Time Magazine recently ran an article on corporate mergers and the effects they are having on business. The outlook was not pretty for most of the M&A activity that has happened in the industrial sector, with business innovation suffering the most due to the focus on short term results. Even in our own research services sector merger activity has had mixed results, leading some to be skeptical of these shiny new organizations.
However there are some very bright spots in recent M&A, and our combination with MetrixLab is one of the brightest. Why? Because unlike so many other combinations in the research space, this was a merging of equals. Both organizations share the same digital DNA, and the same type of entrepreneurial approach to solutions. This is the first time in the research industry that two new generation agencies have combined to create an online agency with the global reach previously only available with the largest of the legacy research organizations. With one agency, brands are able to gain insights about the entire product lifecycle, from new product development, to advertising, to e-commerce and customer satisfaction. All the distinct consumer touchpoints can be measured digitally, and globally. This is much more than the short term gains popularized in other industries, this merger is based on sound, forward-looking reasoning of what it will take for products and brands to succeed into the future. We are going back to our roots – flexible, digital and fast. The joint organization will bring value to the industry by merging best practices in the EU and US and applying them globally.
From our perspective, we see that research industry changes will continue to accelerate in 2013. For the US market, they will be especially significant at the shopper level. New economics will put pressure on consumers and this reality will drive marketing strategy for the next several years. Here is what we see:
Shopper Marketing profoundly changes - again
Shopping channels are blurring as are the communication strategies that go with them. There are as many as 4 screens, plus the physical communication aspects within the store and all provide a purchase opportunity. Shoppers are using multiple devices including phones and tablets and using them at varying points in their decision process. The communications plan must change to seamlessly interact across devices, and at multiple points. Messages to shoppers must adjust to be relevant in context of the shopper’s state of mind and relevant to the mode of delivery. The consumer decision journey must be measured with both qualitative as well as quantitative tools. The transformational shift in power from Manufacturer/Retailer to the shopper will drive efforts to maximize the outputs of shopper research and shopper marketing. A shopper’s “first moment of truth” can now come digitally or physically. We are continuing to innovate ways to develop insights that support brand impact in all of these environments.
SoLoMo adds Glo
While there is a continual rise in the number of surveys that are taken on smartphones and tablets, regardless if the survey was optimized for the device, there will be a greater emphasis on mobile devices used as a tool to reach specific demographics, whether this be in formal quantitative surveys, or other methods. With the ability to use optimized web experiences, as well as mobile applications, clients are asking us to expand our mobile research methods into areas where target audiences may only be reached through mobile devices or social media outlets. With this turn, the social, local and mobile aspects are turning global as well. This is a foundationally different way to approach research in that these respondents are not the tech savvy users who are research veterans, but instead are new voices with new shopping habits and represent an entirely new consumer base. The economic shocks of the past recession and the future cliff are part of the everyday fabric to these new consumers, and their opinions will be increasingly necessary for informed brands.
Imperatives for testing across media channels
The synergies between media environments are making it possible to get a large bang for a small amount of bucks. However the corollary is also true. Brands are expanding their reach more widely across media options, however the results are difficult to measure and therefore difficult to duplicate. As we have refined cross-media testing into a disciplined approach we learned that optimization, which plays a key role in providing the right offer to the shopper, can be used to determine the best mix of different media outlets. Realtime understanding of how channels work together enables real-time optimization of those media channels.
By using the digital space to have a more holistic view of products & brands, we are able to connect the drive for technical excellence with clients insight needs. Research has moved from being the purveyors of data to the storytellers of insights. In the past, macro insights were enough guidance to “move the needle”, but in our increasingly fragmented markets the granular nuances of consumer behavior will be necessary to uncover the truly new opportunities for brands. The combination of MarketTools and MetrixLab provides us with the ability to innovate our research approach and tell a richly insightful story while delivering exceptional experiences to respondents at the same time. As the global economies adjust to the latest changes in fiscal reality, we will actively participate in measuring consumer attitudes, and informing creative strategies.
Submitted by Kathleen Relias on June 8, 2012 - 14:37
Pharmaceutical manufacturers have been more focused on consumers in recent years – anyone who has a television has seen the volume of DTC (direct to consumer) commercials there. Thanks to technology, marketers in the pharma field have new and innovative ways to market their products to consumers – via the web, for example.
Mobile technology will play an increasing role in this consumer-focused marketing transformation. The pharmaceutical industry can look to the consumer packaged goods industry to understand the most progressive marketing approaches around technology. For example, real-time point-of-purchase marketing opportunities are available when shoppers are willing to provide their cell phone numbers in order to receive follow-up offers and information via text. The trend toward increasing smartphone usage will only expand the marketing choices.
Submitted by April Turner on May 10, 2012 - 15:25
In a recent post on the GreenBook Blog, Tony Cosentino highlights the “quote of the conference” from last week’s TMRTE (The Market Research Technology Event), made by one of the presenters during Google’s demo of its new market research software offering. Cosentino related, “after a few minutes [the presenter] brought up the prompt to write the actual question. He said with all seriousness (and I’m sure without intention), ‘This is where all of your expertise is put to the test. This is where you write the question.’ I couldn’t help but chuckle and think that is how the technology industry perceives the market research industry – a bunch of question writers.”
This perception is probably all too prevalent — yet it’s missing a very important aspect of our expertise: analysis. We can take it a step further, and make the case that market researchers were the original data scientists, practitioners of that discipline blending statistics, applied mathematics, and computer science to solve complex business problems.
Submitted by Larry Praml on April 26, 2012 - 11:07
As we move into a truly global marketplace, major CPG companies are looking to expand their brands’ presence in emerging markets. The economic growth in countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China continues to outpace growth in developed nations, driving increased demand for global brands. The push to get products on the shelf for the enthusiastic new consumers in these markets is happening at a frenetic pace.
With this push comes the realization that the “infrastructure” for CPG product movement is quite different in emerging markets. Supply chains are different, alternate channels such as kiosks and open-air markets are more important, marketing spend is far less impactful, and tastes differ regionally. Each of these challenges can give local brands a huge edge over global brands.
Submitted by April Turner on April 10, 2012 - 12:07
Today, we announced the expansion of MarketTools’ Shopper Research Solutions to include new technologies that increase respondent engagement and provide deeper insights into the shopper’s path to purchase. The announcement also cited a recent MarketTools study of grocery shoppers revealing that 63 percent of respondents say saving money is somewhat or much more important now versus last year – and that 80 percent buy items with money-saving coupons; 62 percent buy store brands instead of name brands to save money; and 58 percent buy items only when they are on sale.
In a complex retail landscape, with consumers looking for more value than ever before, fast and accurate Shopper Research insights are critical to helping both retailers and manufacturers respond to a changing marketplace and gain a competitive edge. With deep shopper insights companies can:
- Create pricing strategies that drive growth for price-conscious demographics, channels, or regions
- Offer value-pack contents and product bundles that are most appealing to consumers
- Learn which packaging resonates with value-conscious shoppers
- Improve product selection and findability at retail
- Develop effective store planograms more quickly and cost-effectively
- Boost product movement with more effective store signage
Today’s announcement is also a great opportunity to revisit some of Dan Bot’s Shopper Research blog posts – in particular his three-part series on virtual shelf technology:
Part 1, Shopper Research: The Virtual Shelf provides an overview of virtual shelf technology, and the value it delivers by taking into account shoppers’ tendencies to make holistic purchase decisions based on competitive context.
Part 2, Virtual Shelf vs. Brick and Mortar Testing, describes the advantages of using online virtual shelf technology over traditional shopper research conducted in a real-world store environment – in terms of saving time and expense as well as allowing limitless experimentation.
Part 3, The Many Uses of the Virtual Shelf, discusses ways to apply virtual shelf technology in shopper research such as Package Testing, Product Pricing Tests, Planogram Testing, and concept testing.
In a landscape where consumers have more choices than ever before, it's innovative shopper research – using technologies that improve respondent engagement and offer more detailed insights than ever into shopper intents and preferences – that will help companies win sales and market share.
Submitted by Alan Cutler on March 27, 2012 - 09:00
For all the recognition of the impact of social media on new product introductions, there appears to be relatively little effort to understand the role and contribution of buzz when evaluating new product ideas. While the traditional “Likelihood to Recommend” measure is still part of the key performance indices tracked for new product concepts, additional – perhaps more relevant – measures of advocacy are not systematically incorporated into innovation research.
Whether or not a new product or line extension is buzz-worthy, the reality of how new products break through barriers of awareness and adoption should be incorporated into concept testing disciplines. However, to do so suggests that we should update how we test new product ideas – in terms of how ideas/concepts are presented to consumers, what questions we ask them in their evaluations/reactions, and what variables to include when forecasting them.
Submitted by Ben Langleben on March 8, 2012 - 16:43
In the innovations arena of market research, norms can provide critical insight into determining whether your company’s latest concept is likely to succeed. But when you compare your concept test scores against a normative database of results from other studies, you need to look beyond just getting a “good” test score (as in, “will my new concept make the top 10-percentile benchmark?”).
As you evaluate the merits of your idea against the norms for research scores achieved by other concepts, keep in mind the following issues:
Submitted by Dan Bot on February 29, 2012 - 16:41
In previous posts I discussed the insights you can obtain by constructing a Path to Purchase for your product, and followed up with some survey questionnaire tips to ensure you successfully collect all the data you need to maximize those insights.
Today, I’m concluding this series on the Path to Purchase with tips on how to analyze and interpret your path data to maximize your product’s impact upon the consumer.
- First and foremost, don’t expect there to be one single path! Few shoppers follow the exact same series of steps, in the same sequence, with the identical needs for buying your product. Most likely there will be numerous path “segments” that share common steps. The key is arriving at segments with meaningful differences. For example, if you’re selling bottled water, you might have a segment that se arches circulars for deals and stocks up on your water by buying a case or two at a time at a grocery store. Another segment might have a much simpler path that consists of buying a single bottle at a convenience store to satisfy an immediate need.
Submitted by Hank Khost on February 23, 2012 - 15:32
For marketing research projects that collect product awareness and usage data, there are some ratios that are easy to calculate and which lead to deeper insights. These simple analytics are often called “conversion ratios”.
One such ratio is Awareness-to-Trial, which tells the percentage of trial received from consumers for each point of awareness generated by a product. “Trial” is the proportion surveyed who have ever used/purchased the product, and this can be gauged against top-of-mind awareness, total unaided awareness, and total awareness levels overall. Here’s a simple example:
Submitted by Dan Bot on February 17, 2012 - 12:35
In a previous post I discussed the ways that constructing the Path to Purchase for your customers allows you to build a deeper understanding of their motivations and behaviors as they shop for your products. By understanding the components of the path, you can better strategize ways to maximize a product’s impact upon the consumer at each phase, and ultimately win the sale.
A well-designed survey program can ensure that you successfully collect all the data you need to detail your customers’ Path to Purchase – and here are some tips to help you develop your questionnaire.
Get consumers in their purchasing frame of mind.
Before just diving into your survey questions, it’s important to encourage the respondent to recall all the nuances that go into a shopping experience. Consider asking a shopper to recall a specific recent shopping occasion in which they bought a particular product. That way, you can uncover all details of the trip – instead of a watered-down recollection of a more general shopping experience that might miss some subtle, but important, steps. It can be useful to ask the respondent to describe the shopping trip in a detailed paragraph at the beginning of the survey, in order to jog their memory and make the most of the subsequent questions.
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