Please join us in giving a warm welcome to our newest Market Research Analyst, Sadie Snyder
Sadie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Montclair State University in 2019. When she transferred to MSU, Sadie says she discovered an interest in statistics, which led her to explore the vast research aspects of marketing. After taking classes pertaining to marketing research, she gained foundational skills such as developing questionnaires, analyzing research data, and participating in on-campus focus groups. From there, she discovered her passions for data collection and the identification of trends and patterns within data.
Following MSU, I was looking for my start in marketing research, which lead me here to HCD Research. It was incredible to discover that HCD uses methodologies that weren’t covered in the many classes I took. I’m looking forward to the boundless innovation HCD Research fosters in our team and understanding our processes for projects from start to finish. When the workday ends, I spend my time kayaking, listening to my self-made music playlist (perfect for long road trips or a quick local drive), and going on adventures with my family dog, Peppa.
By building a team of analysts that have demonstrated a passion for consumer insights early on in their careers, HCD takes pride in the caliber of team members we have on staff to provide innovative solutions for challenging research objectives. We’re so excited to see Sadie continue to evolve in the analytics department of Team HCD!
30% of consumers would
consider changing physicians if their doctor didn’t offer telemedicine.
Flemington, NJ May 16, 2020: HCD Research conducted a study of American consumers to determine their perceptions and preferences related to telemedicine during the COVID-19 crisis.
The study was comprised of three segment populations: nonusers (people who have not had experience with telemedicine), ‘COVID-19’ users (people who have used telemedicine specifically due to the COVID-19 crisis), and ‘Non-COVID-19’ users (people who have used telemedicine independent of the COVID-19 crisis). The study revealed that the COVID-19 crisis has changed perceptions of telemedicine positively. Consumers who have used telemedicine tend to have more positive perceptions of telemedicine than nonusers and are more likely to use it in the future. However, 88% of nonusers still say they would be open to using telemedicine in the future.
Other observations included:
This study combined traditional survey questions with HCD’s MaxImplicit approach to understand perceptions of telemedicine and in-person appointments. To learn more about MaxImplicit, feel free to contact us via the info listed below or check out our available resources on YouTube & LinkedIn.
Consumers are overall more open to using telemedicine to communicate with their regular doctors rather than using a separate telehealth company/service, with 58% saying they are likely to use a telehealth company, compared to 82% saying they are likely to use a service that allows them to talk to a doctor from their regular practice. Telemedicine is perceived as being easy, helpful, and safe. Users find it to be safer, more reliable, and more convenient than in-person appointments, while for nonusers, comfort is still a big hurdle to using telemedicine.
More than half of consumers agree they will get the same level of care through both telemedicine and in-person appointments, although it is acknowledged that some situations (addressing pain, needing to take vitals, etc.) are best left for in-person.
Moving forward, consumers would like to see more opportunities for telemedicine even after the Pandemic is over. Telemedicine may be an important feature of future medical practice as 30% of all respondents (41% of users) indicated that they would consider switching to another doctor if their doctor did not provide opportunities for telemedicine.
The study was sponsored by HCD Research as a service to the health care community. For more information or an interview contact Rachel Horn, Marketing Research Manager at HCD Research, (email@example.com).
Heraclitus said it best when mentioning “change is
the only constant in life.” To keep up with the ever-changing consumer,
companies work hard to remain relevant by repositioning and reformulating
products. Whether the change is due to advancements in technology or shifts in regulation,
companies must evolve while consistently meeting consumer needs. However, these
changes within a product or company include the risk of current consumers
feeling left behind by the advances. With careful consideration and keeping
consumers at the forefront of development strategies, companies can still make
positive innovation while minimizing disappointment.
Imagine returning to one of your favorite restaurants to learn your go-to meal was taken off the menu or replaced with a new version of the dish. While some customers may shrug it off, others may find it heartbreaking because that dish motivated them to make the reservation. The experience of feeling isolated or abandoned when a product (in this case the meal) changes is referred to as alienation. Alienation occurs when the expectation is underwhelmingly unmet and can lead to changes in buying behavior. Consumers often become promiscuous when dissatisfied, looking towards other options to better suit their needs, such as making a reservation at a competitor’s restaurant.
Products are not the only components of an experience that are able to alienate a consumer. Rebranding through communications or aesthetics can also lead a consumer to feeling disconnected. To avoid consumers reaching a place of marketplace alienation, it is important to find a balance of advancing without neglecting loyal consumers. How? By listening to the consumer through the idea of brand harmony. Brands consist of products, emotional, sensory and positioning experiences, as well as the visual identity. Creating a synergistic relationship promotes consumer relationships, understanding limitations, learning areas of potential growth and developing a unified company message (Petromilli & Morrison, 2002). The product or concept change still must meet expectations of the consumer experience to ensure satisfaction. By understanding the emotional reaction that target demographics have towards an item or a service will help companies build products to fit and flourish within consumer lifestyles.
Creatures of Habit
Daily activities are embedded with products, services
and messaging. These components of life effect how consumers interact with
products, including buying behavior. Habits have a major role in decision-making
due to the formation of a habit loop of behavior consisting of cues, routines, and
rewards (Eder & Dignath, 2019). Identifying
the habit loop provides an opportunity to modify different parts of it, allowing
product development to focus on consumer lifestyles. Using information gathered
about consumers’ routines and acknowledging the existing footprint of the brand
within the habit loop helps to create products that meets the needs of the
consumer. The consumer-focus during the entire product cycle builds up the
consumers reason to believe in a product. By ensuring the item or service fits
the perception, the product experience as a whole can set the overall
An estimated 80% of new products fail or underperform every year (Prahalad & Sawhney, 2011). A contributing factor to the huge turnover comes from not correctly identifying or contributing to an occasion. Considering the nature of the experience is crucial, since the context determines much of how a consumer will respond to it. For example, reformulating a cookie to have less sugar can seem like a great adjustment! It may even taste delicious, but is it what the consumer wants? If the value of the cookie is being a sweet treat, the new formula will be disappointing. Even if the cookie is an improvement by being better for the consumer’s health, the experience that the consumer anticipated is different. Furthermore, the innovation does not represent consumer expectation. To avoid alienating consumers, companies question if the change is noticeable and then explore how it is interpreted. Ultimately, the success of the change is decided by the positive or negative response of the consumer.
Changes within a
company for any reason entails risk that current consumers will feel alienated
and reject the new product. Some innovations
may be an easy switch, while others are hard to adopt. The reformulation must
consider the risk involved in making changes. Low risk changes are small pivots
that are viewed as an extension of the overall product experience. Examples of low
risk changes include Microsoft investing in gaming and Disney rolling out
Disney+. When using implicit testing, the low risk
prototypes are determined to have some harmony with the brand and concept but
have a high certainty of response. With careful planning in messaging and
communications, the change can be eased into the consumer routine and promote
Contrastingly, more extreme jumps have a higher risk of
rejection because it’s a bigger stretch and may start a new narrative rather
than stay consistent within the established brand identity. High risk products
can be detected as prototypes with little to no harmony with the brand and/or
concept and have low certainty during implicit testing. The disconnect between
brand and product may confuse the consumer, potentially leaving them upset. Kendall
Jenner’s infamous 2016 Pepsi commercial was not well-received by audiences due
to its ignorant connotations of fixing systematic social issues with a can of
soda. The backlash caused the commercial to get pulled, and Jenner had to make
a public apology for her part in the ad. Brands work hard to build
relationships with the consumer to enable loyalty. Altering perceptions of a
product or person through bad messaging can feel like abandonment to consumers
who identify with Pepsi or Jenner. Even if the product itself is wonderful on
its own, the perceptions can overshadow the product experience. To mitigate
risk, alienation market research can include learning the brand associations to
help companies meet or surpass the accepted perceptions.
goes out to change its product for the worse. The inevitable renovations and
repositioning are built to improve, not challenge, consumers’ lives. Yet, the
purpose of the product often misfires because of the disconnect between the
product and the three types of consumers: potential, existing and lapsed.
Reflecting on the consumer risks against benefits can help determine if the best
strategy is being implemented to remain inclusive. Ignoring consumers only
hurts the company by blindly attempting to rebrand or cut costs. The product,
packaging, concept or communication is worthless unless someone validates it
through use. By researching certain components of the overall product
experience, companies can pinpoint places to cutback or lean into more to
better position themselves in alignment with the consumer. Alienation testing
engages with consumers to quantify the risk that may alter their purchase
behaviors in response to the product changes.
Traditional research tools, focus groups or interviews, can provide the language consumers use. Starting with the consumers at the foundation keeps the innovations close to the users. The research design is dependent on what the company is trying to learn. By using the appropriate tool, the information can provide actionable results that can guide development. HCD employs a large amount of traditional and psycho-physiological tools to monitor interactions within the consumer experience. Using flexible and customizable research methods, companies can further explore how certain elements of the overall experience integrate into the consumers’ lifestyles. Evaluating the overlap of product experience with brand harmony bolsters success when introduced to the market by ensuring the product meets the promise. For more on HCD’s take on Marketplace Alienation, feel free to watch our latest webinar or episode of The HCD Vidcast at the links here.
Navigating the COVID-19 situation has proved to dramatically
shift the daily lives of entire countries. The COVID-19 pandemic evolves at a
rapid pace with the uncertainty of when the outbreak will abate, resulting in a
lot of unrest. Job security, travel restrictions and mandatory lockdowns are
just some of the variables impacting daily life. For the latest updates
regarding COVID-19, please consult the CDC, World
Health Organization (WHO) and local
government websites as recommendations will vary by location. While the safety
of employees, recruiters, researchers and participants is at the utmost
importance, the health of many companies is also suffering. Market research
must reposition and adapt to the current status of restrictions and limitations
set forth by government officials. To help alleviate the outbreak spread, new
efforts can be put forth to keep the health and safety of all individuals who
contribute to research at the forefront of planning. Conducting research does
not have to cease, but it absolutely must evolve to appropriately
respond to the current environment.
take steps to flatten the curve.
At the same time, it is also important to us, as an innovative research supplier, to look for ways to continue to meet client and industry needs. Below we will discuss the steps HCD is taking to accommodate our research during this difficult time as discussed on our webinar on March 19, 2020.
A Solutions-Based Approach
With almost thirty years of
experience in the market research industry, HCD has been around the block and has
learned that accommodating during hard times is necessary. During times of
crisis or economic turmoil, such as 9/11, company and consumer moods change
drastically. Companies look inward to advance, while the focus on target
markets diminishes. Precipitous change forces a shift in product positioning to
meet the needs of the environment.
In 2001, examples of adaptability were
shown in the increase of tele-web and telephone interviews. Any hesitation to
incorporating internet usage in the job market faded as it was a useful way to
modify services while still performing. Similar responses occurred during the
market crash of 2008, where companies reflected on consumer attitudes and
adapted to the new perspectives. Consumer confidence declined causing companies
to reposition and rebuild trust. To continue to innovate, challenging times
promote partnerships, collaboration and discussion. Our research works to
select optimal methodologies appropriate for each unique research question. By
diversifying in client base and services, HCD can match the demands of the
environment while producing quality research. We flourish in hard times by
working together towards new and exciting opportunities to advance.
Start from the Ground Up
The safety of our employees,
partners, clients and research participants is of the first and foremost
importance. Doing a wellness check on research partners, employees, clients and
research participants is crucial in times of distress to act as a gentle reminder
that their health will always remain a main concern. We encourage efforts which
help minimize the spread of the virus, such as practicing social distancing,
self-isolating after travel for at least 14 days, limiting nonessential travel,
avoiding large crowds, keeping up with hand hygiene and disinfecting common
surfaces. Hashtags like #JustStayHome and #FlattenTheCurve are circulating on
news and social media platforms to encourage behavioral change, spread
awareness about ways to stop the virus from propagating and ultimately diminish
the demands on the healthcare system. Converting in-person meetings to virtual
meetings is an easy alternative that reflects how the wellbeing of teammates,
clients and their families is a top priority.
As news of COVID-19 increased and
the threat became more real, HCD responded by remaining flexible in the
ever-changing climate. Questions about travel, illness or illness exposure were
incorporated into the participant screening criteria, while also including
day-of calls to ensure that no additional symptoms developed since being
screened. As seen in many industries, HCD eased cancellation policies over
concerns regarding the virus to contribute to minimizing the contact and spread.
Additionally, sanitization stations and providing PPE (personal protective
equipment) were very important for research that continued.
HCD employs physiological tools, such as fEMG, GSR and HR, which require in-person contact. Projects involving this type of research needed to change. While the equipment and surfaces are disinfected regularly as part of the protocol, it was important to reinforce these habits during this time to provide comfort to participants by showingthem how we were protecting them. Additionally, protective gear, such as gloves or masks, was available to individuals attending on-site research during the original discussions around COVID-19.
Technicians were also briefed on
other physiological considerations that the toll of COVID-19 may have on
participants. Part of technician training involves knowing how to navigate the
conversations with a participant to help the participant reach a stable
baseline. Emotional contagions, like a calm voice, stimulate the parasympathetic
nervous system to help it adjust to the dynamic of the environment. However,
anxieties during trying times may elevate stress levels which could result in a
moving baseline. While it is healthy (and actually a great immune booster) to
have inflections throughout the day, reporting on a participant in a prolonged
agitated state will not provide strong findings. If a participant arrived in a
prolonged agitated state, the technician may have decided to not include that individual
in the study.
HCD and our clients were
consistently reevaluating the situation to make changes as necessary. Rightfully
postponing or reassessing methodologies for online capabilities guaranteed the
safety of all members involved in the research. Even in the current landscape
surrounding COVID-19, as lockdowns emerge, HCD seeks out ways to evolve and elevate
research designs while complying with the recommendations of our public health
Remaining flexible is a key component to adjusting to the climate while still providing great research alternatives. Postponing in-person research or using online forums are ways to discourage unnecessary contact. The growth in discussions and innovations will allow market research to accommodate client services while still providing high quality research.
Understanding and analyzing how a
consumer responds, perceives and evaluates a stimulus is imperative in gaining
actionable findings. HCD integrates traditional, psychological and
psychophysiological tools to give value to the research by matching the right
tools with the right question. Remote traditional research can be designed with
IDI (In-depth Interviews): Digital work, such as video streaming, is an effective method to convert to a no-contact research approach while still gaining in-depth responses. Moderators can connect with participants in remote places to conduct in-depth interviews or focus groups. Furthermore, videos of the interviews (with the proper consent forms) may be recorded for later review. Streaming services frequently provide features, such as chatrooms, for clients to communicate directly with the moderator or members of the market research team while the interviews are being conducted. Also, the client can curate potential questions for the moderator to utilize in the interview in real-time by taking advantage of the chatroom.
MaxDiff: MaxDiff is a forced choice method allowing the researchers to determine ranked priorities. Consumer buying behaviors shift during times of crisis, giving companies an opportunity to reevaluate and learn about the new preferences. Catering to these changes quickly is both comforting and beneficial to the consumer, while helping products or communications improve.
Comprehensive research may include gaining more insight into
research questions through employing behaviorally driven exploration such
Behavioral Coding: Usability projects, such as website design, can also use screen sharing or screen recording methodologies to learn about consumer computer behaviors. Observing the user experience without interrupting it promotes a more naturalistic experience, thus showing how consumers interact with specific exposures. Furthermore, HCD can provide diagnostic suggestions backed by behavioral economics to help guide the consumer to better interact with the stimulus design.
Eye Tracking: Learning about the visual attention of a consumer gives insight into where the person is looking, ultimately detecting areas of interest or places or components lacking fixations. Print ads, messaging, websites and video advertisements benefit by analyzing the outputs of eye tracking, such as heatmaps.
Furthermore, psychological tools can measure emotion
virtually through a large sample size of a target demographic.
Implicit Testing: Consumers are learning to adapt to the current environment, which ultimately affects future purchases. By following consumer associations, companies can gauge how to innovate for the normative needs. Detecting the strength of automatic associations between words and stimuli via this timed reaction test can help reveal perceptions of brands, concepts and product experiences. Unlike the traditional check-all-that-apply (CATA) and scale questions, IAT differentiates the strength of each attribute.
Merging MaxDiff with implicit testing is a powerful combination that can be conducted completely remotely. Comparing the highest priority concepts to the association strengths of the product reveals the congruency of the product meeting the expectations of the consumer and possible improvement innovation opportunities.
Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM): The intensity of the different underlying dimensions of pleasure, arousal and dominance are measured in this non-verbal pictorial assessment. The three dimensions map out a participant’s response to a product without concerns regarding language barriers, making widespread research very accessible with this measure.
Furthermore, HCD offers a virtual version of the patented Mood Map (U.S. Pat. No. 10,430,810). Mood Map LITE uses the numerical dimensions of SAM to concisely summarize the tested experience. Mood Map LITE is a remote and cost-effective way to determine levels of emotional and perceptual congruency.
Times are Changing
During this period of disruption, companies can reconnect with target demographics to better understand consumers. Use this time to explore the market space- try to investigate target consumers with fresh methodologies to learn the language, trends and associations tied to products. Identifying the unmet needs of the market by reconnoitering routines via qualitative research will allow for productive product developments, updated communications, and ultimately, workplace success.
Companies can revisit and review the habits of consumers by learning about the new necessities as the world continues to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances. HCD assisted in creating consumer technical models with the tools measured throughout this blog to understand behavior and gain information about inconveniences that can be improved upon through innovation. Innovation and adaptability occur out of necessity for growth. Challenging times are wonderful opportunities to build partnerships, overcome obstacles and learn through experiences together. While the COVID-19 pandemic is uncharted territory, HCD is committed to supporting our employees, clients and partnerships. The company’s diligence in producing quality research to serve a global market has historically aided in streamlining powerful market research tools. The inevitable changes and limitations which result from COVID-19 may provide the foundation for collaborations or ideas to aid the market research field in continuous progress. If you are interested in starting a conversation with our team about overcoming challenges of the current marketing place, please contact Allison Gutkowski at Allison.Gutkowski@hcdi.net.