Leverage: Three Ways to Get the Most from Your Research


One rock using a lever to lift a stack of five rocks.

Get more out of your research by leveraging it.

Lever 1: Harvest what you have
Most companies are sitting on a mountain of information; it’s just not INSIGHT…yet! Revisiting what’s been done and creating new consumer imperatives is a great kick start to building a new learning plan that fills in gaps in your knowledge. Quite of bit of my practice is synthesis of existing data and building action plans that drive growth.


Lever 2: Broaden your ecosystem
Reading business headlines every day is important. Not from a fear-of-missing-out perspective but from the standpoint of new ideas. Understanding what others have done and learned in their industry begs the question: What can I do in my industry based on this experience? Experience is a great teacher and it doesn’t always have to be your own.

Lever 3: Plant New Seeds
Once you know what you have and have looked outside the company for inspiration, focus on gaps in your learning. Do you know what drives growth and how to apply those learnings? Have you seen consumers interact with your product or brand in a genuine context? What ideas do you have and what do consumers think of them? What’s the excitement level? Contact me to build a learning plan for your organization. I do this collaboratively, with no obligation, so we can learn how to work together.

Want to talk about how InsightFarm can help you leverage your research? Send me a text at 503-554-5567 or email me at kelley.styring@insightfarm.com to schedule a conversation.



Dude, That’s a Purse

Image from The Insighter Blog, listing articles about Kelley Styring's OmniShopper17 presentation ranked in the top 3.

Learn more about Kelley Styring’s Keynote at OmniShopper17 in two articles featured in The Insighter.

Recently, I was asked to provide a sneak peek at my Keynote for OmniShopper17 by The Insighter blog. Here’s the full article – spoiler alert – that reveals the one thing I wasn’t expecting when I took another look inside the America’s purses.

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Three Technology Assists that Enhance Consumer Learning


Paul Noth New Yorker Cartoon of a policeman in a futuristic police car who has pulled over another futuristic looking car

Illustration by Paul Noth from The New Yorker.

When it comes to the self-driving car, most people I know fall into one of two camps:

  1. those who cannot wait to legally text while being chauffeured around, and
  2. those who clutch their keys with dread.

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OmniShopper 17 Interviews Keynote Speaker Kelley Styring



The Market Research Blog masthead

Don’t miss Kelley Styring’s Keynote Address at 11:15 a.m. on June 20 at OmniShopper 17 in Minneapolis.







I was recently interviewed for The Market Research Blog about my keynote at OmniShopper 17. Join me on June 20th in Minneapolis as I release my new book, the Second Edition of In Your Purse: Archaeology of the  American Handbag. Here’s the article, featuring a preview of my presentation and results of the study.

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Predicted Market Research Trends for 2017

Person standing in front of arrows pointing left, right and center.

Where is market research headed in 2017? Credit: iStock.com/BrianAJackson

What market research trends should you expect to see in 2017?

I’m thrilled to be among the market research professionals, suppliers, and executives in the field quoted in this blog post by Sarah Schmidt of MarketResearch.com.

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Here’s a scary thought: Only 10 weeks left in 2016!

InsightFarm can take the fear out of fourth quarter

Don’t panic! There are things you can do to extract the most learning out of your insights budget before the end of the year!











Ah, October. The air gets crisp, the leaves begin to turn crimson and gold, jack o’lanterns are smiling everywhere, but then a chill runs up your spine as you realize – there’s not much time before the end of the year!

Your mind begins to race: How much do I have left in my budget? Have I achieved my goals? What were my goals? WHAT WILL I DO?

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Want to Find Out What’s in a Woman’s Purse?

Woman's purse, overflowing with personal items

A woman’s handbag is the Swiss Army knife of womanhood and a fertile ground for product innovation, according to Kelley Styring.

We tracked the purse to its natural habitat – the shopping mall – and asked women if we could look inside their beloved bags and share what was inside them with the world. For Science. And they said YES.

We found old gum wrappers, crumbs, lipsticks without caps, used tissues, cellphones, keys, loyalty cards –  and billions (yes, that’s billions with a “b”) of dollars in untapped marketing opportunities across 25 consumer product categories.

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Cleaning Up with User Experience

Carroll Gantz holding the DustBuster handheld vacuum cleaner, which he designed.

User experience played a critical role in refining Carroll Gantz’s revolutionary DustBuster handheld vacuum. Credit: idsa.org

Before the iPhone, there was the DustBuster.

Stop laughing. It’s true. And it’s a great lesson about the value of user experience.

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How to Win with Mobile Research

Hand holding smartphone

By 2020, there will be 6.1 billion smartphones in the world. If you want your research to be successful, you have to win with mobile research. Photo by InsightFarm.

I know, it shouldn’t be news, but it bears repeating: all research is mobile.

Basically, half of the people you contact (be it by a call or an email or through a social network) are receiving your message and responding to via mobile phone. And that number is due to only go up.

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Meet Me in Brooklyn at The Quirk’s Event 2016!

Logo for 2016 Quirk's Event Conference

Hear Kelley Styring speak at The 2016 Quirk’s Event, Feb 23-24 in Brooklyn.

Are you headed to the SOLD OUT Quirk’s Event? Make sure you attend my presentation on February 23rd.  I’ll be sharing ways you can create strong connections with your consumers.

For a little preview of some of the things I’ll be talking about, I’ve posted a copy of an article I wrote for Quirk’s below. See you in Brooklyn!


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Harness the Winds of Change: 3 Reasons to Embrace Restructuring

Credit: iStock/xochialco

Credit: iStock/xochialco

Mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations and restructurings are all part of the corporate insights professional’s life. Unfortunately, they bring uncertainty, insecurity and fear along with them. It makes sense: reductions in force are often part of the package, which result in people feeling out of control. Morale takes a major hit, with the “survivors” feeling guilty and overwhelmed.

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Be a Big Rock Star in 2016

Glass jar filled with large rocks.

Credit: iStock/Todd Sadowski

As we race to the end of the year, it’s time to turn off the phone, the IM, and the email, lock the door and focus your attention on how to make yourself a big rock star in 2016.

No, I don’t mean wear leather pants and play an electric guitar.

I want you to dedicate some serious thought to identifying your BIG ROCKS. How can they make YOU a star?

Stephen Covey (the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People), had a little exercise he used that illustrates what I mean.

He’d take two big, clear buckets, some big rocks and then a bunch of small pebbles. First, he would pour the pebbles into one bucket, and then ask a member of the audience to try and fit the big rocks in afterward. It’s pretty much impossible to do.

Then, he’d put the big rocks in the other bucket first, pouring the pebbles in after, so that the pebbles filled in the spaces between the rocks. His point: You need to schedule your most important priorities first, or you won’t be able to fit them in later. Your days will be overtaken by little, tactical, seemingly urgent tasks.

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Cooking up irresistible insights

A large, silver platter covered by a domed lid.

Want your insights to have greater impact? Don’t just present them like a turkey on a platter! Credit: iStock/rasslava

Thanksgiving dinner got me thinking about how market researchers can cook up more irresistible insights and have a greater impact on their business.

Often times, a market research report is presented like a ginormous roast turkey on a silver platter. We lift the dome – ta-da! – and there it sits in all its glory, complete with lavish garnishes of methodology, tricky math and plenty of numbers to savor.

It sure looks pretty, but it’s overwhelming, too much to digest, and let’s be honest, afterward, all folks want to do is take a nap.

We researchers are left crying, “What?!? We’ve slaved over a hot stove for ages, and this is the reaction we get? Why aren’t you devouring those reports and then going out to set the world on fire?”

Go figure.

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“I’m not sticking my hand in there.” (She did)

Kelley Styring and the box used in her experiment.

Would you stick your hand inside this box?

Would you stick your hand into a dark box, unable to see what awaits you inside? Even if you’re told that there’s a treat inside and if you find it, it’s yours to keep?

Recently, I asked a bunch of market researchers to do just that at an event dedicated to learning about incorporating behavioral science into research.  Instead of just standing around talking about what behavioral science is and how Insight Farm uses it to learn more about consumers, I thought that the folks in attendance would learn more by actually participating in an experiment. So, I created and conducted a simple live experiment I called Beyond the Box. Read more

Thoughts from THE Market Research Event 2015

Cover of conference promotional booklet

I just returned from IIR’s 2015 THE Market Research Event in Orlando. As always, I came away with my head filled with inspiration and percolating with new ideas. There are three themes that I identified, and I’d like to share them with you.

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Meet me in Ft. Lauderdale in February!

Join me at the IIR Media Insights & Engagement Conference being held Feb. 1-3 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I’ll be one of the keynote speakers. Just think – it will be sunny, warmer than most anywhere else you could be in February, AND you’ll learn something! Register here: http://www.iirusa.com/mediainsights/home.xml.

IIR Media Insights & Engagement Conference book featuring keynote speaker Kelley Styring.

Join Keynote Speaker Kelley Styring of InsightFarm at IIR’s Media Insights & Engagement Conference.




















Sex in the Car: Correlation or Causation?

Credit: Photospin.com/DesignPics

Credit: Photospin.com/DesignPics

A few years ago, I did a study of what people carry in their automobiles and why. I also asked participants about the activities that took place in the car, and found out 68% had had sex at least once in a car.

Now, looking at all the data I collected, there is a high correlation between a person having had sex at least once in a car and their propensity to have had a traffic accident at some point. This is a fallacy of course, because it’s an error of correlation and causation.

Think of it this way: The number of school teachers in any given county is highly correlated to the amount of liquor consumed in that county. But it’s not because the teachers are all heavy drinkers. It’s because counties with more people have more teachers, so there are more people to consume more liquor. The numbers correlate in a meaningless way.

The same can be said for the correlation between having had sex in a car and traffic accidents. The key words here are “traffic accidents,” not accidents of another nature (and, we’re not counting the time one person’s sweaty butt attached itself to a frozen hatch window in a private-parking-lot-moment in the dead of winter.) No, the sex and accidents correlation is strong, but it’s not causal per se.

On the other hand, what we do know from the study is that while people who have had sex in a car do not like their car any better than people who have not, they do enjoy driving significantly more. They also spend more time in their car, carry more items with them, and interestingly, have a tendency to have other people with them in the car more often than others, which eased my mind about what they’re actually doing.

So, when you’re looking for causes, don’t get caught making bad decisions because of correlations in your data.

And for the record, a full 4% of people preferred “not to answer” the sex questions. Hmmm. . . makes you wonder what they were doing.

Would you drive all night for a customer?

A "TAXI" sign with its light on, indicating it is available

Credit: PhotoSpin.com/Andres Rodriguez

I recently found out the answer to that very question. I’ve been a very frequent flyer for years, and this past summer was absolutely the worst air travel I’ve ever experienced. I can count on one hand the number of flights I took that weren’t delayed or, even worse, cancelled.

But one of those bad situations turned into a customer service experience that went way beyond what I’d call “going the extra mile.”

Pittsburgh or Bust
Late one summer afternoon, I found myself at the Outagamie County Regional Airport in Wisconsin. I was filled with energy because I’d just completed one presentation for a very happy client, and was heading to present to a new client in Pittsburgh the next morning. The CEO himself was going to attend, so I was feeling great.

It’s a small airport, so there were only three outgoing flights left for the day: one to Minneapolis, one to Detroit and one to Atlanta. I was booked on the flight to Minneapolis. The lovely lady checking me in realized that my flight was delayed, and that I would miss my connecting flight, so she booked me on the flight to Detroit and then on to my final destination. Still great.

All Detroit-bound passengers boarded the flight, ready to go. Except that there was a mechanical issue with the plane. We all trooped off the plane and waited. We watched the flight to Minneapolis take off. I discovered that my connecting flight to Pittsburgh had also been delayed, so I would have been able to make it. Not great.

We watched the flight to Atlanta take off. Even worse.

And, then our flight was cancelled. But I had to get to Pittsburgh!

The gate agent, a good-humored, slightly disheveled young man with half his shirt untucked, looked at me and said, “Lady, you’re not gonna make it.”

To which I replied, “Watch me.”

By the Seat of My Pants
Now, I could have rented a car and driven there all night myself, but as you can imagine, I really wouldn’t have been in the best shape to give a knockout presentation. I needed to get some sleep and still get there. I had an idea.

From my back pocket, I pulled out the business card my taxi driver had just given me and called Fox Valley Cab. Explaining my plight, I asked if they could drive me to Pittsburgh, a mere 10-hour drive away.

Less than ten minutes later, company owner Igor Leykin called me back and said the magic word: YES. And less than ten minutes after that, driver Gina McGuire (who previously drove for the Army in Germany) pulled up in a minivan and we headed out of town. I called my client in Pittsburgh, who graciously moved our meeting time back 30 minutes, giving us a fighting chance.

We stopped briefly a couple times for gas, food and bathroom breaks. I was able to sleep in the back seat for several hours. Gina drove on.

Somewhere in Ohio, a very polite state trooper gave us a speeding ticket. Gina drove on.

I woke up the next morning and proceeded to change my clothes, put on my makeup and run through my presentation one last time in the back seat of the minivan as Gina drove closer to Pittsburgh. We realized, in horror, that we’d gone from the Central to the Eastern Time Zone, losing 60 crucial minutes. Would we make it on time?

Gina delivered me to the door of my client’s building and I breezed into the conference room with five minutes to spare.

Afterward, I stopped at my hotel for a shower and a nap before heading to the airport for the flight home to Oregon. Gina checked into a hotel for some rest before turning the minivan back around and driving home to Wisconsin.

“As Simple As That”
Later, I called Igor to thank him again and to ask what made him say “yes” to me. I’m in the professional service business, and have a tremendous passion for delivering more than my clients expect. But I was impressed that a cab company in Wisconsin shared the same passion.

“Since we serve customers at the airport all the time, I know that they have a lot of cancellations,” Igor explained. “And you obviously had a major need. Now some things fell into place that made it possible. A driver had to step up and say yes. Gina had just come on shift and was up for the challenge. I made sure she had everything she would need: cash, an IPass for the Chicago toll roads and a company credit card.”

“I’ve been in customer service for 30 years,” he said. “I’ve seen how you should do it, and how you shouldn’t. At Fox Valley Cab, we always err on the side of the customers. We had the ability to help; it’s what we wanted to do. It’s as simple as that.”

So, what would you do? Do you really go the extra mile for your customer? How about an extra 1,400 miles in a cab?

If you’re ever in Appleton, Wisconsin, be sure to call Fox Valley Cab at 920-734-4545. Tell them the lady who needed a ride to Pittsburgh sent you.

It’s the end of 3rd Quarter, do you know where your budget is?

A man reviews a calendar and uses a calculator to make plans.

It’s the end of the 3rd Quarter, do you know where your market research budget is?

It’s that time of year: the air gets a little cooler, the leaves take on hues of red and gold, and suddenly you realize – there’s only three months left before the end of the year!

Don’t panic. And don’t waste your precious budget dollars.

Instead, follow these three steps to put that money to work for you and your company:

  1. Review Your Objectives
    The first thing I always recommend is to pull out your strategic objectives and go through them again. What did you want to accomplish at the beginning of the year? What haven’t you addressed yet? What can you still do that will help you meet those objectives? Always look for the best way to apply your budget to benefit your brand.
  2. Look at Your Wish List
    When I served as Director of Consumer Strategy and Insights for Pepsi-Co’s Frito-Lay, I used to keep what I called a “Lark File.” It was a file folder where I saved articles about cool ideas for research projects that I wished I could do someday, when I had the budget. If you have a few projects you’ve always wanted to do because they sounded fun and awesome, maybe now is the time to make them a reality.
  3. Select the Right Partner
    Carefully select a research partner. You want a company that is:
    Strategic: Focused on finding smart ways to get the most out of your time and dollars
    Versatile: Skilled in a wide variety of methods
    Flexible: Capable of making changes quickly
    Nimble: Able to work within your company’s accounting parameters

With a bit of careful consideration, you can extract the most learning out of your remaining funds before the new year rolls around.

The Value of Being There: Rapid Iteration

 Note: This is the last in a series of six posts.  They originally appeared as one article in the December 2014 issue of Quirk’s Marketing Research Review under the title: “The Value of Being There:  Five ways to Breathe New Life into Qualitative Research.” 

Rapid Iteration is an ideal method for food development.

Rapid Iteration is a fantastic way to product optimal products with consumer interaction and input in a short period of time.

Rapid Iteration provides consumers with the opportunity to interact directly with prototypes, providing input on them and displaying behaviors directly to designers and developers. The prototypes are then revised and again exposed to consumers, building strong ideas in succession.

This method has been ideal for food and beverage development, package design and graphics, and package bundling versions (such as Club packs.) Now, with the accessibility of 3D printing, even parts of or perhaps entire products themselves can be iterated and refined this way.

I’ve found that Rapid Iteration works best when the professional team has a workshop available to actually make the prototypes.

For example, if you were working with a quick serve restaurant chain on a new type of sandwich, you could enlist a local store to make the samples.  You could then provide real-time input into the creation of the sandwich as interviews occurred (“increase the spice in the sauce, take out the onion, add bacon”) and deliver revised piping hot samples, fresh from the oven, for the participants to taste at exactly the right time in the interview.

Rapid Iteration is a fantastic way to produce optimal products with consumer interaction and input in a very short period of time. I’ve been using this process with concepts for many years – write, listen, rewrite.  Now it’s possible to iterate products the same way. 3D printing will only open the doors wider to integrated behavior-based learning into the product refinement process.

By incorporating the consumer into an active, behavior-based process; by gaining their trust and honoring their input; we can continue to discover the insights that inspire innovators to create new, relevant, exciting products for us to enjoy.  And isn’t that what it’s all about?

For other techniques that make the most of in-person research, check out these other posts:


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