So You Can’t Spoil a Baby…How About a Furry One?
The Denver Post’s New “Family Cents” Column
Mile High Mamas,
I’m thrilled to be a new columnist for The Denver Post’s new Monday print section: $MART. Once a month, I will bring you fun, personal narratives for navigating the consumer culture. My column, Family Cents, will also include helpful tips (and I’m always looking for your topic ideas).
This month, I’m talking about the best daily deal sites for moms, what to avoid and even how to aggregate all of them so you’re able to tap into the best deals without being overwhelmed.
Come check out my article Daily-deal websites more of a dandy deal now and be sure to share your ideas!
Decaying statistics prompt a renewed dental-health push by Colorado and private officials
As he lies back and chats with dentist Zach Houser about soccer, the Patriots and his next taekwondo class, 8-year-old Matthew Fellows is all that is good and getting better about teeth. Matthew knows what floss is. He brushes twice a day and doesn’t want emergency crowns, like some of his decay-plagued friends get. He has parents who bring him to the dentist twice a year and hang on every word of advice.
But with a quiet “Uh-oh” from the dentist, Matthew suddenly becomes another example of all that remains intractable and worrisome about oral health.
One of Matthew’s 6-year molars has a cavity eating through
Pinterest, an idea exchange, now a Top 10 social-networking site
Like the images on its site, the clever definitions and analogies by Pinterest users are endless: “Pinterest is like getting a new magazine in the mail every day.” “Pinterest is everything you never knew you always wanted to know about anything.” “It’s like Etsy and Pottery Barn had a baby and made a scrapbook of their cute little family.”
The latest social-media craze is a virtual pin board, or scrapbook, to collect and organize your favorite images and ideas from around the Web. While the site has something for everyone, it’s dominated by home decor, fashion, food and crafts, and has become the new Internet darling — make that obsession — among women in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
“Pinterest is like fantasy ootball for girls,”
Top five Super Bowl 2012 commercials
Super Bowl 2012 advertisers spent $3.5 million per spot to put their brands before audiences. The sponsors, including a large number of first-timers, trusted somewell-worn strategies: sex, cute animals, talking babies, celebrities and sex. David Beckham, MatthewBroderick, Elton John and Clint Eastwood. Whichwas most memorable?
OUR PANEL: Susan Jung Grant, assistant professor of marketing, University of Colorado at Boulder; Pasquale “Pocky” Marranzino, chairman/CEO, Karsh Hagen; Glenn Morey, president, Morey Evans Advertising; Mike Sukle, creative director and owner, Sukle Advertising; Daphne Fink Taber, general manager, gyro;Greg Wagner, Denver University, Daniels College of Business.
What was your favorite ad?
Creative Valentine Ideas for the Entire Family!
He’ll treasure an amazing photo of his one true love and a gift like this will likely find its way through generations to come. Iman does fabulous work and the experience is half the fun (a little gift for you too). Your great-grandchildren aren’t going to believe that’s a picture of grandma, lol.
Heart-Shape Paper Clips
Focus Groups are a Parent-Friendly Way to Pad Your Pocketbook
If your laundry experience has been noticeably better in the past few years, you may have me to thank.
It was a little strange when the three women with clipboards and a video camera watched me do a load of laundry. Usually, people scatter when I announce I’m doing a chore. On that day, however, I had an audience who would use the information they were gathering to improve the laundry experience. They were especially interested in the detergent they provided. My machine did not explode and my clothes emerged spankin’ clean. I can’t say what detergent it was because my lips are forever sealed.
For my efforts, they paid me with a tidy check. How did I find myself separating whites in front of marketers? I joined a market research study.
What Is a Market Research Study?
In this competitive economy, businesses and manufacturers are keenly interested in how people react to their goods or services. Nobody wants to wait until the laundry detergent is launched to discover consumers think the name is cringeworthy or it reminds them of the wistful scent of wet dog on an April morn’.
Professional marketing firms are commissioned by businesses to find out if their fragrance is foul or the logo is laughable. To do this, they gather focus groups and design useability studies. Often, they search for a broad range of demographic backgrounds when seeking opinions. Sometimes, however, the product they wish to put on the market caters to a subset of society. For example, they may want young urban moms for a diaper study or middle-aged men for a lawnmower study. Sometimes they want people living in a certain zip code. Other times, they are interested in certain ethnicities, income levels, or education. I’ve seen incredibly specific listings: 45-year-old tax preparers who own golden retrievers named Bailey! Okay, maybe not that specific, but close.
I’ve been a member of several focus groups and useability studies over the past 5 years. Some of the groups were large. I listened to music in a hotel ballroom for a radio station. There were hundreds of women in attendance, rating songs with hand-held dials. Most groups tend to be in the 8-12 person range, though. I have done 2 one-on-one interviews as well, not including the laundry fest. I’m not allowed to talk about the specific businesses or products because when chosen for a focus group or study, participants sign a non-disclosure agreement. This means you cannot reveal what you saw, heard, tasted, smelled, or talked about. To anyone. You are allowed to be extremely general. For example, I am allowed to say I did laundry and used a detergent. I talked about pets. I looked at food serving thing-a-ma-bobs and gave my thumbs up or down.
Many marketing firms have guidelines about how often you can be in focus groups or studies. Sometimes, the clients who commissioned the studies dictate their wishes. If you are a participant, be aware it could be six months to a year before you can be in another group, but I found it never hurts to try. Once in a firm’s database, potential participants receive emails and calls when a study seems to be a good fit with provided demographic information.
What Kinds of Goods and Services Do Focus Groups Cover?
Everything. From consumer products to taste tests to political interests to mock trials, groups are gathered to study just about everything sold, heard, or able to be influenced. Some of the subject matter is a lot of fun. Some of it is very dry. For example, my husband spent nearly 3 hours talking about paint one evening. That’s all I know, because he couldn’t tell me any further, but he did say he doesn’t want to think about paint or talk about paint until 2014. Sorry, two youngest sons. Your room will be staying pink for a long, long time.
What Do Focus Groups Pay?
The clients dictate what they are willing to pay to individual participants. Factors include the length of the study, the intensity, and where the study takes place. They always make it worth your time because they know people won’t block out a few hours from a day to make money that won’t cover gas or babysitting expenses. I can’t get terribly specific, but the money I’ve received has always been generous.
Payment is usually in cash, although in recent months I’ve noticed many firms are paying participants with pre-loaded Visa or Amex gift cards. Sometimes, they will pay with a check. Payment is rendered immediately, unless otherwise stated and agreed upon. They will always tell you what it will pay before you agree to participate.
What Are The Responsibilities of a Focus Group Participant?
First, everything discussed about a product is strictly confidential. The firms stress punctuality and nearly always start on time. Latecomers are told they can’t participate. Many firms encourage punctuality by having an early-bird bonus drawing. Participants who arrive at least 15 minutes early have the chance for a bonus $50 (usually). Another responsibility might be homework. In one study, I had to make a poster depicting what a certain word meant to me. The best poster received a bonus.
Focus group participants tend to be outgoing and extroverted. It seems a little unfair that shy people aren’t getting their say about the warm cookies in a taste test. But companies spend a lot of money on these studies and tests. They want people who will freely share and actively participate in discussions. Focus groups demand a lot of give and take with fellow members. It isn’t just answering questions. Group members bounce opinions off each other and brainstorm, too.
Participants must be honest, not only with their opinion but with their demographic information and their backgrounds. It’s highly unethical for a cookie shop owner to be in a focus group for a competitor’s cookie shop. If a spouse works for a cell phone provider, they don’t want the other spouse to be in a focus group regarding cell phones. This is to preserve the integrity and accuracy of the results.
Where Do Focus Groups Take Place?
I mentioned how one group of researchers came to our home. Most take place in a boardroom setting. And yes, there is usually a mirrored wall where you know people are watching and videotaping. They freely disclose this. There are no gotcha moments. Some studies follow people to stores. They are called shop-alongs. I’ve never done this, which is probably a good thing. If someone followed me around a store, they would feel like they are following a pinball. I shop like one of Billy’s Family Circus maps.
Increasingly, focus groups are being conducted online, either through Skype, chat rooms, or surveys.
Marketing firms that specialize in focus groups are located in every major city.
Find A Focus Group!
The best way to start is to visit the websites of marketing firms with good reputations. Often, they provide a way to register with them by filing out a survey noting your demographic information. Most large firms have Facebook pages as well. For example, Fieldwork, a nationally-respected firm, has a page for their Denver office. They post current studies on those pages. You can pick and chose what you may qualify for. You can see what a study will pay and when it will be held.
If your answers match what they are seeking, they call and ask for more detailed information before extending an invitation to join. They might ask for clarification. When invited, you are sent an email to confirm your participation, along with the date, time, and a map.
If you need to cancel, call them promptly. Sometimes, they have a list of alternates who would love to take your spot. Remember, if you aren’t chosen for one study, there will be another right around the corner.
Get Started Today:
If you have been in a focus group, share your experience!
How Young is Too Young to Learn to Ski and Snowboard?
On average: How often do you brush your teeth, change your sheets, talk to your parents?
From brushing teeth to changing the sheets to washing the car, we all have varying frequencies for the necessities in life.
This week, we took a look at the norm for some of life’s “musts.”
The percentages listed are based on the results of an unofficial online poll on the On the Edge blog on Timesunion.com.
How often do you brush your teeth?
Twice a day — morning and night (66 percent)
Once a day — the morning is more than sufficient (27 percent)
Every time I eat (7 percent)
Fact: Nationally, the average is 1.1 times/day, according Dr. Harold Katz, founder of The California Breath Clinics who has done extensive research into oral hygiene.
How often do you change the sheets on your bed?
Kid’s Winter Gear Roundup…WIN Obermeyer Ski Coat/Pants & Name Bubbles!
Obermeyer – Clothes That Grow!
(photo: Sheer Bliss Coat in Anthracite)