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4906582_sEvery winter I get on a non-fiction reading kick. With the new(ish) year underway, now feels like a great time to think a bit about our industry and best practices, to catch up on methodologies and alternative approaches we should be thinking about, and to explore what other thought leaders are publishing.

Creativity and inspiration may not necessarily spark from dense textbook surveys of the market research landscape, but they’re a good place to start. There are two books I would recommend for anyone interested in what we do and how we do it:

  • Ray Poynter’s The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research is a helpful introduction to online research, how it’s evolved over the past ten years, and how researchers reach out into the world in different ways to consult with consumers and business constituents in various categories.  This book is a great place to start learning about marketing research and some of the newer and interesting ways in which consumer insights are being culled (social media, communities, etc.)
  • Naresh Malhotra’s Marketing Research: An Applied Orientation, now in it’s sixth edition, is an excellent textbook for in-depth understanding of how market research can provide businesses with strategic value – exploring how insights from market research studies can be applied toward bigger picture business questions, hypotheses, and problems. This text is comprehensive, providing an overview of how many diverse market research methodologies contribute to feed into the channel of consumer feedback.

In addition to these resources, the field of psychology continues to contribute meaningful “food-for-thought” to market researchers. For a fifth (!) year in a row, Dan Ariely’s name and works have come up in our conversations around rational and emotional drivers for consumer behavior. Start with the famous Predictably Irrational, if you haven’t already, and if you find it engaging, follow his thinking through the more recent The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, on the shelves in many bookstores now.

More and more often developers are skipping the PC when designing consumer applications. The latest example is Google’s new Flipboard competitor: Google Currents. Like Flipboard, the application is designed to make a tablet or mobile magazine reading experience better and more interactive. The one interesting wrinkle is that it’s also set up to import your Google reader feeds, taking that content and making it beautiful.  It’s good enough that it makes me want to read the content on my phone instead of on my laptop.

Also this week, Twitter released a new version this week.  The trick to get the new look and functionality? You had to download it to your Android or iPhone first.

This collection of motion infographics from Bloomberg is pretty amazing. Each takes a single, complex issue and explains it using brief, animated infographic. Beyond simply being a visual expression of data, each video tells a story, leaving the viewer with a full understanding of the issue at hand. Granted, not everyone has the expertise (or budget) to employ motion infographics, but there are little lessons to be learned in each. Enjoy.

Infomous is a dynamic and intuitive navigation solution – perhaps soon to pop up on websites you visit.  Web developers for content-rich sites have integrated word cloud and tablet-style flip navigation over the past few years, but this is a solution that seems to combine aspects of both: reference triggers and dynamic script.  The tool is currently available in preview/beta version through a relationship with the provider, but will roll out later this year, ready for embed.  More info at Infomous – they have a demo up for world news, a version for sports news, entertainment news, science news.  It’s easy to explore and find links to try.

The quality of the ads we’ve seen during the Superbowl in the last few years has been dodgy, at best. If this is indicative of the quality of the ads we’ll see this year, it may not be so bad. Enjoy!

It’s that time of year when the bitter mid-winter chill and moody gray skies inspire us to clock in more time on our couches than outdoors. Inevitably, this frees up some mental space for absorbing media-a few good books, some quality television, even a few blog posts. When in the “couch zone” you may feel like a sponge, soaking up the warmth of a cozy blanket along with the plot lines and characters streaming across your screen. But have you ever stopped to think that what you choose to absorb might actually say a lot about who you are as a person? Or more specifically, what type of consumer you are? Could your DVR or Tivo reveal insights into your personality?

Marketers and advertising agencies certainly think so. A recent study by psychographic ad targeter, Mindset Media, outlines their “consumption personality predictor” theory. The agency analyzed self-reported data from about 25,000 TV viewers across more than 70 TV shows to find out what personalities are attracted to what shows. The results revealed some strikingly similar personality traits among a show’s viewers. For example, if you’re a fan of AMC’s Mad Men, you’re a creative type. Love Family Guy? You’re likely to be a rule-breaker or a rebel. Are you a Gleek? According to Mindset Media, you’re very open to new experiences and are now classified as a so-called “experientialist.” (For a more in-depth analysis of personalities by TV shows click here.)

But are people’s media consumption choices clear indicators of their personality? More often than not, our personalities are unpredictable, consisting of multiple angles and hidden motivations. A person who tunes into WWEs RAW may also tune into PBS Masterpiece, resulting in a conflicted “consumption personality predictor” forecast. But a good research analyst knows that simplifying someone’s mindset is diving into dangerous territory. Still, this new psychographic predictor trend appears to be gaining momentum among advertisers who often approach the study with enough caveats to remain wary but enough fortitude to push forward. Mindset Media plans to continue analyzing consumers TV personalities in 2011, so if your favorite show was neglected (Big Love anyone?), then maybe you’ll get diagnosed next time ’round.

We’re not gourmet anymore…or are we? A recent article in the New York Times serves as an interesting follow-up to a recent W5 blog post regarding the cancellation of Gourmet magazine. According to the NY Times and publishing company Conde Nast, we haven’t see the last of the lauded foodie mag.
An app may resurrect <i>Gourmet</i>.
Gourmet’s second chance at survival arrives neatly wrapped in a digital package as an iPad application called “Gourmet Live.” The app will be fully loaded with recycled cooking tips and recipes from Gourmet’s current archive while an occasional sprinkling of new content will be used to spice things up.

Interestingly, the app is not intended to serve as a digital form of the magazine, but as a new way for consumers to engage with the brand. Given Gourmet’s dedicated following and the widespread disappointment with the magazine’s cancellation, repackaging the magazine in the form of an app appears to be a brilliant move. Not only will the app reintroduce a trusted brand in an entirely new way, it will fill the void for dedicated readers who have yet to find a satisfactory substitute. In addition, the app well help the brand reach a younger, tech-savvy audience. The trick will be keeping the content fresh enough to attract new readers and familiar enough to satisfy older fans. With Gourmet’s culinary legendary expertise and reputation, balancing old tastes with new textures should be as easy as cooking “Easy Seafood Paella“.

Since everyone else seems to be talking about this spot, I figured I’d throw my two cents in. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s simple…Tiger stares into camera. Tiger’s dead father provides the voiceover. Cameras flash. Simple.

Most of the comments I’m seeing are critical, to say the least. Take this New York Times article:

“Did you learn anything?” Earl Woods asks. A valuable question, and one that his son has attempted to answer in his no-questions news conference in February; his brief interviews with ESPN and the Golf Channel last month; and his pre-Masters news conference on Monday.

But the answer to the father’s question appears to be that serial philandering and addiction rehab can be positioned as a commodity — and that you can roll it out in phases leading to the Nike amendment to the 12 steps: a TV commercial.

Personally, I like the spot. It’s an apology, a glimpse into Tiger’s conscience, and a return to the spotlight all rolled into one. When I read the criticism, I have to wonder what people expected. Short of keeping one of their marquee endorsers on the bench, or cutting him loose altogether, this was the only thing Nike could do.

Nike frames him as the fallen hero. Anything else would have been an outrage.