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Posts from February 2015

Got data?

Posted on  24 February 15  by 


The CEB Iconoculture Values and Lifestyle Survey is a long-term effort that identifies and monitors trends, measures the relevance of core values among consumer groups in multiple categories, and provides magnitude and direction of the forces shaping consumers’ lives. We’ve now amassed five years’ worth of data, having started conducting the survey in 2010. 3,020 US consumers age 15+ took the 40-minute survey in 2014. Each year, we internally pass around the key findings from that survey, sliced and diced by category, generation and gender. They’re a helpful tool in our process of unlocking significant consumer insights. This year, it hit us: Why not share the love?


We’ve just published our first slate of US “Data Dives” into the survey findings from 2014: 10 short slideshows (consumer activities, consumer values, fashion and style, food and beverage, health and beauty, home, media and technology, money and spending, shopping and retail, transportation and travel) outlining the most compelling consumer behaviors in the categories marketers can’t ignore. Wondering whether kids actually go to the mall anymore, whether the DIY home spirit is as strong among Millennials as it is with Boomers, or whether Latino consumers’ values really differ from the rest of the population? Then these docs are sure to tantalize. Contact us to get your hands on the full slideshows.

Measuring Up

Posted on  19 February 15  by 


by Nissa Hanna

What’s your sleep score? Are you in the top quintile of performers at work? Gen We – from babies to teens — are already getting used to such metrics. They’re being measured in a number of new areas, not just around academic performance at school or growth percentiles at the doctor’s office. This recent push for tracking and quantification could have implications for how this demographic forms their self-image and self-esteem.


It’s a contentious issue that parents, pundits and educators are weighing in on, declaring it as beneficial or potentially harmful – or cautiously assessing both sides. But society likely won’t know the individual and cultural effects of this new style of pervasive, intimate and sophisticated quantification for a number of years. Still, many parents and experts (and US governors) aren’t waiting for a verdict, enlisting a variety of devices in their kids’ lives — from activity trackers that help them meet fitness goals to smart beds that measure sleep quality to tech-enabled pacifiers that relay vital signs.

For more on the quantification movement, why parents are into it or against it, and how brands might benefit from it, check out our trend “Growing Up Against the Numbers.”


photo credit: Thijs Knaap,

10 things brands are doing wrong – and how Iconosphere will make things right

Posted on  5 February 15  by 


im_Iconosphere2015MktgFeat_401152_2At Iconosphere 2015, we’ll be putting the insights back into Consumer Insights. We’re hard at work conducting groundbreaking research in all the key areas you care about. Check out these tantalizing appetizers, and don’t miss the main courses: main-stage presentations, breakout sessions and interactive roundtables that will deliver white-glove service in Chicago, May 4-6.


  1. Most brands assume that Millennial women will follow the work-life path of their Boomer moms. The reality is much different — impacting the entire purchasing trajectory of this huge generation.
  2. Almost all consumers think of themselves as middle class, right? Actually, they are quite attuned to their place in the whole, which has a ripple effect on luxury positioning and marketing-by-income.
  3. Brands should resist the urge to segment consumers into hyper-specific food types. A more grounded high-low mix is the new way to eat, drink, shop and cook.
  4. Legend has it that country is the strongest predictor of behavior or attitude, but we’ve cracked the code on the correct answer for any brand gunning for global dominance. There will be gasps.
  5. Financial services brands are missing a gargantuan opportunity to connect with Millennials — banks and advisers should no longer wait until the young’uns are old and rich.
  6. Cultural nuances still deserve consideration in marketing — sometimes. Trouble is, few brands thought to ask Latinos, African Americans and Asian Americans for their take. We’ll provide a roadmap for when and which multicultural consumers expect to be included in the general market.
  7. Authenticity is marketing’s least helpful buzzword. That is, until you attend the Iconosphere presentation that will tease out what consumers really want from the promise.
  8. Myth: Boomers have been studied to death, and are too old to be relevant. Truth: Their massive influence will outlive them. Hint: We’re talking a cultural shift in Americans’ view of aging, and the spending it drums up.
  9. Most brands think that Millennials are the sweet spot for mobile shopping, using apps to research a purchase rather than make a purchase. Wrong and wrong.
  10. Trying to appeal to shoppers’ emotional side is actually a bad idea. Instead, we’ll show you how to support the rational retail road that consumers are already starting down.

Eager for further 411 on this year’s Sphere? Contact us for registration information.

Pinteresting while black

Posted on  4 February 15  by 


by Monica Mason

As Pinterest becomes more popular with African American female consumers, blogger Rachel Wilkerson Miller calls out the popular social networking site for setting impossible standards for women in general, not to mention women of color. “Pinterest has earned a reputation as a site for Mormon housewives, mommy bloggers and basic white girls,” explains Miller, who set out on a journey to live her life according to the stereotype — allowing Pinterest to dictate every aspect of her life for one whole week.

Her experiment shows that while Pinterest sometimes serves as a great place to find tips and tricks for making magic in the kitchen or arts-and-crafting your way through the holiday season, the site lacks representation from women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. When Miller visited Pinterest’s “most popular” page, it was a reiteration of the site’s most dominant presence, “which is essentially a collage of white girls with impossibly great hair, superhuman nail art skills, and apparently enough free time to create a tidy basket of ‘postpartum supplies’ for ‘every bathroom’ in the house,” she said (, 15 December 2014).

So what are some popular Pinterest topics in the black community? Natural haircare for women and children, black fashion and beauty products, and tons of recipes ranging from traditional soul food and Southern classics to ethnic African cuisine. Much like Black Twitter, these topics are explored outside the site’s mainstream, rarely (if ever) making it to Pinterest’s “most popular” page. But as the site continues to grow and gain acceptance from a more diverse audience, perhaps this will change. Since the point of Pinterest is to inspire creativity, more diverse voices are likely a boon to consumers. Marketers can use the site to gain a deeper perspective into the diverse female consumer or drive diverse users to the platform through other social media sites.

Macrotrends for macro beers

Posted on  3 February 15  by 


by Emily Weiss

Audiences expect to see memorable, splashy ads from big beer brands during the Super Bowl. It’s a game-day inevitability, much like the crushing heartburn that settles in when you reach the bottom of a basket of Buffalo wings. This year was no exception, but the most talked-about ad around the (virtual) watercooler here at Iconoculture was undoubtedly Budweiser’s “Brewed the Hard Way”. Instead of pandering to the values and attitudes that drove the seemingly limitless growth of the craft beer movement over the last five years, Bud made a bold display of embracing its workaday roots, declaring that its products are “not to be fussed over” and are simply made for people who “like to drink beer.”

The brand is right in its instinct to pivot. Our research shows (as do national sales numbers) that Big Beer has taken a big hit, especially among Millennials. im_MillennialsNoBigBeer_398073_2But we also know that preferences for highfalutin foods and beverages are waning. Trends like Foodies Recalibrate and The Ideal Gets Real reflect that consumers may be more open to simplicity, rusticity and transparency than they have been in the past. So we had to ask ourselves: Has craft beer passed its prime? Or is Big Beer just grasping at straws, trying any tactic to stay relevant?

While some among us and in the media felt that the ad was refreshingly realistic, others criticized it for being hypocritical. It remains to be seen whether this spot will turn heads and win new fans, or alienate a whole potential consumer base. But no one can say Budweiser is sending a weak message: They’re “proudly macro.”

photo credit: Rick Marshall,