I am now back from attending this year’s The Market Research Event (TMRE) in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida. As always, TMRE produced a content-packed program that addressed a multitude of different topics, ranging from mobile and technology to shopper insights to ROI and measurement and even data analytics and big data. While I attended my fair share of talks focused on emerging and innovative methodologies, I was really interested in the consultative skill development track. This was a track that focused on discussing what client-side Market Insights (MI) Professionals have learned are the best practices for storytelling and data visualization.
One of the talks that I really enjoyed was by Brett Townsend of PepsiCo, whose talk title was aptly named “Treat Your Clients Like Your Kids — Tell Them A Story.” While this isn’t a new idea for MI Professionals — and he discussed well-known takeaways such as “If we can’t tell a story in 20 minutes, then you don’t have a story to tell” — one comment really struck me: Conflict is the engine that drives the story. Our primary goal as MI Professionals is to understand the conflict that consumers are experiencing in their daily lives and to understand what that means to the company or brand.
To focus on the conflict, Brett broke down the story-building process as if we were in the movie business and we were writers writing a script. For each project you work on, you need to understand the following factors:
· Who is the hero? For our purposes, it will always be the consumer.
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.
Part of this evolution revolves around enhancing the EFM suite of products and bringing new feedback channels into the mix — like mobile. This goes beyond purely enabling the viewing of online surveys on a mobile browser. It encompasses offering mobile apps, enabling the collection of qualitative data, capturing mobile behavioral data, and even leveraging location to unearth insights about consumers. That is exactly what SMG, an EFM vendor that focuses on customer experience analytics, did by acquiring location analytics market research firm Locately. Confirmit did the same last year by acquiring Techneos to create a stronger mobile offering for its customers.
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.
I just returned from the IIR Market Research Technology Event (TMRTE). These were three action-packed days of industry leaders delivering great insights on what’s important for the market research industry, as well as the challenges and opportunities that technology presents. It was a pleasure to meet and connect with so many thought leaders in market research. Here are three main themes I gathered from the event and what I think market researchers need to pay attention to:
Big data is here. Many of the presenters highlighted how intimidating the flood of digital data can be for market researchers. Christopher Frank from American Express and Paul Magnone from Openet say it’s like “Drinking from the Fire Hose.” But Stan Sthanunathan from Coca-Cola reminded us that big data is a reality — so we’d better embrace it or get left behind. As a result, market researchers will need to move from viewing technology as an enabler to viewing technology as a driver.
Last week, I ran into an infographic on Ad Age about The People of Walmart. It compares the demographics of Walmart, Kmart, Kohl’s, and Target shoppers: for example, age, sex, income, and region of the customers. It shows that more women than men shop at Walmart, and that their audience is quite equally spread across age as well as income. Recently, Forrester conducted a survey where we gained insights on customers of retailers like Walmart. We found that while it’s great to examine the demographics of shoppers, it’s much more powerful (and actionable) to look at other insights about these retailers’ customer base, like marketing preferences, spend levels, and brand consideration.
Below you'll find some of the results from this Forrester study. You'll see that the average US online adult who shops at Walmart spent about $848 on average in the past year, but that only about half are likely to recommend the retail giant to a friend or family member. When these results are compared to other retailers, and by demographic, you create real insights.
I’d love to hear from you: How do you target your customers? Are there any behavioral and attitudinal variables that have been very helpful in defining your target segments?
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.
I love this time of year. As a real nostalgic I enjoy all these ‘best of 2011’ lists and ‘year in review’ overviews and it feels there are more every year. In the past two weeks we also have been bombarded with opinions about the developments in the market insights industry in 2011, as well as what people expect to happen in 2012 (and beyond). We’ve seen Twitter 2011 reviews, crowd sourcing activities, expert views, and so on. And I read them all. However, I do this with my favorite end of year activity playing in the background: The Top2000. This is an annual five day event that counts down the 2,000 best records ever produced - as voted by 3 million Dutch adults.
As some of you know, I really have a thing for doing research in multiple countries. I’ve been working in market research for two decades now and have always conducted international research projects — and experienced all the challenges that come with them. But I believe that conducting international research is even more challenging now than it was 20 years ago when I started my research career.
I see three key challenges that market researchers must deal with when doing multicountry projects:
1) How to collect globally comparable data. As soon as the surveyed cultures are so different that you need to adapt research methodologies and localize questionnaires, you’ve lost the chance for global comparisons. How do you walk that fine line between globalization and localization?
2) How to put this data into a local context. It’s really hard to understand the real drivers of behavior in different regions. Just looking at the results and comparing them with those of other countries might result in the wrong conclusions.
3) How to distribute and communicate these results back. Collecting information is one thing, but communicating it back to the local organizations and having them act on it is quite another. Will your local market insights teams use, share, and implement the data that you’ve collected globally?