How Human Is Your Brand?

Zeno Group and CEB Iconoculture Announce "The Human Project,"An In-Depth Exploration of What Drives Our Deepest Behaviors

Connecting the Human in Brands and the Human in People Sparks New Research on Changing Cross-Generational Values

Oct 16, 2014, 10:52 ET from Zeno Group

NEW YORK, Oct. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Inspired by recent research that reveals people want brands to act like their best friends, Zeno Group and CEB Iconoculture announced today the launch of The Human Project – an unprecedented joint initiative that uncovers the psychological and emotional drivers that compel people to engage with brands.  The research studies consumers on a very intimate level and explores the inherent values and behaviors that motivate their everyday lives.

Today's launch features the release of an initial tranche of data and a new product, The Brand Humanizer, that aligns a brand's values and behaviors with the values and behaviors of its core audiences, identifying points of convergence and divergence.  The Human Project's proprietary data models are designed to provide CMOs, brand managers and other marketing executives with a fresh perspective on how brands can best engage with people, navigating a path from brand awareness to brand evangelism.

"Brands often mistakenly look at people as targets or as consumers who consume things and not as people who make decisions based on core human values," said Therese Caruso, Managing Director of Global Strategy and Insights for Zeno Group.  "The Human Project begins with a deep understanding of people as human beings, then provides a tool for brands to track their own values against the values of the people they want to reach.  The combination of research and tool will enable brands to connect with people in more meaningful and differentiated ways."  

The basic model informing The Human Project begins with CEB Iconoculture's Values and Lifestyle Survey, an ongoing quantitative research initiative, developed more than five years ago and refreshed annually.  The Values and Lifestyle Survey tracks the differentiated beliefs and behaviors of specific groups of people, measuring the relevance of their core values in multiple categories, and delivering foundational market insights.

The Human Project's proprietary methodology then correlates Values and Lifestyle Survey data around an "Active Family" profile that captures rich data for three generations – Millennials, Xers and Young Boomers – with the shared characteristic of having children aged 0-18 in their households.  This "Active Family" group represents a cross section of 25 percent of the U.S. population, providing insights across three of the most sought-after audience groups.

"The Human Project presents a unique opportunity for both Iconoculture and Zeno.  It marries our data and insights with Zeno's powerful toolkit to enable marketers to connect with people in deeper and more meaningful ways," said Kate Muhl, a Lead Strategist at CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights.

The Human Project will study a different category of people every year, tracking the changing values behind human behaviors against the values of brands and organizations with the goal of identifying paths to effective brand evangelization across five key focus areas: Personal Success (Family Life); Professional Success (Work Life); Health/Wellness, Eating/Drinking; Media/Technology; Money, Spending and the Economy." 

"Zeno Group has always put listening and insights at the center of all we do – with The Human Project, we're challenging marketers to set aside their predisposed notions and see consumers differently, as real people," said Barby K. Siegel, CEO of Zeno Group.   "What's truly exciting about The Human Project is its application across all of B2C and B2B – at the end of the day, all brands need to engage their audiences as people.  The Human Project is also a powerful resource for internal audiences – engaging employees' deeper value systems will inspire them to be brand evangelists and corporate advocates."


  • Kids are often thought of as pesterers and parents as gatekeepers working to resist the pester.  But in Active Family households today, decisions are made by kids and parents together.  This cooperative mode of decision-making is happening across a wide range of categories, from the food families purchase and even to the cars they buy. Key findings include:
    • Are kids aware of household budget? 59% of kids say yes, 41% of parents agree
      Parents actively want input about purchases from their kids, particularly in these sectors:
      • Media – 63% of parents say yes
      • Tech – 46%
      • Groceries – 54%
    • We plan major purchases around the needs our whole family: 79% say yes
  • When it comes to technology, parents' perception is not, as it's often made out to be, that tech is the enemy.  But neither is it a savior.  Today's parents have a complex relationship with technology, seeing it sometimes as threatening and sometimes as empowering. Key findings include:
    • Parents say that their children's time spent using tech devices is:
      • 49% just fine
      • 31% use a bit less
      • 15%  use less
  • When it comes to family life, "He Said She Said" is a reality.  But context matters.  What he said: dads and moms share a lot of the load.  What she said: moms do everything and dads do little.  The reality: they're both right.  It all depends on your point of comparison – do you compare parents of today to each other?  Or do you compare dads to the dads of yesterday? Millennials have a more equitable view and are more gender agnostic. Key findings include:
    • Child care: 77% of women say they are primary caregivers
      • 54% of men say they both are
    • Cooking: 87% of women say they cook
      • only 36% of men say women do
    • Cleaning: 77% of women say they clean
      • 42% of men say they both do
  • Active Family consumers place a high priority on their core relationships with their partner.  We see that evidenced in the high priority they place on the value Sexuality: "I desire a fulfilling sexual life."  Key findings include:
    • Sexuality ranks 23rd out of 92 values, but 53rd for everyone else.  Fully 62% give it a top two box rating, beating out security, identity and enjoyment.
  • Time is the most precious and least available resource for parents in their parenting.  Not money.  Not technology.  Not ideas or advice.  Not even time for themselvesBut struggling to find enough time for family.

About Zeno Group

Believers in the fearless pursuit of the unexpected, the award-winning Zeno Group operates as one firm with offices across The Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific.  Zeno is the unprecedented 2011, 2012 and 2013 winner of the PR Week US Mid-Size Agency of the Year, 2011 Holmes Report US Creative Agency of the Year and 2013 Holmes Report Consumer Agency of the Year. The firm's practice areas include consumer, health, technology and corporate, all supported by planning, digital engagement and media.  Clients include: AstraZeneca, Bacardi, Bausch & Lomb, BT, Computer Associates, Emirates, Facebook, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Kia Motors America, McAfee, Micron Technology, Inc., Office Depot, Pizza Hut, and Seattle's Best Coffee.  Zeno Group is a member of the Daniel J Edelman Holdings, Inc. Please visit us at, like us on Facebook or follow us @zenogroup.

About CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights

CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights is the consumer-insights practice of CEB. CEB is the leading member-based advisory company. By combining the best practices of thousands of member companies with advanced research methodologies and human capital analytics, CEB equips senior leaders and their teams with insight and actionable solutions needed to transform operations. More information on CEB is available at

For more information:
Danny Cohn
Zeno Group 

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SOURCE Zeno Group