Insight, Part 1: Correlation is *Something*

I was shamed by their good will and mortified by their cooking. There seemed to be some correlation between devotion to God and a misguided zeal for marshmallows.

– David Sedaris, c.o.g.

Planners, analysts and researchers of all shapes and sizes take pleasure in preaching, ad nauseam, that correlation and causation are not even distant mathematical cousins. That said, a client once put me in my place with a pithy truth on the topic: “It may not prove causation, but correlation is something!”

He, of course, was absolutely correct: correlation does not prove causation, but correlation damn sure is something. And not only is it something but, truth be told, correlation is often presisely what we look for when we collect and analyze consumer data.

Put another way, not only is correlation most definitely something, but that something might very well be the seed of a defining customer insight about a targetable segment.

Sedaris’ observation about religious faith and marshmallow culinary ingenuity – from his delightfully scathing essay, c.o.g. (book here, movie here) – is easy to frame as a research objective and test quantitatively. If correlation between faith, marshmallows, and, say, some rudimentary demographics proves to exist, this correlation alone might form the foundation for a sound marshmallow marketing strategy: think occasion-based messaging, premium and loading tactics, product development (marshmallows that melt at specific temperatures for specific purposes, marshmallows mixed with different spices), and product extensions (see cooks.com, not to mention Amazon).

Consumer insight? Yes!

Is it an actionable insight? Most definitely!

What of causation? Totally irrelevant at this early phase in our marshmallow renaissance scenario, but also a subject of crucial importance for later research waves.

This reminds me of an interesting factoid I heard a few years back by way of the Harvard Business Review:

  • Blondes earn 7% more than brunettes
  • The husbands blonde women marry earn an average of 6% more than the husbands of women with other hair colors

Consumer insight? To be continued…

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Trend Spotting: Single Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is not a Hallmark Holiday. It’s celebrated throughout the globe in different ways and at different times of the year.

In the US, Mother’s Day remains a perennial institution that goes back over a century even as our concept of family, femininity, and motherhood has evolved over time.

There is a growing cohort of single mothers by choice (by definition, mothers without a cohabiting partner).

These mothers tend to be over 30, are well-educated, and have the financial means to live a comfortable life as a single-parent family. This makes them an ideal cohort from the marketing point of view, particularly given their unique (unmet) needs.

Given the fact that this is a growing trend, this is a cohort marketers cannot ignore.

More bullet points for the list (updated).

Add these to yesterday’s list:

For the times are they a-changin’? (or “Why I’m not impressed.”)

Then: (1974)

Now:

  • Eric Garner (killed Thursday, July 17, 2014 – 43 years old)
  • Michael Brown (killed Saturday, (August 9, 2014 – 18 years old)
  • Walter Scott (killed Saturday, April 4, 2015 – 50 years old)
  • Freddie Gray (killed Tuesday April 12, 2015 – 25 years old)
  • Freddie Gray’s Death Ruled a Homicide (today)

Yet:

So: For the times are they a-changin’?

NOTE: A more exhaustive list of unarmed Black men killed by police can be found here.

Armed with clown paraphernalia to fight poverty!

Clown paraphernalia as a tactic to help children in poverty overseas. Who’d a thunk it! And red noses for just a buck care of Walgreens.IMG_3862

I have nothing against any organization that is dedicated to fighting poverty at home or abroad, especially RedNoseDay.org. But that red-nose-for-a-buck thing bothers me because the bulk of dollar items are made in China.

Dear Walgreens,

Recent and reliable recent child labor statistics on China are unsurprisingly nonexistent. But it is certainly safe to say that the child labor rate in China – which exacerbates child poverty – is high enough to make Robert E Lee blush. 

Let’s hope you did the right thing.

Sincerely,

tides ‘n’ tudes