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Ideas, insights and inspiration

Find valuable insights, knowledge, and inspiration for your business in our selected articles. Explore practical tips from our team of experts and fuel your company's growth.

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min. read

Pricing 360°: How understanding consumers’ perception of your brand is key to making better pricing decisions

In today's competitive landscape, businesses must leverage strategic consulting rooted in data to achieve unparalleled growth and maximize profitability. At boobook, we believe that success hinges on four interconnected pillars: brand, product, pricing, and customer/consumer. By understanding and optimizing these fundamental elements, we guide businesses toward excellence and sustainable growth. In this article, we'll discuss the connection between brand understanding and pricing strategy.

How can businesses achieve unparalleled growth and maximize profitability in today's competitive landscape? At boobook, we believe the answer lies in our data-powered strategic consulting, anchored firmly on four interconnected pillars: brand, product, pricing, and customer/consumer. By understanding and leveraging these fundamental elements, we guide businesses toward excellence and sustainable growth.

In the coming weeks, we're excited to share a series of articles focusing on these pivotal pillars, more specifically on how strategic price setting is driven by the other 3 pillars. This insight is crucial in an era where gaining a competitive edge is not just beneficial but necessary for survival and success. Understanding the intricate relationship between these pillars enables businesses to boost growth and ensure maximum profitability effectively.

Kicking off our "Pricing 360" series, we begin with a topic at the heart of product success or failure in the market: Brand perception. The way consumers perceive your brand has a profound impact on their purchasing decisions, a fact no business can afford to overlook. We will demonstrate how a deep, nuanced understanding of your brand, seen through the eyes of your consumers, can empower you to make pricing decisions that not only resonate with your target audience but also drive growth and success.

Why having a clear view of your brand perception matters

The equilibrium between brand perception and pricing decisions is crucial for businesses striving for strategic growth and a stable market position. It involves a complex analysis of supply and demand economics combined with brand psychology. Contrary to common belief, a high price doesn't always signify premium value, and a lower price doesn't necessarily mean affordability. To truly enhance pricing strategies, understanding the signals your brand sends out in the market is essential.

Pricing strategy involves setting the optimal price for your products or services to maximise revenue or profitability and achieve business objectives - without pricing your brand/products out of the market or course. Pricing decisions will significantly impact sales volume, but also market positioning, and, indirectly, brand perception. The right pricing strategy can also help you attract (new) customers or maintain competitiveness.

So, what is the connection between these two essential components of your overall marketing strategy, and why should you align them? Brand understanding and aligning your pricing strategy with your desired brand positioning is essential because it helps you to create a consistent and coherent brand experience for your customers. When you achieve an accurate and positive customer brand perception, this, in turn, enhances their trust and loyalty, which is translated into increased sales and profitability.

When companies benefit from brand understanding

Here’s an overview of when and why companies will benefit from understanding how the market perceives their brand.    

  • Linking pricing to brand positioning: Understanding how customers/consumers perceive your brand helps you identify and define your brand's unique position in the market. It allows you to understand how customers perceive your brand, and it enables you to identify the key differentiators that set your brand apart so you can create a compelling value proposition. This, in turn, influences pricing decisions. If your brand is perceived as offering unique benefits or solving specific customer problems, customers may be willing to pay a premium price. For example, if your brand is associated with high-quality and premium features, you can set a higher price point to reflect that perception. On the other hand, if your brand is positioned as affordable and value-driven, a lower price point may be more suitable.
  • Launching a new product or service: Brand perception analysis is extremely valuable when developing or launching new products, product features, services or even (sub)-brands.
    It helps companies understand customers’ expectations, motivations, or feelings towards your brand. By mapping the target market's perception of your brand as well as your competitive landscape, companies can make strategic decisions to extend their offer purposefully and successfully.
  • Rebranding/repositioning: When a company undergoes rebranding or decides to reposition its brand in the market, brand perception analysis becomes essential. It allows companies to assess their current brand identity and their brand DNA and identify gaps or opportunities for improvement. Companies can strategically plan and execute their rebranding efforts by understanding how the brand is currently perceived vs. how it should be perceived.
  • Competitive analysis: Brand understanding is an excellent approach to conducting competitive analysis. By mapping competitors' perceptions and positioning, companies can identify opportunities for “the blind spots in the market” and build further on their strengths and weaknesses. This analysis provides the foundations for developing effective strategies to gain a competitive advantage and stand out in the market.
  • Marketing and communication: Developing effective marketing and communication strategies isn’t the easiest task. However, with brand perception analysis, companies can better understand how their brand characteristics align with customer needs and expectations. By leveraging these insights, companies can create targeted marketing that resonates with their key audience, increasing brand awareness and customer engagement.

How to measure and understand brand perception

There are different ways to capture the market's view of your brand and your competitors. Note that the view of competitor brands is critical in this exercise, as a brand is always perceived in comparison to other brands.  

One view might be to look at sales. Who sells most and least, especially how the volume changes when a brand is on promotion, as promos tend to be less necessary for more premium / high-quality brands. However, we know that sales (even promo sales) will only give a limited view of how brands are perceived.  

Another possibility is to collect brand perception views from the sales team, as they are often the closest to the market. However, these views might be biased towards specific customers or retailers.  

The best option is to talk directly to the consumers to get their view on how they perceive different brands—brands they either bought or are aware of. I.e. Which brands do they associate with high quality, reliability, trendy, premium, fun, innovative, mainstream, etc.? Alternatively, some of these perceptions can also be captured through social media analysis.  

Typically, the outcome of such an exercise is presented in a two-dimensional map called a "brand image map". It visually shows which characteristics brands are associated with and in which competitive space they sit, i.e., who the main competitors are from a brand image perspective.  

A close-up of a diagramDescription automatically generated

Ideally, a brand sits in white space, meaning competitors do not closely surround it and are away from the middle. The more a brand sits in the middle, the more its image is less distinct.  

Depending on the brand's goals, its desired brand image will differ. Value-driven brands strive to be considered premium and exclusive, while volume-driven brands will be closer to the mainstream.


In conclusion

Brand perception analysis is a vital tool for your branding and pricing strategy. When used effectively and complemented with other types of insights it can support businesses in strategic decision-making and help build strong brands.

Brand image analysis and pricing strategy are clearly intertwined in building a successful brand. By understanding the perception of your brand and its unique value proposition, i.e. your brand identity, you can effectively align your pricing strategy to maximise profitability and achieve your business objectives.  

Combining the insights gained from a brand image map with a landscaping exercise on current competitive pricing will further help you establish the optimal price (as in a price in line with the market) for your products or services, ensuring that you attract the right customers and drive long-term success.  

If you need to optimise your brand positioning and pricing strategy, get in touch! Our team is here to assist you in developing your ideal pricing strategy.

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min. read

Demystifying AI: How to use (and not use) artificial intelligence for insights creation and strategic consultancy

Artificial intelligence has pervaded every aspect of our lives, driven in large part by the remarkable popularity of generative AI applications. Among these, ChatGPT stands out as the app that boasts the most rapidly expanding user base in history, sparking extensive discussions around the boundless possibilities and future potential of this cutting-edge technology. Naturally, with such fervour comes a fair share of misconceptions and misinformation circulating.  

In his influential 2004 paper, John McCarthy defines artificial intelligence (AI) as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable." The goal of AI is to develop a machine that can think like humans and mimic human behaviours. But let's debunk the myth right here - AI isn't a looming menace ready to overthrow the industry (or take over our jobs) - no matter what the media is trying to tell you. Instead, it's a game-changer, a potent tool reshaping our sector in ways we could barely have imagined a few years ago. ChatGPT, or more broadly, Large Language AI Models (LLMs), have become ubiquitous in our lives. LLM (Large Language Modelling) is an AI technology that efficiently processes and condenses vast amounts of information. LLM excels in tasks such as summarising and creating analytical models, but it does not possess the ability to think or discern between good and bad, it doesn't make any judgment, nor can it validate what it creates. Hence, human supervision is necessary to evaluate the accuracy and significance of the AI-generated output.

Imagine AI as an e-bike for your brain. It equips you to go further, quicker, and with less effort. However, just as the cyclist needs to pedal to propel the bike forward, human intervention is indispensable for AI to perform at its best.  

However, AI does come with its share of shortcomings. While AI has groundbreaking potential to overhaul the way we work, it is not designed to replace human intellect but to augment it and help us be better at what we do. While it's great at crunching colossal volumes of data, businesses need clear and actionable strategic advice, not basic data digests. Moreover, AI falls short when grasping sarcasm, irony, and other nuanced linguistic expressions. In such instances, humans still need to peruse the text to decipher the intricate layers of communication. Emotional interpretation, negotiations, imagination, and vision of the future are still strong qualities of humans, underlining the irreplaceable role of human understanding and contextual interpretation in harnessing the full power of AI.

Impact of AI on insights and analytics

Here at boobook, exploring new methodologies and learning about innovative technologies has always been in our DNA. Over the last year, we’ve been exploring working with AI, and we believe it offers great assistance in the process of gathering, creating, and presenting insights.  

One of the biggest advantages of AI is that it revolutionises the data analysis process by eliminating the risk of human error and bias. Additionally, AI automates the time-consuming tasks of data cleaning and preprocessing, freeing up valuable resources.

AI can greatly assist the industry in multiple ways:

1. Efficiency Increase

By harnessing the power of AI-powered algorithms, organisations can analyse vast amounts of data faster and more accurately than ever before. This capability reveals hidden patterns, trends, and correlations, providing invaluable insights and expanding organisations’ research capabilities in several groundbreaking ways. Let’s take a look at its various applications:  

  • Predictive analytics leverages AI algorithms to forecast market trends, consumer behaviour, and product demand.  
  • Natural language processing (NLP) algorithms can quickly analyse qualitative information from sources such as focus group transcripts, survey responses, social media posts, reviews, etc.  
  • Sentiment analysis enables a nuanced understanding of public sentiment toward products or brands by analysing online content, social media, and customer feedback.  
  • Price optimisation, on the other hand, uses AI algorithms to analyse pricing dynamics, competitor strategies, and market conditions.  
  • Another critical application of AI in data analysis is demand forecasting. By analysing historical data and external factors, AI models facilitate accurate predictions of future demand patterns for products or services.  
  • Additionally, AI aids in fraud detection by identifying anomalous patterns in transactions and user behaviour, enhancing risk management, and ensuring the integrity of research-related financial processes.  
  • AI also enables 24/7 focus groups and interactive questionnaires, allowing businesses to gather real-time insights and feedback from their target audience.
  • Furthermore, chatbots powered by AI technology provide instant and personalised support to customers, enhancing their experience and streamlining communication.
  • The capabilities of AI extend beyond text-based data analysis. Image and video analytics have become increasingly sophisticated, enabling businesses to extract insights from visual content such as images and videos.  

2. Inspiration

AI has the potential to inspire innovation and creativity within the industry. It can generate fresh ideas, identify emerging trends, and offer novel perspectives that fuel growth and progress. For example, you can use AI tool to add value for more profound segmentation. By asking questions such as “Who is your ideal customer?” and “How is your ideal customer feeling?” you can get interesting output when consulting on how to connect with that segment.  

3. Summarization

AI-powered systems excel at generating accurate and concise summaries of large volumes of information. This capability saves time and effort by distilling complex content into easily digestible formats. Numerous tools are available to help you efficiently grasp the core message of any text, but it’s crucial to prioritize the use of closed-loop mode apps to guarantee data confidentiality.

The future-proof MI professionals: Embracing opportunities & acquiring relevant skills

​​The adoption of AI is bound to open up new opportunities for professionals in all industries, and experts in the insights industry also have to rethink how they allocate their time and the skills needed for success. With AI taking care of routine and repetitive tasks, professionals can dedicate their time to interpreting data and extracting meaningful insights with confidence.  

Additionally, AI can also be a valuable tool that allows more coaching and enablement. By automating specific processes, professionals can devote more time to mentoring junior team members and nurturing their growth. This shift allows for a more strategic approach, where professionals can focus on driving innovation and strategic initiatives instead of being weighed down by mundane tasks.

Furthermore, the integration of AI reduces the technical benchmark required for entry-level professionals. With AI handling tasks that traditionally demanded hard technical expertise, junior profiles can contribute more effectively to data analysis and insights creation.  

Even though the benefits of AI are straightforward, professionals are concerned that their jobs are at risk of being replaced. However, it's not actually AI itself that poses a threat, but rather those who are adept at utilising it. Let's discuss new strategies and essential skills that will help future-proof MI (Market Intelligence) professionals to ensure their continued relevance and success:

  1. Embrace and engage: Rather than fearing the rise of AI, MI professionals should embrace it as a valuable tool in their arsenal. Learning about AI algorithms, machine learning, and data analytics will broaden your skill set and enhance your ability to work effectively with AI tools.
  1. Prompt engineering: One of the critical skills for a future-proof insights professional is the ability to ask the right questions to an AI-using machine. AI can provide vast amounts of data, but it's up to humans to determine which questions to ask to extract meaningful and actionable insights.
  1. Insights / Consultancy / Storytelling: At Boobook, we understand the power of storytelling, as we know this is an essential tool to bridge the gap between raw data and strategic, meaningful decision-making. By conveying information concisely and engagingly, insights professionals can demonstrate their value and assist organisations in making effective choices.
  1. Advising on AI adoption: By understanding the capabilities and limitations of AI, MI professionals can guide, inform and give the needed nuance to decision-makers on how to use AI tools effectively. This includes identifying the right AI solutions, evaluating their potential impact, knowing their strengths and weaknesses, and meeting ethical considerations.
  1. Be extra critical of information sources & validation: AI is only as good as the data it is fed, so ensuring accurate and trustworthy information is mandatory. MI professionals should meticulously cross-reference multiple sources, verify the credentials of their data providers, and analyse the validation methods used.
  1. Prioritise and validate: Typically, AI splits out way too much information without stressing and prioritising insights. Not all data is equally valuable, and not all insights are similarly relevant. By identifying and prioritising the most critical data points and insights, you can save time and resources while maximising the impact of your analysis.
  1. Make insights actionable: MI professionals should be experts in data analysis and possess a strong sense of business acumen. By interpreting data in the context of the organisation's goals and challenges, you can effectively communicate the implications and recommendations to decision-makers.  
  1. Specialise: By deepening your knowledge and understanding in a particular niche, you can position yourself as a valuable and sought-after expert, with AI assisting you in that particular niche.

Unlocking the potential of AI in the insights industry

This year, generative AI has quickly gained momentum, leaving many people feeling challenged to keep pace. Ever since ChatGPT burst onto the scene in November 2022, it has been the talk of the town, attracting businesses eager to seize its immense value. The innovation adoption curve of AI may have had a slow start, it’s growing rapidly, and we are seeing new and exciting applications of it every day. This fast change is not easy to grasp, and for some, it might be just a bit overwhelming. However, it’s important we don’t see AI as a threat but as a liberating force for the industry. It's high time we realise that AI is not designed to replace human intellect but to augment it and help us be better at what we do. By dispelling fears, embracing opportunities, and leveraging AI for insights creation, professionals can unlock the full potential of AI and drive innovation in their fields.  

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min. read

Crafting a successful pricing strategy: Where strategy and consumer insights meet

Pricing products and services is one of the most complicated aspects of any product or marketing strategy. It has a direct effect on sales, revenue, and profit. Furthermore, understanding how price impacts brand perception and vice versa is another important consideration. While it’s important not to price too low (which could lead to long-term issues in achieving business goals), pricing too high might limit the trial use of products – leaving companies with limited volume growth potential down the road.  Finally, achieving equilibrium between marketing and sales teams which typically have different goals when evaluating pricing plans, is also vital for success.

Three approaches to price setting

There are many different ways of deciding how to price a product, but broadly speaking, there are three approaches, each with pros and cons.

- Cost plus pricing: Internal focus

Cost-plus pricing involves calculating total production costs (including materials, labour, and overhead) and adding a markup for profit. To use this method, you must identify production costs and analyse market factors to determine an appropriate markup. Cost-plus is well-known and reliable, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect the value of the product/brand to the consumer. This could lead to missing out on high-value sales, i.e. leaving money on the table.  On the other hand, if too much profit is accounted for in the cost-plus approach, anticipated sales could be misjudged.

- Competitive-based pricing: Competitive focus

Competitive-based pricing is a model where other businesses heavily influence your price points in the same market. This outward-facing approach differs from cost-plus pricing, which looks at your costs. It’s a popular option as it feels like the ‘least risk’ approach. It definitely has its advantages as competitors are an important factor for any setting prices.  It is typically used by ‘price followers’.

- Value-based pricing: Customer/consumer focus

This approach considers perceived value rather than cost or market competition to set price points. It depends on customers' needs and desires, as well as their willingness to pay. People don't think about a product's cost to produce but what value it gives them. Consider handbags, shoes, perfumes, or brands such as Apple, Nike and Starbucks; customers are willing to pay more as they attach high value to these. The cost of these products is often only a fraction of the retail price. This method helps identify a brand/product's pricing power and value. The stronger the brand, the higher the pricing power and prices, and products with a lot of price power are less influenced by inflation.

So, what would be the best pricing approach? 

Unsurprisingly, value-based pricing has the most potential to create a successful long-term strategy. However, costs also need to be taken into account, as any price should result in profit, and keeping an eye on what competitors do is a no-brainer too. We recommend a combination of the three with value-based pricing as the foundation.

5 steps to successful pricing

1. Use the overall company strategy as the goal for pricing

Should your organization win on volume, revenue and profit margin? Winning all three is usually impossible since each requires a different pricing approach. For example, focusing on volume often means lower pricing for less premium products, while profit margin goals require higher pricing.

2. Decide on being a price setter or follower, and act accordingly

Achieving the status of price leader requires dominance in the market, strong branding, or a superior product. Market size is not always a reliable indicator of price leadership, nor is brand prestige. Carefully choose your strategy and maintain consistency in your channel partnerships and marketing communication.

3. Look beyond the price and the business KPIs

The company strategy and the vision is the starting point of any price setting; however, there are other key factors which contribute to the success: (1) your brand, (2) your product/service and (3) the consumers/customers.

Companies often assume adjusting the price will improve sales, revenue, and profits, but it is not the only factor of success. Brand recognition, product quality, and the target audience’s ability and willingness to pay are all key components that should be considered – in some cases, more so than the price.

4. Listen to the customers/consumers

Analysing consumer feedback should guide any pricing strategy. Digging deeper to understand how consumers perceive your brand/product, if it meets their needs, and the value it brings are essential questions to answer. It will tell you, e.g. if your brand is strong enough to sustain a 10% price increase.

5. Educate and create a win-win situation for the different players in the sales channel

Price changes often require approval from multiple levels between the manufacturer and shopper, such as wholesale, distributors, retail, installers, etc. Without approval, there’s a risk of delisting, reduced visibility, and weaker negotiation power. Showing your understanding of consumer needs and what they are willing to pay is key to establishing trusted long-term relationships with sales partners.

Next up

In the following weeks, we’ll share with you more on each of the above 5 aspects and how to choose the best pricing techniques and tools for your business. 

In the meantime, if you need help optimising your brand's portfolio pricing, get in touch with us. Our team is here to assist you in developing your ideal pricing strategy.

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min. read

How businesses & customers impact each other to make more sustainable choices

Recently, I had an opportunity to participate in “Meaningful Marketing Talks” hosted by BAM. This engaging event was dedicated to “New Humanity Codes”, where marketers tried to define and improve how businesses connect and engage with the environment and customers. These codes of the “New Humanity” were presented by 5 BAM Think Tanks: Sustainability, Well-being, Inclusion and Diversity, Information and communication technologies (MarTech) and Ethics. 

My keynote was focused on sustainability, and specifically on climate & environment. As an insights consultant, I often interview consumers about their views on sustainability. This time, I had the chance to hear from the companies themselves. I interviewed ten companies on how customers influence their sustainability agenda and the difficulties they face implementing it. I’ve learned that businesses can be segmented based on where they are in their sustainability journey, but ultimately, all organizations face the same challenges.  

Big differences in where a company sits in the sustainability journey 

From my conversations with ten companies across different industries (B2C & B2B, Belgian & international, production companies, services companies, and reseller companies), I've noticed that sustainability is not a priority for all companies. In fact, I could place them along a Cost-Value axis, from 'No priority yet' to 'Philosophy driven', with multiple steps in between. Companies on the left side of the axis, the Cost-side, treat sustainable compliance as a cost, mostly driven by a need to comply with government regulations. Companies on the right side of the axis, the Value-side, tend to go beyond what is required by legislation. This is the case for marketing-driven and philosophy-driven companies, for which sustainable practices represent opportunities to create more value. 

All parties play a role in saving the world 

Where companies sit on the Cost-Value axis depends greatly on the kinds of interactions that they have, with company-customer interaction only forming one part of the picture. Indeed, everyone plays a role in saving the world. From my interviews, it became very quickly evident that governments and their regulations play a crucial role in driving sustainable choices by companies. European regulations, as well as international guidelines and standards, can impact the entire value chain of a business, even if it's a non-European company. Next to that, companies themselves impact other companies, and legislation makes the competition fairer between companies, ensuring that all businesses have the same standards to follow. Also, investors and shareholders play an important role, with more and more investors preferring to invest in sustainable companies. Finally, perhaps surprisingly, employees can also be a driving force behind sustainability initiatives.  

When it comes to consumers, it's important to note that the role of the customer in influencing companies varies depending on the company's sector, type of product or service, and specific circumstances. Some companies aren’t impacted by customers’ attitudes towards sustainability, while others may be heavily influenced by the general desire of consumers to make good decisions.  

All of these interactions, and their relative importance to different companies in different sectors, influence where a company sits in their sustainability journey. Despite these significant differences, I identified some common themes across my interviews. 

The 5 common themes are as follows: 

  1. It's not about gaining anymore; it's about not losing. Today, sustainability is a hygiene factor instead of a differentiator. Even the least advanced companies on their sustainability journey know that to compete, they must be sustainable. 
  1. Money counts for everyone: there's friction between sustainability and affordability. This is not only the case for the customers but also for the companies. 
  1. Too little communication: companies need to communicate more about their sustainability efforts. Having a few lines on their website isn't sufficient.
  1. Lack of clarity: there are so many different kinds of labels, and nobody knows what anything means anymore. This allows greenwashing to reign free or companies to use their own labels. Meanwhile, consumers are becoming more sensitive to greenwashing and are demanding more transparency and accountability from companies, creating a sustainability trust gap. This trust gap can have an impact on a company's brand reputation and overall success. 
  1. The truth is already obsolete: frequent changes in regulation make it very hard for companies to plan ahead or communicate their sustainability practices to consumers. 

Businesses and customers are in this together 

Sustainability is a tricky and ever-changing topic that presents challenges for companies. My research suggests that companies should carefully assess their current position in their sustainability journey and their desired destination. To succeed with a sustainable strategy, companies need to smartly navigate sustainability and affordability, be bold in surpassing existing regulations, and take small steps towards more sustainability whenever possible. 

Effective communication is crucial as well. Companies must clearly and openly communicate their unique selling points and sustainability efforts in their marketing communications. They should also use reliable labels and standards that consumers can trust for clarity. Additionally, companies can leverage social media and QR codes to enhance transparency and engage consumers in sustainable choices. 

By integrating sustainable practices into their strategies and communicating transparently with consumers, companies can create value and establish trust with customers who increasingly prioritize sustainable products and services. Sustainability is a collective effort involving companies, governments, customers, and stakeholders. Despite the challenges, embracing sustainability is a necessity. 

Want to know more about this topic? Reach out to us! 

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min. read

Understanding value-based pricing: advantages, benefits, and misconceptions

In one of our previous articles, we gave an overview of different pricing methods and shared tips from our long experience helping international companies set up their winning pricing strategies. To freshen up your memory, there are three key approaches: cost-plus pricing, competitive pricing, and lastly, value-based pricing, which we'll talk about in more detail in this article.  

It's no secret that many business owners struggle to price their products or services. Determining the right price point can be challenging, especially when you have to consider factors like competition, production costs, and target consumers. In recent years, pricing experts (including our team) have been advocating for value-based pricing, and for a good reason, as it can help businesses become and remain both competitive and profitable.  

Let's first determine what value-based pricing is. Value-based pricing is based on a consumer's perceived product or service value. Rather than focusing on the overall market price, competitor pricing, or the cost of raw materials, the value-based pricing method focuses on a customer's willingness to pay. Companies operating on a value-based pricing model can effectively increase profits, improve brand loyalty, strengthen brand equity and attract new customers for quality products.

Understanding value-based pricing 

Pricing can be a tricky game, especially when it comes to products that bring out customers' inner diva, thrill-seeker, or adventurer. We're talking about items that make people feel good about themselves or give them unforgettable experiences. That's when perceived value comes into play, determining how much a customer places worth on a product and ultimately affecting its price tag.

Value-based pricing is all about standing out from the competition. Your product must be designed with the customer's wants and needs in mind, offering improvements and added features they'll love. And let's not forget: quality is king when aiming for this pricing strategy. So if you're looking to add value to your product, you need to keep an open dialogue with your customers. By actively seeking feedback from customers, companies can learn what features customers want in their products and how much they're willing to pay for them.  

Advantages and benefits value-based pricing brings 

Value-based pricing isn't just about charging the most you can for a product. It's a strategic approach that not only maximises profits but also builds loyal customers and a strong brand. By understanding what customers truly value in a product, a business can design future innovations that better meet their needs. This approach doesn't just lead to higher price points and increased customer satisfaction, and a willingness to pay more for products they genuinely love.

Let's discuss in more detail the many benefits of value-based pricing: 

  • Increased profitability

Value-based pricing can be a game-changer for business owners looking to boost their profits. By valuing your product or service based on how your customers perceive its worth, you can often command a higher price and benefit from a larger profit margin than a cost-plus strategy. It's all about cleverly pricing your product based on its value to the proverbial table while still keeping an eye on the competition. This way, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: increased profits and happy customers. 

  • Improved customer satisfaction

By adopting value-based pricing strategies, you can gain a deeper understanding of your customer's unique tastes and interests. This invaluable insight enables companies to tailor their pricing plans to suit different customer segments better, ultimately leading to heightened satisfaction and loyalty. By emphasising the value they bring to the table, businesses can justify charging a higher price point to customers who appreciate their brand's unique advantages. Ultimately, value-based pricing empowers businesses to understand better and meet the needs of their customers, leading to long-term success and profitability.

  • Competitive advantage

Value-based pricing is not just about charging higher prices for your products or services. It's about effectively communicating the value you bring and using that as a competitive advantage. When you differentiate yourself from your competitors in this way, your customers start to see you as a unique option in the marketplace. It's not just about the price tag - it's about the value that you offer. So if you're looking to establish yourself as a top contender in your industry, value-based pricing could be the key to standing out in a crowded market. 

  • Flexible pricing

Value-based pricing is a smart move for businesses looking to adapt to the constantly shifting market landscape. With this approach, pricing isn't set in stone but rather adjusts based on trends, customer preferences, and the unique selling situation. It's more than just factoring in production costs, giving businesses the power to make informed decisions about pricing adjustments that keep profitability on track.  

Misconceptions and disadvantages of value-based pricing 

Value-based pricing is very widespread, but there are still misconceptions about this practice, such as: 

  • Myth nr.1: Value-based pricing guarantees sales success

Despite careful calculations and thoughtful considerations, value-based pricing is not always a guaranteed road to success. In fact, there are three reasons for this:  

(1) competition: even if you offer more value than the competition, if they have a very aggressive pricing strategy, it could affect your strategy.

(2) the cost: even though value-based pricing is better than cost-plus, costs should always to be considered. If the value-based pricing is lower than cost-plus, then it shows a weak brand.

(3) retailers/distributors: the resellers might not follow your pricing guidelines, meaning their prices might not be aligned with what you recommend.  

In short, value-based pricing is not a standalone method or view. It needs to go hand-in-hand with cost analysis, competitor intelligence and building strong retail/distributor relationships.

  • Myth nr. 2: Value-based pricing means companies have to consider every single feature of a product

Value-based pricing is often considered a tedious process of evaluating every aspect of a product and assigning a price to each. However, that's not the case. Instead, customers and consumers don't necessarily evaluate pricing in such detail, as they usually pay attention to aspects that matter the most to them.  

  • Myth nr. 3: Value-based pricing is about linking the price to product benefits or quality

This statement is only partially true, as a brand is a big factor. Evaluating the worth of a brand can be quite a conundrum, especially when trying to compare it to competitors with distinguishable product features. Assigning a value to a faster, more durable, or longer-lasting product is a no-brainer. However, when it comes to brand recognition and reputation, it's not as cut and dry. That's why "branding" is so important and why value-based pricing is much more than paying for product benefits. You often value the brand and trust that its product or service comes with the right features. Differentiating based on brand alone can be tricky, leaving much room for subjectivity and debate.

Aside from the misconceptions mentioned above, it's important to emphasise that every pricing method can be high-risk and costly. The same applies to a value-based method.

Here are the four most common challenges to consider before adopting the value-based model:

1. Positioning in a crowded market

Standing out with value-based pricing can be challenging in a sea of competitors. The more crowded the market, the harder it is to convince customers that your product is worth paying more for. Here's where branding comes in again. The stronger your brand is, the more you can stand out. If you don't have a strong brand to begin with, value-based pricing will be difficult.

2. The shifting sands of perceived value

The value your customers place on your product can be a moving target. Trends and tastes shift over time, so if you set your value-based pricing once, it doesn't necessarily mean it will stay relevant forever. You should review your pricing strategy on a regular basis, especially if you know that customer values change fast. 

3. The price is (not so) simple

Setting the right price for your product requires in-depth knowledge of your target market. To truly understand what your customers value, you'll need to invest time and resources into gathering valuable data. But the payoff of an effective value-based pricing strategy can be well worth the effort. 

4. Selling in markets where products are very cost-driven

Value-based pricing rarely works well in markets where people are looking for the lowest price, for example, when buying basic products. Often this strategy is designed to attract a specific segment of customers.

The bottom line 

In conclusion, value-based pricing is an excellent strategy that allows businesses to maximise profitability while ensuring customer satisfaction. Value-based pricing incorporates information about the value customers perceive from a brand, product, its features, and related services. By implementing a value-based pricing strategy, you can differentiate your brand from your competition while ensuring greater customer satisfaction, thus driving profitability. However, the mandatory element to successful pricing lies in extensive customer understanding, suitable strategy, and alignment with all the stakeholders.  

In the following weeks, we'll continue to share more details on value-based pricing and the connection with customer understanding.  

In the meantime, if you need help optimising your brand's portfolio pricing, get in touch with us. Our team is here to assist you in developing your ideal pricing strategy. 

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ESOMAR Survey-Based Techniques for Optimizing Prices and Products: Overview and Best Practices

Are you curious about what customers want and what they're willing to pay? So are we. Actually, that is the most frequently asked question here at boobook so it’s crucial we keep learning to stay on top of all the pricing techniques and methodologies.

This January, I participated in the ESOMAR Training on Survey-Based Techniques for Optimising Prices and Products. Organised in collaboration with MRII, a non-profit educational institute linked with the University of Georgia, teaching professionals of the industry conducting effective and robust market research, the training was the first of the 2023 series. Two speakers, Ed Keller, executive director of MRII (Market Research Institute International) and Brian Orme, CEO of Sawtooth Software, an expert on Conjoint Analysis, shared their insights on how to optimise the pricing of your product or service.

Conjoint analysis

Conjoint analysis is the gold standard survey-based technique for uncovering valuable insights. While Sawtooth Software is a celebrated industry leader in Conjoint & Max Diff, there are also other techniques we'll explore in this overview. Qualitative research plays a key role in laying the foundation for successful quantitative surveys. And with Sawtooth Software's consulting division and survey business, you can trust you're in good hands for all your research needs. It's no wonder they've thrived for 40 years!


If you use a five-point or a ten-point scale, you'll get a lot of high-level numbers, making it hard to distinguish what is essential and what is not. You'll get a lot of straight-lining. There's another problem: cultural scale use bias. Different people use scales differently. This bias is very different across other countries. For example, respondents in Germany score lower on average than respondents from India.

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Let's imagine that there are three different groups of people. One group wants to use ratings 5-10, the second want to use 3-8 and the third group uses 1-6. When I plot them between one item on my rating grid, then you'll get an artificial correlation of 46.


This makes it look like everything is related to everything else or drives everything else. Suppose you try to drive multi-variant statistical techniques to tease out the separate effects of things, like through regression; this artificial correlation will give you a lot of problems. This is why in conjoint, we don't use a typical 5 or 10-point scale.


With Conjoint, we are not just testing one thing at a time, e.g., A/B testing. We can vary the features and prices and test hundreds or thousands of realistic-looking products or pricing combinations. It's not A/B testing; it's A to a gazillion testing.


Conjoint is a survey-based technique to optimise features or pricing. We will show people realistic buying scenarios and ask them what they would choose each time.

See the example below: 

Graphical user interface, tableDescription automatically generated with medium confidence

We are studying different attributes and features, and we are varying them across each choice task. Each choice task has the same format (see 1 & 2 below), but the features and prices vary each time. When we vary the features independently such that each feature is shown an equal number of times and each feature is shown with another feature an equal number of times, we have a fair and balanced experiment which allows us to tease out what is driving people's preferences. No need to ask them how important is colour or price to them. We are replicating the real world to them and understanding what is going on in their heads. We don't let the respondent get lazy; they can't just respond 5 – 5 – 5, like on a 5-point scale. There is also a "no" option, so they can choose to walk away from all possibilities.

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Another advantage is that conjoint analysis works really well on mobile phones. 

  • We can statistically tease out what is driving peoples’ choices. We use a model to calculate the scores of the preference utilities that the respondent chooses. You will get high utility scores for features that you pick again and again, e.g. the colour red or low prices.
  • For each respondent, you get a full set of utility scores for each attribute, each feature that you are trying to optimise and each price. Based on this, you can predict how each respondent would choose in thousands or millions of different combinations. This is a market simulator that you can build in Excel.
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You can change the fields in this simulator, choosing if the car is blue or red and updating the prices. Every time you change a cell, the simulator updates, and you will see the share of respondents who would choose that product with those features. 

It’s a very powerful tool to optimise the products you are offering in a realistic competition with your competitors in order to understand how to capture the biggest share based on the ideal features and portfolio you need to offer. 

Another technique that was developed at the same time as the Conjoint is the Van Westerndorp Price Sensitivity Meter, which is a survey-based technique used to establish an acceptable price range for one single product.

  • You show your respondents one single product concept and educate them about the concept
  • Then you ask the respondents 4 questions:  
  1. At what price is it so expensive that you would not want to buy the product  
  1. At what price is it so cheap that you would not buy it because you would doubt the quality  
  1. At what price is this product acceptably expensive 
  1. At what price is this product acceptably cheap 
Graphical user interface, text, applicationDescription automatically generated with medium confidence

See the graph below: 

At 100 dollars, 10% of respondents thought that the product was too expensive for them. The intersection has meaning, according to the author of this method.  

  • The intersection of the YELLOW & BLUE = point of marginal cheapness 
  • The intersection of the RED & GREY line = point of marginal expensiveness. 

The gap between these two points is thought to be the acceptable price range. 

  • The optimal price point is the intersection of ORANGE & YELLOW 
  • The indifference price point = intersection between BLUE & GREY  
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Chart, line chartDescription automatically generated
Chart, line chartDescription automatically generated

Weaknesses: 

  • Focuses only on 1 product concept.
  • If you want to test thousand or hundreds of modifications of your product, it will be very difficult
  • Doesn’t put the respondent in a realistic context as the conjoint does

Strength: 

  • A quick methodology that you can use in surveys is good when the product is truly new to the market and you have no idea how to price it.
  • Open-ended questions mean less chance of bias  

Gabor Granger Stated Willingness To Pay  

Finally, Gabor Granger is another survey-based technique that is used for establishing the price sensitivity curve & optimum price point for one product. You create a series of prices in a list and ask if they would buy your product at each of the prices in the list.

Start out by randomising the prices and ask them if they would pay that price. If no, then they are shown a lower price until you get to the price they would pay. 

Let’s say for respondent 1, we randomly select 25 dollars. If they say yes, they would pay that price, we randomly show them a higher price, eg 40. Then they say no, so we randomly show them a price between the two price points. We do this until we get to the highest price they would be willing to pay. 

Graphical user interface, text, applicationDescription automatically generated
  • We then can create a price sensitivity curve 

Weaknesses: 

  • Only focuses on one product at a time in a vacuum, with no competitors, which is not a realistic market scenario for conjoint 
  • It’s obviously a price game which may lead respondents to adopt a bargaining behaviour 

Strengths: 

  • It’s a quick and dirty quantitative method
  • Overall recommendation for pricing experiments
  • Asks people realistic questions that mimic the real world
  • Doesn’t ask people what they would pay
  • Has them choose among different products or different prices like they would in real life

Best practices for conjoint studies

  1. Getting your attributes right is crucial. This is why Qual is so useful. 
  2. Recruit people who want to buy your product. 
  3. There is a lot of bad data from respondents who do not answer realistically or carefully. Luckily conjoint analysis and max diff offer a fit score. We can compare the questions to see if respondents are answering consistently, and you can throw them away if they have a low fit score.  
  4. Hire someone to show you how to do it and use good software. 
  5. It’s typical to use samples of 200-800 but you can do more or less, this is just the norm. Sometimes we run models with 40-50-60 respondents because that’s all we can get. The models still work, it’s just that they are not as precise. But it’s still very worth it rather than not doing it at all. 
  6. It’s typical to show 8-15 conjoint questions for each respondent. Each question takes about 10 to 15 seconds to answer, it’s a 2–4-minute survey once you have educated your respondents on your subject matter. 
  7. In your educational feed up to your conjoint, make sure you aren’t overselling it and biasing your respondents to be positively predisposed to it 

Conclusion

To sum up, the ESOMAR Training on Survey-Based Techniques for Optimizing Prices and Products was an invaluable opportunity to deepen my understanding of pricing strategies. With expert advice from Ed Keller and Brian Orme, I was able to further develop my knowledge base in this area and come away with a better understanding of what it takes to set up an effective pricing study. Additionally, talking with other professionals at the event gave me insight into how they approach pricing, allowing me to adopt new strategies that are suitable for my market research goals.

If you find yourself in need of help setting up your own pricing strategy, get in touch. Together we can work towards creating a pricing structure that will optimize your company’s products or services for maximum profitability.

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Meet Dacian Gheorghe: Exploring Data Science in a Human Context

This month, the boobook team has grown a bit bigger! Dacian Gheorghe is the latest addition to boobook. Born in Romania, Dacian's parents moved to Belgium when he was only two years old. Living in West Flanders, Dacian feels Belgium is his home; however, every time he visits his grandparents and cousins in Romania, he says he "feels the ancestral connection".  

After finishing his bachelor's in psychology, Dacian decided to take the direction of business psychology. "I am just finishing my thesis for my master's degree. I did all the courses in business, psychology, and human resources, and I got very quickly passionate about analytics and data since the first statistics classes. This made me the odd one out in my psychology class because, generally speaking, not a lot of people like to do statistics," begins Dacian.

And he likes statistics a lot. "From that point on, I really enjoyed trying things and self-study, learning to program, and learning other software tools like Power BI and SQL. That is also why I went as far as doing my master's thesis with a professor of statistics about a specific statistical analysis, which I have to explain in a very approachable way," he explains.

Data scientists enjoy problem-solving, and Dacian is no exception. "I like programming because it puts you in a state of flow. You can just work on something, and you see it progress, which is nice," he admits.

Data science starts with understanding

Data helps us to make the right decisions, but what drove Dacian even closer to the world of numbers is "the factuality and accuracy of it". "Data gives me some stability in this unpredictable and chaotic world; it gives me something to hold on to, which I can use to gain better insights into things and people. Because of my background in psychology, I'm mainly interested in the behaviour of other people, what drives other people," he shares.

Dacian is aware of the expansive knowledge base required to be a good data scientist. According to him, it is vital to ensure the insights are made understandable – “you're nothing with knowledge that no one can understand. Data scientists must have an understanding of the human aspect, being able to communicate data and insights in an accessible way. Communication is an important part of the data scientist's job, as it is necessary to engage the audience”.

First days at boobook

Joining boobook is a major milestone for Dacian, as it's his first job. He knew immediately that this was the perfect fit when he saw the job listing online. "The description resonated with me, and boobook's website aligned with my skills and interests. It seemed like the natural choice to apply," he says. After speaking with Nicole and Helen, Dacian felt that this was the right decision.

Every beginning can be challenging, but Dacian is eager to learn. Support from the team certainly helps. "Everyone is so friendly and helpful! I couldn't wish for a better introduction to the company and a new job. I still have much to learn, but I'm confident I'll evolve and grow in the role. I'm also very excited to start working with different clients. That will be a new aspect for me," reveals Dacian.

Dacian knows that learning is key to success at his new job. "I’d like to continue learning more about different methods in analytics and machine learning. Also, I recently did a training on storytelling -- I learned a lot," he says.

When he's not writing his thesis or being busy learning more about data science, Dacian enjoys going to drawing classes, something that has been a hobby since he was a kid. "I remember I used to doodle a lot in class, and last year, I decided that it might be a good idea to learn how to draw decently finally," he shares. Together with drawing, he also likes to sew and tailor his clothes. Talking about being creative!

Businesses possess great advantages due to access to multiple data sources, but sifting through the data to determine what is important can be challenging. Here's where Dacian sees his path.  

"I believe this job isn't only about number crunching; you have to know what you're doing and the context of things to know the story behind it. It's important to go back in time before you can start on the projects to understand a story, what drives, for example, the firms, are the consumers. And then you use the data to build upon that," concludes Dacian.

We wish Dacian all the best with the new role! 

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Introducing Milena Casey, our new Research Executive

milena casey_boobook

Did you know that our CEO, Nicole Huyghe, studied to become a horticultural bio-engineer?  

Apparently, there is a secret link between plants and nature and applied statistics and research because our newest team member comes from the same background. Milena Casey, our new Research Executive, also studied biology. "I love biology, but after doing a research master's for a year, I got a taste of academic research. It wasn't my cup of tea, at least not in the long term, because it's very internally focused. After all, you don't have customers. I felt that I needed a more dynamic environment," says Milena. 

After she decided to leave academia and biology, she did a Master's in Business Management. Quite a switch, but for her, it made perfect sense. "After business management, I did a graduate scheme at Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewing company. I started as a management trainee, then went into sales as a Sales representative. Within two years, I was promoted to National Account Manager," she explains.  

Fascination with human behaviour 

During COVID, like many of us, Milena realised she wanted to try something different and to see options beyond sales roles. "I was looking more and more into consumer insights. I became super interested in people's behaviour. While I was working in sales, the things that fascinated me the most were linked to people's decisions, attitudes and behaviour," shares Milena.   

"I started applying to different agencies, but I felt very enthusiastic about Boobook from the start because it had a more strategic and consulting approach than typical market research," she continues. 

Being half British, half Serbian, and growing up in Belgium, Milena wanted a dynamic international environment that would be challenging and empowering simultaneously. "For me, it was important to work in a global company with international projects and clients because it's just so much more interesting to work in this environment," she admits.  

After the first interviews with Eva Vandenberge (Insights Director) and Nicole (CEO), Milena got the assignment to do three cases: segmentation study, conjoint results analysis and customer experience research. "I worked at home and in the office on these assessments, and I had to present them to the team. It was a positive experience throughout the whole process. I felt I would get along well with everyone from the start. I think that's very important. Also, the fact they were so meticulous with the assignments, I could tell that they were professional," Milena reveals. 

Open-minded and eager to grow  

Even though she has never worked as a researcher in a business context, Milena doesn't think she is an absolute beginner. "I want to get more experience in qualitative research, and I'm excited to learn more about it. Considering my Master's degree was in research, I already have solid quantitative experience. I also see as a big plus my sales experience because I know how to communicate with clients, and I understand a lot of needs of the sales and marketing departments," Milena replies.  

In the beginning, Milena will work closely with Eva, eventually becoming independent and managing a Research project herself. "I'm looking forward to getting project management responsibilities, but at the beginning, I'll learn by supporting Eva and the rest of the team. I want to grow into my role, and boobook seems like an ideal company where I can learn and evolve," says Milena. 

If you are looking for a new challenge, check out our vacancies. We're always looking for passionate analysts, data scientists, marketers, and researchers to join our team as collaborators or as a part of our core team! 

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Celebrating 20 years of wisdom: Happy birthday, boobook!

They say wisdom comes with age, and Nicole Huyghe and her team, are a great example. The company is celebrating a significant milestone this year: its 20th anniversary! 

When in 2002, Nicole returned to her homeland, Belgium, after living in London for a few years, her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in, and she decided to start a business. Having a small child, Nicole wanted a flexible working environment. "I assumed that you can arrange your life a bit easier by being independent. But, when you're independent, you also work all the time, so free time rarely happens. Nevertheless, it was a great decision to launch my own business," she says.  

Since she's a numbers person with an experience in the research field, Nicole knew exactly what she wanted to focus on with her consultancy business. "I like working with numbers. But numbers are just numbers. My goal is to understand what's behind the numbers, the story behind them and how to help companies bring sound business decisions," she shares. 

The little (hi)story of boobook  

Boobook wasn't boobook from the very start. The first name, "Solutions-2", means delivering solutions to clients, and the number two is a reference to numbers and data. However, many companies started using the word "solutions" over time, so Nicole and the team decided it was time for a change. "Thinking about how we can explain we deliver insights, we also wanted to find a name that wasn't too obvious but still had a meaning behind it. Eventually, we chose "boobook", a small Australian owl. Owl stands for wisdom, and we get wisdom out of data, hence our tagline: wisdom that counts," explains Nicole. 

Today, boobook is a team of data scientists, customer insights consultants, analysts and researchers who work with trusted partners to deliver international projects for mid-size and enterprise-level companies. Nicole went through all the stages that a founder and a CEO can go through. Her determination and positive mindset kept the company together through thick and thin. The secret ingredient? Staying calm even when things aren't going great. "Running a business isn't always smooth sailing, but I always try to remind myself how, like in life, things go up and down," she admits. Her mantra, "there's a solution to everything", is also reflected in how she leads her team. "Solving a problem is a critical learning process. It's only by having problems that you can grow. When there is an obstacle, I don't always provide solutions to the team right away because I like to challenge them to think and discuss it together as a team. I found that very important," says Nicole.  

Working in a smaller company has many advantages. Agile and a highly collaborative approach are the most vital points of teamwork, which help them deliver excellent results. "If we have an idea, we go for it. Because we don't have too many internal discussions and stakeholders, this enables us to think and act fast," reveals Nicole. 

The wisdom gathered after 20 years of experience, and countless international projects are unparalleled. Knowing how quickly businesses can crash and burn, having the opportunity to say you've been successfully leading your company for two decades is a noteworthy accomplishment. And what does accomplishment mean for Nicole? "Being successful doesn't mean only looking at double-digit growth, but rather having a healthy business with happy team members and satisfied clients. Also, what's important for me is that people enjoy their job. If I can achieve that feeling, with my team and myself, then we are successful," she adds. 

The clients refer to the boobook as a "partner", not just a supplier — again, something that reflects the core DNA of how Nicole and her team work. "That close collaboration we nurture amongst the team, we also have with our clients and the suppliers. I think that's unique for us and helps us to bring better results," says Nicole.  

Clear vision comes with great focus. Nicole always stayed focused on the core values. "We strive to provide added value and high-quality work for our clients. Our mission is to deliver quality and work in an enjoyable environment. In the last 20 years, there were times when we were tempted to reduce our prices or offer less quality to win businesses. Instead, we've stayed devoted to our core values," shares Nicole. 

Joining hands to help others 

To celebrate the boobook's anniversary, the core team gathered from three different countries (Belgium, UK and Bulgaria) and had a 2-day team building in Belgium. On Thursday, the 13th of October, with our sleepy eyes, we took the train to Brussels without knowing what our day would look like. Our HR manager, Patricia, and the Insights Director, Eva, planned exciting team-building activities they shared with the rest of the team only as we headed towards Brussels.  

The first stop was Abattoir in Anderlecht, where an NGO Cultureghem introduced us to their mission to raise awareness around food waste, healthy cooking, and inclusivity. Around 40 volunteers work together to collect food from the Sunday market and cook it into delicious healthy meals for the local community. This year, the organisation is celebrating ten years. The amazing crew at Cultureghem provides different activities for children, cooking workshops, and space for cultural and artistic projects. Our guide, William, told us how this socially based ecosystem evolved through the years into a well-organised space that isn't only focused on transforming the neighbourhood of Anderlecht. They're also on a mission to reach out to people in other communities of Brussels.  

So we rolled up our sleeves, put on our aprons, and cooked with other volunteers to prepare the daily lunch for the daily solidarity restaurant. After a delicious lunch and tour through the basement of the abattoir where a startup found an ideal place to create a high-tech circular organic mushroom substrate factory. 

Filled with good energy, our team continued the day walking around Brussels. We took a tour from Kleine Zavel, Grote Zavel, Manneken Pis, and Grote Markt, to Koninklijke Galerijen and Kunstberg. Each team member had a chance to show off their tour guiding skills and tell a story about these different touristic spots. After obligatory Belgian beers and waffles with chocolate, we returned to Ghent and had a cosy dinner at Meme Gusta restaurant. 

The next day, the team had a productive brainstorming session in our offices in Deinze, where they discussed the future steps and strategies for the upcoming year. 

What does the future hold for boobook? "I see us becoming even better experts in pricing. We've built strongly over the last five years, and that's what we want to build on further. Our goal is to make the boobook one of the first companies to come on top of the minds of companies when they think who to work with when they need to optimise their pricing strategy," concludes Nicole. 

Check out the full video from our teambuilding day here! ?

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Customer segmentation tools and methodologies

In our previous article, we introduced a 10-step guide on setting up, developing, and finalising a successful customer segmentation. We continue our series with an overview of segmentation tools and methodologies to help you efficiently and accurately carry out your market segmentation.  

The main objective of intelligent customer segmentation tools is to help you automate your segmentation to access and visualise data from multiple sources to gain essential insights and optimise your marketing and sales. 

A segmentation tool is a great way to personalise each user's experience and make it unique - for them. Thanks to continuous innovation and growing interest in customer insights, there are many tools available on the market today. So, if you're wondering which customer segmentation tool would be the best solution for your business, here are the top 5 customer segmentation dashboards and analytics tools we recommend: 

  1. Google Analytics 

Google Analytics is the most common tool used by almost every business out there. Google Analytics is a popular option among marketers because it is free and pulls out all website traffic data. Thanks to its robust features, you can do pretty much anything, from tracking your eCommerce funnel to developing customer segments and retargeting website visitors or customers. Even though it's a standard platform, Google Analytics still requires specific knowledge to get the most out of it. 

  1. Segment 

Segment collects your customer data in one place and sends it anywhere. This is helpful for organisations that want to enforce the same data standard across their enterprise. You can then power all your apps with the same data. Using this customer segmentation tool, you can query your data in SQL for the most convenient experience. The segment also offers Personas, a new product built on the Segment platform. With Personas, you can make sense of your customer data and deliver personal experiences throughout the customer journey.  

  1. Hull.io 

Hull's unique customer data platform unifies your data across your stack, unlike other solutions that create one-to-one integrations from one application to another. Hull gives marketers more visibility, control, and flexibility over their customer data to execute their ABM and demand generation initiatives effectively. Their real-time, 2-way synchronisation capabilities allow the data in your tools to stay up-to-date, so your teams remain aligned. 

  1. Kissmetrics 

Kissmetrics is an extremely popular analytics dashboard that integrates with most eCommerce websites and digital marketing tools to centralise data into a single dashboard to create audiences and customer segments that support CRM systems and digital marketing campaigns. Kissmetrics is focused entirely on tracking users through the customer lifecycle. It provides insights about customer lifetime value (CLV), free trial conversions, and similar behavioural triggers that help your business grow. 

  1. Adobe Analytics 

Adobe Analytics creates a holistic view of your business to truly understand your customer's journey on the web. The platform enables you to track your digital marketing campaigns and their performances, recognise and create different types of data segments for remarketing, offer a customised shopping experience to your site visitors, and work with bare-minimum data latency, particularly during periods of peak traffic activity. Adobe Analytics Cloud also connects to a wide range of native and 3rd party tools to quickly bring in 3rd party data to the tool. 

  1. Social Media Platforms 

Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitter are all packed with helpful features that help businesses segment their audience and target them with paid ads. Segmentation with social media tools can help you break down and organise your target audiences based on shared characteristics like interests, job function, demographic information, behavioural habits, and geographic location. 

Traditional vs Cluster segmentation  

As you set up expectations and objectives for your market segmentation, the next step is to plan the data environment for the segmentation methodology. Each method requires a different set of information. For example, strategic segmentation requires a long history of financial consumer data, looking at what products or services the consumer purchased, how much was spent, and how long. Marketing-focused segmentation (behaviour, needs, and lifestyle) requires a more detailed set of customer data, such as what products or services the customer uses, the motives behind this use, the customer's response to campaigns, complaint data, and the customer's perception of the brand.  

Before diving into each methodology separately, we should emphasise the difference between so-called traditional and cluster segmentation.  

Traditional market segmentation research is often used to identify and differentiate various segments in terms of: 

  • Purchase decision criteria 
  • Benefits desired/customer needs 
  • Category behaviour and attitudes 
  • Brand/corporate attitudes 
  • Lifestyle/psychographics 
  • Demographics 

While this model of segmenting puts customers into groups based on similarities, clustering is a process of finding similarities in customers. Clustering is the predictive marketing version of segmenting that can help us foresee what customers are likely to do without putting them into rigid groups. 

Thanks to cluster ensembles, researchers developed robust and reproducible segmentation solutions based on both multiple batteries of questions and alternate clustering algorithms. Cluster ensembles employ a two-phase process: phase 1, where we develop multiple cluster analyses that vary in terms of the clustering method employed, and in phase 2, clusters and groups respondents based on the cluster analyses generated in phase 1.  

Overview of methodologies

  • K-means Cluster Analysis: K-means clustering is a method of vector quantization, originally from signal processing, that aims to partition n observations into k clusters in which each observation belongs to the cluster with the nearest mean (cluster centers or cluster centroid), serving as a prototype of the cluster.
  • Latent Class: One of the most common—and one of the trickiest—challenges in data analysis is deciding how to include multiple predictors in a model, especially when they’re related to each other. LCA is a measurement model in which individuals can be classified into mutually exclusive and exhaustive types, or latent classes, based on their pattern of answers on a set of categorical indicator variables.
  • Ensemble: In the context of market research, Ensemble Segmentation may mean combining segmentation solutions that have been developed independently from behavioural and attitudinal data on the same sample, thereby increasing our understanding of customers. In the context of CRM data, this may mean combining solutions that have been developed independently using marketing data and sales data, thereby allowing us to add customer intelligence to sales activity.
  • Decision tree, e.g. CHAID: CHAID is a type of decision tree technique based upon significance testing. It can be used to create rules to classify future respondents into identified groups using several different questions or to detect interrelationships between different questions. For example, the combination of age and gender helps to further explain the different types of snacks that people consume. 
  • Discriminant analysis: Discriminant analysis builds a predictive model for group membership. The model is composed of a discriminant function (or, for more than two groups, a set of discriminant functions) based on linear combinations of the predictor variables that provide the best discrimination between the groups.
  • Multinomial logit (MNL): Multinomial logistic regression is used to predict categorical placement in or the probability of category membership on a dependent variable based on multiple independent variables. The independent variables can be either dichotomous (i.e., binary) or continuous (i.e., interval or ratio in scale).
  • Random Forest: Random forests or random decision forests are an ensemble learning method for classification, regression and other tasks that operates by constructing many decision trees at training time. For classification tasks, the output of the random forest is the class selected by most trees. For regression tasks, the mean or average prediction of the individual trees is returned.

If you need help or guidance with customer segmentation, feel free to reach out!  Our team of experts will help you expand your knowledge about your customers and provide tailored solutions based on in-depth analysis and insights.  

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Boobook's guide to customer segmentation: How to define, understand and activate your audience

Boobook's guide to customer segmentation How to define, understand and activate your audience

In one of our previous articles, we explained customer segmentation and its importance in optimizing your marketing strategy.  

As this topic is quite extensive, we decided to dig deeper into it and tackle "how" to do a customer segmentation project. Over the last two decades, we honed our expertise by working with different international companies. Each project is different, but most clients ask us a critical question: "Which product to offer to which customer, why, how, and when?" Considering customer segmentation is one of our main services, we designed a workflow that we apply consistently with minor alterations depending on the client’s vision and the project size.  

Before we take a closer look at our guide to customer segmentation, we’d like to share our checklist that needs to be revised throughout the process. These ingredients are mandatory if you want your project to succeed: 

✓ Get all stakeholders involved & aligned 

✓ Spend sufficient time on defining the purpose of segmentation 

✓ Ensure actionability by integrating outcomes in strategic plans and linking to CRM 

✓ Embed segments into company thinking by sharing insights in many different ways 

✓ Make sure the segments differ on the who, what and why 

The segmentation process we apply at boobook has ten stages plus one extra step that is recommended and mandatory if there are significant shifts in the industry and market: 

1. Stakeholder workshop: Define the purpose and align  

2. Qualitative research: Determine the right questions 

3. Database deep-dive: Revise content, quality, availability 

4. Collect and locate data: Conduct an effective research 

5. Explore segment solutions: Finding the correct methodology through an iterative process 

6. Decide on the final segment model: Choose the most suitable approach for your client (and your team) 

7. Integration of model segments into the existing database: Setting up a prediction algorithm 

8. Build personas: Fine-tune the segment groups 

9. Validate personas: Put your results to test 

10. Communicate and act 

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11. Revise and adapt when market dynamics significantly changed 

How to set up, launch and deliver a customer segmentation project 

1. Stakeholder workshop: Define the purpose and align  

Most segmentation projects aim to create a custom framework used and applied by many departments, ensuring a specific guarantee for a consistent customer approach. As consultants, it's essential to get buy-in from all stakeholders - from the beginning of the project.  

How 

Ideally, we organize a workshop (or an online meeting) with a key stakeholder team (market intelligence, marketing, sales, product development, CRM stakeholders). 

What 

Typical topics we discuss at this early stage are: 

  • Expectations: Determine what successful segmentation means to the client 
  • Experience: Discuss previous experience with segmentation or research and examine the sector and similar products (who, what, why, how) 
  • Usage: Define who will use the outcome of the segmentation and how. Agree on deliverables to embed segmentation into strategic and everyday operations. 
  • Hypothesis: Specify use cases, key characteristics they would segment customers on, level of complexity, approach, etc.  
  • Challenges: Analyze any hurdles you might encounter (communication, resources, transparency, etc.) and agree on how to tackle them. 

Things to consider: 

  • Define the purpose of the segmentation 
  • Develop the right products: What are the different product requirements in the market, and what needs do they fulfil 
  • Optimize marketing campaigns: Which marketing messages are needed to reach the customers of most interest 
  • Optimize marketing campaigns through individual targeting: Who to target, when, how, which product and which message 

2. Qualitative research: Exploring the market 

If there's insufficient knowledge of customer differentiators or the terminology is too complex or new, qualitative research should be the next step. Considering the qualitative research method focuses on obtaining data through open-ended and conversational communication, we can discover "what" people think and "why" they think so.  

How 

Organize focus groups, one-on-one interviews, in-home visits, join online communities, etc.  

3. Database deep-dive: Revise content, quality, availability 

At this stage, the main goal is to understand all the details of the internal database to make sure the segmentation is actionable. 

How 

Online meeting with Customer Insights / Market Intelligence team and database owners 

Checklist:  

Some typical questions to ask: 

  • Background on the database 
  • Explanation and links of the data fields currently available 
  • Who is in the database, and who isn’t 
  • How has it been used so far, by whom and for what purposes 
  • How has the data been captured, and the impact on the interpretation 
  • Can the data fields be interpreted in the broader sense 

This discussion will also look forward to the current internal data to understand if any definitions/data fields/composites will likely change over time and if fields might be dropped. 

A further key topic is a discussion about the data quality of some fields to highlight any that should be avoided when working towards actionable value segments. 

4. Collect and locate data: Conduct an effective research 

This is where all the nitty-gritty work gets done. To collect the data, you need to develop a plan detailing where each variable will be found and which resource and method will be used to find it. Ideally, several sources/customer views are available to create a 360° view of each segment. 

How 

To answer questions "who, what & when", we need to look at the behavioural and demographics data (sourced from transactional data, sales data, mobile data, and textual data). 

To answer the question "why", we need to collect and analyze the motivational data (answers to attitudinal, motivational questions, self-reported). 

Checklist 

  • WHO (who are they, demographically)  
  • WHAT (how do/will they behave)  
  • WHY (what drives their behaviour) 

5. Explore segment solutions: Finding the correct methodology through an iterative process 

There is no one way of grouping people into segments. Depending on the goal of the segmentation and the chosen segment differentiators (age, gender, attitudes, behaviour, etc.), customers can be segmented in many different ways. However, it's essential to review if the segmentation method will deliver sensible, relevant and valuable results that answer the who, what and why.  

How 

Methods to develop segmentation model: K-means, Latent Class, Ensemble, Decision tree (e.g. CHAID) 

Methods to predict segment membership: Discriminant analysis, Multinomial logit (MNL), Random Forest, Deep learning 

Once we select the methodology, we proceed with a traditional segmentation approach (when segments differ on a few dimensions) or cluster ensemble segmentation (when segments differ on many dimensions). 

6. Decide on the final segment model: Choose the most suitable approach for your client (and your team) 

In this phase, we organize a workshop with the client to present the approach and methodology. Several reasonable solutions are presented and discussed together with the stakeholder project team. 

Checklist: 

Typically, we judge them based on the following criteria: 

  • Apparent differences in key customer differentiators and profiling data: Segments can be easily visualized and remembered. 
  • Actionable: Clear actions for each segment and a consistent profile within a segment, sufficient differentiation between segments. 
  • Predictable: Segment membership can be quickly and accurately predicted, ideally using a small set of customer characteristics. 
  • The right size: Not very large, nor very small segments. 

7. Integration of model segments into the existing database: Setting up a prediction algorithm 

Once we analyzed the data, it's time to link the new segments to the client's CRM database. Modelling the segments into the database is an integral part of the segmentation project because we develop an algorithm to predict the new segments using the database variables. 

This is an iterative process to increase the overall prediction level. To achieve that, the model, approaches and accuracies are discussed regularly. 

How 

There are a few critical steps in this phase: 

  • The prediction power of a segmentation model is checked during the segmentation modelling 
  • Once a solution is acceptable from a "making sense" perspective plus sufficient prediction power, we develop the algorithm 
  • The models will be built using a training set 

8. Build personas: Fine-tune the segments 

A customer persona (or a buyer persona) is a fictional character derived from customer research and segmentation. In this stage, we are ready to identify and develop personas that will help us understand customer needs and pain points. By creating personas, we help the client to imagine their target audience.  

How 

With basic information like age, gender, and occupation, we believe it's even more important to break down their habits, motivations, and desires. Why do they do certain things in a certain way, and how can we get their attention? Working with personas enables each department to become more empathetic and effective when working directly with customers and prospects. 

9. Validate personas: Put your results to test 

We can allocate a customer to the right segment through an algorithm and a shortlist of golden questions (self-selection). This is often used for further research with customers of specific segments (recruited using the algorithm) to validate them and get additional insights into them. 

10. Communicate and act 

At boobook, we believe creating a final presentation and delivering insights is just one part of the handover. The other, more crucial and more valuable phase is actually helping our clients integrate and apply these insights by sharing our recommendations and strategic ideas. Through extensive consultations, we ensure the client doesn’t only receive the results but also understands what to do next, meaning how to interpret the insights into actionable points. This last step is where we connect all the puzzle pieces so the company can implement the insights with confidence and relevant knowledge.  

The analysis results should always be combined with insights, preferably presented to the stakeholders and encouraging them to follow our advice. The presentation is also a reference document to share the segmentation insights with other teams/departments and enable a more straightforward implementation of the customer segment strategy throughout the entire organization. 

How 

Share segment insights through workshops, visual materials, such as posters, showcards, summary decks and a designated online portal. 

Checklist 

  • Developing a product  
  • Developing communication approach for each key customer segment, built into the business strategy/marketing plans 
  • Embedding segments into CRM 

11. Revise and adapt when market dynamics significantly changed 

Customer segmentation projects evolve and transform over time. Shifts in customer behaviour, mindset, and needs can change due to demographic trends, technological innovations, and economic fluctuation. We always advise our clients and partners to look at customer segmentation as an ongoing process. Segmentation should follow any changes in the market, and it should help you predict the changes.  

Why choose boobook to help you with customer segmentation? 

There are various customers within each business, with unique attitudes, buying patterns, pain points, and expectations. Your customers identify the value of your business through the way you communicate with them, offer support, and provide solutions to their needs. The key to creating and maintaining successful customer relationships is understanding them and predicting their behaviour. By conveying customer segmentation analysis, companies can meet and exceed the expectations of their customers. 

We hope our guide will help you and your team understand customer segmentation better. As we continue the series on segmentation, we’ll present tools and the most used methods for market research. 

If you need help or guidance with customer segmentation, feel free to reach out!  Our team of experts will help you expand your knowledge about your customers and provide tailored solutions based on in-depth analysis and insights.  

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Generational marketing: How to connect with Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers, Gen X, Y, Z, Alpha.

We hear these terms all around, but often we aren't entirely sure which generation is which, let alone how real people behind these infamous one-letter generations think, behave, and communicate.  

Segmenting and targeting your markets by age rather than other demographics such as gender, location, or income is called generational marketing. By understanding their underlying generational motivations, challenges, and habits, you can tailor your corporate strategy, products and content accordingly so it "speaks" to a specific generation.  

Every consumer segmentation is an extensive task for the marketing department. On top of many methods and possible sub-groups, COVID has just made segmentation more complicated. It impacted every consumer generation, but with the right knowledge, you can customize your marketing efforts to ensure you're capturing the attention and hitting the right chord of the generation in focus, whether it's Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen Z, or Alpha.  

To help you gain relevant knowledge of generational marketing, we'll describe and analyze four key generations that are active consumers at this point:  

  1. Baby Boomers 
  2. Generation X 
  3. Generation Y (Millennials) 
  4. Generation Z  

We're opening the series on generational segmentation with the Golden Generation, so-called Baby Boomers, individuals who were born between 1946 to 1964. 

What you need to know about marketing to baby boomers

Characteristics: Baby Boomers, or Golden Generation, grew up in a post-war time of economic growth. Given their age and time in the workforce, they have the most purchasing power and discretionary income. Combined with the societal changes at the time, this generation was raised feeling that anything was achievable. Baby Boomers have lived much of their lives without modern technology but have embraced it with social media, mobile devices and online shopping. They are motivated by good deals and can be loyal to the brands they buy.

Digital savviness: The Baby Boomer generation grew up and worked most of their lives without the internet and digital technology. But this doesn't mean they're not open to it. Most people in this age group are embracing opportunities that modern technology provides, often learning from their children and younger peers.  

Financial status: Baby Boomers have the largest spending power of any generation. They are more likely to spend their money on hobbies and luxury items. However, due to the recent economic downturn, they are now more careful with their money and often look for the best deals and promotions. Although Baby Boomers will be over 65 years old in 2030, many are planning to continue working past their retirement. This means their purchasing power won't slow down significantly for another decade.  

Most responsive to: Traditional marketing is the norm for this group because they watch more television than younger generations. They use social media less than younger generations, but they are most likely to be on Facebook than on newer platforms. They rely on customer service (usually via phone calls) and prefer straightforward, easy-to-understand content. High-quality products are their preferred options, so communicate durable items.  

Strategies to help you appeal to Boomer consumers:

  • Think of ways to promote your goods or services via traditional channels, like TV and radio.
  • Apply loyalty programs that drive in-store purchases and in-person interactions.
  • Keep things practical and accessible (simple design, large fonts, etc.). Avoid using slang that might make them feel outdated.
  • Remind Baby Boomers of the "good old" times that shaped their values. One of the ways to do this is through musical or visual cues, historical or cultural references or playing with stereotypes.

Coming up: Insights on other generations

As we continue our generational marketing series, we'll discuss other generations in the following weeks.

We'd like to emphasize that, like everything in marketing, it's all about the context. Each generation is different, and their mindset defines who they are as individuals and consumers. Some groups respond well to technology and innovation. Others prefer their comfort zone with products and services they desire to remain the same. Whatever the strategy, brands should focus on a similar approach. For example, honesty and integrity are essential aspects that consumers from all generations look for from brands. Being straightforward with messaging and offers results in a stronger relationship with the market.

In any case, a generational marketing strategy should not be a company's sole approach to segmenting an audience. At boobook, we believe in a segmentation approach beyond customers' age and the associated - somewhat stigmatizing - generational stamp. Additional customer segmentation factors, such as geography, income, interests, behaviours, personal values, attitudes, etc., are crucial to successful persona-based targeting. Marketing to different generations requires thoughtful implementation, so avoid stereotypes and assumptions about certain ages.  

Instead, learn who your customers are and develop products and communication strategies that resonate with your audience. Reach out to our team, and we'll help you!  

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Generational marketing: How to connect with Gen Z

We’re continuing the series on generational segmentation with Generation Y or Millennials, individuals born between 1977-1995.

Baby Boomers, Gen X, Y, Z, Alpha. 

We hear these terms all around, but often we aren't entirely sure which generation is which, let alone how real people behind these infamous one-letter generations think, behave, and communicate.  

Segmenting and targeting your markets by age rather than other demographics such as gender, location, or income is called generational marketing. By understanding their underlying generational motivations, challenges, and habits, you can tailor your corporate strategy, products and content accordingly so it "speaks" to a specific generation.  

Every consumer segmentation is an extensive task for the marketing department. On top of many methods and possible sub-groups, COVID has just made segmentation more complicated. It impacted every consumer generation, but with the right knowledge, you can customize your marketing efforts to ensure you're capturing the attention and hitting the right chord of the generation in focus, whether it's Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen Z, or Alpha.  

To help you gain relevant knowledge of generational marketing, we'll describe and analyze four key generations that are active consumers at this point:  

  1. Baby Boomers
  2. Generation X
  3. Generation Y (Millennials)
  4. Generation Z  

We're continuing the series on generational segmentation with Generation Z, individuals born between 1996 - 2010.

What you need to know about marketing to   Gen Z

Characteristics: Unlike the Millennials – who came of age during the Great Recession – the next generation was brought up in a strong economy with record-low unemployment. However, COVID-19 has reshaped our social, political, and economic aspects. This racially and ethnically diverse generation is focused on achieving financial stability because of the uncertain future. They challenge traditional views of family, work environment, and education.  

Digital Savviness: As the first generation of truly digital natives, Gen Zers are always online. This generation of influencers and content creators wants to consume content within their time on social media. The key is knowing what type of content they want to see on social platforms.

Financial status: According to a Deloitte survey, younger workers are particularly vulnerable to financial anxiety. Only a quarter of Gen Z report that they can comfortably cover their monthly living expenses, and almost half (46%) say they live paycheck to paycheck. To make ends meet, Gen Zers are getting creative. Emerging financial technologies are popular with Gen Z. According to Investopedia, about a quarter of Gen Zers in our survey hold cryptocurrencies and stocks, and one in 10 own NFTs.  

Most responsive to: Like millennials, authenticity and "good cause marketing" resonate with Gen Z. This relates to their concern and activism about environmental and social issues. According to Pew Research Center survey, 67% of Gen Zers believe climate issue is a top priority to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations. They rely heavily on reviews and recommendations through social media than other generations and engage with brands that use engaging social selling techniques. Gen Zers are also less likely to sign up for loyalty programs, despite looking for ways to save money. 

Strategies to help you appeal to Gen Zers:

  • Try marketing strategies like influencer marketing, reviews, social selling, and advertising on their favourite social media platforms: TikTok and Instagram. Be active and creative on all social media. Your brand must remain active on as many social platforms as possible to maximize exposure and reach with Gen Z. Keep content interactive by encouraging them to engage with your brand. 
  • Gen Z gravitates toward video content. YouTube and Instagram are popular, especially as hubs for influencers, but Gen Zers prefer viewing a wide variety of brief, punchy content over anything long-form. 
  • Keep it short and sweet. Make interacting with your brand fun but not tiresome. Short videos and high-quality photos highlighting your brand or products are big reasons why TikTok and Instagram have succeeded with Gen Z.
  • Make promises you can keep and obtain high performance of your products or services. Gen Z likes consistency and stays loyal to trustworthy brands.

Yes, generational marketing matters, but it's only a piece of the puzzle

We'd like to emphasize that, like everything in marketing, it's all about the context. Each generation is different, and their mindset defines who they are as individuals and consumers. Some groups respond well to technology and innovation. Others prefer their comfort zone with products and services they desire to remain the same. Whatever the strategy, brands should focus on a similar approach. For example, honesty and integrity are essential aspects that consumers from all generations look for from brands. Being straightforward with messaging and offers results in a stronger relationship with the market. 

In any case, a generational marketing strategy should not be a company's sole approach to segmenting an audience. At boobook, we believe in a segmentation approach beyond customers' age and the associated - somewhat stigmatizing - generational stamp. Additional customer segmentation factors, such as geography, income, interests, behaviours, personal values, attitudes, etc., are crucial to successful persona-based targeting. Marketing to different generations requires thoughtful implementation, so avoid stereotypes and assumptions about certain ages.  

Instead, learn who your customers are and develop products and communication strategies that resonate with your audience. Reach out to our team, and we'll help you!  

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Generational marketing: How to connect with Millennials

We’re continuing the series on generational segmentation with Generation Y or Millennials, individuals born between 1977-1995.

Baby Boomers, Gen X, Y, Z, Alpha. 

We hear these terms all around, but often we aren't entirely sure which generation is which, let alone how real people behind these infamous one-letter generations think, behave, and communicate.  

Segmenting and targeting your markets by age rather than other demographics such as gender, location, or income is called generational marketing. By understanding their underlying generational motivations, challenges, and habits, you can tailor your corporate strategy, products and content accordingly so it "speaks" to a specific generation.  

Every consumer segmentation is an extensive task for the marketing department. On top of many methods and possible sub-groups, COVID has just made segmentation more complicated. It impacted every consumer generation, but with the right knowledge, you can customize your marketing efforts to ensure you're capturing the attention and hitting the right chord of the generation in focus, whether it's Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen Z, or Alpha.  

To help you gain relevant knowledge of generational marketing, we'll describe and analyze four key generations that are active consumers at this point:  

  1. Baby Boomers
  2. Generation X
  3. Generation Y (Millennials)
  4. Generation Z  

We're continuing the series on generational segmentation with Generation Y or Millennials, individuals born between 1977-1995.

What you need to know about marketing to  Millennials

Characteristics: Millennials, or Generation Y, were the first generation to grow up with modern technology. Millennials and baby boomers have a history of opposing viewpoints and misunderstandings. Gen Y is often characterized as "narcissistic and prone to jumping from job to job"—an unfair stereotype considering the vastly different social and economic influences millennials have experienced compared to baby boomers. These experiences have shaped their attitudes on where they choose to spend their money. It’s the largest generation in recent history, so brands must market to a broader audience to build a large customer base. Millennials place importance on authentic brand messaging and seek out brands that support social and environmental causes. This generation relies on user-generated content and the value of word-of-mouth advertising. They prefer brands that offer lower prices rather than price drops from offers and deals.

Digital savviness: Millennials grew up along major technological innovations and had a high expectation for virtual tools to be available at their disposal in everyday life, as well as in the workplace. They are also generally more informed about their purchases than previous generations. They are resourceful, more flexible, and constantly exposed to new ideas because they have access to a more globally connected world. 67% of millennials reportedly prefer shopping online, and 81% of them make at least one purchase online every month.  

Financial status: Unlike the generations before, Millennials gain financial freedom and stability later in life. They earn less and have fewer savings than Baby Boomers when they were their age. According to Consumer Culture Report, in 2020, their buying power was estimated at USD 1.4 trillion globally, but Millennials are selective about how and where they spend their money. Generally, they're open-minded to new ideas and lifestyles, extremely socially engaged, and eager to make the world a better place. It doesn't come as a surprise that, rather than opting for lower prices, 73% of Millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable products or services or help promote a positive impact on the world.  

Most responsive to: Also referred to as "Gen Y," millennials value authenticity and prefer organic engagement over intrusive or targeted advertising. This consumer generation wants to feel like its values are understood and reciprocated by brands. They're prioritizing health, wellness, and ethically sourced organic produce.

Strategies to help you appeal to Millennials:

  • Be authentic and follow through on commitments. Get on board with real contemporary issues and genuinely put your brand's support behind them. Sustainable business practices, as well as diversity and inclusion, are all winning causes. 
  • Apply digital strategies based on multichannel marketing, from user-generated content, influencer marketing, and social media, to content marketing. 
  • Outbound marketing will only aggravate Gen Y. Instead, share engaging content and provide reasons to trust your brand through positive reviews and loyalty rewards.  
  • Don't try to trick this marketing-savvy generation. They expect intelligent marketing and sincere campaigns that align with their values. Clarity and honesty are critical aspects of attracting this consumer generation! 

Coming up: Insights on other generations

As we continue our generational marketing series, we'll discuss other generations in the following weeks. 

We'd like to emphasize that, like everything in marketing, it's all about the context. Each generation is different, and their mindset defines who they are as individuals and consumers. Some groups respond well to technology and innovation. Others prefer their comfort zone with products and services they desire to remain the same. Whatever the strategy, brands should focus on a similar approach. For example, honesty and integrity are essential aspects that consumers from all generations look for from brands. Being straightforward with messaging and offers results in a stronger relationship with the market. 

In any case, a generational marketing strategy should not be a company's sole approach to segmenting an audience. At boobook, we believe in a segmentation approach beyond customers' age and the associated - somewhat stigmatizing - generational stamp. Additional customer segmentation factors, such as geography, income, interests, behaviours, personal values, attitudes, etc., are crucial to successful persona-based targeting. Marketing to different generations requires thoughtful implementation, so avoid stereotypes and assumptions about certain ages.  

Instead, learn who your customers are and develop products and communication strategies that resonate with your audience. Reach out to our team, and we'll help you!  

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Generational marketing: How to connect with Generation X

We're continuing the series on generational segmentation with Generation X, or individuals born between 1965-1976.

Baby Boomers, Gen X, Y, Z, Alpha. 

We hear these terms all around, but often we aren't entirely sure which generation is which, let alone how real people behind these infamous one-letter generations think, behave, and communicate.  

Segmenting and targeting your markets by age rather than other demographics such as gender, location, or income is called generational marketing. By understanding their underlying generational motivations, challenges, and habits, you can tailor your corporate strategy, products and content accordingly so it "speaks" to a specific generation.  

Every consumer segmentation is an extensive task for the marketing department. On top of many methods and possible sub-groups, COVID has just made segmentation more complicated. It impacted every consumer generation, but with the right knowledge, you can customize your marketing efforts to ensure you're capturing the attention and hitting the right chord of the generation in focus, whether it's Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen Z, or Alpha.  

To help you gain relevant knowledge of generational marketing, we'll describe and analyze four key generations that are active consumers at this point:  

  1. Baby Boomers 
  2. Generation X 
  3. Generation Y (Millennials) 
  4. Generation Z  

We're continuing the series on generational segmentation with Generation X, or individuals born between 1965-1976. 

What you need to know about marketing to  Generation X

Characteristics: Gen X grew up in a recession period. They are cautious with money and are more sceptical of brands. This generation is hesitant about change and innovation, preferring to stick with what they know. Gen Xers respond well to nostalgia, word of mouth and reviews from other users. Gen Xers tend to be suspicious of corporations and institutions, which stems from political and economic events throughout their lives (the Watergate scandal and large-scale lay-offs in the 80s, for example).  

Digital savviness: They have also had modern technology for most of their lives. Independent and critical, this generation is more digitally engaged than the Baby boomers, paving the way for the first digital natives, the Millennials. Even though they grew up without the online shopping experience and enjoy in-store shopping, they have fully embraced online shopping.  

Financial status: Gen X is relatively small, however, that doesn't mean their economic influence and buying potential should be ignored. Gen X tops the list in the housing, clothing, eating out, and entertainment spending categories and has a global annual buying power of $2.4 trillion. Their economic significance will continue to increase, too, especially as baby boomers begin spending less after retirement.   

Most responsive to:  Gen X respond best to honest and transparent messaging through traditional advertising, but also loyalty programs, word of mouth, email and social marketing. They are fans of incentives, such as discounts, freebies and coupons. They use Facebook primarily for research and recommendations from their network before making a final purchase in-store. Even though businesses need to work extra hard to earn their trust, they are the most loyal generation once they put their faith in a brand.   

Gen X

Strategies to help you appeal to Generation X consumers: 

  • Leverage positive reviews to earn loyalty. Building a positive reputation on popular review sites shows Gen X that your brand is trustworthy.  
  • Email is the best way to communicate with Generation X. When it comes to social media platforms; they mostly use Facebook.  
  • Make them feel acknowledged and tailor your messages to their aspirations and challenges to resonate better with this small-size generation.  

Coming up: Insights on other generations

As we continue our generational marketing series, we'll discuss other generations in the following weeks. 

We'd like to emphasize that, like everything in marketing, it's all about the context. Each generation is different, and their mindset defines who they are as individuals and consumers. Some groups respond well to technology and innovation. Others prefer their comfort zone with products and services they desire to remain the same. Whatever the strategy, brands should focus on a similar approach. For example, honesty and integrity are essential aspects that consumers from all generations look for from brands. Being straightforward with messaging and offers results in a stronger relationship with the market. 

In any case, a generational marketing strategy should not be a company's sole approach to segmenting an audience. At boobook, we believe in a segmentation approach beyond customers' age and the associated - somewhat stigmatizing - generational stamp. Additional customer segmentation factors, such as geography, income, interests, behaviours, personal values, attitudes, etc., are crucial to successful persona-based targeting. Marketing to different generations requires thoughtful implementation, so avoid stereotypes and assumptions about certain ages.  

Instead, learn who your customers are and develop products and communication strategies that resonate with your audience. Reach out to our team, and we'll help you!  

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Dealing with the rising inflation: Why businesses should revise their pricing strategy

You come home after your weekly shopping and look at your bill scratching your head, baffled by the prices you see. The question “when will prices fall?” is on everyone’s mind as consumers and businesses dread the next slump.  

At the end of June, inflation in the US hit 9.1%, a four-decade high. The latest release of consumer price index data, published on Wednesday, 13th July, showed that prices had spiked by 9.1% year-on-year, the most significant increase since 1981. From May to June, prices went up by 1.3%. The increase was led by gas and food prices, rising 11.2% and 1%, respectively, on a monthly basis. Core inflation—excluding categories like food and energy—rose by 0.7%. 

Consumer price index, all items. Source: Bureau of Labour Statistics

What is causing inflation? 

Inflation is a common response to economic factors caused by demand-pull and cost-push conditions. Both are responsible for a general rise in an economy, but each works differently to put pressure on prices. Demand-pull conditions occur when consumer demand pulls prices up, while cost-push happens when supply costs force prices higher. 

At this point, we can specify five critical drivers of current inflation:  

  1. supply chain bottlenecks 
  1. post-pandemic recovery aids 
  1. a shift in demand from services to goods 
  1. decrease in labour supply 
  1. war in Ukraine. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have played major roles in the rise of inflation rates. Global mobility restrictions in the early pandemic lockdown meant supplies could not travel with the ease they previously had. This disrupted the supply chain, causing bottlenecks yet to recover fully.   

The pandemic also saw a massive shock to the labour market. In the United States, only 9.6 million people could not work because their employers closed or lost business due to the pandemic. In Europe, employment decreased by roughly 3.1 million workers between the end of 2019 and the end of 2020. Unemployment rates rose higher in the first three months of the pandemic than in the two years of the Great Recession (2007 – 2009). This loss of workers has yet to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels fully. With fewer employees, existing workers are more likely to ask for increased wages and compensation as they take on more responsibility alone, thus pushing inflation rates higher.  

The COVID-19 pandemic also has affected consumers' spending habits. With an inability to leave the house, demand and spending shifted from services to a significant focus on goods. With this increased demand for goods, manufacturers and suppliers struggled to keep up when the supply chain was already experiencing bottlenecks.   

COVID's last impact on inflation rates comes from economic relief efforts. Specifically, stimulus money is given out by the United States government. With each citizen receiving stimulus payments, consumers put more money back into the economy at a stronger-than-expected rate, and the economy could not keep up.   

And lastly, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has added tension to the demand for goods. Russia and Ukraine are both major exporters of common global goods, and with the inability to grow and ship these products, retailers are struggling to fill the demand.   

While these are the drivers of current inflation, experts predict that each element may have medium to long-term effects on the global economy. This means that while inflation rates may not continue to increase, they may remain reasonably stable over a medium to long-term period.   

Applying agile pricing strategies to manage inflation efficiently 

Promotions, discounts, dynamic pricing, price elasticity, shrinkflation, value-based pricing…there is no one correct way to go around price increases during times of high inflation. Actually, the worst thing would be not to act at all.  

A lot goes into a pricing strategy, and when we add unpredictable events, it's no surprise businesses feel disoriented. Based on our experience and analysis of the events, we extracted these key conclusions:  

  • Inflation rates are likely to stay high. 

Experts suggest inflation will remain elevated at or near its current rate for much longer. This requires a longer-term view and strategy.  

  • Shoppers' behaviour is changing. 

95% of consumers plan to change their shopping behaviour. We have already seen customers switching to cheaper brands on some household and beauty products. Research into understanding these new shopping habits and expectations is essential as we face a (long) period of uncertainty.  

  • Discounts are sought after. 

50% of consumers are reportedly seeking additional discounts and promos, and 60% of shoppers know the price of the products they buy regularly – an increase from 49% in 2010.. Price and promo strategies will need reviewing and fine-tuning to keep old customers and attract new shoppers. 

  • Brand strength & premiumisation is key.  

Strong brands and premium products do not decrease the same demand as non-luxury products. While some brands saw consumers switching to their cheaper competitors, in the first three months of 2022, shoppers spent more money on premium dish detergents, sleep remedies and toilet paper. Consumers are opting for fancier products in categories where they perceive they’re getting a tangible benefit. Continue with premiumisation while optimising strategies for the different price tiers, as the inflation impact significantly differs across people and products. 

  • This inflation won't lead to recession

A recession typically accompanies rising unemployment, which worsens spending and diminishes spending power. This time, the forecast is that the labour shortage will continue, so spending power will not be affected by unemployment but rather by inflation. 

Trying to predict how this inflation will evolve is like gazing at a crystal ball. The global economy is frail, and the solution is nowhere on the horizon. But that doesn't mean we should stand still.  

Research matters - even more in chaotic times. Here at boobook, we believe that businesses that are already customer-centric and base their business decisions around customers' needs and expectations are more likely to be less impacted by inflation. Acting fast and applying dynamic pricing are essential today. This doesn't necessarily mean reviewing and researching all markets and brands daily, but rather focusing on research that strategically covers the globe and different products to give you a significant edge over the competition. 

If you struggle with defining your pricing strategy, reach out to us! We'll help you develop the most suitable pricing plan by focusing on your customers and assessing relevant business aspects. 

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Data is important, but it's even more crucial how we interpret it: Interview with Eva Vandenberge

In today's digitalised world, every business can access an incredible amount of data. However, the real value of data comes from interpreting it through data analytics and using its insights to make strategic decisions.

Boobook’s unique approach to data and business insights starts with its competent and skilful analytics team but also relies immensely on business savviness. Numbers on their own, nor fancy analytics mean much. Knowing what to look for and connecting it back to the business issue is as important as data science. One of our senior data science consultants, Frederik De Boeck, talked about this in our previous article.

Meet another team member: Eva Vandenberge, one of our consultants making the "bridge" between data analytics and business, translating complex data language into clear business insights.

With her 18 years of experience in marketing, communication, market research, and data-driven business consultancy, Eva is a perfect combination of a marketer with an analytical brain. She specialises in data insights and business consultancy with a high level of storytelling and data visualisation expertise.

Eva is in direct communication with clients, but she also works on conveying the research, getting the insights, and being fully involved with the projects.

"We have a powerful bond with our clients because they trust our collaborative approach and professional consultancy," says Eva.

She joined boobook three years ago as an Insights and Client services director, but her career as a business consultant and data wizard didn't come overnight. With her Master's Degree in Communication Sciences degree, she worked as a communication specialist at De Lijn for seven years. Later on, at Ipsos (Synovate), she was a research manager focused on loyalty research and conveying customer experience surveys. After nine years at Ipsos, she was ready for a new chapter. Luckily, an ex-colleague meddled in.

"Frederik (De Boeck) was my ex-colleague at Ipsos who started working at boobook, and he was very enthusiastic about me joining the team. I scheduled a meeting with Nicole, and she offered me the job after a few days. I didn't have any second thoughts because I liked Nicole's attitude and philosophy. I could easily relate to the values that boobook stands for."

Challenges are the best ways to grow and learn

As a natural problem-solver, Eva looks at challenges as a regular part of work and life.

"If I face any issue, I say, okay, this is a problem, how can I solve it? I don't stress because I understand challenges are the best ways to grow and learn." 

eva vandenberge

This mindset and determined attitude fit perfectly with the boobook's approach and framework: "At boobook, we tend to keep asking questions until we reach the very end of the road. Our work is based on in-depth business analysis and strategic thinking. We need to understand the business questions and get to the core of the client company and its processes."

Speaking of challenges, 2020 proved to be one of the most difficult years for everyone. Pandemic impacted our lives profoundly, but there is always a silver lining. 

For boobook, the calm period was beneficial for reassessing how the company operated. "At the beginning of the pandemic, it was quiet as many projects were on stand-by. We took that time to discuss the processes within the company and how to restructure our team. Some decisions were hard to take, but this time was precious because it helped us find focus again," says Eva.

Businesses of the future will be more data analytics oriented

Even though she already has a wide range of skills and considerable market research experience, Eva is a firm believer that there is always room for improvement and new skills. "That's the beauty of this type of work; there are always new things to know. It's never a dull moment, and I like it because it keeps me agile and curious," she confesses.

Nobody can tell the future, but Eva believes it's looking bright for data analytics and data science.

"Data can help companies make decisions about their customers by understanding who the customers are, what they do and especially why.

As more and more data is available, I expect companies' mindset to evolve and become more 'data analytics oriented' from the start of every new development.

Companies will think about existing data and reporting tools, the ideal measurement framework and KPI's they want to track, privacy rules, etc. This way, companies will be able to get the most out of their data, and struggle less with all kinds of different systems that are not designed with data analysis in mind," Eva explains.

Companies need to think big regarding analytics, and by thinking big, I mean long-term planning, moving forward step by step. I believe there are exciting times ahead for data analytics.


Eva believes that data translators will be even more in demand. "I think the need for data analysts will increase, especially if they are business savvy. AI won't replace a human brain to ask the right questions, translate the data into insights and create an impactful strategy. Data scientists and consultants know how to connect the dots, and enable companies to communicate better and more efficiently within the organisations and with their customers," she concludes.

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Key takeaways from IIEX Amsterdam 2022: Networking, sustainability, and tech-driven innovations

The great thing about coming out of the pandemic era is that live events are happening again. Networking is crucial, regardless of the industry. Actually, your image and exposure count for 90% of your success, to be precise. And if you went to the IIEX Europe 2022, you'd hear more about this intriguing P.I.E. (Performance, Image, Exposure) theory in person, directly from Harvey Coleman, who invented it!

This year's Insight Innovation Exchange took place in Amsterdam from 21st to 22nd June. Organised by GreenBook, Insight Innovation Exchange is one of the world's most prestigious consumer insights events where insights professionals, startups, marketers, data scientists, and business leaders from around the globe connect and discuss the future of insights. 

Here are some highlights from two days of presentations, talks, and Q&A sessions! 

Addressing the sustainability say-do gap

A topic that is currently the talk of the town is, of course, sustainability. However, we're still far from fully implementing sustainability at all organisational levels. The say-do gap is a big issue, as consumers want sustainability but are often unwilling to change their behaviour. Or they aren't sure what sustainable means: is it buying local, bio, or ethical, and how can they know what would be the best approach. Here is where brands come in, as they can instruct and guide the consumers. Colgate-Palmolive, Philips, Mattel, Electrolux, PepsiCo, Kellog's, and Pernod-Ricard are already taking the lead.  

In one of the sessions, Jennifer Picard, Head of Center of Excellence for Mix Optimization - Global Consumer Insights at Pernod-Ricard mentioned the question of sustainability is not IF we should do it, but HOW to be more sustainable in different markets. Moving towards sustainability is a very complex challenge, and at Pernod-Ricard, they use a sustainability barometer to understand the metrics and track their progress. With the tracker, they try to understand the value people attach to various items, for example, what they think about reducing packaging. It also gives insights on how to communicate sustainable changes.  

Barilla, the world's largest pasta manufacturer, is focusing on sustainability by using 99,6% recyclable packaging despite the fact that cardboard packaging might negatively impact sales.  Even though consumers prefer plastic packaging because they like to see the pasta, Barilla stayed true to its values and only uses paper-based packaging materials sourced responsibly from certified sources. Similar to our project with Niko, they do listen to their customers. Still, the final solution isn't solely based on their opinion but rather on sustainable parameters, brand values, and long-term strategy.

Tech-driven innovations

Many agencies and companies are focused on innovations linked to technology. The objectives are straightforward: making everything faster, more accurate and efficient.  

Emerging tools are designed to improve respondent engagement and capture instantaneous insights. Providing real-time feedback and capturing emotions in the moment of interaction seems to be on top of the priority list for several companies. Solutions are vast, and it’s exciting to see how technology will shape our industry!  

A big thank you to Greenbook for organising an amazing event and all the speakers for sharing their ideas and fascinating solutions!  

Did you go to the IIEX congress? We'd love to hear your takeaways!  

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From AI-driven platforms, transformed shopping experience to new qualitative technologies: An overview of trending topics in market research

COVID, digitalisation, AI and machine learning, and data visualisation tools are just a few topics that keep evolving and changing the market research landscape. Motivated to learn more, beginning of this year, we organised a roundtable with our customers and partners to discuss trends and challenges in our industry.  

Similarly to our session, Greenbook recently hosted their roundtable discussion with industry experts. Moderated by Leonard Murphy (Executive Editor & Producer/Partner at Greenbook and Gen2 Advisors), the four speakers who joined the panel were Kelli Hammock (Senior Client Solutions Manager at L&E Research), Brett Watkins (President at L&E Research), Charlie Rader (Digital insights Designer at P&G) and Barry Jennings (Cloud and Commercial Business Planning Insights at Microsoft).  

Starting with a premise of how the market research industry is evolving rapidly, the lively conversation revolved around the post-pandemic “new normal”, exciting technology solutions and research methods.  

Expanding digitalisation  

Leaning on the “new normal” topic, the conversation opened with the transitions of research into new technological ways and how it changed qualitative research. Due to restrictions in travelling, our industry was forced to turn to digital solutions to convey studies.  

Leonard Murphy sees the value of digitalization on a bigger scale: “We're beginning to see more and more innovation, thanks to investments flowing into our industry right now. As we get closer to consumers in real-time, our ability to process the given information increases and adapt our messaging, products, and pricing. The sexy stuff is kind of behind the scenes. I think the change will bring efficiency and scalability to deal with video analytics, text analytics or to help one moderator discuss with 1,000 people at a time. I believe our industry will be more digitally-led going forward.” 

Still, digital or in-person, conferences remain important meeting points for sharing ideas and connecting with peers. “Conferences bring so many insights because just talking to people happens in an organic and authentic way. I like to do my research and prepare before going to any conference to make sure I meet and talk to the right people,” reveals Jennings. 

Key takeaway: Without a doubt, COVID accelerated the digital journey of many industries, including market research. Companies are investing more money in research to become more customer-centric. Thanks to digital platforms and tools, researchers can tap into new audiences regardless of location or time. 

Hacking technological solutions 

Market researchers have been hacking available technology teams or other video conferencing solutions to connect to people. Even though many solutions aren’t designed as qualitative research platforms, people are taking the plunge because that’s what has been available.  

Murphy takes the example of Zoom as a platform that enables the building of custom solutions. “Zoom obtained a leadership position, because they're built on API's, and that makes it very extensible. There are a lot of opportunities to build custom solutions, something like a qualitative research-centric suite of tools, which make it easier for respondents and buyers because it'll decrease friction. Mostly based on the plug-in principle, these new tools are easy to use and tailor them to what we need in research,” he explains. 

Kelli Hammock agrees that technological innovations are moving fast forward. “The pandemic has pushed us over this hill that we were originally going over as an industry, and now that we're over it, we're just starting to see the possibilities that technology can bring into our focus. We're going to see more things we can do when it comes to video, especially when it comes to VR and AR applications. There’s still so much to explore in this area and I believe we're only limited by our imaginations,” says Hammock. 

Key takeaway: As a natural consequence of digitalisation, we see a rise in many different tools and platforms. People are using these tools to communicate, work, and collaborate daily, and we've all got used to it, meaning we are at the point where we find other applications of familiar tools. 

The dawn of qual tech 

COVID accelerated digital qual to arrive on the scene — and it’s already making a lot of waves. As Charlie Rader puts it: “When qual tech has been introduced last year on enabling us to talk and learn from consumers, we were able to see the advantages. COVID was the trigger that pushed us off the ledge.”  

“The world of work, especially for the audiences that I typically tend to look for, is increasingly hybrid. I can't say all digital things are better, but they are effective in many ways. I absolutely love to be at conferences getting much closer to where our customers are doing really cool things,” agrees Barry Jennings.  

However, some aspects of consumer studies cannot be replaced. Charlie Rader lays out the situation at P&G: “We make stuff that people need to touch, feel, smell, experience, and sometimes there's just no substitution in an online world. We need to make sure that we’re doing the right research that keeps both our employees as well as our consumers comfortable and confident - despite the pandemic.” 

Key takeaway: Considering many companies saw the benefits of online qualitative research, it’s safe to say that qual tech isn’t going away. Even as we return to physical events and personal contact, qual tech will be used in combination with in-person methodologies. 

Transforming the shopping experience 

Our shopping experience is irreversibly changed due to COVID. We touched on this topic in our COVID-series last year, however, we still don’t know all the consequences of this mindset and behaviour change. “We still don't know the long-term effects of COVID. I think the Great Resignation and supply chain issues aren’t just blips on the radar. They might last for months, and further change consumer behaviours,” says Murphy. 

Jennings took Amazon as an advanced example of the shopping experience that is both valuable for the business and tailored to modern customers: “In the Amazon store, if you had all the items you want in your cart, you just walk out the door because it's already connected and paid directly with your credit card as soon as you cross the exit. I'm sure on their side, it’s a gold mine from a data and insights perspective.” 

Key takeaway: The Great Resignation, supply chain issues and health concerns made traditional shopping almost non-tolerable. It’s no surprise most consumers turn to online shopping, forcing retail companies to create new hybrid shopping experiences. 

AI-driven analytics supporting researchers 

Talking about trends in our industry, it’s impossible to skip AI and machine learning. Charlie Rader predicts how artificial intelligence will finally become a more practical tool. “Beyond the initial experiments, we're recognising where we're going and it's being more democratised as we learn at a much deeper, richer level with the amount of data that we can now ingest and consume. AI is really starting to take off with us,” he reveals. 

“Sometimes it’s all about getting that creativity and asking the right questions to get those developers thinking, ‘oh, this is what they need’. So, how do I build this for what they need and give them an all-inclusive package so that they can do ABC and also all the way through XY and Z,” concludes Hammock. 

However, we are still quite far from the scenario where machines can understand and perceive patterns as good and intricate as humans do. “Market researchers and experts are needed because people understand how to do the research and discover the right types of solutions, as well as refining research questions. Added to that, people embody some irreplaceable assets, like empathy and curiosity,” confirms Rader. 

Key takeaway: Although we are curious to see more of AI technology, we are still at the early stages of adopting it in market research data processing. The general opinion is clear about the importance of the human role in applying AI to make sense of it fully.  

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Banning plastics: 4 things any marketeer should know when changing product package

Try to remember the last thing you purchased. Do you remember its packaging? What do you remember the most? Did you like the design, branding or functionality of it? 

All products inevitably come in some sort of packaging. Packaging has many different roles, such as providing protection, safety, enhanced usability, attractive looks, optimal design and specific customer requirements, to name a few. However, the packaging is also a crucial aspect that can (positively or negatively) influence consumers' decisions.

Considering packaging has a single-use purpose, it has become an increasing environmental issue. As the most damaging to our natural landscapes, plastic decomposes into tiny microplastics, ending up in the oceans and impacting marine biodiversity. Thankfully, today sustainability is slowly becoming an important business objective. An increasing number of organisations are trying to find renewable and more sustainable replacements for conventional packaging materials so they can be fully and safely reused, recycled and decomposed. Additionally, customers are increasingly becoming aware of the impact of their choices on the environment. 

A few weeks ago, at the BAM - Belgian Association of Marketing congress, our Insights Director, Eva Vandenberge & Leon Theune from Niko told the story behind Niko's new sustainable Retail packaging. 

Niko is a Belgian-based company that designs electric and electronic solutions to enhance buildings to suit better the needs of the people who live and work in them. They offer solutions that use less energy, improve light comfort, and safety, and work together seamlessly with other applications. 

Last year, Niko decided to change the packaging of their product lines and hundreds of SKUs, and update their retail packaging. The previous design was somewhat outdated (since 2008) and didn't evoke the values Niko wanted to endorse in an optimal way. Guided by customer insights and sustainability, they launched a project to transform their design packaging entirely and make it relevant for the years to come.

Added to sustainability, the new packaging had to tick other strategic parameters, such as: 

  • align with the Niko's branding
  • improve practical features
  • fulfil customer information needs 
  • fit to introduce new products

Research stages: Putting your customers first and creating sustainable solutions

In the first stage of the project, Niko's design and sales team joined forces and started working on different concepts. The idea had to tick 3 crucial boxes: communication power, ecological impact & practical implementation. 

Through concept testing with their end-users as well as qualitative research, they decided on the format of the packaging:

  1. Envelope model for all finishings ( frames and keys)
  2. Backpack model for function items (sockets, switches, dimmers, USB chargers, etc.)

After creating the physical concept, it was time to do research to help Niko understand how to communicate brand values and the content of the packaging. Here is where boobook came in with qualitative & quantitative analysis. The research gave very useful insights on how to design the packaging. One of the biggest surprises here was that the testers saw beyond products and packaging: they expected to be guided on how to buy complete solutions instead of separate parts. They also expressed how brand perception is crucial and sometimes even more important than pricing or functionality. Guided by these learnings, Niko decided to optimize content strategy and adjust how they communicate about solutions, assembly parts, and ecosystem. 

When researching sustainability, the results showed that even though it's important, it's not always top of customers' minds. By using icons on the packaging, Niko made sure to attract buyers' attention to sustainability. The "Four Year Warranty", "Made in Belgium", and the FSC icons are indicated for communicating that the item will last longer, local suppliers and responsibly managed forests make it.

The third critical piece of advice is to do proper research before launching any new items or, in this case, packaging. It's a powerful tool for communicating important information and brand identity. When designing packaging for separate parts, it's essential to show the product and explain its purpose and usage. 

To ensure that customers always buy the right product, Niko added icons at the side to communicate key product features and crucial details. They achieved the delicate balance between the branding and providing information by adding:

  • ecosystem to make sure the customer always buys the right product and knows what to buy to complete the solution
  • wiring diagram enriching every wired product with a basic wiring scheme
  • product family and colour in the text on the front to avoid a wrong purchase 
  • vital product USPs and need to know’s.

And last but not least is the advice to think bigger and invest in long-term solutions. Today, sustainability is a company choice, not (yet) a direct customer request. This means businesses are responsible for raising awareness and adjusting their products and communication accordingly. This approach is a long-term investment to ensure the business will be future-proof. 

In conclusion...

To sum up, here are the four things to know before changing to a more sustainable package design: 

  1. Start with an open mind: Listening is the key, and research is the tool
  2. Don't assume sustainability is on top of the consumers' mind: Even though the customer is increasingly aware of the impact of their choices on the environment, sustainability isn't always their priority
  3. Set the basics right: Don't forget what's essential for the customer; the packaging needs to be useful, practical and deliver important information, especially when talking about the needs of the users
  4. Invest in long-term solutions: Sustainability is the way forward, and we should learn how to turn challenges (e.g., the product that can't be seen in the paper packaging) into advantages (paper packaging allows more space to communicate key features)

Do you also wonder how to change your packaging from plastic to a more sustainable and user-friendly option? Reach out to us, and we'll be happy to help!

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New year, new team member: boobook welcomes Michaël Follens

2022 started very exciting for Michaël Follens. The experienced marketing manager and an avid photographer joined the boobook team beginning of January, taking on a new role in his career as an Insights Consultant.  

Michael studied Communication Science (Major in Marketing) at the University of Leuven. “Marketing is exciting because it's a field where it all comes together”. You have corporate economics combined with human psychology, language, data analysis, design, etc. It's very much about connecting with people," explains Michaël.   

Sharpening marketing skills in corporate environments 

After he graduated, he wanted to broaden his marketing knowledge within corporate structures, so he decided to study Business Economics. "Thanks to additional studies in Business, I learned more about finance, production, etc., in general, the 360° view on marketing. It was fascinating to learn all of the business aspects, adding value to my existing knowledge and giving me a good starting point on the job market," says Michaël. 

Even though he studied marketing, his first job was in sales. "I started working at Coca Cola Enterprises in Belgium as a sales representative. This experience was precious because I could talk to every stakeholder, and I was in touch with the entire supply chain. From a supermarket dep. responsible to a district manager. I enjoyed talking to clients and listening to their suggestions and feedback," admits Michaël.  

"However, I missed the marketing part in my sales position. After three years, I joined Lidl as assistant manager in the marketing communication department. Soon after joining, my direct responsible left the company, so I became Head of Marketing. I was only 26 at that moment and had to learn very fast how to manage people with different backgrounds and personalities, Back then, Lidl also was one of the biggest spenders on publicity and the retail markets. So, I learned a lot about budgeting and negotiating as well," he explains.

After Lidl, Michaël started working for JORI, a premium Belgian manufacturer of high-end design, upholstered furniture. "As Head of Brand and Product Management, I had to take care of everything regarding Portfolio Management, Brand Strategy, Market Research, Online Brand Communication, etc.," says Michaël.

Beginning of a new chapter 

The job evolved, so did Michael’s expertise and interests. In recent years, he became more and more interested in the research part, such as competitors' analysis, segmentation, pricing strategy, consumer journey, etc. "The idea to apply for a job at boobook came at the right time. After almost 11 years at JORI, it was time for a change. I was more than ready to take on a new challenge. So, I reached out to Nicole, got the job, and here I am, thrilled to start a new chapter in my professional life," shares Michael. 

As he joins boobook, Michael hopes to bring some fresh perspective to the team. Shifting from the role of ‘the client’ to becoming a consultant, he is now in an entirely opposite position. On the other side of the research, helping marketing managers and insights experts achieve their objectives. His previous experience is an essential tool to understand the clients on another level, as he was once in their shoes.  

"Indeed, this role is new, but also not so new. I'm on the other side now, and I want to look at things from my background. For example, when we get a briefing from the client, I can look at it and think: If I were in their place, what would I do, brief and expect from the agency? I really hope my point of view brings an added value when conveying our research," says Michaël.  

Learning and growing with boobook  

On top of developing his strategic and consulting skills, Michaël also sees his new job as an excellent opportunity to learn more about the technical side of market research from other boobook's team members. "One of the reasons why I was interested in boobook is because they are absolute specialists in quant methodologies. That always appealed to me while studying. Although I don’t have a purely mathematical background, I always enjoyed doing statistics, so I really want to get to know more about that side of our projects," admits Michaël.  

Changing jobs is a challenging transition for Michaël. "I think the agile way of working at boobook will be an interesting transition for me. . It's a new way of working, also due to COVID, and I'm sure it's the future. So, I'm happy that I can be part of a team that cultivates this approach," he explains.  

When talking about the current trends and opportunities in consumer understanding and market research, Michaël is very clear about the importance of Big Data or, rather, harnessing its power to retrieve helpful business insights.  

"I believe the biggest opportunity today in marketing is the enormous amount of data we get. We can gather data with everything we do in a company, and this gives us enormous potential to get access to big datasets that contain important insights. The retail environment changed with the rise in mobile apps, loyalty cards, referrals, etc. It's incredible how much information a company can get out of it, and I hope more and more businesses will focus on extracting information from different sources to understand their consumers better," concludes Michaël. 

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Predictive modeling and unlocking consumer journeys: MRS 2021 highlights

In the market research world, it's essential to keep exploring new tools, techniques, and trends to stay relevant and deliver the best possible results. That means that while we work on projects, we must often dedicate time to reading articles and attending workshops. One of the annual conferences that give an in-depth overview of current trends is organised by MRS (Market Research Society).  

A few weeks ago, I participated in the 2021 edition, which was full of exciting demos, case studies, and practical exercises. In this article, I will summarise sessions and share the key takeaways.  

During the morning, wrapped up in six varied sessions, the speakers focused on answering four different questions: 

  1. How can we optimise predictive modelling? 
  2. How can we understand the path to purchase? 
  3. How can we get more nuanced consumer feedback through chatbots or text mining? 
  4. How can we measure media effectiveness? 

Optimising predictive modelling 

Russell Bradshaw, a Senior Statistician at Money and Pensions Service, led the first session. He focused on targeting meaningful interventions and advice for a person in financial distress at the right point. MaPS use advanced analytics to help identify where financial distress is most likely to arise. Firstly, they use an iterative segmentation approach to understand and classify cohorts of people into appropriate levels and complexities of financial distress—secondly, they create a predictive micro-model of the UK adult working-age population.  

Using a combination of minimum spanning tree approach to help visualise the connections and traditional cluster analysis within two sets of the inputs drawn out by the visualisation, they were able to identify predictable and actionable groups to which interventions could be targeted.  

They then used secondary data to feed in their models to predict the level of financial distress in the future.  

Key takeaway: When it comes to predictive modelling, the benefits of transparency are crucial, as well as re-evaluating the model and learning from forecast errors. The more open you are about your model and its assumptions, the more you can be receptive to different people's inputs, as well as recognise any limitations.  

Understanding the path to purchase  

The next session was particularly interesting from a personal perspective, mainly because it touches on an essential point for our work here at boobook - how to unlock the consumer journeys. Nicolas Camargo, Analytics Consultant, SKIM and Michael Hetherington, Director – APAC, SKIM, discussed how consumer journeys used to be a linear set of predictable events. Still, today this is no longer the case. There are many more loops for consumers as they go back and forth across many touchpoints throughout their journey. Using a mixture of survey and passive data, as appropriate, they apply a pattern analysis technique to pull out relevant sections from customers' journeys. These can be used to reinforce provisions when they have a high chance of leading to a purchase or suggest further improvements when purchase attrition is high.  

Key takeaway: A simple and intuitive set of survey questions, combined with sophisticated pattern recognition modelling, can unlock critical journey insights. By uncovering naturally occurring customer journey segments, we can pinpoint which offer the most economical value and are most capturable by a brand based on the infinite number of potential sequences.

Gathering more nuanced consumer feedback through chatbots and text mining 

Ansie Lombaard, Director of Offer Innovation, Insights Division, at Kantar explained why brand purpose matters and how we can leverage advances in text analytics, using conversational data collected through personal, engaging bot interactions, to explore different ways in which a brand can manifest its purpose.  

Andy Crouch, Business Development Director, Pansensic, introduced an empathetic chatbot that empowers its questioning path/algorithms with AI-enabled real-time emotional, psychometric, and psycholinguistic understanding of the interviewee and their responses enabling a more engaging experience.  

Crouch took the example of their current projects focusing on mental health within the armed forces. Using many kinds of different text to feed into developing this chatbot, they also use real people to help train the data by categorising content manually. While looking at sentiment and emotions, we are reminded that people act on emotion, not opinion. If you can get to people's feelings, that's the key to driving behaviour. They've discovered through their research that, even though people know they're talking to a chatbot, people can be more open with a chatbot versus a trained counsellor partly because it's perceived to be non-judgmental.  

Of course, technology has a critical role when it comes to implementing chatbots and text mining. Maurice Gonzenbach, Co-Founder & Machine Learning Engineer at Caplena, showcased their advanced text analytics tool that we also tried at boobook. Caplena is easy to use, intuitive, and flexible. It lets you tap into all kinds of different data sources. You can either access directly online to different web services using API's, or you can use your collected survey data as your open-ended property. The software enables a subset of the data to be manually trained if desired to give more finely tuned results to your topic of interest or relevant needs. With data visualisation, continuously enhancing features, and flexibility with survey data, it feels like one of the more applicable text analytics tools tailored to the Market Research Industry.

Key takeaway: One way to get to help build a strong brand is to use AI. People open a lot more prominently by applying conversational AI chatbots instead of speaking to a natural person. Careful planning meant they could get the chatbot to focus a conversation on drawing out the fundamental nuances of the brand. Additionally, people can be more open with a chatbot because it's perceived to be non-judgmental.  

Measuring and analysing the impact of media channels 

Bethan Palmer, Client Consultant at DVJ Insights introduced a new RPS (Reality Performance Score) KPI, which she described as having more predictive power than traditional media expenditure. RPS considers the strength of each medium, the decay effect, and the strength of the creative execution, as well as accommodating the actual seeing of an advert, not just being exposed to it. A holistic approach covering different media channels, RPS has been presented as a good tool in summarising media effectiveness.    

Key takeaway: Reality Performance Score is the first real KPI representing the total sum of all media. RPS helps us understand the relationship and the strength of the relationship, with all relevant marketing KPI's, such as sales, revenues, website visits, Facebook visits, awareness attitude, consideration, preference, etc. It can help define the most effective advertiser in each category, the most effective campaign or medium. 

Helpful tools to use for your next research project 

During the afternoon session, we participated in a practical, hands-on activity in accessing, manipulating, and visualising data. Having watched him speak at other conferences, Preriit Souda, Director at Data Science & Strategic Insights, at PSA Consultants, did not disappoint, as he gave a practical and useful demo of Power BI and KNIME.  

He also drew attention to many helpful free to access resources. Touching on the pros and cons of these resources, such as data.gov.uk, or Kaggle, you can access a wide range of data that is great for enhancing and triangulating with existing research or simply testing out different statistical techniques. 

In conclusion

Overall, all the speakers were very interesting and gave great examples that embodied the flexible approach and combination of advanced tools powered by human creativity.  

Each time someone from the boobook team goes to a conference or a webinar, we always share new insights internally and externally, as it's crucial to keep learning and expand our knowledge.  

These sessions also gave another view on some topics we work on daily, like customer journeys. Others, such as brand purpose and media effectiveness, provide important information we can integrate into our projects and share with our clients as an overall marketing strategy guidance.  

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The art of storytelling: Top five tips on how to truly engage and activate your audience

Do you know why some stories are compelling and some aren't?  

The “why” we are attracted to some stories depends on many factors. Today, we roam through so much content on a daily basis, jumping from one meeting to another while exploring the vast lands of the online world. This makes most of us linger in the middle between being overwhelmed with lots of data and information and having little time to read a full article, process it and share it. The sixty-four-thousand-dollar question is how can we create content that will be captivating, easy to understand, and meaningful?

I have read and done many business presentations. Yet, I learn new things about storytelling every time I need to tackle a new project. I’m deeply passionate about data and storytelling: capturing people’s attention and making sure they remember the most important elements is a fun skill once you know how to do it right. 

So, how can you do it right? In this article, I’ll share some guidelines that I learned over the years that helped me improve and polish my storytelling expertise. However, before disclosing my “secrets”, I’d like to emphasize three things: 

  1. When talking about storytelling, I refer to conveying business insights to an audience, meaning how to approach storytelling in a business context. Don’t ask me to tell you a joke or talk about my holiday in a very appealing way. Though there are definitely parallels between personal and business storytelling, they aren’t the same thing.
  1. There is only one objective of storytelling in a business context: you want your audience to remember the key insights, ideally 3 to 4 elements. If these are not clear for you or presented in a confusing way, they will also be confusing for your audience. 
  1. Good storytelling and choosing the right narrative have become increasingly important as we transitioned from in-person to online meetings and presentations. Capturing an audience behind a laptop is even more challenging!

Ready to mesmerize your audience? Here is how to tie a bowline knot with storytelling! 

1. Know your audience

It’s such a marketing cliché, but your audience is the best starting point. You must know who you are telling stories to. In the consulting world, we are telling a story in order to achieve a certain goal. That goal could be to define a pricing strategy or a customer targeting approach. In order to answer the client’s needs, first, you have to know who is listening to that story.

To understand your audience better, ask yourself the following questions: 

  1. What does my audience need? 
  1. What are their burning questions? 
  1. Why should they care? 
  1. How in-depth do they want to go? 
  1. What is their attention span? 

TIP: Think about a few major issues or questions your client wants to solve and build your story around them.

2. Keep it simple, keep it short

This is by far the most difficult tip to execute!  

After 25 years of presenting to various audiences, I’m still struggling to follow the KISS principle (Keep it simple, stupid). Usually, there are so many interesting things and you’d love to share ALL of them with your audience. At boobook, considering we need to delve into many numbers, we also get all kinds of useful insights. This is where you need to be more like a ruthless editor - cut the unnecessary and focus only on main takeaways. So again, start from the most burning questions, and think twice before you share everything you find interesting. Your client might not find it equally interesting. 

TIP: Edit, edit, edit. The longer the story, the more details are shared, the less likely people will remember it.

Simplicity refers not only to what is presented but also to how. Slides created in PowerPoint (or in any other similar tools) slides are a great assistant to prepare your presentation. If done correctly, your storytelling will be more engaging through the combination of visuals and words. This can help the audience to remember the key elements. If you are wondering what I mean with “correctly”, it’s where simplicity does come in again.

Clients sometimes ask us to include fancy charts or infographics. Even though I like these elements from a design perspective, if they take more than 30 seconds to understand or explain then they are rather pretty and complex than informative and simple. 

TIP: Keep your text concise with bold and short insights. Back your statements only with just enough data needed to understand the key insights.

3. Be bold

This point is closely linked to critical questions to which your audience is looking for an answer. In our industry, we often use terms such as summaries, conclusions, insights and recommendations. There are definitions for each term and when to use what, but at the end of the day, what a client wants is to have clear guidelines on what to do next - regardless of how you want to label it. 

I believe it matters less if something is written as a conclusion, insight or recommendation, as long as your audience gets actionable points they can start applying immediately. That final input needs to hit the core, and making bold statements of what are the next steps is a good way to do it. 

TIP: Don’t beat around the bush. Avoid vague and soft statements. Bold, clear, and often provocative insights will have the best effect.

4. “Translate” complex concepts

“What does this mean for you?” is a question I use a lot when I try to see from the perspective of a client. While every presenter knows his or her topic insight out, as well as the materials he/she presents, the audience might not understand it immediately. Talk in short, direct sentences. Yes, even if you are convinced your audience is full of smart people. Getting lost during a presentation happens easily, and if that happens you risk losing your audience interest and engagement. 

TIP: Use plain English, no matter the audience profile or background. Break down complex concepts into smaller “biteable” pieces of information. 

5. Repeat and connect

Last but not least - my favourite tip I use all the time. A good story is built on a good flow and good flow means that you continuously build further on what you told or presented previously, meaning: continuously connect the dots. This helps to gradually build up the story, enhance the dynamics in it as well as reinforce the information shared so far.

TIP: Throughout the presentation, continuously recap and link the insights into one cohesive story.

These tips barely scratched the surface of the science behind storytelling. To keep consistent and follow the tips mentioned, I will leave you with only a few recommendations. However, if you are hungry for more advice and you want to upgrade your storytelling skills, feel free to reach out and book a coaching session in storytelling with me!  

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The power of partnerships: How Creative Medical Research and boobook empower each other through productive collaboration

CMR and boobook_partnership

When we talk about the research world, partnerships are important, but great partnerships are invaluable. To maximise the impact of research and get better results, many small agencies join forces to broaden their services and offer their clients more solutions. For boobook, it has always been a modus operandi, both in terms of receiving as well as offering services. Finding the right partners to fill in the gaps where needed proves to be a great, long-term strategy that helps deliver many extensive projects on both ends.

One of the agencies we regularly work with is Creative Medical Research, an innovative medical device market research company with over 20 years of experience. The CMR team delivers research for their clients through the entire medical device lifecycle from product development, price strategy to helping with conveying the right messaging. On top of research, CMR also covers all aspects of the research participant recruitment processes.

We reached out to George Ashford, CEO at CMR, to discuss his company and the collaboration with boobook. Considering their focus is solely on medical devices, they understand what works and what can work for services, accessories and marketing necessary to launch a new device to the market.

"Generally, medical device manufacturers that we work with come to us at specific points in the product life cycle. They might want to know the unmet needs in a particular therapy area. It could be a prototype, or it might be a device that's been in the market for a long time, and a new competitor has launched a similar solution. We also do pricing research which is where we work with boobook. They help us define the optimal price of the product," explains George.

Currently, his team consists of 20 people with various skills and different backgrounds. "Some team members come from a medical research background, but most of us came from more generic consumer research or similar marketing areas. We make a great team with complementary skills and knowledge," says George.

Growing together, with a purpose

CMR and boobook have been partners since 2014. The value of this partnership is vast because we reinforce each other and grow together. As experts in different fields, by combining our skills and knowledge, we can offer better services. George is well aware of the benefits that come with collaborating with other great companies.

"Partnerships are crucial, firstly because we can't do everything by ourselves. Secondly, there is a great amount of freedom to choose to work with other experts and agencies. This rarely happens in a large company, where you are obliged to work exclusively with departments within your company. With small companies, you're free to choose who you work with based on cultural fit, technical capabilities, experience level, etc.," describes George.

When George and Nicole (CEO of boobook) connected, they instantly clicked because they understood how their skills and expertise complement each other. "At CMR, we understand quantitative research, but we don't do what we’d regard as complex data science. Considering boobook is focused on quantitative analysis and can deliver in-depth insights that go beyond data analytics, it was a perfect match," confirms George.

An effective collaboration makes a difference

Thanks to the unique mix of skills and considerable experience in the field, boobook supports the CMR team by helping them to analyse research data correctly and translate analysis output into insights.

Boobook can tackle complex technical elements of data science and explain it to people who may not have a data analytics background.

"This is crucial and very helpful for the next steps in the project. They extract the most important insights and help us understand the data thoroughly, which allows us to give our clients in-depth insights," explains George.

With over 18 years of experience in the market research industry, George has led CMR projects for some of the world’s top medical device and pharmaceutical companies.

One of the critical elements in partnership research is shared responsibility and reliance throughout collaboration. CMR can rely on boobook's guidance from the very start of a new project. "When we get requests from our clients where we know there's something to work together with boobook, we consult them to see their ideas on the topic. They advise us on the right approach or tell us to adjust the strategy. For example, they can help us out with fieldwork materials and the questionnaire, ensuring that we've got everything optimised," says George.

Even though the collaboration goes through many project phases, boobook's ability to deep dive into data and extract the key takeaways makes a difference for CMR.

CMR often challenges boobook with complex (analytical) business questions that keep booobook's team always alert and sharp.

As George points out: "The boobook team does their magic with the data analysis. We can always rely on boobook to help us understand the analytics and resulting insights and guide us through the reporting period. They really focus on the important takeaways.

Partnerships that last are built on shared values

In agile teams, the collaboration goes smoother, communication is more efficient, and the project moves faster. For George, it's essential to rely on partners with a similar style of working. "At CMR, being agile and flexible are our strong points, so naturally, we search for partners with similar workstyle. Sometimes a small team has some drawbacks in ensuring that there are sufficient resources, but boobook always finds a way to be available when we need their help, just as we do for our clients" explains George.

All good partnerships expand beyond "just" the working relationship. The foundation of successful collaboration is trust and respect, which is deeply embedded in CMR and boobook values. Having confidence in each other opens up space for referrals and recommendations, which helps to expand our networks and build new partnerships.

"A partnership has to work on all levels, not just a professional one. With boobook, we trust each other and cultivate open communication, which is the best foundation for a good, long-term and friendly collaboration. A good partnership makes everything easier," concludes George.

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How boobook and Ghent University collaborated to create a text analysis framework for business applications

Back in March, we introduced the SentEMO project, led by the linguistic department of Ghent University. The project is based on the collaboration between academic researchers and different business organisations, conveying the research around text and sentiment analysis to create a text analytics framework for business applications.

A few weeks ago, all the stakeholders met to discuss the progress update and evolution of the project after the initial six months. Frederik De Boeck, strategic analytics director at boobook, met with the rest of the consortium to discuss the work done and map out the next steps. 

"Our role as business partners is to provide feedback during development stages and suggest features that are applicable and useful for businesses. The system itself tries to find aspects about which something is said, and the sentiment and emotion that goes with the statement. During the first six months, we extracted the main aspects and related sentiment. The first statistics on the overall performance of these models are good. One of the main learnings we've discovered is that those topics that are not mentioned a lot, are also harder to retrieve as the system doesn't have enough information to learn from. The more complex the codebook is, the harder it is to predict something. We could say our biggest learning is to keep it as simple as possible," explains Frederik.

"The data we are looking at consists of 7 000 to 8 000 verbatims across eight categories that have been manually tagged. Based on this tagged data, the system now extracts aspects and sentiments on new data being inserted. In the end, the system will also include a recursive loop, continuously learning based on new information coming in. The system will continuously be amended as it’s designed as a self-learning system," says Frederik.

The platform is intended to be multilingual, in four different languages, another aspect that also needs to be developed gradually. "In the first months, the focus was on developing the framework based on the Dutch language. The goal in the following months is to work on other languages, like French, English, and German," shares Frederik.

Currently, the project is more about how valid the data is, how good is prediction modelling is, and how good are we analysing the data. That is why the next big step is finalising the dashboard. "The dashboard will be a great asset to show to our clients and to give a more inside view of how the platform will look and work ultimately. After the first demo of the dashboard, we gave our feedback from the perspective of how we would be using it," says Frederik. And that’s just the reason why such collaboration between industry and academia is important.

So, will the platform be helpful for all businesses?

"The system becomes interesting when you have loads of volume coming in, i.e. plenty of data and information. The platform will be useful for companies that have loads of reviews or other text data coming in. The system needs to feed on a large quantity of data to really make sense out of its AI. On the other hand, the benefit for the smaller samples is that you can reuse pre-trained category-specific models to help mine the information," explains Frederik.

As mentioned before, boobook is a part of a consortium working hard on developing this concept. The role of boobook as a business and strategic consultant is multifaceted and brings to the table the necessary knowledge of the current challenges and needs that companies face. 

"This project is very much a learning process, for both academia and companies. We can see firsthand the newest innovation and trends in linguistic and sentiment data analysis. After the first six months, it's great to see we're on track with project objectives. The first results from the statistical point of view are good; now it's time to deepen this study and help form a final product," concludes Frederik.

The official launch of the SentEMO platform is scheduled for the end of 2022. Keep your eye on our future articles, as we’ll keep you updated on the progress!

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Every mile matters: How NMG & boobook are raising social awareness and helping children in need through Charity Challenge

Thanda’s Learning at Home Programme in Mtwalume: Families receives activity packs delivered to their home with a new book to keep forever each month.

Nelson Mandela, a beloved South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist, once said: "A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of."

Today, caring for others isn't a matter of choice; it is mandatory. As individuals, we can do as much as possible through volunteering, sharing, and donating, but a much greater impact happens when a group of people joins forces for a bigger impact. Many companies and companies organise charity challenges and fundraisers to support NGOs that help people in need. 

Every year since 2018, boobook joins the NMG Consulting Charity Challenge, organised during summer, from June to August. NMG Group is a well-established global financial services firm with approximately 800 employees across the Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, and South Africa. They collaborate with financial institutions (insurers, reinsurers, fund managers and pension funds, banks, and brokers) to shape strategy, implement change and manage performance. In 2017, NMG acquired a strategic minority stake in boobook and became a shareholder, connecting boobook with NMG’s global network and providing infrastructure to support our growth.

To get more details about the Charity Challenge initiative, we caught up with Geoff Baars, co-founder of NMG, Karin Barry, Chief Operating Officer of NMG Consulting, and Nicole Huyghe, CEO at boobook. "NMG was founded about 30 years ago by four individuals, actuaries from South Africa. The founders are very active and sporty people so this idea of combining sport with a charitable project was a very natural evolution," starts off Geoff.

Thanda’s Mobile Library: Librarians visit Thanda’s After-school programmes for children to borrow and exchange books.  

Making a difference for those who need help the most

The NMG Charity Challenge unifies philanthropy, enthusiasm for sports, and team spirit. “Fifteen years ago, our Head of UK Consulting, Johnathan Gunby, envisioned this global corporate challenge with the objective of encouraging greater fitness among employees and partners by incentivizing them to move, run, or ride a bike to earn miles that are converted into charitable contributions,” explains Karin. 

The idea behind the initiative is simple: helping less fortunate people, and particularly because the founding members have South African roots, it was vital for them to contribute and help South African communities. NMG also has a large office in South Africa with over 400 employees, building their business presence.

We are doing it for the children who can't help themselves. It's simple, the money goes to the most vulnerable population who don't have any other advocate. Charity Challenge is about making sure these children have a fighting chance. Our charities support the most vulnerable in society - orphans, physically or mentally disabled, abandoned children,” explains Geoff.

The NGOs are chosen based on the personal connection that the founders have with the communities and their background stories. The funds raised through NMG’s Charity Challenge go to four main charities: Elundini Educare (Cape Town), Tembisa Child Welfare (Johannesburg), Uviwe (Port Elizabeth) and Thanda (Mtwalume).

"NMG is deeply involved in the organizations and we know the leaders personally. There were also interesting overlaps, as some charities follow the children throughout education onto the job training and all through the university. Some of them have even worked as “Learners and Interns” at NMG,” describes Geoff.

A shared vision and sportsmanship for a positive impact

Initially, the challenge covered only running, for example, you run a mile, and we contribute five South African rands to charity. Over time, the challenge has expanded to include other activities; for example, we also include things like community service. Before COVID lockdown, we organised many events, such as a big golf day for clients and partners in South Africa accompanied by a fundraiser,” continues Karin.

NMG is a resourceful and innovative organisation – when confronted with a situation we don't like, or that doesn't make sense to us, it's in our DNA to find a better way. This was amply demonstrated last year in all the fund-raising initiatives that emerged, like Healthy@Home, Tik Tok Challenge, Virtual Races, Mandela Day activities, Chop it Off initiative, Game Night, Calligraphy & Origami challenges, the customised e-signatures with Go Fund Me links, and so on. We also built an app and boobook helped us with its design,” adds Geoff.

Considering NMG has offices around the world, they all have different preferences when it comes to activities. As mentioned, in South Africa, they raise money through a golf tournament. In the Malaysia office, they organise yoga classes every Friday. The Toronto team had a penalty jar for swearing or showing up late. Other offices require teams to make a donation if they want a biscuit or soda from the pantry. “The charity challenge is meant to be a fun experience, so it's great to see people doing something extraordinary to raise money. There have been a couple of cases where employees would shave their head, moustache or beard as a dare and collect the money that way,” reveals Karin with a smile.

Here, at boobook, our team gathers the most miles by biking to work. One year we organised a mini flea market to gather extra money. Charity Challenge is a great way to bond with the team and get to know others differently, aside from the work environment,” adds Nicole.

The NMG Charity Challenge is about participation, but not without challenges, as there's always a healthy amount of competition. Every year a trophy goes to the winning team that has the highest number of miles per person. “It's great to see teams competing for first place because in the end, the more money we raise, the more we can help. Typically, in the pre-COVID times, at the end of the charity challenge, we have a check handover in different charities followed by a party, with popcorn, clowns, and balloons. It's like a big festival where everyone has a great time!" explains Karin. 

In 2019, boobook won the contest and got the opportunity to visit one of the NGOs and be a part of a celebration. “It was an incredible experience to visit the NGOs. Through this initiative, we are reminded we can positively impact the lives of others. Sometimes it’s necessary to step out of our work “uniform” and explore the human side which is vulnerable and emotional, but very much dependent on mutual support and respect,” says Nicole.

The future of the Charity Challenge

We are halfway through this year’s challenge and the number of miles keeps growing every day. When talking about the future plans, Karin and Geoff hope to see active participants in all the offices. “Our people are proud to be associated with the Charity Challenge and are very happy that NMG runs this initiative. In the following years, we would love to see greater participation and expand to even more activities. The aim is, of course, to grow the number of miles every year. We are trying to be more inclusive because we'd like to get greater participation and continue to support the community in South Africa,” explains Geoff. 

Another goal is to get involved in local projects. "It's essential to do something globally, but we understand the importance of the local projects. So we want to encourage our partners to give back to their local community in any way we can, through various activities like reading to school children. Of course, these activities have been heavily impacted by COVID, so let's hope things start moving again,” concludes Geoff. 

Curious to see how many miles and money we’ll raise this year? Stay tuned, we’ll share the 2021 numbers in September!

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The power of collaboration and complementary skills in data science teams: Interview with Helen Dickinson

In our UK office, we are lucky to have two outstanding team members, Dan and Helen. They both work as senior data scientists and share a love for numbers.

Helen Dickinson is a London based lover of Ceroc dancing and a good action movie who almost became a tea taster in Sri Lanka. However, destiny planned something else for her. As she finalised her degree in Mathematical Sciences, Helen soon became a Statistical Consultant. Prior to joining boobook, she worked for 12 years in a statistical consultant position for two big market research agencies, GFK and Kantar Public UK (formerly TNS BMRB).  

While she was working at Kantar Public UK, Helen was involved in extensive surveys regarding the provision of national statistics, public policy analysis, public service performance measurement and improvement, and communications evaluation. Her work was to map and measure values, attitudes and behaviours across society, to be able to inform policy makers across national and local Government at the highest level. 

Honing skills at social governmental projects  

For a young person fresh out of university, the research industry and the costs involved was surprising at times, but still very rewarding. “I was gobsmacked by it at the time because back then you were routinely talking hundreds of thousands of pounds for some of these larger “gold standard” government projects. I’d never really been all that aware of the scale of it all when seeing statistics quoted in the newspaper until I started working in the industry. It was really interesting to see how everything would come together and to have been an active participant from start to finish. For example, I was working on a national pension enrolment study. We started it years ago, but then it got launched officially in 2012. It’s amazing to see a project from the very conception, all the research that goes into forming the propositions, all the way through to actually being implemented and having a positive impact on people’s lives,” explains Helen.

Helen joined the boobook team in 2018. Like most of her other colleagues, Helen also found boobook through a friend’s referral. With her curious mind and eagerness to learn, she immediately fitted into the small and agile group of data experts.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Boobook nurtures a dynamic environment where everyone is involved in a project from the proposal stage. Everyone can present ideas, be it new ideas or things done before that worked well. Each team member brings in different skills and knowledge. One of Helen’s strongest points is putting the client into perspective and defining the context around the project and business.

“The first step is to research the market to get a bigger picture of whether there are any changes that are happening in the field that might be relevant. You can also see what is going on in other sectors and see what they've done in those areas previously and then also apply it to any sector that you're dealing with so you take a broad view and start to narrow it down further,” says Helen.

Being innovative is crucial in our line of work, and yes it brings a lot of value to try something. Still, I believe you don't have to do something new for the sake of doing something new, just consider things that have worked well so far. The best thing about boobook is we all bring experience from different areas. Dan's got a lot more practical researcher experience who knows his stuff about stats. Frederick's very technical and business focussed, and then I've got my methodological, social and policy experience so it’s a perfect combination to be able to see things from different angles,” says Helen.  

By collaborating closely, the entire team benefits as they share expertise and ideas. “I honestly don't think a day goes by, certainly a week, where I don’t learn something from each other. We're always learning from each other, which I think that is really valuable,” explains Helen.

At boobook, collaboration isn’t only valued and nurtured internally but also externally. Throughout the process, it’s crucial to work as one team with the client.

“We work quite closely with all our clients. A lot of our clients are really collaborative, and it’s a great fit with our mindset and work ethic. It's important to build and maintain a close relationship with a client because it increases the chances for best results” says Helen.  

The human aspect in data science is irreplaceable

As many of her peers, Helen is curious to see how her role will evolve in the future. “I believe it could go one or two ways...It's going to become a lot more technical and automated. I think there will be more and more integration between systems and incorporating open data sources as well as client data, where permitted. But on the other hand, some of my counterparts in the industry may deal a lot more with clients who don’t always have those technical skills. There is a gap between technical data scientists and non-technical clients. Ideally, companies have people who can bridge that gap, and “translate” the concepts, as such, and make the best of both worlds,” admits Helen.

Considering there are many talks about AI, automation and machine learning, businesses can easily slip into a risky zone where they rely too much on the data and don't focus on the data interpretation.

“AI is only as good as your base data. The human aspect is irreplaceable,” confirms Helen.  

Like other team members at boobook, Helen also believes the human aspect is more important than just automation. “I don't think businesses can find people who can do everything alone. Companies need to build a team of people with different expertise and skills. Only by joining forces, businesses can make the most out of the data science,” concludes Helen.

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How to achieve true customer-centricity: Eight insights industry leaders reflect on the future of insights

There is no doubt COVID challenged us to rethink many things — for the better. The same positive tendency is happening in the market research and customer insights industry. This trend doesn't come without challenges and struggles; however, businesses express the need and will to do things differently. Hopefully, these intentions will set the path ahead with well-paved foundations and a clear direction. 

But let's take a step back, and analyse essential facts. Fundamentally, the critical business questions haven't changed over the years. Companies want to connect with their (prospect) customers by actively listening and understanding their needs. But that is not an easy task, considering customers' needs change and fluctuate all the time —regardless of COVID or any other external factor. When we look at it as an ever-changing, dynamic discipline, we can say customer understanding is continuously transforming

So, the big question is, "how to make your customer-centric efforts a success story?". Many companies are still on a journey to reach this objective and fully implement a customer-centric mindset throughout the organisation. For some, COVID has accelerated that journey. For others, they had to rethink their approach either because of decreased budgets or because traditional methodologies are not adequate anymore. 

The realistic view on customer insights today 

Based on some great projects we did last year here at boobook, from our perspective, businesses still invest in customer understanding — some even more than in the past. But is this the case for most organisations? Is customer-centricity a key priority now? What if budgets are not there to invest in customer understanding? 

To get a broader view of where customer-centricity stands today, I decided to interview eight senior marketing and customer insights leaders across a wide variety of sectors, both the ones that are doing well because of the pandemic, as well as those being impacted badly. To share this in-depth analysis of current trends from the perspective of experts, we collected all the interviews in an extensive e-book you can download here. 

All experts passionately and openly talked about customer-centricity, from achievements and goals to struggles and challenges. Judging by their willingness to discuss this topic, it was a clear sign that customer-centricity is a top priority in many businesses. 

Here are the experts we’ve talked to: 

  1. Patrick Van Steelandt, VP Strategy, Niko, Construction (BE)
  1. Ruti Amal, Head of Customer Insights, Sodexo, B2B Services (UK)
  1. Louise Morgan, Senior Director International Marketing, Avis Budget Group, Travel (UK)
  1. Thijs Vanderhaegen, Head of Insights, VRT, Media (BE)
  1. Shirley Harding, Head of Market Research, Standard Bank South Africa, Finance (SA)
  1. Kevin Schou, Head of Insights & Analytics, Takeda, Pharma (UK)
  1. Veronique Luber, Director of Customer Insights, Disneyland Paris, Entertainment (FR)
  1. Benoit Pourgaton, Senior Marketing Director, Gameloft, Gaming (FR)

Topics overview 

Through our conversations, many fascinating insights emerged. While it was interesting to hear each person’s viewpoint and experience, my goal was to discover the red thread that connects the dots between different companies and their sectors. When gathering the feedback and revisiting my notes, I defined seven key topics that best describe the overall status of customer-centricity today. 

1. The current state of customer-centricity: In pursuit of ambitious goals 

There is the general belief that companies are behind on being truly custom centric compared to others. It shows that they feel there are still significant gaps to fill and that customer-centricity is still not the core focus of the organisation, at least not in terms of implementation. Truly listening to the customers isn't an easy shift for many organisations, especially the bigger ones, as it is challenging to implement it across all departments. 

2. The impact of the pandemic: Being agile is more important than ever 

A consensus is that customer-centricity has always been important. Truly listening to customers, being responsive, and implementing “outside-in” thinking has been a high priority for many years. The pandemic did not necessarily change this, but it did impact other business aspects

3. The new concept of data: Data needs to work harder 

Businesses still have plenty of data, but it is about analysing the right data. Additionally, more than before, data needs to work much harder. This comes from decreased budgets, data sources that aren't fully accessible (e.g., social media data), or the changes that force us to act fast.  

4. Connecting with customers in the pandemic world: A synthesis of MR and other data is the future 

The best way to listen to the customer is to do this in two ways, by combining transactional and primary research data. More than ever, businesses need both views to understand the customers' needs and behaviour. Organisations who want to understand their customers know how important it is to pair both sources.  

5. The (re) definition of customer insights: Decentralisation and data democratisation 

Organisations are more focused on building their expertise in customer understanding, driven by cost, time, and the abundance of inexpensive DIY tools. This trend only shows how vital customer-centricity has become. But how far are companies on this journey? Are they striving to have all expertise in-house? And how do they manage spreading this expertise? And more importantly, what role should the customer insight managers and providers play in the future? 

6. The role of technology in understanding customers: Digital tools are just a part of the puzzle 

While technology excels fast forward, we are overwhelmed with many basic and advanced tools. Those tools that focus on visualisation and reporting, like Tableau or PowerBI, are widely used, while the AI tools are following this trend very slowly. Many of these platforms claim the same benefits: "Fast, visual and easy to use by non-data scientists". So how come they are not entirely accepted and implemented within the organisations yet? 

7. Thriving as a customer-centric organisation:  Invest, disrupt, and act fast  

In conclusion, there is no doubt that customer-centricity is getting more and more attention these days, even though it has always been important. Most companies are on a journey to integrate it fully into their operations and bring it to the core of many decisions. But the question arises: "Which organisations will be most successful on this journey?". 

The next step towards more customer-centric businesses 

Many things have changed since the pandemic, both in our personal lives and at a business level. Hence, it's understandable that we, as consumer and customer, have different needs, but what are the changes in our conditions exactly? Will this change be permanent, or will it be "back to normal", or should we say "back as it was before". These questions have been raised so often since the pandemic hit us, and they all lead to customer-centricity. 

COVID also highlighted one of the main issues in customer insights: having lots of data isn't sufficient. At the end of the day, what counts is understanding the data, its application, and how to extract valuable insights. 

Listening to customers and extracting the correct insights can be achieved through different methods. An excellent example of the customer-centricity journey is "data democratisation", a critical topic mentioned many times throughout the sessions I had with experts in customer insights. Data democratisation is a term saying that customer insights and centricity are not centralised and steered by one team but many teams across the organisation. This is a significant step forward to embed customer-centricity in business processes and what all organisations should strive to achieve. However, that journey needs guidance, support and evolution to ensure the expertise is also correctly spread and understood. Every customer insights team, both within organisations and consultancy companies, has an essential role. 

We should see each other as collaborators in pursuing customer-centric success stories with joint forces. 

Want to know more about trends in customer insights and how the big players are pivoting through the pandemic crisis? 

Download the full e-book here!

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min. read

Maximising insights from textual data through sentiment and emotion analysis

Collaboration with Ghent University on the SentEMO project 

SentEMO header

How well do you think you know your customers? Can you "read" their emotions and attitude towards your brand through written (and spoken) text? 

Text analytics and sentiment analysis are typical methods that help derive meaning from customer data. Text analytics studies the topics and value of the words, including the grammar and the relationships among the words, giving you the "meaning". Sentiment analysis builds on text mining and provides insight into the "emotion" or "sentiment" behind the words.

Since customers express their thoughts and feelings more than ever before, sentiment analysis became an essential tool to track and understand that sentiment. Sentiment analysis (or opinion mining) is a natural language processing technique performed on textual data to help businesses monitor brand and product sentiment in customer feedback and understand customer needs. Analysing customer feedback, such as opinions in survey responses and social media conversations, allows brands to learn what makes customers happy or frustrated to tailor products and services to meet their customers' needs better.

While most companies use different online and offline communication channels to interact with their customers, some companies gather customer's comments and feedback. They further analyse this valuable data and use it as a guide to improving their products and services. When extracting this data, businesses mostly apply text mining tools with a pre-coded list of words to identify topics and sentiment. This is also known as a lexicon-based method where the system labels a positive, negative, or neutral message based on some keywords.  

Stepping into a new dimension of sentiment analysis with SentEMO  

Unlike text mining software currently available on the market, the SentEMO project aims to expand sentiment analysis even further. The idea is to develop a deep machine learning tool that will offer organisations insights based on text. With its multilingual feature (EN, NL, FR, DE) and customisation options, SentEMO is envisioned as a robust tool that will show businesses detailed insights retrieved from the aspect-based sentiment analysis (positive, negative, neutral) and emotion analysis (anger, fear, happy,...).  

Launched by a group of researchers at Gent University (LT3 research group) and Artevelde University, SentEMO is based on fine-grained sentiment analysis. "When you look at what is in the market, you see that the systems currently being used are simple lexicon-based systems that are old-fashioned. In academic research, we are way ahead of what is currently being used in companies," says Veronique Hoste, a Professor of Computational Linguistics at the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy at Ghent University and an expert in machine learning and natural language processing. 

Veronique Hoste is a head of department of the Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication, and director of the LT3 Language and Translation Team.

"Most of the systems used today are coarse-grained systems, meaning the system will do a basic detection "positive - negative - neutral". Companies often want to go beyond this basic mood analysis and gain insights into what their stakeholders say about specific products, features, etc. This is where aspect-based sentiment analysis comes in: first, it determines what people are talking about, and then the sentiment or emotion towards this specific aspect is determined, leading to a much more comprehensive insight into your customers' emotions. As different companies have different types of data, we also thought it would be interesting to build a system that could be used and customised by companies."

"By correcting the machine learning system's output, you can continuously retrain the system on your company-specific data. Gradually, it will evolve into a system that is perfectly tailored to your needs," explains Veronique.

One prototype, multiple options 

The SentEMO project will run for two years, meaning the delivery of the trainable machine learning architecture with an annotation-interface is planned to be launched by the end of 2022. 

The prototype is envisioned as a platform with two dashboards. One customisable dashboard will give insights into the "mood" of data and include various sentiment analyses. The goal is to start from a more holistic data view and further focus on different data aspects. A second dashboard will be an annotation dashboard that companies can develop themselves.  

"Our goal is to give a methodology, a baseline system. We want to deliver the right tools for companies to tailor the system to their specific needs. As you feed the system constantly with new data, you create a robust and accurate tool designed for your needs," says Veronique. 

"During the project, the different prototypes are accessible as a web service for testing purposes. After the project is finalised, we aim to set up an agreement with interested partners to share the source code (the software is written in Python), so companies can integrate it themselves. Everybody works in a different environment, so this way, we made it easier to adapt the system to the needs and preferences of any organisation," explains Veronique.

To turn this project into a successful venture, Veronique and her team need access to real, tangible data. However, getting data isn't always the easiest step because companies are worried about security issues. Regarding data security and GDPR compliance, Veronique says SentEMO has a clear policy: "As researchers, we are not interested in who posts messages; we are only interested in what is being said and how. If you're able to anonymise the data or pseudonymise the data, then there is no problem. With some companies, we sign the NDA, but other businesses easily split the data from the personal information, and then they can share the data without an NDA," confirms Veronique. 

The power of reliable partners' network  

As they were mapping out the project, the SentEMO team knew they needed external help and tap into the power of a diverse partner network. They decided to collaborate with three types of companies: 

  • real end-users (companies that will use the platform), 
  • consultants (experts in data analysis who provide data); and 
  • development companies (software development team).  

SentEMO relies on consulting partners to bring in a business perspective and explain what companies want and need. They close the gap between research and practice, as they are in direct contact with businesses, gathering the necessary data and providing SentEMO with client's feedback and ideas. This enables SentEMO experts to expand their academic knowledge and create a true business-oriented platform. In return for their participation and data provided, the businesses receive actionable insights and access the SentEMO prototype.  

Here is where boobook proves to be an excellent partner, as they work on providing textual data, connecting with the client network, and providing valuable feedback throughout the process.

From data to insights — a partnership with boobook 

"This project is interesting both for boobook and us because we can see how to integrate text mining and data analysis and gain insights from it. From the academic perspective, our focus is on accuracy, not so much on interpretation and what action points need to be done. This is where boobook's expertise comes in, as they can take extensive data, analyse it, and translate it into actionable insights," says Veronique. 

"Boobook's team is proficient in showing the data and translating it into businesses guidelines and how to present the data through interesting storytelling. We don't have any expertise in that, so collaborating with boobook is extremely important," she continues.

Proactive collaboration is crucial when it comes to projects involving many partners and inputs. SentEMO knows they can fully confide in boobook. "I see boobook as a valuable partner throughout the whole project. The back-and-forth discussion is important as we evaluate together the provided data, what could be improved, and how to optimise the system," says Veronique. 

Considering machine translation is constantly evolving, it's only a matter of time we'll see more and more platforms like SentEMO. Still, Veronique emphasises the important role of human interpretation and analytical mindset.  

"If you want to try text mining for your business, think about a problem where you think the text analysis or text mining would be an interesting approach. Then look if there are solutions on the market that can assist you or reach out to a team of experts, such as boobook, to guide you through the process," concludes Veronique. 

Interested to know more about the SentEMO project? Or you would like to apply and participate in the project with your business? Reach out to eva.vandenberge@boobook.world!  

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How innovation continuously expands data science: Interview with Dan Luca

interview with dan luca

Working in data analytics and data science brings many exciting opportunities to test and try innovative solutions. One of our team members, Dan Luca, is very keen on discovering what's new on the data horizon and, like the rest of the team, believes this type of work requires a continuous search for new methods and tools. 

Dan has been a part of the boobook team for three years now as a senior data scientist. London based, he enjoys brewing beer and occasionally gaming. But most of his days, he is translating data and retrieving insights to help businesses understand how to use the information to improve their customer experience and overall business strategy. 

Dan has a physics degree from the UCL Department of Physics & Astronomy in London. After studies, he worked as a market researcher, where he worked his way up from trainee to project manager position. In 2015, Dan decided to expand his skills and do a master's in data science, studying part-time while still working as a researcher. After graduating, he worked as an analytics lead at his previous job. Soon, he became a part of the boobook team where he could explore and learn more about analytics and data science. What exactly drove him into the world of data analytics?

"As a researcher, I was always on the quant side. I'm interested in doing the analytics, not just the research."

Building on the combination of analytics expertise and research know-how

As most consultants in the data science world, Dan enjoys getting something done with a successful tangible outcome.

"Though the best part of working at boobook is the learning process, I gained a lot of experience in the areas boobook is known for, such as segmentation and conjoint. Furthermore, I am always keen to try a new methodology, put it into practice and then if it works, it's a rewarding feeling," he explains.

Dan approaches every project with questions that will help him (and clients) understand the needs and objectives. "Usually,  we map out a process of how we'll get to the business objectives." Team collaboration is crucial, and boobook makes a good case for it. "Everyone's different, and everyone can bring something unique to a problem. Whether it's a methodology, or an idea, or something around the organisation, or something based on experience, I strongly believe that discussing things first and planning together with a team is far more beneficial than working in isolation," explains Dan.

dan

Another important difference between boobook and other agencies is the ability to bridge the gap between pure research agencies and analytics. "Boobook has immense experience in the sector. And it has this combination of analytics expertise and research know-how. The team knows what works in both worlds and how it works. I think that's what makes us unique," says Dan. 

Innovation as the driving force behind data science

If there's a possibility of trying out something new, Dan is usually the first in the team to do it.

"If there is an initiative to look at a methodology that we haven't used before, I become curious and ready to test it out," says Dan. 

Innovation is a must at boobook, especially as data science is a quickly moving sector intertwined with digital advancements. Being on top of new tools, methods and implementing them to the existing workflow is something Dan does with great ease and genuine interest.

"While studying data science, I've learned some interesting methodologies that I haven’t yet applied in the research world. So that was one great source of inspiration. I also try to keep up to date with developments in the data science world by reading relevant blogs and connecting with my peers on LinkedIn.

There are many misconceptions about what a data scientist is. For anyone interested in becoming one, Dan has a couple of tips. "Programming is a must-have in data science. So if you get the basic programming skills, that's a good start. It would help if you also had a good foundation in mathematics and stats. Ideally, you should also have a bit of business acumen. Of course, this comes with experience," confirms Dan.

The (inevitable) evolution of the data scientist role

The future of data science is still unclear in terms of other technologies and merging with other technologies. Dan believes the role of a data scientist will change over time and become an umbrella term for new roles. 

"The job title of data scientist might disappear in the future because at the moment, that is too broad. It will morph into several other things. For example, there will probably be data scientists who will build the tools. On the other hand, there will also be data scientists who will use sophisticated tools without knowing how to programme them, or what's behind them."

"I'm not sure we will call it data science in a few years because it will just be incorporated in everything. If you think about it, from your smartphone to your car, algorithms to recommend you something on the internet, etc., everything will be interconnected. And data science is already a part of pretty much everything," he concludes.

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min. read

Reflections on leadership during times of crisis: Interview with boobook's CEO, Nicole Huyghe

nicole huyghe boobook

The famous saying "a smooth sea never made a skilful sailor" took on a whole new meaning for many businesses in 2020. Even though it was a volatile year, people are doing their best to adapt to a new reality and move forward with their lives. Businesses that are successfully navigating through the changes, they do so mainly because they are able to pivot at the right time and in the right direction.

Nicole Huyghe, founder and CEO at boobook, is no stranger to leading her company through the rough sea. With over twenty years of managing experience under her belt, Nicole knows that any crisis leads to inevitable changes.

Acting fast is imperative - even if it means bringing a wrong decision

On March 17th the pandemic became a harsh reality as the outbursts started to happen globally, together with lockdowns and restrictions. What was the first thing that came to your mind?

I remember thinking - we are in it for a long time. While many hastily predicted that things would get back to "normal" after summer, I never took this pandemic for granted. Pretty soon I realised that if the crisis persists for an extended period, I will have to make some difficult choices regarding my company and the team.

When there is a crisis, it is easier to sit and wait and hope for the best. However, that can't be a long-term strategy. Acting fast is essential, even though the decision might be the wrong one.

Nicole is a firm believer how "it is more important to make changes even if it's not all that perfect than not making any changes." That doesn't mean that making decisions comes easy to her. Since March, Nicole has had to make several tough decisions, especially in terms of letting people go - which is probably one of the hardest things for a manager to do.

Once COVID hit, how did you communicate with your clients and prospects? Did you notice a change in their attitude and willingness to start new projects?

Of course, many things came to a halt. Many of our clients were in the same situation as us. It wasn't like they didn't want to start new projects or that their attitude changed; they couldn't proceed anymore as most of the budgets were frozen. Still, many clients were very sympathetic, and I truly felt they tried everything they could to continue the collaboration.

I felt a lot of solidarity, not only among peers but also with our clients.

The importance of human connections and honest communication

How easy was a switch for the boobook team to work remotely? Did you find it more difficult or easier to collaborate online?

From an infrastructure point of view - no problem. Switching to online and remote work helped us to be more productive, but I can't say the same for creativity, personal communication and intense brainstorming sessions.

Though most of the team members like quiet moments, I feel we all miss the social connection and human interaction.

Was it challenging to keep the team members motivated even when maybe you didn't see things in a very positive light?

That was one of the most challenging things! It is not only about motivation but also about being able to give answers to the many questions they rightly had. I had many questions too. Providing the right answers in a very uncertain environment is almost impossible.

I'd tried to be as honest as possible - meaning I shared the good and the bad, the questions and struggles. It was important for me to stay positive without pretending. I wanted to reassure my team as much as possible by saying "things will get better and we will come out of fine, but it will take a bit of time".

Accept today, focus on tomorrow

Nicole acknowledges how challenging these past months were, but thanks to her problem-solving mindset and optimism, she was able to find another, more constructive perspective.

Every situation has its advantages. When a crisis like this happens, you are forced to think differently and change tactics.

"In terms of strategy, we took this opportunity to sharpen our positioning and clearly define who we want to be - which also resulted in a renewed website and messaging. It's all about excelling in what you are known for - as this will provide continuity during the crisis and provide sufficient base to grow beyond the core business later on," explains Nicole.

In many ways, many of us are responsible for the future we make. Sometimes the first step is accepting that the bright future of tomorrow will not be the same as the future we envisioned a year ago.

Embracing the change

Juggling between managing the business, getting new clients, keeping current clients happy, motivating the team, while facing an uncertain future puts a heavy burden on every CEO shoulder.

Nicole found her way to deal with the COVID-19 stress: "I try to remind myself to take mental breaks once in a while. At the start of the pandemic, many felt like we had to recover as quickly as possible. If not by winning new projects, then at least by looking for creative or other solutions or by talking to clients as much as possible, so we are ready for the future."

"Fairly quickly, I decided to give myself some headspace. Now and then, it's necessary to sit back and let things go for a bit. There was little we could do or control anyway. Trying all kinds of (often useless) strategies created a lot of stress without valuable return. It's much more beneficial to take a break and look at things from a fresh perspective."

What did you discover about your team during the crisis? What did you learn about yourself as a CEO and a leader?

Most people are more resilient and understanding than we think. I was positively surprised that many colleagues stayed calm, understanding and supported me through difficult decisions - even if they were directly impacted. And what did I learn about myself? I realised I don't panic easily!

nicole huyghe boobook

Connect with others and sharing the experience

People are social beings, and during the crisis, it's essential to find comfort, inspiration and reassurance in connecting with others. We talk to our friends and family about what we are going through to find consolation. In a professional world, talking with like-minded people and sharing experiences, thoughts and ideas bring us closer to each other and help us find solutions together.

Did you talk to other CEOs about their experience? What advice would you give to other business managers, founders and entrepreneurs?

Connecting with other CEOs, founders, and leaders is such an important factor! So, keep talking with peers. Share experiences. Complain and laugh together!

How did you cope with the pandemic and the lockdown in your personal life? What kept you sane? Do you see a difference in your mood now compared to the first lockdown?

My personal life shifted quite a bit because of the crisis. While I have been travelling a lot for business in the last 15 years (almost every two weeks I was in another country), suddenly I was at home all the time. My kids and husband loved it! And so did I.

At the beginning of the second lockdown, I felt more tired and in low spirits. However, after a few weeks, I've accepted the situation as it is. We have to make the best of it as life must go on. 

If you could turn back time back to March 2020, what would you do differently?

I'm not a person who dwells on the past too much. Once I make decisions, I focus on the next steps.

A crisis can be a perfect accelerator! The pandemic compelled boobook to return to our core business and eliminate the aspects that are not helping us move forward. In the last nine months, I made changes to the company in terms of structure, focus, and people, which probably would have taken us years otherwise. That doesn't mean that this hasn't been a painful process. It has! But we are in a much better shape to tackle the future and its challenges than we've ever been.

And finally, what are your goals and priorities for the next 2021?

We haven't set any firm targets for the upcoming year at boobook, which is quite different from previous years. Of course, we have ambitions, and we want to continue successful collaborations, but I find it too early to figure out our aspirations. It's hard to plan anything in uncertain times…

Our mission has always been to "enjoy our work, share our passion with clients, and offer high-quality advice" - and we realised how these objectives have become even more substantial for boobook in the last year.

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min. read

From analytics to business insights: Taking data science to the next level

We are living in a fascinating time where information is accessible and intertwined in all aspects of our private and professional lives. Digitalisation and big data changed the perspective on the consumer as it opened a whole new world of possibilities. Businesses have the power to harness the influx of information and use it to deliver better products, customer experience and customer journey. The complex process of connecting the dots between big data, analytics and business insights is a science on its own - and very much in demand today.

Enter data science and data scientists.

Who are data scientists?

When you hear someone is a "data scientist", what comes to your mind? Can you imagine what they actually do? 

One of the most wanted jobs today still has many misconceptions around it. With this article - which also includes an interview with one of our in-house data scientists - we want to demystify the role of data scientists and help you understand why you need them in your organisation. 

Let's first look at the definition of what a data scientist is.

According to Tech Target, "a data scientist is a professional responsible for collecting, analysing and interpreting extremely large amounts of data...A data scientist requires large amounts of data to develop hypotheses, make inferences, and analyse customer and market trends. Basic responsibilities include gathering and analysing data, using various types of analytics and reporting tools to detect patterns, trends and relationships in data sets."

Sounds easy? Don't think so. 


The title appeared only a few years ago, yet data scientists are taking the world by storm. No wonder, since companies are overwhelmed with the data that comes from different sources and in staggering volumes. As a result of the digital age, we are "blessed" to have access to abundant amounts of information, but without knowing what to do with it, all that amazing data becomes useless.

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The many hats of a data scientist

Try to imagine data scientists like scuba divers that explore, analyse and reveal insights while swimming in the ocean of digital data. They are curious about "what lies beneath", and they strive for bringing sense and structure to large quantities of information

Another critical skill that a data scientist needs to have is storytelling. Once they gather their findings, the next step is to communicate with the team what they discovered and how the organisation should apply these insights. At this stage, it's crucial to be a creative storyteller and combine it with compelling data visualisation. Data scientists need to look from another perspective, meaning to see how others look at the data and make sure the managers understand the guidelines. 

Dr Eva-Marie Muller-Stuler, a Chief Data Scientist at IBM, says six ingredients make a successful data scientist:

  1. Business Acumen
  2. Strong Analytics Knowledge
  3. Advanced Analytics Software Knowledge
  4. Data understanding and Data Management skills
  5. Visionary Storytelling and Presentation Skills
  6. Adaptability to new business trends

Looking at the list, it seems like data scientists are a hybrid between a mathematician, hacker, analyst, communicator, and consultant. This unique combination of skills makes data scientists extremely appreciated and unfortunately, hard to find!

"Creativity is what makes an outstanding data scientist"

At boobook, we're lucky to have great data scientists in our team. Frederik, one of them, joined boobook almost five years ago and has been an indispensable team member ever since!

With his background in Psychology (specialised in Theoretical and Experimental Psychology), love for analytics, and creative mindset, Frederik honed the craft starting with data processing and advanced analytics, to finally roll into the data scientist position.

Frederik De Boeck

Do you see yourself as a data scientist or a consultant? 

I believe it should be a healthy mix. I want to be included in both analysis and interpretation, and often I want to do the "dirty" work and crunching numbers as much as extracting the conclusions and giving clear directions to businesses. Some data scientists are more focused on results, but in my opinion, the next level is asking more questions starting with "why".

As a consultant, I start by defining the problem, how we can approach it and find the right method that will lead us to the best solution. Call it consultancy or data science; ultimately, my goal is to give answers to business issues and clear directions on how to act upon them. 

In your opinion, what makes an outstanding data scientist? 

Creativity! The ability to think about the problem from many perspectives and test out different methods and models is what makes a great data scientist.

The second thing is being open to constant learning. Expanding your mind is crucial to understand the business you don’t know that much about. Dare to ask, because, without a proper understanding, you won't do your job well.

Can you share some tools you use? 

My brain! :) I use a combination of Excel and programming languages such as Python together with software such as SPSS, Sawtooth, and R.

I also consider my colleagues an excellent toolkit! This is not a "one-person" job, and often I ask my team members for a second opinion because they find another perspective and ask questions I didn’t think of.

What would you recommend to businesses who are thinking about hiring a data scientist/and why they should do it? 

A lot of companies own so much data without knowing what to do with it. They are usually afraid or reluctant to start exploring that data simply because they aren't sure why and how to approach it.

If you decide to hire a data scientist, be open-minded and ready to follow up on their recommendation, don't just dismiss it because it's hard or it doesn't fit with your internal policy. A data scientist brings a fresh perspective and gives data-driven guidelines, so you can become more efficient.

What would your advice be for the people who are thinking about becoming data scientists?

Make sure to learn how to make a good coffee!

Being a data scientist is a rewarding job, and it can be a very creative profession, but it needs to fit with your character and interests. The new generations have a far better foundation when it comes to languages and programming. They figure out the "how" early on, but what's more important is to cultivate the interest and practice the mind to focus on the "why".

Being a data scientist also means having motivation for self-learning! It's challenging to keep up with the innovations and trends, so make sure you're always stepping up your game.

How do you see the future of data science?

Data science is booming, and it's definitely here to stay! Now I see it more as a bucket that includes a lot of jobs, but I predict it's going to become more granular and branched out. When you think about technological advancements like 5G connection or the Internet of things, it's all about being connected and integrated through data.

The data that companies get from users is their most valuable and relevant asset as it helps businesses cater their users with automated and customised suggestions and personalised experiences.

It's all about team effort

Yes, data scientists are in high demand, but what you can do today is create a team of talented people who can combine their skills to deliver useful data insights.

Diverse and inclusive groups are always a winning combination, so your All-Star data team should (ideally) include data engineers, business analytics, project managers, programmers, ML (Machine Learning) Engineers, data journalists, and graphic designers. 

Everywhere where there is data, you can apply data science. For example, in healthcare, you can use it for patient diagnostics and predictive modelling, in government you can use it to improve operational efficiency, in agriculture for accurate crop predictions and automation, and in finance for fraud detection. Those are just some use cases, but the possibilities are endless, whether it's small, medium or enterprise-level organisation.

Now, what will you do with your data? 


Don't leave it floating around without any purpose! Reach out to us at info@boobook.world and let's find out together what your data is trying to tell you!

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Boobook’s CEO, Nicole Huyghe, featured on Chartered Banker Coverage

Chartered Banker is a magazine run by the Chartered Banker Institute. The Institute was established in 1875 and is the oldest professional banking institute in the world and the only remaining banking institute in the UK. It aims to help rebuild public confidence in banks and bankers by developing and embedding high ethical, professional and technical standards. published on a quarterly basis.

The magazine features profiles on prominent figures in the sector and investigate key issues, both in the UK and globally. They cover all relevant Institute and sector news, offering focused reports to support professional development and understanding of wider banking matters.

Read the full autumn edition here.

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COVID-19 insights by boobook: Eco-friendly and ethical as the increasing drivers of consumers’ purchasing decisions

Over the last few weeks, we covered key insights gathered from our global COVID-19 study. In each article, we analysed changes and connections between the pandemic and consumers’ sentiment - about the present and also the future - intending to help businesses navigate successfully on the road to a new normality.

In this final article of the series, we want to share with you our findings and main takeaways about factors regarding purchase choice and the shifts happening due to the pandemic. What is the most critical factor when you decide to purchase an item?

Price?

Quality?

Or eco-friendliness?

The rise of eco-friendliness and ethical dimensions

We asked 4,500 people in 9 countries across the globe to rank purchase drivers based on absolute importance. The top three answers were price, quality and safe for my health. These factors have always been important to consumers, but they’ve become even more crucial now. Being a trusted brand and eco-friendliness showed up as the most popular drivers among the non-price/quality-related product factors.

When it came to ranking purchase drivers with increased importance since COVID-19, across all segments, 'safe for my health' has become an even more important attribute than before. For the "Financial survivors" who have been hit hard financially by the pandemic, 'price' comes before 'safety'.

However, many people have paid more attention to eco-friendliness and ethical products, especially the “Considerate spenders” stand out the most as they put these considerations high on their list.

In our survey, we also asked people to trade-off various product characteristics against the price they would pay for them. Would people pay more for local products, for example? Product availability (in-store or online) and safety are hygiene factors, and you would have to discount heavily for them not to be a major driver of choice these days. Ethical and environmental factors can sustain some price premium in people's minds as well as locally sourced products - to a certain extent.

The willingness to pay extra for specific product characteristics varies between the countries included in the study. For example, Americans seem to be not very keen on paying more for eco-friendly, ethical and local products, while South Africans, Brazilians and Chinese are much more eager.

Still much to learn about the impact of COVID-19

Based on the data and our findings, we can suggest to businesses to find a way to position their brand and products as environmentally friendly and sustainable. The consumer prefers to pay more for eco-friendly/sustainable or ethical than for local products, so ideally, businesses should offer a product or a service that fulfils all three criteria.

Here we conclude (for now) our 7-part analysis of our global study. As much as some insights were surprising, some were also entirely predictable. Nobody knows how long the pandemic will last, and probably the insights we discovered in the first part of the study will change in the next months. That is why we will re-run the survey again in autumn to have more data to compare and help us understand better the changes in the consumers’ mindset.

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Boobook’s COVID-19 insights featured on retail news sites

Candy & Snack TODAY, an official publication of the National Confectioners Association, is the premier trade magazine targeting the information needs of the retail and wholesale confectionery and snack buying community.

Craft Focus magazine is a bi-monthly publication for the craft industry, distributed to art & craft shops, toy shops, model shops, haberdashers and needle craft retailers. Each issue contains detailed information on influential trade shows and includes reviews of hundreds of new or innovative products, enabling retailers to make informed buying decisions. Craft Focus also offers sound advice on financial and legal matters, provides accurate trend forecasts and dispenses a balanced and accurate view of issues that directly affect the industry.

Written exclusively for Britain's top food retailers, Speciality Food combines news, special reports, features and expert opinion to form a complete picture of today's fine food industry.Speciality Food is read by decision makers across the fine food sector, from the owners and buyers of delis, farm shops and renowned food halls to a diverse range of producers, wholesalers and distributors.The magazine brings together news, product recommendations, retail and business advice, expert insight and exclusive interviews with industry heavyweights to form the most comprehensive publication for food and drink professionals.

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COVID-19 insights by boobook: New challenges and opportunities for the retail sector

Will the retail sector survive the crisis? What will the future of shopping look like?

Whatever might be the case, the retail sector (as every sector, after all) will have to transform and adapt to a new reality.

In the fifth part of our global COVID-19 study, based on the answers from 4,500 people across the globe, we concluded that many consumers still enjoy and will continue going to stores. Despite the lockdowns and store closures, online shopping didn’t grow exponentially, or at least not as it was expected. Online shopping remains a practical, safe and secure way of purchasing, but the crisis didn’t cause a significant shift.

The “shifters” lead the way to online shopping

Across all markets, the proportion of regularly bought product bought online increased from 40% to 48% during the lockdown. However, it's likely to slip back to 45% once the pandemic has subsided. The most significant permanent shift will be seen in the UK, Brazil and South Africa, which is catching up from a lower base. On the other hand, it appears there will hardly be any structural shift in markets like Germany or China.

At first glance, it might seem how online shopping stayed more or less at the same level during the lockdown as it was before. However, there are other numbers that we can’t ignore. We identified a group of 20% of respondents who claimed they would significantly shift their behaviour towards online shopping in the future after this pandemic recedes.

The presence of these “shifters” is very different across the globe with more than 40% of South Africans saying they would buy more products online in the future compared to just 12% in Germany.

Looking at the people in this group, age is a universal factor with far more “shifters” in the “under 35 age” group compared to the “over 55 age” group. This could well be because younger age groups are more digitally oriented and typically buy more online.

Here it’s important to highlight how younger people have been more affected economically by the crisis, and this sentiment will influence their future shopping behaviour. The younger generation will be more careful about what they spend their money, which translates to shopping less and reducing unnecessary expenditure.

On the other hand, older age groups seem to stay loyal to traditional shops. Nevertheless, they are cautious about how their shopping experience in the physical stores might look like in a post-COVID world. So, while their shopping behaviour might remain the same, their engagement and expectation around the shopping experience might change drastically.

The evolution of retail

The retail sector will continue to change and evolve as more businesses adopt the “bricks-and-clicks” model or move online altogether.

Before the crisis hit, we already witnessed the expansion of “clicks-and-bricks” model, and now with the economic and social changes, this combination is still key. For older generations who perhaps have not been impacted as much by the pandemic, stores will remain a central component of their overall shopping behaviour but they need to feel safe and secure. For younger generations who have perhaps been hit financially over the past few months, online channels will be their channel to shopping in a more focussed and economic way.

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Boobook’s COVID-19 insights featured on financial news sites

NAILBA is the leading insurance industry organisation promoting retirement security and consumer choice in the insurance and financial services marketplace through the use of independent wholesale brokerage distribution channels. NAILBA is the voice of independent brokerage distribution.

Financial Planning Today is the premier daily news website for Financial Planners, Paraplanners, IFAs and Wealth Managers, particularly Chartered and Certified Financial Planners and Paraplanners.

Advisor Today has the largest circulation among insurance and financial planning advising magazines. Founded in 1906 as Life Association News, Advisor Today is the official publication of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. Our mission is to provide practical information, sales ideas, resources and business strategies to help insurance and financial advisors succeed.

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Boobook's COVID-19 insights featured on GreenBook

GreenBook is a leading voice in the market research and consumer insights space. Our global study on COVID-19 got featured on their blog and in their newsletter in August 2020.

Read the full article at https://www.greenbook.org/mr/market-research-trends/covid-19-insights-7-key-takeaways-on-consumer-attitude-and-future-behaviour/

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COVID-19 insights by boobook: Family time and home cooking gains momentum

In this 6th part of our COVID-19 series, we’ll analyse how our attitude changed towards cooking and home experiences and what does this new momentum mean for businesses.

At the very start of the lockdown when people were stocking up on food, and household items, home cooking was a logical next step. As the panic buying and hoarding decreased, some activities seem to become more than temporary trends. When asked what will they focus on in the next 12 months, 45% of people we surveyed opted for family time, while 38% said they will do more baking and home cooking. This opinion is very uniform, regardless of consumer profile or country.

Rediscovering home cooking and its benefits

There are many reasons why cooking and home experiences became so important during the pandemic.

In times of distress and crisis, we generally focus on family experiences, feeling of belonging, togetherness and care.

During the lockdown, we were limited to staying inside our homes and going out to eat was no longer an option. Let’s also not forget the fact how the virus is so easily spread and we became cautious about who is handling our food and where we shop our groceries.

Cooking and baking became an equivalent for family time and enjoying the small things inside your home; here are other benefits it brings:

  • we spend less money (which is crucial for households that saw a cut in their income)
  • eating a balanced diet keeps us healthy
  • learning how to cook new things boosts our mood
  • the entire family can help and that way connect through a fun experience.

A new perspective on self-care

Added to the central theme of home and family, we discovered a rise in virtual health care - which only confirms how our priorities will revolve around health, care and safety.

There is no doubt the pandemic is encouraging us to rethink our relationship with food and the environment. We are eager to discover new ways to be healthier and feel better - without having to empty our entire wallet.

Keep your eyes peeled for our next article where we’ll take a look at the key drivers when it comes to the product choice: local, sustainable or ethical?

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COVID-19 insights by boobook: Increase in conscious purchasing habits

Through our COVID-19 series, we are sharing insights on how consumers’ attitudes, behaviours and purchasing habits have been and will change in the near future.

One of the positive consequences emerging from the crisis is that we are shopping more consciously, meaning, we’re looking for sustainable options passing on non-essential items.

Watching the pennies

In the previous article, we talked about consumers' focus on saving. More than half of the 4500 people from nine countries we interviewed are saving the same or more than before. They are saving because the lockdown put a halt on spending on leisure/social activities, but also because consumers are much more cautious with spending money. Interestingly, spending less means buying fewer products instead of cheaper products.

  1. When asked what people will do more in the next 12 months, they mention that they will be careful with what they buy rather than buying cheaper products. This reveals how people would rather buy less instead of a downgrade.
  2. For people who are saving less money during the pandemic, half are planning on buying fewer products over the next 12 months. Only a quarter will be looking for products on promotion or buying cheaper products.
  3. However, this doesn’t apply to the “Financial survivors” who are constrained to look for cheaper alternatives.
  4. Interestingly, those with increased savings, e.g. Comfortable optimists, will also be more careful about their spending in the current months, as 43% are still going to be cautious about what they spend their money on, and a third will spend less on non-essential products.

New priorities, different decisions

Personal health, the health of friends and family, food and medical security, financial security and personal safety are our current top concerns, so our behaviour will likely stay the same when buying food & drinks, household goods & health products.

On the other side of the scale, the hospitality sector will suffer the most, especially holidays abroad. Less than 1 out of 3 people surveyed will keep travelling abroad as before.

Whether your business is offering products that belong in the first category or you are struggling to keep your products/service relevant, it’s crucial to listen to and apply what your customers need right now. As we mentioned in one of the first articles on COVID-19, the brands with strong brand equity who position themselves as valuable and helpful will keep their customers and continue to grow.

Nicole Huyghe, CEO at Boobook, concludes: “The COVID-19 crisis has naturally had a huge impact on many people’s finances and shopping behaviour. Although the challenges many people have faced will have a continued impact post-pandemic, there are many opportunities for retailers and brands to make the best out of an unfortunate situation by ensuring their shops and products are aligned with what people will be looking for in the next few months”.

The conscious consumer of the future?

When it comes to spending, many consumers plan to be far more careful with what they spend money on and how often. This is a typical response, regardless of how they are doing financially; for some that will be spending a lot less as they don’t have the money anymore. For others, it means spending the same, but more wisely.

Even though the crisis has a terrible impact on our lives, economy and society, somehow, there is a silver lining. The change in our mindset towards buying fewer products can make us more mindful of what, and how we’re buying. Hopefully, this positive transformation will remain and keep expanding even after the pandemic is over.

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COVID-19 insights by boobook: Four consumer segments emerging out of the crisis

We continue our series of insights into consumer sentiment and future behaviour, based on our COVID-19 global study.

We talked to 4 500 people in 9 countries across the globe about how they feel, how they view the future and how they think their behaviour will change over the next 12 months. These topics were the basis for grouping the people into consumer segments defined by the data we gathered. This resulted in four very distinct groups of people, present in each country, although some groups are more prevalent in certain regions.

By identifying these consumer segments, we enable businesses to better understand economic and social changes and how consumers' are reacting to this. Here are the four segments we extracted from our research:

  • Comfortable optimists
  • Considerate spenders
  • Cautious wait-and-seers
  • Financial survivors

Let’s take a look at each segment separately:

1. Comfortable optimists

covid-19 segment icon comfortable optimists

In the first category, people are optimistic about the future. Many of them were able to save up the same or even higher amounts of money during the lockdown.

Considering they are still well off financially speaking, they don’t feel guilty to spend money (often on high-quality brands), and they are going to continue with their purchasing habits.

It’s no wonder this segment is optimistic about the future, as they don’t have to worry about finances and survival. Nevertheless, like the other groups, they will review their financial plans/savings/investments to further optimise and grow their wealth.

What do Comfortable optimists mean for your business?

  • If Comfortable optimists are your key target consumer group, then you are pretty safe. Your customers are still happy and positive. They don’t need much reassurance, as they are optimistic that the future will be bright again once the pandemic is over.
  • In uncertain times every customer is at risk. The more your product is a non-essential item, the more you will need to show its worth to all your customers, including the Comfortable optimists.
  • Maintain an honest and trustworthy relationship with them and keep highlighting the value your products or services bring to their lives.
  • Creating experiences that revolve around enjoying life in a safe environment together with the family, will keep them interested - even if your product comes at a higher price.

2. Considerate spenders

covid-19 segment icon considerate spenders

In this category, there are prevalently younger generations. As the crisis hit, they realised they should be more careful with their money, or, at least, believe they should. Being a part of the society that was impacted by the crisis, especially financially, they are looking into smart ways to save their money.

They do this by reviewing financial plans, monthly bills, and going to cheaper stores. On the other hand, they are quite optimistic about the future as they have a set plan on how to save money which will allow them to still enjoy life and treat themselves once in a while.

This segment is most keen to prioritise eco-friendly, ethical and local when purchasing products.

What do Considerate spenders mean for your business?

  • If your products are "commodity", i.e. products which can easily be bought elsewhere and possibly cheaper (e.g. food, fashion, monthly or yearly subscription plans), then you'll have to invest heavily in engaging with the Considerate spenders.
  • They are at risk as they will save wherever they can so there is enough money left for enjoying life and purchasing "guilty pleasures".
  • Positioning your products or services as essential contributors for enjoying life both in the short and long term will be crucial when communicating with this group.
  • The concept "good value for money" fits perfectly with the Considerate spenders, which also means that any price increases need to be considered carefully.
  • However, value is not linked only to money for them; it is also a combination of quality, offering enjoyable experience and taking care of life in the long term. Positioning your products as ethical and environmentally friendly will resonate the best with this type of consumers.

3. Cautious wait-and-seers

The Cautious wait-and-seers are set apart by two elements: a rather pessimistic mindset and they don't like change. Like the Comfortable optimists, they are also not heavily impacted by the pandemic, at least not financially. Most often, they will keep spending at the rate they did before the crisis, but they will also re-think buying cheaper options especially when easy opportunities pass by.

However, unlike the Comfortable optimists, they are pessimistic about the future and feel somewhat disoriented in the “new normal”. They don’t have a clear plan on how to tackle the crisis and are rather inert to change, even though they understand they need to adapt.

What do Cautious wait-and-seers mean for your business?

  • So far, this type of consumer has probably been your most loyal customer as they don't like when things change.
  • But now, when the world around them is changing rapidly, they feel at a loss. Cautious wait-and-seers are aware they should do something, but they don't have a structured plan to tackle the change. However, they will adapt their behaviour if it's easy enough and if opportunities are close and attainable. This translates to visiting cheaper stores and buying more affordable products.
  • Therefore, make sure to stay relevant, possibly by offering discounts once in a while.
  • As they are anxious and quite pessimistic about the future, reassurance messages without being too optimistic will keep them interested in your brand stories.

4. Financial survivors

covid-19 segment icon financial survivors

In the fourth category, the crisis has struck people the hardest. For them, every penny matters now and they have to save on anything they can. They have to modify their spending habits the most and are not in a position anymore to spend money on unnecessary goods. Also for essential products, they will look for the cheapest options.

As they are struggling financially, they have a pessimistic view of the future and are worried about how they will be able to deal with the changing economic situation.

What do Financial survivors mean for your business?

  • Having financial survivors in your customer base will undoubtedly hurt your profit.
  • These consumers are in distress and will appreciate any support they can get. Ideally, you could offer them more discounts or cheaper products.
  • They will not generate a profitable revenue short-term, but long-term they might turn into your best advocates. By helping them get over this crisis, you will build and maintain a relationship with them based on trust and reliability.

What is this consumer segmentation telling us?

covid-19 sgement icon cautious wait and seers

The financial situation of a household is one of the key drivers of current and future consumer behaviour, even more than before. Spending power is dictating what people are buying.

Watching the trend in spending power, especially of key customer groups, will be an essential part of any sales forecasts.

However, not all behaviour can be explained by someone’s salary. Mindset and attitude are equally important. It is crucial to understand how customers are coping with the current situation, mindset-wise to successfully engage with them.

Businesses need to ask themselves who of their customers are struggling with the change, why and what reassurance they need.

Every consumer is pushing a reset button, some harder than others. All consumers, regardless of how they are dealing with the pandemic, are reviewing their needs; whether they have to or feel they should. While in the last decades we got used to living in a “consumption world”, buying what and when we need it, today consumers think twice before they spend. “Do we really need this?” is the question many people ask themselves.

Brands and products will have to show their value adequately; otherwise, they will fall off the shopping list.

Even if brands can show their value, some customer will still look for cheaper options. Either because their primary concern is to pay bills, or because they want to save money so they can afford other products.

Portfolio optimisation with possibly lower budget products will, for many businesses, help to avoid losing too many customers.

Fresh insights around the corner

These four distinct consumer ways of handling a crisis will lead to specific behaviour and needs. While we continue adapting to this new COVID reality, we want to support businesses and help them find their way and communicate better to their customers. Companies can apply our insights to customise their approach, messaging, and products based on target groups, and much more.

DOWNLOAD OUR FULL GLOBAL COVID-19 REPORT

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COVID-19 insights by boobook: Consumers shift focus to long-term saving and review of financial plans

Almost 46% of the overall population we surveyed in our global COVID-19 research has seen a cut in their income. By losing the sense of financial stability together with the uncertainty about the future, many people re-evaluate their attitude toward savings and investments. This shift in the consumers’ mindset is starting to change their purchasing habits and putting different priorities in place.

Even though we witness a tremendous impact of the crisis across many sectors, the newly adopted approach to savings and investment could turn out beneficial for the finance industry.

As Nicole Huyghe, CEO at boobook, explains, “While many industries have been badly hit by COVID-19, we may be entering a boom period for the financial industry. However, it could also potentially signal a lot of churn within the sector. Hence, companies with the best insight into their customers have a huge opportunity if they play it right.”

Considering there will be a significant shift in terms of what people will use their money for, we hope these insights will enable businesses to understand and predict the consumers’ behaviour and actions.

Here are 6 important facts that summarise the consumers’ perspective on long-term saving:

  1. In almost all countries, more than half of the consumers did save as much as before or even more
  2. Even for people with a pay cut, 40% of them still saved at least as much as before ( with 20% saved even more)
  3. South Africa stands out with the country where saving was the most difficult
  4. Two-thirds of people plan to review their savings and investments in the next six months
  5. Optimising savings is even more important than looking for cheaper shops or products
  6. Most people will use the savings for the long term, including investing it

Smarter investments for a better future

But what are people planning to do with these additional savings?

Only a quarter of savers are planning on spending that saved money in the next six months. France, Germany and China are most likely to keep spending, with about 40% claiming to spend the extra savings.

The majority of the consumers will use this money for long term saving and investment to secure the future. Especially consumers in China and South Africa (at least those who could save up), will put money aside long term. Short term savings are a second option though less attractive, pointing out that consumers believe this crisis will last for an extended period.

Risk for a wider divide between rich and poor

Each country drives specific differences in terms of saving behaviour. Still, the biggest driver of how much money people save and what they are planning to do with their savings is linked to the financial security and level of financial optimism of the consumer.

Those at the more comfortable end of the scale have been least impacted by the crisis, "the Comfortable optimists", are unsurprisingly saving the most. They are the least affected by the crisis and are the least likely to change their spending habits. Nevertheless, they will also review their savings and investments, most likely to further optimise their wealth.

At the other end of the scale, for the "Financial survivors", we can expect a significant reduction in spending and focus on saving money every way they can. For them reviewing their savings means using savings to pay their daily and monthly bills.

What we see is an unbalanced financial impact of COVID-19 across the society - an effect that could potentially create a substantial divide between the haves, and the have nots.

Stay tuned

In the next article, we’ll continue to dive more into the concept of spending/saving as we’ll analyse how saving more in times of crisis is strongly linked to spending more wisely.

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COVID-19 insights by boobook: 7 key takeaways on consumer attitude and future behaviour

COVID-19 shows no signs of slowing down, and as the scientists are battling with time to develop a vaccine, the world has no choice but to adapt to the new, uncertain reality and hope for the best.

As consumers, we feel and act differently, so businesses have to follow our lead. The focus of many companies has shifted from the profit-driven mindset to value-driven. The main question every business should ask today is: "How can our service or product cater to the changing customer needs?".

For many marketers, advertising and selling in times like these is utterly uncharted territory. However, by listening to the customer, any marketing team will be able to define its position (even in uncertain times like these).

At boobook, we are committed to bringing consumers’ need, perspective and experience at the centre of our clients’ businesses. Two months after the crisis hit, we launched a global study with a clear objective to gather as much data as possible to reveal critical insights on changes in consumers behaviour due to COVID-19.

The study ran from the end of May until mid-June. Our target group was a nationally representative sample of 4,500 consumers across nine countries (USA, Brazil, France, UK, Germany, Spain, Belgium, China, South Africa) in various stages of the pandemic. The study led to seven key takeaways.

What did we learn from our COVID-19 study?

1. Money doesn't buy happiness

Our first conclusion reveals the connection (or the lack of) between the financial situation and the level of optimism. The prediction of how bright the future will be didn't correlate with the current economic situation. When asked to predict how life will look like after COVID-19, people in countries with the least income stability turned out to be the most optimistic. On the contrary, European countries, with functional social structures and higher living standard, are mostly pessimistic when it comes to finances.

Approach people based on mindset, not only on the financial and pandemic situation in the specific country.

2. Four consumer types emerging out of the crisis. Which one are you?

Based on distinct consumer ways of handling a crisis driven by the financial situation as well as mindset, we defined four segments of consumers:

  1. Comfortable optimists
  2. Considerate spenders
  3. Cautious wait-and-seers
  4. Financial survivors

Customer approach will need to be customised based on the target group.Looking at the countries, Europe has many cautious wait-and-seers, while most financial survivors can be found in South-Africa. Considerate spenders are more prevalent in countries with less governmental support.

Businesses will have to adapt their approach based on these segments where their audience is.

3. Saving it up: smarter and long-term

Despite the crisis, more than half of the consumers saved as much as before or even more. Based on a variety of answers, it's clear that many consumers, across countries and segment, will pay more attention to saving their money. Saving it up also means they will review their current saving models, and go for long-term, smarter financial decisions, like investments, funds, etc.

Changes in financial decision making will open many opportunities for financial product providers. But that can also be a threat if the consumer re-evaluates its finances, and he doesn't see the value anymore in certain investments or his saving plan.

4. Fewer rather than cheaper

Closely linked to saving more, we also see how people will spend more wisely. By wisely, we mean consumers will spend less money on non-essential products. They will rather spend on fewer (but quality) products than purchase cheaper items, which shows us how people would rather downgrade on quantity than on quality.

Keep building positive brand equity. In times like these, it is crucial to give value and quality if you want to stay relevant to your customers.

5. "Clicks & bricks" remains the best retail strategy

Even though online shopping is a practical, safe and easy way of purchasing, the crisis won't cause a permanent shift to online shopping. Many consumers still enjoy going to stores.

Continue building your success on the combination of both an online store and physical shop, integrating the two into a powerful strategy.

6. Family time is the best time

You probably noticed how many shops were out of flour, active yeast, etc. Cooking and baking became an equivalent for family time and enjoying the small things inside your home. It’s not hard to understand how in times of distress and crisis, we generally tend to focus on family experiences, feeling of belonging, togetherness and care. Another benefit is that cooking at home means we also spend less money.

Create products and services which focus on family experiences, ideally in or near the family home.

7. Local sounds good, but I'd rather pay for eco and ethical (and healthy!)

Last but not least, we took a look at the parameters that are critical when it comes to product choice. Price/promo and healthy are the key drivers when it comes to choosing a product. However, environment and ethical factors are still most popular among the non-price/quality-related product specifications.

Keep in mind how the consumer prefers to pay more for eco-friendly/sustainable or ethical than for local products. Ideally, you can offer a product or a service that has all three criteria.

More insights coming up

With this overview, we just scratched the surface of our global COVID-19 study. In the following weeks, we'll present each insight extracted from our research as an individual article where we take a closer look at data. As a side note, data we gathered now doesn’t have to be final. It’s necessary to compare and investigate consumer’s sentiment as the crisis evolves, so we will re-launch this research during autumn months to get a full picture.

We hope our study will provide practical guidelines on how to understand your consumers better. In case you wish to know more details of our global COVID-19 study, feel free to reach out. We'd be happy to answer any questions and help you understand your customers better!

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min. read

COVID-19 insights by boobook: The influence of the crisis on consumer confidence and optimism

Money can't buy happiness.

Contrary to a common assumption, countries with most financial stability and well-developed government support systems, are most pessimistic about the future.

This observation is very prominent in Western Europe. Are Western Europeans spoiled because of reliable financial support systems? Does this feeling of safety make them less active and eager to come up with creative solutions themselves?

Launching the global study

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been analysing consumer confidence across the globe regarding the impact and implications of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Our objective was to see how the crisis will affect the way that consumers make choices in the future.

We surveyed a nationally representative sample of 4,500 consumers across nine countries in various stages of the pandemic. Here are our early insights into consumer confidence and optimism for the future.

Study details:

  • Countries: USA, Brazil, France, UK, Germany, Spain, Belgium, China, South Africa
  • N=500 in each market, national representative
  • Fieldwork: 29 May – 16 June 2020

Optimists vs. pessimists

When we asked people when they thought the crisis would be over and things would return to ‘normal’, a third of them thought it would take more than a year for things to go back to normal again. On the other hand, a quarter of consumers were far more optimistic. They felt that things would be back to normal in the next three months or so.

About 25% of people who were surveyed are very optimistic about the future, while 10% says life has changed forever. This brings us to the net optimism score of +14%.

The optimism was most noticeable in China, though these results relate to a period just before the latest outbreak in Beijing. At the time of our survey, there was a sense that the worst was over and things would return back to normal quickly.

Even though the pandemic is still spreading in Brazil, they seem to be optimistic as well as the Americans. It is mainly South Africa and a clutch of Western European countries (with the possible exception of France) that is most pessimistic. Even in Germany, where the death rate was amongst the lowest in Western Europe, people are not confident things will return to normal any time soon. So, whilst the stage of a pandemic in each market influences consumer confidence, it is not the only factor in play.

Outlook on financial (in)security

Looking at the data, there has been a significant financial impact on consumers over the past few months.Nearly half the people across the nine markets said that their household income had been reduced in some way because of the pandemic (either through redundancy, temporary unemployment schemes or other reductions in earnings).

This impacts directly people’s feelings of financial security in short to medium term ability to pay their monthly bills. In markets where there have been higher levels of a reduction in household income, such as South Africa and Brazil, we see higher levels of financial insecurity and concern about the upcoming months.

How will life after COVID-19 look like?

When we asked people about their optimism, or otherwise, for their financial situation in the future, things look more nuanced.

While there appears to be some relationship at a national level about current feelings of financial security and optimism for the future, it’s not a given.

financial security consumers and covid-19

Financial Security Score is the degree to which people are more confident than not, they are able to meet their regular household expenditure needs. Financial Optimism Score is the degree to which people are more optimistic than pessimistic, about their financial situation in the future.

Once again, China comes through as the most optimistic market. While you would expect South Africa to be the most pessimistic that’s not the case, similarly with Brazil.

The western European markets and particularly France are the least optimistic in terms of their future financial situation. In both Spain and France, more people are pessimistic than optimistic, and in the UK and Belgium, it’s pretty even.

While in Western Europe people feel generally OK in the short term, there is still a degree of anxiety about the future. This mood will inevitably influence how they behave.

When asked to predict how life will look like after COVID-19, people in countries with the least income stability turned out to be the most optimistic.

These conclusions are based on early results from our study to understand universal patterns at a national level. In the following weeks, we will continue to analyse the data to get further insights into how the pandemic influenced and possibly changed the way that consumers behave.

DOWNLOAD OUR FULL GLOBAL COVID-19 REPORT

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min. read

How to get a 360° customer view through segmentation by merging different data sources

segmentation blog image

How well do you know your customers? Many companies are focusing on achieving the full 360° customer view to understand their customers better. Data analysis and customer segmentation are crucial elements in this process. With the increase of different online touchpoints, collecting data from multiple interactions can be difficult and messy. But, as we can access and analyse data from various sources, it can help you interpret your customers' needs and wants more accurately.

What is "customer segmentation"?

The goal of segmenting your customers is to provide tailored services or products so each customer feels confident and appreciated when interacting with your brand. When your customers feel you care to understand and meet their needs, they’ll continue to rely on your services or purchase your products. Learn as much as you can about your customers to be able to provide service that will keep them coming back to your services/products.

Segmentation implies breaking down your audience into smaller groups based on their common interests, motivations, tendencies, and previous behaviour patterns to better communicate with each one of these segment groups in the future. We achieve this by tracking purchasing habits and patterns, collected in transactional data, as well as measuring underlying motivations and needs through primary research. During the segmentation process, we divide customers and audiences into clusters that share similar characteristics.

customers

Optimize your marketing campaigns with customer segmentation

Why is segmentation such an important part of marketing? When done correctly, segmentation will support you in maximising customer value. You will know exactly where to focus your marketing efforts and resources so can reach the relevant audience. In the long run, this will help you achieve business goals and reach your KPIs easily. Segmentation is also often used for product development. Having your customer in mind when developing new or modifying existing products can help you successfully launch new services or products.

Here are five benefits of customer segmentation that will strengthen the impact of your marketing:

1. You will reach the right audience

When you segment your audience, it’s more likely you will attract people who are looking for the solutions that your services or products deliver. You’ll attract more ideal prospects who convert from potential customers into buyers, meaning your conversion rate will grow and the sales process will shorten.

2. Your messaging will be more powerful

If you know and understand what your customers want and need, you can deliver and communicate offers that will resonate with them. The value proposition that is well defined and clear messaging leads to stronger bonds between brands and customers.

marketing strategy

3. You will reach your audience at the right time and place

By knowing well the audience you are targeting, you can determine the best initiatives and methods for finding and reaching them. When you use market segmentation to define your audience, you know the detailed characteristics that you can use to create more effective campaigns. You can also focus your attention on the specific platforms where you know your segmented groups are most active.

4. You will know which products to offer and to whom

When it comes to product development, it’s crucial to create a product that will actually have value or significance to your audience. Segmentation is a great tool to test and optimize your product, as it helps you keep the focus on the needs and wants of your audience.

5. You will successfully differentiate your brand from competitors

Instead of blending in with other brands, and risking your messages get lost in the noise, with segmentation, you can easily differentiate your brand. Focus on specific customer needs and characteristics, and show them exactly how your brand brings them value.

How to create a market segmentation strategy

Each segmentation demands a unique consideration depending on the company, product/service, and the objectives. Here at boobook, we look at each segmentation process separately to define the best approach. There is no one-size-fits-all method, but the steps we take are similar to each project:

1. Define objective and get stakeholder buy-in

As for any business project, getting full alignment of all the stakeholders involved in the business objectives and the expectations is crucial. By stakeholders, we mean all managers who will be interacting with the customer segments as part of their daily processes or when creating strategic customers plans. Typically, we gather stakeholders from different departments, like marketing and communication, sales, product management, and customer insight. We engage with them in a couple of workshops to get their input and define a final set of business questions to be answered.

2. Understand current customers by exploring existing data

Usually, the segmentation includes running primary research with current or prospective customers. However, a lot can be learned from existing customer data, by analysing a part of CRM or other customer databases. This data can give us first insights on who the customers are and what they do, resulting in the first hypotheses regarding different customer audiences.

3. Identify customer segments defined by who, what and why

Though existing behavioural data will define the type of customers, it misses two important elements:

  1. what about prospects/non-customers for whom no data is available, and you want to reach out to?
  2. why are customers behaving in a certain way? For marketers to make a connection with the customers, it is crucial to unravel the underlying emotions of behaviour. We call this the “why”.

Behavioural data might give indicators of the why in primary research, however often is needed to get to this insight. Hence, we typically build segmentation models based on primary data, when possible, augmented with transactional data, to get a 360° degree view of the customer.

There is no single way of segmenting people or businesses. Together with our clients, we choose the most useful solution, from a set of valuable alternatives.

4. Create customer personas

You might wonder: what's the difference between a segment and a persona? They are practically the same, though persona is used to describe the actual personality behind the segment. We often call this "colouring the segment", involving us to dive deeper into the habits, needs and demographic profile of each segment, naming them (that’s the fun bit!) and creating visuals for each “character”. This step is crucial for business stakeholders to increase engagement with their segments.

5. Linking segments to CRM database / create "gold questions" algorithm

As mentioned above, one of the key purposes of customer segmentation is for targeted communication and marketing. The CRM database is often the starting point of communication initiatives, i.e. the contact details of the (prospect) customers to which direct marketing campaigns are sent. Instead of sending everyone the same mail or message, or tailoring the message to typical customers characteristics such as location, age, a past purchase, etc.; augmenting the CRM database with the customer segments opens a whole new playground for marketers. Tailored messaging that is based on underlying needs and emotions ultimately leads to much more powerful targeting. To enable this process, we create an algorithm that links the segments to the current customer information in the CRM database(s).

If you are interested in knowing more, feel free to reach out. We'll be happy to get to know your customers better and help you understand their needs and expectations!

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min. read

Consumers’ view on pricing has not changed much since the COVID-19 crisis


Are you thinking about changing your pricing strategy in the (post) coronavirus times?

At the beginning of this year, one of our clients, Pernod Ricard, reached out as they needed to define a pricing strategy for one of their brands. We conducted an online survey where we contacted 1500 shoppers in one of the EU countries. Satisfied with the results of the research, we provided some key guidelines for the brand’s pricing and promo strategy.

However, nobody could predict what would happen next. Back in February, when we launched the survey, people still didn’t worry about COVID-19. But in only a few weeks, the virus began to spread worldwide, and the global crisis escalated. As in every crisis, people fixated on primary needs, and they started hoarding things like dry food, tins, and toilet paper. Although this panicky behaviour eased out, the perception of our lives and the world around us changed drastically.

Strategic Pricing Research: Take two

Expectantly, Pernod Ricard had doubts regarding the research we concluded before the crisis. Some of their questions were:

  • Where the pricing guidelines we built together still valid?
  • Have consumers become more price-sensitive?
  • Are promotions recommended in the ( post) corona times?
  • What about the equity of their brands?

Against the shared opinion of many consultants - “don’t do strategic research during a crisis” – we decided to repeat the research beginning of May. This time, our objectives were to see whether the guidelines we wrote before were still viable and to detect changes in overall shopping behaviour.

So, did anything change?

The results surprised us, as we didn’t see big changes in price sensitivity before and during coronavirus. Like many, we assumed the crisis would significantly affect the consumers and how they see prices, but that wasn’t the case.

Our main takeaway?

Price sensitivity has NOT drastically changed since COVID-19.

We also came to other interesting conclusions:

  • Now is probably not the right time for a price increase: While consumers haven’t suddenly become more price-sensitive (an increase of 12% in price elasticity), we do see that shoppers would be more tempted to change behaviour if prices would go up.
  • Offering promotions is as important as before: But there is no need to increase the level of discount.
  • Brands should prioritise big-sized packaging: Consumers perceive big packaging as “more value for the money”, and that is what consumers are focused on these days.
  • Visibility in-store is key: COVID-19 shopping means buying what is available and what is easily visible (diminished desire to search and compare). The smaller SKUs will need to get sufficient and prominent shelf display to get into the shopping basket.
  • Though price and promo do remain important, shoppers will not sacrifice all for a good price/high promo: In line with other recent research, consumers want to enjoy life more. Hence, no surprise that they will still buy their favourite brand, even more than before!
  • The crisis had no impact (yet) on the equity of brands, nor on how consumers perceive brands: Most likely we’re in a too early stage to see changes, as this is a longer-term shift.
  • Consumers look for retailers who offer home delivery: If not, the store should be enjoyable and offer a broad range of products such that a multi-shop trip is not necessary.

These conclusions are based on our current insights. We will be running this research again in September this year to review the price and promo guidelines.

Want to find out how we can help you optimise the pricing strategy for your business, as we helped Pernod Ricard and many more?

Contact us at info@boobook.world!

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min. read

COVID-19 impact on mindstate and anticipated behaviour

The coronavirus caused chain reactions in the way we think, live, and communicate. The pandemic impacted our behaviour and introduced different norms, and it’s inevitable how many of our adopted habits will stick even after the crisis. Recently, we ran a survey in the UK on behalf of one of our clients, where we included questions regarding the COVID-19. This survey gave us a glimpse into the consumers' mindset and how they see their behaviour changing over the next 12 months due to the crisis.

Brands with strong brand equity, providing excellent value for money (which doesn't necessarily mean cheap!) as well as providing joy in life will be the winners of this crisis.

It’s vital that businesses turn to customers and try to understand their needs so they know where and how to navigate in the post-corona climate.

Research details

Our research questions were:

  1. Will consumers change their behaviour because of the coronavirus epidemic?
  2. Will consumers plan their budget differently?
  3. Will consumers change their attitude towards non-essential products?
  4. Will consumers shop more online?
  5. Does income level have an impact on future behaviour?

Target group: A sample of 750 UK citizens, shoppers of FMCG products, 18 years old or above.

Method: Consumer data was collected via an online survey on shopper habits. The survey included a few COVID-19 related questions though it was not a COVID-19 specific survey.

Timeline: May 5 - 12, 2020 (in the middle of the UK lockdown period)

More insights to come

Given the importance of consumer understanding these days and getting in-depth insights about the change in our behaviour, we launched a survey entirely initiated and conducted by the boobook team. This research covers and analyses data from nine countries across the globe. We are finalising the study and we’ll share our results soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

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min. read

How to efficiently visualise data: 5 things to consider

data visualisation

The need to extract meaning from dynamic datasets in a fast and flexible way is becoming increasingly urgent. By making use of the potential of internet browsers, new data visualisation tools and software packages allow us to do so. However, because of the field’s rapid evolution, we risk overlooking some of the basic aspects of data visualisation: your goal(s), striking a balance, finding inspiration, effective annotation, and interaction and animation.

First, the bad news. As data visualisation expert Andy Kirk states, “There is never a single path towards a ‘best’ solution. The inherent creativity and individualism of design work ensures that.” That’s why the following insights serve as ground rules only, and focus mainly on the most important aspects of data visualisation.

1. Define and refine your goal(s)

Whether it is a bar chart, a pie chart, or a complex interactive visualisation, it’s important to remember why you want to visualise your data in the first place. Frequently revisiting, restructuring and refining your goals will help you decide if visualisation is a good idea, and whether the data you have is sufficient to do so.

Additional contextual data may help you accomplish the task more quickly or more thoroughly — that’s why the buzzword big data was invented. Big data will also help you define the most important variables and values, as well as enable you to know more about the characteristics of your data and your users before making decisions on what is important to display or what colour palette to choose.

2. Find the right balance

In any attempt to visually represent a dataset, you will naturally be making many choices. Essentially, you’ll need to balance effectiveness and expressiveness by conveying information about your data using the appropriate visual marks — e.g. dots, lines, shapes — and assigning visual attributes that efficiently add the intended meaning to your visual components.
Making conscious and goal-driven decisions with regards to that balance will help you create a (not the) best solution. For example, you should not use size variation to express different categorical values, and quantitative differences should not be visualised with hues. The writings of computer science professor Tamara Munzner are great references when it comes to aspects of data visualisation techniques that touch on this balance.

case study example

3. Get inspired

A quick internet search for rankings of perceived accuracy from Cleveland & McGill will help you decide which visual variables and, by extension, which chart types are ideal to present your principal values. Want to dive deeper? Check out the work of Colin Ware, Director of the Data Visualization Lab, or look online for Garner’s whitepaper on integral and separable visual dimensions.
In trying to strike the right balance between these characteristics, you will find yourself at the complex intersection of statistics, graphic design and cognitive psychology. So, staying up-to-date with what happens within these fields and expanding your awareness of relevant concepts will certainly help you to make faster and more effective decisions. Viewing submissions for contests like the Malofiej awards or following blogs like Information is beautiful are also great ways to keep up with the times.

4. Use effective annotation

Another, often underrated, aspect of data visualisation is known as annotation. Annotation isn’t just about making efficient use of typography; it also calls for the smart use of titles, introductions, labels, captions, grid lines, axes and units. However, it is just as important to omit unneeded grid lines, labels, etc. — don’t simply stick with the software defaults — an important ground rule that applies to any aspect of data visualisation.
Edward R. Tufte has some useful things to say on this topic, and Noah Iliinsky, UX Architect at Amazon Web Services, and Julie Steele, Director Communications at Silicon Valley Data Science, recommend: “Minimise noise, maximise signal”. Annotation should thus be well-balanced, show what is necessary for correct interpretation, exclude anything that’s unnecessary and blend harmoniously with visual marks and channels. A best practice here is to visually send the annotation layer to the back.

5. Add interaction and animation

This is a great segue to interaction and animation. Together with bottom-up oriented visualisation tools, interaction and animation offer lots of opportunities to make interpretation more efficient. The ability to manipulate the visualisation in response to user-initiated changes and the capacity to select, zoom, scroll, or reduce a dataset on the fly allows you to go far beyond what is easily constructible within a spreadsheet or standard presentation application. These features will help you present your story in an intuitive way so that it sticks with your audience. And, when approached consciously and intelligently, it should also help you appreciate the beauty and power of the endless possibilities available to craft excellent static visualisations of your data.

It’s not so hard to choose wisely

I hope that my brief take on data visualisation will help boost your confidence in applying some of these techniques to your current project and/or make it easier to choose between different implementations. In the end, it’s all about picking the option that suits your data without getting overwhelmed by choices and solutions you don’t need. Want to know more about how we can help you with your data visualisation goals?
Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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min. read

Text data analytics: Discovering the story behind the words

text analytics

Until as recently as 5 years ago, text data was considered the little brother of structured data. Consumer insights were mainly based on market research surveys, which often contained several closed-ended questions and one open-ended question. Responses to open questions were coded manually, and insights were mainly derived from structured questions, using the coded open answers to (hopefully) confirm those insights. However, times are changing.

The old way of looking at text data is growing obsolete

Data is changing: the digital revolution has led to a vast increase in the amount of text data in existence. Words are all around us. Social media, customer service centers, web forms, forums, emails, surveys, the list goes on: so much talk is generated about your brands, products or services across a wide range of channels. The amount of text available often excludes manual coding as an option for analysis, as it is too expensive and time-consuming – and not even very accurate.

The best approach to uncovering text insights

At Boobook, clients often ask us how to reveal the wisdom behind their text data. The easy answer to this question: text analytics. However, text analytics can take many forms, and choosing which approach to choose is not a walk in the park. Choosing the right approach depends on different specifications, such as the nature of the source, client needs, data volume, languages used and reporting frequency. An experienced analyst is indispensable in guiding you towards the ideal solution.

4 main approaches to text data analysis:

1. Word counting

The easiest approach is based on word frequency. Visualizations in the form of word clouds offer initial insights into, for example, what people are saying about your brand. Even a ‘simple’ word cloud can become interesting if we link the words to structured data. You can ask these questions:

  1. Do my prospects say other things than my clients?
  2. What do my satisfied and dissatisfied clients say about my product?
  3. Does my brand clearly differentiate from my competitors?

2. Theme identification & sentiment analysis

With text analytics, we can automatically code text into themes and even determine the sentiment of the text (positive, neutral or negative) without a Net-Promoter-Score or an extra question concerning satisfaction. Different levels of human involvement are possible to identify the themes:

  • Human involvement is lowest when applying ‘topic modeling’. This analysis reveals how words are linked together and allow messages to be grouped into themes, a process partly supervised by the analyst to ensure themes that make sense. Many different models exist, such as probabilistic, deterministic, and several others. However, the result is the same: the computer performs most of your coding work.
  • If you have specific themes you want to code the data into, a small portion of the data is coded manually. This partial coding forms the basis of a model that codes all other data via predictive modeling, a process based on machine learning.

With both approaches, we can apply the same coding rule when new data comes in. These methods minimize coder bias (especially topic modeling) and guarantee comparable coding between waves.

3. Outcome prediction via machine learning

We can even take text data analytics a step further and predict specific outcomes. Some examples:

  • Use online reviews to uncover which words/concepts trigger good or bad reviews. This model can be used to predict customer satisfaction based on Twitter or Facebook posts. It allows you to filter on negative comments, eliminating the need to go through all comments every day. Focus only on the ones that need follow-up.
  • Based on customer service responses, we can predict churn and prioritize customers for intervention.

4. Interpretation & feedback via text analytics

With natural language processing (NLP), grammar and sentence structure also comes into play. NLP allows for a deeper understanding of the language, where words are categorized as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so on. This information can be used to support the analysis and to add an extra level of context. This technique is mainly applied when you need a responsive model that can interpret questions and give feedback. Nowadays, smart chatbots can recognize human language through natural language processing (NLP) and generate a response.

Want to know more?

Text data analytics is a very large container that answers different needs, from the creation of a word cloud to the prediction of a specific future behavior. Each approach has its advantages and its pitfalls. Here at Boobook, we are happy to help you choose the best approach to deriving true wisdom from your text.

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min. read

Your customers are the best compass to help you navigate the COVID-19 crisis

customers are your compass

Our reality became immensely uncertain due to the COVID - 19 virus and its consequences. We are confronted with an invisible enemy that has an impact on everything around us. Our social and business activities are in a standstill, and each one of us has to adopt different habits. We don’t have a choice.

For the first time in the modern era, we are facing this level of crisis, and we are all experiencing its effects rapidly and simultaneously.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of customer-centric strategy and the main guiding points to help you navigate this crisis.

Table of content:

  1. The “new normal”?
  2. Build meaningful customer relationships today for a thriving business tomorrow
  3. Emotions drive behaviour
  4. The last mile
  5. Let customers be your compass

The “new normal”?

Considering the unpredictability this crisis brings, we all experience a wide array of emotions. The primary needs, like food, shelter and care for our health and safety, drive our actions now. Our mood and feelings reflect on our buying habits. (Does anyone actually know why people start hoarding toilet paper in times of crises?). The perception of value and price is changed.

We think in a new way.

We shop in a new way.

Working from home, video meetings, virtual workshops and online education have become the way we communicate and collaborate. We switched to online shopping and take-out or delivery. Our new reality is powered by virtual connections.

The current world is not only new, but it is also very unclear how, when and how fast it will further evolve. In this new and dynamic reality, businesses can either start panicking or take a deep breath and think about how to take action in order to survive and even become stronger. Think about your customers. How should they fit into your strategy?

Amidst the coronavirus, it’s even more important to put our finger on the pulse of customers and interpret their needs and wants.

Our recommendation is to focus on three guiding points that will help you understand your customer's needs and give you a far better chance to recover faster and position your brand as a trustworthy business:

  1. Maintain your focus on your customers
  2. Understand how their emotions are driving their behaviours (now and in the future)
  3. Bring that insight into life within the organisation.
boobook three aspects
The success of your business starts with customer-centricity and understanding their behaviour by understanding their emotions and needs. ‘The last mile” is a final step, which implementing the insights into action.

Build meaningful customer relationships today for a thriving business tomorrow

customer relationship

As much as businesses might turn to short term solutions just to keep functioning, we highly recommend steering away from that kind of approach. Even before the COVID -19 crisis, we were strong advocates of the importance of long-term customer relationships based on trust and confidence.

It’s inevitable that many companies and organisations will see a decline in their numbers, traffic and revenue. However, pushing people to make the purchase now, will just counteract the trust with your customers.

Instead, take the opportunity to listen to your customers and act upon what they say, feel, need and do. These are some of the actions you can take now:

  • Ask questions to understand your customers during this situation and find a way to bring value to their lives
  • Get busy with finding the right solution to ease the worries and needs of your customers
  • Shape your service/product to fit their current needs and experience
  • Take time to reflect and do a deep introspection of your organisation and products/services
  • Analyse your online funnels and see how you can tackle the customer journey better
  • Evaluate information from your digital data and CRM systems to find out deviations and change of patterns

Emotions drive behaviour

emotions drive behaviour

Thanks to various data sources, brands are able to detect and understand changes in customer behaviours. This is already very useful for companies. But it gets really interesting when you can understand where this behaviour comes from. By combining this behavioural data with data on attitudes, intent and motivations, you'll get a coherent understanding on why your customers are behaving the way they are, and how they might behave in the future.  Insights from data analytics will lead to better business performance in the future when taking into account not only customer behavioural data (the ‘what’) but also:

  • The ‘who’: Who is your customer? How is he affected by the crisis? Is he/she risk-averse? Is he/she worried?
  • The ‘why’: Why do they buy more or less of your product? What are his/her needs and motivations?

The last mile

the last mile

Once you’ve taken into account the customer’s data and understand their behaviour and needs, it’s critical you put these insights into action accordingly. This third step doesn’t come overnight, as it’s a dedicated process that needs to be embedded in the entire organisation, starting from the CEO to the intern.

A good way to start to prioritise customers is to introduce the Chief Customer Officer role to your organisation. They will be responsible for understanding your customers to stimulate customer-driven growth. CCO's are going to become an in-demand profession, as they will be vital in bringing the importance of human experience into the spotlight of every business.

The difference between companies that are customer-centric, and the ones that are purely focused on their profit, becomes even more visible, especially in chaotic times like these. The brands that just seem to “get it right”, get it right mostly because they are listening to what people need and focusing on delivering that experience and service to them. LinkedIn and Adobe are making some of their courses available for free. Vicks donated $1 million to Direct Relief. LVHM, the luxury brand that owns brands like Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, and Fendi is manufacturing hand sanitizer and delivering it to health officials in France. Love Your Melon has leveraged its domestic manufacturing network to create 50,000 machine washable and reusable face masks. Mark Cuban announced that any of his employees will be reimbursed for any lunch and coffee purchases from local, independent small businesses which is a great way to support the community and small businesses.

Take a cue from these brands, and rest assured your customers will appreciate the effort and show gratitude long after this storm is over.

Let customers be your compass

It's OK to feel anxious about our future and the economic meltdown. Just like in our personal lives, on a professional scale, we are also perplexed with many questions to which we don’t have answers yet. No one can predict how long it will take for us to get back to some form of normal.

Yet, this is also the opportunity to take the time, act respectively, and think of the ways how you can add value to the world. This crisis should remind us what truly matters in business: the understanding of what your customers need and want and offering them the right solution. If you closely listen and follow their lead, they will help you navigate through the precarious landscape of the world in the time and after COVID - 19.

Your customers can guide you as a compass to help you find the right direction in the unknown territory.

The same way as we physically move around when we are trying to find our way in an unknown place, we should also shift where our customers want to go. Test different peripheries, be flexible and endorse altered products, offers, and messages. Adaptability has always been a significant human skill. But we can only adapt successfully if we stand together and listen to each other.

Start with your customers.

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min. read

Effective customer segmentation: 4 questions to ask

effective customer segmentation

Since starting boobook, I’ve been privileged to run a large number of segmentation projects. Some are a delight to work on, with segments that pop out and immediately make intuitive sense, but many take much more ‘data finessing’ to get to that point. Although each project presents its unique considerations, there are challenges shared by all of these projects, and we can all benefit from addressing them earlier in the process. Asking the following four questions can help you on the path to segmentation success.

1. Who are you really trying to segment?

We often analyze samples that are generally directed towards a specific target market but not tightly so. Imagine that your client is planning on launching a new digital radio station and wants to know more about the different groups of listeners it will appeal to. Do you want to include people who don’t listen to the radio? No, that’s easy enough to answer. What about people who don’t like the type of music the station is going to play or people who only listen to non-commercial stations because they hate advertisements? To answer these questions, we need to think about what the station wants to do with its segments and define its objectives.

2. Will consumers engage with your subject matter in the same way as your client?

As researchers, we spend our days talking and thinking about our clients’ products and services. By the time we get to work on a data set, we’ve spent weeks, if not months (and in some cases years!), focussing on it. This frequency bias leads us to feel that consumers should engage with what we’re asking them about. Remember to step back for a minute and ask yourself, “If I hadn’t invested all this time with this client, would I have an opinion here?” If the answer is no (and it won’t always be), should you be surprised when a group of respondents doesn’t feel strongly either?

3. What do we need to know about our segments?

Ok, so this one isn’t just about segmentation. We ask so many questions in surveys, and the temptation is to ask every question that could be important and put it into the segmentation, just in case. It’s much more important to focus instead on things we know are important and will influence a choice a consumer will make. Clients usually know this stuff already, and it is a very rare occurrence for us to run a segmentation as an entirely exploratory exercise. Certainly, from an analyst’s point of view, I’d much rather have ten well-answered questions pinpointing a concise area than a hundred that cover every possibility.

4. Should we use the entire sample?

Sometimes sample sizes restrict what we can do with segmentation, and if that’s the case for you, you can skip this paragraph. For most of you, though, you’re likely going to be working with decent base sizes. Why worry about kicking out some respondents who don’t provide interesting answers? I’m not just talking about speeders or respondents with the same answers to every attitudinal question you throw at them. I’m talking about respondents who simply don’t show a substantial deviation from the mean. Maybe they slightly agree with a few things here and somewhat disagree with a few others there, but are they then contributing to well-differentiated and useful segments? Probably not. If you’ve got a sample of 1,000 respondents, will it matter if we only use 900 to base the segments on?

One size never fits all

Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list. One thing we can say for sure is that every segmentation that Boobook executes presents its own set of considerations, and they’ll often override one or more of these tips. My best bit of advice: always focus on the objective of the segmentation. If you think about why the client needs segments, what they’ll do once they’ve got them, and keep these two answers in mind throughout the process, you will come to a better, more useful solution.

Want to know more? Contact us and discover how we can help your business!

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Keeping an eye on trends: the current evolutions in data analytics

trends in data analytics


Data analytics is an increasingly popular field in constant movement. We recognise the words, and we have a notion of its meaning, but there is a lot of room for interpretation. On top of that, recent evolutions in the field only add to the existing confusion around this ‘buzz word’. By taking a closer look at the recent developments we can clear up some clouds of confusion, and give you some tips to ensure you know exactly what people mean when they talk about data analytics. After all, the most satisfying part of my job is helping clients find meaning!

"Our job is not only to give you answers, but also to help you ask the right questions."

Using the right terminology

It is important to understand what people mean when they say they’re experts in something. Machine learning is a great example of this, as this term covers a wide array of meanings. It’s an umbrella term covering self-learning algorithms – which is what the term refers to in its most narrow sense – as well as all kinds of predictive modelling techniques. As a consequence, claiming to be an expert in machine learning does not really give us much information. It is always useful to look deeper – our job is not only to give you answers, but also to help you ask the right questions.

Find out what type of data science you need

Broadly speaking, there are two types of data science: one area focuses on obtaining the most accurate algorithms and predictions, using the latest software and methodologies. The other focuses on obtaining the most valuable insights from the data, insights that can be transformed into tangible plans and actions. At this point, there are not many data scientists who are experts in both and allow you to enjoy the benefits of each type. It is long-term experience that makes the difference in identifying the story behind the data. I’m proud that every day, my colleagues use their experience with passion and meet each challenge head on!

The strengths of open source

Paid software used to be staples in our field, but we are now moving towards open source software like Python and R, to name just two from the expanding market. The greatest advantage open source software offers is the strong community behind it. We can all learn from each other and share code and experience. This allows for swift development and a smaller learning curve for those starting out with data science. For me, it’s important that data scientists use what they are comfortable with, as the results are largely the same regardless of which software you use.

Simpler methods lead to stronger results

As data scientists, it is our mission to provide answers to your business questions. During this search for answers, it can be tempting to reach for the most complex methods. We believe that the simpler the model is, the more easily it can be implemented and understood. Using the most complex methods may sound exciting, doing so when simpler methods can give you the same results will only lead to confusion. Only when less complex methods cannot provide answers, we move on to the next level.

It is our task and our pleasure to keep a close eye on all developments in data analytics, and we will keep you updated via this blog. If you want to get in touch you can drop us a line on our contact page!

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Why storytelling should be the most important part of your data visualisation

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“Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice.”

(Stephen Few, Data Visualisation Expert)

Do you remember that financial report from last week?

Probably not, right? Reports can be overwhelming. Even scary. Most of us avoid any deep dive-in because we don't have the time. Or perhaps, we don’t understand what do we actually need to conclude from it.

Maybe you were the one who created the report last week? You added all the numbers, charts, and shared it with the team or the client, thinking naively how everyone will understand your data without any further explanation. You might be great with numbers, but how good are you at telling stories?

If your reports and charts aren’t telling you the meaning behind your data, then you need to create an understanding and context around the numbers.

data storytelling

The power of storytelling

Stories connect people, build trust, and create meaningful connections. From the earliest days in human history to today’s wide usage in marketing, storytelling is the best-proven method for successful communication.

What makes a story is a "cause and effect" relationship. If you don’t have the "what, why and how", the narrative will just be a series of events and there is nothing for the listener or the reader to relate to. When you tell a story, you try to visualise it for your listeners/readers. You try to build a picture in someone’s mind and to find the connection between your and the listener's story.

Now, the same principle applies to data and analytics. The job of a marketer is to tell the stories that build successful campaigns and customer journeys. However, interpreting all the data correctly and turning it into a good story can be an intimidating task that many organizations struggle to accomplish. Many companies are clueless about what to do with all the data and how to proceed with the given information.

the power of storytelling

Why is data storytelling so important?

Imagine again that report from last week. Would you remember and understand the data better if it was presented by a stand-up comedian who presented the information as a relatable story?

Everyone who has data to analyse has stories to tell, but data alone is just a collection of numbers until you make a story out of it. Showing reports and dashboards can be useless without adding a context. Any great insight explains what happened, why it is important and how you can use it to turn it into something actionable.

Data storytelling is an essential tool to communicate data insights.

When we see great data storytelling, we’re seeing a great data visualisation. It’s interesting. Inspiring. Easy to remember. We’re seeing data that’s been analyzed well and presented in a way that someone who’s never even heard of data science can easily get it. Data visualisation is using data and statistics in creative ways to show patterns and draw conclusions about a hypothesis, or prove theories, that can help drive decisions in the organization. Don’t leave your data trapped in the excel sheets and PowerPoint presentations, listen to the numbers, make notes and reveal the message - that’s their purpose.

How to tell a story with data?

Presenting data creatively means turning statistics into stories. By ‘humanizing’ data we can make those numbers – thus the people and companies behind them – more transparent. To be clear, data storytelling is not data visualisation, analytics reporting, or a bunch of colourful pie charts floating in a neat presentation. Data storytelling unites the best of both worlds together: the “boring”, but accurate data and “exciting”, but emotional human communication.

When you start creating a story that will support your next report, try to keep it simple for your busy colleagues. Think of the ways how you can engage your team by explaining your strategies and results as a story. The essential story elements will make your data relevant, relatable and tangible for your audience. As you start to build your storyline ask these questions:

  1. “What”
  2. “Who?”
  3. “How?”
  4. “Why?”
  5. “So what?”.
the storyline

Data storytelling may be intimidating for beginners, especially for analysts that usually let the numbers do all the talking. Ideally, data storyteller has a background in marketing, with a mathematical degree and graphic design affinity. Ideally. But in the real world, you just need to have interest, time and a determination to learn.

Here are the top five tips we use here at Boobook that might also help you create a story behind your data:

1. Decide what data is the most important

Statistics can be overwhelming to analyze if you do not sort out the unnecessary information. Once you decide what is most important to highlight, then you can transform it into a visualisation.

The perfect example of good data visualisation that focuses on the most important data is The New York Citi Bike project. Using live data provided, it’s possible to see how many bikes are checked into each station at any particular moment. By presenting it in a visual and interactive format, The New Yorker made the data widely accessible, relevant and timely.

2. Choose the topic that connects with people’s experiences

Great data storytelling needs an interesting story. While data can certainly give a boring subject an interesting spin, make sure it’s something that is relevant or interesting to the people you’re trying to reach. Keep in mind that data storytelling is not a story about numbers; it’s about how those numbers interact and affect people.

A video Inequality in America is a good example of how you create a relatable narrative that leaves the viewer thinking about the information hours after.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM&feature=emb_title

3. Build an interesting and inspiring narrative

Good data alone does not make a good data story. Data storytelling is only effective when it provides value, whether it teaches people something new, gives them a fresh perspective, or engages them to take action.

The way you deliver that story determines whether that message is communicated. Your narrative should guide readers through, provide context, and help them synthesize the data story as effectively as possible.

One of the brilliant examples is the 100,000 Stars site. It's not easy to grasp the actual size of our solar system, galaxy, or universe. However, this project makes it possible, using data and pictures together to translate the raw scientific data into a more interactive and enjoyable educational scheme.

4. Focus on one idea

Less is more. Fewer numbers can give greater insight if they are the right numbers. Less precision can lead to more confidence. The percentage values can almost appear to be too precise, while “two-thirds of…” shows the focus on what the majority did or didn’t do.

In 2015, Eric Roston and Blacki Migliozzi launched a project called "What's really warming the world?" to showcase how much different factors (natural and industrial) actually contribute to global warming, based on findings from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The highlight here is not on the numbers as much on the comparison and timeline.

5. Design your data simply but effectively

One of the best ways to sabotage your data storytelling is with poorly designed data visualisations. Data visualisation is meant to make the data understandable, which is why it’s important to work with a designer who understands best practices. Colour, labelling, copy, hierarchy, comparison - there are many things that can make or break your data visualisation.

A fun and engaging example is "Daily routines of famous people" where colours do all the explaining while keeping the data comprehensible.

Storytelling at boobook

As businesses keep growing and the markets get saturated, the ability to differentiate will be crucial to stay ahead of the fierce competition. Data storytelling, and storytelling in general, help your brand be recognizable and trustworthy. What makes boobook different than other market research and data analytics agencies, is our ability to tell great stories. Our team of experts starts with the “what, who, how, why, and so what" principle. We declutter your numbers and deliver personalized advice based on the needs of your business and wants of your customers.

In the recent example of Pernod Ricard, we analyzed the data from over 18,000 people. Together with the Pernod Ricard team, we created a series of typologies based on consumer attitudes and behaviours that transcended nationalities and demographics. The results are now fully embedded in the business and the language they use about the different types of shopper profiles, the different typologies that they target, and the different campaigns that they put in place. 

“I think the visualisation and the storytelling in this work was absolutely fantastic. The work was brought to life really, really well…We used a lot of visuals, not the heavy data slides you would expect for an 18,000 person study.”

(Emma Donnelly, Head of Insights for Global Travel Retail at Pernod Ricard)

Know your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Stay up to date on best practices in marketing, and data analytics to improve your data storytelling.

If you need help with your getting insights and creating a story around your data, feel free to get in touch!

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min. read

Unlocking the power of the customer journey through data: Optimising retention, satisfaction and awareness

customer journey blog image

The data behind our customers – from purchase information, preferences, opinions, and so forth – is the key to decoding the customer journey and predicting its future. To get the right data and to understand it, we first need to put ourselves in the client’s shoes.

Find out how to use customer data sources to optimize customer retention, satisfaction and awareness.

Finding key data sources and knowing what to do with them

A great example of a source of highly valuable data is to take a detailed look at customer shopping carts; what’s inside them, and what do the contents say about the customer? It’s possible to dive deeply into this data, but as a starting point, we can use it to answer questions that have to do with where the purchase was made, how far from home the customer was when they made it, the use of promotions, the time of day, the exact location of the product on the rack, etc.

Shopping cart information – and any other key customer data source – can be the source of what I like to call Golden Insights. Why? Because so much can be discovered about where the customer is situated in the customer journey cycle through this data. In knowing the customer’s exact placement, companies can much more easily identify customers’ needs and create a tailor-made action plan that optimises customer awareness, satisfaction and retention.

Recap: the customer journey cycle

Let’s have a look at the typical customer journey as a refresher. It generally consists of 8 stages:

  1. Awareness: the beginning of the cycle, when we need to pay attention to customer needs to deliver the right messages.
  2. Knowledge (push to pull): the potential customer gathers information; customers today can collect vast amounts of information about your organisation, its products and its services without you knowing about it.
  3. Consideration (peer opinion): potential customers select which options seem to meet their needs the best, weighing each one against a hierarchy of needs. The potential customer might not find any of the options satisfactory, in which case they return to previous stages or leave the journey.
  4. Selection (rational and emotional): this stage can be complicated, time-consuming, and may not even result in a deal. For example, buying a house is a multi-stage process that, even after a selection, can collapse due to bad inspection reports, uncooperative sellers or lack of financing options. Buying a can of soup is, however, a simple act of selection.
  5. Buying: at this touchpoint, the potential customer becomes an actual customer. It’s the perfect time for cross- and up-selling.
  6. Satisfaction: after a purchase, the customer can be satisfied or dissatisfied with a product or service. This stage isn’t so much about the performance of the product, but about how well it compares to the customer’s expectations.
  7. Loyalty: the customer becomes resistant to competing options, marketing messages or to returning to the Consideration stage. The cost of generating additional purchases from a current customer is usually much less than the cost of creating a new customer.
  8. Advocacy: the customer isn’t just loyal to your organisation or product, but promotes it to others.

At every touchpoint on this journey, it’s important to examine the past to understand and predict the customer’s next steps. However, it’s not always the case that the companies are able to benefit from Golden Insights – in fact, it’s less common than you’d think. In 2016, most organisations (99%) use data – albeit limited – to understand what their customers are doing and thinking. 25% go a bit further, engaging in some diagnostics and searching for explanations in data changes. Only 15% dare to run predictive analyses on their data.

Prescriptive analysis: going where few companies have gone before

Finally, only 1 – 5% of organisations venture into prescriptive analysis. It doesn’t simply anticipate what will happen, when and why; prescriptive analysis also suggests potential ways to benefit from a future opportunity or mitigate a future risk. It even indicates the implications of each decision option.

At boobook, we help organisations take this final leap to prescriptive analysis. One of our major success stories is in the financial insurance sector. By collecting information from different sources such as newsletters, transactions, branch distance, website usage, CRM, market research and more, we created a model that allows the company to predict which customers are most likely to stop using their services, enabling them to act to retain them before they leave.

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