All posts by Kristopher Woung-Fallon

The HCD Mindset: 5 Highlights From Our Producer

With 2 seasons, 45 episodes, 15 guests, over 1500 views and so many topics covered, The HCD Mindset series has been in full bloom since the beginning of lockdown in 2020. Conferences, lunches, and coffee dates came to a screeching halt as we all geared up to stay home and embrace a “new normal”— whatever that would eventually mean.

Virtual communication came to the forefront of our means of connection, and the HCD Innovation and Marketing Teams saw an opportunity to produce a new series combining the components of both a podcast and our popular webinars in conversation with Michelle Niedziela, PhD, VP of Research & Innovation, and Kathryn Ambroze, Manager of Behavioral & Marketing Sciences. We’ve covered it all in this series of curious discussions surrounding consumer neuroscience in market research, from modern technology and innovative applications to reflective episodes on each of our guest’s personal journey through his/her career.

Needless to say, as this series has continued to evolve, it’s been an amazing opportunity to produce each episode alongside Kathryn and Michelle. In the market research industry, there is an immense amount of information flooding our news feeds with updates and press releases sharing the next great innovation. This charisma to push the needle forward should always be encouraged and celebrated. However, this series has also reignited our value in speaking conversationally while talking through it all and addressing frequently asked questions from the rookies and the seasoned veterans.

Check out these 5 clips from both seasons 1 & 2 that highlight valuable takeaways from the series with regards to anecdotes, considerations, and stories from the experiences of various experts in the field:

Our brains are relevant

Season 1: Episode 7 | Uses & Abuses of Behavioral Science (2:49-5:05)

In this clip from an episode covering the uses & abuses of behavioral science, Michelle leads with a noteworthy reminder of the relevancy of applied neuroscience tech and methodologies in research with the intricate and vast system of neurons that connect to build the foundation of our daily behaviors and decisions. From breathing to planning a lunch with friends, your brain is the source of it all, emphasizing how relevant our ways of thinking are in any consumer experience.

The Not-So-Secret Formula

Season 1: Episode 14 | Habit Loops (8:54-10:37)

Methodologies, like the behavioral economic approach, keep consumers in focus with tools to think critically about the role brands play in our daily routines. This lens can be leveraged to aid in the understanding of brand users on a deeper level, allowing more context on how the product or service is cued into each user’s habit loop, and then, ultimately, implemented to create a sense of satisfaction. Investing in these types of frameworks adds tremendous value to both traditional and emerging tools because they are grounded in our behaviors beyond surface level.

Pessimist Predictions

Season 2: Episode 6 | Martha Bajec’s Personal Journey (35:39-39:13)

Being a pessimist is often frowned upon, but what about in research? Sitting down with Consulting Director of Health & Wellness Research, Martha Bajec, PhD, our co-hosts discussed why this mindset could help your research initiatives thrive. Our team certainly agreed that there is value in preparing for any factors of research to potentially go awry, so if and when they do, you can handle each situation accordingly. Being as detailed as possible in anticipating what consumers are going to do as well as what they could potentially do instead, leads to more thorough insights.

Navigating The Shifts

Season 2: Episode 17 | Navigating Norms with Michael Brereton (5:53-7:08)

When sitting down with Michael Brereton, Professor & Executive in Residence in the Department of Marketing at Michigan State University, to discuss norms, he raises the valuable point that the modern market research industry is truly in a state of flux. With new players, offerings, and ways of thinking comes a need for adaptability and openness to transformation. In his program at Michigan State, the faculty strives to achieve that balance of foundational and emerging applications to truly create a rounded understanding of research, so when their students enter the field, there is an appreciation for innovation.

Good, Fast, & Cheap?! Oh My!

Season 2: Episode 19 | Consumer Acceptability vs. Scientific Validity (12:35-15:16)

The intersection of any methodology or approach is often met with 3 parameters of being cheap, fast, and good. Who wouldn’t want to attain these attributes in their research design? More often than not, we are faced with the desire from clients for quick turnarounds with accuracy for as cheap as possible. However, in this clip, Michelle makes it known that this intersection does not exist. Successful research programs are attainable quickly, but it could cost you more, they can be cheaper but will probably take longer or, if they are both fast and cheap, there is risk of reduced quality. This leads to the overarching truth that answering simple questions effectively can take us further than answering complex questions poorly. Establishing clear outlines as to what we, as researchers, are seeking makes it easier to draw valuable data that tells the complete story.

These 5 takeaways are only a small sampling of the vast resource of information in this series. Our co-hosts have done an excellent job at taking a deep dive into these pressing topics in market research today with all of the pros and cons at the forefront of conversation. This value in an educational understanding of these tools and methodologies is what led to creating The HCD Mindset, and we have plenty in store for season 3! To stay up to date on this series, subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

The Greatest Collab of All Time: 3 Benefits of Brand & Product Teams Touching Base

Products provide utility to consumers but their value can only reach as far as branding takes them. HCD has been covering the topic of brand harmony recently to dive deep into the emerging discussion around how companies of all shapes and sizes can be sure that both brand and product experiences alike tell the same story– that the product meets the promise. 

What we have found in our experience is that it is common for both brand and product teams to work in their own internal sectors within company infrastructure. This serves to be effective in dedicating specific goals for both product development and the brand; however, this can also lead to a lack of congruency in greater initiatives as efforts continue to evolve separately. With potential for a disconnect, we’ve highlighted 3 benefits of both brand and product teams touching base.

The brand’s promise is being echoed into the product team’s goals. 

When taking the time to check-in, product development teams are given the opportunity to reevaluate how they are incorporating what the brand stands for into the product’s performance currently and in future. Brand teams are also being given the opportunity to evaluate how well they are reflecting key product attributes into the brand’s marketing. This has the potential to have a huge effect on breaking through the current status quo and evolving on both ends. If conversations feel stagnant or uninspired, it can often be attributed to a lack of mindfulness of the greater picture.

Consumer satisfaction will increase.

It is proven time and time again in cases of both well established and newly emerging companies that when product experience and brand messaging match, consumers are more satisfied. Having both sectors of your business align, will ensure that this congruency happens. All consumers personal go-to purchases have aspects of their brand identity and product performance that complement each other in ways that are satisfying. Brand loyalty comes to play when it all works together harmoniously because the expectations from the brand match the product and vice versa. 

Check out our December blog post on Brand Harmony for our take on measuring and aligning these experiences with target concepts.

The company will become more recognizable and differentiated.

The product will become better differentiated within its market with collaboration. Through this practice, you are better establishing your company’s unique personality from both ends. The product team is more mindful of its distinct attributes that give the company an advantage in the space, while the brand team of its consumer perceptions leading to better business decision making. In turn, the company’s overall offering will stand out among the rest. 

But let’s continue this conversation… how does your company bring both sectors together? What are some challenges that you have experienced and how did you overcome these hurdles? Maybe you’re still overcoming it today and you don’t have a clear answer. We’d love to know in our comments section, social media, or direct communication with our team. For more information on how HCD can help you to ensure your brand and products harmonize, please reach out to Allison Gutkowski (