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Qual at Quant Scale: The iModerate Vision For The Future Of Consumer Research

An interview with Jen Drolet, Managing Partner of iModerate on the evolution of virtual qualitative approaches and what the future holds on using the best of technology and interviewers to provide globally scalable qual to drive consumer insights.

BrightFuture

 

When online quantitative research became the preferred method for most survey-based research about ten years ago, many companies began to explore how to apply that same level of scale and cost efficiencies to qualitative research. The first place many looked was at adapting bulletin board or web conferencing tech to duplicate elements of the group paradigm, and while that has been somewhat successful, it has not created the disruption that online quant produced.

Enter iModerate.

iModerate_logo_2C_RGB

iModerate looked at the issue differently. Rather than trying to duplicate a traditional approach in a new medium, they wanted to see how they could leverage technology to produce something new that would deliver on the best of both worlds. Their solution was ingenious: use a pop-up intercept during a survey to recruit participants to engage in a short one-on-one interview with a moderator in real time.   This hybrid approach could be used to deliver the depth of insights  associated with qual research for a select group of key question areas in  a quant project. Since trained moderators were asking the questions, the human element needed for successful qual was included, but at a fraction of the cost and delivered with global scalability.

The business has seen a steep growth trajectory ever since, and have found more and more applications for their core model to address a variety of research needs. Most recently they have been applying it to client demands for a new tracking research model, producing stellar results with the ability to do longitudinal research on large amounts of moderated verbatim responses.

They have also emerged as leaders  in ever sense of the word within the industry as a whole, as well as an example of how to successfully utilize technology to create disruption without losing the human element so vital to generating impactful insights.

I have followed  them for many years and our relationship has had many dimensions: client, partner, at one point even a possible team member, but most of all we have had a deeply respectful friendship. These folks are smart and committed to delivering great research and maximum value to their clients while continuing to pioneer new thinking and approaches. They are certainly one of the companies I look at as an inspiration for success in this business.

But that is my take. In the interview below I caught up with Jen Drolet of iModerate to hear her side of the story. I think after watching it you’ll be as impressed as I have been, and hopefully inspired to think differently in your own business. Like all my interviews we have a good time during our chat, so hopefully you’ll even get a few grins out of it.

Here is Jen of iModerate. Enjoy!

 

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Who Are The Top 25+ Market Research Influencers On Twitter?

Ray Poynter details a recent attempt to understand influence and influencers within the market research industry via a variety of social media analytical tools.

social network

 

 

Editor’s Note: Before I’m accused of navel gazing or self aggrandizement for posting this let me explain why I think understanding the potential of social influence is important for researchers.

First we have the more pragmatic marketing angle: if you are tasked with helping to grow a business then knowing the dynamics of how to utilize all available channels to grow brand awareness is important. And if you want to shape the perception that goes with that awareness then understanding how to maximize influence is also vital; my belief is that influence is the “carrier wave” of brand perception. It’s both a by product and a component.

Second, as researchers we need to understand this topic because it is an important part of brand tracking, A&U, mix modelling, and a host of other research-related practice areas. Social media will only continue to be an evolving disruptive force in marketing, so the more we can get a handle on how it works and can be harnessed for marketing impact, the better we can do our jobs.

Since GreenBook’s mission is to help research organizations grow their businesses and their understanding of emerging tools, using our own industry as a test case makes good sense. In the case of influence tracking we do that annually via our Summer version of the GRIT report via survey-based data collection. Since we’re in that midst of that right now, when Ray suggested an experiment in July to compare new approaches to understanding influence within our industry (at least within the Twittersphere) I thought it was a great idea, and today Ray has unveiled his findings.

This is a snapshot of one defined time period (when I happened to be on vacation, much to my chagrin!) using 4 different approaches to measure relative influence within Twitter. In this post Ray gives a meta analysis of the key findings and links to a longer and deeper exploration of each tool used and it’s findings.  It’s a great primer on how marketers and researchers can use these (and other) tools to understand the role and applications of social influence. It’s good stuff; enjoy!

 

By Ray Poynter

Back in July I asked ‘Who are the most influential market research people on Twitter?’ After some banter we narrowed the question to the #MRX tag and mid-July I asked for nominations. Jeffrey Henning prepared a special version of his #MRX tweeted links report, and we have had input from ColourText, Texifter, and NodeXL.

You can read the full report by clicking here , and the full report includes several links back to much fuller and interactive information form some of the people who have made this report possible.

But here is a meta-analysis of the findings. To produce the list I tabulated who made the top ten of at least one of the lists, counted how often they made the top ten, and ranked them by that. So this meta list is a follows:

 

Account Score
euromonitor 5
lennyism 5
mramrx 5
raypoynter 5
researchlive 5
jhenning 4
thomasjohne 4
ipsosmori 3
kristofdewulf 3
tomderuyck 3
darrenmarknoyce 2
djsresearch 2
gavinspavin 2
lovestats 2
1sue3 1
colinstrong 1
edward04 1
effectiveresrch 1
erica_dfirst 1
joelrubinson 1
jonpuleston 1
lrwonline 1
mdmktingsource 1
tomewing 1
tomhcanderson 1
tweetmrs 1
visioncritical 1

 

A five means the account was identified as ‘influential’ or widely linked or widely reacted to or linked to popular links by most of the routes used in the report. A 1 means the account made one of the top ten lists.

Of course, this does not mean these 27 are the most influential, nor does it mean the people at the top are the most influential, and it does not mean that influence exists in the way it is often assumed to (see this great TED talk by Sinan Aral on this topic).

Read the full report by clicking here.

I’d like to give my thanks to NodeXL, Jeffrey Henning, Texifter, and ColourText for helping produce this report, and to @lennyism for his support in getting the idea off the ground and for helping share the results.

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Market Research Steps Up To The ALS #icebucketchallenge (And Learns About Social Campaigns Too!)

The ALS #IceBucketChallenge has taken over Twitter and Facebook, and this past week several MR industry notables joined in.

icebucket_sm

 

The ALS #IceBucketChallenge has taken over Twitter and Facebook, and this past week several MR industry notables joined in. The Challenge entails donating $20 to the ALS Association and filming yourself pouring a bucket of ice water on your head, then challenging three more people to do the same. If they don’t complete the challenge they are asked to donate $100.  And of course the video needs to be posted on your available social media networks. 

If you’re not familiar with this terrible disease here is a blurb:

 

ALS was first found in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, but it wasn’t until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to the disease. Ending the career of one of the most beloved baseball players of all time, the disease is still most closely associated with his name. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons  die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

 

This is a wonderful example of visual media virality, gamification, the power of influence, and how social media drives awareness. The ALS reports that:

 

As of Sunday, August 17, 2014, The ALS Association has received $13.3 million in donations compared to $1.7 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 17). These donations have come from existing donors and 259,505 new donors to The Association.

 

For all who doubt the marketing impact of social media, this should be a wake up call. When done cleverly and in an engaging way, social campaigns do move the needle.

The current wave of MR participants started last Thursday when  Tim Lynch of FocusVision issued a challenge that included myself and Kerry Hecht of Dub.  Here is Tim’s video: Tim Lynch #icebucketchallenge .

At the same time, Mike MacLeod of Lightspeed was also challenged and threw down his own gauntlet (see his video here).

Kerry and I responded within the allocated 24 hours and have kept the vector expanding. Here is Kerry’s response: Kerry Hecht Labsuirs #icebucketchallenge, and for your viewing pleasure my own:

 

 

Among those I challenged was Tom H. C. Anderson, who upped the ante (and the anticipation) in his own inimitable way:

 

 

You can read his take on his blog here.

This morning Heath Adams of Australian researcher firm Sprout Research showed us how it’s done Aussie Style:

 

 

Folks like Oprah Winfrey (and her buddy Gail of course), Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Eddie Vedder and many others have all joined in with their own videos. For my money though the best overall has been Bill Gates:

 

 

I’ve talked publicly about my very personal connection to neurological conditions, so this cause is one I am most definitely a supporter of. I hope the rest of the industry will join me and others in raising both awareness and donations for it. PLus, it’s fun!

If you’ve participated in the challenge, please post a link to your video below!

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The Upside to the Facebook and OkCupid Experiments

While I recognize the ethical concerns, they are outweighed by my enthusiasm for greater scientific insights and optimism for potential new discoveries. In that regard, I applaud Facebook and OkCupid for releasing the results of their studies, and wish more companies would do the same.

Mad Scientist

 

By Allan Fromen

You may have seen the recent announcement by OKCupid (the dating site), where they admitted –bragged actually – that they regularly experiment on their users. This was a well designed PR ploy, riding the coattails of the widespread and indignant criticism Facebook received for manipulating the newsfeed of its members to see if subsequent posts would be more positive or negative.

Some have denounced these experiments as unethical, noting that there was no informed consent or IRB (internal review board), both of which are common in academia. But on college campuses where informed consent is received, the basis of that consent is generally a subterfuge so the subject (student) is not tipped off to the experiment’s true objective. So while the student must provide consent, they do so under false pretenses, without knowing the ultimate purpose of the experiment.

Why the deception? Because we know that if subjects were informed of the true objective, their behavior would probably change in important ways. The psychological literature is littered with biases where subjects behaved differently after learning they were part of an experiment. Perhaps the most famous of these is the classic Hawthorne Effect, where worker productivity increased as a result of being observed.

Consumers today already regard social media companies with some cynicism, as it becomes increasingly obvious that their personal information is being used to fuel targeted advertising. But as a researcher, I am excited that Facebook and others can run experiments with consumers in their natural setting. As OKCupid’s cofounder stated, “once people know that they’re being studied along a particular axis, inevitably they’re gonna act differently.” While not exactly articulately stated, I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. The fact that companies can now further our understanding of human behavior, outside the confines of an artificial lab setting with creative tricks to mask the experiment’s true purpose, is a significant opportunity for scientific advancement.

Google runs over 20,000 search experiment a year, Netflix constantly tweaks its recommendation algorithm, and Twitter uses a mix of humans and analytics to improve its service. We are the subjects of Big Data analytics whether we like it or not. While I recognize the ethical concerns, they are outweighed by my enthusiasm for greater scientific insights and optimism for potential new discoveries. In that regard, I applaud Facebook and OkCupid for releasing the results of their studies, and wish more companies would do the same.

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Firming Up the Foundations of Neuromarketing: A Review of Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy’s Introduction to Neuromarketing and Consumer Neuroscience

An Introduction to Neuromarketing and Consumer Neuroscience by Thomas Ramsøy the most thorough, yet accessible, scientific introduction to the field yet written.

newfrontHow can we study the unconscious drivers of choice?

This is the authoritative introduction and update to neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience, written by one of the leading figures in this field!

amazon-kindle-buy

Don’t have a Kindle? Download the Kindle Reader for your device now!

 

 

 

Editor’s Note: Dr. Thomas Ramsøy is a friend, frequent blog contributor, and one of the most brilliant people that I have ever met. It’s with very great pleasure that I post this review of his new book by another brilliant blog contributor, friend, author and researcher Dr. Steve Genco. I have not read the book yet myself, but if Thomas wrote it and Steve is praising it, you can bet it should be considered required reading for both researchers and marketers. Plus, as someone with a neurological condition myself, anything related to understanding how the brain functions is going to be inherently interesting.

Besides my personal connections, why am I pushing this, even going so far to have a direct ad in the introduction? Because I remain firmly convinced that despite the slow penetration of early EEG and fMRI neuromarketing applications in MR we are entering an era where alternate approaches like implicit techniques, facial coding, biometrics via device sensors, voice and text analytics, and yes, even EEG readings will become highly scalable, cost effective, and ubiquitous in MR. We’re seeing it happen already and with most consumer electronics devices have these capabilities built right into them it will only increase. Research will no longer have to rely on recall and stated intent or perceptions but will truly become behaviorally evidence based. That vision is one sought after by client-side researchers, and anyone involved with MR would do well to begin educating themselves on what this emerging future looks like and beginning the shift to embed it in their toolkit now.

Here is Steve’s review, as well as a link to a free Coursera course linked to Thomas’s book. I encourage everyone who regularly reads this blog to get the book and check out the course.

 

By Steve Genco

Thomas Ramsøy is unusual in the neuromarketing community in that he is both the CEO of a commercial research company, Neurons Inc., and also a full-time faculty member with expertise in both neuroscience and marketing. At the Copenhagen Business School, he has created one of the most successful neuromarketing programs in Europe, with over 400 students enrolled in classes, and has established his own research lab, the Center for Decision Neuroscience, which has over several years produced a consistent flow of innovative, peer-reviewed research on such diverse topics as the cognitive role of brands, the nature of consciousness, the sources of consumer choice, and the causes of compulsive buying disorder.

So it was with great anticipation that I awaited my preview copy of Dr. Ramsøy’s new ebook, An Introduction to Neuromarketing and Consumer Neuroscience (hereafter, INCN). Having now consumed the book in full, I’m pleased to say my expectations were not disappointed. With INCN, Ramsøy has provided neuromarketers with the most thorough, yet accessible, scientific introduction to the field yet written. As he states in the introduction, “the models of choice and how we can assess causal mechanisms of consumer choice is what this book is about.”

Before summarizing the content of INCN, I want to emphasize, and applaud, a very important point made in the last chapter. In a section titled “Dodging the One-Sided Approach to Neuromarketing,” Ramsøy observes that neuromarketing companies today are operating in a kind of scientific vacuum. In established scientific fields like pharmaceuticals, no one would allow a commercial company to market a product that had not been rigorously and publicly tested for efficacy (and of course safety). Yet in neuromarketing, companies are able to make claims about predictive or diagnostic efficacy for which no publicly available tests of validity are required. What is missing in our field, Ramsøy argues, is an equally robust and active academic side of neuromarketing from which commercial claims can be drawn and against which they can be assessed. This is the model in fields as diverse as marketing and medicine, which host academic and commercial approaches simultaneously, and it needs to develop in neuromarketing as well if this field is going to achieve its full potential as an applied science of consumer choice.

Ramsøy does much to further this goal of “academic neuromarketing” in INCN. In eight chapters and an Epilogue, he provides an example-rich, copiously-illustrated and well-documented tour of neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience. The book begins with three foundational chapters that set the stage. The first chapter is a survey of brain regions and their relevance to consumer choice and behavior. I have to say, as a non-neuroscientist, I tend to zone out when people start talking about the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex or the medial temporal lobe region, and usually I sleep through these obligatory “brain anatomy” lessons. But somehow this overview stuck with me. Starting with the basic navigational nomenclature — anterior-posterior, dorsal-ventral, medial-lateral — I actually started to understand (at a rookie level, I admit) how the complex architecture of the brain fits together. When regions started popping up in later chapters, they made sense to me in a way they had not before.

Chapter 2 is a thorough survey of “the neuromarketing toolbox.” As one would expect from a neuroscientist, Ramsøy devotes the requisite pages to the high-tech tools, EEG and fMRI, and actually provides understandable explanations of how and why they work, but he also spends considerable time on the less flashy techniques that can produce meaningful and highly useful results — reaction time studies, eye tracking, biometrics, and computational neuroscience approaches, to name a few. The last topic introduces something really new in research methodology, the use of simulation software to predict the allocation of “bottom up” visual attention to a scene, image, or video, all done automatically based on what scientists know about how the visual system works.

Chapter 3 provides another tour, similar to Chapter 1, but this time of the sensory systems (vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch) which so fundamentally determine how marketing, brands, products, and shopping experiences enter our brains. The key lesson here: we do not passively absorb inputs from any of these systems. The impressions, meanings, and implications our brains derive from sensory inputs are all constructed, not passively observed, and much of this process goes on outside our conscious awareness. The brain is an active yet often silent player in constructing the world we perceive, and marketers ignore this fundamental fact at their peril.

With the foundation laid down, INCN devotes a chapter to each of five fundamental issues at the core neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience — attention and consciousness; emotions and feelings; learning and memory; wanting, liking, and deciding; and consumer aberrations. I will not spoil the story by describing each of these chapters in detail. Suffice it to say that each topic is covered in fascinating detail and is accompanied by a surprising number of published studies conducted by Ramsøy and his students (and many seminal studies by other scientists as well). This adds a degree of credibility to the narrative that would be hard for a less-experienced author to communicate. With this book, Thomas Ramsøy is putting a stake in the ground — academic neuromarketing is much further along that most observers might realize, and the foundations for real scientific progress in neuromarketing are there to be taken advantage of. More than any other book about brain science and consumer behavior I have read recently, this one is a loud declaration that the “Wild West” days of neuromarketing hype and over-claiming are dead, and a real revolution in market research is on the horizon.

Introduction to Neuromarketing and Consumer Neuroscience, by Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy, is available in ebook form from Amazon.uk at http://amzn.to/1sNlJZT. In addition to being a standalone publication, it is also a recommended companion volume for a free online neuromarketing course Dr. Ramsøy is teaching on Coursera, starting on October 27, 2014. More information and a sign-up form for the class are available at http://bit.ly/1oUhASZ.

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Guest Post: Bo Mattsson of Cint On The Growth Of DIY Sampling Technology

The Market Research industry as a whole has started to accept and, in part, embrace an array of DIY research tools into the day-to-day research tool kit. How have researchers turned a development seen as one of the greatest challenges of the past ten years into an opportunity for innovation and positive change?
Stop taking drugs! Take a natural supplement of Acai Berry
Courtesy of crresearch.com

Courtesy of crresearch.com

 

By Bo Mattsson

While the advent of DIY market research technology was initially met with considerable trepidation by some professionals in the industry, many are now recognizing its inherent benefits and embracing DIY within their own suite of research tools. In the early days of DIY, researchers viewed the concept with skepticism due to the potential threat of competition and the possible proliferation of substandard research through misuse and a lack of pertinent skills. However, as the technology has progressed, and evolved into much more than just “quick and dirty” survey tools, the industry as a whole has started to accept and, in part, embrace an array of DIY research tools into the day-to-day research tool kit.

Many firms have been integrating the technology into their own suite of products and services, while also discovering opportunities in differentiating their services from DIY offerings, highlighting the advantages of turning to service-led methodologies and tapping into industry expertise, while at the same time using these tools to streamline and improve the efficiency of their own operations. So how have researchers turned a development seen as one of the greatest challenges of the past ten years into an opportunity for innovation and positive change?

Streamlining existing services
Professional researchers have discovered that integrating various DIY research tools into their operations can help them deliver faster and more cost-effective results for their clients. As a whole, research is evolving from purely managed services to incorporating DIY or self-service, even programmatic, integrated solutions in response to continued downward pressure on pricing and margins throughout the value chain and the subsequent need to drive procurement and operational efficiencies by trimming internal processing costs and streamlining supply chains.

Robust technological developments have resulted in software and survey tools that can tap directly into panel platforms, self-service targeting and panel management solutions, and hubs connecting hundreds of online communities and market research panels offering a single access point to millions of double-opt-in (DOI) Esomar and ISO-compliant respondents. Additionally, automation of processes via panel and survey tool API integrations has helped to enhance efficiency and reduce errors.

Reaching global respondents

In addition to the speed, 24/7 access, transparency, and control offered by many self-service research products, the expanding DIY trend has connected the global research community like never before. For those looking to gain insights in foreign countries, innovative software can now help translate languages, target appropriate respondents, access applicable panels – all in a far faster and more cost-effective way than was possible previously. This becomes increasingly important as technology continues to make the world smaller and more accessible, meaning companies are looking to expand globally at a growing rate and international opinion has become more valuable.

Embracing the collaborative economy

Naturally, market research is not the only industry to be revolutionized and disrupted by technology in recent years. Business models across the board are being rewritten by the rise of a new economic model encouraging the direct exchange of services and knowledge. Following the success of companies like Uber and Airbnb, recent research suggests that big brands have caught on and are actively taking part in the collaborative economy.

The market research industry has been able to align itself with this movement through the propagation of DIY and API software, panel exchanges, and online communities – all of which eliminate layers between procurement and project management by connecting buyers and sellers directly. Shrinking the distance between the end buyer and respondent to a minimum in a transparent environment and partnering with unusual sources in order to obtain respondents has opened the door for innovation and fresh perspectives. In addition to reaping the rewards of this new dynamic, research professionals can also contribute by helping others through shared expertise, support, insight, and training.

Author bio

Bo Mattsson is the chief executive of Cint, a global provider of market research tools and survey sampling solutions for obtaining market insight from engaged research participants via its OpinionHUB global exchange platform. Bo founded Cint in 1998 when he decided to apply his experience of trading online to the market research industry. He then took over as CEO in 2003 to revamp the core technology behind the market research tools into an exchange-based offering for transparent respondent access. For further information, please visit www.cint.com.

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Why Businesses Fail: What The Crumbs Story Can Teach Business Leaders

When the retail bakery chain Crumbs declared bankruptcy and closed last month it made national news. There are valuable lessons for all business leaders in this story.

crumbs for lease

 

By Larry Gorkin

When the retail bakery chain Crumbs declared bankruptcy and closed last month it made national news. The high profile business failure was unexpected by consumers and mass media, with whom it was famous for selling over-sized gourmet cupcakes.

At one level, Crumbs’ closing is the boom-bust story of a trendy fad product. More importantly, however, it represents a failure by executives who missed Crumbs’ need for an evolved strategy to create a sustainable business. There are valuable lessons for all business leaders in this story, making it the focus of this post.

Here is the crux: Leaders with successful growing businesses need a strategy to ensure their value proposition and offerings evolve ahead of inevitable market changes. Otherwise they risk unexpected business set-backs, similar to those which recently forced retail baker Crumbs to shut down.

For those not familiar, Crumbs was a retail bakery chain specialized in selling gourmet cupcakes. Crumb’s signature item was a four inch big frosting cupcake which sold for about $4. While the company sold additional baked goods and beverages, cupcakes were most of its business.

Crumbs got its start about ten years ago, right as the gourmet cupcake market took off. The company grew along with the category, going public at its peak in 2010. Crumbs’ stock topped out at about $13 per share, as the company rapidly expanded to 70 retail stores.

But, success was short lived. The cupcake market declined, new competitors entered, and results suffered. After several unprofitable quarters, Crumbs’ stock fell below $1 and was delisted. You know the rest.

In many ways, Crumbs’ demise is easily understood and predictable. The company’s core business was a discretionary fad item without unique advantage. It operated in a market with many potential competitors and low barriers to entry. Moreover, Crumbs’ cupcakes could top 600 calories, making them out of sync with healthy diet trends.

At the same time, Crumbs was far from pre-destined to fail. The company had a huge following, solid baking skills, and an enormous footprint. Crumbs’ unfilled requirement was to expand its value proposition from cupcakes to something bigger, differentiated, and sustainable. As an example, Starbucks turned the concept of premium coffee into a larger lifestyle and social destination.

Alternatively, Crumbs could have pursued a more targeted strategy exclusively focused on their indulgent cupcake product. Rather than trying to sell its $4 cupcakes as an everyday purchase, Crumbs could have targeted special occasion buyers. This strategy might be modeled after Cinnabon, which sells similarly decadent and premium cinnamon rolls primarily in malls and airports.

Of course, the Crumbs story is not limited to trendy or fast growth products, although they do face special challenges. It is easy to get seduced by a rapidly expanding market where everyone grows and looks smart. But even tall trees don’t reach the sun, and markets eventually slow down. Moreover, successful businesses always attract attention and competition. Sooner or later you need to change.

So, the question facing everyone — whether in a fast or slow growth market– is not whether to evolve a business strategy, but when to do it. Here, I’d argue that it is better to be ahead of the curve than behind. Companies that wait too long have a hard time catching up, and some never do. Think about eBay versus Amazon, and Blockbuster versus Netflix. Both Amazon and Netflix continuously evolved their business strategies as the competitors stood still. The results tell the story.

In that spirit, here are some steps to help ensure your business doesn’t become crumbs.

1. Assess Your Position–What is the market size forecast? What are your competitive strengths and weaknesses? What macro market trends are likely to impact your business?

2. Set a Time Frame–How sustainable is your current strategy or value proposition? When is the right time to introduce a new strategy?

3. Develop Hypotheses–What are customers’ unmet needs? What strengths and assets do you have to leverage? What vulnerabilities do you want to defend?

4. Create a Plan–How will you evaluate and refine your hypotheses? What are the key steps and milestones? What are the role and responsibility assignments?

Creating change is hard and uncomfortable. But standing still means you’re being left behind.

Questions: How long has your value proposition and strategy been in place? How sustainable is it? How has it evolved?

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Rating Scales: A Lack of Drama in 1 Act

It's easy to ignore research on research in favor of past practices. That's why I teamed up with QuestionPro to create this video walking people through best practices for interval rating scales.

speak see hear no evil

 

By Jeffrey Henning

Act 1 – Setting: A Marketing Researcher’s Office

Charlie: How’d that last survey go?

Jessie: Well, the results were pretty clear that consumers preferred Concept C, but it was so different from what the brand had done before that they went with Concept A instead. The brand managers trusted their gut and their past experience more than the research.

Charlie: That’s too bad. Happens sometimes. Well, let’s see about this new questionnaire you submitted.

Jessie: It’s for a new concept test.

Charlie: OK, here you’re using a numeric scale with just the endpoints labeled. According to Krosnick and Tahk in “The Optimal Length of Rating Scales to Maximize Reliability and Validity”, such scales are less consistent, especially with lower educated participants. Let’s use a five-point fully labeled scale, instead. It’s more reliable, according to the research.

Jessie: Well, I always use the 0 to 10 point scale. I’m just more comfortable with it. So let’s keep it.

Charlie: But the research shows…

Jessie: It’s always worked for us in the past. No need to change.

Epilogue

I have a conversation like the above at least once a week. Researchers aren’t so different from the users of our research. It’s easy to ignore research on research in favor of past practices. That’s why I teamed up with QuestionPro to create this video walking people through best practices for interval rating scales. Enjoy!

 

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CASRO Transformation Spotlight: Schlesinger Associates – Cliff Jumping with Clients

When you hear a story of a company that started at the kitchen table and grew into a $100 million plus business the first thought that comes to mind is a tech company in Silicon Valley. However, this story is about a market research company that uses customer centricity as a primary catalyst for innovation.

 

 TRASNFORMATION SPOTLIGHT

 

Editor’s Note: Over the past year GreenBook and CASRO have been actively exploring opportunities to collaborate and have uncovered many synergies, especially a shared focus on showcasing companies that are navigating the changing research marketplace. With our focus on the future of the industry and CASRO’s leading position of advocating for and guiding the traditional players it is a natural fit for us to support one another.

With that in mind we decided to launch a new series that will be housed here on the GreenBook blog as well as on the just launched CASRO blog focused on presenting stories of companies in our space that are successfully transforming their businesses to flourish in our new world.  Today is the first in that series.

A while back I did an interview with Steve Schlesinger on a similar topic, but Jeff Resnick has done a masterful job of distilling the Schlesinger story into a compelling narrative that we think can be a road map for other companies as well. It’s a success story still being written for sure, but based on the evidence so far Schlesinger Associates should be an inspiration to other leaders in the industry.

CASRO and GreenBook hope you enjoy and find value in these spotlight stories; let us know what you think in the comments!

 

By Jeff Resnick of Stakeholder Advisory Services

When you hear a story of a company that started at the kitchen table and grew into a $100 million plus business the first thought that comes to mind is a tech company in Silicon Valley. However, this story is about a market research company that uses customer centricity as a primary catalyst for innovation. The aspiration of this firm? — to become the dominant data collection platform out there – period.

I recently had the opportunity to spend time with Steve Schlesinger, CEO of Schlesinger Associates to discuss the issue of business transformation, how the Schlesinger team achieved it and what the future holds. For Schlesinger, transformation is the end result of four key principles – customer centricity, continuous evaluation of business processes, ensuring the right people are in the right jobs and learning to fail faster.

Every great business has a tipping point. For Schlesinger, a company that was founded by the family matriarch in 1965, the tipping point occurred in 2011. Malcolm Gladwell defines a tipping point as the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point – that moment where change accelerates beyond expectation and has a dramatic impact. In 2011, the executive team convened for a discussion about the future. The team knew they had already built a great company. The company had grown every one of its 48 years with one exception – 2009, a year where revenues were flat – and a year most of us in the business world would like to forget. What the team struggled with was how to dramatically grow the company to levels well beyond its current revenue. The answer wasn’t in the room that day but the decision concerning how to find the answer was. Schlesinger held a summit, 25 leaders from around the industry. Clients, business partners and those knowledgeable about the industry participated in a day-long meeting with the first half of the day devoted to understanding trends in the industry and the second half focused on a single question – “If you were in our shoes, what would you do?” The answers formed the foundation of the strategy that Schlesinger now follows and is the reason the Schlesinger team wakes up every morning knowing the best days for the industry and their firm lie ahead.

Customer centricity is a phrase that is bantered around a lot but often poorly defined. For the Schlesinger team, it means digging deep to understand how they can best help their clients solve problems. According to Steve, there isn’t a magic bullet for achieving customer centricity. It takes continuous dialog and a commitment to make customer input part of the foundation of decision making. It is a two way street. Customers continuously tell Steve they value that Schlesinger is always bringing them new ideas – ways to make their data collection process more efficient, new tools and techniques available that drive deeper insights as well as the professionals who know how to use them. At times the Schlesinger team and the client mutually decide to “jump off a cliff together” trying something that might or might not work but offers great potential. This mutual act of courage stretches the envelope of ideas for what its clients will value. It is one antidote to becoming obsolete.

Looking at business process through a different lens – Constant re-examination of how work is completed is essential to transformation. In the case of Schlesinger, ongoing process innovation is driven by the establishment of close interactive working relationships with the insight provider (a full service market research firm or a consulting boutique), the end client and the Schlesinger team. This inter-dependent relationship paradigm is the key to achieving successful outcomes for clients and allows Schlesinger to anticipate needs of clients rather than simply react to requests for data collection. Perhaps even more importantly, this also allows Schlesinger to understand how the needs of their clients are evolving and stay ahead of the evolution curve.

The right people – At times a business cannot be transformed unless new skills and talents are brought into the firm. The importance of leadership in new areas that brings deep expertise in that area cannot be understated, nor can the cultural upheaval this can cause in a tight knit group of people who often see themselves as a family. Over the past three years, Schlesinger has brought in more than 12 senior individuals with expertise in areas where it previously had no or very limited expertise. The decision to move in this direction was key to getting on the path of growth acceleration. Organic internal change would have been too slow. Today, there is a great blend of “new” and “old” with long time members of the Schlesinger team seeing the benefits of external input.

Learning to fail faster – One of the most interesting points of the conversation with Steve Schlesinger was his attitude toward failure. Steve and his team continue to transform quickly and with that, the recognition that failure will happen. However, in his mind, one of the most important elements to infuse within the culture of the organization is permission to fail – “we can’t fear this.” However, the skill elusive to many, is knowing when to walk away from a new person, product, service or process. Steve believes there is great learning in failure but human nature is often to not accept failure and keep working until ‘you get it right.’ This becomes a drain of resources – financial and human capital. Deciding to end an effort is part of making hard choices as a leader. Without failure there can’t be growth.

What’s the bottom line on business transformation at Schlesinger & Associates? Adopt customer centricity as your mantra, keep a constant eye on your business processes, hire the right people even if cultural friction results and learn to fail faster. It is how you make a market research company look more like a maturing Silicon Valley business enterprise.

 

ABOUT SCHLESINGER ASSOCIATES

Schlesinger Associates is a leading market research services provider. With offices strategically located across key markets the US, UK, France and Germany, this talented team provides global solutions for the most challenging of qualitative and quantitative research needs. An uncompromising commitment to their clients’ study experience and research success sets them apart.

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Jeffrey Henning’s #MRX Top 10: C’est la Vie, around the World

Of the 2,105 unique links shared on #MRX last week, here are 10 of the most retweeted:

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 By Jeffrey Henning

Of the 2,105 unique links shared on #MRX last week, here are 10 of the most retweeted:

  1. Race/Immigration Retains Its Position as the Most Important Issue Facing Britain Today – Immigration remains the top issue for the second month in a row in Britain, after displacing the economy. Third in importance to Brits is the NHS (National Health Service), followed by unemployment.
  2. 80% of Your Research Should Be with Your Customers – Ray Poynter recalls that when he joined the industry in the 1970s, most research was conducted with the entire market (i.e., nationally representative samples).  As categories, companies, and products proliferated, research in the 1980s and ’90s focused on users vs. non-users of product categories. Starting in the 2000s, research has come to focus on customers, where “most good ideas for the brand will be seen”.
  3. Ipsos Global Trends 2014: Navigating the New – Ipsos surveyed 32,000 consumers in 20 major countries in September and October of 2013 on a wide variety of subjects, from society and the economy, to governments and privacy, brands, science and technology, and the environment. They report the results, in detail.
  4. Text Analytics at Disney – Tom H.C. Anderson shares an OdinText case study from AMA TV that looks at how Disney worked around some Hispanics’  Extreme Response Scale pattern of answering questions to dig into what really drove their satisfaction with Disneyland.
  5. A Big Picture of the Trends in Mobile Market Research – Ray Poynter writes, “Mobile devices can do so much more than just surveys; passive data, push notification, and location based services are just the start. The phone is becoming a window into people’s lives.”
  6. So You Think Your Company Is Customer-Centric, But Is It Really? – Vision Critical shares the infographic below about customer-experience-leading companies.
  7. China Overtakes the USA as the World’s Largest Economy – By one measure, that of the economy in Purchasing Power Parity, China is overtaking the US this year. Euromonitor’s new white paper looks at the impact of the continuing growth of China on other markets.
  8. 58% of UK Consumers ‘Unconcerned’ About Data Sharing – Writing for Research, Bronwen Morgan reports on a Webtrends survey of 2,000 UK adults that finds that concern about sharing data with brands is correlated to age: younger respondents are the least concerned.
  9. C’est la Vie – Christine Birkner of Marketing News interviewed Landor Associations about their ongoing ethnographic research with 11 French families, now in its seventh year. Key advice: Dig deep into the contradictions between what consumers say and what they do.
  10. “Visibility is the key to engaging young people” – This is the second in a series of YouTube discussions from VisionsLive discussing why there aren’t more young people in the market research industry.

 

 

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. Only market research links are considered, although the #MRX hashtag is occasionally used for other types of tweets, including – recently – tweets about Mr. X, an upcoming Indian 3D thriller film.

 

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