market research industry

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.

Learning from Social’s Influence on Mobile: Applications for Qualitative Research

As we discussed in a QualBlog post earlier this month, mobile qualitative research methods are becoming a necessary component of market research. With mobile’s ability to reach a diverse, global sample of participants in their real-time context, market researchers are avidly seeking ways to best use its capabilities to their advantage.

A recent TechJournal article, Social and Mobile Interplay a Major Consumer Trend, cites a Pivot Conference study that may provide a new way to approach mobile qualitative research efforts. According to the research, smartphone users are spending a large amount of their mobile-focused time on social media apps. Specifically, 30% of the apps accessed on an Android are social, while iPhone users devote a whopping 44% of their mobile access to social apps. Of all the apps available, Facebook Mobile dominates consumers’ time, with 83% using it. And the most commonly shared information among all social app consumers is music and video, with location check-ins as a close second.

What does this mean for market researchers? Consumers have now made it clear that they want their mobile space to revolve around engaging their social network, learning from others’ content and interacting directly with brands through a social exchange. And what’s more, they have proven that they will devote time to apps that meet this criteria.

Transferring these needs to qualitative market research could be the key to more successful mobile research. By creating an app that engages a participant’s social network, encourages the sharing of related content and gives incentives directly from the brands that the participant discusses and evaluates, market researchers may be able to position mobile users in their preferred mobile environment. The resulting app could provide a more interactive message board to keep participants actively engaged in the research studies in a way that would provide more valuable data and insights.

What else could we learn from to enhance mobile qualitative research’s capabilities?

2012 Tech Predictions Impact Research

Happy New Year!

With the turning of the calendar and the sense of renewed optimism always brings a new wave of predictions.  As someone who enjoys thinking about the future, I find them interesting, and sometimes quite amusing.

So far, my favorite tech predictions are from VentureBeat.  This is my favorite so far because 1) I agree, and 2) the article is short enough to hold my attention.  The article is titled Five Tech Industry Predictions for 2012.  Though it doesn’t relate directly to the market research industry, there are many research implications.  Here are their 5 predictions:

  1. Social Media will lose its sizzle. Will we finally have rational discussion about our ability to conduct research via social media monitoring?
  2. The bubble will pop for the current crop of tech IPOs. Will this prediction hold true in research where M&A is more common than IPO?  We have seen a lot of M&A activity.  Will it slow and/or will values fall?  Frankly, I don’t think so.
  3. An explosion of the tablet market driven by sub-$100 tablets. WOW.  Think of the implications for online qualitative research if respondents can participate ANYwhere.
  4. Voice recognition goes mainstream. I’ve been thinking about this since I bought my iPhone 4S and got to know Siri.  She is a clever thing that I did not have to train.  If respondents can participate online without typing…..hmmmmmm…using their sub-$100 tablet maybe?
  5. “Cloudburst” shakes the tech industry.  Data security is the monster in the closet.  Can the market research industry take advantage of the “cloud” and secure its data properly?

Do you see additional trends?  How will they affect market research?

Welcome to 2012!

Mobile Ad Spending Will Drive Qualitative Research

The forecast for advertising spending aimed at reaching users on mobile devices is expected to grow dramatically over the next five years. And with it, is likely to come the need for more qualitative research related to mobile usage.

According to an article in DigiDayDaily, research conducted by Gartner Research pegs worldwide spending on mobile advertising at $3.3 billion in 2011, double the $1.6 billion spent last year. In North America alone, spending is forecasted at $701.7 million in 2011, up from $304 million last year.

Gartner’s projections for the rise in mobile advertising expenditures are to a whopping $20.6 billion worldwide in 2015, and up to $5.8 billion in North American mobile advertising spends.

The growth in spending, according to Gartner, is not because of the rise of tablet devices like the iPad, as much as it is growth in online usage of search and mapping.

What would a marketplace that is 15 times larger than it is today mean for your company?

MRA Conference Quotes: Bill Neal and Marshall Toplansky face off

The MRA Conference started Tuesday with a bang!  Industry veterans, icons really, Bill Neal and Marshall Toplansky, faced off on a debate about the future of the industry, specifically social media.  The debate was fun, opinionated and wide-ranging.  Some great quotes emerged.  Here are some of them that may make you stop and ponder.

“The (technology) train has left the station.  If the research industry does not get involved, it will relegate itself to the dustbin of history.” Marshall

What bothers me about our industry is that the answer to “It isn’t perfect” is I won’t bother with it.  In technology, the answer to “It isn’t perfect” is “I’ll work to fix it.” Marshall

On Corporate Trends:

“Corporate researchers are investing in ongoing, real-time information systems.  They started with financial systems and they are moving to marketing systems.  They are moving from a focus on strategic research and into performance indices.” Marshall

“Our role is to be the arbiter of the voice of the customer in the C-suite.  Unfortunately we do not have a voice in the C-suite today.” Bill

“Corporate researchers are not able to make judgments to understand what is good research and what is not.  They want the top numbers to pass up to those paying for it.” Bill

“Big M marketing is waning; Little m marketing is increasing.” Bill   (Big M = branding and long term positioning.  Little m = tactical marketing to result in short-term sales.)

“The fundamental flow of information to the decision makers is inadequate.” Marshall

On Social Media as a Research Tool:

“I don’t care how big the data set is, if its not representative then its not valid.  There are gobs of people that are not represented in social media…I’m not sure its ever going to get to the point where it is representative.” Bill

“It’s the “why” part of it that a lot of this new technology is not addressing.” Bill

“Despite what I have seen at this conference, social media research has not reached the point where you will bet the company on it.” Bill

“Gobs of data does not relieve us from conducting statistically reliable and trustworthy analyses…(and) relieve us from making reliable projections that can be defended in the court of reality” Bill

I remember when people stood up and said “Scanner data is going to end all research.” Bill

“I remember when people said that scanner data was no good because we didn’t know anything about the people that the data represents.  It wasn’t long until loyalty cards were invented to solve that problem.  We will solve these problems with social media.” Marshall

“I am concerned that this drive to use social media as quantitative information is going to lead too many people to drive off the cliff.  I guess that’s my major problem with it.”  Bill

“I want to address this idea of “representativeness.”  Do you realize that this whole idea of “representativeness” is a load of crap?…We are stuck in an old paradigm that even Proctor & Gamble is moving away from.” Marshall

“We have a herd instinct going on with social media and we have a lot more work to do to make it predictable.” Bill

“I don’t think you appreciate the scale difference between social media and traditional research.  To give you a sense of scale, just in consumer electronics we analyze and collect 120 million comments a month.  We are looking at this as the law of large numbers.  A lot of the comments we would normally delete in a typical research project get bled out in the millions of comments from social media.” Marshall

“So woman comes on and complains about diapers and more moms agree and add on.  Eventually the discussion cascades and the entire social media discussion is about a topic that may or may not be important to the majority of moms.  This is one of the problems I have with social media.” Bill

“Its (social media) not the end all, its just another tool.  Don’t oversell it.  Don’t overuse it.” Bill

ESOMAR: Tension in the Market Research Industry

The ESOMAR Online Research Conference in Berlin wrapped up this afternoon with recognition of the promise of new opportunities moderated by the tension created by them. 

While there are many reasons to be excited about the future, the industry is at an inflection point, and that means change. Change is difficult. Change produces tension. A major thread running throughout this conference was the tension in the market research industry and how we can begin to resolve it.

  • There is tension between the respondents’ right to privacy and the industry’s desire to access and use data. Though this tension is pervasive, it is particularly acute with social media.  Where does the respondents’ right to privacy end and where does the researchers’ privilege to listen and analyze begin?
  • There is tension between communities and panels. Communities are active and interesting and produce fast research results for the expected and unexpected. Panels are on-demand, cost effective and targeted. Is there room for both in our industry, or better yet, in our budgets?
  • There is tension between the promise of new technology and the technology’s ability to deliver. Online research software has improved dramatically. Quantitative survey software is becoming fairly standard. Online qualitative research software is getting better and easier every day. However, in the “hot” issues of social media and mobile research, the technology promises tremendous research opportunities. How long must we wait until the technology catches up with the promise?

Is the market research industry slow to innovate?

I posted the following on Next Gen Market Research Linkedin Forum. The discussion is a great read.

I’m intrigued by Tom’s contention that brands are becoming more innovative than agencies. I must admit that is our experience as well.

I agree with the comments about institutional conservatism and that the personality of the researcher is to avoid risk. After all, a very valid definition of market research is to reduce the risk of a decision. However, the greatest barrier to innovation that we encounter is that research firms have “tried and true” methods for making money. Therefore, research firms are VERY risk averse so innovations have two major hurdles, effectiveness and profitability. These are huge hurdles
for innovation.

Brands, on the other hand, have different hurdles. Though they can be risk averse, their hurdles are more likely to be effectiveness and cost. Cost is hugely different than profitability. Since we are in the online qualitative research arena, we are seeing brands coming directly to us more now than in the 10 years we have been in this space. Brand innovators are pushing their research firms to deliver, but when they don’t, they are bypassing them with increasing frequency.

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