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The chatter about DIY research and listening platforms driving traditional market research to obsolescence is enough to give any Market Research professional pause for thought. Management teams can point to cost savings by empowering different departments to conduct their own “research.” While this debate is very interesting, and one that could go on for hours, the important piece that shouldn’t be lost in the debate is that the research still needs to happen. Case in point: Summer’s Eve.

In case you missed it, women (and men) everywhere have been heatedly debating a Summer’s Eve ad placed in the October 2010 issue of Women’s Day. I actually received the issue this weekend and when I stumbled across the ad, I did a double take. Even without my background in media research and gender studies, my inner alarm was ringing. Was this ad serious? Evidently I was not the only one who noticed because the blogosphere and Twitter were all a-flutter with other individuals who took notice as well. (Blogs from to to above all had coverage. One blog even had more than 900 comments.) After I got over the initial shock of the ad, I asked myself, “Did they do any ad testing?”

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The Data Digest: Cross-Channel Media Usage

Throughout the past 12 years of our Technographics® surveys, we’ve observed digital technology’s role in consumers’ lives increasing steadily.

Today, technologies like PCs and mobile phones, which were once reserved for the most well-heeled tech freaks, are in three-quarters of US households. For media consumption, however, new formats don't necessarily replace old ones. Our Technographics data shows that while new media sources occupy more of young consumers’ time, it’s the traditional media sources that continue to maintain popularity across both younger and older consumer groups.

This continued reliance on traditional media explains why cross-channel media adoption is still seeing slow growth. The Weather Channel leads this race, as it did in previous years, with one-quarter of respondents indicating they both watch The Weather Channel and log in online.

My colleague Jackie Anderson is very busy at the moment analyzing and writing an update to our annual State Of Consumers And Technology Benchmark report that covers topics such as the one mentioned above. When it's published, we'll share some updated numbers. Hint: Some others in the list have done a good job in the past year of engaging people across channels!

1 + 1 = 3. Why Research Vendors Should Collaborate

As mentioned in some earlier posts, in the past quarters, I have been looking into the role that Market Research professionals play (and can play) with regard to information management. I’ve had many enlightening conversations about this topic with both vendors and client-side market researchers.

Technology developments result in more and more information becoming available internally, and at different parts of the organization. Just think about all the data an average company collects or buys — media measurement data, advertising awareness, advertising spend, retail data, sales data, competitive intelligence, Web-tracking data (from listening tools), Web site tracking, marketing data (e.g., Nielsen Claritas), customer satisfaction surveys, brand trackers, and other primary research data, to name just a few. One vendor estimated that the average research department handles around 50 different research sources!

When I spoke with vendors about their relationship with clients, each and every one of them was looking for ways to increase the level of engagement. For one thing, they are working on best-in-class reporting tools to make it easier for clients to process their data and make it visually more interesting — and hopefully easier to use. However, not many vendors think further than their own set of data. When questioned, they mention that their systems don’t allow for third-party data. Yes, it’s possible to link to internal CRM systems, but that’s about as far as things go.

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The Data Digest: Do Consumers Want To Co-Create With Companies?

Co-creation and crowdsourcing are hot because companies see these social technologies as a tool to engage with consumers in new and innovative ways and at the same time benefit from their involvement in the design and development of products. In a recently published report, “US Consumers Are Willing Co-Creators,” Forrester Technographics® data shows that 61% of all US online adults are willing co-creators, and they are open to co-creating across a large range of industries.

But interest isn’t equally high across different consumer industries. Below, you’ll find a graphic showing the top five industries that consumers are interested in participating with for co-creation efforts.

Household technology products like PCs and TVs top the list, but CPG, home entertainment (i.e., movies and music), household appliances (i.e., washing machines and refrigerators), and small kitchen appliances follow closely. As usual, men and women have different interests: While women account for 51% of all willing co-creators, they account for a much greater share of the audience interested in co-creating with CPG companies and clothing, footwear, and small kitchen appliance manufacturers.

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The Data Digest: A Deep Dive Into Asia Pacific Consumers' Online Behavior

Q3 is always a very exciting quarter for the market research team at Forrester. Not only do we analyze, write and publish our annual State Of Consumers And Technology  Benchmark report (which my colleague Jackie Anderson is very busy with at the moment), but we also start analyzing our annual reports looking specifically at consumers' online behavior. In Q3 we will first publish the US version of the document, followed by European, Asia Pacific, and LATAM versions later in the year. These reports are internally referenced as “the Deep Dive” reports, not only for the level of detail these reports contain but also because of the depth of analysis included. What really makes these reports unique is that they're similar in setup, making it possible to compare online consumer behavior across regions and within regions.

For example, our 2009 APAC Deep Dive report shows that Asia Pacific consumers are active Internet users compared with North American and European consumers but that their interests and activities varied greatly.  And within Asia Pacific it's definitely not one-size-fits-all: The following graphic shows for example how the different countries vary in their uptake of media and entertainment activities:

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Data Digest: Which Features Do Consumers Want on Their Next Mobile Phone?

The buzz around the iPhone 4 has brought the debate about phone features front and center once again. Just what are consumers looking for when they purchase a cell phone? We tackled this question by examining how consumers rank the features they want on their next phone. Our Technographics® data shows that even with all the excitement around the iPhone and its features, consumers overwhelmingly value affordability above all else.

Out of over 14 different features we asked our consumers about — ranging from the ability to connect to a PC to the operating system of the phone — we found the number one feature they're interested in, regardless of generation, is the low cost of the phone itself. Over 70% of each generation considered this the most important. Brand rounded out the top 5 and proved more important to Gen Yers (43%) than Seniors (24%). Other interesting features that didn't make the top 5 included touch screens which ranked 11th in terms of importance, while having a full physical (QWERTY) keyboard ranked 6th. Blackberry seems to have a pulse on both markets with the impending launch of its newest phone which offers consumers the best of both worlds.

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Device Adoption Made Simple

Right now, I am knee-deep in data while writing our annual Benchmark Data Overview report. We’ve been writing these reports for more than 10 years now. (In fact, for a little blast from the past, check out the report from 2001 where we noted that just over half of online consumers over the age of 55 knew how to bookmark a Web site.) The 2001 report used our Technographics® segmentation as a framework for understanding how consumers were integrating technology into their lives. The segmentation was created in 1997 when we first began collecting our Technographics data to help companies understand and predict changes in the consumer technology landscape. It is built on three main components: motivation, income, and technology optimism/pessimism using a proprietary algorithm. The graphic below illustrates the various groups of the segmentation:

Technographics Segmentation


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