Quirk's Blog

Why employees must understand the brand promise

If you are looking fFriendly sales clerk with customer at checkout counteror a way to better engage consumers – and improve consumer metrics – finding a way to connect with frontline employees may be your first step to success. A recent Gallup study shows a clear link between employee engagement and better business outcomes. The ongoing study, The State of the American Consumer: Insights for Business Leaders, provides an in-depth look at the consumers’ needs and expectations from businesses.

It isn’t hard to fathom that engaged employees create engaged customers and – as Gallup research has shown – engaged customers spend more money, more often with their preferred brands.

But how can companies increase employee engagement? Much of it comes down to management. The research reveals that managers are responsible for as much as 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement. Clear expectations are perhaps the most basic of employees’ needs and another study, The State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders, found that only 12 percent of employees strongly agree that their manager helps them set work priorities and 13 percent strongly agree that their manager helps them set performance goals. Of those that strongly agree that their manager helps them set work priorities and performance goals, two-thirds were found to be engaged employees.

One way to increase manager involvement and promote employee engagement is to connect employees with the brand promise. Research reveals that 42 percent of employees strongly agree that they know what their organization stands for and what makes it different from the competition. Gallup defines brand promise as an agreement between a company and its customer and recommends that brands work to promote the promise as something more than corporate jargon by providing tools for employees to interact with customers.

When employees are given the tools to truly live the brand promise, as well as management that helps them find was to become – and stay – engaged, consumer’s brand loyalty – and spend – will likely increase.

Posted in Consumer Research, Customer Satisfaction, Retailing | Comment

NFL games attract Spanish-dominant Hispanic viewers

NFLAs pro football continues to gain viewers – and perhaps usurp other sports as America’s new favorite pastime among some fans – its appeal seems to be far-reaching and trending toward universal.

The hard-hitting action and on-field heroics have also had a strong multicultural impact—especially among Hispanic viewers, who, according to the Nielsen third-quarter Total Audience Report, spend an average of nearly 110 hours per month tuning in to live and time-shifted TV and represent more than $1 trillion in spending power. The report also found that live/time-shifted television reached nearly 49 million Hispanic viewers monthly during that same quarter – about 17 percent of the total U.S.

On the heels of Carolina Panthers Coach Ron Rivera becoming only the second Latino head coach in NFL history to make it to a Super Bowl, a recent Nielsen analysis looked at the Hispanic NFL viewing audience.

The deep-dive found trends in viewing within that demographic itself based on language dominance – Hispanics that use and rely on either English or Spanish as a main way to communicate. In fact, while 2015 regular season NFL games averaged about 1.7 million Hispanic viewers tuning in, representing a 17 percent increase since the 2012 season, Spanish-dominant viewers accounted for 25 percent of viewers in this demographic.

There has been a steady upward traction among NFL viewing of Spanish-dominant viewers. Average viewership for regular season NFL games among this demographic has increased 28 percent over the last five years.

In terms of the big game, the analysis looked at the aggregated average viewership of the last five Super Bowls (from 2011-2015) and found that while an average of 11.2 million viewers are Hispanic, or about 10 percent of the total average viewership, Spanish dominant viewers represent about a third of that – nearly 3.4 million viewers!

Check out Nielsen’s Web site to find out more about the study.

Posted in Advertising Research, Consumer Research, Market Research Findings | Comment

Most liked Super Bowl ads of the past 5 years

From ad favorites such as “Puppy Love” from 2014, “Lost Dog” (2015) and “Brotherhood” (2013), Budweiser has dominated the most-liked Super Bowl ads. “The King of Beers has earned another crown by becoming the King of Super Bowl advertising through the creation of ads that so effectively appeal to the largest, most demographically diverse TV audience in the world,” said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix in a press release announcing Ace Metrix’s 25 most-liked Super Bowl ads of the last five years.

Watching Television“As Super Bowl ads have evolved in tone, length and appeal from some of the iconic ads of yesteryear, comparing ads from the last half decade to those older legends is no longer apples-to-apples. Brands today have to think about the life of their ad prior to and beyond television with the proliferation of digital distribution and social media,” said Daboll.

Doritos followed Budweiser with five of the most likeable ads of the last five years. The brand’s “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, entering its tenth and final year, gave validity to crowd-sourcing ads and has produced Super Bowl success year after year.

The automotive category, a top Super Bowl spender, had four ads on the list from Toyota, Bridgestone, Mercedes and Bridgestone. Other categories with multiple ads on the list include candy, represented by M&Ms and Snickers, and soda, with one from Coca-Cola and two from Pepsi.

“Every advertiser on this list should be highly commended for achieving creative gold and shaping the future of advertising,” said Daboll.

The top 25 most liked Super Bowl ads from 2011 to 2015 are:

Rank Brand Ad title
1 Budweiser “Puppy Love”
2 Budweiser “Brotherhood”
3 Budweiser “Lost Dog”
4 Doritos “Slingbaby”
5 Coca-Cola “The Catch”
6 Budweiser “Hero’s Welcome”
7 Microsoft “Empowering”
8 Bud Light “Rescue Dog”
9 Doritos “Pug Attack”
10 M&M’s “Just My Shell”
11 McDonald’s “Pay With Lovin’”
11 Doritos “When Pigs Fly”
13 Toyota “Joy Ride”
14 Doritos “Man’s Best Friend”
15 Bridgestone Tires “Carma”
16 Doritos “Goat 4 Sale”
17 Snickers “The Brady Bunch”
18 Pepsi Max “Love Hurts”
19 Got Milk “Morning Run”
20 Mercedes Benz “Fable”
21 Microsoft “Braylon O’Neill”
21 Bud Light “Dog Sitting”
23 RadioShack “Good Bye ’80s”
23 Volkswagen “The Force”
25 Pepsi Max “Torpedo Cooler”

Ads are getting longer

Over the last five years, Super Bowl ads have become progressively longer, as well as more effective. In 2011, 20 percent of Super Bowl ads were 60 seconds or longer, and the average likeability score was 649. In 2015, 43 percent were longer than 60 seconds, and the average likeability score was 659. On the most-liked list, nearly half of the ads are 60 seconds.

Themes are changing

The most-liked ad list demonstrates the shift from humor to inspiration, sentimentality and patriotism that we’ve seen over the past five years. The span of 2011 to 2015 saw a 13 percent decrease in the use of humor in ads and a 19 percent increase in the use of inspirational messaging. Microsoft’s two ads, “Empowering” (2014) and “Braylon O’Neill” (2015) are great examples, as is Budweiser’s 2014 salute to veterans, “Hero’s Welcome,” which showed the shift to ads appealing to national pride.

More brands are also using Super Bowl ads as part of an overall event, rather than a one-and-done investment. The number of ads released ahead of time – either on social media or through teasers – has gone from 8 percent in 2011 to 61 percent in 2015. Additionally, the number of ads that include a social component within their message has gone from 8 percent to 51 percent over the same period.


Posted in Advertising Research, Consumer Research, Market Research in the News | Comment

2015 December retail sales increased 3 percent, according to NRF

Shopper shopping with a smart phoneHoliday sales in 2015 increased 3 percent to $626,140 billion, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). This is solid growth considering weather events across the country and economic deflation in the retail environment. Non-store holiday sales grew 9 percent to $105 billion.

December retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, decreased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from November and increased 3.1 percent unadjusted on a year-over-year basis.

“Make no mistake about it, this was a tough holiday season for the industry. Weather, inventory challenges, advances in consumer technology and the deep discounts that started earlier in the season and that have carried into January presented stiff headwinds as retailers competed with one another and their own bottom line,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “Despite these factors, the industry rallied, consumers responded and sales still grew at a healthy rate, which is a huge testament to the resilience, knowledge and expertise of our retail leadership.”

In the press release, Shay continued on and stated that this holiday season proved once again that the industry can quickly and successfully respond to a challenging sales environment and achieve continued year-over-year growth.

Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist, said, “A double whammy of deflation and December weather constricted holiday sales growth as well as consumer spending. The results of December’s retail sales remind us just how significant of an impact unusual weather can have on retail and overall economic activity.”

The timing is still uncertain but NRF representatives also noted that there are positive prospects for improvement including recent job gains that will help lift income and earnings, and a healthy housing market that should provide some support for spending in various retail sectors.”

The U.S. Commerce Department said that December retail sales decreased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 2.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Posted in Consumer Research, Market Research Findings, Retailing, Shopper Insights | Comment

Study shows parents want practical tips from dental professionals

Dental professionals who are still looking for a good New Year’s resolution may want to consider putting providing practical, approachable instructions on children’s oral health habits at the top of the list. A new qualitative study from the Netherlands reveals that while parents know the importance of oral health, they are often desiring more when it comes to motivation and information on their children’s oral health care needs – something dental professionals can help provide.

Tooth hygiene icon set. Cute, smiling and happy teeth are brushing with toothbrush and toothpaste. Flat style cartoon vector icons.The research, as reported by dental professional Web site DrBicuspid.com, indicates that the focus-group-driven, qualitative study was conducted to better understand parents’ perspectives on oral hygiene habits.

“The current study demonstrated that many parents in the focus groups possessed sufficient oral health knowledge and motivation but they still reported many barriers to adhere to the advice,” wrote Denise Duijster, Maddelon de Jong-Lenters and colleagues from the University of Amsterdam and VU University. “This suggests that where parents accept preventive health messages, many need support in implementing them.”

The study sought out parents from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, geographical regions and ethnic backgrounds, all with children around seven-years-old. A total of 39 parents participated.

Findings showed that a common request from parents was to receive tailored and practical tips to help implement healthy dental behaviors in their child. Although many parents considered dental professionals to be the main providers of oral health support, they felt dental teams spent little time teaching parents about oral health care and tooth decay prevention. The study also found that parents perceived twice-daily tooth brushing to be the norm, and that Turkish and Moroccan parents that participated in the study were not concerned about the child’s diet as they did not believe consuming sugary foods and drinks could damage teeth.

Posted in Consumer Research, Market Research Findings | 1 Comment

Star Wars toys land in top toy lists for both boys and girls

After losing her crown to Disney’s Frozen characters in 2014, Barbie is back on top of the National Retail Federation’s Top Toys list for the 2015 holiday season. The survey, which is conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, asks holiday shoppers what toys they plan to buy for the children in their life and among those with their shopping lists already prepared, 21.2 percent will purchase a Barbie for the little girls on their lists; another 13 percent of adults will buy toys related to Disney’s Frozen.

The survey also found that Star Wars mania is clearly on the minds of children everywhere as adults ranked Star Wars toys as something they would buy for both boys (11.7 percent) and girls (1.9 percent). Star Wars jumped to the No. 2 spot on the boys list from No. 15 last year.

NRF’s Holiday Spending Survey found that 41.2 percent of shoppers plan to buy toys this holiday season.

Top 10 toys for boys

  1. LEGO
  2. Star Wars
  3. Cars and trucks
  4. Video games
  5. Hot WheelsLightsaber
  6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  7. Xbox One
  8. PlayStation 4
  9. Nerf
  10. Marvel action figures

Top 10 toys for girls

  1. Barbie
  2. Disney’s Frozen
  3. Dolls
  4. Monster High
  5. American Girl
  6. My Little Pony
  7. Shopkins
  8. LEGO
  9. Disney princess
  10. Star Wars

“Retailers are already offering an array of exclusive and unique toy options for parents and adults to choose from this holiday season, including high-end electronic and educational toys, board games and even the classics like LEGOs,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “We know retailers are ready with an array of toy options when it comes to finding what they want over Thanksgiving weekend and all season long.”

LEGO toys kept their hold as the most-requested item among boys this year with 12.2 percent of adults planning to buy LEGOs.

“Timeless brands like LEGO and Barbie will forever resonate with both children and the adults in their life who grew up playing with those same toys,” said Pam Goodfellow, Prosper’s principal analyst. “Given the easy access to top toys this holiday season and retailers’ hard-to-pass-up promotions, this is likely to be a big year for the toy category.”

About the survey

The NRF 2015 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey polled 7,172 consumers and was conducted for NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics November 3-10, 2015. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

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New study predicts slight dip in spend this holiday season

From November 1 to January 2, I’m a sucker for everything red, green, silver and gold. From devouring my mom’s famous pumpkin pie and drawing names for secret Santa on Thanksgiving, to decorating a freshly-cut tree and carefully wrapping the perfect presents, I tend to go all out. But this year will be a little different. As a freshly-minted wife and a prospective first-time homeowner, I’ve had very little time to think about some of my favorite holiday traditions.

Holiday shoppingTo be honest, with everything I have going on, it is safe to say my spending will be taking a nosedive this holiday season. And based on a study by Kelly Scott Madison (KSM) and ORC International, I’m not alone in this. The study surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers about their holiday shopping habits and general sentiments toward the season in the 2015 Holiday Shopping Study and found that the average U.S. consumer is predicting they will spend less this year than last. This statistic is largely driven by those that have budgeted between $251 to $1,000 for gifts this season, as these individuals plan on spending about 2 percent less this year.

While the overall reasons behind this dip in spending may not mirror my own, data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows the sluggish growth is likely due to the fact that personal income and unemployment levels have remained virtually stagnant over the past three months.

The holiday shopping study did provide some good news for retailers and several more interesting tidbits on consumer spending this holiday season:

  • Males are one segment that are predicting they’ll spend more this year, reporting a year-over-year increase of 4.6 percent.
  • When compared to last year, online shopping and Cyber Monday are expected to see a noticeable increase this year, as planned shopping activity received a 20 percent growth this year.
  • Online retailers may want to start considering free-shipping to capture more holiday sales, as 49 percent of in-store and 50 percent of online shoppers list shipping costs as one of the main inconveniences of online shopping.
  • While making purchases on mobile devices is not yet the norm, using them to conduct research during the shopping experience certainly is. The study found that African-Americans, Hispanics and Millennials plan to use some sort of mobile devices while shopping in-store this year: 73, 83 and 89 percent, respectively.
  • The overall sentiment of respondents on expanded holiday shopping hours and promotions were negative. In fact, about 70 percent of those surveyed feel that expanded holiday hours are not necessary.
  • Eighty-one percent of in-store shoppers and 85 percent of online shoppers expect to use coupons this holiday season.


To view KSM’s full discussion of the study, visit ksmmedia.com.

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Fall 2015 photo recap

Munich, Orlando, Miami – oh my! We are finally back in the office after traveling to some wonderful industry events. Before we jump into the holiday season, we wanted to share a few photos!

We would also like to give a shout out to everyone who attended Quirk’s Fall Party at The Brick House Tavern in Orlando, Fla., a free event for researchers looking to network with their peers in a casual environment. A huge thank you to the party sponsors!

We always have a blast attending events and we look forward to meeting up with new friends and old later this year and in 2016!

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Food trends we’re craving in 2016

Poké – a raw seafood saladOne of my good friends is currently spending a year working in Hawaii. Since I began living vicariously through her adventures last November, I have learned that – aside from being the U.S. state synonymous with paradise – Hawaii is the land of wild geckos, earthquakes, termites and rain. Luckily the incredible sunsets, lush vegetation, surf and food seem to make up for the other inconveniences!

To be honest, as a person that sunburns easily (and is quite frightened by creepy-crawlers) I’m often most envious of the food images my friend sends my way. And when her texts began featuring the joys of poké – a raw seafood salad – I have to admit I did a quick Google search looking to see if I could get my hands on a bowl while living on the mainland.

A study from research firm Sterling-Rice Group (SRG), which looked at the culinary trends emerging for 2016, shows that I’m not the only one hoping to explore some Hawaiian cuisine. The study, 2016 Cutting-Edge Culinary Trends, showed that cooks and diners alike will be looking to push the boundaries when innovating food and beverages. One of the trends? Traditional and ‘ono (delicious) Hawaiian island ingredients of course! Poké bowls and musubi have begun showing up in new dishes across the mainland and are expected to continue popping up in everything from fast-casual to fine dining.

Here is a look at some of the other culinary trends the SRG expects to expand in 2016:

  1. Switchels: Looking for the health benefits of apple cider vinegar and ginger – sweetened with honey, maple syrup or molasses? This thirst-quenching, health-boasting refresher is set to be quite popular with consumers in the year ahead.
  2. Swiggable soups: Step aside juicers! With more fiber and less sugar than pressed juices, bottled soups may be the order for health-minded consumers in 2016.
  3. Savory desserts: Dessert menus will likely be adding savory ingredients – think malt and umani-rich miso paste.
  4. Porridge: Porridge is no longer limited to one or two grains. Consumers will be looking for a wide selection – spelt, black rice or quinoa, to name a few – along with sweet and savory toppings.


Do you think that poké bowls and pumped-up porridge will have a long-term or temporary place in America’s restaurant scene? What consumer food behaviors do you see changing the course of the food industry in 2016?


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The kings and queens of horror: tales from America’s favorite genres

What do telekinetic prom queen Carrie White, D.C. police consultant Alex Cross and wonder of the wizarding world Harry Potter all have in common? Their imaginative creators are America’s top three favorite authors. Stephen King and James Patterson each retain their spots from 2010, numbers one and two respectively, with J.K. Rowling at number position after a long ride up the chain. Next up is a tie for fourth place between John Grisham, who previously held third, and Dean Koontz, who is up two spots.

Competition is getting fierce and while King still holds the throne his competitors are finding favor amid the various age groups and education levels.

  • Those between the ages of 25 and 64 most prefer a good scare from Stephen King but 18-24 year olds are pledging their literary love to the works of J.K. Rowling and older adults, 65 and up, favor getting wrapped up in a mystery à la James Patterson.
  • Americans across most educational levels up through college grads are most enamored with Stephen King but post grads are more likely to reach for John Grisham.


Readin in the bedroomThese are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,273 adults surveyed online between July 15 and 20, 2015. Full results of the study can be found here.

When asked which types of books (from a provided list) they’ve read over the last year, 46 percent of Americans indicate that they’ve been filling their book-bags with mystery, thriller and crime novels.

Around three in 10 Americans have been flipping through history books (33 percent), biographies/memoirs (31 percent) and romance novels (27 percent), while a quarter have read cookbooks/food writing (26 percent), science fiction (26 percent) and tales of fantasy (24 percent). In addition, around two in 10 adults have read classics/literature (23 percent); health and wellness (22 percent); religion and spirituality (20 percent); self-help (19 percent); and true crime (19 percent) books in the past year.

But which demo is most attracted to each genre?

  • The first choice across every generation is mystery/thriller/crime.
  • Mystery/thriller/crime is also the favorite among women (55 percent), while men are most likely itching to get their hands on history books (46 percent).
  • Once again, post grads seem to take their own path, torn between whether they are most likely to be found reading history books or biographies/memoirs (51 percent each), while everyone else is likely to be holding tight to mystery, thriller and crime novels (45 percent HS or less, 49 percent some college, 44 percent college grads).


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