Manufacturers… What’s Your Brand Strategy?
11 Jan 2018
While manufacturing in the United States has adopted new technologies to streamline operations, logistics, increase capabilities, and provide better products, industry growth is still slow due to overseas competition.  Though manufacturers are consistently innovating, 2017 growth in the industry has only increased by 1.6% [1]. What is the brand strategy?

Manufacturers often rely on their sales teams to develop and solidify relationships.  However, with such a competitive environment, it is short-sighted to not only focus on sales. Even a B2B industry should have a brand strategy in place.

First, every business should have a unique selling proposition to convince prospects to work with your company as well as to increase loyalty among current customers.  It makes the sales teams’ jobs easier by providing key differentiators in an industry where prospects and customers may see many manufacturers as all the same. This provides additional value for the brand beyond cost.

Second, it is pertinent to understand your customer wants and needs and determine if your company meets them. Plus, there should be a strong understanding of why prospects work with your competitors vs. you.  Other than price, what is that key trigger point that would convince them to switch manufacturers?  Often this can be done using market research with methodologies such as focus groups and surveys. For example, you can learn about what is unique about your brand vs. the competition, as well as possible emotional triggers you would not normally associate with a manufacturing company.

Also, it is pertinent to determine what marketing channels not only reach your customers, but can best communicate your brand’s story.

Even if your competitive advantage is not the most advanced or the cheapest, a market strategy is a way to tell a compelling story that helps your customer understand your brand in a simple and digestible manner.

As you can tell, there are many moving parts to a marketing strategy.  Provoke Insights can help assist with a marketing or branding strategy and research needs.

Read our blogs about why primary and secondary research is so important when launching a successful brand.

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[1]  “Over-the-year employment changes and tests of significance, seasonally adjusted. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dec. 2017.

2018 Trends: Advertising & Marketing Industry
27 Nov 2017
As 2018 approaches, advertisers and marketers are preparing for the new year, Provoke Insights is providing a comprehensive look at what to expect over the next 12 months.

In the last decade, the marketing industry has changed immensely from new technologies to more specialty advertising agencies. In-house marketers have pushed for more project based work and an ever-increasing number of consumers have cut-the-cord to their TVs.

How has this affected advertisers as well as in-house marketers? How has this impacted advertising and media budgets, as well as the longevity of the relationship between an ad agency and their clients? What advertising initiatives are marketers commissioning in today’s market? How satisfied are marketers with their job in this fast-evolving environment?

In 2014, only half of advertisers surveyed were very satisfied with the process. With the ever-increasing frequency of ad pitching, are agencies and clients still dissatisfied with this process? Are there areas that can be improved? What makes marketers most likely to select an advertising agency?

Provoke Insights, a brand strategy and market research firm, conducted a survey looking at both advertising and in-house marketers to best answer these questions. This extensive advertising survey among 736 respondents will help you plan the 2018 year right.

If you would like to learn more about the results of this research survey and receive the whitepaper of this research in December, just follow this link and it will be sent to you. Click here to learn more about other services Provoke Insights offers.

Millennials, Fine Jewelry & the Luxury Category
13 Dec 2016
Written by: Rachael Ryan

Millennials are the most researched subgroup of the 21st century – and yet, they still seem to be misunderstood. Everyone wants to know more and more about the generation. Who are millennials and why are they so sought after?

Millennials are technically anyone born between 1982 and 2002, but most importantly they are the buying generation. They’re taking over from the Baby-Boomers who are retiring both from work and they’re hanging up their consumer shoes too. Despite marketers obsessing over millennials, they are still often dumbfounded by them. Just when marketers think they have them all figured out, millennials change their habits and leave everyone bewildered.

For example, millennials were buying luxury goods such as fine jewelry. Millennials spent $26 billion on diamonds in 2015. But since then, the attitudes of affluent millennials has changed. 6.2 million millennial households earn more than $100,000 a year and they will take over the luxury consumer market by 2018-2020 – that means they need to be understood and luxury brands need to research them in order to appease this headstrong generation.

Market research is invaluable in this situation; here are a few speculations as to why millennials have become indifferent to the opulence of luxury jewelry brands.

  1. Millennials are incredulous towards big luxury brands. They want to pay big bucks for an individual experience rather than a brand that everyone has. The generation prior to millennials would pay vast amounts of money to have luxury, classic pieces of jewelry to display their wealth and standing in society. Millennials are not purchasing fine jewelry, they are more interested in spending the same money on a one-of-a-kind, once in a lifetime experiences.

  2. Milestone purchases. Millennials don’t want a piece of jewelry to define them – they want sentiment behind it. Most millennials will only buy a luxury good as a milestone or to mark an occasion, while this has always been partially the case – it is now the sole selling point of luxury jewelry. Millennials are not likely to impulse buy a luxury item; there must be a deeper level of emotion attached to a piece. This is why luxury jewelry brands such as Pandora are so popular – each piece is unique to the owner and every part of the piece has a story to tell that is exclusive to the person wearing it.

  3. Technology is a new luxury. The number of millennials that own a fitness watch and the number of millennials that have a classic wrist watch are almost equal. This is a two-sided argument, if you want your luxury brand to be successful then your brand needs to have a successful online presence that resonates with this savvy generation. Millennials read on average 13.9 reviews online before buying a product, and they normally only buy products that have been recommended by loved ones or people they trust.

There are many other factors that come into play here; millennials get married later in life and their engagement ring is ordinarily their introduction to fine jewelry purchasing, millennials are experience oriented and want to be unique, therefore often look for one-of-a-kind jewelry that has a story behind it, among other reasons.

For more information on changing jewelry trends, read the Principal of Provoke Insights, Carly Fink’s article on the growing demands on the brown diamond industry. For more information about Provoke Insights, why not sign up for our newsletter here.

Know Your Target Audience Through Research
15 Nov 2016

Written by: Rachael Ryan

Have you ever been to a children’s birthday party when an adult gives one child some attention, then before they know it, every child at the party is vying for that adult’s attention? But the adult no longer has any time to give to any child because there are so many kids looking for it – in the end, no one gets attention and the adult goes back to conversing with the other adults.

That’s the world today! You’re the adult and brands are the children. We gave our attention to marketing – once or twice, maybe a couple of hundred times – and now every single brand is vying for our time and attention. The more brands compete for our attention, the less time and attention we have to give.  As a result, we need brands need to more efficiently reach their customers.

There are more barriers than ever between you and your target audience. There are more channels from which to get information out there, there are an increasing number of social media channels, more apps, more news outlets, and more television series on more television streaming websites and TV channels, more adverts and more messages trying to be transmitted. All of this makes it even more important for you to understand your prospects and customers.

So how can you go about understanding your target audience?

Research, research, research! If you know nothing about your target audience in this day and age, you need to start researching. Research is the only means of finding out who your target audience is.

Find out your audience’s demographic – this is limited in its potential to present the motivations for buying but it will allow you to begin to form a picture. It’s limiting because it doesn’t tell you why – it tells you who the customer is (i.e. gender, age) and where they are but you’re missing the why and the how.

Straight off the bat, you need to understand your consumer’s goals. Why is your consumer buying your product? How did your consumer get to your product or service? Understand the problem or desire that your audience may have that will lead them to your product. In order to do that, you need to research the audience – research those who will be in the market for your product or service.

You might be thinking, that’s all well and good – but how can I get all of that information? Well, a survey will provide you with the answer. Research can help you determine not only the whowhere and what but more importantly it can resolve the mystery of why and how! Not only that, it will also ascertain which segment of your audience will invest the most in your brand.

Segment your audience through research. Divide your audience into segments and provide content specific to them. Make sure your content is consistent, shareable and of a high quality. Your marketing won’t get any attention unless it’s worth the audience’s while – don’t offend your target audience by contending for their attention via poor quality content. I can assure you no one will give you attention the next time you contend for it!

Choose how to engage your audience wisely. Where do they get their information? If your audience doesn’t listen to podcasts then don’t choose that as your means of communication with them. If they ordinarily read blog posts that they see on Twitter then don’t focus all of your attention on Snapchat.

Be true to your brand. Finally, we live in a world filled with skeptics; always remain honest and true to your brand. Consumers today are quick to flag when they are being fed nonsense and drivel – it will do more damage to your brand than good if you try to get their attention with content that has a spurious link to your brand. Be sure to remain authentic. That way, you’ll become someone that your audience trusts and wants to invest in.

Want to learn more about your customers? Check out Provoke Insights article  Four Ways to Better Understand Your Consumer. Also, you can sign up for our newsletter here.

4 Watch Outs When Conducting a Survey
10 Sep 2015

“There are errors everywhere,” my market research professor claimed on the first day of class.    He continued and said, “as a market researcher, your job is to reduce the errors as much as possible.”  As someone who has worked in the industry for fifteen years, I believe that this lesson is still extremely important.

If research errors are not found, the results will lead to inaccuracies.    Ultimately, the insights garnered from the study may lead a brand to the wrong conclusions.

If you are developing a survey, here are a few errors that you need to watch out for.

1.     Inaccurate Objectives

When constructing your research objectives, it is always important to think how the end results will be used.

2.     Improper Research Methodology

Sample size, language issues, and goals of research are aspects you need to consider when determining the methodology. For example, a survey with only 25 respondents only provides directional information and does not represent a portion of the population.   You may want to consider using more open-ended research approaches such as focus groups.

3.    Bad Survey Writing

Survey length is too long, leading with sensitive questions (i.e. household income), too many open ends, inconsistent or wrong survey scales are just a few of the problems that occur when writing a survey.   The best way to solve survey errors is asking others to take your survey. The more people who take the survey, the more errors you will be able to find.  Also, double check to ensure the survey logic is accurate.

4.    Sampling Bias

How you acquire your sample can impact survey results.    Your friends or colleagues may provide biased results if they took your survey.  Also, only researching a certain segment of your population may also skew results. For example, if you were targeting a national population, but only reached New Yorkers the results won’t be representative.

Tech Companies…What’s Your Brand Strategy?
10 Sep 2015
Technology is the fastest growing industry in New York City.  In 2014, jobs in this sector had grown by 33%. As the tech boom continues, how can your brand stand out from the crowd?

Even if your product is unique, it is imperative to find your target and communicate what makes your brand special.  However, gaining a potential client’s attention poses a challenge since there are more communication channels than ever before.  Consumers’ attention is no longer focused on just one medium. Viewers are consuming content across mobile, desktops, and televisions.

To overcome these challenges, you need a better understanding of who your customer is.   For example, which clients will most quickly adapt to your technology? Does your audience desire to be part of a new emerging trend? Additionally, what are specific attributes of this audience (age, gender, household income, and/or psychographic attitudes) and how can you leverage that?

It is key to uncover essential information and gather important insights in order to reach your desired audience.   Companies, like Provoke Insights, provide services and tools to help you learn about consumers’ media usage, habits and even specific information about their favorite blog.

Even if your technology is the most advanced in the marketplace, it is a challenge to answer your customers’ needs in a simple and digestible method.   This ‘difference’ needs to be significant,  and can be developed into a compelling story that separates your product from the competitors.

As you can tell, there are many moving parts to a holistic marketing strategy.  Provoke Insights’s goal is to assist with all aspects of your marketing and branding needs.

About Provoke Insights

Provoke Insights is a full service brand consultancy and market research firm. Our innovative approach helps brands navigate through today’s cluttered marketing space.  We are the nerds behind the advertising, branding, media, and content marketing initiatives. Our obsession with data and research makes your marketing strategy compelling and impactful.

Capitalize on Your Consumer’s Multichannel Behavior
10 Sep 2015

Are you aware that consumers’ interactions with your brand are not what they used to be? Consumers are now consuming media from multiple devices simultaneously. They talk about your brand while they watch your latest commercial, then comment on it with hashtag messages via their smartphone before the commercial is over.   It is no longer a controlled one-on-one conversation between consumers and a brand.  As a result, brands need to adapt to this new method of media consumption.


Your brand needs to understand and capitalize on the fact that your consumer and his/her peers spend about 15 hours in front of truly beloved companions such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, or even smart TVs using 63GB of data daily!


With all of the exposure to these various mediums, there is more opportunity to catch the attention of the consumers and possibly engage them with what you have to offer. However, the downside is that their journey from one device to another is much more fragmented, so you have to invest in many more advertising placements than ever before.


In order to understand them better, you must know how they leverage the power of their second screen:

  • They multitask, viewing unrelated content on multiple devices simultaneously.
  • They start their journey on one device and continue it on another.
  • They search and investigate related content to what they see on another device.
  • They interact with their social networks while they watch other media.


Don’t be scared there are plenty of opportunities due to the following:

  • Consumers do not leave the room or change the channel for a commercial break.
  • Consumers watch TV in social settings.
  • Despite multi-screening the ad recognition is not affected.

As the consumers change the way they gather information and switch between their devices, advertisers should use the available research to not only understand their consumer journeys but more importantly to timely reach them at the best moment while they are within their comfort zones.

Understand What Your Consumer Really Wants
10 Sep 2015

Are you truly listening?   Social listening is a powerful tool that goes beyond just monitoring your brand and competitors sentiment.

Have you thought about listening beyond what people say about your brand?  With 73% of online Americans using social networking sites, it is crucial to understand what your customers are talking about online beyond your brand (Pew Internet, December 27, 2013).  If you don’t know what your customers are saying, how can your brand join their online conversation? Social listening is the crucial element to create a 3D image of your target audience. This enables your brand to make strategic business decisions and stay ahead of the competition.

Social listening involves monitoring news sites, blogs, micro-blogging, social networking sites, forums, eCommerce platforms and many more. This allows you to better understand the bigger conversation among your target audience (not just about your brand).   As a result, you can now place your brand in other conversations beyond the traditional discussion.  A great example would be Red Bull.  Even though they are an energy drink, they have expanded the conversation to extreme sports.

More so, social listening allows you to identify your brand’s key influencers.  It is not enough to follow these opinion leaders, but it is crucial that you actively engage with them.  This will ultimately create new brand advocates.