12
Apr

Nudging Consumers in the Right Direction

By Steven Welling, Morpace Senior Project Director

Nudging

Recently, I decided to stop putting off updating my iPhone and crossed my fingers that I wasn’t going to risk losing anything that was stored on there (fortunately, everything saved just fine). After my iPhone finished updating, something interesting happened. My iPhone informed me that, in order to finish the update, I needed to add a credit card into my mobile wallet.

I was surprised my phone asked me to do this, as it really wasn’t a requirement for a software update. Plus, I am still more comfortable using an actual card when making a purchase in a store. I did what most people may have done and selected to do it later. The very next day, a reminder popped up on my phone asking me to complete the phone update and add a card into my mobile wallet. Eventually, due to the reminder, I decided to bite the bullet and load my credit card into my phone. My curiosity was piqued since my phone informed me it would help me set it up. Now, even though I haven’t used it in a store yet, I’m tempted to try and make a purchase with my mobile wallet just to see what the experience is like.

Altering Consumers’ Behavior

Thinking about my iPhone update experience, it’s actually a creative way to get consumers to change or try something new. In the behavioral economics world, this is considered a “nudge.”  A nudge is described as a way to alter a consumer’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. This intervention must also be easy and inexpensive (you can learn more from the book NUDGE). Another example of a “nudge” is automatically enrolling people in a program such as a 401k or organ donation, with the option of opting out (instead of the other way around).  Doing this increases participation rates without actually forcing anyone to join. Adding calorie content on menus is another example of a nudge, in which some people may be driven towards lower calorie options they may not have previously considered.

What does this all mean and how does it apply to market research?

When introducing a new product or service, it can be challenging to build awareness and get consumers to try something. With my mobile wallet example, I had heard about mobile wallet for quite a while, but never moved forward with it over concerns about security and usability. Perhaps, I needed just a gentle “nudge” in the right direction.

When conducting research, you shouldn’t simply ask why someone is using a particular product or service, or what got them to start. You should also consider the settings surrounding that event. By probing further into behavioral triggers, you can identify new ways to increase awareness or usage.

Asking the Right Questions

Let’s say we are working for a bank trying to increase mobile app usage. Just asking someone “why they signed-up” or “what would make them sign-up” may not provide the full answer. Common responses may be “an incentive” or “I’m not interested”, which are not very helpful. To understand if a nudge could take place (or has already taken place), you need to understand what happened when current users became aware or started using the app. For example, ask questions that capture the various steps that an individual took:

  • How did you first learn about the app?
  • Where were you when you signed up or started using the app?
  • Were you with anyone?

By understanding and re-creating the circumstances around the event, you may identify similarities around those who have already become aware of, or have started using, the app. You can then leverage those similarities to help “nudge” non-users and potentially increase mobile app usage.

When it comes to nudging, my iPhone update experience was a deliberate attempt to change my behavior and to get me to use mobile wallet. Nudges happen all the time and, in most cases, consumers do not even realize it is happening!

Businesses are always looking for ways to focus your attention somewhere, or get you to do something, all while feeling that you are acting completely on your own choice. In the restaurant example, patrons feel they have free will to order what they want without realizing the calories listed on the menu are meant to nudge them to healthier alternatives.

As a researcher, understanding nudges is important because consumers are motivated all the time by things they do not consciously realize and, as a result, would not be able to tell you about it if asked directly. Who knows…thanks to that reminder I received, maybe I’ll become a mobile wallet user after all!

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14
Mar

Insight Communities – Driving ROI, Not Just Research Value


Richard Clarke, Vice President
Global Partnerships, VisionCritical

For decades, research has delivered powerful consumer sentiment and opinion into organizations – enabling these organizations to put the voice of the consumer into their decisions with the goal of creating more meaningful, successful, and effective products and services.

Methods and modes have changed over the years, with more and more complex solutions being created to get closer to the consumer truth at an ever-increasing speed. Incredible insight has been (and will continue to be) gleaned from consumers, informing multiple parts of clients’ business eco-systems. However, for many clients and users, research is seen as a cost center within an organization – something that needs to be done as part of a process or something that must be purchased as part of the broader vision of the business. The value of research is not generally associated as being an integral and fundamental part of overall business planning and development.

This is why whenever there is a downturn in business performance, or regional/global downturns (ex: 2008 Global Financial Crisis), one of the first areas to be questioned and lose budget is research.

What is the “value” that research is delivering?

There are many answers to this question, both objective and subjective, however, too few times does research itself get directly linked back to business performance. Ultimately, asking about the “value” of research is the wrong question. We should be asking: What is the “Return on Investment” of research? Because that is what research is: an investment into the organization, and not a cost.

There are many ways that Return on Investment in research can be measured, including:

  • More informed/accurate business decisions – what is the cost savings from NOT doing the wrong thing or validating the decision (risk aversion)?
  • Faster to market with the RIGHT product – how much does speeding up the development cycle save?
  • Quicker reaction time to customer feedback and demand – what is the short- and long-term savings of rapidly reacting to the situation or of knowing your customers’ buyer journey and pain points?

For years, I have been an advocate of research and Insight Communities – the idea of engaging with individuals to answer the business issues at hand with engaged members who, ultimately, also drive advocacy for the brand. Insight Communities should not be considered a research “cost” but rather as an organizational asset that both informs business decisions and creates brand advocacy among members.

Forrester Consulting recently completed a Total Economic Impact™ Study on the ROI of Insight Communities to clients. In addition to the cost efficiencies and speed value propositions of Insight Communities, Forrester quantified the financial value of continually engaging with members in a community. The highlights include:

  • $1.7M business value from increased customer insight
  • 590% ROI
  • $546K incremental profit and $4.7M increased sales from community members
  • 39% increase in average order value and 70% lower churn rate from community members
  • 75% reduction in cost compared to traditional market research methodologies
  • 4-6x faster speed to results

This continues to reaffirm the belief that an Insight Community is not only an incredibly valuable tool in providing fast and efficient consumer insight, but also drives business action that results in incremental sales and profit for organizations.

These are just some of the reasons that organizations are implementing communities. The client stories about the impact of an ongoing Insight Community are powerful and continue to prove out the short-term and long-term Return on Investment. Shifting the mindset to consumer engagement is resulting in hundreds of organizations realizing significant returns and outcomes (click here for client stories).

Five years ago, communities were more of a niche solution or emerging technology but, according to the latest GreenBook Research Industry Trends Report (Q3 2017), 82% of respondents stated that communities were either in use (60%) or under consideration (22%). This has led GreenBook to no longer believe that they are an emerging solution but are, in fact, a mainstream solution:

“In future editions of GRIT, it is likely that online communities will also be removed from “emerging methods” now that it is mainstream.” (GRIT Q3/Q4 2017).

Ultimately, these two pieces of evidence indicate that an Insight Community is not only a solution that spreads efficient business insight across organizations but is also an asset that drives revenue and profitability – thereby attaching a real-world ROI to the value of the asset.

Feel free to contact me to learn more about how an Insight Community can become your most powerful asset.

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19
Feb

Implicit Measurement in Consumer Research

By James Leiman, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President

 

Implicit measurement.

How does it contrast with more traditional forms of measurement in marketing research?

Can implicit measurement provide novel insights into consumers’ attitudes and behaviors?

Many market researchers are looking for answers to these questions.

Current interest in implicit measurement is motivated, in part, by the following beliefs about consumers:

  • People are not able to always articulate the reasons they do what they do.
  • There is a difference between what people say and what they believe.

What is the basis for these beliefs?

The answer can be found in recent developments in the field of cognitive neuroscience. First, much of our thinking and decision making occurs at an unconscious level. Second, emotion plays an important role in cognition.

If both of these are true, it is incumbent on us to examine research protocols that access this implicit level of response.

So, what exactly is ‘implicit measurement’?

It is any measurement that does not include consumers’ direct reports obtained through surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews.  Implicit measurement includes the use of tools and techniques that presumably measure consumers’ feelings, thoughts and attitudes occurring below the level of conscious awareness.

Biometric measures from the study of human physiology are one group of such tools.  These include measures of facial expression, eye movements, EEG (brain waves), ECG/EKG (heart rate), EMG (musculature response), and GSR (electro-dermal activity).  Except for measures of facial expression, biometric measures are essentially limited to measuring degrees of activation and orienting responses.

Semantic priming techniques are another group of such tools.  These techniques, largely developed by cognitive and social psychologists, have been used to measure such things as the structure of memory, online language processing, and ethnic and social biases.

In the marketing research field, both biometrics and semantic priming are now being used.  Semantic priming studies generally consist of presenting observers with one stimulus – the ‘prime’ – followed quickly by another stimulus – the ‘target.’  Observers are then required to make some type of speeded response.  The speed of the response is the dependent variable in these studies.  The experimental manipulation is the relationship between the prime and the target.

This technique taps into what has recently come to be known as System 1 thinking.

Used extensively by psychologists to study the internal structure of concepts, one can see why market researchers have used semantic priming to explore a topic near and dear to our hearts – brands.

  • What associations do consumers automatically have to different brands?
  • What associations occur without conscious reflection?
  • How do associations differ across brands?

At Morpace, we recently completed a pilot test of implicit associations consumers have to automotive design elements using semantic priming.  These were, in turn, compared with their explicit associations.  This study confirmed that System 1 responses provide a somewhat different perspective compared to traditional System 2 questioning approaches.

To learn more about this study and obtain additional background information about implicit measurement, click below to obtain a white paper on this topic.

 

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9
Jan

The Secret to Unlocking Your Perfect Creative Process

By Jaeger Senn-Flinn
Story Architect

So I’ll admit, that title was just clickbait promising the moon, but you probably already knew that. We as humans are always searching for that lightening in a bottle. But just like get rich quick schemes and fad diets, there are no magic beans for the creative process. If you think there’s a magical formula to instantly make all of your work start oozing with “creativity”, it’s time to give up on that pipe dream now. The thing about the creative process is that it’s different for everyone ─ just like how some people are visual learners, while others are auditory; what you need to kick start your trek down the creative rabbit hole is likely entirely different than what I do. When it comes down to it, creativity in its base form is being able to look at something differently. So, stop trying to cram a square peg through a round hole and start experimenting to figure out what helps get you in the mindset to see things in a different light. While the creative process may vary for each person, here are a few tips I use to pull myself out of a creative rut.

Iterate Like Nobody’s Business

You may think of “creative people” as these individuals who pull magnificent ideas from the sky without much effort or difficulty, but a) they’ve likely just refined their own creative process, so they already have some notion of which ideas work and which don’t and b) you never see the trash can filled to the brim with ideas they crumpled up and threw away. Part of determining your ideal creative process is coming to terms with the fact that you’re going to have bad ideas and hate 95% of what you come up with. We often come up with a few bad ideas and think, “That’s it, I’m not creative and I’ll never make this work!” It’s so easy to give up at this point, but if you were to continue iterating new ideas, you’d eventually stumble across that golden nugget! It’s often these so called “bad ideas” that aren’t working that inspire the one you’re looking for. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve Frankensteined together ideas I was going to discard that ended up fitting together perfectly; or times I realized that one of the discards was actually a good idea that merely needed a little tweak to make it work. The trick is to not give up when you feel discouraged ─ only by having those bad ideas will you know the good one when you see it.

Just Give Up (For Now)

As important as it is to keep iterating and no matter how bad we want that holy grail of an idea, sometimes you get truly stuck and you’re not budging. At this point, just give up; that’s not to say you raise the white flag of surrender. It is more of a retreat and regroup – sometimes you need a break from whatever you’re working on. Get up, go for a walk, get a drink of water, lie on the ground if you feel so inclined ─ get away from your desk or wherever you’re working for a few moments. Heck, I’ve done it a couple times just writing this! Taking time to clear your head helps you start anew and see things in a different light. Think about it: if you were trying to move a boulder but couldn’t get it to budge, you don’t keep pushing it the same way expecting it to move; you walk around to get a new perspective and find another way ─ like using that piece of wood you didn’t notice wedged under the boulder. It’s the same thing with your mind. Don’t keep pushing that problem you’re stuck on hoping it’ll budge through sheer will. A change of scenery helps you come back to whatever you’re working on with a new perspective.

When in Doubt, Google It

Where do you go now when you want answers to questions? Unless you’ve been living under that proverbial boulder I previously mentioned, you more than likely head straight to Google in search of the answer to your nagging question. We use the dazzling wonder of Google for every question under the sun, so why not use it when you’re stuck solving that creative problem? At a loss for color palette? It’s just a few keystrokes away. Unsure of how to build a layout for the info you’re portraying? I bet someone has the answer for you! Now, I’m not saying you should go out and copy someone else’s work exactly, but most of us are simply looking to design something better, not to be the first to create an entirely new design movement or technique. Use the internet as a plethora of inspiration, so you do not have to think up everything from scratch. Find an example of something you love and make it your own!

Just like everything else you want in life, it takes work to be creative. There is no lightening in a bottle, one size fits all, or specific set of rules to magically be creative. Even those who may have a natural predisposition for how to look at something differently become great because they work at it. Michelangelo, once said “if people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.” The idea may seem daunting but it also means that anyone who has the motivation to be creative can do it. So, keep coming up with new ideas, give up for a little while if you need to, and if all else fails, Google it! Happy creating!

To learn more, click here.

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14
Nov

How to Market Products Using China’s City Tiers

By Jenny Zhang, Research Analyst

Companies looking to market in China will hear about the country’s city tiers and wonder what it’s all about. It’s no question that the world’s most populated country would have the highest consumer demand. Their consumer expendable income is also on the rise, and with a flashy, name-brand-recognizing culture, marketing is more important than ever. The question is, can we market products to these so-called “tier cities” and how can we do so? I’ll start with a little explanation and let’s work on answering that question.

I’d like to reference South China Morning Post’s (SCMP) interactive definition of tiers. Here, they divide 613 cities into 4 tiers, but another popular approach is 6 tiers. As you can see, there is no standard way of defining tiers from the government, but the highest tiers, 1 and 2, are generally agreed upon by economists, politicians and the public.

Name a city in China: Beijing? Shanghai? These are Tier 1. The combination of GDP, Politics and Population classifies cities into the four tiers, however, some cities rank differently in the three areas so the average is taken to identify the tier, says SCMP. You can start to see how companies would want to understand tiers so they can target certain people. Consumers in Tier 1 cities tend to be more affluent and highly educated. Tier 4 cities are in the rural parts of Western China. Population is scarce and so are resources. They include provinces such as Tibet and Inner Mongolia. Are you starting to get ideas?

Advertising needs to appeal to the demographics. Same with promotions or deals. We will start asking what kind of media to advertise on based on what the consumers have access to. So the answer to the question we had in the beginning is “yes”, we can market products to different tiers and the way to do so depends on your product. The next time a client asks you about marketing in China, suggest looking at tiers and see where your research takes you.

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4
Jan

The Problem with “Pretty” Design

The Problem with Pretty Design

By Jaeger Senn,
Research Analyst

As someone who dabbles in graphic design, I’m often asked to “make things pretty”, causing me to cringe a little inside as there is so much more to design than simply being pretty. How could there be a problem with making a design pretty, you ask? Well, there’s nothing inherently wrong with aesthetically beautiful designs. They capture our attention and draw us in; they keep us interested in what we’re looking at; they can even inspire us. Visual elements in design play an essential role in the readability of information, conveyed importance, and the emotions that viewers feel while looking at content.

Pretty is defined as “an attractive thing, typically a pleasing but unnecessary accessory.” The issue is that when we think about pretty designs, the visual elements often become an afterthought (or an unnecessary accessory) to the content. It’s an easy misconception to think that content and visual elements reside in two different buckets when developing materials, and that the visual components can wait to be added until after you have all of your content in place. In reality, both content and visual elements are design features as a whole. In essence, design is all about finding the best way to communicate with an audience; to make truly great designs, the ideation of content and visual elements should be a concurrent thought process to develop the most effective balance.

While there are many forms of visualization and ways to present information, let’s use an example of one we’re all intimately familiar with: PowerPoint. Tell me if this rings a bell – we have our content loaded on a slide that’s packed to the brim with information, and then we think, “How can I make this look nice?” This leaves us dressing up a slide that doesn’t lend itself to much creative freedom. Any potential layout, formatting, or other visual/aesthetic changes are limited by what little space we have left around our text, often forcing a best-case scenario of cookie-cutter templates and dull slides.

At this point, you may be thinking, “But I’m not a designer – how does this really apply to me?” We may not all be designers in a traditional sense (i.e. graphic designers, web designers, UX designers, videographers, illustrators, etc.), but we are all designers in our own right. Each of us is given the chance to influence how viewers will interact with the information and content we present them with, and that’s what design is all about!

How can we make this happen? The key to achieving the balance between aesthetics and content is planning. It may seem that planning and creativity don’t play nice together, but it’s quite the opposite; planning doesn’t restrict creativity, but actually helps give us a path or direction through which we can channel it. Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves to help plan for the best balance before we put anything on the slides, page, website, or whatever medium we’re communicating through:

Where are we going?

Whatever content we are sharing, remember that it is a story, which should flow throughout the entirety of the deck. It’s our job to make sure that the story we share makes sense and follows a logical order. We likely have a plan of how we anticipate things will go and how the story will play out; in market research, this can often be the case with discussion guides or surveys. It’s essential, however, to remain open-minded to how the story develops as we collect and fill in information, because many times the actual story doesn’t follow the path we initially thought. By following where the story leads, we can ensure that viewers don’t get lost, and therefore remain engaged with our content.

A great tool for planning and staying true to the story being revealed is storyboarding. Storyboarding gives us the ability to make sure our story follows a logical order by laying out what we learned in an easily moveable format, such as on sticky notes. This allows us to quickly move things around to find the best order to tell the most engaging story.

The flow of content applies on a more granular level as well. Using the example of presentation slides again, all of the content on the slides needs to be read in a particular order for it to make logical sense. It’s our job to make sure that viewers are able to easily read our content in that order. We do this by the way content is laid out and purposefully using imagery or visual divides (lines, shapes, etc.), as it affects the flow of reading for viewers.

Slide 1

slide 1

Slide 2

slide-2

Looking at the example above, we can see just how much of an impact these factors make on the readability of the slide. Due to the unclear layout and flow of slide 1, we’re left with many questions:

  1. Is the “Mandatory First Step” only “Customer Strategy” or does it also include “CRM Data/Customer Logs”?
  2. Are “Customer Strategy” and “CRM Data/Customer Logs” completely unrelated, and that’s why they’re divided by that line?
  3. Is the text in the gray box on the right a note regarding “Customer Strategy” and/or “CRM Data/Customer Logs”, or is it meant to comment on the entire slide about “Existing Data”?

The design of slide 2 give more clear answers to questions previously being asked about the first slide.

What’s the point?

You know what’s the most important piece of information on your slide, but is it apparent to an outsider that this is the main point? When we’re so intimately familiar with our content, it can be so easy for us to think, “This is clearly the main point.” However, we need to take the time to put ourselves in the viewers’ shoes to see if that needs to be clearer.

In an ideal world, we could do this by only having one point per slide. This is certainly manageable for slides meant to be presented to an audience, but in reports where clients and others want as much information as possible, it may not always be realistic. We should, however, try to stick to this concept as much as possible by aiming for only a few points per slide. The next step is to make sure we differentiate those main points, so they don’t become lost in the rest of the content. By doing this, we help the viewer to understand the points we’re trying to make much more quickly – without having to search through all of the other content.

Slide 3

slide-3

Slide 4

slide-2

Using the same slides as before, we can see the clear difference between them. In slide 3, it will take us an extended period of time to determine what the important points of the slide are. However, in slide 4, we can gather that “Customer Strategy” and “CRM Data/Customer Logs” are important points by their distinction with the green bars and their separation from the rest of the content, as well as that “Customer Strategy” is the “Mandatory First Step” – even at a quick glance of the slide.

Can this be some sort of imagery?

Pictures, icons, and diagrams are some of many ways to better communicate what you’re currently saying with words. Often times, it can be as simple as showing an image of what you’re talking about. Seeing what you’re reading about makes your content more interesting and helps the viewer to know what’s being talked about before they even read any of the words. Pictures (such as the one in slide 6 below) are also a valuable tool to convey emotion and abstract concepts, which will not only enhance the viewers’ connection with your content on a deeper emotional level, but also gets the point across more effectively.

Slide 5

slide-5

Slide 6

slide-6

Slide 7

slide-7

Perhaps we could also consider using diagrams and visual elements other than pictures; while not always as emotive as images, they can aid in a viewer’s understanding tremendously. A well-executed and organized diagram (such as slide 7) is going to be far better at combating viewers’ eye-glazing than a paragraph of text. So, before you type it all out, ask yourself “Do you really need that paragraph of text?”

All in all, there isn’t really a problem with pretty design. Actually, good design is pretty, because it helps make viewers want to look at your information without feeling bored. The real problem is that visual elements need to be included in the discussion from the beginning. Content and visual elements lean on one another to communicate information in a way that gets your point across in a clear, understandable, and interesting manner. Go forth, think, plan, and create!

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8
Dec

5 Holiday Wishes for the MR Industry

5 Holiday Wishes for the MR IndustryBy Kea Wheeler, Senior Project Director

It’s the time of year for giving and receiving gifts. While I do believe in the old adage that it is better to give than to receive, who doesn’t like to receive a gift? I particularly enjoy the ones that are able to bring greater joy or more convenience into my life. So, this wish list may skip the items I sent to my family for our annual gift exchange, but it does include my wishes for the market research industry this holiday season and into the New Year.


Wish 1: To be regifted past research.

I know some people look down on regifting, but what could be better in the market research industry? Receiving research that has already been conducted and is relevant to a new study being fielded offers the opportunity to understand what was already asked and what insights were already gleaned. This allows for the new study to confirm what was learned previously, but also to go above and beyond those learnings to find something new.

There is nothing worse than conducting a study and hearing the client say “we already knew that.” Therefore, please regift previous research, so new research can focus on discovering and reporting what is in fact an insight, instead of only confirmation of past learnings. That is something both parties can be thankful for.


Wish 2: To be able to mingle with everyone.

Many times in research studies, we only speak with or survey those consumers who have purchased our client’s product or used their service. If we really want to get fancy, we may also include consumers who purchase or use a competitor’s product and service. But are we missing out on not speaking with those outside of a category entirely?

This is particularly relevant for finding out how a brand is perceived in the market place. These consumers can offer a unique perspective on how they view others that buy a particular brand and why they consider them, to be or not to be, a member of the island of misfit toys.  However, understanding how these consumers perceive others associated with this brand will help companies understand the barriers they need to overcome to entice potential new customers.


Wish 3: To immerse oneself in someone else’s reality.

Just like the different variations of Santa Claus, consumers have different realities from what the client may expect. I have been in debrief meetings where a client wants to entirely reject a participant’s comments because what they said was “not true,”  or “used a product in a way other than originally intended,” or “are understanding the message wrong.”  What some clients fail to realize is that the consumer’s feedback is their truth as it is how they perceive the topic at hand.

Instead of questioning their perception, it is better to devote time on how to overcome the consumer’s perceptions and bring them closer to reality that the company intended.  Ask oneself, if the consumer is using a product in a different way than suggested, how can the instructions be clearer? If the message is being taken in the wrong light, what language can be changed to make it more relevant? Asking these questions will provide an avenue to more actionable and relevant tasks for the research team.


Wish 4: To have more time to tell stories.

The must-have item on everyone’s list, in and outside of the market research industry, is story telling. Story telling has been touted as the way to establish a connection between the audience and whatever is being presented. But in market research, we are held to producing a report with details about all of the findings from a particular study.

While some of these findings go into making a story, not all are necessary in telling the story. However, one will quickly be put on the naughty list if they don’t provide an answer to all of the questions asked or all the observations witnessed in a report of some kind.

With this evolution, two deliverables are becoming necessary — the story presentation and a detailed appendix report. One client researcher describes this growing desire in the 2016 Quirks Corporate Research Report:

I wish I would receive two reports – one for me, the client researcher, with all the detail including crosstabs, and one for presenting that REALLY boils down the learning to an easily digestible story that we can take action on.

But the lump of coal in this wish is the fact that reporting time lines are regularly being reduced. Two reports will take more time, energy, and a greater budget to complete. If presentation stories and a detailed appendix report is truly the wave of the future, it must come with the expectation of either increased reporting time lines or increased budget for more people to report simultaneously. Bah humbug.


Wish 5: To get invited to the party.

If the end of many of my projects could be summarized in a sentence, it would be “all dressed up and nowhere to go”. There are plenty of projects where we have fielded the study, created our story, and are asked to hand over the findings with no invite to present to the larger client team. While we strive to create presentations and reports that can stand on their own, having the voice of the one who fielded the research participate in presenting the findings can add so much more richness and depth to the results. But rarely are we asked to the big dance.


Perhaps it is time for market research professionals to throw their own party? What can be done to make our voice indispensable at meetings? Perhaps we need to be better at presenting our findings to our internal contacts. Let them see that our voice – our passion – cannot be duplicated and it’s best to bring us as a date to the big meeting. So, scratch this wish, maybe I’ll wish for stellar hostess abilities instead.

That concludes my holiday wish list for the marketing research industry for 2017 and beyond. Let’s see if I made the nice list and St. Nicolas brings me these gifts. If not, I could always follow up with the Easter Bunny – I hear he can be bribed with chocolate.

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5
Oct

The Question Remains, Have You Lost Sight of Your Target Customer?

The questions remains, have you lost sight of your target customer?

By: Kea Wheeler, Senior Project Director

Last week we talked about how population subsets identified with the help of segmentation algorithm screeners can help reach out to a target market and target customer in a more personal way.

So what’s the solution to using segmentation algorithm screeners in Qual recruiting?

Segmentations and their series of algorithm questions will not cease to exist. They are a valuable tool to marketers and market researchers alike. But how might one integrate these algorithm questions into qualitative recruitments? I would argue that if you are looking for the perfect target, then the algorithm questions should be the entire screener. If it has already been proclaimed that those who answered the questions a certain way, these are your “Savvy Savers,” and so why ask anything else?

There are instances where the addition of certain types of questions to an algorithm screener cannot be avoided.  For example:

  • Gender:
    • Know the product and the objectives and you will know if you need to recruit only one gender.
  • Household income:
    • Asking household income may be wise, such as in luxury goods research, as the participating consumers need to be able to afford the product or service being discussed.
  • Lifestage:
    • The introduction and/or removal of a spouse or children into or out of the home changes priorities, which changes a consumer’s needs and wants. This ultimately changes how they consume.
  • Age, but sparingly:
    • Age is just a number and shouldn’t be used if it is not relevant to the product or service. This is the same for generational cohorts. Boomers and Millennial Savvy Savers should “look” the same, at least on paper.

But overall, I encourage the addition of outside questions to a segmentation algorithm screener be used judiciously. If it is found that more and more questions are being added to a screener to get to the “perfect target,” it may just be that the screener is not being used to reach the desired customer identified in the segmentation study. The screener has instead become a tool to find consumers who may want the product/service the company has produced.

The greatest advantage of limiting the number of additional questions to an algorithm screener is that it will provide a purer recruit to the original algorithm. A purer recruit will lead to the right target group. And the right target group will provide better and more actionable insights to be gleaned from the qualitative study. That’s a win for the entire company.

Secondary advantages may include:

  • Qualitative projects are easier to recruit as there is a larger number of people that may qualify for the research
  • There may be more recruiters that are willing to take on the challenge of finding the people for the study
  • It may just keep that nagging voice in the back of your head that says “can we even recruit this?” at bay

Whichever of these advantages may speak to you the most, remember, the goal is to get back to recruiting the desired target market to find out the collective opinions about your company’s current line-up of products and services. By doing so, you may just rediscover your true target customer.

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22
Sep

Have You Lost Sight of Your Target Customer?

Have you lost sight of your target customer?

By: Kea Wheeler, Senior Project Director

Imagine if your boss told you that she had found the perfect target group based on attitudes and needs segmentation, called Savvy Savers, and wants to conduct research with them.

But once you head off to find this target group, your boss tells you these Savvy Savers also have to drive a certain type of car, be aware of a certain brand, have 2.5 kids, see themselves as innovative, like to try new things, and must be located in Dallas. Welcome to the world of recruiting qualitative research with a segmentation algorithm screener.

What is a segmentation algorithm screener?

Traditional screeners use a set of questions to identify qualified consumers to participate in qualitative research. These questions usually revolve around criteria such as demographics (i.e. age and income) and can include category preference questions.

A segmentation algorithm screener is more complicated. Companies usually segment their market into subsets based on criteria such as attitudes, usage, or needs. These segmentations are usually done through a national quantitative survey. The results provide population subsets that companies usually name in order to speak about these segments of their target market in a more personal way.

Once the segmentation is complete, companies have a list of questions that they feel every named segment, such as the Savvy Savers, will answer the same way regardless of where they live. These series of questions is called an algorithm.

Why are segmentation algorithm screeners problematic?

Not all segmentation screeners are a bad thing. When applied effectively, they can bring companies closer to their target market. Issues arise when expectations are different from reality.

Issue #1: The algorithm target may not be the real target audience

Let’s use our Savvy Savers target as an example of being “the perfect target.” If the potential consumer answers the algorithm questions in a certain way, they fit the desired target market and qualify for the study. However, “this perfect target” is never perfect on an algorithm screener. Clients want potential participants to qualify for the study by answering the algorithm questions a specific way and, in addition, meet a host of other criteria. This means that the “perfect target” is indeed perfect on paper in the segmentation report, but not when it comes to who they want to actually attract in the marketplace.

Issue #2: A national incidence does not always equate to a specific market’s incidence.

Segmentation surveys are typically fielded with a broad geographic scope. This produces a national incidence or incidence rate. For example, if a company determines that the incidence to find a Savvy Saver is 20% nationally, that means that if 100 people across the country were called and screened, one should find 20 people who can be classified as Savvy Savers.

This seems reasonable enough. But qualitative research is not based on national representation. For the most part, qualitative research is conducted in 1-3 markets. This makes it harder to find and recruit the desired target group.

Issue #3: Qualitative research may be completed at a fixed location.

In some Qualitative research methodologies, it is necessary for participants to come to a specific location to participate, which further limits the number of potential recruits because respondents must be within a certain radius of the facility. Couple the limited location with the need for consumers to attend the research on a specific date and at a specific time and the pool of potential Savvy Savers to recruit may have dropped from 20 to 3.

Issue #4: The algorithm may be outdated.

Segmentation studies can be expensive and time consuming. So it is understandable that companies may only conduct a segmentation study once every few years. This may be acceptable for items that take more time to change such as attitudes and beliefs, but things such as needs and usage can change dramatically in a short amount of time. Circumstances can create lower incidence, which means less potential respondents for the qualitative study being recruited.

Issue #5: Algorithms can increase costs and may reduce the number of willing recruiters.

Recruiters dislike algorithm recruits. Seriously, dislike them. This disdain can result in higher per recruit costs or recruiters flat out refusing a project.

One of the reasons recruiters dislike segmentation algorithm screeners is because the algorithm “key” is a huge secret known only to the client and the supplier who conducted the segmentation study. This minimizes the ability for recruiters to “pre-screen” their databases.

Without the pre-screen option, Maya Middlemiss, the Managing Director of research recruitment consultant Saros Research Ltd in the UK and Casslar Consulting in Spain, warns recruiting costs could resemble that of cold calling. In Middlemiss’ article, Recruiting qualitative participants research using quantitative algorithms, she  explains,

If we are provided a locked tool, the only thing we can do is apply it after the event during the telephone interview stage – this is more cumbersome and expensive, because it does not enable us to rule out people who are not a fit before the calling stage.  Depending on the expected incidence of the desired segment(s), the strike rate – and therefore costs involved in recruitment – may even approach that of cold-calling. That is often a surprise to clients, but it is a consequence of trying to use quantitative tools in qualitative research (April, 2016).

We’ll continue this discussion in part 2 of our post on the use of a segmentation algorithm screener next week, where we will discuss solutions and the value that this type of methodology can provide.

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24
Aug

5 Myths About Being a Moderator

5 myths about moderators

By: Kea Wheeler, Senior Project Director

1: Travel for work = vacation

Being a moderator and traveling for work, people often comment on how “lucky” I am to travel for my job.  It is true that I am lucky to have a career that I enjoy, but being “lucky” because of my work travels is an overstatement.

When I travel for a project, I usually work 9-12 hours per day inside of a temperature controlled, windowless facility. After my interviews are complete, I stagger out into the night air in search of food and beverages and then hurry back to my hotel room to write-up my notes for the day…then repeat. I know what you’re thinking “wait, that sounds like…work.” Well it is work.  And this cycle could last for 1 day or up to 10 days if I am participating in a clinic. So travel yes; vacation it is not.

2: Traveling gets you away from the office

When I relate my tale of what it is truly like for me to travel for work, I often hear “well at least you are away from the office.” With the advent of smart phones, and other mobile devices, is anyone ever truly away from the office? Not really. And this holds true for moderators too. Just because I am not physically positioned at my desk in our office building, does not mean that I am “away” from the office.

Once back at my hotel in the evenings, I am answering all of the emails that I received while I was conducting interviews. The work back home doesn’t stop while I’m out on the road and neither do the email/text notifications.

3: Moderating is easy

This is my favorite moderator myth.  There are some who look from the outside and see me “talk” for a living. But moderating is much more than simply talking to someone. It is engaging in conversation about topics that consumers may not even know they could converse about at length. When I conduct interviews about a topic or product that consumers take for granted, such as a cleaning product, my interviewees wonder, “What is there to talk about for an hour?” Once we are engaged in the conversation and our time together has expired, respondents are shocked to realize that we did, indeed, talk for an hour.

I will say it is easier to speak to someone about a concept vehicle, but it takes skill to keep a somewhat natural conversation going about toilet cleaner.

Besides maintaining a conversation, my job also entails observing what is happening around me and determining my next move.  In all things, body language is important. And as a good moderator, this should always be taken into account. Body language tells me when I need to follow-up on a response, when I need to ask another respondent what their position is on a subject, or when I should let a line of questioning lapse until the respondent feels more comfortable speaking on a certain topic.

So yes, I talk about everything from consumer concept vehicles to toilet cleaners, but if I didn’t also observe what is happening around me, I would only be getting part of the conversation.

4: Report writing is a breeze

I once had a colleague tell me that every time he tries to write a qualitative report, it goes something like this, “I write some people said this, some people said that…and then I die a little inside.”  I don’t know if I would equate qualitative report writing to the withering of your entire existence, but for those accustomed to reading tabs and writing reports from the data, qualitative reports can be daunting.

The hardest part about writing a qualitative report as a moderator is trying to make sense of a ton of unstructured data. Not only are you looking for the answers to your questions and behavioral themes, but you are also searching for any context that may be important for a client to understand.

And while a quantitative report is sometimes rated on how many charts and different data cuts can be obtained, a qualitative report is judged by its ability to tell a story in the briefest possible manner.  Think more twitter post, than blog. And while not as soul crushing as my colleague indicates, you may just be a little more bruised after your report is finished.

5: We don’t like numbers

I call foul on this. I like numbers.  Numbers are necessary as they help to get a story across to a large number of people.  This will never change. But what I will say is that in today’s world, you need both numbers and the human context behind the numbers to truly make a difference. Think about all the times you hear people say “I don’t want to be just another number.” It’s not that they don’t want to be counted. What they don’t want is for companies to treat them as only a widget to be tallied and tossed into a heap of others to be tabulated and charted. They want to be regarded as a person.

Qualitative helps to define the humanity behind the numbers. And once you can define the humanity, that’s where change can truly occur in how a company produces and markets their products and services. Once this change occurs, consumers flock to these companies as one that “gets” them.  And that will add numbers to a company’s consumer base, its likes, its shares, and its sales – all numbers. Who doesn’t like that?

While there are certain myths about my job as a moderator that I have to contend with, I still love what I do. And I’ll admit sometimes the stars do align and I can tack on a few extra days to schedule a vacation after a project is complete. Not as glamorous as all the myths, but the truth never is.

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