Technology Evangelist Organizes Qual Event

Charlie Rader is a technology evangelist.  Officially, he is the “Digital Insights Tools Leader” at P&G.  I have seen a lot of evangelists, and Charlie is one.  Not only did he organize today’s “Online and Mobile Research Vendor Fair,” he spent the day running from place to place and literally shouting over the crowd to keep the event on schedule.  He is a bundle of enthusiastic energy for online qualitative and mobile research.  Thank you Charlie, for a great event and for inviting me and 20|20 to participate.

2012 is obviously the year of mobile qual as discussed in the GRIT report and a recent post on this site.  In past years, panel firms have dominated, then social media firms.  Now virtually every technology company has some sort of mobile offering.  Quant research moved into mobile but qual lagged behind for several years.  The proliferation of smart phones has eclipsed the problems qual had with the limited nature of text messaging.  Now that smart phones comprise 46% of the total US mobile phone market, qual platforms have the platform “space” to get deep insights anywhere and everywhere.  Its amazing that just a few years ago, researchers required respondents to come to facilities.  Then we figured out how to take the research into their homes via online.  Now we are with them everywhere via smart phones.  Its been a fast transition.

The P&G researchers were excited about mobile too.  Our QualBoard Mobile collateral was the first to fly off our table.  These researchers were hungry for ways to understand those moments in a user’s day when they made decisions or interacted with their product.  Mobile can provide that answer.

Thank you Charlie for all your hard work.  You pulled together a terrific set of companies who are pushing the envelope of qualitative technology.  It was a true honor to be a part of it and to enjoy your enthusiasm for online and mobile qual.


The Incredible Shrinking Middle Class and Its Effect on Research

Goodbye middle class.

The vast middle class that has dominated our economy since WWII is shrinking rapidly. The research titans who once grazed on research focused squarely on the large number of “average” consumers will have to re-think their strategy and hone their segmenting skills.  A Wall Street Journal article this week detailed how P&G is introducing more product extensions aimed at the upper and lower ends of the economic ladder. The days of huge volumes of household products commanding a higher prices based on quality claims are slipping away. More and more consumers are buying on price; that requires a strategy re-think for the largest CPG firm and the largest research buyer in the world.

As P&G goes, so goes the research industry. What are the implications of P&G gaining more of its revenues from price-competitive products?  First, researchers will need to understand the lower-end market as well as they have come to understand the middle class market in the past 40 years. Second, and maybe more ominously, margins must be lower in price-competitive categories. With lower margins but constant pressure from shareholders, will P&G spend as much on research? If P&G research spending declines, what are the implications for the industry?

So, a significant shift in income distribution could have dramatic implications. It’s a lot to ponder. But for now, you will have to excuse me.  I’m off to Dollar General to do a little shopping.

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