The Warc Blog

How do you win an APG award?

Posted by: Lena Roland, Commissioning Editor, Best Practice, Warc

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You only have 20 minutes to present your case to the 12 judges who will decide the winners at the 2013 Account Planning Group (APG) Awards. But how can you make the most of this short timeslot? Here are the top tips gleaned from a ‘How to win’ APG event, held at Google’s headquarters in London earlier this week – and attended by many of the UK planners set to compete for this year's prizes.

First to speak was Richard Huntington, chief strategy officer at Saatchi & Saatchi who gave his view on what makes an award winning presentation based on his experiences of being a judge for the 2011 awards. His main points were:

28 February 2013, 09:57
MAP 2013: The importance of incremental innovation

Posted by: Joseph Clift, Product Manager, Warc

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As a rule, one of marketers' biggest concerns is keeping up with the new and the next. So it's no surprise that innovation is a major theme of Measuring Advertising Performance (MAP), a two-day Warc event that takes place in London on March 12th-13th. There will be many theories of innovation presented by conference speakers – and one of the most interesting is from Patrick Barwise, Emeritus Professor of Management and Marketing at London Business School.

As he told me when we talked over his ideas yesterday, Barwise sees innovation as a crucial component of long-term business success. But such innovation is incremental and complementary – not revolutionary, category-creating and, as so many have it, "disruptive". What's more, brands are built over the long term not by seismic shifts, but by everyday business processes that marketers might simply see as "beneath their dignity".

26 February 2013, 10:11
Shock of the New: Where Exactly is Market Research Heading?

Posted by: Edward Appleton, Senior Manager Consumer Insights, Coca Cola Gmbh

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Two things caught my attention over the past few weeks in the world of Market Research.

Firstly: the UK MRS Annual Event for 2013, "Shock of the New" ( The Conference states its intent clearly: it wishes to embrace a world beyond the narrow confines of research: science, technology, futurology....the forces that are changing the way we see the world.

24 February 2013, 14:35
Learning by Unlearning – Some of the Most Powerful Lessons are Lessons Unlearned

Posted by: Brand Learning

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As Brand Learning's Chief-Enthusiast and Head Cheerleader for the market research and insight industry, I recently attended the Warc Next Generation Research Conference.

As you would expect with a conference title like that, the agenda was dominated by the progress made in digital notably mobile and social media. However, the key takeaway, which applies to all capability building, is that in order to learn and progress you have to sometimes unlearn and undo what you know. It's not that what you know or your experience does not have value - but you have to be forever open-minded, curious and willing to listen to new thinking given the significant progress in our understanding of consumer decision-making and digital behaviour.

22 February 2013, 15:42
Office Depot to buy OfficeMax? And then there were two.

Posted by: Robert Passikoff, President, Brand Keys, Inc

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Looks as if Office Depot is going to buy OfficeMax. That purchase would combine the #2 and #3 office supply retailers, leaving only the new entity and Staples (currently #1), in an industry that has been pretty much undifferentiated and, in the industry's terminology, "overstored."

We'd like to give you some engagement and loyalty facts about these category players, but we can't. We stopped measuring them as a Retail Category in our annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index last year. First, because there were only three national chains left, and second, because the expansion into the category of previously non-traditional, now more and more becoming more and more consumers' default channels, of online retailers. (Amazon) and price clubs (Costco), have created problems for the three (soon-to-be 2) brick-and-mortar chains.

21 February 2013, 14:25
Infographic: Are you taking social seriously?

Posted by: Katherine Mawhinney-Kam, Designer and Production Editor, Warc

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Last year, we saw the majority of advertising campaigns feature some use of social media. No longer a niche channel, brands have taken to Facebook, Twitter and Weibo with enthusiasm, trying to engage in stronger relationships with their customers. But is it worth it?

Here at Warc, we recently analysed almost 800 campaign case studies for our Seriously Social trends report. Amongst our findings, we discovered that the presence of social media is no guarantee of advertising effectiveness. From those that have shown excellent social use, we've distilled the important lessons that you should apply to your future campaigns.

18 February 2013, 11:12
How should market research react to social influence?

Posted by: Edward Appleton, Senior Manager Consumer Insights, Coca Cola Gmbh

Blog author I recently read an excellent article in the January 2013 issue of Research Live on the role social influence has on our preferences.

The authors - Colin Strong, Paul Ormerod and Alex Bentley - quote an experiment conducted by Microsoft, showing how strongly influenced teenagers music preferences were by a social component, in this instance the ability to see how many times a song had already been downloaded by others. The difference between this group and one that hadn't had access to any social influence was marked - amongst those that were "influenced" only a few songs were highly popular, the majority of songs received very low ratings. Amongst those who didn't have access to the number of downloads available, the preference spread was much broader.

The message was clear: having access to others' opinions had a heavy skew on preference. Mark Earls makes similar points in Herd and I'll Have What She's Having - we are social animals, indeed "perhaps the most powerful influencer on human behaviour is other people" as he states on his website.

What does the above mean for Market Research? Should we never ask individuals opinions on their own, as essentially opinions are a socially formed construct? Here's my take.

1. Methodologies should continually improve in Replicating Real-Life Situations
This may appear obvious - that we should aim methodologically to get as close as possible to mimicking a real-life situation or replicating a decision making process. However, take a concept test: ideally, we would need to understand to what extent an individual respondent is more influencer or influenced - and who precisely are those are that influence him or her? Take any purchasing decision: before beginning on the diagnostic journey, we need to establish per respondent if for a given category this is a decision they (believe they) take on their own or jointly, with somebody else, however loosely? If the latter, then we would need to find out who that person is, and ideally bind them in into the evaluation process. Curious if anyone is aware of such processes going on already, and if so I'd be interested in details on the cost and timing ramifications.

2. Research needs to be an Ongoing Exercise

In a world of ongoing budgetary-pressures, it's an odd thing to suggest, but essentially we need to re-examine the frequency with which we undertake all studies, including strategic ones like U&As and brand trackers, and ask if it is adequate. More than ever, we are trying focus our lens on subjects that won't sit still. Online influence is happening all the time, more and more people are reading blogs, reviews, ratings - the likelihood is that opinions are increasingly swayed more frequently, and that traditional tenets about the robustness about brand imagery may becoming dated.
3. The pressure to merge Behavioural Data with Attitudinal Measures will increase.

Most of us believe we have our own opinions, preferences, beliefs. Much of what the article quoted suggests, as does Behavioural Economics, is that we don't really have access to our decision making processes. Asking us questions is fine - we have an image of ourselves, that's an important piece of data - but we increasingly need to look at the behavioural evidence of the same person for a methodological reality check.  How long will it be before sampling methods allow us to easily match behavioural data with attitudinal data, I wonder? The two need merging sooner rather than later.

In conclusion: thought-provoking work coming from the broad area of Behavioural Economics has again made me appreciate the complexity of what we set out to do as professionals - understand and predict behaviour - whilst sensitizing to the fragility of some of our tools. 

It's potentially overwhelming: our subjects' viewpoints are fleeting, contextually derived and influenced highly by people who we probably haven't included in our datasets. Hmm.

It's important to remember that however complex the world is, however many cognitive biases we are aware of, Management is looking to MR to help solve problems, essentially to simplify, not highlight potential complexities that we don't have the answers to. 

To continue thriving, Market Research needs to outline the limitations and constraints of the methodology employed, and within that be bold and articulate in stating our views, recommendation Actions.

Curious, as ever, as to others' views.
17 February 2013, 17:59
Apple loses some of its polish to Samsung and it has nothing to do with price

Posted by: Robert Passikoff, President, Brand Keys, Inc

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For those of you who missed it, we announced the results of our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI) last week. There were actually some seismic shifts in how consumers view categories and brands, and products and services that used to be brands and now aren't.

The biggest finding though, was if you wanted to be successful as a brand generally, and end up high on the loyalty list specifically, which comes with a raft of really good stuff including sales and profitability, you needed to establish a high degree of emotional engagement. What "emotional engagement" is depends upon the category in which your product or service competes. "Emotional engagement" is different category-to-category. You don't buy a soft drink the same way you buy a smartphone, and emotional engagement relates directly to "brand" and what the brand stands for or is able to stand for in its category.

14 February 2013, 10:18
Could American Airlines + US Airways end up as US American Airwaylines?

Posted by: Robert Passikoff, President, Brand Keys, Inc

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It looks as if US Airways and American Airlines are going to merge very soon. That merger would put them ahead of Delta (that purchased Northeast, then merged with Western, bought Pan Am routes, and finally merged with Northwest) and United (that kept it simple and just merged with Capital with Continental).

This new, combined airline would create the US's biggest airline, bringing the number of major airlines down to only 3 main carriers and a handful of budget carriers. And a bunch of regionals. And while the consolidations have resulted in service cuts in certain markets, the airlines have also become more profitable.

12 February 2013, 09:39
What can market research learn from English rugby?

Posted by: Edward Appleton, Senior Manager Consumer Insights, Coca Cola Gmbh

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Anyone who follows rugby will be aware of the transformation that the English national team has undergone since the new coach, Stuart Lancaster, was appointed roughly 12 months ago.

After years of turgid displays, disappointments, defeats and false dawns, with new Coaches being appointed and sacked without achieving much, it seems like the the team that won the World Cup back in 2004 has finally rediscovered its form. They recently beat World Champions New Zealand by a record score, and last weekend soundly beat a very solid Scotland side.

11 February 2013, 17:18

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