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A Quick Methodology Overview
What Is An Element List?
What are Elements?
Where Do Elements Come From?
Categories - An Organizing Framework for Creating the Element Set!!!
I. Modeling and Methodology Issues!!!
II. Flow and Logic Issues!!
III. Language and Structure!!

Document convention:

!!! - Very important
!! - Important
! - Suggested
 - Incorrect
 - Correct

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   A Quick Methodology Overview
In IdeaMap.Net the learning is in the stimuli. We call these stimuli "elements" brand claims, product descriptions, logos, photographs, line drawings, video clips, etc. Consumers react to "concepts" comprised of 2-5 systematically varied elements on a computer screen. Every combination is unique for each respondent, so that if 100 respondents each see 60 concepts, there will be a total of 6,000 unique concepts. IdeaMap.Net deconstructs the concepts into their individual elements, and quantifies the contribution of each to interest. In the end, you learn which statements:
  • Drive interest - "Hot Buttons" (High positive utility scores)
  • Detract from interest (Strong negative utility scores)
  • Have no impact on interest (Neutral utility scores between -4 onto +4)
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   What Is An Element List?
An element list is an "information bank". The list comprises of statements describing the characteristics and benefits of a product, service or idea being investigated. The list should tie back to the objectives of the study.
It is the single most important component of a project. Well thought out elements, covering a wide range of ideas provide a strong foundation for a successful study. Keep in mind that although this is hard work, even a "good" list can and should be revised!

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   What are Elements?
Elements are bite sized ways of talking about a product, service or an idea ("nuggets of information"). They can be in the form of words or pictures (GIF or JPG). Elements can be straightforward or romanced.
For example:
  • Contains whole grains that contribute to a healthy lifestyle
  • Has the hearty texture of old-fashioned stovetop oatmeal
  • Helps you live life to the fullest
  • Packets are made with beautiful colored foil, like red, blue, and gold, and come in a fancy box tied with a satin ribbon
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   Where Do Elements Come From?
Elements come from a variety of sources.
Involve as many people as possible. Make it a collaborative effort!
The following sources can be good place to get ideas for the element list
  • Brainstorming
  • Ideation
  • Focus groups
  • Previous studies/Internal data
  • Current advertising/packaging
  • Competitive advertising/packaging
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   Categories - An Organizing Framework for Creating the Element Set!!!
Categories are a nice place to start when organizing elements. Think of categories as different files in a filing cabinet, organizing or grouping similar statements (elements) in one place. Categories aid our conceptualization process during stimuli (elements) creation. They are the building blocks for the design of IdeaMap.Net concepts. IdeaMap.Net chooses elements from different categories so two elements from the same category will never appear on the screen at the same time. In addition, the category order governs the order that elements are organized within a concept. For example, the first element in a concept will come from Category 1, the second element in the concept will come from Category 2 etc. Therefore, arrange the order of your categories in the same way you want elements to appear on the screen. We like to use the following order when determining category order.
  1. Visuals (must always be in the first category)
  2. Names
  3. Primary benefits/Positioning statements
  4. Supports for the positioning
  5. Secondary benefits
  6. Supports for benefits
  7. Endorsement statements
  8. Product features
  9. Emotional Benefits
  10. Usage situations
  11. Package or form features
  12. Flavors
  13. Taglines
  14. Price alternatives

Remember that IdeaMap.Net presents the utility scores for each element, so you can ungroup the categories and look for themes across the entire data set. At the end of the day, you are not “married” to the categories.
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   I. Modeling and Methodology Issues
Elements can either convey a single thought or combined ideas!!!

IdeaMap.Net gives a utility score for each individual element. Therefore, if more than one idea is expressed in a single element, then the utility score represents the value added by the combined idea.

For Example:

Enjoy a great tasting chocolate shake available in a convenient on the go drink box
In this example either the flavor (chocolate) or the packaging (drink box) or both together can be the driving force.
If you need to know which of these is the winning idea, then you should separate them into two different elements.

For Example:

Enjoy a great tasting chocolate shake
Available in a convenient on the go drink box

Synergy!!!- can measure synergy if a set of three elements is included in the test. The two different ideas are tested both as separate elements and in combination. Synergy can be measured by comparing the utility score of the combined element (containing the combined ideas) with the utility scores of the two simple elements (each containing one idea).

For Example:

  • Contains Vitamin C to boost your immune system
  • Contains Vitamin E for better looking skin
  • Contains Vitamin C to boost your immune system and Vitamin E for better looking skin
In this example IdeaMap.Net will measure the utility scores for each statement. Therefore, you can compare the utility score of the combined ideas (Statement 3) with the utility score of the individual ideas (Statement 1 and 2) to measure the synergistic effect.

Note: IdeaMap.Net doesn’t allow restrictions (see contradictory ideas). Therefore all the three elements above would have to be placed in the same category. Otherwise, they might appear together resulting in a repetitive concept.

Contradictory ideas and illogical combinations!!!- Depending on the specific design IdeaMap.Net picks from two to five elements from different categories (only one from each) to create a concept.
IdeaMap.Net does not allow you to restrict elements in different categories from appearing together. It’s important to make sure that elements across categories are not repetitive, contradictory or illogical when combined.
Remember, if you are confused by the concepts, the average consumer will have no clue!

Example #1:

Takes your mind off your food cravings
Helps to take your mind off of food and eating

In this example the two elements express the same idea. If these two statements are put in different categories they may be combined causing the concept to be repetitive and dull. On the other hand, if these elements are placed under the same category, they will never appear together. Therefore, your concepts will be diverse and interesting (see:Vary the way elements are phrased).

Example #2:

Use as a meal replacement
Taken with your normal meal to make you feel full quickly

In this example the elements express contradictory statements that result in an illogical concept when appearing together. In order to eliminate this possibility these two elements should be placed under the same category.

Example #3:

Perfect for when you're watching television

In this example the combination of the visual element (the beach) with the other statement would make an illogical concept. In visual and text elements cannot be placed in the same category. Therefore it is extremely important to use visuals that will create logical combinations with all the other elements in the study.

Example #4:

Available in capsules
Has a great smooth texture

In this example the first element describes a form of product (capsule) that can’t have the texture that the second element communicates (texture). The only way to prevent these elements from appearing together is by placing them under the same category.

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   II. Flow and Logic Issues!!
Elements should be stand-alone phrases not single words or incomplete ideas!! IdeaMap.Net combines different elements in order to create a concept. Elements will be easily read and understood when they convey a complete idea.

For example:

Small, medium, large
Comes in 3 different sizes…small, medium and large

Vanilla, strawberry, chocolate mint
Available in vanilla, strawberry and chocolate mint flavors

800 Number
Use our toll free 800 number for assistance

Movie coupons
Get two free movie coupons on your birthday

Stay away from negative statements!! It has been our experience that consumers do not respond favorably to negative statements. In general, negative statements suppress interest and the message you are trying to convey may be misrepresented.

For Example:

Because you’re fat
It will help you achieve your ideal weight

Because your skin is oily
For those with oily skin

For people with high cholesterol
For those watching their cholesterol

A low fat sauce for people on a diet
A low fat sauce for a healthy meal

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   III. Language and Structure!!
Avoid Using Periods! - IdeaMap.Net combines statements (elements) from different categories to create a concept. Using periods at the end of elements disrupts the logical flow of an entire concept. A better flow can be achieved by combining two or more sentences together with 3 dots.

For Example:

Satisfaction guaranteed is the promise we make to all our customers. And the reason we can make it is that we demand the highest quality from our manufacturers. Therefore we can offer the highest quality.
Satisfaction guaranteed is the promise we make to all our customers…we demand the highest quality from our manufacturers, and pass that quality to you

A new kit with a plastic bag, spice mix and bread crumbs. To use simply add chicken to the mix. Shake and bake.
A new plastic bag kit, includes spice mix and bread crumbs…simply add chicken, shake and bake

More than just a stylish car. This car is capable of turning heads.
More than just a stylish car…capable of turning heads

A taste that will make your evening memorable. A perfect way to end a day.
A taste that will make your evening memorable…perfect way to end a day

So What? Who Cares? "Big Deal!"!! When writing your elements ask yourself these questions. It will help you compose elements that people understand and care about. Consider what’s loved about this product or service, what’s hated about the product or service in this category? In addition, think about how a product or service makes you feel?

For example:

Eliminates the frustration of pie crusts that break apart when you lift them in the pan.
Your product or service might have great benefits but unless you clearly explain what they are, they may be overlooked. Also keep in mind how to set the product or service apart and what are the unique features and benefits?

For Example:

Smoked flavor
The smoked flavor you love

Has calcium
Has calcium for stronger bones

We use new alkaline cell technology in all our batteries
We use new alkaline cell technology in all our batteries so they last 6 times longer than any other batteries in the market

We hire world-class ergonomics engineers
We hire world-class ergonomics engineers to design our equipment with you the customer in mind

Avoid using very long elements!! While IdeaMap.Net supports 1024 characters we do not recommend making elements longer than 256 characters (25-30 words). Elements comprising of more than one statement get one utility score, it is impossible to know which component in the statement is influencing the score. In addition, long statements tend to bore people and create confusion. Furthermore, when very long elements appear with other elements as part of a concept, they clutter the screen.
Try to make your elements short, clear and concise by following some simple rules:
  • Avoid repetitive words that convey the same meaning.
  • Shorten phrases by trying to incorporate two words into one (whenever possible).
  • Combine two or more sentences into one by using a comma or three dots.
For Example:

Every week we send free bulletins to our valued subscribers regarding the latest research, treatments, and product specials
Weekly free bulletins for our valued subscribers…with the latest research, treatments, and product specials

Pick a Destination, Any Destination!
Where do you want to go? We've got profiles on Sydney, Acapulco, Vancouver, Rome and almost 200 other destinations around the world.
Pick a Destination…we've got profiles on Sydney, Acapulco, Vancouver, Rome and almost 200 other destinations around the world!

Make elements sound personal, and concentrate on what consumers would want to hear!

For Example:

For wealthy people
Because now you can afford it

Go the extra mile
We go the extra mile to keep our customers happy

A service that saves money
We offer services that will save you money

A store that provides services to the community
We provide services to the community

Consistency!!! - All elements should be in the same tense, and in the same person. Try to stay away from first person. General statements give respondents the feeling you are talking to them, rather than about them.

For Example:

Because I want to lose weight
Because you want to lose weight

A quick snack for when I’m on the go
A quick snack for when you’re on the go

I can’t believe it tastes so good
You won’t believe how good it tastes!

Home and family are my priority
Because home and family are your priority

Vary the way elements are phrased! Avoid using the same language to describe your ideas. Diverse elements promote creativity, allowing you to play with language and produce interesting concepts.

Following are three different groups. Each group illustrates alternative ways to express the same core idea.

Made with real chocolate
With 100% chocolate
Contains chunks of chocolate

Provides all the vitamins and minerals you need
Contains the Vitamins and Minerals your body desires
Has all the Vitamins and Minerals your body requires

Available in Vanilla and Strawberry flavors
New Vanilla and Strawberry flavors that will indulge your senses
The taste of Strawberries and Vanilla will burst in your mouth

Use transitional words in beginning of sentences!! They facilitate the flow of sentences into coherent concepts. Keep in mind, when previewing the project (before launch) it would be easier to spot elements that need changes or improvement.

For example:

Allows you to…
For when (situation)…
Made with…