Our SIVO team rallied quickly to lead a national, quantitative study around attitudes, shopping behaviors and loyalty in response to COVID-19. I am proud of our team’s fortitude in quickly turning around tangible value for our clients and the insight community at large. This study illustrates how people are shifting behaviors in everyday life and which are likely to stick during this “new now”. Click here for access to our full reportSIVO Consumer Impact from COVID19 Study featuring insights and intuition around what opportunities lie ahead for companies to better connect with customers in this critical time. Contact@sivoinsights.com – let us know your thoughts and what questions YOU have!
Our company retreat in January centered around infusing more joy into our work. We were asked: What is one thing you would do more of on a personal level that brings you joy? My answer: I would cook. Cooking is my creative outlet, it elicits beautiful childhood memories, and most importantly, it is a tangible and real way that I express love for my family. Problem was I had no time. Not even on the weekends. Who knew two months later, I’d have the opportunity due to a global pandemic.
I am one of the lucky ones who gets to work from home right now. And with this privilege, I am cooking, and baking and it looks very different than how I’ve cooked in a long time. I am not stressing or feeling rushed. I am cooking with my girls, passing on tips and tricks my mom taught me. We are digging up familiar recipes and creating new ones, being creative with what we have in the house. We are having longer dinner conversations, and every night is family game or movie night – some sort of activity that ensures we are physically and emotionally ‘together’.
During this chaos, we wake up every day to new revelations, some contradictions from hours/days/weeks before, and constant fear and anxiety. Stress on so many levels for everyone. No one will come out of this untouched in some way. Yet, I am seeing another powerful force at play. A hopeful, inspirational one that is critical to our emotional health. Myself and my family, my friends, my neighbors, my community, and the world around us are looking for ways to create and contribute joy and kindness.
In my family, we now have regular video chats with grandparents and extended family, telling jokes and playing games. We bake and leave treats for friends on their doorsteps, and they ask if we need anything when they run to the grocery store. We brainstorm ways to bring more joy and act kindly. Some ideas:
Give someone a compliment
Be a good friend to someone having a hard time
Make a family TikTok
Be more patient with my little sister
Offer to walk our neighbor’s dog
Paint a picture for my best friend’s Grandpa who has Alzheimer’s
Human kindness unites us. Each one of us has the capability to make someone feel good, feel genuinely appreciated, feel like they matter. In our current state, where so much is not in our control, this is. When we make someone else feel good, we feel good ourselves.
Kindness in business
I’m seeing it with businesses too, where kindness drives decision-making and innovation. More than feel-good emails, forgiving late fees, waiving change fees, or extending return policies. It is real, purposeful and memorable actions rooted in bringing joy and acting with kindness. Some examples:
Leaders placing employees with family health issues on furlough status so they can maintain insurance benefits even when business is unstable
My company, SIVOInsights, offering emotional, intellectual, and professional support to our clients that has nothing to do with our core offering and everything to do with what they mean to us
Distilleries across the country converting their operations from making alcohol to making hand sanitizer – and giving it away for free, starting with healthcare workers as a priority
KFC partnering with the nonprofit “Blessings in a Backpack” to help provide weekend meals to kids who might otherwise go hungry, donating $400,000 to provide prepackaged meals
Starbuckspaying all workers for 30 days regardless if they show up to work and catastrophe pay, mental health resources and childcare support to those who opt to keep coming in
DollarGeneral, Walgreens and other retailers dedicating early hours to seniors, a key at-risk group, to avoid busy shopping periods
TheCoca-ColaCompany immediately diverting millions in brand advertising to support COVID-19 relief efforts globally
And the list goes on. These actions tell the story of how these businesses operate and the human beings who lead them. These actions strengthen loyalty, making it almost unbreakable, because they are rooted in deep emotional needs. People care and notice how they are treated in each of their relationships, including those with brands. And people will always remember how those brands show up, especially in the worst of times.
So, as we work hard to protect the physical health of ourselves and each other, could this also be a terrific opportunity?
What if these actions, rooted in joy and kindness, were simply our ‘modus operandi’, our usual way of doing business and building brands, not just when in crisis mode? How inspiring and completely transformative could that be? Think about the authentic loyalty that would really earn.
What if we looked at this as an opportunity to level-set, reprioritize and change habits and behaviors for the better, both personally and professionally? An opportunity to slow down, strengthen connections and actively demonstrate to people that they matter to us – our families, our friends and in business, our employees, clients and customers. To show that we really see you, we really value you as human beings. To show up and bring the best of us.
Part 1 shared learning around generational nuances within the plant-based food category. In case you missed it, check it out here.
In Part 2, we share motivations, barriers and the critical role of taste.
Motivations & Barriers
Motivations & barriers to plant-based eating are influenced by generation as well as consumer segment across the health-taste continuum. Since growth of goods and services tend to ignite when the interest becomes mainstream, we focused this analysis among the mainstream segment versus a specific wellness segment. WHY? Because for plant-based to continue the growth-momentum, the products in this segment will need to appeal to mainstream consumers beyond vegans & vegetarians.
Mainstream Motivations appear to be:
About options: not rejecting traditional protein sources
Looking for healthy choices that taste good, are easily accessible, and workwithin their busy lifestyles
Dipping a toe into a healthier lifestyle or Plant-based eating because:
Plant-based is perceived as healthier than animal-based options
Feel ‘better’ about what they are eating and its ‘better for the environment’
Mainstream Barriers appear to be:
New Behavior: “I’m too set in my eating habits to make the change.”
Ingredient Labels: People are asking more questions about the product’s formulation and ingredients. Labels are under scrutiny.
Taste: expect it to ‘taste like cardboard.’ Taste is the foundation for a Plant-based experience.
When it comes to food, taste is paramount – it is the foundation. No surprise there.
However, whether driven by animal welfare or personal health reasons, there is a threshold on taste for plant-based foods. For some, taste is a barrier because the expectation is just too low. Yet, many have been delighted that the taste has exceeded their expectations. While it doesn’t need to taste exactly like the analog product (i.e., Almond Milk to Dairy Milk), it does need to taste good enough to warrant re-purchase and a place in dietary routines.
Taste expectations will differ across consumer segments. For example, a Vegan consumer is more accepting that a plant-based meat alternative doesn’t taste exactly like meat because a Vegan is a non-meat eater. For a Flexitarian or someone simply cutting back on meat consumption, there is a desire for the plant-based alternative to come very close to the “real deal!”
At SIVO Insights, we guide brands to focus on their customers, realizing the power of that relationship and delivering insights to strengthen that connection. It’s about truly understanding what people value, finding their gain points as well as solving their pain points and delivering a stellar consumer or customer experience. We work across many industries and verticals bringing the “voice of the consumer” to bear in business decisions.
Connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more, collaboratively share ideas and create a custom research plan for your needs!
Plant-based food alternatives are all the rage – surpassing trend-status and becoming a mainstream staple in people’s diets. We wanted to know WHY.
We’ve had the privilege of leading primaryresearch for start-ups and large Fortune 500 companies entering the Plant-based segment from Dairy to Meat Alternatives to Quick-Serve Restaurants (QSR) and Beauty.
Given the popularity of this category and our own innate curiosity, we conducted research using social media monitoring to better understand the WHAT, WHO, and WHY behind consumers of plant-based foods.
We collaborated with our strategic partner, Metametrix, a cultural context analysis tool (www.metametrixdata.com) to gain a 360 view of key growth drivers. Human anthropologists by nature, we also talked one-on-one with plant-based consumers to ensure their voice was represented accurately and distinctively.
As a result, we uncovered three main drivers for plant-based food choice:
Environment & Sustainability
These opportunity areas appear to be driven differentially by generations or life stage, as noted in the below diagram:
Nuances by Generations
Gen Z is significantly less likely than older generations to believemeat is a central part of an American identify / culture – for example, “Friendsgiving” doesn’t mean turkey is at the center of the plate. This generation is more aware than the general population that animal agriculture damages the environment. They value animal welfare & environmental sustainability more than previous generations and are willing to spend more on sustainable food.
Millennials or Gen Y are the top consumers of Plant-based meat alternatives. This generation has adopted Plant-based meat alternatives as a way to indulge sensibly while addressing their long-term health goals and animal treatment concerns. Millennials recognize the environmental impact their food choices have on society and the environment. They embrace shopping (and eating) with a conscience. Millennials with children are more likely to consume Plant-based meats than millennials without children at home.
Gen Xers are also a core consumer group of Plant-based meat alternatives, and because many in this group are parents of Gen Z’s, they are raising their Gen Z children on Plant-based food and beverages. This generation may be getting educated by their children in the environmental & sustainable aspects of the Plant-based movement or they experience a personal health crisis or a health-benefit associated with eating Plant-based foods.
Boomers appear to be decelerating consumption of Plant-based meat alternatives but are the top consumers of Plant-based dairy alternatives. This generation is more likely to come to the Plant-based segment through a dietary or health need.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where we examine and dive deeper into motivations and barriers and the critical role of taste in plant-based foods.
Connect with us at email@example.com to learn more, collaboratively share ideas and create a custom research plan for your needs in this space!
In both instances, we were impressed with the curiosity, drive and passion these students showed for the careers we all love.
Looking back on these opportunities, we realized a few benefits as well:
Keeps it fresh. Inserting guest lecturers into the curriculum helps to keep the content fresh and interactive. We could tell the students were engaged, taking notes, straightening up in the chairs, leaning forward, asking questions and listening with authentic interest and curiosity. Afterall, the pressure was off – we weren’t there to test their knowledge, only to inspire it. Our presence provided a different and unique perspective that helped to amplify their learning in a practical way, and their excitement for it showed.
Connects the dots. Guest lecturing helps to connect the dots between classroom content and real-world application. We provided A LOT of anecdotal case studies to bridge the gap between theory and reality. Doing so, made it less of a ‘lecture’ and more of a ‘step into my professional life for the next hour’ so I can show you what to expect. Personally, we found it really fun to relive all of these experiences again and seeing how it made the students come alive was the best part.
Models the behavior. By guest lecturing, we were able to model the behavior that we hope to see in the next generation of insight professionals. Giving them a sense of the required skill sets (hard and soft), modeling the art and science of writing discussion guides to draw out what people want to say but often can’t articulate and the all-important aspect of storytelling. Hearing from experts in the field helped to give these learners a practical sense of what it takes to be successful in an insights career.
Our love stems from our collective years of experience, while we know they have a whole world of brands, people, opportunities, challenges, and skills yet to be explored and refined. Their enthusiasm was real and pure and made us proud of the small part we played in helping to influence and shape this next generation of insights leaders.
If you are interested in having SIVO Insights professionals come share their expertise with your next generation of insights professionals OR have a need to train newly appointed insights associates at your company, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to work with you to craft the content you need!
Executive empathy is a hot topic in the workplace right now. The more genuinely empathetic a leader is, the better their teams and businesses are for it: operationally, emotionally and financially. So much so, that there are formal training programs around developing, shaping and strengthening the ‘empathy muscle.’
Recently, I had the great fortune of leading an Executive Empathy initiative and it was a highlight of my career. Guiding consumer conversations is what I do all the time, but this time was different. This time was for the C-Suite of one of our beloved national retail clients. I led real and honest conversations into how the retailer delivers a positive customer experience, and where they miss the boat; what they love about the retailer and what they wish the retailer really understood they needed. Sounds risky for some Executives…unless they are fully onboard and ready to hear and accept the truth.
Here are a few things that stuck with me and contributed to the success of the project:
Be authentic. Although potentially risky, we needed to build in topics and exercises that would flush out consumer truths. That is my No. 1 job. Nothing would have been a bigger waste of time than safeguarding these leaders and only delivering ‘good news.’ There was plenty of good news to hear, but there were also moments of harsh reality; some things they knew, some surprising. In debrief sessions, it was the surprising news that lit the biggest fire and they were most excited about learning. And hearing it in-person vs. a PowerPoint presentation made all the difference in the world.
Be agile. Importantly, behind the scenes, we also built in enough space throughout the day to be agile and pivot as needed based on what the Executive team was learning. Doing this was key so they felt they were getting the most out of the experience and had a voice in shaping it. As the conversations evolved, the day did too. We flexed with them. We could do this confidently because we were so well prepared (see next point).
Be prepared. Obviously, it was important that recruiting, the flow of the day, timelines and budget went off without a hitch. Weekly check-in’s and tight collaboration with the Consumer Insights client team ensured the Executives were appropriately prepped, understood what they could expect (and not expect), knew necessary logistics, and roles were clearly defined. Know your audience: just ‘enough’ information so they felt informed but not overwhelmed.
Unexpectedly, I also walked away feeling inspired. This Executive team showed up to the day excited, engaged and ready to go. No phone distractions, no multi-tasking, no ‘other meetings’ they had to attend. They were taking detailed notes, talking to each other about what they were learning, respectfully challenging one another, ideating in the moment, asking to go even deeper on certain issues they needed to hear more about.
They were truly living out one of the company’s core values of customer-centricity. We all know it is too easy for Executives to lose touch with the people that make or break the brand; too many demands on their time, too much financial pressure.
It is inspiring to witness, first-hand, when leaders believe and act that their customers are at the center of what they do and be in the company of Executives who ‘walk the talk.’ This leading by example reminds us that everyone is responsible for the customer experience, not just those in the insights department.
At SIVO, we believe in meeting consumers where they are as it brings out authentic behaviors and emotions. So, when we had the opportunity to speak to Beauty Loyalists, this was a perfect example of doing just that. One of our clients was looking to explore and build empathy about how people (women, and yes, men too!) define beauty, what it means to them, who influences their perceptions and how they achieve it. Since the subject of beauty is subjective, we thought that the best way to hear unbiased and candid thoughts was in their homes and also in key moments where they look to find it.
Research Tech with a Human Touch: The Beauty Journey
We began with a 5-day Mobile Beauty Journal where people shared special moments of beauty, attitudes toward beauty and their personal beauty regimens. Through customized activities, we observed firsthand these enthusiast’s videos, texts, and e-collages of prepping for work, social outings and weekend routines. Across generations and ethnicities, people candidly revealed and defined what beauty meant to them. Our client witnessed first-hand, “the real deal,” and nuances between the generations but also became excited with the possibilities that came to life.
Out of the Conference Room, Into the Salons
While the mobile journal gave us a solid understanding and baseline profile of each enthusiast, our experienced team went even further. Rather than gathering these same loyalists at a traditional field facility, we hosted small group conversations at their local beauty salon and favorite beauty retailers. The familiar and casual setting of their salon as well as being with other like-minded beauty loyalists elicited meaningful insights and created an environment of openness, empowerment — and fun!
Most importantly, our client was there, with us, in the moment and attained authentic empathy about the power and wonder and mystery of beauty. It revived them and generated a deep and real level of empathy they said wouldn’t have even possible in a stodgy conference room. So, when possible, go to your consumers where they are…it’s where authenticity lives.
By: Jennifer Dilley, Vice President, Research and Business Development
“Put your best foot forward.” Anyone ever tell you that? Yet the book “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries contradicts this mantra. It sparks the question – how good is good enough?
Thinking back on my career, I have been rewarded for showing my ‘best.’ Success came from a systemic approach of analyze, plan and execute. We learned and learned some more, and when we had sufficient data and confidence, then we acted. I think this is best described as “Learn. Learn. Learn. Do.” And this methodical process still has a place in some business decisions.
But what level of learning is necessary when innovating and there are no established data points to reference?
According to Ries, innovation requires a new form of management and expectations. Success requires we learn fast, adjust and learn again. It is an ever-evolving proposition to sell our product and stay ahead of the competition. I think this is best described as “Learn-do learn-do learn-do.”
A learn-do cycle focuses on prioritized learning, creating only the minimum needed to test a hypothesis. What you test shouldn’t be perfect. Learning comes from doing. “Good enough” gives the opportunity to quickly learn and adapt.
For those of us who have always been evaluated on our ‘best’ – good enough can make us vulnerable. And while this made me a little uncomfortable, I challenged myself to adjust and have since experienced success faster with learning sprints.
So, what is the definition of success? I can’t say it better than Mark Cook’s quote in Ries’ book.
“Success is not delivering a feature; success is learning how to solve the customer’s problem.”
That’s easy to say, but how to truly do it? You can’t overtly ask the customer what they want as few truly know — or if they do, how to vocalize it. It’s the famous Henry Ford adage, “If I had asked people what they wanted; they would have said a faster horse.”
So, taking some points from Ries’ book, stretching myself to become comfortable being uncomfortable, and partnering with others to find their ‘good enough’ — let me share 5-Steps we have found successful when innovating.
1.Talk with your consumers!
If you do not know your consumers, then you don’t know what they want – what is important to them. The greatest failure can be thinking you are your consumer. Get outside the office and go talk to your consumers.
2. Prioritize your learning
It is human nature to want to ask ALL the questions we have. Sprints work best with clear, prioritized objectives for each phase. We recommend having a rough idea of what you need to learn at each sprint and be open to pivoting.
3. Plan for sprints
Don’t overlook the need for planning with agile learning. Preparation is important for consecutive, quick bursts of learning. Agility comes in what you ask and adjusting objectives for the next sprint.
4. Can you make a sale?
Even if you don’t have a product to sell, is the consumer wanting to buy? This is the best indication of your product’s potential success. As you engage with your consumers, remember to ask for the sale.
5. Judge progress differently
Judging success in a Learn Learn Learn Do world is easy. Did we deliver what was projected? With sprints, progress is measured by what you learn. What worked / didn’t? What new questions need to be asked? Are you closer to creating the ‘right’ product to meet your consumers’ wants?
Let’s bring these 5-steps to life with an example familiar to many of us. At Tesla these steps to success have expanded beyond single product innovation to an organizational mindset.
“Tesla …iterates and rolls out improvements as they come. It takes in feedback regularly, as if it thrives on new ideas, solving problems, continuous improvement and iteration … Use of agile principles …have helped Tesla to perfect its vehicles and bring innovations to market that would have taken more traditional automotive companies years if not decades to get into the hands of customers.”*
“Good enough” has been a positive change for me. Can you embrace a lean startup mentality at your organization or with your team? I’d love to find out!
*Field, Kyle. 2018, Sept 1. “Tesla Has Applied Agile Software Development to Automotive Manufacturing” CleanTechnica
Earlier this summer, I had the distinct pleasure of volunteering alongside my SIVO Insights colleagues at the Lyndale Park Peace Garden in Minneapolis. What initially felt like a daunting task – weeding and mulching a large area of the property – quickly turned into a fun time with friends who connected personally and professionally while we worked.
I had never visited the garden before, so I learned a lot about it during and after our visit. Many of the elements in the garden tie to Japanese culture and heritage, including stones from both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, that were found in the rubble of the 1945 atomic bomb blast. The garden is an official International Peace Site, and when I was there, I could feel the connection to other parts of the world – to Japan, and to the dozens of other International Peace Sites across the globe.
Since I mainly work virtually, I don’t get to see my colleagues that often. That’s why I think it’s so important that we take time out of our busy schedules to do things like this together. Not only are we helping strengthen our community; we’re also strengthening our relationships with each other, which is good for our organization and for our clients.
Our work that day also helped me realize that any task can be made more fun with good company. Weeding doesn’t normally top my list of enjoyable chores, but when doing it alongside people I enjoy, it didn’t feel like work at all. It’s inspiring me to look for other ways I can make life’s to-do’s a little less burdensome by tackling them with others.
In just a couple of hours, we made a great impact on that large area of the garden and made it a lot more beautiful. We took the opportunity to linger in that space for a while, enjoying the beautiful day, the results of our work, and watching members of the community enjoy the garden as well. I’m already looking forward to our next SIVO Service Day!
The Agile movement has gained traction across many functions, and Consumer Insights is no exception. There’s a push to move more quickly and easily through the consumer learning process. Many companies want to cut the innovation process in half – both time and budget. In fact, 90 percent of senior leaders say becoming agile is a high priority1. We are seeing evidence of this desire with the growth of Research Technology – tools that tout the promise of better, faster, cheaper!
Agile, however, is more than a process and more than adopting a new tool or methodology. Agile is a mindset, encompassing all aspects of how work gets done – from the way coworkers collaborate to the way products are delivered1.
At SIVO Insights, we encourage adopting the following key principles of Agile:
Learn & do, early and often
Expect change & embrace the pivot
Measure progress & seek the truth
Empower decisions & take action
Learn & Do, Early and Often
The continuous learning loop or cycle is a very powerful tenet of being Agile.
In the past, it was commonplace in market research to learn, learn, learn by following a predetermined process of steps and methods. At the end of the plan, you would launch your new product or national advertising campaign into the world, ready or not.
Today, SIVO helps our clients embrace continuous learning cycles where we learn in bite-sized chunks, always answering key questions first. Then, we encourage getting early ideas into the real world, with prototypes, to get relevant feedback and test if people are willing to use their own money to buy or invest in the idea!
Expect Change & Embrace the Pivot
The learning process is full of both successes and failures. That actually hasn’t changed – it’s always been this way. Learning is a journey that will have some twists and turns. An Agile mindset will help you embrace change, accept failure, chart a new course or pivot, and celebrate success. It takes grit – both perseverance and resilience – to truly be Agile. At SIVO, we help identify critical assumptions for the learning journey upfront so objectives are prioritized and clear, helping to make it easier to manage through those twists & turns!
Measure Progress & Seek the Truth
In the world of Agile, measuring progress is conducted on a regular basis, typically daily, especially if the initiative is time sensitive. The purpose is to share progress and align on immediate next steps. At SIVO, we facilitate client teams through these sessions with a recap of where we’ve been (hindsight) and an outline of where we are going (foresight.) The one critical element of these sessions that can’t be missed: Seeking the truth. Truth is either “pretty” or “pretty ugly” and no matter what it is, you and your team must seek it and accept it. I’m reminded of the famous quote by David Stevens, “A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it.” In the context of Agile, the entire team must make a “truth serum pact” to ensure the project steers in the right direction.
Empower Decisions & Take Action
Finally, once the team is aligned on the truth, they must be empowered to make decisions and take action. If the team is not empowered, they will not be agile. SIVO ensures the voice of the consumer is always represented and partners with our clients to understand overall business challenges beyond the consumer. We often work with cross-functional teams including operations, finance, or development – providing a holistic view. This all-in approach enables our client partners to make decisions, take action, re-evaluate, and repeat the agile learning cycle – ensuring continued momentum forward.
There’s no question that Consumer Insights departments are being asked to do more with less these days, and to move faster than ever in the process. Agile offers a way for these professionals to accomplish their goals by working smarter, not necessarily harder.
At SIVO Insights, we are passionate about what we do and eager to put our collective skills to work for you.
To get the right solutions for your research needs, give us a call or send us an email. Or, just fill out the form on your right and we’ll get back to you shortly.
Sivo Insights is certified as a women’s business enterprise by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the nation’s largest third-party certifier of the businesses owned and operated by women in the U.S.
Sivo Insights is certified as a women’s business enterprise by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the nation’s largest third-party certifier of the businesses owned and operated by women in the U.S.