Posts Tagged insight-2

Eat red meat

A leadership event in New Zealand has been seen the development and launch of a go-to-market strategy for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, following on from a nine-month long research project conducted by antedote.

An alternate protein may seem futuristic, but it isn’t for Beef + Lamb New Zealand who have been working with antedote to develop insights that will enable strategic planning to future-proof their beef and lamb industry.

As a response to a nine-month-long research project, Founding Partner Anne Lacey was invited by Beef + Lamb New Zealand to present on disruptive trends and what it means for the industry during the organizations most recent sector leadership event “Our origin brand, story and go-to-market strategy”, held in Auckland, New Zealand.

The New Zealand sheep and beef industry exports to over 120 countries around the world and employs around 80,000 people. It is New Zealand’s largest manufacturing sector.

“The health and wellbeing of our sector is incredibly important to our country and our regional communities where our footprint is the largest” said Nick Beeby, General Manager, Market Development for Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand engaged antedote to look into the future so we could understand the forces and consumer trends which were taking people towards alternative proteins, and to develop scenarios so our sector could plan in a way which means we remain relevant to consumers in the future.” Said Nick.

Anne said the weeklong leadership event provided a valuable opportunity to create dialogue among stakeholders.

“This has been an invaluable exercise in engaging in dialogue and kicking off the strategic planning with the entire value chain – from government policy makers, industry leaders and the CEO’s of the top meat companies to the farmers from around the country – it has been an honor to be part of this project.” Said Anne.

The leadership event was an outcome of a nine-month project, which saw antedote conduct a global study into the red meat market.


“We analyzed over 400 reports, articles, interviews, videos and other content – we read everything we could get our hands on, and there was a lot.” Said Anne.

“Primary research was conducted; interviews with leaders in industry and government, big-food, big-meat, academics, retailers, food scientists, CEO’s, CFO’s, Chef Scientists, Nutritionists, Medical professionals, health and wellness experts, CMO’s – again basically a range of people across the supply and value chain.

“We did this to gain an in-depth understanding of the red meat sector, alternative proteins and how the government, medical industry, consumers, market and culture was reacting today and expected to respond in the future.” Said Anne.

Consumer behavioral research also played an important role in the project, with antedote conducting digital and face-to-face research in China and the US to unpack consumer behaviors, beliefs, needs and frustrations around food, red meat, alternative proteins and eating in the 21st Century.

“The result of all this research and analysis was to identify the forces of disruption, build a picture of what the world might look like in the future and design potential strategic responses for the New Zealand Beef and Lamb industry.

The response to the project undertaken by Beef + Lamb New Zealand with antedote has been well recognized and received in New Zealand. Nick Beeby commented, “Anne and her team have been very accommodating and have provided us great insight into the project.”

“The findings show that for every great challenge, there is also great opportunity, but we do need to be reminded that what we do today, does not ensure our success in the future. We need to evolve and innovate.” Says Nick.

“Spending this time with the CEO’s and Farmers of the Beef and Lamb NZ industry, as well as government and industry leaders has been a privilege. It is inspiring to see NZ Beef and Lamb take a strong leadership position in preparing for the future and get ahead of any potential disruption – myself and the entire antedote team are excited to see what happens next” said, Anne.

For more information about the Beef + Lamb New Zealand project, please drop us a line

Antedote shortlisted for 2017 MRMW Award for the Best Use of Mobile Technology

This is the third consecutive year that Antedote has been nominated for an MRMW Award, this time in the category of Best Use of Mobile Technology. Antedote is the only agency in the history of the awards to have been nominated for an award three years in a row.

The MRMW Awards are a showcase and celebration of excellence and innovation in market research, recognizing the groundbreaking work of individuals and organizations in the industry.

The nomination came on the back of our Snap Dive research initiative, which leveraged the power of social media platform Snapchat to foster a more inextricable link to the hearts and minds of younger consumers.

The methodology behind the initiative saw design and deployment of techniques that enabled us to better examine and evaluate target demographics using social media app Snapchat and the users’ behavior firsthand. In addition, we were able to better understand the motivations behind sharing multimedia, stepping into favorite conversations with contacts and identifying traits and idiosyncrasies from user content, via Snapchat’s “Discover” and “Stories” campaigns.

From what was extrapolated in the study, Antedote developed rules of engagement for media clients in order to gain a better appreciation and awareness for where and how branded content can be used.

Adam French, Founding Partner at Antedote said that the research required a deep understanding and consideration for its unique environment.

“This research required consideration of the Snapchat online environment.

“We did this, through immersion into the interactions of target groups, and an analysis of the triggers for connections, creation, sharing and viewing of content, which lasts only fleetingly, given the self-destructing nature of the Snapchat experience.

“While Snapchat appeals to users who don’t want to create even more breadcrumbs on their digital trail, targeted and intentioned research can assist businesses in understanding how the app’s transient nature is used for connection, and why.

Snap Dive achieved this, leading to its nomination for this award.”

Antedote has been nominated alongside Porsche and Deutsche Telekom.

The 2017 Awards will be held in Chicago, Illinios, on April 25 and 26, with the awards being judged by an international panel comprised of experienced market researchers, respected thought leaders in the field and MRMW Advisory Board members.


Smart collar to translate dogs’ thoughts

WhatsYapp Innovation

Ever wondered what your dog is saying?

Well it looks like communicating with your dog will no longer be isolated to scenes from the movies.

Fetch is creating the appropriately named “What’sYapp” – a smart collar and messaging app that tells dog owners what their pet is thinking based on their sounds, movements, and activities. Fetch hopes that “What’sYapp” will help to strengthen pet and owner relationship. The app can helping owners improve their behaviors and routines for their pet’s well-being by better identifying when their pet is stressed, hungry, anxious, etc.

“What’sYapp” is one of 3 “Petnology” innovations from Fetch; the other 2 are called “CatQuest”, an interactive cat playground, and “PetPounds”, which rewards children for proper pet-care behavior.

The use of these motion-sensored wearables to translate the inner thoughts of dogs is not only exciting for pets and their owners but also for researchers in our industry. We see this new step as not only an exciting way to better understand the interesting relationship that consumers have with their pets, but also an exciting way to also get into the heads of other hard to understand segments – like children (see this very adorable footage of a toddler playing hide-n-go seek with a Go Pro strapped to his head).

We look forward to seeing Fetch’s moves to push forward the future of pet technology.

A Videogame Like No Other

That dragon cancer drowning

A new videogame has garnered the attention of The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, NPR, Wired, BBC, and the like. However this videogame defies all pre-existing genres, being far different from the Smash Brothers, Call of Duty, and League of Legends of the world.

The videogame called That Dragon, Cancer was created by and based after married couple Ryan and Amy Green and their 5-year old son Joel’s battle against brain cancer.

That Dragon, Cancer chronicles the experiences of the family with elements of surrealism to convey the scattered thoughts and depths of emotions from the real-life events. It allows you to peer into the imaginative mind of the child, Joel, and allows you to see the world from the frustrated and worrisome perspective of his parents.

In one scene called “End of Treatment Party”, the long hospital corridors morphs into a go-karting race track full of cheerful fruit pick ups.

In another scene, the videogame turns Medieval, as the baby knight Joel, tries to run, jump, and toss spears at the dragon, knowing all too well that the battle is futile.

That Dragon, Cancer is a beautiful, philosophical videogame that explores life’s biggest questions and helps the player to truly walk in the shoes of Ryan, Amy, and Joel during their most difficult times.

Its videogame/diary/poetic hybrid format allows the player to empathize with Ryan, Amy, Joel in a more intimate way than an autobiographical book or film.

That Dragon Cancer Storytelling

Many of us are storytellers at work. Our job is to paint a story in a way that our clients can truly understand the emotional journey of people who are not themselves. More often then not, we see people in our industry succumb to using the powerpoint deck as that medium. But is there a better way to share someone’s story? To truly understand another’s desires and fears, their highs and lows?

We believe the medium is almost as important as the story being told, and based on our client’s needs have delivered findings through interactive journeys, creative games, sensory displays, and videos to truly bring to life people’s stories.

With the massive attention that That Dragon, Cancer videogame has received, I look forward to seeing what new mediums will emerge to help us to better connect with other people and gain deeper insights into their lives.

The Empathy Machine

VR Oculus Empathy Virtual Reality

What if you could put on a headset that allows you to feel exactly what someone else feels?

Verge publishes fictional stories bi-weekly – not to be confused with their news- and one especially caught my eye. It is called “The Empathy Machine“. The author describes his fictional experience at CES trying out the PathoGlyph Wavelength, a device that allows the wearer to feel the complete emotional journey of a person other than himself.

If virtual reality hijacks our eyes to show us the world through someone else’s, the Wavelength hijacks the whole nervous system.

It is a provocative piece, describing this “empathetic immersion” as the next great medium after virtual reality.

For most of the Wavelength’s “tracks,” PathoGlyph developers construct and place different feelings at key places in the story, the way a film editor might layer audio cues. They’re electrochemical cocktails that produce generic sensations — approximations of sadness, joy, or even complex concepts like jealousy…

Wearers can try out the PathoGlyph Wavelength and choose between different “tracks”, from Henry, a lonely big-eyed hedgehog’s search for a friend to Syria, a bystander’s perspective during a Syrian bombing. The story paints possible opportunities and concerns such a device could bring – from bringing about true empathy to bringing about psychologically damaging effects.

Of course in the real world – that device doesn’t exist. We cannot simply strap on a headset that will allow us to feel the emotional experience of another person; but we can build our empathy skills as people.

What we do have are emotionally intelligent researchers who have developed strong interpersonal skills to be able to empathize with and understand the people they are learning about. And in a world where the message of being more consumer centric has been touted over and over again – many marketers and designers are still sadly out of touch with the very people they are reaching/designing for.


Whether you are creating cleaning products for working mothers in the suburbs or marketing apparel for millennials in the city – you have to understand the world as your consumers see it; or else you miss the mark.  It is a difficult skills to not let your own personal perspectives subconsciously influence the way you imagine others to feel. Our researchers have honed in on important empathetic building skills to be able to paint the true emotional journey of the consumer and draw deep insights that can inform products and communications that will truly resonate.

Of course it probably would be simpler to just put on a Polygraph Wavelength. But until then, empathetic researchers will be the closest we have to stepping into someone else’s shoes.

Toki Pona for Deeper Insights

Language Insight

I recently came upon the world’s smallest language, which only has 123 words and 14 letters. It is called Toki Pona. Toki Pona (which draws roots from a mix of English, Finnish, Georgian, Dutch, Coratian, Chinese) was created by linguist Sonja Lang in an attempt to express maximal meaning with minimal complexity.

With only 123 words in the language that represent the most basic elements, Toki Pona speakers say it is really all you need to communicate almost anything. For words that don’t exist, Toki Pona speakers just use other existing words to describe what they mean. For example, there exists only 5 words for colors (loje – red, laso – blue, jelo – yellow, walo – white, pimeja – black). But what if you wanted to say orange? Well like an artist, you would combine the colors. Loje jelo for orange. ­

The creative circumlocution that people engage in to communicate with others using Toki Pona can offer insight into how people think and view the world and situations.

For example, take coffee. There is no word in Toki Pona for it – but what can be said if someone describes coffee in Toki Pona as “my morning cup” and another “bad brown liquid”?

Metaphors are great insight into the human mind, and Toki Pona allows for that.

Non-verbal communication is also important to understanding others in Toki Pona. There is no word for formal niceties, such as please and thank you. Toni Poka speakers, however, started naturally making up for the lack of these niceties with polite gestures, such as asking for something with a Japanese-like head nod. Tone and nonverbal gestures could make the same exact statement come out differently. Give me that (with a low nod). Or Give me that! I would think that Toki Pona speakers would be great at observing and picking up intention from cues other than verbal. An attribute that is also valuable in insight work.

So what if everyone, in addition to their native language, spoke Toki Pona? Toki Pona filters out the noise of excess thoughts and gets straight to the heart of things.  I feel like people would become more mindful communicators and listeners, and gain deeper insight into their conversations with others.

Collectively Toki Pona speakers say it takes an average of only 30 hours to learn. Compare that to the hours of Rosetta Stone classes people take to learn their second language.  I’m going to take the challenge and learn Toki Pona with my sister over the break to experiment to see how that strengthens my own insight skills.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

3 Lessons on Innovation from The Martian

3 Lessons in Innovation from The Martian

Everyone is talking about the latest sci-fi thriller, The Martian, which stars Matt Damon (Interstellar, The Departed), is directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down) and is adapted from Andy Weir’s novel about Mark Watney, a marooned astronaut who uses all his wit and ingenuity to survive on the inhospitable Mars.

The sci-fi movie is being heralded for being more science than fiction, having consulted extensively with NASA and having featured scientifically accurate technology so real and feasible that movie-goers thought the movie was based on a true story.

I was blown away at how beautifully the movie was done and relieved that it lacked the cliche scenes typical in space blockbusters.  You won’t find the super smart astronaut doing ironically non-super smart astronaut things. You won’t find an astronaut glancing through his rocket ship window at the little blue dot called earth with somber commentary on human insignificance. And you won’t find any overly science-y jargoned explanation between scientists that only confuses the audience more.

What you will find is a pure survivalist tale that illustrates the power of human perseverance and collaboration to do brilliantly innovative things. And it will sure make you feel proud to be a human Earthling.

So here are 3 lessons on innovating for you Earthlings out there from The Martian. (Caution: Some spoiler alerts- so go watch the movie before you read this!)

To innovate, reframe and solve the right problems, one at a time

At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you and you’re going to say, this is it…Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work… You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home.

This was probably one of the best quotes from The Martian. It leaves you feeling that nothing is really impossible or hopeless. Although faced with terrifying circumstances, aka being stranded hundreds of millions of miles away from any other living human, Watney reframed his situation and focused on solving the problems at hand, one by one. And by doing so, he kept his sanity and ultimately his life.

For Watney, the big question was “How do I survive on Mars?” – which sounds like a completely impossible scenario.  But Watney began breaking down the question into smaller, more solvable problems that he began to work out one after the other. “How do I grow enough food?” “How do I make water?” “How do I communicate with Earth?”

Of course our own big questions we ask about our own business and products may not be as life threatening (though we think it may be) – but they are often questions that feel too abstract or too complex to solve. By reframing your problem into tangible challenges – you can and will be able solve for the seemingly impossible.

To innovate, incorporate diverse perspectives and be open to collaboration

A beautiful moment in The Martian took place when the directors of CNSA (China National Space Administration) discussed whether to postpone their own mission by offering their Taeyang Shen space probe rocket to the US to help them retrieve Watney or to simply remain silent, free from repercussions since the rocket was classified information that no one knew about. Ultimately, in the name of science, they decided to reach out and help their fellow scientists.

How often do we look outside our own industry? (If you’re in financial services or healthcare, what can you learn from CPG or the tech sector?)
How often do we look outside at what other cultures are doing? (What can US companies learn from the success of Chinese products and companies?)

Often we can be narrow minded and blinded by our own expertise and knowledge in a field. However it’s diversity and collaboration that fuels innovation, which is one of the reasons why we take our insight and innovation clients on ‘safaris’ to gain inspiration from lateral industries and cultures, to open up their mind in a way that their office desk can not. It is through this exposure of diverse thoughts and perspectives that we can achieve great things.

To innovate, welcome humor

I admit it’s fatally dangerous, but I’d get to fly around like Iron Man.

This great line by Watney during one of the most suspenseful, and even ludicrous, scenes in the movie had me smiling from ear to ear, even though I was also clenching my fists in anxiety. The Martian is such an intense thriller, but it smartly keeps lighthearted with refreshing quips by Watney – which brings me to the power of humor.

Studies have shown that humor can help in ideation and creativity, allowing for more eureka! moments. Even brainstorming the ridiculously exaggerated of the imagination could help you to break out of your linear way of thinking by allowing the mind to associate new ideas/relationships more freely- and ultimately lead to more plausible solutions you wouldn’t have thought of before – and if you’re Watney- save your life.

The Martian was an uplifting story and a remarkable demonstration of human ingenuity, offering great lessons even to those who aren’t stranded in space. To all the innovators out there on Earth- take note.

Mart Watney Innovating GIF

Image Credit: IndieWire

Export Your Memory to the Cloud – Courtesy of Google

Google Search Life

When I saw what Google was up to, my mouth dropped at how fascinatingly creepy life was headed.

Google recently filed a patent for glasses that would record and index your real life experiences, export them to the cloud, and allow you to search them later.

Yes, you could ask questions like “What movies did I watch last month?” Or “What paintings did I see when I was on vacation in Paris?” and voilà. There your answer would be. It’s Google for life itself.

For those of you familiar with the Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror series (my favorite tech dystopian TV show), this is literally one step in the direction of the 2011 Episode 3, Season 1, The Entire History of You, which because of it’s popularity, is now slated to come out as it’s own sci-fi thriller.

The episode follows a man whose implant allows him to capture his entire life, with the ability to play back and zoom into any moment in front of his eye or on a shared screen. The technology brings up various ethical, philosophical, and psychological issues, from privacy, machine/human boundaries, memories used as weapons, and the importance of memory’s malleable nature for our emotional and psychological well-being.

Despite the grim possible futures elaborated on in Black Mirror, there are many places where we can see how searchable memories can prove to be useful in the near and the more distant future.

Eye Witness Accounts
As we know now, eye-witness accounts are horribly unreliable, proven to be susceptible to false memory and misidentification, leading to almost 70% of wrongful convictions. What if during court, you could just rewind to the eye witness’s memory of the particular incident as opposed to relying on their testimony?

If there was a building break-in, instead of asking every guard during the shift of the incident to recall if they have seen anyone who fits this certain profile, investigators could simply search the faces of everyone who had entered the building from 7pm-9pm and fit the particular description, making it easier and faster to identify potential suspects, as well as the criminals themselves.

Home Care
“Where did I last put my keys?” This new technology could aid the elderly or those suffering from memory problems from disease or injuries to be more autonomous in their daily life.

A classmate could export and transfer his memory from a class or workshop to a fellow classmate who is out due to the flu. Recordings of lectures are already provided by many universities to their students to learn remotely. Curious students could also search and view memory clips of professionals in interested fields to get a real life glimpse into their day and life.

Market Research
Researchers are great at collecting and synthesizing data from different places (whether it’s from surveys, social media, or from face to face interviews) and then extracting meaningful insights to inform business strategies.  Imagine how much deeper and more quickly researchers could dive if they were able to sift through a wide variety of footage taken of consumers during digital ethnography, getting that qualitative richness and depth at big data speed and scale.  We’ve already seen existing technology being leveraged to speed up the research and innovation process, such as with mobile surveys, web cam interviews, and agile online tech tools like our own Idea Accelerator.

Google has been at the forefront of many exciting and innovative initiatives, from their self driving car to Google Glass to Project Loon. And like how Google Search online has completely transformed the way we work, think, and live (for good and for worse), it will also be fascinating to see how a Google Search for real life will transform not only the many industries in which we work but us as humans (for good and for worse).

The Paniq Room: Experimentation is the key out


Recently, my team found ourselves with only one hour to escape a psychotic serial killer’s apartment before he came home from the bar. Thankfully… it wasn’t real life. Some of us actually went on a team outing to Paniq Room – a live escape game where people are locked in a room to decipher hidden clues to “escape” before the time runs out.

It was an exciting and challenging game where we had to think fast without a lot of direction. None of us knew what to expect when we stepped into the dimly lit apartment with its eccentric paraphernalia and were given absolutely no additional guidance except to escape before the time runs out.

As the door was locked behind us, we realized we had to be scrappy and experimental because there wasn’t time to prepare the perfect strategy. This got me thinking about approaches to uncovering insights to solve tough problems.

I’ll admit I’m a bit of a perfectionist and often don’t share things until they’re past a certain point of being completed. But this experience quickly highlighted how traditional approaches and perfectionism can unnecessarily hinder progress.

In one instance during the lock-in, we uncovered a Sudoku-like puzzle that we had to solve in order to reveal a highlighted code to a locked box.  We had a few guesses to some of the numbers in the code, but I wanted to erase it and start over so it could be done the way I normally approach a Sudoku puzzle. While I was slowly reworking the puzzle, my colleague noticed the very little time we had left and started taking some of the guessed numbers and trying them out on the lock. I didn’t believe that it could work that way, solving Sudoku had to be done in a methodical way, the way I knew it to work. But, before I knew it, she had it unlocked, so we quickly abandoned the puzzle to move onto the contents of the unlocked box to escape the room.

So often in insight and innovation work, we can get hung up on pre-judging outcomes or ideas in closed conference rooms, letting our fear of failure keep us spinning ideas around in our heads and wasting time when sometimes we just simply need to put unfinished ideas out there with consumers to quickly test, adjust, and retest. The “test, pass, fail, and replace” model is no longer efficient.  Constant experimentation is truly key to get out of that trapped box of perfectionism.

To learn about antedote’s new platform, Idea Accelerator, that allows you to explore and iterate concepts with consumers globally and in real time, please click below:

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Virtual Reality takes you inside the mind of a schizophrenic


The internet is flooding with the buzz around virtual reality technology and the huge tech giants who are trying to dominate the space. Facebook bought Oculus Rift. Samsung launched Gear VR. Microsoft debuted HoloLens.

But in the midst of all the chatter, I had came across an innovative use of virtual reality that piqued my interest because it was used for purposes beyond gaming culture, beyond better ways to make shooting zombies more realistic.

What was refreshing about this project was that the virtual reality headset was used to help build empathy for a stigmatized group who is hard to understand.

In the Daily Dot article, Selena Larson describes her uneasy but eye-opening experience using the Oculus Rift in a simulation project called “Mindscape”. Viscira designed the simulation for a pharmaceutical company to help their potential clients understand how schizophrenia feels like. And unlike audio tests or videos, the immersive experience produces a deeper and longer impact on the user.

In the simulation, Larson walks into an elevator for a job interview and hears whispers inside her own head and from strangers, telling her “You will fail”. And even though she knew the entire experience was fake, she couldn’t help but feel completely uncomfortable, even after the headset was taken off.

With the recent hype around virtual reality, I look forward to seeing how the technology will be leveraged in industries like healthcare, pharma or research. Beyond gaming and entertainment, industries which most people associate with virtual reality, there are huge opportunities for virtual reality and other emerging technologies be used to solve tough industry challenges, gain deeper insights into people’s behaviors, and help us transform the way we think and live as humans.


antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s latest innovation and insight tools, please click below for a free demo:

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Top 10 Sites to Inspire Innovation

Inspiring Innovation

Inspiring Innovation

When caught in the daily grind, it is easy to get stuck in a rut. Where do you go to breathe fresh perspective into your work?

Here are our 10 top favorite sites that we turn to to get our creative juices flowing and inspire us to think outside the box. Enjoy!

(1) Notcot : Visually stunning, creative, innovative, compelling

(2) Zen Habits : Mentally clear through the clutter of the day

(3) MIT Technology Review : Understanding the ever-changing tech-driven world

(4) Seth Godin’s Blog : Thought-provoking words for marketers

(5) Fubiz : The best in contemporary creative culture

(6) Life-Edited : Moving towards efficiency

(7) Behance : Showcases the work of artists around the world

(8) Pinterest : Beautiful snapshot of our culture in all categories

(9) Imgur : The internet’s most popular visual stories

(10) Swiss-Miss : Curated quotes, products, and talks that will warm the heart

Travel Innovation: Virtual Reality Takes Off


An industry first, Qantas Airways together with Samsung recently introduced a 360 degree Virtual Reality experience for their travelers. Now on select flights, First Class travelers will be able to be transport to any virtual world (imagine immersing yourself in your favorite blockbuster movie or exploring tourist sites of your final destination before you even land) during their long 14 hour flight from Australia to Los Angeles.

At antedote, we thrive on tapping into the newest technology to uncover new insights and drive innovation for our clients. That is why we love watching how different sectors integrate emerging technology and are following the evolution of this exciting new medium as it moves from gaming to travel.

As virtual reality becomes even more refined and more realistic, researchers can also look forward to leveraging the technology to create immersive experiences for subjects in conceptual scenarios, without spending money or time creating physical prototypes.


Kodak’s New Immersive Video


Kodak recently introduced the Kodak Pixpro SP360, which can capture a 360 degree view of an event.

Although the gadget could still use some refinement, as researchers, we are excited for the possibilities that the Kodak Pixpro SP 360 will bring to the field. Other recording devices like the GoPro can only record one aspect of an action at a time, but with the palm-sized Kodak PixPro SP360, researchers can capture what a person is doing as well as their own reaction in the surrounding environment. Around the table group interviews would also be possible to record, documenting the entire group’s dynamic. In the future, immersive video will be a great tool for researchers to use to analyze human behavior in its entire context.


Inspiring Great Insights for Advertising

As an insight and innovation agency that often partners with our friends in advertising and marketing communications, we recently realized that the role of qualitative research within creative and content development has some room for improvement.

What can research partners do to help inspire great insights for advertising in the 21st century?

In an extensive study with senior leaders in the advertising field, we uncovered four tips that we practice with our own partners to help researchers make the sort of impact that advertising agencies need.

“Bad” work habits are good for insight

Work habits

To continue the theme from my last post, I’ve been noticing more and more psychological research that supports my “bad” (not really bad, you’ll find) work habits.

1. A messy desk. This is a big one. It’s official; a messy desk has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to encourage creativity. In a paper in Psychological Science, researchers have shown that a “disorderly environment” makes people more creative and leads them to be drawn to things labeled as “new.” You can see for yourself here.

The research also found that people with tidy desks are boring and uptight. Ok, it didn’t really. It found that ordered environments encourage “healthy choices, generosity, and conventionality.” Time to start using two desks I think.

2. Doodling. It’s been shown to increase memory retention, problem solving ability, and concentration. Watch Sunni Brown’s talk “Doodlers, unite!” here.

3. Sitting in the dark. When I work late I don’t turn on the lights. I sit in the dark with a small desk lamp on. Darkness has also been shown to improve creative performance. A paper in the Journal of Environmental Psychology theorizes that darkness helps people feel “freedom from constraints, enabling a global and explorative processing style, which in turn facilitates creativity.”

So there you have it: sitting at a messy desk in the dark doodling away may very well lead you to your next killer insight, and it’s good for the environment too. You’re welcome.

Want to live someone else’s life for a while?

“20 Day Stranger” is an iPhone app (from The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT and MIT Media Lab Playful Systems) that creates a mobile experience where one person’s experience of the world is exchanged with another’s. You’ll be matched with a stranger and with complete anonymity will experience each other’s lives for 20 days.

The app tracks your physical place in your world and pulls photos from Foursquare or Google Maps to share with your paired stranger, who may live anywhere else in the world. Wherever you go, the app will find a picture that was taken there and send it to your partner (and vice-versa) so you will start to build an understanding of what their life is like.

Kevin Slavin, the director of Playful Systems, told Fast Company: “We’re trying to provide just enough to the recipient of your life to allow someone to imagine it without providing actual information–it’s something in between information and imagination.”

The app is designed to create empathy, to encourage people to connect with people from outside of their social circles, as many virtual communication platforms encourage connection with people we already know. It uses anonymity as a tool to empower positive connections, rather than the negative ones often engendered (take note, all of you internet trolls).

We think it’s a great tool for experiencing the world in a completely new way. It will exercise all the right muscles in your brain that are needed for insight (ok… there aren’t any muscles in your brain, but you know what we mean), and who knows what fantastic thoughts and understandings this new perspective might bring?

Check out the video above, and sign up here.

Using rewards to win consumer love



It started as an obsession with Duane Reade in New York City. Strategically located on every corner where one might need an escape from the city (i.e. every high traffic corner), DR became the safe place to stop and meander if I was bored, upset, or caught in the rain. Somehow, a stroll through DR would always remind me of some essential item that I needed to buy.

After I enrolled in my Duane Reade FlexRewards, I was officially hooked – and DR became the first retail rewards card to earn a coveted place on my key chain. Now that the store is no longer local to me, my love has easily converted to Walgreens (DR’s national parent chain since 2010).

They say that brick and mortar retail is dying, and I’m not going to argue for or against that.  All I know is that I’ll happily walk five minutes out of my way to visit my favorite drugstore. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. They make it easy for me to transition between brands and rewards

A couple years ago, my Duane Reade FlexRewards card was replaced with a DR/Walgreens Balance Rewards card. At the time I didn’t particularly think about the significance, but when I traveling outside the DR zone I began to automatically choose Walgreens over other drugstores in order to continue racking up points. When I moved to the West Coast, it was an easy switch from one to the other; I can go to Walgreens for a familiar experience and to reap the benefits of all the Duane Reade shopping I did in NYC. With the simple accessibility from one store to the other, Walgreens managed to keep my loyalty across brands.

2. They help me save on the things I want in a way that fits my lifestyle

When I make purchases at Walgreens, the coupons printed for me are for products I’ve actually bought in their stores. A coupon for a dollar off an herbal supplement would go straight in the trash and leave me feeling annoyed, but a coupon for my favorite brand of dry shampoo makes me feel pampered and excited to receive a personalized discount.

But who can keep track of paper coupons? Brilliantly, I can now go to my Walgreens app and “clip” coupons for products I want to buy. Those coupons go directly into my Balance Rewards, so they automatically apply when I use my card at the store. The only extra step I have to take is clipping coupons on the app, which becomes a fun pre-shopping game, and Walgreens has managed to get me actively involved with their media.

3. They take care of me before I remember to take care of myself

Walgreens sends me emails about my prescription when it’s ready to be refilled, before I even remember that I’m running low. I can opt to send my refill to a different location than where the prescription was filed, which is particularly useful when bouncing between home and office locations. Better yet, Walgreens allows patients to refill prescriptions through QR codes on the label. These kinds of refill services aren’t particularly unique anymore, but Walgreens was one of the first to implement them. This guarantees that I’ll keep coming back – no other pharmacy knows me like Walgreens.

4. They reward me for living my life according to my (and their!) values

The Balance Rewards program easily connects to my Fitbit, so I actually earn points for the healthy activity I would have done anyway. This visibly reinforces the idea that Walgreens rewards my healthy behaviors, and it makes me feel even more connected to the brand as one that supports me and shares my values.

In summary, what’s the big reason I love Walgreens? It’s that Walgreens, as a brand, retail business, and rewards program, kind of acts like it loves me too. As long as there are Walgreens around, I’m not going to be shopping at anytime soon.

Bad mornings are good for insight

I’ve never been a morning person. If I know I have an early meeting to get to, I have to set more than one alarm (just in case), and if I have a really early flight to make, I just don’t bother going to bed. The snooze button is my best friend.

yawningYep – the morning is not for me. The rising sun greets me with a fat punch in the face followed by a swift backhander rather than the gentle kiss of opportunities that a new day will bless me with. I’ve always looked at those people who leap out of bed with a smile on their face and a bucket-load of energy with a level of jealousy (and let’s face it, a lot of irritation and annoyance).

So here is some good news for all those people like me.

Being a groggy mess in the mornings, and wallowing in bed between snooze-buttons, or standing zombie-like in the shower for minutes on end, is actually good for creative insight generation.

Insight-based problem solving needs a big fat, unfocused approach to thinking. Flashes of inspiration are much more likely to come when your conscious, rational, inhibitory cognitive processes are at their weakest and your thoughts are allowed to wander around unchecked.

The British psychological Society reports a study by Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks where students were given a mix of insight-based and analytical problems to solve. The students were much better at solving the insight-focused problems at their sub-optimal time of functioning (early morning for us night-owls). Time of day didn’t do anything to affect the analytic tasks.

There’s even more good news.

There’s a whole bunch of research on the effect of caffeine on the brain, and while there is some debate over the specifics, everyone pretty much agrees that small amounts of caffeine improve hedonic tone (generalized feelings of happiness and contentment) and reduce anxiety, Caffeine has also been shown to significantly increase problem solving, decision making, and concentration.

So there you have it: undeniable proof that a groggy early morning for insight followed by a swift boost of caffeine (in your beverage of choice) for focusing on the insight, and making decisions about where to take it, seems like a perfect recipe for success.

Now I need to find some research that supports the fact that weekend-long Netflix binges increase IQ.

Admap: Books that influenced me

Admap is featuring Adam French and Antedote in the October 2012 issue of the magazine in a feature called “Books that influenced me”. This a monthly feature that highlights industry leaders and the books that influenced them over their careers. 

If you have an Admap subscription you can login here to view the article or see the copy of the article below. We have included the Amazon links in case this article inspires you to revisit any of these great books. 

Title: Books that influenced me
Author(s): Adam French
Source: Admap
Issue: October 2012

Books that influenced me

Adam French


Adam French founded the San Francisco-based innovation consultancy Antedote in 2012. Before starting this
business, he founded the US division of the global brand consultancy Clear. He has also worked in innovation
and brand consultancy at WPP. He brings brand and innovation strategy together with expertise in qualitative
and quantitative insight.

1. Feersum endjinn

by Iain M. Banks, published by Orbit, 1995

This was among the first science fiction books that I read, and at first it presented a challenge, with Banks
writing Bascule’s chapters in phonetic prose. However, as the plot unfolds, this puzzle helps move the reader’s
mind firmly into a dying universe and the four characters’ quest to find the Feersum Endjinn that will save what
remains of humanity. This book sparked a deep curiosity in me for what the future might hold, something that
has become part of the work that I do every day.

2. The art of innovation

by Tom Kelley, published by Profile Books, 2002

When I first read this, innovation was still a relatively unknown field that I had been working in for a few years. The description
of the culture of entrepreneurship and innovative thinking has been influential in my own beliefs as to how to create a culture
of innovation for my team. When I re-read this book, it reminds me why I have spent the last 15 years working in innovation:
the challenges that we get to solve make this the most extraordinary way to make a living.

3. Moneyball

by Michael Lewis, published by WW Norton & Co, 2003

Though this has recently been made into a film starring Brad Pitt, this book was recommended to me by a business analyst I
was working with about nine years ago. What fascinates me about this book is the fact that, in the space of one season, the
way that an entire sport worked was redefined. It reminds that when we look at a challenge through a different lens, we can
create something new.

4. The art of the start: The time-tested, battle-hardened guide for anyone starting anything

by Guy Kawasaki, published by Portfolio, 2004

When I started Clear in New York, it was my first time running a business and I sought guidance from people I
knew, as well as books. This book really stood out for me in the guidance that Guy gives, and helped form the
business. In particular, I take his advice about ‘being a mensch’; it’s what I aspire to be as a leader of a
business, to do right by people.

5. Freakonomics

by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, published by Penguin, 2007

I first bought this book at an airport. Little did I know that, rather than sleeping on the transatlantic flight, I would spend it
finishing this book. By applying economic theory to a wider range of diverse topics, the authors uncovered fascinating insights.
This approach served to remind me to look at the world differently and to apply different disciplines and thinking styles to a

6. Managing brand equity 

by David Aaker, published by Jossey Bass, 1991

At the very start of my career, my manager gave me this book with the advice to read it and learn from the
thinking. Though the examples are now a bit dated, it still remains the cornerstone upon which my knowledge
and thinking around brand strategy was built.

Published in Admap, October 2012 ©Warc

The Lazy Person’s Guide to Being More Insightful (or things you can do to get better at doing consumer insight work without really trying).

Sherlock BBC

Lesson 1 – Watch some TV.

Ok, don’t just watch any TV, no Real Desperate Vampire Housewives of Bad Girl County. Watch a good crime series with strong lead characters (there are loads of them, seriously, take your pick).

A rookie mistake when it comes to doing insight work is to approach it as if you were a news journalist. You’ll do a lot of background research; you’ll interview the right people, ask some great questions, collect all their opinions and write a fantastic story that summarizes it all up. However, what you should be doing is approaching the work like a detective. They are hyper-vigilant, always observant, they notice the details and, most importantly, can separate the relevant from the interesting and put two and two together to create a pretty compelling insight or two that solves a crime.

You can learn a lot from watching a good detective at work so screw Barbara Walters and bring on Miss Marple…

Most recently I have been watching Sherlock, the BBC’s contemporary remake of the Arthur Conan Doyle original. It’s a brilliant reinvention that stays true to the original and there are lots of tips you can pick up as a detective of insight and translate to your own projects.

1 – Immersion. The 21st century Sherlock is completely immersed in the places where the crimes take
place, he has befriended the locals, he understands the culture, and, importantly, always insists on spending time at the scene of the crime.

‘There is nothing like first-hand evidence.’ Sherlock Holmes – A Study in Scarlet

Immersion is critical to good consumer insight work. The closer you can get to living the life of your consumer, the more time you spend with them as they use your products, then the more prepared you are to recognize important clues when you
see them.

2 – Observation (part 1).
Sherlock is all about the details. He uses all 5 senses and notices everything. Simple things that, on their own seem meaningless and are often ignored, bring on great significance when added to other information. He also notices the absence of stuff (not just the presence of “clues”) in The Hound of The Baskerville’s for instance (semi-spoiler alert coming up) it is the absence of a sound that clues him in to the killer’s identity.

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.” Sherlock Holmes -The Hound of the Baskervilles

When observing your consumers or their environment, the devil is in the details. This cannot be stressed enough. Equally, it is important to tune into what your consumers are not doing, or not using as much as the things that they have and do.

3 – Observation (part 2).
Collect first, think second. You’ll notice that Sherlock spends time just collecting observations. He makes no judgment about what he is seeing until he has finished his collection and then he starts to work out what it all means.

‘It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.’Sherlock Holmes-A Scandal in Bohemia

This is one of the hardest lessons for a new researcher to learn. It is so natural to collect a couple of observations and immediately start to make sense of them, to turn them into ideas and thoughts and solutions. When you do this you are robbing yourself of so many opportunities to do great detective work because your brain is already focused on a specific outcome and your sources are incomplete. The more facts you have to work with in the beginning, the richer and more comprehensive your insights will be at the end.

4 – The translation of observation to meaning through analytical reasoning. This is something that Sherlock excels at. There’s a brilliant monologue in the first episode that is taken almost directly from the original book “The Sign of Four” where Sherlock Holmes tells Dr. Watson an amazing amount of detail about the owner of a pocket watch that has just come into his possession. The contemporary Sherlock does the exact same thing with a cell phone. Watch it, it will teach you a lot.

‘I never guess. It is a shocking habit,—destructive to the logical faculty.’ Sherlock Holmes – The Sign of Four

Do the same. You won’t be right all the time but keen observation, combined with a sense of logic and an ability to trust your gut without overthinking will get you a long way in the world of insight creation.

5 – Contemplation. Sherlock is great at creating distractions for his conscious mind to allow his unconscious to work on connecting the dots. It’s why he plays the violin. He understands the value of walking away from a puzzle and “sleeping on it”.

There’s a lot of evidence that shows that one way of solving a particular puzzle more quickly is by deliberately doing another (different kind of) puzzle. There’s also evidence to show that doodling helps with cognitive skills by distracting your in to a situation. Your brain needs time to digest and to ruminate, you need to be prepared to give it this time and space to arrive at deeper understanding.

6 – Reframing. Dr. Watson fulfills several functions for Sherlock Holmes when he is solving crimes. An important one is the way in which Watson is used to “reframe” a situation or problem. Sherlock is always asking him for his translation of how he sees a situation.

‘Nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person.’ Sherlock Holmes -Silver Blaze

Find yourself a Watson. Somebody who you know who quite literally experiences the world from a perspective you don’t. See your questions, your evidence, your goal through a fresh set of eyes and watch your interpretations grow and stretch.

…the list is endless. We could talk about Sherlock’s motivation to solve crimes (it is all intrinsic; extrinsic things like money don’t interest him). We can talk about his passion, his sense of competition, his drug-use (!), his strangely patchy general knowledge… it’s all there for a reason.

The point is that we can totally learn to be better insight detectives by watching the masters at work. Choose some good crime TV shows. Watch them. Play along in solving the crimes and exercise your powers of deduction. Notice the behaviors and mindsets of the main characters and apply the principals to the investigations you undertake yourself. Wear a dirty mac, start playing the violin, develop OCD… whatever it takes right? It’s a competitive world out there.