The bar set too low

A key challenge for a disruptive product is to set the new bar (or standards). The more path-breaking the product, the higher the bar. With every iteration of the product, you raise the bar. The ideal approach to market a disruptive product is to get a few early adopters. The trend-setters, the people who have it in them to embrace innovation. These will be the people who will challenge you. They will imagine things and share ideas. They will see the potential and push you to raise the bar even higher. They will be your mavens. They will help you tell the world that the bar can be set higher.

The bigger challenge is convince the laggards that the current bars are set too low. These are the skeptics, the people who resist. For a disruptive product to get mass adoption, you need these people.

MavenMagnet is leading the charge to disrupt market research. The social media monitoring tools set the bar for what can be done using information on digital platforms way too low. These tools, or dashboards as they are commonly called, are not even scratching the surface as far as the potential of this massive pool of data is concerned. MavenMagnet technology and technique garner insights that are projectable to map to market performance. Over the years, we have been blessed by the early adopters. Every product we develop, ranging from competitive analysis to ethnography to customer journey, we work with early adopters who help us make these product better. We iterate, we develop new features, new products and keep raising the bar.

Our most important challenge is not to create path-breaking products. We know how to do that. We have an active pipeline to keep doing that. Our key challenge to is demystify the belief that social media monitoring tools are doing what can be done using digital data.

Status quo

Status quo – the existing state of affairs, current customs and practices. In any industry, status quo is something that is widely accepted and used as standards. A disruptive product is something that challenges the status quo. An early adopter embraces the disruption. The product that perseveres through the resistance of status quo reaches mass adoption and sets new status quo.

One of the industries that has status quo set for decades is market research, we commonly refer to as traditional market research. Focus groups of tens are used for qualitative insights. Surveys of few hundred provide quantified projections.

There are quite a few issues with traditional market research. Let’s talk about the top ones. It is plagued with respondent bias. The answers are driven by the questions you ask. There is no discovery based on what consumers want. Research fatigue limits the sample sizes. Time involved in developing the questionnaire, recruiting respondents, collecting data and compiling results is way too long when the average life of products in most industries is down to months. The biggest issue that’s a key hurdle in garnering strong insights is the disconnect between qualitative insights and its natural quantification (again you can get forced quantification using the Q&A process).

What are we doing about it? We are challenging this out-dated status quo.

MavenMagnet is transforming market research. We are taking the entire concept of Q&A out of the research equation. This eliminates respondent bias and let brands hear the real voice of the consumers. The insights are completely discovery based driven by consumer perception. Our sample size is in tens of thousands, so we provide natural projection of these insights. We deliver qualitative insights on quantitative scale in one to four weeks making it actionable for brands to update their positioning, understand their consumers, and optimize their campaigns.

What Bud got right that Nike did not

The study was presented at Advertising Week and published in Smart Brief.

MavenMagnet presented exclusive data at Advertising Week on Wednesday that highlights how brands should react to the tense political environment in the US.

The marketing analytics company studied the reaction of British consumers to two distinct campaigns from brands in reaction to President Trump’s proposed immigration ban earlier this year: Budweiser’s television ad that highlighted the beer company’s immigration roots and Nike’s more direct campaign that included an open letter opposing the policy.

In short, Budweiser’s campaign was a win, while Nike’s was not – even though both companies were on the same side of the issue. MavenMagnet assessed that Budweiser garnered a positive “net vibe” of 32%, while Nike saw a negative net vibe of 17%.

The “Born the Hard Way” TV spot traced the immigrant roots of Budweiser’s founder, interweaving the immigration debate with the brand in an authentic way, MavenMagnet CEO Aditya Ghuwalewala said. It drove positive association for the brand while maintaining a safe distance from political and cultural mudslinging.

But Nike’s open letter was far more direct and prompted negative reaction from President Donald Trump and his supporters. It also prompted conversations about Nike’s working conditions around the world, sparking social media posts that included the word “hypocrisy,” and questions around why Nike’s ads focused on African Americans when the America’s immigrants are more diverse.

The findings echo larger conversations happening at Advertising Week about accountability. The lesson for marketers is clear, says MavenMagnet’s Cleve Langton.

“Basically, if you’re going to take a stand, make sure you clean up your own house before you start commenting on somebody else,” he said.

Grid and Maze

Manhattan, for the most part, is a grid. It is easy to navigate. The simple layout of the city makes it intuitive and predictable. You can go from point A to point B without much effort.

Indore, my hometown in India, or for that matter most cities in the World that are not developed on a grid pattern, can be called a maze. It is not easy to navigate unless you have a GPS or have intimate knowledge of the place. The city has grown without a planned layout, so to go from point A to point B, you need help.

Grid and maze analogy is a simple way to contrast something intuitive, simple and well-planned to something non-intuitive, complex and in some cases over-planned.

It’s as much applicable for designing products, and even websites and presentations. The most useful designs are the ones that are simple and intuitive. Design that makes the outcome second nature. The design that makes product easy and pleasant to use. The design that doesn’t need a manual (which is equally complicated) to explain how to use your product.

The key is to understand who your customer is and then design your product in a way your target customer finds it pleasant to use. Anything, no matter how complex it is, should be simplified to a level your customer finds it easy to use. Don’t kill the sophistication, hide it or present it in a way that is easy to consume for your customer.

My engineering mindset often pushes me in the direction of sharing with clients the amount of sophistication that went into the technology and technique to extract actionable insights. It is important for the client to know that there is science and data behind what they are using so that they can build trust on the outcome and they use it to make a critical business decision. We present it in a way that is simple for a marketing person to understand the engineering behind our product.

100 Days of Trump Fights with Brands

Originally published in Ad Age

In the hyper-partisan Trump era, brands have been caught up in conflicts with the president, his supporters and his opponents at breathtaking speed. And consumers have jumped on every one of them.

As voters take stock of President Trump’s first 100 days in office, Ad Age asked research firm MavenMagnet to help evaluate the impact so far on seven brands that got caught up in what you might call Trump fights: CNN, Delta, Lyft, Macy’s, Nordstrom, The New York Times and Uber.

Its analysis of more than 6,400 online conversations about brands and Trump from election day through April 1 suggests that while diving (or falling) into the thicket of national politics is probably best avoided for marketers, the outcome is not preordained.

Consider two brands that that got very different reactions to their Trump fights: Nordstrom and Lyft. When Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump’s clothing line, online discussion about it had an overall positive 24% “net vibe,” with 62% of conversations on the subject favorable to the brand and 37% negative. That was the best that any of the brands evaluated did.

Lyft, which made an ACLU donation in opposition to President Trump’s first travel ban just as Uber was accused of profiteering during a related taxi strike, generated a net vibe of minus 32%, according to MavenMagnet.


Online conversation about seven brands’ dust-ups with the president and partisans skewed against the brands on the whole.


Source: MavenMagnet. Methodology: MavenMagnet analyzed 6,421 conversations in social media, on blogs, in forums and elsewhere online between Nov. 8, 2016, and April 1, 2017, selecting only conversations pegged to brands’ conflicts with President Trump, his supporters and his opponents.

MavenMagnet conducted analysis of digital conversations in channels including social media posts as well as forums and article comments. All conversations and posts evaluated by the company for this research related to the brands’ interactions with Trump and Trump policy, said Aditya Ghuwalewala, CEO of MavenMagnet. “Trump amplified the feelings around these things.”

The unpredictability of the Trump effect also played out for two media outlets evaluated. Although Trump has long disparaged both CNN and the New York Times, they fared quite differently in public conversation online during the period measured.

The media brands
Maligned by Trump as “fake news” along with other news outlets in February, and previously mocked as “Clinton News Network,” discussion of CNN in that context had a negative 8% net vibe. Terms including “fake,” “biased,” “reputation” and “truth” all surfaced as important words surrounding the brand, though from negative or neutral perspectives, according to MavenMagnet.

The news brand Trump likes to refer to as “failing,” however? The New York Times seemed to get a positive spark from the Trump effect, enjoying a 16% positive net vibe in the period assessed. And as with CNN, the conversation around the Gray Lady’s brand and Trump was driven by what MavenMagnet refers to as customer accountability measures, where the Times spurred more positive sentiment than negative. Yet some of the same terms that crept into CNN discussions came up often in those conversations about the Times, including “fake” and “truth,” both from neutral points of view.

In the three weeks following the election, the New York Times told CNBC its subscription sales grew 10 times faster than in the same period the year before, netting an additional 132,000 paid subscriptions.

“While the pro-Trump segment believed Trump’s allegations of the publication fabricating news to propagate anti-Trump opinion, a larger majority believed in the legacy of the publication and supported it for exposing Trump,” MavenMagnet said in its report.

The Times was also among media brands cashing in this week on Trump’s criticism, running ads for Comedy Central’s new series parodying the president that play off his “failing” and “fake news” jabs.

The retailers
And then there were the two retailers who were swept up in Trump-related controversy. Nordstrom, which dropped Ivanka Trump’s clothing line in February, blaming poor sales, achieved the highest “net vibe” of any brand measured, at positive 24%.

Trump famously tweeted at the time, “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly” by the Nordstrom.

The company seems to have been saved from overall negativity in part because its explanation for dumping Ivanka Trump’s brand was focused on its poor sales performance — not pressure from the #GrabYourWallet boycott effort, which pressured consumers to stop spending with companies affiliated with anything Trump-related.

Macy’s, however, did not fare so well. The retailer had ditched Ivanka’s dad’s menswear line way back in July 2015, after he referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals as he kicked off his presidential campaign. Yet, it appears consumer memories of that move may have been a little fuzzy after the election, when the brand was stung by the #GrabYourWallet campaign.

“The majority of the buzz around Macy’s political affiliation was led by conservatives and Trump supporters who decided to boycott Macy’s for banning Trump’s line and caving into banning Ivanka Trump’s line,” noted MavenMagnet’s research. Macy’s never did actually dump her clothing line, though, and it appears the negative perception was partially spurred on by misinformation.

According to the firm’s analysis, Macy’s, which has also been plagued by news of layoffs and store closures, had the lowest net vibe of all brands measured at minus 90%.

The transportation brands
“Customer accountability” was also a factor affecting brand perception for Delta. After United Airlines forcibly removed a passenger from a plane this month, some may have forgotten about what happened on a Delta flight in late November when a passenger bullied others to support the new president, shouting, “He’s your president, every g—— one of [you]. If you don’t like it, too bad.”

Delta banned the passenger from its flights for life, but made the mistake of allowing him to stay on the plane, which caused discomfort for other passengers. Overall, 35% of Delta conversations related to Trump were linked to customer accountability, and 62% of those were negative.

Delta also elicited allegations of racism by people who believed that it would have kicked the disruptive passenger off the plane if he hadn’t been white. As a result, 8% of Trump-tied discussions around Delta revolved around social responsibility, all of them negative.

After its brush with the Trump effect, Delta’s net vibe was low: negative 38%.

For ride-sharing competitors Uber and Lyft, the social responsibility factor played a big role in framing consumer perception.

In the wake of the Trump administration’s initial attempt to ban travel into the U.S. by people from several majority-Muslim countries, Uber’s decision to reduce surge pricing during an airport taxi strike in protest sparked a lot of discussion about the brand’s social responsibility. The decision “was appreciated as a responsible act where Uber stepped up to support the consumers who were left stranded at the airport because of the taxi strike,” according to the report.

In fact, the research shows the term “stepped up” had the most positive impact among terms associated with Uber in the period measured. The “delete” of “#DeleteUber” boycott fame also turned up as an influential term, but in a negative way, of course.

Despite the fact that others criticized Uber for “sabotaging” the taxi strike, discussion was split nearly evenly. In all, the Trump-related conversations revolving around Uber and social responsibility were 54% negative.

Uber’s executive leadership also came into question, and according to MavenMagnet, 62% of conversations about the leadership team and CEO Travis Kalanick, who stepped down from President Trump’s economic advisory council, were negative. “Concerns around Kalanick’s ethics were led by his linkages with Trump,” noted the report.

Uber’s net vibe through it all was minus 19%.

In the midst of the #DeleteUber fiasco, Lyft made the bold move to publicly donate $1 million to the ACLU, partly in hopes of reinforcing its pro-immigrant stance to woo people frustrated with Uber.

Only 9% of the conversations tracked around Lyft in relation to Trump were related to the brand’s political leanings, though 67% of those were negative, “led by conservatives who disliked the anti-Trump measure of supporting ACLU.”

Around 30% of the Lyft discussion revolved around social responsibility, although, using MavenMagnet’s metrics as a gauge, the brand’s ACLU donation bet may have backfired. Seventy percent of those conversations were negative. “Lyft’s donation to ACLU was criticized by the right-wing Trump supporters who saw it as an anti-American act of supporting illegal immigrants who were perceived to be responsible for unemployment and terrorism in the country,” MavenMagnet noted.

In all, Lyft, which chose to wade into the treacherous political waters rather than being thrust into them, generated a negative 32% net vibe, not far off from Delta’s 38%.

What they’re saying about autonomous technology

Published in Autonomous News
Web Link:

In the aftermath of the crash, consumers remain optimistic that autonomous drive is the “next big thing in the auto space,” a study shows.

MavenMagnet, a social data research company with offices in New York and Mumbai, India, conducted this study.

The study analyzed 3,081 conversations from Jan. 1 to Aug. 15. The conversations were evenly distributed before and after news of the fatal crash of a Tesla using Autopilot became public on July 30.

MavenMagnet analyzes data from all digital sources — including social networks, communities, forums, chat rooms and product reviews — to provide insights about U.S. attitudes toward emerging and rapidly evolving topics such as autonomous vehicles. Its work for corporate clients has included analysis of more than 40 vehicle nameplates.

Perhaps predictably, online conversations about autonomous vehicles turned markedly negative this summer after a fatal crash involving the driver of a Tesla Model S operated in Autopilot mode.

What’s less predictable — and more encouraging to developers of self-driving vehicles — is that consumers remain optimistic that autonomous drive is the “next big thing in the auto space,” according to a new study done for Automotive News.

MavenMagnet, a social data research company that combs through online discussions, noted the changing attitudes by comparing comments before and after the Tesla accident became news on July 30.

The study sifted through thousands of conversations. It analyzed U.S. consumers, trying to sort out their attitudes toward a disruptive technology with positive and negative possibilities.

“It was not a surprise that safety was a big concern and became a bigger concern,” said Aditya Ghuwalewala, MavenMagnet founder. “What was more surprising was that even after the accident, there was optimism that this was the next big thing.”

Ghuwalewala added that people posting opinions online split over the responsibilities of human drivers and autonomous technology.

“It’s a very engaging topic, from the look of the conversations,” he said.

Another division was between consumers who want to keep driving themselves — except in traffic jams – – and those who apparently can’t wait until they can nap, text or watch a movie while being transported autonomously.

Cleve Langton, MavenMagnet president, said that reflects “the tedium of driving vs. the pleasure of driving: “Oh my God, I face this commute every morning, and if I could just zone out, that would be great.’ And then there’s the visceral satisfaction of driving.”


Context: the virtual box around a quote or conversation. This is the interpreter box that helps you make sense of the conversation. This is the savior box that helps politicians defend pretty much any statement by saying that it was quoted out of context.

So let’s put things into context. We give a whole lot of importance to context when making sense of big social data. The idea is to differentiate between virgin the airline, virgin the mobile and “virgin”–anything that is pure. When you want to extract insights from the perception of your consumers, you got to get rid of conversations that have nothing to do with your brand/product. We at MavenMagnet call it chaos elimination using social mapping technology. The intent is to leave nothing that is in context and keep nothing that is not in that particular context. This helps us analyze a whole lot of relevant and contextual data with high degree of accuracy and provide actionable recommendations swiftly and comprehensively.