Staying Essential by Pivoting during the Pandemic  –
24 Oct 2020

Provoke Insights' President Carly Fink was interviewed by about how Provoke Insights pivoted during the pandemic. The interview details Carly Fink's career, how her family are coping in the pandemic, the circumstances that led to the foundation of Provoke Insights, and more.

Find out more about how Provoke Insights continues to innovate and adapt to the needs of businesses in the current era! This article outlines a research study that the company designed to understand the changing consumer behavior in Q2 when behaviors were in flux.

As market researchers, it is most often our research that is featured rather than the researcher. We are always honored when our research gets published but this article was especially fun because our founder was the subject, for once! Carly is hard-working and has an innovative mentality, this interview is worth reading for all aspiring researchers and those trying to get into the mind of one.

Election Polls: Why You Need to Know What Margin of Error Is Right Now
22 Oct 2020

Why You Must Understand Margin of Error Before Reading Election Polls 

The term ‘margin of error’ is a common term when it comes to market research. However, this lexicon is always mentioned more in mainstream media around an election. With less than two weeks to go until the United States Presidential Election, ‘margin of error’ is no longer jargon but a common-use term that comes up in the press every day.


What is a Margin of Error?

The margin of error is the accepted standard within the market research industry for data reliability. It lets us know with a certain level of confidence that if the same research methodology was completed again the results would be within the same ‘margin’.


This is an overly simplified explanation of the term. The margin coincides with a statistically significant confidence level. The confidence level is usually tested at 90%, 95%, or 99%. For example, if the margin of error is +/- 2% and the confidence level is 95% – if the same survey was completed again among a random sample, 95 times out of 100, the results would be within two percentage points.  


What Does This Have to Do With the Election?

Many times you see, headlines such as Biden leads a state by 2%. However, the margin error is 3%. In these instances, it means that Biden is not winning but tied with Trump.

It is something to keep an eye on in the polls as the election approaches. The number of eligible voters starts to decrease (because there are so many polls happening in the days running up to the election and only a certain number of voters taking polls). This causes the sample sizes to become limited, and margins of errors start to rise. You need to keep an eye out for these in the last few weeks before the election to ensure that the polls are telling the whole story.


Is the Margin of Error the Only Error that We Need to Account for?

The margin of error can be misleading. It assumes that we have accounted for all errors. If survey results state that 25% of the population is going to vote for a particular candidate with a +/-2% margin of error, then we can safely say that anywhere between 23% and 27% of people will vote that way.


That is not the case. The margin of error allows us to understand the sampling error. However, other non-sampling errors can occur in market research, and it is essential to keep your eye out for them in polls:


  1. The way a question is asked can result in errors (e.g. leading questions, incomplete list of choices to choose from, double-barreled).
  2. Many questions ask about intent rather than attitudes or past behavior. That requires a further interpretation that can leader to errors (e.g. voting models).
  3. Bad respondents (people taking a survey too quickly and not reading the questions, doing ‘straight-line’ or ‘pattern’ responses). The research company often cleans these, but when research is done very quickly, they do not have time to remove all bad participants.
  4. Weighting survey sampling to match the population may be off (In the 2016 election, education was not weighted and caused the polls to be off)


The margin of error is critical to look out for but not the be-all and end-all of research errors. It is essential to analyze the methodology and ensure that the number of errors are limited.

Read more about political polling here: The Accuracy of Political Polling

Read some of our recent case studies and blogs here to learn more about business and consumer research:

  1. The Pros and Cons of Online Survey Research
  2. The Power of Census Data
  3. COVID-19 and Conducting Market Research

To learn more about Provoke Insights – Check out SlideShare:

Provoke Insights Market Research & Brand Strategy Capabilities


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OTC Brand Research Survey
06 Oct 2020

Marketing Problem

A new topical over-the-counter (OTC) medication that relieves arthritis/joint stiffness, swelling, and pain was entering the market. As the market for arthritis pain relievers is saturated. There was a need to stand out from the crowd. For the launch of the initiative, the advertising agency and the pharmaceutical company needed the following methodologies in the brand research survey:

  • Brand positioning 
  • Claims messaging 
  • Sales forecasting data
  • Pricing analysis (determine the right price)

Brand Research Survey Solution

Provoke Insights developed an online survey that includes the following aspects.

Advanced Analytics

1. A MaxDiff and advanced analytics technique was used to test the claims. The MaxDiff is a trade-off analysis technique that can help determine which attributes directly influence the decision process. The MaxDiff is an alternative to a standard rating scale that often leads you to believe every attribute is essential. This questioning forces respondents to make choices between claims, which results in a more robust data set. The research tells you the exact amount an attribute leads to sales.

Brand Concept Testing

2. The survey included two concept statements, with each respondent only seeing one concept to prevent bias. Therefore, each concept was shown randomly to 300 respondents. The methodology provided actionable research.  as the concepts were not compared. Instead, each concept was rated on its own merit. After reading the idea, respondents answered what they liked about the description, any feedback they had, and their recommendations to improve the message. Results were compared to data from Provoke Insights’ norm database.

Pricing Sensitivity within brand research survey

3. Also, the research included a pricing evaluation utilizing the Van Westendorp pricing model. The method asks a series of price sensitivity questions to help determine the ideal cost. Results were plotted to visualize the right price range.

Research Results

As a result, the actionable nature of the research allowed the 4Jointz brand to decide on a concept, price point, and recommended claims – all in one survey. Provoke Insights also gathered the sales forecast data using the survey information as a baseline. 4Joints launched with great results, pleasing investors.

Check out some of our other case studies here:

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


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Differences Between B2B & Consumer Qualitative Research
02 Oct 2020

B2B and Consumer Research are disparate. Businesses and consumers make decisions in very different ways. These differences mean researchers must employ distinct approaches and strategies when trying to gain insights from both groups. This is especially true for qualitative research. 

Audience – B2B Decision-Makers and Consumer

Within businesses, the decision-making process is more complex and demands a more robust analysis. The group of decision-makers is larger and broader than in the consumer context. While consumers can make purchasing decisions based on impulse or emotion, businesses aim to make a strategic, objective decision. 

While the majority of consumers are making buying decisions daily, this is not the case at businesses. Companies only have a select group of decision-makers for purchasing, and they are not as easy to come by. To account for this, market researchers need to ensure that they are speaking to primary or shared decision-makers at a company that will understand the process and, ideally, have insights on the entire process from start to finish. 

Incentives for B2B and Consumers

Given all consumers are making the decisions on their purchasing behavior, there is a larger pool of consumers available to respond to the research when compared to B2B. The pool of people making decisions for a business is smaller and they are often higher up at their company. Therefore, this B2B audience is harder to come by. This makes the research costlier than research conducted among the general population. Higher incentives will drive business decision-makers to participate in interviews. 

Methodology – In-depth Interviews for B2B 

This audience has to be senior in the company to be given the approval to make decisions for the business. Therefore, these senior workers tend to be busier than the average consumer. To account for this, in-depth interviews are often favorable over focus groups. In-depth interviews offer more flexibility for respondents to choose a time that suits their schedule. Therefore, this will increase the likelihood of their participation. 

Moreover, in-depth interviews can be done remotely. This removes the need to travel, which further reduces time barriers for participants. 

Focus groups are not as effective for B2B audiences because all participants need to be available at a pre-decided time. Also, if business owners are in similar fields, they may be wary of sharing their trade secrets with competitors. 

Interpreting Results of B2B Research

As the B2B decision-making process has many complexities. For example:

  • There are more people involved;
  • There are different levels of influence from each party;
  • Internal and external factors play a role;
  • And there are different drivers for the need.

As a result, the research often has more intricacies and can be more difficult. This means that the researchers and moderators need to be well versed in B2B research. They also need to have an in-depth understanding of the products and services involved. This will ensure that they gather the insights that the company commissioning the research needs. 

B2B vs. Consumer Research Conclusion

When conducting research among B2B audiences, it is important to take the needs of this group into consideration. The methodologies, incentives, and interpreting of results should differ from B2b and consumer research . 

Read some of our recent case studies and blogs here to learn more about business and consumer research:

  1. The Pros and Cons of In-Depth Interviews
  2. The Pros and Cons of Online Focus Groups
  3. COVID-19 and Conducting Market Research

Thinking about conducting market research?  Check out Provoke Insights research services here.


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It’s What’s Inside that Counts – Happi
02 Oct 2020

Provoke Insights' research is featured in an article by Happi's Tom Branna about health during the pandemic. Branna discusses healthy skin, beauty regiments, and diets. Specifically, he references Provoke Insights' 2020 Trends study about behaviors as a result of COVID-19, specifically mentioning research on the meal structures and eating habits of American consumers.

Provoke Insights distributed an online survey among 600 U.S. consumers between the ages of 21 and 65 in June, 2020. Some of Provoke Insights’ findings included the following: 

  • 76% of people are trying to eat healthier; 
  • 55% of people have a more structured meal routine.

The study helped illuminate how consumers are cooking and baking more often, leading them to change their overall perceptions and attitudes towards food. 

Consumers have healthier habits now. They are buying more fresh produce than previously. Provoke Insights expect growth in fresh produce purchases to remain high even after the pandemic. Ninety-three percent of respondents said their increased frequency of fresh produce purchases will continue post-pandemic.

There’s no doubt about it, consumers have been on an emotional rollercoaster for the past six months—no wonder why their guts are hurting and, by extension, that’s having an impact on skin health. Where the two meet is called the gut-skin axis. It’s interesting to learn more about it. Click here to read the article from Branna.