it’s a podcast, has one of these.


Jamin Brazil: That’s true, it’s self-selecting.


Daniel Berkal: It’s a pretty self-selecting variable? But you need that, you need an iPhone and/or iPhone-like device. And the cameras on telephones now, are better than any professional video camera was ten years ago. The computing power on a cell phone is probably more than most of the spacecrafts launched in the last century. You can – and the editing power on TikTok is incredible. There are other external softwares that you can use, lighting is really important. The algorithm for whatever reason, seems to understand lighting, and so we make sure that our videos always are well lit. Whether that’s sunlight or using a ring light or some kind of apparatus, knowing what your background is, is kind of important but don’t overthink things. Just shoot and shoot and shoot and see what works. Some of our posts get 30,000 views, some get 100. And you never know, and that – that’s also the thing. Don’t be sad if you get a small audience, and don’t be excited if you get a huge audience.


Jamin Brazil: I think that’s right. That’s super Zen, and that’s the right way of framing it. Because sometimes you win, and you have no idea why.


Daniel Berkal: Oh, yeah. There is a post that went up yesterday, that has four and a half thousand views. And I’ve been getting comments all day from this, and I have no idea what made it so interesting. None.


Jamin Brazil: The algorithm just liked it, and it is so interesting how certain things can just overperform. And other things that you might invest a lot more time and effort into, might – your mom liked it, and that’s it.


Daniel Berkal: Yeah. What a cool time to be alive. It’s great.


Jamin Brazil: For sure. Not taking yourself too seriously, I think is an overarching point there. And it’s more about the consistency that you – so that you have an opportunity to win, as opposed to trying to create the winning post and hoping that it – hoping that it scores.


Daniel Berkal: Exactly. So much of the content that I see on all mediums, in Facebook and LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the worst for this. It’s people trying to be a certain thing. For whatever reason, TikTok is very good at revealing the ‘corporateness’ of much of the medium, and people don’t tune into that. People like humans. People like people acting naturally.


Jamin Brazil: It’s the authenticity that is punching through. And TikTok, the algorithm does a really great job of prioritizing authenticity over professionally produced $10,000 budget TikToks.


Daniel Berkal: Exactly. And if you’re in the call business like I am, we’re literally about authenticity. We want to talk to real humans, in real places about real things. I’m always myself, I never changed that, and I think that’s why we’ve been good at what we do.


Jamin Brazil: I would say, if someone is starting a channel and they do start posting, getting comments is gold. So make sure that you always have some sort of question at the end, some sort of call to action. Some sort of opportunity to engage your audience, and then even if it’s just having co-workers or friends engaged. But the really important thing is there, is that you then engage with that content. And then similarly, if you haven’t created content before or are new to the platform, the best place to start is pick some people and then start commenting on their stuff and see how they’re engaging with their audience. You can learn a lot just by being on the other side of it.


Daniel Berkal: Awesome tip. And it’s been really interesting on our end. We’ve gotten clients from TikTok, and you would never think that. And from far, far away. Just came across things and thought, “Hey. We’ll reach out to this company.”


Jamin Brazil: Cool. Awesome. I have one last question for you, Daniel. What is your personal motto?


Daniel Berkal: Oh. That’s – oh, man. A personal motto? I like the ‘Be the best Daniel you can be.’ There’s that, there’s ‘No one else can be you.’ ‘Try your best.’ I don’t know. I live life like I watch TV. I want to consume and flip channels, and really engage and really immerse myself in things.


Jamin Brazil: Our guest today has been Daniel Berkal, SVP of Research at the Palmerston Group. You can find contact information for him and the Palmerston Group in the show notes. Daniel, thank you for joining me on the podcast today.


Daniel Berkal: Thanks so much.


Jamin Brazil: Everyone else, I hope to find you on TikTok. If you like this content, make a TikTok about it. Tag Daniel and myself, and I’ll send you a free T shirt.