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Archive for May, 2007

Oh No! Another Delay…There’s a surprise! What Will I Do?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

As you know I tend to fly a lot – almost every week. For whatever reason, I have had a bad streak and have had very long delays in a number of airports. Unfortunately most of the airports have nothing to do in them like New York’s LaGuardia or in Philadelphia. I have also gotten stuck in a number of smaller airports like Greensboro or Rochester, NY which isn’t a ton of fun.

If you could pick an airport to get stuck in for three hours where would it be:

  • Is it Las Vegas so you can play the slot machines?
  • Is it in Dallas in Terminal D because it’s brand new and has upscale restaurants?
  • Is it in Denver because you like their airline club?

Where is it and why?

I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Did You Notice What You Can Rent By The Hour? Hey…It Might Actually Be A Good Idea.

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Yes cabs are expensive and in some cities very expensive. Sometimes when I travel, I think about renting a car but I only need it for a few hours, so I am better off jumping in a cab and not dealing with a car and hotel parking (which in some major cities is a fortune!)

It isn’t shocking to know that others feel the same way, and now car rental companies are offering hourly rentals:

  • Hertz Car Rental announced that it will offer hourly rentals in three locations in New York City.
  • In the next few weeks Enterprise Rent-A-Car said that all eight of its Manhattan stores will offer hourly rentals. In addition, Enterprise offers hourly rentals in seven other cities — Washington, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Portland, OR.

Neither company rents by the hour from airport locations–which makes some sense, since you probably wouldn’t want to return the car at the airport. Hourly rates start at about $8.75 for the smallest cars before taxes and fees. Daily rentals for compact cars in Manhattan start about $80 on weekdays before taxes and fees. So there is a huge savings if you only need the car for a few hours. (Not to mention the savings of not having to park at the hotel overnight in New York, which could be another $45.00.)

I didn’t realize it, but two companies, Seattle-based Flexcar and Boston-based Zipcar started the hourly rental business several years ago in large cities, hoping to draw people who don’t own cars like New York City where over 75% of people don’t own a car. I did spend a few minutes on the Flexcar and the Zipcar websites and found them easy to navigate and some very cool features.

  • Did you know about the service?
  • Have you used the service?
  • Do you think this is a good idea?
  • Would you ever use the service?

I look forward to your comments and feedback.

What Is the Number One Issue Today the Market Research Industry Is Facing? Read on and See What these Experts Say!

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

I am sure most of the readers face challenges during the day and have to make decisions to move the business forward. Those decisions sometimes are based on:

  • What is happening within your company
  • What is happening with your clients
  • Or perhaps what is going on within the industry.

Clearly our industry is facing tremendous challenges and issues. They range from:

  • Global outsourcing
  • Respondent cooperation
  • Client turnover

The question is, “What is the number one issue?” Read on to see what these experts think:

For me, I would say my issue is getting people to take the time to complete surveys of any meaningful length. Years ago, online research was fabulous because people could take the surveys whenever they wanted, and compared to spending time on the phone with someone the time passed more quickly, they completed the surveys, everyone was happy. Now, increasingly more people are getting used to taking their information (surveys, entertainment, advertising, you name it…) in small “bits and bytes” and the time they are willing to devote to any one thing seems to be diminishing. 30-second commercials? Come on, tell me what I need to know in 15 seconds, or forget it. 15 minute surveys? I’ll give you 5 minutes, then I’m off to MySpace.

Danielle Blugrind Director, Consumer & Brand Insights YUM Brands

As the industry evolves we continue to make significant business decisions with smaller and/or less representative sample sizes. At some point the business issues become so strategic that the research simply has to be executed flawlessly. Encouraging our customers to take the time to complete a survey and try to maintain some level of decent cooperation rate is difficult.

Pam Galley Director Of marketing Research Sabre

Good business to business interviewers

Owen Jenkins CEO Kadence Business Research

Data quality and how much of the industry is unaware or unwilling to focus on its inadequacies.

Robert Lederer Editor & Publisher RFL Communications, Inc.

“Over my 18 years of Insights experience, I never have experienced problems with supplier reliability to the extent that I have experienced them over the past year. I have encountered myriad issues — from a lack of supplier responsiveness to unclean data files to survey technology weaknesses. I come from the supplier side, and so I am loyal to the industry! … but standards must be raised and met.”

Regina Lewis, PhD VP, Consumer & Brand Insights Group Dunkin’ Brands, Inc.

“Innovation.” In the way people service clients and how clients respond or gather information. There are not enough new resources to keep up with changing dynamics in how people communicate. If we don’t harness new things, our role is not going to be able to provide information.

Roseanne Luth President Luth Research

Over the past ten years, there has been a staggering decline in respondent cooperation. Without access to the public, our ability to collect data has become more and more difficult. That coupled with shorter deadlines and more stringent respondent qualifications, data collection has become a true challenge. It is imperative that we continue to work toward greater respondent cooperation through public awareness. The respondents out there need to know the value of our industry and that their opinion counts.

Steve Schlesinger CEO Schlesinger Associates

Respondent engagement – this requires evolving the way we communicate with respondents and making the research process more interesting and novel to the respondent.

Craig Stevens Senior Vice President e-Rewards Market Research

Lack of Innovation. One focus of my practice is bringing innovative new tools to my clients and helping them learn in new and different ways. You can’t imagine how hard this is. In this age of technology, many of the tools are decades old. Sure, we’ve applied them to the internet, but it’s the same small group of research methodologies. I think this industry will be dramatically disrupted by innovators who use the tools of technology to delve into consumers’ lives, preferences, etc. to reveal excited insight and inspire product and communications innovation as a result. I don’t have a preconceived notion of what this will look like, but I’m seeing some inkling on the fringes of the industry. Ultimately, the research will be richer. The insights will be deeper and creatively conceived. And, the resulting consumer products and communications will resonate more deeply than ever before. Hey, a girl’s gotta have a dream, right?

Kelley Styring President InsightFarm

For me – the answer is respondent cooperation. In order for research to be actionable, drive insight and make a difference to client companies, respondents HAVE TO BE INVOLVED! We need to have the respondent experience be a pleasant one that includes shorter surveys. Our industry needs to communicate how important research is to the world and how important respondent opinions are. Until our industry does that by working together, we will continue to have a respondent cooperation issue and the respondent pool will continue to diminish.

  • Do you agree with these experts?
  • What do you think?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Attention Baseball Fans: Have You Heard Of This Jack?

Monday, May 21st, 2007

This Jack has overcome with perseverance.

As you know, I love baseball. If you have been following the game, this year has been filled with stories of steroids, greedy players and frankly tons of articles and sportscasts that aren’t that flattering for a game I love. Well here is a feel good story about someone who overcame lots of odds to make it to the show!

Talk about journeys – how about getting drafted in the first round in 1997. Yes I said 1997 – 10 years ago. This player had a 10 year journey thru small towns, long bus trips and plenty of fast food. Actually that doesn’t sound so bad – sign me up!

Jack Cust is one homer away from having 200. Not bad except all of those homers have come in the minor leagues. I am confident he hopes he plays baseball for another 10 years and never hits the 200 milestone. He has played for 10 teams covering 1,113 games. He had a reputation as a power hitter who was weak defensively. Recently he was traded from San Diego to Oakland where the A’s had a rash of injuries to their outfielders.

In his first game for Oakland he hit a homerun. A few days later he hit another one which started a streak of homeruns in 4 straight games! Wow! In his first 10 games for the A’s he hit 7 dingers, 7 over the fence and I am sure the best thing about it for Jack is the fact that none of them were in the minor leagues.

I am sure that Billie Bean (A’s general Manager) and Oakland know what they are getting. As Jack states, “I walk, I strike out, I hit home runs.” I just hope he continues his success and stays in the majors. While I admit I am not an Oakland A’s fan, everyone knows were my love lies in baseball. I am a huge fan of a person overcoming so many obstacles and working hard to finally make their dream come true!

In the off season Jack and his family run a baseball academy in Flemington, NJ where they work with ball players at a number of different levels.

Beware, Barry Bonds! There appears to be another power hitter in the bay area!

I look forward to your thoughts and hopefully other nice stories about America’s greatest pastime.

Interview with Toby Bloomberg

Friday, May 18th, 2007

1993 was a very special year in my life. That was the year I was President-Elect of the American Marketing Association (AMA) Boston Chapter and was fortunate to attend a number of strategy sessions with other chapters who had the same number of AMA members as Boston. As I have written in a prior post that group of President-Elects was very special. A number of close relationships were formed, including one with Toby Bloomberg. Toby is one of the most talented, grounded and warm-spirited people I have ever met. Over the years with each conversation or meeting, I have become even more impressed.

When our internal team was discussing the possibility of entering into the blogosphere – it was “red rover, red rover send Toby over!” She did a wonderful presentation to the entire company and gave us invaluable guidance as we embarked on our current journey! She is one of the real experts on blogs, having started her own bloombergmarketing.blogs.com/ years ago.

Toby, thank you for everything you have done for us and for everything you do for the industry.

I hope you enjoy getting to know Toby a little bit – she is one special lady!

You were one of the early pioneers on blogs and have had your own for years. What excites you about blogs?

I launched Diva Marketing (Blog) in the spring of 2004, however, I suppose in ‘blog years’ that does make it one of the pioneering business blogs. What was true three years ago remains so today. In a world that spins too fast for us to often know our nextdoor neighbor, let alone understand the individual needs of a growing and often geographically dispersed customer base, blogs help recreate the old fashioned corner grocery store relationship.

It seems the more high tech infiltrates our lives the more high touch our customers long for in terms of service and attention. Part of what we lost when we became a global economy was the ability to develop personal connections with customers and other stakeholders. The green grocer and baker knew their customers’ preferences and responded to their immediate concerns. Through on-going conversations, blogs provide the opportunity to speak to and with customers in ways that go beyond traditional marketing. For me, blogs, as well as other social media tactics, swing open the door that encourages not only customer loyalty but company loyalty to our customers.

Continue reading “Interview with Toby Bloomberg” »

Be Our Guest!

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Having moved away from Boston a few years ago we have had a tremendous number of guests. I still remember getting a call from Dan Krason who stayed with us and asked if we ever got the upstairs shower fixed. I had that confused and perplexed look on my face (which if you know me is very common) and I replied “Dan, our shower isn’t broken.” Dan mentioned that when he stayed with us and tried to take a shower he thought it was broken and actually had to walk downstairs in a towel. Thankfully my family was sleeping so nobody got scared with seeing Dan like that.

I didn’t realize it but our shower is a challenge to figure out. In fact you have a better chance of completing a Cryptoquote or the daily Sudoko.

This story gave me some thoughts about the rules or tips for both the host and guest when people are staying at your house.

For houseguests:

  • Try NOT to overstay your welcome. Give careful consideration as to how long you will stay
  • Make sure your room is clean. Don’t leave wet towels around and make sure you strip the bed when you leave. Try NOT to make extra work for your host!
  • One of my favorites (accidents do happen): if you break something just say something. Yes I had someone stay with us in Boston and they didn’t say anything for a few years.
  • Yes bring a gift (clearly obvious but not everyone does it.) It needs to be more thoughtful than expensive.

For hosts:

  • Make sure you tell your guests what types of pets you have
  • Make sure you show people any things that might be a little odd (see above) about your house
  • Make sure the bathroom has plenty of supplies like toilet paper, soap and shampoo
  • Show your guests a closet or drawers where they can put things away. This way they will be more comfortable and the room will be a little less messy
  • Give your guests an idea of your routine (what time you eat breakfast, what time the kids get up, what time you workout, etc…)
  • If your guests are coming in from out of town have a list of things you will want to do. Give them choices. This way everyone isn’t looking at each other saying “what should we do today?”

With summer right around the corner, I hope this list helps a little bit with guests you might be having.

I look forward to your comments about my suggestions and others you may have.

Why Do Companies Put The Person Who Can Hurt Them The Most In The Middle Of All The Action?

Monday, May 14th, 2007

In 1994 I lived in Center City, Philadelphia. At the bottom of the building where I worked there was a convenience store, so it was no surprise that around 7:15am I would walk in and pick up a few things for breakfast. Actually I would always pick up the same things. Please don’t laugh at my order (which was a Rice Krispy Treat, chocolate milk and a pack of Big Red gum). Please stop laughing–I am very sensitive!

Ok lets get past what I ordered which isn’t the real point of the story. The real point is that I would get those same three items day after day, week after week and was charged different prices…yes different prices. I understand items can be on sale, but they DON’T typically change everyday.

Last week when I paid for parking, I was given the wrong change. The same thing happened when I bought some food at a recent concert. Frankly I could go on and on because I truly believe it happens over 30% of the time–yes 30% of the time.

I’m sure stuff like this has happened to every one of you. The real question is why? If you owned a retail establishment wouldn’t you put the person who is most numbers oriented on the cash register? Wouldn’t you put the person that you trust the most on the cash register?

I am sure you have asked a cashier for directions or where an item is in the store. This just happened to me again this past weekend and I get this puzzled “why are you asking me” look and “NO I can’t help you!” I am still amazed when this happens. This kind of stuff affects where I shop the next time. I can’t be alone in that type of thinking!

I have nothing against cashiers (I was one of them in High school) but it doesn’t make sense to me. Typically cashiers are paid minimum wage or a little above and aren’t always looking at it as a career. Since that is the case wouldn’t it be better, smarter and frankly more efficient to have someone up front that is your best! Not to mention customers do notice if they are short changed or charged too much and I am sure all of that affects customers and their future shopping habits.

  • How do you feel when it happens to you?
  • Are you amazed how often it happens?

I look forward to your stories and comments.

Baseball Fans: What Stadiums Do You Like To Eat At?

Friday, May 11th, 2007

Everyone knows I love baseball and love to eat. So put the two together, and I am in heaven.

When I was growing up, we had season tickets to the Red Sox and must have gone to 35 games a year. Back then I did everything backwards. As a 10 year old I remember going with my dad and having ice cream in the first inning, a pretzel in the third and then a hot dog in the sixth. It sounds like a stomach ache waiting to happen but, what a great time I had each and every game. I still relish those moments and frankly miss them a ton.

I was reading a USA Today article and they were discussing which stadiums have the best food. Here is their list:

AT&T Park San Francisco

Kauffman Stadium Kansas City, Mo.

Dodger Stadium Los Angeles

Petco Park San Diego

Safeco Field Seattle

PNC Park Pittsburgh

Citizens Bank Park Philadelphia

Jacobs Field Cleveland

Coors Field Denver

Miller Park Milwaukee

I have been to all the stadiums listed above except for two: Coors Field and Kauffman Stadium. Two of my favorite parks for food are on this list. I agree with their choice of AT&T Park in San Francisco. The garlic fries are awesome and worth the 25 minute wait. I have had them in other stadiums but they have the best by far.

I also love the food at Dodger Stadium. I still remember going to Dodger Stadium with my college roommate Kenny and dinning on Dodger and other great food at the park.

The one that quickly comes to mind that they left off the list is Camden yards. I love Boog’s Barbecue. The barbecue sandwiches are a must-have at any Oriole game!

To no surprise Fenway Park isn’t on this list or frankly any list. The food there is very weak. Over the years it has improved, but the lack of space probably hampers them from getting state of the art equipment in the kitchens.

  • Do you agree with their list?
  • What is your favorite?
  • How about your least favorite?

I look forward to your comments.

Interview With Judy Langer

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

If you closed your eyes and thought about qualitative research, what moderators might come to mind? I have had this discussion with a few folks in the research community and a name that makes every list is Judy Langer. She is clearly a professional researcher, she has written a book on qualitative research and she was a founding member and first president of the Qualitative Research Consultants Association. All I can say is WOW!

I hope you enjoy getting to know Judy Langer a little bit….

You have been in the industry for 30+ years. How did you first get started?

I always say I decided to go into market research after I was already in it. I majored in political science (“government”) and took undergraduate and graduate courses in public opinion (“voter behavior”) that I found fascinating. It appealed to my desire to understand people more than playing with color wheels in the psych course did. My grad school teacher at Columbia wrote a nice letter for me to public opinion firms so my first jobs were at Harris and then Roper. Naïve person that I was, I finally realized that both firms made their reputations on public opinion research but that their “bread and butter” was doing market research. After some time in quantitative research, where I always felt like a misfit, I bumbled into qualitative research at a now-defunct firm, MPi, headed by Emanuel Demby. Their philosophy was that all researchers should do focus groups and depth interviews and that every large quantitative study should be preceded by qual. It was instant love for me. Wow! This is fun and so interesting! I’ve been doing qual ever since.

Continue reading “Interview With Judy Langer” »

What Kind Of Line Is That?

Monday, May 7th, 2007

The world is full of lines. The cab line at any casino in Las Vegas on most days is 25 minutes long. The line at the grocery store is hopefully a little shorter. The line when you enter a movie theatre can be long, but there is rarely an issue. All of those things have one thing in common – the line is typically straight as an arrow.

Since January 1st, I have flown 36 different flight segments. It doesn’t matter what airport, what type of plane, what airline. I am still amazed at one thing: Getting on a plane is out of control. When they make the announcement to start boarding, everything gets crazy. People actually forget how to stand in line. There is tons of pushing, shoving, elbowing, biting (I hope not but I thought I would embellish my point).

When I was younger, I thought it was funny. Now that I am older and hopefully a little bit more mature, I don’t think it is funny at all. Rarely do you hear an “excuse me.” Most of the time, 15 people come in from 15 different angles and directions trying to board a plane.

Isn’t forming a line easy? Isn’t it something we all learned in kindergarten? Apparently forming a line to rush to get on a plane (that more than likely will be delayed) can’t be done by adults – can’t happen.

I thought it would be better when they changed the rules about bringing on liquids. The result of the new rule is much less carry-on luggage–which you would think would help the boarding process. Perhaps if people don’t have luggage to put in the bins they wouldn’t have been in such a rush to get on a plane.

From where I sit it hasn’t helped one bit. In fact I can’t wait to get in my next line (ooooooooops I mean rush the podium like everyone else).

  • Does the same thing happen to you?
  • Are you tired of it?
  • Do you have a solution for the airlines that might help?

I look forward to your comments and suggestions.