Monthly Archives: February 2012

Focus groups review the classics

For those of you who watched the Oscars Sunday night, I hope you saw the skit spoofing a focus group for “The Wizard of Oz.”

Without giving the good jokes away, the crowd is underwhelmed and confused by this classic movie. The advice for how to improve the movie is hilariously off-key. The one part of the movie that is lauded, again and again, by one focus group participant: the flying monkeys.

It is a clever skit and makes one think of how entertaining it would be to see focus group feedback on classic movies from the past. Think “Casablanca.” A focus group would say there is no way he’s letting her fly away. Or “Old Yeller.” Is it necessary for the dog to die?

It also makes one wonder how movies like “Ishtar” or “Showgirls” get made. Certainly there wasn’t a focus group involved, was there?

Social Media Gets Poor Grades for Oscars

Research Magazine reports that social media experts tried their hand at predicting the Oscars based on social media analysis.  Based on the article “And the Winner Isn’t”, here is my report card for their performance.

Grade F.  Professor Jonathan Taplin (Annenberg Innovation Lab) at the Univ. of Southern California) predicted Midnight in Paris for Best Picture.  WRONG.

Grade F. Banyan Branch predicted The Help would win Best Picture; Viola Davis for Best Actress and Brad Pitt for Best Actor.  WRONG.  WRONG. WRONG.

General Sentiment added bookmaker’s odds to the mix for their predictions.  They picked The Artist for Best Picture, Viola Davis for Best Actress and Jean Dujardin for Best Actor.  RIGHT.  WRONG. RIGHT.

Of the 7 awards included in this post by 3 firms, 2 were correct and they were the ones where social media was combined with the opinions of those who actually have skin in the game…bookies.

To be fair, consumer opinions have no voice in the Oscars.  So, maybe this is a reminder that social media should be used for what it is:  consumer sentiment.  Social media is not a predictive tool and certainly not a tool for crowd-sourcing, at least not beyond the consumer’s area of expertise.

Let me know if you know of other prediction efforts and how they graded.

Mobile surveys, mobile qual look to explode in 2012: GRIT report

A sneak peek at the 2012 Greenbook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) report reveals an anticipation in the rise of mobile surveys this year.

That’s one of the highlights of a fascinating examination of what research firms anticipate and what clients see as the techniques that will drive market research budgets this year. The GRIT report, which will be published in the next few weeks, supports the idea that online communities and social media analytics will become a prominent and “mainstream” research technique, and research firms and clients both concur with that forecast.

Mobile surveys look to be at a tipping point. While actual use of mobile surveys in 2011 were around 20 percent (17 percent as reported by clients, and 24 percent as reported by research firms), expectations are much higher for usage in 2012. Fifty-three percent of clients expect to use mobile survey techniques, and 64 percent of research firms expect to do so.

Mobile survey usage may actually be underreported, according to the GRIT report, with budget that is actually going toward mobile being attributed to Computer Assisted Web Interviewing (CAWI) and Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI).

Mobile qualitative looks to undergo a big jump, as part of the shift toward mobile. With actual use somewhere around 13 percent in 2011, that number looks to accelerate upward in 2012. According to the report, 31 percent of clients, and 46 percent of research firms, expect to use mobile qualitative in 2012. 20|20 is at the forefront of this rise in mobile qualitative with the recent introduction of its second mobile qualitative application, QualBoard Mobile. QualBoard Mobile includes both a fully featured bulletin board access capability and an innovative new journaling application.

Road Warriors Reveal the Steamy (and Funny) Side of Qual

Qualitative researchers have a lot of stories.  Their professional livelihood is a recipe for humor.  Consider that a moderator spends much of his/her life on the road schlepping bags, storyboards, product concepts and even product prototypes from city to city.   Plus, she works with everyday people who can be extraordinarily odd (PeopleofWalMart.com has nothing on the stories of a busy moderator.)  Add in the myriad product categories and occasional oddball assignment and you can understand why we qualies love this work so much.

Joel Reish of Next Level Research appreciates humor more than most.  In the Winter 2011 issue of QRCA Views, Joel has compiled a list of “sexy” stories from QRCA members across the globe.  If you appreciate stories about people and research, you will love this article of short encounters of the qualitative kind.

Here are a few tidbits to look for:

  • Betsy Leichliter met the self-described “Dr. Studmuffin.”
  • Julia Gartside-Spink “discovered” a transgendered female in a cosmetics group.
  • Ricardo Lopez had a “woman” in his group who was actually a man.  Not generally a problem, except for the poor guy sitting next to “her” who kept hitting on her/him.
  • Matt Towers had groups on domestic abuse in San Francisco in a facility where the rooms were named for local streets.  Luckily, he discovered he was in the “Battery” room before the groups started.  Whew.

Joel was also nice enough to include my encounter with the near video-taping of a group of Southern Baptists discussing sex education in my bedroom in Mississippi.

Joel, thanks for the laughs…and the memories.  If you have a story to add, please post it in the “Comments” section.  I would love to read about it.

 

Mobile phone use while shopping is taking off

The habit of using cell phones while shopping — calling a friend, checking product reviews and comparing prices — is on the rise. Mobile usage has become an integral part of shopping in stores (the brick and mortar ones), according to Pew Research conducted in the month leading up to and in the month following Christmas.

More than 50 percent of Americans used their cell phones for one of those three activities: calling a friend, checking reviews or comparing prices. Unsurprisingly, the habit was more prevalent in Americans under the age of 50. Only 4 percent of Americans 65 and older were likely to use their cell phone while shopping.

This news raises interesting implications for mobile qualitative research. The ability to be engaged with shoppers in a manner that is truly natural and authentic to the way they shop, while they are shopping, is surely of massive interest to marketers.

What shoppers are doing after they read reviews or checking prices online is fascinating. In the study, about one-third (35 percent) bought from the store. Another third (37 percent) decided not to buy. The study revealed that 27 percent either bought online or at another store.

Mobile qualitative research will not be about reaching people while they are watching TV on the couch, clearly. It is increasingly used by researchers to analyze experiences, from seeing concerts to analyzing retail options.

Do you have stories about using mobile qualitative for dynamic experiences? Or do you have a client that you need to help with that type of research? In either case, we’d love to hear from you.

Forbes says CMOs Misunderstand Social Media Motivators

A recent article in Forbes titled, “A Wide Divide Between Brands and Consumers in Social Media” cites a survey of consumers active in brand social media sites and CMOs who are responsible for those sites.  As the title suggests, one of the most surprising findings was that consumers go to brand sites for games or coupons or something they can “get.”  Marketers tend to believe they come to learn or express themselves.  If you are responsible for a brand’s social media presence, this is a key finding that should cause you to pause and think about how you engage your brand loyalists.  But what does this have to do with research?

For me, this study was interesting for its impact on how we manage and grow our panel.  20|20 maintains a research panel of over 300,000 North American consumers with a 60,000 member smart phone panel.  Sometimes we think that they are a part of our panel because they like doing research,  sharing their opinions and learning about products through research.   While there are some who definitely participate for these reasons, we must remember that most of them participate for the money or because we provide some type of very fun activity for them.  This article was a good reminder to do what we researchers are supposed to do so well…put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.  When we do, I think we will be a bit better at engaging our panel.

Focus Group Fingers All Over Super Bowl Commercials

Super Bowl commercials generate more conversation in Monday morning meetings today than almost anything else. With social media, the conversation following a Super Bowl ad is immediate. Last year, you may remember Groupon’s commercial about the troubles in Tibet resulted in a backlash on Twitter, and a formal apology. It will be studied in business schools as a marketing misstep.

One of the lessons from that failed 2011 commercial was the alleged lack of testing that preceded its airing. Marketers weren’t going to make that mistake with 2012 Super Bowl commercials. According to a Wall Street Journal article, focus group feedback resulted in the adjustment of creative for one Hyundai commercial, removing sexist comments from the older man in the commercial and replacing them with comments about how to be successful in business.

A Chevy Sonic commercial from yesterday’s Super Bowl was met with skepticism from focus groups, who didn’t believe the stunts to be real. Chevy’s spot ended up with a text treatment at the beginning of the ad noting “100% Real Stunts. Don’t Attempt. Please.”

Of course, focus groups don’t always predict success, or what may get a marketer in trouble. Some commercials were released ahead of time, or the trailers were so extensive. Marketers weren’t willing to risk something blowing up in their face. Marvel released trailers of its Super Bowl commercial to gather input from social media viewers.

Many groups are doing in-game focus group testing, like USAToday/Facebook’s AdMeter. Groups, and events like this were held around the country.

What were the results of your Monday Morning Focus Group’s judgment on this year’s crop of commercials?

QualBoard Mobile…Born-On Date: February 1, 2012

Sometimes introducing a new product is a little like birthing a baby. There is a lot of excitement and expectation followed by some intense pain leading to pure joy and pride at the result.

Today, 20|20 Research has “birthed” QualBoard Mobile. It has been in development for a while, caused some pain as it came to fruition and has created tremendous pride here at 20|20 in the end product. QualBoard Mobile (QBM) is an innovation that delivers on the promise and expectations we have anticipated for mobile qualitative research.

QualBoard Mobile has two primary functions.

1. QBM allows mobile access for QualBoards. Using the QBM app, respondents participate in a QualBoard bulletin board discussion from anywhere using their mobile phone. This capability alone dramatically increases QualBoard’s research functionality. Participants can make entries from anywhere. More importantly, researchers can design projects that respondents can complete untethered from their PC.

2. QBM includes LifeNotes. LifeNotes is a true breakthrough because it enables participants to upload pictures, video and comments from their mobile device from anywhere at anytime. Because LifeNotes is outside the QualBoard Q&A, it can serve as a “streaming ethnography” recording moments and opinions throughout the day independent of the QualBoard structured discussion.

For pure “cool factor” I’m excited about the voice-to-text feature. Respondents can leave their comments using the voice-recognition feature of their mobile device and it is fully incorporated into QBM. No more hassle with those tiny keyboards! Plus, it simply makes participation easier.

Also pretty cool is the geo-tagging feature. With the respondent’s permission, the researcher can geo-tag each mobile entry that ties each entry to its location. Think of the implication for shop-alongs and other out-of-home experiences.

To round out the offering, 20|20 is also announcing its smart phone panel of 60,000+ potential respondents. 20|20 has been known for its recruiting and services for over 25 years. This is yet another example of our focus on helping our clients do better research.

Yes, its a proud day at 20|20. Thank you for being a part of it.

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