Jan 1: Looming Deadline for Electronic Medical Records

A key provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, goes into effect on January 1, 2014.  A federal mandate requires public and private healthcare providers to maintain digital medical records of their patients.

If the healthcare providers fail to move to electronic medical records they will be penalized in the form of reduced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements starting in 2015.

We recently did a survey of 202 US residents to get their thoughts around healthcare.  From that:  61% supported online medical records with many more males supporting this than females.

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Click the image to see more findings from our US Patient Perspectives & Health Care Study.
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Color Wars: International Reactions to Artificial Dyes

Recently the issue of artificial versus natural dyes came to my attention as a mother and it got me wondering why more companies aren’t jumping on this “natural” claims opportunity.

It all began when I noticed an interesting update in my Facebook newsfeed.  It was from a health conscious mom who blogs about whipping up unprocessed meals for her family (100 days of Real Food). This particular post took issue with artificial dyes found in many U.S. foods and the possible link between those dyes and behavioral problems in children. Apparently this has been an ongoing debate for some time without any hard evidence to actually sway the FDA to take action. However, that’s not the case everywhere. I was surprised to learn that in 2010 the European Union approved policy that states manufacturers must display this warning label on the product if artificial dyes are used:

“May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

Rather than using this alarming message on their packages, many companies have opted to switch to natural coloring instead.

Since then, I’ve noticed this topic popping up beyond my newsfeed, on The Today Show and The Huffington Post. As consumers increasingly reach for products that are more natural and healthy, some U.S. companies are even being proactive.  Kraft just announced they would stop using artificial dyes in 3 kid-friendly macaroni and cheese products for 2014.

This got me wondering about which foods in my house contain artificial dyes and if I needed to start monitoring these with my 3 year old. Then I remembered the Goldfish®, her beloved go-to snack.

Goldfish Colorsrounded

I used to only buy the Original Goldfish® crackers. But during our annual summer beach trip with a few other families, my daughter discovered what she calls “the rainbow Goldfish®.” A conversation started up among the adults about the ingredient list: beet juice, paprika, turmeric, huito and watermelon. Nope, the adults couldn’t taste the beets or the watermelon! Ha! I think they were confused. These weren’t flavors but rather natural colorants. But what is so surprising to me is that this claim isn’t front and center on their packaging but tucked away on the side! Look at the picture that I took. The message on the front simply reads, “Colors. Baked with real cheese.”

How many more parents would choose this product if they knew it didn’t contain suspect artificial dyes? All of this reminded me that it’s quite difficult to get a new or alternative product on someone’s radar. Marketing consultant, Jack Trout wrote in his book, Differentiate or Die: Survival In Our Era of Killer Competition, that American families repeatedly buy the same 150 items, constituting as much as 85% of their household needs. Homing in on unique and meaningful product claims can raise awareness to other products for consideration. Our most recent webinar on claims research underscores how important it is to know your objectives in order to crack the claim code. Are you trying to find something unique about your product? Claims are important because they can help companies differentiate and can impact brand and product perceptions. Which is exactly what happened with me! I never once thought of buying the rainbow Goldfish before, but now that I know they are made with natural colors they’ll definitely be on my Mom-approved Snack List from now on!

 

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Social Media Expressionists, Influencers & Visual Communicators

Among marketers, there is a huge fascination with mothers and trying to reach that mom who has kids in that 0-24 age range. Everyone seems to want to talk to them. And maybe social media is the new way to get at them. I read recently about a study in Quirks magazine by BabyCenter.com and comScore that 91% of moms now use social media regularly –that’s a 20% increase over the past 2 years! And Facebook is a favored channel, with 9 out 10 moms having used Facebook in the past 6 months (compared to 80% of the general population).

Social media savvy moms also seem to be eCommerce moms. Mothers who are active social media users tend to shop more online than moms who shun social channels. In fact, social media moms are responsible for 32% of total online spending in the 2nd quarter of 2013. And social media content has an influence on their purchase decisions. The study found that almost ¾ of moms rely on social media recommendations. But friend opinion posts are more influential than brand posts, and ones from a fellow mom are even more impactful – further underscoring the importance for companies to win over social-surfer moms. Moms are also more active on Pinterest than the general population – communicating their preferences, dreams, aspirations, and attitudes through pictures.

All this digital activity makes a lot of sense. Given that a typical day of in a mother’s life is a juggling act of work, parenting and home responsibilities, social media and eCommerce better enable moms to do more research, manage household purchases and easily mass-communicate with friends and family.

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Photo Challenge: What’s Your Decor? Round 2!

Spotted: More market researchers super excited about their job. Look at all these mementos they’ve hung around the office! What is the one thing on your desk, in your cube, or on your phone right now that is a clue that you’re in MR?  Send us your pictures and we’ll post them!

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Who DOESN’T want to know more about Millennials?

Millennials are a perennial ‘hot topic’. I have seen at least one new study on Millennials published almost every week! What motivates them? What are they buying? What brands are they loyal to? According to Nielsen, the broad definition of Millennials is consumers ages 19-36.  And as digital natives and social media mavens, they are influential consumers who are having an increasing impact on brand success.

At BuzzBack, we know there are certain characteristics specific to Millennials – they have shorter attention spans, they multi-task well, their smart phones and FaceBook are core to who they are. So we design our studies specifically for this audience: more visual to mirror what they do on FaceBook, Instagram and Vine; more engaging to keep their attention; and shorter in length to get at key points relevant to a brand’s objectives.

To get even more insight on the what, how and why of Generation Y, we’re now developing our own study on Millenials with a completely new bent.  Do you have an idea you want us to consider? What do you want to know about Millennials? Email me, I’d love to hear it – we’ll add it to our study.

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Busting Beauty Myths

What drives women’s perceptions of their own appearance? With the current controversy surrounding celebrity airbrushing and excessive media-driven ideals on female self-image, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the modern woman constantly judges herself against these unrealistic standards of perfection.

We conducted an extensive beauty study that reveals while it’s true how women look is inextricably bound up with how they feel inside, the majority are far more inwardly focused than popular perception would have us believe. The standards women drive themselves to live up to are internal ones – not forced upon them by others, but springing from the fact that women are their own harshest critics.

Our findings suggest that women in the UK and US don’t want to think of beauty as hard work. They are likely to describe their personal style as “casual” and to see beautifying themselves as an integral part of life, to be woven around the rest of their day-to-day activities. For most women, there simply isn’t time to do otherwise. The overwhelming feeling coming from the women we surveyed, particularly in the UK, is one of chaos, over-work and “burn-out”. With such busy schedules, personal appearance inevitably slips down the list of priorities, and again, it’s women’s own self-perceptions that suffer as a result. Weight is an enduring issue, and one that many express a desire to address. Although, with so little time to do so, it’s easy for them to end up feeling impotent and frustrated.

With this in mind, it makes sense that the ultimate beauty goal for modern women isn’t a perfectly proportioned figure or a head-turning look that attracts the admiration of others, but to feel content and comfortable in their own skin. To achieve this, physical appearance has to work hand in hand with mental – and, particularly in the US, even spiritual – satisfaction. In order to maintain a relaxed and healthy attitude towards their appearance, it’s crucial for women to avoid obsessing and to recognize its place in their lives, which comes way down the list after factors such as health, family and relationships. In China, our survey reveals a slightly different picture. Chinese women, it seems, tend to have a stricter and more rigorous approach to beauty which is more externally focused than their Western equivalents. They care more about the public face they present, and want to appear elegant and groomed. The way they see beauty as a whole is less physical than holistic. For them, being beautiful on the outside showcases their determination to integrate mind, body and soul – all these elements working together to create happiness.

How a woman feels about beauty can have a huge impact on how she thinks and feels – and often negatively. Bearing this in mind, it makes sense that the central function that beauty brands must perform in order to correspond to what these women want is to make them feel better about themselves. Women today don’t expect miracles, or dramatic transformation, from their beauty products. They want efficient, effective and convenient ways to optimize their potential. In a way, beauty products themselves are subordinate – women’s self-perceptions being determined largely by how they feel they look, rather than how they actually look on an objective scale – but the purchasing of them represents a woman’s dedication and effort to the cause.

Suffering to be beautiful? Maybe – but for women today, it seems the rewards are worth the effort.

Click here for more information on our Exploring Beauty study.

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‘Tis the season for charitable giving!

A few days ago our company made sandwiches for the NY Common Pantry’s brown bag program as part of BuzzBack Gives Back, our new social responsibility program. Here’s a picture of some of us hard at work.

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After all, ‘tis definitely the season for charitable giving! But what designates a charity worthy of giving your hard earned money or precious time to? We asked over 500 women across the US to reveal their general behaviors, attitudes, drivers and perceptions around charitable giving. And this is what we found out:

  • Animal welfare and children’s causes topped the list of categories to which women give their time and money.
  • 77% would like to see where their donated money really goes.
  • 68% give because they want to feel they are changing someone’s life.
  • Only a quarter says they respond to friends and family direct requests.
  • 76% donated goods to charity.

Charity Infographic

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A Salute To Jack Honomichl

Over the past few days, we have joined our research peers in honoring Jack Honomichl for his great contributions to marketing and market research. Not only did Jack launch the Top 20 Research companies in Ad Age years ago, but this infamous list evolved into the Honomichl Top 50 Global Research companies, now in its 40th year. Honomichl also was inducted to the Research Hall of Fame in 2002, along with other industry giants such as Nielsen, Gallup, Roper, Yankelovich and others – a much deserved honor for this industry leader.

At BuzzBack, we like to think we too, are pioneers in today’s research world, but we are just at the infancy stages compared to industry-greats such as Jack Honomichl.

We wanted to join those honoring him, and express our gratitude for his contributions.

Diane Bowers, President of CASRO, is creating a memory book for Honomichl’s family. You can send her memories to include via email.

 

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Photo Challenge: What’s Your Decor?

Whenever I’m walking around our office, there are always a few items on my colleague’s desks that just scream Market Researcher and they always elicit a little giggle out of me (and sometimes an eye roll).

Like this cartoon.

photo challenge cartoon

And this birthday card.

photo challenge bday card

What is the one thing on your desk, in your cube, or on your phone right now that is a clue that you’re in MR?  Send us your pictures and we’ll post them (anonymously, of course)!

 

 

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Big Data, Small Community

I listened to What’s Hot in 2014? – Festival of NewMR 2013 recently and heard from industry leaders Leonard Murphy and Simon Chadwick that the research techniques most widely adopted in the industry are Big Data and Online Communities.  And an interesting link between the two was mentioned – Big Data answers the “what” and Online Communities help us explore the “why.”

While these two techniques anchor the ends of the spectrum of what’s hot in the MR community, there remain challenges for today’s researcher.  With the availability of Big Data, companies are now equipped to understand their customers’ behavior in ways never before imagined.  However, Big Data does very little to help us understand why they’re doing what they do.  That’s where online communities can come in and fill in the proverbial blank.

Online communities allow the researcher to virtually live with consumers, getting to know them, sharing ideas, and regularly getting feedback.  In spite of their value, there are indications that that clients’ use of online communities is down.  Factors include budget and time constraints, logistics, and acceptance by management.

But it seems that this is a very short-sighted, ‘penny-wise, pound-foolish’ decision. Time and again, short-term communities have proven that they can help solve some of these issues by reducing costs and time investments. Fortunately, at BuzzBack, we’re seeing clients increasingly rely on this approach to dig deep with consumers and get to the “why” without having to spend a fortune to build a full community.

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