At the ESOMAR Congress in New Orleans today, Ray Poynter shared the results of the most recent wave of ESOMAR research on the size of the global market research industry. One area he discussed in detail was pricing.
“When I teach market research classes, I always say, ‘If you find something really interesting in the data, it is probably an error!’” He then counsels, “Double-check it first!” When Ray saw the initial data and it showed that prices were falling globally, he and ESOMAR double-checked the data. In fact, prices are falling for many different types of research globally and in key markets. (See the report for exact details.)
Now, since the overall market is reported in dollars, Ray wondered if some of the changes were due to currency fluctuations. He looked at the top three markets in their native currencies and still saw declines.
|United States||United Kingdom||Germany|
|B2B online surveys||-4%||-3%||N/A|
|Consumer online surveys||-47%||-27%||-23%|
|Consumer online tracking surveys||-33%||-2%||+18%|
There are some exceptions to the general trend of price declines:
- CATI (Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing) surveys are holding their price better than online surveys.
- Online focus groups are holding their price better than face-to-face focus groups.
- Solutions to complex problems hold their price.
- Some countries show increases to their prices.
“Research is getting cheaper,” Ray said. “The big message from buyers – ‘if you are giving me the same stuff, I want to pay less; if you want me to pay the same amount, you have to give me more.’”
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.”
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.