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?
With mobile usage becoming increasingly widespread and companies testing the water with mobile strategies, market insights professionals need to uncover consumers’ mobile behavior today and tomorrow. But with the pace of mobile innovation moving so rapidly, how can you keep up with all of the things that people are doing with their mobile phones?
In the next three years, would you expect people to use their mobile phones as wallets? What about as electronic passports? What about for space exploration? While that seems like a long shot, a New York state resident did just that — attaching an iPhone to a weather balloon, videoing the journey, and using its GPS feature to map its voyage (see link for the footage).
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.
Companies like Coca-Cola, Nike, Unilever, Procter & Gamble (P&G), McDonald’s, and Johnson & Johnson have done a great job converting their brands into household names in Metro China, mainly by investing big in advertising and promotions. Having pockets deep enough to put these messages in front of the Chinese people is great, but if your firm is interested in entering this market of 1.37 billion people but doesn’t have access to the advertising financial resources of a Coca-Cola or P&G, what do you do?
Start thinking about word-of-mouth (WOM) campaigns. Due to historic events and their family teachings, Chinese people tend not to trust content coming from strange sources. However, Chinese people are known to be loyal to their friends and family. Forrester Technographics® data shows that “recommendations from friends and family” (44%) is the primary source of content people trust in Metro China. Interestingly, among the top five sources, we also see “email from people you know” (40%) and “social networking site profiles from people you know” (25%). These are both forms of word of mouth that have transitioned from the offline world to the online world.
Over the past year, my colleague Andrew McInnes and I have immersed ourselves in the world of enterprise feedback management (EFM), which we define as follows:
A system of software and processes that enables organizations to centrally collect, analyze, and report on feedback from key customer groups and tailor insights for various internal users.
During this time, it has been a great experience talking with vendors and clients about how this technology tool enables companies to bring all of the customer data and information collected across channels together into one platform. This ability is more important than ever given that we have entered the “age of the customer” — a period marked by the rise of the empowered customer, who is armed with more information than ever before and who is now using a rapidly evolving set of devices as a means of engaging not only with friends and family but also with companies anytime and anywhere. To be successful in this new world, companies must understand how consumers interact across these multiple touchpoints; failure to do so can lead to a fragmented view of the customer.
While it is clear that companies must embrace EFM, what is not as clear is how they should navigate the EFM vendor landscape. This is due to the dozens of small vendors, evolving market segments, and increasing M&A activity. To help professionals within the marketing and strategy organization, Andrew and I decided to conduct a Forrester Wave™ evaluation of the EFM vendors.
As the newest addition to the market insights team, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Gina Sverdlov, and I recently joined Forrester as a consumer insights analyst.
I am very excited to be here! My background is in economics, consulting, advertising, and using quantitative methods to provide actionable insights for my clients. In my role here at Forrester, I am going to focus on bringing our multiple data sources to life and turning numbers to actionable insights. I am enthusiastic about engaging with our clients to devise strategies that will be successful in today’s changing market dynamics.
For my first Forrester document, ”Connection: The Spark That Lights Up The European Digital Home,” I’ve been looking at device ownership in Europe and how recent trends compare with the IHS Global Insight Economic Outlook. What I found, for example, is that laptop penetration in Europe has increased from 20% in 2006 to 51% in 2010 amid hefty declines in European retail sales in 2008 and 2009 and personal disposable income in 2009 and 2010. As a follow-up, I’ve identified how the uptake of different emerging technologies like LCD, plasma, and 3D TV correlate with ownership of other devices and where there are opportunities for consumer electronics (CE) companies.
The past three weeks have been quite busy within the enterprise feedback management (EFM) vendor landscape, with two major acquisitions. The first occurred on July 19th between Verint and Vovici; the second was announced today between QuestBack and Globalpark. These mergers make sense and are in line with how I see the EFM vendor landscape evolving over the next five years.
One part of the EFM vendor evolution will be the creation of what my colleague Andrew McInnes calls “comprehensive customer experience solution sets.” The Verint and Vovici merger demonstrates this. Here you have two distinct vendors, each with their own sweet spot within the EFM world. Verint is primarily known as an actionable intelligence solutions vendor that focuses on creating enterprise workforce optimization software and services to evaluate customer communications, especially in the contact center. Vovici is primarily known as an online survey management and enterprise feedback solutions vendor that focuses on helping companies obtain customer feedback from different channels and bring it all together to create a more holistic view of the customer. Essentially, Vovici had what Verint lacked — and Verint had what Vovici lacked. The result is now a more well-rounded and robust EFM offering.
July has been a “sizzling” month so far, and I don’t just mean the weather. Although its pretty hot and humid here in Miami, the market research world has been burning up with talk about mobile market research over the past three weeks. First, we kicked off the month with a debate I moderated about whether mobile research is the great hope or the false dawn. You can listen to a recording of the lively debate here. And now, the Merlien Market Research in a Mobile World conference just wrapped up. This conference brought together more than 200 client-side senior executives, market researchers, and mobile developers to discuss the challenges and opportunities mobile technologies can bring to generate customer insights.
Is all of this talk warranted? Yes! Just take a look at some of these facts. Forrester forecasts that by 2014, 65% of the world’s population will own at least one active mobile phone (click here for details; subscription required). And, earlier this year, Mary Meeker of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers stated that we have globally reached an inflection point in Q4 2010―the global shipments of smartphones and tablets surpassed the global shipments of desktop and notebook PCs.
It’s been almost a year since I wrote Latin American Social Technographics® Revealed, which demonstrated this group of consumers’ voracious love of social media. In that report I highlighted how this high level of social engagement is not exclusive to just entertaining themselves or connecting with family and friends. In fact, it also extends to interacting with companies, with activities such as reading their blogs, following them on Twitter, or even watching a video they produced.
Given the ease with which companies can connect with online Latin Americans via social media, I’ve now published a new report entitled Take Advantage: Latin American Consumers Are Willing Co-Creators that examines whether companies can extend this interactive and social connection with consumers into the realm of co-creation in the social online world. My colleague Doug Williams, who focuses on co-creation processes for the consumer product strategy professional, defines “social co-creation” as the process of using social technologies as a vehicle to execute co-creation engagements.
To examine the viability of social co-creation in Latin America, we assessed the factors that we feel are crucial for a successful social co-creation engagement to occur. They are:
A high level of engagement with social media — especially at the Conversationalist and Critic levels.
A high degree of interaction with companies using social media tools.
An inherent willingness to co-create with companies.
Companies are in a unique position today, as they have an unprecedented ability to collect information about consumers through various channels and thus create rich and deep profiles of their target customers. However, what is considered a goldmine of information has actually highlighted many pain points, including:
Consumers are being bombarded with multiple surveys across different channels by different departments. As a result, consumers feel more and more that they are being badgered for information about themselves.
A siloed department structure creates little incentive to collaborate across departments. Thus, repetition of similar projects by different departments occurs, contradictory results can be communicated internally, and learning based on a department’s successes and failures from past projects is not communicated across departments.