Mobile Research Calls For Creative Research Approaches

When I came back from holiday last week and looked at my mail, I was delighted to see that the most recent issue of Research World (the ESOMAR magazine) had a number of articles on mobile research. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, mobile research has really won me over (see also my report, The Challenges And Opportunities Of Mobile Research for full details). The “anytime, anywhere” aspect of the mobile phone, combined with people's emotional attachment to it, makes it an ideal device for people to share their thoughts and opinions in a research context.

When reading the articles in Research World, however, I feel that the industry is missing out on a great opportunity. The emphasis of the conversation here is on mobile research's methodological challenges, such as sampling, guidelines, and research bias. I agree that there are still some hurdles to overcome with regards to representation, costs, technology, and privacy, but I believe market researchers shouldn't get too caught up in these but should instead embrace mobile phones as a new research channel and look for innovative research approaches.

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The Data Digest: Uptake Of Facebook In Asia

In the past few weeks, there have been many conversations about Facebook's privacy changes (and breaches); for example, see this post by my colleague Augie Ray earlier this week. However, what I'm missing in these discussions is how Facebook compares with other social media players worldwide. Although Facebook is the largest social media platform in the Western world, different players lead in other regions. For example, Facebook is struggling to gain ground in Asia Pacific:

With 58% of online adults accessing it, Orkut is the leading social platform in metropolitan India, while 27% of Japanese online adults use mixi; and in South Korea, Cyworld is most popular, attracting 63% of South Korean Internet users. What I'd like to know: how do these networks handle their users’ privacy?

The Data Digest: How Customers Rate Banks, Brokerages, And Insurers By Industry

Early in 2010, my colleague Bill Doyle published a report called 'Customer Advocacy 2010: How Customers Rate US Banks, Investment Firms, And Insurers'. This report includes trended Technographics® data that shows that US consumer trust in financial institutions is returning. One year after the financial crisis that brought the US economy to its knees, customers are more likely to say that their financial institutions do what's best for them, but not all of the financial sectors benefit equally.

Insurers score better than ever compared with other retail financial services firms. Smaller banks also do well, while some of the biggest banks again land at the very bottom of our rankings. And after years of rating higher than banks, investment firms as a group now score worst.

Forrester clients can access the report with the scores for 46 US financial companies here.

The Data Digest: How US Youth Multitask

A couple of weeks ago I published a Data Digest on European consumers’ media consumption. One of the questions that always comes up when I present this data to clients is how focused consumers are when they're watching TV or using the Internet. Our Technographics® data shows that consumers aren't focused at all: About 40% of US youth were watching TV the last time that they used the Internet, and a third were texting.

But consumers don’t just multitask across different channels; they also do many different things on the PC at the same time. We asked European consumers the following question: "Which of the following activities do you regularly do at the same time when you’re using your PC (by that we mean that you are combining multiple activities)?" About half of European youth use IM when using the Internet, and about 60% listen to music. Undivided attention is something that's hard to find these days.

Customer Satisfaction Is More Than Tracking Numbers

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%.

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The Data Digest: Smartphones Drive Mobile Banking Uptake (EU)

A recent report from my colleague Alexander Hesse on 'The State Of Mobile Banking In Europe: 2010' shows that about one in eight European Net users with a mobile phone use mobile banking today — with SMS account alerts being the most common type. Many European banks like Rabobank and Lloyds TSB let customers set up time- and event-triggered text alerts, but currently, only 10% of European online mobile phone users actually use them.

We expect that 39% of European mobile phone users will use the mobile Internet by 2014. Why? Smartphones becoming the norm, more widely available, all-you-can-eat data plans, and more compelling content will drive uptake. Today's iPhone and BlackBerry users are, for example, already nearly three times as likely to use mobile banking as other mobile phone users.

The Online Panel Quality Debate Continues

Last week, I was in LA, hosting a session on online panel quality at Forrester’s Marketing Forum. I discussed the past, present, and future of online panel quality with Steve Schwartz from Microsoft, Maria Cristina Gomez from Procter & Gamble, and Frank Findley from ARS Group.

Online panel quality is still a major issue in the industry. The whole discussion started in 2006 with a speech by Kim Dedeker -- at that time, the VP of global consumer and market knowledge at Procter & Gamble. In it, she publicly expressed her concerns about online panel quality, how it affected their research results, and, as a result, the credibility of market research. In her speech, she stressed that, in her opinion, the industry – both research suppliers and clients – needed to focus on how to improve the overall quality of research. Her appeal to the industry was very successful. Many other research buyers weighed in with their stories, and the research providers took up the challenge. Since then, many initiatives have started, such as the ARF’s Foundation of Quality and ESOMAR’s 26 questions, as well as more technology-driven approaches like Peanut Labs’ Optimus and MarketTools’ TrueSample.

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The Data Digest: Brand Attitudes Of Online African Americans

In general, online African Americans are less well-off and spend less while shopping online  compared with other online consumers. However, several factors point to the opportunity of further engaging with this group. Our Technographics® research shows that African American online users are much less annoyed by the amount of advertising today compared with online users overall: 60% of the US online population agree that they are annoyed by advertising, versus only 39% of online African Americans. Furthermore, ads inform the purchase decisions that online African Americans make: Nearly twice as many African American online users (27%) as overall online users (15%) agree that ads help them decide what to buy.

Furthermore, 24% of online African Americans recognize that owning the best brand is important to them, compared with only 16% of all US online consumers. Therefore, brand reputation is a much bigger influencer in their purchase decision process.

The Data Digest: Media Consumption By Age (Europe)

There’s a lot of debate around which media channels consumers access and how much time they spend on each. Our Technographics® data reveals that young Europeans spend a total of about 40 hours per week on any type of media, and this number then declines with age. The biggest drivers of young consumers’ high levels of media engagement are Internet use and time spent playing games, both of which drop dramatically among older age groups:

However, these numbers are for the total European population and include countries like Spain and Italy, where Internet uptake is lower both in general and especially among older consumers. When we look at these numbers for the UK Internet population, for example, all age groups spend around 41 hours per week on different media activities. The total time spent doesn’t change much by age group, but the type of media activity does: Older consumers spend more time watching TV and reading newspapers than younger consumers, while the time they spend on the Internet decreases.

The Data Digest: Interest In Mobile Coupons

A recent published report called 'Mobile Coupons: Gold Rush Or Fool's Gold?' shows that both consumers and advertisers are curious about mobile coupons but that few consumers have trialed mobile coupons. Our Technographics data uncovers that only 3% have requested a coupon via cell phone, and only another 3% have actually used a mobile coupon. But mobile coupons help marketers reach new audiences, particularly those consumers ages 18 to 24 — 79% of whom typically spend less than 1 hour per week reading a newspaper. Younger consumers are most interested in mobile offers, especially for restaurants, drinks, and music/DVDs.

Advertisers will need to realize that some consumers — especially younger, new customers — may be mobile-only and that this mobile-only audience requires different promotions to encourage the behavior that merchants seek. Start with campaigns that are close to their heart (or mouth to be more precise) to win them over.