Leverage Insights to Become a Best-in-Class Inclusive Employer

“The most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.” –  McKinsey & Company

SIVO Insights recently conducted a national, quantitative study to better understand the current environment with employee diversity and inclusion.  The findings reveal a staggering gap between organizational intent and employee perceptions. 

Gap #1: Employees are unaware of D&I initiatives.

Multiple sources report U.S. companies spending $7-8 billion per year on D&I training, with the average employer spending about $1 million.  Yet we found ONLY ~30% of employees think their employer has a diversity & inclusion initiative / program.  

Gap #2: Despite feeling equipped to work in a diverse environment, most employees DO NOT attribute that to organizational D&I efforts and training.

The vast amount of resources being spent on D&I initiatives are not having their intended effect.   Employees do not feel equipped to manage and improve D&I as a result of organizational efforts. 

So, how can your organization work toward best in-class inclusivity?

Step #1:  Identify problems, issues and gaps within your organization to ensure that you are working on the right solutions.  Understand what matters to your employees so D&I efforts resonate and are meaningful.

What makes employees feel equipped to work with diverse co-workers in the absence of formal training?  Is there a blind spot with your employees and leadership that needs to be explored?  Are you confident your employees are representing your company’s D&I values?


Step #2: Align your D&I initiatives and communication plans to meet your organization’s unique culture and needs. 

Training and learning can take place in a variety of formats.  One of our research participants reflected on the meaning of diversity & inclusion as, “different characteristics and traits of my colleagues…including and learning about one another to form a community at work.” – Female, Age 45-60


Step #3: Enhance employee engagement in the D&I process so that it takes hold within your organization.

Consistent communication from leadership and integration into company values and expectations is integral to the success of D&I initiatives, including training.  Employees will be engaged in the training and initiatives if they are aligned with your unique organizational culture (Step #2).

For additional survey details, visit Best In-Class Employer Infographic or contact@sivoinsights.com to get detailed research study results.   Your organizational success is directly related to how effective and successful your D&I initiatives are.   SIVO Insights can customize an approach to support you in your D&I efforts.

Becoming a Best In-Class Inclusive Retailer

Not surprisingly, our shifting social contexts and cultures are impacting shopper behavior. Investing in understanding consumer, customer and employee needs and how they perceive their experiences has become even more important to retaining shoppers and growing your business. 

Last month, SIVO Insights launched a national, quantitative study to better understand the current environment for BIPOC Shoppers (Black, Indigenous and People of Color).  This study illustrated a wide gap between overall satisfaction vs. Best In-Class inclusiveness.

These responses showcased the importance of not just asking the surface question – “how was your recent shopping experience” – but getting at the heart of shoppers’ thoughts, feelings and beliefs that determine where they shop and where they choose to spend their dollars.

Below are two areas of focus for Best In-Class inclusiveness:

Employee Treatment of Shoppers

“The retailer does not determine the shopper’s experience…it’s the workers!”  – Male, Age 45-60

The treatment of BIPOC shoppers drove more than HALF to quit shopping a store, either because of how they themselves were treated (58%) or how another BIPOC shopper was treated (54%).  How employees treat shoppers is a critical component to becoming a Best-in-Class retailer, yet less than one-third (28%) of employees believe their employer has a Diversity & Inclusion initiative within their organization.

Brand, Product and Community Needs

“Having a diverse range of products and giving back to communities of color” – Male, Age 18-29

More than 60% of BIPOC shoppers have gone out of their way to purchase a brand or product from a retailer or company they consider to be supporting BIPOC shoppers.  Understanding the brand, product and community needs of BIPOC shoppers is another important component to becoming Best-in-Class. 

There are signs of progress, with 45% of BIPOC shoppers saying the retailer they most recently shopped was working to be more inclusive. 

This study only starts the conversation.  It illustrates the importance of understanding your own BIPOC shoppers and digging below the surface to get to the critical components to build loyalty with BIPOC shoppers.

For additional survey details, visit Best In Class Infographic or contact@sivoinsights.com to get detailed study results.   We’d be happy to discuss how we can customize an approach to support you on your path to Best In-Class inclusiveness. 

Get Immediate Impact with the Right Fractional Talent

An innovative, rapidly growing, plant-based food company recently sought SIVO INSIGHTS On-Demand TalentTM to supplement their employee resources in three insights and analytic roles.  They needed immediate expertise in the positions of a Behavioral Data Analytics, Data Analysis and a Senior Manager of Insights.  After understanding the key business needs and focus areas, SIVO INSIGHTS On-Demand TalentTM was able to place fractional talent in all three roles. 

This success story dives deeper into the impact of the Behavioral Data Analytics Expert.

What was the Business Need?

Given the rapid growth within this company, there was an opportunity for a Behavioral Data Analytics expert who understood how to analyze syndicated data and other sources and had industry experience to provide context around the results and insights. 

What Unique Skills did the SIVO Insights Talent Bring to the Role?

The SIVO INSIGHTS On-Demand TalentTM  resource had deep experience in analyzing syndicated data, with fluency in databases and access tools, so was able to jump in immediately without additional training.  This expert also had years of industry experience and could not only provide context around results, but also recommendations on which type of analyses would be beneficial to drive a deeper understanding of the business.

What Impact did this Insights Professional have on the Business?

Within three months, this SIVO INSIGHTS On-Demand TalentTM resource was able to evaluate a number of “test & learn” experiments with minimal guidance, which had previously not been completed due to lack of bandwidth.  This professional also helped build a first-ever Category Growth Story, building out the analysis based on experience and knowledge from working in other categories and companies.

The advantage of SIVO INSIGHTS On-Demand TalentTM is that our professionals have the experience to not only provide the analysis or facts from the data, but also answer  broader questions, like “how can we do this better?”  In this case, that ranged from the type of analytic approach to employ (e.g., segmentation, evaluating panel data companies) to marketing tactic efficacy within certain contexts (e.g., radio, social media ads).  They bring a respected point of view to the table and push beyond the obvious for deeper insights and solutions.

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


Achieve Your 2021 Goals with the Right Talent

It is a new year, with new goals!  Do you need to round out your team to accomplish those goals?

Large and small companies all around us are reducing headcount with changes in the economy and marketplace.  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 started with a 3-month pilot, providing one of our experienced strategy and insight professionals to a client with an open Consumer Insights role.  The success of this pilot led to a long-term resource for our client and highlighted the larger need 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. Need help to achieve those 2021 goals?  For more information, visit SIVO Insights On-Demand Talent or email Julie.Rose@SIVOInsights.com.  We’d love to talk to you about your needs and how we can match the right talent to quickly make an impact.

Need Talent to Accomplish Your 2021 Objectives? SIVO INSIGHTS On Demand Talent Is Right for You

By: Julie Rose, Vice President, Client Experience

You have a need for fractional talent.  It may be short-term or long-term, but you need a resource now. We launched SIVO Insights On-Demand Talent as a solution to meet customized needs like yours.

When you hire SIVO On Demand Talent, you not only get an experienced talent add to your team, you gain access to the entire SIVO Insights network of experts and thought leaders.  Our team has deep experience across CPG, Retail, Foodservice, Healthcare, Finance, Apparel, Agency, and more. We leverage each other to serve you better.

With a deep bench of empowered and experienced insights professionals, our talent can make an immediate impact in your business.  Our customized On-Demand Talent solutions can come to life in a variety of different ways:

  • Innovation sprint project support and leadership
  • Consumer Insights manager/director open role coverage
  • Advanced data analytics and strategic analysis
  • Research leveraging your internal assets and the SIVO research team

On your own, it can take months to find and hire the talent you need.  Or, you may actually need to leverage a breadth of talent vs. one individual.  We can help you move forward quickly and right-size your talent.  Our first step would be to meet with you to understand your business, key needs, and focus areas.  From there, SIVO Insights On-Demand Talent will create a personalized approach for your business with the optimal talent to quickly meet your needs.

For more information, you can visit our website, SIVOInsightsOnDemandTalent.Com or contact me at Julie.Rose@SIVOInsights.com.  We’d love to talk to you about your needs and how we can match the right talent to quickly make an impact in your business.

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 Julie.Rose@SIVOInsights.com.  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.”

Boosting Team Momentum & Forward Progress: The Power of an Unbiased Facilitator

By: Cindy Blackstock, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Recent changes in marketplace dynamics and consumer behavior are putting businesses at a crossroads: pivot to evolve the brand to stay relevant. Too often the activities of an initiative take over and a team runs the risk of confusing activity for progress. The alignment gained by pausing and reflecting as a team will keep the momentum going in the right direction.

A key step amidst the learning activity is to reflect, assess, and decide on next steps. This may be even more challenging to think about given our virtual meeting spaces.  For this critical step in the journey, an outside, unbiased facilitator can be your most powerful tool.

There is no better time than now to consider these Top 5 benefits of engaging a professional facilitator:

  1. Unbiased Professional: A trained facilitator brings the valuable benefit of being an objective leader who can listen to all points of view, not vested in a particular position or outcome.  This creates the conditions for a more open dialogue and opportunity to see possibilities that otherwise may be missed.
  2. Participate in the Discussion: Ask yourself where you can add the most value.  Should you try to participate and facilitate or focus 100% on participating with your team?  Engaging a trained facilitator does a couple of things.  It sends a message that this work is important.  It also allows you, the owner, to invest your energy into the discussion while allowing an expert facilitator to customize the process and tools around your needs and objectives.
  3. Full Engagement: Critical to success is hearing from everyone in the group.  This can be tricky, particularly if there are strong (or silent) opinions and voices, and now you are not in the same room!   Facilitators are skilled at navigating the group dynamics and engaging all participants into the discussion to ensure each voice is heard.  They also know how to keep the ideas flowing when the group might get stuck.
  4. Stretch Thinking: One of the most valuable benefits of a trained facilitator is the ability to stretch the group’s thinking.  They are experts at quickly capturing ideas, summarizing, asking the right questions to build on ideas, connecting the dots between ideas, and pushing participants to think outside the box.
  5. Drive to Solutions: With a process designed to meet the objective, the facilitator continually uses techniques to ensure a successful outcome with clear next steps, accountability and buy-in from the group.

Through the stages of Immersion, Interaction and Ideation, we help our clients gain empathy and develop the alignment needed to boost momentum and forward progress toward the team’s goal.  Please contact Cindy.Blackstock@SIVOInsights.com to learn how we can customize an approach with the right professional facilitator to meet your needs.  We have a team of seasoned professionals who are passionate about working with like-minded clients and would love to talk to you!

IRL: The New Shopping Experience

By: Cindy Blackstock, Co-Founder and CEO

IRL is shorthand for “in real life.” Take an experience from the virtual world and transfer it to the here and now, your reality. Recently, one of my bigger IRL moments has revolved around shopping. I have flipped my experience from an 80/20 mix of in-store versus online shopping to 5/95 during sheltering-in-place, and now settled in about 20/80 ratio. Needless to say, my retail shopping world has flipped, and I’m not alone.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “How Coronavirus Changed the Retail Landscape,” COVID accelerated a shift in how we shop with online credit-card transactions increasing dramatically and e-commerce sales in the second quarter rising by 44.5 percent, compared with the same period in 2019. Currently, stores are seeing an uptick in consumer spending, thanks to COVID restrictions lifting, but WSJ is reporting foot traffic is still down year-over-year.

If you weren’t comfortable with giving your credit card information online to complete a transaction, you most certainly are now. This fast-forward move is something I labeled as “accelerating the inevitable” and shared more about accelerated shifts in consumer behavior here.

However, there are some of us who yearn to return back to leisurely walking the aisles of Target, sipping our latte from Starbucks, and discovering new items. That’s right, I’m talking about real-life, search-and-purchase missions right between the bread aisle and the snacks. Those moments when you arrive at the spice section and ask yourself, “When did McCormick’s come out with all these new seasonings?” Or perhaps next to your usual go-to morning bowl of boxed cereal, you see there’s a new brand, and it has less sugar, and you can actually study the box for the list of ingredients. You are thrilled and excited to try these new things – none of which you would have discovered if you did your usual Shipt order.

Path to purchase has changed.  Shopping behavior is markedly different. Brand loyalty has shifted.  Brands and retailers need to effectively pivot to meet these new marketplace dynamics.  Three key areas to understand right now:

  1. How to reach target consumers with relevant messaging
  2. How brands can position products and benefits to breakthrough and be discovered across various shopping experiences, in-store and online
  3. How retailers can elevate loyalty programs so that they are the IRL shopping experience of choice

Contact us at contact@SIVOInsights.com to learn how SIVO Insights can guide your business decisions with customized human intelligence on current consumer behavior.

5 Proven Tips for Conducting Virtual Research in a Human Way

By: Ruthie Feinstein, VP, Insights & Engagement

My last blog discussed the client benefits around conducting virtual research.  Check it out here.   Today I am sharing useful tips for successfully executing virtual consumer conversations. They center around being human: acting in a genuine, respectful way and establishing trust.

Tip #1: Recruit with a tech mindset and participant’s needs in mind.

  • Include criteria for having a stable Wi-Fi connection and familiarity with the tech platform being used.  If the platform is new to participants, ensure you build in time for set up and practice before the interview to increase their comfort level. 
  • If your study involves thoughtful writing exercise(s), make sure recruiting criteria has a written articulation component so they are not surprised by the type of communication that is expected of them.  

Tip #2: Set clear expectations so there are no surprises. 

The more participants know ahead of time, the more comfortable they will feel entering the discussion and the more open they tend to be.  In addition to the basics, make sure:

  • Participants know what will happen during the interview. For example, is it a one-on-one conversation, or will others observe?  Will you be sitting stationary in front of the camera or taking a ‘field trip’ to their pantry or garage?  
  • Details are addressed.  What should they wear? (most ask…encourage comfort unless it is part of the research). Should their phone be on silent? (yes). Is it ok to have water or coffee? (yes, you want them to be comfortable), but please no meals unless it is an eating experience! Do they need to make arrangements for kids and pets so they are not distracted? (yes, unless they are part of the conversation). For mobile missions, no driving while participating (yes, this has happened!).
  • Participants test the tech and are advised to log on 5 minutes before the scheduled interview time, so no time is wasted in setting up.
  • People are able to have a quiet place to conduct the interview to avoid potential inside or outside distractions.

Tip #3: Establish credibility and rapport to increase comfort level. 

  • “Introduce” yourself via email and provide a picture so participants know who to expect on the other end of the screen. Communicate how excited you are for the conversation, so they feel their input is valued before you even begin.
  • Log in early so you are there before the participant, smiling and welcoming as they enter the interview.
  • Minimize your own distractions such as only having exactly what you need for the conversation open on your laptop (the worst is hearing the constant email ‘ding’ as you are leading a conversation…trust me). 
  • Have and communicate a back-up plan should tech issues arise (they will) so the interview isn’t a bust.
  • Energy!  The last interview of the day should feel like the first one.  Build in enough mental breaks and move from behind your screen to get some fresh air. Coffee helps too.

Tip #4: Roll with it.

  • Life happens. Allow for tech issues, dogs barking, doorbells ringing and kids interrupting because these things WILL happen. Be forgiving and empathetic.  Explain it happens to the best of us and that you will be patient while they figure it out.
  • If it becomes too much or too long of a distraction, ask if participants need to reschedule for a time that may be better for them. A stressed person is not an open or insightful person. 

Tip #5: Observe as much as listen. 

  • Observing is still just as important as listening in producing those insightful golden nuggets.  I recently led a one-on-one video interview with a man wearing an “Own the Moment” t-shirt.  I thought it was relevant to our topic and used it as a way into the discussion. It led to some really insightful personal truths and informed the learning in a way that might not have if it wasn’t pursued.

Like every research method, there are benefits and trade-offs, but I am really enjoying and finding great success with virtual research, applying familiar principles with a human-inspired tech-twist.  Please contact our CEO Cindy Blackstock at cindy.blackstock@sivoinsights.com to discuss your research needs and if virtual may be the right approach for your needs! 

Virtual Research: 5 Silver Linings for Clients

By: Ruthie Feinstein, VP, Insights & Engagement

There is nothing quite like moderating in-person research: constantly meeting new people, appreciating their experiences and stories, and just sharing physical space with other humans brings me real joy.  I do miss it, but virtual research provides those same benefits – just in a different way.  

The art and science of revealing people’s authentic thoughts, perspectives, and feelings…. those powerful emotions that give clients better understanding and increased empathy can still be uncovered online.  If there was any question about conducting research of any kind right now, people WANT to be heard, and valued and appreciated, and are willing to provide their insight across multiple channels. This is important for brands to know and embrace.

Additionally, there are some differentiating tangible benefits virtual research offers:

·       Cost Effectiveness and Efficiency.  The most obvious is no travel-related costs. But importantly, along with that are no travel-related hassles, exhaustion or wasted time.  This leaves more time for other work to get done and your head space to really be focused ‘in’ the research vs. the rest of your to-do list.  For some clients, it also means access to more dollars to invest IN research.

·       Flexibility and Engagement: If unable to attend ‘live’ interviews, clients have the ability to watch recorded versions at their convenience, in a relaxed environment.  Some have mentioned that this allows them to watch even more interviews, resulting in a firmer grasp of the overall learning, and increased contributions to post-research discussions and decision-making.

·       Expanded Socialization of Insights:  No travel costs and recorded interviews also mean more client team members are able to participate. Critical functions at all levels and external partners are able to internalize consumer stories and feedback first-hand.  This helps to achieve cross-functional buy-in, truly informed decision-making and innovation from all functions that contribute to the customer experience.

·       Compelling Storytelling: Virtual research often allows for an easier and more natural platform for image and video collection. These experiential artifacts serve as authentic and naturally persuasive tools for communicating insights in an organization.  For example, sales teams, agency partners and executives often prefer and are more receptive to a short, compelling video that summarizes the essence of the learning and opportunities.

·       ‘Freer’ Feedback: I’ve noticed that being behind the screen gives people a little extra permission to open up in ways they might not in person.  I am seeing that participants feel ‘freer’ to provide candid feedback or talk about sensitive topics, which results in even more robust learning.

When it comes to designing your next project, virtual may be a great fit.  But, like all methods, it should be assessed for its ability to meet your objectives, timeline, budget, and organization’s needs.  Please contact Cindy Blackstock at cindy.blackstock@sivoinsights.com to discuss your research objectives and if virtual may be the right approach! 


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

Get SIVO Insights and News

Delivered Monthly to your Email Inbox.

You have successfully subscribed to SIVO Insights and News

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Sivo Insights will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.