Millions of dollars in marketing opportunities and pitfalls are right in front of you. Do you see them?

It’s not an easy time to be a marketer.  Consumers are more fickle and less brand loyal than in recorded consumer behavior history.  It was recently reported that sales of low-fat Greek yogurt fell over 20% in a two month period of time as consumers suddenly worried less about calories and more about protein. Consumer “winners” and “losers” change in the bat of an eye.

The QSR, beverage, beer, natural foods, telecommunications, and fashion industries have all fallen victim to whiplash-generating changes in consumer purchase behavior, sometimes within a matter of months.

The billion dollar question is how do you thrive in this environment and regain the loyalty of previous customers and “non-considerers” without hurting your image among loyalists?  Here are 4 helpful steps we uncovered:

1. Understand Consumer Behavior.  It is imperative that you understand the purchasing differences between those who are still loyal to your product and compare them to those who have moved on.  To evaluate these differences, don’t just ask them about their purchase behaviors and drivers – watch them.  Did their purchasing habits changed across many different categories, or just yours?   Was price a prime driver in their decisions?  What about healthier food choices? Are they purchasing products that follow a dietary restriction such as gluten free?  Do they appear to be stepping up their purchases of brand name products? These real-world experiences provide the critical answers to the tough questions marketers are facing in boardrooms across the country.

2. Be relevant.  It is critical to test new introductions; and sometimes without the family name.  At PTG, we’ve found that maintaining a family name can occasionally prevent true consideration of an item that consumers may indeed want to try but are hesitant to do so because of a halo effect.  For instance, J&J had to introduce their now successful Aveeno line of skin products as a standalone brand because J&J was viewed as a company that made products “for babies”.

3.  Speak their language.  Be sure to study and approach non-considerers differently than your loyalists.  For example, non-considerers may have different reactions to the same TV spot, digital ad, in-store display, package or claim. You may even need to target them differently, with a unique brand in order to bring them back to the fold. However, if this segment didn’t leave you due to taste or quality, but, rather, they moved on seeking something special, then you have a good opportunity to get them back.

4. Give them what they want and what they always had.  Offer them what they’re seeking while making it sound that it is a natural feature of your (new) brand. If you are now additive-free, say “we always believe in nature.” If it is a new beer flavor say “always providing surprises for those looking for unique tastes.”  If you reduced sugar in your product tout the healthful benefits rather than admit you had high sugar content to begin with.

Use technology that enables you to follow and study the shopping and usage habits of your target audiences. Target your media strategy to reach this lapsed audience even if it means a separate campaign from your loyalists. Keep pressing and, lo and behold, they will be yours once again. 

Let’s discuss how you’re winning back your customers and how PTG can help. I can be reached at 201.569.4800 or

The Rules Have Changed. Why e-Commerce Requires Fresh Thinking. We See What You Don’t.

While the “pundits” projected this Cyber Monday to be the best ever, let’s face reality. Retailers are still falling short in maximizing the experience for shoppers to create even bigger results. Here are three ideas to help you maximize results.

1. HD presentation of your product. The one thing buyers have a hard time adjusting to online retailers is their need to touch and feel the product. The more angles and 3D views you can give your customers on the product, the more they will feel they are seeing everything they would if they were picking up the product and examining it. Let the individual package be the hero. After price, it’s the second biggest driver of purchase.

2. Engage them and don’t worry about the competition. Online favors the little guys because shelf placement and SKU numbers are irrelevant. Everyone is on a level playing field, allowing the little guys to appear big. The product beauty shot is more important than ever because the major brand players can’t rely upon the on-shelf billboard effect or the supporting POS to give them a leg up.

3. Time is money. Your money. Capitalize on the sense of urgency, especially with mobile. The faster the digital shopper gets the information they want, the faster they’ll make a decision. Personally engage your consumers. The size of the visual, its 3D placement, and copy readability can significantly impact consumer purchase decisions.

The ultimate measure of success online is pretty clear: get consumers to add your product to their cart. While this task seems straightforward, it’s not so easy to feature your products – visually and descriptively – to yield higher closure rates. At PTG, We See What You Don’t by passively capturing shopping behaviors.

Email me at to discuss your e-commerce challenges.

The Election and Black Friday – More in common than you think!

Without discussing politics, we all agree that the pundits got it all wrong. Ask yourself this – are you sure you are engaging and connecting with your target audience? The reason why POLITICIANS and BRANDS aren’t connecting with their audience is because they think they’re listening to their consumers, but they’re not!

“I’m giving consumers better quality, value and performance, but they’re not buying my product, or even taking a moment to listen to what I’m telling them?” If you’re a marketer and this sounds familiar, ask yourself this – Are you looking at the product and advertising through your consumers’ eyes, as opposed to your own? Are you telling them what you think they want to hear, but not what they are really looking for?

It’s fair to say that marketers know their product inside and out. They are intimately aware of the unique advantages of their offering as well as its competitive differentiators. Product marketers are the first to read the fine print of their carefully crafted ad, watch their TV demo, click on their banner ad, view their pre-roll to completion, recall their refreshed logo, and note their endcap message. Moreover, in a supermarket, marketers will go out of their way to find their product on-shelf among their competition and bend down to purchase the item. Can the same be said about their desired consumers?

Not even close.

Realistically speaking, 60% of shoppers won’t bend down to seek and/or buy a product, 92% will pass on viewing a pre-roll ad, and 55% will ignore an endcap display. What’s more, consumer research programs that administer surveys and/or evaluate forced exposure to ads and packaging won’t help because they don’t reveal the truth about what’s working versus not working. In order to truly connect a product to its target, marketers need to watch TV, surf the Internet, read, and shop through the eyes of their consumer since it’s their experience that matters most. Consumers are the ones who are making the decisions and, as difficult as it may be, marketers need to take themselves out of the equation.

At PTG, we see what you don’t! We have the research technology and proprietary approaches that offer a “real world” one–way mirror that captures the all-important human element as consumers experience your brand.

To learn more about how our real-world research methodologies are benefiting today’s biggest brands, please reach me at

Best wishes to you and yours for a Happy Thanksgiving!

Lee Weinblatt Featured in Online MR Magazine

Lee Weinblatt, PTG’s Founder and CEO, was recently featured in the September issue of Online MR Magazine. In the article shared below, Lee provides his thoughts on the importance of real-world research preceding virtual research.

Let’s Be Real. It Could Triple Your Predictive Validity.

Virtual Research. Simulated Research. Conceptual Research. Whatever you prefer to call it, the genre is likely being used to accomplish a variety of critical business objectives at your organization. Consumer Insights teams across industries have come to rely on virtual research for everything from simulating product shelves and packaging to POP displays. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to appreciate about virtual research. Virtual is quicker, less expensive and incredibly flexible when a real-world research option is simply not feasible.

But now to the bad news.

An alarming amount of the virtual research that’s being conducted today is irrelevant because, sadly, it’s founded upon critical issues that could have (read: should have) been identified had real-world research preceded it. Let me share some examples.

PTG recently completed a study where customers of a QSR were asked to experience the drive-thru window while wearing our inconspicuous truVu audio and video recording eyeglasses. Additionally, PTG installed micro cameras that captured consumer engagement and involvement with the drive-thru promotional signage and virtual menu boards. Surprisingly, what the client learned as a result of this real-world research was the drive-thru signage that they were looking to optimize was actually being obstructed and never visible to the customers in the first place.

By simply moving the placement of the communications, the signage was no longer blocked and the client could now move forward with their intended research goals. In the event this communications research was conducted virtually, sure, the client would have garnered consumer feedback on the signage, however, the enhancements wouldn’t have had a positive effect on sales because they weren’t being seen.

We have identified similar cautionary tales as they relate to in-restaurant signage as well. For example, changing the angle of a display board or moving a ceiling drop to another location in a restaurant dining room can make the world of difference when it comes to visibility.

Real-world customer research has also provided invaluable insights when it comes to consumer behavior. For example, we have found that dynamic digital LED menu boards actually change ordering habits which is key information that fast food chains can capitalize on.

Real-world research has also played a pivotal role when it comes to in-store marketing. Our research has identified that how shoppers actually approach shelves, and related store displays, plays a huge role in creating effective signage and product guides. Do customers approach your products from the side? Do they bend down to look at items on the lower shelves? Do they engage with your promotions? A proper understanding of these real-world shopping behaviors has a major influence on how products ultimately move off shelf.

Without a doubt, there’s a place for virtual research – as long as you make sure you go into it knowing that what you’re about to invest in is based in real-world facts versus fiction.

Dan Morris Featured in Sept. Issue of Online MR Magazine

PTG’s President, Dan Morris, was recently interviewed for the September issue of Online MR Magazine.  In the interview, Dan shared his thoughts on the evolving demands of shopper insights research and how advances in technology are making it possible for marketers to passively observe shoppers in a natural environment.

The interview can be found below in its entirety.  

In the past decade what major changes have you observed in the field of market research – especially in context of how we collect Shopper Insights?

Dan Morris: From my vantage point, the biggest change in the collection of Shopper Insights data is simply the increased number of potential sales channels that need to be monitored. Today’s marketers need to engage their customers, and that means not only understanding their customer experience in a retail environment, but also having a pulse on their digital shopping experience. For instance, in-store, mobile and online shopping environments each come with their own unique sets of challenges and research requirements. This is no simple task.

This evolving dynamic demands we introduce non-conscious biometric measurement into the Shopper Insights space. PTG’s patented Saccadic Eye Movement Recording System uses micro camera technology to record how fast shoppers’ eyes vibrate. By measuring this cognitive response we can objectively determine consumer engagement and interest with in-store stimuli such as packaging and communications.

What are some of the major challenges that you face in collecting insights from shoppers? How do you overcome these challenges?

Dan Morris: I would say the biggest challenge that we face is passively evaluating shoppers in a natural shopping environment or “in the wild” as I like to say. It’s widely agreed upon that the best research comes out of situations when consumers aren’t aware that they are being evaluated. Our mission at PTG is to inconspicuously capture consumer engagement to advertising and marketing stimuli in highly contextual, real-world environments. To accomplish this we leverage passive, patented technology.

Specifically, how do you leverage technology to better collect shopper insight?

Dan Morris: Technology offers the power of discretion. For example, our on-shelf micro cameras are the size of a fingernail and can be hidden in a pricing tag on a store shelf. These powerful little devices capture consumers’ Saccadic Engagement and facial activity while examining in-store displays and/or product packaging. The resulting data includes how many shoppers viewed a test product and then approached it on-shelf, how engaged the shoppers were with what they saw and, finally, how long the shopper spent with the product. This holistic view of the shopper experience enables marketers to identify what consumers can’t articulate.

Today with substantial amount of shopping being done online – how are you connecting with shoppers in the online domain?

Dan Morris: More and more clients are turning to us to measure their e-commerce channels. And, again, technology is the key. We apply our inconspicuous research tools to measure the performance of online and mobile stores as it pertains to closure rates, time spent shopping, click-thru and purchase data. In addition to the diagnostic information that’s captured, our eye tracking and Saccadic Eye Movement Recording System determine the pattern of element examination including which elements are most noted and read. We also measure the level of engagement for each webpage as well as line-by-line copy readership. We have found specific treatment impact varies by size of the digital device, type of e-commerce shopping and layout of specific webpage.

Shoppers – especially the dissatisfied ones are very vocal in social media domains – so is it the right platform to gather shopper insight?

Dan Morris: We leave social insights to the social listening companies and rely on our pre-market research initiatives to give clients the information they need to avoid social mishaps and disgruntled consumers in the first place.

Can we reduce/remove human intervention when it comes to analyzing data we collect?

Dan Morris: I think we’re already witnessing low-touch and no-touch techniques when it comes to collecting and crunching data; however, in my opinion, when it comes to delivering real insights there’s no AI out there that can replace human analysis and reporting.

One aspect of our business that we’re most proud of is when a client says to us – “Wow, we had no idea”. By passively observing shoppers in a natural environment, we go into projects with a clean slate and an open mind and simply watch them by using our unobtrusive cameras. We capture human behaviors that have a major impact on our clients’ businesses. At PTG we like to say “we see what you don’t” and what we see on behalf of our clients is pretty powerful.

What changes have you seen in the observational techniques to collect shopper insights in the past decade?

Dan Morris: The most massive change has been in the sheer sophistication of the data collection methods. No longer do qualitative researchers need to evaluate customer experiences with a paper and pencil or rely on outdated technology that makes the shopper feel conspicuous while in a store. Today, we can intercept hundreds of shoppers on the way into a store and invite them to shop as they planned to shop while wearing our inconspicuous audio and video recording glasses.

PTG’s truVu glasses are equipped with patented auto product identification technology and built-in HD and high frame rate recording capabilities. The technology has been successfully used to understand shopper buying behaviors immediately before and after interaction with a test shelf or product; or we can even follow their entire path-to-purchase. For example, are there “hidden influencers” that are impacting noting and selection of a product such as display height, FSIs and/or similarity of surrounding colors? Is a product’s signage being seen? Are shoppers reading promotional messaging and taking action? Are shoppers being influenced by certain areas of a store? Are shoppers skipping certain aisles or even an entire section of a store? In addition to shoppers wearing the glasses, we have also designed research projects where interviewers unobtrusively record shoppers and qualitatively probe about their experiences without the need for video cameras.

Can you suggest some changes that will help market researchers better collect shopper insights?

Dan Morris: The most important change that I can suggest is making sure that shopper insights have been discovered by research that’s been conducted in a real-world environment. We’ve seen clients make decisions based solely upon research that was collected via virtual or simulated studies only for them to find out that the basic premise was wrong.

Can you share some examples where you have helped provide better insights about shopper behavior to your clients?

Dan Morris: Sure, we had a health and beauty client struggling with the sales of an organic version of one of their products. In response, we designed an in-store study where shoppers went about their business wearing our truVu glasses and identified that shoppers were undoubtedly looking for the organic product in the organic section rather than among the regular category section.

We have helped a side-dish manufacturer discover the best placement for signage – in a totally different section – which increased follow-up purchase in their section of the aisle.

PTG also helped a major appliance manufacturer better understand their big box store promotional needs by recording the specific “ah hah” moment when simple customer browsing of appliances and related in-store signage turned into serious examination and follow-up questions with a salesperson.

We also measured the impact of the location and display for a consumer electronic device by discovering which types of displays worked best in different types of store layouts. For instance, some displays are too large to be seen without sufficient distance and some are too small to be engaging in larger stores.

What will be some of the major changes that we will see in the market research future?

Dan Morris: The future is going to be marked by research passivity. Consumers will no longer have to be asked to answer surveys because researchers will be able to gauge consumer behavior, engagement, emotional response, and facial recognition without asking a single question. At PTG we’re well on our way to making this future a reality!

Be a Fly on the Wall with truVu

I just participated in a follow-up interview with Bob Lederer, host of the Research Business Daily Report, and I wanted to share our conversation about PTG’s truVu audio and video recording eyeglasses.

As discussed in the segment, truVu’s patented technology allows researchers to finally be inside a consumer’s laundry room, join in on a shopping trip, and tag along during a restaurant visit.

Today’s interview can also be found on RealTimes cloud.

I’m excited to discuss how truVu can take your research to new places.  I can be reached at 201.569.4800 or

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