Insight Bytes is the official MRIA blog, capturing data, insights, and stories by research professionals from across Canada.

Our monthly newsletter is shared across all MRIA-ARIM's communications channels. Do you want to add your voice to the mix of innovations with a thoughtful and well-researched blog post? We want to hear from you!

To feature your latest research project, ideas or perspective in this space, please contact MRIA-ARIM's Chief Editor Arundati Dandapani with subject "blogs" at info@mria-arim.ca. 

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  • 10/19/2020 10:23 PM | Arundati Dandapani (Administrator)

    By Cristina Onosé, MA, CIPP.C, CIPM

    The rapid adoption of technologies amid the current pandemic has pushed privacy and security to the forefront of key public policy issues. Several provinces have already announced their intent to introduce or update privacy laws, pressuring the federal government to speed up (already planned) privacy law reforms. Here are three (3) important public policy developments to which organizations need to pay close attention.

    1. A new privacy law for Ontario?

    The Ontario government recently wrapped up a public consultation seeking input from industry, consumer groups and others on the potential need for a made-in-Ontario, private-sector privacy law. This idea is certainly not a new one; in 2018, a private members bill was introduced detailing draft privacy rules that would apply to businesses operating in Ontario, but was suspended following the provincial elections which saw a new government come to power. Other provinces, including Alberta, BC and Quebec, have already enacted provincial privacy laws deemed substantially similar to Canada’s Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). 

    Ontario’s new privacy commissioner, Patricia Kosseim, is overall supportive of the provincial government’s initiative which in her opinion “recognizes modern business realities of different-sized organizations and aims to solve problems rather than add to the regulatory load”. The government initiative includes several considerations: (1) Increased Consent and Clear Transparency, (2) Data Rights: Erasure and Portability, (3) Oversight, Enforcement, and Fines, (4) Application to Non-commercial Organizations, (5) Deidentified Personal Information and Data Derived from Personal Information, and (6) Exploring the possibility of ‘data trusts’ to enable data sharing. 

    An overlap in requirements and enforcement between provincial and federal regulations can potentially increase costs and regulatory headaches for businesses. Many of Ontario’s recommendations are either currently provided under PIPEDA (e.g. consent, transparency, etc. albeit to various extents), or are currently being assessed (e.g. right to be forgotten, data portability, etc.) by the federal government as part of upcoming reforms to PIPEDA.

    2. Quebec embraces GDPR-like updates to its privacy law

    In June 2020, the Quebec government tabled Bill 64, an Act to modernize the Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector (the “Quebec Privacy Act”). If enacted, Bill 64 will expose companies to significant financial penalties and damages which may be similar, if not even more severe than those prescribed by the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

    Concerns regarding the Bill’s impacts on organizations are further amplified by the fact that many of the proposed provisions not only meet many of GDPR’s prescriptive standards, but in some cases even surpass them. For example, the proposed consent requirements would require organizations to seek consent for each specific purpose, separately from any other information. The GDPR does not have such complex requirements, nor does it treat consent as the primary authority for processing personal information. 

    Undoubtedly, organizations operating in Quebec could be severely impacted by these reforms. It would not be surprising to see many of them move operations outside of the province to avoid the legal, financial and operational challenges that they would have to face if the Bill passes in its current form. 

    3. Federal Privacy Commissioner continues to push for PIPEDA reform in pandemic 

    In a recent op-ed, Federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien argues that the increased use of technology amid the current pandemic highlights important privacy risks for Canadians. In his opinion, new laws are “urgently needed that allow technologies to produce benefits in the public interest while ensuring fundamental rights such as privacy will be protected”. In other words, Commissioner Therrien says our current federal laws do not provide a level of protection suited to the digital environment.

    It is not the first time we’re seeing the Commissioner push for changes to PIPEDA, nor for recognizing privacy as a human right. The op-ed makes the case that our current privacy laws are drafted largely as data protection statutes rather than as laws that protect and promote the exercise of a broad range of rights. Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn’t expressly make privacy a fundamental right, although the Courts do require private and public sector bodies to protect the collection of personal data and report data breaches.

    Important changes to PIPEDA are coming. The federal government’s current digital agenda includes reforms to PIPEDA. ISED, the ministry overseeing this process has already consulted with industry (including PwC) and other groups over the past 2 years. Understandably, other files have taken priority due to the current pandemic but it is clear from the provincial developments highlighted above (and proposed privacy reforms in BC) that PIPEDA reforms need to be fast-tracked. 

    What’s next?

    The provincial developments point to the possibility of competing private-sector privacy rules across Canada that could result in conflicting rules, increased costs and business uncertainty. Although provincial privacy laws can help bridge regulatory gaps with PIPEDA, a strong national law is essential to reduce red tape and unnecessary regulatory business. This is not to say that provincial privacy protections are not needed, but the main source of privacy rights for Canadians needs to come from the federal level. The provinces can then help fill the gaps. 

    Recent Regulatory Resources:

    About the Author:

    Cristina is part of the Cybersecurity, Privacy and Financial Crimes team at PwC Canada where she holds a dual role as Lead for Privacy Advocacy and Thought Leadership, as well as Cyber Threat Intelligence. She works with organizations to optimize their privacy and security programs, enhance consumer trust, ensure compliance with applicable privacy and security requirements, and intelligently assess cyber threats.

    Source: LinkedIn Pulse

  • 10/15/2020 6:38 AM | Arundati Dandapani (Administrator)

    By Richard Boire

    In these most difficult times, the use of analytics is certainly not top of mind for most organizations, unless it is being used to combat the virus. The challenging scenarios of meeting payroll and having access to cash are the obvious immediate priorities. But from a non-analytics perspective, like most people, I am amazed by the many acts of giving and generosity that really speak to the better angels of our nature. 

    But we will overcome these challenges and being the constant optimist that I am, this will happen sooner rather than later. In this new post COVID-19 environment, it is not unrealistic to assume that the way consumers behave and think will be transformed significantly. Of course, this has ramifications when conducting analytics exercises. Virtually all data analytics exercises deal with historical and longitudinal data. The development of models, segmentation systems, and / or reports all use historical data in their solutions. Given that much of the power of predictive analytics / machine learning solutions arises from longitudinal or historical data, this all begs the question of how we deal with data and specifically consumer behaviour data prior to, during, and after the COVID-19 crisis.

    As I thought about this, I was reminded of the last crisis that seemed to galvanize our collective consciousness and made us reflect on what is truly important in our lives. That was the 9/11 crisis. During that time, this newfound awareness did impact consumer behaviour. My organization at that time was asked multiple times about the 9/11 impact on our analytics exercises especially the more advanced analytics exercises such as the many predictive models that we had built. In other words, would model performance be significantly compromised because of these changes? 

    Our perspective in evaluating model performance was to observe the increased targeting capability where top scored names are most likely to yield the desired behaviour and the bottom scored names are least likely to yield the desired behaviour. If we place these scored names into model deciles, then the top decile should have the strongest observed behaviour while the bottom decile should have the weakest observed behaviour.  Essentially, the model can then be evaluated based on how well the model rank orders scored names based on the observed modeled behaviour. 

    Pictured below is a graph example of a response model to target existing customers in the purchase of an insurance-related product.  

    In this above example, we observe the same response model being applied during normal times and then being applied right after 9/11. In this example, the model has eroded as the slope of the line has decreased indicating the model’s reduced rank-ordering capability.

    Pictured below in this second figure is another insurance response model example of a situation where again there has been a change in performance before and after 9/11.

    Yet in this scenario, we observe that overall response rate performance has deteriorated post 9/11 but the model itself continues to perform as the slope of the line is still the same indicating no decrease in the model’s rank ordering capability. But this scenario is more highly unlikely as model erosion really represents the most likely scenario after some major crisis. 

    These examples above serve to highlight the fact that analytics solutions can change quite dramatically and for the worse both from an overall perspective and from a modelling perspective. The erosion of model performance during and after a crisis is somewhat intuitive as consumer behaviour is not continuous throughout the population. Certain characteristics about consumer behaviour such as their age, where they live, income, etc.  may all be impacted differently by an extraordinary situation.  As data scientists who are always trying to mathematically assign weights to these variables based on patterns in the data, this becomes a flawed option as we know these data patterns have now undergone significant change. 

    So, what are the options for analytics practitioners?  For many experienced practitioners, simplicity as a philosophy has always been core to what we do. Capitalizing on this notion of simplicity, one of the first concepts of basic analytics is the use of indexing where a specific consumer behaviour or demographic of an individual is compared to that same consumer behaviour or demographic of a group. A classic example of this is the use of RFM where each consumer is indexed on recency of last activity, frequency of activities, and the average amount purchased for a given activity. These indexes are then combined into one overall index. Look at the example below.


    In this simple example above, we are assuming that each behaviour (R, F, M) are equally weighted in calculating the overall index of 4.4. The use of an index is less sensitive to great changes in the data environment as we are simply trying to determine the relative difference between the individual’s behaviour relative to the behaviour of the group. Given today’s digital environment, one can translate these activities to R: recency since last visit to the website, F: # of visits to website, and M: average duration per visit.

    We have used this type of indexing or comparative approach multiple times and not always when there has been an extraordinary global event.  For example, many organizations will undergo significant changes in their corporate strategy which will dramatically impact consumer behaviour and the accompanying data environment. In these situations, we have developed indexes based on customer value and change in customer value or behaviour change. 

    Of course, in a more stable data environment, this indexed approach is sub-optimal as the advanced machine learning and deep learning technologies can really leverage the abundance of data that is now available at our fingertips. But as we enter this new post COVID phase, analytics practitioners need to be very cognizant of a more unstable data environment. As I have conveyed to fellow practitioners and students for many years, data science is about identifying patterns in the data. But if these patterns are undergoing significant changes, then a more simple and pragmatic approach such as indexing can be a very useful targeting tool in a sub-optimal data environment.  

    About the Author:

    Richard Boire is the President of Boire Analytics, has over thirty years of experience in the data science and analytics industries as one of the pioneers in the predictive analytics space in Canada, and has been a long-time contributor to the MRIA. 

  • 09/30/2020 8:04 PM | Arundati Dandapani (Administrator)

    By Wasim Baobaid

    Almost three out of ten small and medium businesses have successfully increased their sales during the COVID-19 period by using online marketing channels. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), there was a recent study among small and medium businesses which found that the economy was lifting up during COVID-19 because of them. This report explores the Middle East’s public opinion before the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey estimates were from late June and early September 2020. Since the Middle Eastern culture is different from the Far East and North America, this report will offer some important understanding of how people think in the Middle East, and how they have reacted to this pandemic. 

    The largest share of population in the Middle East think it will take up to a year to get back to the pre-COVID-19 normal. The younger generation (between 18-24 years) in the UAE do not believe their lives will get back to normal at all.  More than half of the participants think this pandemic is worse than what they thought at the beginning of the crisis. This blog post will highlight findings from studies by Ipsos and local researchers in other countries in the Middle East. 

    Returning to Normal: Attitudes Post-Lockdown in the Middle East


    A survey by Ipsos Egypt released on September 1, 2020 revealed that close to four in ten (37%) Egyptians believed it will take between 6 months to a year to get back to normal.  Thirty eight percent of women agreed compared with 36 percent of men, while close to a quarter of all Egyptians say that it may take only 3 to 5 months to recover.

    COVID-19’s impact on different demographics revealed that the country’s health, economy and personal financial was worse than what citizens had expected. So, to balance the situation, 5 in 10 people prefer to slow down the spread of the virus and preserve the economy as much as possible, until the pandemic is over. In resilient times, people try to grow the proverbial camel’s hump. 

    More than half of all Egyptians did not expect the country’s health (56 percent), the economic situation (50 percent) and their personal situation (51 percent) to be worse than what it is actually now. These are indicators of the unprecedented nature of crisis and how its impact shocked the public. 

    Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) 

    More than half of the population in Saudi Arabia believe that there should be a balance between slowing down the spread of the virus and trying to uphold the economy as best as possible. However, 38 percent feel that the spread of the virus should be stopped completely even if it means keeping the country in total lockdown.

    Thirty one percent believe that it will take between 3 to 5 months to feel like things are getting back to normal, while 44 percent see that it will take between 6 months and a year. Even with things going back to normal, the majority say that they will either make small permanent changes in their lives or change many things about the way they lived before the lockdown.

    United Arab Emirates (UAE)

    More than half of the people surveyed in the UAE believe that it will take between 6 to 12 months for things to return to normal post the lockdown. Even with life returning to normal, the majority say that they will either make small permanent changes in their lives or change many things about how they lived before lockdown. While people were divided between those who are comfortable going back to work (53 percent) and those who are not (47 percent), the vast majority still did not feel at ease dining out, going to the gym, cinema, attending live events, or even leaving home without a mask.

    Life in the Shadow of COVID-19

    The Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi  (one of the United Arab Emirates) announced the final results of the survey it conducted in light of the emerging Corona Virus, and which was launched with the aim of analyzing the conditions accompanying the repercussions of the epidemic, and identifying community life patterns and bringing them to the attention of decisionmakers.

    The results among families indicated that 87 percent of the participants had to change in their lifestyles as a result of the epidemic, and the most prominent change cited was staying away from public places. While 80 percent considered that the crisis contributed to strengthening their family relationships and spending more time with their children. Ninety nine percent of the participants said that they encouraged their family members to take the necessary measures to protect against the virus.

    At the community level, 99 percent of the participants also confirmed that they believe in the need to cooperate with the government and all members of society to successfully confront this crisis, and 99 percent stated that facing the crisis is everyone’s responsibility, while 41 percent affirmed their desire to volunteer in the field of distributing medical needs and helping the elderly. Dr. Mona Al-Bahr, Advisor to the Head of the Community Development Department of Abu Dhabi, said: “The participation of community members showed positive and effective results in the first questionnaire (Life in Light of the Coronavirus), and accordingly we analyzed the inputs and studied the effects of the pandemic on the family and society through a set of research and scientific tools. By soliciting appropriate solutions from all partners from the relevant  authorities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, taking into consideration the conditions of the previous period, there was an actual impact made on the ground during different phases of the pandemic, through initiatives and temporary solutions for each period.

    Small Companies in the Emirates are the Most Sustainable 

    Small and medium-sized companies in the UAE have achieved a very high percentage in the continuity of their business and the ability to generate revenues during the crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, according to a recent survey conducted by Facebook in partnership with the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

    According to the study entitled The Global Status Report of Small Businesses, small companies in the UAE achieved very positive results in business continuity despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and the results of the survey indicated that 65 percent of small and medium-sized companies in the Emirates are still continuing their activities. These businesses have been able to maintain their revenue-generating business activities.

    Sixty-one percent of managers of small and medium-sized companies in the Emirates predicted optimism regarding the future of their companies after the pandemic.

    The survey results also showed that 40 percent of small and medium-sized companies in the UAE achieved at least 25 percent of their sales during the past 30 days through digital channels.

    Coping Beyond the Pandemic

    The majority of survey participants cited believe that the norm will take a long time to return, and a majority of younger respondents think that their lives will never return to normal. Respondents in some studies praised the efforts of small and medium sized businesses to support the economy during the COVID-19 period, and six out of ten small business owners are optimistic about the future of their company after COVID-19.

    More than 50,000 participants from citizens and residents of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi participated in the “Life in the Shadow of Coronavirus” survey, and the department launched the questionnaire in early April 2020, and the results suggested solutions to the challenges that coincided with the pandemic. The final results showed the participation of 52.3 percent of females and 47.7 percent of males, and that 95 percent confirmed their knowledge of preventive measures to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Wasim Baobaid is a Public Opinion Research Coordinator at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and a graduate of Algonquin College's Marketing Research and Business Intelligence Program (2019-20)

  • 08/03/2020 9:37 PM | Arundati Dandapani (Administrator)

    By Todd Kirby

    "The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by the Canadian communication thinker Marshall McLuhan and introduced in his Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964. McLuhan proposes that a communication medium itself, not the messages it carries, should be of primary focus.

    The pendulum has officially swung.  The marketing research business, pre-COVID-19, has been digitally transformed.  This, to many Canadian brands, has meant a shift to prioritizing short-term analytics over long-term brand growth.  The age of COVID should spark a reconsideration of these priorities.  Four points signal this change: 

    1. The ‘Big Data’ Analytic Fascination

    According to ESOMAR, the Canadian market research industry has consistently been flat to declining (-2.2%), valued at US$344 Million  in 2019.  And this was pre-COVID.  According to their latest report, over 40% of surveyed research companies in Canada expect a “BIG negative disruption” to their revenues due to COVID-19. This supports the expected “relegation of consumer insights to a secondary place in the business cycle”.  

    In truth, this relegation has already been under way.  Secondary Analyses, and not Quant or Qual research, account for 19% of Canada’s research spending.  As a proportion of that country’s research market, that’s #2 globally - trailing only New Zealand (23%).

    Source: ESOMAR Global Market Research, 2019 (Table 9.4.1) 

    Big Data Analytics is great for short-term tactical validation of ad dollars.  It can - and should - inform real-time adjustments to campaign media weight, creative rotation, and spend allocations. Media Weight refers to the media ad industry standard estimating how much exposure is attributed to each medium/property, typically expressed as Rating Points or Impressions.  Creative Rotation refers to the amount of media exposure estimated to each advertisement or unit.

    However, for long-term tracking of business outcomes, it is critical to incorporate the impact of brands - media entertainment brands, and marketer brands - into study. Without this piece, marketers risk missing the long tail of business success that evolves from brand legacy, partnership, and cohesion. For example, "according to a Kantar/BrandZ analysis following the 2008 financial crisis, strong brands recovered NINE TIMES faster than the market standard” (see chart below).

    Source: Kantar/BrandZ Analysis

    2. Brand Meaning in the age of COVID

    In a 2020 survey from Edelman, 68% of Canadians say “being able to trust a brand today is more important than in the past.”  This involves an expectation of action, but also perception. It’s important to note that brand legacy + brand action is what matters.  We’ve seen, for example, that reporting from Pre-COVID on unsanitary working conditions can inform Post-COVID perceptions, despite that company’s best efforts.  

    We all know that actions speak louder than words, but those words are important when put in the context of brand legacy.  Generally speaking, brands that have significant Brand Trust/Credibility are given a “halo” credit for their Post-COVID responses.  As researchers, we must take effort to contextualize data in this way.  

    3. Measuring Media as Brands

    Are media entities considered brands?  Wholeheartedly, yes.  If it is true that brands are but a “collection of perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings in the mind of the consumer”(Internal ad agency training document), then media content, properties, events, etc. are indeed brands.  We started demonstrating this decades ago, and the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan made this a centerpiece of his work.   So, then, why is the ‘media brand’ piece still lacking from our marketing research studies?  We study CLIENT and ADVERTISER brand tracking, brand lift, brand ROI, brand attributes, brand awareness, and brand consideration - but these are independent of any impact from media/entertainment/content/tech.  

    As the streaming wars dictate our landscape, new brands, new patterns, new personalities, and new equities will be formed.  Already, we’re seeing some parsing, for example, that Disney+ is not just catering to kids, but sci fi (Star Wars), fantasy (MCU), and Broadway (Hamilton) fans.  New data needs to collect, analyze, and integrate new consumer assumptions and attachments, seek to quantify relevance and engagements.  This data will bring new, contextualized-for-COVID paths to grow client revenues.  

    4. Evolved KPIs: “I don't get up caught in the win-loss record because it's kind of fluky.” — Cy Young Award Winner, Max Scherzer

    COVID-19 resurfaces the need for insight.  Before we jump to a ‘New Normal’ that already seems preconfigured, we need to reset and align with the greater populace.  Let’s slow our roll a bit.  There is mass confusion, uncertainty, and anxiety.  Foundations are being challenged.  There’s lots to be figured out first.  And that is our fertile mining ground for insight.  The graphic below illustrates this well: 

    But how? The time is now for the marketing research industry to use its digital agility for creative solutions.   We should not be constrained by the past.  We have flexibility in mixed method research.  Nowadays, social communities can be measured with quantitative breadth, and qualitative depth.  In the same study.  And reasonably priced.  

    We can use AI to help predict the impact of media brands on wins and losses.  And we can use behaviuoral techniques to see what’s not readily seen through a single-sided piece of glass.  

    Not unlike how we think about standard brands, quantifying relevance and engagement with media brands (in concert with our brand work) will surface more truthful insight. 

    A Final Plea

    It’s time to move our industry forward.  The COVID-19 world is here. It’s a rare chance to reset.  To gain a new benchmark and to mark that as the ‘New Normal’.  What matters most for clients is the ability to make better decisions. If we implore a return to strategic insight, we must commit to its success.  That means finding and coaching experts in the space, hiring multilateral researchers who are comfortable with hybrid methods.  Who are comfortable working with diverse perspectives in finding a story within the data, and then articulating that story in a compelling way for clients.  


    Todd Kirby is a senior Research & Insight VP from the digital startup, media agency and publisher worlds based in New Jersey, USA. He is seeking a lead Insight Strategist/Practitioner role to drive growth. His forte is in understanding how media, advertising, and technology resonate with clients, brands, and audiences across all industries. 

  • 07/12/2020 5:58 PM | Arundati Dandapani (Administrator)

    Here's a quick feature of a couple of post-event questions in the realms of data science storytelling from attendees at our recently concluded webinar.  

    Prannoy D'souza: What is your advice when the stories are weak or nothing stands out in the data? Unfortunately it does happen :(

    Laura Warren: Generally speaking, when we say a story is weak what we really mean is that it hasn’t met our expectation. (A personal truth.) We wanted the data to say something, and are at loose ends when it doesn’t. When that happens, I suggest we reframe what’s happening. It’s not a weak story, it’s just not what we were expecting. Step back and identify what we were expecting and why. If the data didn’t prove that theory, why is that? What does that teach us about the original problem – why should we care? What will we do next to resolve the original problem? Your story lies there.

    Weak stories are simply those that don’t connect the dots between problem, finding, and action. If we change our perspective on what we’re trying to communicate, every analysis, regardless of the finding, can become a strong story.

    Khalid Hasan: We see currently (due to COVID) many of the research agencies moving from statistics based sampling to web-based sampling (not so much statistically representative). Therefore, data is not representative, may be biased, but they are showing those data. People are interpreting those data. What do you think?

    Laura Warren: Here’s the thing. The reality is that in the absence of data, it can sometimes feel like any data is good enough. The more caution that needs to be used with the data, the greater the responsibility of the provider to tell a clear story; to clearly communicate both the potential and limitations of the information, and the appropriate actions based on the findings.

    It’s a scary time for a lot of businesses (and people) right now. From a human perspective, I empathize with the need for *any* data to help make sense of what’s happening. Because of that, I think the onus is on research providers to make a clear distinction between bad, good enough, and ideal data sets. Bad or misleading data stays in the bin. Good enough data is carefully shared with a strong story to minimize the risk of misinterpretation – what it means, what it doesn’t mean, and what you should do about it. (Channel your internal Dr. Anthony Fauci. He does this really well.) Ideal data is shared widely and proudly with a clear purpose, explanation, and action. If guidance is not given by the provider, then the receiver tells their own story. And that’s where it gets dangerous. Minimize the risk by owning the story at the outset.

    Laura Warren is the Founder and CEO of Storylytics. You can connect with her here.

  • 06/21/2020 10:26 PM | Arundati Dandapani (Administrator)

    The State of a Loyalty Consumer Tracking Study from Bond Brand Loyalty

    By Nicole Jarrett

    The COVID-19 global pandemic has intrinsically affected the way that people are going about their everyday lives. In order to reduce the spread of this virus, people must stay home, which ultimately impacts the way that consumers shop and interact with brands. Bond Brand Loyalty (Bond) has insight into how the pandemic is affecting the way businesses should be operating in this new normal and how loyalty programs can support retailers.

    Bond has captured regular snapshots of what’s changing and what to prepare for in order to ensure that companies are ready for the new normal going forward. A survey was fielded on March 16th (Wave 1) to understand the initial impact of consumer behaviour due to stay home measures. A second, third and fourth survey were fielded on March 20th (Wave 2), April 22nd (Wave 3) and May 8th (Wave 4) to evaluate the quickly changing situation. 

    Waves 1 and 2 assessed how consumer attitudes, behaviors and needs evolved as the crisis developed. We saw people tightening their wallets, planning to spend less while shifting their spending more online rather than in physical locations.  A shift to e-commerce found greater demand for grocery and restaurant delivery as people were forced to adjust to new means of purchasing behaviour. This included an increase in the appeal for contactless payments and moving away from the physical exchange of cash and point of sale terminals. Consumers demonstrated a growing concern for health and safety protocols in physical store locations while a stronger affinity towards loyalty programs has raised expectations for the brand and the loyalty program to execute strong pandemic response strategies. Now as we prepare for recovery, Wave 3 reports that there remains a crisis of confidence returning to many sectors while Wave 4 discusses the precautionary measures that will rebuild confidence.

    Overall there was an increase in Canadians who reported they would be decreasing their spending due to the pandemic. From Wave 1 to Wave 2 there was a significant increase of 13% in the number of Canadians planning to spend less money in the next 3 months, and this continued to increase by an additional 3% into the Wave 3 report. There was also a greater shift to online shopping and the demand for contactless delivery increased. As the situation progressed between all fielding periods, we also saw that travel plans were increasingly disrupted. 

    Graphics from Wave 1 / Wave 2


    Graphics from Wave 3


    When consumers were asked if they were considering other loyalty programs during the pre-COVID state, 11% of consumers agreed. In Wave 1, when asked this same question only 6% of consumers agreed, and by Wave 2 it had significantly increased to 8%. This tells us that during the COVID-19 situation,  affinity for loyalty programs is stronger than ever before, however, affinity is difficult to sustain without adjusting for customer relevance. When asked about their satisfaction on loyalty program response strategies, consumers reported a significant increase from Wave 1 to Wave 2 from 19% to 26%. By Wave 3 this significantly dropped lower than ever before to 15%; whereas, in the pre- COVID-19 world, satisfaction with loyalty programs was at 33%. This tells us that consumers are expecting more from their loyalty programs and that programs need to focus on their response strategies. 

    Graphic from Wave 3


    We analyzed a number of COVID-19 response strategies such as taking extra measures to ensure the health and safety of physical locationsreinforcing that the brand is still open for business, and tracking and complying with evolving regulatory guidelines. Almost all studied strategies saw increased importance in the eyes of consumers between Wave 1 and Wave 2. When compared to consumer satisfaction with how programs were performing on delivering these strategies, complying with regulatory guidelinesensuring health and safety in physical locations and supporting local communities were all underperforming. Meanwhile, reinforcing that the brand is still open and asking for understanding while program employees take leave were variables that were performing well. As the crisis evolved, loyalty programs went to many familiar places in their response strategies like communicating the stability of points and policies and protection of status and benefits. At this time, what remains top of mind for members were safety and security, compliance and community support, suggesting the opportunity areas that loyalty programs should focus on. 

    Graphic from Wave 1 / Wave 2

    In Wave 3, we saw that credit card reward programs were falling behind on their response strategies as compared to non-payment loyalty programs. Loyalty programs performed significantly higher on sending relevant communicationsoffering relevant rewards/benefits and staying connected. Wave 3 also reported that while the value exchange had grown increasingly important, programs can look beyond saving customers money in order to gain their loyalty. Now more than ever, consumers are seeking great service and security when it comes to their brand relations. Consumers also indicated that they are more comfortable with the idea of returning to banks and specialty retailers in the next month while more than half of consumers were not comfortable with returning to other sectors like restaurants and airlines at all in the next month. Younger consumers aged 18-34 are more comfortable than other consumers with returning to other categories like Gyms and Fitness Studios, Taxi/Uber/Lyft and Airbnb.

    It is important to keep in mind that although more younger consumers are comfortable with returning to sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb, the level of comfort with returning to the sharing economy is lower than almost all other sectors. Before the pandemic outbreak, these brands were gaining momentum and disrupting traditional sectors of hospitality and automobility, however, given the lack of comfort there may not be a return to pre-COVID-19 levels of sharing economy usage anytime soon. This could benefit Hotel and Automotive brands greatly – two sectors where customers reported that they were far more comfortable returning to because of the active measures brands in those sectors are taking now to build trust.  


    Graphics from Wave 3


    In Wave 4, measures like providing handwashing stations and facilitating social distancing were deemed the most important to consumers purchasing from grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies. Females and individuals aged 55 and older tend to over-index on the importance of many measures while Ontario and Quebec residents – the provinces hit most heavily – reported curbside pickup and delivery options to be significantly more important measures than other provinces.  

    Pharmacies and grocers were found to be the locations for which consumers considered precautionary measures to be most important, while gas and convenience locations experienced lower expectations. In addition, consumers found that gas and convenience locations were falling short of their expectations when it came to the additional precautions taken while pharmacies and grocers were meeting expectations well. Specifically, Metro, Pharmasave, and CO-OP are the brands perceived to have the best precautions within their respective sectors while Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart and Ultramar reported below average within each sector. Among low performing brands, opportunities to improve precautionary measures include offering shopping appointments, improving delivery offerings and social distancing effortsthermal imaging camerascatering to loyal customers, and contactless payment. For many brands, there is an opportunity to improve their basic response strategies by focusing on these important measures. For all brands, there is a need to evolve customer experience strategies and the role of loyalty as we enter a new normal. 


    Graphics from Wave 4



    Due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic situation, it should be noted that this data reflects attitudes and behaviours during March, April and May 2020. There will be more insights to come on this topic, as Bond Brand Loyalty will be conducting future waves of COVID-19 research in order to understand how the situation continues to develop and how it affects businesses. 

    Source: Data provided from the Bond Data Lake, including data collected from three Waves of Bond’s (COVID-19) State of Consumer Loyalty Tracking Survey. March 16 (n=1,509); March 20 (n=1,514); April 22 (n=1,533); May 8 (n=1520)


     Author: Nicole Jarrett is a Research Analyst at Bond Brand Loyalty. 

  • 06/16/2020 4:29 PM | Arundati Dandapani (Administrator)

    By Zeynep Ayden and Vanessa Campbell

    Live entertainment has been dramatically altered by shelter-in-place mandates, and for the foreseeable future, federal and provincial governments will limit the extent of public gatherings. In the best of scenarios, this means a reduced audience, if not the total absence of one. All performance arts, as well as sports, are now faced with the awkwardness and challenges of performing in this diminished environment.

    We have chosen to focus on the challenge of spectator-less spectator sports in Canada.

    So far, our series of articles on this topic has applied our versatile team’s different lenses on this challenge:

    • Foresight has provided a philosophy and a set of techniques to tackle the subject.
    • Behavioural Science has described some of the universal needs shared by sports fans everywhere.
    • Applied Ethnography has delved into the cultural context of spectator sports in Canada.

    With a tightly defined set of requirements provided by the above disciplines, the stage is set for Generative Design Research. Therefore, in this piece we will discuss analogous inspiration from around the world.

    What are some early attempts to reinject a sense of normalcy into live entertainment? And to what extent have each of those delivered on the needs we have identified? 

    Before we dive into the examples, we want to point to another layer of the challenge for sports. It is obvious that removing the background din from sports games makes it harder for players to get into the zone, and it impacts the enjoyment of fans watching sports on TV, as it becomes difficult to tell a real game from a practice game.

    There are also some secondary, less obvious consequences: A broadcast from an empty arena brings out elements of the game that would usually go largely unheard. There is nothing left to conceal the private team conversations or sometimes profane trash talk that spectators are not supposed to hear.

    All the more reason to send live entertainment organizers and broadcasters around the world scrambling for solutions.

    We have come across a few noteworthy attempts:

    • Canned crowd noise: Many TV sitcoms still feature recorded laugh tracks, and it drives some viewers nuts. To what extent will spectator sports benefit from superimposed cheering? Will TV audiences pick this version of the live broadcast, if given the option? Or will they embrace the eerily quiet version of their game as “unplugged sports”?
    • Virtual fans: Television networks are exploring ways to visually simulate packed stadiums for their broadcasts. We have seen weird, almost comical examples of cutout fans, mannequins and dolls used to populate empty stands. Adding CGI audiences in post-production is likely the most viable method to create a visual semblance of fans.

    However, none of the above can replicate the atmosphere of a stadium full of loud fans with genuine, real time reactions to the game. The social interaction that has traditionally been the lifeblood of spectator sports is still lacking.

    It seems that some technologies have come of age just in time for this crisis.

    • Virtual live performance settings: Musicians have created and used virtual concert halls with successful results during the pandemic. Digital auditoriums replicate all the sections and features found in brick and mortar concert halls, like vendor booths, performance stages and a “backstage” area where artists can take part in Q&A sessions.
    • Live streaming overlays: Twitch has emerged as a serious alternative to old-school, over-the-air broadcasters. The platform invites third parties to create “extensions” – overlays and other features that streamers can activate to interact with their viewers in different ways, for example by sharing real-time stats or holding a vote.
    • Live chat: The social interactive element is what distinguishes Twitch from “passive” video streaming services such as Netflix. People are not just interested in watching the content; they congregate around particular streamers and are encouraged to actively engage with them and other viewers by exchanging messages and emotes in a live chat.
    • Virtual movie nights: If you are stuck at home but still want to have a movie night with friends and family, the Netflix Party Chrome extension syncs up the video content across multiple devices. Netflix Party allows you to invite anyone you want, then syncs the stream between all participants. There is also a built-in text chat feature so “your party” can communicate while the video is playing.

    Some of these technologies can be used to improve the enjoyment of sport even in times of heightened security measures. And other low-tech, high touch solutions are serving as a source for inspiration.

    • Drive-in entertainment: The retro format of drive-in cinemas is having a resurgence in today’s socially distanced world. Drive-in concerts and parties have been popping up across the globe in recent months. This setup allows organizers to tap into the FM system and feed their soundtrack or content straight into car stereos.

    Now imagine a plot of land allocated to fans’ cars as an outdoor gathering place, like the Raptors’ Jurassic Park, but made for cars. The tailgate party becomes the main event… Could honking horns and flashing headlights replace cheering or heckling? What if the gathering of cars was right outside the stadium, or the action outside was broadcast back into the basketball court? Could this become the source of encouragement that players need?

    Source: LinkedIn Pulse



    Zeynep Ayden is Associate Vice Present at Research Strategy Group. Vanessa Campbell is Vice President of Design Research at Research Group. Read more over here

  • 05/30/2020 4:36 PM | Arundati Dandapani (Administrator)

    By Jonathan La Greca

    I have interviewed over 100 marketing and consumer and shopper insight leaders (herein insight leaders) from a variety of categories in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry since the crisis started.

    One things stood out more than anything else. The current economic impact of the crisis is a tsunami about to crash our shore in ways we have never seen before.

    This situation is much different from what we experienced in 2001 and 2008 and it requires marketers to ask a whole new set of questions, which I'll share below.

    If you would like the full report that has many more insights and ideas from the 100 marketing and consumer/shopper insight leaders interviewed, please post a comment below or send me a note.

    The Crisis Will Likely Have 3 Distinct Phases

    A common theme across organizations is that senior management has been asking questions more frequently since the crisis started.

    1. How long will the pandemic last and how can we help our consumers through it?
    2. How will the economic effects impact our category and how can we better communicate value?
    3. Which behaviors will revert back to the way they were prior to the crisis and which will endure beyond the crisis and what does this mean for our brand?

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    These questions indicate that there will be 3 distinct phases to the crisis.

    1. The Pandemic: This first phase came as an intense shock and now that we have adjusted to it for the most part, and society is cautiously opening up, we are moving into the next phase.
    2. The Great Repression: The era we are entering will be a combination of a harsh recession and repression due to a continued restricted reality. It could be further complicated if there are additional infection waves.
    3. A Brave New World: Human beings are resilient and we will find a way through this. Life will not go back to the way it was, but there will be tremendous new advances and opportunities that will unfold just as there were after 2001 and 2008

    We are now entering Phase 2 - the Great Repression and again, I would like to reinforce that we cannot use the same thinking that helped brands sustain profitability and market share in 2001 and 2008. This is the perfect storm of physical, emotional, and financial impact.

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    A recent report from McKinsey suggests that marketers need to think about 5 different horizons - Resolve, Resilience, Return, Reimagine, Reform. If you'd also like to get a copy of the McKinsey report, please comment below or send me a note.

    To ensure that your brand remains profitable and gains it fair share in an intense fight for shelf space and salience, you will need to ask the right questions during the Resilience horizon of this pandemic and recession.

    In the following sections, I'll share the key themes that leaders shared, as well the key questions you need to ask to ensure that your brands exhibit resilience as we head into this unprecedented Great Repression.

    A return to the basics and survival over sustainability, in the short-term.

    Life was turned upside down over night and immediately human beings found themselves trying to balance a whole new myriad of personal and professional duties.

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    One leader described it perfectly by saying, "I am trying to work through unprecedented business challenges, while also being a teacher, entertainer, and tech support for Google Classroom."

    In the first few weeks of the crisis, consumers focused on satisfying the lower rungs of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, prioritizing "safety over sustainability".

    As such they gravitated to brands that elicited emotions of "safety, familiarity, and trustworthiness".

    Brands that were shelf stable, center of the store, primarily positioned to meet at home occasions, and perhaps had advanced e-commerce or delivery services set up prior to the crisis performed extremely well, as shipment and consumption data sky rocketed.

    Brands that came into the crisis with strong visual cues and memory structures grew their share as shoppers were limited to quick decisions in a distressed shopping environment.

    An example of this was the nostalgic surge in "family classic" brands which opened up trial to new users, specifically younger cohorts.

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    As one leader stated, "At least for the short-term, there has been a focus on survival over sustainability, and a return to the basics, as consumers are focused on the things that truly matter."

    Here were the other questions marketers were asking about consumer attitudes and emotions:

    1. Is my brand currently making consumers feel safety, familiarity, and trustworthiness?
    2. How should I shift my communications away from the sea of sameness to create empathy while also ensuring that our brand is distinctive?
    3. My brand found itself on the right side of the pandemic and has been growing exponentially - how do we ensure that we keep up this momentum?

    No matter how good things are for you now, they're going to get tough, quick.

    As we move into Phase 2, and the recessionary period lurks from the shadows, all brands are going to face new pressures.

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    Overnight, many consumer usage occasions vanished and the majority of brands found themselves in a fierce fight for the few at-home occasions remaining in their category.

    As we shift from the pandemic into a recession, several leaders mentioned the work they are doing to assess the headwinds and tailwinds that their categories will face.

    Whether or not your brand grew during the pandemic, in Phase 2, no brand will be safe with fewer disposable dollars available and unemployment at historic levels.

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    As one leader said, "Even brands that find themselves on-trend related to hygiene, sanitation, health, or indoor/backyard entertainment will soon have to deal with many new entrants attracted to their profitable categories, while nimble direct to consumer brands will also be a threat as they are able to capitalize faster on quickly changing consumer needs."

    Here were the other questions marketers were asking about how the recession will intensify the fight for market share:

    1. What are the new drivers and barriers in my brand's category?
    2. How does my brand perform relative to the competition on those drivers and barriers?
    3. As we move deeper into this recession, how does my brand communicate value more effectively and efficiently than the competition and private label?

    Now is the time to invest in Shopper Based Design to grow share in retail.

    For fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands, the first few months saw consumers gravitate to the center of the store, while ignoring end-aisle displays and impulse products at check-out.

    In the short-term, this likely won't change as consumers are herded through one-way aisles and are shopping in a distressed and fearful state.

    They will continue to pick brands that reduce the friction, that they implicitly trust, and that make their choice easy. Reinforced distinctive cues and memory structures will rule the day.

    What scares leaders most is that many of the shopper based design cues they relied on are gone for now, and maybe forever.

    One leader said, "The days of consumers picking up a package, reading claims, or engaging senses other than sight to determine which product to pick in a category are likely gone, at least for the foreseeable future."

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    Now more than ever, visual identity and cues will be critical to winning your fair share of attention in these forced autopilot scenarios, so is this the time to do an audit of your shelf to see how well you are positioned in your category?

    Here were the other questions marketers were asking about winning at the first moment of truth in-store:

    1. How can I help my retailers grow our category while also growing our share when consumers are rushing through one-way aisles in state of distress and angst?
    2. How can my visual ID, including distinctive assets, influence shopper perceptions and behavior at shelf, now that consumers won’t be picking up products and evaluating them the way they used to?
    3. What is the right design architecture for my portfolio of SKUs to help consumers make quick and informative decisions about our category?
    4. How can my brand make up for lost sampling programs, sensory experiences, ineffective aisles, and fewer impulse moments?
    5. How can I better communicate value for financially fragile consumers across different shopping contexts (e.g in-store vs. ecomm), retailers (e.g. mass, discount, convenience & gas), and shopper touch points (e.g. portfolio architecture assortment and placement, pack size and format, pricing and POS)?

    Online shopping and e-commerce adoption has accelerated by five years.

    Obviously brick and mortar shopping is at risk in the years to come which will favor brands that are "effectively and efficiently" marketed online.

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    One leader referenced a study that suggested that the crisis accelerated ecommerce adoption by five years.

    As new behaviors become engrained, marketers cannot afford to be slow to develop their understanding of how consumers behave online.

    Unlike our friends in the UK, where over 10% of sales come through e-commerce, many marketers in North America are feeling exposed as e-commerce had only driven 1-2% of total sales leading into the crisis, which means it hasn't received a lot of attention.

    What is really interesting about the crisis is that it has forced consumers that would have never tried ecommerce to do so, especially consumers that were most at risk by leaving their homes.

    The question is that experience converted them over the long-term and what can your brand do to position itself to win its fair share if so?

    Here were the other questions marketers were asking about winning at the first moment of truth in e-commerce:

    1. Has the initial experience on ecommerce for brand new users been smooth enough for them to continuing to do so as we relax restrictions or will they go back to the old way of doing things?
    2. How can we better understand consumer behaviours online and in ecommerce to ensure that my packaging imagery and copy are distinctive?
    3. How should we be thinking about our current brand portfolio and architecture, as well as size and formats as consumers might be looking for more affordable purchases?
    4. How should we be thinking about our innovation pipeline if more and more purchases are happening online and my product might not be seen as easily as it would be in-store?
    5. How can I disrupt shopper behaviour if I am not already in their auto refill basket during those first few e-commerce shopping trips?

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    It's time to experiment with innovative virtually-enabled consumer research.

    While most companies that temporarily paused their research have turned the engine back on, we have lost the ability to conduct face-to-face research with our consumers for the foreseeable future.

    As one insights leader interviewee said, "We can not afford to stop advancing our understanding of the consumer."

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    As a result, insight leaders have experimented with new methodologies like virtual behavioral observation to avoid falling behind with category dynamics quickly shifting.

    Successful pilots seemed to combine virtual environment experiments with conscious belief and non-conscious association measurement to observe "what" consumers did, followed by digging deeper to understand "why" they did it.

    How might you experiment with innovative new research approaches like virtual behavioral observation to advance your brand and demonstrate innovation to your stakeholders?

    Here were a few things to consider about virtual behavioral observation methodologies:

    1. When building a virtual behavioral environment like a shelf or a store, it is important to find a partner that can create "realism" so that you are observing behaviors that most represent reality.
    2. It is important to remember that no store looks exactly like a planogram with perfectly stocked items that are all front facing and arranged as planned, so instead, work with a partner that can help you create more of a "realogram".
    3. Your environment should account for different variations of light depending on where the products are and adjust for the average height of the consumer depending the global markets you are exploring.
    4. Always try to mix in conscious and non-conscious measurement with you behavioral observation to get at both "what" consumers are doing and the "why" they are doing it, so that you understand the underlying motivations of their behavior.

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    Leaders expressed excitement about the following benefits they experienced from experimenting with virtual behavioral observation as a result of the crisis:

    1. A long-term safe and cost effective way of conducting agile research;
    2. Deeper cuts of data, including the ability to cut by light buyers, ethnic minorities, or financially fragile consumers; and
    3. More agility for iterative testing and scenario planning during the uncertain times ahead.

    Final Thoughts

    Seismic, unpredictable shifts have impacted society and as a result have impacted shoppers and consumers dramatically. It feels like the world continues to change daily.

    Unfortunately, most marketers have been locked into supply chain meetings, to avoid shorting customers and putting their brands at risk by forcing trial of competitive brands.

    As a result, they have not been able to think beyond the next few weeks, but organizations are hungry for proactive and innovative longer-term planning.

    If there has ever been a time for the insights function to rise the occasion and have a seat at the table, it is now.

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    We are fortunate to have access to bright behavioral scientists and a variety of virtual tools that allow us to observe human behavior safely, while also uncovering both explicit beliefs and non-conscious associations.

    It is going to continue to be an intense time for all of us both personally and professionally.

    But may you find some hope and happiness knowing that...

    We are the pilots of the future economy.

    Author: Jonathan La Greca is the Senior Vice President, Growth at Hotspex. He has 15 years of experience ideating, developing, and activating brands across 5 different industries, including both client and supplier side.

    Source:  LinkedIn Pulse 

  • 05/15/2020 11:24 PM | Arundati Dandapani (Administrator)

    By Charles Custer

    About six months ago, Eddie Kirkland was itching to make a change in his life.

    At that point, he says, he’d taken “a really strange career path.” His degrees were in management and theology. His resume consisted of nonprofit work, quite a bit of time as a working musician, and most recently six years as the head priest at a church.

    Back in college, Eddie remembered, he’d enjoyed his study of statistics. So he started looking into statistics-related careers. “Lo and behold,” he says, “[I found that] there’s this massive data science world that has opened up since I left.”

    “As I started exploring it, I thought ‘I think I have enough of a foundation to kind of understand the concepts.’ There’s a lot of skills that I knew I needed. [But] even though my degree is in management and my graduate degree is in theology, I think I might actually be able to make a really cool path here with some online learning.”

    He also knew that he had an unusual opportunity. Having taken a sabbatical, he had some time off from full-time work. “I thought to myself, I’m never going to have this chance again,” he says. “If I’m going to quit my job and change career paths, I need to know if this is really what I want.”

    Diving Headfirst Into Data Science

    When he started looking for the best data science MOOCs and online courses, “Dataquest came up as one of the top results.” But having no experience with programming, he still wasn’t sure how he’d feel about the programming-heavy curriculum.

    “I basically went into it thinking okay, I’m going to try this and I’m just going to see,” he says. “It sounds fun, but it could be terrible, so let me try it and see if I still like it a month from now.”

    And because Dataquest offers a lot of free content, trying it was easy. “I loved that there were a few free modules that kind of helped me get my feet wet,” Eddie says.

    It wasn’t long after getting his feet wet that Eddie was diving in head-first. “Within the first month and a half I had purchased the full version and I was up ‘till 2 in the morning doing Python code and just loving it. Like absolutely loving it. Nobody is making me do it. It’s all on my own time, and I just really, really loved it.”

    “The thing I really liked, that set [Dataquest] apart for me,” he says, “is that it’s text-based instead of video-based. Reading the text, seeing the examples, and then having to actually code it yourself was really, really helpful.”

    By the time he finished the assessment, he says, he had realized: “I think I might be able to at least get started in this. I don’t know as much as the people that are doing it, but I don’t know nothing. I know some things from this [Dataquest] course that really helped a lot.”

    His new employers agreed, and Eddie is now working as a full-time data engineer.

    “Day-to-day I’m using Python a lot,” he says of his new job. “I’m working in Databricks with Spark, and so I’m using Python a lot. I’m using SQL a ton. If anything, I wish I had paid closer attention during the SQL portion of the course because it’s so helpful.”

    He also says he appreciates how much of Dataquest’s curriculum was focused on data cleansing, which is now a big part of his job.

    As a new data engineer, Eddie can’t just rely on what he already knows. He’s also learning new skills and tools. “It’s just coming a lot quicker than I thought it would, and I think it’s because I have had so much exposure doing the hands-on coding and learning through the [Dataquest] program.”

    Most importantly, Eddie is happy. “It’s such a big change,” he says of his new career, “but I really love it […] Helping people make informed decisions with the information that you can give them — I really, really love it.”

    Advice for Dataquest Learners

    When we asked Eddie what advice he might give to other Dataquest learners, his first thought was to offer encouragement. “You really can do this,” he says, “You just have to stick with it and you have to be diligent.”

    “About a month and a half ago, I remember sitting in my living room. I was on my phone and I pulled up the Dataquest website and was reading testimonials from people who have gotten jobs. It made me think: ‘Don’t get discouraged. This is going to take time, but it’s possible and it can happen.’”

    He also liked that Dataquest’s path structure laid out a logical sequence of courses for him, and forced him to apply and reapply what he was learning at each step along the way. “That’s where I think the Dataquest stuff was really helpful,” he says. “It gave me a very clear pathway of hands-on learning.

    It wasn’t all, smooth sailing, of course. Learning programming can be frustrating, especially at first, and Dataquest challenges learners to start building real projects early in their learning journey. At one point, Eddie laughs, “I wanted to throw my computer through a wall.” Another time working on a guided project, he says, “I spent all day, like an eight hour day at a Starbucks, trying to get through one cell that just wouldn’t run.”

    In the long run, though, the struggle was worth it: “[Working on those projects] helped me gain the confidence to know: ‘Okay, I can actually do this stuff.’

    With so much free time to dedicate to his studies, Eddie worked through our curriculum with incredible speed. He finished our entire Data Analyst in Python path in two months, and reached the end of the Data Scientist path a month later.

    Then it was time to start looking for a job.

    Finding a Full-Time Job

    “My first thought was, ‘Okay, it’s probably going to be easier for me to get a first job in this industry as an analyst, not as a full-blown data scientist,’” Eddie says.

    But he knew the first thing he needed to do was reach out and make some connections, while building some portfolio projects that would be relevant to the companies in his area. He reached out to friends with small businesses, told them that he’d been learning data science, and asked if they had any data he could help them analyze for free.

    “Their eyes got really big,” he says. “They said, ‘Oh, my gosh, we have no idea what we’re doing with data, so here.’”

    “Because of the [Dataquest] guided projects that I had done,” Eddie says, when a friend gave him a data set to work with, “I had a basic workflow. I knew how to approach it and attack it, instead of having to go back through video learning courses and just constantly search StackOverflow for stuff. I had a framework that I had already worked through, which gave me the confidence to say ‘Okay, I’ll take a shot at it.’”

    I think Dataquest is extremely helpful, he says, “not because I can put it on a resume but because of the confidence that it’s given me to walk into a room and go: ‘I don’t know everything, but I do know some things, and I know enough to put a hand in and start helping.’”

    Still, when a series of connections led to a potential role as a data engineer, Eddie was hesitant. “At first I thought, ‘No way, it’s just not possible. I can’t do this stuff.” (Dataquest does offer a Data Engineering path, but Eddie hadn’t worked through it).

    He took the meeting anyway. “I went in and talked to them and then they gave me a practice assessment,” he says. “Instantly I could see: this is the SQL stuff that I learned. There’s a lot of the data cleansing stuff here that I’ve got to do, and it’s about doing joins and Python. It’s about all the stuff that I had learned from that data analyst course.”

    Beyond sticking with the program and staying positive, Eddie also recommends centering your job search around genuine, in-person connections. “Meet people and just connect in your world,” he says. “It seems to me the best strategy has been not saying ‘I need a job’ and instead saying ‘Hey, I’m very interested in data science. Can we just get together? I want to know what you do.’”

    “I’ve had so many conversations like that,” he says. “I say ‘Tell me what you do, what do you love about your job, what do you hate about your job?’ Those have been the kind of natural conversations that have led to really cool opportunities.”

    “It’s not been job posting boards. It’s not been all that other stuff. It’s just been one-on-one conversations with people that are already in the field.

    Eddie also recommended the book Designing Your Life. “It’s basically taking product design thinking and methodology and applying it to life change and saying, how can I approach my career almost like I’m building a product, where you’re going to build and iterate tests.” There’s a chapter on iterating on career conversations, Eddie says, and “a script of how to have the conversation about, ‘Hey, would there be any steps for somebody like me to get involved in an organization like this?’ as opposed to saying ‘I really need a job.’”

    Finally, Eddie says, don’t be discouraged if you’re finding your studies very challenging, particularly at first, and don’t be intimidated by the complexity that lies ahead. “To me, the hardest part of the whole course was the data cleansing at the beginning. I guess it’s partially because Python was so new for me and coding in general was so new, but that was the part that was super hard.”

    “Once I made it to the machine learning stuff it was actually decently easy compared to that earlier stuff,” he says, “Which was really cool, because I had seen it on the horizon for a while and it was like ‘Oh, man, I’m never going to make it through that. You know, you’d see artificial intelligence and how all that works, and you think there’s no way. That’s going to take me months.”

    “But then once you get there,” he says, You understand the syntax and you understand how these objects are supposed to work, and then it’s just like pressing run and letting it go, which is really fun. The first time I ran a model on the computer I was doing a little dance, going, ‘This is so cool!’ It’s fun, and it’s something to look forward to rather than something to dread.”

    Author: Charlie is a student of data science, and also a content marketer at Dataquest and can be reached here

    Source: Dataquest.io

  • 04/26/2020 10:35 PM | Arundati Dandapani (Administrator)

    By Margaret Imai-Compton, MLIS, CUG, FMRIA

    Over the years, brainstorming has come to be an accepted and normal part of business problem-solving, bringing together a team to solve a problem or generate new ideas and directions.

    Typical brainstorming utilizes a facilitator who directs the session, and it asks participants to call out ideas, contribute builds, and express their solutions. Brainstorming requires a strong element of verbal participation and verbal idea-building.

    What happens, then, when key players (often the most senior persons in attendance) speak up with their initial ideas at the outset of the session? There is a tendency to stay with those first ideas without considering the contributions of more conservative or reticent participants. As well, stronger personality types tend to champion and verbally defend their contributions, without listening to quiet or shy team members.

    The challenge, then, is how to encourage lateral thinking in a group environment where there are different personality types, some of whom are quick to make a contribution while others need reflection or confidence to voice theirs.

    Introduce brainwriting! This technique involves everyone in the session and uses the same principles of brainstorming. The genius of brainwriting, however, is that it harnesses everyone’s contributions by providing each participant an equal voice in the process. Here’s how it works. 

    1. Use no names. Have the participants sit around a table, each with a sheet of paper, and instruct them not to write their names. Anonymity is one of the key success factors in brainwriting. At the top of the page, participants write down the task to be brainstormed.

    2. Use timed and free form. The facilitator gives a timed session (typically two to three minutes) to list as many ideas as possible. Participants are instructed not to edit or finesse the ideas. In brainwriting, I often direct my workshop participants to write from the heart, not the head, and to write in free form.

    3. Mix it up. When time is called, all the participants hand their sheets to the facilitator, who shuffles and randomly redistributes them. Now, the participants have new sheets with someone else’s ideas, so they add to the list by either building on the existing ideas or taking a new direction. At the end of the next timed session, the sheets will have grown in quantity and content. Continue until the facilitator decides that ideas are exhausted (typically three to five rounds, depending on the task).

    4. Share the collective output. At this point, the facilitator will record all the ideas on a flip chart so participants can view the output. Only then are participants given back their voice, and discussion can begin on where to start the ideation.

    Why does brainwriting work? First, there’s no discussion during the initial rounds, so it yields a lot of ideas in a short period of time.

    Second, all the participants, even the quiet and reticent ones, get a voice and contribute their ideas.

    Third, it’s anonymous, so there’s freedom to be creative.

    Lastly, by exchanging sheets, team members build and evaluate ideas in a concentrated, creative way.

    This is a useful, snappy technique that involves everyone’s participation and ensures that both introverts and extroverts contribute in a creative and meaningful way.

    Author: The late Margaret Imai-Compton, FMRIA MLIS, CUG, FMRIA was a distinguished industry leader and practitioner for nearly three decades. She was the Principal of Imai-Compton Consulting Inc., and also worked at Research Management Group.  

    Article Source: Vue Magazine, November 2010 Issue 

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