This past summer, we at Forrester continued to explore new and innovative methodologies. One of my highlights was visiting the IIeX conference in Atlanta back in June. And although I was impressed by the variety of new (qualitative) methodologies, it’s rarely a matter of choosing one or the other. The recent GRIT report by GreenBook shows, for example, that many market research online community (MROC) vendors dropped a few places in terms of innovation, but I agree with Andrew Leary from Ipsos SMX that these online communities will continue to play a relevant (and innovative!) role thanks to their flexibility and variability when it comes to size, duration, integration, and scale.
I recently researched the MROC space, interviewing all the major players to understand their capabilities and how they support organizations. I found that there are a number of ways that MROCs aid customer insights professionals, including:
Creating a better understanding of consumers’ drivers. MROCs allow us to ask consumers in an open-ended way to describe their experiences across the purchase journey, anywhere from the point they learn about or research the company to when they follow up for customer support. In turn, these findings can have an impact at any level of the organization. These insights become even more valuable for ongoing communities.
At Forrester, we believe that 2012 is an inflection point for mobile market research. Specifically, 2012 will be considered the “big bang” for a new era in market research — one in which mobile devices will become a critical vehicle to connect, engage, and subsequently understand the consumer. As such, we have recently published two reports that address this very important emerging methodology for Market Insights (MI) Professionals.
The first report, entitled “The Mobile Market Research Landscape 2012,” explains why mobile research will become the heart of market research. Although only a fraction of MI Professionals are currently leveraging mobile, the report reviews the reasons why mobile is here to stay and the advantages of leveraging this approach — such as the ability to capture real-time insights, gain access to hard-to-reach sample, or get more personal with respondents. In addition, given the opportunities to collect different types of data via mobile phones, we provide an overview of the quantitative, qualitative, and behavioral approaches currently available. And, no overview report is complete without a discussion of the current challenges that still face mobile research, such as security and privacy, and our recommendations for what MI professionals need to do to prepare for this shift to this new world.
The second report, entitled “How To Plan For Mobile Online Survey Takers,” addresses a growing issue not often discussed among MI Professionals — the increase of what we call mobile online survey takers. We define this group as:
My colleague Lindsey Colella and I attended the Vision Critical Summit in New York this week and were inspired by how market insights professionals are truly embracing the value of market research online communities (MROCs). Among the emerging and innovative methodologies, this is the one that we are seeing gaining significant traction: The Greenbook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report shows that this is the top emerging methodology used by client-side researchers — with 36% currently leveraging it.
What did we learn at the event? In addition to reinforcing MROC best-practice tips like closing the loop with panelists and incentivizing in a relevant way, which Lindsey recently wrote about in her report “Best Practices For Managing A Market Research Online Community,” the following best practices and examples caught our attention:
· Internal marketing is critical. Market insights professionals need to “sell” the value of MROCs to various business units across the organization. One electronics retailer did that by hosting monthly meetings in which the MI team presented all the research collected in the MROC to the cross-function business leaders.
As an analyst, my job is to examine the emerging research methodology landscape and see what trends are evolving and how market insights professionals are leveraging and integrating these new techniques into their research toolkit. While this type of research is extremely enjoyable, every now and then I am lucky enough to be able to get my hands dirty and play with some of these methodologies. This time around, I got to play with passive mobile behavioral measurement data.
Similar to online behavior tracking, mobile behavior tracking passively records the activities that consumers perform on their mobile phone. With this data, you are able to know, for example, how many inbound and outbound texts are made, when and for how long a person uses an app like Facebook, or how many megabytes of data they downloaded or uploaded. Vendors that provide this tool include Arbitron Mobile, comScore’s MobiLens product, Research Now Mobile (formerly iPinion), and RealityMine (a spin-off company from Lumi Mobile).
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I love talking about cool, emerging, and innovative research methodologies. Over the past two years, I have been focusing a lot of my time on researching these techniques and have written several blog posts on this topic. For example, how prediction markets can help determine which concepts will succeed or fail in the marketplace. And how 2012 is the year of mobile, and market insights (MI) professionals need to leverage this channel.
In continuing with this theme, I am launching a blog series focused exclusively on highlighting emerging methodologies that MI professionals should take notice of and examine whether to incorporate into their research tool kit. I will highlight any cool research techniques I come across, as well as any vendors that are building interesting technology tools for market research purposes.
For this inaugural post, I will highlight location analytics. Essentially, market insights professionals can use a consumer’s location information that is transmitted by their mobile phone to understand what they are doing in their daily lives. For example, you can understand where your target customer is shopping, how she got there, and which competitor stores she drove past. The consumers being tracked do not have to “check in” every place they go to gather this information. Instead, all of the location data is passively collected after a consumer opts in.
My colleague Reineke Reitsma and I have been championing mobile market research for quite some time. In fact, we published the first Forrester report on this emerging and innovative methodology back in 2009. In the report, Reineke wrote about the value of its mobility and flexibility to gather insights into consumers’ behavior anytime and anywhere. And for mainstream adoption to occur, hurdles such as cost, technology, privacy, and representation must be addressed.
What do autumn’s cool breeze and changing leaves signal for market researchers (especially those who live up north)? The beginning of the fall market research conference season. This is where we move past our virtual conversations via blogs and Twitter and meet face to face to talk about what really matters to us. For me, it is all about the benefits of emerging and innovative methodologies and what place they will have in our immediate future. Looking over my conference schedule, my conference season “theme” has primarily shaped up to be all about mobile, which doesn’t surprise me. As I wrote back in July, we need to wake up and start thinking about mobile. Mobile offers us the unique opportunity to close the distance between the consumer’s experience and our assessment of that experience. As such, I firmly believe that mobile research will be one of the most critical methods we have at our disposal to help us understand the empowered consumer in this new Age of the Customer.
Where will my “mobile-themed” road show take me this conference season? Here is where I will be in the next month or two.
First, I will be speaking at CASRO’s Annual Conference in Palm Beach, October 19-21. Here, I’ll be joined by some great colleagues on a panel discussing how firms can identify which emerging methodologies to invest in and what the process entails. Mobile will definitely be highlighted here as an example of a methodology that delivers a significant ROI.
Earlier this week, I attended the Esomar Congress in Amsterdam. It was a home game for me, but even I was impressed by the location and its very Dutch look and feel; I felt proud of my country (of course it helps that I’m a big fan of stroopwafels, poffertjes, mature cheese, and bitterballen).
Not only were the surroundings impressive, but so were the presentations. Only a couple of the 20 or so that I saw were average. Most presentations gave a good overview of a new methodology, the client side of the story, and the challenges faced. My personal highlights included the Heineken/TNS presentation, in which they used neuroscience (or more precisely electroencephalography [EEG], biometrics, and eye-tracking) to measure how relevant viewers felt the ad was to them, how excited they were by it, and what areas of the screen they looked at while it played. You can find the summary by Robert Bain of Research Magazine here.