Market Simulator & AI Qualitative for Leading Outdoor Company
29 Jul 2020

Marketing Problem

A leading outdoor company sold packs and bags on its website, Amazon, REI, and other specialty stores. However, the company had an opportunity to distribute its products with a big-box retailer. The retailer has 850 stores where 17 million people shop annually. While there was clear potential for selling the product at a large retailer, the company was worried about isolating the niche target audience that they had acquired and, in turn, damaging the brand’s equity. 

As a result, the outdoors company was looking for market research (quantitative and qualitative) to understand the pros and cons of this opportunity.

Market Research Solution


The first phase of the research was to understand how the leading outdoor company’s shopper base differed from the retailer’s clientele. A survey was developed to understand the following: buying behaviors, price points, product interest, shopping habits, expectations, and outdoor habits. The research also included a gap analysis to differentiate between the two audiences.

Further, to try and understand what the optimal backpack would look like for the new customer base, Provoke Insights conducted a conjoint analysis. The conjoint analysis helps a brand understand which combination of attributes is most influential in the consumer decision-making process (i.e., price, size, color, material, brand). This allows you to determine what the consumer is seeking, and how to best market the product among different audiences (in this case, the niche audience versus the big box retailer). The tool tests up to 100,000 combinations, and each dimension will have a utility score that ranks each attribute’s relative interest.

In addition to the research report, a market simulator was developed from the conjoint analysis to develop an ideal knapsack. The tool allowed the client to plug in a combination of attributes to determine potential sales. 

2. Qualitative

Part two of the research was conducted with online AI qualitative research. This phase delved deep into buying behaviors, product interest, purchasing/shopping habits, expectations, and potential product placement of knapsacks in the new store. It also asked about prospective marketing campaigns.

By using artificial intelligence to analyze verbatims in real-time, this qualitative approach is unique and powerful. The software’s dashboard allows participants to vote on ideas generated from the group session. It gives the qualitative method a quantitative twist. This approach helped gain understanding and provided the ability to probe for motivations and reactions. The methodology brings meaning to what we have heard – not just a summarization. It identifies how different elements establish relevance, impact beliefs, and influence consideration.

The participants were shown two knapsacks as well as four different in-store displays by other brands. Additionally, a picture of the store’s backpack section was screened.

Results of the Research

Provoke Insights determined that it would be smart for the backpack company to pursue mass distribution in the big box retailer. The qualitative/quantitative results also explain how their current clientele differs from the store’s customer. As a result, the company had to determine how to execute its marketing messaging for each audience.

The leading outdoor company also used the market simulator to help create a new line of backpacks for their new broader customer base.

The qualitative research gave further nuanced insights into their new patrons. They designed the following: a new ideal backpack would be for this customer and a display for their packs that is most appealing. They also got an understanding of the perception of their brand. The leading outdoor company also discovered several marketing initiatives to help with the brand launch. 

Check out some of our other case studies here:

  1. Brand Strategy for a Major National Fitness Club
  2. Brand Strategy Research for a Rental Truck Company
  3. Content Marketing Research for Tech Companies: A Case Study


and finally, Follow our social media accounts:




Marketing Strategy for a Major National Fitness Club
23 Jul 2020


An American chain of gyms in over 100 locations in 14 states approached Provoke Insights to consult on the marketing strategy for the fitness club. Our agency was created by advertising strategists who also have a strong background in market research, making Provoke Insights a fit for these marketing initiatives. The session led to the development of a creative brief and a strategy deck used to help launch its new advertising multi-channel campaign. 

Marketing Problem

The health club’s past marketing initiatives placed emphasis on price. Focusing primarily on price made it difficult for the company to stand out in a saturated marketplace. Price is a functional, unique selling proposition. As a result, many other gyms used the same fundamental message leading to a pricing war. Gyms kept on lowering their price to stay competitive. As a result, “low cost” is not a sustainable branding solution long-term. More so, fitness clubs were now competing against new types of working out from the popularization of Classpass to gyms that specialize in only one activity (e.g., spinning, pilates).

The fitness center needed to stand out from the crowd. As the company was looking to expand its footprint and its core offering, it needed to find a more emotional brand differentiator. 

The health club commissioned an advertising agency to launch an up-to-date 360-degree marketing strategy campaign. The new campaign’s goal was to increase awareness of the company and differentiate from the competition without invoking price. However, moving beyond a price play caused issues with stakeholders within the company, who did not align with other brand differentiators. 

Furthermore, Several stakeholders held contrasting views, and the advertising agency had difficulty gathering all parties to discuss the path forward. A consensus was needed to move forward with a marketing strategy plan. Thus, Provoke Insights was welcomed to moderate a session with key stakeholders, gain alignment of viewpoints, and develop the strategy.

Market Research Solution

Provoke Insights used the following model for the workshop: 

  1. Review all background information including past advertising analytics, creative, research, and overall industry trends
  2. Create a marketing strategy report/deck and exercises to keep the session focused (keep the conversation on track and not going off tangent)
  3. Professional moderated the meeting – the key is to ask the right questions, probe when necessary, listen aggressively, and stay on track
  4. Develop a marketing strategy report and a creative brief from the background data and the in-person session. 

An experienced moderator led a half-day strategy brainstorming session. The following information about the brand was assessed to find its unique identity:

  • Self-identity
    • Who are you?
    • What makes you distinct?
    • Why are you relevant?
  • Audience
    • Who uses your service?
    • How does the brand make them feel?
    • Are they satisfied?
  • Communicate
    • Are prospects and customers hearing what you want them to?
    • Is your brand recognizable?  
  • Perceived
    • What is working?
    • What is not working?
    • Are expectations met? 

Results of Marketing Strategy Session

The moderated session allowed the stakeholders to voice their opinions in an organized and constructive manner. Looking at the brand regarding self-identity, audience, communication, and perceptions allowed leadership to look beyond a conversation about price and assess what a real brand differentiator is. 

As a result, the company aligned on a new marketing strategy for the fitness club, and the advertising agency developed a full campaign against the plan that Provoke Insights developed.

Checkout some of our other case studies here:

  1. Brand Strategy Research for a Rental Truck Company
  2. Content Marketing Research for Tech Companies: A Case Study
  3. Sunpower: An NPS and Competitive Assessment Study
  4. Jewelers of America: Mixed Methodology Market Research Study
  5. USPS: A Thought-Leadership Research Case Study


and finally, Follow our social media accounts:




Best ROI is Research for Content Marketing
21 Jul 2020

Research for Content Marketing

It is difficult for a brand to stand out from the competition in today’s saturated media environment. Many brands, especially B2B, also want to be seen as a thought-leader in their industry. Original content marketing research is a way for brands to generate awareness and position your brand as a differentiator – this ultimately leads to higher brand engagement. 

Why Content Marketing Research? 

The real value of content marketing research is that your target audience engages deeper with your brand. It can improve awareness, engagement, search rankings, and ultimately conversion. 

As there is so much clutter online, the challenge is producing content that isn’t redundant and unoriginal. Brands are competing in a crowded marketplace. There are 54.2 million blog posts written monthly just on WordPress alone, 350 million photos are shared on Facebook daily, and over a million podcasts (30+ million episodes). As a result, brands must generate new, compelling information, which draws the audience’s attention to want more.  

It’s not just other companies competing for the consumer’s attention, but consumers themselves: social media is filled with posts about their latest vacations, baby pictures, restaurant reviews, and more. This is where market research plays an essential role in the content marketing revolution.

Market research studies bring novel, thought-provoking ideas to a comprehensive content marketing initiative. They provide new and original information, keeping the reader’s attention. One research study can be broken up into several content marketing stories and spread across various media channels (e.g., web, emails, news, podcasts, infographics, videos).

By leveraging market research to provide content that your target audience wants to engage with, your company can make it’s content marketing initiatives work significantly better. 

Research for Content Marketing Method

If you decide to conduct research for content marketing, you should follow the following steps:

  1. Assess the Landscape

Research potential topics beforehand; this is a crucial component to the success of a content marketing research initiative. Discover trending topics that have high engagement. Also, determine and steer clear of overused topics. Pouring over available research can spark unique ideas or new perspectives on a subject.

  1. Develop Headlines to Craft the Questionnaire

Headlines need to excite and interest readers. Focus on the topics discovered during the secondary research process. These headlines can be geared to cover issues that have yet to be addressed. This guarantees a fuller, more exciting picture of your industry. When developing headlines, keep SEO in mind for the best results. 

  1. Write Multiple Stories

Once the survey is closed, and the data is collected, you can create more than one story from the research. That means developing a series of mini-decks for each topic. Storytelling is an art form. It is crucial to keep your audience engaged. Many times, researchers are hyper-focused on the details of the numbers as opposed to the big story. It is essential to write the research report in a way that makes the readers want more.

  1. Leverage Research for the Highest Awareness & Engagement

Even before the research is completed, it’s important to determine multiple channels to help get the stories out. It is vital to discuss a plan where the study can also be leveraged for all media.

Multiple Media Channels

Content marketing research provides a plethora of opportunities to repurpose the information for multiple channels, including:

  • Podcasts
  • Blog entries
  • Infographics
  • Newsletters
  • Direct mail/email
  • Social media posts
  • Online ads
  • Sales collateral

The Metrics & ROI Are Proven

  • 7X higher article engagement (Readership)
  • 6X more engagement on social media (Shares/Likes/Reposts)
  • 13X more viewership on social media
  • 43% increase in website visits
  • 15% increase in new leads from a website providing contact information to get more information.

If your company is interested in content marketing research, please reach out to [email protected], and we will be happy to schedule a call to discuss the research objectives with you.

In addition, check out Provoke Insights research services here.

Read some of our latest blogs here:

  1. Content Marketing Research for Tech Companies
  2. The Pros and Cons of Survey Research
  3. The Pros and Cons of Online Focus Groups

and finally, follow our social media accounts:





Annual Ad Testing Campaign for OTC Drug Company
16 Jul 2020

Marketing Problem

TV and online commercials are popular ways to increase brand awareness, equity, consideration, and usage. One of the most popular laxative brands uses this advertising tactic to maintain its strength in the US market. As a result, every year, the brand refreshes its advertising. 

The laxative brand advertising agency often comes up with multiple commercials to test. As a result, the companies commission Provoke Insights every year to determine which campaign idea resonates with its core target audience. 

By testing the ad concepts before producing the commercials, the laxative brand can select the idea that will be most successful. It also allows the agency to enhance the commercial before final production. 

Subsequently, the ad agency produced video storyboards in order to test the commercials before production. 

Market Research Solution

Provoke Insights conducted an online ad testing survey among those who suffer constipation. Respondents see one video (at random) using a monadic test. Monadic ad tests prevent bias because respondents only see one concept at a time. That way, the other concept ideas will not influence their opinions. 

The test included the following:

  1. Video of the commercial;
  2. A question on unaided brand recall;
  3. An open-end explanation of the commercial’s central message;
  4. An assessment of the video against a list of traits (likelihood to purchase, innovative, etc.). During the analysis, we compared traits to overall and OTC industry norms. 
  5. The survey showed the commercial a second time, and respondents use an in-house video sentiment tool. The interactive tool allowed respondents to click on parts of the ad they liked or disliked, allowing for real-time feedback.

Also recommended by Provoke Insights was the MaxDiff technique to test messaging used to interest the OTC to consumers. Max Diff is used to understand which attributes influence the purchase decision. The Max Diff is a great option compared to a standard rating scale, which often leads one to believe that every claim is essential. This questioning forces respondents to choose between statements, resulting in a more robust data set.

The survey randomly presents five attributes at a time to respondents, who then rate each one. Then, once all of the responses are collected, the analysis predicts each possible combination’s response. This gives an exact amount that an attribute leads to sales, and how much more valuable they are than the other qualities.

Results of the Research

The annual research study was fielded every year before the launch. Each time Provoke Insights conducted the study, a clear winner emerged as the right campaign to launch. Each video, including the winner, had feedback and comments so that the videos could be improved.

One year, an ad tested exceptionally negatively. The majority of respondents did not like the ad and found it offensive. The OTC brand did not move forward with the commercial and avoided hurting their brand equity. 

The MaxDiff feature gave a ranked list of 20 attributes. The search allowed for the ad agency to decide on the most resonant message among their target audience.

Checkout some of our other case studies here:

  1. Brand Strategy Research for a Rental Truck Company
  2. Content Marketing Research for Tech Companies: A Case Study
  3. Sunpower: An NPS and Competitive Assessment Study
  4. Jewelers of America: Mixed Methodology Market Research Study
  5. USPS: A Thought-Leadership Research Case Study


and finally, Follow our social media accounts:




The Pros and Cons of Online Survey Research
13 Jul 2020

When referring to market research, online survey research is often the first methodology that comes to mind. Survey research is compelling and dynamic if executed correctly. Like all research methods, it has its advantages and disadvantages. 



Companies often realize that they need research too late. They usually require the findings at the moment that they conclude that market research is the only way to get the insights they need. This immediacy leaves researchers in a conundrum. Research projects can take time to kickoff, set up, put in the field, analyze findings, and write a detailed report. So, anywhere that you can make up time is valued. 

Survey research takes less time to execute. The survey goes into the field and will collect responses quite quickly. Unlike focus groups that need about three weeks of recruitment time and then hours of moderation with groups plus travel time, survey field time is significantly shorter.

Results Representative of the Population

While qualitative research is directional, survey research provides a representative look at the population you are interested in analyzing. On the back end of the survey, it is possible to implement quotas to ensure that the sample represents the demographic makeup that you are interested in (e.g., age, gender, household income, region, etc.). The quotas help you project conclusions about the greater population you are looking at. 


Incentivizing research participants is a large portion of the cost involved. The value of the incentive is dependent on the type of research you are asking people to participate in. If you ask participants to travel to a facility to take part in a two-hour-long focus group on a specific topic, the incentives typically start at $75 and go up as high as $500 for B2B specialists. 

That is big money – they are time-consuming and taxing. However, if you ask people to take part in a 10-minute online survey (from the comfort of their own home), the incentive will be much lower.  

No Borders

Survey research makes it easy to reach “hard-to-reach” audiences. As long as the participants have an internet connection, they can participate in the study. It allows participants to get involved despite being unable to travel or to avoid travel by the client.


Having a larger sample size allows for more varied analyses. With a dataset from online survey research, it is possible to conduct advanced analytics to understand the drivers and correlations that may answer the research objectives. 


While some question the quality of survey research, it is the easiest to control. At Provoke Insights, we include red herring questions to flag those who do not pay attention to the survey. We also include an open-ended question at the beginning of the questionnaire to remove participants who might give nonsense answers. We will monitor the study to ensure that the participants do not provide all ‘straight-line’ responses or patterning their choices. Finally, we will track how quickly the participant responds, and if they answer too fast (not enough time to read the question) – they will be excluded from the findings. 


Lack of Probing

In qualitative research, you can ask the “why’s” or modify the guide in real-time. While you can include open-ended questions as a follow up to a survey question, it still has its limitations. The amount of open-ends you can include in a survey is limited. No one is going to fill out 20 open-ended questions in a study. They would stop participating or write very short responses.

In qualitative research, you can follow up and dive deeper into the answers given to get to the bottom line of the question you are seeking to answer. 

Engage Participants For Short Time

It is not easy to keep research participants engaged in an online survey that is longer than 15 minutes. Therefore, most survey methodologies will limit the length of the study to 10 to 15 minutes. This time limit ensures that participants are engaged and answering the survey thoughtfully throughout. However, this limits the number of questions is it possible to ask and the depth of the findings. 

Local or Very Specific Audiences

Online recruitment can be difficult if you are looking for a tiny geographical area or if your audience is extraordinarily specialized or senior business leaders (e.g., business leaders of large retail companies in Austin). In that case, the methodology may need to move to the phone or in-person. 

If your company is interested in content marketing research, please reach out to [email protected], and we will be happy to schedule a call to discuss the research objectives with you.

In addition, check out Provoke Insights research services here.

Read some of our blogs from this series here:

  1. The Pros and Cons of Online Focus Groups
  2. The Pros and Cons of In-Depth Interviews


and finally, follow our social media accounts:




Brand Strategy Research for a Rental Truck Company
10 Jul 2020

Marketing Problem

A top American rental truck company (with hundreds of locations throughout North America) was looking to separate itself from the competition and understand the drivers of brand consideration. Specifically, the B2B company was looking to see how to increase the number of customers and the frequency of rentals. In particular, the goal was to grab market share from the competition and increase and those using more than one rental company. Subsequently, Provoke Insights was commissioned to develop a two-phase market research plan. 

Market Research Solution
1. In-depth Interviews Among Fleet Decision-Makers 

The research evaluated the target audience’s attitudes and perceptions of the rental process. To clarify, these interviews also aimed to uncover which elements drove a rental company’s selection and the difference between prospects, current customers, lapsed customers, and dual rental company users. 

2. Quantitative Research among Fleet Decision-Makers 

The survey phase utilized the in-depth interview findings to develop a questionnaire that evaluated the truck rental process regarding expectations, awareness, consideration, satisfaction, and needs.

As a result, a max diff technique was used to understand which attributes are most influential to the buying process. In short, the Max Diff is an alternative to a standard rating scale that often leads you to believe every claim is essential. Especially, this questioning forces respondents to make choices between attributes, which results in a more robust data set.

For example, with 20 attributes selected, there is a possibility of 3.2 million combinations. The analysis predicts what the response will be for each possible combination. The research ultimately tells you the exact amount an attribute influences sales. 

Results of the Research

Provoke Insights garnered insights to develop a brand strategy based on the research results. The plan guided the development of a full multi-channel advertising campaign. The rental truck company was able to create a campaign based off of learning the following information: 

  • The brand’s unique selling proposition;
  • Identification of key drivers to increase the number of rentals;
  • What traits/combo of traits lead to rentals, both compared to the competition and what’s relevant to consumers;
  • Customization based off of the needs of the company requiring the fleet;
  • Brand perception and consideration versus the competition.

Read some of our recent case studies and blogs here:

  1. NPS: An Explanation & Its Importance
  2. COVID-19 and Conducting Market Research
  3. Sunpower: An NPS and Competitive Assessment Study


and finally, Follow our social media accounts: