Addition by Subtraction

It has been almost two years since this blog was updated. The last post before this one went up in July 2014. Absolutely no new content was added in 2015. This is noteworthy because, despite going completely dark, views on the blog increased 33% in 2015 over the previous year. September of 2015, more than one year after the last post was added, was our highest traffic month ever. There appears to be an inverse relationship between the success of this endeavor and my level of direct involvement with it. (Some might say this is a persistent pattern in my life.)

2016-04-17 14.15.29

The numbers don’t lie: laziness and inaction lead to dramatic growth.

I found the growth surprising, but what really shocked me about it was that the gains were driven almost entirely by the popularity of a single post — a look back at the “Coffee Achievers” ad campaign from the 1980s. Each month since it was posted, the Coffee Achievers post has significantly outdrawn every other post on the blog. That’s probably because not a lot has been written about the campaign, so somebody searching for information about it online will find a link to the post fairly high in their Google search results. Of course, the fact that such searches are even taking place leads one to the uncomfortable conclusion that I’m not the only person in the world weird enough to care about a thirty-year old ad campaign that shows Ken Anderson and Cicely Tyson sipping coffee.

That conclusion in turn leads me to believe that perhaps there is more of an appetite for arcane marketing-related weirdness, nostalgia and snark than I thought possible when I first started the blog. With that in mind, I am encouraged to dust off the keyboard and start posting again. That decision might kill all the momentum created by me being away for 20 months, but so be it.  The Marketing Smart Aleck blog is once again open for business.




Intercept Interviewing | Mickey Mouse Style

Where does the Marketing Smart Aleck go on vacation? Why, to the The Most Marketing-est Place On Earth, of course! This post from the RMS Research Bunker Blog recounts the market research lessons from my recent trip to Walt Disney World.

The Research Bunker

I’m always thinking about market research, even when I’m on vacation. During my most recent vacation, I wound up thinking about it a lot. Last week, my family and I visited the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.  During our stay, I noticed that the Disney Research team had a very strong contingent of intercept survey interviewers out in all of the various parks as well as in the Downtown Disney shopping area. My wife and I were each approached by interviewers several times and there were perhaps half a dozen occasions when I passed by interviewers surveying other people.

Cinderella's Castle

Disney conducting intercept surveys at their parks did not surprise me, but the sheer volume of activity naturally caught my attention. And of course, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in the research because I was curious to see how a huge, global organization approached something that is…

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Higher Education Trends: The Cost of Not Going to College

This is a post I wrote for the RMS Research Bunker Blog about a recent study that quantified the economic differences between graduates and non-graduates. Even as someone who has been involved in higher education market research for more than a decade, and as someone employed at a university, I was a little surprised at the level of disparity. The situation faced by much of the American workforce is, frankly, worrying and in my personal opinion, calls for a solution beyond simply “college for everyone.” That said, this research serves as a powerful counter-argument against those who believe that the payoff of a college education no longer exists.

The Research Bunker

Over the past few years, there has been a growing concern that high education costs combined with uncertain employment prospects for recent graduates have created a situation where a college degree is no longer worth the cost. The Research Bunker Blog addressed this topic in a post last year about fiscal challenges in higher education. Our main observation at the time was while the ROI for a degree might not be what it once was, there was still undeniably a need for a college educated workforce. Findings from a recent study by the Pew Research Center have reinforced that idea, and suggest that although the cost of going to college is considerable, the cost of not going is increasingly severe.

The study examined the differences between “Millennial” (age 25 to 32) college graduates and their peers with less educational attainment. It also incorporated an analysis that tracked the results of how…

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The Inseparability of Services | Marketing Concepts

This is a piece I wrote for the RMS Research Bunker Blog about a basic concept that service-based businesses should (but don’t always) keep in mind.

The Research Bunker

In addition to working as an analyst at RMS, I am an adjunct faculty member at the SUNY Oswego School of Business. This semester, I am teaching a section of a course called Marketing Principles. One great thing about teaching an introductory course is that it requires me to think a lot about the basics of marketing. Every week I get to take a fresh look at the foundational concepts that I had come to take for granted over the years and think about how they apply to our clients at RMS. That happened last night when I was reviewing the course textbook and came across the section that talked about a concept called the inseparability of services.

inseparability of services Your Product is our People

Inseparability refers to the idea that in a customer’s mind, a service is essentially indistinguishable from the person providing it. This is another way of saying…

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5 Ways Multigenerational Households Impact Market Research

Do you know somebody who lives under the same roof with their adult children? Or their elderly parents? Or their grandchildren? Or maybe all of the above? Chances are good that you do, since it’s a part of growing trend of multigenerational households in the U.S.

This is a post I wrote for The Research Bunker Blog about multigenerational households and their impact on market research. The snark content is lower than what you’ll usually find here, but the post is still loaded with creamy marketing goodness.

The Research Bunker

As market researchers, we in the Research Bunker are always interested in changes in the way people live. Those changes will invariably have an impact on their behavior as consumers and on our approaches to researching them. One trend that has been evident for about a decade and appears to be picking up steam is the rise of multigenerational households.

The U.S. Census Bureau has defined multigenerational households as family households consisting of three or more generations.  In a Community Survey Brief published in 2012, the Census Bureau outlined three main types of multigenerational households as follows:

  1. Includes a householder, a parent or parent-in-law of the householder, and a child of the householder.
  2. Includes a householder, a child of the householder, and a grandchild of the householder.
  3. Includes a householder, a parent or parent-in-law of the householder, a child of the householder, and a grandchild of the householder.

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Market Research Break

As you may or may not know, when I’m not writing this blog or teaching, I am a market research analyst. My first jobs in that field were specifically media research for newspapers. As such, I place a lot of value in readership surveys.

The Marketing Smart Aleck Blog has now been around for a couple months and consists of 20 posts. That seems like a good milestone at which to stop and solicit some reader feedback. Please take a moment to fill out this poll. All answers are anonymous and confidential. And don’t worry about hurting my feelings if your answer is less than glowing. I am nothing if not thick-skinned.

If you have any specific suggestions for improvement, I’d love to hear it. Just leave a comment below. (Unfortunately, comments are not anonymous.)

Thanks in advance for your honest feedback. It will help me make this a better reading experience for everyone.