How Black Friday Can Hurt Your Brand
27 Nov 2019

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! For brands, that means one thing; the looming arrival of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are imminent. These discount days are some of the busiest days of the year for some brands, but these price-driven events are not necessarily the best for business. Depending on your target audience, these days can hurt brand equity.

So, How Can Black Friday Hurt Brand Equity?

There are a couple of ways that Black Friday and Cyber Monday can cause more harm than good. While in the short-term, these big discount days may drive sales, in the long term, these days can change consumers’ brand perception and brand loyalty.

Brand Perception

Brand perception has mostly been an issue for brick-and-mortar stores. Consumers take a dim view of large companies forcing their employees to give up time with their families on Thanksgiving. Some retail stores open their doors are midnight on Thanksgiving day, meaning the employees have to give up their Thanksgiving evening to be at the store. Walmart even went a step further by allowing the rush to start at 10 PM. Many customers (some of whom might be those who shop at the store year-round) consider the companies to be greedy.

Brand Loyalty

If a company is severely cutting prices and known to be severely reducing costs, then it will become known for that. Over time, customers become less loyal to the brand, knowing that the full price they see at the beginning of November will be slashed in the last couple of weeks of November. So, while sales might break all records on Black Friday, the transactions in the lead up to Black Friday have actually been lower, and it might have implicated throughout the year too.

Customers and Black Friday
While it may be a relief to get a percentage of the price discounted for Christmas gifts and technology that you’ve been eyeing up for months and months now, do not let Black Friday fool you. These days are designed to trick you into impulse buying (that you otherwise would never have done) and have one aim… To separate you from your cash. Bear that in mind as you get ready to get in line or online on Friday!

Brands Can Research How This Will Hurt Brand Equity

It is important for companies to conduct market research on how these discount days can impact your brand equity. Market research will determine how your customers will react to these sales in the short- and long-term.

Want to read more from Provoke Insights, find some more blog posts linked below:

Why Trends Are So Important In Marketing
Experiential Marketing & Retail

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Tips for Building Brand Strategy for a Successful Brand
01 May 2019

Why do you need a strategy for your brand? A brand strategy is a long-term plan for your product, service, or company that will help reinforce your positioning in the market and ensuring a successful brand.

Brand strategies are essential to help build awareness, generate consideration, and ultimately create loyalty. Successful brand strategy can ensure consistent engagement. If you are a brand that wants to leave a lasting impact, you should ensure a brand strategy includes the following:

1) Knowing your Audience

Most brands have a specific target audience who they are pursuing. It is essential to know who your ideal prospect is vs. who your current customer is.  As a result, it is vital to understand demographics, attitudes, beliefs, and media habits about this audience. Market research can assist brands in helping to understand which potential customer would be the most profitable. Also, research will allow help you better understand your target (what it is like to walk in their shoes).

2) Uniqueness

Brand identity is critical in establishing a successful brand. Brands must have a unique selling point which differs them from the competition. Consumers have a large pool to choose from; therefore, products need to stand out and uniquely appeal to consumers. This unique selling point can be a functional or emotional difference. Often is the market is extremely saturated; it is essential to create a brand that emotionally connects to prospects and your customers.

3) Brand loyalty

Consumers tend to become loyal to brands which ensure a consistent market. Whether it is product quality or service, brands must establish a relationship with their consumer to promote revisits/repurchases. Brands must provide position association to keep consumers coming back for more. Plus, it is seven times more cost effective to retain a customer than find new ones.

4) Stay ahead of the competition

Being innovative is the key to success. It is a must to think outside the box and be different if brands want to stay relevant in the ever-changing market. To stay ahead of the game, it is pertinent for a brand to analyze changes in the market and come up with new differentiating ideas which will stimulate sales. Research can help you find new trends in the market and determine the white space in the market.

5) Consistency

An important trait of a successful brand. Regularity generates brand recognition. When a brand has consistent marketing, it will eliminate any confusion for consumers, the brand’s message will be conveyed very clearly.

Whether understanding your audience, establishing brand uniqueness, building loyalty, staying ahead of the competition or remaining consistent, market research will provide you with in-depth insights into all of these five brand qualities.

Consumers will decide if the brand survives. Therefore, brands must invest in what their consumers want. The most successful brands today, such as Apple, JetBlue, and Starbucks give consumers what they want and have a clear focus on executing seamless marketing strategies.

Want to Learn More About Market Research? Here are some blog posts to check out!

  1. Four Ways to Better understand Your Consumer
  2. Five Tips for Getting Your Brand’s Social Media Right
  3. Understand What Your Consumer Really Wants 

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Whether understanding your audience, establishing brand uniqueness, building loyalty, staying ahead of the competition or remaining consistent, market research will provide you with in-depth insights into all of these five brand qualities.

Consumers will decide if the brand survives. Therefore, brands must invest in what their consumers want. The most successful brands today, such as Apple, JetBlue, and Starbucks give consumers what they want and have a clear focus on executing seamless marketing strategies.

What’s the Difference Between Quantitative vs. Qualitative
02 Apr 2019

Before discussing the distinctions between qualitative and quantitative research, it is important to go back to basics. There are two types of research categories: primary and secondary research. The way to know the difference is simple – primary research is “not already out here”. While, you guessed it; secondary analysis is data that is “already out there”. There are thousands of examples of secondary research, it comes in the form of articles and databases such as Bloomberg, Lexisnexis, and Hoovers.

Learn Why Market Research is a Must for Businesses.

Both quantitative and qualitative research are types of primary research. So, what is the difference between quantitative and qualitative?

Qualitative Research

Qualitative, also called exploratory research, is directional in nature. Typically, this type of research assesses a small number of people. This kind of analysis includes mostly open-ended questions or observational research. Examples of qualitative research include:

Focus Groups

Focus groups are typically groups of 6-8 participants. An expert moderator facilitates each group. To have the most useful session possible, the moderator follows a guide that includes several open-ended questions.

Focus groups take place in facilities equipped for this type of research. The facility includes a table for participants and the moderator to gather around. The moderator usually sits at the head of the table. There is also a one-way mirror where the client and market research company sit and view the session.

The groups are recorded and transcribed. From them, the moderator along with the research team develop a concise report that includes key findings and quotes to back up conclusions.   

Conducting this research online is a way to reduce the cost and length of the qualitative research project. However, facial expressions or the tone of people’s voices is no longer possible to analyze when conducting the group’s virtually.

Ethnographic Research

Ethnographic Research is observational research where you view the subject in their environment. An example could be a butter company looking at how adults cook with the product at home. A study on how parents shops for children’s clothes at a retailer is another example.  Virtual reality is a new trend occurring in ethnographic research. By building virtual stores and in-home scenarios, it lessens the need to conduct this research in the space.

One-on-One In-depth Interview

Another exploratory research option can include individual interview sessions. This qualitative method can happen in person, via phone or even online. Often this option is beneficial when interviewing professionals such as doctors or discussing sensitive topics.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research, also called descriptive statistics, surveys a statistically representative portion of a population. For the results to be as accurate as possible, this method surveys a large number of respondents. The goal is to reduce the margin of error in your sample to be more confident in your results.

Unlike qualitative research, quantitative research uses close-ended questioning in order to garner numerical responses.

Developing a questionnaire is often tricky as survey writing is an art form. Errors in survey writing can often lead to inaccurate conclusions. Read 4 Watch Outs When Conducting a Survey to learn more about questionnaire writing.

Once the questionnaire is developed, respondents are invited to take the survey. When fielding is complete, the data is analyzed,this can also include advanced analytics techniques. The results are often shown in a deck that provides key findings, recommendations, and detailed findings with graphs and charts.

Today, quantitative research is most frequently conducted online, but phone and in-person are other methods used. For example, in many third world countries, the internet is sparse and therefore in-person interviews may be a more reliable source. See Conducting Research in a Third World Country.  

Many kinds of initiatives such as ad tracking, naming research, and segmentation research use quantitative research.



Marketing Strategies for Generation Alpha: the Newest Generation
19 Mar 2019

Who are post-Millennials?
Generation Alpha represents those who are born after 2010. This generation is quickly growing as 2.5 million Generation Alphas are born around the world each day. [1] Alphas are growing up exposed to multiple digital platforms in a technology-driven environment.

Major brands are recognizing that Generation Alpha is essential to target. Brands are increasingly acknowledging their awareness of Generation Alpha. For example, Google shared its opinion of Generation Alpha, saying “If generation Alpha possesses similar behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs to that of their parents, then to win with a certain segment of millennial consumers (millennial parents), we must target generation Alpha”. [2]

Teenagers and children today are growing up in a very different environment for previous generations. Not surprisingly, Generation Alpha is set to be the most tech-savvy generation we have ever seen. Firstly, they will be the first generation to be immersed in technology for their entire lives. Secondly, today’s methods of teaching are highly influenced by technology. As a result, this generation of education has become very digitally focused. With the introduction of so many technologies since the early 2000s, it has become hard for parents to ignore the trend. As a result, parents have integrated technology into their children’s lives from a young age.

What are the effects of technology?

The introduction of smartphones for younger Millennials and Generation Alpha can be seen as an advantage for parents. Ninety percent of these parents say they gave their child a smartphone in order to get in contact with them easily. The cell phone helps with security, as well as coordinate the children’s activities.  With the advantage of connection comes the disadvantage of distraction. Seventy-two percent of parents admit that they are concerned about the distraction a smartphone can cause. Sixty- eight percent of parents are concerned by the lack of control they have when it comes to technology and their children. [3]  As more children have smartphones at a young age, cyberbullying has also become an ever-growing issue.

How will Gen Alpha impact advertising and marketing strategy?

Until Generation Alpha is old enough to have spending power, it is important to analyze the effect they are having on their parents spending. Eighty-one percent of Millennial parents say that the habits of their Alpha children influenced their latest purchase. [4] Marketers should focus on ensuring that their strategies are flexible now while keeping a close eye on Gen Alpha and how they will influence advertising and marketing in the future. It is key that marketers start researching possible communication strategies to grab the attention of Alpha’s now so that they are prepared for the future. Even many of today’s two years how to navigate a smartphone device.

New products are already emerging for Generation Alpha. Children are being entertained by smartphones, tablets, and smart home devices. It is not unusual for children to want to have “conversations” with artificial intelligence-driven technology such as Siri or Alexa. Children have always had “imaginary friends”, therefore, it is not too far-fetched to believe children will become “friends” with A.I. [5]
Technology being a part of this generation’s life from birth poses both an opportunity and a challenge for marketers and advertisers. Generation Alpha will be an easy target for advertisers and marketers, as they will be reached effortlessly through technology. However, it is predicted that Alphas will seek an even more seamless experience than Millennials have been seeking when it comes to advertising and marketing. It is important to keep it simple yet effective while targeting this generation to encourage consumer loyalty. It is predicted that businesses and brands will come up with radically new ways of communicating and interacting when trying to influence and capture the attention of Alphas.

Want to Learn More About Market Research? Here are some blog posts to check out!

  1. 6 Things to Watch Out for when Writing a Market Research Survey 
  2. Marketing in the Summer
  3. Why We Love Advertising Research 

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[1]Here’s who comes after Generation Z — and they’ll be the most transformative age group ever. Business Insider. December 2015.

[2]“The Complete Guide to Generation Alpha, The Children Of Millennials,” Forbes. December 2016.

[3]“Mobile Kids: The Parent, The Child, and The Smartphone,” Nielsen. February 2017.

[4]“Forget Millennials, Gen Alpha is here (Mostly),” Digiday. October 2018.

[5]“How Will Widespread A.I. Affect Generation Alpha?,” November 2017. Datafloq.


6 Things to Watch Out for When Writing A Survey
26 Feb 2019

Writing a survey can be tricky. The way in which you phrase a survey question can influence your data. If you write the questionnaire wrong, your data will end up being skewed. A poorly phrased question or too can turn into a real problem for your results. In order to avoid biasing your research, watch out for the following common missteps:

1. Be clear.

It is very important that a survey is written in a clear and concise manner. Uncomplicated language should be used in a survey to avoid confusing respondents. Avoid technical terms and jargon, instead, make questions as easily understood as possible. It is important to provide adequate definitions and examples where needed throughout your survey.

2. Keep the survey accurate.

A common pitfall on in survey writing can be as simple as asking a question about the respondent’s age. If asking respondents their age and categorizing it, make sure you correctly group the ages. For example, 25-30 and 30-35, this will confuse respondents who are 30 years old as they will not know which group to select and it will also hinder analysis.

3. Ensure your questions are not leading.

Leading questions may influence responses by containing wording that may have an effect on respondents. These questions can work their way into your survey without you realizing as they are hard to catch. For example, asking “how expensive is this product?” will immediately lead the respondent to believe that the product is costly. The survey should aim to be unbiased and ask, “what is the price of the product?”.

4. Avoid loaded questions.

A loaded question in survey writing can force a respondent to answer a question without it reflecting their option or situation. For example, instead of asking “do you enjoy watching sports?”, yes or no. Ask “do you watch sports?” and then ask those who do watch sports, “what is your favorite sport to watch?”. The respondent might have never watched sports before and therefore not know the answer to the previous question. Asking the question in this way will provide much more accurate, detailed data which will be easier to analyze.

5. Refrain from incorporating double-barreled questions.

It is impossible to collect precise data from a double-barreled question. An example of a double-barreled question is asking if a concept is interesting and effective. This does not give respondents the option to give an answer to both questions. They may find the concept interesting but not effective but have no way of responding with the correct information.

6. Do not ask questions in absolute terms.

Absolute questions are questions that force a respondent to give an absolute answer. These questions are not flexible. Respondents cannot provide useful information if they answer an absolute. An example of an absolute question would be “Do you play sports? yes or no. With this question, someone who plays sports twice a year has to answer yes along with the people who play sports everyday. In order to get a more detailed answer and provide clearer data for the researcher, ask the respondent how many times a week/month they play sports.  

Although these errors seem obvious, it is very common for them to appear in surveys. It is essential to keep these six common missteps in mind when writing your survey.

The main goal of every survey is to collect useful information that is both accurate and easy to analyze, however, if one of these mistakes makes its way into your survey it could bias or damage your data and make it impossible to interpret. It’s vital to your results to follow these rules. Just a little question bias could ruin the survey responses and turn your results into a nightmare. Don’t let it happen by following these easy steps.

Want to Learn More About Market Research? Here are some blog posts to check out!

  1. What Questions Should You Ask a Market Research Company
  2.  Types Of Market Research Every Advertiser Should Know
  3. What is Advertising Research?
  4. Why Primary Research is Necessary When Launching a Brand

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Virtual Reality & Qualitative Research: Fad or Here to Stay? 
18 Feb 2019

Written by: Pallavi Kalla 

Virtual Reality (VR) in the past was something of a whimsical idea, only thought to exist in Sci-Fi movies. However, today, virtual reality has started to become more accessible in the real world. Companies are implementing virtual reality in new creative ways, now more than ever.

Merrell, an outdoor footwear & apparel company, came up with a creative approach to implement virtual reality. The brand held a VR exhibition, in which they had people wear Oculus Rift headsets and walk along what Merrell called their Merrell Trailscape. People were put in a VR landscape of mountains and boulders, simulating a rigorous hiking experience with crumbling ledges and rickety wooden bridges, to help promote the company’s shoes. This experiment was Merrell’s first time using “walking around” virtual reality, which proved to be very intriguing for their audience.[1]

Other innovative methods that brands have employed the use of virtual reality: Six Flags debuted its first VR rollercoaster, in which riders wear Samsung Gear VR headsets on virtual fighter jets, offering consumers a unique experience.[2]

Marketing teams are not only utilizing virtual reality, but researchers have also found the technology as a new tool for qualitative research. Though focus groups are beneficial, we are just collecting information as the participants are sitting in the facility room. This is where VR comes into play, virtual reality can be used to understand the way customers behave when surrounded by the stimulus rather than just talking about it. The new technology allows participants it interact and respond to stimuli in a whole new light

Ethnographic research is another way that virtual reality has impacted market research. Ethnographic research is often costly, timely, and can feel intrusive to participants – as groups are typically conducted at a participant’s home or when they are shopping at a store. VR eliminates these barriers having the people interact in a virtual home or buy through a virtual store with a VR headset, and this way researchers can be capturing the person’s experience and insights in real time. Virtual reality will help researchers understand the consumer journey better without actually having the shopper gong to the physical store.

Though virtual reality is still in the early stages, it looks like it is here to stay. Regarded as a useful market research device, with its endless new imaginative concept’s companies can create. VR has not only advanced and upped the way companies promote products but has helped market researchers in progressive and forward thinking when conducting qualitative research.

[1]“Merrell Thrills and Frightens People with a Crazy Oculus Rift Mountainside Hike,” Adweek. February 2015.

[2]“20 Innovative Ways Companies Are Using Virtual Reality,” October 2016.



Conducting Research in a Third World Country
13 Dec 2018
Written by: Alannah Griffin 
Case Study: Conducting In-person Research in Vietnam 

Ever thought about conducting market research in a third world country? Certainly, it's not the easiest undertaking. And often, in order to do so, you need to think outside the box.

It takes a lot of effort, analysis, and critical thinking to curate any methodology. However, imagine trying to figure out how to research the threat of technology for motorbike taxi drivers in Vietnam.

Vietnam: Market Research in the Third World

In Vietnam, the primary mode of transport in cities is by motorbike. A common occupation for men is to be a motorbike taxi driver/xe ôm driver. A lot of xe ôm drivers’ livelihoods are now under threat with the onset of modern technology. Apps that use location intelligence are emerging and providing more cost-efficient, safer, and quicker rides for customers. In this day and age, on-demand service is a high priority for customers. The use of GPS and location intelligence is forcing traditional xe ôm drivers out of the market.

There are many different ways to conduct this research. As a result, when taking everything into account for this particular research study, the methodology consisted of qualitative methods to provide an in-depth assessment.

That is to say, the three qualitative research methods selected were:

  • Semi-structured interviews
  • Informal conversational interviews, and
  • Participant observation

In conclusion, we found that if drivers want to continue in the profession of motorbike taxi drivers, they must partner with the companies who have developed Apps using location intelligence. Therefore, if they do not do so, they will not satisfy customers, threatening their income source, and may be left behind.

Further, you must be thinking about what issues we ran into. So, what are common watch outs when conducting this type of research?

Having your interview guide well prepared and your target sample precisely defined before entering the field is essential to obtain the best and most accurate results.

Cultural issues.

A researcher needs to be prepared for situations where interviewees may be reserved towards them as a researcher due to the cross-cultural setting and their potential lack of trust.

Language barrier.

All interviewees who participated in the research discussed above were interviewed through Vietnamese. Therefore it was essential to have an interpreter to overcome the communication barrier during the qualitative research. The quality of the interpretation has an effect on the research results. Therefore it is vital to ensure that the interpreter is qualified and vetted for the assignment at hand.

Reasons Why Working with a Professional Will be Helpful

Research can be extremely time-consuming, especially with a large sample size. Often, when conducting research in a third world country, there are variables present that are beyond your control. Certainly, this is where a market research firm becomes a valuable asset with the knowledge and expertise to overcome these barriers.

Guide/Survey writing is a challenging task – if your company wishes to undertake surveys or interviews, you will need an experienced researcher to aid you in this writing process.
Market researchers have the experience to know how many interviews would be necessary to achieve data saturation. It is vital that you have guidance from a professional to get the recommended sample sizes for your study.

Market researchers identify key findings, themes, and conclusions. Their expertise in cleaning, analyzing, and ultimately making sense of data in order to produce more accurate, actionable results, and tell a story with the findings is invaluable.

Check out some of our most recent posts from our strategy and advertising research blog here:

  1. Blockchain & the Markest Research Industry
  2. I'm Just Not That Into You: Exclusivity or Bad Marketing?
  3. Is Your Research Stuck in the 1980s: Update Your Brand Tracker!
  4. Market Research Doesn't Need to Be Boring: Improve Data Visualization
  5. Tips For Building Brand Strategy for a Successful Brand
  6. What's the Difference Between Quantitative and Qualitative?

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Why Risk Isn’t Always Bad – IHOP vs. IHOB
12 Jun 2018
Provoke Insights was quoted in an article in NBC yesterday — you can check it out here. The article discusses the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) decision to rebrand as IHOb — International House of Burgers. Moreover, the temporary name change shows that the restaurant is serious about its burgers, not just its pancakes.  

Carly Fink, the principal and the head of research and strategy at Provoke Insights, was asked what she thought of the famous breakfast chain’s strategic move. She noted that it is risky. However, risk can have both positive and negative results. That is to say, the risk is not necessarily a bad thing; it can often pay off!

Risk Can Pay Off

A name change is a significant shift in a marketing strategy. For example, IHOP is one of the top names that consumers think about when they think about breakfast. Changing the name will impact this perspective and result in consumers’ association shifting away from breakfast and to lunch/dinner instead. The key here is to avoid losing its association with breakfast.

Increased Sales

IHOP has been trying to increase sales for lunch and dinner because a restaurant can often charge more for meals later in the day. We can be sure that IHOP marketing team spent a lot of time weighing the pros and cons of changing the brand name for this marketing initiative. One way this risk can pay off is by causing controversy.

In other words, there is value in controversy – it gets people talking. For instance, the IHOP strategy has succeeded. As a result of the name change, there has been a considerable stir on Twitter, with Burger King changing their name to Pancake King and other burger vertical leaders commenting on the name change. As a result, the initiative has been somewhat successful, with an influx in press and chatter evident.

Complicated Acronyms

There is a need to be careful. Acronyms can cause complication. Acronyms are ingrained in people’s memories, and consumers find it difficult to stop using old ones. Thus, it is essential to research to determine if the name change will confuse consumers. Will people be aware that the chain still sells pancakes? How else, besides the acronym, will IHOP promote burgers? It will be critical to see how their advertising focus, such as its television commercials, changes in the following months. If ad spend is less focused on breakfast, would this impact the brand overall equity?

Global Brand

It is also important to remember that this is a global brand, and as such, each market/country may react differently.

The burger market is very saturated. Entering the direct competition with the burger industry will be steep as IHOP is not known as the king of this vertical, and many brands are competing for the crown.

The risk may pay off, though. A name change could help their positioning. People might start to think of IHOP when they think about lunch and dinner. When a brand is changing its name or acronym, it’s key to conduct thorough research about the consumer, brand, and advertising initiatives! Will the name change move the needle? Or will this take away from breakfast spending, resulting in loss of revenue?

Check out some of our most recent posts from our strategy and advertising research blog here:

  1. Blockchain & the Markest Research Industry
  2. I’m Just Not That Into You: Exclusivity or Bad Marketing?
  3. Is Your Research Stuck in the 1980s: Update Your Brand Tracker!
  4. Market Research Doesn’t Need to Be Boring: Improve Data Visualization
  5. Tips For Building Brand Strategy for a Successful Brand
  6. What’s the Difference Between Quantitative and Qualitative?

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Marketing in the Summer
05 Jun 2018

Like many industries, advertising is notoriously slow in the summer season. However, there are also plenty of seasonally specific opportunities to take advantage of for advertisers across a number of categories. In many parts of America, summer is the only season that affords a real chance to get outside; consumers enjoy the beach, sporting events, water parks, summer camps, vacations, and a generally more relaxed few months. Summer is also associated with fun foods, socializing, and a cheery attitude.

So, how is a summer audience different than one in other seasons? How can you incorporate seasonality into your advertising strategy? The key lies in the features of the season.

Marketing in Summer Season

Summer sunshine means getting out of the house. It brings to mind barbecues and the pool or beach. June through August is all about spending time in the open air and participating in leisure activities. As such, out-of-home advertising is a natural fit – billboards, videos, flyers, and other media at concerts, fairs, movie theaters, airports, water parks, and sporting events are hugely effective, especially when they are advertising goods or services that are directly related to the location.

Radio also can be a great opportunity, as consumers more often take road trips. The lighthearted nature of summer also calls for fun television and print campaigns with strong creative appeal. In addition, there are plenty of opportunities around holidays and events that pertain to families as much as they do to individuals, including Graduation, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Flag Day, Summer Solstice, LGBT Pride Month, Fourth of July, Back to School, and Labor Day.

A Time To Experiment

Particularly for retailers, summer marketing is a time to test out new and different methods, according to Forbes. Businesses can try various communications and execution tactics like expressing appreciation to customers in email campaigns (as opposed to promotion alone), partnering with businesses to promote complementary products or collaborations, introducing limited-edition lines, sending out seasonal “swag” like t-shirts and ice coffee cups, pushing loyalty programs that incentivize sales during a typically slow period, or opening up pop-up stands or store locations at some of the aforementioned summer-friendly venues.

Time Spent Outside

Keep in mind the various demographics and segments that can be addressed when thinking of these summer events. Graduation is all about students; these days, this means every school-ending ceremony from kindergarten through college and beyond. Independence Day brings to mind family cookouts, but it is also a day for adult beverage consumption, namely beer and related spirits. Many of these events conjure parties, parades, and ceremonies, all of which require planning, supplies, furniture, technology, food and beverage. Even industries that do not seem directly related to warm weather can likely be pegged to one of a few broader summer events.

Finally, summer is also a great time to catch up on future advertising plans, spruce up your business plan, update your website, or improve your SEO tactics. Instead of viewing summer as downtime, use it as a time to strategize. It is crucial for advertisers to use these months as an opportunity to conduct competitive research, build better business infrastructure, develop your marketing plan, and gain as many potential leads as possible in order to boost performance during other seasons.

Marketing in summer is just full of potential! It’s important not to let the most pleasant season of the year go to waste. Your brand should prepare for the summer in order to maximize your marketing strategies. Why not make sure that your company is taking advantage of all the great marketing opportunities at hand? See you at the barbeque!

Check out our other blogs!

Have a look at the way other technologies are affecting the market research industry: Virtual Reality and Qualitative Research: Fad or Here to Stay?

Read about market research for tech companies themselves: Tech Companies: Have You Thought About Your Marketing Strategy?

Questions to Ask a Market Research Company
17 May 2018
Over a third (38%) of advertisers and in-house marketers find their market research firm through searching online. Googling ‘market research firm’ is closely followed by direct referrals from work colleagues, friends, and family (33%), conferences (28%), and online directories (25%). Over half of advertisers and in-house market researchers (59%) use an external market research firm. With all of that in mind, it is important to know a little bit about your market research firm before deciding to dive in and invest in research with them.*

The following are some key questions you should ask a market research firm you are considering working with:

  • Are the research services conducted at the company or are they outsourced?
  • What is being outsourced, if anything?
  • Is the person who I initially met with working on the project? If not, who will be working on the project? Are they responsive? What are their responsibilities? What is their background in research?
  • Do they have a clear understanding of the business objectives? target audience?
  • Will they customize their approach to your needs? Are they doing the most with your budget?
  • What will the timeline be? Is it realistic?
  • Do their compliance and security procedures match your need?


Many companies outsource large chunks of the research responsibility to other companies, whether they are smaller/cheaper companies or to companies abroad. Sometimes this means that quality is compromised. Also, context can be lost if outsourced to countries where the first language is not English. For example, when coding open-ends Prince (the international superstar) was discussed and misinterpreted by an outsourced research firm as a member of the Royal Family. In order to make sure that context is not in jeopardy and that quality remains high, be sure to ask your market research firm about their policy of outsourcing.

Another classic pitfall for companies using a market research firm for the first time is that they are sold on the company and their capabilities by a salesperson/business development manager. However, when it comes to the actual project, the person that they had been speaking to during the proposal process and lead up to the project is nowhere to be found. Make sure you meet the researcher or team that you will actually be working with on the project before committing with a market research firm.

Make sure that you educate your market research firm on your target audience. They are experts in research. They are not necessarily experts in your product or your target audience (unless they are conducting target audience research for you!). Therefore, make sure to bring them up to speed on everything to do with your product/brand. Give them all of the information they need to know in order to act as merely an extension of your company (rather than an outsider).

Before deciding on a market research vendor, be sure to recognize whether or not they will be customizing their approach to your brand. Do the market research company have a firm understanding of your business objectives? Make sure that the company you are working with does not take a cookie-cutter approach to your individual brand’s needs. Your company is distinct and therefore the market research solutions should be aligned to fit your company’s unique situation. Market research is not a one-size-fits-all product and should not be treated as if it is. Also, if you have a tight budget, make sure you’re getting value for your money. It is vital that the research firm is really thinking about your research needs critically and deciding on a methodology that not only bests suits you but will kill as many birds with one stone.

Last but not least, when a timeline is presented, make sure to think about it and question it. Will it really be feasible for this company to write, program, analyze, present an online survey in one week – probably not. Be smart and speculate whether or not the timeline is really realistic.

Another important area to analyze about your market research company is compliance. In order for market research to be a success, the company needs to ensure accuracy, security, and efficient data collection. There should be rigorous checks in place to be confident that each respondent is of the highest quality. Security checks should be discussed in order to make sure that data collection is compliant; many companies need the data collection process to follow with HIPPA and Safe Harbor regulations. These regulations not only ensure security and privacy for your company but also guarantee that you get the most conclusive results.

At Provoke Insights, we are strong believers being nimble, critical thinkers, and asking questions. Make sure to ask if your research vendor these questions and take note during the proposal process to their responsiveness/agility as a company.

* Provoke Insights conducted an online survey in 2018 to determine what companies look for when selecting a market research vendor.