February 2010

An insightful new report from Boston Consulting Group reveals that “most companies have not yet unlocked the value of consumer insight.”  The report is based on a quantitative survey of more than 800 executives from 40 global companies with at least $1.5 billion in sales.  The survey was supplemented with around 200 qualitative interviews, and the participants included line managers as well as members of the consumer insight function in these companies.

The authors found that companies fall into one of four stages of consumer insight capability:

  • traditional market research function
  • business contribution team
  • strategic insight organization
  • strategic foresight organization.

The companies falling into the last two stages are getting the biggest return on their investments in consumer insight.  However, according to this report, only about 10% of the surveyed companies are in one of these two stages of insight capability.  In Stage 1 companies, the insight function is more or less an “order taker” relegated to “back room” status, and the focus is on tactical research.  Things are a little better in Stage 2 companies in that  sometimes projects are more strategic, but the insight function is still project-focused.

If the consumer insight function is relegated to back room status in the majority of companies, does that make research agencies a back room to the back room? (more…)


The winner of the advertising Superbowl that took place on Sunday, February 7, that is.  This is not just my opinion.  Comments captured from the digital ether by Alterian SM2 give the Sunday night victory to Google’s “Parisian Love” spot that ran at the end of the third quarter (mashable.com has a summary of the results).  Alterian SM2 looked at three measures for each of the 44 advertisers who aired commercials during the 2010 Superbowl:  total mentions, reach, and sentiment.  Google was the leader in mentions by a wide margin (almost 7,000 mentions, compared to 2,100 for the next highest ad–the Tim Tebow ad from Focus on the Family–and an average of  just over 500 mentions for all advertisers).  Google also came out ahead on Alterian’s Social Engagement Index (SEI), which weights the conversations by the popularity of the source.  The SEI for Google’s spot was 1,703 (versus an average of 100 for all ads).  Finally, Alterian weighted the SEI by sentiment to create a second index.   Google came in second on this measure, behind Doritos (SSEI of 673 and 941, respectively, against an average SSEI of 100).  It’s probably worth noting that Doritos ran three different ads during the telecast, against Google’s one spot, and these results do not separate out specific commercials.

Of course, not everyone who has expressed an opinion about the commercials aired during Superbowl XLIV put Google’s ad at the top.  The spot was not, for example, among the “top 10” Superbowl commercials listed at Fanhouse.  But in it’s way, Google’s ad may be the best example of what advertising is supposed to do.  Google’s dominant position in online search (and the revenues that search advertising generates) is under attack from Microsoft’s Bing, and Microsoft has been running ads showing how easy it is to use Bing to do things like find a dimly lit restaurant (apparently a plus for hungry vamps, if we take a recent ad literally). (more…)

The current issue of The Economist (January 30 -February 5 2010) features a 15-page special report on social networking.  Typically thorough, the report covers history, the differences between major players (Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace), benefits for small businesses, potential sources of profit for social networking sites, and some of the “peripheral” issues–such as the impact on office productivity and privacy concerns.  For any marketers who’ve been caught by surprise by the emergence of social media and social networking as marketing forces or been watching out of the corner of their eye, this special report might be especially informative. (more…)