Around this time of year, one can’t help but become reflective. I know I’m not alone when I say that, on the one hand, this year somehow shot past faster than the last one, but on the other hand, it was jam-packed with new discoveries, fresh ideas, and memorable experiences. In particular, this has been a milestone year for the data insights innovation team here at Forrester, as we officially launched our Technographics 360 research approach, which synthesizes mobile behavioral, social listening, online qualitative, and survey data. As I think back on my experiences with the Technographics 360 initiative inside Forrester, paired with my industry learnings outside Forrester, a few key lessons come to mind that I will take into the new year:
1. Synthesis is “in.” In fact, I learned so much about this topic, I wrote a full blog post dedicated to it! In essence, we now live in a world where the truest insight is a product of synthesis – building knowledge up – rather than of analysis – breaking ideas down. I recently attended SSI’s seminar featuring Simon Chadwick, who proposed that data synthesis is “the next big thing” in insight skills. I agree: With so many diverse data sources at our fingertips that offer unique perspectives on consumers’ lives, researchers need to put the puzzle pieces together to construct a comprehensive understanding of consumer behavior.
As researchers, we can’t underestimate the power of perspective. When the Eiffel Tower was erected 125 years ago, it became the tallest manmade structure in the world and, more importantly, allowed visitors to look down over Paris for the first time; perhaps it was the first real instance of a “birds-eye view.” At the same time, artists like Picasso and Stein were pushing the limits of perspective by portraying every angle of 3-dimensional concepts in one painting or poem. In many ways, the research world today is akin to this historical period of creativity. With more data at our fingertips than ever before, we are able to observe consumer behavior from new vantage points and produce a fresh understanding of customer trends by analyzing multiple angles at the same time.
Here on the data insights innovation team at Forrester, we’ve called our multiperspective research approach Technographics 360. Officially launched this year, Technographics 360 blends Consumer Technographics® survey output, ConsumerVoices Market Research Online Community insight, social listening data, and passive mobile behavioral tracking to synthesize a 360-degree view of consumer behavior. Instead of analyzing research questions by breaking them down, we can synthesize comprehensive solutions by building our knowledge up.
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.
For a track session at Forrester's Marketing Forum at the end of April, I dived into the topic of customer satisfaction. For market researchers looking to set up a customer satisfaction (CSAT) study, much guidance is available. However, it also became clear to me why, despite all this advice, many customer satisfaction projects fail.
Most of the information I found -- or the conversations I had, for that matter -- were around the ‘science’ part of CSAT studies: the methodology and set-up. There are many discussions online about questions like which scale to use, which questions to ask (or not), whether a company should focus on relational versus transactional measurement, or if it's better to conduct a customized CSAT project or use an established method like Net Promoter.
However, in my conversations with market researchers, I found that the success of CSAT projects isn't based as much on science -- although a sound and repeatable set-up doesn't hurt -- as much as it is on ‘art.’ The art lies in understanding the company’s business issues; translating these into a well-structured questionnaire; finding the drivers for success; and later, when the results are in, presenting the results in an actionable format.
Any customer satisfaction project that focuses on numbers misses out on the 'art' element of CSAT. Of course, using a standardized methodology helps the company benchmark itself against its competitors. But what does it mean when 80% of your clients are satisfied? The organization will look at this number and want to drive it up, without any understanding of what the impact on the bottom line will be when the percentage of satisfied customers increases from 80% to 82%.