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Archive for June, 2012

Is It Me Or Are There Too Many Choices?

Friday, June 29th, 2012

A few weeks ago I was at a fast food restaurant and went inside because the drive-thru was backed up. As I was trying to decide what I was going to eat I saw a note on the menu board that said “We have over 115 different types of drinks.” As I looked to my left I saw this beautiful looking piece of art that was actually a new soda machine. After lunch I went to CVS to pick up some vitamins at CVS and the next thing I knew I was in the right aisle but there must have been 20+ different choices and to be frank, I had no idea which one I should buy!

Is there such a thing as too many choices?

I must admit I am a little nervous when someone asks me to pick up a bag of chips. In the grocery store these days there are literally hundreds of different choices in the snack food aisle and it is almost a guarantee that I will buy the wrong item!

There are only a few choices when getting gas – which in my opinion is a good thing. How long would it take me to make a decision and pump gas if there were 39 choices? Hint – a very long time!

  • Isn’t it possible that too many choices slows down the line and costs the retail establishment or QSR money?
  • Can all of our brains handle all of the choices of today?
  • In your opinion are there too many choices in certain categories like gum? Coffee?
  • Are there certain categories that have too many choices?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Researchers… The Young Is Now The Old…

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

A few weeks ago I attended the Marketing Research Association Annual Conference.  The conference had an amazing amount of networking opportunities as well as a solid speaker lineup. I went to my first research conference way back in the late 80’s. I remember it like it was yesterday. The conference was in September in Palm Springs, CA at the Desert Springs Marriott. I remember landing in LA and sprinting to board my very small connecting flight to get to Palm Springs.  When I got to the hotel I had a hard time sleeping, not because I had a ton of meetings set-up, not because I was wired, not because I was still on East coast time, not because I couldn’t remember how to put the booth together, but because I didn’t know anyone and was nervous. Correct that statement, I was very nervous! Yours truly, as outgoing as I am, couldn’t eat or sleep because I didn’t know what to expect at all. The only thing that saved me was a few people, like Bill Neal and Mike O’Neil, showed me the way. They explained what was going to happen, the agenda, the industry, and many other things.

Well, almost 30 years later this young nervous guy has become a research veteran (definition for old-timer) and now it is my turn to do the same in return. When I was at the conference there was a session that was titled, ‘Speed Learning.’ During the session presenters had 5 minutes, and only 5 minutes, to make their point and get off the stage. During Jacki Spear’s presentation she mentioned my name as someone who believed in her and helped her a lot in her career. She said, “He showed interest in my career, showed me the way, and promised to make me better if I paid attention.” I can’t describe how proud I was to hear those words. Yes, Jacki has a lot of talent and probably gave me a little too much credit but to know that I helped her, showed her the way, and somehow someway helped shape her future, meant a great deal to me.

If you are like myself and have gone to a lot of conferences you are a research veteran!

As such, I believe all of us can give something back to the industry and now that the young is the old we can help the new in their careers.

  • So when the MRA is looking to hook you up with a buddy at the conference please say ‘Yes!’
  • If you see someone wearing a ‘1st time attendee’ badge come up to them and show them the ropes!
  • If you see someone standing by themselves (like I was almost 30 years ago) introduce yourself and make them feel comfortable and like they belong.

Are you up for the challenge?

Any other tips or best practices you would like to share as a research veteran?

I look forward to reading your comments.

And The Moral Of The Story Is…? You Tell Me…

Monday, June 25th, 2012

I read a story (thanks Uncle J) that I thought was so interesting and impactful I would share it:

Sunday, December 7th, 1941–Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the phone. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet.

Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet.

He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat–you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war. On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked.

As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, "Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?" Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice.

Admiral Nimitz said, "The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make.” the young helmsman asked, "What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?"

Nimitz explained:

  • Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk–we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.
  • Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.
  • Mistake number three: every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make or God was taking care of America.

This story gave me reason to pause for a few minutes. A number of thoughts came to my mind. First, I never knew any of this story. To me, the meaning is no matter what you are faced with, no matter what obstacles are in front of you, no matter how bleak it looks, there is and should always be optimism! You need to stay positive, look for solutions, and motivate the team. In this situation the troops needed to carry on and make things happen.

That’s what I got out of it.

What are your thoughts?

  • Have you ever heard this story?
  • What message do you think Admiral Nimitz was trying to convey?
  • Would this have motivated you?

I look forward to reading your comments.

PS – Nimitz was a Texan!

What Do You Think Of Wal-Mart’s New Ad?

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

I was reading the Sunday paper recently and I came across a Wal-Mart ad that read:


We have the top brands and low prices.


The ad was a full page and highlighted a number of TVs and Xbox 360 consoles.

I must admit the ad made me pause for a minute to think about their opening line and strategy.


We have the top brands and low prices.


Usually I am not a fan of a company going after their competitor. I don’t really like when they mention their competition in an ad but for me what Wal-Mart did is very tastefully done and I like the ad.

It was simple, didn’t really go after Best Buy a lot, and just stated a fact – that some Best Buy stores have closed and you might be in the need of a solution that we can provide.

  • What do you think?
  • Do you like the ad and message?
  • Do you like when an ad mentions the competition?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Researchers… Any Interest In Pinterest?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Pinterest hasn’t been around that long so some of the readers of this post may not know what Pinterest is so let me start with a definition:

Pinterest is an online pinboard. Users can organize and share things you love.

Today’s question is can we use this as a new research technique? Here are three potential ways that I believe we could use Pinterest in qualitative research:

    1. It seems to me that you could use it as a way to warm-up respondents prior to a focus group.

    2. I also can see it as a follow-up after a focus group as a way to gather additional insight.

    3. In addition, I could see building a community and gathering a ton of insights from all of the respondents.

What do you think?

  • Are you using Pinterest in research projects?
  • How do you think you might use this as a research technique in the future?

I look forward to reading your comments.

This Is A Great Idea!!!!

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Let me know if this sounds familiar:

    • You are in a nice restaurant
    • It is late
    • The sun has set
    • The lights are dim
    • You forgot your reading glasses
    • and you can’t read the menu!

Well this happens to me often and recently it happened at a Florida restaurant called Oceans 234. Well this restaurant was very creative and clever. Check out the picture. On the right side is actually a small, powerful, and effective flashlight built into the menu! Yes, I said built into the menu.

What a great idea – thanks for being a problem solver!

  • What do you think of this idea?
  • Have you eaten at other restaurants that have flashlights built into the menu?
  • Any other creative ideas from restaurants to assist you in reading a menu?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Sports Fans – Are You A Fan Or Not? You Tell Me!

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Good morning. I hope you are enjoying the warm weather and the start of the summer. Today’s post is a quick and fun quiz about 6 people in sports. You will have the opportunity to tell us if you’re a fan of them or not and why.


Click here to answer, ‘Are You A Fan Or Not?’

Sorry Mom But You Don’t Understand…

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

If you are a frequent reader of the blog you know that my mom is one of the funniest people I have ever been around and frankly is hysterical! Well, a few months ago she was no different. As I was getting ready to go out to dinner with my parents and sister she saw what I was wearing and was appalled. I was wearing a Baylor S3 Board shirt, dress shoes, leather belt, and designer jeans. You are probably asking, what is wrong with the outfit and why does your mom have an issue?

The part that I left out was that the jeans were ripped. In fact, they were ripped at the knee, the pocket, and a few other spots. No huge rips but they were ripped. Here are a few of my Mom’s comments:

  • “Merrill, you look ridiculous!”
  • “You can’t possibly leave this house in that outfit!”
  • “Throw those jeans away!”

And my personal favorite:

  • “Joel, Joel!” At the top of her lungs, “do you see what your crazy son is wearing?!?”

After she caught her breathe I said, “Mom, you don’t understand. I bought these jeans this way, they are in style, and frankly I like them.” The conversation then turned into a different angle which was, “I hope you didn’t pay a lot of money for ripped jeans.” My response was, “Mom, the jeans are more expensive because of the rips.”

It was funny, cute, and a classic exchange!

  • So today I ask you to finish this sentence, “Sorry Mom, but you don’t understand__________________.”

Time to fill in the blank.

I look forward to reading your comments.

Let Me Know If This Sounds Familiar…

Monday, June 11th, 2012

It’s about 5:30 am and yours truly is jumping out of bed to start another day. This day I slept in a little because I am traveling and in a hotel.  After a quick workout and responding to a number of emails I jump in the shower. In the shower are a few (hotel provided) little bottles of shampoo and conditioner as well as a small bar of soap. Here is where the story gets a little comical. Because I am old, Ok, let me not offend anyone who might be my age, lets swap that word out for ‘experienced,’ I can’t see small print very well so I grab one of the small bottles and start to wash my hair. At this point I am happy, perhaps even humming a tune, until I start drying off and realize I didn’t shampoo my hair at all and instead only used conditioner!

Yes, you heard that right! Perhaps I am alone but I don’t use conditioner. I only use shampoo but low and behold I have now dried myself off only to realize I didn’t wash my hair and need to turn on the shower, get the temperature just right (no small feat in a hotel), and wash my hair, not again, but for the first time!

Ok, I am sure some of you are laughing while others are saying, “Hey I have done that exact same thing!”

There is so much I don’t understand and one of those things is why the small shampoo and conditioner bottles are the exact same size, color, and shape?

  • Shouldn’t all products try and differentiate themselves from one another?
  • Am I the only one that thinks that these bottles should be different?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Time To Place Your Bet…

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Last week I was reading the NY Daily News and noticed a very interesting line. For the first time ever I noticed a prop bet on a stock. Not just any stock, but Apple. The funny thing is I am very interested in this stock since I own a number of shares which I bought over 5 years ago based on the Blog Stock Challenge,

Here are the odds based on Apple’s stock price at the end of 2012:


450 or less…………………… 20-1
451-500……………………….. 15-1
501-550……………………….. 10-1
551-600……………………….. 8-1
601-650……………………….. 5-1
651-700……………………….. 3-1
701-750……………………….. 2-1
751 or more…………………. 3-2


BASED ON THE ODDS OF 3-2, the stock price will be over $751 at the end of this year.

Time to make your bet.

I look forward to reading what you think!

Have fun!

PS – This is a fake wager no money will transfer hands.