The Rise of the Urban Baby

The Rise of the Urban Baby

Study People. Examine Brands. Explore Culture.

We’ve all seen it, dogs—and sometimes even other furry kinds of companions—in strollers, carseats, at the salon, dressed to impress… the rise of the “urban baby” is real! Sixty-eight percent of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet. Here is a quick look at some of the trends we’ve seen in retail and services as we continue to “humanize” our fuzziest family members.

Keeping Healthy

In a recent study, nearly 70% of dog owners said they would maintain spending on pet health regardless economic downturn. To put this statistic in perspective, spending on Mother’s Day declined by 10% when the economy slowed. Leading to the question: “is pet health more recession-proof than mothers?” And it’s true, we’ve seen more specialized healthcare services for pets, and hey – if you like your FitBit, now you can get one for your dog too, called a FitBark. Pet parents are also downloading nutrition and vet telemedicine apps to help maintain their best friends’ health.

Tech and the Pet

Speaking of apps, we’ve seen an unprecedented number of pet-related apps hit the downloads lately. Dig is a dog-person dating app, SpotOn is a Lyft-type service that enables safe travel with your fur baby including onboard comforts, Petchatz is a video skype app to let you connect with your home alone pet, among others. More than 40% of you pet owners are interested in installing pet monitoring cameras in your homes, or even a digital tracking device for your dog or cat to see where your best friend is headed at all times.

Getting Spoiled

Professional dog walking, professional pet photographers, professional pet bloggers… things that used to be hobbies or chores have gone mainstream to become careers, with high standards. Since we view our pets as family members, we hire professionals to make their lives better especially with our increasingly busy lives. Grooming is also a growing industry, with mobile spas, salons, all-natural products—and celebrities jumping on the bandwagon like Real Housewives’ Lisa Vanderpump’s dog spa and line of organic pet spa products.

The Furry Foodie

All-natural isn’t just about grooming products, with the rise of the “free-from” food movement traditional pet foods are slowly declining in sales, while pet parents start to opt for raw, fresh and organic, even vegan, diets for their fur children. In fact, 70 percent of us who follow a special diet put our pet on a special diet too, such as organic. Pet food is big business, with the global pet food market expected to be worth $98.81 billion by 2022. 

4 Exercises to Train Your Team to Solve Problems on Their Own

4 Exercises to Train Your Team to Solve Problems on Their Own

No senior staff member wants to hold the hands of his or her team. When team members can solve problems on their own, they can fulfill customer needs on the fly, keep customers happy, and maintain a smooth-running business. To foster creative problem solving and sharpen decision-making skills, you need to heavily invest in employee training. Employees need a strong sense of confidence to call shots without second-guessing themselves. Let your team know you’re on their side by supporting choices they make, no matter what. In addition, train your team using these four exercises to encourage independent problem solving:

1) Playing Card Mix-Up

This exercise requires teams with six to eight participants each and two decks of playing cards for each team. Mix the two decks per team at random. Each group must sort the decks without talking. Let the teams start sorting the decks however they wish. After a few minutes, instruct each team to sort the decks a different way. For example, if a team is sorting by suits, tell them to sort by number instead. The team that sorts the deck the desired way within a certain time frame has to share the methods it used to accomplish the task.

2) Create-Your-Own Activity

This exercise asks participants to design their own problem-solving activity. Instruct the participants to work in teams to design their own original problem-solving activity. Tell them to design an activity that would be appropriate for your organization. The activity cannot be something participants have heard of or done before. Teams have one hour to develop and present their activities, as well as to outline its key benefits. Ask each team how they communicated with one another and how they managed their time. As a bonus, this exercise can give you other ideas for future activities based on what the teams come up with.

3) Build a Balloon Tower

First, divide your employees into teams of three. Provide ten inflated balloons and four three-foot long strips of masking tape to each team. The object of the exercise is to build the tallest freestanding tower they can within ten minutes. Teams can break the balloons if they wish. Teams cannot use any additional materials. The winner can either be the team with the tallest tower or the team who completes the task first. Make this exercise more challenging with instructions such as no talking, each team member is only allowed to use one hand, or one team member who cannot touch materials and can only give directions.

4) The Escape Exercise

Encourage team problem solving and collaboration with this exercise. It requires one rope, one key, a lockable room, and five to 10 puzzles or clues depending on how long you want the game to take. The goal is to work together to escape a locked room within the time limit using the clues to find the hidden key. Hide the key and each clue around the room. This exercise requires everyone to work together to create a strategy, manage their time, and brainstorm what the clues could mean. It’s great for team building as well as creative problem solving.

At Big Squirrel, it’s our goal to help and equip teams to solve problems, think creatively and build consensus quickly. We’ve seen what happens when teams get stuck in the same habits– that’s why exercises like these are important. We hope this resource helps move your team in the direction of innovation and progress!

Download our Field Guide to Innovative Thinking 
to help your team 
think outside the nut!

3 Things to Think About Before Jumping on That Market Trend

3 Things to Think About Before Jumping on That Market Trend

New market trends seem to happen hourly in today’s competitive business atmosphere. Rivalry is fierce among the hundreds of thousands of new products and services that launched within the last year alone. What successful brands have in common is the amount of research they do before following or disregarding trends. To meet and exceed aggressive company goals while staying on top in the industry, you must weigh each trend’s pros and cons carefully.

Here are three things to think about before you get swept away by the momentum.

1) Will this trend help me achieve my goals?

When a new trend makes waves in your industry, don’t just automatically incorporate it into your business plan. Question your organization’s need for the new trend. Just because everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon does not mean the trend is right for you. To be an insightful, direct, and smart organization, you must have a clear brand destination. Consider what the trend could do for your company, if anything.

Decide whether the market trend is absolutely necessary for your company’s success. The more precisely you define your brand’s destination, the more accurately you can evaluate new trends to see if they will drive success. If the new trend does not help your company achieve your main intent and purpose, just say no. Taking the time to clarify your intent can prevent over-excitement about a new trend just because it’s bright and shiny. But trends that can help you achieve your brand destination more quickly? Those are worth further consideration.

2) Does research support this market trend?

It’s imperative to do your due diligence prior to adopting or disregarding a new market trend. Instantly adopting every new trend can run your brand into the ground. However, ignoring trends on principle gives competitors the opportunity to get ahead. Knowing which trends to drop and which to adopt requires adequate research on your part.

What qualifies as “adequate” depends upon the trend and your company. You need to focus on the big picture, but you must also dive deeply into if – and how – the trend would benefit your brand. Consumer studiesbrand examination, and competitor assessment reveal valuable insights and may all be necessary before reaching a decision to commit. You need to know what your consumers find valuable, what the benefit and drawbacks of the market trend, and whether its adoption would push you toward your company goals. Take the time to dive deep into the efficacy of the trend. Remember that gleaning constructive insights will take time.

3) Do the risks outweigh the benefits?

Finally, weigh the risks against the benefits of adopting the new trend. Implementing a new trend often brings a necessary amount of risk. After all, an unproven investment could jeopardize your company’s budget, bottom line, and stability. With patience and smart marketing, however, the benefits of incorporating some trends outweigh the risks. It is up to your team to analyze the trend and determine whether the investment will more likely than not deliver returns. Proper research and assessment of company goals can help you come to the ideal conclusion for your organization.

Why do big brands trust Big Squirrel?
We have a history of cracking some seriously tough nuts. The proof is in our case studies!

Unlocking the Meaning in Big Data: The Key to Deeper Brand Understanding

Unlocking the Meaning in Big Data: The Key to Deeper Brand Understanding

Brand research today is both easier and more challenging than ever before. Oceans of data provide extensive marketplace knowledge, but transforming your data into actionable insights requires the ability to uncover meaningful takeaways from the data you collect. Unlocking useful insights from your data begins by asking deeper, more qualitative questions, even if yours is technically a quant study.

Finding the right questions is the key that unlocks a vault of qualitative insights from your data. But the search for the right questions is often haphazard. A disciplined approach to developing your questions will lead to more impactful qualitative insights – a foundation on which you can build deeper brand understanding.

Design by Design

You’ve heard it before, but “start with the why.” Part of asking the right questions is understanding why you’re asking these questions in the first place. As you undertake the process of identifying your goal, a multitude of priorities vie for attention. Crafting your questions around a narrow objective gives you the ability to drill deeper into your target. By bringing a specific purpose into focus, the answers you receive will provide more effective insights.

As you solidify the purpose of your inquiry, make sure to involve your entire team. Their input will produce greater clarity on the objective and might reveal areas for exploration that directly support their own goals.

Are you talkin’ to me?

You may be eager to learn about your customers, but before you can derive deeper insights into who they are and what they value, you must establish what you already know. All lines of questioning should start with basic knowledge about your target. Analyze what you already know about your intended audience. What are their ages? What brands do they prefer? What’s their preferred method of contacting your organization on social media? Go deeper than simple demographics.

The better you integrate the information you already have about your intended market, the likelier it is that you’ll be able to craft insightful questions that encourage their responses to extend beyond the superficial.

We gather meaningful, influential and real brand insights through
ethnographic research techniques.

Examine Your Assumptions

Even a few customer interviews can provide significant insights and break long-standing assumptions you may have about your user. On the other hand, lack of awareness can lead to asking the wrong questions altogether. When you ask the wrong questions, you stifle your ability to achieve truly meaningful insight– regardless of the amount of time or money you pour into your research project.

For example, if your app has more downloads than your competitors, it’s easy to assume that your app is better. However, a few direct consumer interactions might reveal that they chose your product due to a misstep by your competitor, not because they prefer your product. If you had crafted your questions around your flawed assumption of a superior product, it would have skewed your line of inquiry, causing you to miss an opportunity to discover how to truly serve your customers better.

Float like a butterfly…

While your inquiry strives to answer a particular business challenge, an observant researcher may well discover patterns that indicate a richer line of questioning outside your original objective. Should such a vein present itself, be quick to identify this as a new opportunity.

Your research goal is a strong guide for developing the appropriate questions, but don’t overlook qualitative insights that pop up during the process. Maintain an open mind and allow the research to direct your path. Don’t dismiss customer input simply because it steers you toward an unexpected direction.

Inspection Time

Once you have generated your data set, it’s not enough to simply identify trends and statistics. You must translate analysis of your results into actionable intelligence that your teams can apply. This is where an unbiased brand strategy team comes in. By applying an impartial evaluation to your findings, your strategist can provide you with a roadmap–sometimes expected, sometimes surprising–to align your business offerings with what your customers want.

Research is never a “one-and-done” project. It’s an ongoing journey that constantly evolves. Big data is only the first step. Additional lines of questioning that did not match your current purpose can become the springboard for areas of future exploration. By continuing down the path and pushing beyond the numbers, you discover the deeper brand understanding that all those facts and figures are trying to communicate.

Contact Big Squirrel and start uncovering actionable intelligence within your research.

Inspired Leadership: Four Tips to Increase Team Innovation

Inspired Leadership: Four Tips to Increase Team Innovation

Most people can think of ways to do something better, faster, or in a manner that’s more cost-efficient. When individuals work together as a team to improve products and processes, the results can be impressive. However, too many organizations settle for “good enough.” Is your organization stuck in this rut? Learn what your business can do to create an environment in which creativity flourishes.

1) Start at the Top

When leaders are focused solely on the bottom line, they inadvertently create an environment that discourages creativity. If the boss applies extreme pressure and has little tolerance for mistakes, employees feel constant tension. They focus on completing assigned tasks as quickly as possible without making errors–and that’s all. This fosters a tense company culture and diminishes creativity. Teamwork suffers, morale drops and productivity declines.

Effective leaders know how to nurture each staff member’s abilities so creative juices can flow. They lead by example, with an easygoing attitude and willingness to listen and ask, instead of giving orders. The resulting positive feedback and constructive criticism builds an efficient and dedicated team of employees.

2) Hire Innovators

When people believe in what they do, their job is not just a means to an end: it becomes a personal mission. Identify your company’s current culture and goals, then hire employees who are passionate about issues that relate to your products and services. Look for team members who can articulate your company’s vision because it aligns with their own.

This doesn’t mean that all hires must think and act the same. Think of diversity beyond gender and ethnicity. Focus on all the factors that inform a fresh perspective. Things like age, veteran status, educational background and hobbies. When your team is comprised of individuals with a wide range of experience and multiple points of view – who are all passionate about what your company offers – you create an environment ripe for innovation to flourish.

To get a sense of the distinct perspectives potential employees can bring to the table, be willing to ask creative questions during the interview phase. Here are some examples:

  • Which major societal challenge would you like to see improved? If you were in charge, how would you go about tackling it?
  • In three minutes, explain to me a complicated issue that you know well.
  • If you had $25,000 to build your own business, what would you do? Where would you start?
  • Tried-and-true solutions sometimes fail. Describe a time when the go-to solution didn’t work. How were you able to solve the problem?

Check out our Field Guide to Innovative Thinking
to help your team 
think outside the nut!

3) Use Innovation Sprints

People often settle into workplace habits and behavior patterns because it seems like the path of least resistance. Employees are busy answering emails, making phone calls, attending meetings and completing their job tasks. There’s no time to think creatively.

Work sprints are based on an agile methodology that accomplishes tasks in a series of stages. Teams identify a problem to solve, break it down and assign responsibilities, then set a very limited time frame to accomplish a specific goal. At the end of the time frame, team members gather to present their solutions. All stakeholders evaluate progress, suggest refinement, and develop the next goal.

Sprints are the antidote to workplace apathy. They carve out time for focused, intense spurts of innovation. In his book, Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, author Jake Knapp outlines a detailed process for developing creative solutions in limited periods of time. This structured forward momentum allows your business to cover ground quickly, co-create solutions, and make effective changes.

4) Encourage Positivity

When your team members put more effort into creativity, they open themselves up to judgment from peers and superiors. It’s a vulnerable position. This resultant pressure can become overwhelming and frustrating if teammates respond with negativity. But since creative problem solving necessitates open debate, navigating this landscape can get tricky.

Encourage brainstorming by employing a “no criticism” directive. Provide guidelines for phrasing feedback in a positive manner. When your staff feels supported and respected for their contributions, the pressure they feel can yield positive results.

Big Squirrel helps brands ask the right questions, articulate roadmaps for how to think differently, and ultimately instill confidence to activate ideas. Contact us to “get cracking!”

Brand Research v. Competitive Intelligence: How Well Do You Know Your Own Brand?

Brand Research v. Competitive Intelligence: How Well Do You Know Your Own Brand?

Intelligence is always far more valuable than assumptions. There’s a line between brand research and competitor intelligence, and it’s not a very thin one. Let’s take a look at the difference between brand research (also known as market research) and competitor research (also known as competitive intelligence) and how insights from these valuable sources can help your company advance.

What is Market Research?

Market research is information your company acquires in hopes of beating your competition. Research data helps you learn the behaviors and attitudes of your customers. Past behaviors are analyzed to predict how customers will behave in the future. Once a solid prediction is made of how customers will behave, you can draft a marketing plan to entice customers to make a purchase.

There are multiple measurement tools that you can use. Some of these include:

  • Discriminant analysis
  • Cluster analysis
  • Conjoint analysis
  • Factor analysis
  • Multidimensional scaling


The Importance of Deeper Research

When it comes to research, deeper is always better. In-depth research clarifies the picture of how your business should operate in the future. Utilizing the above measurement tools to inform your market research is a good starting place, but you’re wise to take it further. A detailed, actionable plan based on your research helps limit casualties and gives your company an edge over other industry competitors. That’s where competitive intelligence comes in.

What is Competitive Intelligence?

While market research is tactical, competitive intelligence takes “tactical” to a whole new level. Highly strategic in nature, competitive intelligence assembles information in a fashion that provides in-depth insight regarding your firm’s stakeholders and influencers. Competitive intelligence research studies draw on supplier performance, financial data, investment plans, expansion documents and plans, and more. These insights help you develop tailor-made competitor profiles that you can use to create effective operational strategies for winning customers and increasing revenue.

Effective competitive intelligence provides an elaborate landscape of the competition, enabling your organization to look ahead to determine which marketing rollouts will be most effective at winning over customers. All of this translates into the ability to create an accurate prediction of the future market in which your company will operate.

How to Draft a Useful Competitive Landscape

Generating a competitive landscape overview can be daunting, and it does require a lot of work. However, applying a disciplined methodology to your work will pay off by enabling you to compare apples-to-apples offerings in products, pricing and brand communications. Here’s how to get started:

  • Study the websites of your competitors
  • Follow competitors on their social media profiles
  • Subscribe to the mailing lists of your competitors
  • Conduct keyword searches on relevant industry keywords
  • Distribute online surveys
  • Use Google Alerts
  • Obtain regular reports from the sales force
  • Purchase competitive products
  • Discuss business challenges with distribution partners

When you have assembled the information, begin dividing it into silos based on theme or findings. A picture will soon begin to emerge: who is selling what to whom–and how your business can move into the white space.

Where to Start?

Your first step should be to form a strategy team to implement competitive intelligence research, which should include senior executives. This team will identify the business and financial aspects of industry competitors, including what they are investing in and what their margins are. These processes can help decision-makers better understand their operations and reflect on changes that support a more competitive position in the marketplace.

At a product level, a competitive intelligence team will use research findings within product development operations and product testing. On a market level, your research will deliver relevant insight relating to the price, product, placement, and promotion of the products/services your firm is selling.

Not comfortable conducting market research or competitive intelligence on your own?
Big Squirrel can help you gain an edge.
We’re experts in obtaining relevant, targeted insights by studying people and competitorsexamining your brand and exploring  culture.

Turn the Ketchup Bottle Upside Down: Astonishingly Simple Solutions to Complex Problems

Turn the Ketchup Bottle Upside Down: Astonishingly Simple Solutions to Complex Problems

Remember the agony of waiting for the ketchup to inch its way down toward the mouth of the bottle? The awkward small talk with the elevator operator while waiting to reach our floor? How about frantically digging through the car’s center console to produce exact change for an impatient toll booth worker?

These are distant memories, but it’s surprising how long we operated under these daily inconveniences. What’s more surprising is how these annoyances were solved by rather simple solutions (store your ketchup bottle upside down, install an automatic elevator switch, and calculate your monthly toll booth usage with an electronic transmitter.) These advancements share a common thread: by applying a little creativity, someone discovered a simple solution to a complex problem.

But if these answers were so simple, why were they so hard to come by? Why did it take us all so long to turn that ketchup bottle upside down?

Every day we talk with Chief Marketing Officers, Brand Managers and Senior VPs of Global Insights who share their desire to get to know their brands more intimately. But the challenge of working within a brand for many years leads to the proverbial “can’t see the forest for the trees” conundrum. Those with the power to make the biggest difference in the trajectory of a brand are often too close to the issue to examine it creatively.

We help companies take a different approach. Through deep conversations, unique ethnographic tools and deliberate methodologies, Big Squirrel collaborates with brands to uncover core truths directly from consumers. We surface individual customer insights that sometimes reveal unexpected–and sometimes astonishingly simple–results. These insights lead to radical solutions to even the most complex problems.

So how do you apply creative thinking to your own brand? How do you break through to reveal new insights to long-established business challenges?

Check out our Field Guide to Innovative Thinking
to help your team 
think outside the nut!

Get On the Other Side of Your Problem

You may have experienced this phenomenon in your personal or professional life: after days of racking your brain, you’ve finally given up on solving a problem–only to have a stranger point out a brilliant solution within seconds. Sure, you know your brand inside and out. Yet innovation in branding thrives on un-knowing. The willingness to change your perception. The skill of suspending your deeply held beliefs to gain unexpected results.

When you promote a company culture of innovation and open-mindedness, you gain the ability to discover creative solutions that propel your brand forward. From this foundation, Big Squirrel can help you launch micro studies and ethnographic studies that create space for consumers to talk about your brand freely, connect with your products organically, and open up about the truths of their feelings and experiences.

If you think innovation is hard, remember that although their ketchup hit shelves around 1870, Heinz didn’t create the upside-down bottle until 2002 – 132 years later. The answer was staring them in the face; it just took a while to get there. Why did it take so long? Heinz didn’t have Big Squirrel.

We’re kidding – kind of.

Learn more about how Big Squirrel has helped other big brands turn their thinking upside down.

Real Brand Insights From Real People: Why Big Brands Trust Big Squirrel

Real Brand Insights From Real People: Why Big Brands Trust Big Squirrel

On-point branding doesn’t just give your company a competitive edge – it’s an absolute requirement if you want your business to succeed in today’s market. Being on-point means creating authentic resonance with the consumer. It’s a tall order for advertising alone, but when you craft a brand story that spans your entire set of customer touch points, you create an opportunity for greater connection to your brand.

Big Squirrel Accomplishes Big Things

At Big Squirrel, establishing real connections between brands and their customers is exactly what we do. Throughout our years in the business, we’ve cracked some seriously tough nuts for major clients like Nike, PepsiCo, Zales, Maidenform, ABC FamilyHanes and others. These brands understand the value of getting to the heart of what really matters to their consumer.

Big brands come to us with major challenges and trust that we’ll glean real insights from real customers to help them create an authentic, impactful brand strategy.

We gather meaningful, influential and authentic brand insights through ethnographic research techniques.

Here are a few of the specific ways we help big brands expose exactly what their customers want:

  • Cultural Immersion
    Customers don’t rush to discuss their unmet needs. They’re too busy living their lives. Cursory research techniques fall short because customers lose interest quickly or deliver the answers they think the researcher wants to hear. We counteract this challenge by embedding ourselves into customers’ lives. We take the time to experience the world as they do and see your brand through their eyes. Instead of limiting ourselves to simply asking questions, direct observation and experience generates personalized feedback that leads to true insight.
  • Personal Interviews
    Consumer decision-making is a complex journey. By visiting consumers where they live, work, play and shop, we discover firsthand the thought processes that inform their decision to commit to–or reject–a product. We emerge with authentic, unscripted information that reveals more intimate details than a focus group ever could. Understanding these step-by-step nuances helps big brands discover exactly how to deliver an experience that resonates more deeply with their customer.
  • Virtual Communities
    Catch them in the right environment, and people love to talk. Social media is an invaluable platform to expose consumers’ true sentiments about people, products, brands and culture. By providing a comfortable environment where consumers can express themselves freely, you’ll gain access to a trove of unbiased truths. Using social media as a tool, we facilitate unique, cross-cultural conversations. This outlet encourages deeper exchanges between real people and reveals dynamic thinking, ideas, opinions, intentions and attitudes.
  • Attentive Observation
    At Big Squirrel, we’re expert observers. We gather important information about a brand’s health and status beyond the board room; we reveal what’s happening in the real world. These stories deliver deeper insights for marketing teams to use as their springboard.

Big brands know how critical it is to unearth the unseen realities of consumers. Are you ready to optimize your marketing and branding strategy around real stories and real truths? Whether you’re a Fortune 500 leader or an emerging startup, the first step is to start thinking big.

Sing In The Shower: Developing Patterns For Creative Problem Solving

Sing In The Shower: Developing Patterns For Creative Problem Solving

When Monday morning rolls around, your creative juices may be running low. Sure, last week may have been one of your best creative weeks yet, but you have to keep the juice flowing to ensure your team is living up to their utmost potential. Let’s take a look at six ways for you and your team to develop patterns for creative problem-solving.

1) Quit restricting yourself

This might sound simple. ‘Just let yourself go,’ right? Well, it’s not as simple as it seems. Yes, it might be simple to limit external restrictions, but loosening up internal restrictions on yourself is a whole lot harder. You have to get to a point in which you follow a path that flows with the least mental resistance. Overcoming your self-imposed limitations and restrictions can go a long way in boosting creativity and forcing you to work outside of your comfort zone. So, the question is how do you free yourself up? Well, it starts with not being so hard on yourself. Realize you are human and you are going to make mistakes.


2) Sing in the shower

Do you like singing in the shower? Whether you have a good voice or not, it’s time you start belting it out. Did you know singing in the shower can relieve stress? It can also help fight depression and even reduce your risk of heart disease. What is it about singing in the shower that brings these benefits? Well, for starters, when you sing in the shower you exercise your lungs and increase the oxygen to your brain; this leads to better mental clarity and increased creative thinking. According to an article published by Time magazine, singing in the shower boosts creative thinking and decreases depression by acting as a tranquilizer. When you sing, you release endorphins, which create a positive emotional response. Next time you’re in the shower, turn on your favorite song and make sure you sing along.


3) Change your habits

“We first make our habits. Then our habits make us.” 17th century poet John Dryden said that, and he’s got Sir Walter Scott and W. H. Auden in his corner. So, about habits – what time do you wake up? Do you do the same workout all the time? Do you get your news from the same source every day? All of these habits are pretty big ones. Try this one: If you usually salt your food first, try adding pepper first instead. By making even small changes in your daily routine, you become more awake to your mundane thoughts, and how many things you are doing by force of habit. Recognition of this, in practice with consciously altering those habits, increases creativity and helps you think outside of the box.


4) Start journaling

One of the best ways to get your team to be more creative is by having them keep a journal. Keeping a journal increases emotional intelligence, because it helps you process emotions and it boosts your self-awareness. Journaling also increases your memory and comprehension capabilities; this means you will become better at solving problems and your cognitive recall ability will be enhanced.


5) Keep the noise going

Many people think that silence is the best way to focus. What they fail to realize is, studies show ambient noise levels actually increase creative thinking rather than hinder it. Sure, silence is good for sharpening focus, but ambient noise levels boost creative thinking and promote a broader level of cognitive function, which allows you to come up with new ideas.


6) Start traveling more

Whether it’s a 10-hour road trip or a 20-minute walk to the local park, traveling and getting out of the home and office is an excellent way to increase your creative thinking. Some of the best places to travel to that can boost creative thinking include museums, parks, breweries (make sure to sip on your favorite beer for an even greater level of creative thinking), and festivals. Grab your co-workers, pile into the car and go sightseeing for an even greater level of creative thinking.


The takeaway

It all starts with small changes. If you are wanting your team to be more creative, you first have to start with yourself. It’s time for you to be a good leader and set a good example, so make sure you suggest the tips listed above to your coworkers at your next business meeting.

We’re ready to help you make these small changes.
Get cracking with Big Squirrel!


Use the Power of Partnership to Get Inside Your Customers’ Minds

Use the Power of Partnership to Get Inside Your Customers’ Minds

Whether you’re B2B or B2C, a single rule applies across the board: always remember that you’re selling to people. Every solid marketing strategy centers around understanding the habits, actions and expectations of real people–how they buy, how they perceive your brand, and how your brand appears in their daily lives.

Quantitative research is helpful, but it can only reveal so much. You might discover that 70% of a 10,000-person sample prefer your brand over your competitor’s. But what’s going on with the remaining 30%? Knowing the personal stories of even a few of those detractors will help you understand how to shift their perception and their actions.

Getting to those stories isn’t always easy. And once you do, how do you make sense of all your customers’ thoughts, opinions and perceptions? How do you dig deeper to discover relevant insights that inform the way you do business? How do you turn information into results?

That’s where the power of partnership with Big Squirrel comes in.

The Private Nature of Public Opinion

What makes your customers fall in love with your brand? What do they find unattractive or even distasteful? People often only share their personal truths about your brand and products once they are out of your sight.

Surveys are constructive, but might not provide enough flexibility for accurate self-expression. Focus groups reveal more, but ultimately, they’re an inorganic social environment where customers often adapt their thoughts and feelings to achieve group unity. These quantitative research tools are useful but can trap you in the mindset of seeking out patterns, when what you really need is to reveal core truths.

Getting to these truths takes in-depth, individualized studies of your brand and your consumers. It takes a team of modern-day cultural anthropologists who know what look for and how to ask the right qualitative questions that reveal the most informative answers.

The Secret to Sales Success

The secret to sales success is found in the small picture. Not only should you know what your consumers desire inside and out, but you must get comfortable with what aggravates them and causes loss of brand loyalty. Getting to the innermost truths of why consumers buy and how individual mindsets are changing delivers the insights that drive sales success. Herein lies the true secret to shifting customer behavior.

The only way to reveal these underlying truths is to capture individual stories and spend time closely identifying cultural insights. These and other key behaviors will lead you toward more effective brand management.

Deep Immersion Reveals Human Insight

Your brand is always perceived in an infinite number of ways, amid a dynamic ebb and flow of consumer opinion, cultural trends and changing economics. The world is never still. Big Squirrel’s ethnographic approach allows us to observe your consumer in their natural habitat, as they engage with your brand in real time. We have developed a unique toolset that gives consumers the opportunity to share genuine thoughts about brands and products. This feedback often delivers unexpected but profound discoveries.

Deep immersion and ethnographic observation allows insight to emerge naturally, not through forced data sets or forgone conclusions. By looking beyond the data, we see your consumers as humans. We mine personal stories from your consumers’ experience to help you realize a deeper understanding of the trends that fuel a shifting market. These discoveries help you optimize your brand strategy to gain a competitive edge.

(Unflinching) Honesty is the Best Policy

Are you ready to examine your brand with unflinching honesty? To explore the forces driving culture today? To dig into the subconscious reasons people might defend or abandon your brand?

Our qualitative experts customize every inquiry to help you see your brand from multiple unique perspectives.

Whether you’re looking to redefine your brand, sharpen your marketing strategy, understand a cultural nuance, or get ahead of a buying trend, we’re ready to collaborate for your success.