Using Our Senses – A Sensory Approach To Successful Brand and Product Development

Vivien Wilton-Middlemass, Head of Sensory Research at McCallum Layton will be presenting a paper on “Using Our Senses – A Sensory Approach To Successful Brand and Product Development” at this year’s Insight Show, which takes place between 29-30th June 2010 at (Grand Hall, Olympia, London). Vivien’s session will be held on both days at the event, and will uncover:

· How to develop a successful brand/product strategy
utilising a combined sensory and consumer research

· Explore the benefits of sensory research

· Using all our senses to create longer, stronger and more
profitable brands/products

If you would like to find out more information about this session or arrange a meeting with Vivien, please contact: John McCambley, Head of Brand Marketing & Communications on Tel: +44 (0)113 237 5590.

The Need For Continuous Insight (Special Report)

The current unrelenting economic uncertainty means that the need for continuous insight has never been more pressing. Figures for the third quarter released at the back end of last year showed that the economy contracted by 0.3%, when many pundits were expecting growth. We are experiencing the longest economic contraction in half a century and talk is now about a W-shaped recession. So, what does this have to do with market research? The answer is – everything.

Do you know how your customers are feeling as the situation drags on and on and how it will affect their future behaviour? Do you have detailed plans concerning the development of products/services that you might need to be marketing in six to twelve months time? Instead, wouldn’t it be great if you knew where your market was going and how consumers’ thoughts were being moulded on an almost daily basis? Well, you can, but not if your insight is always gleaned from looking in the rear-view mirror by, for example, undertaking tracking surveys twice yearly as opposed to more frequently. What you have to do is immerse yourself in research on an almost daily basis, formulate numerous scenarios and adapt to the changing circumstances.

Let’s take an example. The majority of the public still view financial institutions with barely disguised hostility. What will happen if bankers’ bonuses unleash another wave of public outcry? Will advertising attempting to portray banks as friends of the consumer have any traction? Furthermore, as a well trusted brand, Tesco’s entry into market could make bigger waves than many think. There is also the danger that a new bank might appear which enshrines in its ethos a sensible and well publicised wage structure for its staff. What financial institutions need is an almost constant update of their customers’ dispositions, and, based on this, a number of alternative plans ready to action when the time comes.

The above is just an example using the financial sector. Think of your own market and there probably are pressing problems which, whilst possibly present before the recession, are now being exacerbated by it; all the time this being accompanied by an accelerating change in your customers’ mind set and behaviour. When challenges do suddenly emerge from the mist you need to have plans in place so you can react immediately. Keeping ahead of the pack is not a question of spending more market research pounds but of thinking ahead and spending them more wisely.

A technique we have found to be particularly fruitful is micro-tracking. For this we recruit a small number of client customers and talk to them every week, by ‘phone, or on-line, and explore their views on what has recently happened in the news, what their family and friends are doing/feeling, how it has affected them and what effects it might have on their future behaviour. We then run larger less detailed surveys every month to check key findings.

Micro-tracking can be supplemented by the creation of an on-line forum or notice board with access provided via a link from your website. Also, look to monitor blogs about your company and your competition, continuously, not just in response to some new marketing activity. In some instances frequently reconvened focus groups provide a rich seam of information concerning the way customers’ thoughts and behaviours are being moulded by events. These techniques can also be supported by analytics to gain even more insight, for example, by the use of ‘what if?’ models and other modelling techniques such as competitor analysis.

The key is to continuously collect and use data from a variety of sources which, when analysed together, provides pointers as to the direction in which your consumers and your market is moving. This data can then be used to formulate a number of possible scenarios each with an ascribed likelihood of occurrence. Armed with this information you will be able act immediately, not six months down the line when it might be too late.

Thinking Ahead

Kate Thompson, Partner and Head of B2B Research at McCallum Layton, explains how business brands can leverage market research in order to position themselves as thought leaders

Consumer-facing organisations and their PRs have been making use of market research to promote their clients’ interests for many years. It is rare that you can open a paper without seeing statistics from ‘a recent survey’ conducted on behalf of one company or another. Whatever we may think of the findings, the fact that the client has bothered to do it says something about their commitment to their market and willingness to invest in their profile.

The large accountancy practices picked up on this marketing technique years ago, and started commissioning research studies on topical themes such as up-coming fiscal or regulatory change, to demonstrate the expertise they could offer in the field in question. Other parts of the B2B sector, though, have been slow to recognise the potential value of this approach.

As part of the marketing toolkit, issue-based or thought leadership research can be one of the most powerful ways to show you have your finger on the pulse of your market and that you have the capacity and knowledge to support existing and potential customers.

The technique is simple – find a theme of topical and relevant interest to your market, commission a research study to collect information on how this affects customers, and use the results to demonstrate your understanding of market needs, showing that customers will be better off coming to you than to your competitors. Here are some pointers to taking best advantage of this potentially valuable idea.

1. First, take your theme …
This is actually the most difficult bit, but the end result can be well worth the time taken to define what issue you can capitalise on. The theme needs to be relevant to your target market and something to which you can add value.

Consult widely in-house and talk to existing customers about what issues are taxing them at the moment and what changes are on the horizon that will affect them, then whittle these thoughts down to a topic on which you can add commentary that will strengthen your market positioning. If it’s controversial, that’s even better (provided you can believe in the stance you are likely to take on the results) – the debate can run and run, quoting your name at every turn.

2. Check what you know already
Having settled on an issue, gather whatever intelligence you already have in-house. The research study will not come free, and there is no point spending money finding out what you already knew. Identify the gaps in your knowledge that you can use the research to fill.

3. Set some time aside
It’s important to make sure you allocate enough time to plan the programme properly. This might be a good ten weeks, depending on what you decide to do.

Care also needs to be taken over the design of the research itself, and there will need to be a well thought through, co-ordinated programme of follow-up communications.

4. Two’s company?
You may want to consider partnering up with another party to undertake the research, such as a trade body, key customer/supplier, the relevant trade press etc. This could bring added credibility to the study, although you may risk losing a degree of control.

5. Don’t cut corners
Ensure that the study methodology, sample size, selection, and wording of the questions etc. will all stand up to scrutiny when you publish the results. When you put your head above the parapet, don’t give competitors or the press an excuse to take shots at your leadership position on the grounds that your study is not robust enough.

6. Think ahead
Most research studies have a finite shelf-life, particularly those designed to address a topical issue. As soon as the results are in, you will need to hit the ground running with a co-ordinated programme of marketing activity to capitalise on what you have gained. Consider how the report itself will be produced, and gear up the most appropriate person/people to add expert commentary to the findings. Draw up a plan as to who you will want to provide the report to (include all respondents who took part in the research itself – this will generate goodwill among those who have taken the time to participate). Build publication of the report into a wider campaign, perhaps including customer seminars on the issues raised, speaking slots at conferences and one-to-one meetings with customers and targets to underline your commitment to them.

Consider releasing highlights to directly relevant media if applicable, but rather than just broadcasting a press release, consider offering exclusives to certain journalists, with briefings on the findings and perhaps case studies around respondents who are prepared to go on record. This can be one of the best ways to promote your business in your target market, but only if you get the message out there effectively.

McCallum Layton Sponsor MBA Award at Bradford University School of Management

This year, for the first time, we sponsored the award for the best MBA Marketing dissertation at Bradford University School of Management, which is the 16th ranked Business School in UK (Financial Times 2009 rankings). The prize, a cheque for £100, was presented by Duncan McCallum, Founding Partner at McCallum Layton at the graduation ceremony on Wednesday 2nd December, to Andrea Musci from Milan. We are delighted to also confirm that we will be sponsoring the prize next year.

Nina Reynolds, Professor of Marketing at Bradford University School of Management said “We are delighted to have McCallum Layton support our MBA and look forward to developing our strategic partnership over the coming years.”

Fitter, Leaner Research (Greater Insight 2009)

Making your research budget stretch further in a recession is easier said than done, but by following a few simple tips, you can make your investment work harder and even enhance the insights gained.

We all know the saying ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’. Well, the same is true in getting the best from your insight – numerous small savings add up. Also, by following some simple rules you’ll find that your insight will be fitter, leaner and better directed. Let’s look at some areas where savings can be made.

Before spending any money, email work colleagues to make sure nothing similar has been recently undertaken. It’s not uncommon in companies for similar projects to be commissioned by different departments unbeknown to each other. To overcome this we have set-up client research libraries where a simple word search facility can find relevant material and avoid duplication of effort.
Consider whether data you already hold could be interrogated further to provide the required information. For example, amongst other things, analytics can be used on sales and customer data to build predictive models and segment customer types.
If you have an agency roster, halve it and give twice as much work to each agency. Fewer agencies doing more work will enable them to gain deeper knowledge of your company and markets. It will save time at briefing meetings, lead to more insightful results, and also give you the opportunity to negotiate retrospective discounts based on agreed spending levels.

Rather than giving the project go-ahead over the ‘phone, invite the agency to a meeting; use it to make sure your research is as focused as possible. Discuss potential outcomes, how they might help and to ensure that you squeeze every ounce of worth from the project.

Review the proposed methodology with a critical eye. Would telephone interviews do rather than face-to-face? Could the number of focus groups be halved if, for example, assumptions were made about the effects of limiting the locations sampled? Test these assumptions with a few telephone depths rather than convening full groups to cover every variable. Look for creative methodologies to provide the required information. At McCallum Layton we’ve developed a hybrid qual/quant methodology which runs simultaneously using the same sample; this can lead to substantial savings.

Keep questions focused and tightly worded – stick to the ‘must knows’; eliminate the ‘nice to knows’. Cutting 1 minute from a 5 minute telephone interview can save around 15% (unfortunately not 20% because of set-up costs). Also, do you really need 1,000 interviews when, in most cases, 400 is the optimum sample size. Maybe you could run a biannual tracking survey instead of quarterly one.
Look at your sample structure – the more complex the greater the cost. Do you really need a quota of left-handed grey haired grannies in Kent? Often, it’s easier and cheaper to let numbers fall out naturally and apply weightings to the final data.
If commissioning focus groups, consider whether it’s essential that you attend accompanied by numerous colleagues. Travel and accommodation expenses can be horrendous and nowadays you can view the groups on-line or download a video to your office the next day.

When it comes to the final report, just how detailed does it need to be? Naturally, a 2-3 page summary report of key issues will cost a lot less than a detailed report running to many pages. Instead of hard copies use on-line methods to circulate findings and recommendations; McCallum Layton’s Hub enables clients to log into their own secure area on our server and access a ‘library’ containing virtually everything to do with their project from questionnaire design to data tables. There is even a tool that enables clients to further analyse their data and design their own charts.

The above are just a few pointers, there are many more but unfortunately space constraints prevent me from detailing any more. However, I will end with a few last words of advice; don’t confuse stretching your budget with purchasing cheap research, if you look for cheap research that’s exactly what you’ll get.

Official Sponsor of Insight Show 2009

Following on from the success of our sponsorship last year, we are pleased to announce that we are, once again, going to be the official sponsor of this year’s Insight Show (Part of Marketing Week Live). The Insight Show is Europe”s largest research exhibition and is a must attend exhibition and conference for anyone who is a buyer, user and commissioner of market research. The Insight Show is the only event supported by all major trade associations – MRS, AURA, AIMRI and ICG. The event will be hosted at Grand Hall Olympia, London between 30th June and 1st July 2009.

Marketing Week Live brings together four dedicated marketing shows and the event is the first in the UK to integrate multiple marketing disciplines providing the nation’s marketing community with a single destination event for online marketing, data marketing, research and in-store marketing activity.

If you have a brief that you would like us to have a closer look at, please visit us on stand D141.

To find out more about our involvement, please contact John McCambley, Head of Brand Marketing & Communications on:

Tel: +44 (0)113 237 5590

Centre stage at “Esomar – Fragrance 09”

Vivien Wilton-Middlemass, Head of Sensory Research takes to the stage at Esomar’s annual Fragrance conference which is being held in Cannes, France between 22nd and 24th June.

Vivien’s session will show how through applying a multi staged approach of combined sensory and consumer research techniques we can identify and develop the best sensory stimuli suited to developing a successful branding strategy.
To find out more about our involvement, please contact John McCambley, Head of Brand Marketing & Communications on:

Tel: +44 (0)113 237 5590

Developing The Business Travel Market For Think Apartments (Case Study)

Business Issue
Sunlight Apartments approached McCallum Layton in early 2008 with an ambitious aim – to be the UK’s premier provider of serviced apartments by 2010. Their serviced apartments are designed to offer business and leisure travellers a stylish, comfortable, fully furnished alternative to staying in hotels, for stays from 1 day to 1 year, and at a price which can compete with hotel room rates.

Research was needed to feed into all areas of their strategy – marketing activities, ‘product’ provision, operations and the
re-branding of the company. Strategically, refreshing the brand and growing their revenue from the business travel market were priorities but, to do this effectively, the team at Sunlight Apartments (now Think Apartments) first needed to better understand the market – what customers want, how they buy, how to target them and, critically, how they could be motivated to consider serviced apartments as a viable alternative to hotels.

Our Approach
It was critical for the Marketing Team that the research should provide some hard figures upon which they could forecast sales and target their activities, so we carried out initial desk research, sourcing data which allowed them to build up a profile of business travellers. The challenge was then to understand the needs of three key client groups – Travel Management Companies (who source and book accommodation on behalf of corporate clients), aggregators (third-party distributors) and corporate travel buyers.

The qualitative research that followed was challenging from the outset, not only in terms of tracking down business buyers of corporate travel (who hold myriad different roles within different companies) but in persuading corporate contacts to give up precious time to share information and opinions.

Based on our research findings, Sunlight Apartments was
re-branded to Think Apartments and was successfully launched.

Insights from the research have been influential in guiding the design of new marketing materials, as well as helping to focus the design of the apartments themselves. Location, for example, was found to be the key criteria for corporate travel buyers when choosing accommodation. In response to this, Think Apartments’ advertising showcases breathtaking aerial shots of London, highlighting the close proximity of the apartments to some of London’s most visited areas, and has already helped their business grow by 14% in 2008 with pre-bookings for 2009 already at 70% of 2008 annual levels (as of February 2009).

Stewart Moore, Group Marketing Director at Think Apartments says: “Following the research, we were able to more accurately identify key targets and adjust the message within the exhibition space which has already helped drive very strong pre-bookings for 2009 and ahead of expectations especially given the current economic climate.”

To find out more about Think Apartments, visit: