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Jeffrey Henning’s #MRX Top 10: The Subjective Nature of Research and Analysis

Of the 20,537 unique links shared on the Twitter #MRX hashtag last week, here are 10 of the most retweeted...


Of the 20,537 unique links shared on the Twitter #MRX hashtag last week, here are 10 of the most retweeted…

  1. 6 No Nonsense Tips for Using Social Media Research – Ray Poynter and Annie Pettit offer pragmatic guidelines for how to approach social-media research. For instance, keep in mind that the search terms you use carry with them their own bias.
  2. The Human Side Of Data Analytics – Similarly, Colin Strong of Verve highlights the challenge of spurious correlations in data analytics and emphasizes that human subjectivity when interpreting data analytics is not a weakness but in fact a requirement.
  3. ESOMAR Announces Industry Award Winners at Congress 2015 – ESOMAR honored a young researcher, a standards volunteer and many presenters for their outstanding papers and presentations over the past year.
  4. Social Media Research Shows Market Research Is Too Inward Looking – GreenBook and NewMR challenged the industry to conduct B2B social media research on what people at large thought of market research. Six firms took up the challenge, and found that clients are unhappy with the research process and research outputs, consumers are unhappy with telephone surveys but some are interested in making money from participating in panels, and that researchers spend too much time on social media talking to one another rather than to the wider community.
  5. Top 50 Big Data Marketing Blogs: The Best Blogs with Up-to-Date and In-Depth Insights on the Intersect of Big Data and Marketing – NGDATA has curated a list of 50 blogs about using Big Data for marketing.
  6. Call for Speakers for ESOMAR Asia Pacific 2016 – ESOMAR is hosting an open call for presenters for its 2016 conference in Tokyo.
  7. Trendsetter Barometer 20th Anniversary – PwC’s quarterly survey of executives at private companies just collected its 80th quarter of results. Its analysts take a step back to look at the big picture.
  8. What We’re Reading This Week: Week of September 21, 2015 – Instantly curates three blog posts, with a focus on focus: focusing on your survey topic, focusing on people over Big Data, and focusing on the difference between “push” market research and “pull” market research.
  9. BQ Talks with Pete Krainik, CEO of The CMO Club – Brand Quarterly interviews Pete Krainik about consumers in control, agile marketing, and the role of emotional intelligence in marketing.
  10. Time is a Luxury – Richard Smith of BDRC Continental looks at the role of time in luxury purchases: the anticipation, enjoyment, and recollection of luxury purchases and experiences.

Note: This list is ordered by the relative measure of each link’s influence in the first week it debuted in the weekly Top 5. A link’s influence is a tally of the influence of each Twitter user who shared the link and tagged it #MRX, ignoring retweets from closely related accounts. Only links with a research angle are considered. Sorry, Bollywood!


The Elusive Gold Standard In Market Research

The method that gets closest to consumer behavior should be considered the gold standard in market research.
Gold bars in a stack
Market research aims to understand the wants and needs of people. Numerous methods exists that try to measure, one way or another, what people value. In contrast to other fields, such as physics, medicine and engineering, market research still relies mostly on methods developed many decades ago. Now it is often proclaimed that there is no such thing as a gold standard in market research. This stance wouldn’t be problematic if there was evidence to support this claim. Instead it is simply presented as a truism that all methods are equal. As a result there is a tendency to state at the get-go that there is no such thing as a gold standard in market research.
On the surface this seems a very appealing and egalitarian point of view. It reassures everyone. It tells you that whatever method you happen to be using, there is no other method that can be considered the gold standard to solve a particular problem. So accordingly, each method has its advantages and disadvantages because there is no such thing as the better method. But that’s not how science works. For example, in the medical sciences where the incentives to figure out the proper method are immense as it is literally a matter of life and death, there is a clear consensus that some methods are better than others.

As science increases its hold on the practice of medicine we become more aware of the limitations of the clinical method. Unfortunately, we also become more aware of the limitations of various diagnostic tests. Nevertheless, at any given time there may well be a consensus that a given test in a given situation is the best available test. It therefore serves as the gold standard against which newer tests can be compared.
Eboo Versie, MD

Similarly, in market research a method is supposed to get you closer to the truth. The reason is obvious: a better understanding of the world provides researchers and firms the insight to develop solutions and products that match with real wants and needs. However, it is a major methodological challenge to determine what consumers really want.

Broadly, two types of methods can be distinguished: verbal and behavioral. The most popular methods are verbal methods, such as the ubiquitous use of surveys. These methods consist of simply asking consumers about their wants and needs, without requiring consumers to act on their statements. Verbal methods assume that 1) people are able to formulate their preferences verbally and 2) that the stated preferences correspond to future actions.

Less popular but objectively more reliable are behavioral methods. These methods require consumers to act to figure out what they like. The reason why behavioral methods are objectively better than verbal methods is because at the end of the day actions are decisive. Actions determine whether a product will succeed or not, not what people have to say about the product. Thus, the method that gets closest to consumer behavior should be considered the gold standard in market research.


6 No Nonsense Tips for Mobile Market Research

Here are six tips for using mobile market research.

No Nonsense Tour


By Ray Poynter, Maria Domoslawska and Roddy Knowles

Here are six tips for using mobile market research. All six are drawn from the workshops I will be holding across the USA in October with Roddy Knowles and Maria Domoslawska from Research Now. To find out more about the workshops click here.

  1. You do not get to choose what device your research participants use. About one-third of them are already taking your online surveys via mobile and the number is increasing. Your role is to make sure the experience is good and the data you collect is right. That is why device agnostic is so important.
  2. In many cases mobile devices deliver the same results as PC-based interviews, but in some cases they don’t – for example multi-select grids deliver different results on PC and smartphone. You need to know what works and what doesn’t, and avoid the things that don’t provide comparable information.
  3. There is not a hardware or automated solution to making your surveys device agnostic. Good software helps, but intuitive design is critical. You need to design surveys with shorter questions, shorter answer lists, and in many cases shorter surveys.
  4. Location-based research is about more than GPS. Locating people via iBeacon, cell tower, or Wi-Fi are all potentially useful options.
  5. Mobile market research, especially mobile qualitative research, has introduced a number of new ethical considerations, such as gaining the permission for images of third parties and warning participants not to take videos in inappropriate (e.g. dangerous) situations. Your mobile research needs to factor these ethical concerns into its design.
  6. In-the-moment research, and other participant-as-researcher techniques, make greater demands on people; you need to keep the tasks simple, reasonable, enjoyable, and reasonably compensated.

If you are in North America and would like to learn more about Mobile Market Research, join one of our workshops in October. Click here to find out more about them and the other No Nonsense workshops.


Six No Nonsense Tips for Creating Integrated Insight

These six tips on how to find and communicate insight are drawn from the No Nonsense Workshop Ray Poynter and Maria Domoslawska will be running in New York on October 15

No Nonsense Tour


By Ray Poynter &  Maria Domoslawska

Everybody is talking about insight instead of data and storytelling instead of tables, but how do we find and communicate the insight that everybody is talking about? These six tips on how to find and communicate the insight are drawn from the No Nonsense Workshop that we (Ray Poynter and Maria Domoslawska) will be running in New York on October 15 – as part of the North American No Nonsense Tour, click here to read more about the tour.

  1. Creating the right question is half way to solving the problem. Before trying to provide an answer you really need to understand what is needed. This typically means talking to people; asking them questions like “What would success look like?” and “What actions would you like to take once you have this answer?”
  2. Establish what is known and what is available. It is likely there are multiple sources of information including market research, reports, transactional data, corporate knowledge, social media and much more. You need to establish what is available and the nature of that data – for example its reliability, its granularity, and its coverage (in terms of time, place, brands etc).
  3. Unless you are a gifted and intuitive finder of messages (who is working alone) use a frameworks approach. A framework is a systematic way of teaching and collaborating in the finding and communicating of messages hidden within information. There are many possible choices, choose one and inculcate it throughout the system, ideally including your suppliers in that process.
  4. Find the big picture before you start looking at differences and nuances. Too many modern analysts start by looking for differences without taking the time to understand what the majority think, what are the main drivers, and what is it that the sub-groups are different from.
  5. When finding and crafting the story, think about what it is you want the recipient of the study to feel and do. When you have a clear idea about what you want them to feel and do you should have a better understanding of what you want them to know, and that will frame and guide the story.
  6. Don’t tell the recipient everything you know, tell them what they need to know to achieve their aims. Other things you discover can be communicated at other times and/or through other channels – but in terms of the main story, less is usually more.

If you are in North America and would like to learn more about Mobile Market Research, Social Media Research, or Creating Integrated Insights, join one of our workshops in October. Click here to find out more about them and the other No Nonsense workshops.


Does One Size Fit All? – How Important is Recruiting Method to your Online Qualitative Study?

For online qualitative recruitment a ‘one size fits all’ approach can have a disappointing outcome.

one size fits all


By Jason Horine

There is no doubting that the quality of research participant recruitment has a direct impact on data reliability and the quality of insights.  Recruitment methodology should always be appropriate for the target audience, but, equally, it should be appropriate for your research methodology.  Unfortunately, that is often overlooked in procurement of online qualitative data collection.

When was the last time you consulted with your recruiter about the methods being adopted for your online qualitative study? 

Three Approaches to Recruiting for Online Qualitative

Often lost in the noise about all the various platforms and technologies now available for online qualitative research is the essential element of how to recruit respondents for online qualitative methodologies.  Without quality respondents, an otherwise perfectly designed project is put at great risk. And just as there are appropriate recruiting approaches for in-person qual and online quant, there are also appropriate methods for recruiting to online qual methodologies.

We have all made that impulse buy of an item of clothing labelled ‘one size fits all’  – as if it promises mystical expanding, contracting and enhancing powers – and then felt remorse as we look in the mirror and question the loose semantics of the word ‘fit’.  Equally, for online qualitative recruitment a ‘one size fits all’ approach can have a disappointing outcome.  For optimized results, a good recruiter must evaluate the research design, target audience, methodology, chosen technology and study budget before we can determine how to best to tailor a solution for filling the digital seats.

Let’s explore a few scenarios.

Traditionally, if you needed respondents for your study you were either contacting a panel provider for quant surveys or a telephone recruiter for qual projects.  Today, we operate in an industry packed with hybrid and multi-mode research methodologies compounded by new technologies and platforms for hosting online research, particularly within online qual.  It follows that recruiters need to be nimble in their approach, and follow suit with hybrid methods for recruitment.

There are certainly many ways to find respondents, and at Schlesinger Associates we are often required to get creative in our recruitment methods, but depending on the specifications involved, we generally select one of three main ways in which to recruit for online qual:

  1. Traditional telephone recruit
  2. Web-to-web recruit
  3. Web-to-web with telephone confirmations/validations

Each approach has its merits and its pitfalls, so it is important that you know how your project is being recruited in order to discuss how each merit can be built-on or each pitfall can be countered for the best recruiting outcome.

  1. Traditional telephone recruit

A traditional phone recruit is most familiar to qual researchers to when conducting IDIs or focus groups at a facility, or even TDIs and in-person ethnographies off-site. Telephone recruitment is still necessary for a large portion of online qual projects, driven by the need for hard-to-find respondents.  Many projects are conducted as online qual specifically because the respondents are too hard to find in particular markets, making in-person qual infeasible.  It follows that phone work is still required for these recruits.  A phone recruit will take an average of two to three weeks, and is best suited when sample sizes are fewer than 50. Pricing will vary depending on target audience, but will be comparable to national TDI pricing.

  1. Web-to-web recruit

A W2W recruit is what comes to mind when we think of quantitative online surveys. With online qual projects, a W2W recruit may be the best option when large sample sizes and tight recruiting windows are at play.  W2W is usually appropriate for high-volume, high-incidence recruits feeding into an online community or mobile ethnography. Large sample sizes can be achieved very quickly (i.e. 300 consumers at a 60% IR can be completed in 6-9 days).

The biggest wrinkle with W2W recruitment for online qual is the question of over-recruitment – with so many different platform technologies, timeframes, apps, tasks, etc., there are few standard notions for appropriate over- recruitment.  We’ve found that some require a 40% over- recruit, while others require a 300% over-recruit.  Knowing the level of engagement you can expect from each respondent is a bit of a mystery without the telephone validation, and with so many projects requiring respondents to download an app or make a shopping visit, or any number of other activities, relying wholly on surveys and emails carries with it some risk.  While the individual CPR may be remarkably cheap, if you end up needing to over-recruit by 300% it may not be worth it.  Make sure you are exploring with your recruiter the implications of taking this route.

  1. Web-to-web with telephone confirmations/validations

The most common solution for online qualitative projects, and most accepted, W2W with phone confirmations is generally cheaper and faster than traditional phone recruiting, but still ensures higher quality and engagement than a straight web recruit.  Additionally, there is a value in having respondents complete the full screener online, as participation in the research itself will take place online, so qualifying the screener is the first indication of competence in that medium.  This method of recruitment has worked for consumers, business professionals, patients, and healthcare professionals.  It also has affordability going for it too, as the pricing usually comes in around 60-75% of regular telephone recruitment pricing.

Tailored recruitment is important, and begins at the bidding stage – how respondents will be recruited has a clear impact on price, timing and feasibility. If any of those items is out of line with your expectations then your recruiter may have an approach worth discussing.  Make sure you engage with your recruiter and seek a consultative approach to the management of your recruitment because one size most certainly does NOT fit all.


Is Safe Harbor Still Safe?

For businesses that deal in multi-national data, Safe Harbor offered a security blanket, which is why the European Court of Justice invalidating the program is a big deal.

unsafe data


By Jason Anderson

Caveat: I am not a lawyer, and none of this is legal advice. It’s time to wake up your legal team.

For businesses that deal heavily in multi-national data, Safe Harbor offered a cumbersome but effective security blanket. The 15-year-old Safe Harbor agreement established guidelines for the legal transfer of EU consumer data to the United States, circumventing the EU’s much more aggressive security and privacy laws.

Thousands of companies take advantage of the Safe Harbor program, which explains why news of the European Court of Justice invalidating the program spread far and wide. From TechCrunch to Politico to the Wall Street Journal to the National Law Review, it seems that the end of Safe Harbor is a “big deal.”

Why all the fuss?

Bluntly: European law cares greatly about consumer data protection and privacy, while US law couldn’t care less. More broadly, European law has a robust set of rules and definitions governing privacy law, including a directive that only allows the transfer of personal data to countries that provide “an adequate level of protection.”

Safe Harbor was the negotiated program between the US and EU to assure those protections. Without a replacement, technically speaking, the transfer of any consumer data to the US would be against the law. That includes any personally identifiable information (PII) such as email addresses, contact information, or individual demographics – favorite subjects in consumer research.

What’s the risk?

At this particular moment, nothing has changed – the ECJ’s opinion is still only an opinion, and has not become a legal decision. But clearly the scales are leaning away from the current Safe Harbor framework; at a minimum, a “Safe Harbor 2.0” will be required. The greatest risks are (a) Safe Harbor 2.0 being substantially more expensive to implement for compliant businesses, or (b) no Safe Harbor program existing whatsoever.

Why is this happening?

The American ethos about the rights of the individual primarily focus on the relationship between citizens and their government. Laws protect rights to privacy, rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, and rights to free assembly, but in all cases the context for these laws are restricting the abilities of the government.

However, most privacy-related data exchanges take place between businesses and citizens. Yes, the government has its own interests (and violations of trust), but US law does not significantly restrict what Facebook or Google or retailers can do with your data. Once you check that box accepting your 20 page terms of service for your operating system, phone, or website, your rights have typically been transferred to the business that is vacuuming your data.

European perspectives on privacy extend to all spheres of society, including business and commercial interests. This is a fundamentally different point of view, and one that is unlikely to contract to the US definition: once a right has been given, it is not surrendered easily.

What happens next?

The exact outcome is very difficult to predict, so it’s time to begin your scenario planning. Three broad potential outcomes are possible:

  • The final decision on Safe Harbor diverges from the recent court opinion, keeping the existing framework substantially intact. This seems to be the least likely outcome, but would be the least disruptive.
  • The court invalidates Safe Harbor 1.0, and a Safe Harbor 2.0 program is negotiated. A limited window of time may be offered, to allow businesses to update their security and privacy protocols. In this scenario, companies will still be able to piggyback on a negotiated framework but will likely need to make some modifications to process and policy.
  • The court invalidates Safe Harbor, and no replacement is negotiated in a reasonable timeframe. This “worst case scenario” returns the burden of EU-compliant data management to each individual business that operates in both regulatory worlds.

Social Media Research Shows Market Research Is Too Inward Looking

The research industry is too busy talking to itself and not busy enough talking to others.



Ray Poynter and Lenny Murphy

Earlier this year, NewMR and GreenBook set a challenge for the providers of social media research to highlight the strengths of social media research. Six companies took up our challenge and you can access their findings here: http://newmr.org/blog/results-of-the-greenbooknewmr-social-media-research-challenge/

Now that all the reports are in we have had a chance to review the material and findings and this is our take on the big picture they create.

Social Media Research has shown its value

The task we set was not easy, we asked companies to explore what people (for example research buyers and the wider public) thought about market research and we asked them to come up with both findings and recommendations. Note, the companies were not exploring how MR uses social, it was using social to explore attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours relating to market research.

To put this in context, we were asking them to conduct B2B research (something which is often thought to be a challenge for social media research) and we wanted strategic advice.

The approaches adopted by the six companies varied, but they all produced useful input, and the picture they have painted of the market research industry is very consistent, and somewhat troubling.

The key findings

The key points highlighted by the research companies were:

Susan Bell Research

Sue Bell adopted a qualitative approach, finding posts online from research users and subjecting them to a deep analysis. The key points made were:

  • Clients see MR as an input, not an end in itself.
  • Clients were often not happy with what MR provided them
  • This lack of happiness seemed to centre on a three-way tension
    • Clients see themselves as the owner of the process
    • But they want suppliers to challenge them
    • But they often feel excluded by the research process

You can access the full report here: http://newmr.org/blog/social-media-research-reveals-market-research-concerns/

Bakamo Social

Bakamo, and the other companies, adopted a more quantitative approach. Bakamo looked at three leading companies from three different business sectors (focusing on Twitter) to see how MR compared with management consultancies and advertising agencies.

Bakamo were the first to report a finding that became the key message from all the reports: market research is too insular. In this case, ‘too insular’ means that some market researchers seem to be good at using social, but they are mostly reaching other market researchers. By contrast the network and reach of messages from the management consultancies and advertising agencies reached far beyond their own tribes. The content that the management consultancies and advertising agencies produced was of wider interest.

You can access the full report by clicking here. http://newmr.org/blog/market-research-is-to-inward-looking-social-media-analysis-by-bakamo/


TNS contrasted the MR picture in English, French, and Italian – providing a less Anglo-centric picture.

The TNS report highlighted the need to clean social media data before analysing it. For example, in French they found 1.5 million social references to words like ‘sondage’ (poll), but when these were checked to ensure they were actually about MR this number fell to about 10,000.

The TNS report highlighted that the MR voice amongst the wider community is small. In many cases the general discourse about market research was centred on issues like ‘boring’ and ‘nuisance calls’.

You can access the full report by clicking here: http://newmr.org/blog/contrasting-the-social-media-mrx-picture-in-english-french-and-italian/

Mass Cognition

The key points found by Mass Cognition echo and expand on the ones made in other reports:

  • The use of the term market research in social has declined over the last ten years.
  • The ‘survey earn money’ meme is still strong.
  • The wider population seem to understand the term market research, but rarely use it.
  • The MRX community is clearly identifiable in social media, but is not well linked to other communities.

You can access the full report by clicking here: http://newmr.org/blog/market-research-not-a-hot-topic-in-social-media/


Affinio sought to answer the question of who is talking about market research other than market researchers. They identified about 18,000 people who follow the ARF’s Twitter handle and segmented them into 10 tribes. 9 of these 10 tribes tend to be interconnected, the 10th tribe, the MRX people, tended to be internally connected but not externally connected.

This study also highlighted the need to clean raw data, highlighting the use of the #MRX tag by Bollywood for the Mr X movie.

You can access the full report by clicking here: http://newmr.org/blog/who-else-is-talking-about-market-research/


Rather than researching the whole of MR, emprica looked at one specific technology, namely beacons. Beacons are widely tipped as being a major technology of the near future with implications in several fields, including MR.

The listening research identified a substantial discourse about beacons and a discourse that was predominantly positive. However, despite the potential impact of beacons on market research, relatively little of the conversation about beacons was coming from market research. Echoing again the insular and self-connected nature of the MR conversation.

You can access the full report by clicking here: http://newmr.org/blog/listening-to-talk-about-beacons/

The Strategic Picture

This study has produced a really important strategic message for market research. The research industry is too busy talking to itself and not busy enough talking to others.

If we want to be paid what we are worth (and we think that is more than we are paid at the moment), if we want a seat in the decision-making rooms, if we want to work on the big and interesting projects, then people have to value us, and to value us they have to think about us.

This news is not exactly new news, but the scale of how insular MR is, and how out of step we are with industries like management consultants and advertising agencies, is new.

Research should not stop improving its techniques and tools, but it needs to expand its topics of conversation to a much wider range and it needs to broad its circle of acquaintances.

To put it in simple terms: We need to get out more!

Simple first steps could include:

  • Attending non-research conferences, not to sell, but to listen and to join in the conversation.
  • Reading non-research media and joining in the conversation.
  • Connecting in social media with non-research groups, adding value to the conversations by drawing on MR’s evidence based traditions.
  • Produce content that is useful and interesting to the non-research community, content that only mentions MR in passing, as the source of the insight and credibility.
  • And, at the most trivial level, expand the range of hashtags we use and seek out LinkedIn and Twitter contacts that are not market researchers.

Highlights from IMD 2015: How Researchers Can Become Better Marketers

Insights Marketing Day (IMD) provided a daylong respite from our “typical” external focus, encouraging research suppliers to look internally at how we can be better marketers.



By Sandra Bauman

As researchers and insights consultants, we spend a great deal of time and effort trying to solve client problems and provide actionable guidance on their brands and products so they can thrive and grow.  But, we can suffer from a bit of the “shoemaker’s children” syndrome where we don’t spend the necessary time thinking about our own positioning and marketing .  Greenbook’s second annual Insights Marketing Day (IMD) provided a daylong respite from our “typical” external focus, encouraging us to look internally at how we can be better marketers.  For the second year in a row, Greenbook did not disappoint—inspiring us with a slate of rock star speakers packed into a fast-moving, eight-hour day.

One theme was differentiation:  if we all have access to similar “tools in the toolbox,” we must work on differentiating ourselves from others in order to be “breakthrough.”  Easier said than done, of course, noted Padmini Sharma of Jester&Genius, who says we need to stop talking about what we do and talk about the how and why. The how helps with distinction, but the why is what compels clients to buy into our brand. It’s the magnet.  Lucy Davison from Keen as Mustard agrees, saying, “You can’t be original if you’re saying the same thing.  You need to find your secret sauce.”  How?  “Researcher, research thyself,” says Lucy.  Padmini suggests implementing a follow-up strategy, a post results check in with clients 3-6 months later to see what resulted from the engagement.  Get metrics and examples about what they accomplished—these make magnetic and differentiating stories.

Speaking of stories, Kristian Aloma of Brandtrust wowed the crowd with his TED talk-like presentation on “Storytelling for the Research Firm.”  Stories create connections between ideas and people that are emotional, inspiring, and memorable.  Humans don’t naturally think in bullets (he posited that perhaps they are called bullets for a reason—they are story killers). Instead, we are influenced strongly by stories because they are relatable, shared experiences and add value through the narrative.  Stories show and let us feel, while bullets only tell.  As researchers we can get in the “weeds” of the data but Kristian provided a “story arc,” connecting the research objective and goals to the What (what lesson(s) did we learn), the  So What (what about the environment, market or business issue make this learning important), and the Now What (what does this mean we can do about it? How do we use this accomplish our goal?).  Getting from the What to the Now What represents the “big idea.”

Another recurring theme throughout IMD was how to move beyond the research transaction to a research partnership model.  If research suppliers want to stop being called the dreaded “V-word” by clients (vendor!), we need to act like partners.  Two panels of speakers—one of clients and one of suppliers—agreed that these actions include:

  • Stop talking about projects (vendors); start talking about results (partners)
  • Stop talking about how the “sausage is made” (vendors); start talking about how you can use it (partners)
  • Stop selling research (vendors); start sharing and exchanging relevant information (partners)
  • Stop self-promoting (vendors); start self-studying as due diligence (partners)

Steven Cook of CMO.com did a pre-IMD survey among attendees and found that only 42% had a brand positioning statement for their research firm.  For insights companies to truly stand out, we need to stop being the “shoemaker’s children” and ask ourselves how are we different, better, and special.  Then we need to back that up with a client experience that delivers on that partnership.  As Edwin Roman of ESPN summed up so eloquently, we need to remember that, “marketing the research is as important as the marketing research.”

It’s not that what we heard was new information, but IMD succeeded in providing a platform for inspiration so that we could stop and think about these issues, giving ourselves permission to be our own clients for a day of constructive introspection.


6 No Nonsense Tips for Using Social Media Research

Here are six tips for using Social Media Research drawn from the workshops we are running in October in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.

No Nonsense Tour


By Ray Poynter & Annie Pettit

Here are six tips for using Social Media Research drawn from the workshops we are running in October in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. If you’d like to attend the workshops click here to find out more.

  1. The quality of the social media you collect is defined by where you search and the search terms you use – you need to be able to specify online locations and you need to be able to use Boolean search terms. Free and simple tools are great for learning, but will not deliver a commercial outcome.
  2. In most cases a majority of the data you collect will NOT relate to your investigation. Budget plenty of time/resources to clean up the information. For example, if you search for Apple you will want to remove fruit and cider, as well as a large quantity of spam.
  3. Automated coding is not as good as manual coding, manual coding is not perfect, and a wise trade-off is often to start with manual coding and then automate it. Do not trust automated options straight out of the box.
  4. Social media research is great for some things, for example finding out whether people have noticed your new campaign and what people think about it, and poor for other research problems, such as which of four as yet unreleased pack designs will be most successful if launched.
  5. Social Media Research results have relative values, not absolute values, so benchmarks need to be established to help assess if a result is weak, average or strong. The benchmarks should be designed at the start, not created afterwards.
  6. Lots of things you can do with social media data are not ethical, and some are not legal, so be careful. You do not want to be the next PatientsLikeUs and BuzzMetrics outcry. If you have not heard about this case click here to read it.

If you are in North America and would like to learn more about Social Media Research, join one of our workshops in October. Click here to find out more about them and the other No Nonsense workshops.


When A Market Researcher Dreams

I've recently been doing some dreaming about what the field of market research could look like...



By Zontziry Johnson

I’ve recently been doing some dreaming about what the field of market research could look like. So, let’s pause reality for a moment and look at some of these dreams, many of which are already being worked on by various firms and may become reality sooner than we expect!

Qualitative data mining

We’d have software readily available that could peruse across all qualitative channels, including online forums, communities, and social media channels, focusing in on any particular audience and product combination, then analyze all of that information in a few hours to show trends and themes.

In-the-moment surveys

We’d have respondents who are willing to take short-burst surveys while shopping, so that we could get in-the-moment feedback on what is impacting their decisions, as those decisions are being made. With their permission, we’d be able to see what apps had been accessed right before they decided to purchase a product (did they go search for the product on their Amazon app, Google search, or some other price comparison app), and we’d be able to ask why they either decided to purchase a product or not purchase a product.

Virtual reality conjoint analysis

Focus groups would be multi-part groups, starting with a combination of moderated and non-moderated conversation to hear more about the customer journey and how they feel about a company’s current product lineup. Then, taking that feedback into account, we’d conduct conjoint analyses using virtual reality, setting up a maximum of five sets of options for the respondents to choose from, and asking them to talk through why they are selecting one item over another.

Similarly, when designing anything, we’d be able to walk with the customer through them rearranging items, adding new items, and hearing why they are making the changes. (This could apply for everything from building a home, to a home remodel, to web redesign, to product packaging. What about product design?)

Well-written surveys only

Surveys would be free from being leading, double-barreled, or vague.

Connections between IoT, big data, and survey data

We’d have ways to easily connect the data gathered from the Internet of Things, big data, and survey data so that we could run queries and get rich information back. Heck, just connected IoT data and big data and having good ways to mine that information would probably lead to a decrease in length of surveys and an increase in pointed, shorter surveys because we would already have answers to so many of the questions we typically find ourselves needing to ask because of things like poor telemetry data!

Data reporting

All reports would be completely unbiased, yet presented in a way that people would listen, and actions to be taken based on the data would be abundantly clear. Those sharing said reports would do so in a way that was also unbiased, clear, and free of inferences that were completely invalid. (Hey, I said this was a dream.)

Increased collaboration among researchers

This one is especially true for large research firms, or large organizations with large internal market research groups. When starting a study, we’d see more collaboration across teams with similar studies, or who are asking information of similar audiences, so that we could reduce duplicative research that comes away with different answers because we each were asking similar questions in ever-so-slightly different ways. This would also lead to more consistent messaging and actions from the studies being conducted.

Attracting new market researchers

Because the information we presented was clear, actionable, interesting, compelling — more of the younger generation would be aware of what an amazing career market research could be for them, leading to more people purposefully choosing this career instead of stumbling into it.

Sampling done right

People would use the right sample for the right purpose. More to the point: general inferences about audiences wouldn’t be made based on surveys done of non-probability sample studies.

What would you add?

I know there is more that could be covered; this is just what has been on my mind recently. If you work with market research teams, or are a market research professional, what would you add to this list?