Live from TMRE 2011: Great first day at TMRE


After an 11 hour long lasting but still comfortable flight on Sunday from Hamburg, Germany I arrived safely and in good conditions in Orlando, Florida. As I learned today – more about this later – Sunday is NFL day, so I went to a nice sports bar and watched some American Football. Very nice experience…

Today I was curious and excited to see The Market Research Event started at The Peabody in Orlando.

So I went quite early to get my registration done and to join the first session from the Ad & Media Research track: “How US Consumers’ Ethic Identity Influences Media & Purchase Habits”.

I picked that one because I was hoping to hear some interesting thought both on methodology and results. And both presenters from Yahoo!, Lauren Weinberg and Edwin Wong did a great job with their presentation.

But what was it about?

They showed us a number of fact based recommendations how to do appropriate multi cultural marketing.

This is important to a number of different companies and brands (and also Yahoo!) because the purchase power of different ethnicities is huge and still rising. They report an overall purchase volume of the four most relevant ethnicities (African America, Asian / Pasific, Hispanic / Latino and Caucasian) of 2.5 billion dollars.

To gain a larger share of this purchase power it is important to understand how ethnicity impacts preferences and how marketing can be as authentic as possible for this targets.

To find appropriate answers to this Yahoo! conducted a huge survey, consisting of expert interviews, online communities, focus groups and quantitative elements. It is always nice to see that a client sees the need to do market research. And it is even nicer if this research isn’t conducted for the sake of doing research. But it must have been a hard fight to set the budget free needed for this scale of survey…

Anyway, I learned a lot about the meaning of ethnicity to the groups, with very special area of identification (e.g. music, food, gender roles, appearance, celebrating holidays, language and even the family name). And it differs depending on the ethnicity you are trying to talk to.

If you look at the Caucasian-focused advertising out there it is not surprising that the ethnicities feel underrepresented. But they feel much more underrepresented in traditional media than in online media (e.g. 72% of the Hispanic feel underrepresented in traditional media and only 39% in online media). 

My explanation would be that it is much more easier to find yourself represented in the diversity of the www than in 30 seconds TV commercials. And again the drivers of preferences are strongly driven by the ethnicity.

In order to overcome this issue authentic marketing has to face a basic paradox: On the one hand ethnicities have a strong wish that the ethnic diversity (which they feel to be a part of and which they see as representative for the US society and the real world) is shown. On the other hand they are seeking for well targeted ads in order to deliver a stronger “for-me-ness” and to be represented in a better way. So authentic marketing has to kill two birds with one stone: mainstream versus uniqueness.

This is not easy. And this is a risk. 

This is why 66% of the Asian ethnicity say that the can’t think of any brand, that perform well (Hispanic 42%, African American 51%). 

It is most important to avoid stereotypes. And these again are ethnicity-specific. Aisans don’t want to see the nerdy asian guy or somebody who is unable to attract women. Huge families and Mariachi with Sombreros is forbidden if you want to sell into the Hispanic ethnicity. And don’t show African Americans in a commercial together with alcohol and tobacco and avoid Hip Hop and dancing. 

The true understanding is the basis for success, execution is nuanced. Saying this, to my point of view a strong need for pre-testing, co-creation or crowd sourcing is identified. This is, because if you are doing it in the right way success can be seen in trust, purchase and last but not least activated word-of-mouth, offline and online. And here is a TV commercial shown by the presenters a best practice. 


The next session I attended was some sort of childhood memories. It was about a multi platform approach for Sesame Workshop by Diane Polvere and James William-Ness.

I have learned that not only my favorite characters from Sesame Street have improved their style (the equipment of Super-Grobi – his German name – is amazing) and some of them were new to me, but also requirements of research improved. James pointed out that 2005 there were 6 channels where you could get in contact with Sesame content, 2011 they have 21 channels.

No wonder that they need to know a lot of different things about their audience: unique audience, total audience, device interaction and sources of engagement, just to name a few. TV is still key, but gaming devices, audio, web, mobile, podcasts and other devices are emerging and covering a relevant art of channel preferences in the pre-school target group.

After a huge secondary analysis they decided to conduct a huge quantitative study with 2.000 children aged under 8 years. That gave them the opportunity to drill down contact clusters on iTunes, podcasts, amazon etc. as well as important results for future purchase of newer devices in order to spotlight trends. 

Together with existing data from Nielsen, comScore and so on they were able to build a model and bridging the custom data with these common sources.

It was quite interesting that they found a way to develop a multiplatform model to say that over 50 million are in contact to Sesame content. This is an important number for their revenue model (what I didn’t realize is that Sesame workshop is a non-profit organization) in order to give value to their reach. 

And of course – like in every huge surveys – there are a number of other interesting results. Just to name two of them. TV is still number one and key to deliver a first experience of Sesame content. But Online and Mobile is important to engage and enhance frequency of usage.

And I found myself belonging to the “Digital Dads” which bring a new gatekeeper segment to the responsible people at Sesame workshop. They usually stick to the “sesame moms” (described as mothers, who interact with their children and Sesame content on TV and web). But “Digital Dads” bring Sesame content with Apps on iPads, Smartphones and Podcast to their kids. 


Something not completely different but important in a broader sense was presented by Dr. Timothy de Waal Malefy from BBDOs Cultural Discoveries. It was all about rituals and how brands could benefit from this. He pointed out that rituals are nothing new for humans, but for most of the brands. 

The basis for exploring rituals is to look at people. Because consumers use brands to suit their needs and to share their experiences with others. So there is a huge opportunity to learn from the customers in order to identify rituals and make them work for brands. A brand’s benefits can be (among others) to give guidance for a meaningful live to customers. 

But it is not easy to find the ritual, because there are a lot of requirements that needs to me fulfilled before you can call it a ritual. Generally speaking a ritual is a fixed sequence of behaviors that transform us from one state to another, emotionally or physically or both.

It is a powerful motivating experience and develops strong loyalties (best practice: the ritual of weddings). Rituals operate in a clear framework and are highly sensorial, memorable and pleasurable. 

Timothy compared rituals with habits, while habits are single and functional tasks, do not transform a brand benefit and require low or no conscious effort. 

The distinction between the two concepts is clear, but it stayed theoretical to me unless he said that the ritual is “the journey” and the habit is “the destination”. This again is true for wedding, although some people regard a wedding as a habit or other like this ritual so much that they want to have it again and again 🙂

But basically it makes a lot of sense to look at rituals in this way. Timothy showed a lot of research and advertising for “The art of shaving” and he mentioned the ritual of making your own coffee. 

First of all I was thinking about rituals as some sort of elitist’sdoing in order to differentiate from others, because rituals show knowledge and express mastery. But and the end and by answering questions from the auditorium Timothy pointed out that even this is mostly the case and rituals is not for every brand, there are some examples for rituals in mass market. Barbie vs. American Girl Doll, Build a bear or even the ritual of Hispanics in the US starting to drink wine are good examples for this.

Next session was about women, apparel and the NFL. Alicia Z. Ranking presented backgrounds, process and results for a re-positioning of NFL Womens’ apparel (and the success of it). 

Although I am more into soccer I could understandmost of the things that were said. It is important to make good offers for women, because 445 of NFL fans are female and they are nearly 8 hours a week engaged with NFL. Even more important is the fact that they spend $ 315 million on NFL apparel.

I like Alicia’s descriptions of the former approach to make a good offer to women. It is called “shrinking & pinking” and says that they took the men’s apparel, shrinked it and made it pink.

The basis for improving this was a huge online research with some face-to-face components. And they build a segmentation on this survey, which revealed a lot of shopper insights such as affinity to NFL apparel and purchase behavior as well as attitudes and insights for product development.

One of the key findings, which they used for developing the campaign, is that women pay more attention towards fashion related items of NFL apparel and men basically want to show their team affinity. And they also found out, that the female core target consists of active and family-oriented women, aged 20-39 years.

So they decided to create awareness for NFL women’s apparel by leveraging a health and fitness performance that fits with the target’s fashion style and lifestyle. In addition they wanted to feature women as NFL fans, which they achieved by featuring real NFL women (I forgot their names. If this were soccer ladies I would probably remember 🙂 ). But look at this:

They did a lot more to support this campaign (events, microsite, contests, cause-related etc.). And the business increased by 40% and 75% were aware of redesigned product line. Even the campaign was a huge success, 70% recall overall and 63% recall brand related. 

To my point of view this is a good example for having success when you have your business objectives clear and stick to a limited number of relevant results but keeping these at the spearhead of your marketing activities.

After this I attended the Social Media & Communities track to hear Nick Mysore talking about “Trend Spotting with Social Media to Grow Your Business”.

He introduced his speech by focusing on using social media for strategy (and therefore for business) and so (I thought) he would go one step further than saying that listening to consumer on Facebook etc. is important. 

He had a lot of numbers (very good and convincing ones) to support the fact that social media is here to stay, and that is becoming more and more important for marketing. I really liked the style of presentation, very entertaining and very convincing. But for my personal scope there wasn’t much to learn than good examples to show people that social media is important. 

Anyway, it is important to listen and it is important to learn how to listen from these how do it well (like US Gov. for instance). And it is also important to connect the listening with the strategy. Therefore Nick recommends focusing on themes. As an opposite of “a shotgun approach” he mentioned that of course a selection of themes is of course a risk (to choose the wrong ones). But otherwise complexity is too big and it is impossible to deep dive into themes and to deliver results. To create such patterns depends on the strategy and you must be brave enough (or your internal or external clients) to take the risks of social media. Social media is less reliable. But it is more penetrating and honest response. 

This leads to the daily practice that social media is not replacing anything. But it is simple to track and must be simple to implement into marketing (controlling).

The last track I attended was about Celebrity and Engagement in a DVR world by TiVo. Most of the time I saw impressive spots. And I learned that the spending in TV ads are worthwhile, despite the fact that 54% of all primetime TV is time-shifted. 

This relates to former results 5-10 years ago, where it was revealed that is important to keep the engagement high within the audience in order to keep their attention for TV advertising. This is the same now, even if the forward advertising. Let’s take Mad Men as an example.

This Suave ad was shown and people who forwarded advertising thought the film would continue. 

Or let’s have a look at snickers and Superbowl:

People are repeating this spot, because it supports the feeling of the sports. 

The same for X-factor and Pepsi:

Different name for the same things…

All in all it was a very exiting day.  Looking forward to tomorrow and more hot market research stuff.


Über den Autor

Marktforschung mit Leidenschaft mit jeder Menge Erfahrung wie Research für Marketing, Strategie und R&D nutzbar gemacht wird

2 Kommentare

  1. Christine Lorient am

    WOW! Such a great article! Thank you, its just as if i was there… I wonder about some things concerning the qualitative research via Internet (i mean market research communities): Is the an approach to mesure the quality of qualitative online research? Can we just use the offline-mesurements? Or should we develop some media-specific things? Are they talking/thinking about that in florida? Maybe you get some new information concerning this question? Can’t wait reading more about florida….

  2. Hi Christine, I’m so glad you like it. Thank you very much.

    I have to say that I didn’t attend session that were about Online Research Communities. So I don’t know.
    What we are doing here is to apply other quality standards on ORCs than on offline qual. Especially recruitment is critical, but also moderation ist somehow very different than traditional focus groups.
    What kind of quality issues are you currently facing that should be controlled (eitehr old school or new ones)?

    P.S. More posts about Florida are to come shortly… In the meantine connect with us on facebook: