NACS Magazine | March 2018
EXCERPT: Why do we do things the way we do them? Oftentimes, the reason is "we've always done it that way."
For decades, the rules of marketing tell us to identify and sell to a target audience. And for most c-store operators, that is defined as someone aged 16 to 34 years old. The same is true for the ideal worker. But is that the best approach to be taking today?
We think not. C-stores intentionally stock and sell products that people of all ages need and buy, but most of the time, the store design, merchandizing and product promotions are all focused on one audience: younger shoppers. It’s time that changes. ...
Now is the time to start including older adults in your marketing and hiring efforts. Just because you’ve “always done it that way” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change.
Onward Blog | February 13, 2018
EXCERPT: If you’ve ever watched the hilariously awkward TV classic, “The Office,” then you probably remember the smattering of ironic corporate values posters like the one here. A key lesson from the sitcom’s dysfunctional leaders is that values mean nothing unless you actually believe and uphold them.
But what if there were a better way to define your values and to build an engaging workplace culture — where employees buy into, live out, and ultimately pay off your brand’s position and purpose in their day-to-day work?
The 15-Minute Neighborhood: The evolution from 24-hour one-stop shops to 24-hour neighborhood centers
NACS Magazine | November 2017
EXCERPT: Those who fail to plan for tomorrow end up in the dustbins of history. Just ask Blockbuster. Or Borders. Or Radio Shack.
It’s time everyone in the convenience store category, big and small, got serious about tomorrow. The pressure is building as traffic is declining due to lower gallons of gas pumped and declining tobacco sales. Throw in the coming waves of electric vehicles and large, ubiquitous fleets of autonomous cars operated by the likes of Google and Uber, and we’ll see many “Blockbustered” convenience stores ahead.
There’s no reason to be mystified, stymied or flummoxed over this coming sea change. The good news is that the industry has time to prepare and reinvent itself. The future for convenience stores is not more of the same. You’ll need to change. The question is when and how.
Onward blog | October 31, 2017
EXCERPT: Critical question for any employer today: Is at least a third of your workforce under age 35? If not, you risk losing out, and big time. Millennials make up 1 in 3 workers in the modern labor force today — and that number is only going to get bigger. By 2025, Millennials will be nearly half the U.S. workforce.
This is one curve you don’t want to fall behind. Not having a healthy mix of Millennials in your organization in 2017 could be a sign that your workplace culture is not aligned with modern culture overall. And the consequences of such a misalignment could be severe. Let’s investigate.
Chesterfield Observer | October 27, 2017
EXCERPT: While upscale new housing is taking over the more rural parts of western Chesterfield, beyond Woodlake and Ashbrook, a flood of retiring baby boomers is reconfiguring older suburban corridors. ...
'What’s happening is the move to the 15-minute community,' says John Martin, chief executive of SIR, a strategic marketing consultancy in Richmond. 'We’re looking for convenience in everything we do,' he adds, noting that boomers increasingly want to be able to walk or drive a short distance from their doctor’s office, nearby retail shops and restaurants.'"
Press Release | October 24, 2017
EXCERPT: SIR was recently awarded a seven-year contract with the University of Virginia (U.Va.) to support any of the school’s emerging needs in qualitative and quantitative market research. Under Virginia’s contracting rules, any two- or four-year public institution can also now hire SIR using the U.Va. agreement as a base. The new client relationship builds on SIR’s long history of providing integrated strategic communications services to higher education institutions nationwide.
The overarching contract allows SIR to solicit and conduct research studies on any topic where a U.Va. department sees a need. Projects may be as diverse as developing an initial market approach, better understanding the perceptions and behaviors of internal or external audiences, or identifying and tracking against key performance indicators. Among SIR’s specialties are also bulletin board focus groups — an online approach to traditional in-person sessions that capitalize on interactive digital technologies.
A futurist and a skeptic teleport into a bar: Forecasting the future of transportation and personal mobility
AirTalk on 89.3 KPCC | October 10, 2017
EXCERPT: Over the last several decades, pop culture has taken innumerable shots at depicting what the future of transportation looked like, whether it’s the pneumatic tubes that move people around as depicted in The Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s TV satire ‘Futurama,’ hovering skateboards like the ones in Back To The Future 2, flying cars from The Jetsons, or even teleportation as depicted in shows like Star Trek.
But how does getting from point A to point B realistically look in 50 or 100 years?
Press Release | October 9, 2017
EXCERPT: SIR remembers with admiration the lifelong impact, leadership and camaraderie of one of our founders and key leaders, Robert “Bob” M. Miller, who died on Oct. 2.
Miller co-founded the Southeastern Institute of Research (SIR) in 1964 alongside Richard Steele, his colleague from the market research division of the local advertising firm Robert Kline & Company. Miller served as president of SIR until 2003, when current CEO and Managing Partner John W. Martin bought the market research firm and has since expanded it into a full-service consultancy
Convenience Store News | October 4, 2017
EXCERPT: Fortunately for industries, including the convenience and fuel retailing industry, millennials may very well possess many attributes that could wind up being a boon for the companies that have them in their employ. ...
“[Millennials] want to work someplace they can make a difference. If you realize that and tap into their desire to make a difference, you can engage them at a different level than you would somebody who just wants a job, to earn an income,” said Matt Thornhill, founder and managing partner of SIR’s Institute for Tomorrow. “If you’re not paying attention, if you’re not thinking, ‘How can I help this young person feel like they're making a difference in their job every single day,’ you’re going to have a hard time keeping them."
Onward blog | August 31, 2017
EXCERPT: Here in SIR’s backyard of Richmond, Virginia, we often hear discussions about the need for more regional cooperation — between the local city government and our three surrounding counties (all separate jurisdictions). This is not unlike what we're hearing from municipalities around the country.
But honestly, these discussions are decades out of date. After spending two days leading sessions at a the National League of Cities annual conference recently, we can confidently say that today, “super regions” are the latest thinking for effective, higher-order collaboration
SIR adds qualitative research expert Erin Bishop to leadership team
Press Release | August 14, 2017
EXCERPT: SIR recently expanded its leadership team with the addition of Erin Bishop, a longtime qualitative research specialist and a Richmond native. Bishop joins SIR after 13 years of running her own successful company, EAB Research. She fills a new position at the firm — principal of qualitative research — as SIR deepens its strategic management consulting and market research capabilities. ...
For SIR, Bishop leads the firm’s use of an innovative research approach called bulletin board focus groups (BBFGs) — a methodology that transforms the traditional in-person focus group into a multiday online session that capitalizes on new interactive technologies. The insights from BBFGs can more than double clients’ return on investment from the classic, in-person focus group approach.
“Since our founding in 1964,” said SIR CEO and Managing Partner John W. Martin, “SIR has focused on staying ahead of research methodologies to meet the changing needs of our clients. Erin’s expertise ensures that we will continue to deliver only the very best that the industry has to offer.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch | July 29, 2017
EXCERPT: In June, an Urban Land Institute study ranked Richmond second in the country for its percentage growth of Millennials from 2010 to 2015. The city’s Millennial population grew 14.9 percent — or by 5,176 people — during the five-year time frame.
Richmond’s increased appeal to young people was intentional, said John Martin, the CEO of SIR, a Richmond-based strategic consultancy. Programs have sprung to integrate young newcomers to the city, and businesses try to attract a new consumer and employee pool.
“It’s taken a village to make us a Millennial town,” he said.
ChamberRVA Senior Vice President Chrystal Neal said they used SIR’s research to attract and retain more young professionals — and the strategy worked.
“The business community is thrilled,” said Neal. “Cities for the first time in our country’s history are competing with each other for young talent.”
MCV Foundation | June 16, 2017
EXCERPT: MCV Foundation trustees, staff, partners, and friends gathered for a board meeting and dinner on June 5 to celebrate the culmination of a remarkable year on the MCV campus. ...
New trustees who were voted onto the board are Farhad Aghdami, Richmond’s managing partner of Williams Mullen; Rachel Burgess, principal at SIR; Susan G. Kornstein, M.D., professor in the VCU School of Medicine and executive director of the VCU Institute for Women’s Health; and Spencer Williamson, CEO and president at kaléo. ...
John Martin was selected as the 2017 recipient of the Eugene P. Trani MCV Campus Leadership Award. This award recognizes exceptional dedication and support of the MCV campus. John served on the MCV Foundation board for more than 20 years, chairing the communications committee and playing a key role in the foundation’s brand refresh by leading the brand research project.
Richmond Times-Dispatch | June 12, 2017
EXCERPT: The niche or boutique gym trend is being driven to a large degree by entrepreneurial millennials who are starting up boutique gyms and patronizing them.
“One of the things that we’ve learned about millennials is that they are incredibly community-focused,” said Rachel Burgess of Richmond-based research firm SIR.
“This community idea, I think, makes boutique gyms so appealing. They do a really incredible job of building a supportive community around a shared activity,” Burgess said.
Press Release | June 7, 2017
EXCERPT: SIR remembers with admiration the lifelong impact and work of one of our founders, Bob Kline, who died at age 96 on May 31.
Part of Kline’s expansive legacy was helping establish the Southeastern Institute of Research (SIR) in 1964 as an independent arm of his Richmond-based advertising agency, Robert Kline & Company, along with the firm’s first owners, Bob Miller and Richard Steele. ...
Richmond Magazine | May 31, 2017
EXCERPT: Futurist John W. Martin travels the world, sharing what he and his Richmond-based associates at the Institute for Tomorrow have assessed about 2020 and beyond. Here are some trends that will affect the Richmond region.
1. Population Explosion.
In the United States, those ages 20 to 54 will increase by 12 million by 2020, but those in the 55-plus age group will grow by 24 million. The Richmond region alone will grow from our current 1.2 million to 1.5 million by 2030, Martin says. ...
The Roanoke Times | May 25, 2017
On Monday and Tuesday of this week, age was at the center of a conference held at the Hotel Roanoke. This was the second Governor’s Conference on Aging.
Several of the speakers challenged the audience to think differently about aging. Think for a moment about how old you feel. Put an age to it. Is it different from your actual age?
As Baby Boomers turn into what was once thought of as "elderly" they are changing the way people view and act as older adults, said John Martin of SIR, on the demography of aging.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch | May 13, 2017
EXCERPT: An outgrowth of one of the first ad agencies in America to have a full-service research arm, Southeastern Institute of Research’s influence has reached businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and cities across the nation, and globally.
“We’ve worked on more than 15,000 projects,” said John W. Martin, the firm’s CEO and managing partner. “This firm has been part of a lot of things.”
Martin, a longtime advertising and marketing professional in Virginia, acquired the business in 2003 from Bob Miller and Richard Steele, who had become its owners after it was spun off from Cline & Co. in 1964 as a separate business.
Now, the firm is doing some rebranding of its own.
Southeastern Institute of Research has officially changed its name to SIR.
“We decided to call ourselves what everybody calls us — everybody knows us as SIR,” Martin said.
"And the firm is re-emphasizing its role as a strategic advisory consultancy, in addition to its market research capabilities."
Press Release | May 13, 2017
EXCERPT: “Organizations and their leaders are facing breathtaking change almost everywhere they look,” observes John W. Martin, SIR CEO, “and the new brand is meant to better reflect our longstanding role as strategic advisors and problem-solvers.
“The name and brand,” Martin adds, “better represent our national and international footprint, as we serve clients and their initiatives well beyond the Southeast — from California to Copenhagen.” It also renews our group’s commitment to make a difference for our clients and the communities they serve. That’s our purpose, summed up in our new slogan: 'SIR. Improving tomorrow.'"
Richmond Magazine | March 27, 2017
EXCERPT: Reams of think pieces on millennials — roughly defined as people born between 1981 and 2001 — paint a picture of a generation defined by its laziness, sense of entitlement, and yes, those oft-mentioned participation trophies.
Employers will wrestle with these stereotypes more and more, as a rising tide of 20-somethings and 30-somethings enter the workforce. In fact, millennials will comprise about half of the country’s workers by 2025, says Matt Thornhill, founder of GenerationsMatter, an offshoot of the Richmond-based Southeastern Institute of Research that’s focused on “generational dynamics” in the workplace.
“‘What’s wrong with these millennials?’ is what companies hire us to come help them figure out,” Thornhill says. “There’s nothing wrong with them. They just have a different mindset about this stuff.”
Virginia Business | March 31, 2017
EXCERPT: Every state is bracing for what is being called an unprecedented demographic disruption. Currently, Virginia is home to 1.4 million people who are over the age of 65, about 17 percent of an estimated population of 8.4 million. The number of Virginians in that age group is expected to climb to 2.3 million by 2030, representing nearly a quarter of the projected state population of 9.8 million. ...
The financial environment facing baby boomers is far different from the one their parents encountered when they approached 65, says Matt Thornhill, the founder and president of The Boomer Project, a Richmond-based firm that tracks demographic trends.
Boomers, he says, may live longer than their parents, but many will not have the financial resources that members of the “Greatest Generation” had. Based on the data he’s seen, Thornhill says that about a third of boomers, 25 million, will be able to live off their savings and retire comfortably.
Richmond Times-Dispatch | May 10, 2014
EXCERPT: Millennials are wired differently than previous generations, and businesses and workplace managers who understand those differences will be ahead of the game.
That’s the word from Matt Thornhill and John Martin, founders of GenerationsMatter, a practice of the Richmond-based Southeastern Institute of Research — the same marketing research and consulting firm that operates the Boomer Project, looking at the boomer population. ...
Millennials make up 26 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to 2012 federal statistics. Generation Xers (born 1965-82) account for 46 percent of the workforce while boomers (born 1946-64) account for 28 percent. By 2020, millennials should make up 40 percent of the workforce, while Gen Xers will account for 38 percent and boomers will make up 22 percent.
And millennials come with a different attitude, said Thornhill, the president of GenerationsMatter.