Five presenters competed to win the ESOMAR Corporate Youth Program award at the Annual Congress in New Orleans.
Enter the Experience Economy – Thomas Troch, InSites Consulting, USA – With only half of research projects prompting change, Thomas looked at different ways to present results: raw data is a commodity; a graphical report is a good; and an interactive workshop is a service, each providing greater differentiation. An InSites workshop included custom deliverables and tailored postcards to be sent three months later to remind attendees of the actions they planned to take. The next level would be to provide an experience: have attendees participate rather than just observe, host events emulating consumer behavior, or use unusual visualizations and emerging technologies (3D vision, rotating perspectives). All, of course, to complement the unique data surfaced by the research. Experiences can make insights more impactful.
The World of Short-Form Video for Post-Millennials – Nadine Bailey, Viacom International Media Networks, UK – The first newspaper emerged 100 years after the printing press, so reacting to new technology can take time. Music dominates online videos; in fact, these videos are the key way that post-Millennials consume new music, and they often leave it on in the background. Music dominates the most frequent search terms within YouTube, with gaming terms growing as people find they enjoy watching others play video games. Game videos offer humor and emotion. While search is used by 53% of video users, even more learn about videos from friends and family. While Millennials use Facebook and Twitter, younger people use Facebook, Snapchat and other services. As a result, short-form videos are becoming more important to marketers interested in reaching post-Millennial consumers.
Head or Heart: The Conflicts of Political Polling – Alexander Wheatley, Lightspeed, UK – Lightspeed surveyed 450 British voters about Brexit and predicted 52% would say leave. But this was just blind luck. Online polls had Remain and Leave neck and neck, while telephone polls favored Remain throughout 2016, perhaps because of social desirability bias. How people intended to vote is a sensitive question, it’s a self-observation, and it’s a behavior prediction: 58% of 272 polls published by the Financial Times got it wrong. Interviewing a panel of top predictors, 63% predicted Leave would win. Too often, though, emotion biases their prediction, especially the emotion around party identification. In the hope of removing self-observation bias, Lightspeed conducted a nationally representative poll asking people to predict the results: they also got it wrong. An implicit association test of the campaign logos slightly favored Remain. An IAT of the EU logo produced 60% Leave among those who hadn’t decided. Going forward, Lightspeed will test multiple methods that, taken together, can help predict the U.S. presidential election.
Moving from Consumer to Brand and Business Insights – Rachel Stern and Stephen Cooper, Brown-Forman Beverages, UK – A focus on both brand and business ensures relevance and impact in businesses seeking profitable growth. The audacious business goal was to triple sales of Jack Daniels within a specific national market. The insights department evaluated what would need to be true to achieve that level of growth: the market would need to improve infrastructure, expand head count by 100, change channel strategy, and change the consumer target. The process involved identifying consumer metrics, building scenario planning models, provided benchmarks to assessment, and testing scenarios. The approach supported overall alignment across all functions to work towards this growth target and to help secure increased investment to achieve this goal. Brand and business insight marry the two to transform the business and empower risk taking to achieve strategic goals.
The Game-changing Generation – SKIM, Netherlands – A team from SKIM discussed helping brands better target Millennials. In the research, consumers saw logos one at a time and swiped left or right depending on how they liked the brand (the rational aspect) and how fast they reacted (implicit or emotional aspect). They also tested text ads, ads with people, and ads with visual that communicate the main point. Millennials want to be connected, are open to disruptors, and are receptive to such visuals.
Dr. JT Kostman, a data scientist, mathematician, and psychologist, provided the opening keynote of the ESOMAR Congress 2016 in New Orleans. He has been a paramedic, a rescue diver, and a special operations officer. “I spent the first half of my career looking for serial killers, and the second half looking for killer cereals.” The math and the techniques and the methodology are the same – the way he would triangulate on a killer’s address is how the way to identify where cereal-buying moms live.
“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” This classic New Yorker cartoon bothered Dr. Kostman – could you use the data to identify the dogs? “We are being asked to read minds, and we can’t shirk that responsibility. That’s something we can actually do.” Context and profiling are how we start to understand what people are thinking.
Dr. Kostman had been a police officer in Reno, Nevada, where profiling was often simply based on appearance. He later worked with the FBI and the CIA. The FBI has deconstructed the characteristics of serial killers to be able to profile and identify serial killers: surprisingly, they typically own the Bible, The Catcher in the Rye, and John Fowles’ The Collector. Almost every serial killer has read that book. The CIA takes a psychohistorical approach to profiling, looking at items throughout their lives. For instance, the secret wartime report, The Mind of Adolf Hitler, analyzed Hitler’s most prolific behavior, his verbal behaviors. The CIA uses this same technique today, profiling world leaders based on everything they say, publicly and privately. The CIA looks at everything world leaders have said and projects forward.
What if we could do that for the average person, using social media? In fact, Dr. Kostman did that, profiling voters for the 2012 Obama campaign. “We have dataified not just music and words but everything.” For voters and potential voters, social media is the medium to analyze. “We took a bunch of issues and subjected them to machine learning, artificial intelligence and math to distill that to insights into who those people really are.” The data wasn’t about the Republicans or the Democrats but the voters in the middle, and what messages resonated with them.
Are market researchers under siege from data scientists? “No, people who say that are full of beans! Market research is more valuable now than at any time before.” We need both math and an understanding of people. “The numbers don’t tell enough of a story. We need the quant and the qual together.”
By Rebecca Heaney
Congress Day 0: The Future of Market Research
Although not technically the first day of Congress, Sunday offered the opportunity for ESOMAR Congress delegates to attend workshops on a variety of topics that served as an excellent introduction to Congress, starting the week off strong with intriguing, thought-provoking, and challenging topics that face the market research industry today. At first glance, the two sessions I attended titled “The Impact of Social Research”, hosted by Gunilla Broadbent (President of the ESOMAR Foundation) and Phyllis Macfarlane (from Gfk and ESOMAR Foundation Treasurer), and “The Future of Mobile Survey Research”, presented by Roddy Knowles and Luke Sehmer from Research Now, seemed to have little in common. However, the messages of both sessions were largely concerned with the future of market research and both concluded with a compelling reminder to always keep human beings – people, not respondents, data, dollars, or numbers – in mind in the research we do.
The Need to Improve
“The Impact of Social Research” session is premised on the understanding that, as market research professionals and human beings, we have a moral obligation to use our skills and expertise to give back to those who are less fortunate, particularly in developing markets. There is widespread agreement that the market research industry has a lot to offer in the “making the world a better place” space and while there are many in in the industry who are making a difference in a number of different ways, there is clearly much more that we can do.
On a completely different topic, a compelling argument for moving toward fully mobile optimized online surveys was made by Ruddy Knowles and Luke Sehmer, with statistics showing that 40% of respondents in the US are completing surveys on mobile devices (a finding that is mirrored in other countries beyond the US) and research showing that those who prefer to complete surveys on mobile devices rather than personal computers are different in terms of attitudes as well as demographics. However, while it is common knowledge in market research circles that an increasing number of individuals want to complete surveys on their mobile devices, the amount of truly mobile-friendly surveys (in terms of thoughtful questionnaire design, not just technological capabilities) really hasn’t increased much in the past few years.
In both cases, there is widespread agreement – there is no one on the other side of the issue. We all know we should do more to give back and make a positive difference in the world and, on a slightly less solemn note, make it easier for people to do surveys on their smartphones. So why don’t we?
The Need for Change
In the discussion of social research, the tension between what we, as market researchers want to do and what we, as service providers, are hired to do is noted as a common barrier to doing more. Particularly for NGO’s, donors tend to be results-focused, pushing for “hard numbers” rather than “softer outcomes”, and often drive the agenda for how dollars are spent. With so much pressure to get the greatest return on investment, market research plays a more limited role, often restricted to program evaluation, and many feel that it is brought in too late in the game to make a real difference. Many want to market research brought in earlier, in the design or pre-design stages, to help understand they “whys” and be part of the innovation cycle. However, market research costs money, and many donors aren’t interested in spending more on research. If we want to be able to do more to help in the public sector, educating and persuading donors and stakeholders about the value of research is a critical first step. In this case, it is not only the behaviour of the people we are studying that we are hoping to change, it is the thinking and behaviour of those we work with that we also seek to alter.
In the case of mobile survey research, the greatest barrier to change is ourselves. Technology has advanced fast enough to keep up with the demand for mobile access, but the way we think about survey design has not. We, as researchers, have become entrenched in traditional questionnaire design and are failing to adapt to the new ways that people want to interact with us. Knowles and Sehmer argue that we need revamp our thinking, start from the beginning, and consider what it’s like to complete surveys as a respondent – as a person. How would we answer the survey? How would we want to be asked the questions? How would we want to answer them? How can we speak to people like people? Knowles and Sehmer argue for using “humanized writing”, with the goal of making surveys more conversational in nature.
The Need to be “Human-Focused”
For me, the two sessions combined can be boiled down to the idea that market research, at its heart, is all about people. It’s about human beings. Whether our goal is to increase patient compliance or increase response rates, it’s about the human experience and giving people a voice. Sally Panayiotou (TNS BMRB) captured this sentiment when she said “the most important step is bringing it back to the people” but I think Knowles said it best in his closing statement, “the future of market research depends on a ‘human-first’ (and ‘mobile-first’) approach – we have to design research (and mobile) with people in mind.” While it may be challenging, it’s important not to lose sight of what research is for.
Rebecca Heaney, Northstar Research, is one of the official RWC bloggers for ESOMAR Congress 2016.
At the ESOMAR Congress in New Orleans, Justin Wheeler and Jackie Lorch of SSI discussed the wide variety of research projects enabled by mobile research.
Traditional surveys taken on a mobile device are just one type of mobile research, and – in fact – a typical panel survey should expect to have 60% of its responses from mobile users. But mobile opens up new forms of research that are only possible via installed apps.
The mobile phone provides a microphone for audio feedback, a camera for photo and video capture, an accelerometer for movement detection, GPS for location detection, a gyroscope for directional detection, and push notifications for in-the moment content. The SSI mobile panel consists of members who have downloaded an app onto their device: 550,000 U.S. panelists have this installed. A single mobile panelist is passively contributing over 1,800 data points a day, including how many times they’ve looked at their phone, everywhere they were, how fast they drove, and the apps they used. Each day SSI gets 18 million pings of panelists going past fast-food restaurants, as just one example. Mobile research lets you marry survey data with behavioral data at scale and in ways that were impossible or too expensive before.
Pokemon Go is part of the larger trend of consumers doing whatever their phone tells them to do! They will upload photos and record videos and go on missions to stores and locations. If they are already “on location”, at a store with a research objective, they will compete a survey there: the uptake rate is 22 times higher to such requests than to invites to panelists to take online surveys. SSI completed 3.5 million in-store surveys last year.
As a result, the list of types of mobile projects that SSI has conducted is long and is growing: market sizing, market assessments, home inventory and audits, in-context concept testing, shopping lists, product innovation, competitive intelligence, shopability and product findability and placement, mobile diaries, purchase intent and behavior, on-the-go experiences, in-store ads, in-context ads, ad awareness, in-home usage, out-of-house usage, mini-ethnographies, meal preparation studies, product usage and consumption behaviors, satisfaction/re-purchase, and more.
Most panelists aren’t worried about the amount of information they’re providing and whatever privacy they may be surrendering; they’re more worried about impact on the battery life of their phone and on receiving compelling rewards.
The earliest adopters of mobile research over the past three years have been CPG and FMCG companies and, in the U.S., Fortune 50 brands. In fact, one company has shifted 80% of the $12 million it spent annually on surveys to mobile research in store and at home. That’s $9.6 million a year diverted to mobile surveys.
Mobile research is poised to explode from the consumer-goods industry to far more categories: and that is making “in-the-moment” mobile research real.