Monday, November 29, 2010

Strategic Social Marketing for Communities

When options are abundant; and social media networks are available in many niches.... which websites do you think TOP the list for strategic social marketing? Here is a quick breakdown of the top 3 which I believe should be your starting point for researching & building a community around your brand or idea.

1) Facebook

According to Alexa rankings, Facebook is the second most popular place in the world today. With that type of reach it’s a no-brainer if you are looking to build a community around a niche, idea or a brand. Facebook is the right place develop relationships online and now boast over 500 million users online with a 50-60% of this user base returning every day. This offers community managers opportunities for social community building & marketing as long as you are willing to build relationships first.

Some best practices:
- Minimize the sales pitch
- Ask open ended questions
- Engage/Interact with your audience
- Offer promotions/Give-a-ways
- Build a FAN page over a GROUP
- Work the FBML or hire someone who can

2) Linkedin

Although Linkedin is number 21 according to Alexa rankings; it’s a huge source of relevant and targeted people which are decision makers and thought leaders. It is B2B unlike Facebook which leans more to C2C, but gaining interested users to your community will be possible by engaging with current groups or even starting your own.

Since there are thousands (if not more) of groups which range in size from 10 members to 100k or more you will be able to ask your peers questions about your community while engaging them on their levels of interest. If what you have to say is interesting to them or appeals to them they may very easily join your social community.

Use Q & A section of LinkedIn to build up your personal network and then tie the communication back to your goals; to build community either on Linkedin or off Linkedin.

Some best practices:
- Minimize the sales pitch
- Know your facts
- Ask open ended questions
- Ask for feedback
- Find collaborators

3) Twitter

Love it or hate it; the 140 character microblogging platform is here to stay. Your peers, business associates and top brands are all using Twitter.com these days. With this type of reach a 140 character message can travel the 7 continents in seconds with just a few retweets. Your community is there just waiting for you to give them the information they need and desire (as long as its 140 characters or less).

Search is your friend; the twitter search allows for a multitude of various regular expression searches. This alone should be where you spend your time finding your audience and determining how they communicate. Make a plan and use your knowledge of your space to speak to your potential audience and have a goal of ultimately re-directing them to your community.

Some best practices:
- Minimize the sales pitch
- Know your facts
- Always add followers who fit your community requirements
- Interact with your followers
- Search, Search, Search – do your market research!
- Make lists to organize your space


Now that you know where to start; or if you have already started and plateaued - it's time to think about next steps.

EVOLVE.

Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies is a unique event that focuses on the business value of social media for established brands, as well as entrepreneurial companies. It brings together community experts with lines of business leaders who are using social media strategically to drive their business.

From setting the strategy, to operationalizing it, to measuring the results – this event is a high-level overview of the Social Media & Community space.

Why Attend?

Social Media is an evolving business that is reinventing how we interact. Learn about campaigns that have worked and ones that have failed.

What's New?

Everyone has invested in Social Media, NOW find out how you can operationalize, measure and make money off of this investment

Thursday, November 18, 2010

TMRE 2010 Around The Web


We had quite a few bloggers from around the country and world at last week's TMRE. What did everyone have to say? Check out the TMRE Mentions from around the web. Is your review not on the list? Add it to the list by placing a comment below!

Research Rockstar: My Totally Unofficial, Brutally Honest 2010 TMRE Awards

Voices of CMB: The Chadwick Martin Bailey Research Blog: Three Quick Takeaways from Day One at The Market Research Event

Green Book: TMRE Recap From An Exhibitor’s Perspective

Next Gen Market Research: NGMR Award Winners Discuss Future of Research

Future of Insight: 6 Part Post on The Market Research Event

Survey Gizmo: The Market Research Event: Day One Recap

Question Pro Blog: Update from The Market Research Event in San Diego, CA

Dan Rockwell: The Market Research.... EVENT!

Updated 11/30/2010:
Seek Blog: Overheard at TMRE 2010

Threadless looks to FaceBook for Customer Support

Internet Retailer recently turned to Facebook to support their customer service. By teaming up with Parature, Inc, they were able to create a "Support" tab on their Facebook Fan Page that hosts FAQs. If customer questions aren't answered in the FAQ questions, customers can contact employees for answers. Not only does this get many of the questions answered, it allows Threadless to monitor what customer service issues need to be handled more quickly than others.

Brianne Hattaway, director of customer support for the online retailer, stated, “Our approach to support is shaped by our online community and their need for transparency and immediacy. We can reach out to our customers on Facebook even more than before and give them a fluid support experience across different channels with the personalized support that Parature enables on our site.”

What other kinds of innovative services have you seen to support customers on Facebook?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Walmarts Black Friday Ads Go Viral Early


Walmart (in a brilliant strategic move) "Black Friday" ads have been leaked ahead of time. Most major retailer wait for these Black Friday ads to be printed and distributed traditionally but this move (if Walmart did it on purpose) is very smart on a few bases:

1) People are getting the info far enough ahead to plan a trip to walmart and purchase specific black friday deals.

2) To VIEW the deals, all you have to do is search for retailer+black friday on google.com which *many* people are doing since they want deals. Plus they are spreading like wildfires on various coupon/deals sites.

Social media channels have allowed retailers to get their products and low prices infront of millions of eyeballs at a much lower cost then traditional methods. How does this apply to your social marketing efforts? Are you using social media channels to capture people at different touch points?

If we think about building a community; which TOOL or social media platform would you choose to get the word out or word of mouth campaign going?

Recently I have been looking more closely at Facebook and what advantages there are for B2B applications. The users are there; of course mostly for personal reasons but they are there.

Gettting users to FAN/Like a page is the 1st step in building the community around a brand, event or whatever your product may be. It seems more and more that incentivizing the "Fan/Like" is where the call to action comes into place and you can gain a stronger userbase around your brand.

In Walmart's case, each and everytime they lower a price, their fans are interested in knowing about these deals so "FANS/Likes" are much easier to get.

For B2B organizations it seems like the incentive has to be appropriate to the audience. Since we are not selling a Plasma TV we have to think about what our users would want within their work environment and appeal to those needs/wants.

Some ideas:
Product/Service Discounts
Starbucks Giftcards
Unique White Papers
Case Studies
Members Only Content
Ipads/Tech Gear

What does your company do to get FANS/Likes?

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Photo Opportmre…

By Marc Dresner, IIR USA

Research Fans:

Our friend, Tom H. C. Anderson, has posted the first of three photo galleries
taken by Nelson Davis, Client Development Director of AIP – a provider of online panels in Asia – from this year's event on the NGMR blog at http://bit.ly/aJ0KOd

Thank you for the great pics, Nelson!

Tenth person to contact me with a sighting of him/herself wins a $5 gift certificate to Starbucks. It may not pay for a whole cup o' joe, but it's a start. ;)

Reminder: a comprehensive exec summary for the entire three-day 2010 extravaganza is in the works, so stay tuned!

Contact:
mdresner@iirusa.com

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Avis Budget Group & 3 Types of Research

By Kathryn Korostoff, Research Rockstar LLC, twitter @ResearchRocks

Speakers: Jeff McKenna from CMB and Becky Alseth, Avis Budget Group

Session title, “Systematically building strategic insights into the decision-making process.”

The speakers opened with some context about Avis and the car rental market:
  • ·Avis has 80%+ unaided brand awareness
  • ·There are 7 main brands
  • ·The category is very much like buying a consumer good. Every airport has a row of brands from which to choose—similar to looking at a grocery store shelf.
  • ·In the car rental business, having a reservation does not mean you have a sale. A lot of people will make 3 reservations for a single occasion! So 30% of reservations are not completed.
  • ·Car rental customers are promiscuous (this point was accompanied by an amusing picture of the Jersey Shore cast).
  • ·Brands can't differentiate by car model. The rental companies usually have the same or similar car models.


But as the Avis speaker points out, there is always opportunities to change a category, to find a new opportunity…if you just think about your consumer. Zipcar’s phenomenal entrance shows us that!

Also, Avis had acquired Budget—so they need a two-brand strategy that worked.

So what makes research successful at Avis? Three key points:
  1. 1. Align insights with business objectives.
  2. 2. Find the right customers.
  3. 3. Ask the right questions. Quoting the infamous Henry Ford quote :If I asked people what they needed, they would have said faster horses.” That’s the wrong question.
Research Process

Avis and CMB have had three key areas of research, building over 7 years:
  1. 1. Segmentation
  2. 2. Lost Rentals
  3. 3. Voice of the Customer

While this sounds like a lot, Becky says that Avis is actually doing fewer, better studies…and then repeating them.

(As an aside, they refer to researching lost accounts. But weaving this with Dan Heath’s keynote, I wonder if they also look to study the “bright spots” that Dan referred to).

Segmentation Results

Defining the scope of the research required careful thinking: are we focused on occasions or people?

The segmentation revealed 7 groups, varying on price, services and products. For example, ‘Car Enthusiasts’ ranked higher on the Products axis. Car enthusiasts are also willing to spend much more, so Avis now gives them access to a “Cool Car” program.

Lost Rentals Results

This research measures the number of times customers have rented with Avis, and in total (so including competitors), which allowed them to group types of renters:
  1. 1. Those with no primary preference for Avis
  2. 2. Those that prefer Avis—but for business only.
  3. 3. Those that prefer Avis—but for personal only.
  4. 4. Those that prefer Avis—but for both only.
For example, turns out there is a big group of people who are loyal to Avis for business, but not for personal. But even from this group, there are 2.3 million lost rentals (although this was unclear if this was for a year or other time frame of measurement).

The analysis also show how these groups vary by brand switching—and to which brands.

Not surprisingly, the reason for switching is most often price.


VOTC Research Results

In the past year, over 800,000 people have participated in the VOTC research. Many are repeats, so they can track changes over time.


While traditional VOTC research displays a lot of data, they decided to symbolize the data with green happy faces, red sad faces, yellow moderate faces. Using pivot tables in Excel, CMB built a tool that allows Avis to see the happy face results by location, day, or even filter by keyword. Visually, it looked a bit busy to me, but it does allow a user to quickly glance and see—one a given day—did we have a lot of red? And then click on each sad, red face to see the individual scores. The key is actionability: The quick visual/color patterns makes it easy for them to spot a bad day at a specific location—and find out why.

BTW—Avis ties peoples’ compensation (even counter people) to the scores. When a low score is entered, a dialog box opens up for the customer to add comments. And even counter employees are held accountable. Site managers have 24 hours to respond to complaints, and if they don’t, their boss knows.

Session Summary
  • ·Market research must tie back to business objectives.
  • ·The results need to be able to sell a wide array of internal clients.
  • ·Asking questions and presenting results in a way that everyone can understand is critical.
In her conclusion, Becky enthused about the importance of socializing research, “Before I came to Avis, the researchers kept research in their file drawers. Now, they are all on shelves, indexed, and accessible.”

Morning of Metrics (With Feeling!)

by Bill Weylock, Brand3Sixty

The morning presentations were just terrific, as I'm sure you've seen in tweets over the past few hours. I had to miss some of Richard Thaler's while I got set up for blogging the breakouts, but I was able to catch all of Dan Heath's (Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard). As several people (including me) have tweeted, he deserves special thanks for tying his thesis back to MR applications.

Over the past three days, emotion-based decision making has been a core theme. Jonah Lehrer pointed out that without emotional components choices become terminal dithers and that the same receptors that open us to pleasure and excited anticipation can alert us to weak signals of danger that the intellect can miss utterly. What some might try to dismiss as intuition and unexamined (read unreasonable) leaping to conclusions, others have identified as key drivers of survival and success.

The lessons for us, say Dan Heath and David Santee (yesterday's breakout presentation) include the need to frame research insights in concrete and vivid terms, supported with imagery and anecdote where possible. The abstract may impress but it ultimately bores and numbs the decision maker. The concrete may seem simplistic, but it grabs and focuses attention on the problem and the need for a solution.

So... research clients, whether of outside suppliers or internal research departments, are ultimately consumers of our product. We all want to get noticed, validated, brought to the table, made privy to the decision factors, and respected for our contributions. One aid to that journey is making our presentations strong and ensuring that they have concrete emotional appeal as well as intellectual rigor.

Going into the breakout sessions this morning, the first stop was with Google and NBC Universal, who have piloted persuasive demonstrations of the relevance of search patterns to advertising effectiveness. Using publicly available tracking modules (google.com/insights/search), Google's Dan Zigmond was able to show spikes in search activity for relevant key words that matched closely with external metrics.

Dan and his collaborator Horst Stipp from NBC/U do not suggest that these metrics replace anything currently in use. They do suggest that they can be a valuable supplement. Still to come are analytics that can suggest the effects of day part, prior product involvement, and other extraneous factors. For now, the peaks suggest themselves as validation for advertising's motivational strength.

Other caveats include a need for a discrete search term (ING failed that test [try searching for "ing"] and Haiti passed).

An interesting sidebar is the observation that presumably searches suggested by TV advertising are made by multitaskers on smartphones and iPads from their chairs of choice. Can it be that multitasking may sometimes be an indicator of involvement rather than detachment? If you can stop checking your email for a second, you'll agree that of course it can.

Next up, Karin Kricorian gave us a witty and much to the point presentation of a possibly unique problem in customer satisfaction measurement: happiness glut.

Measuring cust-sat at the Disney them parks presents many challenges, but the most interesting one is the difficulty in getting people to admit they are having a less than happy experience when they are interviewed by a smiling "cast member" as they visit "the happiest place on earth."

Fascinatingly, customers (excuse me, "guests!") often blame themselves for not having the appropriate attitude or approach to the experience. "We should have planned ahead and known not to come on such a busy holiday." (Made that one up, but it's in the ballpark.) They also denigrate the complaints others might make: "If you can't have a good time here, you have to be an idiot." (Pretty close to one of Karin's verbatims.)

Of course teasing out buried dissatisfactions is at the heart of Karin's mission and a major component of ensuring guests are truly happy in the global epicenter of happiness. After all, if the winning superbowl QB is going to Disney World, who are they to complain...

Karin and her team combat this phenomenon through unbalanced scale questions (Excellent, Very Good, Good, Just Okay, Poor), through creative questioning, and being alert to new methodological options.

Other micro-challenges and solution approaches:

Guest always say they are definitely coming back. Always. So they ask "how much are you looking forward to that next visit?"

I particularly like this one.... They give our a list of 19 or so moods and feelings and ask the guest "How did you feel during your visit – even just for a minute? Please check all that apply." Of course they have some enticing negatives in the list.

Since they have an eternally moving target (no Disney park is ever finished) and a target constituency predisposed to put a rosy glow on their reactions, Karin and her team are extremely open to innovative technologies and methods. They of course do ethnographies of all sorts (ridealongs, eatalongs, smilealongs - made that one up). They maintain qualitative research facilities on site in the parks and routinely share the sessions in real time throughout the theme park network. Add in GPS tracking with spot satisfaction ratings, facial expression coding, brain scanning while guests watch entertainment experiences (not quite sure how that one works, but she got away).

The success of Disney parks depends on a highly satisfied holistically experienced encounter that can be thrown off by small things that guest may not think worth mentioning or may even feel guilty for noticing. Karin' mission is to get underneath their skin, receive their weak signals of dissatisfaction, and amplify those signals so management can not ignore them.

I had the impression that her research mission has a large sleuth component. I also had the impression that she absolutely loves her work and is pretty great at it.

Great presentation filled with humor and unanticipated insights....

Funny that the morning began with the observation that it's important to focus on what is going right in order to clone it and ended with the critical necessity of focusing on the negative. Both seem totally correct and utterly persuasive. Go figure.

Blogging this conference for the AMA Greenbook has been a privilege of course. It's also been an intense joy. These IIR conferences are pricey, but they give extraordinary value. I've learned a lot, and I love being a researcher more that when I showed up on Sunday night. I'd call that a pretty neat success.

Shameless (well, nearly) plug: stay tuned for the next installment of the 2010 GRIT (Greenbook Research Industry Trends). This issue is focused on technology adoption in the research industry and is going into the field in the next two weeks. Also, get ready for the April (I think) IIR conference on technology and innovation. It's chaired by Lenny Murphy, who should have been here if his son Zeke was not expected as a new Georgia citizen any minute now. Thanks Lenny!

Last thought is that over and over and over I have heard presenters stress the need to tell a clear, concrete, vivid story that includes an emotional appeal. It's important when selling your research budget. It's important when selling your research insights to end users. It's important when you ask questions.

Good stories get heard. Vividly presented insights get used.

Where do you figure 78 question online surveys fit into this picture? Please be vivid.

Thanks for a fabulous three days!

TMRE Day Two Delivers, Too!

By Marc Dresner

The more things change…uhm…the more things change?

If there was any doubt that TMRE’s exceptional Day One symposia were a fluke, and that Day Two would revert to the predictable market research conference fare we’ve seen elsewhere over the years, those fears were put to rest friends!

Day Two was filled with all sorts of twists, turns and surprises (yes, I am actually referring to a market research conference).

To wit: I thought I was going to start my day by hearing Wired magazine’s Chris Anderson – probably best known for “The long Tail” – discuss his latest opus, “Free: The Future of a Radical Price.” Instead, I got a jolt that put my coffee to shame; there would be no book plug, but instead a crash course on how tablets – the non-prescription, computing kind – are going to take over the world!

Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but Anderson did make a strong argument for why tablets are about to replace PCs and how closed-Web apps will to a large extent supplant the Internet as we know it today.

Btw, guest TMRE blogger Kathryn Korostoff posted a fascinating analysis here yesterday on what this all means for research. It’s a must-read!

Next, we were treated to a panel of EXPLOR award finalists moderated by Cambiar’s Beth Rounds and uSamp’s Matt Dusig. By now, of course, we know who won, but every one of these case studies deserves an award for innovative, real-world application of research. No naval-gazing here.

  • - eBay and Invoke leveraged a real-time hybrid approach that included storyboards in their project to help consumers grasp abstraction and let the ideation juices flow.
  • - ANZ National Bank (New Zealand) with help from Touchpoint in a twist used VOC research to illuminate and empower the folks on its front lines – instead of just the suits upstairs – which rocketed the bank’s position from 2nd worst in customer service to 2nd best.
  • - And our EXPLOR winner, American Water, was as much a case study in courage as it was research innovation. With partners Digital Research and Thinkvine, American Water – the largest such U.S. utility, operating in more than 35 states and traded on the NYSE – turned its entire business development approach on its ear. I mean radical change here, at the grass roots level, in a very conservative industry. Thanks to an analytics engine on steroids fondly known as TIP (Target Identification Project), the organization – which historically depended on its field reps’ relationships and gut instinct for business development – now relies on objective data for strategic business development and much more. The C-suite even uses the product to promote American Water on Wall Street! Bear in mind this initiative began with extremely limited budget and no initial executive-level champion, and it had to take on the very constituents it was intended to serve. I conducted an exhaustive interview with the players, so you’ll be hearing more about this incredible story in detail next week.

Moving into the session tracks, we heard from 3M on the prickly topic of DIY. For understandable reasons, this isn’t exactly the type of story research agencies typically like to hear because building one’s own internal supplier kinda removes them from the equation. But there’s no denying it’s a trend with legs if you’ve got the right people in place in the right organization. The upside for providers is that this sort of disruption keeps the rest of us on our toes and pushes us to perform even better. So it’s little wonder that 3M walked away with NGMR’s 1st annual Disruptive Innovator award in the client category later in the day.

Next up, we witnessed how research can help an organization to a healthy serving of its own humble pie by bucking conventional wisdom. Or as IFC/Sundance Channel’s Kent Rees quipped, “This of course was difficult for our head of marketing to hear…but I got over it.” (chuckles all around) Essentially, the proverbial “indie” channel thought it knew its audience so well that for a long time no one upstairs saw any need to pony up the dough to confirm it. Luckily for IFC, VP Research Daniel Marcu is the persistent type. Enter Sachs Insights, which segmented their audience and then heaped on the insights via ethnographic video. As a result of this study, IFC undertook a complete brand overhaul and its president, Evan Shapiro, calls the project “a great moment in our network’s history and something that we will return to as we evolve.”

Btw, it has come to my attention that for a large portion of the day yesterday, I was apparently being stalked by another of our TMRE guest bloggers, Bill Weylock of Brand3Sixty, who coincidentally attended many of the same sessions as I did. In fact, you’ll find a detailed account of the IFC presentation courtesy of Bill on yesterday’s TMRE blog, along with some of the other sessions I’ll reference herein. Seriously, Bill’s coverage is exceptional and I’m sorely tempted to plagiarize.

Anyway, following the IFC session, we broke for lunch, which gave me the opportunity to shake Weylock from my tail.

So I was about to tuck into a relaxed, collegial meal when my lunch was literally and figuratively disrupted by a second set of awards: NGMR’s Disruptive Innovator awards. NGMR’s founder, Tom Anderson, presented awards for three categories:
  • - Individual: AJ Johnson, Ipsos, and Sean Conry, Techneos
  • - Agency: Communispace

  • - Client: 3M

Congratulations to all! We’ll hear more about the disruptors in a panel session later this morning, which I’ll cover in my next summary.

The afternoon track for me kicked off with an issue that I thought had been resolved a while ago, but apparently is still alive in some quarters – and for good reason: online sample projectibiity. Anne-Marie Davidson of outdoor lifestyle outfitter REI outlined results from side-by-side testing of landline, online and – as an added bonus – cellular samples (this last group was very small and included more for curiosity with the knowledge that the number of cord-cutters is increasing). Davidson ultimately determined the online group was not sufficiently projectible for REI’s purposes. I’ll reserve judgment, but I must admit I’m perplexed that with telemarketing backlash and sugging, in the caller ID and Do Not Call list era, telephone sample could still be deemed more projectible than online sample in the U.S.

An interesting side note: Davidson referenced a study by WaMu years ago (pre-Chase). My friend Ron Gailey – now heading research for Coca-Cola Asia-Pacific – was head of WaMu’s research team at the time. Ron did quite a bit of groundbreaking R-O-R in those days, and one learning that always intrigued me was that he found an inverse correlation between survey participation frequency and a person’s interest in financial services products. Davidson suggested this could provide evidence for the need to weight for survey participation. Does this conversation sound familiar to anyone? ;)

The last track session of the day for yours truly was also the most interesting for me, and clearly a lot of other folks felt the same way, because when I arrived, there wasn’t even room to stand, so I had to plant myself on the floor in the center aisle.

I’m referring to the presentation by Microsoft’s Reed Cundiff, who took us on a fascinating trip inside the software giant’s market research organization with an absolutely shocking and wonderful level of candor.

Not surprisingly, it seems many of the techie geeks at the world’s premier software developer like to program and field their own online surveys. Rampant DIY has forced Microsoft’s legit researchers to assume a diplomatically aggressive posture when it comes to data quality – when they’re not too busy cleaning up after shoddy amateur surveys, that is. The problem is unresolved, but they’re making inroads.

Another issue the MR function must contend with is that Microsoft – like many others – today is so “awash” in information from so many different sources in so many different directions that Cundiff expressed genuine concern that someone may well drown in data.

On other fronts, he counseled against succumbing to victim status when left out of the loop and then consequently confronted with an internal client’s emergency; he made the case for researchers to be flexible, open to change (there’s that change theme, again) and willing to experiment with the unorthodox or new; and he offered an arboreal metaphor for his philosophy on internal politics with regard to the MR team by noting that sometimes to keep a tree healthy, one must saw off a branch or two.

Finally, he disclosed that the Microsoft recognizes a talent shortage in the research area, and in lieu of always hiring in talent, has invested in internal professional development both from a technical side and in terms of softer but no less important skills like communication and consultation. But while researchers’ focus has most assuredly taken a turn toward strategy and addressing business needs, Cundiff emphasized that management neither expects nor desires research to be McKinsey. “They don’t want us to play management consultant; they want us to be research consultants,” he said.

I mentioned in my recap of day one that a major theme I saw emerging in the research space was this ying-yang notion of simple complexity. Well, at the end of the day yesterday I hit the jackpot with back-to-back presentations by Central Michigan University’s Dr. Michael Garver and Jonah Lehrer, author and neuroscience authority.

Garver schooled us on the latest in segmentation, max/diff, predictive analytics and adaptive choice modeling. I must confess much of this presentation went right over my head, which means this man is either a terrible teacher – doubtful considering his professional affiliation – or this is pretty complex math (one of my many weak points). My point is that here we have a prime example of research becoming increasingly sophisticated.

By contrast, Lehrer – while no less cerebral (pardon the pun) than Garver – spoke simply of how humans are not wholly rational decision-makers, but rather tend to defer to our emotions when we make choices. In fact, drawing on multiple very compelling anecdotes, Lehrer illustrated that pure reason is not a gift, but a handicap, and that while our great thinkers have long disparaged emotion in favor of reason, our emotions are actually much more powerful than our cognitive resources. Emotions are deeply empirical in nature and enable us to process vast amounts of information and learn. So what does this mean in terms of decision making? Distilled to its essence, Lehrer said the concept is simple: relatively speaking, losses hurt more than gains feel good. Therefore, loss aversion exerts more influence over our decisions than the pursuit of gratification. That simple insight alone should radically change the way we think about how we market and brand.

TMRE 2010: Injecting Emotion into Market Research--from by Dan Heath's TMRE Keynote

By Kathryn Korostoff, Research Rockstar LLC

Our first keynote today was Dan Heath, a generally well known author and columnist, perhaps most well known as the co-author of “Made to Stick.” His keynote focused on his most recent book, co-authored with his brother Chip, “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.”
Dan acknowledges that "Change is hard.: and "People hate change." Those were two of the most common things he and his brother heard when they began to work on the book.

But, he also observes that some change is good. Wedding photos are full of happy faces—and this is a HUGE change. Having babies, also a huge change.

So why are some changes hard, and others are easy…even joyful?
The answer comes from the fact that we have two systems in our brains. the rational/deliberative side, and the emotional/automatic side.

When these two systems align, change can happen. When they’re not, change can be painful.
So, how do we make these two systems work well together?

The Heaths’ thesis is reflected in a metaphor.

To switch or change, we need to recognize there are 3 parts of the system:
  • · The rider, our logical person, who is quite small compared to the elephant. May be a naysayer—who says stop and think. And who thinks he is in control, but he’s on an elephant. In a disagreement, who’d win?
  • · The elephant is our emotional person. Needs to be fed. It is big. Bigger than we care to admit. The elephant needs motivation.
  • · The path, which is the direction. The rider needs direction.

BTW, as Dan amusingly points out, the elephant doesn’t care about PowerPoint.

The elephant tells you to eat ice cream, check your email over and over when you should be doing “real work”, or to call an ex when you are drunk.

But the elephant is also good. It’s what gives us cool new ideas. It is the fuel to make progress, change.

But this all points to a problem. In a lot of situations, we have objective information…but a desired change is not happening. In market research, this can be that we have delivered some amazing data pointing to a new product opportunity, but we can’t get the management team excited enough to actually take action with it.

At this point, Dan made a transition, bringing in the topic of how we find out how to solve problems. His key point here is that we have a flawed approach:

We tend to ask what’s broken and how do we fix it, instead of what’s working and how do we clone it.

Why do we do this? Psychologists say bad is more powerful than good. We remember bad stuff longer. We look at negative pictures longer than good ones. When asked to recall experiences, people more readily recall negative things than positive things—whether about a place or a person.

Dan’s suggestion is that we need to study success as diligently as we study failure. He calls this, “finding the bright spots.”

We also need to be crystal clear that knowledge rarely leads to change. Lots of products have warnings…even cigarettes. Factual information rarely impacts us.

In businesses, we can deliver facts, figures…and it rarely leads to change. We need to produce a feeling. To illustrate this, Dan shared the case of John Stegner, a gentlemen who worked at a huge manufacturing firm, in the finance department. Stegner decided they could save a lot of money by centralizing purchasing, and he even had a spreadsheet that showed $1 billion in savings over 10 years. A billion dollars—anyone should pay attention to that, right? Apparently not. During his presentation, his colleagues nodded, they were polite. But nothing ever happened. So one summer, he hired an intern. He had the intern go round the company and go to every factory and collect a sample of a work glove purchased by that factory. Turns out the company buys over 400 types, with each site’s average cost ranging widely. Then, Stegner takes over a conference room, and dumps the 400+ glove samples, with average price tags attached, and brings in the colleagues. They come in, they see the gloves. They see the various prices. They have emotional reactions. They are shocked at the price variations. They are stunned at the number of different styles. Within months, Stegner had approval to centralize purchasing.

He had a spreadsheet that’s showed $1billion saving. Then he dumps gloves on a table, and they are ready to move. WOW.

Dan’s take away from this is that even for organizational change, we need to see and feel and that is what gives us the desire to change.

And then Dan did something many keynote speakers from outside of the research world don’t do. He tied this all into market research. Dan observes that in market research we don’t instill the emotion into the process.

He observes that our process is to focus on data, then insight, and hope for change.

He points out we need to inject emotion into the process: we need data, insight, emotion, and then CHANGE.

As an example, he cited a Microsoft research project where the researchers found that 6 out of 20 users couldn’t use a feature in a product they were testing. But the developers didn't buy in to the results. So the researchers had the developers join the focus group process. By having the developers observe the research, they found inspiration (I also think of this as an issue with proximity to data, which I wrote about awhile ago here: ARTICLE ).

As Dan correctly points out, market researchers understand data. We all know how to collect great data. What can make us stand out, as researchers, is our ability to add the emotion so that actual change occurs. His bottom line?

When people change it is because they have clear direction, motivation, and a clear path.

BOTTOM LINE

Practically speaking, what does this mean? Well, based on this keynote, it seems we need to do at least 3 things:
  • · Pictures. Photographs that make a point—even if extreme, or humorous.
  • · Proximity. Keep research users close to the process, so they can experience the research…and not just get a slide deck three months later.
  • · Find our bright spots, and clone them. What was the last great project you did that had real impact? What was different in that project?

TMRE 2010: Day 1 in Pictures

See some of the sights of the first main session day of The Market Research Event 2010:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

TMRE 2010: Gongos Research on the future of mobile

Gongos Research speakers Katherine Ephlin and Greg Heist of Gongos Research, who presented "Is the Future of Commuities in the Palm of Your Hands?" took some time after their presentation on Monday to share what their presentation was about at TMRE 2010.

Getting Your Research Understood and Used

by Bill Weylock, Brand3Sixty

David Santee, former Research Director at H&R Block has some really interesting slants on a familiar precept: know your audience. And by that he means, really really know your audience.

As a preamble, David pointed to a possibly sad but certainly unavoidable fact: market research is a hard job today. Like so many other responsibility areas, research is no longer parsed into traditional discrete functions. Today's market researchers need to be multi-function experts in gathering, analyzing, communicating, synthesizing, and recommending solutions suggested by data.

How to make any of this happen?

Part of the answer is learning how to get the attention and investment of the audience for research: the management decsion maker.

We've heard that... "Decisions are made emotionally and justified rationally."

We're used to that in designing consumer and B2B research. We know that purchase decisions are made emotionally no matter what the buyers want us to believe ... David's breakthrough thought was something like "Hey! This doesn't apply just to consumers of our products, but consumers of our research." Manager decisions are made emotionally as well. Managers are people too. Did he really say that?

You can get the full presentation, filled with interesting touchstones for ensuring quality research product, from the web. The most striking insights for me are that in order to get attention, research must tell a story, must have a point of view, must be presented forcefully, and must be tailored to the end user audience that needs to be influenced. Research can be tailored to the audience even in the design phase.

Make sure your research speaks to the decisions that need to be made in language and illustrations that drive the points home compellingly. Like other presenters today, David stressed the large dividends in bringing researchers closer to the meetings where priorities are set and questions are framed that will drive decisions. Getting there may be its own story.

The key point for me is that getting research understood and appreciated is our job. It is not enough to be right. You have to get read.

Projectability and a Challenge To Online Panels

by Bill Weylock, Brand3Sixty -

First session of my afternoon: relative projectibility and sampling reliablity.

REI determined that the rising percentage of cell-phone-only users makes land lines an unreliable sole-source approach method. Then they run into the problems with cell phone: more expensive to source and reach, require an incentive, not location based, ratio of cell phones to landlines not known, not able to cross off a household after reaching a number (as you can with a landline).

So on to online sampling: guess what, Anne-Marie cites the GRIT 2010 study indicating a large percentage of research professionals think online sample is less reliable than the market generally appreciates.

By the way, we are about to launch the second 2010 GRIT which will focus on new technology adoption in addition to continued tracking of basic industry metrics (with comparisons going back to 2004). The findings will be a key feature of the upcoming IIR conference on technical and technological innovation to be held in April.

Anne-Marie cited a fascinating study by Washington Mutual (just before they vanished into JP Morgan Chase) finding that respondents who take 5 or more surveys annually are less likely to desire financial products than others. Survey experience alone could account for up to 7% variation in their results. This suggests applying scoring algorithms to sample - including, among other things, extent of participation in online surveys. Panel providers take note.

This year REI did a test of methodologies, collecting data in 7 markets online and 2 markets by cell-phone while they rolled out their normal annual landline fielding. Note that cell phone interviews were only n=35 in each market, yielding directional findings only.

They found striking differences between landline and online participants in brand awareness, in ad recall and percentage of respondents who shop REI. In all cases the figures were significantly higher within the online sample.

Demographic comparisons revealed higher penetration of Causcasians and college graduates in the online sample, leading to their conclusion that online panel sample seems provide a different population than a landline sample.
One of their theories is that maybe a panel rewarded by retail incentives is more aware of and engaged with retail. In any event, they made a determination that online sample is not projectable for REI research.

Again, results are directional, but comparing landline and cell samples showed little difference in awareness, ad recall and penetration of REI shoppers. Demographic analysis suggested that cell phone sampling could also provide reach into populations hard not adequately delivered by landlines.

Next year REI is going to test ABS with landline and cell phone data collection. They can match sample to cell or landline numbers at about 65% - 75% and expect that this will become their sampling method of choice going forward.

It seems that REI has rejected online sample and is harking back to a previous era in bringing ABS to the fore for 2011. It is an evolving experiment, but they expect that ABS with sampling shared by cell and landline phone outreach should provide more representative sample than previously obtainable.

Okay, online sample providers. I did ask.

First I asked Anne-Marie whether she was saying that online sample is unreliable and unprojectable and should be rejected by all market researchers in favor of phone. It didn't come out exactly that way, but that was the gist. I wondered (and frankly was hoping) to hear that there was something peculiar to REI that made the demographics of online sample unrepresentative of their universe.

Unwilling to go as far as a universal slap at online sampling, Anne-Marie simply restated her opening thesis: that marketers should ensure that their sample is sufficiently representative of their markets. In REI’s case, online sample does not seem to hit the mark.

I also asked, why she had been unable to weight the online sample to census. The rub seems to be that the panels were unable to provide sufficient penetration in key markets to support weighting.

This topic seems to cry out for more coverage and certainly more discussion. To my ear it is as provocative as anything we have heard in the past two days. What do you think?

An Interview with Perks.com

We got a chance to sit down with Jeff Martin, VP of sales for perks.com, and he was able to tell us a little bit about what perks.com does. Here's a recap of that interview:

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about perks.com?

We give research companies the points based reward solution they need to increase panelist retention. We offer low start-up fees because we expect our clients to succeed through our programs, making us more of a partner than a vendor. But more than that, we offer added-value administration - our on-staff program managers ease much of the pains of administration, integration and implementation. We don't make your company retrofit your technology and processes to us, we do whatever we can to adapt to your needs.

We offer rewards solutions in more than 70 countries and across more than 14 languages. Our program managers, our developers, while located stateside, have experience dealing with the intricacies of launching programs in any country, in any language. We provide cost-effective solutions for incentives within the panelists' country and seek out the appropriate vendors, if needs be. From translation to implementation, Perks has a proven track record of multi-national success.

Q. Tell me a little bit about the rewards selection.

A. Through our partnerships with over 300 vendors globally, we provide massive breadth of choice which means real value to panelists when it comes time to redeem their points. Our unique system provides a rewards catalog with products valued from a dollar to thousands of dollars - that will to keep your respondents active, engaged and loyal.

Here's a quick pic we took of Jeff Davis below. Remember to stop by the Perks.com booth if you are in attendance at TMRE!


TMRE 2010: Evolve or Go Extinct

by Bill Weylock, Brand3Sixty

Reed Cundiff of Microsoft on the challenges of the MR professional at Microsoft today.... Let's just say that his graphic was a vice, and he invited us to figure which body part would be most appropriately inserted.

Microsoft of course is famously challenged and has come out with two major products this past week - Windows Mobile 7 (yay) and Kinect (which I gotta try).

Challenges to the MR department stem from the democratization process that Microsoft has played a big role in: for instance enabling really bad PowerPoint presentations.

Now Microsoft MR needs to run around cleaning up such messes as badly done Survey Monkey projects or a study that has contravened standard consent protocols with respondents.

One of their big missions is to help marketers across the vast organization understand the importance of doing good research rather than just research. He stresses that 5% "off" in research results can have vast implications for hundreds of millions in research supporting billions of products and revenue.

MR tries to evangelize quality and at least to set up guard rails for the inevitable ad hoc research marketers will be doing.

Business Intelligence has proliferated from telemetry, traffic data from Bing, from "phone home" calls from distributed applications. The MR department is awash in data that is not dependendent on primary custom data collection. They are also awash in options. It all calls for some intensive attitude adjustment.

They could drown in information, on the volume of research conducted outside their purview. They have a choice of "victim vs. player." They try to take advantage or such things as last minute demands for information to build credibility with senior managers and get closer to the decision. Their mission is to drive business impact across the company.

They have to choose roles between Knower and Learner: they do not need experts stuck in amber. They need adapters who can embrace new data streams and the new and growing needs for synthesis and consulting.

They have to choose between maintaining the Branch and sustaining the Tree: focus on the health and success of the tree rather than the size of your branch.

The administrative key to helping ambitious employees forsake self-promotion? They try to make the review process more transparent and let them know that playing well with others is a major factor in advancing at Microsoft. Once they see that good team players get promoted, they relax and trust the ethos.

This is a recurring theme at this conference and wherever two researchers gather: being subject experts is not enough and can even be a problem if it comes with inflexibility. Now success is measured by impact on the business and researchers must be communicators, evangelists for quality practices, and completely invested in the priorities of the business units they are assigned to support.

Further to all of this, the emphasis is no longer on data collection and discrete studies that have their own arc and validity.

Like other industries, but particularly true of software and technology, their mission is to get closer to the customer and let that understanding influence product development and services. Now focus areas need to be keyed to the strategic intersts of the business groups they support. Now it is "how can we mine existing knowledge and build on it." How can we exploit partial answers from existing studies and initiatives?

Getting talent is a major issue. Hiring is not always the answer. Increasingly they build researchers into consultants by helping them with communications, issue framing, and story telling. They also help them in understanding the conceptual modeling capabilities of the team members. To what extent can they jump from the spreadsheet to real-world implications? How comfortable and effective are they at managing unstructured data.

A tough question came from the floor: how does MS MR achieve closer proximity to the planning and decision process? Is there not resistance from the other side, wanting research to be kept in its place? "Give us the findings and let us maket the decisions?"

I thought the answer was as good as the question. Reed pointed out that it depends on the levels you approach. Management comfort level with research reaching into real planning teams is higher at the senior levels where turf is not threatened. Upper management wants their research resource investment maximized and understands that access is key.

So MR gains access from above and fights "border skirmishes" at the lower levels after ultimate victory is already theirs.

Upper management does put up some "guard rails," insisting the MR be present not as strategy consultants but as research consultants (not the easiest tightrope I can imagine, but negotiable). And management wants research clearly tied to imminent business decisions.

Multi-disciplinary, multi-tasking, socially and politically poised, intellectually acute, and selflessly collaborative. This does describe you, right?

TMRE 2010: How To Get Your Research Truly Understood

by Bill Weylock, Brand3Sixty

David Santee, former Research Director at H&R Block has some really interesting slants on a familiar precept: know your audience.

Along the way, David pointed to a possibly sad but certainly unavoidable fact: market research is a hard job today. Like so many other responsibility areas, research is no longer parsed into traditional discrete functions. Today's market researchers need to be multi-function experts in gathering, analyzing, communicating, synthesizing, and recommending solutions suggested by data. They (we) must deliver insights and continually demonstrate value.

How to make any of this happen?

Part of the answer is learning how to get the attention and investment of the audience for research: the management decsion maker.

We've heard that... "Decisions are made emotionally and justified rationally."

We're used to that in designing consumer and B2B research. We know that purchase decisions are made emotionally no matter what the buyers want us to believe ... David's breakthrough thought was something like "Hey! This doesn't apply just to consumers of our products, but consumers of our research." Manager decisions are made emotionally as well. Managers are people too.

You can get the full presentation from the web. The most striking insights for me are that in order to get attention, research must tell a story, must have a point of view, must be presented forcefully, and must be tailored to the end user audience that needs to be influenced.

TMRE 2010: House lines or land lines? REI takes a look

by Bill Weylock, Brand3Sixty -

REI determined that the rising percentage of cell-phone-only users makes land lines an unreliable sole-source approach method. Then they run into the problems with cell phone: more expensive to source and reach, require an incentive, not location based, ratio of cell phones to landlines not known, not able to cross off a household after reaching a number (as you can with a landline).

So on to online sampling: guess what, Anne-Marie cites the GRIT 2010 study indicating a large percentage of research professionals think online sample is less reliable than the market generally appreciates.

Fascinating study by Washington Mutual indicates that respondents who take 5 or more surveys annually are less likely to desire financial products than others. Survey experience alone could account for up to 7% variation in their results. This suggests applying scoring algorithms to sample including, among other things, extent of participation in online surveys. Panel providers take note.

With problems in every conceivable approach, what to do?

REI does an annual brand health study using RDD with landlines... historically no stratification.

This year did 7 markets online, 2 markets by cell-phone at same time as normal landline fielding. Cell phone interviews were only n=35 in each market.

They found striking differences in brand awareness between landline and online methods, also in ad recall and % of respondents who shop REI.

Online figures were higher for online

Demographic comparisons revealed more Causcasians and more college graduates.

Online panel sample seems to be a difference audience from a landline sample. Perhaps a panel rewarded by retail incentives is more aware of and engaged with retail. Not projectible for REI.

Comparing landline and cell samples, awareness, recall and penetration of REI shoppers showed little difference.

Demographics suggested a reach into populations hard to reach by landlines.

Next year REI is going to test ABS with landline and cell phone data collection. They can match sample to cell or landline numbers at about 65% - 75%.

REI has rejected online sample and is harking back to a previous era in bringing ABS to the fore for 2011. It is an evolving experiment, but they expect that ABS with sampling shared by cell and landline phone outreach should provide more representative sample than previously obtainable.

Okay, online sample providers ... I did ask.

I asked Anne-Marie whether she was saying that online sample is unreliable and unprojectible and should be eschewed in favor of phone. Didn't come out that way, but that was the gist. I wanted to know whether there was something peculiar to REI that made the demographics of online sample unrepresentative of their universe.

Unwilling to go that far, Anne-Marie simply restated her opening thesis: that marketers should ensure that their sample is sufficiently representative of their markets.

I also asked, just prior to that, why she had been unable to weight the online sample to census. The rub seems to be that the panels were unable to provide sufficient penetration in key markets.

TMRE 2010: Explor Awards Finalists profiled

by Bill Weylock, Brand3Sixty...

After a great presentation by Chris Anderson the Explore panel got off to a bit of a late start.

During setup Matt Dusig and Beth Rounds did a pretty fair imitation of an NPR comedy special intro - vamping for time as well as I've seen.

Matt led with a video clip from Simon Sinek, featuring his Golden Circle of innovative thought. Thesis? Innovators like Apple, MLK, Wright brothers think in a very different pattern from most of us.

We tend to start with what we are doing or want to do, go to how we would do it, and sometimes (pretty rarely when you think about it) trouble to arrive at why we do it?
Innovators start with the why and end with what.

If Apple were like the rest of us? They would say something like "We make great computers. They're beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. Want to buy one?" That's starting with the USP and proceeding to the pitch.

What they really do is start with their "why": We believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently. We do that by making all our products beautifully designed and friendly to the user. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?

The finalists, as you know, are eBay, American Water, and ANZ Bank (New Zealand, which earns the "here from far away" award as soon as we get it back from the bronzer.

Later presentations this afternoon will present the nominated case studies in detail. Here we'll just talk about the themes that emerged in the panel discussion.

What caught my ear first and wouldn't let go for a while: American Water's TIP (Target Identification Project) apparently delivered them new ways of opening and maintaining channels of communication between their management and the civic and business leaders who are their primary stakeholders - taking them beyond the relationship sell. Since almost everything we read stresses the importance of establishing and keeping up relationships with customers, I can't wait to hear the details on that one.

A larger point is that innovation can be revolutionary and broad brush, but it can also be incremental - an accretion of small and continual improvements in product and process.

Part of eBay's story (much more to follow) involved using storyboards to research product innovations by showing the consumer how the product would affect them and their experience.

Selling innovation within upper managment? It has to be done. Innovation can't survive without buy-in and continuous support from upper management. But upper management doesn't care about innovation in research or innovation qua innovation. They care about outcomes and advantage.

Moral for research? We care about the sizzle and internal researchers do as well. But we have to sell management the steak. What's in it for them and what difference will it make?

And passion is important. Within conservation organizations like American Water, there is a reflexively cool reception to innovation. Selling a new approach must be justified by effects on the bottom line but must also be sold and resold by passionately committed managers. If you want them to believe, you have to believe double.

For at least two of the research providers on the panel, innovation is part of the DNA. Invoke was founded on an innovative platform and continues to involve clients in developing and refining their product and service offerings. Touchpoint, the ANZ partner, is a technology based company which eats innovation for breakfast and is founded on curiosity. As a technology resource, they interface with a wide variety of categories and are able to cross-pollinate by adapting innovative practices from one vertical for another.

Ian Lewis, from the floor, asked the panel to identify the most disruptive and innovative techniques and trends that would influence market research in coming years (hope I got that right, Ian).

I think we would have had a strong discussion except for the time constraints that squeezed the debate. Whatever the enabling technology or process, the panel agreed that the most important concerns are broadened and active and full duplex communications between the organization and the stakeholder, between senior managers and internal researchers, and between research buying clients and research providing suppliers.

The winner will be announced this afternoon. Stay tuned.

IFC Redesigned Through Ethno-Segmentation

by Bill Weylock - Brand3Sixty

IFC Marketing wanted to understand who their viewers really are. Conventional wisdom was strong and insisted they were mostly media savvy young males. They were so convinced of this that Marketing could not get the resources to do the research they knew they needed - until recently...

Partnering with Sachs Insights they conducted quant first and arrived at segments, which they then illuminated through in-person, in-home, in-haunt videography.

They found Authentic Influencers who tended to be wannabe musicians, artists, and think of themselves as the artists they figure they really are inside even if they work for banks....

They influence Responsible Rebels who insist on edgy writing, irreverent humor, uncensored programming that includes sex, drugs, and rockandroll (where artistially justified?). They want thinking people's programming that makes them feel in the know and apart from the hoi polloi. They talk about the IFC brand the way they talk about themselves.

They learned that viewers accept them as authentic and trust their recommendations. They learned that their target valued quality over obscurity: Mad Men, even though it's on a network. But they did not identify IFC as providing high quality product. They thought IFC was smart but only about independent film that requires as certain mood and commitment before viewing.

IFC wanted to shift thinking from "what film is on IFC?" to "what is on IFC?"

They threw all of their rich ethnography and segmentation at creative shops asking for a synthesis around a new identity.

One shop came up with Always On, Slightly Off.

Sachs went out into the field to research the line and came back with associations for independent, fun, and (most important) "like me."

The research changed everything - from advertising messaging and media to content acquisition and development. An ongoing Vision Critical panel maintains communication between management and viewers.

IFC feels they have taken their perception of viewers far beyong the traditional numbers channels have normally used as metrics.

The presentation from IFC Research, IFC Marketing, and Sachs Insights showed us a very elegant and effective marriage of segmentation and ethnography.

We broke for lunch instead of questions but I did get a chance to ask what opened the spigots and got senior management to fund an elaborate and sustained research program where before they had stonewalled. With no chance for full details (hope to report more later), they all three agreed that it took a relentless onslaught, including bringing in Sachs to present and "being a pest."

Great presentation with video I hope we can link to.

TMRE DAY ONE DELIVERS!

By Marc Dresner, IIR USA

For those of you who arrived late yesterday or this morning welcome to beautiful San Diego, where the sun is shining on market research…

We’ve had an outstanding program so far today, with more to come, but I must admit I’m a bit skeptical that it will top yesterday’s symposia tracks. A happy problem to be sure!

I’ll first doff my hat to our terrific team of internal and guest bloggers, who have done a masterful job of capturing some key, granular details from a whirlwind of presentations and wrapping them in truly expert analysis.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll take this opportunity to recap yesterday from a more general perspective.

First of all, as I weaved in and out of sessions yesterday, some pretty strong themes emerged: 1) change is an accelerating constant, 2) instant isn’t fast enough and 3) complexity and simplicity are the new ying-yang research imperatives.

If you weren’t here or didn’t notice, the social media & community research track was far and away the big draw of the day. I would say most of these sessions were standing room only, but that’s not entirely accurate: people were even sitting on the floor.

As noted elsewhere, Dawn Lacallade from ComBlu opened the track with a primer on how to correctly deploy social media both for marketing/branding and market research purposes.

Two key takeaways for me: 1) the biggest mistake companies make when they attempt to create social media communities for research purposes, in particular, is that they forget to think about the audience. It’s great that your internal clients have a laundry list of questions they want you to answer, but you had better give your audience a reason to care and want to be there.

AND

2) Not unrelated, consumers reach “community saturation” after belonging to about three communities: 1. Recreational (e.g., Facebook), 2. Professional (e.g., LinkedIn or in our case one of the many online communities for researchers out there) and 3. A “life-life” or personal interest group (e.g., something hobby related). So if you’re contemplating starting a community, you had better pay close attention to how you’ll fit into one of those three categories, because after that the consumer is maxed out on community memberships.

Lallacade was followed by Taco Bell’s senior consumer insights manager, Linda Ashbrook. For me, this was definitely the most eye-opening and controversial presentation of the day.

Ashbrook discussed how Taco Bell has developed a robust qual program using Facebook for small, temporary “mini-panels” and labs designed around specific project needs.

They’ve conducted about 20 of these and have two dedicated internal moderators who specialize in these types of groups on their research team. The groups have become so popular among internal clients that TB has in some cases reluctantly had to bring in external Facebook-trained moderators to handle overflow.

According to Ashbrook, these Facebook panels yield incredibly deep, rich information; they’re more flexible and may be used for a much broader portfolio of research activities than traditional focus groups; and the medium not only nets their target respondents, but recruitment costs about half of what a terrestrial field recruiter costs (they’re trying to winnow that cost down to about 20% of traditional).

Moreover, compared to “traditional” online communities – that people are referring to online communities as “traditional” these days speaks volumes – TB’s Facebook mini-panels are significantly less expensive and less labor intensive. They’re short-term, so no need to refresh your panelists, and no need to struggle for ways to keep people engaged once you have what you need.

I know some of you reading this are probably chomping at the bit with counter arguments, but keep in mind: this is a big client, the initiative is being driven by the research team – not by marketers as one might expect – it’s providing the insight they want from the right demos, the process can be managed entirely internally, and it’s cheaper than some of the “traditional” alternatives.

This is no time to bury your head in the sand and wish it away.

Oh, and one last thing: Taco Bell is eager to find a way to introduce a quantitative dimension to these Facebook mini-panels, which, if accomplished, could have implications for their use of “traditional” online panels.

At this point, it was clear that the social media track was going to be well covered, so I shuffled over to the decidedly less sexy segmentation track. You know what? The folks in the social media track missed out on learning about some serious research innovation.

Christina Liao and Mike Mabey of CMI provided a fascinating window into how they’re segmenting consumers by decision pathways. So here we’re taking an approach that “traditionally” focuses on demographics, psychographics and/or behavior, and flipping it to trace the decision-making process in order to get at that critical “why” behind the choices we make. Heady stuff.

I had the opportunity to interview Christina and Mike later (the video will be available on this blog, so stay tuned) and here’s the kicker: I asked them what’s next as they refine this technique and they said they’re planning to weave in social media. I suppose we can’t escape this topic!

Next in the segmentation track, we were treated to the tale of how Ameriprise with its research partner Chadwick Martin Bailey undertook the daunting task of shifting the former’s segmentation focus from exclusively financial advisors to looking at consumers, too. Sounds simple enough, but this was a serious challenge.

The surprise here was that the presentation turned out to be less about the technical aspects of the segmentation – although ample insights were provided – and more about the process by which the research team was able to effect a major change in the way the organization thought about its business. Outstanding blueprint for how research can drive strategic thinking.

I capped the morning with a one-two punch from none other than PepsiCo’s Stan Turek and Target’s Mark Johnson on how the research and insights functions in both organizations have transformed and where they’re headed.

Both speakers made it abundantly clear that the background, skill set and responsibilities of tomorrow’s researcher will look radically different from those of today’s researcher. In fact, at both organizations, the journey is well underway and research is evolving from a consumer focus to a meld of shopper/consumer – from user to chooser – that is infinitely more complex, with enough moving parts to make your head spin.

In the afternoon, I relied on the mobile track to revive me from my midday food coma, and the first presentation by Katherine Ephlin and Greg Heist of Gongos definitely delivered. Via a series of case studies with clients like VISA, GM and Blue Bunny Ice Cream, the speakers shared smart phone research-on-research they’re conducting. Btw, smart phones will probably be ubiquitous sooner than most people realize.

Among other things, Gongos is finding that smart phone research respondents are actually more engaged than their counterparts in “traditional” research communities and that, surprisingly, their text responses to open-ended questions are so rich that they’re almost indistinguishable from those of non-mobile respondents.

What really excited me was to see that some respondents didn’t even bother answering questions via keypad; they just turned the device on themselves, answered the question and uploaded the video response. It’s easier for the respondent, and it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to envision what a researcher could do with AV responses to a text question.

Next, I dropped in on the media measurement track to hear Unilever’s Tom Emmers, who talked about the challenges of conducting research in the digital age amidst continuous, rapid channel proliferation and also provided a good deal of information about how Unilever is coping.

A key research strategy has been to lead off with insights into the consumer’s mindset according to time/place (e.g., receptivity to advertising depending upon the context) and feed that knowledge into channel insights (e.g., creative testing, cross-channel media impact, etc.).

Emmers explained Unilever’s approach to marketing in this evolving mediascape also entails several layers, starting with immersing the organization in the target market, followed by campaign development and finally undertaking “dynamic optimization” activities during the first few weeks of campaign launch. Unilever and its partners have become so proficient at this last step that banners, video and other web properties and online campaign collateral can now be optimized within a week.

While the research function has adapted remarkably to this constantly changing environment, their success is all the more astonishing when one considers that budget and headcount for digital research have not increased despite the fact that Unilever now executes a new digital campaign roughly every two days!

Emmers admitted he wonders whether or not this pace can be sustained. What will it take to measure an almost infinite number of touchpoints to achieve a holistic understanding (i.e., reality)? “How much more complex can it get before we just throw up our hands and say we simply can’t manage this?” Emmers asked. “Nobody has the answer, because there isn’t one…I will say this much, research has innovated more in the last two years than in the five to ten years prior, and I’ve had more fun in the last two years than ever before.”

The final symposium of the day proved to be one of the most practical and compelling sessions for me. I’ve heard Dr. Randall Brandt of Maritz speak several times over the years, and he never disappoints. The topic on this occasion was how to integrate and analyze multiple, disparate VOC data sources.

Brandt laid out a marvelous blueprint for creating a consistent, uniform set of customer experience categories that can ultimately facilitate convergence mapping. So for example, this approach could tell us whether or not inbound feedback – say, complaints – from a website jibes with issues identified via survey data.

Once these data are standardized, the sources and what they say may be plotted on a graph in four quadrants, the top right in this case indicating points where the data agree/converge; the bottom left quadrant indicating contradictions/divergence. A case can then be made that those items that converge constitute key drivers of customer satisfaction/loyalty and should be prioritized by the organization.

But what about those items that diverge? Well, Brandt said these cases should command the same attention because they also can be a valuable insight source. As an example, a complaint that surfaced in call centers but was not echoed in survey responses could well indicate an opportunity to adjust and prioritize how certain complaints are handled by the call center.

A fringe benefit to this approach, Brandt quipped, is that when a researcher is confronted with a skeptical client, they can’t exactly dismiss the results because they don’t “believe” in surveys, since the data come from multiple sources.

Day One of TMRE concluded with a keynote to kick off the general conference program by Michael Tchong, trend analyst and founder of Ubercool, Inc.

In a spectacular presentation largely about technology, multitasking and our culture’s increasingly short attention span – designed specifically for people with short attention spans who multitask – Tchong flew through a litany of statistics and trends at breakneck speed with wit, acuity and exuberance.

In between fidgeting with my blackberry, I learned that we have more in common with computers than I realized: we both perform multiple functions simultaneously, we’re both prone to crashing and we both could use more memory…

TMRE presents: Technology driven Market Research

Capturing Insights in Real time. Measuring Meaningful chatter. Breakthrough Methodologies.
May 2-3, 2011 Chicago


Track the most innovative companies in Market Research Technology. Learn about the breakthrough technologies and tools that are being used to understand consumer behavior. This event will explore the technologies that fuel Market Research, and showcase revolutionary speakers and remarkable information that will help you better connect with your target market.

Event Focus & Key Themes:
  • NeuroMarketing
  • Virtual Retail Environment: Understanding Shopper Behavior
  • Using Social Gaming as a Research Methodology
  • Individualized Research: Liquid Signage
  • Crowdsourcing your Research for Co-Creation
  • Geo-location Research through Mobile Devices
  • Social Media Analytics
  • Mobile Apps for Research Usability
  • Ethics and Privacy Policies
  • Visualization Analytics
  • Webcam-Based Interviews
  • Measuring Meaningful Data
  • Text Analytics
  • Measuring Emotional Response through Non-Verbal Technology
  • Social Media Debate: Scientific or Not?
There are a lot of opportunities out there to connect with people in real-time as they are experiencing certain behaviors and exposure to products, brands, and advertising. Find out how you can use new and revolutionary technologies to better understand customer behavior.

STAY TUNED for more information regarding this exciting new event!

TMRE 2010: Tablet Computers, Closed Internet Applications and The Future of Research

by Kathryn Korostoff, Research Rockstar LLC

[This is an article inspired by Chris Anderson, Author of “Free: The Future of A Radical Price,” “ The Long Tail,” and Editor of Wired magazine, who was our morning speaker.]

I must start with a confession. When Chris started his talk, he stated that he was not going to be addressing the planned topic (the one that appeared in the show schedule)—which was to be on his popular book, “Free.” Instead has was going to discuss his current passion, the rise of tablet computers.

The “Free” topic had intrigued me. After all, as market researchers, pricing research in many markets gets rather complicated as we deal with the increasing notion “of “free” and “freemium.” I was looking forward to learning more about the topic.

But after awhile, Chris had me hooked.

His talk opened with the topic of, “The Web is Dead”—a cover story from a recent Wired magazine issue. I had read the story in the magazine when it came out, and you can read for yourself here (LINK)—complete with some cool graphics. But the key point is all about applications. He sees a rising tide of “closed gardens” on the Internet—and that is where is the best content and applications will live (relegating the “open” web to enthusiasts, amateurs, and those applications that are only valuable if everyone can access them, such as shopping sites).

He also shared some fascinating data about the impact of tablet computers. According to Anderson, tablet computers (the iPad or any of an emerging plethora of choices) fundamentally change behavior as compared to laptop use. An anecdote that was light-hearted but telling: he shared that his wife bans laptops from the bedroom (keyboard typing sounds are not acceptable), but he is allowed to bring his iPad to bed. Anderson is clearly a fan of tablets; he also stated that his current laptop is probably his last—his future devices will be tablets, he asserts.


Ultimately, he focused on the idea of the web and laptops, versus the internet (closed applications not visible to Google) and tablets. His thesis is that there are trends towards both Internet-based applications and tablets that will fundamentally change what is possible (products, pricing) and how customers will behave (physically, product usage, and purchase behaviors).


So rather than further paraphrase his talk and the “Web is Dead” article, let’s get right to the point: what does all of this stuff mean to market researchers? What are the specific opportunity and threats we will be facing?


1. Opportunities in Finger Tracking
Finger tracking will be a huge source of behavioral data. Analogous to eye tracking, finger tracking on a tablet gives researchers an objective measure of what ads get touched, how fingers move across a screen of choices, and so on. Tablet applications capture this data whether online or offline—so the data is objective, and whole. Amazing. Just sitting there I imagined how many fellow audience members are now plotting to open up agencies and technology providers dedicated to harvesting this new data source!


2. Tablets as a Data Gathering Device
Tablets are a reading device. According to Anderson, an analysis was done on one of Wired’s sister publications (he did not reveal which one), about average reading times per mode. The result?
  • * Print (a standard magazine as published on paper) 60 minutes average reading
  • * Web (reading the magazine on a web site) about 5 minutes (ouch)
  • * iPhone client 55 minutes
  • * iPad 100 minutes
That’s right, according to Anderson, for this particular publication the iPad average reading exceeds the amount of time the magazine is read in print. By a lot.

The things that can be done on a tablet, and perhaps even just the physical form factor’s size and weight, seems to have an impact on attention span, and willingness to engage. Could this apply to survey design? Could we see a resurgence in mall intercepts? Even (gasp!) door-to-door research? Other on-site research? All fueled by tablets? Could we design surveys with more media stimuli, more questions, if participants are more engaged?

3. Emerging Challenges for Social Media Research
Sentiment monitoring requires web scraping, and that depends on access to content. What happens if, indeed, the web is dead? If more real user behavior and chatter moves to the walled gardens from which sentiment monitoring tools are blocked? (For example, Google can’t see into Facebook discussions). If more premium content moves to closed systems, the very concept of being able to measure customer sentiment by monitoring consumer behavior and commentary online becomes challenged, does it not?


4. A New Form for Research Reports
Wired Magazine is selling an average of 30,000 iPad subscriptions a month. They are using the new device to totally redefine what a magazine is. Anderson invoked the image of Harry Potter’s wizarding newspaper, the Daily Prophet—where images and text move and seem alive. A magazine can now include animation, audio, video, social interactivity and so on.

So maybe that can also be true for market research reports? I remember years ago (and I do mean years) when most research reports were written (for you youngsters, that means as in a Word document instead of a PowerPoint or Keynote file). We all moved to PowerPoint as it became so easy to create visually compelling content in graphic form. All of the data could realistically be illustrated as charts and graphs. And soon followed the demise of the written research report.

Perhaps with tablets, we’ll see another massive change? Multimedia reports that balance the logical flow of the written word with the compelling visual impact of graphs, videos and animation? That can tie into team interactivity for shared highlighting of key points? Would our report reading times also nearly double? And wouldn’t that be amazing?

Thanks to Chris Anderson’s talk, I easily identified four potential changes for market research. And while on a deadline! I am sure there are many more. What ones can you add?

[Are you at TMRE? I have 5 copies of my book, “How to Hire and Manage Market Research Agencies” to give away. Normally available on Amazon for $17. Just stop me and ask!]

Explore Awards Panel on Innovation

by Bill Weylock, Brand3Sixty....

Deb Hartman and Sandra Kelly from 3M told us how they decided to bring their research in house...

Before the session when I was setting up my blogger table, I told Sandra that it seemed as if another title for her presentation ("Turning Research Outside In: Designing a Cost-saving Internal Survey Research Company") could be "Eat dirt and die, research suppliers!"

She denies this, you will probably be happy to hear. 3M is doing at least as much research through outside resources. What they are doing is providing cost-effective (read very very low cost) internal resource resources to marketers who had been drifting into inept use of Survey Monkey and other online survey resources.

They are now able to provide good research for 75% of the cost of using external suppliers.

Technonotes: Their group hires contract employees from the pool of recent college graduates. Their focus is on quant, with a growing demand for qualitative. They conduct online surveys including conjoint and advanced segmentations. Use Sawtooth and Max-Diff. They work cross-culturally making use of local teams for translations in both directions.

The most interesting part of the presentation for me harks back to one of our major focal points in the Summer 2010 Greenbook Research Industry Trends (did I mention I'm doing this blogging at the TMRE on behalf of Greenbook, substituting for Lenny Murphy who is expecting his new son at any moment?). Following up on some findings that had bubbled up in the 2009 study, we had a special section on the challenges of non-research managers using the internet to conduct their own studies.

Some reported they did not have the problem or felt they had it managed. Those who did have the problem, however, really had had it.

These 3Mers validated all of these concerns strongly and brilliantly. They flashed us some examples of questions they had intercepted from manager-generated online surveys: almost impossible to follow, let alone answer. Don't know whether it was an exaggeration, but it didn't sound like one... They introduced non-branded surveys into their mix, which had included surveys identified as from 3M probing awareness of their brand.

They still have rogue surveys, but they have done mighty and effective combat to raise the quality of 3M research within the constraints imposed by the economy.

They do still use outside suppliers for global studies, CATI, and qualitative. Suppliers rejoice.

Okay, I just asked (after Deb's great presentation of their remarkable accomplishments for astonishingly low costs)...

I asked what produced an environment in which managers who need research were unable to get the budget resources to use professional research suppliers in the first place. I was worried that research dollars had dried up due to the economy, which is the sad trend we have been lamenting for lo these many years.

The news is a little better than that. We are talking about managers who never had marketing research budgets in an organization that devotes massive resources to R&D and very little relatively to marketing research. Survey Monkey enables these folks to do research that never before got done. That doesn't hurt quite so badly, right?

3M deserves a solid round of hearty applause for helping to diminish the volume of screamingly inept surveys and for saving their managers from their unreliable but beautifully charted findings. Using young contract employees, investing in full suites of software/services from Sawtooth and Vision Critical, and heading their operation with heavy hitter researchers with internal evangelistic skills, the 3M team has been providing high volume, low cost research to managers who otherwise would have had no research or (much worse) their own research.