Quirk's Blog

Ready for Mother’s Day? Anticipated spending up 6 percent this year

Traditional Mother’s Day gifts will get a large share-of-wallet this year. Eighty-eight percent of consumers plan to celebrate Mother’s Day 2016 and clothing is this year’s big winner, according to the annual Brand Keys Mother’s Day survey.

Mother's Day giftCelebrants intend to spend on average $205.00 this year, a 6 percent increase over 2015. Men, following a long-standing tradition, intend to spend more than women, reporting an anticipated average spend of $228. Women reported an anticipated spend of $182.

“Once again, tradition has trumped tech,” said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys Inc., a New York-based brand engagement consultancy. “Cards, meals and flowers have become price-of-entry for the holiday. But when it came to more substantial gifts, clothing showed the greatest change from last year – up 10 percent.” Jewelry was up too, by 7 percent. Spending on tech related gifts was generally unchanged, with only 12 percent indicating that kind of purchase.

Respondents to the survey reported plans to buy mom a variety of things:

  • cards (95 percent);
  • brunch/lunch/dinner (90 percent);
  • flowers (85 percent);
  • clothing (80 percent);
  • jewelry (59 percent);
  • spa services (52 percent);
  • gift cards (50 percent);
  • books (19 percent);
  • housewares/gardening tools (16 percent);
  • candy (12 percent); and
  • electronics/smartphones (12 percent).


More-and-more, Mother’s Day encompasses a broader spectrum of relationships as it becomes a more universal celebration,” said Passikoff, “The holiday celebrant range includes virtually everyone: moms, wives, step-moms, female relatives and friends, divorced and single-parent households. It crosses cultural, ethnic and religious boundaries, making it a real opportunity for retailers – an occasion nearly everyone celebrates.”

More consumers intend to connect with Mom with in-person visits. Phone calls and online chats remain unchanged from last year, although it’s worth noting that given the ubiquity of smartphones, Mother’s Day has become one the most popular holidays to place a call.

As part of Brand Keys’ annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, 6,133 men and women, ages 18-65 from the nine U.S. Census regions, were asked if and how they planned to celebrate Mother’s Day, with most consumers indicating multiple gift purchases.

Posted in Consumer Research, Retailing | Comment

Saying goodbye to Dos Equis’ ‘most interesting man’

I don’t always pay attention to beer advertisements, but when I do the most interesting man is front and center.

There are four things you should know about me before I continue on with this post: I’m a card-carrying Millennial, I never drink beer, I buy Dos Equis when my beer-loving friends are coming over and I love the most interesting man.

Dos EquisIt shouldn’t come as a surprise that I was disappointed to hear that after a decade of being the iconic face of the brand, Dos Equis’ parent company, Heineken USA, decided the most interesting man must retire so the company can find a new Millennial-friendly spokesman.

During our last meeting, one of my coworkers brought up Heineken’s decision to retire the most interesting man. We couldn’t help but ask the question: What market research did Heineken conduct that showed the need for a new spokesperson?

In a recent New York Post article, “Firing the ‘most interesting man’ means disaster for Dos Equis,” Phillip Wegmann shares why there is no need for a more Millennial-friendly spokesman, pointing to the authenticity that actor Jonathan Goldsmith brings to the advertising campaign. Simply put, Goldsmith was “just a dude with whom you instinctively wanted to grab a beer in real life.”

And this authenticity is so important. Research studies have shown that we are in an era where brand authenticity and the power of the story to build relationships supersedes trendy, premium products such as craft beer – a rising rival of Millennial spend for Dos Equis, as cited by Andrew Katz, marketing executive from Heineken. And research on authenticity aside, it’s hard to forget that the most interesting man has earned the most coveted Millennial stamp of approval – the Internet meme.

So will Millennials (like my beer-loving husband) turn to Dos Equis without the tough, cultured, beard-rocking “most interesting man?” Will this be a mistake for the brand or as Wegmann put it, the end of an “era of sublime advertising?” Only time will tell. Until then, I would love to hear your thoughts on Heineken’s move to retire Goldsmith. Do you agree with the decision or do you think it is a terrible move for the brand?



Posted in Advertising Research, Brand and Image Research, Market Research in the News | 4 Comments

Get ready for the egg hunt: Survey says Easter spending will reach 17.3 billion

easter egg huntAmericans anticipate spending more than ever on Easter this year. According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual Easter Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, spending for the holiday is expected to reach $17.3 billion.

Those celebrating plan to spend an average of $146 per person, according to the survey. That’s the highest level in the 13 years the survey has been conducted and up over last year’s $140.62 per person and $16.4 billion total.

“Retailers are beginning one of their busiest times of year and are more than ready as consumers shop for spring essentials,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO in a press release. “Shoppers will find promotions on a number of items on their lists, from Easter baskets to sports equipment, home goods, garden tools and more.”

According to the survey, consumers will spend $5.5 billion on food, $3 billion on clothing, $2.7 billion on gifts, $2.4 billion on candy and $1.2 billion on flowers.

With shopping lists in hand, 58.4 percent of consumers will head to discount stores, 41.4 percent will go to department stores and 24.7 percent will shop at local small businesses. But not everyone will make it into a store: 21.4 percent will shop online, up from 18.8 percent last year. Among smartphone owners, 22.8 percent will research products on their devices while 14.9 percent will use their phones to make a purchase.

“Easter is a traditional holiday that consumers of all ages and on all budget levels celebrate with family and friends,” said Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst at Prosper Insights and Analytics. “Consumers have longs lists of items they need to get their spring off to a good start. Smart shoppers plan to compare prices, research the items on their lists and take advantage of promotions on things like apparel and candy.”

Consumers celebrate Easter in a number of different ways: 57.8 percent will visit family and friends, 55.6 percent will cook a holiday meal, 51.3 percent will go to church and 15.6 percent will go to a restaurant. Children have much to look forward to after the Easter Bunny comes: 31.4 percent of consumers plan an Easter egg hunt and 13.9 percent will open gifts.

The survey of 7,264 consumers was conducted from March 1 to 8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Posted in Consumer Research, Market Research Findings | 1 Comment

10 commandments for keeping up with the pace of change

Stan Sthanunathan, senior vice president, consumer and market insights at Unilever, recently spoke during the opening keynote of the MRS’s annual conference, Impact 2016, which took place in London on March 15 and 16. Taking a look at the “seismic changes” within the technology and digital world, Sthanunathan’s presentation examined how traditional agencies can adhere to new rules to keep up with the pace of change and survive in a marketplace “in which data is becoming increasingly democratized,” according to an article by Research Live.

“What we have is incredible access to information,” Sthanunathan said. “If we all think that information is going give us a competitive edge and we’re going to use it to become great, don’t think that’s the case. You can get answers to a lot of questions by searching on Google.”

the ten CommandmentsThe article provided the 10 commandments Sthanunathan suggested agencies and clients should follow:

  1. Get social or get ready to be branded anti-social. Mine the information gleaned from social media.
  2. Data is commoditized but insights are getting democratized – a Google consumer survey costs as little as £500.
  3. Get visual or get impaired. Think how to bring insights to life using a fact-based, rather than fact-filled presentation.
  4. Innovate, don’t renovate. Renovating comes naturally because it’s easy. “But renovation in my way of thinking is more like polishing a turd,” Sthanunathan said.
  5. Become the master of metamorphosis – change on an ongoing basis, change every day.
  6. Digitize and humanize. Tame data.
  7. Think bi-polar.
  8. It’s too risky not to take risks. Be bolder than you have been traditionally.
  9. Never underestimate the power of N=1 – brands are increasingly being influenced by people.
  10. Real-time is the new currency, cutting the time lapse between asking the question and getting the answer.


Sthanunathan went on to say that, “Business as usual is not really not an option. It really needs to be business as usual.”

Read the full article on Research Live’s Web site to learn more about Sthanunathan’s presentation.


Posted in Brand and Image Research, Innovation in Market Research, Market Research Best Practices, Research Blogs and Communities, State of the Research Industry | 1 Comment

Recent study finds changes in brand engagement

Emotional engagement, a leading-indicator of consumer behavior, sales and corporate profitability, is now more difficult for brands to achieve as the key drivers of brand engagement have shifted dramatically toward emotional values according to the majority of the 72 categories surveyed in Brand Keys’ 2016 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI) – the 21st annual survey conducted by Brand Keys, the New York-based brand engagement and customer loyalty research consultancy.

customer“The consumer engagement process today is more dependent on emotional benefits and values of products than ever,” said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys. As rational attributes have become price-of-entry givens for today’s consumers, emotional values have become more problematic for brands.

“The difficult part is not brand outreach or messaging but how to accurately determine which emotional values a brand should leverage to emotionally engage consumers since they describe how consumers view the category, compare brands and howtheywillengagewithabrand, buy, remainloyalandprofitable. Imagery items and emotional engagement values are not one and the same,” said Passikoff.

Of the 72 categories included in Brand Keys’ 2016 assessments, the 10 with the highest expectations for emotional category values (in parentheses below) – and the brands consumers assessed as best meeting those values – included:

1. Athletic footwear: New Balance/Nike (Personal innovation)
2. Automotive: Hyundai/Ford (My life is always connected)
3. Breakfast bars: Kind/Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain (My tasty lifestyle)
4. Fast-casual restaurants: Panera/Shake Shack (Customization and well-being)
5. Instant messages: WhatsApp (Making my impact)
6. Online retailers: Amazon (Immediate gratification)
7. Online video: Netflix (Always amused, never bored)
8. Smartphones: Apple (I can do anything!)
9. Social networking: Facebook (Personal connectivity and influence)
10. Whiskey: Jack Daniels (My brand is me)

View the complete listing of the 72 categories and the brands which best emotionally engage consumers to learn more.

First-time engagement and loyalty winners

Brands rated Number 1 in their respective categories for the first time included: Lyft, Panera and Shake Shack, Dropbox, ChapStick, Svedka, Kind Breakfast Bars, Omni Hotels, REI and Haagen-Dazs. “As these assessments are based on a brand’s ability to meet customers’ expectations better for key values that drive customer engagement,” said Passikoff, “We’re not surprised to see that brands that do are category leaders and usually more profitable than the competition.”

“If a marketer can increase a brand’s engagement level – particularly the emotional values – they’ll always see positive consumer behavior in the marketplace. Always,” said Passikoff. “Axiomatically, brands that can do that always earn greater market share and are always more profitable than the competition. To succeed, marketers need to accurately answer these questions, ‘What drives my category, what are the emotional engagement values I need to focus on? How can my brand exceed consumer expectations for those emotional values?’ To their detriment, most brands can’t.”

Six new categories

The addition of six new categories – deodorants, file hosting, ice cream, lip balm, ticketing services, whiskey and the return of bottled water and tequila, as well as brand-expansion in several categories, added 83 new brands to the 2016 CLEI survey.

“We’ve seen high consumer interest and strong brand growth in the new categories,” said Passikoff. “And, the increased number of brands appearing in consumers’ consideration sets – 10 new brands alone in the Fast Casual and Quick Serve categories, for example, confirms the category volatility brands that aren’t emotionally engaging consumers face.”

The CLEI brand lists aren’t pre-determined. Consumers tell Brand Keys researchers which brands they actually use; brands must be mentioned enough times to provide a statistically generalizable sample. When consumers mention new brands at a significant level, it’s an indicator that current options do not meet their needs. And when that happens, consumers look to other brands to do that for them. On the emotional and rational sides of the purchase equation, today it’s the emotional side of that equation brands need to concentrate on,” noted Passikoff. “Today the rational stuff is easy. Profitability has become far more difficult.”


For the 2016 survey, 42,792 consumers, 18 to 65 years of age from the nine U.S. Census Regions, self-selected the categories in which they are consumers and the brands for which they are top-20 percent customers. Seventy percent were interviewed by phone, 25 percent via face-to-face interviews (to identify and include cellphone-only households), and 5 percent online.

The research technique combines psychological inquiry and statistical analyses, has a test/re-test reliability of 0.93 and provides results generalizable at the 95 percent confidence level. It has been successfully used in B2B and B2C categories in 35 countries.

The output identifies the four behavioral drivers for the category-specific ideal, and identifies the emotional and rational values (and their percent-contribution to engagement) that form the components of each driver. Drivers – and their component values – are category-specific since consumers don’t buy smartphones the same way they buy cosmetics or pizza. The engagement and loyalty assessments measure how well brands meet expectations that consumers hold for each driver that makes up the category-specific ideal.

Posted in Advertising Research, Brand and Image Research, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Research, Customer Satisfaction, Market Research Findings | 2 Comments

Photo recap from the Quirk’s Event 2016!

We are all back in the office after a busy week hosting the Quirk’s Event in New York and are enjoying re-reading all of your tweets and looking at all of the conference photos. While you can still join in on the #QuirksEvent conversation, we wanted to share a few of our favorite photos from the event that didn’t make it on our Twitter feed.

You can also check out a live recording from The Rockin’ Researchers playing together for the first time (with no rehearsal) at the MR Musical Jam Session, presented by Beta Research Corporation at Brooklyn’s Hill Country – Barbecue, Market:

A big thank-you to everyone who made it out to the second annual Quirk’s Event and participated in the conference! We are so grateful to the exhibitors, attendees, sponsors, speakers and partners. We cannot wait to see you in 2017!


Posted in Research Blogs and Communities | Comments Off

Chinese consumers represent an opportunity for the Australian wine industry

A three-year study by the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science funded by Wine Australia is nearing completion and has found the number of people buying imported wine in China and their frequency of consumption was on the rise.

wine Larry Lockshin, professor of wine marketing at Ehrenberg-Bass, leads research into marketing related to consumer choice, packaging and retailing, and is an acknowledged specialist in all aspects of the Australian and global wine business.

He said the surprising growing off-premise trend represented an opportunity for the Australian wine industry.

“It was assumed when we started this project that on premise, especially western restaurants in China, would be the driving force behind wine consumption but what we’ve seen over the survey is that more wine is being consumed off-premise, which means people are buying it online, in wine shops and to some degree grocery stores than the last few years,” Lockshin said. “People are moving from wine as purely a drink for formal occasions where eight or 10 people would share a bottle by having a ‘little teeny glass’ each at a special occasion like a wedding or business function. Then the occasions started to become less formal.”

The Australian wine industry needs to ask itself ‘what kind of retail channels are going to access that growing trend. Lockshin said the opportunity was there but it’s not going to be a pot of gold without work.

“Build your brand, build it slowly, sustainably, know who you are selling to, pay attention to your labeling and pricing, spend some time to make it work,” he said.

The Wine Australia Export Report December 2015 shows that the value of Australian wine exports jumped 14 percent to $2.1 billion in 2015, reaching its highest growth in value since October 2007. South Australia is the biggest wine producing state in Australia, accounting for almost half of total production.

The strongest growth was in China, Australia’s third biggest export market behind the U.S. and U.K., which grew 66 per cent to $370 million.

The University of South Australia study includes six surveys of Chinese buyers of imported wines conducted over the three-year span of the project.

The latest survey results – the fifth of the six – found 52 percent said they drank wine at home for a relaxing drink once a week or more often, 46 percent said they consumed wine once a week or more often with an informal meal at home, while more than half the people in the most recent survey drank wine at special occasions at least once every two months.

Justin Cohen, a postdoctoral research fellow in wine marketing at the University of South Australia, who has made several trips to China during the project, said wine had shifted from being just a special occasion experience to being a more everyday product.

“Frequency of consumption is rising rapidly for people consuming wine off-premise, even three years ago that wasn’t a major thing people were saying when asked why they were buying wine,” Cohen said.

“One of the things that we’re starting to counsel wine brands about is if you make your product all about special occasions, that limits you entering the head-space of a potential consumer,” Cohen said. “But if you’re also saying ‘we’re an approachable product from Australia, we’re a clean, green, safe place with a great lifestyle’ then you’re probably more likely to enter the consideration set for purchase occasions that happen more frequently.”

Cohen said Australian wine brands were doing a good job of educating people in China about their wine but they needed to shift their focus from the sommeliers and masters of wine to the uninitiated. “I think one of the challenges is before we start getting into this whole idea of ‘what do we want to communicate about Australian wine’ we have to make sure that people have even heard of us – there’s people that don’t even know that we exist,” Cohen said.

And while France is dominant, the Chinese actually have a very large domestic industry – four out of five bottles of wine sold in China are produced there.



Posted in Advertising Research, Brand and Image Research, Business and Product Development, Chinese Consumers, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Research, Customer Satisfaction, Market Research Findings | Comments Off

Most engaging Super Bowl ads in 2016

Doritos, Marmot and Heinz produced the most engaging Super Bowl ads, according to a study which tracked people’s facial expressions while they watched the ads.

Super BowlThe study, in which software company Lucid and insight platform Qualtrics teamed up with Realeyes and tracked the facial reactions of over 3,000 people via their Webcams during the ads. Forty-nine key facial points were monitored to determine various key emotions as well as overall levels of engagement.

Doritos’ “Ultrasound” scored better than 99.2 percent of ads ever measured in terms of emotional engagement. This is a combined measure of how well the ad grabs viewers’ attention, keeps it and leaves a lasting impression. The Top 9 Super Bowl 50 ads all scored in the top 10 percent of ads ever measured.

“The winning Doritos ad bucked the trend by being the only one of this year’s Top 10 not to have an animal or celebrity,” said Mihkel Jäätma, CEO of Realeyes, in a press release. “In what’s been described as a very safe year, it divided opinion online ahead of the game while facial tracking showed it evoked above average levels of disgust, particularly in men. However, pushing the boat certainly paid off.”

At the other end of the scale, Colgate’s “Every Drop Counts” scored worst of all Super Bowl 50 ads – being in the bottom 21.7 percent of ads ever measured

“The barometer of a successful ad shouldn’t just be whether people like and share it but also whether it actually makes them spend money – ads that connect emotionally with people are more likely to make this happen,” explains Jäätma. “The four key tips to doing so are to hook the audience early, retain their attention, invoke a reaction – the stronger the better – and finish with impact.”

The much discussed “PuppyBabyMonkey,” which mocked those same elements recurring in the top 10, didn’t actually resonate that well among those under 30, which brought down its score. It was much more popular among those between 30 and 49 years old and the over 50 crowd, who clearly appreciated the irony.

The full scores for all the Super Bowl ads are available here.


Posted in Advertising Research, Brand and Image Research, Consumer Research | Comments Off

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 | Comments Off

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 | Comments Off