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Unwritten Research: Understanding Behavior Driving Trends

Research: Ur Usin It Wrong

Despite my newfound love for international women’s water polo, this post will have absolutely no connection to the Olympics. (You’re welcome.) It will, however, focus on a little issue that is near and dear to my heart: Research. Or more specifically, how companies misuse it.

Anyone who has read this blog KNOWS that I do love me some research in my area of specialty. By the time the data has been gathered and shuffled into a presentable report form, I’m able to see the numbers and test the theories, developmental work, and campaigns from the last year to see if what I’ve observed in the millennial market via culture has been reflected in the research. (Turns out, I have a very good track record. Score.) Targeted research is incredibly important to my work as a marketing specialist – and as a sporadic blogger. It tells me what I’ve been on point about, what I’ve missed, what the trade is interested in measuring, and how the industry is reacting.

What I’m disappointed* to see, however, is how research – especially (but not limited to) millennial research – seems to be utilized in the beverage industry today.  There is an increasingly disturbing knee-jerk reactionary trend among companies developing for millennials. And what I mean is UR DOIN IT WRONG.

Here’s an example of what I see being done across the industry:

STEP ONE – Get the numbers.

STEP TWO – See that Product Type X is trending/gaining in sales among target demo.

STEP THREE – Develop a copy of Product Type X.

STEP FOUR – Profit$$$?

That is not innovation. That is embarrassing. This is not proactive. It’s reactive. And most importantly, as far as I can see, it’s not paying off.

Most consumer research tracks behavior: what is a specific region or demographic purchasing, what are the leading brands in a category, etc. OBVIOUSLY, this is valuable stuff, knowing consumer behavior trends.You know what’s even more valuable to know along with the data? WHY consumers are behaving in that way.

Think of it as Consumer Therapy and you’re the psychologist – sure, you can address the behavior and hope for the best, or you can dig down a bit to what is driving the behavior and address that. What do you think will be more successful?

This shouldn’t be news for anyone, it’s basic business. If you can fulfill a need or desire for your market that your competition hasn’t, you’ve got a sound – and most likely profitable – investment. But in order to know what needs or desires aren’t currently being filled, you’ve got to know what those needs and desires are. You’ve got to respect your consumers and take the time learn about them, not just make assumptions based on Column E.

IT’S LIKE WISHING FOR MORE WISHES, PEOPLE. Dig a little deeper, it will pay off.





Millennial Buying Habits: New Data

Screen Shot 2012-01-31 at 1.06.10 PM

New data on millennial buying habits by the folks at BazaarVoice focuses on social influence between generations. They are specifically focusing on User Generated Content (UGC), which essentially means user reviews in this case. I’ll be sure to publish any juicy info from the report, but in the meantime, feast your eyes on their infographic.


Nielsen Urges Alcohol Beverage Industry: Pay Attention to Millennials

A New Landscape.
A New Landscape.

Millennials will redefine the landscape of the alcohol beverage industries. The original illustration in this design was created by

Yesterday, the Nielsen blog published an article that featured some findings from its Q2 2010 research initiative on Millennials. The title of this article? So glad you asked.

Millennials Redefine The Alcohol Beverage Landscape.

“Without a doubt, millennials are a large and influential generation and alcohol beverage companies need to know their taste and buying preferences in order to take advantage of the trends that can greatly impact business.” – Nielsen, Jan 11, 2011

Snark aside, this little teaser is packed full of valuable info on millennials as alcohol beverage consumers. Some of my favorite findings and exerpts (quoted directly from the article) are:

  • Compared to the general population, millennials are more likely to trade back up to more expensive alcohol beverage brands as the economy improves.
  • Millennials are more likely to explore new and different alcohol beverage products and will be even more likely to buy a locally-made or produced product knowing it may help the local economy.
  • An added boost for marketers employing social or traditional media to influence behavior, millennials are slightly more likely to plan their purchases versus purchase on impulse in today’s down economy.
  • Leveraging social media will be a critical marketing strategy for alcohol beverage companies to communicate with Millennial consumers and make their brands relevant with this generation.

Personally, I’m quite happy to see Nielsen making a serious and more formal commitment to studying this age group. No doubt they felt the swift kick in the ass that Pew Research dealt them with their excellent Millennial Portrait resource compiled last year.

**For those that get REALLY into this stuff like I do, Nielsen tops out the Millennial age range with those currently aged 34, while Pew began at those currently aged 31. It will be an interesting data comparison when the full reports are released.**

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