Like most Coloradans, I’ve been checking the Colorado
Department of Public Health & Environment’s COVID-19 case counts webpage daily. And as a Gen Xer,
I was struck by the proportion of cases among those of us in our 40s and 50s,
which seemed higher than I’d expected based on the size of our cohort in the
population. So, I grabbed Colorado’s 2020 population data from DOLA and made this
graph. As I’d thought, Gen Xers have more than our share of COVID-19 cases,
though so does everyone over age 30. Compared to older groups, there are way
fewer cases among young people aged 0 to 19, and just slightly fewer for people
in their 20s.
To be fair, because Colorado is only testing people with more
serious symptoms, this graph really shows the distribution of serious COVID-19 cases. We don’t really know if young people are less likely to
contract the disease. A lot of news reports have suggested that younger people
have milder cases or are asymptomatic, and those groups can’t get widely tested
yet. As testing ramps up, we’ll report back on how this picture changes.
Until then, keep laying low, Colorado! I’ll be at home
making graphs for fun in Excel. 😊
Usually the Decennial Census is an exciting time for survey
nerds. First, we get a wealth of new population data to use for our projects.
Additionally, we learn how well any new data collection methods used by the
Census worked. Plus, it’s just a really impressive survey effort. It’s
available in more than 50
But beyond helping with survey methods, why is the Census so
important? Sure, it’s nice to know how many people live in an area, but is it
that critical? Actually, the Census provides invaluable data that determines
all sorts of things, from Congressional representation to federal funding. Many
organizations from all different sectors (e.g., private businesses, public
government, local nonprofits, etc.) use Census data to plan. For example, it
can help people decide whether a new elementary school should be built in a
neighborhood, whether a new store would likely thrive in a new location,
whether you should offer your programming in another language at your
However, even before COVID-19 was ramping up in the US, the
Census was already a bit behind in preparing for the Decennial Census. The printing
was initially delayed, and they also were behind
in their hiring goals for Census workers. But now COVID-19 has thrown a
huge wrench in how the Census normally collects data, which might
impact its accuracy. For example, normally college students are counted in
their dorms, but with a significant portion of them finishing the year via
online classes, the Census has had to change their approach. Additionally, the
Census normally sends field workers to the homes of people who have not responded
to the mailings. So far, those operations are suspended
through the end of the month, and they may need to be delayed further.
If you’re like us, you’ve received ~1,000,000 emails from
seemingly every organization in the world at this point with a subject line
like “COVID-19 Update” or “How we’re supporting you during the coronavirus
Using our qualitative analysis software, we thought we’d
have some fun analyzing the language being used in these COVID-19 update
emails. So, we analyzed the emails from 80 organizations across a range of
sectors and industries to see what we might learn. This analysis is by no
means intended to be representative of entire industries, but it does give us
some insight into the messages being prioritized by organizations during this
We grouped the emails into the following categories, then
analyzed the text for the most frequently used words across each category:
Overall, capturing the most frequently used words across all 80 organizations (word cloud above)
Purpose-driven organizations, including education, cultural, and government organizations
Hospitality, transportation, and travel, including airlines, hotels, and transit
Food and retail
Health and wellness, including medical and exercise
We were Corona long before that pandemic thing was corona. Here’s the story of how we were named.
How Corona Insights Got Our Name
A well-known quote says that “There’s no such thing as bad
publicity.” It’s commonly attributed to
P.T. Barnum, though there’s no definitive proof that he was the originator.
I guess we at Corona Insights will test that theory in the
coming months, but we hope that no one holds our name against us. It’s a really cool name and we’re really nice
people. And unlike the quote above, we
know we know the provenance of our name.
So if you want a mild diversion, I’ll tell you the story of how Corona
Insights came to be named.
I founded the company in 1999. At the time, I was the only employee, so the
company’s work was whatever I found interesting. At the time, the Denver market had a need for
strong market research and I was very interested in the field. I had done some projects in my previous job
as outliers from the company’s core work, and I found the process and outcomes
of market research to be fascinating.
So I decided to fill the market gap, and I quit my job to
start our company.
But what should I name it?
I knew that the name would be important, so I started doing my due
diligence. I decided that there are
three types of names for companies.
First, some people name the company after themselves, such as “Raines
Research”. I didn’t like that at all. It seemed egotistical, and I had a vision
that I would build a company that had value beyond my own reputation. So that possibility was rejected immediately.
had your share of emails about COVID-19, its impacts, and what organizations
are doing to cope (and to help you cope, too). As many are right now, we’re
taking this seriously and doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Insights is not typically a consumer-facing company, our work does bring us
into contact with our community, from conducting in-person research, to
community activities with our clients, and of course our clients themselves.
It’s a rapidly evolving situation, but here is where we stand as of today.
Research participation. Recruiting for in-person research (e.g., focus groups largely) has largely been postponed with few exceptions. Beyond just the challenges, we feel this is the right thing to do at this time as we want participants, clients, and staff to be safe and comfortable in their participation. We have not yet seen impacts via other research modes. We’ll continue to monitor the situation and current recommendations with our partners to assess additional needed changes.
Research impacts. Beyond just participation, we’re recommending assessing the impact, if any, on the project itself, such as the impact the current situation will likely have on some research topics.
Project timelines. Whether it’s due to a reason above, or clients themselves being swamped, we are helping mitigate potential delays as best we can. We’ve always been flexible for our clients’ needs and that’s true now more than ever.
What Corona is
Proactively managing projects. Corona is advising clients about the impact COVID-19 is having, or will likely have, on our work together, as well as how we recommend addressing it.
Altering research modes. Corona’s has a breadth of research tools and we are working with our clients to determine if and when it is appropriate to either change how we’re collecting data (e.g., moving more research online) or delaying research if we think the current impacts can’t be mitigated enough.
Recognizing the increased possibility of response bias. With an unprecedented level of societal changes happening to tackle COVID-19, we want to do what we can to avoid collecting data in a non-normal state right now. For instance, we recommended delaying one project that has to do with transportation, including public transit. Due to transit being used less right now, we will wait until behaviors return to normal before continuing with the study. We’re happy to talk through this with any clients who might have questions.
Working from home. Remote offices are nothing new for Corona except now it’s mandated. Staff will only be in the office as needed for critical functions, and we will determine the need for in-person meetings on a per client basis (most, perhaps all, have already moved to virtual or been rescheduled).
The marketplace is more crowded than ever with issues, causes, and candidates vying for attention as the election cycle kicks into high gear. It’s never been more challenging to be heard among so many competing messages targeted at your customer. That’s why Differentiation Zone is the tool of our time—the customer era. Differentiation Zone leads you to discover your customer’s mindset and helps you accelerate strategic success.
What trends are affecting your mission delivery? I’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, let’s bring these broad issues into view and explore what they mean for us today and the coming months. Welcome to Viewfinder 2020. Together we’ll explore the mega shifts impacting our lives across work, play, and home.
For years, qualitative market research has been dominated by focus groups and one-on-one interviews. Each methodology offers benefits. However, as timelines shrink and research objectives expand, it may be time to rethink our “go-to” qualitative methods. This blog will discuss the shortcomings of traditional methods and how refreshed methodological approaches can overcome these pitfalls.
We all know the stereotype—a focus group room with a two-way
mirror providing a thin veil between participants and researchers. It has long
been argued that this barrier maximizes participants’ comfort and allows for
authentic, unbiased, discussions. The two-hour focus group is typically
designed as a question-answer format with activities peppered throughout to
break up the monotony. Historically, activities ask participants to complete a
task individually and then share their thoughts and responses with the group.
This approach is especially effective when delving into emotions or personal
reactions. However, researchers are increasingly designing focus group activities
that are group-based and co-created.
At Corona, we have eagerly implemented co-creation
activities for marketing campaign and message testing projects. In 2019, we
were working with a local association developing messaging for a new nonprofit giving-based
program called Refund What Matters. Participants were asked to get in groups of 2-3 and create a print
advertisement for the program. More specifically, they were asked to come up
with a visual for the print ad, a tagline, and a hashtag. The client observed
as the participants worked together to create their advertisements. The advertisements
revealed the inner thoughts and motivations for nonprofit giving and the
discussion between participants while creating the advertisements provided
insight into how Colorado residents may try and pitch this giving program to
their family members, peers, and coworkers.
A while ago, I started seeing this chart floating around the internet that categorizes things based on good vs. evil and
lawful vs. chaotic. Apparently, I was not hardcore nerd enough to recognize
that the chart was from the game Dungeons
and Dragons. And the hilarious thing is that this chart seems to be able to
group all sorts of things and people in an intuitive way. You can even take a
quiz to find out which group you fall into.
I think one of the reasons that this chart is so popular is
because human brains love patterns and ways of organizing pieces of
information. From psychology research we know that if you have some type of mental
framework for organizing information, like a schema or a story, it is suddenly
way easier to remember that information, process that information, figure out
whether a new piece of information belongs, etc.
Conversations about research design often devolve into
arguments about the relative merits of quantitative and qualitative approaches.
One easy way to resolve these debates is to employ tools from both methods when
answering the question at hand. Mixed methods research, or work that uses both
qualitative and quantitative analysis, has become increasingly common in social
and behavioral sciences over the last decade. As evident in the graph below, a
rapidly growing share of abstracts mention mixed methods and Google’s NGram data (a count of a
word’s instances across millions of scanned books) shows an 800% increase in
the term “mixed methods” over a similar, 14 year period. Recent articles have
highlighted a similar rise in popularity in market
health research, and ad
Add to that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which creates challenges for research via cell phones in particular, and rules around pharma in some cases (mainly around if you’re allowed to incentivize doctors to participate in research), and our operating environment seems to get more complex by the day.
All of these
regulations, as well as smaller or state-specific rules, have had significant
ripple effects. Even if you don’t think you do business within these geographic
boundaries, you are likely impacted by their reach. Even in our home state of
Colorado, we have had new laws surrounding consumer data.