Mobile, Big Data and the Distinctive Competence of MR

Mobile Research & Big DataIn 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.

Shopper Research: Vital for Today’s Changing Market

Shopper Research 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.

Profiling Segments: The Most Dangerous Game

Segmentation Profiling: The 'Linda Experiment' I’ve been reading Daniel Kahneman’s new book Thinking, Fast and Slow, and I highly recommend it to any market researcher.  Be warned, though: the implications can be kind of scary.  One of the topics the book covers is the “conjunction errors” that people commonly make – as demonstrated by the classic experiment known as the “Linda Experiment” (see page 156 of Kahneman's book). 

Linda is described (keep in mind that the experiment is very old) as “31 years old, single, outspoken and very bright. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice and also participated in antinuclear demonstrations.”  Participants in the experiment are asked to indicate which is more probable – that Linda is a bank teller, or that Linda is a bank teller AND active in the feminist movement.  Even experimental subjects who were highly trained in statistics tended to choose the conjunctive description (bank teller AND feminist) as more probable than the simpler, more general description, even though it is impossible for a conjunctive to be more probable than any of the components of the conjunction.

Do We Really Need Behavioral Economics? YES INDEED.

A recent blog post by Brandon Ellse on Research World’s RW Connect blog argues :

Shopper price thresholds"How can behavioural economics practically change the market research landscape? This remains less than clear to me. We’ve all heard about the experiments, their control and treatment groups beautifully poised in anticipation of the 'ta-da' moment where 'real' human behaviour is revealed like a rabbit pulled from a hat. These behavioural economics-inspired tales seem to waft over our intellectual senses, leaving us with a strange feeling of certainty that only the perception of knowledge exclusivity can bring. I won’t lie, I’m impressed. Getting at causality is no mean feat and I am often left in awe of the ingenuity of these researchers, but I want practical application and I get the feeling that you do too."

The benefit of behavioral economics is the insight it gives into the proper specification of the models we use every day in marketing research Behavioral economic theories about how and why people overstate their estimates of frequency of purchase enable us to construct models that better predict actual behavior from the imperfect survey answers we collect.  Understanding that losses loom larger than gains enables us to construct appropriate non-linear price functions in discrete choice models.

Why Does Anyone Go to a Market Research Conference?

TMRE The upcoming TMRE (The Market Research Event 2011) is taking place in Orlando November 7th through 9th, and I am looking forward to attending as part of the MarketTools market research team.  I have to admit that prior to last year’s conference in San Diego, I didn’t put a lot of consideration into participating in this kind of event.  I had spent over 30 years on the client side and, other than when I was a speaker, conferences were rarely on my radar.  And with budget cutbacks hitting market research organizations from all sides in recent years, travel to an event often seemed like an extravagance anyway.

So, it was an eye-opener for me that during the course of last year’s TMRE conference, I found myself drawn into the event for a number of reasons:

Maintaining CPG Margins: How Can Market Research Models Help?

In my last blog post, Five Strategies for Maintaining CPG Profit Margins in a Tough Economy, we proposed some ideas about how CPG brands can weather tough economic times.  In order to ensure that consumers continue to put your products into their shopping carts, there are a variety of options for optimizing pricing and pack, as well as making the right product innovations to help you stand out from the competition. 

As you consider your options, your consumer insights partner can help you model what will happen, to inform the right decision for your product.  Experimental models have numerous theoretical and practical advantages over alternatives (which Russ Rubin discussed in his blog post Market Research Tackles Price Inflation in CPG-Land), and often at the heart of this approach is the Discrete Choice Model or DCMDCM models share of choice based on forcing consumers to choose between different options on a virtual shelf. The design of these market research experiments gives us the flexibility not only to adjust prices and pack sizes, but even to put new products on shelf in order to model the impact these changes would make.

Five Strategies for Maintaining CPG Profit Margins in a Tough Economy

Maintaining CPG Profits Consumer goods are under intense pressure: inflation is pushing commodity prices up, consumers need to make their dollars stretch further, competitors are promoting heavily to maintain rates of sale at the expense of margins, and retail partners have margin pressures of their own.

How can CPG brands maintain profits in this tight economic climate?  The key is to ensure that consumers continue to put your products into their shopping carts.  Here are five ideas for maintaining CPG profit margins, based on market research projects we have completed recently for some major CPG clients:

Market Research Tackles Price Inflation in CPG-Land

Supermarket Shopping  ©Brett Critchley / Dreamstime Very few of us in the marketing research world have lived through a period of prolonged inflation.  When I was just a few years out of grad school, I was ‘lucky’ enough to see this happen and I remember the situation very clearly.  Basic shopping behaviors changed, and smart marketers re-configured their offerings in recognition.  Key price points changed, and there was an increased move to private labels and lower quality brands.  Marketing messages changed to focus on how to stretch your food dollar.

Watching the current trends for about a year, I have been a proponent of better understanding the best way to compete in a world where price advances are inexorable.  The reactions of our clients have been fourfold:

Who Wants to Complete Surveys on their Mobiles?

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.

mobile research survey sample 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:

Getting Started On Your Mobile Market Research Journey

This is a follow up to the recent blog post Mobile Market Research: Methodology or Technology?

Mobile Market Research - iPhone Survey 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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The MarketTools Blog covers Market Research topics, with a focus on customer insight and research innovations.


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Blog Honors

MarketTools Blog Team

Alan Cutler
VP, Client Development, Market Research

Mark Glassberg
Regional Vice President, Market Research

Hank Khost
Senior Research Manager, Market Research

Laura Newton
Senior Manager, Marketing Communications / Blog Editor

Jay Pluhar
Vice President, Strategic Accounts, Market Research

Larry Praml
Director, All Channel Tracker, Market Research

Kathleen Relias
VP, Client Development, Market Research

Russ Rubin
SVP, Client Services, Market Research

April Turner
Senior Product Marketing Manager, Market Research