Now Arriving: Gen Z

Millennials, millennials, millennials – so many of our clients are focused on Millennials and how to adapt their marketing strategies to this evolving consumer group. What characterizes them? How are they different? What drives them? As we complete each study and I think we’ve exhausted the conversation, we find ourselves once again pulled into the Millennial vortex. But don’t look now – here comes Gen Z. We have just released our first study on this group, whose habits, thoughts, emotions and more will be keeping marketers up at night next. So why is it important to keep examining a group in context? Why can’t we broad stroke and make blanket statements about consumer groups or generations, and just be done with it?

8 Truths About Gen Z  Download our NEW infographic now

That’s the question posed in this WSJ article. Usually generations are defined by their similar birth years, with spans of 20 years. But often these are fuzzy in setting definitions. Typically, academics and researchers look at ‘generations’ to identify the distinct group’s characteristics which, through comparison with previous generations, serve to measure social and cultural change. But this approach misses the nuances within and between the groups. And the nuances are where the marketing opportunity exists.

Our new Gen Z study looks into the factors driving Gen Z behavior – the fears, concerns, influencers and even the heroes that define this group. We compare and contrast Gen Z and Millennials, both of whom live in a mobile-centric world but view their increasingly, technology- and data-driven existence differently. So just when you thought you had mastered Millennials, it’s time to get to know the new kids on the block. Isn’t Marketing fun? Sure does keep us on our toes!

Gen Z Infographic

Bridging the Gap Between Doctor & Patient

Physicians – on average – spend 15-20 minutes with a patient for a typical office visit[1]. While 15-20 minutes may be sufficient for a general health checkup, for people dealing with a chronic condition (or multiple conditions) this time can seem limited.

Now imagine that you, yourself, are sitting in your doctor’s office and you have just been diagnosed with a chronic condition. The doctor was running 5 minutes late, and after some introductions and the information about your diagnosis, you now have 10 minutes left of your appointment. What is your doctor telling you about your condition – which, until 5 minutes ago, you may have never heard about? What do you want to know?

BuzzBack has been hard at work developing a methodology that gives us both the patient and physician perspectives on these issues, highlighting specific areas where there are gaps that may be able to be addressed by other stakeholders (e.g., pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies, etc.).

For instance, our research found that when talking to COPD patients, while PCPs and Pulmonologists tend to focus a lot on treatment options, symptoms, and the origin of the condition when diagnosing a patient, there is less of a focus on overall health, which patients indicate being the top thing that they wish their HCP had spoken about when they had been diagnosed.

comm gaps word cloud


Check back here for more information about our upcoming webinar, where we’ll be presenting our research findings on Patient-Physician Communication Gaps. 


Doctor Patient Communication Gaps

Tasked With Smart Spending or Zero Based Budgeting?

So let me guess… you are tasked with Smart Spending or Zero Based Budgeting? So we’ve heard….

Developing compelling concepts is an ongoing challenge for all of our clients. Creating a winner, of course, is the ultimate task – as so many new products fail. To mitigate risk, many of our clients often mandate processes that specify stage gates for taking concepts from idea to launch. However, the standard stage gate process can be time-consuming and costly, and may not be right for all concept challenges – especially with ‘smart spending’ and ‘zero-based budgeting’ dictating.

Most marketers are working under tighter timelines, smaller budgets and shrinking teams, more than ever before. That’s certainly what Ricola faced, when it hoped to launch a new product, Dual Action. The team had limited time to move the concept forward, optimize the packaging, and develop the ad campaign – and limited budget is the mandate always. Not only was the concept a departure from its Swiss herb heritage, it was also its first foray into the efficacy space.

DOWNLOAD NOW!   'Accelerating Concept Development' Case Study

Ricola chose to work with BuzzBack because we understand that developing a concept can be more like a journey than a sequential process. To move things along quickly, our process combines various steps to iterate the idea and ultimately develop the product in record time.



Ricola had a modest budget and just weeks until launch. In only 30 days, BuzzBack helped the team get the idea right, achieve clarity on how to articulate it, decide on the best pack, and determine the most effective ad/messaging.

By paralleling the learning and using our interactive techniques, Ricola accelerated their time to market with a winning idea. Dual Action has been one of their most successful product launches. In addition to the original cherry Menthol product, the product’s success led to the introduction of a subsequent flavor formulation, Honey Lemon.

Want to learn more? Download the Ricola Concept Development Case Study now.

Building Brand Love With Feeling

This month in New York, SheKnows Media presented the first annual Femvertising Awards at the BlogHer social media conference. According to SheKnows, the awards are intended to acknowledge brands that are “challenging gender norms by building stereotype-busting, pro-female messages and images into ads that target women.” A CNN article covering the event said that the ads are “selling good ideas… good values….”  I would add selling good feelings to that list.

The inaugural award winners were brands/campaigns Hello Flo (First Moon Party), Dove (Speak Beautiful), Ram Trucks (Courage Inside) and Always (Like a Girl). What these campaigns have done is connect with deep emotions, memories, and experiences – whether positive, hurtful, embarrassing, maybe ones that need reconciling, righting, acknowledging and celebrating. Each is an ideal example of how mining emotions can spark, ignite and foster brand love into a warm, ongoing fire. These brands got brand love right:



As important as the Femvertising movement is, giving someone “the feels” isn’t just in the realm of women. Brands are tapping emotions to get through the hunky crusts of men to inspire brand love. Often, fatherhood is the easiest and more obvious door to emotional connection. Over Father’s Day, there was the highly-effective First Fatherhood Moments campaign by Dove. And before that Toyota scored big during the Super Bowl with the My Bold Dad campaign. I know, I know – just listening to the music on that one gets me going.

But before embarking on memorable campaign creation, there’s serious work to be done first to get at authentic emotions, then to get at other cues that telegraph your brand. Brands that leverage insights techniques that capture visceral, irrational, nonverbal, visual along with contextual language are in a better position to create the optimal positioning and messaging foundation that will inspire enduring –and viral – brand love. At BuzzBack, we are grounded in the belief that because emotions are the common bond of humanity, the brands that weave emotional insights into their narrative will stand the test of time.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to better connect consumers to your brand on a profound level, we’ve got a webinar on the subject of brand love. Click here to learn more.

Marketing to the Millennial Food Shopper

There’s been a lot of talk about Millennials lately, and with good reason. Millennials currently make up the country’s largest living generation, and by extension, the country’s largest consumer group with $200 billion in annual buying power. This has not gone unnoticed, especially among big name brands. These days it seems that everyone is changing their marketing strategy to appeal to the Millennial consumer – a few months ago, we talked about TGIFridays removing the appetizer choice limits on their Endless Appetizer deal. Now, within the last month, we’ve heard about changes even more companies are making specifically focused on winning over Millennials.

First, marketers noticed the trend that Millennials have been moving away from beer, and choosing wine and spirits as their drink of choice. Frantically, beer companies have tried other tactics in order to win back the Millennial consumer with Anheuser-Busch releasing a spoof on classic cocktails including Bud Light Mixxtails and Bud Light Ritas. So far the canned cocktails have been a hit among Millennials, but only time will tell whether or not Millennials continue this trend or move on to drinking actual cocktails.

Then came the news that Target would be shifting its shelf marketing towards products that Millennials are more likely to buy. Consumers in general are starting to become more health-conscious and focused on buying natural or organic products. So in hopes of appealing to the “urban Millennial” Target is shifting the focus on their processed shelf staples to other items like Greek yogurt and granola. While this doesn’t mean that canned soup and boxed cereal will be completely removed from shelves, Target will be placing the spotlight on these products that today’s Millennial is more likely to buy.

However, the most surprising news was that Whole Foods (or as it’s more commonly called, Whole Paycheck) plans on launching a chain of lower-cost stores geared towards Millennials. While Whole Foods rose in popularity due to its early entrance into the organic grocery store scene, today healthy products can be found at almost any grocery store and at a much cheaper price. So while the demand for natural and organic products has increased, Millennials are still cash-strapped and price-conscious shoppers. The high cost of food at Whole Foods stores has generally been a turn-off for Millennials, but Whole Foods is hoping to gain their market share while at the same time being careful to not break the brand they have built up of “premium prices and premium products.” The stores, which will feature “a modern streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection,” are expected to start opening next year. And if prices are actually as reasonable as they are expected to be, you can be sure that this Millennial will definitely be shopping there.

The issue of Millennials being a younger generation and generally being less wealthy than the Boomer Generation is one that should be of particular interest to marketers. Affordability might just be the key to winning over the Millennial food shopper. Not every company can afford to just up and make a whole new chain of stores dedicated to winning over Millennials, however that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to lower the cost of food shopping. In our recent study on Millennials + Food & Nutrition, we briefly discussed how Millennials use a variety of sources for discounts and how over 90% of Millennial shopper use coupons (see clip below). This is something that not only applies to grocery stores, but also restaurants and product companies who also have the ability to control coupon deals. So, while Millennials do keep an eye out on the quality and freshness of goods they are buying, they are also aware of the limits placed on their food budget, and it’s up to marketers to find that balanced sweet spot.

For more information on our Millennials & Nutrition study, get in touch with us below.

Why The Research Plan Needs to be Globalized

Did you know that there are 50 different Eskimo words for ‘snow‘? Or that those who live in northern Scandinavia and Russia who speak Saami, have about 1,000 different ways to say ‘reindeer’? This information is definitely interesting, but why does it matter? Well, it might matter if you’re thinking of taking a product or service to market anytime soon. Ok, maybe only if your product is a reindeer-mounted snow shovel. But seriously, knowing there are so many variations in these languages, makes you wonder about all the other many languages and possible communication problems that may arise. Of course, you might not be thinking of the global market just yet, but you should be. Our world is becoming increasingly global and increasingly instant, which brings new communication challenges. Today’s products and brands need to be prepared early on to compete on a global level. Being able to communicate according to each market’s values, understanding cultural sensitivities, and knowing how your product or service compares with top local brands in that space should all be top of mind.

One way to do that is through research, which can be a crucial tool for understanding more about your consumer and creating more effective communications. However, there are many common pitfalls when it comes to reviewing open-ended questions. That’s when having a great research team and a skilled supplier in place can mean a world of difference. When it comes to global studies, we partner closely with Lionbridge because language is such an important component of the insights we deliver and Lionbridge ensures we provide top quality translation. In fact, our very own Carol Fitzgerald and Paula Shannon from Lionbridge are in Nashville at the SiriusDecision Summit today to talk about this very subject.

However, it’s important to note that the meaning of a word is not just important on a global scale. While in one language there may be more than one word used to convey a certain idea, there are also countless ways to interpret that word’s meaning. A company may think such a word means one thing, but in reality from a consumer’s point of view, it could mean something very different. Understanding what your brand stands for among your consumers – what you stand for, what the essence is – is of utmost importance when going to market. That’s why from time to time we conduct our own global exploratory studies to help our clients glean more insights on marketing terms that may be helpful in their own communication and positioning platforms. This year, BuzzBack conducted a study exploring the word ‘premium’, which aimed to understand what consumer language represents – verbally, visually and emotionally in the US, UK, China and Brazil. To request the white paper, contact us below, or to learn more about our ‘premium’ study, click here.

Humanizing the Patient-to-Medicine Connection

One of the challenges facing the healthcare sector at large is patient adherence. It’s a topic of continuing importance and increasing interest.With on average 50% of patients not taking their medication as prescribed (and 33% never even filling their prescription in the first place), there’s much work to be done in understanding how to drive compliance.

We recently explored the impact of emotions when it comes to adherence, co-presenting our new study with Merck at the Pharma MR conference. We found that diving deep into patient feelings about their experience provides clues to how to positively influence their behavior and affect better outcomes. For example, in this study, we explored how they feel about managing their condition and their feelings about their physician relationship.

But what about the roles other individuals play in the complex puzzle? For example, what is the role of the pharmacist? Recent industry data shows the pharmacist holds an influential position. For example, a 2013 study by the National Community Pharmacist Association identified patient connectedness with their pharmacist as the leading predictor of adherence.

This pharmacy/pharmacist connection was the focus of a Wall Street Journal article that caught our eye here at BuzzBack earlier this month. It featured CVS CEO, Larry Merlo, who focuses on this exact issue: the need to humanize the patient-to-medicine connection with a clearer understanding of emotions. He sees the role of CVS as one to “help people on their path to better health.” Mr. Merlo believes that one of the ways CVS can truly make a difference is in making sure people take the medications they are prescribed.

CVS has made improving adherence a central goal, looking to improve it as much as 15% over the next two years by working on the pharmacy-patient relationship, and not just the administration of the drug. Mr. Merlo sees the pharmacist as integral to the equation: “CVS figures a one-on-one conversation with a pharmacist is two to three times more effective than any other method to change patient behavior – in a way, the human element that often goes missing in the U.S. health-care debate.”

At BuzzBack, we are excited to be part of the debate. Through innovative tools and creative expression techniques, we help consumers find the language to articulate the obstacles that need to be removed on their road to better health. And we uncover more effective ways that pharma companies can prepare physicians and pharmacists to communicate and lead patients on their adherence journey. In fact, we’ll be conducting an upcoming webinar presenting the results of our study around this important topic. Click to attend the webinar on Wednesday, March 4th or Thursday, March 5th.

We’re Focused on Millennials

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve visited more than a dozen clients on two continents. Just when I think I’m done hearing about Millennials, inevitably the client says, ‘We’re focused on Millennials.’ I should know better. This is a demographic still on the rise if a recent report by eMarketer is any indication. It predicts that Millennials’ spending power will reach over $1.4 trillion by 2020.

With so much spend potential, every brand we work with is eager to nail what makes this demographic tick. How are they similar and different to other generations, such as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers? How do we talk to them? Develop products for them? Which brand name will appeal to them? What ideals drive them to purchase?

We cover some of the similarities and differences in attitudes and behaviors among Millennials and other age segments in our recent Sustainability webinar. This study explores consumer emotions, imagery, attitudes and even the types of language each group uses to talk about Sustainability. The Millennial findings from the study carry forward to other factors that make this critical cohort more mindful of their actions – all with implications on brands looking to win over their hearts and wallets. Click here to view the webinar or request a summary of the findings.

Don’t Mention It!

I read about a couple of fashion companies that, even though sustainability is part of their brand ethos, they don’t use the actual “S” word in their communications.  These brands seem to be reacting to the active greenwashing going on in corporate marketing departments.  And to speak to the consumers whose values are aligned with the brands, the companies are turning to other words and phrases from the Earth-friendly lexicon to communicate the message:  mindful production; social commerce; conscious consumers; progressive; viable.

Has the “S” word just become white noise? Another bandwagon that is an overhyped but empty experience? Are consumers suffering from eco-fatigue?  Or have brands failed to educate consumers about why they should care and seek out companies committed to sustainable business practices? In the end, does mass consumerism trump mass-environmentalism? Are US consumers different than their counterparts in Europe? Latin America?

We will be sharing answers to a several of these questions in our upcoming webinar that showcases our most recent study (completed with the Rainforest Alliance). If your brand is tackling the challenge of increasing the connection consumers have with sustainability, join us by registering here with a click.