The Latest Trend in Charitable Giving? Eons-old Human Values.

The Latest Trend in Charitable Giving? Eons-old Human Values.

While many people might think Americans are giving less, that’s actually not true.  We’re still motivated by good, old-fashioned values that continue to motivate us to help those in need.

Our Quiet Trendsetters study points up some of the top reasons people make charitable donations.

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Ask the Expert

Senior Consultant, Erin Norman, answers this question in the most recent issue of Quirk’s Marketing Research Review:

Q: When public debate seems to focus mainly on those who shout loudest, how can marketers be sure they’re hearing the voices of all consumers, not just the most vocal few?

Follow this link to find the Answer:


What’s Missing From Most Customer Journey Work?

–By Maury Giles, published in Quirk’s Magazine

We are seeing an explosion of interest in the Customer Journey.  Why? Digital and social media have dramatically changed the path to decision-making.  Old models assumed a compelling message, when repeated, would build awareness, interest, desire and finally action.  Voila! In aisle, the voting booth, the boardroom, they’d choose your brand. It’s not so simple any more. The most compelling message can fall short as a swirl of influencers, channels, and options stand between your customer and the decision you need them to make.

But the old linear models remain.  We hear clients talk about getting customers ‘into’ or ‘through the funnel’ as though decisions still follow a straight line.  How do you resonate within today’s journey dynamics?

Our strategy is to leverage a systems approach.   We know the path is shaped and behaviors influenced by the brand and life systemsin which people make decisions.We unpack these systems to identify the rational and emotional needs they have at key points along the journey. This involves assessing the discrete phases, behaviors, and drivers of the journey in addition to the ecosystem of influences shaping how decisions are made. The resulting Journey Map captures a visual and holistic view of these dynamics to provide a common framework for your planning teams. It also allows us to isolate the role the brand must play to deliver the right solution in the right way at the right moment. Our bottom line: we architect clear imperatives for brand success.


Click here to view the full webinar.

Is Social Media Marketing Worth the Investment?

In light of the Cambridge Analytica revelations and consumer concerns about privacy, how should we think about the value of social media?  Erin Norman, Senior Solutions Consultant, Public Policy, takes on the question here:

Link: Is Social Media Marketing Worth the Investment?



Trends You Need to Know: At the Intersection of Human Understanding and Market Dynamics

From ‘frictionless consumption’ to the ‘ethics economy’ a whole host of trends are shaping and responding to the way people make decisions.  Brian Elkins, Group Strategy Director in our Brand, Strategy + Journey Team will be presenting a 1 hour webinar on this hot topic.

In this webinar, you will learn how to incorporate consumer empathy, cultural forces and brand strategy to win hearts and minds and create lasting value for your business and customers.

  • Learn about important connections not just between people, ideas, products and organizations . . . but between whole contexts and systems that support those connections.
  • Learn how these interconnections and the surrounding trends are built into client engagements to create stronger bridges between research insights and business results.

Heart+Mind Strategies’ Brian Elkins, has split his career as both a marketer and insights professional, and is passionate about creating stronger connections between human-centered insights and market outcomes. Brian will use actual case studies to demonstrate how understanding trends within the context of these interconnections can make for stronger research, insights and business results.

To watch a recording of the webinar, follow this link:

Heart+Mind Strategies Webinar


Customer journey. Path to purchase. Ideal customer experience. Human-centric design. Design thinking. Systems thinking.

We hear these topics discussed more and more today in research, marketing, and innovation circles. At industry conferences, many research firms touted new “purchase-driven planning” solutions aimed at targeting advertising units based on proximity to making a purchase rather than just audience reach and frequency. And you can’t hit a conference these days without hearing about customer centricity.

The bottom line is we recognize the need to better understand how people (consumers, citizens, voters, stakeholders, etc.) make decisions that impact the business outcomes our clients seek. It’s going beyond the what they do and the why they do it, to stitch it all together via the dynamics of how they do it.

We believe the solution rests in mapping three levels of the decision-making process to uncover the role for the brand to play at every stage.
1. The values people are in pursuit of
2. The pathway that emerges as they take action
3. The systems in which their decisions are made.

Armed with this framework, marketers and innovators know how to resonate with people – they know what to say or do, when/where/how to do it, and what utility to provide.

We call this resonant differentiation. It means you stand out in what you offer the people most important to your success because your efforts amplify theirs – you connect in a way that facilitates progress toward the values they pursue. This means you can plan messaging to say the right things at the right time; you can plan customer experience against what matters in their daily life beyond your product and category; and you can create new products or services that really matter to people.

Our System and Journey Solutions practice delivers extensive programs to architect strategies for communications and innovation. Or, we apply the framework to simple assignments executed in a new way. We help clients view the world from the perspective of the people they seek to attract.

Download our two-pager to learn more.  Or connect with Maury Giles, our System+Journey Practice lead.

Associations in Times of Change

These are dynamic times for associations, with changes occurring on multiple fronts. Here are four important changes that association leadership must address to stay competitive and relevant.

by Mike Hillegass

Disruption and Disintermediation

It has been said that we now live in a world of perpetual disruption. Technological advancement continues to drive seismic, industry-wide shifts across just about every category of consumer engagement. For brand, marketing and insights professionals, proven approaches to managing strategic equity have long played a stabilizing role for customer acquisition and growth within the context of evolving consumer behavior. However, there is no doubt that the pace of change has increasingly exposed or created new blind spots for brand marketers. Innovation in industries from Financial Services (read banking, wealth management, lending, payments, etc.) to grocery, healthcare, hospitality and retail goods have changed the competitive landscape view from two-dimensional perceptual maps to complicated topographic-like landscapes where disintermediation has marketers nervously looking over their collective shoulders wondering what’s next? Where do we compete? What business are we actually in?


Within this context, it is easy to feel on the back heel when managing brands and addressing market opportunity. It does not have to be this way. Brands rise or fall by how well they resonate within the context of human decision-making. At Heart+Mind Strategies, we guide clients in evaluating their competitive landscape with a holistic view to ensure they are still relevant and resonating with both their existing target market and potential newly addressable market. Which competitors have “moved the cheese” and how should we respond? What new consumption models have born out to present threats? Or proactively, what opportunities exist for clients to leverage their strategic equity to create disruption and redefine the landscape?


We understand you resonate with people when you understand your role in context of how they make their way TO a decision and help organizations succeed because of, not despite disruption.

Heart in head

Knowing what is valued at a rational and emotional level showcases the things you need to say or do

Pathway icon

Mapping the pathway illustrates the experience you need to create or facilitate at specific moments.


Understanding their lives in context uncovers the role(s) you need to play in context of everything else

At Heart+Mind Strategies, we help clients defensively respond to new competitive offerings as well as determine where and how they can successfully compete with a new dynamic. To discuss how we might support your efforts, please contact Brian Elkins or Graham Lane.


The “Why Imperative” for Brands: Focusing on Consumption Amid Perpetual Disruption

Electronic payments. Insurance. Ecommerce. Healthcare. Hospitality. Transportation. Name an industry and you can bet “we” are “disrupting” it. And by “we” I do not mean some prototypical millennial wunderkind sitting in an open plan shared office with standing desks, ping pong tables and free craft beer somewhere in Sunnyvale. It is “we”. The consumer.

For years those of us in the marketing world have espoused that consumers own our brands and that every touch point must be carefully considered, curated and choreographed to deliver “on-brand experiences.” And there is a great deal of truth to this thinking in the practice of market research and brand management. However, in a well-intentioned effort to become increasingly consumer-centric, many brand owners may have missed the forest for the trees. Consumers own something much more fundamental than the brands with which they engage; they own the very consumption model itself and established brands are finding themselves sidelined, or increasingly relegated to fast followers of upstarts and innovators.

The “why imperative” is not just about updating systems, processes, and touch points to reflect the brand, it’s about gaining a revolutionary understanding of human decision making to reimagine business models and brand engagement from the ground up. To do this it is essential to know the driving values and motivating benefits at every decision-step in the customer journey and experience with the brand.

This all may appear obvious at first blush, but you do not have to look far to see examples of brands in mature categories loosing ground and relevancy. Take for example major hotel brands with the copious customer information they hold in the forms of transactional data, omni-channel booking platforms, loyalty mechanisms and more. Yet this wealth of insights is largely used to update point schemes, amenities or interiors—all while new entrants like AirBnB and HotelsByDay shake up the industry’s foundation. Meanwhile booking aggregators like HotelTonight threaten the role of brand value among selection criteria. The same can be said for the payments industry as peer-to-peer and mobile payments like Venmo and Apple Pay put yet another screen between the consumer, the payment card brand and the issuing bank brand. Spotify. Netflix. Aereo. Medify. Ginger.io. Uber. Buycott. Threadless. I could go on.

On the surface, putting consumer decision-making at the center of both brand and business strategy would appear a relatively common and straightforward undertaking. Between longstanding market research practices and the nascence of “big data” and all that it promises in the form of behavioral analytics, predictive modeling, and contextual marketing, the abundance of information about consumers is ever-increasing. But is there an inherent complacency in limiting our consumer understanding to funnel metrics and traditional KPI’s? Are we not exponentially served by understanding the underlying values and broader context of product or service consumption itself?

Take in to consideration this statistic from a 2014 study completed by Altimeter Group: 88% of executives and digital strategists stated that their organization was undergoing a formal digital transformation; yet 42% claimed to have not officially researched the customer journey at all. While this may not be a surprising statistic to some, it underpins a broader implication for brands: passive data sources are important for maintaining and optimizing brand touch points by looking at customer engagement as it is today and to incrementally improve interactions in the future—but they are not a proxy for truly shaping a sustainable brand experience in today’s disruptive environment. By limiting exploration of the “why” and leveraging patchwork data to shape their stakeholders’ experience, organizations risk missing out on larger, more strategic opportunities to remain relevant amid disruption and take a position of leadership in the minds of customers.

Through our work with brands in diverse industries from tourism to financial services, we find time and again that when we understand the individual and societal values and motivating benefits that influence purchase decisions, our clients can positively impact brand metrics and successfully reimagine the brand experience to create value for both customers and the bottom line. As brand marketers drink from the fire-hose of all that consumer data, we should go beyond the basic recognition that consumers own our brands, and challenge ourselves to actually engage our consumers to understand why they consume in the first place and how their values may be the key to maintaining relevancy and defining the very experiences they expect from the category.