Live from TMRE 2011: Learnings from Coca Cola, Henkel, Mars Pet Care and 3M


Do you want more? Okay, here you are…

The second day of this year’s The Market Research Event is nearly over and I have to say it was very inspiring as well as educational to a certain extent.

Everything started with the keynote sessions and a session I had really looked forward to: „The Art of Choosing“ by the impressive Sheena Iyengar.

„Be choosy about choosing“ was the summary of it all. But before coming to this final recommendation she was takling about one of the most relevant problem in everyday life consumption of any goods. How do people choose and how could choosing be simplified. If you are more familiar with  „the narrowing down problem“ by Fidelity research or the „3 by 3 rule“ by McKinsey, you know what Sheena was talking about. 

In her own words she was talking about the „jam problem“. She showed some of her experiments and one was about jam. Draeger’s Grocery Store for instance has a huge variety of options to choose between all kinds of products, besides others 348 different kinds of jams. The question is, is it useful to have that large variety of options? To test this in the experiment she tested two stands, one with 6 jams and one with 24 jams. At the booth wit 24 jams 60% stopped, at the both with 6 jams 40% stopped. But only 3% bought something at the 24 jam stand and 30% bought something at the 6 jam stand.  So it was more than 6 times more likely to buy jam if 6 jams were offered than 24 jams. The number of choices is attracting but the choice itself is much more difficult. 

In another experiment people were asked to choose chocolate, one group out of 6 pieces and another out of 30. At the end they could rather have money or chocolate for incentive. Chocolate choosen from the 30 piece deck was perceived as less delicious and people tend to take the money more often than the product.

This leads to three different negative consequences for brands and products:

1. Commitment – The number of choices weakens the commitment toward the choice anyway, even if it is important to consumers

2 Decision quality – The more choices they have, the lower the perceived quality of the decision

3 Satisfaction – The more choices they have, the less satisfied they are with their choice they made

But why is this?

We have cognitive limitations, the modern world is designed for experts who knows how to skip suboptimal options.

Options are more and more indistinguishable. Differences are to small but variety is often seen as a competitve advantage, no matter how small the differences are. 

And there is more pressure to choose anyway. Because we aspire to be unique (but not extraordinary). And our choices express our personality. We think: „If I choose this what does this say about who I am and what I want and how does the choice reflect on what I want and who I am…“

So it is all about offering a better choosing experience. And there are three techniques to deliver this:

1. cut – retailer ALDI ist probably the best example to express what sheena means with „cut“

2. categorize – look at Best Sellers and they categorization of wine to get an idea what’s behind this

3. condition – start easy with complex choices and slightly increase complexity within the process of choice.

The next one was a good experience. I was sitting at the bloggers‘ desk and was glad to have a seat.


The room was crowded, first time at TMRE in the session I attended. Diane Hessan and Stan Sthanunatahn were there to talk about Market Researchers in the 21st century. Amazing, they only showed one chart, and this was the title 😉 (keen on getting the handout)

So it was more an interview than a track session, but very interesting to hear a big company’s perspective on the future needs of our industry. Want to read some quotes? Here you are:

„Market research is the best profession in the world, because it is at the heart of every important decision“
„But the
best profession is also boring, because parts of the jobs are boring. Processes are designed to be boring“
„Challenge is inspiring people. Be a change agent.“
„Surveys may not always be the truth, and why would you tell the truth to a complete stranger?“
„What makes Coke so successful? Not just the tv commercials, but the „strong community connections“
„brand health can’t be developed in a month, why measure it on a monthly base?“
„Synthesize your findings into an informed dream of the future“
„Take the familiar and make it unfamiliar. Convey facts in a different way to inspire“

Nothing to add at this stage:-) 

Then I attended a session from the Marketing & Brand Insight track and one from the Activating Insights track. 

Ann Bearth was talking about 3M and the efforts they made by reactivating the brand. Quite interesting to see what barriers to overcome internally and how to roll out a real huge internal and external survey. One of the most interesting findings to my point of view was the fact that younger employees of 3M are more engaged in the brand, for customers the opposite is true.

And that brand activation can be ensured by sharing the stories of the companies and their brands, internally and externally.

Henkel also found a great internal experience to bring insights to life. They decided to have an internal live event in order to let the consumer speak and to show the employees their work in order to use their power and ideas to develop new ways of increasing usage of the prodcts the compay sells. All in all it was an intense experience for them.

But Heiko Schäfer also pointed out waht you have to keep in mind when doing this kind of internal event. Some very valuable pieces of advise:

– Identify important business topics
– Set and track the event against clear objectives and KPIs
– Plan ahead and don’t underestimate the time and effort required
– New skills are required
– Make it big
– Engage your audience
– Make it fun

But don’t stop at the end of a one-shot. Make it a process and show your skills. Be out in front and lead. 

This indeed was an encouraged speech about the current and future role of market research in companies and for agencies.

Personally I have to say TMRE doesn’t mean „too much really enough


Über den Autor

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

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