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Blog Posts (206)

  • Brand Harmony: A Frank Discussion on Cross-Functional Teams to Cross-Functional Research Recap

    A major part of differentiating a company involves developing its identity and personality. In order to accomplish this, companies must take a look at who their consumers are and what thbrand-harmony-a-frank-discussion-on-cross-functional-teams-to-cross-functional-research-recapey are selling to ensure the product meets the promise. Understanding the synergistic perceptions of a brand or concept in addition to a product experience can lead to better business decision making for both product design and messaging. A mismatch between the product experience and brand expectations can lead to challenges in product acceptability, liking, and ultimately a high failure rate of new market introductions. To avoid a mismatch, companies must strive to have brand harmony in every aspect of the product pipeline. Active communication is necessary in every part of the product pipeline from product ideation all the way to marketing and sales. Having strong alignment within the organization builds a cohesive message that speaks to consumers and is reinforced throughout the entire product experience. Recognizing the need to discuss the strategies and implications of brand harmony, our VP of Research and Innovation, Michelle Niedziela PhD, sat down with Stacie Miller PhD, William Childs, Yuliya Strizhakova PhD, Christoph Kndusen, and Linda Flammer PhD in our latest addition to the HCD webinar series. We pulled some highlights of this conversation (including, but not limited to, how to address siloed work environments, ways to collaborate cross-functionally, and the importance of authenticity in order to achieve brand harmony) which are detailed below. The Unintended Clash Even during the introductions about being on either the brand or product development team, Linda Flammer PhD emphasized the value in breaking down silos. By operating entirely independently, the success criteria may differ and cause the messaging to convey a different sentiment than what the product was developed to achieve. She also sympathizes with both teams when trying to develop methods to predict market success because “most of the methods are not good.” Listen to Linda share one of her experiences where communication between marketing and R&D led to some struggles in a new line extension. Stacie Miller PhD also recalled her past experiences where R&D had a hand-off to marketing, but all of the insights gleaned were from unbranded. This research still had valuable insights, but the findings can’t be assumed to remain consistent if repeated with branding. This furthers the need to discuss expectation matching not only for the consumer but for the various teams on the project as well. By communicating objectives and priorities upfront, everyone will have a better understanding about anticipated outcomes, thus guiding organizations to innovate and design accordingly. Stacie refers to this strategy as “having an anchor of expectations.” Finding the team spirit- Can we break down the silos? Recognizing a clear need for change, Yuliya Strizhakova PhD addresses how the messaging and product experience must have a unified vision. Yuliya calls out, “…fragmented media, with social media like TikTok, have people taking on a brand or taking a product, but if you have a consistent vision and message, it’s much harder to break.” Linda adds how companies thrive when stakeholders in the organization team up around the product premise, which encourages psychological safety since the group wins or fails together. Stacie also brings up how important empathy within a team is to ensure constructive honesty. Christoph Knudsen furthers this notion by mentioning how teams must find a common ground, such as the emotional component, to test from both marketing and product development to reach brand harmony. When it comes to finding a common ground, Will Childs gives an excellent example about how companies need to reflect on exactly what they are selling. “If I asked you what Harley-Davidson sold, and you told me motorcycles, I would say you’re wrong- they sell freedom. It’s a much bigger construct than just a bunch of parts that fit together with two wheels.” How to know the company identity Consumer feedback is necessary not only about the product itself but about the overall experience. Stacie contributes an interesting point about how the business strategy needs to be at the interception of determining company perceptions. Setting up future objectives for the company guides the strategy to evaluate gaps in perception, which then builds a research question and subsequently the tools that will best serve it. A few tools were noted when trying to understand consumer perceptions. Nonverbal techniques, such as social listening and implicit measures, and more structured approaches, like focus groups, were mentioned for gaining useful feedback. But how do you catch problems prior to launch? A big distinction, Michelle mentions, is that you can’t measure what you don’t test. The panelists agree that multimethod inputs from both qual and quant are informative, but each tool comes with its own limitations. So it really goes back to making sure there is a strategy in place for responding to an outcome since the time and moment do play a major role in how an ad or a statement can grow. Keep it real Christoph highlights how authenticity is a driving force behind brand harmony since company identity and personality are tied to certain stances. Consumers will challenge companies if they speak out on issues without taking notable action. Building an identity involves developing its core values, and those values must be upheld for the company to emulate trustworthiness. The Future of Brand Harmony So what does the future hold? Here are some thoughts about key components needed for brand harmony: · The growth of search and voice: Be ready to answer questions about the brand that may be uncomfortable- consumers have access to companies like never before. · Align silos: Organizations need to be on the same page. Transparency is a requirement for success. · Consistency: There needs to be alignment within everything from the product to the brand to social issues. · Simplicity: Have a short answer to one crucial question- what experience are you providing to consumers that they will not get anywhere else? If you are interested in learning more about brand harmony, please watch the full webinar available on HCD’s YouTube page, or contact Allison Gutkowski at allison.gutkowski@hcdi.net for any other inquiries.

  • The growth of 4-20: How consumer cannabis is continuing to change

    “Happy 4-20!!” This greeting can sometimes be heard ringing out around 4:20 in the afternoon, or more often, it can be heard on April 20th, or more likely still, on April 20th at 4:20pm. And odds are particularly high (pun intended!) that when heard, the phrase is accompanied by a skunky-sweet-herbal aroma wafting on the breeze. Depending where you are, or more precisely on the legality of cannabis in your jurisdiction, there may also be a dense cloud of patchouli (a woody, musky, earthy scented oil) or an incense aroma hanging in the air from attempts to mask the characteristic smell associated with cannabis. Almost universally, cannabis consumers know 4-20 to be synonymous with cannabis-friendly environments. Indeed, 4-20 has become deeply enshrined in the collective cannabis culture, and in 2003, it became forever legally associated with cannabis through California’s Senate Bill SB 420, which focused on medical cannabis. For both non-consumers and consumers alike, the formal codification of 4-20 happened in 2017 when the Oxford English Dictionary published an update to include 420, n. Marijuana; the action of smoking marijuana. Typically pronounced “four-twenty”, the digits can be found formatted as a time, a date, with or without hyphenation — whichever way it’s written, s’all good! Here, we use the 4-20 format as a subtle reminder of the pronunciation. It also helps give clarity to those cannabis users who twist up numbers (e.g., what Canadians call a “half-quarter” measure of cannabis is, by weight, a 1/8th ounce). Why 4-20? Over the decades 4-20 has been in use, various rationales attempt to explain why the order of these three numbers is synonymous with cannabis. Some of the more seemingly reasonable origins have to do with Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” and police codes for use in-progress, while the less credulous, especially considering the historic typification of cannabis users as passive and non-violent, suggest theories like Hitler’s birthday is the origin. The current widely accepted origin of 4-20 is that in the early 1970s a group of teenage friends (who called themselves the Waldos) at San Rafael High School in Marin County, California started using 4-20 as their intra-group code to communicate the time they would meet (i.e., 4:20pm, conveniently after school and extracurriculars but before parents came home) to smoke cannabis. 4-20 today 4-20 has evolved over the years to mean many things to many people; from a day held sacred in protest of cannabis prohibition to a celebration of the plant and its people, 4-20 has become the internationally accepted holiday of cannabis consumption. From coast to coast and around the globe, 4-20 festivities of every flavor can be found, from massive gatherings of hundreds of thousands of cannabis enthusiasts and canna-curious onlookers to small-serviced sessions with select friends. It was suggested that 4-20 would be of significantly less importance to consumers once legalization for all uses (i.e., recreational and medical) was implemented in Canada in 2018, but it continues still to be a very big deal to Canadians. Even the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped 4-20. With the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 came virtual 4-20 celebrations, which were welcomed by consumers. So what? Evidence supporting the strength of association between 4-20 and cannabis consumption comes from surveys of consumers’ self-reported awareness, which indicates that the majority (55%) of Canadians in 2022, and over 75% of those aged 18-34, are aware of 4-20. Additionally, market data indicates that, even during lockdown, spending on cannabis increased 50% on 4-20. Drilling down into consumer and retail data from previous years, predictions for this coming 4-20 are promising soaring sales and satisfied celebrants through product variety and deep discounts. While the majority of cannabis consumers are usually men,16,17 across all generations on 4-20, women increase purchasing more than men. Given the dynamic environment of the cannabis product landscape, the cannabis consumer profile is very rapidly evolving and growing. New and canna-curious consumers may not yet have a preferred or established product format or brand, while existing and heavy users may never stray from their preferred products. Understanding all types of cannabis consumers, how they think about 4-20 and their own consumption preferences and habits, can help establish brand trust and, ultimately, brand loyalty. If you are interested in learning more about how HCD Research can help you explore the wellness space (including cannabinoids), please contact Allison Gutkowski at Allison.Gutkowski@hcdi.net. References 1. Nguyen A, Nguyen L, Nguyen D, Le U, Trần T. “420 Friendly”: Revealing Marijuana Use via Craigslist Rental Ads.; 2017. 2. SB 420, California - Medical Marijuana - ProCon.org. Medical Marijuana. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/background-resources/sb-420-california/ 3. 420, n. In: OED Online. Oxford University Press. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/54543884 4. Urban Dictionary: half quarter. Urban Dictionary. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=half%20quarter 5. Here’s the Real Reason We Associate 420 With Weed. Time. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://time.com/4292844/420-april-20-marijuana-pot-holiday-history/ 6. Parlia. Adolf Hitler’s birthday - Parlia. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://www.parlia.com/a/adolf-hitlers-birthday 7. A Big Mystery Involving The Origin Of 4/20 Has Finally Been Solved. HuffPost. Published April 20, 2016. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/420-origin-story_n_57167759e4b0060ccda48a22 8. Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Why We Celebrate Weed On 4/20. HuffPost. Published April 20, 2015. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/pot-day-420_n_7099706 9. CNN MH. How 4/20 became “Weed Day.” CNN. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/20/health/420-weed-day-origin-trnd/index.html 10. Lopez G. 4/20, the marijuana holiday, explained. Vox. Published April 19, 2019. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/4/19/18484698/what-is-420-meaning-marijuana-legalization 11. Matheson D. Clouded memories: The history of Vancouver’s 4/20 pot rally. British Columbia. Published April 19, 2016. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://bc.ctvnews.ca/clouded-memories-the-history-of-vancouver-s-4-20-pot-rally-1.2865932 12. A look at Canada’s first 4-20 celebrations since legalization - National | Globalnews.ca. Global News. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://globalnews.ca/news/5186818/4-20-celebrations-across-canada/ 13. 10 virtual 4/20 parties from online concerts to workshops to celebrate the marijuana holiday. The Denver Post. Published April 14, 2020. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://www.denverpost.com/2020/04/14/10-virtual-4-20-parties-from-online-concerts-to-workshops-to-celebrate-the-marijuana-holiday/ 14. Bloomberg BNN. Cannabis Canada Weekly: Retailers see 50% jump in 420 sales despite lockdowns - BNN Bloomberg. BNN. Published April 23, 2021. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/cannabis-canada-weekly-retailers-see-50-jump-in-420-sales-despite-lockdowns-1.1594546 15. Ltd TGODH. Highly Dutch Organic launches 420 Hotline. Accessed April 17, 2022. https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/highly-dutch-organic-launches-420-hotline-829810426.html 16. Majority of Canadians (55%) Aware of 4/20 Celebrations for Cannabis Consumption. Ipsos. Accessed April 16, 2022. https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/news-polls/Majority-of-Canadians-55-percent-Aware-of-420-Celebrations-for-Cannabis-Consumption 17. Cannabis Sciences 2022. Labroots. Accessed April 17, 2022. https://www.labroots.com/virtual-event/cannabis-sciences-2022/agenda/wed-mar-23 18. Understanding the 4/20 cannabis holiday & consumer purchasing trends | Headset. Accessed April 17, 2022. https://www.headset.io/industry-reports/understanding-the-4-20-cannabis-holiday-consumer-purchasing-trends#form

  • The ‘New’ Reefer Madness

    In a recent ‘Frank Discussion on Consumer Cannabis Industry Challenges,’ our friend Darwin Millard (aka The Spock of Cannabis) of Final Bell and ASTM D37 described the recent widespread acceptance of cannabidiol (CBD), and specifically CBD from ‘hemp’, and continued vilification of cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as the ‘new’ Reefer Madness. Here we introduce HCD’s new blog series entitled “The New Reefer Madness.” The name of the series was sparked by its clever repurposing by Darwin, but it is particularly apt here as we aim to clear some of the haze around all aspects of cannabis, its use, and how to best research it. While its viewing in more recent years has been undertaken ironically, the 1936 film Reefer Madness remains an iconic example of the propaganda of drug prohibition. Debates continue over the specific origin of the global prohibition on cannabis (Gieringer, 1999), but it has indeed been global (Levine, 2002; Collins, 2020). The campaigns of the early 1900s to demonize cannabis were wildly successful as the confusion and fear they stoked still remain in the minds of many people around the world even today (Salon, 2018; Reid, 2020; The Bluntness, 2021). Even though humans have been using cannabis for myriad purposes for thousands of years (Russo, 2007; Crocq, 2015; Clarke & Merlin, 2017), the recent decades of global prohibition have left us with a massive knowledge gap around what cannabis is and what it can do, as it was previously restricted not only for public consumption but also for almost all types of research purposes (Heidt & Wheeldon, 2021; Alvarez, 2017). With Canada legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational consumer use in 2018, other states and nations have quickly followed suit with their own decriminalization and/or legalization strategies (Baek, 2021). As restrictions are lifted and cannabis legality and use are revisited around the world (Bewley-Taylor et al., 2014; Hurley, 2018), an information avalanche has come upon us with all kinds of recommendations and claims pertaining to cannabis use and its effects. Understandably and expectedly, the sheer volume of information available to consumers looking for alternative or novel health, wellness, and/or recreational solutions, and companies eager to join this multi-billion-dollar space (Global News, 2022), is overwhelming. Cannabis or hemp? Indica or sativa? Cannabinoids or terpenes? Extracts or isolates? Medical or recreational? THC or CBD? Flower or bud? Joints or blunts? Herb vape or concentrate vape? These are just a few of the topics we will be exploring in “The New Reefer Madness” blog series. So join HCD Research as we TURN ON our knowledge sharing in the cannabis space, TUNE IN to the market and the current and future consumer, and DROP OUT key insights and perspectives that can help you enter and grow your cannabis business. If you are interested in learning more about how HCD Research can help you explore the wellness space (including cannabinoids), please contact Allison Gutkowski at Allison.Gutkowski@hcdi.net. References: Alvarez, C. (2017). A Call to Higher Action: Cannabis Prohibition in the United States and Canada Makes for an Uncertain Future. University of Miami International and Comparative Law Review, 24(2), 441. Baek, C. (2021). Ending the Federal Cannabis Prohibition: Lessons Learned from the History of Alcohol Regulations, Twenty-first Amendment, and Dormant Commerce Clause Jurisprudence. Case Western Reserve Law Review, 71(4), 1323. Bewley-Taylor, D., Jelsma, M., & Blickman, T. (2014). The Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition. Transnational Institute. https://www.tni.org/en/publication/the-rise-and-decline-of-cannabis-prohibition Cannabis criminalization today worse than 1930s “reefer madness” | Salon.com. Retrieved April 8, 2022, from https://www.salon.com/2018/01/30/re-criminalizing-cannabis-is-worse-than-1930s-reefer-madness_partner/ Cannabis has added $43.5B to Canada’s economy since legalization | Globalnews.ca. Retrieved April 8, 2022, from https://globalnews.ca/news/8585983/cannabis-canada-economy-legalization-report/ Clarke, R. C., & Merlin, M. D. (2017). Cannabis Domestication, Breeding History, Present-day Genetic Diversity, and Future Prospects. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 35(5–6), 293–327. Collins, J. (2020). A Brief History of Cannabis and the Drug Conventions. American Journal of International Law, 114, 279–284. Crocq, M.-A. (2020). History of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 22(3), 223–228. Gieringer, D. H. (1999). The Forgotten Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in California. Contemporary Drug Problems, 26(2), 237–288. Heidt, J., & Wheeldon, J. (2021). Data, Damn Lies, and Cannabis Policy: Reefer Madness and the Methodological Crimes of the New Prohibitionists. Critical Criminology. Levine, H. G. (2002). The Secret of World Wide Drug Prohibition. The Independent Review, 7(2), 165–180. Reefer Madness Today: New “Study” Makes Unsupported Claims About Cannabis. | TheBluntness.com. Retrieved April 8, 2022, from https://www.thebluntness.com/posts/rnew-study-makes-unsupported-claims-about-cannabis Reid, M. (2020). A qualitative review of cannabis stigmas at the twilight of prohibition. Journal of Cannabis Research, 2(1), 46. Russo, E. (2007). History of Cannabis and Its Preparations in Saga, Science, and Sobriquet. Chemistry & Biodiversity, 4(8), 1614–1648.

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  • TRADITIONAL | HCD RESEARCH

    TRADITIONAL More About Our Tools HCD Research ® is a traditional research house that has been utilizing classical techniques for almost 30 years. Methods include: Quantitative Online Surveys Multivariate techniques (Regressions, discriminant analysis, factor analysis, cluster analysis, etc) Conjoint, Maximum Differential Scaling, Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency Qualitative Interviews and Focus Groups In person, tele-web, discussion boards While innovative approaches such as neuroscientific, behavioral and/or psychological tools, should be implemented in research designs, it is critical to always have a traditional component. Innovative methods are not a replacement, they are a complement to add color and understanding to what consumers are articulating about their experience. The implementation of both traditional and applied consumer neuroscience methodologies gives us a holistic understanding of the consumer experience. RESOURCES For more information on our work check out our RESOURCES Page for whitepapers, infographics, and downloadables!

  • MINDSET SERIES | HCD RESEARCH

    Co-Hosts HCD MindSet™ is a light and upbeat Vidcast and Podcast series about consumer neuroscience, human behavior, and new technologies and methodologies that lead to innovation strategies with a mass of untapped potential. Co-hosted by Michelle Niedziela, PhD, VP of Research & Innovation, and Kathryn Ambroze, Manager of Behavioral & Marketing Sciences at HCD, this dynamic duo brings a breath of fresh air to their discussions, whether it’s between themselves or with industry leaders or internal experts. Latest Upload Episode #53 📰 Extra, extra read all about it! Sharing Industry News. | Featuring: Nick Thomas | MindSet Episode #53 Episode #52 🎶 A “quick” chat with Glenn Kessler on Brand Harmony | Featuring: Glenn Kessler | MindSet Episode #52 Latest Episodes Podcasting Platforms Anchor Spotify Apple Google Breaker If you are interested in learning more about HCD MindSet™, visit our YouTube Page or Podcasting profiles above. If you still have questions, please reach out to the show’s producer Helen Ross at helen.ross@hcdi.net ! EMAIL HELEN

  • EVENTS | HCD RESEARCH

    Research in the Metaverse - Methodological Innovation March 9, 2022 Mobile market research: connecting with consumers with AR IIEX Europe 2022 June 21-22, 2022 The future of consumer insights and market research. Quirks New York City 2022 July 20-21, 2022 The 2022 Quirk's Event – New York will be held on July 20-21, 2022, at the Javits Center in New York City. SSP Conference 2022 November 2-4, 2022 Immerse yourself in sensory science and discover the latest insights. Eurosense 2022 September 13 - 16, 2022 EuroSense is a successful event, gathering sensory and consumer researchers, both academics and from industry, worldwide. ASTM Cannabis Workshop December 14, 2021 The 2nd Global Workshop on Advancing the Field of Cannabis through Standardization is organized by ASTM Committee D37 on Cannabis, and will be held virtually. SenseAsia 2021 December 5-7, 2021 The 4th edition of the Symposium will focus on providing updates on key areas in sensory and consumer science by experts from Asia and other regions worldwide. EVENTS The HCD Research® Team attends and hosts many different events. Check out the list below for details! NeuroU Neuro University is an annual symposium created to educate market research professionals on the science, tools, and techniques behind applied neuroscience methodologies hosted by The HCD Research® Company. Be sure to check back for updates.

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