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.

Solving Research Needs with a Mixed Methodology Approach

May 20th, 2014 in advertising, branding, market research | Tagged , , , | by | Leave a comment

Qualitative. Quantitative. Strategy. The three pillars of W5. As a research firm that conducts both qualitative and quantitative studies, we have the opportunity to work with clients using mixed methodology approaches to solve their strategic business questions and challenges. Often, a research engagement requires more than simply qualitative focus groups or a quantitative online survey. Time and time again, we see the advantages of implementing a hybrid methodology approach – conducting exploratory qualitative research to inform the development of a quantitative questionnaire, or using qualitative ethnographic research to round out newly identified segments coming out of a segmentation study. This month we spotlight a case study illustrating a custom designed approach using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to meet our client’s research needs.


An auto paint and body repair firm with a strong yet dated brand heritage and their advertising agency sought an up-to-date understanding of consumer perceptions, and preferences to inform strategic development of a new brand identity and communications platform.


W5 first conducted exploratory qualitative research through focus groups and in-home/garage ethnography interviews to establish a foundational understanding of consumer behaviors, needs, and brand perceptions. A robust quantitative segmentation study was then conducted, segmenting the market into five actionable clusters, three of which represented prime opportunity segments for the client. After development of brand positioning and advertising concepts targeted for these key segments, W5 conducted additional quantitative survey research to highlight resonant approaches and opportunities for further development.


The research insights yielded an up-to-date understanding of target consumers, their needs, and their perspective on the category. Definition of core strategic segments allowed the client to focus strategic efforts in branding, communications, customer service, and product offerings. Identification of actionable and resonant brand approaches provided short-term benefits to supplement the broader strategic learning.

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:

A Plead to Keep Fashion Unique

May 16th, 2014 in branding, Collection, culture, Fashion | Tagged , , , , , , | by | Leave a comment

I eagerly follow New York Fashion week every year, desperate to see what flashy new trends are emerging among my favorite designers. Although fashion week is long gone and we’re headed into summer, fashion week still sits top of mind for me. During the infamous week, the WSJ covered a story, Fashion Industry Meets Big Data, about fashion brands using big data subscriptions to predict and forecast trends. Before digging into the article, I was shocked! How dare these unique brands I have come to love use big data to fill the runway? But, as I read on I understood the business model and why one particular fashion data company has seen 40% growth over the last four years. It seems almost foolish for fashion companies not to use these kinds of services to make sure their styles are on track, their products will continue to move, and ultimately they will increase revenues.091508_floral_400x400

However, I have some concerns about these data services predicting and forecasting what we will be wearing next season, especially if they are all predicting the same styles. For example, it’s no surprise that floral patterns have made a comeback. Every store I have been in the last few weeks has incorporated florals into their summer line. Floral pants, skirts, leggings, blouses and headbands. Of course I realize that trends like this catch on every season, leather in the fall, neon in the spring, but I have to wonder if the overload of florals had something to do with big data fashion companies. If 3,600 corporate subscribers use the same big data company… isn’t there a good chance their lines are going to have sweeping similarities? I continue to hope that this won’t be the case, that somewhere in all the data our favorite designers won’t lose creativity, uniqueness, originality, or expression. Anna Clarke, head of women’s wear for J Sainsbury’s Tu clothing range said, “We use [trend forecasters] to support, validate and give us confidence we’re on the same page.” I think it’s great that there are services that offer guidance to the competitive world of fashion and I wish these companies the best of luck. My hope is that so many of the companies arise and subscriptions are spread across enough vendors that we don’t have to worry about seeing an overkill of trends, a conformity among brands, or for a lack of better words, the same exact thing on every shelf.