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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.


Despite the looming Mayan apocalypse there are still those looking boldly to the future and offering their prognostications for what our world might be should the poles fail to shift and the tides not rise.

Here is an assortment of trends for 2013 and beyond.

Frog Design examines the future of technology with the Tech Trends that Will Define 2013.

Mashable is looking ahead too with 11 Big Tech Trends for 2013. There is a lot to be excited about. I’ll give you one hint: ROBOTS.

Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013 is 17-5641, otherwise known as Emerald.

Say hello to baby Thor. Ancient names are among the Baby Name Trends for 2013.

“Snackification” and more in Baum+Whiteman’s Food and Dining Trends for 2013. (PDF)

The National Intelligence Council, the strategic thinking arm of the U.S. government, is looking far ahead to the Global Trends for 2030.

Harper’s Bazaar’s Most Anticipated Hair Trend for Spring 2013: Knots.

What you’ll be watching: the Atlantic’s 18 Films to Look Forward to in 2013.

And finally, no one is looking forward to the apocalypse more than Jets’ fans: 5 Changes the Jets Must Make in 2013.

Happy Holidays!



A recent enlightenment has caused me to take notice to a number of things that had previous not been on my radar. Simple things, really. Like smiling for example. Or the lack of. I find this particularly interesting as we enter the Happy Holiday season. Why? People don’t really seem to be happy at all. If anything, this time of year seems to bring more frowns and stressed-to-the-max looks than ever. This is baffling as we know that by simply putting a smile on your face you will actually feel better. Not rocket science.

Okay, I understand it’s not that simple and there are a number of factors that influence what makes someone happy. JWT’s October trend report took this idea of happiness one step further. Health & Happiness: Hand in Hand, explores the rising notion that a healthier person is a happier person and, in turn, a healthier person is a happier person. I agree with that and can see the correlation.

Now, this idea of health and happiness carries into the workplace as well. JWT Stockholm/SWE Advertising went to the drawing board to develop a new campaign for Adecco, a Swedish staffing firm, with this in mind. The agency used the foundational insight that a lack of praise and flattery in the workplace is one of the biggest contributors to poor health, sick leave and overall dissatisfaction among employees. The agency launched “The Praise Challenge”, a 10-day program activated through an app where both employees and clients were challenged to complete one exercise a day that involves encouragement, positive feedback, appreciation or acknowledgment. The success of the campaign encouraged over 18,000 praises that would have otherwise gone unsaid. A rough translation (via Google) of the campaigns can be found here.

This holiday season I challenge you to make it a Happy Holiday season. SMILE. Make someone else smile. Be the positive attitude in the room. Give a stranger a compliment. Smile some more. Because at the end of the day it’s not about what you get, it’s about what you give. Happy Holidays.



LinkedIn Industry Trends | Ritzholtz | Full Story



recent USA Today article brings to light the growing trend of referring to food products as “artisan, ” with the number of “artisan” products in store shelves having doubled in the last four years. The word “artisan” implies that a product has been created with care by a craftsperson, yet these seem to be mass-marketed and -produced products. (Nevermind the fact that the  “artisan” refers to to craftsperson, while “artisanal” refers to the product itself.)

Now, when a company sub-brands its product as “artisan,” as is the case with Tostitos chips or Domino’s Pizza, what does that say about the rest of their products? Seems to me that the flip-side to going up-market with a sub-brand is that you’re admitting some sort of deficiency in the rest of your products. At the very least, it raises questions…

– Are “regular” Tostitos not as tasty as their “artisan” counterparts?  
– If my “artisinal” Domino’s pizza is hand-crafted, what about the rest of their pizzas? 

Like “organic” and “natural” before it, “artisan”seems to be the next ill-defined food buzzword.

As Marty mentioned in a previous post, the new Delicious design is a little wonky, and no longer pumps content to our blog and Twitter account. So here’s a roundup of articles I’ve stumbled across over the past month that you may find interesting:

The U.S. Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies has long supported (for the past ~5 years) an online system for pulling area-based employment and residence data using a visual map-based selection tool called OnTheMap.  This software is fairly intuitive and fun to use, but can also be quite useful in exploring a specific market or region to understand where workers live and work, and how that has changed over time.

OnTheMap is useful for more than work location, however.  It’s a multi-layered mapping tool, with companion data on demographics, earnings, industry characteristics.  We’ve also used it to identify exact metropolitan statistical areas and radius ranges, to find transportation routes, greenspace, and tribal and military lands, and to simply better understand a physical marketplace.

For years, organizations like the Census Bureau relied heavily on point-in-time estimates, tables of statistics and physical and static maps for data exploration like this. As new systems come online, are developed further, and improved over successive versions, our ability to access information from our desktops is not only facilitated but empowered.

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.