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A Year to Celebrate.

As we reflect on 2019, our thoughts encompass joy, achievements, and also what we’ve learned. Yet if we had to describe the past year in one word, it’s definitely celebratory.

Here’s just a quick recap of what happened at Fusion Hill in 2019:

  • We celebrated 15 years of business by giving back to five global organizations.
  • We donated our research, strategy and creative services to help a nonprofit called Freeset deepen their global impact by shifting their brand positioning and developing fresh new creative.
  • We launched a project called Quote to Self that took us across the globe to India, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
  • Our director of research and strategy, Nina Gazel, won AdFed’s 32 Under 32 award.
  • Our team went to 15 conferences around the U.S. and on one trend trip to Japan.

Heading into the busy holiday season, we hope you’ll find a moment to reflect on the joys 2019 has brought you too. And we hope Thanksgiving brings you time to relax and enjoy the people who are most important in your life.

See you soon, 2020.

| Culture

Public Sector.

Whether we’re closely following an election or simply grabbing a cup of coffee in a crowded café, there’s a good chance we’ll hear someone mention taxes – and what our taxes pay for at the local, state or federal level.

While opinions abound (and we’re certainly not here to give one), one thing we’ve been thinking about lately is the people compensated by those tax dollars. No, not just the politicians making the news. The everyday people: firefighters, snowplow operators, public defenders, librarians, mail carriers and beyond.

What’s life like for people who work in the public sector? Is their experience different than it is for those of us in the private sector? Learn more in our latest insight.

| Creative, Culture, Research

Embrace All Your Passions.

Do you remember when your parents enrolled you in multiple extracurricular activities? It wasn’t a secret that they wanted to keep us occupied and busy throughout the year. Activities varied from sports to art classes, acting, dancing or music lessons. We loved bits and pieces of each activity, but we ultimately focused on one or two we enjoyed the most.

At our 15th anniversary party, we asked guests to interact with our Quote to Self exhibit and give advice to their 15-year-old selves. One partygoer, Grace, submitted advice that really stuck with us.

“Readily embrace all your passions. You don’t need to choose one.”

We reflected on how participating in different activities added a little excitement to our lives. We got to meet new people and really express ourselves. So why not make time for the activities you love to do? It might bring out the kid in you.

If you have a nugget of wisdom to share, visit our Quote to Self website to participate. Your advice is important and we want to hear from you!

Follow our Quote to Self Instagram and Facebook pages to see other advice we’ve collected thus far.


| Quote to Self Project, Research

4A’s StratFest 2019 Findings: Welcome to the Age of the Empowered Citizen.

Today’s consumers are asking companies to be increasingly transparent, innovative and plugged in to public discourse. Brands are reacting by placing the customer at the very center of their business decisions. At StratFest in New York City, our team explored how brand strategy is evolving in an increasingly consumer-centric landscape. Here are two of our key takeaways.

Consumers want brands to recognize them as people1

As the rise of IoT, AI and voice assistants makes us more informed and engaged, the influx of information has also fueled a loss of trust between brands and the public – a public that is more critical and more aware than ever before of the value they represent to brands and advertisers.

Brands can start to rebuild trust by recognizing that consumer needs generally boil down to a few basic things. The four essential customer needs listed below can be used as guiding principles for brands trying to (re)build trust with their customers:

  • People want new and meaningful abilities: Brands can offer products and services that align with the needs of their customers.
  • People want to get better at something: Brands can show how they can help support the customer’s goal.
  • People want personal connection: Brands can recognize customers as people with hopes, values, talents and flaws.
  • People want purpose: While it is unrealistic to expect brands to give purpose to their customers, brands can show humility about how they can fit into and improve their customers’ lives.

Humility can launch brands to the forefront2

Leading brands used to inspire consumers to think about the very edge of what is possible – far beyond what the average customer could likely achieve. And brands placed themselves at the center of their customers’ universe – overstepping in their promise of life-changing results from something like a sneaker or a credit card.

But in the age of Instagram and self-care, consumers have become “their own personal heroes” and aspire on an individual level. They want brands to support them in their journey and to validate their goals, values and beliefs.

Brand leaders now mirror everyday people: Casper Sleep stands up to a category that is too complicated and too expensive; Fenty leads the charge in representing people of color in fashion industry advertising; and Tesla recognized it couldn’t realistically address the carbon crisis on its own, so it open-sourced all its patents.

To better connect with consumers, brands can incorporate the five key aspects of the humble brand.

The humble brand is:

  • True to itself: It owns who it is.
  • Accessible: It is approachable and doesn’t promote an unattainable dream.
  • Self-aware: It knows its role in the lives of consumers and doesn’t overstep in the way brands used to.
  • Ever-evolving: It admits to mistakes and commits to improvement.
  • Responsive: It prioritizes consumer relationships over sales.

In this new paradigm, successful brands have shifted from inspiring fantastical dreams to adopting a more humble, human-scale approach to connecting with consumers. The customer is now at the center of the brand’s universe, rather than the other way around.

  1. Rishad Tobaccowala, chief growth officer, Publicis Groupe.
  2. Chris Konya, principal and managing director, Sylvain Labs.

| Creative

Enjoy Your Journey.

Over the course of our Quote to Self project, we’ve had candid conversations with family, friends and even strangers we meet on the street about what advice they would give their 15-year-old selves. We’ve encountered people who knew instantly and others who were caught off guard and took some time to reflect. It seems that we are all reminded of how life is short, and it seems that as you get older, the years go by even quicker. We turn to Jeff’s quote, which articulates the value of enjoying life’s journey.

“Sometimes a 15-year-old has to grow up fast, so you gotta be ready for anything. Buckle up – you only get one chance to enjoy this journey called life.”

The unique objective of this project is that we have allowed everyone to take a moment to reflect on their lives and see the growth they’ve experienced that has made them who they are today. Check out our Quote to Self website to see the inspiring advice we have collected over the course of the year.

If you have a nugget of wisdom to share with us, visit our Quote to Self website to participate. We want to hear from you!

Follow our Quote to Self Instagram and Facebook pages to see other advice we’ve collected thus far.


| Creative, Culture, Quote to Self Project, Research

Marketing to Generations.

Five different generations now have purchasing power, so how are companies figuring out how to best serve each of these generations individually? Mostly by conducting research to learn how behaviors among generations can impact marketing campaigns and purchasing habits. We attended a recent conference at the Carlson School of Management whose goal was to answer this question. Eight keynote speakers presented, including representatives from Target, Under Armour, Starbucks and Electronic Arts.

One part of the conference that particularly stood out to us was the talk by Linh Peters, vice president of brand marketing for Starbucks. In 2017, Starbucks was attempting to relaunch its Nitro Cold Brew coffee, trying to make it relevant nationwide. Through qualitative research, Starbucks found that the taste and texture of the coffee were what resonated with customers most strongly. However, at the same time customers were confused about how the nitro process connects to that taste and texture experience. So Starbucks had to build understanding and believability when relaunching the Nitro Cold Brew. Its strategy included bringing on Bill Nye (“the Science Guy”) as a spokesperson for the campaign, with hopes of educating customers on the nitro process in a less technical fashion. Nye was brought in also because he resonates with multiple generations, and Nitro Cold Brew was intended to appeal to the mass market.

This case study and others from this conference started us thinking about how our clients are figuring out the best ways to reach their core consumers and what research they might be conducting in order to improve their own strategy. How is your company tackling the ever-changing consumer market? Connect with us to continue the conversation.

| Research

UXPA International Conference.

In June we braved the heat in Scottsdale, Arizona, to join other user experience (UX) professionals, including designers, researchers and academics, to exchange techniques, tools, trends and beyond at the UXPA International Conference. Here are a few takeaways:

Gen Z and Millennials are not the same

Gen Zers were raised differently than Millennials – one study suggests that the average attention span for Gen Zers is 8 seconds, compared to 12 seconds for Millennials. They seek authenticity and are clear/choosy about where they post and look for content. They are impacting the way we spend, the way we make decisions and the way we seek information. Which raises the question “What can Gen Zers tell about you in 8 seconds?”

Universal/inclusive design is helpful to all

With the rise in the use of technology among consumers, the opportunity to enhance the user experience is greatly increased but must be done with care and intention. By designing with inclusion in mind, not only do we enhance the experience for some, but we also can be helpful to all.

Develop individuals, as well as the team

The conference offered insight into trends and tools as well as included sessions on personal development and the importance of diversity and inclusion within the workplace. We learned that in order to retain the best talent, it is important to cultivate and protect an inclusive culture.

| Research

First Day of School.

Do you remember the night before the first day of school? The nerves start to settle in, excitement about meeting your new teachers rises and you can barely wait to debut your new school clothes.

At 15 years old, you are most likely entering the 10th grade. You know where the best lunch spots are, school dances are familiar, and you’ve found the best shortcuts to your classes. But throughout the year, the feeling of more responsibility comes upon you.

The questions of “Where do you want to go to college?” “What do you want to study?” and “When are you taking the ACT?” start to consume your free time. We remember those tough conversations and the unfamiliarity of what lies ahead.

We turned to our good friend Annie, whose advice to her younger self speaks volumes about the possibilities that lie ahead for all 15-year-olds.

“Push yourself to dream BEYOND the boundaries of the impossible!”

Our project has gifted us with advice that is valuable not only for every 15-year-old but for all ages. If you have a nugget of wisdom to share with us, visit our Quote to Self website to participate. We want to hear from you!

Follow our Quote to Self Instagram and Facebook pages to see other advice we’ve collected thus far.

| Creative, Culture, Quote to Self Project, Research

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612 638 5000


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