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Our guest is Jerry Daykin, an internationally recognized expert in inclusive marketing. Reflecting on his personal experiences as a gay man, Jerry speaks to the business benefits of representing marginalized groups of consumers and discusses how brands should approach activations during Pride Month. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can claim a 20 percent discount when ordering Jerry’s new book, Inclusive Marketing, at, using the promo code BIGEYE20 at the checkout.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS:

Jerry Daykin: It’s our job as marketers to understand all the different consumers that we try and talk to. And so, true inclusive marketing is just when we get outside of our own bubbles and we truly talk to all the consumers out there.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced weekly by Bigeye: a strategy-led, full-service creative agency, growing brands for clients globally. Hello. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, Chief Strategy Officer. Thank you for joining us. This month’s featured Bigeye Book Club selection is Inclusive Marketing: Why Representation Matters to Your Customers and Your Brand by Jerry Daykin. The book was published by Kogan Page last month, but we had a preview of its contents when Jerry joined us for a conversation about Pride Month in June. Here’s another chance to hear that interview. 


In June of 1969, patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York City staged an uprising to resist frequent harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender folks at the hands of the police. This was a time when it was all too common for LGBTQ Americans to be subjected to persecution. That uprising marked the beginning of a national and then international movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices. Today, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, allies, and supporters celebrate queer history, culture, and creativity during June, designated Pride Month. But how should brands navigate support for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and other marginalized groups of consumers? As we’ve discussed previously on this podcast, a majority of the youngest generation of consumers, Gen Z, expect brands to be inclusive. To discuss the opportunities and challenges that inclusive marketing presents our guest this week is uniquely well-qualified. Currently writing a book on the topic, which promises to provide clear, actionable guidance for folks working agency-side and client-side, Jerry Daykin is a global marketing leader who has held senior roles at brands including GSK Consumer Healthcare, Diageo, and Mondelez. Jerry is also a Diversity Ambassador and co-chair of the World Federation of Advertisers’ Diversity Task Force, where he created the WFA’s framework for representation and inclusion, and sits on the diversity and inclusion boards at the Advertising Association, the Conscious Advertising Network, and Outvertising. Jerry also writes for publications, including The Drum, Ad Week, Campaign, Marketing Week, and The Guardian, and is a regular conference speaker. Currently the Vice President, Head of Global Media at Beam Suntory, Jerry is joining us today from his home in London, England. Jerry, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Jerry Daykin: Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

Adrian Tennant: What’s your definition of inclusive marketing?

Jerry Daykin: Oh, it’s a big one. I think sometimes it’s just better marketing. Like it’s our job as marketers to understand all the different consumers that we try and talk to. And so, true inclusive marketing is just when we get outside of our own bubbles and we get outside of our own kind of narrow view of the world and we truly talk to all the consumers out there. But yeah, definitely can manifest itself in terms of, kind of better representation, inclusion, et cetera, on the screen. But it starts definitely with the kind of thinking and the strategy and the people behind the screen as well. The whole process needs to change to just better do our jobs.

Adrian Tennant: Well, you’ve had many articles and opinion pieces published in marketing and ad industry publications, and today you’re recognized as an expert in inclusive marketing. So when did you realize that this was an area you really wanted to focus on?

Jerry Daykin: I am a gay man myself. I think, as a kid, I was when I was trying to work out who I was or what I was, I was quite aware that certainly in the ‘80s in the UK, literally it was illegal in schools and things. You didn’t see yourself anywhere. You didn’t see what that was. And when I first started to glimpse TV shows like Queer As Folk or occasionally adverts, maybe more in queer spaces, but you know, trying to talk to that. I realized from a fairly young age, the power of media advertising to either positively normalize or, more often than not, exclude. So I think it’s in the back of my mind been something I’ve been thinking about for quite a long time, but I’ve naturally fallen into it over the last couple of years, I think, and it’s obviously become a bigger topic in the industry and I’ve been someone who’s been willing to talk about it. I got involved in an organization called Ouvertising about five, six years ago now. And they are specifically focused on LGBT inclusion in the industry, both trying to make people who work in the industry feel more comfortable and welcome, and really challenging brands to push things externally. And so it started from that. And I think because I was one of the fairly small list of like brand side marketers, willing to sort of chat about this, I ended up getting involved in the British Advertising Association‘s D&I Forum, and eventually graduated somehow to the World Federation of Advertisers, where, over the last couple of years, I’ve been one of their Diversity Ambassadors. So I sort of slightly fell into it by it being a personal passion of mine and just going along with the ride and the opportunity and just seeing how critical it is that we do drive this change. So we need some people to shout about it.

Adrian Tennant: Well, you’ve been writing a book, entitled Inclusive Marketing: Why Representation Matters To Your Customers And Your Brand, which is due to be published in October by our friends at Kogan Page. Jerry, what prompted you to write the book?

Jerry Daykin: Yeah, I’m feeling slightly that this is an exclusive teaser of that because it’s the first time I’ve spoken to anyone about that. But, two things that prompted me: one, chatting to the Kogan Page people and they just thought it was a real opportunity because kind of, no one has written a book on that and it’s a fairly new topic. There were certainly guides and plenty of panels and thought pieces out there, but not really kind of a book that goes into more detail. And secondly, it was building a lot of the work that we did at the World Federation of Advertisers over the last couple of years with a whole bunch of other advertisers. We’ve been digging into this kind of question of like if so many advertisers nowadays accept that they want to do more inclusive marketing, why is it still quite slow to happen? And we got to talk through the whole creative process and decided that there were like every sort of every stage of that process there were moments where your bias, where your lack of experience, where your own narrow vision sometimes stops you from seeing the opportunity for inclusion or perhaps actively excludes people. And so we created a bit of a small guide last year, and it just felt like a perfect storm to dig a bit deeper into that guide for people who really wanted to go a bit further. The “representation matters” bit in the subtitle – it’s quite key to me because one of the main things I’ve done in the book is actually interviewing over 20 different marketers from different big companies and agencies and brands and things. I’ve really started every conversation kind of like we have almost today by saying, “Why does this matter to you personally?” I think some of those personal stories and those personal insights are some of the most persuasive things because we can bang on about the stats of inclusion and the business opportunity as much as you like, but when you hear some of those opportunities, so yeah, I wanted to have a chance to bring that framework to a bit more depth, to a bit more life and really to talk to some of those marketers and share some of their stories.

Adrian Tennant: What has the writing and editing process been like for you? has it required a different mindset than say writing articles?

Jerry Daykin: Yeah, I definitely didn’t know what I was getting into when I did it. And I actually, It kind of worked out really well because I was on gardening leave for a couple of months between jobs. So it sort of worked out perfectly and I thought, you know, I’ll do a bit of this whilst I’m enjoying my gardening leave. And it took up a lot more of that gardening leave than I expected it would, perhaps naively. And certainly, I think to begin with, I thought it was a clever shortcut to interview lots of other people and use their words to fill up. But actually, I’ve really enjoyed those conversations, but they took a huge amount of time to, you know, have the conversation, edit them down, write them up, and things. And yeah, I was quite conscious throughout that I think it’s one thing writing an article and giving people a sort of a headline of, you know, this is what you should do. When you get to a book and you want about a whole chapter or even just a few pages, going into each of those phases, you’ve got to be kind of really clear on another depth of guidance, of advice. I suppose I’m conscious that people hopefully are gonna pay for the book. So I feel like quite a high, like, duty for it to be actually quite interesting and good. And I have peak imposter syndrome some days. So yeah, it was quite different, but I’d be lying if there wasn’t a few late nights in the last week or so when it was due and I was up, gone midnight, just, editing and adding a few bits in here and there. I tried to be well-planned and disciplined.

Adrian Tennant: As I mentioned in the intro, June is Pride Month. As brands seek to align themselves with the LGBTQIA+ community and show support, this requires more than slapping a rainbow on the packaging. What are some of the most common misconceptions you’ve found marketers and brand managers have about LGBTQIA+ consumers?

Jerry Daykin: Yeah, there’s a part of me that thinks it’s fantastic, that lots of brands do slap a rainbow on the packaging, because as I said, when I was a kid I’d have loved it to see rainbows everywhere, you know, I love it when, my mum goes into Marks and Spencer’s, and she sees Pride everywhere. And, it’s sort of wonderfully, middle-class normalization of it. But yes, there’s a fine line. A lot of members of the community feel that some of those brands are doing it much more to cash in and make a profit, et cetera, than they are to truly, support. I think one of the biggest issues we have is the LGBT community, even within itself, is highly stereotyped. And if you look at the portrayals of that community, certainly, to begin with, I think it’s getting better, but they’ve been quite male. They’ve been quite gay, and they’re often quite young, it’s often about partying and clubbing and drinking, which of course is a fabulous part of the gay identity, but a very small slice of it. There are plenty of gay men who don’t enjoy that. There are plenty of, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and everything else in the spectrum, who don’t necessarily feel massively represented by that. They probably still think it’s nice that brands are moving a little bit in their direction. So I think there’s a sort of caution that, although we talk about this community, it’s a community of, Hundreds of millions of people. So like any other audience, there’s a lot of nuance, a lot of different aspects of it. So I think brands have to be a little bit careful of that. And I think whilst Pride Month is always a great chance to nudge ourselves in the right direction and think about this, I’m always cautious and that may not be the best place to start. Because I think if you activate in Pride Month, you’re really saying like, “I’m a brand that’s here for LGBT rights and I really stand up for those consumers,” which is great if you do. But I think that comes with a bit of scrutiny about like, “well, what, what are you actually doing? What are your actual policies? What are you actually doing internally? How do you treat your LGBT customers? I often think it’s almost if you want to start this journey, it’s maybe a bit safe to start around the year and try and do something, Outside of that peak season, start talking to LGBTQ, consumers, start advertising in LGBT publications, start making sure that, you know, your own internal LGBT employees are well looked after and resourced. And then perhaps Pride can be the icing on that cake, but I don’t mind companies like changing their logos to rainbow for Pride, but I wouldn’t make that the first step I take, I would start elsewhere. Really start representing and talking to that community. And then if you want to do that, brilliant. Sure. Why not? I think if you don’t, you can easily get called out by people who are like, “Why have you changed your logo when you don’t have a policy towards trans people in your own company?” or “You’ve had this bad issue” or, you know, various different things.

Adrian Tennant: Which consumer brands do you think do a really good job of engaging with the LGBTQIA+ community authentically?

Jerry Daykin: Yeah. I like brands that kind of have been in it for the long term. In the UK, and I think to an extent globally, the Skittles brand is one that I’ve seen do that, part of the Mars company’s portfolio. I know they’ve had sort of a multi-year partnership with Gay Times. So they’ve been working with and talking to a publication that represents that community and helps them have an authentic voice. This past year or so, they did a great activation, which was sponsoring the digging out of old black and white photos from historic Prides, recoloring them, and sharing them in their editorial. And I think they’d been doing that for four or five years. Having special packaging where they remove the rainbow from their packaging because their message is that there are other rainbows that matter. So I love that they’ve stuck with it for a few years and that it’s not just a brand manager somewhere who decided, “Oh, this year let’s do Pride.” They’ve really built a platform and worked with the community on it. They’re a big organization, but I think Procter and Gamble, P&G, do a really good job. They actually have a dedicated person, I think, whose job is LGBT inclusion and how their business can work with those communities and things. And you see that comes to life in a whole load of different ways. I know in the US they’ve done a partnership with GLAAD, and I think they’ve even created resources that other advertisers can get for free and can tap into, to help them do that. That’s a really deliberate approach, you know? This is a community that matters. These are some of our own colleagues that matter. This is an audience that we want to do the right thing with and by. And so you find other examples of brands that done kind of one-off campaigns and really nice things. But those two stand out as brands that have said, “We’re really going to do this. And we’re going to still be doing it in four or five years’ time. And we’re going to invest in the people and the resources and the partnerships to get there.” Rather than just, you know, “Oh, we’ve got a bit of money left over this year. So let’s throw it at a Pride float,” which isn’t a bad thing to do, but it’s not a thorough thing to do.

Adrian Tennant: One of the things I learned about you during the COVID lockdowns, Is that you’re a hardcore LEGO fan. You posted images to LinkedIn of, I think it was an amusement park that you’d built …

Jerry Daykin: Yes!

Adrian Tennant: … which generated a lot of engagement. So I’m curious, what do you think about the initiative LEGO announced at the beginning of this month to encourage more open conversations among families about sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression?

Jerry Daykin: Yeah. I was always a fan of LEGO, since a kid, and, with a lot of spare time on my hands, and a few canceled holidays and things, I was like, “Right, I’m going big!” So yeah, I built a huge roller coaster thing, which is a great set. And also they launched, I guess it was last Pride, an LGBT set. It was a progressive rainbow with all the different colors, all the different characters, and things. And it was designed by one of their senior designers, who I think is LGBT himself, so it was a passion project from someone in the business. And it was sort of interesting at the time because whilst I think it was very largely warmly received, there’s always going to be those people out there being like, “Oh, LEGO’s a kid’s brand and how dare you show this rainbowy stuff to kids?” So that’s why I think it’s a great thing because I think you have to approach conversations around sexuality and gender things carefully with kids because they are young. You wouldn’t talk to them about straight sex, you probably wouldn’t want to, you know, discuss certain things with them. But I think it’s also important to normalize that conversation and be like, well, it’s kind of, if you don’t talk about it at all, I mean, you just like surprise them with it when they’re 18 or something. That of course, that’s going to be weird and messy. You know, LGBT inclusion whilst for the most part, everyone loves it. And it’s great. It’s brilliant. It comes with a risk and especially I think, if you’re a kid’s brand, there’s the potential of backlash. There’s the potential of, you know, conservative groups to challenge you and try and cancel you and things. I think it shows that they, you know, they are genuinely committed to their colleagues, to the consumers, that they’re willing to say, “No, we think this is an important thing to do.” If it was a chocolate bar trying to do that, you might be like, “Why are you doing that?” But they play a key role in the development of kids, like it’s part of how you learn to build and construct and their sets represent all sorts of different aspects of societies. So yeah. why wouldn’t they also go on that journey? Yeah, for me, that’s a great example of a brand, again, trying to do something for the long-term and positively and not just change its logo, but actually change its products, change its messaging, really, really try and push things forward.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.

Adrian Tennant: Each month, in partnership with our friends at Kogan Page, The Bigeye Book Club features interviews with authors who are experts in marketing, consumer research, and customer experience. Our featured book for November is Inclusive Marketing: Why Representation Matters to Your Customers and Your Brand by Jerry Daykin. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can save 20 percent on a print or electronic version of the book with exclusive promo code BIGEYE20. This code is valid for all products and pre-orders and applies to Kogan Page’s free e-book offer. To order your copy of Inclusive Marketing, go to – that’s K O G A N, P A G E dot com.

Sandra Marshall: I’m Sandra Marshall, VP of Client Services at Bigeye. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as advertising professionals. At Bigeye, we always put audiences first. For every engagement, we’re committed not just to understanding our clients’ business challenges but also to learning about their prospects and customers’ attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. These insights inform our strategy and collectively inspire the account, creative, media, and analytics teams working on our clients’ projects. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s audience-focused consumer insights to work for your brand, please contact us. Email Bigeye. Reaching the Right People, in the Right Place, at the Right Time.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Jerry Daykin, an expert in inclusive marketing, and the author of a new book due to be published later this year, entitled Inclusive Marketing: Why Representation Matters To Your Customers And Your Brand. Florida is now one of five states in the nation where educators and the staff at public schools are explicitly prohibited from discussing LGBTQ topics as part of the curriculum. Other active “don’t say gay” bills exist in Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. Yet other states have been moving in the opposite direction, establishing legal foundations for LGBTQ inclusive curriculums. This is true of Connecticut, Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, and Colorado. Headquartered in the UK, Lush Cosmetics has released a limited edition soap in the hopes of raising $50,000 for Equality Florida, an LGBTQ rights organization here in the state. The sparkly gold soap boasts that hashtag gay is okay. And it’s just the latest step Lush Cosmetics has taken to support the queer community. So Jerry, while Lush has decided to provide very visible support, should other brands in other categories respond to these kinds of issues? When is it appropriate to take a stand?

Jerry Daykin: Without getting too drawn into the politics of it, as I said earlier, I grew up in the ‘80s, and we had a somewhat similar law in the UK where schools are prohibited from talking about things. And, from my own personal experience – which, by the way, is backed up by statistics, I still ended up gay! – as you know, there’s no implication that talking about these things actually changes what people do. But in my own experience, as others’ was, I found it really hard. I was quite depressed at Uni because there was no positive role model, there was nothing about it. So I think ultimately, in my humble opinion, that’s what these laws create. They create a world in which you still have people who are gay or non-binary, trans, or whatever they are. They just don’t see the kind of positive support around them and don’t understand what that means for them. And that does nothing but bad, but, as for brands, in the book, I talk about this sort of spectrum of where brands can support. It starts from the bad end, which is like, you know, advertising excludes minorities where, it’s all just happy white middle-class men having a lovely time, you know, and then there’s a sort of a step beyond that, which is you start to try and show different minorities, but you’re probably stereotyping them. It may be a better step, but maybe the worst step. There’s a stat from the Geena Davis Institute, which looks at Cannes Lion winners, recognizing the best advertising in the world. They looked at Black representation. They said actually Black people are reasonably well-represented in Cannes Lions winners, but they are generally portrayed as less successful, and less intelligent. Well, is it good that they’re in the adverts if you’re, you know, putting them down? And so if every brand can go beyond that, to the point, which is positive inclusion. So you’re just genuinely doing our jobs, reflecting the consumers around us, which of course includes a wonderful spectrum of people on the LGBT spectrum. You know, not every ad needs to feature gay people, but if you’re producing lots of different adverts, lots of different e-commerce creative, and all sorts of things you know, some of them really should, and you should try and like totally reflect that broad intersectionality. You should try and start talking about some of the stories. And actually, when you dig into different communities, you find really interesting, really emotive stories that are probably better than some of the boring advertising we’ve been doing. And there’s a step beyond that, which is really about activism, taking a stand. I think sometimes brands think that, you know, turning up at Pride is a small step, but actually, that’s quite a big step to make because Pride – it’s a riot. It’s a challenge. You may not feel that always times, but it’s really about standing up for rights. And yeah, certainly as you get into that more purposeful marketing, should my brand take a political stand on various things? I think the answer is, it depends a bit on the brand, on the category. Like Lush Cosmetics is a really great example where their whole brand is they didn’t really do advertising. They’re built around good values, where their product is made, and what they stand for. So it’s really clearly a part of their journey. Ben and Jerry’s is another famous company. When Australia had a vote on gay marriage, they literally campaigned for gay marriage. You know, they were running adverts and things, and that’s in their DNA. It’s part of who they are. If that’s not a part of your company, I think you need to think about what right your brand has to play in various spaces. And I think it works well when brands find a kind of a purposeful cause that fits and they can get behind. But if you’ve never done anything in that space at all, and you’re suddenly campaigning really publicly for rights over there, you know, it can be a bit disconcerting. And I think not every brand needs to campaign and you’ve got to be careful because, you know, whilst I might not agree with them, of course, there are many millions of people who hold very different political views to me, and you have to unpick what is just politics and what are the absolute rights of your consumers and things. So it’s a tricky space. I think every brand can positively represent the LGBT community. And I think it’s great when brands want to go further than that, but you know, it needs to depend on the fit around the brand, the cause you can get behind. Yeah, things like that. You’ve got to think carefully about that and why it makes sense. Because you know, it still needs to be marketing to your brand. It still needs to come back to what is the promise of your brand in the first place.

Adrian Tennant: What are some of the techniques that you’ve found most effective in educating colleagues or clients about the value of inclusive marketing?

Jerry Daykin: You know, there’s loads of great research over the last decade that shows it’s more effective, you know, inclusive teams work harder, and inclusive marketing delivers better. Various different organizations who measure advertising have proven that more progressive advertising is more memorable, and is more effective. So, you know, there’s that sort of brutal fact that it’s a good idea. I’ve always found that when I’ve run sessions, webinars, and things like that, it’s actually the personal take on it that really persuades people like me sharing how seeing Queer As Folk and some of these adverts when I was young was the first glimpse I got that there were other people like me and quite a lot of people, not just LGBT people, but women have examples of when they first saw empowered women in adverts and that they weren’t doing the laundry anymore or things like that. And I think that kind of opens your mind a little bit, not just to the fact that there’s a business opportunity, but actually a real consumer cultural opportunity. For the most part, I’ve worked with people who nod along and broadly agree with all this, and they want to achieve this, but they’re also juggling a million other things. They’re busy, they’re not experts in inclusive marketing. They are from a narrow world view and they’ve lived in their little bubble, their whole lives. And, they don’t really know where to start. So that’s where in terms of education, we’ve really focused on breaking down the marketing process into different stages, thinking of some of the different questions you could ask yourself. And then the two things I’d say that is that one: like anyone, wherever your background is, you can do inclusive marketing. Like you can be a super straight white middle-class man, English speaking, everything you can still do. Great inclusive marketing. But to do that, you’re going to need two things. You are going to need empathy. You’re going to need to think outside your box, because you’re going to talk to people who have very different life experiences, very different ways of reacting to content and products and things. So you really need to force yourself to be empathetic. And it’s a lot easier to do that if you are surrounded in some way by people who do have some of that lived experience, who do come from different backgrounds, either in your own team, in your agency, with consultants and focus groups and things. But yeah, anyone can do inclusive marketing, but if you want to do it and you’re nodding along to, “oh, this is a good idea.” You have got to be deliberate about it because if we’re not deliberate – we’re busy. We’re rushed. We fall into our own assumptions about things. We only give ourselves a few weeks to cast things. We find the same people, the same actors. So yeah, you’ve got to twist people’s arms emotionally, and then arm them with the practical tools to do it.

Adrian Tennant: When we first chatted a couple of weeks ago about the topics we might discuss in today’s podcast, you mentioned that you work with the United Nations. Could you tell us more about that?

Jerry Daykin: Yeah, it’s not what I signed up to be a marketer. I wasn’t expected to be dragged in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council, but I’ve actually been, and I say “been” in inverted commas because I’ve been once I’ve virtually been two other times. So three times, I’ve been to the United Nations. Unfortunately, COVID got in the way of the other two. The Human Rights Council is asking a lot of questions about the treatment of minorities, of migrants, of the LGBTQ community. And, unfortunately, a lot of those communities remain very, very badly treated. Even in the media still quite negatively presented, especially in the UK, we sometimes have quite a toxic media towards immigration, and they’re kind of asking a fairly, naive question about, why do advertisers support this stuff? And the simple answer is in many ways advertisers do fund hate speech. A lot of advertisers here trying to do Pride stuff may accidentally be funding anti-LGBT hate speech at the same time. And there are different extremes of that. There are sites out there, clickbait sites that exist that just post horrible stories, often made up, like really nasty stuff – but they are funded by advertising. So advertisers need to have brand safety approaches. They need to have ways that stop their adverts funding that really bad stuff. Many of them do, but not enough. There are middle grounds, you know, there were very substantial newspapers and TV shows that have frankly, quite anti-trans agendas or in other ways phobic towards communities. I think advertisers need to ask themselves whether they really want to support those. And there’s a more positive, other side as well, which is as well as avoiding the bad stuff, you know, make sure your advertising is funding the positive voices. So where mainstream media is covering minority communities, LGBT people, make sure you’re sponsoring those shows and funding that content. And yeah, partner with the pride media, the Gay Times, the Divas, The Pink News, or all the organizations out there and, and sponsor their content. I’m part of this organization called the conscious advertising network which is who I’ve gone with, and they also try to provide guidance and frameworks and things for marketers. And also because the United Nations is quite an important organization that people listen to, we’re also encouraging them to lean on big companies, them to lean on organizations that they work with and just to spread this point of view that we need to make sure advertising is not funding hates, not encouraging the spread of negative content. And a lot of that hate is literally spread because of advertising. People find controversial stories that are negative and make up shocking claims are shared on social media, they get more clicks, they get more eyeballs, and they make more money than actually telling the truth. So, you know, it’s not even necessarily people who want to be hateful, it’s we want to make money. So we just need to remove that incentive and try and calm down some of the negative media that is unfortunately out there still.

Adrian Tennant: Following the death of George Floyd and others, and the global demonstrations in support of the black lives matter movement, the US retailer Target publicly committed to spending more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025. Jerry, do you have any data on retailers or brands pledging to support and buy from businesses owned by LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs?

Jerry Daykin: I don’t honestly know that I have clear evidence or numbers of things. I know, for instance, one of my competitors – and I work in Beam Suntory, an alcohol company – one of the competitors that I used to work for, Diageo, has been quite vocal that they are going to commit tens of millions of dollars of their media budget to minority-owned publications. And I do know from the WFA diversity council I sit on that most big advertising, big marketing companies do now have supplier diversity initiatives. GSK, where I used to work does, where I now work, they also do, where they look at their spending and they look at it right through their supply chains. And you have like tier one, the partners you actually pay, and tier two, the people that supply them, et cetera. And some real concerted efforts to try and move money to a range of minority supporting businesses. I don’t know that there are many businesses that like specifically split out, for instance, LGBT or Pride organizations within that. They would kind of be looped into that kind of supplier diversity initiative, which would include any sort of minority-owned, operated, targeted businesses. But I think it is a big part of what brands advertise or whatever company, if you didn’t work in advertising at all you know, companies have a huge footprint outside of their own company in terms of what they buy, where they source from. And of course, there are practicalities, like if you’re in a huge company trying to source huge amounts of materials and things, you know, the big companies that supply that stuff are probably owned by shareholders, publicly traded companies, diversity is well lost within them. But there definitely are real opportunities. Most advertising companies that have a whole load of different agencies, and different partners. There are real opportunities to work with organizations owned by different people, which actually fund LGBT communities and other minorities. And it isn’t just to tick a box and it’s nice, but coming right back to what we talked about at the start, if you want to do good marketing, if you want to be a good business, you need to better understand the breadth of the consumers you work with. And if you tap into some of these organizations, they bring experience that you almost certainly don’t have in your business. They bring different perspectives, different understanding, better ways of doing things. Like they may be small, but you can really be challenged and changed by that. And I definitely think, like, George Floyd was an interesting moment, certainly in the marketing industry where it caused a lot of companies to really reflect on what are they doing to support their black consumers, their black colleagues, and ultimately to a broader extent, total diversity. I think it’s interesting now that years passed, and we know that to an extent starts to fade. And then that’s why it’s important to have conversations like this, to write books if you really want to, and to keep people talking about these. And I think it’s great when brands then do make a public commitment like that because they are then held accountable for it. They actually have to deliver on it and it can’t just be like, post the rainbow flag, post a black square on Instagram and then a year later, slightly forget about it. So I think, I think more brands probably could make public commitments around that and think about the fact that their advertising money, their production money all the millions and billions of pounds that big companies spend, even if a small percentage of it, like it’s often, you know, just a few percentage is still millions of pounds that could fund businesses, keep different perspectives in the media alive, really make a huge difference. So definitely do that.

Adrian Tennant: What are you hoping readers will take away from your upcoming book?

Jerry Daykin: Well, I hope they achieve the two things that I said that I think you need to do. Which is one: an emotional sense of why this really blooming matters. Because I love doing interviews with the 20 marketers I spoke to. I loved hearing their stories. Some of them really unexpected, personal experiences. There’s a fairly famous marketing professor called Mark Ritson, who is quite a serious marketer, he swears quite a lot, but he’s a bit OTT, he’s a very sort of working-class, straight man. And chatting to him, he has his bunker stories of how he spent a year or two doing ethnographic research of the Pride movement in the US. So he was going to all these Pride parties and learning all about Pride culture in the US and being totally immersed in this world. You’re like, “Oh, I didn’t expect that story to come out.” I didn’t expect him to be so passionate about inclusion, as he was. If anything, I’ll be honest, I thought he might be a bit of a cynic towards it and think it was all a bit nonsense. I’ve talked to CMOs and other people who have, like, really personal experiences, both how they’ve been treated in the industry and what they’ve seen externally. Diversity is such a personal thing. There’s no one right way of being inclusive. So I hope that people that read some of those different perspectives are emotionally challenged by them. I hope they’re really also armed practically. The second half of the book is these 12 chapters that go through these 12 stages of the marketing process. I think you can, like, read it through as a book. I think you read it through and you get a good sense of the overall marketing process and that’s interesting, but I’d love to think people also bookmark it and they come back to it and then they say like, “Right, I’m about to start production on my next TV ad. Let’s read that chapter again and remind myself.” There are checklists in there as well about, you know, have you done this? Have you done that? Have you done this with your casting? Have you made your production space open and friendly and inclusive and things? So I hope it tells an emotional story. It kind of really inspires people. and then it practically helps them. and I guess my biggest wish, which is still a barrier we have to work through, is that I hope it doesn’t just preach to the choir. I mean, I think there are going to be, like, people who talk a lot about inclusion, who are going to hopefully read it and nod along. I hope we can get it into the hands of some people who maybe, have given it less thought or haven’t been able to prioritize it and persuade a few of them to start thinking a bit more about it.

Adrian Tennant: Excellent. Jerry, if IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners would like to learn more about you and your writing, where can they find you?

Jerry Daykin: Yeah, I’m quite prolific on Twitter and LinkedIn. So yeah, look for Jerry Daykin and either of those are @JDaykin on Twitter. 

Adrian Tennant: Jerry, thank you very much for being our guest on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Jerry Daykin: Thanks for having me.

Adrian Tennant: Thanks again to our guest, Jerry Daykin, Vice President and Head of Global Media at Beam Suntory, and the author of the book, Inclusive Marketing: Why Representation Matters To Your Customers And Your Brand. If you’d like a copy, you can get a 20% discount when you order online at Just add the promo code, BIGEYE20 at the checkout. As always, you’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at, just select “Podcast” from the menu. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Consumer Journey Mapping Market Intelligence Podcast

Cindy Casper is a seasoned consumer marketing researcher and the Principal of boutique consultancy, Casper Insights. Cindy discusses how her career in marketing research began with ad effectiveness testing and explains the role that secondary, syndicated data can play. We discuss Cindy’s innovative approach to customer segmentation and the creation of authentic personas for collegiate clients. Cindy also shares her go-to tool for results analysis and data visualization.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS. 

Cindy Casper: I wanted to find a way to make segment profiles more realistic, to be more useful. And by using personality as the basis, I was able to create segment profiles that felt more authentic or human. 

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye, a strategy-led, full-service creative agency growing brands for clients globally. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tenant, Chief Strategy Officer. Thank you for joining us today. 

As we’ve discussed previously on this podcast, COVID-19 forced many folks to work from home, accelerated the growth of e-commerce, and boosted the popularity of direct-to-consumer and at-home fitness brands like Peloton. Today, it’s inflation that’s influencing how many consumers make decisions about which products and services to buy. For marketers, understanding the drivers behind consumers’ evolving purchasing behaviors and their sentiments toward brand advertising is important. So to help us understand how consumer research can contribute actionable insights for marketing teams, our guest this week is Cindy Casper, the Founder and Principal of Casper Insights, a boutique consumer research consultancy. Cindy has over 20 years of experience in consumer research, which includes assessing TV ad effectiveness for advertising agencies, and developing custom research studies for Proctor and Gamble brands. Cindy’s career also includes managing marketing research and analytics for Jo-Ann stores, directing promotional planning and advertising effectiveness for OfficeMax, leading the insights team at American Greetings, and holding the position of Senior Director of Insights and Research at Sam’s Club. A move to Arizona saw Cindy become the Managing Director of Knowledge and Insights at Arizona State University, a position she held for over six years. Today, Cindy is joining us from her home in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Cindy, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS! 

Cindy Casper: Thank you. I’m happy to be here.

Adrian Tennant: So Cindy, when did you first consider consumer research as a career?

Cindy Casper: Well, it was during college exploration time, really, And having spent time in higher education, I know that people frequently change majors and trying to figure out what they wanna do with their life. And I started out as an electrical engineer because I loved math. And then I came over more your way and studied journalism because I also really enjoyed the creativity and art and advertising. And I thought all of that was fascinating. And I was fortunate that my advisor in college encouraged me to take some business classes and I discovered marketing research and it really was a connection between math and statistics and creativity and advertising. And so then I knew what I wanted to do and I was about ready to graduate, so I didn’t wanna change my major, but I just went on and got an MBA then, went straight through and learned a lot more about business and marketing research that way.

Adrian Tennant: Well, over the course of your career, you’ve worked with many brands and organizations that are household names. What types of consumer research have been the most common across all the brands you’ve worked with, would you say?

Cindy Casper: I was trying to find a connective thread because there’s been a wide variety of things I’ve worked on, and I think that perceptions about brand is really the most common denominator there. People wanna understand how people think about their brand and whether that brand is a product or a company or a service, there are ways that people think and feel about their brand that influences their decisions about how to engage. And so I’d say that would be what links those things together.

Adrian Tennant: Do you have a personal preference for quantitative or qualitative research methods, and if so, why? 

Cindy Casper: Well, I think the listener could probably predict, just based on my first couple of answers, that I am definitely more quantitative, um, because I love math and statistics and I appreciate qualitative, but I think most people are either wired for deductive logic or inductive logic, and I’m definitely more of a deduction, take all of the data, try to reduce it down and find the patterns and it’s like puzzle solving, but with the creative twist because there are multiple solutions, but it’s finding that truth that’s hiding in the patterns of data that I just find to be so much fun.

Adrian Tennant: In addition to managing primary research studies for brands, you’ve also worked with syndicated research providers. Could you explain what they are and how you’ve used them to supplement in-house consumer insights functions?

Cindy Casper: Sure. So syndicated is typically when a third party obtains data from other people and aggregates it to sell it off to other people so that they can use it. And the most common is aggregators of product sales from retailers. And so different retailers could agree to make their data available, and then product manufacturers can purchase it from aggregators like Nielsen or IRI or NPD. And it’s really helpful because it’s really the gold standard, I’d say, in behavioral data, in sales information, and that can then supplement attitudinal data about products so it can tell you what’s happening in sales of your product across different types of outlets, and you can drill down, not only by the channel type or the retailer, but category product details by time, by geography, units, or dollars. And so with all of those different combinations of lenses, you can develop hypotheses about why your sales are trending a certain way and then, you know, typically in my world, then you’re gonna need to go use something like primary research to explore those hypotheses. Because the behavioral data itself can’t tell you why 

Adrian Tennant: So Cindy, I can understand how the use of syndicated data works for CPG brands that are in most supermarkets, or any kind of measured channel. What happens when you want to know more about unmeasured channels? 

Cindy Casper: Well, different vendors are getting into that space so that they can become measured. in fact, I was working on a plant-based seafood product and found that there is a data source called SPINS, which aggregates for those types of products,that are not often captured by the big syndicators, covering more vegan, alternative foods, foods that don’t have a UPC code on them, like organic fruits and vegetables often, are not captured. So, and then, you know, online channels, there’s more and more data providers and so, I often tell my students that wherever there is increasing demand, there’s gonna be a supply that pops up. So if people wanna know it, someone’s going to find a way to offer it.

Adrian Tennant: Cindy, in many of the positions you’ve held, you’ve been responsible for customer segmentation. For people new to consumer research, could you explain what it is and how segmentation can help marketers? 

Cindy Casper: Sure. I love segmentation and I don’t know why. I just think differences are fascinating. and I guess it’s that contrast, instead of just knowing something in the absolute, you’re able to compare different groups of people, which is really what segmentation is, is just finding ways of grouping individuals, or I guess organizations, whoever your customer is. In order to treat different people differently is the basic idea so that you can be more relevant and not treat everyone the same. And so it’s a middle ground between one size fits all – everybody gets the same product, the same message, the same approach – and treating everyone as unique individuals, which you can do if you only have a handful of customers like me. But that’s hard to scale. As your audience or your customer base grows, you need to start treating people as groups of people just so that you can manage it. And so you can segment based on demographics as the original, traditional way, because that’s how media would be bought would be, I wanna have, women, 25 to 54 is my target, and so that’s my primary audience. And so you might use it just to decide who is the one group that I wanna focus on the most , or you could use it to say, I have multiple groups, multiple segments, and here’s the ones that I want to focus on and how I wanna treat each of them differently, whether that be based on demographic things or behavioral things. You know, these are my frequent loyal buyers, these are my infrequent, less loyal or less profitable customers. Or it could be, the use of attitudes or psychographics to understand what are the drivers or the reasons that they buy or the barriers for them buying so that I can message them with something that is going to resonate with, what they value or appreciate.

Adrian Tennant: Correct me if I’m wrong, modern segmentation, as we know it, really began with General Motors.

Cindy Casper: I find that completely believable because I grew up in a GM household. my father was an engineer for General Motors, and my sister and I both worked at General Motors in college. Turned out that everyone there had a parent who worked in General Motors. I think it was more than a coincidence, but, we would often hear, around the family dining table about how the different brands appealed to different income groups and how they were each positioned. I think some of that has deteriorated over time, but I think in the heyday that was really how they thought about the positioning..

Adrian Tennant: What are some of the most important issues brand managers or their agency partners need to consider when planning and designing segmentation studies? 

Cindy Casper: So I often hear from people not just with segmentation, but frequently with segmentation that, I need a segmentation and whenever anyone says they need a method, I’m always skeptical of cuz no one needs a method, no one needs a focus group. They need to make a decision . And so my first question is always, how are you going to use it? What is this going to help you do differently that you can’t do today? And then that often leads to an understanding of what capabilities do they actually have, because depending upon what types of data or technologies they have, what they were originally thinking of might be, you know, a very interesting intellectual exercise, but they won’t be able to actually action it. because if they don’t have the ability to treat different people differently, say with a CRM system that can, push different things out to different people or, a creative staff that can create multiple versions,if they don’t have enough resources to create more than one approach to something and they don’t want to limit their communication to one audience. So this happens a lot in higher ed. they want to communicate with all of their alumni or all of their students or prospective students. They don’t want to limit that audience. And so that’s what we often get into conversations about is let’s figure out how you’re going to use this to make different decisions or create different solutions. And if they need to be able to make a bridge, for example, from something you learn in a survey to something that is known from everyone in the database, then we need to think ahead about how are you gonna build that bridge, Because you’re not gonna be able to get your entire customer base to take a survey. So we’re gonna need to figure out a way to predict what we learn to something that can be actionable for everyone. So just some thinking that needs to go into it before they pull the trigger.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages. 

Seth Segura: I’m Seth Segura, VP and Creative Director at Bigeye. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as creative professionals. At Bigeye, we always put audiences first. For every engagement, we commit to really understanding our clients’ prospects and customers. Through our own primary research, we capture valuable data about people’s attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. These insights inform our strategy and guide our creative briefs. Clients see them brought to life in inspiring, imaginative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s audience-focused creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email Bigeye. Reaching the Right People, in the Right Place, at the Right Time.

Adrian Tennant: Each month, in partnership with our friends at Kogan Page, The Bigeye Book Club features interviews with authors who are experts in marketing, consumer research, and customer experience. Our featured book for October is Marketing Metrics: Leverage Analytics and Data to Optimize Marketing Strategies by Christina Inge. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can save 20 percent on a print or electronic version of the book with exclusive promo code BIGEYE20. This code is valid for all products and pre-orders and applies to Kogan Page’s free e-book offer. To order your copy of Marketing Metrics, go to – that’s K O G A N, P A G E dot com.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Cindy Casper, the Founder and Principal of Casper Insights. We’re discussing the role that consumer research can play in marketing and advertising. At Bigeye, we typically undertake segmentation studies to inform the creation of customer personas, fictional identities that capture the demographics and characteristics of addressable groups of customers and prospects. Cindy, you’ve developed a new methodology for collegiate clients to create personality-based segments called Authentic Personas. Could you tell us more about that? 

Cindy Casper: Sure. So authentic personas were inspired by something I noticed when I was doing segmentation in higher ed. It seemed that no matter how I segmented people, whether it be prospective students, students, alumni, and I was doing that based on their attitudes, their profiles almost always showed skews by major of study. So certain majors were more concentrated in certain segments than others, and I thought there must be something personality-based underneath there that’s driving that, that’s driving both their attitudes about the brand or the topic and what they’re choosing to major in. And so if you just think about all the stereotypes and the jokes about people in different occupations. You know, my husband’s an attorney, so I hear a lot of those about lawyers, and you know, that’s true about engineers, accountants, probably sales people, you know, any occupation has stereotypes around it, and jokes, and that they’re funny because there’s some truth that what people study and do for a living reflects something about their personality in a predictable way. And I was also troubled, of course, by the use of something called fictional in the world of fact-based decision-making and fiction in fact. And, but I saw that, fictional personas, Were useful to people, especially in user experience because they were very humanistic. And the creative people, the designers, writers, wanted to be able to picture a real human being and that told me then, Well, my segment descriptions don’t feel like real humans, even though they’re rooted in fact, and I have segment profiles, they’re not doing the job of feeling real and I think the more clearly you can picture a person, the more useful it is. But I wanted it to also describe a real person and more than one real person, because if you’re only designing for one person, you might be missing the mark with the other millions of people that need to be able to use the same website or product or whatever. So I wanted to find a way to make segment profiles more realistic, to be more useful. And by using personality as the basis for segmenting, I was able to create segment profiles that felt more authentic or human. And it turned out that, the obvious application would be for higher ed in talking to people with different majors, but because different majors correlate with different occupations, it can be useful for anyone who’s targeting people who have jobs, which are most people who have money to spend, have jobs or at least used to have jobs, and are now retired. So if you can get third party occupational data that’s pretty cheap and easy to append to any customer list, you then have a way to infer something about their personality, and then of course you could message according to what they value and prioritize.

Adrian Tennant: How have you used Authentic Personas? 

Cindy Casper: Sure. So, I’ve always been fascinated by personality segmentations, and so the one that I use to actually collect data to validate this authentic persona idea was the Myers-Briggs approach, the M B T I, that takes into account intuitive versus sensing, thinking versus feeling, and individual versus group, which is the, perceiving, judging dimension. And it turned out that the intuitive sensing part didn’t really fall out, but the thinking versus feeling and the individual versus group definitely fell out. And so then you just end up with a nice little two by two or a four quadrant typology of, you know, you have thinkers who are more individual focused. And it turns out that those are people pursuing legal, public administration, psychology, or biology studies or occupations. And then you have the individual feelers, which are more your arts, English, communicators. And then group thinkers are more of your math and scientists. And interestingly, history falls in there. And then feelers with group focus are really more the social sciences, education, health, but also business. And so that group becomes large because so many people, study business. So it, it ends up with just a simple four different types of people in the world and ways that you might wanna communicate with them.

Adrian Tennant: Cindy, you now run your own consulting business. What prompted you to start Casper Insights? 

Cindy Casper: You know, I’d love to say that it was, really, strategic intention, but honestly I just really wanted to find a way to keep working from home after the pandemic. I love being able to be in my house and, just love the lifestyle benefits that come from that. And I was fortunate that people just kept asking me to help them on a freelance basis while I was trying to figure out how I was going to find a remote gig. And I’ve been doing this for two years now. just picking up different contracts. I teach marketing research. I help, universities with some of the proprietary techniques I developed at ASU, but all kinds of different clients from market research firms need staff augmentation, ad agencies need research support, different brands may not have research in house or they need extra help. So it’s really just been a happy accident that, I’m hoping I can just continue doing and I needed, an LLC to be able to do the billing. So that’s how it came to be.. 

Adrian Tennant: What kinds of projects do you typically undertake for clients?

Cindy Casper: It’s really so diverse. You know, given the different types of clients and situations that I mentioned, but I suppose what they must all see value in the things that I have experience and expertise in, which is using data to better understand why people do what they do so they can make smarter, more data-driven marketing decisions..

Adrian Tennant: In what kinds of ways does being a solopreneur differ from working in an enterprise insights department? Are there things you miss about working in house? 

Cindy Casper: So I solve pretty much the same types of puzzles or challenges. I suppose I am more hands-on, which I kind of appreciate. when I got to have situations with larger teams, I often felt all I was doing was going from meeting to meeting and assigning problems to solution providers, whether they be on my team or outside vendors. And so I missed some of that hands-on work. So I was having a hard time thinking of anything that I missed because I really just love what I do so much and my new lifestyle that comes with it. But then, while I was pondering this, preparing for the interview, my modem broke the other day and Casper Insights was shut down, and so I really miss tech support!

Adrian Tennant: You also teach research methods for Research Rockstar, which offers real time and recorded instructor-led classes online. Cindy, how are you seeing personal technologies impacting the practice of consumer research, both for researchers and study respondents? 

Cindy Casper: So the world is changing so quickly now. The world of education is changing. I saw it just in my six years and my two years being away from higher education that technology, especially with the pandemic and having to figure out social distancing and education technology was the solution to being able to continue classes and a lot of new models for education are coming out. I was just reading about, Google providing a lot of education solutions in lieu of degreed credentials. And that is allowing people to have more just in time learning than going away to study for four plus years and learning everything you need to know to get you through your career. People need to continuously learn, and that is a marketplace that Research Rockstar serves as well. And then data collection technologies are constantly changing so that you need to constantly be retooling. You know, even just in the two years that I’ve been freelancing, I’ve needed to adopt new technologies, with data collection or data analysis. And so the days of doing everything one way, that you learn at the beginning of your career are gone. And so, you know, technology I think is really the reason behind all of those changes. And so the opportunity though, even though it means we have to keep learning more, it also means that we can rely more and more on technology to do the things that are tedious or time-consuming and free up the human contribution to be the creative thinking about hypothesis generation or applying techniques in a new way. and I think it’s not as tedious as it used to be. You know, having to go in and say code verbatims by hand is tedious, right? I mean, there’s just no other word for it, but in order to extract meaning someone had to do it. And so now with text analytics becoming smarter and smarter, you know, AI and machine learning can really give a great assist to that and just allow you to derive benefit out of it without having to invest the grueling labor, that would go into it. You know, same thing we used to have to key punch all of the surveys that would come back, you know, these poor people were sitting there in front of a keypad and typing it all in, you know, and then, we were able to scan it and then we were able to, you know, just collect it electronically from the beginning. And technology I think just allows us to be able to get more into what only human brains can do, which is the creative aspect.

Adrian Tennant: Do you have one or two favorite research tools that you just couldn’t live without? 

Cindy Casper: Yeah, so those are tools really that do exactly what I was talking about. They take the tedious part out of it and allow you to think about the data instead of spending your time trying to get it into the buckets you want it to be and get it properly structured. And so, SPSS, used to be my primary tool and I still use it quite a bit for analytics, but it never was great at data visualization. And so I guess about a year ago now, I picked up DisplayR and that was my holiday project when I did not have as much to work on. I taught myself how to use that tool, and it’s great not only for data visualization, but for categorizing open ends with its machine learning. And the really slick thing that it does is you can get a partial data file as soon as you go into field,you know, so the day that you launch, you can grab the data file and it has everything structured. You can start creating your final report with partial data just to get everything tidied up and looking the way that you want it. And then it’s just like a magic trick. You bring in the final data file, you click a couple of buttons and your final report is completely populated, and you then saved, probably a week turnaround on being able to deliver the final report and people are just blown away it’s a great magic trick.

Adrian Tennant: Cindy, if IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners would like to learn more about your research consultancy, Casper Insights, or the courses you teach for Research Rockstar, where can they find you?

Cindy Casper: So I have different hats. So if you are interested in my instructor hat, I can be found at Research Rockstar. I teach secondary research, quantitative data analysis, and data fluency, or I can be reached for consulting engagements at

Adrian Tennant: And we’ll be sure to include links to those in the transcript accompanying this episode. Cindy, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. 

Cindy Casper: Thank you, Adrian.

Adrian Tennant: Thanks to my guest this week, Cindy Casper, the Founder and Principal of Casper Insights. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Just select ‘Podcast’ from the menu. And if you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for joining us for IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Consumer Journey Mapping Market Intelligence Podcast

The author of this month’s Book Club selection, Marketing Metrics: Leverage Analytics and Data to Optimize Marketing Strategies is Christina Inge. Confused about goals, KPIs, and metrics? Christina shares strategies applicable to brands and ad agencies and explains how ancient military tactics can inspire innovation in marketing. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can claim a 20 percent discount on Christina’s book, Marketing Matrics, by using the promo code BIGEYE20 at

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS: 

Christina Inge: Most of us go into marketing to either be strategic or to be creative. We don’t go into marketing to do rote and repetitive work. if you position yourself to be a data-driven creative or a data-driven marketing strategist, there are really, really major opportunities.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye: a strategy-led, full-service creative agency, growing brands for clients globally. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tenant, Chief Strategy Officer. Thank you for joining us. At the beginning of this year, Jason Davis wrote an article published by Adweek that discussed the increasing sophistication of the technology platforms agencies use to access, share, and integrate ad performance data. Digital marketing produces prodigious amounts of quantitative data, of course. And as we move towards solutions built around first-party data, brand marketers and agencies are keen to leverage that data to drive business decision-making from optimizing paid campaign performance to enhancing digital customer experiences. Our guest today is a pioneer and expert in data-driven marketing. Christina Inge is the Founder and CEO of Thoughtlight, a consultancy specializing in digital marketing and analytics strategies. She’s worked with major brands including Nissan and the Smithsonian, as well as many startups and nonprofits. Christina is a member of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and has served on the board of the American Marketing Association. She’s also an instructor at Harvard University Extension School and Northeastern University College of Professional Studies, and the author of a new book published by Kogan Page, Marketing Metrics: Leverage Analytics and Data to Optimize Marketing Strategies. To discuss the book and share her insights on how brand marketers and agency teams can make better decisions based on data, Christina is joining us today from Boston, Massachusetts. Christina, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS! 

Christina Inge: I’m very excited to be here. Thank you for having me on, Adrian. 

Adrian Tennant: As I mentioned in the intro, your new book is entitled Marketing Metrics: Leverage Analytics and Data to Optimize Marketing Strategies. What prompted you to write it? 

Christina Inge: I have to say, I saw a huge need out there. People are really struggling with “How do I get to the bottom of all of this data that I have?” A lot of our clients come to us with an enormous amount of data that they have within their organizations or have access to through third parties, but no clear plan of how to leverage it. They struggle to even organize it. Most of us do, let alone use it to make marketing decisions. So this is really a hands- on, practical guide for marketers and business leaders at all levels in any kind of organization to finally get a handle on their data and see the big picture, while also getting actionable tactics for every kind of data, from their social media data to their email, to their web analytics. So it’s really to help people start to work with their data. That’s the inspiration. 

Adrian Tennant: Now, before this interview, I searched for marketing metrics in Amazon’s book section, which returned over 350 results. So Christina, what can readers expect to learn from your book that typically isn’t covered in others? 

Christina Inge: Well, I’ve got a couple of things that we use at my marketing agency, Thoughtlight, that I developed, and I’m publishing them for the first time in this book. One is my content marketing analytics framework which can really help you optimize your content marketing. This is proprietary to us. I developed it within our organization to help our clients. And so this is a completely new way of looking at your content analytics. I think the other thing that this has uniquely, I’m gonna quote from one of the wonderful reviews that have popped up on Amazon about the book is that it’s really a college course in a book. It is a distillation of the components of the course that I teach on marketing metrics. So I feel that it is the most comprehensive strategic guide for managers on how to use marketing metrics. 

Adrian Tennant: Christina, you are also an instructor at Harvard University Extension School and Northeastern University College of Professional Studies. I imagine that some of your students will have come across words and phrases, including metric, performance measure, and key performance indicator sometimes used interchangeably. What’s the difference between a key performance indicator and a metric? 

Christina Inge: Oh, I’m so glad you asked that question, Adrian. So I teach graduate management students, and this question comes up all the time because again, they’re managers, they’re in charge of a lot of different functions within their organizations. And I always say the key performance indicator is the thing that you are measuring that speaks to the goals of your organization. And that’s something that managers especially are responsible for within their organizations. Whether they have full P&L responsibility or not, they’re often responsible for driving towards those big goals like growth, brand awareness. Those are key performance indicators. Metrics are the ground truth. Those are your numbers. So you may be tasked with monitoring growth, but how do you measure that? That’s where metrics come in. Metrics are things like your ad click-through rate, your email open rate, your marketing automation open rate, your social media followership, they’re the tactical, actual numbers that tell you whether you’re driving towards your goals and the key performance indicators are what you are measuring that ties into those goals. That’s where the big picture numbers come in.

Adrian Tennant: When we chatted last week about what topics we wanted to cover in this podcast, you mentioned that your Northeastern students are creatives who anticipate being in marketing for the next 20 years or so. Christina, how do folks interested in the creative side of the business benefit from developing an understanding of marketing metrics? 

Christina Inge: Well, this is where I’m going to get a little geeky on you because one of my lesser-known interests happens to be business lessons that we can learn from ancient military tactics. Do you know who ultimately defeated the Spartans? Who defeated them? People are stumped by that. And it was a little city-state called Thebes. And what they did was they stopped playing by the rules that you would see in ancient warfare, which was that you would confront people head-on, one line to another, kind of like a rugby scrum, and instead, they were able to regain their democracy, throw off the tyranny of Sparta by figuring out a strategy whereby they went around the Spartans who expected them to attack head on and hit them obliquely. It was a very interesting geometric configuration because they had a mathematician general running their show. And in doing so, they were able to get around the problem of “How do I confront a larger and stronger force with fewer and lesser-equipped people?” By finding that data that allowed them to see, “How can I get around a problem?” And so I use this as an example to show that creativity and data and innovation are not mutually exclusive. A lot of times creatives will think, “Well, if I start looking at the data, if I try to innovate based on data, I’m going to lose that aspect of my creativity.” But it actually makes your creativity more effective and allows you to have a greater impact with fewer resources, because it lets you concentrate your innovative efforts in directions where you know they’re going to have the greatest impact. And so it’s much more exciting when I act this out with Sharpies in the classroom. But that is my answer – that it allows you to concentrate your efforts in directions where your creativity will have a strong impact toward driving revenue growth and results.

Adrian Tennant: In the second chapter of Marketing Metrics, you identify four basic types of customer metrics, which you call The Core Four. These are revenue-based metrics, conversion metrics, communications data, and customer loyalty, value, and retention data. Christina, could you give us an overview of each of these in the context of how brand marketers and agency professionals might work with them? 

Christina Inge: Great question, Adrian. So, first I’ll start with the overview. So your revenue-based metrics are those that look at what are you doing to generate revenue and where is that revenue coming from? You know, I’ve been in marketing for 20 years now, and we always had to account for marketing investment and prove ROI which was much more challenging before we had all of the tools that are available to us today. So revenue-based metrics are those metrics that essentially prove ROI. Those are, for instance, what awareness channels, what sales lead generation channels are driving the highest return on investment? Where is not only your highest revenue but your highest profit coming from? Is it from people who’ve had a social media engagement with your organization? Is it from advertising? Is it from SEO? So that’s where you find out which of your marketing efforts are driving the most revenue. Now, the challenge with revenue-based metrics is that there’s such temptation to stop there. However, as marketers, we know that revenue doesn’t happen overnight, and so we need to look at other metrics on the road to revenue. You’re not necessarily going to publish an ad and have that generate immediate revenue. You are going to need to do incremental steps to build awareness, push your consumers through the sales funnel, through the customer journey, and build relationships with your consumers. So that’s where the other three of The Core Four come in. First is conversion metrics, and those are metrics that look at where are you getting your conversions from and what marketing efforts are converting the best. I’ll give you an example of what’s the difference between a conversion and revenue. I actually keep props on my desk for this very reason. So this is a $2 lip balm and I, I purchased it, I’m very happy with it, but I’m sure that the manufacturer of this $2 lip balm is less than happy with the amount of profit they’ve generated off of this. If it costs $5 to acquire me as a customer, and I’m not loyal, I don’t ever come back, the conversion – it really happened, right? I went out and bought this, but the revenue’s just not there. I’m a net negative revenue purchaser with this $2 lip balm. So conversion metrics are important. because they tell you what was working in the moment, what ad got me to click or email got me to open that email with what subject line to have me make a purchase. And from there, that’s where the really fascinating marketing activities come from. What made this customer click? What made them purchase begins to answer “What makes my customer tick?” And you wanna look at it separately from revenue because again, revenue may not necessarily be tied to a conversion that click, that sign on, or even that purchase may not be revenue-driving, but it’s still incredibly valuable data in terms of your consumer psychology, but also what channels are working for you, what marketing creative is working for you. We often, for instance, at Thoughtlight, A/B test and multivariate test different creative just to look at what the conversions are. And that leads me to another value you get out of conversions, which is that frequently, especially in B2B, revenue is not immediate. You know, If you’re selling millions of dollars worth of construction equipment, that conversion may be three years down the line to revenue. But the immediate conversion of the lead is something that you can always measure to determine marketing effectiveness. And of course you tie it back to customer lifetime value when you have that data. But you don’t need to wait for that data to come in if you have a slow sales cycle to begin to gather important information on what marketing is working. And that’s where your conversion metrics come in. That brings me to communications data, and that’s data that tells you what sort of messages are resonating, and it could be a particular value proposition you are emphasizing. It can be particular kind of creative and also in what channels are those communications resonating. And that really helps you go even deeper into your customer’s psychology. Conversions are partly a product of consumer psychology, but they’re also a product of time of day, happenstance. Communications data really gets to the core of what messaging delivered in what format is truly resonating with your customers. And then that finally, drives us to customer loyalty, value, and retention data. So if we envision revenue-based metrics being the company’s big picture, how is marketing delivering ROI for us? And then conversion metrics being around the mechanics of how well is marketing working. And then communications data goes one step more specific into what messages are resonating. Then you have customer loyalty, which is who are our customers, what is keeping them loyal, and how are we keeping them engaged so that we have built a long-term relationship with them? And that really gets to the heart of the individual relationship with customers and more broadly, but still very specifically, with customer segments. 

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages. 

Tim McCormack: I’m Tim McCormack, Bigeye’s VP of Media and Analytics. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as media professionals, often inspired by data points reported in consumer research studies. At Bigeye, we put audiences first. For every engagement, through our own research, we develop a deep understanding of our client’s prospects and customers – analyzing their attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. We distill this data into actionable insights to inspire creative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns – with strategic, cost-efficient media placements. If you’d like to know more about how to put Bigeye’s audience-focused media and analytics to work for your brand, please contact us. Email

Adrian Tennant: Each month, in partnership with our friends at Kogan Page, The Bigeye Book Club features interviews with authors who are experts in marketing, consumer research, and customer experience. Our featured book for October is Marketing Metrics: Leverage Analytics and Data to Optimize Marketing Strategies by Christina Inge. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can save 20 percent on a print or electronic version of the book with exclusive promo code BIGEYE20. This code is valid for all products and pre-orders and applies to Kogan Page’s free e-book offer. To order your copy of Marketing Metrics, go to – that’s K O G A N, P A G E dot com.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Christina Inge, the Founder and CEO of Thoughtlight, and the author of this month’s featured Bigeye Book Club selection, Marketing Metrics: Leverage Analytics and Data to Optimize Marketing Strategies. At Bigeye, in common with most agencies, we’ve seen a shift from traditional media to digital channels over the past couple of decades. Over the past two to three years, many clients have been increasing their investments in social media relative even to other digital channels. Because social strategy often combines organic content, boosted content, paid campaigns, and influencer content, how do you approach creating a dashboard that combines data from many different sources?

Christina Inge: Well, there’s two ways to answer that. One is tactically and one is strategically. Let’s start with strategically. You need to figure out which of your metrics truly matter because otherwise you’ve got a dashboard that holds you back more than it pushes you forward because there’s just so much data there that people get frightened away, don’t look at it at all. And then that’s a useless dashboard. So strategically, the first step is to have clarity on which metrics are most important and reach consensus. And that may mean determining that you need a range of different dashboards. That’s what we recommend, it’s what I talk about in greater depth in the book as well is the need for different levels of dashboards, depending on the stakeholders, um, from strategic to tactical. Now, the next step though is then there’s a ton of tools out there, but use something where you can get the talent to manage that dashboard. You know, Google Data Studio has a lot of proponents. There are many people certified in Tableau, Power BI. A lot of times you want to make sure that your selection of dashboard aligns with what you have as in-house talent, because good data analysts, a good people with skills even in dashboards beyond just data science, are very hard to find. But that is tactics. Most importantly, you need to get clarity on what that dashboard should be talking about. Not everyone needs to stare at all of the same data all the time.

Adrian Tennant: I mentioned organic and boosted content as components of social media. In Marketing Metrics, you have a chapter devoted to content marketing metrics frameworks. Could you talk a bit about why establishing a framework is foundational? 

Christina Inge: Absolutely, Adrian. I think number one, hands up everybody here who has always kept up with their blogging schedule and never, ever failed to do their blogging. I don’t think there’s a hand raised out there, and so, most of us struggle to generate content at the level that we need to, right? At the volume and for the quantities that we need. And so having a framework where you have solid metrics, again, it goes back to that example of using your data to push your creativity in the right direction. You want to figure out where you can concentrate your blogging efforts or your other video efforts or your TikTok-ing efforts, whatever your content work is, where it’s gonna drive the most results. And so having a framework like the CV: the Content Value Framework that we talk about in the book, that I developed at Thoughtlight, it helps you identify which content is the most important to create. We look at different factors such as its propensity to convert, as well as its importance and relevance to your brand. And if you wanna learn more about this framework, buy the book! But the value of that framework is that instead of wondering, “Is my blogging actually doing us any good? Why am I writing all of these blog posts?” You figure out where to put all of your efforts so that every piece of content that you create delivers the maximum ROI, and that actually builds momentum and builds a strong content program.

Adrian Tennant: In Marketing Metrics, you write, quote – “The tools that are today’s must-haves will be tomorrow’s forgotten technologies, and the platforms that we rush to today may not be around in five years” -end quote. So based on your two decades of experience, what skills do brand marketers and agency professionals need to develop to be metrics-driven and enjoy long careers? 

Christina Inge: Number one is divergent thinking. You know, I keep getting back to my analogy of the Battle of Leuctra, which I bet you didn’t think was a good metaphor for marketing, but it was won on the basis of divergent thinking of there, here’s this paradigm, right, of you hit your opponent head on like a rugby scrum, and if they had done that, we would’ve never heard of Thebes – not that we’ve heard of them anyway! But, the ability to use data, not just to validate, “Oh look, we sold another lip balm,” but to think about, “Well, what is this telling me about the path forward? How is data pointing to creative new directions?” Computers are gradually taking over all of what I call the bread-and-butter work. You know, just being able to crunch numbers no longer makes you special. Just thinking about, “Oh, these numbers tell us that this ad had a higher click-through rate than that ad. Google Ads, for instance, has already taken that work out of marketers’ hands. They’re testing your ads and optimizing and delivering the highest click-through or highest conversion rate ads automatically all the time. So simply being able to do math and make very simple tactical decisions such as, “This ad got more clicks than that ad, let’s run the ad with more clicks” – it’s over. If it’s not already over with the particular tools or the skillset you use, it’s going to be over within the next five, maximum 10 years. What’s not going to be over is what I call being a general of data, being able to look at the whole field, look at all of the information that’s coming into you, look at the situation and the players, and make new breakthrough decisions based on that data that move your organization forward, that help them come up with creative new approaches. So if you are focused right now on what’s called convergent thinking of just analyzing things, and coming up with this is the one and only, you know, sole version of the truth on this very simple level of what ad to click on or what creative is performing the best, that’s great data to observe, but now you need to deduce, and more importantly, you need to be able to strategize from those deductions. So don’t be afraid to come up with crazy ideas based on the data. Don’t be afraid to think. 

Adrian Tennant: We’re seeing more AI-driven and machine learning-assisted data analysis tools emerging in the marketing space. Do you view these as threats or opportunities? 

Christina Inge: I actually see them as opportunities, and I’ll tell you why. They are elevating what marketing can do. Throughout my whole career in technology, I’ve always seen newer and newer tools come up that take some kind of tactical work away, and that it always causes shifts, right? It always causes changes, shifting landscape of what jobs are available out there. But ultimately most of us go into marketing to either be strategic or to be creative. we don’t go into marketing to do rote and repetitive work. And so if you position yourself to be a data-driven creative or a data-driven marketing strategist, they are really, really major opportunities. It’s a threat if your focus has been on carrying out somebody else’s plan on doing very, very basic work. I know that some entry level work does not have as much of a creative component, and some of that may shift also. But ultimately for marketing, it’s going to take away that impression a lot of the C-suite often has, all due respect to the C-suite, that we are makers of posters and senders out of pretty newsletters, and make marketing more of a strategic job.

Adrian Tennant: In this interview, we’ve only scratched the surface of what you cover in Marketing Metrics. In addition to the 285 pages of content, you also include a chapter of resources, a dictionary of marketing metrics and related terms, and end notes that allow readers to learn more about the sources and case studies you include in the book. Christina, in the period that’s elapsed between submitting your final manuscript to Kogan Page and the book being published, are there any topics that you wish you’d covered in more detail or perhaps ideas that you’d like to expand upon in a future book? 

Christina Inge: Yes, absolutely. So Marketing Metrics was designed to be a broad overview of all of the data-driven thinking that today’s managers, especially marketing managers, but also executives need. It’s meant to be your 360-degree guide to everything you need to know about marketing metrics. What I’d like to dive into deeper in the future is customer analytics, and in fact, I’m building out a course on data-driven customer journey mapping to get very specific. So that’s an area that I hope to. Stay tuned.

Adrian Tennant: If IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners want to learn more about you or your consulting firm, Thoughtlight, where can they find you? 

Christina Inge: You can look me up on LinkedIn. Send me a message and say you listen to this podcast if you wanna connect there. and you can also go to my website, which is “Thought” as in thinking. “Light” as in light bulb, and it’s the dot-net. 

Adrian Tennant: And if you’d like to obtain a copy of Christina’s book, Marketing Metrics: Leverage Analytics and Data to Optimize Marketing Strategies, as an IN CLEAR FOCUS listener, you can save 20% when you order directly from the publisher at Just enter the promo code BIGEYE20, that’s B I G E Y E 2 0 at the checkout. And that discount applies to printed and electronic versions of the book. Christina, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS! 

Christina Inge: Thank you again. It was wonderful to be here. And again, if you’ve got any burning questions about marketing, I’ve probably answered them in the book.

Adrian Tennant: Thanks to my guest this week, Christina Inge, the Founder and CEO of Thoughtlight, and the author of Marketing Metrics: Leverage Analytics and Data to Optimize Marketing Strategies. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Just select ‘Podcast’ from the menu. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for joining us for IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Consumer Journey Mapping Market Intelligence Podcast

An encore episode with Dr. Andrea Laurent-Simpson, the author of Just Like Family: How Companion Animals Joined The Household. Andrea explains why most pet owners regard their animals as members of the family and suggests how pet product manufacturers and marketers should approach the emergence of the “multispecies family.” Andrea uses contemporary advertisements to illustrate how dogs and cats are increasingly identified and treated as legitimate members of the household.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS

Andrea Laurent-Simpson: Family is changing and that we are increasingly as a culture accepting this idea that there are multi-species families where the dog and the cat aren’t just pets anymore. They aren’t just kind of accepted into the family fold. They literally are family members now. 

Adrian Tennant: You are listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS: fresh perspectives on the business of advertising, produced weekly by Bigeye: a strategy-led, full-service creative agency, growing brands for clients globally. Hello. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, chief strategy officer at Bigeye. Thank you for joining us today. Many of the Bigeye team have pets in their households and, as an agency, we’ve recently undertaken our second national study of pet ownership. We’ll be sharing the results from that study in the coming weeks. But to help us understand how dogs and cats have evolved from domestic animals to family members, today’s episode is another chance to hear a conversation with Dr. Andrea Laurent-Simpson, the author of the book, Just Like Family: How Companion Animals Joined the Household. Examining how and why pets have become so integral to families in America, the book provides a compelling view of the “multi-species family.” Dr. Laurent-Simpson is a Research Assistant Professor and Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and joined us from her home north of Dallas to discuss the book last March.


Adrian Tennant: Andrea, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Andrea Laurent-Simpson: Thank you, Adrian.

Adrian Tennant: So what prompted you to write Just Like Family?

Andrea Laurent-Simpson: So the introduction in my book talks about this, so that would be my dog, my first dog as an adult anyway, was a Chow Chow named Chewbacca Bear and she came into my life when I was probably 20 years old, maybe 19, and she really was my means of giving me some interaction as I lived on my own in an apartment and stress relief, I guess as I went through the undergraduate process. But when I met my husband or my future husband, he and I really bonded over her and we wound up kind of creating a little family and that family just intensified and intensified the further along he and I went and as we got married and, put off having human children, we really kind of turned all of that attention towards her. And at the time I wasn’t really aware that we were doing that. I didn’t think about it in terms of treating her like a child. It just came very naturally to us and so, around the time that I found out that she was 10 and I found out that she had lymphoma and she was like stage three lymphoma. I went through a series of visits with different veterinarians and specialists and oncologists kind of in complete denial about it until I landed at Texas A&M Veterinary School, where we kind of went back and forth, this resident and I went back and forth about her diagnosis and I realized that talking about these things in front of her was something that was disturbing to me. In front of the dog that is, in front of Chew Bear. And so I asked them to take her out of the room and I finished up that meeting with the oncologist and when I got in the car, the sociological piece of me after 10 years finally kicked in and said, “What just happened? You literally had your dog removed from the room as if she could understand these things that you were talking about.” And my brain said, “yes, she could. She could understand all of that. And these all have massive repercussions for her life and our lives.” And I think I just took off from there, in building the idea in my head and thinking about whether or not I was the only person that might be interacting with their dog or cat like this. And eventually, it turned into at least a piece of it turned into my dissertation for my doctoral work. And then I expanded from there into some other things with it and continue to expand on it now.

Adrian Tennant: Just Like Family is about what you define as the multi-species family. Could you explain your hypothesis?

Andrea Laurent-Simpson: Sure. So I guess it helps to explain what a multi-species family is in the first place. A multi-species family, at least I would say currently in a post-industrialized, high-income nation, like the United States, is a family that has not just human members, but non-human members as well and identifies those non-human animals as family. When you look at the research, primarily, at least for now that tends to be dogs and cats. There are not as many people identifying Guinea pigs and snakes and tarantulas, right, as family. So the dogs and the cats would be like a primary part of that. And the multi-species family that we see today, is one that is marked not just by having this pet in the family or even just thinking of the pet as family. It’s actually literally identifying the pet as a family member and treating him or her in that way. So identifying the dog or the cat as a sibling to your own children or identifying the dog or cat as a child to you, or that extended family piece, again, thinking of your adult children’s pets as granddogs or grandcats. I keep reinforcing the idea of contemporary, post-industrialized, high-income countries like the US, because some researchers and I’m included in this would say that multi-species families have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. It’s not so much that the multi-species family is new. It’s the incantation of it that’s very new.

Adrian Tennant: Your book discusses the many different roles that pets play in people’s lives. For example, as siblings to human children and as children or “fur babies” among child-free or childless couples. In the book, you recount a story from your personal experience when your dog was treated like a grandchild. Could you tell us more about that?

Andrea Laurent-Simpson: Sure. So I talked about Chew Bear a few minutes ago, but my husband and I were dating and clearly very committed to each other and became engaged. His mother, so in the book, I referred to her as Famoo because she’s Finnish. And so Famoo was very, very fond of Chew Bear and loved the way that we interacted with her and kind of accepted her as a primary family member. And so she engaged in that as well. She was very willing to babysit Chew Bear. She was willing to cook natural foods for Chew Bear. She was willing to, which is phenomenal to me, get on an airplane with us when we moved to Los Angeles, literally so she could take care of Chew Bear while we went and looked at different apartments and help us apartment hunt in order to find places that would be adequate for the three of us, not just Mark and I, but Mark and I and Chew Bear. And this, this wasn’t just these kinds of things, it was little things too. Talking to Chew Bear like she was her granddaughter and talking about Chew Bear as if she were a granddaughter to other people, to her friends, like outside of our family circle, talking to her friends and showing her friends pictures of Chew Bear. And these are all behavioral elements that kept popping up in my own participants, especially the child-free and involuntarily childless participants, really recounted a lot of similar activities where their parents would invoke this idea of grandparent and treat their animals in that way. Famoo had a really special connection with Chew Bear too, so it wasn’t just grandchild in name, it was grandchild in behavior. She would often talk about how she loved Chew Bear more as a grandchild than she loved some of her other human grandchildren, which obviously were not our children, so it’s okay. She had a very special connection with her and I had fun writing about some of that and I saw it replicated with other people as well. So I’ll add one more thing to that. I think that the key piece for me thinking about this sociologically, Famoo’s involvement wasn’t just sweet to watch. It was also very much so reinforcing of my own behavior and of my husband Mark’s behavior in treating her like a child. So the more that Famoo thought about and treated Chew Bear as if she were a grandchild or one of our kids, the more Mark and I were motivated to continue treating her that way. We didn’t feel stigmatized by it. We didn’t feel embarrassed by it. We felt supported in it. And again, that was something else that I saw replicated again and again, for people who really found value in their own parents supporting their ideas about their dogs and cats being like children to them, was really important. And when that support was not there, it was painfully evident in my participants’ narratives as well.

Adrian Tennant: Chapter five of Just Like Family focuses on how mass media has embraced the concept of the multi-species family. You describe your findings from a qualitative review of a series of print advertisements spanning roughly two decades. Now there’s a lot in this chapter of interest to pet care brand marketers and advertisers, so let’s start with the ways in which animals are depicted. Andrea, to what extent did you find animals in ads had human traits applied to them?

Andrea Laurent-Simpson: I would say that, especially over even the past 30 years, definitely the past 20, but over the past 30 years, companion animals have increasingly been anthropomorphized, in ads, not only in the images but also in the copy. In terms of anthropomorphization, that is kind of giving these human traits to animals, I think that that’s something advertisers have done for a really long time. You know, I think about like Joe Camel, right? The depiction of the tough, like Navy man smoking cigarettes. Well, you know, they used a camel to depict that and it was a very, very, effective marketing tactic. Right? That spoke to masculinity in the United States. So I think that that’s not new at all. I think that the anthropomorphization of dogs and cats into actual family members, actual social actors is a different level than simply applying human traits. So that as I pulled these ads and analyzed them, yeah, definitely they were applying these traits of, I guess maybe dressing an animal like a person or maybe, having the animal held like you might hold a child. Like one ad stands out in my mind. You can just, it’s a woman and you just see the back of her head and body. And the dog is upon her shoulder peering back at the camera, right? So obviously that’s anthropomorphic, right? Applying emotions so you have copy where there’s a word bubble and the dog says, “Oh, I’m so happy!” Right? Those things we’re applying human traits, but it’s when we get into ads that are very specifically kind of replicating particular identities like the child, right? So the dog looking over, peering back at the camera as if it’s a child – or he or she is a child – or having copy that gives words to the dog or cat like, “Hey mom, we love this dog food!” Things like that are, they’re stepping a little bit more into the realm of actually depicting the dog and the cat as, as a social actor, number one. Number two: a social actor that communicates effectively with their human. Not just through a bark or a meow, they’re actually using language to communicate with their human, and that are, number three, actually aware of and involved in creating very intimate bonds, familial bonds with their parents or their pet parents, right? So when I think about this mother-child relationship, one ad that pops up for me the copy is really informative. It’s a woman who’s out running and she’s got her Siberian Husky with her. And the copy says, “Bella is part of my family.” Okay. So maybe a general family member. But then she goes on to say, “I believe her happiness and health come before anything else.” So, the copy in that is really telling it’s not just that the animal is like family to me. It’s actually that “the animal is like family to me and more she’s like a child to me.” Because they are invoking kind of this verbiage, this intensive mothering verbiage about your children always coming first. Her happiness, her health comes before anything else. And so this particular ad is advertising Natural Balance dog food. 

So it’s a dietary thing. Verbiage like that, copy like that symbolically communicates, I think on the advertisers’ end, that family is changing and that we are, increasingly as a culture, accepting this idea that there are multi-species families where the dog and the cat aren’t just pets anymore. They aren’t just kind of accepted into the family fold. They literally are family members now, like a child, grandchild, or a sibling, or whatever it happens to be.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.

Seth Segura: I’m Seth Segura, VP and Creative Director at Bigeye. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as creative professionals. At Bigeye, we always put audiences first. For every engagement, we commit to really understanding our clients’ prospects and customers. Through our own primary research, we capture valuable data about people’s attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. These insights inform our strategy and guide our creative briefs. Clients see them brought to life in inspiring, imaginative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s audience-focused creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email Bigeye. Reaching the Right People, in the Right Place, at the Right Time.

Adrian Tennant: Each month, in partnership with our friends at Kogan Page, The Bigeye Book Club features interviews with authors who are experts in marketing, consumer research, and customer experience. Our featured book for October is Marketing Metrics: Leverage Analytics and Data to Optimize Marketing Strategies by Christina Inge. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can save 20 percent on a print or electronic version of the book with exclusive promo code BIGEYE20. This code is valid for all products and pre-orders and applies to Kogan Page’s free e-book offer. To order your copy of Marketing Metrics, go to – that’s K O G A N, P A G E dot com.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. You’re listening to an encore of my conversation with Dr. Andrea Laurent-Simpson, a Research Assistant Professor and Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Southern Methodist University and the author of the book, Just Like Family, published by New York University Press. 


The pet care category is a growing multi-billion dollar industry in the US. Andrea, in your research, did you come across any pet-related products or services that you’d never seen before, or that struck you as particularly interesting?

Andrea Laurent-Simpson: Yes. I mean, they’re not, they’re not strange to me anymore, but as I was initially doing the research, coming across products like dog seat belts was something that was interesting to me. Strollers? I’d seen strollers before. What I had not seen was double strollers. So, you know, we have double strollers for twins or kids that are similar ages, but these were double strollers for dogs. And probably the one that stands out the most to me was the high chair. So Ikea, there’s a really neat ad from Ikea. 

And we could sit here and analyze this ad together for hours, it’s so fascinating to me. But there’s an Ikea ad with a blue high chair in it. And there is a Labrador, a golden lab sitting up in the high chair, eating, there’s two bowls kind of recess down on the highchair, eating from the bowls. And the copy is interesting to me. The copy actually refers to the dogs, as family, right? So dinner time is when the family comes together. So it makes sense to include the family’s best friend. So it’s interesting, the copy, right? That it refers to the dog that’s in the high chair as a family’s best friend. And then it also later on in the copy refers to the dog as a dinner guest. These feel very fuzzy to me. They don’t feel like solidly family, right? They sound like visitor. Here’s a visitor. When this visitor comes, put them in this high chair at your table. It’s the image though that’s the most striking and really the copy is almost like it’s not an afterthought. It’s very carefully crafted, but it’s not what stands out in this ad. What stands out is that bright blue high chair, bright silver, or shiny silver bowls in it, and that beautiful golden lab sitting in it. And all you see, looking at it, is a child. A best friend doesn’t come to a house and get put in a high chair. You don’t buy a high chair for your best friend’s baby, right? You buy a high chair for a baby that’s in your household and then you utilize it to have them at the table with the family. They’re not separate from the family, sitting, or anything like it, they’re sitting there at the table with the family. They’re one of the family. and so I think that that particular ad and, and the high chair being advertised, and it was really interesting to me. And I think too, I will add this. I think too, that the reason the copy seems a little counter to what the image is because families today, even though this idea of a multi-species family, even though that is becoming more accepted, I think it’s still stigmatized. So looking at that copy, I think that that was probably the advertiser’s way of walking that line real finely and saying to the consumer that doesn’t buy into this, “Hey, we’re not trying to say anything about, we’re not trying to say that this dog’s a child”, but then also with that image that really stands out saying, “Hey, you guys that see your dog as your child? Look at this product that we have for you!” so it’s really interesting to me, just the line walking, very careful psychological kind of analysis that went into that particular ad.

Adrian Tennant: So I’m curious, Andrea, are there any human and product categories that you think are untapped opportunities for pet product manufacturers?

Andrea Laurent-Simpson: I think Adrian, that that is a million-dollar question! I think that that’s something that if I could come up with the answer to, I maybe might quit my job and go into pet product innovation. But what I would say from a sociological perspective is that there are particular, I guess categories in terms of family and household structure that advertisers need to pay attention to. They need to think about not just the multi-species family with a dog and a cat and whether or not they have a dog or they have a cat, but they need to think about the household structure. So are we like targeting multi-species families with human children? Multi-species families who are child-free, or involuntarily childless? Are we targeting empty nesters? Like who are we targeting? Because in my own research, each one of those household structures had different perceptions and different internalized identities, related to their dogs and cats. So that the family without human children, you could very much so see this kind of parent-child identity pairing present. Sometimes they were aware of it. Sometimes they were not. Like me, if you had interviewed me 10 years, 15 years ago with Chew Bear, I wouldn’t have been aware of it. But right, that parent-child identity pairing or like with the empty-nester, there’s the grandparent-grandchild identity pairing, or with the family that has human children, there is this identity pairing of sibling-sibling, and sometimes like best friends kind of thing that they see in their own children with the family dog or cat. And so that would be the first part of this right? In trying to figure out what else could we do? I mean, because obviously innovating products from the ground up, I think that’s probably fairly rare. I think that most products come from extensions of products we’ve already got on the market. and so looking at those family structures and thinking about the identities that are present within each multi-species family structure is important because you can figure out what the varying needs are based on the family structure. So for me, I have human children now and I’ve got my three German Shorthair Pointers, and I would absolutely love to have a product- I have no clue what it would look like- but I would love to have a product that would really help me cut down on dirt, even more at the entries to my home. Right now, what we’ve got is towels and these innovative pet product cups where you dip their feet. Like they’ve got these little teethy things inside their silicone, you dip their feet down in there in the silicone, but those are disgusting and messy and the dogs are always turning them over. So, you know, something like that would probably be more important to a family with human children and their dogs and dogs in particular. Because I’ve got double the mess coming through the door every time my two-legged and four-legged children walk in, right? Whereas a child-free family, maybe, yes, obviously they want to make sure that their floors are staying clean, but they don’t have double the mess. So maybe it’s not as big of a concern right? So thinking, along the lines of travel. Child-free families travel a lot. They spend a lot of, well at least middle-class and upper-class professional families are traveling a lot and they wanna take their pets with them. So focusing more on that family structure, the identities that are present there, I want to travel with my kid, my pet, my fur baby. I wanna take my baby with me. So what can we do to kind of improve upon some of the products that are available now to help them travel better? So taking like that family who is child-free and paralleling them with the family that has human children. What are the children’s products that are out there right now? And for travel, for example, what do we have for kids that ease parents’ burden? I’ll say that lightly! When you travel with kids, what do they have for kids that we could extend upon and expand upon for child-free families that want to travel with their pets, with their dogs and cats? So that’s part of it. The other part of it is thinking generationally, which I know that advertisers are well aware of, right? But today, millennials comprise 35% of all pet owners. They have just recently become the biggest pet-owning category percentage-wise in the US. So they’re a really important group to pay attention to. When we look at research on real estate and property purchases, a third of millennials have reported actually purchasing a home for their dog. And in that research, the survey questions ask them to rank, “Why have you purchased a home?” And purchasing a home, percentage-wise, for the dog was number one. Under that came just got married, I have a spouse, we want a home. And then after that was, we’re gonna have kids or we have kids. The dog for a third of them was number one. This is a really important piece to pay attention to when people are purchasing their homes, when millennials, and this is only getting more intense with Gen Z, and moving forward, I think they’re just gonna get more and more intense because fertility rates are dropping and as fertility rates drop, obviously this means that there are fewer children entering the population. And the question, interesting research question to me is are people feeling kind of a need to nurture if they’re not gonna have children, human children, whether that’s because they don’t wanna add the population growth or they’re not able to have human children or human children just gross them out- whatever the reason is if they’re not having children, I am wondering if we are, with a desire to nurture, we are filling that with bringing more and more dogs and cats into our lives. And part of some future research I’d like to do is really kind of examining that and trying to figure out what increasing levels of dog and cat ownership and multi-species families, where the dog’s a child, like almost a bonafide child in the family, if that’s reinforcing falling fertility rates not causing it, but reinforcing it. Thinking about things like that as an advertiser, being able to kind of foresee those trends coming, I, I think is the bread and butter of advertising and marketing, right? But I think really having a clear-cut understanding, for example, that rental properties, that home builders are now designing their either rental properties or they’re designing the houses they sell to answer to pet parents. Like, “Oh, look at this perk. Look at this thing we could build into your house. We could have a whole, pet bathing area back here instead of a mudroom.” like a traditional mudroom where the kids come in and throw all their garbage on the floor. You tell I’ve got children. We instead have, you know, this nice kind of bathing area, for your dog to bring in and spray them off and get them ready to enter the rest of the house. Thinking about things like that and understanding how these different household structures see their animals and the way that they interact with the family will be the best way to figure out new extensions, really on human categories of products.

Adrian Tennant: In the book, you cite some previous research studies, some of which have found differences between how dog owners view their pets compared to cat owners. Having reviewed almost two decades’ worth of ads, what are some important considerations you’d highlight for marketers seeking to appeal to dog or cat owners?

Andrea Laurent-Simpson: Well, the research in the past, that I’ve looked at, so from Harris poll and American Pet Products Association, even the AVMA obviously shows dogs and cats with this special family status applied to them. It seems to show dogs as having a greater likelihood of having the status applied to them but cats, cats do too. Cats aren’t so far off of dogs that we should just write them off as bonafide members of the multi-species family in the US. Dogs in particular, it seems, are privileged with things like birthday presents, holiday celebrations, especially things in my mind that I think of as very social, like a birthday celebration is a very social activity. And when you think about the ways that dogs and humans interact with each other, they’re very social. If you think about the way that they kind of evolved and that evolutionary niche, the reason they evolved alongside one another, was because of that kind of increasing, intertwined social interaction that they had. It’s almost like the disposition of a canine is one that makes him or her very social to start with. But I really think that has a lot to do with evolution alongside humans, right? Whereas cats didn’t evolve in the same way, right? They didn’t evolve right alongside the leg of a human or a hominid, an early hominid. They kind of evolved as an independent isolated category of species. And today their personalities are very, so the domesticated cat, the personalities are very similar, right? Very independent, very aloof. And so it’s not unusual to me to see that maybe more social types of behaviors, going out with a dog, walking the dog, taking the dog to dog parks, that just kind of lines up with the way that humans have evolved alongside of dogs. It lines up with dog personality. Thinking about cats, things are a little bit different, right? People also report birthday celebrations. They also report including them in holiday celebrations and letting them co-sleep. Although cats co-sleep more than dogs do. I think probably of everything I looked at, that was the one thing where cats outranked dogs was co-sleeping. Nut again, I think that’s a personality thing. I think that has to do with the disposition of the feline, right? Is kind of claiming areas as their own. It doesn’t really matter what you say is theirs or isn’t theirs. They’re going to tell you what’s theirs, right? I mean, if this bed is their bed, then you may share it with them. It’s not your bed. It’s my feline bed. You may come sleep in it, if you would like, kind of thing, just a different disposition. And so, you know, looking at those ads, I think that if you are a marketer that is wanting to appeal to dog owners, you’ve gotta think about the household structure, and the identities that are present based on what the household structure is. But then you’ve got to think about the disposition of the dog. In your ads, you don’t wanna make the mistake and in your marketing plans, you don’t wanna make the mistake of portraying or depicting the dog in a way that owners are gonna be like, “Oh, I see through this, you don’t get it. You’re just trying to sell me something because if you weren’t just trying to sell me something, you really cared about me as a consumer, you would understand, not only is this dog like a child to me, but this dog has a specific personality. and it is one that maybe is outgoing and gregarious, or is very interested in being social all the time and being by my side. And in this ad, you’ve got this dog that you wanna market a pet product to me with, sitting off to the side while I sit forefront in the ad drinking my beer, right?” That you’re trying to sell me dog beer. And the dog’s like over here on the side or whatever it happens to be right? Now, if it were an ad that you were trying to sell cat beer, I don’t see a market for that right? Trying to parallel it with the same ad. If you were, if you were, trying to sell cat beer, then maybe that would be the way that you might kind of create that ad, right? Because the cat is aloof. And in fact, maybe what you would do there is put the cat in the forefront of that, and maybe put the human off to the side, drinking their beer. but it’s a personality thing, right? And I think that sometimes, and not just advertisers, but I think social scientists, I think researchers, anthropologists, sociologists, I think sometimes they miss that piece of it, right? If you are an advertiser and you are, or somebody that’s trying to innovate and then market new products or extensions on products, only thinking about the human side, the anthropocentric side of this is gonna get you into trouble. Now, it wouldn’t have gotten you into trouble 20, 30, 40 years ago, because I don’t think that this kind of post-industrialized, multi-species, high-income society had emerged yet. It was emerging, but I don’t think it was front and center the way it is now. You have to remove yourself from that anthropocentric focus, thinking of the human as the one that you’re selling this to, and really think of the dog and cat as a consumer and put that in your ads. You’ve got to think the same way you would a child, right? If you’re marketing games, if you’re Milton Bradley or Hasbro or whatever it is, you’ve done extensive research on children’s behavior, what games they like, the way they play with them, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right? It’s the same thing with a dog and a cat. You’ve got to think about them as a consumer and the ways in which they demand, request, want, need, desire, and make sure it comes through in that ad. Because for the multi-species families that I’m describing today that are very, very emergent and becoming increasingly accepted in this millennial generation, to not do that will be insulting to the person who actually has the money, right? The person who actually lays that money down. You need to talk to my dog, right? Talk to my dog to have them talk to me. 

Adrian Tennant: Andrea if IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners would like to learn more about you, your academic work, and your book, Just Like Family, where can they find you?

Andrea Laurent-Simpson: They could find me on my email. ALaurentSimpson – so just “a” for Andrea, and then Laurent-Simpson @ Or they could also go to my website on So any of those ways would work.

Adrian Tennant: Andrea, thank you very much indeed for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Andrea Laurent-Simpson: Thank you, Adrian, for having me.

Adrian Tennant: Thanks again to my guest in this encore episode, Dr. Andrea Laurent-Simpson of the Department of Sociology at Southern Methodist University and the author of the book, Just Like Family: how companion animals joined the household. As always, you’ll find a full transcript of our conversation along with links to the resources we discussed on the Bigeye website at Just select podcast from the menu. And if you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us wherever you listen to podcasts, submit a review, or tell a friend about IN CLEAR FOCUS. It really helps us out. Thank you for listening. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye!

Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Consumer Journey Mapping Market Intelligence Podcast

Making a return visit to Bigeye’s podcast, our guest this week is Ksenia Newton of Brandwatch. Ksenia explains how she triangulates different sources of data, including social listening, to derive fresh consumer insights about shopping behaviors in-store and online. Ksenia shares insights from her recent Brandwatch reports and makes some predictions about how inflationary pressures might impact this year’s Holiday shopping season, based on what she’s seeing in research.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS:

Ksenia Newton: A lot of the time, if an important brand is not aligned with the consumers’ values, consumers may no longer want to shop with them and they’ll go with somebody else, whether it’s more expensive or not.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye: a strategy-led, full-service creative agency, growing brands for clients globally. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, Chief Strategy Officer. Thank you for joining us. The shopping experience was transformed for many of us during the COVID-19 lockdowns. As footfall in physical stores dropped, eCommerce boomed, innovation in retail tech accelerated, and competition among online retailers grew exponentially. Today, things look a bit different. Shoppers are back in physical stores, while direct-to-consumer brands, including Allbirds, Carvana, and Warby Parker are struggling. Understanding the ever-evolving patterns and trends in consumer behavior is essential for retailers and brands who need to forecast their manufacturing needs and plan their inventory months ahead of products actually hitting the shelves. One way of closely monitoring changes in consumer behavior is through social listening, enabled by tools that can track information about products, consumers, and purchase intent in near real-time. Marketers can use social listening platforms to understand consumer sentiment and improve their brand’s presence on social networks. Making a return visit to IN CLEAR FOCUS, today’s guest is Ksenia Newton, Marketing Content Specialist at the digital consumer intelligence company, Brandwatch. Ksenia describes herself as part social analyst and part writer, deriving insights from social data and turning those into helpful reports and data-driven stories. To talk about current retail trends and what the future might hold for omnichannel commerce, Ksenia is joining us today from New York City. Ksenia, welcome back to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Ksenia Newton: Hey Adrian, thank you for having me.

Adrian Tennant: For listeners who didn’t hear our conversation last year, could you explain what Brandwatch is, and the types of clients it serves? 

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, absolutely. So I guess I’ll give you the company spiel first. Brandwatch is the world’s premier social suite, empowering thousands of the world’s most admired companies to understand and engage with customers at the speed of social. And to make this line a little bit more digestible for the listeners, what we do is we scope the internet over a hundred million different online publicly available sources on different topics depending on what we’re trying to cover. And using our technology, not only can you scope the internet, you can then segment that data and kind of craft consumer trends, or really understand and answer questions that you have about your consumers at a speed of social, because social media data is available in real-time. So yeah, our products combine a couple of different things such as AI technology, as well as social media listening and social media management tools.

Adrian Tennant: As I mentioned in the introduction, your title is Marketing Content Specialist. What does your role at Brandwatch entail? 

Ksenia Newton: Yeah. you can think of me as a data journalist. I’m part analyst, part content writer. So I do use our proprietary technology to scope the internet depending on what the topic I’m working on at the moment in time. And then I analyze that data. Build trends, write reports, guides, blog posts, and sell those stories, data stores that brands really like to hear. yeah.

Adrian Tennant: You recently wrote and presented a report for Brandwatch, which explores how consumer behaviors have changed since COVID-19. Your report identifies five key trends, presenting both opportunities and challenges to retailers. So before we talk about the findings, Ksenia, could you explain how you obtain the data for your retail-focused reports? 

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, absolutely. Actually, the consumer trend report that you mentioned is by far, one of my favorite ones. It took a lot of work and we ended up involving our existing customers. We have a Brandwatch community whom we reach out to and ask, besides doing some initial research, we also reached out to our community and asked them what are the different topics we could cover that would help them their job probably. the data was obtained using our proprietary technology, Brandwatch consumer research. And I used quite a few queries or search strings if you will, the number was 23 or 24. And we also use social panels, which I think is very important to mention, like it’s becoming one of my favorite, proprietary tech that we have in fact, because it allows us to analyze different groups of people based on certain criteria. So we use that to analyze different generations. You can also use them to analyze people according to certain interests or their job titles and so on and so forth. Yeah.

Adrian Tennant: The first trend I’d like to discuss with you is retail therapy. Could you tell us what this is and how you’re seeing consumer behaviors being impacted by it? 

Ksenia Newton: Yeah. It’s a great question. Such an interesting topic to discover actually. As you know, the pandemic kind of accelerated the shift to shopping online and because consumers who were stuck at home tended to shop a little bit more. So we saw a lot of topics covered, such as delivery payment options, and checkout process that consumers discussed during that time. But also because retailers realized consumers are shopping a lot more, they have a little bit more disposable income. We were talking about 2021 and people spent a lot more time shopping online. Retailers did their best to kind of optimize that experience for them. So this is what we saw in terms of retail or shopping experience that consumers just relied on the delivery and, kind of discuss the existing payment options and checkout process and so on, so forth. But kind of the downside of that, that we saw online, is consumers a lot of the time discussed how it’s negatively impacting them because some of them literally stated, and I’ll quote this tweet because I thought it was very important. the person literally said, “Why do I feel like I need to order something every single day?” And, that tweet received a lot of engagement because a lot of people, a lot of consumers feel the same way just because everything is catered to them. The delivery option you can choose from, you know, one day delivery, you can, do the curbside. You can go to the store and so on and so forth because, they had so many different options. They felt the pressure that they had to shop every single day. And kind of that shopping behavior has probably become a problem for a lot of consumers and that’s, and because in a way, they used that behavior to kind of cope with depression that they had last year.

Adrian Tennant: Next, could you talk to us about the window shopping trend?

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, that’s also a very interesting trend. Again, last year when people were still kind of homebound, we had very little to do, right? We were online at all times and a lot of the time we were just shopping online. So, the window shopping trend online, we saw two different, topics there. People would just add things to the shopping cart, pretend that they have a place to wear clothes or shoes or whatever it might be. and then just exiting the shopping cart and never really finalizing that transaction. So there are two reasons that we saw why that was happening. One trend is because consumers were still very much kind of concerned about their financial security. and then didn’t necessarily want to spend that money and they wanted to save up. But the added trend was, it was wishful thinking if you will, consumers never really intended to finalize that purchase at all. But what’s important to know about window shopping online is it actually is costing brands a lot of money. So one of the recent research that I read stated that about 58 to 84 percent of shopping carts are abandoned online. So you can only think about how many billions of dollars they can be translated into. so with the first trend, with consumers trying to save up, there is really not much brands can do. We’re just going to have to hope the economy is going to get better and, consumers will regain that kind of confidence, when it comes to spending. But with the second trend, When people are exiting shopping cars, there is something brands can actually do. and we were talking about optimizing further shopping experience for consumers, such as making very easy, updating the UX experience. And these are all the things. What I’m mentioning is everything that we saw throughout our research, right? People actually mentioned confusing, UX experience, not understanding how to properly find where is the shopping cart. And actually my personal experience that I, I purchased something the other day and I write about this and I took me a minute to figure out how do I actually finalize my purchase? And, I would love to let the brand know I’m not going to mention them, but I’d love to let them know that they’re really confusing me and I’ve been a loyal customer for a long time. so yeah, so this is something that brands can actually do as really trying to optimize that shopping experience such as UX, checkout process, limited payment options. Actually, it’s the other thing that we saw online as well. A lot of the time consumers complain how there are just not enough options for them to choose from. For example, the brand only features credit card, maybe PayPal or something else. But there are other payment options that consumers are looking for these days. And that’s also something that brands can really optimize for to hopefully avoid this shopping cart abandonment trend.

Adrian Tennant: Last time you were a guest on, IN CLEAR FOCUS, we talked about the impact of emerging technologies on consumer behavior. In your recent report, you highlight shopper’s expectations being raised when it comes to virtual try-on, can you unpack this for us?

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, absolutely. Going back to what I was just talking about, how retailers and eCommerce brands tried really hard to cater to consumers who were home bound and really trying to optimize their experience when it comes to delivery. When it comes to checkout process, virtual try-on was anotherway for retailers to kind of hopefully get those consumers to buy, right? And we saw a lot of interest, relating to the topic of virtual try-on online. So there’s definitely the search spin up. People are looking up virtual Tryon. Consumers are curious. Are probably lean towards brands that offer that type of experience on the website. And, we saw a lot of happy mentions from consumers saying how much they enjoyed their experience with a brand when they offered that particular feature. And one, we, I will reference specifically it was L’Oreal I believe the brand, and a consumer was saying how happy they were with their experience with purchasing lipstick off of the website, because the website offered particular shopping experience for them. They were able to find the right color without going to the store. But the downside also is now the expectations are very high and consumers are looking for that type of experience. So when they’re promised that, for example, there is a virtual try-on option or feature on the website and they go in and it’s only offered to specific type of users, they’re very unhappy and they take to social media to really talk about it. And I’m referring to a specific brand that only offers virtual try-on for users who have an Apple device versus those who have say Samsung device. When it comes to consumer expectations, they’re really high right now because they were sold this idea and now brands really have to keep up. 

Adrian Tennant: During COVID, some US brands adapted to the lockdowns and store closures by introducing live streaming. But this summer, in addition to Meta’s announcement that live shopping on Facebook will end in October ,TikTok backed away from its plans to expand live stream shopping capabilities to the US. Could you give us a quick history of live streaming and what the Brandwatch data is telling you about social commerce?

Ksenia Newton: Yeah. Great question. So live streaming is another convenient way to shop online if you will, which I haven’t tried. I’ll be very honest have yet to try live streaming even though by far is one of the biggest trends right now when it comes to retail. The trend kicked off in China back in 2016, with the arrival of Alibaba and Taobao. And now it’s seen tremendous growth all around the world, not without the help of K-pop stars like BTS and Got7 and the likes. From what we’ve seen online, consumers really enjoy this type of experience. They join in these live streams. That pretty much look like shows, right? they get to be entertained. They get to interact with their favorite celebrities and host because it’s all live and they also get to buy products that are recommended by their favorite again, celebrities and icons. So it sounds like an amazing experience. from what I know, the global video streaming market side is expected to reach and surpass $330 billion by 2030. That sounds like a large number. And I actually can’t wait to try it myself. I feel like now I’m lagging behind. I have not tried live streaming, but it’s huge. Absolutely huge. And people love it! 

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages. 

Tim McCormack: I’m Tim McCormack, Bigeye’s VP of Media and Analytics. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as media professionals, often inspired by data points reported in consumer research studies. At Bigeye, we put audiences first. For every engagement, through our own research, we develop a deep understanding of our client’s prospects and customers – analyzing their attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. We distill this data into actionable insights to inspire creative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns – with strategic, cost-efficient media placements. If you’d like to know more about how to put Bigeye’s audience-focused media and analytics to work for your brand, please contact us. Email

Adrian Tennant: Each month, in partnership with our friends at Kogan Page, The Bigeye Book Club features interviews with authors who are experts in marketing, consumer research, and customer experience. Our featured book for September is Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: Drive customer action and loyalty by prompting instinctive responses by Nancy Harhut. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can save 20 percent on a print or electronic version of the book with exclusive promo code BIGEYE20. This code is valid for all products and pre-orders and applies to Kogan Page’s free e-book offer. To order your copy of Using Behavioral Science in Marketing, go to – that’s K O G A N, P A G E dot com.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Ksenia Newton, marketing content specialist at Brandwatch, about retail trends in 2022. The fifth key trend you identify in your report is elevated expectations around delivery and fulfillment. Ksenia, what are the implications for retailers? 

Ksenia Newton: Logistics plays a huge role in building a solid reputation for any brand out there. And it’s been really hard for brands, right? Retail and e-commerce – the expectations that consumers have right now, as I already mentioned, are very high. So for retailers and e-commerce companies, it’s really important to expand their delivery options if possible. Because consumers want to have what they purchased, they want to have it right now. They want to have it on the day they need to have it and they can’t wait for it for a month. that means that all these brands need to expend their delivery options, not just offering delivery to your house, but maybe, setting up, pick up location or pickup point or curbside pickup, whatever it might be,the focus needs to be on delivered because consumers are really expecting that convenience level right now. . and the other thing that we saw online as well is that it was also a tweet that I’m going to quote, because it was very important to gain a lot of engagement. A person literally said, “if it’s sold out, please take it off the website, thank you.” and, one of my favorite tweets from that research, with 300,000 likes, you can tell that it resonated with consumers, quite a bit. Got a lot of engagement because consumers don’t want to spend time on the website looking for that product that they’re really want to purchase, just to realize that product is off, is not in stock anymore. So make it easier for consumer, please make sure you’re update your website so consumers don’t have to waste their time because not only they will waste their time, it will also affect how they view that brand moving forward. They may not want to shop with you again, right? And the other thing that we saw, I guess again, when it comes to elevated expectations and going back to the payment that I just talked about, placing an order and payment methods, something, again, that’s very important. I just did a whole report on the financial sector and kind of what are the most popular payment methods out there. And what I saw is, sure, credit cards and debit cards are still very, very popular, but payment methods like Buy Now, Pay Later, Klarna, and AfterPay and ClearPay have been gaining popularity rapidly. So consumers are looking for different ways to pay for their purchases. And with Buy Now, Pay Later, specifically, it allows you to split the purchase, the larger purchase and pay in installments, taking that pressure off a little bit. And then, you know, potentially, it will become kind of a differentiating point. As a consumer myself, I just used Buy Now, Pay Later to pay for a larger purchase, which was a mattress. And it really helped me personally, that I could just break down that price and just not have to look at this one large number. And it did help me in a way to choose between two brands as well. So this is something that we’re seeing consumers talk a lot about, online as well, Buy Now, Pay Later specifically, and adding additional payment options to the existing payment options on the website, because as you know, if your consumers can’t pay with the payment options that you have listed on the website, the business might lose their revenue. So there’s that.

Adrian Tennant: Inflation has forced many consumers to shop in off price and discount stores. According to data from In Market during the period from October, 2021 to June, 2022, average spending on grocery items rose 71% at discount retailers. For some context, spending on those same items in traditional grocery stores fell 5% in the same period. Dollar General plans to offer fresh produce in 10,000 of its stores over the next few years. Ksenia, do you think Dollar General is right to bet that cost conscious shoppers will stick with discount retailers in the long-term? 

Ksenia Newton: That’s a great question. I’ve actually, I’ve not heard of dollar general doing this. I might, if I see one, I might have to check it out. What I can say is from our research, we saw that the spending levels remain per pandemic, which means consumers are spending the same or a little bit more. But also consumers are interested in coupons the same, because one of the terms that I actually heard of on the radio yesterday, depressed consumer sentiment when it comes to spending, I had to write it down because I thought it was brilliant. so the sentiment is still sort of a depressed when it comes to spending and consumers are staying conscious and I imagine everybody is going to try to save up, right. If there is an opportunity, people are looking for coupons and that’s why,there is some potential there,I do think that consumers might stick to the discount brands that they’ve been shopping with for a long time.some consumers could all depends on the audience because other consumers might want to lean something towards brands that actually align with their values. And that’s something that we also saw as part of our research that a A lot of the time, if an important brand, is not aligned with the consumer values, consumers may no longer want to shop with them and they’ll go with somebody else, whether it’s more expensive or not.

Adrian Tennant: As prices rise, customer loyalty is weakening. 38% of the consumer brand categories analyzed by data firm, Brand Keys are experiencing declining loyalty. E-marketer recently reported on this highlighting some of the ways that rewards programs can help counter the trend. They cited a study from Salesforce, which found that 61% of consumers would use loyalty programs more often if they automatically applied rewards. And 44% would do so if they offered simpler terms and conditions. Ksenia, what are you seeing in the world of loyalty programs? 

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, it’s a great question, uh, something that we should probably unpack in our next report. In fact, I think it’s a very interesting topic. Personally, I have a lot of I’m part of a lot of different membership programs. Of course, I’m a consumer and I like rewards. I think rewards programs are here to stay because who doesn’t like to save money? But again, consumers are moving away from brands if those brands don’t represent their values, if you will. And we’ve seen that quite a bit with consumers moving from shopping at one store to going shopping with smaller, local stores, local farmer’s market, for example, if we were to talk about groceries. And I see this in New York, specifically where consumers encourage each other to shop with their local farmer’s market versus going to a brand supermarket, for example. I think that’s going to play a bigger role because Today’s consumers are very focused on social matters. So if brands are not aligned with where they stand, I do think it doesn’t matter whether they’re discounted brands or not. Consumers might move to other brands to shop with. 

Adrian Tennant: How do you think inflation will shape the upcoming holiday shopping season? Will consumers buy even earlier to avoid price hikes?

Ksenia Newton: One of the things, one of the trends that we saw in our research, we call it Revenge Spending. And that means consumers who were stuck at home because of the ongoing pandemic. Now that they’re out now that the restrictions have loosen up a little bit and they have a little bit of money to spend, they are now spending in revenge for all the waste of time. So that’s one of the trends that we saw, that I’m pretty sure is going to affect how consumers shop during the holiday season. The other trend, again, going back to Buy Now, Pay Later, I think it is very important that consumers these days have an opportunity to break down that price and maybe, between purchases something right away and paying for it right away. It’s too expensive. They can’t afford it. They now have an opportunity to pay for it over time, which I do think is going to positively impact sales in my personal opinion. So it’s a great option to attract consumers who might be hesitant to spend that money during the Holidays. And, another thing that I saw in the recent research around the financial sector is consumers are very enthusiastic when it comes to the topic of spending and payment options, they’re constantly researching. So it doesn’t sound like people are not going to buy. It sounds like they’re looking for better ways to shop whether it’s coupons, discounts, whether it’s buy now pay later or different payment options or whatever it might be, consumers are looking to spend. And then something that I also saw, I’m part of this Facebook group it’s called secret. I don’t know, it’s no longer secret, but it is a private, Christmas focus group on Facebook, where about a month ago people started reporting how they finalized their Christmas shopping. Again, and I know I mentioned this last time in our, podcast, but this time around, people are spending a lot more money and they buy multiple presents A again, this isn’t based on any data that I saw using our technology. Right. This is something that I literally scope from just reading through comments in this Facebook group. People purchase multiple presents per person, again, it may not be representative the rest of the population, but it also doesn’t sound like they’re trying to save up either.

Adrian Tennant: So Ksenia, what are you working on at the moment? 

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, I’m super excited on this project actually it’s called The State of Social. It is going to be a mega report, featuring over 560 different brands and me analyzing over 530 million brand mentions. And it’s going to be really focused on finding the right benchmarks, trends, and talking points, and best practices for social media marketers out there. We’re analyzing 15 different industries and we’re going to really try to find what are the best practices, benchmarks, and so on. So that every social media marketer out there can actually use to build a successful social media strategy, for next year. Super excited, I think is going to be really a guiding life for everyone. And, it’s currently over 70 pages. please go to our website about a month from now when we publish it is going to be brilliant, I promise you!

Adrian Tennant: Ksenia, if IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners would like to learn more about you, where can they find you? 

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, absolutely, you’re more than welcome to shoot me an email at or send me a request on LinkedIn. happy to answer any questions if you have, if I don’t have an answer, I might be able to research that. That’s what I do! 

Adrian Tennant: And if people are interested in learning more about Brandwatch, where should they go?

Ksenia Newton: Check out our website, and you’ll find a lot more information there. You can also go to our resources page. We have a lot of different things from webinars before it’s guides, blog posts, best practices. You name it, we have it, but check it out. You will not regret.

Adrian Tennant: Ksenia, thank you very much for being our guest again this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. 

Ksenia Newton: Thank you so much for having me.

Adrian Tennant: Thanks to my guest this week, Ksenia Newton, Marketing Content Specialist at Brandwatch. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Just select ‘podcast’ from the menu. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Consumer Journey Mapping Market Intelligence Podcast

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, guest hosts Camila Swanson and Jorge Sedano reflect on their experiences as multicultural consumers. Including candid interviews with friends and family members, the team examines influencer marketing and how Hispanic consumers are depicted in ads. We hear why ads in Spanish-language media can be more memorable, and the ways Hispanic consumers most commonly retain their families’ cultures and traditions. 

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up on this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS:

Haroldo Montero: Well, American parents don’t really care as much about their kids. They send their kids off to college at 18 and they just don’t talk to them for a while. I think they’re not as close as Hispanics typically are. Hispanics withhold their kids at their house until they’re like in their late twenties, If they really wanted to!

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising, produced weekly by Bigeye: a strategy-led, full-service creative agency, growing brands for clients globally. Hello, I’m your regular host, Adrian Tennant, Chief Strategy Officer. Thank you for joining us. September 15th marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. To celebrate, we’re re-airing an episode from last September. At that time, both of the guest hosts you’re about to hear – Camila and Jorge – were interns at Bigeye. Well, a year on, Camila Swanson is now a key member of Bigeye’s strategy team, as Research Specialist. 


Camila Swanson: I’m your guest host, Camila Swanson, an intern on Bigeye’s Insights team.

Jorge Sedano: And I’m Jorge Sedano, also an Insights intern. 

Camila Swanson: The Hispanic population is the second-largest minority consumer group in the US and one of the fastest-growing, accounting for 57% of the population growth over the past two decades.

Jorge Sedano: There are over 63.6 million of us. Last year, Hispanic consumers had a combined buying power of $1.9 trillion and we will contribute disproportionately to growth in consumer spending over the next five years, when Hispanics are set to become 21% of this country’s population.

Camila Swanson: I belong to the youngest generation, Gen Z, born between 1996 and 2015, and nearly a quarter of my cohort – 23% – identify as Hispanic.

Jorge Sedano: I’m a Millennial or Gen Y, born between 1980 and 1995. And over a fifth of my generation is Hispanic.

Camila Swanson: In this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS, we’re going to take a look at some of the differences between Hispanic cultures, values, and levels of acculturation and what they mean for marketers.

Jorge Sedano: One thing that’s challenging about marketing to Hispanic consumers is that we come from a variety of backgrounds. Our parents or grandparents might have come to the U.S. from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and many other Spanish-speaking countries. 

Camila Swanson: The dialects, cultures, behaviors, beliefs, interests, vary – perhaps more than non-Hispanic people might think. The syndicated research firm, Claritas, has a framework called Hispanicity, which measures the degree to which people of Hispanic heritage in the U.S. retain elements of their culture while acquiring elements of the American culture. Claritas uses various characteristics to segment consumers into one of five categories. These lie on a continuum from complete adoption of mainstream society’s values and beliefs to the retention of values and beliefs from an immigrant’s original culture.

Jorge Sedano: Claritas’s HA1 is Americanizado and reflects 17% of Hispanic consumers. These folks were born in the U.S., speak English predominantly, are likely to be third generation, and follow a few, if any, Hispanic cultural factors.

Camila Swanson: Hispanicity category, HA2 is Nueva Latina and reflects 29% of Hispanic consumers. They were born in the U.S., prefer to speak English, and are likely to be second generation, following some Hispanic cultural practices. This classifies me, I think.

Jorge Sedano: Category HA3 is Ambicultural and reflects 26% of Hispanic consumers. They immigrated to the U.S. as children or young adults and are bilingual, following many Hispanic cultural factors. I believe this category best qualifies me.

Camila Swanson: Category HA4 is Hispano and reflects 15% of Hispanic consumers. They immigrated to the U.S. as adults, and although they have been here 10 or more years, prefer to speak Spanish. They predominantly follow Hispanic cultural practices.

Jorge Sedano: And finally HA5 is Latino Americana and reflects 13% of Hispanic consumers. They immigrated to the U.S. as adults, less than 10 years ago, and Spanish language predominant. They follow Hispanic cultural practices and identify more with their home country than the U.S.

Camila Swanson: In their 2021 Hispanic market report, Claritas highlights some of the differences that exist between Hispanic consumers based on their country of origin, annual household incomes, and language use.

Jorge Sedano: These differences are reflected across a wide variety of consumer behaviors. From the use of internet and streaming services to insurance, e-commerce, and traditional in-store shopping. For this podcast, we want to understand how these and other categories play out in real people’s lives. So we asked some folks we know about their lives and consumption behaviors, starting with each other.

Camila Swanson: How in touch are you with your Hispanic roots, would you say?

Jorge Sedano: I actually am very in touch with my Hispanic roots. I was born in Mexico and I immigrated here in the first grade, I believe. I was also raised in a border city, which meant I was able to be raised both in the U.S. and Mexico. So I was able to take in both of those cultures and still keep in touch with my family and all those things that influence all my behaviors on all my purchases or anything that I do to this day. So Camila, how do you think you are with your Hispanic roots?

Camila Swanson: I would say I’m pretty in touch with my Hispanic roots, as much as I could be being from a household where my dad is more American and my mom is Dominican. I’ve never visited the Dominican Republic just because we were supposed to, and then the pandemic hit, but we would go to Latin concerts and we would play that music in the house, in the car. And it really kept me in touch with, you know, the bachata culture and, you know, my mom cooks homemade food every single day that I’m home. And that really keeps me in touch with my Hispanic roots, because I feel like I can connect so much through music and food.

Jorge Sedano: So you would say it’s always like a part of your daily life and a part of your culture as a person?

Camila Swanson: Yes. Yes. A hundred percent.

Haroldo Montero: Hi, my name is Haroldo Montero. While I am a Millennial by birth, I consider myself a Gen Z sometimes. I was born in Venezuela. I moved to the US when I was around 12 years old.

Camila Swanson: Haroldo, how in touch do you feel with your family’s Venezuelan roots?

Haroldo Montero: I feel pretty close to them, right? Like I speak to my parents on a daily basis. That’s one of the cultural things I have with them. They call me, or I call them just to let them know pretty much really anything. And I still keep in touch with a lot of my cousins and aunts over there. So I feel very Venezuelan, I guess.

Nidia Swanson: My name is Nidia, I’m in Gen X and I live in Pembroke Pines in South Florida. I was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the U.S. when I was 23 years old. And I’m Camila’s mom.

Jorge Sedano: How in touch do you feel you are with your Dominican roots?

Nidia Swanson: Oh, I’m really in touch with my roots because I have a lot of family in my country still in and we keep in touch really often.

Jorge Sedano: And what aspects of your Dominican culture, if any, do you hold onto in preference to mainstream American?

Nidia Swanson: The food and the music, especially the music. I cook the food from my country really often. So I can introduce Camila and my husband to my culture. I introduced Camila really, really to the music. So she can have a little bit of my side of my culture.

Jorge Sedano: So you want to be able to educate both, then be able to show them a part of who you are?

Nidia Swanson: Yeah. Yeah.

Haroldo Montero: Before I was moving to the states, right. You hear a lot of things, how Americans are. And one of the main things that caught my attention was like, “Oh, parents don’t really care as much about their kids.” Like it’s a little more distant, I guess you could say like. They send their kids off to college at 18 and they just don’t talk to them for a while. And that’s something that I was kind of shocked to listen to at first I was like, “Wow, they don’t care, I guess!” But I guess like that distancing between their parents and their kids, I think they’re not as close as Hispanics typically are like Hispanics withhold their kids at their house until they’re like in their late twenties, if they really wanted to. So even myself, when I moved out of the house at age 21, My mom was like, “Wow!” Like very surprised at that. So I would say like how close you are to family.

Jorge Sedano: What aspects do you think you keep from your culture?

Camila Swanson: I think the aspects of my culture that I keep would definitely still be the music. I feel like I can still connect with my family through the music that my extended family would listen to when they were growing up, I listened to growing up. For example, we all listened to Maná. Like when their songs come on, we all know all the lyrics. And although we’re a small little family, it does keep us all really close and it just makes the holidays that much better. And that I would just never give it up.

Jorge Sedano: I think there’s a lot of things, actually, you know, being in a border city, you have access to so many things from Mexico. So like to this day, I try to find the best tortillas that I can find. I try to, you know, cook beans the way my mom used to make it. Any recipe really I try to base it off how my mom does it and I call her up for the recipe and she’ll be able to tell me what I need to buy, you know, how to make it and things like that. And just give me the things that I need to get that are more in tune with like Mexican products, than American products. Do you consider Spanish or English to be your primary language?

Nidia Swanson: Both, because with them I have to communicate in English because my husband is really American and with my parents, when I’m in their house, I have to speak Spanish because they don’t speak English. So I consider both primary.

Haroldo Montero: I know very basic Spanish. So like I said, I moved here when I was 12. So my Spanish is pretty middle school level. I would say. I mean, I can speak it, understand and hold a pretty decent conversation with somebody, but you know, going to college here, having to study for the SATs and ACTs, you kind of have to like expand your vocabulary in English. But right now my primary language is English. Yeah.

Camila Swanson: I consider English to be my primary language, just because since my father speaks English and little to no Spanish, that was the number one language we could use for our whole family to communicate. But I still consider myself bilingual.

Jorge Sedano: I like to think Spanish is my primary language growing up in my household. It was always, you know, Spanish at home, English, outside, To this day with my siblings. It’s like we sneak in some English in there sometimes, but I always like based on Spanish and maybe like a little bit of Spanglish, but it’s definitely mostly Spanish. When I go see my family, obviously in Mexico, we have to speak Spanish. So it’s definitely a bigger part of my culture and my life to speak the Spanish language.

Camila Swanson: Do you primarily watch English language TV shows, Spanish language TV shows, or a mixture?

Haroldo Montero: I will say about 70% of the entertainment that I watch is in English, I would say, because growing up as a teen here and going to college here, that’s kind of what you’re starting to develop the things that you like and being here. I was a little bit more familiar with entertainment in English, but I still watch a lot of media in Spanish as well. Like mostly sports though, because I liked the sportscasters in Spanish a lot better than in English. 

Nidia Swanson: It’s a mix of both because when I watch the Spanish one, it’s the news. That’s the way I can get in touch with my country because sometimes they have news from my country on Spanish TV and English I watch most of my shows, they’re American shows. So I watch both, but in different – news for the Spanish one, and then my shows and some news from the American one.

Jorge Sedano: And when you watch Spanish language programs, how do the ads you see on those channels influence the type of brands or products that you buy?

Haroldo Montero: That a lot of times it has some influence on the things that I pick. For example, like if, if I know there’s like a business or a brand that’s, it was started by somebody who is from Venezuela and they’re trying to get it kicked off. Sometimes that resonates with me and like, yeah, I’ll pick that particular brand. But sometimes they’re also like more focused on like the demographic, like myself as Hispanic, let’s say as a skin product. Right. So may not have the same skin tone with somebody else who’s born in the United States. So maybe those kinds of things are aimed more towards kind of what I want. So yeah, that does affect sometimes the products that I buy or services.

Camila Swanson: While watching Spanish television programs do products you see advertised stand out more than those shown in English language shows?

Jorge Sedano: I believe they do. And I think it’s really based on the fact that I do watch mainly English television. So like when my mom is watching Spanish television, it’ll be a different type of situation. The commercials will be in Spanish. So I retain them like more, more than an English commercial because it’ll be like, it’ll be something different in my day. So I definitely, yeah, I think I’ll remember a Spanish commercial more than I would an English one.

Jorge Sedano: So Camila, thinking about your shopping habits, would you say that your everyday grocery, consumer packaged goods, and personal care items, you continue to purchase the brands that your parents bought, or have you developed your own personal preferences?

Camila Swanson: I think that growing up and then moving away from my house, I’ve kind of had to form my own personal preferences since I was primarily being my own grocery shopper. Anytime my mom would go grocery shopping and she would bring things back, she would just bring back the tried and true products. And then when I went to college, I would be able to find my way. So I would say it’s still half and half, because some of the things I buy, I still text my mom and I’m like, “Hey do you remember the name or do you have a picture of the thing that you bought me that I really liked?” Or if it’s something that I kind of don’t place that high of a value on I’ll just go ahead and purchase whatever preference I like.

Nidia Swanson: I have developed my own preferences, because for example, when I cook the Spanish food, I incorporate the American products to adapt a Spanish recipe. So I have to buy the American because we can’t find sometimes, some of the products that we have in our country. So we have to adapt everything, the recipe with American products.

Haroldo Montero: I still buy what my parents buy, especially if I’m making Venezuelan food, like there is this kind of like flour, that we have to make, when we make out arepas or any other type of things, like I know I have to pick that specific brand just because I don’t trust the other ones. Not because they’re bad or anything, but I just know what I’m going to get if I’m going to buy that one. And it applies to other things like vegetables and even stores themselves, not just like the brands. Like if I know that they trust the products from this particular store, I might go there.

Camila Swanson: Are there any brands from your childhood that you’ve remained loyal to?

Haroldo Montero: Yes. Arepas is the most popular Venezuelan dish, I would say, arena de pan – it just like this corn meal, essentially, I think is what it is. And it’s like, I buy that one brand it’s called arena de pan. I mean, and that’s, that’s the one I picked too and also Polar is a brand of beverages from Venezuela also. And Malta is a beverage that a lot of Hispanics drink. I only drink Malta from the Polar brand. Cause that’s what I grew up on. And that’s the flavor that I like.

Jorge Sedano: Moving over here to Orlando, it’s so difficult to find a good tortilla! So we found one at Walmart from Las Missiones, it’s a corn tortilla. That’s the closest we could get to a semblance of what we’re used to. So we definitely have stuck with that one and we have not moved away from it. So it’s little things like that, where if we find something that’s close to what we know, we’ll definitely stick to it. But yeah, there’s not that many things. It’s just, when it’s something that’s very, very cultural. And how about you? Is there anything that you remember that you kept from your parent’s childhood?

Camila Swanson: I don’t know the specific brand, but whenever I’m baking something, there’s a specific type of vanilla syrup that my mom always used when I was growing up. And it does not taste the same if it is not that syrup. So I will go out of my way to go to Sedanos to get it. Or my mom will go out of her way to Sedanos to get it. And I have like a bottle in my cupboard up here to always have.

Jorge Sedano: And when it comes to shopping for food and drink to be consumed at home do you tend to shop at stores that serve local Hispanic populations, such as Sedanos, Bravo, or Fresca y Mas. Or do you prefer to shop at Walmart, Target, or Publix? And whichever one it is, why is that?

Camila Swanson: I definitely try to lean on Walmart, Target, or Publix, just because I don’t want to have that many stops in my day as a college student. If it’s something super important to me, I will go out of my way to go to Sedano’s, Bravo, or Fresca y Mas. But when I’m back home, those stores are a lot more accessible to me and my family. And here it’s kind of like a 20-minute drive away from my college town. So if I can just get a good alternative at a big brand, I’ll do so. But for example, if it’s vanilla, I’ll go out of my way to find a Bravo that will have it.

Jorge Sedano: There’s actually this, a Hispanic store that I know of. It’s called Jalisco. That’s where I get like my meat for like doing carne asadas or I’m big believer that the peppers here in Orlando are not as spicy as the ones over there. So when I go there, I can trust that I’m gonna have a pepper that’s going to be spicy so I can make a good salsa. If it’s just chips or, you know, regular household items, I’ll definitely just go to like a Walmart, Target, Publix, whatever’s closest to me. But if it’s something niche that I need, that I’m not going to be satisfied with, I will definitely go to that Hispanic market.

Camila Swanson: Are there any food items or products from Mexico that you can’t live without? And what do you do if it isn’t available from where you normally shop?

Jorge Sedano: I can not have breakfast without tortillas. We’re so used to a certain brand. And I even bring some from, from Juarez when I come to visit. So it’s like, when I run out of those then I pick up like the one that I can substitute it with, but definitely in my fridge, it has to be like a packet of tortillas, ready to go for the morning. And how about you? Is there anything that you can’t live without that you can think of?

Camila Swanson: Something that I can think of is a soda brand called Country Club from the Dominican Republic, specifically the merengue flavor. It’s very hard to find. So I tend to buy it in bulk. So I’ll buy like two or three liters at a time. So that way I always have it in my fridge whenever I want it. And if my mom sees it, she’ll buy it for me and bring it up for me. And if it normally isn’t available where I shop, I’ll just probably wait it out and put like an in-stock alert on my phone to be able to have it just because it’s a nice thing to have with my meals when I cook at home.

Haroldo Montero: I went to high school in Ohio for three years of my life, I lived up there. I was the only Hispanic kid in the school, well the only one that spoke fluent Spanish, I would say. And a lot of times when I was there, I know my mom struggled to find some products and we had to get them shipped from the internet, essentially, because we did try other brands while we were up there. But none of us were happy with the outcome, I guess.

Jorge Sedano: We’ll be right back after these short messages.

Seth Segura: I’m Seth Segura, VP and Creative Director at Bigeye. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as creative professionals. At Bigeye, we always put audiences first. For every engagement, we commit to really understanding our clients’ prospects and customers. Through our own primary research, we capture valuable data about people’s attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. These insights inform our strategy and guide our creative briefs. Clients see them brought to life in inspiring, imaginative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s audience-focused creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email Bigeye. Reaching the Right People, in the Right Place, at the Right Time.

Adrian Tennant: Each month, in partnership with our friends at Kogan Page, The Bigeye Book Club features interviews with authors who are experts in marketing, consumer research, and customer experience. Our featured book for September is Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: Drive customer action and loyalty by prompting instinctive responses by Nancy Harhut. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can save 20 percent on a print or electronic version of the book with exclusive promo code BIGEYE20. This code is valid for all products and pre-orders and applies to Kogan Page’s free e-book offer. To order your copy of Using Behavioral Science in Marketing, go to – that’s K O G A N, P A G E dot com.

Camila Swanson: Welcome back. You’re listening to a special episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with me, Camila Swanson.

Jorge Sedano: And me, Jorge Sedano.

Camila Swanson: A recent report from Pew Research Center finds that a majority of Hispanic consumers in the United States say global climate change and other environmental issues impact their local communities.

Jorge Sedano: 8 in every 10, that’s 81%, say addressing global climate changes is either a top concern or one of several important concerns to them personally, with 39% saying it is a top personal concern.

Camila Swanson: By comparison, a lower share of non-Hispanics, 67%, say addressing global climate change is at least one of several important concerns due in large part to a lower share who say it is a top concern, 29%.

Jorge Sedano: How likely are you to purchase a product from a company or brand that you believe is environmentally friendly, even if it costs more than alternative options?

Nidia Swanson: For me, it’s really important the climate change because if we don’t take care of the environment, we aren’t going to have a place to live. Yes, I will buy it because if it’s going to take care of the environmental issues, yeah. I don’t care how much I pay for it. 

Haroldo Montero: So environmental concern is actually a big concern of mine. Since I was a little kid, my dad was always big into nature and told me how much we need to care about our planet and our plants and everything else. I grew up in a very nature-y area, surrounded by the mountains. So like my dad always like, made sure I understood the importance of maintaining our natural habitat intact and protect it. So it’s a very big thing for me. So luckily I’m in a position right now where I can afford to spend some more extra money and like brands that support protecting the environment and using like sustainable materials. So yeah, it is a big concern for me. And if I can do my part of it, I will.

Camila Swanson: I would purchase a product from a company that is environmentally friendly, even if it costs more just because I feel like I can do my part in lessening my carbon footprint and putting in my work to help the environment. The only time I would say that I wouldn’t buy something, if it was environmentally friendly would be if it was like a huge price gouge type of situation, because I am a college student and I’m on a budget. So it kind of goes into this either/or, but if it’s around the same price or not too much more expensive then I will go ahead and get the environmentally friendly product.

Jorge Sedano: So I think I’m pretty likely to get the more environmentally friendly item. I’m not the type of person who would really check too much into that. But if I know for a fact that a product is going to be better for the environment, and I think I will pay a little more money to get that product.

Camila Swanson: Who do you think has the most responsibility for adopting more sustainable behaviors? Manufacturers and major corporations or regular people like us who buy the stuff that they produce?

Nidia Swanson: For me, both, because if they produce the product, we’re going to buy it. But I say before, I will buy a more expensive if the corporation made the product good for environment that I will pay more money.

Haroldo Montero: So we can do our part. But I definitely believe manufacturers are the primary responsible for all the pollution that we have on the earth, like water bottle companies, you know, we have like incredible amounts of plastic in the oceans and water bottles are used one time and then they’re thrown out and most of them don’t even get recycled. So I think manufacturers are most responsible for the environment and the damage that they do.

Jorge Sedano: I think we both have an equal amount, even though corporations create more damage and have more of an impact on the environment. I think individuals make just as big as an impact if we all come together and do the same things. So I think I would say both.

Jorge Sedano: A recent report from Edison research found that 36% of Hispanic adults now listen to podcasts at least monthly, which has a 44% increase from 2020, making Hispanic listeners the fastest adopters of podcasts overall. Camila, do you listen to podcasts?

Camila Swanson: I do regularly listen to podcasts. I listen to whatever Spotify will put in my daily drive for when I’m heading over to here from school, just because it changes my routine for my commutes rather than listening to my music, I can listen to a podcast.

Jorge Sedano: I think I do at least a couple of times a week. Usually, it’s some driving to work or whenever I have some free time where I need something that I don’t necessarily want it to be music, but I want to just hear people talk about a certain topic.

Haroldo Montero: Yeah, I listen to podcasts frequently. I would say every day for the most part, especially doing work. Now that we’re all working from home, it’s a nice way to have something in the background and listen to.

Jorge Sedano: And do you prefer to listen to podcasts in English or in Spanish? 

Haroldo Montero: I really don’t have a preference. I think I listened to either for what I want, like what I’m looking for. So for example, I listen to a few comedy podcasts and for example, one of them it’s in Spanish and I still laugh at it like a lot because I feel like the humor is a type of humor that I don’t get from a comedian here in the states. So like I listen to that one because it kind of like reminds me of Venezuela a little bit, but it’s also fun to listen to. But if, for example, if I’m looking at a particular topic I’m interested in like the U.S. stock market, I probably will listen to something in English.

Jorge Sedano: I think it’s a mix of both. I have certain things that I like to listen in English. Like for example, maybe news or current events that are happening in the U.S. and for Spanish, it’s more like comedy and more entertaining things, because I think it pertains more to my culture and what I like. And what’s your favorite type of podcast?

Camila Swanson: I think my favorite type of podcast is true-crime just because the people who record true crime podcasts tend to find really old case files that are maybe things I haven’t heard of or seen before. And I’ve always loved watching crime TV shows. So it intersects in that way.

Jorge Sedano: Definitely comedy and sports are my favorite types of podcasts.

Haroldo Montero: My favorite type of podcast is one that tells a story. So kind of keep me engaged and listened to like, whether it’s a personal story or somebody talking about something that they read and the reactions to it and comedy packets as well. Cause I mean, I like to laugh.

Camila Swanson: Is there anything about the portrayal of our cultures on TV or in movies that really annoy you or you feel is consistently inaccurate?

Nidia Swanson: I feel annoyed because they advertised the Latin country. Like a third world country instead of advertise us as a beautiful country with nice people. Spanish people, most of us, we are really welcoming people. So I think it’s annoying when they think about us like a third-world country.

Camila Swanson: A stereotype about Hispanics that I think is overplayed in the media would be when they show any foreign place and they put this yellowing filter over it to show that they’re an equivalent to a third world country, because I know I’ve seen pictures of the Dominican Republic from when my mom lived there or when our family goes on vacation and It’s the most beautiful, clear skies, clear waters, but in movies, they’ll portray it as some war-torn area. There’s no culture, there’s no vibrancy to it, which I don’t believe is true.

Jorge Sedano: Yeah. And I definitely agree with that as well. I think there’s that movie, Sicario where they transfer from the U.S. to Mexico. And you can tell just the difference in like the way they portray it and the filter that they use. Like she said, and yeah, I think there’s a lot of things in the movie scene where they may not get it like we would want them to get it. So maybe one day it will be a little more accurate.

Haroldo Montero: What sometimes tends to happen is that they try to like put us all into one group of people. I don’t think they do a good job at separating where they’re from. Let’s say there’s a Hispanic kid on the soccer team and everybody just kinda assumes they’re all from the same country. I feel like there could be a little bit more and like, say, “Hey, no, he’s actually from Venezuela. Oh, this guy’s actually from Columbia. He’s actually from Argentina.” Like sometimes I feel like there are just put us all into one bucket rather than like, explaining how we’re all different. Like, yes, we’re all coming from like the same continent, but it’s like putting, I guess Americans and Canadians in the same bucket, but no, you’d never see that you always see like the separation. “Oh, he’s Canadian.” “Oh, he’s American.” So I feel like for Hispanics, we tend to get put in the same bucket.

Camila Swanson: Thanks to all our friends who contributed to this week’s podcast.

Jorge Sedano: Thank you so much, Camila, for being such a great co-host!

Camila Swanson: And thank you, Jorge, for being such a great co-host. You’ll find a transcript on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at

Jorge Sedano: If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on Apple podcast, Spotify, Google podcast, Amazon Music, Audible, YouTube, or wherever you get your daily fix of podcasts.

Camila Swanson: Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. We’ve been your hosts, Camila Swanson …

Jorge Sedano: … and Jorge Sedano. Until next week, adiós!

Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Consumer Journey Mapping Market Intelligence Podcast

Nancy Harhut is the Chief Creative Officer of an agency leveraging behavioral science to drive more leads and conversions. In this episode, we discuss Nancy’s new book, Using Behavioral Science in Marketing, and learn how advertising professionals and brand marketers can benefit from applying key principles to campaigns. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can claim a 20 percent discount on the book by purchasing directly at and using the promo code BIGEYE20 at checkout. 

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS: 

Nancy Harhut: The human brain finds it easier to process things that rhyme. And if it’s easier for the brand to process something, it feels right. I’ve done some work for Nationwide, and their slogan is “Nationwide is on your side.” You remember it, you know, it rhymes, but it’s also more believable because it rhymes. 

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye: a strategy-led, full-service creative agency, growing brands for clients globally. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, Chief Strategy Officer. Thank you for joining us. Since the publication of the book Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini in 1998, our knowledge about the relationships between neuroscience, psychology, and real-world consumer behavior has grown considerably. We now know, for example, that many of our personal decisions are made at a subconscious level. Consumers can change habitual behaviors through non-conscious persuasion or the introduction of “nudges.” Evidence-based behavioral research results can have significant implications for advertisers and marketers, and today’s guest is on a mission to share principles and techniques drawn from behavioral science. Nancy Harhut is the co-founder and chief creative officer at HBT Marketing, a consultancy specializing in applying human behavior techniques to marketing problems. Nancy previously held senior creative management positions with agencies within the IPG and Publicis networks. In her career, Nancy has worked with clients including Dell, Bank of America, AT&T, H&R Block, AARP, Four Seasons, and many others. A regular international conference keynote speaker, Nancy has been recognized as an Online Marketing Institute Top 40 Digital Strategist and Ad Club Top 100 Creative Influencer. Nancy is also the author of a new book, entitled, Using Behavioral Science In Marketing: Drive customer action and loyalty by prompting instinctive responses. To talk about her book, and how brand marketers and agency creative teams can leverage principles from behavioral science, Nancy is joining us today from her home near Boston, Massachusetts. Nancy, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Nancy Harhut: Thank you very much, Adrian. Very happy to be here. 

Adrian Tennant: Nancy, what is behavioral science?

Nancy Harhut: That’s a very simple question, and I’ll give you a simple answer, actually. It’s the study of how people behave. And more specifically, though, from a marketing perspective, it’s the study of how people make decisions. And, that’s important to us as marketers, because obviously, we want people to make decisions and what behavioral scientists have found is people very often don’t make these well-thought-out, well-considered decisions. Sometimes they do, but very often they don’t. Very often what they do is they rely on automatic, instinctive, reflexive behaviors. They cruise along through life on autopilot. When they encounter a certain situation, they just default to these hardwired behaviors, giving them little to no thought. And that’s why I’m so fascinated about behavioral science. Because again, as a marketer, we want people to make decisions, and it turns out that people are making them based on hardwired decision defaults. So it presents a real opportunity for us as marketers. 

Adrian Tennant: Before establishing your business, you held senior management positions with agencies within the IPG and Publicis networks. When did you first become aware of behavioral science and realize that it might be useful in your work? 

Nancy Harhut: So, you know, it’s funny. A while ago, a colleague, I think, and I’m not even sure which one, but a colleague recommended Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Science of Persuasion. And I read that, and I still have the copy. He’s got a brand new edition out now, which I also have, but I have the original, and you can see my margin notes and my underlines and my highlights and notes about very specific projects that I was working on and clients that I was working with. And I just read that, and it just opened up, you know, my eyes to this whole idea of behavioral science and how we might apply it. And that kind of set me down the rabbit hole, after I read that, I started to read anything I could get my hands on. I read Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational and Nudge by Sunstein and Thaler. And I just really became a behavioral science junkie. But, I think that’s what started it way back then because I was like, “This would be very useful to us in marketing!” 

Adrian Tennant: How did you introduce behavioral science-based campaign concepts to the ad agencies you worked at? Were your colleagues at that time skeptical?

Nancy Harhut: Yes, they were until they started to see how things worked. So, when I was working at some of the larger agencies where I was in the direct marketing or relationship marketing division of a much larger agency, the larger agency would often have their procedure or their banner that they would go to market under. And so we would just fall into that. But every once in a while, if we were pitching something on our own, then we would really rely more heavily on this. And so I think, the people that I worked with most closely who were more direct marketing oriented, who were more results-oriented, they saw firsthand how things worked. And so they were a little bit easier to convert, to get on the bandwagon. You know, they saw it, and they liked it. Some of my colleagues who were outside of my division, who didn’t see it as much. They were a little bit more skeptical, but they eventually would come along. But, I found that, when I started to work at a much smaller agency, that’s when people all got on board because we were smaller. There was just a finite group of us. And we said, “Alright, this is where we’re going to stake our turf. This is what we’re going to say we do.” And, people absolutely got on board. And, there were no skeptics after a while. So we had a client who came to us, and they sold a very exciting product to a very exciting target market. They sold disability insurance to dentists. So not at all that exciting, but it was a good product, and it’s certainly one that people needed. They had sold disability insurance to these dentists, and now they’re trying to sell them more. And it’s a smart thing to do because your practice changes, your family changes – over time, you have more to protect. And what they found was it’s really hard to sell this kind of a product to anybody. And once someone makes the decision, they check the box, they never want to go back to it. So they had a direct mail package, actually that was doing pretty well, but it wasn’t lighting the world on fire. And we decided to apply some behavioral science. So we did a little fine-tuning. And one of the big things we did is we added something called the pull of the magnetic middle, where we put in a little chart, and we said, “At one end, there’s $0 of insurance, the least you can have. At the other end is $3 million,” the most that this particular company sold. And then we said, “Here’s where you are.” And in every case, people were left of center. So we made sure that everyone that we targeted had less than $1.5 million. So when they looked at the chart, they would find themselves left of center. And the way the magnetic middle works is behavioral scientists have found that for the most part, people don’t like to be way out on the bleeding edge, nor do they like to be lagging behind. They feel good in the middle. It feels comfortable there, it feels safe there. It feels like it’s a good choice. And so when they looked at the message, and they right away saw the chart, and they saw themselves left of center, we didn’t expect they’d right away go, “Oh my gosh, I need $3 million in coverage,” but we did think they would move closer to the center. We got a 459 percent lift in response. And when we did that, I think there wasn’t a doubter left in the agency. Like that’s when things really crystallized, they were like, “Wow! Okay. I’ve seen it. It works. It’s not just someone who’s writing about it. It’s not just Nancy, who’s read the person who’s written about it. Like we’re seeing it work for our clients.” And that can be quite a proof point. 

Adrian Tennant: Excellent. Your new book is entitled Using Behavioral Science In Marketing. Now, this is your first book, so what prompted you to write it? 

Nancy Harhut: That’s a really nice question, thank you for asking. And it’s kind of a funny story. Every once in a while, I’d be speaking at a conference and someone would come up to me and say, “I really want to buy your book.” I’d be, “I don’t have a book.” And the first time it happened, I thought, “Oh, that’s so flattering.” The second time it happened, I thought, “Oh, what a funny coincidence.” And then it began to happen more and more and I thought, “I don’t know, maybe I should write one.” And then I was scheduled to speak at South by Southwest, the conference down in Austin, Texas. And the conference got canceled because of COVID but Kogan Page, which is a UK-based publisher, that I think your listeners are probably very familiar with, reached out to me and said, “We saw what you’re planning to speak about. We find it very interesting. Would you like to submit a proposal?” And I was like, “I think I would.” So I submitted it, they accepted it, and, boom! I had the opportunity to write a book, and I thought, “I’m going to do this because A: I really believe in the efficacy of adding behavioral science to marketing, and B: this will allow me to get the word to more people because I can only work with so many clients. I can only speak at so many conferences, but this is going to be a chance for anyone who’s a marketer or who does marketing among all the other things that they have to do. This is a chance for them to easily access the tactics that work.” You know, here’s a little bit about the science, very short on the science, and here’s a lot more about how you can use these practical tips, actionable tips, try this tactic, try that tactic, say it this way. If you have the opportunity to mention this, definitely mention it. I included case studies and examples and little stories to really bring it to life so people could see how this actually works. That’s the story of how I wrote the book. And, so I’m just really grateful for Kogan Page giving me the opportunity, and I’m also very grateful that I’ve finished writing it!

Adrian Tennant: It can be a challenge to know how to incorporate behavioral science into the practice of advertising, so you’ve structured your book in a way that introduces readers to key principles. Let’s start with one of these: loss aversion. Nancy, what is this? And how might we apply it? 

Nancy Harhut: So, Adrian, that’s a good place to start because loss aversion may seem a little counterintuitive to marketers. Because in marketing, we focus on benefits, and we know that benefits work. So we really double down on them, the benefits, the gains, the advantages, all the wonderful things that will happen if you just do what I’m asking you to do, if you just buy my product, sign up for my service, just reply to my email or click my ad. And there’s nothing wrong with benefits. We know they work, but behavioral science has found that people are actually twice as motivated to avoid the pain of loss as they are to achieve the pleasure of gain. So here we are focusing on the gains, and it turns out that people are even more motivated to avoid losses. So what it means is we want to introduce a little well-placed loss aversion. I am not suggesting that marketers should walk away from benefits. Again, we know benefits work. But a little bit of well-placed loss aversion can go a long way. So maybe instead of saying, “Take advantage of this,” we say, “Don’t miss out on this.” Or maybe we talk about the pain that you can avoid if you buy my product or the pain you may find yourself in if you don’t buy my product. But a little bit of loss aversion balanced in with the normal benefits that we talk about can actually be a very, very powerful thing. One of the most interesting examples I came across was an email that I received from a company that wanted me to buy a bottle of wine. And they said to me, “You have a $15 credit in your account that expires tomorrow.” And that’s very different than saying, “Buy a bottle tomorrow and we’ll give you $15,” or “Buy a bottle tomorrow, and we’ll take $15 off.” The possession was mine, right? The 15 bucks was in my account, and if I didn’t use it, I was going to lose it. And that made it so much more valuable. So I think that marketers can use loss aversion in a strategic way to get people to pay more attention and to get them to act more quickly. 

Adrian Tennant: I love that example. Well, some listeners may be familiar with the concept of the paradox of choice, that actually there is such a thing as too many choices, which is a bad thing leading to analysis paralysis. Now, in the book, you write about a related principle called autonomy bias. What’s that? 

Nancy Harhut: So autonomy bias is really interesting. Behavioral scientists have found that we have this deep-seated desire to exercise some kind of control over ourselves and our environment, some kind of control, some kind of agency, if you will. And we don’t like to be forced to do things – we don’t like to be told what to do. We like some kind of autonomy, and providing people a choice gives them that autonomy. So while you’re absolutely right –  too many choices that can go south pretty quickly –  but some choices can actually be very good. Tulane University ran a study, and they found that you can nearly quadruple the likelihood of someone making a buying decision in the moment if you give them a few choices. And if you think about it, it makes sense. If you put one thing down in front of someone, their question is, “Do I, or do I not want this?” It’s out of context, they have nothing to compare it to. So very often, it’s human nature. We think, “I’ll think about it. I’ll do my own research. I’ll check with a friend or my spouse, or, I’ll give it some thought I’ll sleep on it.” And you know what happens. A lot of times, we don’t get back to it. We don’t do the research. We don’t talk to our spouse. We don’t talk to our friends. And we just forget about it. But what the research found was if you put two or three or maybe even four options in front of someone, then the question is no longer, “Do I, or do I not want this?” but, “Which of these would I like?” It just leapfrogs over the idea of “Do I want it?” and it’s more about “Which of the ones am I going to get?” And the Tulane University research found that you can nearly quadruple the likelihood someone will make that decision in the moment. There was also a researcher named Chris Carpenter, and he did a deep dive into something called the B.Y.A.F. Technique. B.Y.A.F. stands for, “But You Are Free.” And the way this works is if you ask someone to do something, but then you remind them, “But you’re free to choose, but it’s up to you, but the choice is yours,” you know, language to that effect. It can actually double the likelihood that people will say yes, because you’re reminding them they’re the ones in control. They’re the ones in charge. It’s their decision. So autonomy bias is really a deep-seated desire in our customers, and our prospects, and marketers would do well to think about that and to think about ways that we can make people feel that they’re in charge, make them feel that they have some kind of choices – because people respond to that.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages. 

Tim McCormack: I’m Tim McCormack, Bigeye’s VP of Media and Analytics. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as media professionals, often inspired by data points reported in consumer research studies. At Bigeye, we put audiences first. For every engagement, through our own research, we develop a deep understanding of our client’s prospects and customers – analyzing their attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. We distill this data into actionable insights to inspire creative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns – with strategic, cost-efficient media placements. If you’d like to know more about how to put Bigeye’s audience-focused media and analytics to work for your brand, please contact us. Email

Adrian Tennant: Each month, in partnership with our friends at Kogan Page, The Bigeye Book Club features interviews with authors who are experts in marketing, consumer research, and customer experience. Our featured book for September is Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: Drive customer action and loyalty by prompting instinctive responses by Nancy Harhut. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can save 20 percent on a print or electronic version of the book with exclusive promo code BIGEYE20. This code is valid for all products and pre-orders and applies to Kogan Page’s free e-book offer. To order your copy of Using Behavioral Science in Marketing, go to – that’s K O G A N, P A G E dot com.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Nancy Harhut, Chief Creative Officer at HBT Marketing and the author of this month’s featured Bigeye book club selection, Using Behavioral Science In Marketing: Drive customer action and loyalty by prompting instinctive responses. Another principle you write about is reciprocity, one of those hardwired human behaviors. The idea is that when we receive something, we feel compelled to give something back. So Nancy, how can we use this in advertising?

Nancy Harhut: So, yeah, it’s the classic give to get and it’s interesting. You’re absolutely right, Adrian, when you give someone something, they feel compelled to return the favor, to answer in kind. And this holds true even if the person didn’t necessarily ask for the gift or the servicer or whatever in the first place. It’s one thing if somebody asked for it. But, even if you didn’t ask for it, if you’ve been given something, you kind of feel like, you know, I should return the favor.” Charities use this a lot. You open up the solicitation, and you find personalized address labels. You didn’t ask for them, but you’re holding them in one hand, and in the other hand, you’re holding a letter saying, “Could you please make a donation?” And you feel funny, and so you make a donation, you think, “Oh, well, alright, I’ll do that.” One of my clients actually benefited from the reciprocity principle. They came to us with an assignment. They were a financial marketing firm, and some of the financial advisors who used to sell their funds had stopped selling their funds. And they said, “We want to reactivate these financial advisors, so, we’d like to send them something.” And somebody might think, “Gee, that’s crazy. They’re not selling your funds. Don’t you want to send the gift to the people who are selling your funds?” You know, reinforce the positive behavior. “Why would you be spending money on people who used to sell your funds, but who stopped?” And these people stopped 12 months or more ago. So a year or more ago. So it’s been a while, but they want to do this. So we said, “Alright.” So we ended up creating this campaign where we sent them an email. And the email said, “Hey, Adrian, watch your USPS mail. We picked out a gift, especially for you and it’s coming soon.” And then, a day or two later, in the mail, this box shows up and inside the box is a framed New Yorker cartoon. And the New Yorker cartoon had something to do with selling retirement funds or it was a salesman selling retirement funds, and it was cute, and it was funny. And in the caption, not only was the caption humorous, the individual financial advisor’s name was in the caption. So your caption would’ve had your name. Mine would’ve had my name. So it’s a New Yorker-style cartoon. It’s framed. It’s going to be sitting there on your wall. So top of mind for the company, and there was a short note from the wholesaler of that particular company, saying, “Hey, we miss you. We’d love to update you on what’s going on. We’d love to find out what’s going on with you, let’s have a conversation.” The client reported that they got a $68 million incremental revenue lift because of that campaign. So, you know, you think like, “Why would you spend money on people who aren’t doing what you want them to do?” Because maybe they’ll A: be thinking of you, and B: feel like, “Ah, I should start doing business with them again. I should return the favor. Every time I look at that framed cartoon, it’s reminding me, I owe those guys something.” So the reciprocity principle can be very, very powerful. People are, you know, they’re nice, as a species, we’re civil people. We’re nice people. We like to return favors. We like to do for others what they do for us.

Adrian Tennant: I love that example. For any copywriters listening. I think they’ll be particularly interested in the rhyme as reason effect. Nancy, could you unpack this one for us? 

Nancy Harhut: Yeah, this is a fun one! We think about rhymes and so what springs to mind? Oh, rhymes are fun, they’re memorable, certainly. But they actually have another effect on people. Behavioral scientists have found that people will judge rhyming phrases to be more accurate and more truthful than a similar phrase that basically conveys the same information. So they did a study, “Woes unite foes.” vs “Woes unite enemies.” Both of those sentences convey the same information. They pretty much mean the same thing. One of them rhymes, the other one doesn’t. People judge the rhyming phrase to be the more truthful, more accurate expression. And the reason for this is the human brain finds it easier to process things that rhyme. And if it’s easier for the brand to process something, it feels right. And if something feels right, it’s really not a big leap to assume that it is right. So when you think about slogans and taglines and strap lines, not only are they easier to remember, but they actually kind of resonate more, they sound truer. I’ve done some work for Nationwide, and their slogan is “Nationwide is on your side.” You remember it, you know it rhymes, but it’s also more believable because it rhymes. And we’re marketers, we’re not going to be writing everything the way a poet would. We’re not going to have everything rhyme. We’re not going to be writing in Iambic Pentameter, but a little well-placed rhyme in a high-read piece of real estate, like a subject line, a content title, a headline, even a call to action, “Don’t delay, sign up today,” it can help. It’s one of those little things that just nudges people in the right direction, just makes things a little bit easier for marketers to accomplish their goals. 

Adrian Tennant: In Using Behavioral Science In Marketing, you introduce the concepts of temporal landmarks and temporal discounting. Could you explain what these are? And again, how we might apply them?

Nancy Harhut: Yes. So I paired those two up because they’re almost two sides of the same coin. So they’re both talking about timing. So the first one is temporal landmarks. And what behavioral scientists have found is there are points of time that are almost like points of demarcation, where the old you is gone, and the new you is now present. It’s like you close the chapter on who you used to be, and you turn over a new page. You’re the new you. Some people refer to it as the fresh start effect. So think about New Year’s Day, right? That’s when everyone makes their New Year’s resolutions. “It’s a new year. The person I was last year, well, you know, I failed here and there, but this year, no, this year I’m going to succeed!” So at these temporal landmarks, we actually feel more positive that we’re going to be able to accomplish our goals. And as a result, we’re more willing to tackle them. So obviously, New Year’s Day with the resolutions is a big one. There are lots of other ones. Your birthday is a temporal landmark for you. An anniversary could be a temporal landmark. The start of the week can be a temporal landmark. People say, “Ah, I’m going to quit smoking on Monday.” You don’t say, “Oh, I’m going to quit smoking on Thursday or Tuesday.” No! “Oh, on Monday, you know, when Monday comes, I’ll start.” So we have this idea that there are certain days where it’s just, “The person I was? That person’s gone. The new person is here, and this person is here to conquer.” So you can do a lot with that. I did some work with Berklee Online, which I think it’s the world’s largest online music school. And one of the things that we talked about was incorporating temporal landmarks into the work they did. So it could be as easy as sending out an email on a Monday, but it could also be focusing on the start of a new semester, the start of a new class, or the start of a new year. So they really started to weave that into their marketing materials. I worked with some insurance companies, and so there, we looked at the birth of a new child. That’s a temporal landmark. An anniversary, a birthday, retiring from work, and purchasing a new home. Those are all very personal individual temporal landmarks, but again, they represent those kinds of points of demarcation where I’m a new person. And, as a result, people are much more likely from a marketing perspective to engage. So that’s temporal landmarks. The other side of it, the other side of the coin, is something called temporal discounting. And that is the human tendency to discount rewards that come in the future, things that are in the future just seem awfully far away, and we don’t have a good handle on them. So human beings are actually very present-focus biased. We want instant gratification. So if you’re offered, I don’t know, what? $10 today and $15 tomorrow, a lot of people would grab the 10 bucks today, and then tomorrow comes, and they’re like, “Doggone it! Why didn’t I hold out for the $15?” Right? We make the decision in the moment, we want that instant gratification. And then often time passes, and we regret it. And so temporal discounting is the preference for sooner, albeit smaller rewards versus later, albeit larger ones. And so what this means to certain marketers is we need to overcome this feeling of temporal discounting. If you sell a product that has an immediate benefit, great. But what if you sell insurance? What if you sell retirement funds? What if you sell education? Something where the benefit is going to come at a distance? It’s going to be down the road or maybe not even at all, how do you get people to make that purchase? Because behavioral scientists have found that when we think about our future selves, they’re like strangers to us. My future self is like the person who just drove by me, on the street, I just don’t know them. We don’t really know ourselves. And so what we need to do is we need to overcome that. And there’s a few ways that we can do that. But basically, what we need to do is create that bridge between who a person is today, with all their preferences, likes, goals, feelings, and who they are tomorrow. We have to get them to remember that the person they are today is going to be the same person down the road. And there’s a bank, actually, that did a great job with this. They were selling CDs. So it’s a great example of something that’s got a distant payoff, and they said, “We asked the future you if you wanted more money. And you said yes.” And when you think about that, you’re like, “Well, of course the future may would say that because if someone asked me today, if I wanted more money, I would say yes. So the same needs and wants that I have today – of course I’ll have them in the future. And then as a result, it would make sense for me to maybe take out this CD.” Merrill Edge did something really interesting. This is a little bit more sophisticated, but they invested in age progression software. They were trying to sell retirement funds. They had this age progression software where you could upload a picture of yourself, then age progress at 10, 20, 30, 40 years, 50 years down the road. See what you would look like. I tried it, Adrian. It wasn’t a pleasant experience! But I was one of over a million people who tried it, and Merrill reports that about 60 percent of those people said, “You know what? I want more information on your retirement services. I think I need to look into this.” So that was a very powerful way of overcoming temporal discounting. So it’s interesting, on the one hand, temporal landmarks, who I was yesterday is not who I am today. It’s a fresh start. And temporal discounting is almost the opposite. It’s who I am today is who I’m going to be in the future with the same likes and needs and goals and wants. So I need to build a bridge between the two. So two interesting, almost slightly opposing, principles, but they come in handy depending on the marketer and what the marketer is offering.

Adrian Tennant: What are some of the most common mistakes you see being made in advertising, which could be avoided if behavioral science principles were applied?

Nancy Harhut: Ah, good question. Three of them spring to mind. One of them is in marketing, we overemphasize the company’s point of view at the expense of the customer’s point of view. So we’re all about I, we, our customer, our company, our product, our service, and we don’t use the word you enough. But the truth of the matter is people’s eyes glaze right over. They skim right over the I’s, the We’s, the Our’s, but they zero in on you. You is one of the most powerful words in the English language, and behavioral scientists talk about something called the principle of liking. And what they found is we’re more interested in and more influenced by people that remind us of ourselves, things that remind us of ourselves. And when we see the word you, that reminds us of ourselves. So we pay attention. We zero in on something. I think sometimes, companies’ marketers are, they love their product or service. Their heart is in the right place. And they just want to tell you everything: “We did this and we did this and we did this.” And you know that we is not a good thing. They really need to be more you focused. I think another thing is, the use of acronyms and jargon and tech speak. Behavioral scientists talk about cognitive fluency, which is people’s preference for things that are easy to understand and easy to think about. And even in a B2B environment, even with an educated audience, there are studies that show that people still prefer things that are easier to think about, easier to understand. You don’t really score points by using the 75-cent word when the 25-cent word will do. And they’ve studied this even among very highly educated people, and they still prefer the 25-cent word version because it’s easier. Anything we can do to make things easier for people – we should be doing. And, sometimes we fall into the trap of, “We’ve got to sound super intelligent,” and it’s not always a good thing for us. And then I think maybe the last thing is we fail to think about why people won’t want to do what we’re asking them to do. A lot of times we’re like, “Oh, you’ll love this because …” but as marketers, we should be thinking about why wouldn’t someone want to do what we’re asking them to do. And I think that if we start to do that, it will make us a lot better in terms of hitting our KPIs and being more effective.

Adrian Tennant: Nancy, today you are the chief creative officer of HBT Marketing. How does your agency typically work with clients? And I’m curious, do you ever partner with other agencies? 

Nancy Harhut: Basically, a client will come to us with a particular need, whether it’s a strategy need or a strategy and creative need. And they’ll say, “This is what we want to do. This is our goal.” “We want to introduce this product.” “We want to sell more of this product,” or “We want to enroll more people.” And we will work with them to create a strategy. And then, we will do the creative execution. It could be email, social, direct mail, landing page. Less about branding, way more about one-to-one marketing, response marketing, where we’re trying to actually get people to respond. And, so yes, as a result of that, very often we will partner with other agencies. It could be a branding agency, could be a media agency, could be a company that crunches data. But what we really focus on is strategy and execution. And what we like to do is we like to take the marketing best practices for the particular channel and add to that the behavioral science, which gives our clients an advantage. It’s like a one-two-punch in order for them to achieve their goals, to get the engagement, and to get the response that they’re looking for.

Adrian Tennant: Now you’ve just had the book published. Do you foresee a broader adoption of behavioral science principles in marketing communications over the next few years?

Nancy Harhut: Yeah, I do. I think so. In fact, even over the last couple of years, I’ve seen more and more of it. What we’re starting to see now is behavioral science getting into the C-suite. So you’re finding like a Chief Behavioral Science Officer at this company or that company. I was fortunate enough to have Jeff Chrysler endorse my book. He’s the Head of Behavioral Science at JP Morgan Chase, for example. So you’re seeing this more and more. And I personally think that what we’re going to see increased incidences of is data science blending with behavioral science. So the data scientists – they’re going to tell us which segment to focus on, where we can find that segment, the best places and times to reach them. And then the behavioral science is going to tell us the best ways to serve up the message, the ways to frame it, to phrase it, to design it so that it’s most likely to appeal to the human brain, that people are going to notice it from among all the other competing messages. And that they’re going to understand it, that they’re going to remember it, and that they’re going to want to act on it. So I think it’s going to be that increased close working relationship between data science and behavioral science. 

Adrian Tennant: Nancy, where do you find inspiration away from work?

Nancy Harhut: So, you know, I am a behavioral science junkie, but sometimes I do step away from things. I love the beach, and there are actually interesting behavioral science studies that show that, if you’re exposed to nature, if you’re outside or even looking at the outdoors, it actually increases your creativity. So that’s probably a good thing. So a lot of times, I love to be at the beach, whether it’s swimming or just sitting there, reading a good book. So I like that, and I also happen to really like Broadway. I’m a Broadway show tune junkie. And I just think some of the lyrics are so creative, and I can be very happy. I go to New York for a weekend and cram in a Friday night show with Saturday afternoon matinee, a Saturday night show, and a Sunday matinee, before heading back to Boston! 

Adrian Tennant: If IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners would like to learn more about you or HBT Marketing, where can they find you?

Nancy Harhut: So I’m in a few places you can find me on social media. I’m on Twitter, @NHarhut, H A R H UT with an N in front of it. I’m on LinkedIn, I’m on Facebook. My agency is HBT Marketing. HBT stands for Human Behavior Triggers and we abbreviate marketing – so it’s And on our website, we have papers and interviews and podcasts. So there’s a lot of information there. And I would love to talk to anybody. Anyone can connect with me, they can email me even! And then of course, if people are interested in my book, they can find it at Kogan Page, which is something I would recommend checking out if people are interested. It’s called Using Behavioral Science In Marketing: Drive customer action and loyalty by prompting instinctive responses

Adrian Tennant: And if you’d like to obtain a copy of Nancy’s book, as an IN CLEAR FOCUS listener, you can save 20 percent when you order directly from the publisher at Just enter the promo code BIGEYE20, that’s B I G E Y E two-zero at the checkout. And that discount applies to printed and electronic versions of the book. Nancy, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Nancy Harhut: Adrian, thank you so much. It was absolutely delightful. I really enjoyed speaking with you. Thank you.

Adrian Tennant: Thanks to my guest this week, Nancy Harhut, Chief Creative Officer at HBT Marketing and the author of Using Behavioral Science In Marketing. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Just select ‘podcast’ from the menu. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for joining us for IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Consumer Journey Mapping Market Intelligence Podcast

As consumers shift toward using more mobile and connected technology, and changes in Apple’s iOS, brands are on notice to find new ways to track and measure engagement. With cookies no longer reliable identifiers, how can we target users and measure the success of campaigns? Bigeye’s VP of Media and Analytics, Tim McCormack, and Analytics Manager, Maegan Trinidad, discuss why they believe advertisers need to get creative if we want to continue targeting audiences effectively.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS:

Tim McCormack: We’ll have to plan for reaching users in a different way, but it’s also gonna change, I think, heavily how advertisers and agencies look at putting together media plans. 

Maegan Trinidad: We have to really pivot and find alternatives that don’t depend on cookies, like contextual targeting and lookalike modeling, for example.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye, a strategy-led, full-service creative agency, growing brands for clients globally. Hello. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, Chief Strategy Officer. Thank you for joining us. If you enjoy baking, you know, there’s nothing quite like homemade cookies. But whether home-baked or store-bought, cookies crumble, and especially on a summer’s day in Florida, when cookies crumble, they can get a bit messy. Well, in the world of marketing, there are times when things can feel a little bit messy too. For the past couple of years, we’ve had our work cut out for us, as – in addition to keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of digital advertising – we’ve been collectively bracing ourselves for a future without digital cookies. As consumers shift to using mobile devices and other connected technologies, brands are on notice that we’ll have to find new ways to track and measure customer engagement. So in a world where cookies are no longer reliable identifiers, what will become of digital marketing? How will we target users and measure the success of our campaigns? To answer these questions, I’m joined by two members of Bigeye’s Media and Analytics team. Tim McCormack is Bigeye’s VP of Media and Analytics, and Maegan Trinidad is Bigeye’s Analytics Manager. Both believe that we’ll need to get creative if we want to continue reaching our target audiences. 


Adrian Tennant: Maegan, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS. 

Maegan Trinidad: Thank you. Happy to be here. 

Adrian Tennant: What led you to pursue a career in research and analytics?

Maegan Trinidad: I went to the University of Central Florida where I was a marketing major in the Business College, and I found myself involved in a behavioral lab ther, which really meant that I helped administer surveys and helped a professor conduct their own research. And I really enjoyed that experience and I just ran with it.

Adrian Tennant: Today, your Bigeye analytics manager. So could you explain what your role at Bigeye entails? 

Maegan Trinidad: I have grown from being a digital media specialist, which was a role where you can grow into different tracks and see which things you were more interested in, and for me that was more of the analytics side rather than media planning or buying, which goes back to the interest in research and really understanding how things work. So I became a digital media specialist and then from there, when I found out that I really excelled in the analytics portion, I grew that role. And now I manage all of the paid social and web analytics reporting, in addition to being a heavy role in audience creation with the strategy team. 

Adrian Tennant: Now, as I mentioned in the introduction – cookies, they’re crumbling. But for anyone new to digital marketing, or would appreciate a refresher, could you explain what cookies are?

Maegan Trinidad: Yeah. Cookies are digital files that websites send to your devices. They are used to follow you around the internet, really. It’s how we are able to track your behaviors as you surf the internet. So they really remember little pieces of what you’re doing throughout your search history, and we’re able to take that information, understand what you’re doing and then implement it through third-party audiences in our campaign targeting. 

Adrian Tennant: So why do we care about them going away? 

Maegan Trinidad: We care about them going away because really we have seen third-party audiences’ performances decline as the audience size continues to shrink. So if you’re dependent on third-party cookies and third-party audiences, you’re gonna get less and less information and you’re really not going to reach as many people. So we have to really pivot and find alternatives that don’t depend on cookies, like contextual targeting and lookalike modeling, for example. . 

Adrian Tennant: For anyone not familiar, what are the differences between first-party, second-party, and third-party data? 

Maegan Trinidad: So for first-party data, that is any data that is owned directly by a company. So if you’re thinking about a company that has a newsletter list, you own that data or if you’re a eCommerce company, you own all of your purchase data and you also own any of the interactions that consumers have on your website or your social media profiles. As far as second party data that refers to when an organization would collect the data and then sell it unanonymized, and they will sell it out. They see that it’s a valuable resource that advertisers can use and they can gain revenue that way by sharing their owned data. For third party data, it’s not necessarily from the publisher themselves. It gets aggregated and anonymized by another party and then sold to different advertisers and platforms that way. 

Adrian Tennant: Okay. So with cookies going away, what are some alternative approaches we can take to audience targeting?

Maegan Trinidad: Yeah. There are a couple that the media and analytics team has already identified. One of the big ones is contextual targeting. If cookie-driven advertising is based on users’ historical, like their browsing history and their actions on websites, contextual targeting is based more on the current content that they’re viewing. And the way that works is you can generate a list of keywords or webpages that we think might be relevant based on keyword research, or just seeing what is related to a certain topic for a campaign.

Adrian Tennant: That’s great. So how do we get that information? 

Maegan Trinidad: Yeah, a big way that we can get that information is through consumer research. We already know that consumer research helps us determine consumers’ self-reported motivators, experiences, their interests. It’s really helpful in informing our campaigns targeting strategies because of that. When we supplement our knowledge from secondary data with qualitative and quantitative data from studies, we then have a more holistic and up-to-date understanding of where our audience is, what media they’re consuming and what they’re influenced by. We are able to bake questions into our surveys and questionnaires to specifically help us develop contextual targeting lists, such as “which of the following phrases do you most associate with this topic?” or “what store or website do you purchase this particular type of product most often?” or even “what type of resources do you typically use to learn about this topic?” 

Adrian Tennant: You’ve also talked to me offline about automatic content recognition, or ACR. Could you explain a little bit about how that works in practice? 

Maegan Trinidad: Yeah. So ACR is a technology that is utilized in OTT and smart TV platforms. It basically samples a portion of the video or audio that is playing on the device and it takes that back into a larger database that sorts the audio file into categories based on what the content being consumed is. So once these buckets are made, they get put into targeting segments that we can put into paid social and more lower funnel direct response channels to help extend the reach of the campaigns. In addition to that, ACR offers the opportunity to purchase inventory directly related to specific events. So if a campaign would do really well during a type of sporting event, ACR offers that opportunity to access the sporting event inventory. 

Adrian Tennant: Well, of course, social media is a major part of most marketers’ plans these days. Maegan, could you talk a bit about how we can use social graph data? 

Maegan Trinidad: Yeah, social graph data is sort of like contextual targeting, but really creates audience based on comments and reviews that are left by consumers. So it takes into account relevant phrases, keywords, and hashtags to build lists for things like in-market targeting, looking for phrases, like, “Can you suggest a type of moisturizer?” or “What’s the best, this type of product?”. It can also be used to identify purchasers by looking for phrases, like “I always buy from this brand,” or “This was a great product for the price,” because that really signifies that they’ve already purchased. They’ve had an experience with this brand or this product, and that can be taken, a list can be built out, and an audience can be created with that in mind to create a similar audience list.

Adrian Tennant: Okay. I know you work on campaigns that use other kinds of targeting beyond those we’ve discussed so far. Could you share a couple of examples with us? 

Maegan Trinidad: Big ones that we’ve been discussing more recently with these changes are time and geo behavioral data. So that would allow us to target users who’ve visited a specific location or region and it also allows us to segment users depending on events that they have attended. So if you attended an event in Orlando in the last month, we can really pinpoint that down based on the date and the location that the event was in. And within this tactic is geofencing, which would allow us to reach users based on whether they enter or leave this particular location. With that comes polygon-ing where we are able to draw a radius or a shape around a specific location so we can really get specific in where we’re reaching those people.

Adrian Tennant: So Maegan, could you walk us through a so-called full-funnel campaign and explain how you might select different types of targeting at each stage of that funnel?

Maegan Trinidad: Yeah. So a full-funnel campaign takes into consideration an entire view of the customer journey. So we can use different channels and optimization events to appropriately drive users from the awareness stage all the way down to becoming repeat purchasers and even brand advocates. Full flannel campaigns really are a good resource for building first-party data audiences and then we can engage with specific users at different points of the consumer journey that way. Starting at the awareness stage at the very top of the funnel, first-party data can be used to suppress existing customers and the impression data that we create as a result can be used to lift brand awareness and recognition with frequency targeting. And the ad engagements and leads that happen as a result can be used as well as we move further down. The second stage of the funnel is intent where we take the first-party impression and engagement data that we generated from the first part of the funnel to reach users who have already seen and are familiar with the brand by now. This is really helpful in generating first-party traffic audiences. At this stage, we take the messaging and make it more personalized to really help them move further down the funnel and drive them to specific content on the website. And then we take segmented retargeting audiences to drive purchases. Again, we can personalize messaging. Be more persuasive and direct as they’re moving further down the funnel as they’ve already visited the website and have even more familiarity. When we generate more sales data, that brings us down to the bottom portion of the funnel, which is repeat purchasers and brand advocates. Taking into account the purchase data and really trying to give them reminders and different messaging that would encourage them to purchase again, or to really encourage them to purchase more if not something that has to be repurchased frequently. 

Adrian Tennant: Maegan, you’ve defined first-party data for us as any information that a company collects directly from its customers and owns. So I’m curious, in what kinds of ways has first-party data been most successful for our clients at Bigeye? 

Maegan Trinidad: So for first-party data, of course, we can use that information to retarget users who we already know, our existing customers, or people who have already visited the relevant websites. But, something we’ve seen increasingly perform well is lookalike modeling, because of the quality and accuracy of first-party data, since it’s coming directly from the source, it makes it really the ideal foundation for look-alike models. We’ve utilized cookieless audiences based on our first-party data such as website visitations or specific interactions through our preferred vendors. 

Adrian Tennant: So Maegan, in the case that a client doesn’t have first-party data themselves, how can we get around that? 

Maegan Trinidad: So, thanks to our close partnership with survey and first-party data vendors, we’re allowed to leverage market research data for audience creation and campaign activation that’s not exclusive to what we own. For example, Amazon DSP, Amazon famously owns quite a number of things, um, and that gives us access to purchase history, web, and mobile app behavior, things like content viewership on Amazon’s OTT and CTV platforms, going as far as Twitch and even IMDB. We also have partnerships with other vendors. A major one that we do partner with frequently offers first-party data tracking to track the products added to virtual shopping carts and from there we can see the category and product preferences of consumers and their shopping habits and even their planning tendencies for shopping.

Adrian Tennant: Well, in addition to analyzing the performance of clients’ campaigns, you also work very closely with me and the other members of our strategy team, often designing and programming quantitative research studies. In what kinds of ways can primary research work in concert with secondary data and help marketers achieve the targeting objectives in a cookieless environment?

Maegan Trinidad: I mentioned a little bit about this earlier, where we’re able to supplement primary and secondary data to really make a more holistic picture. So if we create questions within our surveys and questionnaires to drive us in a certain direction and really see what might inform our campaign as far as what types of media outlets do you consume from, or where do you purchase from? That really lends itself well to our end goal in making a really strategy-infused project from creative all the way to campaign. 

Adrian Tennant: Maegan, thank you very much for being our guest this week on, IN CLEAR FOCUS. 

Maegan Trinidad: Thank you for having me.

Adrian Tennant: We’ll be joined by Bigeye’s VP of Media and Analytics, Tim McCormack, after this short break.

Dana Cassell: I’m Dana Cassell, Bigeye’s Senior Strategist. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as marketing professionals, often inspired by data points reported in consumer research studies. At Bigeye, we put audiences first. For every engagement, through our own research, we develop a deep understanding of our client’s prospects and customers – analyzing their attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. We distill this data into actionable insights to inspire creative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns – with strategic, cost-efficient media placements. If you’d like to know more about how to put Bigeye’s audience-focused insights to work for your brand, please contact us. Email

Adrian Tennant: Each month, in partnership with our friends at Kogan Page, The Bigeye Book Club features interviews with authors who are experts in marketing, consumer research, and customer experience. Our featured book for September is Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: Drive customer action and loyalty by prompting instinctive responses by Nancy Harhut. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can save 20 percent on a print or electronic version of the book with exclusive promo code BIGEYE20. This code is valid for all products and pre-orders and applies to Kogan Page’s free ebook offer. To order your copy of Using Behavioral Science in Marketing, go to – that’s K O G A N, P A G E dot com.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, and we are discussing how to navigate the cookieless future of digital marketing. Our next guest is Tim McCormack, Bigeye’s VP of Media and Analytics. Tim, welcome back to IN CLEAR FOCUS. 

Tim McCormack: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Adrian Tennant: Before the break, we heard from Maegan about what cookieless targeting would look like in the future. Tim, what other changes are likely on the horizon with the deprecation of third-party cookies? 

Tim McCormack: Yeah, this is a great question because although it’s gonna have a major impact on audience targeting, there’s a lot of areas that this is going to really, spin out to. So one of the first ones, unsurprisingly, is going to be media planning. So of course we’ll have to plan for reaching users in a different way. But it’s also gonna change, I think, how advertisers and agencies look at putting together media plans. That’s because there’s going to be an even further increased preference for the walled gardens, like Facebook, Pinterest, in some ways Google as well, where users are logged in and they’re able to really get in-depth information on their users. There’s going to be a major impact on tracking, and then I think it’s really going to push more and more advertisers to focus on opt-in advertising, which is very different from what we’ve traditionally done.

Adrian Tennant: With so much at stake for advertisers and publishers, how should brands and agencies look at encouraging consumers to opt-in to advertising, especially when over a third of users are reportedly already using ad-blocking to remove ads across the internet?

Tim McCormack: Yeah, I think that this is one of the things that, that maybe firstly, I’m most excited about. When I look at the huge percentage of users who are using ad-blocking, that says to me that right now we’re doing something wrong as advertisers. We have a system where we can be giving users pretty much the content that they should be interested in, the messages that should resonate with them and so many of them are still choosing to opt-out of it. I think by forcing users and advertisers to think about opt-in advertising, what we’re doing is we’re moving digital advertising away from the extremely short-term, performance-driven landscape that it’s heavily been in to do a lot of the brand building, that we’ve heard a lot of consternation about advertisers moving away from. I think this is really a chance to reset and think about what can we do to provide value to our consumers so that they want to hear from us. And that allows us to then get to the personalization and segmentation, to give them the messages that they’re most interested in. It’s really interesting, because this is something that we’re seeing now on the consumer side. But obviously, this is really something that the B2B side has done successfully for quite a long time, given that it has those longer sales lead cycles. So I really think consumer companies are going to have to start thinking about where they provide that value, and how they can convince their customers and potential consumers to be loyal and opt-in. 

Adrian Tennant: Tim, how does the cookieless future impact how we’re going to measure advertising effectiveness?

Tim McCormack: So apart from audience targeting, I think this is the area where we are gonna see the biggest impact from the move to cookieless. Because currently, we’ve been traditionally looking at digital advertising as an arena where we can clearly see the impact, utilizing cookies of someone who is exposed to our advertising and the actions they took. We’ve had reasonably good ability to de-duplicate conversions, and see down to the individual creative level, you know, what has driven action across multiple steps of the consumer journey. Unfortunately, that’s all really been built on the back of third-party cookies, so we’re going to have to take a step back and really rethink how we’re looking at advertising effectiveness without being able to look at each individual piece of creative and say it drove these actions. The good news is, although we’ve had a fairly good, as I mentioned earlier, ability to do this, it’s never been fully perfect, in most cases. So when we’ve looked at attribution, there’s always been some level of modeling built in. There’s always been some level of noise in the signal. And we’ve grown to really think of it as though it’s entirely deterministic and completely accurate when, to some degree, it never has been entirely. What we’ll have to do now, as we take a step back, is start thinking through how is advertising impacting the overall performance of the brand? Are we seeing increases in sales? Are we seeing increases in brand awareness? And we are going to start having to do things like incrementality testing and medium mix modeling to understand what the drivers are for those increases. 

Adrian Tennant: While preparing for a cookieless future is certainly important, why should busy advertisers care about preparing right now when the date that cookies will be fully deprecated continues to be pushed further into the future?

Tim McCormack: So I think it’s important for advertisers to start looking at this now because, as Maegan noted, we’re already seeing some of this impact in our audiences. So if you’re focused on, specifically cookies, you’re gonna see smaller audiences that are performing worse at a higher cost. Likewise, if you’re relying entirely on cookies for your advertising measurement, you’re gonna start seeing more and more noise in that signal. We’ve already seen Google and Facebook move towards really looking at modeled conversions as opposed to deterministic. So they’re already doing a little bit of machine learning there, more than they had in the past. And most importantly, you wanna start doing this now because it’s gonna take some time to test and learn and optimize and get your new systems up and running as efficiently as the ones that you’ve been running for almost the past decade. And on the advertising measurement side, you’re gonna want to have a good baseline to go back to, when you start looking at this potentially a year in the future.

Adrian Tennant: Why did Google choose to push back the date for deprecating the cookie in Chrome?

Tim McCormack: Without being inside of Google, what we’ve kind of come to understand is that it was most likely driven by competition within the market. It does seem like Google thought they could really set the agenda for what would come after cookies, and they have to some degree, with what they call FLoC’s, which is an identifier of groups of users based on interests and behaviors rather than an individual user. However, there have been a lot of other companies who have rushed into this space coming up with other solutions to provide identity resolution, and some of those have proven to be a little bit more popular with advertisers than what we’re seeing with FLoC’s. We’re also seeing that some of their competitors in the programmatic space, so, other DSPs are putting increased pressure on them in DV 360 by allowing for the targeting of unaddressable audiences. So with those two factors, I think Google didn’t feel comfortable, kind of continuing to push this, knowing that it could impact their bottom line as an advertising system.

Adrian Tennant: Tim, how do consumer data protection laws such as the CCPA and GDPR impact cookieless targeting? 

Tim McCormack: So I do think that obviously, these laws are kind of government’s way of working with the market to drive a cookieless future. Ultimately, they do get at really what is the same point, which is driving advertising to either be mass market, where we’re not advertising to an individual user. Or, you know, advertising that is opt-in based where we’re advertising to users who have chosen to interact and hear from your brand. 

Adrian Tennant: Great insights! Tim, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. 

Tim McCormack: Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Adrian Tennant: Thanks to my guests this week, Tim McCormack, Bigeye’s VP of Media and Analytics, and Maegan Trinidad, Bigeye’s Analytics Manager. As always, you’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Just select ‘podcast’ from the menu. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us wherever you listen to podcasts and contributing a rating or a review. Thank you for joining us for IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Audience Branding Insights Strategy & Positioning

Why should marketers make time to perform a social media audit? In general, any marketing activity that replaces guesswork with relevant data should provide opportunities to improve ROI. To answer this question, it also helps to understand the increasing importance of social media marketing for growing businesses.

According to data collected by Sprout Social in a Harris poll:

  • Social platforms introduced over half of consumers to new brands in the past year.
  • Even more, almost half of consumers increased their usage of social sites solely to learn more about new products.
  • Almost eight out of 10 consumers said that positive social interactions with a company would motivate them to make a purchase.

Social sites allow companies to connect with customers and expand audiences by crafting posts, influencer marketing, or responding to citations and mentions. At the same time, lots of businesses improvise their social strategies without taking time to develop a plan, state goals, or uncover information that will help them improve. 

Even though many brands find social media marketing productive, they also recognize that they have plenty of rivals competing for attention. Businesses can benefit from the competitive advantage that data-based marketing plans can offer. 

A social media audit provides essential insights into critical metrics. It demonstrates which activities offer the best returns and which ones need improvement. In turn, marketers can use this information to improve their results by fixing problems and focusing on activities most likely to yield positive results. 

A quick five-step social media audit template

A term like audit might intimidate some marketers. Don’t worry. This kind of audit won’t require a team of financial professionals. The process should not take long and will rely on easily accessible data and a simple, five-step template. The audit also relies on information that marketers should find easily accessible. 

Best of all, the audit won’t impose any penalties. Instead, it offers insights into areas for improvement. For instance, marketers may find they lack key metrics. Anything missing provides an essential insight into a place for improvement. Solid marketing plans start with measurable goals and the metrics required to measure them. 

Step 1: Make an informative list of all social media platforms

As with any exercise, it helps to begin with a simple warmup. Start by listing all the social media sites the business uses. If a list of social sites already exists, ensure a team member takes responsibility for keeping it updated.

Social media management tools help improve efficiency and team collaboration. Some popular examples include Hootsuite and Sprout Social. These tools may also offer social listening features that help marketers keep track of brand mentions from other sources. For an audit, using one of these tools should make it easy to pull a list of social sites. 

Social media software and apps can save time, help marketers stick to posting schedules, and provide important analytics. If the company uses specific social sites but hasn’t set them up in their social media manager, include a suggestion to update them in the audit report. If the business hasn’t started using a social media tool, this might offer an excellent opportunity to consider it. 

Step 2: Check for consistent branding and messaging

Does the company’s presence across various social networks share a consistent brand voice, according to brand guidelines? Has the company even established brand guidelines that offer team members essential information like the mission, goals, target audience, brand voice, and images?

According to the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, consistent branding benefits companies by developing positive brand recognition, trust, and customer connections. Many marketers only associate branding with logos and other images. While visuals matter, so will communicating values and missions to customers.

Businesses must develop brand guidelines to ensure marketers understand these critical factors and communicate them to the right audiences. Thus, reporting on deviations from these guidelines or even a total lack of them offers an essential opportunity for improvement.

Step 3: Identify the best-performing content

Marketers with plenty of social media history and some successes can gain quick insights by examining posts that performed well previously. Consider various metrics, including likes and shares, views, click-throughs, and conversions. Also, look at these metrics in light of the content’s goals.

With the right social media analytics, this step might look pretty easy. However, interpreting performance can take some judgment. For instance, engagement might help measure brand recognition campaigns, but marketers should measure revenue-generating posts by click-throughs and conversions.

Also, keep the specific platform, goals, and target audience in mind. For example:

  • Light-hearted videos might provide a good way to improve engagement, but product posts, infographics, or longer text posts might do a better job of closing sales.
  • Longer posts often succeed better on video-centric platforms, like YouTube, but Facebook users tend to have less patience and might prefer shorter ones.

Use analytics platforms to ensure the content attracts the intended audience. For instance, a light-hearted, punchy video might have generated plenty of engagement. However, it might not have achieved its goal if it had primarily attracted teenage viewers, but the intended audience consisted of millennial moms. In contrast, if an unexpected audience converted with click-throughs and sales, marketers might reevaluate their targets.

In any case, scouring high-performing content should offer plenty of insights to inform future investments. Similarly, low-performing content can tell marketers what their audiences don’t care for. At the same time, make sure to evaluate performance with other factors in mind, like the social media platform, audience demographics, etc.

Step 4: Spot high-performing platforms

As various audiences prefer different types of content, all social media users don’t share the same platform preferences. Past metrics will show which platforms have performed well in the past. That information offers a quick way to determine which social sites to focus on in the future. 

At the same time, marketers may hope to expand into new platforms or experiment with different content on platforms they haven’t enjoyed a lot of luck with in the past. Combining an understanding of the audience with information about performance on other platforms can offer valuable clues for choosing new social sites.

For example: 

  • Sprout Social offered recent demographic information about popular social media sites. Despite Facebook’s reputation as a network where mom and grandma socialize, average users range between 25 and 34. Men slightly outnumber women. Users spend an average of about half an hour on the site daily.
  • Companies looking to engage with older women should consider Pinterest, with an average user base of women between 50 and 64. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Instagram has similar average demographics as Facebook. If marketing performs well on Facebook, Instagram might provide a logical place to expand.
  • In contrast, TikTok attracts teens and has an audience that skews towards females. Snapchat engages a similar demographic. Twitter attracts a young adult audience with more men than women.

The top platforms attract hundreds of millions to billions of users. Thus, social sites that might not look ideally suited to a specific brand’s target could still have plenty of users that qualify as part of a target audience. Thus, a product aimed at college students might sometimes perform well on Pinterest or Instagram. Use typical audiences on various sites as a guide, but don’t let it prevent experimenting with other venues. 

During the audit, focus on figuring out which sites have performed well in the past. Understand that the reasons the posts succeeded might not carry over to another platform. In-depth knowledge of audiences can offer clues, but only real-world tests can provide verifiable results.

Step 5: Take Action

By now, a social media action report should offer plenty of valuable insights. The completed audit report should contain:

  • A list of all current social media platforms
  • Notes about posts that don’t conform to messaging and branding guidelines
  • Information about high-performing content and platforms 

Marketers should not need to struggle to find plenty of actionable items, including issues to fix, analytics data to acquire, brand guidelines to create or update, and potential types of content and platforms to focus on. Keep the audit document to refer back to, and very importantly, set a date for the next social media audit. The report can also provide a tool for budgeting and meetings with management.

Why conduct a social media audit as soon as possible?

Businesses increasingly depend on social media to connect with customers. Optimizing any marketing efforts requires a plan, goals, and a way to measure progress. The information produced by the report will enable marketers to develop an effective, data-driven marketing plan that should improve returns. Just as important, the audit report will give marketers a way to communicate with other team members and management.

Completing the five steps in this social media audit template should not take long. If the preparer faces obstacles because of a lack of information, the audit has already done its job by uncovering a significant weakness. At least the marketers now know they’re missing data, and this understanding will offer ways to improve to ensure the following audit report doesn’t take much time. Of course, taking actions specified in the audit report may provide plenty of work until it’s time for the next one.

Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Consumer Journey Mapping Market Intelligence Podcast

Melanie Deziel is an award-winning branded content creator and author of the bestselling book, The Content Fuel Framework. Melanie discusses how she became the first editor of branded content at The New York Times and shares what she’s learned about the art and science of creating engaging and effective inbound marketing. We discuss Melanie’s framework and learn how individuals and teams can easily generate up to 100 content marketing story ideas on any given topic. 

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS:

Melanie Deziel: Every content idea is really made up of two things: the first part is the focus. So that’s “What are we going to say? What are we going to talk about? What’s the perspective?” That’s really the message. And then the second element is the format. How are we going to bring that idea to life, visualize it, and make it something people can consume?

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising, produced weekly by Bigeye: a strategy-led, full-service creative agency, growing brands for clients globally. Hello. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, Chief Strategy Officer. Thank you for joining us. Last week, we discussed some ideas in the book, Social Media Marketing for Business with its author, Andrew Jenkins. If you missed that episode, here’s a clip:

Andrew Jenkins: One of our technology partners has shared a report that has shown over the last five years that organic engagement rates on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have declined. And that organizations have been able to offset that by posting more frequently. So that means more content. That doesn’t necessarily mean every single piece of content has to be net new. You can have some content in rotation, in differing formats that’s conveying the same idea. Again, you have to think about as part of your planning, how many different forms can this content take from this, whatever baseline asset might be.

Adrian Tennant: Andrew considers this re-purposing and re-formatting of content working smarter rather than harder, something we probably all aspire to. The conversation with Andrew reminded me of an episode we first published in June last year. In that show, we focused on how to create content for social feeds that people actually want and respond to. Our guest was Melanie Deziel, a keynote speaker, author, and award-winning branded content creator. When we recorded this episode, Melanie was the newly-appointed Director of Content at Foundation Marketing. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Content Fuel Framework: How to Generate Unlimited Story Ideas. Before writing her book, Melanie was the first editor of branded content at the New York Times, a founding member of HuffPost’s brand and storytelling team, and she led branded content strategy across more than 35 media properties, including Time, Fortune, People, Sports Illustrated, and Entertainment Weekly. To discuss her career and share her thoughts on the art and science of creating engaging branded content, Melanie joined us from her home office in Raleigh, North Carolina. 


Adrian Tennant: Melanie, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Melanie Deziel: Hi there. Thanks for having me.

Adrian Tennant: Melanie, how do you define branded content marketing?

Melanie Deziel: I think there’s a lot of ways that you could define it and I’ve heard people define it as specifically advertising content that you’re sharing to communicate with your audience. For me, I think it’s not just the advertising content. It’s also the organic content. So anything really that you’re creating that is a means to communicate with your audience and create a connection there to communicate some sort of value or information. I think that counts. So that would be anything from a blog post that you might create, a video you share on YouTube, a course you create, a map that you circulate. I mean, really anything that you are creating to provide value to the audience, that falls in that bucket for me.

Adrian Tennant: Today, you’re the Director of Content at Foundation Marketing. What does your role at Foundation entail?

Melanie Deziel: It’s a really fun role and very different for me. So I’d never worked in an agency environment before, I’ve always worked at a publisher. And so in this role, my job is twofold. On one side, I’m helping Foundation with our own content, right? I’m helping to increase the level of quality and the frequency of content on our blog and on our social channels, some of the info products that we have. But I also work on a lot of our client content as well. So I’m overseeing many of the writers and creators on our team, since we primarily focus on written content: overseeing that copy, helping them improve their writing skills. So basically I like to say that if anyone’s creating content and that falls under my purview.

Adrian Tennant: Melanie, you earned your BA degree in journalism at the University of Connecticut, and your MA in arts journalism from Syracuse University. From there to becoming the first-ever editor of branded content at The New York Times, what did your career journey look like?

Melanie Deziel: It was an interesting journey. I always struggle to connect the dots because I think honestly, a lot of it was just following the opportunities that popped up. It wasn’t necessarily a plan or a journey that I had planned out ahead of time. It was really saying “Yes” and figuring it out later in many cases. So, when I graduated from graduate school, I had a really hard time finding a job, I think like many people around that time. The newsrooms were downsizing, they were going from print to digital. And there weren’t as many journalism jobs as I would have imagined – and certainly not when you try to specialize in either in-depth investigative or arts criticism. Those are generally the first two teams that lose budget. So it was actually a really savvy recruiter who said “I have this role at The Huffington Post and it’s creating content. So it’s like journalism, but it’s for brands.” And at the time I thought, “Okay, well I’ll take a job. And I’ll certainly take a job in New York”, which was part of my goal to get there. So, you know, it wasn’t something I thought I’d be doing for life but what I discovered is that my journalism background was incredibly helpful in a branded content environment. And luckily from a timing perspective, other folks who are on the team moved on to new positions. And so I found myself very soon after arriving you know, sort of leading this team overseeing our interns, overseeing our fellows. And suddenly I became an expert in a thing that I didn’t know existed a few months prior and it’s all gone from there.

Adrian Tennant: Which examples of branded content produced under your leadership in any organization are you proudest of, and why?

Melanie Deziel: So my gut reaction is to talk about a piece we did at The New York Times for Netflix, for their show, Orange Is The New Black. We created a piece for them around what it’s like to be a woman in an American prison. And that piece won a number of awards. It was very well-trafficked, very well-liked. But what’s interesting to me is I actually like a different piece that we made that got a lot less fanfare. It was very similar in its design, its layout, the features that it included, but the topic was the New York City ballet. And so we were working with a shoe company who had sponsored some of these ballerinas to be their spokespeople. So once again, I embedded with the ballerinas for a series of days seeing all the things that it takes – we called it “Grit and Grace” – seeing how much hard work and pain and struggle goes into making something look so completely effortless. And to me, that was wonderful because it was tying back into that arts criticism background that I had to be looking at the arts and talking about dance and the costumes. I think I enjoyed creating that piece the most.

Adrian Tennant: Your bestselling book is called The Content Fuel Framework: How to Generate Unlimited Story Ideas. Melanie, what prompted you to write the book?

Melanie Deziel: So the book actually came out of necessity as well. If you’re noticing a trend here, I guess I’m a “go with the flow” and “follow the opportunity” kind of person! I had been thinking about this idea. It was something I was using in my workshops – it didn’t have the structure and the name that it does in the book, but conceptually, I was working on this kind of thing with clients all the time. And the opportunity that struck was when I was on my way to a conference where I was slated to give a speech. And at the very last minute, while I’m boarding the plane, they tell me that the speaker before me has had an emergency, and could I do two talks? Could I do a completely separate, second talk to help fill the time slot? And so I had this opportunity of, “Hey, I’ve got to come up with a 45-minute talk out of nowhere.” And so I fell back on that idea. I sort of forced myself to articulate it in a new way: to build visuals to complement it. And what happened is after that conference, that talk got much more traction and positive response than even the keynote that I had planned and rehearsed and put all this effort into. And so I realized that you know, it resonates with people, it connects with them, it’s helpful for them. And so I sort of decided I need to further develop that idea. And ultimately it turned into the book.

Adrian Tennant: Well, there’s a couple of themes there. Number one: necessity being the mother of invention and second of all, actually not knowing necessarily when you create content until you look at the analytics to figure out how it’s going to land.

Melanie Deziel: That kind of is true of all kinds of content. I think that’s universal in many ways. If all of us knew the exact recipe to do it perfectly, we’d all be doing it. You know, It is still very much experimentation. And I think as a speaker, you generally get that feedback in real-time. You could see people’s faces if you’re in person, you can hear them gasping or laughing or clapping. So it’s really interesting to be able to take that live feedback – you know, the feedback you’re getting on a human level – and then take a look at the data you get afterward, which would include things like speaker ratings or I like to measure how many people proactively reach out to me, because to me that’s a lot of effort, to track me down or, or send an email. That to me is a good indicator of resonance. And so that is how I knew that this concept that people really are drawn to this idea of “How can I create better content? How can I come up with more ideas? I need some structure around that process.” So I just leaned all the way into that.

Adrian Tennant: As I mentioned in the introduction, one of the key challenges marketers face is producing content consistently. The Content Fuel Framework provides a straightforward process for generating up to a hundred content ideas around any given topic. Briefly, could you explain how the system that you’ve developed works?

Melanie Deziel: Absolutely. So, In short, every content idea is really made up of two things. Whereas our instinct is to maybe say, “I need an idea.” What we really need to think about is the two parts of the idea. The first part is the focus. So that’s “What are we going to say? What are we going to talk about? What’s the perspective?” Right? That’s really the message, when you talk about the focus. And then the second element is the format. How are we going to bring that idea to life, visualize it, and make it something people can consume? And the book really walks you through, “Here are a bunch of options for focuses, for approaches you can take through your stories, and here are a bunch of options for formats.” And it kind of helps you create this system. I visualize it as a matrix with all the focuses on one side, all the formats down the other side, and that creates all these possible intersections, these different ways you could bring stories to life. The goal, of course being, you know, you don’t need to make all of these ideas, but it’s just to help you see the potential and to not feel like there’s nothing to draw from. That when you have an outline like this, you could choose one or the other and see how they match up. It really makes it a lot easier to come up with ideas that fit a prompt versus staring at a blank screen or a blank whiteboard and just hoping something comes to you fully formed.

Adrian Tennant: Now you recommend that content creators start with the focus, then determine the format. Melanie, why that approach rather than the other way around?

Melanie Deziel: I like to answer this best with analogies because I think we see the value of this type of approach in other parts of our lives. So my guess is all of us have received a package in the mail, probably from a big box store that we won’t name, where they undoubtedly chose the box before they chose what was actually going to go inside of it. And it either barely fits and it’s horrible, or most often it’s this tiny little thing in a box that’s far too large, right? So I like to think of choosing your format first the same way. You’re saying, “Okay. No matter what I create, it’s got to go in this container”, and oftentimes, when you do that, just like with your deliveries, you get something that’s not well-suited to the container that you’ve picked. And so if we start with, “What is it that we’re actually delivering to our audience? What are we giving them? What are we telling them?” And then we can figure out what’s the best package to put that in, to bring that story to life. I think it really is a way to make sure that your story shines and that you’re not getting distracted by the various tools or technologies available to you, that you really focus on your message that way.

Adrian Tennant: I’ve certainly been in meetings where we hear, “We need a lead magnet. Let’s do a PDF.” That’s the wrong way round, right?

Melanie Deziel: Right. Cause people don’t download PDFs because they like PDFs. They download the lead magnet because of what’s inside of it. So it’s – yeah, we gotta refocus on the message oftentimes.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after this message. 

Tim McCormack: I’m Tim McCormack, VP of Media and Analytics at Bigeye. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as media professionals. At Bigeye, we always put audiences first. Knowing who we’re targeting – their attitudes, behaviors, and motivations – is the foundational step in our media planning process. For every engagement, we undertake research that yields actionable insights. These inform our media and analytics strategies – and ensure that we’re working in unison to deliver measurable results for our clients. If you’d like to know more about putting Bigeye’s audience-focused media and analytics to work for your brand, please contact us. Email Bigeye. Reaching the Right People, in the Right Place, at the Right Time.

Adrian Tennant: Each month, in partnership with our friends at Kogan Page, the Bigeye Book Club features interviews with authors who are experts in marketing, consumer research, and customer experience. Our featured book for August is Social Media Marketing for Business: Scaling an integrated social media strategy across your organization by Andrew Jenkins. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can save 20% on a print or electronic version of the book with the exclusive promo code, BIGEYE 20. This code is valid for all products and pre-orders and applies to Kogan Page’s free e-book offer. To order your copy of Social Media Marketing for Business, go to

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. You’re listening to an encore episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS with guest, Melanie Deziel, the author of The Content Fuel Framework.


Adrian Tennant: Within agencies, content marketers typically work in small teams. Do you have any tips for collaborating effectively as a group when generating ideas?

Melanie Deziel: Absolutely. So, we’re in a blessed position at Foundation that we focus only on content and so we have a robust content team, it’s really nice to have that support. But I know that most content teams, like you said, they may not even have a full-time dedicated staff or not more than one. And so that is often a challenge. You often do have to collaborate with folks outside of your team. I walked through in the book, there’s a way you could use this system to give everyone guidance and be on the same page as you work through your ideas. But there’s plenty of other ways too. The most important thing is to follow that focus before format approach when you’re in those brainstorms. Asking questions, like “What are the things we could share on this topic?” Or “What would be important for our audience to know?” And have the group focus on solving those things. Once you’re clear on what it is that you want to share, then have them put their mind to, “Okay, now what are the different ways we could bring this to life?” I have found that as you mentioned, oftentimes the conversation starts with a format and it’s, “We need a video idea” or “A lead magnet” or whatever else. And those situations are often much tougher to get collaboration and to get original ideas. So guiding everyone to put their attention and their mind toward the focuses is a really good place to start.

Adrian Tennant: Melanie, based on your work with publications and clients, which focuses or formats are often overlooked by marketers that could be differentiating their content?

Melanie Deziel: One of the focuses that I think we forget about so often is history. I think, especially as marketers, we’re focused so much on what we’re doing right now, what we’re launching next month, what we’re promoting next year – we’re very present- and future-focused. And I think there’s so much we can learn from looking back at the history of some of these topics, whether it’s the history of a product, of the company, of an industry, the background of a person who’s joined the organization. I think when you pause for a moment and look to say, “What can we learn about what brought us to this point?” there’s often some really great historical content that could be added into the mix.

Adrian Tennant: In The Content Fuel Framework, after introducing each focus and format, you present ways in which they can be applied in a business communications context. What led you to structure the content of the book this way?

Melanie Deziel: You know, one of the things is that I hear very often is some version of “This doesn’t apply to me” or like “My business is special and different” for some reason, right? We all… I mean, not that your business isn’t special, I’m sure it’s wonderful and special… but it’s not an outlier in that you can’t use content as a way to communicate with your audience. And so I felt it was really important to include a large volume of examples like that, even though they’re hypothetical. I’m not naming specific brands, but saying, “If you run a hair salon, here’s how you might use that.” Or “If you run an auto mechanic shop, like here’s how you might put that into practice.” Because I think it’s important to see it in a tangible way, to understand, “Okay, if they can do it, I can do it”, right? “If that works for this type of business, that works for me.” And I was very cognizant of trying to hit on as many possible industries and types of businesses as possible so that everyone can see themselves in the book somewhere.

Adrian Tennant: Melanie, a lot of coffee examples in the book.

Melanie Deziel: You know, I’ve just been a coffee person my whole life. When I was younger I had some lung issues and a doctor had recommended that coffee might help dilate the – I don’t know who knows what? – but coffee was the recommendation, even though I was four or five years old. And so I started drinking coffee at that age because it was medicine. And so we know now that’s not necessarily as helpful, but it’s become a ritual for me. So it’s something that I feel, I don’t want to say my identity is tied to it because that may be strange, but what I will say is it’s my comfort zone. And I find that I get my best work done when I’m in a coffee shop. I very much like that atmosphere, that I drink coffee every day. It’s just I like the ritual of it. And so, yeah, I tend to make a lot of analogies cause it’s something I’m familiar with. Even when I was in college, I actually wrote a column for our newspaper about coffee every week. I managed to find something new to say about coffee!

Adrian Tennant: For a new business or a brand committing to content marketing, it can be really hard to know where to start. How do you recommend establishing a strategy for content creation?

Melanie Deziel: When you’re new to content, it can feel very overwhelming. It can also feel oftentimes to your leadership, that this is a big bet or a big investment on something that we don’t know how to see the ROI on immediately, right? It’s not as clear as a direct-to- consumer campaign or something. My advice is always to start with whatever your version of a customer story is. So if that’s a testimonial or a success story or a case study, whatever makes sense for you, do that. Because starting there, everyone sees the value of those kinds of things. We see them more as a sales tool, right? So if you start with a sales tool, like a case study or customer story, and you present it in more of a narrative way, you’re able to turn that into not just a quote, a first name, and a photo maybe – but a full story about what they wanted and what was at stake for them and why they chose to work with you. And you know, what they’ve been able to do as a result of the success you’ve helped create. You’re taking that more narrative approach and that’s going to help you slowly win over and say, “Look how much more detail we can provide. Look how much more valuable this is when we approach it this way.” Once you get that buy-in, you can then start to explore other types of content: educational content, lead magnets, like we talked about before. But I think those customer stories are usually the best neutral ground to start on because everyone can see the benefit of them.

Adrian Tennant: Prior to your current position at Foundation, you founded a consulting firm, StoryFuel, which taught marketers, publishers, creators, and companies of all sizes, how to tell better brand stories. This also led you to speaking engagements at conferences and events around the world, gracing the stage of industry-leading events including Content Marketing World, Native Ad Days, Social Media Marketing World, and South by Southwest, among others. Melanie, do you find that marketers outside the US prioritize different focuses or formats than domestic teams?

Melanie Deziel: It’s interesting. I think one thing that I do find overseas is that there tends to be more of an emphasis on the people surrounding a product. And I don’t know whether – I can’t say for sure, I don’t have data to back that up – but one thing that I noticed anecdotally is there’s a lot more celebration of the craftsman, for example. There’s a lot of richer history, longer history, of some of these fields. And so we’re able to celebrate the watchmaker whose family has lived in the same town for 200 years. There’s a lot more of that sort of legacy, heritage, people-oriented content that I think is really compelling when you have a heritage brand in that way. We don’t have as much of that here: we’re a little younger in the US, as you know, from a historical standpoint. But that’s that kind of content I think is so rich, so engaging, it’s so brand-aligned, but also so valuable for the audience. They’re always curious you know, so I love that people-focused content that celebrates craft in that way.

Adrian Tennant: Melanie, which country that you visited for a speaking engagement, would you most like to revisit as a tourist and why?

Melanie Deziel: I think I’ve been very lucky that for some of these cities, I have been able to tack on a couple of extra days here and there, and even bring my husband along on a few occasions. So I’ve managed to do my best to turn those speaking engagements into a vacation while I’m there. What I will say is I would love to go back to Paris. Paris was one of the places where we did spend a few days there, but I was feeling under the weather and so I don’t feel like I got to do the full range of exploring that I’d like to do. So if you are in France, feel free to call me up. I’d love to come!

Adrian Tennant: What are some of the most common mistakes you see teams making when it comes to consistent content creation, and how could they be avoided?

Melanie Deziel: I think a lot of us feel pressure that we have to produce content at such a rapid pace that we allow quantity to overtake quality in terms of our preferences, our priorities and I think that’s a place where you can really use a reset to be reminded it’s less important that you produce something every day and more important that you produce something good consistently. So I always tell my clients, “I’d rather see you produce something once a week that is really good than something mediocre four or five days a week.” And that’s going to get you much better results. So, looking for that consistency doesn’t have to mean that it’s every single day or every single hour. One of the best newsletters that I love to read is Anne Handley’s and it comes out every fortnight. That’s how she brands it. You know, that’s fine, it doesn’t have to be every day. I think the consistency and people knowing that they can expect quality from you is much more important.

Adrian Tennant: And for listeners that are unaware, Anne Handley was the founder of MarketingProfs and wrote the book, Everybody Writes.

Melanie Deziel: Highly recommend – one of my favorites.

Adrian Tennant: Based on your experience developing and leading teams, in what ways can learning to think more like a journalist help people become better content marketers or develop more creative mindsets?

Melanie Deziel: One of the things that they teach you early on in journalism school is that it’s really not your job to tell your audience what to think or how to feel. It’s your job to collect information on their behalf and present it in a way that they can make an informed decision on their own. And so I think that type of mindset being of service to your audience, acting in service of them, allows you to provide something that is much more valuable. It gut checks us to say, “Is my brand the best authority on this topic? Or would it better serve my audience to include studies that were done by someone else?” So that kind of mindset of saying, “What does our audience need?” versus “What do I want to tell my audience?” That reset can be very helpful. And the other thing is that there’s no idea of content as scarce. There’s no scarcity mindset around content in the journalism world. For better or for worse, you don’t see a cable station say, “We’ve got nothing to talk about right now. So we’ll be back in 15 minutes or an hour.” Right? They just keep going, they find something to talk about.

Adrian Tennant: You studied journalism in school. Given how the industry has changed in the years since, would you still recommend journalism as a major?

Melanie Deziel: I would. Something that I’ve seen play out many times is that a lot of folks who are on the marketing side would like to make the transition into the content world. They want to be creating. And it is so much more difficult to teach someone instinct around what makes a good story, or resourcefulness on how you can find sources and information about things. Those skills require a lot more practice, a lot more cultivating than maybe understanding the formula for a CPM or understanding how we can position something. I think to have that instinct as a storyteller, you’re gonna have a much easier time fitting into that content world, and being able to study and pick up those marketing bits that you need to know along the way. The best recommendation would be to do both or minor in one, right? You need that basis. But I do think that the resourcefulness and the mindset that you learn being educated as a journalist is very valuable.

Adrian Tennant: Bigeye has an internship program and our current insights intern, Camilla, is actually a journalism major. She was very excited to learn that you were going to be our guest, partly because it’s her dream to intern at Rolling Stone magazine one day. So Melanie, since you also entered at Rolling Stone, what advice do you have for Camila and any other students listening about landing their dream internship wherever it may be?

Melanie Deziel: So, one of the things that I think is overlooked is that you can learn so many skills on your own. We’re being taught many things in school, but a big part of what I did was seeking other opportunities to learn, which is even easier now with Skillshare and Udemy, and YouTube, you can pick these things up anywhere. I think a big part of what helped me stand out in a number of my internship opportunities is having those outside skills. That it wasn’t just what was being taught in school, but I also had picked up other tools, other software, other certifications. So I think that’s one way you could really help yourself stand out. Because anyone who’s applying, they may have the same major that you have, they may have the same minor, they may have the same GPA. So it’s going to be those other things that help you stand out. And the other thing is when you’re given any sort of test assignment or assessment, which is often the case with internships, particularly if it’s writing-based, go above and beyond. That’s my best recommendation. Having been on the other side of it and when we’re bringing interns in, seeing someone who has that initiative to say, “Okay, they didn’t ask for supporting imagery, but I’m going to make something anyway.” Or “Here’s some examples of tweets that could go with this sample article that I wrote.” Just thinking a little bit bigger. I think that really signals to them that you are someone who can thrive in their organization and that you have skills beyond what you might see on a resume.

Adrian Tennant: Melanie, how do you foresee content marketing evolving over the next few years? And I’m particularly interested to know your thoughts on these AI-based copywriting tools that seem to be popping up everywhere at the moment.

Melanie Deziel: Yeah, so I have been paying attention to these such tools as well. I will say, I do feel like I don’t want to panic. I know that a lot of times new technology comes around and we think that everything is dying now, that it’s replacing everything. But to your point, it is evolving, right? I remember it was what, five, eight years ago that the Associated Press started having auto-generated, I believe it was sports reports because it was very databased and they could turn those out with a smart AI. And we all thought, “Oh, no! Sports journalism is dead. There’ll never be any more reporters.” And it’s just not the case. Robots are very good at some things and humans are very good at other things. So as long as you’re focusing on those things that are the human things – the interviews and the human element – that’s where we can keep our cool. I have played around with a couple of these AI copy tools. And I think it’s helpful if you need somewhere to start. But I haven’t used anything that those tools have output exactly as is. So it’s a little bit like getting a prompt in my mind. It’s very helpful for coming up with some little seeds, but it’s still going to be on you to plant those and grow them into something useful in most cases.

Adrian Tennant: Melanie, what’s the one question I didn’t ask you that you wished I had done? And what would be your answer?

Melanie Deziel: I don’t know. I always like when people ask about a hidden talent or a secret skill because I think that’s something that at least from the journalism side, that’s where you tend to pull out really interesting stories from people. When you ask them about a hidden talent or something people wouldn’t guess about you, people light up because it’s not something they get to talk about as often. I would probably talk about the fact that I know how to play the didgeridoo, which is a sort of a long, tube-like Aboriginal instrument. I won’t say that I know how to play it very well, but that’s probably my most random, hidden talent.

Adrian Tennant: If IN CLEAR FOCUS, listeners would like to learn more about you or The Content Fuel Framework, where can they find you?

Melanie Deziel: If you’d like to learn more about me, my website is You can head over there and you’ll find all the information you need about the book, about where you can buy it. You’ll find my contact information, all kinds of things so that you can reach out and connect with me in whatever way makes the most sense.

Adrian Tennant: Melanie, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Melanie Deziel: Thanks for letting me share my story.

Adrian Tennant: Thanks again to my guest on this week’s encore episode – Melanie Deziel, author of the bestselling book, The Content Fuel Framework: How to generate unlimited story ideas. As always, you’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Just select ‘Podcast’ from the menu. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for joining us for IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.