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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 BlogHer.com to Salon.com to AdWeek.com 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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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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Sometimes You Realize Just How Cool Market Research Can Be...

I should start by saying that I, personally, think market research is cool every day. But, sometimes you come across something that just really excites you. As an MR professional, you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes it’s a really cool study or some fascinating data — and sometimes it’s an exciting new approach to market research. As an analyst, I attend a lot of briefings. Some are highly intriguing, and others . . . well, you get the idea. I thought today I’d share with you a couple of interesting companies that I’ve come across in the past couple of weeks. I encourage you to explore them on your own, but I’ll start you off with a few interesting tidbits.

The first company is Tobii Technology . It specializes in eye-tracking and eye-control studies. Its technologies are used in many scientific studies, but they are also used in market research applications. If you’re familiar with eye-tracking studies, you know that they’re not new by any means. However, Tobii has made the method more accessible and more convenient. Where it once involved huge, cumbersome glasses that took a long time to calibrate, Tobii has introduced a streamlined version that can be calibrated easily. The options for use are endless: shopping studies, media consumption, copy testing, ad placement — the list goes on.

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Will We Ever Meet In Person Again? (A Review Of Virtual Events)

Last week, I attended the AMA virtual event, “Unveiling Marketing Research’s Future Online”. I was very excited to see just what this virtual event would be all about. Mentally, I was trying to marry the idea of a Webinar with the experience of a live event and was left wondering what the union would look like. On Wednesday, I logged in and was prepared for technical difficulties but, surprisingly, I connected without a single hitch! I immediately began to explore, trying to acclimate myself to my virtual surroundings. The environment was easy to understand and navigate. Areas were clearly marked so you knew exactly what was going on where and when. Again, I was pleasantly surprised. Overall, I found a great balance between content and exhibitors and enjoyed the ability to listen to a session while also perusing the materials in the exhibition hall — yes, I admit, I was event-multitasking!

The topic of the future of market research (MR) is obviously a big draw, and sessions like those on DIY research and social media research in the B2B sphere could create quite a lot of chatter. But I think the virtual nature of the event itself is a topic to be discussed. Is this the future of events in general? Will networking over evening cocktails be a thing of the past? Will we simply know each other by our avatars? Here’s my take (the good and the bad). For me, virtual events:

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Online research: Who are we talking about here?

There has been a lot of discussion and chatter around social market research (SMR) lately, fueled in part bythe social sessions at the MRA conference a couple of weeks ago. We’ve had social on our radar here at Forrester for awhile and my colleague Tamara Barber has done a great job looking at social market research and its opportunities and challenges. Some of the issues around social MR are hot topics for online research in general, representivity being one of the key ones. Just who are we gathering data on? Whether we’re talking about new social methods or tried and true online panels, the question is still relevant.

The topic of representivity in online panels surfaced a few years ago as MR professionals began to examine and question the data coming back from online surveys. Vendors began to address client concerns through a variety of approaches like MarketTools' TrueSampleand Peanut Labs’ Optimus initiatives. Some clients seemed appeased by the measures, but the debate has continued to rage within the MR industry -- and rightfully so.

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It’s Time To Help Me Benchmark!

That’s right: It’s time for us to start thinking about our annual US Consumer Benchmark report. We are currently in the field with our annual mail survey of more than 40,000 US consumers ages 18 and up and are eagerly awaiting the return of the data. While we wait patiently (or not so patiently), it’s time for us to start preparing for our annual Benchmark report. Many of you are already familiar with this mega-data report that we publish each year based on our Technographics® data. For those of you who aren’t, let me get you up to speed!

Each year, we do a thorough analysis of our Benchmark mail survey and create a report called “The State Of Consumers And Technology.” This report covers everything from device ownership to online activities to mobile behaviors, and it serves as the Holy Grail for many market researchers. At more than 20 pages long, this report is an absolute labor of love and takes many hands to make it happen. And this year, we need your help, too! When we begin writing this document, we always start by choosing a lens to use throughout the analysis. Last year, we looked at life stages:

 Lifestage Lens for 2009 Technographics Consumer Benchmark Report

 

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Back In The Swing Of Things

After being out on maternity leave for the past 12 weeks, I am officially back in the office and jumping into some great new projects. One of the projects I’m most excited about is our annual online youth survey for our Technographics product. Each year, we survey online respondents ages 12 to 17 to get their take on everything from their mobile usage to how they want to interact with companies. Recently, Pew Research Center put out a report on its youth studythat had some interesting points around mobile usage. Most of its findings were in line with our own data. For example, we’ve found that:

  • Seventy-nine percent of youth ages 12 to 17 have a cell phone, up from 73% in 2008. So when your kid comes home and says, “Mom, I need a cell phone. EVERYONE has one!” he’s not that far off from the truth!
  • It’s all about texting. While only a quarter of teens are browsing the mobile Internet, 84% are texting at least monthly.

 

These are only some of the interesting points we have nestled in our data. I personally love working with this age group and examining how they feel about the world around them. Which technologies can’t they live without and which ones do they ignore and why? How do they expect the companies they love to engage them via social media? How do they want to receive advertising? The list goes on and on (in fact, you can search our survey topics here) . . .

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From Our Online Community: Consumers Are Wary Of Texting Donations

With the recent disaster in Haiti we saw a push from many charities to take advantage of mobile technologies to help raise funds. You've probably seen the ads on TV to text to a certain number to make a donation through your cell phone provider.

These messages were also splayed across Facebook as status updates (interesting side note: whether or not the people posting the information actually donated isn't known but perhaps people felt better just by spreading the word).

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Quarterly Tracking Studies Combine Quantitative and Qualitative Data

One of the benefits of working at Forrester (for a data loving person like myself) is having such a wealth of quantitative data on hand through our Technographics program. Of course, the data on hand doesn't always answer every question our clients have.

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