Is it “Hair on Fire” Time for Market Research?

Embarrassing polling misses. New tech (and other) products that totally fail to gain traction with their targets. A drive to speed and low cost from market research providers from clients who assume projectability is a given. Declining response rates for traditional market research modes. Unknown skews of all sorts in online panels. A growing focus on gaining insights from social media, and treating it as projectable findings to all consumers.

How worried should we be about market research as a dependable driver of decision making?

Brad Bortner, Executive Director of Market and Customer Insights, will lead a panel discussion on this topic at NEXT, May 8-9, in New York.

To learn more about the panel discussion visit Is It “Hair On Fire Time” For Market Research?


How To Conduct Extended Intercept Surveys: A Reebok Case Study

Insightful Alliance was hired by Reebok to conduct intercept surveys at the 2 day expo that takes place prior to the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta.

We decided to execute the intercept surveys using iPads loaded with Survey Analytics’ SurveyPocket. As we planned the project we exploited some of Survey Analytics’ other features to develop what we call the Extended Intercept Survey. This method allowed us to extend our reach with the survey, and thereby increase our survey completion rate by 67% with only a small incremental investment.

Survey Analytics asked us to explain our Extended Intercept Survey method to its customer base via webinar. In the webinar we address the following:

  • how Insightful Alliance and Reebok transformed the traditional intercept method into what we call the Extended Intercept Survey method;
  • how combining tablet, smart phone, and online access facilitated the completion of surveys by people who initially had declined to participate;
  • examples of the collateral materials we used to execute the Extended Intercept Survey;
  • tips on the psychology of applying the Extended Intercept Survey in various contexts;
  • a checklist of the “tasks” to remember when planning an Extended Intercept Survey.

A recording of the webinar is available at the following link:

How To Conduct Extended Intercept Surveys: A Reebok Case Study

Managing Your Emotional Reactions While Interviewing VIP’s

Successful VIP’s tend to have extreme characteristics that are part and parcel to their success. When researchers interview VIP’s they come face-to-face with those characteristics.

Some researchers may find themselves having emotional reactions to those extreme characteristics.  If they can’t manage them, these emotional reactions can morph into behavioral reactions that threaten to derail the interview.

In this webinar, which we conducted for the Insights Association, we explain how to manage emotional reactions in order to stay on-task and deliver optimal insights.

The link to the webinar appears below. The presentation begins at 1:45, and is followed by questions.

Managing Your Emotional Reactions While Interviewing VIP’s

Insightful Alliance’s Running Shoe Terminology Study

Insightful Alliance is in the final stages of completing its running shoe industry study.  In this study we are examining the terminology that running shoe retailers use in attempting to explain how to choose an appropriate running shoe.  The study examines the terminology used at specialty running shops, sporting goods stores, and athletic footwear stores.

Any running shoe manufacturer or retailer that is interested in learning more about this study should contact Michael Mercier at Michael.

Recruiting A Difficult Target Group

When Insightful Alliance has a project requiring difficult-to-recruit participants, such as high-level executives, rather than use an outside recruitment firm we manage the recruitment in-house. 

Our first step in crafting our highly-effective approach to recruitment was to break the process down into the following steps: (1) get organization contact information; (2) get target names at each organization; (3) penetrate first level screener; (4) penetrate 2nd level screener; and (5) persuade the target to participate.

In future posts we will present our approach to each step in this process.  In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about our approach to recruiting, contact

Customer Service Be Damned: The Tyranny of Telephone Protocols

Many companies have developed protocols that their customer service representatives must follow on every customer phone call.  

These protocols structure and script every phone call; they lay out the exact steps that the rep is to take, and out the exact words they should say.  

From the perspective of company management, these protocols constitute a form of insurance; they are a fail-safe way of ensuring customers have a positive experience, and that all of their problems are fully addressed.

However, from the perspective of the customer and the rep, these protocols frequently have the opposite effect.  Many such protocols tyrannically confine both the customer and the customer service representative, as they strip both of their mutual humanity.  Consequently, they turn off the customer and leave them frustrated and dissatisified.

Insightful Alliance offers customer experience research services to help you assess whether your customer service protocols attract or repel your customers.  For more information contact Michael Mercier at


Optimize Intercept Surveys Using Our Deferred Intercept Method

If you plan on conducting intercept surveys, consider our “Deferred Intercept” method.

Many people decline to participate in intercept surveys because they are too busy at the moment they are approached.  Our “Deferred Intercept” method is a way to get many of these people to complete the survey at a later time.  Here’s how we do it.

When we intercept someone and they decline our invitation to complete the survey at that moment, we offer them a 3″ x 5″ card.  This card contains a URL and a QR-code, along with a set of instructions.  Whether they visit the URL on their computer, or scan the QR-code with their phone, they will be taken to an online version of the survey, which they can complete at their convenience.  We found that this can increase the total yield of completed surveys for an intercept study by 67%.  

To learn more contact Michael Mercier at

Mobile Intercept Surveys Using iPads

Insightful Alliance conducts mobile intercept surveys using iPads loaded with Survey Analytics’ SurveyPocket.

SurveyPocket is a versatile mobile survey application that allows us to conduct surveys with or without a WiFi connection.  When WiFi is unavailable, SurveyPocket saves completed surveys locally on the iPad.  When WiFi later becomes available, SurveyPocket uploads completed surveys to the Survey Analytics server for storage and analysis. 

This flexibility pays off when conducting surveys in a venue that lacks WiFi.  For example, we executed an intercept study for Reebok at a running expo that did not provide public WiFi.  Lacking a connection we simply saved completed surveys locally on the iPad during the hours of the expo, and later replicated them to the server when we encountered an available WiFi connection. 

To discuss how we can help you with mobile intercept surveys contact Michael Mercier at 



“Running Shoe Terminology” Study Applies Telephone Mystery Shopping Methodology

In its recent “Running Shoe Terminology” study, Insightful Alliance collected data using telephone mystery shopping — a variation on traditional mystery shopping.

In traditional mystery shopping the researcher poses as a customer and visits a retail establishment in order to experience shopping there first-hand.  He usually examines a particular aspect of the shopping experience.  For example, he might pay particular attention to the physical layout of the store, or the experience of finding and purchasing a particular product, or the quality of customer support.

Telephone mystery shopping is similar to traditional mystery shopping.  However, rather than visiting the store in-person, the researcher interacts with the establishment by phone.  This method is useful for studying the quality of the telephone experience, the accuracy of information provided, or evident product or brand biases.  In this particular study we called running shoe retailers around the country and posed as customers in order to examine the terminology that they used to describe the segmentation of the running shoe market.

For more information about how our Telephone Mystery Shopping Methodology can be used to generate customer insights for your product, contact Michael Mercier at