SIVO INSIGHTS On-Demand Talent™ Matching the Right Talent to Your Needs

“Look for new areas of customer need created by change, rather than being intimidated by the change.”*   

By: Marilyn Weiss, Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer

SIVO Insights identified a need in the marketplace while listening to our client, a forward-thinking CMO, tell us she was having trouble finding the right Insights talent to meet her needs.  She was looking for a seasoned expert at consumer research AND a strategist to bring structure and a strong voice to the table.

Does this sound familiar?  Large and small companies all around us are reducing headcount with changes in the economy and more recently, the impact of the pandemic.  As business needs continue to change, it is critical to have the right talent, while also staying agile and resilient.  Other functions like HR and Finance have already been using staffing models to flex with changing needs, why not Consumer Insights?

We looked to offer a solution to our client, providing one of our experienced strategy and insight professionals for a 3-month pilot.  The success of this pilot not only led to a long-term resource for our client, but also highlighted the larger opportunity for flexible Insights talent in the marketplace. 

Taking a proactive approach to these shifts, we developed and launched SIVO Insights On-Demand Talent. This platform enables us to leverage our extensive pool of Insights professionals with years of experience and expertise to meet and evolve around the changing needs of our clients.  Whether you need an Insights resource to fill an open position or lead and manage a strategic project, we can match the right talent to your unique needs.

We’re so excited about our On-Demand TalentTM offering and the solution it provides. We will be sharing more about it in a series of upcoming posts on staffing benefits and customized solutions for you.

For more information, you can also visit our website, SIVO Insights On-Demand Talent or email  We’d love to talk to you about your needs and how we can match the right talent to quickly make an impact.

* Minneapolis Star Tribune, “What’s next for COVID-19 business moves.”

SIVO Strategy: Plant-Based Food Alternatives: Motivations, Barriers and More – Part 2

By: Marilyn Weiss, Chief Innovation Officer

Part 1 shared learning around generational nuances within the plant-based food category.  In case you missed it, check it out here.

In Part 2, we share motivations, barriers and the critical role of taste.

Motivations & Barriers

Motivations & barriers to plant-based eating are influenced by generation as well as consumer segment across the health-taste continuum. Since growth of goods and services tend to ignite when the interest becomes mainstream, we focused this analysis among the mainstream segment versus a specific wellness segment.  WHY?  Because for plant-based to continue the growth-momentum, the products in this segment will need to appeal to mainstream consumers beyond vegans & vegetarians.

Mainstream Motivations appear to be:

  • About options:  not rejecting traditional protein sources
  • Looking for healthy choices that taste good, are easily accessible, and work within their busy lifestyles
  • Dipping a toe into a healthier lifestyle or Plant-based eating because:
    • Plant-based is perceived as healthier than animal-based options
    • Feel ‘better’ about what they are eating and its ‘better for the environment’

Mainstream Barriers appear to be:

  • New Behavior: “I’m too set in my eating habits to make the change.”
  • Ingredient Labels: People are asking more questions about the product’s formulation and ingredients.  Labels are under scrutiny.
  • Taste:  expect it to ‘taste like cardboard.’  Taste is the foundation for a Plant-based experience.


When it comes to food, taste is paramount – it is the foundation. No surprise there.

However, whether driven by animal welfare or personal health reasons, there is a threshold on taste for plant-based foods. For some, taste is a barrier because the expectation is just too low.  Yet, many have been delighted that the taste has exceeded their expectations. While it doesn’t need to taste exactly like the analog product (i.e., Almond Milk to Dairy Milk), it does need to taste good enough to warrant re-purchase and a place in dietary routines. 

Taste expectations will differ across consumer segments. For example, a Vegan consumer is more accepting that a plant-based meat alternative doesn’t taste exactly like meat because a Vegan is a non-meat eater. For a Flexitarian or someone simply cutting back on meat consumption, there is a desire for the plant-based alternative to come very close to the “real deal!”

At SIVO Insights, we guide brands to focus on their customers, realizing the power of that relationship and delivering insights to strengthen that connection. It’s about truly understanding what people value, finding their gain points as well as solving their pain points and delivering a stellar consumer or customer experience. We work across many industries and verticals bringing the “voice of the consumer” to bear in business decisions. 

Connect with us at to learn more, collaboratively share ideas and create a custom research plan for your needs!

SIVO Strategy: Plant Based Food Alternative Growth Drivers – Part 1

By: Marilyn Weiss, Chief Innovation Officer

Plant-based food alternatives are all the rage – surpassing trend-status and becoming a mainstream staple in people’s diets.  We wanted to know WHY.

We’ve had the privilege of leading primary research for start-ups and large Fortune 500 companies entering the Plant-based segment from Dairy to Meat Alternatives to Quick-Serve Restaurants (QSR) and Beauty.

Given the popularity of this category and our own innate curiosity, we conducted research using social media monitoring to better understand the WHAT, WHO, and WHY behind consumers of plant-based foods.   

We collaborated with our strategic partner, Metametrix, a cultural context analysis tool ( to gain a 360 view of key growth drivers.  Human anthropologists by nature, we also talked one-on-one with plant-based consumers to ensure their voice was represented accurately and distinctively.

As a result, we uncovered three main drivers for plant-based food choice: 

  1. Animal Welfare
  2. Environment & Sustainability
  3. Health Benefits

These opportunity areas appear to be driven differentially by generations or life stage, as noted in the below diagram:

Nuances by Generations

Gen Z is significantly less likely than older generations to believe meat is a central part of an American identify / culture – for example, “Friendsgiving” doesn’t mean turkey is at the center of the plate. This generation is more aware than the general population that animal agriculture damages the environment.  They value animal welfare & environmental sustainability more than previous generations and are willing to spend more on sustainable food.

Millennials or Gen Y are the top consumers of Plant-based meat alternatives. This generation has adopted Plant-based meat alternatives as a way to indulge sensibly while addressing their long-term health goals and animal treatment concerns.  Millennials recognize the environmental impact their food choices have on society and the environment. They embrace shopping (and eating) with a conscience.  Millennials with children are more likely to consume Plant-based meats than millennials without children at home.

Gen Xers are also a core consumer group of Plant-based meat alternatives, and because many in this group are parents of Gen Z’s, they are raising their Gen Z children on Plant-based food and beverages. This generation may be getting educated by their children in the environmental & sustainable aspects of the Plant-based movement or they experience a personal health crisis or a health-benefit associated with eating Plant-based foods.

Boomers appear to be decelerating consumption of Plant-based meat alternatives but are the top consumers of Plant-based dairy alternatives. This generation is more likely to come to the Plant-based segment through a dietary or health need.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we examine and dive deeper into motivations and barriers and the critical role of taste in plant-based foods. 

Connect with us at to learn more, collaboratively share ideas and create a custom research plan for your needs in this space!

Innovating to Meet Client Needs: Introducing SIVO Flexible WorkForce TM

By: Marilyn Weiss, Co-Founder, Chief Innovation Officer

What do iconic brands and artists like Madonna, Chobani, Apple, Queen, Nike and Old Spice all have in common?

Innovation. And the guts to do it. All of these brands have proven this to be true time and time again. It’s (partly) why they are iconic. They have each reinvented themselves at times when their brand life stage or relevance in people’s lives would have otherwise expired.

While necessity may be the mother of invention, at SIVO Insights we believe the need for relevance is the mother of innovation.  

Sometimes being “innovative” means creating a brand-new idea for a product or service, sometimes it is about a new application or method, and sometimes it’s flipping an idea on its head and reinventing something through a creative lens or with a fresh perspective. 

In every case, innovation is about meeting or anticipating a need – a need that is of value to end users.

SIVO Insights continually innovates, both for the insights and brand work we do with our clients, as well as for our own business. 

The consumer insights industry and profession has changed dramatically over the last 5-10 years, and client needs have shifted right along with it. We see a growing trend taking place in consumer insights departments across organizations: department sizes and resources are shrinking but demands and goals are not. The work still needs to get done.

Rooted in this insight, we developed a concept, got feedback, iterated and created an innovative solution called SIVO Insights Flexible WorkForce™.

What is SIVO Insights Flexible WorkForce™?

Clients trust and value the insights and strategy work SIVO provides.  Now, by tapping into our exceptional pool of insights professionals, they can trust us as a resource for trusted insights talent as well – to fill in open positions, lead and manage projects or initiatives, to navigate research tech, and more. Customized as we do when designing each and every research plan, this offering flexes with the need: scope, long-term to short-term and range of experience levels from executional to strategic.

Having worked with Fortune 100 companies, start-ups and mega brands over the last 10 years, SIVO’s intimate understanding of consumer insights talent levels and skills make it a unique solution that general staffing agencies can’t provide.

We’re already providing talent to Target Corporation, Wells Blue Bunny and Foster Farms. I recently connected with Helen Kurtz, CMO for Foster Farms, and asked about her experience with SIVO Flexible WorkForce™.

Helen Kurtz
CMO, Foster Farms

What need did you have and why did you choose to address it in this way (vs. a full-time position or with traditional staffing)?

“When I joined Foster Farms, the company had never had Consumer Insights (CI) talent in house. They had always outsourced the testing and counted on Marketing to interpret and drive strategy from results. I knew from my past how critical having a CI role was and wanted to have talent that would immediately hit the ground running. I also wasn’t sure if the role would be full time or less, so I needed a flexible solution.”

Why was SIVO the right partner to fill this need?

“I immediately spoke with SIVO about my dilemma and opportunity, thinking that they would have some recommendations. They helped source a talented professional for my specific situation. I couldn’t be happier with the result; the person SIVO recommended and placed has been an amazing fit and made an immediate impact. Plus, with the power of SIVO resources behind her, she is able to work efficiently and effectively. Importantly, our company is headquartered in California and even from 2,000 miles away and a 2-hour time difference, I’ve found it to be seamless and just as effective (in most ways better) than an in-house situation.”

What tips or advice do you have for other client-side insight professionals with this need?

“Be really clear about your needs with SIVO. If you’re like us and will have someone working for you remotely, be planful about travel requirements, and make time for status updates about the arrangement, since that person won’t have access to ‘in the hall’ conversations.”

We are excited to do the same for you. To learn about how SIVO can support your insight talent needs, please contact us at

Could Millennials Be Misunderstood? Working with This Creative and Innovative Generation

Written by:  Marilyn Weiss, Founding Partner

As seen through the lens of older generations, millennials get blamed for a lot. Who ruined the taxi industry?  Millennials. What ever happened to bar soap? Millennials. Brunch, vacation, cereal…millennials are killing it all.  But I’m finding this judgment is misplaced.  If we employ true empathy to see millennials through their eyes, we get a much fuller picture of their struggles, strengths and potential.

SIVO Hosted Roundtable


At SIVO, we regularly hold roundtable discussions to learn from and build empathy for groups who are different from us.  We’ve hosted several sessions like this with millennials, and the conversations were enlightening. Our intent was to rise above the generational stereotypes and get to a deeper understanding of this group that is often maligned.

I realized the beauty of this group is they are reinventing life to fit their needs—and changing products and business models for everyone else in the process.

As I heard the stories from these young people, I found that the stereotypes surrounding them seem to be more myth than reality:

MythMillennials are lazy.

Reality:  They are hard-working people who are doing their best.  Many have college degrees, but they also have crushing student debt, so they work where and when they can and not always in their chosen field. They want more flexibility and time to travel, so they are redefining what work looks like.  It’s not laziness – it’s being creative to invent the work/life balance they seek.  So, working with millennials could be easier with an understanding of their underlying reasons for seeking flexibility.

MythMillennials are ruining industries.

Reality:  They are questioning the status quo (Why does everyone need to drive their own car? Why do you need a diamond to get engaged?), and then finding better ways to do things – like ride sharing, meal kits, and flexible work schedules.  I think we should harness the questioning and creative nature of millennials to reinvent processes and products that are overdue for a refresh.

MythMillennials aren’t loyal.

Reality:  They are loyal to their craft, but not necessarily to one company or one industry.  They are willing to work hard when it matters, but they are not willing to simply be a cog in a wheel.  It’s more important than ever to better understand their motivations.  That way, companies and millennials can work in a mutually collaborative environment.

Myth: Millennials can be difficult to work with.

Reality:  They really do like collaboration, just as much as any other cohort.  They want to be treated with respect.  They like to feel fulfilled and valued.  They prefer to skip all those meetings and use effective technology instead.  They are aching to be heard, trusted and taught instead of being given tasks and orders.  Their eagerness for bigger responsibilities is refreshing.  We should give them the chance to shine.

Being heard and understood feels good


MythMillennials think they know everything.

Reality:  Well, they do know tons about technology—but they also crave mentorship and collaboration.  This group is often given a lot of responsibility early in their work lives because they frequently have the digital intelligence that their older colleagues may lack. Yet, despite their digital savvy, they still need and want the social and emotional guidance that comes from years of working experience.

Recognizing what makes millennials tick is important for our business at SIVO in a few ways.  We help guide our clients who crave more understanding around this group when targeting services and products to them.  We also get asked by companies to help them understand their multi-generational workforce through an employee insight lens.

I personally appreciate their growing list of contributions.  After all, isn’t liquid soap more convenient than bar soap? And do we always need to rent a car when we are out of town for a quick meeting, when a Lyft is so much easier?  These are positive changes and innovations, new business models, products and ways of shopping – all thanks to millennials.

# # #


Monthly Musings with Marilyn: The Slash Generation


According to a recent New York Times Article “The Lives Of Millennial Career Jugglers,” today’s youth switches back and forth between different modalities of fulfillment. This new phenomenon has developed a self-proclaimed “slash” mentality; Doctor/Writer, Scientist/Baker, Researcher/Artist, etc. “While one job usually pays the bills, another gig provides a more creative outlet,” points out the author, Sheila Mirakar. “More than hobbyists, these career jugglers consider their cocktail of roles essential to their well-being and dismiss the notion that they ought to focus on one thing for the rest of their adult lives as boring and antiquated.”

Every generation has a unique driving force that shapes their beliefs about life, work and society. The “Greatest Generation” grew of age during war and depression, which generated the value of profound labor to provide for their families. The Baby Boomers, blessed with their parents’ work ethic and a slew of opportunity, carved the pathway to white-collar careers and honored the value of an esteemed education and the pursuit of the American Dream. Though often targeted as a generation penetrated by laziness and indirection, the tides of interest for Millennials have simply shifted.

Rather than “keeping up with the Joneses,” Millennials believe that career juggling necessitates a more minimalistic lifestyle, at least until their creative entrepreneurship takes off, becoming another burgeoning start-up born out of the generation’s creative and technologically-advanced culture. Thus, they invest their resources into products and services that are disposable, community-oriented, and environmentally conscious.

Since permanence is not a priority to this young generation, companies must adjust their marketing efforts to suit the needs of a populace obsessed with the ability to be malleable in their choices.

Those that make it a priority to “keep up with the Millennials,” will have the opportunity to create brand advocates for life. The choice is up to you – adapt, invest, and understand, or risk the chance of getting slashed from the Millennial equation.


~ Marilyn Weiss

President & Founding Partner


Monthly Musings with Marilyn: Generation Nice

Generation Nice Blog Image

More often than not, the millennial generation has been portrayed in a less than flattering light. Commonly described as narcissists, unreliable, self absorbed and lackadaisical, this growing cohort lives under a constant microscope of criticism and speculation from the greater world. But perhaps we’ve been getting it all wrong? Currently estimated to number at least 80 million in the United States alone, millennials have become a dominant demographic force, leaving marketers wondering what’s next, and how to connect with this highly influential generation. It’s time to take a deeper look at who they really are.

Having endured the 9/11 terrorist attacks, The Great Recession and one of the worst economic landscapes in decades, millennials grasp the uncertainties of life and wealth. While one might assume that a generation that has lived through such perilous times, would walk away feeling pessimistic and discouraged, the very opposite is true. Instead, “millennials are the nation’s most dogged optimists,” stated a 2010 Pew Research report on millennials subtitled, “Confident. Connected. Open to Change.”

Millennials also have a very different outlook on lifestyle and spending. According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Even in the realm of fashion, many are indifferent to prestige brands and lavish ad campaigns, preferring to buy online or get “disposable” clothing at H & M or Zara, which boasts that its organically farmed cottons are “completely free of pesticides, chemicals and bleach.”

The millennial generation places a high value on sense of community and practicality over name brands and “keeping up with the Joneses.” Instead, there is a much greater emphasis spent focusing on the things that “truly matter” including, happiness, quality of life, health, and contributing to the greater good.

At Sivo Insights many of our own clients are millennials, and those who aren’t recognize the importance of learning more about them. As a company we also acknowledge the significance of the millennial mindset and incorporate many of the same values and beliefs into our own Sivo culture. For example, we donate 3% of all profits to Breast Cancer Research & Screening – so when clients work with us they know they have also participated in contributing to a higher cause.

With a presence exceeding that of the Baby Boomers, this young and hopeful generation will have more influence in the marketplace than ever before as they enter the prime of their adult lives. So what does this mean for marketers? It’s time to invest in your millennial audience now. Know who they are, understand what they want, and arm yourself with the insights you need to adapt with them in the future. It’s time to break the millennial stereotypes and get acquainted with Generation Nice.

~ Marilyn Weiss

President & Founding Partner



Monthly Musings with Marilyn: Managing Your Message – Leading with Strategic Body Language

As a qualitative researcher I am constantly fascinated by the incredible power of subtle, nonverbal communication. Whether it’s a look, gesture, pose or facial expression, the way we communicate nonverbally can often reveal more about who we are and what we want than words alone. As researchers, it is our job to be so in-tune with the consumer that we pick up on those subtle, nonverbal cues that often reveal the missing pieces to a much larger puzzle. But how often do we stop to ask ourselves, “What is my body language saying about me?”

According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, “Body language strongly affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves.” By making simple tweaks to our body language, we can significantly affect our outcome.

Cuddy explains that “power posing”, or standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect the levels of testosterone and cortisol in the brain, and might ultimately have an impact on our chances for success. Whether it’s raising your hands in the air in a victory pose, or placing a pencil between your teeth to make yourself smile, Cuddy believes that we literally have the power within ourselves to not only “fake it until we make it,” but fake it until we become it.

So before your next meeting with your boss, or before you give a major presentation, try striking a power pose of your own. Simply decide what kind of person you want to be – whether it’s confident, powerful or happy, and sync your body language with that mindset. If your body can portray it, you can become it. You have nothing to lose but a more powerful and confident you.

Learn more from Amy Cuddy in the 21 Minute TED talk featured below. I guarantee it will be well worth your while!

~ Marilyn Weiss

President & Founding Partner


Monthly Musings with Marilyn: Understanding is in the Eye of the Consumer


Recently I stumbled upon a very interesting test in the New York Times called, “Reading the Mind in the Eyes”, where participants study 36 photographs of pairs of eyes and choose one of four adjectives that best describes the correct emotion being portrayed. The test measures a person’s ability to understand others’ emotional states. What does this have to do with Qualitative Research you might ask? Well… everything.

As qualitative researchers, it is our job to be completely in-tune with the moods and emotions of the consumers we interact with. It requires a special ability to pick up on those subtle, non-verbal cues that often carry the greatest meaning. In order to understand the “why” behind a consumers purchase decision, it requires a unique eye-to-eye experience that allows us to see up close and personal what happens at the moment of purchase.

Whether it’s a look of confusion, frustration, or a slight smile before the consumer reaches for a product, every look and movement matter. It’s within those key moments that we are able to reveal breakthrough insights that are often undetected by the average eye. While data may reveal powerful insights about purchase patterns and behavior, it requires a trained eye and a tangible, human connection to discover the unexpected.

~ Marilyn Weiss

President & Founding Partner


Monthly Musings with Marilyn: Power Lies in Context

content is power

Today’s consumers are constantly evaluating and selecting products within an ever-changing context. Experiences ranging from c-stores to club channels, grocery and retail, to online purchases, are inextricably interwoven to the context and mindset of consumer decisions. What does this mean for marketers? Based on the particular context of the consumer, it can radically effect their perceptions of your product, packaging, messaging and price. This is where marketers have a very powerful opportunity to dig deeper and uncover the unique implications of product perception based on the context of the consumer. Qualitative research can provide the answers.

As a qualitative researcher, I really like to think of myself as more of a “humanologist”. It’s my job to get up close and personal with consumers, and get “under the hood” of human behavior. Understanding how the delicate nuances of context translates into which products consumers select for purchase never gets tiring or old. Our human motivations, drives, and persuasions are essentially timeless, and yet ever-changing based on context. For example, a person looking at a product in the context of a crowded, noisy shopping mall may have a completely different perspective about the same product while looking at it in a catalog. Or, a consumer within the context of a movie theater may be willing to spend substantially more money on a box of candy than they would at a c-store store. It’s understanding how to specifically market to your consumer within each unique environment that makes context so powerful.

The effect of context, is an intensely important variable that plays a crucial role in the “not black/not white” nature of humans that continues to intrigue us at Sivo Insights. That’s why we are so passionate about sifting our way through the gray areas to provide our clients with a clear, crisp understanding of their consumer’s contextual behavior. Understanding the effects of context will provide the precise insights you need for anticipating your consumers needs in each unique environment. Is it time to take a deeper look “under the hood” of your consumers?

~ Marilyn Weiss

President & Founding Partner



At SIVO Insights, we are passionate about what we do and eager to put our collective skills to work for you.

To get the right solutions for your research needs, give us a call or send us an email. Or, just fill out the form on your right and we’ll get back to you shortly.

We can't wait to hear from you!
SIVO Insights, Inc.
3185 Fernbrook Lane N
Plymouth, MN 55447
Fields marked with an * are required