The Fake Fireplace

The Fake Fireplace

The mind is a strange thing.

Now that a chillier season has begun to emerge with its snowcapped mountains and storm-brewing days, we are feeling an increased need for warmth at the office, or at least, the impression of warmth.

Last week, my boss reminded me of the previous winter when he had inspired me to turn on a youtube fireplace because I was definitely feeling cold in my location sandwiched between the windows. Later, when he saw me with the fire crackling on my second screen, he said, “You know, walking by and seeing that fireplace going makes it seem warmer in here!”

Sure enough, he tried it out again this year and still claims that it really does the trick to making him feel warmer! Now of course, it’s not a real fire. I’m obviously not arguing against that. However, I am arguing that it doesn’t actually have to exude warmth to provide a sense of warmth. I believe that when we see the constant flames and hear the firewood crackling, even from a computer screen, our brain associates these senses with warmth.

Within market research conducted online, there are ways to get the brain to associate with a “sense of warmth” or an “inviting atmosphere” without actually being in-person. Yet it is not uncommon for clients and market researchers to get stuck on how different online is from in-person. I agree that it is different. But I also believe that it offers similar and additional benefits.

Like my fake fireplace, you can simply trigger people’s senses with what they are already used to, causing them to react in a similar way and receive a similar benefit. For example, the youtube fireplace is visually and audibly cohesive with what people are used to seeing and hearing. So even though they are not getting the entire package, two primary things are still consistent with the real-life experience. Plus, you don’t even have to chop firewood, or stoke the fire, or worry about getting too warm!

In the same manner, online market research offers elements to “trigger” respondents senses.

  • Feature a photo of yourself as well as a video format of the introduction or even some of your questions. Additionally encourage your participants to share photos and video from their end to build rapport.
  • Within your writing, communicate an engaging tone of voice and style. The way you interact doesn’t change just because you’re online.
  • There are ways to encourage your respondents to occasionally respond to and piggyback off of each other’s comments the way they would in a live discussion together.
  • Online interaction is a comfort zone for many people nowadays. The percentage of digital interaction on a day-to-day basis has rapidly increased and led today’s generation toward a mindset of having a large part of their social circle online.
  • Genuinely acknowledge everyone’s contributions to reinforce their willingness to participate and ease them into feeling comfortable with sharing their thoughts.

Screenshot 2015-10-28 14.51.28

Additionally, online market research offers further elements that create a “sense of warmth” in a way that perhaps in-person cannot:

  • The platform and interaction levels allow for anonymity in potentially sensitive or awkward topics and situations.
  • People can answer conveniently in their free time despite their funky work hours or demanding children.
  • Introverts or those with adverse opinions are equally heard. They are less intimidated to bring something up against the grain or contrary to the dominant ones.

So yes, online research is different than in-person research. But it is not a completely different, foreign, out-of-this-world kind of thing. It is very much patterned after the techniques and purposes of in-person. And although you may miss some facial expressions and body language and that “intangible something” in the room when literally face-to-face with respondents, you can still capture the essence of all of that is meant to create: trust. Them trusting in you so that they will share thoughtful and genuine responses.



What insights are we missing out on just because the getting to them is tedious or hard? What customers are we missing conversations with simply because starting the conversation is not convenient? What do we not hear because we think it’s not the right time of the year?

Though Edison was definitely not talking about market research (pretty sure that can be stated as a fact), he knew what opportunity looked like. He was very familiar with not waiting until opportunity knocked, but instead busting down its door.if we are simply waiting for a smooth, easy opportunity to present itself, I know that we will miss out on so much–so much that we will never know what could have been.

Mud Season: Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

Right now Colorado is in what we call Mud Season. It’s the period in the mountains where many summer activities can’t be done because it’s getting cold, wet and muddy but winter activities haven’t quite started (like skiing because there isn’t enough snow yet!).

There’s a few month period where there is this lull. A lot of mountain town business owners take this time to close shop, go on vacation, do renovations, or just limit overhead costs because there just isn’t business.

I usually hit the mountains hard in both summer and winter with hiking, camping, backpacking, skiing, etc. I have come to enjoy mud season because it gives me a chance to breath and take in weekends without rushing to the mountains. Though I love the mountains, summer and winter are busy seasons where I want to take advantage of every free and sunny day to go adventure and explore. This makes the spring and fall mud seasons necessary to slow down, recouperate and get prepared for the next season of adventures.

These busy and lull periods make me think of business. There are busy seasons and slower ones. Christmas and the weird month of quiet. I’m sure as you all know, those lull months are essential to take on the next busy season. To step back and assess, to try new ideas or products, to refine the next marketing push.

Online communities are a great way to take advantage of these periods to the fullest in order to iteratively refine concepts, to prep and to finalize. Sometimes too, in these periods it may seem that it’s not worth it to do a massive research project on some small questions but with the iterative approach and affordability of communities, smaller questions can get the consumer feedback needed to be confident about decisions.

Consider utilizing this period before the next busy season productively. And consider how productive use of this time can help you be more prepared as the seasons continually change. Just as I’m using Mud Season to recover and prep, this could be the Mud Season for your business!

Check out our communities page for more information on how they work and how they may be right for you!

Carry a Cat by the Tail



Sometimes we need to learn things the hard way. Sometimes the only way to learn a thing is the hard way because there is no easy way to go about it. But most times we end up learning things the hard way only because we have failed to recognize that there is an easy way–we just didn’t choose that method of learning.

What is more valuable that learning things the hard way, is learning from other people who have learned the hard way. I personally would love to hear Mark Twain’s experience of holding a cat by the tail. He obviously learned something of value, and could very likely delightfully describe the experience.

The Sushi Assessment

Yesterday had a few firsts for me: working a full day downtown, meeting clients in person, back room notetaking for live focus groups and…eating a full plate of sushi.

After completing three two-hour focus groups at the Fieldwork Denver Focus Group Facility with satisfactorily opinionated and engaged respondents, we finished the day at Izakaya, an elegant Japanese restaurant. As I walked in, I realized, “Oh great. I think I just walked into a sushi trap.”

People think that because I’m from Alaska, I should be accustomed to sushi – nope, not me! I am one of those weird people who grew up eating cooked fish and avoiding the raw stuff. And as I previously mentioned, I can be a bit squeamish, siding more with Kate Beckinsale when she said, “sushi freaks me out more than almost anything.”  Even my husband, who loves sushi after living in Taiwan for two years, hasn’t yet convinced me to change my ways (mostly because he’s too nice to force me). So when the cards are in my hand, I will avoid sushi at almost all costs.

But this time, the client was treating and I couldn’t back out – I felt obliged to politely join in. So I made a request for at least some cooked items but that didn’t stop everyone from coaxing me into sampling a few slabs of raw fish – and guess what? It wasn’t nearly as gross as I was expecting!

Although I didn’t try anything too crazy and still can’t say I’m a sushi lover, my mind is now much more open to the idea of sushi. And regardless of whether or not I like to eat it, I do love to see it – what a feast for the eyes! I was impressed with the beautiful and wide variety: crispy tuna, three styles of sashimi, a beef seaweed roll, steamed duck buns, and some explosion thing that had octopus which I neatly avoided (not ready to go that far yet!).

Screenshot 2015-10-14 16.40.11

Sushi truly can be a splendidly beautiful art of presentation, even if the content doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone’s taste buds. Instead of seeing raw fish and mysterious seafood that my mind originally labels as gross, I saw a burst of intricate colors and designs, weaved together as a mesmerizing display that was, at the same time, incredibly simple and basic.

While eating, my mind wandered back to the 26 people from whom we gleaned insights throughout that day. The focus of our discussion groups was centered around visual appeal of a specific product – discovering the right balance between standing out from the crowd, clearly communicating benefits, and making a positive and persuasive emotional connection. Unfortunately, the feedback emphasized that a lot of the client’s intentions were masked by vagueness, focus on the wrong aspects, poor visual balance, tiny font sizes, lack of clarity, etc.

I don’t think this situation is unique to one company or product alone. I imagine that many businesses feel overwhelmed trying to understand the whys and whats and hows of connecting with their potential customers. Each realizes that in the end, functional benefit is often most important. However, if presented in a manner that is visually cohesive, clear and attractive, it can be the tipping point to entice a potential customer to take those few extra steps leading them to pick up, study and purchase it over some other product or service.

Nobu sushi manBut it’s not a “snap of the fingers” process. Nobu Matsuhisa, a celebrity fusion cuisine chef, said, “The fine art of preparing sushi is something that you watch and learn.” And that is one thing that I’ve found market research is fantastic for! In addition the things you do to watch and learn from other experts in the field, you can watch and learn from consumers themselves, delving into things like their behavioral habits and emotional responses.

So consider treating your business services or product functions a bit more like sushi: with some extra attention to detail and presentation, you can create something a lot simpler and more pleasant for consumers to digest.


Not for the Faint-Hearted

Not for the Faint-Hearted

faint-heart·edˌ fāntˈhärdəd/ adjective

  • lacking courage; timid; one who is sickened or disturbed by unpleasantness or challenge

I have a history of fainting.

cowardly lion


Fainting is caused by a drop in blood flow to the brain. After you lose consciousness and fall or lie down, more blood can flow to your brain so you wake up again. Fainting can be triggered by a number of factors, including fear or other emotional trauma.


The latest incident: My coworker was telling me a story involving blood while we were standing in the work kitchen. I started feeling the telling signs that my body was reacting to the nauseous details, but I did my best to ignore them. Next thing I know, I am completely disoriented, opening my eyes to realize I am lying on the floor with all of my coworkers peering anxiously down at me.

A similar thing happened a year and a half ago at an Icing earring shop where my older sister and I went with the ambitious goal to finally get our ears pierced after all of these years. She went first and I was totally fine. But then once it was my turn to sit in the chair, the chilly dizziness hit me and I said, “You know what, I change my mind – I don’t think I want to get my ears pierced after all.” After sitting on the floor for a few moments to clear my head, I joined my sister at the check-out counter. One moment I was admiring some earrings on the counter and the next moment, my head hurts and I’m staring up at my sister and the store associate after having crumpled backwards and breaking the plastic display shelf.

The time before that I was trying to give blood. Or watching a birthing video in my child development class. Or hitting my funny bone wrong on the wall corner.

It’s hard for me to control my reactions – my mind knows it’s nothing to worry about but my body gets all stubborn. But among all of those times of fainting – except the funny bone one – I have begun to notice a pattern of consistent warning signs my body gives: fuzzy mind, tunnel vision, chilled feverish sensation, blood draining, sudden weakness…

And once any or all of those signs happen, I can either ignore them and pretend all is fine, feigning a brave (yet ignorant) face. Or, I can admit that I am about to faint and react preventatively in order to regain control of myself instead of fainting.

It seems that there are also various telltale signs among the different industries of the business world when things are metaphorically going downhill, whether regarding sales or collaboration or staffing or whatever it might be. As business people, we can act stubbornly and try to ignore those signs that are indicating something is going wrong. Or, we can face the truth and take the straightforward, and often simple, steps to immediately prevent the downward spiral from continuing any further:

  • Sit down and take a step back – Try to capture the big picture view since it’s often the too narrow focus that gets things off course
  • Be open to outside help – Consider support systems or tools like consulting, analytics, or market research to get a scope on the situation
  • Don’t stand up too soon – Don’t rush back into full work mode due to the need to feel “productive” or “accomplished”
  • Get some sugar in your system – Proactively guide your mind to think of positive thoughts rather than self-demeaning ones

Even despite the slight setback, heeding the signs of an unpleasant mishap or potential challenge allows us to remain in cohesive control instead of collapsing into a disoriented mess.

It is not a sign of weakness to recognize and fully admit your weakness. It takes some courageous guts to be fully honest with ourselves and others about what we really can and cannot handle, especially if we were the ones responsible for leading the way down along the wrong track.

And the truth of the matter is, you’re never too old to faint.

“The future doesn’t belong to the faint-hearted. It belongs to the brave.”

Ronald Reagan

Expect the Unexpected

Expect the unexpected was the theme of my 14er hike on Labor Day. Early morning lightning. Snow. Rain. Slick rocks. Biting cold wind. I know, I’m making it sound really amazing to climb mountains…


Usually on Labor Day I avoid the mountains at all cost. It seems like everyone and his brother(s) (all of them) head to the mountains for the long weekend and crowds are one of the main things that turn an enjoyable experience into one of stress, frustration and disdain.

I guess one of the unexpected things of this weekend started with the idea to go hike a 14er on one of the busiest weekends. Despite a few more cars than expected already at the trailhead when we got there, we actually didn’t see many cars on the road.

We decided we wanted to do a sunrise climb meaning leave around 3am, hike under the beautiful dark night sky and be on top by sunrise. Here’s where the list of the unexpected started growing long:

4:30am distant storm with lightning to the north heading potentially in our direction (storms usually don’t form until the afternoon so a random morning storm was out of the the norm)(storms also normally move from west to east and unexpectedly the wind was blowing south west bringing the storm towards us)

IMG_0395Frost – the summer has been quite warm and even last weekend we were hiking in pleasant warm weather so when we started seeing shimmery frost on the rocks we were caught a little off guard

5:30am snow storm – fairly quickly the clouds were above us and low clouds were moving in quickly to surround us. And then it started snowing. And then snowing harder.

We had hoped to see the sunrise on the top of the peak and to our surprise we were in a snowstorm instead surrounded by clouds with a 10 foot radius where we could see out. We could tell the sun was rising because in small increments the darkness would lift slightly.

To top off the unexpected list, on the way down the snow turned to rain.

I realized that these unexpected events on the mountain are not things that should be unexpected at all. The event happening might be but we were prepared. Extra gloves, beanies, rain jackets, layers, and more.

IMG_0383In business, though you can’t always expect the unexpected scenarios that may happen, you can be prepared for different scenarios to happen. Research can help in that way. To have some data to predict and prepare, arm and take on those unexpected events.

Do you feel ready for the unexpected? Perhaps it’s time to get a rain jacket, gloves and layers ready. Triplescoop’s strategists and researchers are ready to repel any weather that may come your way with innovative and dynamic research to keep you ready and prepared for any event to come your way.



Change happens everywhere: we’re changing from summer to fall, as evidenced in the changing color of the trees; we change our wardrobes from breezy t-shirts and shorts to cozy sweaters and scarves; flared jeans are cool again, a change from the decade of skinny jeans; and companies – like TripleScoop – move offices and change your commute from a crowded freeway to open country roads.

My generation’s favorite 6-year-old famously said that “Change is invigorating! If you don’t accept new challenges, you become complacent and lazy! Your life atrophies!” I believe we must remind ourselves of that mantra so vigorously because we like to get comfortable and ignore change. We may not reject it, but we like to think that we don’t need it, especially if we just changed last week. Change can be a pain in the neck: it just adds more to your to-do list and villanizes your old favorites as stale and unsatisfying.

But here is your call to action: don’t ignore change and always accept new challenges. See those challenges through and then reflect on the change that has occurred. And then move onto the next. These actions are as necessary in business as they are in life. No business, no service provider, no product inventor is ever done with his work just because he checked something off his list.

Marketers are all too familiar with the constant need to change. Marketing strategy should change often, as the littlest details change on a daily basis. Adapting to new keywords, trending topics, and new competition will keep a company thriving and dynamic. Companies that adopt a “all is well” attitude when it comes to their marketing get left behind and become quickly dated.

I am sure I’m preaching to choir here, though, and that every marketer reading this knows that things need to change. The biggest questions are “What needs to change?” and “In which direction?” That’s where other perspectives come in handy. That’s when we need to stop relying on our own preferences and opinions — because that’s just what they are.

I guess this is where life and business differ: in life, what you feel like changing and where you feel like going with it is probably the right way to go about change; but in business, the scope of the change is far beyond you as an individual, so your perspective and experience must also broaden. The only way to benefit the whole is to consult the whole: learning from customers becomes necessary, as is counseling with the committee. Because we are so used to personal change being a quick easy decision, many of us shy away from taking the time and effort to look beyond ourselves when our larger scope projects need some changing. But I can promise that getting outside of your own head will make the inevitable changes good ones; your decisions smart ones; and your challenges conquerable.

Rise & Shout

Rise & Shout

My Dad was always a loyal BYU football fan, waking us children up on Saturday mornings with his vigorous strains of the Cougar Fight Song…”rise and shout, the [Walthers] are out…along the trail to fame and glooooory!” But that was basically the extent of my football exposure since Alaska has no college football teams. Then I began attending Brigham Young University and went to a few games myself. I’m still not a huge football buff, but the more I understand the intricacies of game, the more I enjoy cheering my team onward.

And it sure doesn’t hurt when you’ve got some extra motivation, like all of us BYU alma mater’s have had the last two weeks. For those of you who missed it…

BYU vs. Nebraska

BYU vs. Boise State 

Two Hail Mary passes two games in a row! “A Hail Mary pass is a very long forward pass in football, made in desperation with only a small chance of success. And Tanner Mangum, this year’s BYU back-up quarterback, just scored two of them in the last minute, even second, of these games with Boise and Nebraska.

Whether BYU fans or marketers, we can all learn something from these “Mangum Miracles.” When you think that there’s not enough opportunity for you to make that much of an impact, think again. No time - 54 seconds or even 1 second - is too little for you to accomplish something important in a game, business, or life! And whether it’s leading plays like the quarterback or being constantly ready to receive or built to tackle and defend, having team members with wide-ranging and complementary skills sets you up for better success.

Market research is a team player who can offer the right kind of support to business leaders. Sometimes it takes the whole “game play” to get that “one play” that pushes you over the edge of your competition. And implementing market research to guide your business actions is one way to have the forward vision to reach those plays that really count. So no matter where you are in the game of your career, look forward with a vision to accomplish more than what everyone says you can.

Hopefully, the choice to learn from research is not simply a result of desperation, but sometimes you need to be pushed into a stressful, demanding situation to recognize how much benefit can come from such strategic decisions in the last fateful moment. And in those moments of desperation, or simply preparation, remember the “Magnum Miracle” by raising up your own Hail Mary and looking for that market research team member to help your play successfully carry out.

“Rise and shout, our cheers will ring out, As you unfold your vict'ry story.”

Goats, Scapegoats and Emotional Connections

“The Cubs are going to win the World Series in 2008.”  Ryan Dempster – Cubs Pitcher, Former Reds Stiff, Comedian

    “…they won’t win it because at the end of the day, they’re still the Chicago Cubs and they will figure out a way to screw this whole thing up.” Marty Brennaman – Hall of Fame Broadcaster

The Red Sox broke their curse in a rare comeback down three games to the Yankees. The Phillies broke their city-wide curse. Every year Cubs fans think this is the year they will break their curse and win the World Series.

And every year, it seems, Cubs’ fans end the year in tears.  There is that saying about death and taxes. Append now the Cubs not making the World Series.

The Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908.  And haven’t made it to the World Series since 1945.

Until 1945, the Cubs were one of the most successful teams in the Major Leagues.  But on October 6th, 1945, that all came to an end.  On that day, the Tigers and Cubs played game four of the World Series, with the Cubs leading two games to one.  Enter William “Billy Goat” Sianis, local Greek and owner of the Billy Goat Tavern (yes, the famous one from Saturday Night Live).  He was nicknamed Billy Goat because one day a goat walked into the tavern and became the establishment’s mascot.  He had bought two tickets to game four and, hoping to bring good luck to his beloved Cubbies, brought his pet goat Murphy along.  The ushers wouldn’t let the goat into the game.  So Billy Goat appealed to Cubs’ owner P.K. Wrigley.  Wrigley’s reply, “Let Billy in, but not the goat.”

Billy Goat asked, “Why not the goat?”

Wrigley answered, “Because the goat stinks.”

Legend has it that Billy threw up his arms and cursed the Cubs, “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field.”

In the many years since, the Cubs have tried in many ways to lift the curse.  They have invited the goat back (really, the son of the goat), though the first time, again, the ushers refused the goat admittance.  They have tried a number of ways to break the curse, all to no avail.

Yet, despite the year-after-year choke, Cubs fans are quite possibly the most loyal and most definitely the most vociferous in the nation.  (And don’t get me started on the Bobby WooWoo.  That guy is loud.  Sat in front of him for two innings at Wrigley.  Luckily we were in the wrong seats by accident.)

What makes them so loyal?  Hard to say.  Even SABREMetrics has tried to figure it out.  It’s a mystery.  (See this article if you want to.)  Bottom-line, the theory related in this article, which I tend to agree with, is that the Cubs have defined baseball, particularly Cubs baseball, as an experience, not just a trip to the ballpark.  Add a pinch of the American way of loving the underdog and you have a potent mix for martyrs and madmen.  How is it anymore of an experience going to Wrigley than to other ballparks?  Most ballparks are surrounded by parking lots. The idea at most places is–let’s get fans to spend their dollars in the ballpark, not outside.  It’s sort of like the Disney way, if you know what I mean. At Wrigley, the game day experience spreads throughout the bars, vendors and sidewalks around the ballpark. You don’t even need to go into the game to enjoy the game. Wrigley itself just reeks of baseball history.

I was once having lunch with a Cubs fan, who, when he learned I was an A’s fan, said, and I quote: “That must be terribly hard.” A Cubs fan who thinks it is harder to be an A’s fan. At least the A’s have been to a World Series in the last 60 years and have won several in the last 35 years. But you know what, he did have a valid point.  Going to Wrigley to watch a game is a much different, and in many ways much richer, experience than heading to the Oakland Coliseum. And that despite my childhood memories creating a bit of nostalgia at the latter ballpark. Wrigley Field has the brick walls.  Ivy on the walls.  Really cool programs. A crazily intimate feel to the park. And just all the history that went down there. It’s like the Cubs are the REI of baseball–offering more than just a transaction.  I imagine that once they get caught up in the web of the Cubs experience.

There’s a lesson in here for marketers and those creating new products. Just because you have a great product doesn’t mean it will sell millions. It’s not about the product itself–it’s the whole experience. Consider that–the Cubs phenomenon if you will.  You may have just created this amazingly new product. By all rationale, it is better than anything on the market. But it’s not the rationale that sells. If that was true, there would be no Cubs fans. It’s all about the emotional experience–the whole gestalt. Factor that into your marketing plan.

Another Cubs Batter Vainly Swatting Towards a World Series That May Never Come

Load More

Start discoveringCONTACT US