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 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 Dan Bot on January 4, 2012 - 17:28
Back in September I blogged about 5 things that every researcher must know about QR (Quick-Response) codes – those digital barcodes that allow users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application to scan the code and launch a web page, a survey, or otherwise connect to information. Since then, the hype around the technology has continued, countered by a lot of nay-sayers pointing out the limitations of QR codes.
Let’s look at some of these arguments against the technology and reevaluate if QR codes can still be an effective market research tool.
1. QR code adoption in the US continues to lag Europe and Asia. Some even say that the QR code “fad” has already come and gone. Maybe it’s true that the technology will never catch on in the US as much as it has in other markets. There is plenty of evidence out there that Americans are less likely to adopt technology that doesn’t benefit us immediately (see: metric system). However, that’s not to say QR codes can’t still be a useful tool.
Submitted by April Turner on December 8, 2011 - 17:19
There have been many calls of late for Marketing Research to become more progressive (for example, see the recent blog post from Jeffrey Henning taking off on Coca-Cola’s Stan Sthanunathan’s view that “the industry must change”). Technology adoption and creating meaningful analysis of social media were hot topics at The Market Research Event (TMRE) held last month, and both the client and supplier sides are experimenting with new trends.
But while it’s true that the industry needs to move quickly to adopt technologies, blend methodologies, and broaden the reach of research, there is precious little information on how to make these changes. As a supplier, we at MarketTools have seen that there are a couple of key ingredients in the partnership with clients that make innovative projects worthwhile:
Submitted by April Turner on November 17, 2011 - 12:54
The Market Research Event (TMRE 2011) is always one of the most exciting market research industry events of the year – and from our experience in the MarketTools booth, as well as talking to attendees in the sessions, the three days were incredibly yet enthusiastically busy.
The Keynotes, especially Anne Mulcahy’s kickoff “Leading Through Transformation” and Sheena Iyengar’s “The Art of Choosing”, provided a terrific opportunity to re-think our roles as researchers.
Anne’s “Transformation” theme was embodied by several sessions that focused on ways to communicate research results more deeply into the organization. Overall, the role of the market researcher is changing: from proving that data is statistically relevant, non-biased and methodologically sound to converting the data into a story, with insights and recommendations suitable for the boardroom. This trend is gaining speed, yet is far from complete. The circle of end users for market research continues to move beyond R&D to creative agencies, brand managers, and line-of-business managers.
Submitted by Dan Bot on September 28, 2011 - 09:00
QR codes are gaining popularity at breakneck speed, and there is no shortage of information out there on the endless possibilities they bring marketers. We’ve all seen QR codes (an abbreviation for Quick Response code) on things like billboards, packages, TV advertisements, bus stops, business cards, etc. as part of creative marketing plans. (Did you know they’re also being used as tattoos and on gravestones?)
There is a major shortage, however, of tips on ways market researchers can utilize QR codes to their advantage. Pushing QR codes out to consumers is one thing, but using QR codes to pull insights back from consumers is a totally different animal. Here are five things every researcher must know about QR codes:
Submitted by Ben Langleben on September 1, 2011 - 10:00
This is a follow-up to the recent blog post on mobile market research titled "Getting Started On Your Mobile Market Research Journey". Here we focus on the third cornerstone of the mobile research framework: Research Applications.
One of the great things about having kids is I get to go to amusement parks much more frequently. But one of the downsides is having to wait in line for the rides, usually for about 20 minutes or more. While standing in line on a recent trip, I was impressed by a sign inviting me to give my feedback about my experience in the park. This was a welcome distraction from the monotony of waiting, so I texted the number and within a few moments the first question arrived on my mobile phone.
My initial good impressions were quickly dispelled. After just one question, I was invited to give fuller feedback at a kiosk near the park's exit. Did they seriously expect me to remember to find this kiosk and spend 10 minutes at the end of the day, when the kids are inevitably tired and hungry, and we all just want to get home?
I had a similar experience with a coffee chain at a train station asking for feedback on their customer service. Once again, the ingredients were right: free wi-fi at the station, consumer downtime waiting for a train, a web-based survey, etc. However, when I tried to access the survey via my smartphone, the page failed to load. Was it because the coffee chain didn’t design the survey for a smartphone – thinking that consumers would be willing to unpack their laptops? Or maybe they considered it sufficient that their mobile survey only worked on certain models of phones. (I only tested the link on one of the more common Android handsets!)
Submitted by Ben Langleben on June 23, 2011 - 10:00
This is a follow-up to the recent blog post Mobile Market Research: Getting Started On Your Mobile Market Research Journey, focusing on the first cornerstone of the framework for a mobile market research plan.
If you’re thinking about conducting market research via mobile, one of the topics you may have plenty of questions about is survey sample. Admittedly, having questions on most topics is somewhat of an occupational hazard of the market researcher. Nevertheless, when thinking about a new platform for engaging respondents, sample is one of the core considerations.
Key questions for researchers considering a mobile research strategy include:
Submitted by Jay Pluhar on June 9, 2011 - 09:00
This is a follow up to the recent blog post Mobile Market Research: Methodology or Technology?
You have convinced yourself (or you’ve been convinced by colleagues) that you should be looking at mobile market research for your organization, but don’t know how to get started. Well, let’s get going and take the big bang approach: creating a broad-based mobile strategy for your organization. One that has been properly constructed with an appropriate level of research on research, one that is fully supported by all key decision-makers, and one that is financially viable.
Sounds daunting doesn’t it? How about creating a smaller scale mobile research learning and experimentation plan instead? You know that old saying – the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. But rather than waiting for the “right” time to initiate your plan (I’m not convinced there will be a “right” time), I’d recommend that you dive in and let your mobile research strategy take shape as you go.
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