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Can Africa achieve a state of mobile research?

Africa is developing, and could become a great place for companies to expand into.  With expansion comes a need for market research, and companies will have to consider several things before starting that.  General problems also exist, such as frequent telecommunication failures and low literacy.  The content with over one billion people and the size of China, the USA, India and Europe combined, cultures and languages are a huge barrier.  Mobile would be the key to research.  Many Africans do not have PCs, but they do have mobile phones.  This gives its citizens opportunities to participate in this type of research.  For more on Mobile Market Research in Africa, visit RW Connect.

Has your company done market research in Africa?  Was via mobile or another form?  What advice do you have for colleagues potentially researching in an African nation?

TMRE 2010: Injecting Emotion into Market Research–from by Dan Heath’s TMRE Keynote

By Kathryn Korostoff, Research Rockstar LLC

Our first keynote today was Dan Heath, a generally well known author and columnist, perhaps most well known as the co-author of ‘Made to Stick.’ His keynote focused on his most recent book, co-authored with his brother Chip, ‘Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.’
Dan acknowledges that “Change is hard.: and “People hate change.” Those were two of the most common things he and his brother heard when they began to work on the book.

But, he also observes that some change is good. Wedding photos are full of happy faces’and this is a HUGE change. Having babies, also a huge change.

So why are some changes hard, and others are easy’even joyful?
The answer comes from the fact that we have two systems in our brains. the rational/deliberative side, and the emotional/automatic side.

When these two systems align, change can happen. When they’re not, change can be painful.
So, how do we make these two systems work well together?

The Heaths’ thesis is reflected in a metaphor.

To switch or change, we need to recognize there are 3 parts of the system:

  • ?? The rider, our logical person, who is quite small compared to the elephant. May be a naysayer’who says stop and think. And who thinks he is in control, but he’s on an elephant. In a disagreement, who’d win?
  • ?? The elephant is our emotional person. Needs to be fed. It is big. Bigger than we care to admit. The elephant needs motivation.
  • ?? The path, which is the direction. The rider needs direction.

BTW, as Dan amusingly points out, the elephant doesn’t care about PowerPoint.

The elephant tells you to eat ice cream, check your email over and over when you should be doing ‘real work’, or to call an ex when you are drunk.

But the elephant is also good. It’s what gives us cool new ideas. It is the fuel to make progress, change.

But this all points to a problem. In a lot of situations, we have objective information’but a desired change is not happening. In market research, this can be that we have delivered some amazing data pointing to a new product opportunity, but we can’t get the management team excited enough to actually take action with it.

At this point, Dan made a transition, bringing in the topic of how we find out how to solve problems. His key point here is that we have a flawed approach:

We tend to ask what’s broken and how do we fix it, instead of what’s working and how do we clone it.

Why do we do this? Psychologists say bad is more powerful than good. We remember bad stuff longer. We look at negative pictures longer than good ones. When asked to recall experiences, people more readily recall negative things than positive things’whether about a place or a person.

Dan’s suggestion is that we need to study success as diligently as we study failure. He calls this, ‘finding the bright spots.’

We also need to be crystal clear that knowledge rarely leads to change. Lots of products have warnings’even cigarettes. Factual information rarely impacts us.

In businesses, we can deliver facts, figures’and it rarely leads to change. We need to produce a feeling. To illustrate this, Dan shared the case of John Stegner, a gentlemen who worked at a huge manufacturing firm, in the finance department. Stegner decided they could save a lot of money by centralizing purchasing, and he even had a spreadsheet that showed $1 billion in savings over 10 years. A billion dollars’anyone should pay attention to that, right? Apparently not. During his presentation, his colleagues nodded, they were polite. But nothing ever happened. So one summer, he hired an intern. He had the intern go round the company and go to every factory and collect a sample of a work glove purchased by that factory. Turns out the company buys over 400 types, with each site’s average cost ranging widely. Then, Stegner takes over a conference room, and dumps the 400+ glove samples, with average price tags attached, and brings in the colleagues. They come in, they see the gloves. They see the various prices. They have emotional reactions. They are shocked at the price variations. They are stunned at the number of different styles. Within months, Stegner had approval to centralize purchasing.

He had a spreadsheet that’s showed $1billion saving. Then he dumps gloves on a table, and they are ready to move. WOW.

Dan’s take away from this is that even for organizational change, we need to see and feel and that is what gives us the desire to change.

And then Dan did something many keynote speakers from outside of the research world don’t do. He tied this all into market research. Dan observes that in market research we don’t instill the emotion into the process.

He observes that our process is to focus on data, then insight, and hope for change.

He points out we need to inject emotion into the process: we need data, insight, emotion, and then CHANGE.

As an example, he cited a Microsoft research project where the researchers found that 6 out of 20 users couldn’t use a feature in a product they were testing. But the developers didn’t buy in to the results. So the researchers had the developers join the focus group process. By having the developers observe the research, they found inspiration (I also think of this as an issue with proximity to data, which I wrote about awhile ago here: ARTICLE ).

As Dan correctly points out, market researchers understand data. We all know how to collect great data. What can make us stand out, as researchers, is our ability to add the emotion so that actual change occurs. His bottom line?

When people change it is because they have clear direction, motivation, and a clear path.


Practically speaking, what does this mean? Well, based on this keynote, it seems we need to do at least 3 things:

  • ?? Pictures. Photographs that make a point’even if extreme, or humorous.
  • ?? Proximity. Keep research users close to the process, so they can experience the research’and not just get a slide deck three months later.
  • ?? Find our bright spots, and clone them. What was the last great project you did that had real impact? What was different in that project?

TMRE 2010: Tablet Computers, Closed Internet Applications and The Future of Research

by Kathryn Korostoff, Research Rockstar LLC

[This is an article inspired by Chris Anderson, Author of 'Free: The Future of A Radical Price,' ' The Long Tail,' and Editor of Wired magazine, who was our morning speaker.]

I must start with a confession. When Chris started his talk, he stated that he was not going to be addressing the planned topic (the one that appeared in the show schedule)’which was to be on his popular book, ‘Free.’ Instead has was going to discuss his current passion, the rise of tablet computers.

The ‘Free’ topic had intrigued me. After all, as market researchers, pricing research in many markets gets rather complicated as we deal with the increasing notion ‘of ‘free’ and ‘freemium.’ I was looking forward to learning more about the topic.

But after awhile, Chris had me hooked.

His talk opened with the topic of, ‘The Web is Dead”a cover story from a recent Wired magazine issue. I had read the story in the magazine when it came out, and you can read for yourself here (LINK)’complete with some cool graphics. But the key point is all about applications. He sees a rising tide of ‘closed gardens’ on the Internet’and that is where is the best content and applications will live (relegating the ‘open’ web to enthusiasts, amateurs, and those applications that are only valuable if everyone can access them, such as shopping sites).

He also shared some fascinating data about the impact of tablet computers. According to Anderson, tablet computers (the iPad or any of an emerging plethora of choices) fundamentally change behavior as compared to laptop use. An anecdote that was light-hearted but telling: he shared that his wife bans laptops from the bedroom (keyboard typing sounds are not acceptable), but he is allowed to bring his iPad to bed. Anderson is clearly a fan of tablets; he also stated that his current laptop is probably his last’his future devices will be tablets, he asserts.

Ultimately, he focused on the idea of the web and laptops, versus the internet (closed applications not visible to Google) and tablets. His thesis is that there are trends towards both Internet-based applications and tablets that will fundamentally change what is possible (products, pricing) and how customers will behave (physically, product usage, and purchase behaviors).

So rather than further paraphrase his talk and the ‘Web is Dead’ article, let’s get right to the point: what does all of this stuff mean to market researchers? What are the specific opportunity and threats we will be facing?

1. Opportunities in Finger Tracking
Finger tracking will be a huge source of behavioral data. Analogous to eye tracking, finger tracking on a tablet gives researchers an objective measure of what ads get touched, how fingers move across a screen of choices, and so on. Tablet applications capture this data whether online or offline’so the data is objective, and whole. Amazing. Just sitting there I imagined how many fellow audience members are now plotting to open up agencies and technology providers dedicated to harvesting this new data source!

2. Tablets as a Data Gathering Device
Tablets are a reading device. According to Anderson, an analysis was done on one of Wired’s sister publications (he did not reveal which one), about average reading times per mode. The result?

  • * Print (a standard magazine as published on paper) 60 minutes average reading
  • * Web (reading the magazine on a web site) about 5 minutes (ouch)
  • * iPhone client 55 minutes
  • * iPad 100 minutes

That’s right, according to Anderson, for this particular publication the iPad average reading exceeds the amount of time the magazine is read in print. By a lot.

The things that can be done on a tablet, and perhaps even just the physical form factor’s size and weight, seems to have an impact on attention span, and willingness to engage. Could this apply to survey design? Could we see a resurgence in mall intercepts? Even (gasp!) door-to-door research? Other on-site research? All fueled by tablets? Could we design surveys with more media stimuli, more questions, if participants are more engaged?

3. Emerging Challenges for Social Media Research
Sentiment monitoring requires web scraping, and that depends on access to content. What happens if, indeed, the web is dead? If more real user behavior and chatter moves to the walled gardens from which sentiment monitoring tools are blocked? (For example, Google can’t see into Facebook discussions). If more premium content moves to closed systems, the very concept of being able to measure customer sentiment by monitoring consumer behavior and commentary online becomes challenged, does it not?

4. A New Form for Research Reports
Wired Magazine is selling an average of 30,000 iPad subscriptions a month. They are using the new device to totally redefine what a magazine is. Anderson invoked the image of Harry Potter’s wizarding newspaper, the Daily Prophet’where images and text move and seem alive. A magazine can now include animation, audio, video, social interactivity and so on.

So maybe that can also be true for market research reports? I remember years ago (and I do mean years) when most research reports were written (for you youngsters, that means as in a Word document instead of a PowerPoint or Keynote file). We all moved to PowerPoint as it became so easy to create visually compelling content in graphic form. All of the data could realistically be illustrated as charts and graphs. And soon followed the demise of the written research report.

Perhaps with tablets, we’ll see another massive change? Multimedia reports that balance the logical flow of the written word with the compelling visual impact of graphs, videos and animation? That can tie into team interactivity for shared highlighting of key points? Would our report reading times also nearly double? And wouldn’t that be amazing?

Thanks to Chris Anderson’s talk, I easily identified four potential changes for market research. And while on a deadline! I am sure there are many more. What ones can you add?

[Are you at TMRE? I have 5 copies of my book, 'How to Hire and Manage Market Research Agencies' to give away. Normally available on Amazon for $17. Just stop me and ask!]

Save $300 on TMRE this week only

The $300 early bird discount expires this week for TMRE 2010. This year’s agenda covers: Segmentation, Media & Measurement, Shopper Insights, Social Media & Community Research, Culture & Research Trends, Market Research Leadership & Strategy, Marketing Research & Brand Insights, Insight Driven Innovation, Data Analysis & Measurement, Business to Business Market Research, the EXPLOR Awards, The New Insights Toolbox, and more.

Click here to visit the TMRE webpage.
Click here to visit the agenda to find out more about the tracks, sessions.

Market Researchers on Twitter

The Affiliate Marketing blog recently posted a list of the best market researchers to follow on Twitter. With the micro-blogging service being constantly updated, it’s a great way to keep an eye on the market and follow the latest trends.

The list consists of:

  1. eMarketer ‘ Digital intelligence for marketers & advertisers on social media, mobile, media, advertising, retail, consumer products, and more.
  2. Forrester Research ‘ Independent research company that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice to global leaders in business and technology.
  3. Google Retail Team ‘ Uses their Twitter account to provide the latest industry news and data.
  4. Pew Internet ‘ The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization.
  5. BigResearch ‘ Consumer intelligence firm providing solution-based insights of consumer behavior.
  6. Focus ‘ Online resource where professionals can freely access the research and expert advice they need to make better business decisions.
  7. American Marketing Association ‘ Official Twitter account of AMA, a professional association for individuals and organizations involved in the practice, teaching and study of marketing.

You can also follow The Market Research Event on Twitter at @TMRE.

Top Ten Tips from Market Researchers Using Social Media

Are you looking for new ways to gain candid insights and feedback from your customers? Learn how leading cross-industry market researchers have revolutionized their processes using social media as a driver of results.

If you are responsible for Market Research, here’s 10 sessions YOU CAN’T MISS at the Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies Conference:

1. SOLAR WINDS Outsources Product Development to their Community:
Crowd Sourcing Powered
Dawn Lacallade, Community Manager and Strategist, SOLAR WINDS

2. HUMANA INNOVATION CENTER Leverages Social Networks to Help Quitters of the World Unite!
Greg Matthews, Director, Consumer Innovation, HUMANA

3. EBAY Uses Community for Voices of the Customer Product Development Input
Garnor Morantes,
Manager, Community Input,
Online Forums, EBAY

4. P&G, VH1 & BURT’S BEES Make Social Media a Real Part of Market Research & Consumer Insights Programs

Lucas Watson, Global Team Leader,
Digital Business Strategy,
Michael Desmarais,
Vice President,
Strategic Insights & Research, VH1
Paula Alexander,
Director, Global Knowledge & Insights, BURT’S BEES

5. DELL Leverages Community for Insights and Innovation
Caroline Dietz,
Communities and Conversations, DELL

6. PFIZER Does Large-Scale Social Media Market Research: With Details and Without Bias
Robin Spencer, Senior Research Fellow,
Innovation & The Idea Farm, PFIZER

7. LINKEDIN Brings Online Communities Offline for Product Feedback from Brand Drivers
Matt Warburton,
irector, Enterprise Community, LINKEDIN

8. STARWOOD HOTELS Uses Non-Traditional Insight Driven Community Building
Stephen Gates,
Interactive Creative Director,

9. SEARS Formulates Social Media Business Goals BEFORE Engaging to Measure Success and Ensure ROI
Robert Harles,
Director, Social Media & Community, SEARS

10. ALLSTATE Leverages Social Media to Establish Dialogue with Consumers to Co-Develop New Services
Bob Wasserman, Vice President,

Download the conference brochure the full agenda and session descriptions.