Popper: Innovations in ‘We’search #MRIA


Welcome to the virtual MRIA 2011 annual conference! This post reflects my personal musings and interpretations of this presentation. It was written during the presentation and posted minutes afterward. Any inaccuracies and silliness are my own.


Ari Popper,
President, BrainJuicer® North America
“The Latest Innovations in ‘We’search” 

  • People are unreliable witnesses but we are good at noticing other people and copying them. Decisions are completed before we “think” about them. We don’t think as much as we like to think we do. When one person does a strange task, no one pays attention. But when many people do, we pay attention. E.g., people staring at the sky. Fads, like croc shoes, are just people copying each other. A good marketing plan is realizing people like to copy each other. So why ask people what they would do if they are unreliable witnesses to their own behavior? We like to protect our ego.
  • Mass prediction: The Wisdom of Crowds, Why the many are the smarter than the few. By James Surowiecki. If you want an accurate answer, speak to everyone in the room. The average of all “guesses” is uncannily close to reality. Ask people “If this product was on the market, would OTHER people by it?”
  • It is as or more accurate than gold standard analytic testing. You can tease out poor ideas and polarizing ideas. It’s important that people decide independently of each other.
  • “You don’t need to talk to the target sample” – Wow! Then what’s will all this rep sample work we try to do! Why don’t you talk to MY audience, why not rep samples, how can this possibly work? Did some side by side studies and the results correlated very high. People can empathize and predict what other people may or may not like.
  • It doesn’t work with products that are so specialized people can’t relate or don’t understand. It works for mass products even if we’re not a customer ourself.
  • Mass ethnography: “Observe consumers in their natural habitat” (Ha! We’re all in the zoo,) Can we use regular consumers to act as ethnographers for a study?
  • Study: When German music played, German wine outsold French wine but people didn’t even realize music was playing.
  • Department stores put the expensive stuff out front to frame you to accept the cheaper items once you walk into the store.
  • Study: The way you frame the investigation causes people to interpret situations differently. They may interpret more factual conclusions or more social conclusions. E.g., people drink more at bars because they are 1) hot and stuffy or 2) social pressures.
  • Netnography: Remember the spread of Swine Flu virus? In the first couple weeks, it was only in the US really, but the entire world percieved the threat and behaved as if there was a global problem. Charts make it hard to tell a story about a person but you can use twitter to bring charts to life, add personality. Find the words and phrases that your segment of people use, and prepare a rich profile of who these people are. It’s very qualitative but rich data. Bring segments to life.
  • CoCreation: Use consumers to help you cocreate and innovate. Brainstorming may dumb down, internal politics, senior person has to be agreed with, may not be the best way to get creative ideas.  American Idol is, in a sense, cocreation. The viewers have ownership and stake. They buy the albums. 6% of population is very creative, just think of a normal distribution of creativity. It’s a talent like any other. Creative people are prickly, difficult to get along with, don’t want to go with the flow. This doesn’t make in a brainstorming session. Brainstrorming is better for team building.  They tested Most Creative 6% vs Brainstormers. Creatives helped with 6 of the 7 winning product ideas. They generate bad ideas too though.
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