2015 Super Bowl

January 19th, 2015 in advertising, culture, Uncategorized | Tagged | by | Leave a comment

The Super Bowl’s commercial breaks are always a flashy affair. I have made sure to watch every one since moving to the United States, always talking through the game and asking people to quiet down during the breaks. Thankfully, there have always been a handful of friends with careers in Advertising so I wasn’t the only one! As the date approaches we’ve all been keeping watch of the updates, not unlike our football-loving friends who enjoy the games leading up to the championship.

NBC is seeking $4.5 million per 30-second spot, breaking FOX’s $4 million price tag of last year. Almost all the spots have been called. Anheuser-Busch is taking up a whopping 3 minutes and thirty seconds this year. Interestingly, Bud Light will have two ads from two different agencies (Anomaly and EnergyBBDO). Anomaly is also developing a Budweiser ad. You’ll be able to watch them online one week before the Super Bowl.

Avocados From Mexico also grabbed a spot. It would seem odd to advertise a warm-weather fruit in the middle of winter but but the company says Super Bowl is a big day for avocados, with more than 700 million avocados sold last year.

Also showing up for the first time is Carnival Corp (Carnival Cruise Lines, etc) who will show an ad directed by Wally Pfister who worked on The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception.

Dove+Men comes back to the Super Bowl this year building off the same concept of five years ago. After a four-year hiatus, BMW also comes back to the Super Bowl but is being very quiet about the spot.  Coca-Cola has also been quiet about their ad, but I’m hoping it will be as disruptive as last year’s “America the Beautiful.”


Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” was arguably the best played campaign last year. The same competition will be going on this year. I hate seeing the same things over again (Puppy + Bud Light again? Groaaan), but am actually pretty excited to see what ‘the people’ will come up with.

GoDaddy (yawn) will also be appearing, this time with a puppy and a competition…looking at you, Doritos and Anheuser-Busch.

I’m looking forward to seeing Loctite’s and Skittles’ spots and the repercussions of Wix’s spot. Will probably go for the guac when the car ones come on.

I’m hoping McKinney is directing Nationwide’s spot but I’m hearing it will be Super Bowl expert Ogilvy+Mather. It would be nice to see some NC rep in the Super Bowl this year.

Tech trends

January 16th, 2015 in emerging technology, internet, technology | Tagged , , , | by | Leave a comment

Technology and the way people interact with devices have always been in our DNA here at W5. We continue to be intrigued and curious to understand, and help our clients understand, the role of technology in consumers’ lives. As we become more and more connected and the Internet of Things (IoT) infiltrates more and more objects – from cars and homes, to watches and belts – people’s expectations, perceived value and barriers to adoption will shift. Anticipating these shifts will be advantageous for companies looking to secure market, and wallet share moving forward.

The CES, Consumer Electronic Show, is a hot bed for innovation. This year’s show features products from Mercedes-Benz F 015, a self-driving concept car, to LG’s multitasking Twin Wash washing machine and everything in between. While some products are closer than others to hitting the marketplace, the bigger question is which products will actually be meaningful to consumers? In this video, Google Think speaks to Shawn DuBravac, Chief Economist and Director of Research at the Consumer Electronics Association, Ryan Barnett, Partner Technology Manager on Android Wear; Henry Newton-Dunn, designer on Android; and Avinash Kaushik, Google digital marketing evangelist to get their take on the big trends and what they mean for businesses.

Beyond the Tech Trends: A CES 2015 Recap highlights key questions companies should consider as daily life continues to be reimagined including:

  • Are we there for customers in the moments they need us?
  • Are we gathering the right data and insights and getting smarter and better with each customer interaction?
  • Are we embracing speed as a value in everything we do?
  • Can we reimagine our business to create breakthroughs?

Check out Google Think’s full article here.



December 15th, 2014 in market research | by | Leave a comment

It’s time for another Case Study! Here at W5 we like to share what we’ve been doing, including recent research studies that have helped clients achieve their business goals.

Evaluating consumer input before introducing a new idea is vital to its success. Whether a new product, ad creative, or brand, concept testing helps gauge consumer interest, uncovers how ideas are perceived, and determines the influence of this idea on consumers’ likelihood to engage, shop, or purchase.

Considering a research study’s objectives and goals, timeline, and budget, W5 employs various approaches to concept testing. In the case study below, W5 used Proto-Monadic testing, where participants evaluated multiple stimuli.


To keep up with changing marketplace dynamics in consumers’ pet care and dietary demands, a leading advertising agency developed three variant approaches to advertising their category-leading pet specialty retail client’s brand. The agency partnered with W5 to explore consumer reactions to the advertising approaches and ascertain which resonated with consumers and how.


W5 conducted online survey research with a balanced sample of consumers who shop the client’s stores, their pet specialty competitors’ stores, and grocery and mass channels for pet products. In addition to exploring consumers’ general category retail brand perceptions, W5 tested the three (3) advertising approaches in a proto-monadic design featuring both independent and comparative evaluation. Key metrics included appeal, relevance, brand fit, believability, and consumer likelihood to purchase at the client’s stores versus those of competitors. The survey enabled additional exploration to clarify key takeaways and summaries of each approach and its description, along with rationale for evaluation results.


W5 confirmed all three (3) approaches resonated with consumers, but one – more focused on pets as part of the family – was most appealing. Incorporating emotional themes and messaging drove consumer preference. Both quantitative statistics and qualitative open-end responses supported this conclusion, and peripheral study data around consumer prioritization of their pets’ well-being further validated an approach to brand positioning and messaging that combined both rational and emotional factors.

Spotlight is a special feature of the W5 Blog showcasing W5 consultants’ approach to designing marketing research studies, creating engaging deliverables, and informing strategy. For more information on W5′s approach to qualitative or quantitative research contact: projects@W5insight.com.

Oh Snap

December 3rd, 2014 in advertising, social networking, technology | Tagged , , , | by | Leave a comment

Snapchat usage is on the rise. According to GlobalWebIndex, it is now the fastest growing app this year. The chart below highlights five social/messaging apps and their growth in 2014. This strong increase in usage across social media platforms gives proof of the ongoing migration of social media behaviors to mobile devices. 28th-Nov-2014-Snapchat-is-the-fastest-growing-social-app1

How are companies leveraging this social trend? For Snapchat, brands and advertisers are still trying to figure out how to best engage Snapchatters. However, that hasn’t stopped brands like Taco Bell that has seen success despite marketing in the dark. And Snapchatters are contributing their ideas, too. A blog post by Markerly highlights 10 Ways 10 Brands I Love Could Advertise on SnapChat. For example, Whole Foods – Snap: salad bar deliciousness; Promo text: Hungry? Come to Whole Foods within the hour for 30% off salad bar. Or, Tory Burch – Snap: beautiful shoe; Promo text: Sneak Peek of our newest shoe – releasing in 1 week!

Let’s not forget about Snapcash as well. Introduced last month, through its partnership with Square, users (U.S. only and 18-plus only) enter debit card information then simply send a cash amount within a text. And Snapcash isn’t just for consumers; businesses too are finding creative ways to use it. For example, the digital creative agency MRY announced yesterday it has begun accepting RFPs through Snapcash (check out the microsite with all the instructions).

Wonder if brands will leverage promotional ideas like Merkerly mentioned with Snapcash? Think flash Groupon…

If you’re interested learning more about social networking behaviors and engagement levels across markets, check out GWI Social below. In the report, GlobalWebIndex draws on their Q3 2014 wave of research highlight a range of demographic, region and market specific trends and offer insights on:

• The most popular social networks and apps, including rates of growth over the last six months

• Current attitudes towards Facebook

•The rise of mobiles, tablets and messaging services

• Networking behaviors by age, with a special focus on teens

The Cackalacky Craft Beer Craze

November 26th, 2014 in branding, culture, packaging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | by | Leave a comment

It is no coincidence that a recent Wall Street Journal article bemoaning the declining fortunes of America’s “King of Beers” was filed from North Carolina, home of four time winner of the Beer City, USA poll (Asheville, NC) and a booming state wide craft beer scene. North Carolina, where we call home here at W5, is an appropriate place to write an article about the demise of Budweiser because as the articles’ title implies – “Bud Crowded Out by Craft Beer Craze” – North Carolina is deep in the midst of a craft beer craze.

Beer drinkers, particularly of the millennial variety, increasingly favor craft beer and we have an abundance of craft beers in North Carolina! I do not pretend by any means to imply that North Carolina is on par with states like California, Colorado or Oregon in terms of the maturity of the craft beer scene, but the number of breweries in North Carolina has grown from just 26 in 2006 to over 110 today.

There are two reasons that help explain why people are drinking more micro beers and fewer macro beers. First, people are becoming more inclined to drink craft beer for the very important reason that craft beers simply taste better. I am as big a fan as anyone of an icy cold Coors (or six) on a hot summer day, but I don’t think anyone can deny that craft beers offer a greater depth of complexity and nuanced flavors than beers like Coors or Budweiser.

The second reason people are drinking more craft beer, which goes hand in hand with the larger local food movement, is that people like to consume beer that is locally brewed and is a reflection of the community of which they are a part. Localism is huge these days from food, to community planning, to beer. Localism is so big that more established breweries are obscuring their roots in those previously mentioned beer meccas of the West Coast to take on a local identity.

Asheville, NC is soon to be home to East Coast breweries for the second and third largest craft brewers in the U.S.  – California’s Sierra Nevada and Colorado’s New Belgium of Fat Tire fame. Oskar Blues Brewery, from Colorado and the 24th largest craft brewer, opened its East Coast brewery near Asheville in 2013. While it makes logistic sense for a brewer with national aspirations to open an East Coast brewery in North Carolina, as a good midpoint distribution center between the Southeast and the Northeast, there are clearly also some style points that go along with marketing that beer as a North Carolina based craft beer.

Oskar Blues beers that are brewed in North Carolina have “Brevard, North Carolina” prominently displayed across their cans. What I find to be interesting about this is that many North Carolinians who were previously unfamiliar with Oskar Blues now believe this beer to be an original North Carolina creation. While it is technically a craft beer brewed in North Carolina I find it more accurate to describe it as Colorado craft beer with a North Carolina brewery. I really like Oskar Blues beer and enjoyed my fair share of Oskar Blues when I lived in Colorado, but when I am looking to pick up a six pack of local North Carolina craft beer I skip past the Oskar Blues and pick up one of the many equally tasty options whose roots do truly run deep through NC.

I will be interested to see if Sierra Nevada and New Belgium also market the beer they brew and distribute out of the Asheville region as North Carolina craft beer. I think it will be more difficult to convince consumers that these beers are original NC craft beers because both have much greater brand awareness than Oskar Blues, but we shall see!

In the meantime here are a few of my favorite North Carolina craft beers as well as my favorite brewery in North Carolina. I am not sure how widely these beers are distributed outside of North Carolina but if you ever see one, or come to visit our beautiful state, be sure to try them out!Gaelic Ale

Gaelic Ale – Highland Brewing Company – Asheville, NC

Highland is one of the oldest craft breweries in North Carolina, opening in 1994, and they have really got it dialed in. Gaelic Ale is a deep amber-colored American ale, with a rich malty body. Gaelic was Highland’s first beer and was named in honor of the Scots and Irish who settled the Appalachian region. It was also my first NC craft beer which may explain why I will always have a soft spot in my heart for this beer.

Southern Pale Ale – Natty Greene’s Brewing Company – Greensboro, NCSouthern Pale Ale

Natty Greene’s is named for Major General Nathanael Greene who led the Southern Campaign during the Revolutionary War and who is also the namesake for Greensboro, where this brewery is located. Their Southern Pale Ale is a medium-bodied deep golden ale with a distinct bitter character and a hoppy, piney-citrus finish.

Ka-Bar Brown (pronounced Kaybar) – Railhouse Brewery– Aberdeen, NCka bar brown

Ka-Bar Brown is a beer that I tried just recently and I am a big fan. Made with traditional brewer’s malt, a touch of crystal, chocolate malts, as well as Mt. Hood and Cascade hops, this English Style Brown Ale has a slight nutty undertone and a mild bite at the end. Railhouse is a veteran owned brewery that uniquely focuses on the malted barley instead of the hops that are such a dominant part of the craft beer scene.

Cack-a-lacky – Fullsteam Brewery – Durham, NCcackalackly

While I haven’t been totally won over by the taste of this beer, a ginger pale ale which is brewed with both fresh and candied ginger to create its balanced yin-yang flavor, I love the localism that this beer and this brewery represent. Cackalacky is a quirky and beloved nickname of North Carolina and Fullsteam positions itself as a “plow-to-pint” brewery that uses local Southern ingredients as much as possible to give their beer distinct character and to create jobs and wealth for North Carolina farmers and food producers.

Outer Banks Brewing Station – Kill Devil Hills, NCOBBS brewing station

You can only get Outer Banks Brewing Station beer from their brewery on the beautiful beaches of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. But should you ever find yourself out that way be sure to check this place out. They have fantastic beer and their food is also great. The Outer Banks Brewing Station is also the first wind powered brewery in the United States! Be sure to look out for their windmill and stop in for a beer!

Spotlight: Developing Personas

November 25th, 2014 in Uncategorized | by | Leave a comment

From time to time we like to share some of what we’ve been up to, including how our research engagements have helped clients achieve their business objectives. This case study highlights W5′s approach and the resulting deliverables for developing Personas for a consumer-facing brand.

Personas are an interesting combination of approaches, existing research, and creative inspiration. The idea is to build seemingly real people to bring the customer to life inside the walls of a client office. Often both the discovery process and the results are surprising as the Personas developed may offer new viewpoints not often currently championed. It’s a powerful approach that helps in the design and implementation of branding, communications, products, and line extensions. This case study highlights how a seemingly straightforward category can contain high levels of complexity and nuance in terms of audiences and how they engage the category.

Crafting Communication Strategy with Personas

A leading convenience foods company was interested in redesigning their communication strategy for a popular morning food brand. Ultimately, the client sought to realign their advertising and brand positioning to include a broader family audience, shifting their focus from moms and teens exclusively.

W5 recommended developing lifestyle and behavior-motivated Personas to guide the client’s understanding of a broader core consumer audience. W5 consultants conducted in-depth in-home interviews and shop-alongs with a diverse representation of select family members. Conversations focused on emotional and rational connections to the food brand and their lifestyle approach, including attitudes toward time management, food decisions, and emotional outlook. Participants were asked to keep diaries of their daily eating habits to help stimulate category engagement and uncover underlying attachments to the brand.

Based on this extensive, in-context research, W5 developed and presented a set of core Personas and a set of secondary Personas representing a wide range of family roles (father, mother, brother, sister, etc.) and ages. The Personas represented consumer archetypes defined by emotional connections to the brand and a general approach to life and happiness. These Personas served as a long-lasting, memorable, and accessible tool the company could refer to when developing communication strategy.

Spotlight is a special feature of the W5 Blog showcasing W5 consultants’ approach to designing marketing research studies, creating engaging deliverables, and informing strategy. For more information on W5’s approach to qualitative or quantitative research contact: projects@W5insight.com.

Brand Shout-Out: Nordstrom

November 20th, 2014 in advertising, branding, Fashion | Tagged | by | Leave a comment

My mind is naturally attuned to all things marketing-related, whether I’m out in the field or relaxing on the couch with some of my favorite Shonda Rhimes characters. When I leave the office I try to flip the switch to my internal analyst off  but sometimes the light flickers back on. This happens most when I’m inspired, amazed, or emotionally-touched by a company or brand’s creative work. The last time the lights flickered for me was during a pre-holidays catalog browsing sesh for some of my favorite clothing, housewares and lifestyles brands.

Here’s what sparked my lights:

Nordstrom Holiday Shopping Shortcuts

Nordstrom Holiday Shopping Shortcuts

This handy little “cheat sheet” wraps up Nordstrom’s value propositions in a gigantic, sparkly Christmas bow. It speaks to the benefits of making Nordstrom your go-to shopping destination for all things Christmas and provides solutions to almost any present-shopping query. Nordstrom has always had a reputation for being supremely customer-service oriented (surely you’ve heard the fabled tire story), but this snappy graphic is a fresh approach to making the shopping experience easy and even engaging for today’s digitally-savvy customer.

Whichever way you slice it, whether your shopping in-store, shopping online, or don’t even know where or how to begin your shopping journey (there’s a “gift guru” for that), Nordstrom has your back. So a big shout-out to Nordstrom for embracing cross-channel shopping, providing customer-oriented solutions, and showcasing them in a simple and creative way. Smart work that makes me want to leave the lights on a little longer.  Forbes even agrees with me, albeit for a set of slightly different reasons.

Visualizing With Fruit

November 18th, 2014 in Data Visualization | Tagged , , | by | Leave a comment

This is simple, even silly, but I’ve never found a better example of the value of data visualization. It makes a difficult concept approachable and relatable; everyone gets this.

Visualizing Fruit


(via Kottke, Boing Boing)


Social Logins: Infographic

October 28th, 2014 in infographics, social networking, technology | by | Leave a comment

Facebook is constantly evolving. Though it has always been a platform for users to share their profound thoughts and insights (or more commonly pictures of babies and fancy meals…), Facebook has also become a very common third-party identity/login provider. The infographic below, created by Gigya, shows the trends in social logins over time and for this past quarter (Q3 2014). It’s definitely interesting to see how the other social networks play in different industries. Who knew Google+ was such a big player in the media & publishers login space!

Also, be sure to check out Victor White’s blog post about the infographic here.

Q3 Social Login Infographica


October 24th, 2014 in advertising, branding, knowledge, market research | Tagged , , , , , , , , | by | Leave a comment

FAN2012517Establishing reliable benchmarks and tracking the health of a brand and the success of marketing initiatives over time is imperative, but tracking research need not be limited to monitoring awareness, consideration, and stated intent.

W5’s approach to strategic tracking research goes beyond basic “brand funnel” metrics to explore an evolving marketplace, bringing depth and context to consumer behavior and attitudes. A more holistic and strategic approach to tracking research helps a company not only understand their relative brand health, but also how their brand is perceived and fits within the marketplace. In these situations, our clients have taken the time and made the investment to get their target consumers engaged in a survey…so why not dig a little deeper than the typical brand/ad tracking survey?

Here is an example of how we recently extended a brand health study into something more exploratory and ultimately, revealing:


A category-leading CPG company partnered with W5 to better understand the state of their category and how to best position their products in stores. In addition to running brand health tracking research to map back to previously collected data, the study was extended to explore consumers’ attitudes and opinions about the category, brand and product, and examined consumers’ purchasing behaviors. The following year, a parallel wave of research was conducted to not only track the brand health but also the extended learning.


In addition to asking questions to compare back to the earlier waves of survey research, additional questions were included to derive a holistic view of the marketplace and the challenges facing the brand. These questions included exploration of consumers’ perceptions and expectations of the company, its competitors, and product locations in stores as well as opinions of new packaging options. Through in-depth tracking reporting, W5 illustrated new trends in the marketplace, communicated how consumers’ perceptions have changed over time, and highlighted shifts in consumers’ expectations.


The client used the study insights to guide branding and communications efforts to maintain their leadership role in the marketplace. The learning was also used as a resource for sales teams to inform communication with store management regarding the placement of products in stores. The information has allowed for the client’s products to be positioned competitively, and in the locations consumers expect to find them.

This is just one example of how W5 can do more with multiple wave tracking research than showing how brand and advertising health metrics have shifted over a time period. Contact us for additional perspective on strategic tracking research. We would be happy to share our W5 white paper on the topic or discuss your research initiatives.

Spotlight is a special feature of the W5 Blog showcasing W5 consultants’ approach to designing marketing research studies, creating engaging deliverables, and informing strategy. For more information on W5’s approach to strategic tracking or other quantitative or qualitative research, contact projects@w5insight.com