Spotlight: Using Segmentation to Make Sure the Shoe Fits

July 14th, 2014 in market research | by | Leave a comment

The great thing about working at W5 is that we get to work across a wide array of different markets and categories. One that is particularly close to my heart is shoes and I was lucky enough to work with a shoe retailer on one of my favorite types of studies, segmentation. Talk about a win-win for me!

We pride ourselves on creating actionable segmentation solutions and do so using robust and custom surveys that provide as much information as possible about these consumers. We had a great solution come of this study that provided insights for both the agency and the retailer. It helped the agency discover what worked well and what could be improved in their marketing and advertising efforts and provided information to the retailer about the shopping experience at their stores and how it could be improved even further.

We also had the opportunity to connect with these consumers further through qualitative online discussion boards and shop-alongs and a periodic tracker which provides insights as to how these consumers grow and change over time to help the client stay up-to-date in the marketplace.


A national shoe retailer and its agency felt that its existing, dated consumer segmentation failed to establish a complete understanding of the marketplace, particularly in underrepresenting the racial/ethnic skew the client sees in stores. W5 conducted a new custom segmentation to establish a fresh view of the client’s customer base, including appropriate representation across demographics.


W5 conducted a multi-perspective segmentation study to discern consumer clusters defined primarily by their shopping attitudes, category behaviors, and underlying and motivating psychographics. Segments were analyzed through varied lenses and then also profiled by specific category behaviors and demographics.


W5 identified five actionable consumer segments, including two that represented relatively high economic value for the client, ripe for near-term strategic marketing. The custom research design also enabled an analysis of client and competitor brand perceptions by segment, focused on the shoe retail, department store, and big box channels. The learning around distinct consumer segments’ perceptions and needs highlighted opportunities for strategic communications, but also further exploration. The study was followed by a deep-dive examination of key segments’ brand behaviors and opinions, and periodic tracking research conducted in concert with new advertising efforts.

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:



Spotlight: Webcam-Enabled Online Focus Groups

June 30th, 2014 in emerging technology, market research, technology | by | Leave a comment

2020 Online Focus GroupsInnovations in webcam-enabled online and mobile research platforms and methodologies have provided a wide variety of benefits to consumer research. These tools have improved our ability to collect in-context consumer feedback as well as making it easier to conduct research with participants that are more difficult to recruit, widely geographically dispersed, or otherwise challenging to engage in research. Small business owners, high level executives, and medical professionals are examples of the types of audiences that have relatively low recruiting incidences and getting them to take part in face-to-face market research is difficult as they are groups who are notoriously short on time due to significant responsibilities of time to their workplace.

Instead of conducting traditional in-person focus groups with these difficult to reach audiences, webcam-enabled online focus groups provide an alternative method to engage these audiences in real time group discussions. While the group and inter-personal dynamic is different in online focus groups versus in-person focus groups, we here at W5 find webcam-enabled online focus groups to be comparable in their effectiveness for facilitating engaging group discussions and drawing out meaningful insights.

One of the benefits of online focus groups is that respondents seem to be more relaxed, and therefore also more open and willing to share their true thoughts, because they are participating from their natural home or work environment. We have also found during online focus groups participants may be more willing to disagree with one another because there is not an in-person social pressure to conform to group opinions. Conducting focus groups online also eliminates the need for research teams and clients to travel providing further benefits of convenience and travel cost savings.

Clients sometimes express concerns about issues with the webcam-enabled online focus group platform technology. Our online focus group platform partner has many years of experience managing online focus groups and always performs “tech checks” with focus group participants and makes sure that all problems and questions that participants may have are worked out prior to the actual fielding of the groups to ensure the groups run smoothly. During the webcam-enabled online focus groups our online focus group platform provider assigns a dedicated technician who observes the groups and is immediately available to help with technical problems should they arise. If a participant’s connection is lost, as can happen with participants’ individual home and work internet connections, this dedicated technician works to get the participant online as quickly as possible, usually in under two minutes.

Overall, we here at W5 find webcam-enabled online focus groups to be a valuable tool that expands the reach of our research capabilities and a tool which we recommend to clients who may be looking for insights from a natural context or who need to engage hard to reach audiences. Our Spotlight case study this month explores how W5 has used this methodology to gather small business owners’ reactions and feedback to a new community partnership program.


A national non-profit advocacy organization was considering developing a small business partnership program whereby small businesses would enter into a marketing relationship with the non-profit organization and gain exposure to the non-profits members. Small business owners’ reactions to the program had to be gauged before proceeding further.


The target audience for this engagement was a difficult one to recruit and the client wanted a true broad national read on feedback to the proposed program. W5 proposed a webcam-enabled online focus group methodology so that small business owners from across the country could be recruited to participate in this research. Focus groups were scheduled at a variety of times over two days to allow participants to choose a time which was most convenient for them. Clients were able to simultaneously view the focus group discussions while participating in a “virtual backroom” conversation with W5 consultants.


W5 moderated engaging conversations with small business owners about their likes and dislikes of various proposed elements of the program. In addition to determining overall appeal of the program and the likelihood of small business owners to participate, program details including the expected cost and the length of terms for the program were discussed and evaluated. As a result of the feedback and insights gained through this research the non-profit advocacy organization was able to make recommended changes to the program to meet the needs and desires of small business owners.

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:

BRICs Get a Hefty Increase

June 13th, 2014 in Uncategorized | by | Leave a comment

Fat World

I recently read in the WSJ that nearly one-third of the world is “overweight” or “obese.” However you define it, these people are arguably bigger size-wise than they should be, at least by AMA standards. And people are getting bigger faster, especially kids. Why? Well, folks just seem to be eating more. They’re eating more food that has less to it. Junk food. And the U.S. is the fattest and baddest of them all, by far. No real surprises here.

What I do find interesting, however, is that the four countries behind the U.S. in obesity are BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India and China, respectively. Countries with very young populations. So, it seems that expansion leads to “expansion.” Not GDP wealth or overall wealth mind you, since Switzerland and Saudi Arabia are nowhere on the list. Instead, it’s heavy consumption countries that also consume food-wise at an individual level. As China hyper-pollutes and Brazil burns the Rain Forest, their populations appear to eat in a similar fashion, gobbling up everything in their path. People are behaviorally replicating the macro-environment of their mother country.

As a U.S. citizen, if this theory holds true, it gives me pause. For while we do a fairly good job of keeping our U.S. cities and countryside tidy and neat, we now readily export large-scale conflicts beyond our borders. Perhaps this is requireed to fuel our obese body morphs. Regarding the BRICs, compared to many other nations, the U.S. has relatively little influence over them geopolitically. They are fairly autonomous nation states and choose to apply their own quasi-Industrial Revolutions to fuel growth (Russia, at the moment is miserably failing, but remains rich in natural resources to plunder). Beyond pollution, one of the most visible results is a population literally ballooning in each respective country.

It appears that it is pace that may lead to this obesity epidemic. The faster you consume, the bigger you get. Lesson? Slow down when you eat.


June 11th, 2014 in Uncategorized | by | Leave a comment


Like many all over the world I love sports, all sports. I love the competitiveness, drama, and excitement. If you are like me, regardless of sport, you always believe in “your team” and honestly feel they are going to pummel every team standing in their way of a championship. In thinking this way I usually set myself up for a less than enjoyable viewing experience for myself and everyone around me. This year I have vowed to be a better cheering partner. This year, before every game, I will prepare myself with cold, hard stats instead of unrealistic hopes. My first test is the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

On Thursday, June 12 the schedule kicks off with Brazil, FIFA host and favorite, most likely to win facing Croatia. As fans around the world gather in hopes their team will “win it all” the probability of a team other than Brazil winning are slim.

Using data from every FIFA game since 1993, relative team rankings and location of games played, Andrew Yuan developed a model determining respective teams’ probability to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup. While Brazil has the greatest probability of winning at just over 20%, Spain and Germany are a distant second, with a 7% probability of winning. It is only 3% probable that Team USA will be crowned champions. To understand this model, we need to look at Yuan’s methodology.

So go ahead and cheer for your team. Enjoy every second of the excitement and drama (especially if you are cheering for Brazil). After looking at Yuan’s model I think it is okay for Brazil to celebrate a little early. For Australia, there is always 2018.

Tears From Your TV: The Birth of Sadvertising

June 9th, 2014 in advertising, branding, culture | Tagged | by | Leave a comment

downloadIt has happened to me in a theater, at my work desk and at a big party with friends. I’m sitting there watching an advertisement for some non-offensive, non-emotional product, like paper towels or a web browser, when the content builds to an emotional climax that renders me a sobbing mess. Depending on my location, I stifle the tears appropriately or let them flow over. After the emotional thunderstorm has passed, I always reevaluate the situation. Am I super hormonal today? Or just extra sensitive? Are my 30s making me nostalgic for childhood days and a kinder, gentler time as pictured in these commercials? Has advertising changed or has my emotional constitution evolved to pure sap? What exactly is going on here?

Thankfully, Rae Annfera over at FastCompany has provided a much needed answer to my lingering questions. In her recent article, “The Rise of Sadvertising: Why Brands Are Determined To Make You Cry” she explores the possible existence of the trend toward more emotional, heartfelt advertising and its meaning on a larger scale. Annfera examines the possible trend from a variety of perspectives, including larger cultural trends that have laid the groundwork for this type of advertisements success (think digital connectivity, our need for meaning, and the experience of sharable content) and evolving preferences for how meaningful content is presented  (e.g., storytelling and the mini-documentary). Peppered throughout the analysis is feedback from some superstar creative directors who postulate on how their own “Sadvertisements” were created and larger business trends in the advertising world (client’s request for “emotional” ads is huge). A great commentary on how social trends impact how products and brands are presented, it’s a totally worthy read. So grab a box of tissues (there’s lots of “Sadvertisements” embedded in the article) and get to reading here.

And for good measure, here is the latest “Sadvertisement” that made me tear up during Sunday night television. It’s not as heart wrenching as Google’s “Dear Sophie” but it’s still tender, particularly the end:

A World Wakes Up

June 6th, 2014 in market research, study | by | Leave a comment


At roughly 6 am every morning I am unceremoniously awakened by a 2 year old who thinks it is time to play the guitar. I am less enthused.

I, like 51% of people in New York, am up by 7 am, but like 71% of people in Moscow, I do not consider myself a morning person.

We have breakfast next, and coffee, and a spirited conversation about the topic of the day, usually trucks. I try to sneak in a few minutes of solitude and meditation when I can – like 8% of Londoners – but often find myself distracted by technology (7% of Londoners).

For people in Mumbai, it is about 2.5 hours from wake up to heading out of the door. I have about the same schedule.

In case you were wondering how your morning routine compares with the rest of the world, check out Life at Home, The World Wakes Up, comprehensive research of daily behaviors of people in Berlin, London, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Shanghai, and Stockholm. The research was completed by Ikea. It is beautifully presented and the website also features a downloadable written report.

Happy Birthday, W5!

May 30th, 2014 in Uncategorized | by | Leave a comment

Today the office celebrated the 11th birthday of W5 with a beautiful (and delicious!)  custom cake from local Miel Bonbons Patisserie. Incidentally, it’s also Practice Principal Marty Malloy’s tenth anniversary at W5!

As founder Tom Daly put it, ” To some you can’t do better than ’10′ but to guitar god Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap all great things go to 11.””

Happy ‘great’ 11th birthday, W5!






The Future of Spanish II

May 29th, 2014 in advertising, culture | Tagged , | by | Leave a comment

At the end of last year, I wrote a blog post on whether messaging in Spanish  is still relevant to Hispanic audiences. I concluded that the Hispanic population will likely take a similar path in decline of native language that the Italian, German and Polish immigrants took with their own languages not too long ago. I also pointed out an important statistic  from a 2013 Pew research study; Hispanic audiences are increasingly consuming media in English..

Also in 2013, we saw the launch of CNN Latino and NBC Latino. CNN Latino was a channel that broadcast news in Spanish. NBC Latino was a news website in English with a focus on Hispanic content. Total bust. Both projects lasted about a year.


So what can we learn from CNN Latino and NBC Latino? As one of the NBC Latino ex-staffers put it, “one of those weaknesses is a failure, at times, to grasp what people care about.” In other words, when it comes to Hispanic audiences the discussion should really focus more on content than language. Hispanic markets vary in the spectrum of bilingualism (Miami versus El Paso, for example) and when people working with Hispanics focus on what language to put messaging in, they’re missing the point.

Hispanics are Mexican, Cuban, Puerto-Rican, Panamanian, Costa-Rican, Guatemalan, Ecuadorian, Peruvian, Chilean, Colombian, and on and on and on. They are Caucasian, African-American, Indigenous, Asian and everything in between. They are fluent in English and they do not speak English. They just arrived in the U.S. and they are fourth-generation Americans.

I do not wish to undermine the importance of thinking of language when coming up with messaging for this audience. However, when discussion surrounding Hispanic audiences revolves solely on language and slapping on a ‘Latino’ stamp it will fail. And it will fail because it is disrespectful. It shows no understanding, let alone respect, of the multiculturalism that characterizes and pervades the audience. Lumping Mexicans and Cubans in one group is like calling Canadian and American culture the same.

In my view, CNN Latino and NBC Latino failed miserably at understanding the nuances of Hispanic audiences. I suspect they accidentally alienated Latinos by telling them regular CNN and NBC is just not good enough for them. NBC Latin regurgitated many English stories and threw in what they believed was a Latino filter, amplifying the sense of segregation. CNN Latino forgot their target audience isn’t interested in consuming traditional media. In the end, they failed on spending time and energy on understanding their consumer. From a cultural perspective, Hispanics live in at least two worlds and it is necessary to speak with them in the same way.

As Luck Would Have It

May 28th, 2014 in Uncategorized | by | Leave a comment

ImageDo ya feel lucky? Well do ya?

If you do, place your bet and double it again as it appears that lucky streaks are for real. If fact, they’re a behavioral fact of life.

It isn’t that people have a “hot hand,” explains a recent study by University College, London and as reported in The Economist, or that people are self-deceiving and only believe they’re winning when they are not. What occurs when one [usually] wins a series of hands is that wining streaks increase in length because winners start choosing safer bets and safer odds, which leads to more wins, albeit for less winnings. Conversely, those experiencing a losing streak also bring it on themselves making even riskier bets after each loss, and thus lose more.

The rule “the house always wins” is thereby assured, for winning streaks win less and losing streaks lose more. Perhaps the “gambler’s fallacy” is correct after all.


The Great and Powerful Dr. Oz

May 21st, 2014 in culture, knowledge, market research | Tagged , , , , , , | by | Leave a comment

Dr OzWhile the title and subject of this blog post is by no means original (see here, here, and here) I believe it is worth repeating and emphasizing the incredible influence that Dr. Oz, as “America’s Doctor,” has over American’s perceptions of health, diet, nutrition and their bodies. Dr. Oz is clearly among the most well-known celbri-docs and I have watched his program on a few occasions. However, I was recently taken aback by just how great and powerful Dr. Oz is after conducting three unrelated research projects where during discussions of diet and food choices his name repeatedly came up as a trusted source of knowledge.

I won’t get into the arguments about whether the advice that Dr. Oz dispenses is helpful and based on scientific evidence or whether it crosses into the realm of smoke, mirrors and pseudoscience, but the fact is that America is paying quite a bit of attention to the man behind the curtain. 

In today’s world, with the vast amounts of information that we are exposed to on a regular basis about health, nutrition and dieting through digital media, TV, on the packaging of foods and simply through talking with friends and family, very few people can actually pinpoint the source of their ideas about the relationship between diet and health. The information overload consumers face provides so much information, and some of it contradictory, that consumers effectively develop their own guidelines for what defines a healthy diet and what works for them from a conglomeration of different, and often forgettable sources.

And then there is Dr. Oz.

While it perhaps should not have surprised me, I was incredibly surprised over the course of these research projects how Dr. Oz consistently came up as a named source that research participants trusted to give them advice about health and nutrition. As one research participant who was, somewhat paradoxically, skeptical of the food industry mentioned, “He seems trustworthy… He’s a doctor. He’s on TV. You want to believe him.”

It’s the old “Trust me, I’m a doctor” phenomenon, combined with the “I’m on TV and I’m a celebrity and celebrities should always be trusted” phenomenon. Dr. Oz has the both the credibility of being a doctor, which is legitimately derived through his MD from the University of Pennsylvania and being a professor of surgery at Columbia, and the arguably more important credibility of celebrity, derived in large part through the most powerful and enduring celebrity of all – Oprah Winfrey!

So whether this is old news to you or not, it is definitely worth noting that Dr. Oz is NOT the man behind the curtain. He is the man in front of the curtain, and he is the man in America’s living room that quite a few people are listening to.