Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lead up to the IIR TDMR Interview with Dr. A.K. Pradeep of NeuroFocus

This post is co-posted with Greenbook.

Next up in our series of interviews with presenters at the Technology Driven Market Research event (May 2-3, Chicago) is the Keynote Speaker: Dr. A.K. Pradeep, CEO of NeuroFocus. I was going to sit on this one for a bit longer, but based on the huge response to my post on the ARF NeuroStandards initiative it seemed like a good idea to go ahead and post it. We touch on the topic of the ARF program during the interview and getting a direct perspective from one of the key players in the debate strikes me as useful.

Dr. A.K. Pradeep and his lovely assistant sho
wing off the new Mynd mobile neuromonitoring headset at the ARF re:Think 2011 Convention

Since I am tying this interview into the ARF post it seems only fair to give other stakeholders a chance to be heard too. With that in mind I have reached out to Keith Winter, CEO of Emsense and to Ron Wright, CEO of Sands Research to conduct interviews with them as well. Hopefully those will be forthcoming soon and will add to the dialogue on this important topic.

Now, how do I introduce Dr. Pradeep? I met him in 2009 in Cairo when I had an opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with him and his team during a Nielsen event I was attending. My impression of him was that he was part PT Barnum, part Carl Sagan, with a dash of Bollywood flair, a bit of Steve Jobs and a whole lot of intelligence wrapping it all together. At the time I told him that he reminded me of Jeff Goldblum’s “Rockstar Scientist” character from the Jurassic Park movies and I think that is an apt comparison. He is obviously passionate about his company and their business, and is deeply knowledgeable about the topic of neuroscience and it’s applications for research. Based on the success of NeuroFocus he is also a darn savvy business professional. I think all of this shines through in the interview below; I hope you enjoy it.
This interview was conducted via email over the course of a few weeks.

LM: Biometric techniques for research have been around for awhile, but Neuromarketing has really just begun to emerge as more than a niche segment within the broader market research space. Why now? What’s changed that has fueled the explosive growth of Neuroscience in market research and for NeuroFocus as a company?

AKP: In fact, biometric techniques are not the only biologically-based methodologies that have been in use for many years. EEG-based brainwave activity measurement has been conducted for decades in medical facilities and neuroscience labs worldwide.

That said, there are three key factors that have spurred the creation and rapid adaptation of neuromarketing today. First is the well-established fact that conventional consumer research methods have inherent, structural flaws and shortcomings. That doesn’t mean that they’re not useful or that they have nothing to contribute—but the fact remains that because surveys and focus groups must by definition rely on ‘articulated responses’, they are subject to certain core shortcomings. This is common knowledge among researchers, and it has driven the desire among marketers and researchers alike for improved means of gathering accurate, reliable information.

The second key factor in neuromarketing’s development and global application has been the technological explosion over the past several decades. It was possible to gather brain-based data before the advent of extremely fast digital data collection, processing, and large-scale storage—but the ability to analyze it was very limited, compared to what we can do with today’s computer technology. So it has been the amazing advances made in processing power, both on the collection and analysis side, that have helped drive neuromarketing’s birth and growth.

The third leg of the stool is the dramatic expansion of neuroscience’s understanding of brain structures and functions. The advances made in these spheres in just the last few years represent quantum leaps forward from where the state of knowledge was even fairly recently. We have gained amazing insights into how the brain works, in many cases in very great detail and specificity. That’s not to say that we don’t have much still to learn—but what we already know now enables us to capture the brain’s activity in real time, understand key aspects of it, and distill that knowledge into accurate, reliable, and actionable market research findings.
As always, it’s ultimately the marketplace that determines if, how, and when a breakthrough technology like today’s EEG-based, full-brain measurement will be accepted and successful. Clearly, the marketplace is giving it a very enthusiastic endorsement, exemplified by how many of the world’s leading companies are rapidly integrating this research into their operations, from new product design and packaging to branding, retail marketing, advertising, and more.

LM: Looking ahead 3-5 years, what does the market research space look like to you and where will Neuromarketing fit into the new scheme of things?

AKP: I’d use my last point as a springboard in answering this question. What we’re seeing already is a large-scale adoption of neuromarketing by many companies across dozens of categories in every region of the world. The growth rate is exciting and frankly, a little amazing even for us who have been involved in the field for the last few years.

I think it speaks to the basic need that I mentioned above: the desire for improved accuracy, reliability, and ‘actionability’ on the part of marketers everywhere. It is so expensive—and risky—to invest in new products, brand extensions, new package designs, new ad campaigns, store designs, logos—the list goes on and on. And we’ve all seen high-profile examples very recently where major marketplace failures have occurred in some of these categories.

The scientific foundations of what we at NeuroFocus do—EEG-based, full-brain measurements of brainwave activity—address that need, and offer solutions to those problems and challenges. It is possible now to know, with very high degrees of precision and confidence, how consumers respond at the subconscious level to literally anything that they can experience through any and all of their five senses. I’m often asked, why is measuring the full brain at the subconscious level so critical? The simple answer is 95%. That’s a widely-accepted scientific estimate of how much of our daily decisions are made at the subconscious, not the conscious, level of our minds.

As marketers and researchers gain understanding of that fact—and the extremely important corollary, that fundamental marketing objectives like initial product interest, purchase intent, and brand loyalty are formed at the subconscious level—they are turning to neuromarketing in fast-growing numbers. What we’re seeing is marketers and researchers responding to a clear and very significant advance in the field of consumer insights. We don’t see any impediments to that rapidly-growing acceptance—quite the opposite, in fact. As neuromarketing findings become integrated into these companies basic operations, it will be more and more an ‘organic’ process for them.

LM: With much of the focus within market research shifting towards “listening and observing” rather than “asking” through channels such as communities, social media analysis, mobile ethnography, etc.. where does Neuromarketing fit into the new continuum of techniques? How are your clients integrating it with other methods?

AKP: We describe what we do as ‘listening to the brain’. When you realize that the subconscious is the source for as much as 95% of our daily decisions, it becomes clear that measuring neurological responses to stimuli at the subconscious level, before they are affected by the external factors that can influence and distort ‘articulated responses’, is the most accurate, reliable, and actionable form of marketing research.

EEG-based full-brain measurements can be and are relied on exclusively, and they are also part of some companies’ overall approaches to marketing research, combined with other research means. There really is no ‘one size fits all’ that accommodates every business category, different market needs, areas of interest, corporate strategy—the ultimate point is that marketers now have a modern, neuroscience-based tool that can give them deep insights and actionable findings which are sourced at the subconscious. There are an almost infinite number of ways in which companies make use of neuromarketing, but that underlying core is the connective tissue among all of them.

LFM: There is a lot of debate in the industry regarding best practices and optimal approaches, with you and your primary competitors all laying claim to the “best model” for utilizing Neuromarketing within a research context. Even the ARF has gotten involved with their initiative to standardize and codify best practices, an effort that NeuroFocus has sidestepped by releasing your own guidelines. For clients who might not have the appropriate experience or depth of knowledge to decide for themselves who really does have the “better mousetrap”, how can they make an informed choice with so much competing information out there?

AKP: The best answer is direct: seek out the best science. Look at the foundations of companies offering neuromarketing services—are they built upon universally-recognized and applied forms of brainwave activity measurement that the world’s leading neuroscience laboratories use? Do they measure across the full brain—which is absolutely essential for valid and meaningful neuromarketing research results? Do they have highly-acclaimed neuroscientists on staff and on Science Advisory Boards? Have those neuroscience experts published papers in their field of expertise? Is their technology, equipment, and methodology endorsed not only by the world’s largest companies, but also by major independent science-based organizations? Do they operate NeuroLabs that adhere to and are certified to strict Six Sigma standards?

Those and other basic questions are ones that companies considering using neuromarketing should ask, because they are directly indicative of the quality of the underlying science. Without the best science, it follows that the research findings will not be the best in terms of accuracy, reliability, and actionability.

In fact, I’ll take a giant step back and recommend one even more fundamental question for potential clients to pose: do they measure the brain itself, and not biometrics exclusively?

LFM: You might recall that when we met in Cairo in 2009 at the Nielsen “Next Big Thing” event I told you that you reminded me of the “Rockstar Scientist” character Jeff Goldblum played in Jurassic Park and you took it as a compliment (which I meant it as!). That persona and dynamism has seemed to work very well for you and the company, even earning you a place on his team during President Obama’s “bridge building” trip to India last year. It has also earned you some criticism from folks who claim your very accomplished showmanship overshadows the substance of what NeuroFocus offers. How would you respond to those critics?

AKP: NeuroFocus was founded on one bedrock principle: the highest neuroscience standards. It stands to reason that without that at our core, we would not have attracted the caliber of neuroscientists that we have, for both our own staff and our Advisory Board. Without those world-class experts, and our market-proven technology and methodologies, we would not have attracted the caliber of clients that we have—who demand the highest standards, and who in several cases have conducted very stringent due diligence before selecting NeuroFocus as their neuromarketing research partner.

Nothing overshadows that fact. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but we have a policy to stick to the science, stick to the facts. Being the leader always means you’ll come under criticism from some corners. We don’t let that interfere with our focus on what matters most to our clients, which is harnessing neuroscience to help improve their brands, products, packaging, retail marketing, and advertising.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Web Seminar: Silencing the Voice of the Customer (VOC): Focus on the "job-to-be-done" and create breakthrough products and services

Date: Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
Time: 1:00 - 2:00 PM EDT

Reserve your Webinar seat here.

About the webinar:
Over the past 30 years, innovation experts have led companies to believe that it is impossible to know all their customers' needs. They content that customers can't articulate their needs, and that customers have latent needs - or needs they don't know they have. What if it turns out that this thinking is wrong?

There is a new way of approaching your customer needs but it's not with the Voice of the Customer. Over the past 20 years Strategyn has created and refined an innovation process called Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI) that invalidates this old thinking. In addition, a ten-year track record study reveals that when the world's most respected companies silence the voice of the customer and gather the right inputs for the innovation process, the experience an 86 percent success rate. This is a complete turn-around in the innovation industry.

In this webinar, Strategyn founder and CEO, Tony Ulwick will demonstrate how thinking about innovation and customer needs from a "jobs-to-be-done" perspective enables companies to create winning growth strategies and breakthrough products and services.

What you will learn:
* The shortcomings of listening to the "voice-of-the-customer"
* How to define a market from the customer's perspective
* How to create a growth strategy using the right customer inputs
* How to organize the innovation process around the right customer insights

Monday, March 28, 2011

Why measurement, analytics and optimized resource allocation are driving market strategy?

Many companies have yet to make the link between increased spend on data and analytics and the delivery of increased revenue and profit through the resulting improved strategy and tactics. They would all like to make the link without spending any money, but those of us that work in this field everyday, realize that will never happen. It takes time, money and management commitment to be able to factually connect marketing investments to increased revenue. My experience, based on the thousands of marketers that I’ve trained around the world, is that still about 50% of all companies (both big and small brands, both B2B and Consumer marketers) still spend significantly less than 1% of their marketing budget on marketing data and analytics. - Which really means they aren’t spending anything. No wonder they’re like ships lost at sea with a broken mast.

With the increasing competitive pressures they all face, marketers around the world are learning that marketing analytics can be a strategic weapon. They’re finding that a key component of success in analytics and then the derivative success in marketing requires that little four letter word, ‘data’. With the right data and analytics in place marketers can be more confident in the success of their tactics and can begin to make bolder and bolder moves to stay ahead of the competition and improve their marketing strategies.

This is not only true of traditional media but is also now becoming true of social media. With the overwhelming success of Facebook, marketers are now looking to determine the success of their exploding Facebook investments and our analytic results show that these have been very beneficial to the bottom line. With the right data and analytics in place - across the entire marketing mix - marketers are able to improve their allocations and with social media in the mix can start to shift investment out of other non-performing traditional media into these hot new social media channels (check out our new website at

With the right understanding of the drivers of success marketers can build better strategies and execute better tactics to stay ahead of the competition. As a consultant in this area, we’ve seen increases in revenue due to analytics of up to 10%, increases in profit of up to 25% and increases in share of 2 to 4 percent. I would love to hear about your experiences in this area. Just let me know what you have also been able to achieve.

Guy Powell is the author of "Return on Marketing Investment" and founder of DemandROMI, a Marketing ROI consulting firm. Hear more from Guy at this year's Measure Up event, June 6-8, 2011 in Boston, MA

Lead Up To The IIR TDMR: Interview With Warren Sukernek of Alterian

Warren Sukernek

With a month to go until until the Technology Driven Market Research event in Chicago, I'll be posting a lot more of the interviews I have been conducting with various presenters at the conference. I have 6 wrapped up already, and hope to finish a couple more prior to the event. To start off this next wave of posts, we have an interview with Warren Sukernek, Senior Director of Social Media Services at Alterian.
With a month to go until the Technology Driven Market Research event in Chicago, I’ll be posting a lot more of the interviews I have been conducting with various presenters at the conference. I have 6 wrapped up already, and hope to finish a couple more prior to the event. To start off this next wave of posts, we have an interview with Warren Sukernek, Senior Director of Social Media Services at Alterian.

This interview was conducted as a series of email exchanges over the course of a few weeks; so it is a complete and accurate record of all exchanges.

I was introduced to Alterian in 2009 and have followed them closely ever since. I’ve written about them several times here on the blog as an example of the “new competition” for traditional market research, and so far they remain one of the best examples of a technology driven company from outside of the MR space that is making an awful lot of smart decisions in crafting a highly competitive offering in our industry. I continue to be impressed by the exceptional quality of their team, the vision of their senior leadership, and their continual focus on innovation. They are aggressively positioning themselves to be a major player in the future market research ecosystem, and frankly I think many firms will have a hard time winning against them; their value proposition is simply far more in alignment with what clients are asking for from us.

I have never met Warren, but I am looking forward to sitting down with him at the TDMR and changing that. I certainly enjoyed our interview, and I think you will as well. I also think after reading this you’ll agree with me on the point that Alterian is a company that really does change the game in market research; hopefully this will help inspire more firms to adapt to the new rules!

LM: Alterian seems to be making a big splash with your rollout of new products and is generating a lot of interest within the market research space. Why do you think that is? 

WK: The research industry somehow knows social is a critical source, but hasn’t worked out how to sustainably integrate it into what they do, how they think and what they deliver; ironically, researchers are happiest when they have one data set, but often struggle when they have two e.g. groups and a quant survey. Our response has been to set up a business that is organized around all the datasets wherever they come from and use them as needed to generate the right insights. Tools like web journey and SM2, and particularly Alterian Alchemy  give clients access to real time data about their customers and the ability to slice and dice the data into actionable segments.  Thus they can then embed insight practices into both tactical and strategic initiatives using technology.

LM: What do you think are the major drivers of change in the market research space right now and how is Alterian planning to take advantage of those trends? 

WK: Most of the industry doesn’t understand social yet, so they tend to define it and access it through what is easy to see and analyze e.g. Twitter. Our view is that to understand online culture you have to acknowledge its complexity and look to understand what people are saying/ doing/ thinking whatever the platform or source. That’s why we invest in human based investigation and analysis rather than just counting what’s easy to count. We’re therefore guided by the knowledge that people live lives online and in the physical world and that to truly address a client’s needs we have to understand both of these realities to create a complete view of markets to drive the right behaviors and perceptions/ support innovation etc. As one of the first social media platforms to acquire insight skills within its portfolio, Alterian is leading the way in building insight thinking and traditional research metrics into our tools.  We are providing a reporting and insight service that not only looks at public data (social media), but also integrates it with internal and custom data.

LM: I love the model of data synthesis and delivery via online tools that Alterian has embraced although, as you said, it’s a fairly radical concept for the market research community to embrace. How have you overcome resistance to this idea within MR organizations, or have you sidestepped it by focusing on the CMO or Brand Management organizations? 

WK: As you know, Alterian has had many long term relationships with big brands and partners.  Thus, our primary focus has been discussion of our solutions with our core constituencies, marketing organizations.  However, there have been several forward thinking MR organizations that gotten very excited about our offerings.

LM: You’re referring to your acquisition of Intrepid when you discuss having those internal insight skills, correct? I thought that was a bold (and smart) move by your company and as a result I often use Alterian as an example of the type of firm that traditional MR suppliers should model themselves after or risk being replaced by. I think we’re seeing a similar trend playing-out with the recent spate of M&A activity of Marketing/PR Agencies absorbing MR-based firms and/or building out more insight-driven offerings. Thinking of your own evolution and in light of similar developments in related sectors, what do you think the market research space will look like in the next 5 years or so? 

WK: Thank you very much.  As you probably know, I joined Alterian as part of the acquisition, although my focus was on social media rather than market research.  However, given the proliferation of data that currently exists due to social media, there is a significant demand for actionable insights and the ability to analyze this dataset, particularly in the context of integrating with other data.  We have seen that social media can be very disruptive, not just to brands, but to the agencies that support those brands. Therefore, I think that the successful MR firms will embrace social media as part of their expertise and insight-driven offerings.  The agencies that apply strong insights to all datasets, regardless of origin will be the ones that thrive, in my opinion.

LM: Are you seeing more traditional MR companies just licensing the SM2 platform, or are more going for the broader Alchemy package? Also, for those that don’t know, can you outline the various products and services that Alterian offers? 

WK: I think that a lot of MR companies are dipping their toes into the water and trying to get a better understanding of social media monitoring and its fit with their traditional solutions.  Thus, we are seeing more interest in licensing the SM2 platform.  As agencies migrate from crawl to run, I am sure that we will see many focus on the broader Alterian Alchemy framework so that they can integrate multiple data sets into their analysis seamlessly.

LM: OK, last question: it seems that more and more we’re seeing clients leveraging social media to both create deeper relationships with consumers while also gaining strategic insights, an approach that has traditionally been anathema to market researchers.  What are your thoughts on the “blurring of the lines” between marketing engagement and market research that social media has helped create? How are clients using Alterian’s offerings in that respect? 

WK: I’m kind of a purist in this area.  I feel that engagement should best be left to the client as they know their product and customers best.  Thus, by responding directly to customers, they can develop those deep bonds with their target audience.  Correspondingly the strategy and insight agencies have the expertise to do the heavy lifting and make sense out of the unstructured data in a cogent, strategic manner.

This blog is co-posted with The Green Book.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Flashback Friday: How Open Do I Need to Be REALLY? Charlene Li Responds

Social Media and Community 2.0 Strategies is taking place April 4-6, 2011, in Boston, Massachusetts. Fridays leading up to the event, we’ll be recapping one of the sessions from the 2010 Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies Event. For more information on this year's event, download the brochure.

Flashback Friday: How Open Do I Need to Be REALLY? Charlene Li Responds

I've never heard Groundswell author and Altimeter Group founder Charlene Li speak before, and I'm glad I had the chance today. She makes "social" seem less scary; audience members that didn't speak up before are comfortable asking her the questions that most bother them.

The points she made in sum:

- Focus on relationships. This is about having a relationships strategy, not a social media strategy.
- Align social strategy with strategic goals.
- Support your open leaders.
- Plan for failure - there will be many.

Relationships and planning in advance for failure are two themes that keep popping up this week, so it merits taking special note of those.

Here's what Li discussed in more detail.

A recurring question she gets from companies: "How open do I need to be?" The answer: Have confidence and humility to relinquish the need for control, while inspiring commitment from people to accomplish goals. That's how you stay in command without whipping out the iron fist.

A good rule of thumb if you still feel murky about this "being open" thing: Don't just look at where people are being social; examine to what degree they are being open to one another.

This isn't about complete balls-out openness; this is about cultivating the openness that is appropriate for your strategy. An example she gives is that she walked into a room full of people and bared her soul, it would probably make everyone uncomfortable, and she'd feel weird about it too. But if she's walking into a roomful of her closest friends, it would be okay to do that, and people would get it.

Another nice example is considering Apple: people feel it's incredibly closed, and in a lot of ways it is, but the fact is it would probably hurt more than help if they were more open. When will Apple need to be more open? When it stops designing exceptional products, Li says.

Seven guidelines for moving forward in your relationship strategy:

1. Align openness with strategic goals, say, for 2011. Pick one where "open" and "social" can have impact. Make sure the strategy aligns with one of the five-odd things your CEO truly cares about; if it doesn't, you're toast.

2. Understand value. "We tend to overvalue the things we can measure, and undervalue the things we cannot." - John Hayes, CMO American Express. What's the value of Coca-Cola's five million fans, versus people that are exposed to a Coke ad?

3. Understand how open you need to be.

4. Find and develop open leaders inside your company. You may see four types: worried pessimists, transparent evangelists, cautious testers, realist optimists. Treat and use them accordingly. The higher up the organization you go, the more "worried skeptics" you find. By far, the most effective archetype is the "realist optimist" - they see the problems the company has, but understand the end point and have an idea how to get there.

Cultivate a culture of sharing inside your company, because it's a safe place. If people can't share inside, they won't do it outside. "Mindsets only change if skills and behavior change," says Li.

5. Prepare your organisation. What areas do your frontline people need to be ready for?

6. Organise to meet your goals. Try the social media triage:

7. Embrace failure. Wal-Mart underwent at least three major social media failures before it came up with the Check-Out Blog, which hit the right note: saving people money, no longer fabricating user conversation.

Four goals define your strategy:

Understand that the dialog is important, and you can't get to the "support" and "innovate" parts of that graph without it. Learning to create a dialog teaches you what you need to do to support users; with that, over time, you can innovate.

Finally, manage risk with Sandbox Covenants: define the limits of your company's "comfort" sandbox, so it's clear to all participants. As your relationship strengthens with users, the sandbox will expand organically - yielding not just more openness and comfort with different technologies, but innovations, too.

Don't forget users have sandboxes too; consider them. What do they expect from you? Create mitigation/contingency strategies for what happens when a line is crossed.

Li wrapped with a pretty idea: In the future, social networks will be like air. It'll seem quaint that we had to go to a space like Twitter/Facebook in order to feel connected.

Photo via Logic + Emotion, who in turn found it on Waiting for Dorothy.

Looking back at the past year, has your company embraced openness as part of your social media strategy? What sorts of dialogs have you engaged in?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Complimentary Webinar: Silencing the Voice of the Customer (VOC): New research methods to create breakthrough products and services

In association with Strategyn, The Institute for International Research invites you to join us for a one hour complimentary Web Seminar.

Silencing the Voice of the Customer (VOC): Focus on the "job-to-be-done" and create breakthrough products and services
Tony Ulwick, Founder & CEO, Strategyn
Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 1:00 - 2:00 PM EDT

Reserve your Webinar seat now here.

Over the past 30 years, innovation experts have led companies to believe that it is impossible to know all their customers' needs. They contend that customers can't articulate their needs, and that customers have latent needs - or needs they don't know they have. What if it turns out that this thinking is wrong?

There is a new way of approaching your customer needs but it's not with the Voice of the Customer. Over the past 20 years Strategyn has created and refined an innovation process called Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI) that invalidates this old thinking. In addition, a ten-year track record study reveals that when the world's most respected companies silence the voice of the customer and gather the right inputs for the innovation process, they experience an 86 percent success rate. This is a complete turn-around in the innovation industry.

In this webinar, Strategyn founder and CEO, Tony Ulwick will demonstrate how thinking about innovation and customer needs from a "jobs-to-be-done" perspective enables companies to create winning growth strategies and breakthrough products and services.

What you will learn:

* The shortcomings of listening to the "voice-of-the-customer"
* How to define a market from the customer's perspective
* How to create a growth strategy using the right customer inputs
* How to organize the innovation process around the right customer insights

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

About The Institute for International Research:
The Institute for International Research (IIR) is the world's largest conference company and has been the leader in the provision of business information for over 25 years. IIR produces over 5,000 events annually through its network of offices in over 35 countries.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Who is already signed up for Technology Driven Market Research?

Why do you need to attend Technology Driven Market Research taking place this May 2-3, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois?

You can:
  • -Hear presentations focusing on the groundbreaking tools and technologies being used NOW and on the horizon, covering neuromarketing, virtual shopper behavior, social analytics, mobile research and more.
  • -Gain the insights and knowledge from industry leaders who've already seen success implementing these technologies, including: General Motors, Nestle, Procter & Gamble and more. 
  • -Network with these companies already registered to attend:
20 20 Technology * Advanis Incorporated * Alterian * American Honda Motor * Amway Corporation * Anderson Analytics LLC * Bain & Co. * Bovitz Research Group * Brand360 * CareerBuilder * Civic Science Inc. * Crimson Hexagon * CT Marketing Research * Cutting Edge Research * * Delmonte * DemandROMI * Disney Destinations * Dole Fresh Vegetables * ESPN Inc. * Flamingo Research * General Motors * Gongos Research * iCharts * Illume * Infosurv * Intel Corporation * Interviewing Services of America * Intuit * JD Power & Associates * John Deere * Kao Brands * KL Communications * Knowledge Networks * Kraft Foods * Land O Lakes * Leo Burnett * Luth Research * MARC Research * Market Strategies International * MarketVision Research * MedPanel * Millward Brown * Morpace * MSW Research * Nestle USA * NetBase Solutions * NeuroFocus * Newell Rubbermaid * Next Stage Evolution * NORC at the University of Chicago * One Point Mobile Surveys * Procter & Gamble * Pureprofile * Qualcomm * Qualvu * RSG Inc. * Sam's Club * Samsung Electronics * Schlesinger Associates * SJR Group * Smith-Dahmer Associates * Socractic * Southwest Airlines * Sterling Rice Group * StrategyOne * Survey Analytics * Symphonetic Insight * Symrise Inc. * Takeda Pharmaceuticals America * Techneos Systems * The American Institute of Architecture * The Cleveland Clinic * The NPD Group * ThinkVine * TNS Infratest  Forschung GmbH * TXTEAGLE * Vision Critical * Vistaprint * Wells Dairy * WL Gore & Associates * Wm Wrigley Jr Company * Zynga

As a reader of The Market Research Event blog, we’re offering you an exclusive discount of 20% off the standard rate when you (or a colleague) register for TMRE & Technology Driven Market Research! Mention code TMDRBLOGRegister here.

"Virtual Goods" By Brett Orlanski, Vice President, Business Development, Virtual Greats

Not a day passes without some news about the fantastic growth in the virtual goods business. To the uninitiated, buying a digital nothing for real money seems beyond absurd. News of Zynga's over the top billion dollar valuation, all based on their mastery of virtual goods sales or China's Tencent, the largest global seller of virtual goods doing billions a quarter in sales seems mind boggling. But once you understand the who, what, and why of this industry, the mystery fades and a real business model is revealed.

In an attempt to justify this, much is made to show that many "traditional" digital consumables are virtual goods: movies, downloadable music, even digital news subscriptions. But all these examples fail to understand what we really mean by talking of virtual goods in a gaming sense, and why anyone would buy them. Being above a certain age does not help in seeing the value and purpose, but for arguments sake pretend that you are either a teenage boy whose nexus of entertainment revolves around the immersive games you play, OR you are a 30 something stay at home mom with a little extra time on your hands. In both cases you play games, albeit for different reasons and in different ways, but the games you play are built around a core game mechanic that challenges you to "level up" and enables you to do so faster by buying virtual goods. So fundamental to the game play are these virtual goods, and so cheap, that you dismiss the notion that it’s money for nothing and instead open your wallet. The real game mechanics and sales drivers employed are sophisticated psychological levers that reward you for buying the items and incentivize you to spread the word, through viral channels, to share the “news” of your purchase.

To the buyers of these items, it's not money for nothing. Rather these items are the small price you pay to play the game and advance in the ranks. What's the alternative- look at ads? That’s for dummies. There is a solid, legitimate, and fast growing business in virtual goods. The salivate inducing margins aside, the business of virtual goods has enabled small developers to turn big profits. I predict (along with almost every other analyst) amazing growth over the next 3-5 years and this is just the start.

Let’s get together April 4 to discuss this in greater depth, understand the subset of virtual goods: branded virtual goods, and learn about the underlying business of this new industry.
- Brett Orlanski, Vice President, Business Development, Virtual Greats

Hear more from Brett Orlanski and Virtual Greats at "Branded Virtual Goods: Unlocking Value and Making Real Money from Your IP in a Fast Growing Social Media Marketplace," part of the SOCIAL GAMING track at the Social Media & Communities 2.0 conference on April 4th, 2011. Register now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SocialC20 Sitdown Sweeps

Attending the Social Media and Communities 2.0 conference in April? Don't miss your chance to win a SocialC20 Sit-Down!

We're giving away a 30-minute social media strategy intensive sit-down at the event with an exclusive panel of experts from Comblu plus others!

The SocialC20 Sit-Down winner will receive immediate feedback on current social media strategy and take-away suggestions for the future. Winner will be chosen from a random drawing on the evening of April 4th, 2011. Sit down will occur during the lunch break at the Social Media and Communities 2.0 conference on April 5th. Tweet @community20 between now and April 4th to enter!

Not registered yet? There's still time. Register here today.

Looking for the most up-to-date details? Make sure you're a part of our crowdvine community.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Private Brand Movement: Call for Presenters Extended!


Building Brands at Retail. Insights. Strategy. Design. In-Store

September 19-21, 2010 • Wyndham Hotel • Chicago, IL


Submission Deadline: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 Friday, April 1, 20011

About the Event

From the producers of FUSE & Shopper Insights in Action, we present the 2nd annual Private Brand Movement, the first and only event to focus on the strategy of store brand design and development. New for 2011, we’re expanding the content to deliver the most comprehensive agenda on branding at retail covering everything you need from insight to creation to selling in-store.

With an unprecedented collection of client-side practitioner perspectives than any other event of its kind, it quickly became an industry choice, where retailers attend to focus on building branded portfolios that really connect with their distinct customer needs and brands attend to think differently about their retail partners and to seek new ways to collaborate in a more holistic business sense.

Full details here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Focusing on What The Customer Thinks

This interview on the Forbes MarketShare blog with Jim Bush, EVP of World Service at American Express, contains some great insights regarding the American Express customer experience strategy.

I was particularly struck by the following quote:
We also strongly believe that great service doesn’t come down to what we think about our performance internally. It’s all about what the customer thinks after every interaction. So we’re not measuring our performance by internal measures. Instead, we’re gauging it by looking at whether customers would recommend American Express to their friends based on their experiences.

Is your company doing anything to shift the focus from internal performance to customer reactions? If so, how? How are you measuring customer loyalty? The American Express study mentioned in the blog is interesting reading regardless of where your current strategy stands.

Flashback Friday: A Conversation with The Top Corporate Twitter Brands: How Can I Unlock the Business Value of Twitter to Innovate, Interact, Inform?

Social Media and Community 2.0 Strategies is taking place April 4-6, 2011, in Boston, Massachusetts. Fridays leading up to the event, we’ll be recapping one of the sessions from the 2010 Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies Event. For more information on this year's event, download the brochure.

A Look Back at SMC2010: A Conversation with The Top Corporate Twitter Brands: How Can I Unlock the Business Value of Twitter to Innovate, Interact, Inform?

Kellie Parker of Sega, Winnie Hsia of Whole Foods and Christi Day of Southwest Air are our panelists at this morning's discussion on how businesses can utilize Twitter to market and to engage with their customers.

How did your brand get into Twitter?

Sega: Twitter was started at Sega about 2yrs ago. They made the decision to have an account for both USA and Europe; but they found that customers were following both Twitter streams so they combined them, providing messaging to all locations.

Whole Foods: Twitter was started at 2008 for the company and now they've provided 2/3 of their stores with their own Twitter. Shoppers want to connect with their store, Whole Foods is actively working for a 100% adoption of Twitter by all of their stores. There is a dedicated person at each store who controls the Twitter communication.

Southwest: Started slowly with Twitter then hit 7,000 new followers per day. Southwest now boasts 3M followers.

In order for the Twitter accounts to be successful, managers must listen and be human with the customers. The focus should never be a "hard sell" it should be a conversation, not a promotion. Finding out your brand advocates and the influentials and work with them, highlight them and make them part of your mission.

There is a customer service component to Twitter, and it helps your customers connect with a real person when they're having difficulties; but what if customers are having a great time with your brand? Christi Day showcased an example for the "Nerd Bird," a flight scheduled from California for Austin, TX for the South By Southwest conference that included a bunch of self-proclaimed "nerds" to the conference. Once Southwest's Twitter team found out about this "Nerd Bird," they were able to schedule a wi-fi plane for the crew - bonus!

What about promotions/coupons?

Sega does "Free Stuff Friday" which works like a radio call-in show, "I've got this t-shirt, the 10th person that DMs us gets it for free." It's worked so well that they've pre-announced the giveaways, blogged about the giveaways and now they've started to videotape the giveaways. It's been a success and now it's a great promotional tool for upcoming games.

Whole Foods does "Twitter Thursdays" and "Facebook Fridays" with giveaways that have included an all expense paid trip. When they give away really cool stuff, something more than gift cards, like a case of peanut butter - it's a success. If people have something that they can really rally around, or they are a fan of something, it matters so much more.

Southwest Air source codes everything that comes from Twitter to the Southwest Air website. By only using their channels, Southwest Air had the largest increase in fare sales in 40 years just by using social media. Before the holidays, Southwest Air gave away 12 gift cards based on the 12 Days of Christmas, asking users to send pictures - the winners won a $1000 gift card for air travel.

Within your Twitter team, it's important to have well-defined roles and a well-defined organizational system. Each member of the team should be able to fill in for one another, to keep the communication and the messaging consistent.

Looking back at the past year, have you incorporated promotions or give-aways into your corporate twitter presence? What other ideas for interaction have you come up with?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What Sets Our Event Apart From The Rest?

Meaningful Case-Studies That Promote Real-World Actionable Takeaways

The first ALL CLIENT SIDE case study based event focused on social
media as a drive of business results

Intimate Networking Opportunities

Join us for the #SocialC20 #tweetup April 4th from 6-7pm at the Lobby Bar. Then continue the social experience at our main conference day cocktail reception on April 5th at 5:30pm.

Senior Level Attendees

Mingle with community experts and business leaders in the social space

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Facebook, J&J, Allstate & more to Share New Marketing Analytics - Plus Save $300 this Week

In a world where social media is growing at an overwhelming pace and online is driving the marketing department, it is becoming more and more difficult to measure analytics and ROI of your marketing efforts.

How are you measuring the success of your marketing campaigns?

Measure Up, June 6-8 in Boston, MA, is the world's most comprehensive cross-dimensional view of marketing measurement best practices. With a focus on return on investment (ROI) as it relates to the integration of traditional, online and mobile activities; specifically Social Media, this event is designed to answer business critical questions of today and tomorrow:
  • How customers are using social media to drive their marketing activities?
  • How can companies measure, manage and improve social media activities?
  • How can companies incorporate the results into improved marketing strategies and tactics to drive higher revenue, profit and brand share?
Hear Insights in B2B Social Media Metrics, New Generation Marketing Mix Modeling, Corporate Strategy, Marketing Modeling & Analytics Techniques, Social & Mobile Analytics Integration and Operational & Resource Allocation From: Conversation, LLC, Foiled Cupcakes, ProfitStreams, Radian6, AbsolutData Technologies Inc., Allstate Insurance, Chadwick Martin Bailey, Digital Influence Group, United Federal Credit Union, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, EmpowHER, SABMiller Plc, TiVo, Cisco, EmPower Research, Johnson & Johnson, MarketingNPV, Shell, WebEx, Do Something, Facebook, Forrester Research, Location-Based Marketing for Dummies, Microsoft, Verizon, Kirkland's, Marketing Operations Partners, Marketing Operations Works, Redpepper, U.S. Army, and VisionEdge Marketing

Download the brochure for details.

Join us this June for a collaborative meeting of the minds to explore the New World of Marketing Analytics. As a reader of The Market Research Event Blog, we’re offering you an exclusive discount of 15% off the standard price when using discount code TMREBLOGMU by Friday, March 18, 2011. Register here.

Visit The Measure Up Event Page
to learn more.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Social GUI: The Future of Control Panels

This post is cross-posted with Ubercool.

The quest dates back to the early heyday of the dotcom boom. Online marketers wanted a complete 360-degree view of their customers, optimally displayed in one single screen. To this day the challenge remains. While the data mountain has grown markedly, our reporting interfaces remain a step behind.

But there’s hope. The arrival of HTML 5 will provide developers with the ability to fashion incredibly intuitive and malleable control panels, guaranteed to satisfy all but the most particular social marketer.

This HTML 5 demo gives an inkling of what’s feasible. We see a major market opportunity for a start-up that develops a “lego block kit” analytics front-end that would gain wide industry deployment simply because the challenge of developing a highly pliable reporting front end often outweighs the crux of a program’s core features.

Why is this important? The cost of managing social engagement analytics programs is negatively impacting digital agencies’ operating margins. This trend exacerbates an already well-known factor — overhead costs of digital ad production are significantly higher than that of traditional advertising:

  • Overhead costs – Digital agency overhead costs form a significantly higher part of the overall cost of ad production, 45% vs. 12% (PDF; 2009 “Understanding the Economics of Digital Compared to Traditional Advertising and Media Service,” AAAA).

  • Operating income – The top 30 digital agencies increased gross income by 18% in 2010, but their operating margins fell sharply in 2010 from 9.5% to 5.7%. A well-run agency achieves good margins by keeping staff costs to no more than 55% of gross income. In the past year it worsened to 65%.

Clearly, the growing data mountain being produced by social engagement analytics is causing agency staff costs to balloon, which is not sufficiently being offset by heady overall revenue growth. This dictates that next-generation social GUIs be far easier to use and customize.

One company, Kansas City-based Infegy has just released Social Radar 3, which pushes the GUI envelope. Infegy Founder and CEO Justin Graves’ demo of Social Radar 3 last week underscored how easy it is to create customized analytics views on the fly. This is particularly relevant in a market where many marketers still enter queries as strings of Boolean variables.

Social Radar 3 has an elegant interface that uses drag-and-drop technology to enable users to customize their dashboards and reports. Reports can be shared via Excel, PDFs and URLs.

Infegy, founded in 2007, now tracks some 40 million Web sites, including blogs, forums, image sites, news sites like CNN and the BBC, Twitter and more. Says Graves, “[We obtain] essentially any useful content we can get our hands on, but focus principally on consumer-generated content.”

Infegy’s market is growing fast. Marketers are demanding much more accountability. Their struggle to analyze campaign performance from Web sites, Facebook, Twitter, iPhone and Android apps, will lead marketers to more than double investments in Web analytics by 2014, according to a May 2009 Forrester Research report, “US Web Analytics Forecast, 2008 to 2014,” which predicts that U.S. companies will spend $953 million in 2014 to install, license and support for Web analytics services.

Piper Jaffray has a more aggressive view of this marketplace, at least they did in 2007 when they issued a five-year forecast that would have the Web analytics services market reaching $1 billion in 2011, based on a CAGR of 19% (PDF; “The User Revolution,” February 2007). Keep in mind that both these forecasts are umbrella figures, because they include such general analytics players as Coremetrics and Omniture.

A big driver of this spending will be social media. Social engagement marketing not only brings the added dimension of being able to listen in on conversations but also to measure shifting attitudes about brands, an aspect dubbed “sentiment analysis.”

Infegy allows clients to search four years’ worth of online “chatter,” with trend analyses that provide a historical overview of sentiments shifting over time, returned in merely two seconds.

Social Radar 3 is able to filter data in any of 12 languages, by country, positive or negative sentiment and drill down to source type, engagement frequency, time stamp, unique post, and other parameters.

To enable near-instantaneous search results, Social Radar abstracts trends by showing normalized listening volume. A typical chart shows the percentage of Infegy’s content during a set time period, be it day, week or month, that mentions a query.

Explains Graves, “The reason we show this is that it is considerably less effected by long-term change and unrelated events. Social Radar’s database is much larger now and gets considerably more content each day compared to three years ago, so to make a trend over such a long time period useful, we need to normalize the data. Users can also switch to absolute counts if they need them.”

The race is on to improve the display and interpretation of social analytics with every monitoring tool vendor rushing to provide simplified dashboards that are more powerful, yet easier to use.

Remarkably, this social analytics program was written by twentysomething Graves himself. The company say it’s profitable and cites such customers as Novell, Pizza Hut and Sprint.

We hope this type of friendliness becomes an industry standard, so users can focus on developing that 360-degree view of the customer, one that marries online and offline engagement in a single view. It would certainly please those who’ve been wishing for such a system since the pre-historic days of ’99.

Hear more from Michael Tchong on Wednesday, April 6th at the Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies Conference.

Are you Leveraging Neuromarketing? Technology Driven MR Will Show You How

A recent article in Fast Company has highlighted the growing use of market research technologies across industries, most notably in film production through the use of neurocinema. Neurocinema uses "neurofeedback to help moviemakers vet and refine film elements such as scripts, characters, plots, scenes and affects". This technique of capturing insights in real time is allowing film makers to capitalize on consumer preferences.

Interested in implementing neuromarketing tools and more of the latest technologies in market research?

Find out more this May at Technology Driven Market Research. Brought to you by the producers of The Market Research Event, TDMR tackles not only the technological advances in market research, but also focuses on the truly innovative, next generation techniques, that are shaping the future of business in general.

Featured Session on neuromarketing:

Dr. A.K. Pradeep, keynote speaker at this year's Technology Driven Market Research Event, was quoted in the article as saying, forecasting "real-time instant consumer brain response-based personalization" as the eventual evolution of this technology". You can hear more from Dr. Pradeep about the future of the industry this May, as he presents: Avatar 3D Comes to the Store Aisle.

Download the brochure for details and the complete agenda.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lead up to the IIR TDMR Interview with Greg Heist of Gongos Research

This post is co-posted with The Green Book.

For our latest interview with presenters at the upcoming IIR Technology Driven Market Research Event the IIR and GreenBook bring you an interview with Greg Heist, Vice President of Research Innovation for Gongos Research.

I had the opportunity to spend 2 days with Greg and the team at Gongos Research last month, and I have to say that he and the entire Gongos team are some of the smartest (and nicest!) folks I have ever met. Gongos is a great example of a company firmly rooted in the absolute best of traditional market research while also reaching towards the unlimited potential of the new research paradigm. I was impressed by the innovative thinking and creativity of Greg, the way the entire organization is embracing the ideas he is championing, and their commitment to transform their business. I expect the success Gongos has had to date is just the tip of the iceberg; this is a company that will help lead our industry in the years to come.
This interview was conducted over several days via email. I think you'll find it interesting, enlightening, and maybe even inspiring. Without further ado (or gushing!) here is my interview with Greg:

LM: Gongos Research has been coming on strong with your roll-out of new products that are generating a lot of interest within the market research space. Why do you think that is?

GH: As an organization, there are three things that get us excited to come into the office everyday: the opportunity to work with our fellow employees, our desire to help our clients understand their customers in new ways by doing great research and our drive to leverage technology and innovation to create a new norm for marketing research.

I’d like to think that the products we’ve been developing—and in particular the ioCommunities mobile app we launched last September—are generating excitement for the same reasons we’re so excited about them: because they tap into an exciting new frontier for our field. Devices like smartphones have untethered consumers from their computers, and products like ioCommunities mobile are in sync with this cultural shift and truly create a real-time conversation with consumers wherever they are.

LM: What do you think are the major drivers of change in the market research space right now and how is Gongos Research planning to take advantage of those trends?

GH: Without question, the two major drivers of change in the research world are the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablet devices and the explosive growth of growth of social media as the primary way we engage with one another online. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that each of these is a revolution that has permanently changed our culture.
From my perspective, the fact that these two megatrends are happening simultaneously is sending shock waves throughout the historically “staid and steady” marketing research industry. It’s an exciting time to be in research because it is challenging all of us to either modify how we approach traditional methods or else rapidly create entirely new approaches. It’s personally fun to see all of this innovation going on and I’m constantly impressed by all of the great work various firms in our industry are doing.
From a Gongos perspective, we have made the smartphone revolution a core part of our innovation strategy. To that end, as I mentioned, we’ve launched the ioCommunities mobile app for iOS and our smartphone-based online survey platform (which works across all smartphone platforms). We’re diligently at work on the development of ioCommunities mobile for Android and plan to roll that out in the coming months.
In the social media sphere, we’ve been providing MROCs for our clients for over 5 years, and continuing to make our communities more “social” is another core thrust for us in 2011. We have various initiatives going on in that regard right now and, as I meet with employees working on them, I’m amazed by the excitement and the number of powerful ideas that are being generated. I really look forward to seeing how they all take shape!

LM: I couldn’t agree with you more, and it’s great to hear of a leading established firm like Gongos embracing these new trends and actively working to leverage them, rather than fight them! Based on your current plans regarding integrating mobile, MROCs, and other social media elements into your research offerings, what do you see as the next major development that you’ll be looking at? Gaming, text analytics, social media market mix analysis, or…?

GH: To be quite honest, we are either currently looking at or working on capabilities in all of these areas right now. There are a lot of interesting ideas kicking around amongst our team and we are working hard at prioritizing them based on our longer term innovation strategy. Personally, I’m really intrigued by the possibilities of applying gaming within an MR context. It’s probably the area that has spawned some of the most innovative ideas and everyone is really energized about them!

LM: Applying the “gamification” model to MR is one of the areas I’m most excited about as well. It would seem to be a great fit for Gongos based on your MROC product and internal data collection platform. Are you thinking of applying the gaming engagement model to your ioCommunities or are you actually exploring developing gaming interfaces as a data collection tool?

GH: At the moment, we have teams actively investigating both of these areas of gaming. Developing a game interface that delivers valid and meaningful research insights across product categories and brands while simultaneously being fun and engaging for players is a considerable challenge. If we ultimately decide to go down that path, it will be because we think we have a legitimate chance of achieving both of those objectives. To get something like that really “right” is going to take some time, but we are definitely interested in exploring it further.

LM: Gongos seems unusual in that you are more of a traditional Full Service supplier, yet seem to have an advanced in-house innovation and development team. Most of your competitors use 3rd party solutions. What drove you to go down the custom development path and where do you see the company headed in the future as a result?

GH: We started down the path of creating proprietary research platforms primarily because of some of the unique requirements our core clients had relative to data collection and analysis. When we looked out there for off-the-shelf solutions to meet these needs, we didn’t find any so we committed to develop them ourselves. Over time, that has continued to be true and we have been able to tightly integrate our community, survey and mobile platforms to provide some really robust capabilities for our clients.
We really like what we have created so far, but also see lots of areas where we can (take) these platforms individually and collectively. My team is focused on trying to both expand the capabilities of our existing technologies as well as developing new capabilities that will integrate with them. I certainly see us continuing to invest in this area since they really provide us with flexibility and unique capabilities that we wouldn’t have if we were solely reliant on 3rd party solutions. Needless to say, our developers aren’t lacking things to work on…

LM: Gongos is one of the few MR firms that I know of that has a senior level role, plus the infrastructure to support them, dedicated to innovation. Why did the company choose to invest in innovation as a core strategy and why do you think the industry as a whole struggles with the concept of investing in innovation?

GH: The reason we continue to invest aggressively in innovation is actually pretty simple: we’ve seen it help us deliver new kinds of insights for our clients and be a catalyst for our company’s growth. But, our experience also speaks to why it’s a struggle: it’s hard to create—and pay for—that infrastructure. Getting clients to embrace innovation requires extra work because we often need to educate them about what we have created and demonstrate why it results in good research. Finally, innovation requires constantly rethinking our assumptions about what marketing research is. It’s tempting to “go with the flow” and be content with doing things the way they have been done.
Internally, we are also focusing both on methodological innovation as well as technological innovation. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to make both happen, and so I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help rally the organization around both areas and ensuring that—at the end of the day—we are delivering purposeful innovation to our clients rather than simply innovating just for the sake of innovating.

LM: Based on your inclusion on the Honomichl list, it appears that you achieved the miraculous feat of growing during the Great Recession; how the heck did you pull that off?

GH: Well, first of all, we certainly feel fortunate to have gone through such an incredibly tumultuous time without experiencing a significant downturn in our business or laying off any of our employees. I think our company’s focus on long-term strategy coupled with the great work our employees have done with our client partners successfully helped us navigate through that time. During this period of time we also began some new client partnerships that quickly grew beyond our initial expectations, so that clearly had a positive impact on our growth, as well. We were also really transparent with our staff about how we were responding to the crisis and I think that helped our employees understand what we were doing and why we were doing it

LM: Thinking ahead 2-3 years, what do you think the Market Research industry will look like? What type of companies will be successful, what capabilities will be needed, and what new types of companies will be a part of what we think of as MR?

GH: I’m literally blown away by how rapidly things are changing in the research industry. There have been more disruptive innovations in the past 5 years than in the previous 15, without question. And, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. So, looking ahead 2-3 years, I see social media and mobile research quickly becoming a mainstream part of how companies gain insights from consumers. With that will come a continuing re-definition of what marketing research is and how it is used. I also see more and more technology companies entering the mix and offering specific research solutions and becoming even more formidable competitors for traditional research firms.
Going forward, I think we are all going to be increasingly challenged to embrace change and create change in how we help our clients succeed and grow. If our industry wants to remain relevant and viable long-term, I think our very future depends on it.
At the same time, I don’t want to end on a doom-and-gloom message! This is—I think—an extremely exciting time. There is so much good work being done and an incredibly innovative spirit is flourishing throughout the industry. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds and excited and proud of the fact that Gongos is a part of it.

LM: I agree; it’s an exciting time and I’m actually really optimistic about where the industry is going, thanks in no small part to companies like Gongos! OK, last 2 questions: can you give me a “sneak peek” into your presentation at the TDMR? What are you covering and what do you hope for the audience to get from it?

GH: My colleague Joyce Salisbury (Senior Manager, Global Market Research –New Methods, General Motors) and I are discussing the topic, “The App is Where It’s At: The Power of Untethering Online Communities”. In our session, we are going to be sharing our perspectives on how the powerful intersection of the smartphone revolution and online communities opens up an entirely new spectrum of ways to engage with and learn from consumers. We also will be talking about what we feel this means for the research industry from a generational perspective for Gen Y and beyond. We’ve learned a lot in the six months since the launch of ioCommunities mobile, and we’re looking forward to sharing our thoughts about where this rapidly emerging technology may lead us in the future.

LM: And finally, what’s next for Gongos Research in 2011? What new tricks that we haven’t covered do you have up your sleeves?

GH: Lenny, if I told you that it wouldn’t be much of a trick then, would it??? Seriously, though, since this interview has been about TDMR and what Gongos has been working on in the technology innovation space, we haven’t really talked about what we are doing on the methodology end of things to support the technology we’ve been developing. As researchers, we are really committed to helping our clients understand how they can best take advantage of these new technologies to produce great research. In light of that, we’ve got a “research on research” initiative right now using our mobile survey platform to conduct some very statistically rigorous comparisons of data collected online and via smartphones. Michael Alioto, Ph.D,our VP of Marketing Sciences, is leading this initiative and we feel as though it has the potential to strongly challenge some of the accepted “givens” about how mobile surveys and may help shape a new paradigm for them. We’re really passionate about what we are doing here and are looking forward to sharing the results of this later this year.
Great chatting with you, Lenny! And looking forward to seeing you at TDMR!!

About Greg Heist: Vice President, Research Innovation & Technology at Gongos Research
As the Vice President of Research Innovation for Gongos Research, Greg is responsible for guiding the innovation strategy at the company. From white-board concepts to product development, Greg and his team ensure that technology and innovation support a primary role – to make the research process more engaging for consumers and more meaningful and powerful for corporations.

A practitioner and moderator with over 16 years of research under his belt, Greg is a visionary at heart. He believes we are in the midst of an evolution in the way we conduct research, and he plans to help pave the way. As an industry speaker at events produced by the IIR & AMA and author published in Quirk’s Marketing Research Review, Greg has examined how advanced platforms such as virtual shopping and online research communities are increasing respondent engagement, while providing customizable, forward-thinking solutions for clients.

Greg received his BS in Industrial Administration from Kettering University, and his MS in Humanistic and Clinical Psychology from the Michigan School of Professional Psychology.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thanks for Attending

Thanks to those who joined us yesterday for the Targetbase webinar on Engagement Optimization in Healthcare.

If you have additional questions for our dynamic presenters Trae Clevenger, Senior Vice President, Innovation and Brian Kaiser, Vice President, Healthcare Strategy they can be reached at and respectively.

Or follow Targetbase on twitter @TargetbaseRX

For more information about our ePharma events, visit the ePharma blog here.

Flashback Friday: Key Take Aways from Community Pros Panel

Social Media and Community 2.0 Strategies is taking place April 4-6, 2011, in Boston, Massachusetts. Fridays leading up to the event, we’ll be recapping one of the sessions from the 2010 Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies Event. For more information on this year's event, download the brochure.

A Look Back at SMC2010: Monday, May 3, 2010, Key Take Aways from Community Pros Panel

The concluding session of the day at the Social Media & Community 2.0 Conference was a panel of seasoned community managers. The panel addressed questions ranging from stakeholder support to community culture and transparency to recruiting internal evangelists. Key points from the discussion:

  • When you launch a community, you’re saying, “We’re willing to listen ... and listen in public.”
  • The biggest Do Not Do for a new online community is over promise what the community will provide or do.
  • A water cooler is often the number one entry point into a community—it goes a long way toward getting people on board. It’s opinion based ("I like this, I don’t like that"); it's a safe start.
  • Determine who the fish are and who the sharks are and structure the community to protect the fish.
  • A lot of participation and community work doesn’t appear on the Web site; it's behind the scenes.
  • There’s still nothing like getting on the phone or chatting face to face.

Looking forward to a great day tomorrow!

Looking back at the past year, did you incorporate this advice into your community management strategy? What advice would you share moving forward?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Social Future

BJ Emerson, Social Technology Officer at Tasti-D-Lite, offers insight into how brands must take advantage of opportunities to engage with customers in new ways. The competition is heating up and the bar is being raised as businesses battle for fans, friends and followers throughout this new media frontier.


"The Social Future" by BJ Emerson, Tasti-D-Lite

I’d like to offer 4 things that I believe will separate the winners from the losers:

1. The ability to listen effectively - Understanding these opportunities begins with education and you won’t learn anything with your mouth open.

Looking for examples of this? Perhaps one of the most famous is the @ComcastCares twitter account. Created in 2008 by then director of digital care (and Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies speaker ) Frank Eliason, @ComcastCares actively listens for customer complaints and addresses problems directly. It also helps contain negative groundswell when consumers realize they’re interacting with an individual, not a faceless corporation. Now in 2011 @Comcastcares is piloted by Bill Gerth and is still going strong.

2. The ability to engage creatively – Remember the half-naked man in the Old Spice videos? Of course you do. Get creative. There is no box to think outside of, so go for it.

The humorous voice made famous by Isaiah Mustafa in the series of Old Spice commericals can also be found tweeting @OldSpice and at By offering unique content on each channel Old Spice continues to creatively engage with its audience and extend the reach of a successful viral video campaign.

3. The ability to execute locally – Be prepared to offer a consistent experience between your online presence and offline activities. Use the technologies that exist to bridge the virtual-physical gap.

Looking for an example? Look to Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies speaker Damien Smith of Yelp. By rewarding Yelp “elite” users with local parties, including free food, drinks or experiences Yelp extends their brand experience offline, keeps their core members engaged and offers additional exposure to their advertising partners.

4. The ability to embrace transparency – Social media gives consumers a glimpse into the culture and people behind those products and services they love. What does that picture look like for your organization?

Kellie Parker, Community Manager at SEGA talks about transparency some in her guest post here on the Community 2.0 blog. By mixing a human aspect with necessary marketing messages you continue to engage your audience and create a fun community that people want to join in on.


Join us for the #SocialC20 #tweetup April 4th from 6-7pm at the Lobby Bar.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Capture Insights in Real-Time at Technology Driven MR

John Dick of CivicScience says that "consumer opinions are changing faster than they have ever before. Quarterly or monthly research is stale by the time the report is printed. We need to find new ways to measure consumer sentiment in real-time or we'll just be guessing."

What are you doing to capture insights in real time to understand your consumer in the moment?

Consistent with the quality of TMRE, Technology Driven Market Research delivers real-world experience-based presentations from the industry leaders and big brands together, sharing the tools and technologies that are being used NOW and those in the future to more clearly understand consumer behavior.

Featured sessions include:
* Avatar 3D Comes to the Store Aisle
* The Future of Market Research in 2015
* App Based Mobile Research Panel

Download the brochure to see the full agenda and session details.

Join us this May 2-3, 2011; in Chicago at the Technology Driven Market Research Event as we discuss, explore and debate the latest technologies and the resulting impact they are having on the market research industry. As a reader of The Market Research Event’s Blog, we’re offering you an exclusive discount of 15% off the standard price when using discount code TDMR11Blog. If you have any questions about this event, feel free to contact Jennifer Pereira at Register here.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Building Brands at Retail. Insights. Strategy. Design. In-Store
September 19-21, 2010 • Wyndham Hotel • Chicago, IL

Submission Deadline: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 Friday, April 1, 2011
[Note: Papers are accepted on a rolling basis so early submissions are encouraged.]

About the Event
From the producers of FUSE & Shopper Insights in Action, we present the 2nd annual Private Brand Movement, the first and only event to focus on the strategy of store brand design and development. New for 2011, we’re expanding the content to deliver the most comprehensive agenda on branding at retail covering everything you need from insight to creation to selling in-store.

With an unprecedented collection of client-side practitioner perspectives than any other event of its kind, it quickly became an industry choice, where retailers attend to focus on building branded portfolios that really connect with their distinct customer needs and brands attend to think differently about their retail partners and to seek new ways to collaborate in a more holistic business sense.

Presenter Qualifications
We are seeking retail and CPG practitioners - who work to deliver unique brands across any and all retail channels including C-store, club, dollar, pet, mass, apparel and grocery- who can share best practices in the form of real-world case studies, stories of what's worked and what hasn't.. We also encourage you to submit team presentations, where two members of cross-functional teams co-present.

The Audience
In 2010, this event attracted more than 150 senior-level executives from the world’s leading retail, brand and design firms, mostly director level and above with expertise in strategy, package design, strategic planning, customer experience, innovation, product development, marketing strategy, brand management, structural design, consumer insights, shopper insights, shopper marketing and design research. Industries included Retail, CPG, Durable Goods and Consumer Healthcare.

Suggested Topic Areas:
• Customer Insights
• Shopper Insights
• Strategy Development
• Design
• Product Development & Innovation
• Packaging
• Go to Market
• At Shelf & In Store
• Shopper Marketing
• Consumer Trends
** We are also happy to consider topics not listed here that you feel would add value and be appropriate for the audience.

Submission Guidelines

Those who wish to be considered for the PBM speaker faculty should send the following via email to Amanda Powers, Program Director at no later than Tuesday, March 15, 2011:

1. Benefit-oriented title of session
2. Summary of session along with three audience key takeaways (no more than 150 words)
3. Full contact details for speaker including name, title, company, email, phone and mail
4. Bio of proposed speaker (no more than 100 words)
5. Speaker headshot jpeg (optional)

If your submission is selected, portions of your bio and summary will be used to promote your participation. In an effort to ensure the utmost quality, all final presentations will be subject to review by our content review board one month prior to the event.

Past Speakers from 2010
Maurice Markey, VP, Private Brands, SAM’S CLUB, Michael Ellgass, Senior Director, Grocery Marketing, WALMART, Annie Zipfel, Director of Owned Brands, TARGET, Kim Coovert, Brand Manager, Own Brand Food & Drug, KMART, Vassoula Vasiliou, Director of Creative Private Brand Development, OFFICE DEPOT, Nancy Cota, VP Innovation, Consumer Brands, SAFEWAY, Melissa Smith-Hazen, Director Strategic Design, Corporate Brands, AHOLD USA, Angie Hunter, Marketing Department, BLOOM/DELHAIZE AMERICA, Mary Rachide, DVP Private Brands, FAMILY DOLLAR STORES, Marcia Minter, VP Creative Director, L.L. BEAN, Moira Cullen, Senior Director, Global Design, THE HERSHEY CO., Kit Hughes. Art Director, PHILIPS

Speaker Benefits
Each speaker receives the following:
1. Free pass to the event including access to all pre-conference symposia and workshops
2. Continental breakfast and lunch
3. Admittance to exclusive speaker networking activities
4. Unique discount code entitling anyone who uses it to 20% off the standard conference rate

Attention to Vendors/Suppliers interested in participating in the event
This call is limited to client side presenters. If you are a vendor, consultant, solution provider, or technology provider and would like to speak at the Private Brand Movement or have a presence at the event, contact Sarene Yablonsky, Business Development Manager at or via phone at 646.895.7474.

Flashback Friday: Which department should own social media?

Social Media and Community 2.0 Strategies is taking place April 4-6, 2011, in Boston, Massachusetts. Fridays leading up to the event, we’ll be recapping one of the sessions from the 2010 Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies Event. For more information on this year's event, download the brochure.

A Look Back at SMC2010: Which department should own social media?

Many presentations from Monday's primer discussed the involvement of various departments in the launch of online communities.

The speakers were community managers who had the benefit of working across departments while staying faithful to the communities they served. They limit marketing messages, engage the proper resources when necessary, set up guidelines and manage the health of the community.

Companies instinctively think that marketing and communications should own social media, largely because it is seen as another channel to convey the marketing message.

However, I heard today that many believe that companies should limit marketing involvement in social media in order to foster the relationship without appearing disingenuous.

If you don’t have the resources for a community manager who do you think is best suited to own and cultivate the user relationship?

Looking back at the past year, has your company reevaluated what department social media should be controlled by? Is social media a branch of marketing in your company currently?