Tag Archives: tmre blog

TMRE Day Two Delivers, Too!

By Marc Dresner

The more things change’uhm’the more things change?

If there was any doubt that TMRE’s exceptional Day One symposia were a fluke, and that Day Two would revert to the predictable market research conference fare we’ve seen elsewhere over the years, those fears were put to rest friends!

Day Two was filled with all sorts of twists, turns and surprises (yes, I am actually referring to a market research conference).

To wit: I thought I was going to start my day by hearing Wired magazine’s Chris Anderson ‘ probably best known for ‘The long Tail’ ‘ discuss his latest opus, ‘Free: The Future of a Radical Price.’ Instead, I got a jolt that put my coffee to shame; there would be no book plug, but instead a crash course on how tablets ‘ the non-prescription, computing kind ‘ are going to take over the world!

Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but Anderson did make a strong argument for why tablets are about to replace PCs and how closed-Web apps will to a large extent supplant the Internet as we know it today.

Btw, guest TMRE blogger Kathryn Korostoff posted a fascinating analysis here yesterday on what this all means for research. It’s a must-read!

Next, we were treated to a panel of EXPLOR award finalists moderated by Cambiar’s Beth Rounds and uSamp’s Matt Dusig. By now, of course, we know who won, but every one of these case studies deserves an award for innovative, real-world application of research. No naval-gazing here.

  • - eBay and Invoke leveraged a real-time hybrid approach that included storyboards in their project to help consumers grasp abstraction and let the ideation juices flow.
  • - ANZ National Bank (New Zealand) with help from Touchpoint in a twist used VOC research to illuminate and empower the folks on its front lines ‘ instead of just the suits upstairs ‘ which rocketed the bank’s position from 2nd worst in customer service to 2nd best.
  • - And our EXPLOR winner, American Water, was as much a case study in courage as it was research innovation. With partners Digital Research and Thinkvine, American Water ‘ the largest such U.S. utility, operating in more than 35 states and traded on the NYSE ‘ turned its entire business development approach on its ear. I mean radical change here, at the grass roots level, in a very conservative industry. Thanks to an analytics engine on steroids fondly known as TIP (Target Identification Project), the organization ‘ which historically depended on its field reps’ relationships and gut instinct for business development ‘ now relies on objective data for strategic business development and much more. The C-suite even uses the product to promote American Water on Wall Street! Bear in mind this initiative began with extremely limited budget and no initial executive-level champion, and it had to take on the very constituents it was intended to serve. I conducted an exhaustive interview with the players, so you’ll be hearing more about this incredible story in detail next week.

Moving into the session tracks, we heard from 3M on the prickly topic of DIY. For understandable reasons, this isn’t exactly the type of story research agencies typically like to hear because building one’s own internal supplier kinda removes them from the equation. But there’s no denying it’s a trend with legs if you’ve got the right people in place in the right organization. The upside for providers is that this sort of disruption keeps the rest of us on our toes and pushes us to perform even better. So it’s little wonder that 3M walked away with NGMR’s 1st annual Disruptive Innovator award in the client category later in the day.

Next up, we witnessed how research can help an organization to a healthy serving of its own humble pie by bucking conventional wisdom. Or as IFC/Sundance Channel’s Kent Rees quipped, ‘This of course was difficult for our head of marketing to hear’but I got over it.’ (chuckles all around) Essentially, the proverbial ‘indie’ channel thought it knew its audience so well that for a long time no one upstairs saw any need to pony up the dough to confirm it. Luckily for IFC, VP Research Daniel Marcu is the persistent type. Enter Sachs Insights, which segmented their audience and then heaped on the insights via ethnographic video. As a result of this study, IFC undertook a complete brand overhaul and its president, Evan Shapiro, calls the project ‘a great moment in our network’s history and something that we will return to as we evolve.’

Btw, it has come to my attention that for a large portion of the day yesterday, I was apparently being stalked by another of our TMRE guest bloggers, Bill Weylock of Brand3Sixty, who coincidentally attended many of the same sessions as I did. In fact, you’ll find a detailed account of the IFC presentation courtesy of Bill on yesterday’s TMRE blog, along with some of the other sessions I’ll reference herein. Seriously, Bill’s coverage is exceptional and I’m sorely tempted to plagiarize.

Anyway, following the IFC session, we broke for lunch, which gave me the opportunity to shake Weylock from my tail.

So I was about to tuck into a relaxed, collegial meal when my lunch was literally and figuratively disrupted by a second set of awards: NGMR’s Disruptive Innovator awards. NGMR’s founder, Tom Anderson, presented awards for three categories:

  • - Individual: AJ Johnson, Ipsos, and Sean Conry, Techneos
  • - Agency: Communispace’
  • - Client: 3M

Congratulations to all! We’ll hear more about the disruptors in a panel session later this morning, which I’ll cover in my next summary.

The afternoon track for me kicked off with an issue that I thought had been resolved a while ago, but apparently is still alive in some quarters ‘ and for good reason: online sample projectibiity. Anne-Marie Davidson of outdoor lifestyle outfitter REI outlined results from side-by-side testing of landline, online and ‘ as an added bonus ‘ cellular samples (this last group was very small and included more for curiosity with the knowledge that the number of cord-cutters is increasing). Davidson ultimately determined the online group was not sufficiently projectible for REI’s purposes. I’ll reserve judgment, but I must admit I’m perplexed that with telemarketing backlash and sugging, in the caller ID and Do Not Call list era, telephone sample could still be deemed more projectible than online sample in the U.S.

An interesting side note: Davidson referenced a study by WaMu years ago (pre-Chase). My friend Ron Gailey ‘ now heading research for Coca-Cola Asia-Pacific ‘ was head of WaMu’s research team at the time. Ron did quite a bit of groundbreaking R-O-R in those days, and one learning that always intrigued me was that he found an inverse correlation between survey participation frequency and a person’s interest in financial services products. Davidson suggested this could provide evidence for the need to weight for survey participation. Does this conversation sound familiar to anyone? ;)

The last track session of the day for yours truly was also the most interesting for me, and clearly a lot of other folks felt the same way, because when I arrived, there wasn’t even room to stand, so I had to plant myself on the floor in the center aisle.

I’m referring to the presentation by Microsoft’s Reed Cundiff, who took us on a fascinating trip inside the software giant’s market research organization with an absolutely shocking and wonderful level of candor.

Not surprisingly, it seems many of the techie geeks at the world’s premier software developer like to program and field their own online surveys. Rampant DIY has forced Microsoft’s legit researchers to assume a diplomatically aggressive posture when it comes to data quality ‘ when they’re not too busy cleaning up after shoddy amateur surveys, that is. The problem is unresolved, but they’re making inroads.

Another issue the MR function must contend with is that Microsoft ‘ like many others ‘ today is so ‘awash’ in information from so many different sources in so many different directions that Cundiff expressed genuine concern that someone may well drown in data.

On other fronts, he counseled against succumbing to victim status when left out of the loop and then consequently confronted with an internal client’s emergency; he made the case for researchers to be flexible, open to change (there’s that change theme, again) and willing to experiment with the unorthodox or new; and he offered an arboreal metaphor for his philosophy on internal politics with regard to the MR team by noting that sometimes to keep a tree healthy, one must saw off a branch or two.

Finally, he disclosed that the Microsoft recognizes a talent shortage in the research area, and in lieu of always hiring in talent, has invested in internal professional development both from a technical side and in terms of softer but no less important skills like communication and consultation. But while researchers’ focus has most assuredly taken a turn toward strategy and addressing business needs, Cundiff emphasized that management neither expects nor desires research to be McKinsey. ‘They don’t want us to play management consultant; they want us to be research consultants,’ he said.

I mentioned in my recap of day one that a major theme I saw emerging in the research space was this ying-yang notion of simple complexity. Well, at the end of the day yesterday I hit the jackpot with back-to-back presentations by Central Michigan University’s Dr. Michael Garver and Jonah Lehrer, author and neuroscience authority.

Garver schooled us on the latest in segmentation, max/diff, predictive analytics and adaptive choice modeling. I must confess much of this presentation went right over my head, which means this man is either a terrible teacher ‘ doubtful considering his professional affiliation ‘ or this is pretty complex math (one of my many weak points). My point is that here we have a prime example of research becoming increasingly sophisticated.

By contrast, Lehrer ‘ while no less cerebral (pardon the pun) than Garver ‘ spoke simply of how humans are not wholly rational decision-makers, but rather tend to defer to our emotions when we make choices. In fact, drawing on multiple very compelling anecdotes, Lehrer illustrated that pure reason is not a gift, but a handicap, and that while our great thinkers have long disparaged emotion in favor of reason, our emotions are actually much more powerful than our cognitive resources. Emotions are deeply empirical in nature and enable us to process vast amounts of information and learn. So what does this mean in terms of decision making? Distilled to its essence, Lehrer said the concept is simple: relatively speaking, losses hurt more than gains feel good. Therefore, loss aversion exerts more influence over our decisions than the pursuit of gratification. That simple insight alone should radically change the way we think about how we market and brand.


By Marc Dresner, IIR USA

For those of you who arrived late yesterday or this morning welcome to beautiful San Diego, where the sun is shining on market research’

We’ve had an outstanding program so far today, with more to come, but I must admit I’m a bit skeptical that it will top yesterday’s symposia tracks. A happy problem to be sure!

I’ll first doff my hat to our terrific team of internal and guest bloggers, who have done a masterful job of capturing some key, granular details from a whirlwind of presentations and wrapping them in truly expert analysis.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll take this opportunity to recap yesterday from a more general perspective.

First of all, as I weaved in and out of sessions yesterday, some pretty strong themes emerged: 1) change is an accelerating constant, 2) instant isn’t fast enough and 3) complexity and simplicity are the new ying-yang research imperatives.

If you weren’t here or didn’t notice, the social media & community research track was far and away the big draw of the day. I would say most of these sessions were standing room only, but that’s not entirely accurate: people were even sitting on the floor.

As noted elsewhere, Dawn Lacallade from ComBlu opened the track with a primer on how to correctly deploy social media both for marketing/branding and market research purposes.

Two key takeaways for me: 1) the biggest mistake companies make when they attempt to create social media communities for research purposes, in particular, is that they forget to think about the audience. It’s great that your internal clients have a laundry list of questions they want you to answer, but you had better give your audience a reason to care and want to be there.


2) Not unrelated, consumers reach ‘community saturation’ after belonging to about three communities: 1. Recreational (e.g., Facebook), 2. Professional (e.g., LinkedIn or in our case one of the many online communities for researchers out there) and 3. A ‘life-life’ or personal interest group (e.g., something hobby related). So if you’re contemplating starting a community, you had better pay close attention to how you’ll fit into one of those three categories, because after that the consumer is maxed out on community memberships.

Lallacade was followed by Taco Bell’s senior consumer insights manager, Linda Ashbrook. For me, this was definitely the most eye-opening and controversial presentation of the day.

Ashbrook discussed how Taco Bell has developed a robust qual program using Facebook for small, temporary ‘mini-panels’ and labs designed around specific project needs.

They’ve conducted about 20 of these and have two dedicated internal moderators who specialize in these types of groups on their research team. The groups have become so popular among internal clients that TB has in some cases reluctantly had to bring in external Facebook-trained moderators to handle overflow.

According to Ashbrook, these Facebook panels yield incredibly deep, rich information; they’re more flexible and may be used for a much broader portfolio of research activities than traditional focus groups; and the medium not only nets their target respondents, but recruitment costs about half of what a terrestrial field recruiter costs (they’re trying to winnow that cost down to about 20% of traditional).

Moreover, compared to ‘traditional’ online communities ‘ that people are referring to online communities as ‘traditional’ these days speaks volumes ‘ TB’s Facebook mini-panels are significantly less expensive and less labor intensive. They’re short-term, so no need to refresh your panelists, and no need to struggle for ways to keep people engaged once you have what you need.

I know some of you reading this are probably chomping at the bit with counter arguments, but keep in mind: this is a big client, the initiative is being driven by the research team ‘ not by marketers as one might expect ‘ it’s providing the insight they want from the right demos, the process can be managed entirely internally, and it’s cheaper than some of the ‘traditional’ alternatives.

This is no time to bury your head in the sand and wish it away.

Oh, and one last thing: Taco Bell is eager to find a way to introduce a quantitative dimension to these Facebook mini-panels, which, if accomplished, could have implications for their use of ‘traditional’ online panels.

At this point, it was clear that the social media track was going to be well covered, so I shuffled over to the decidedly less sexy segmentation track. You know what? The folks in the social media track missed out on learning about some serious research innovation.

Christina Liao and Mike Mabey of CMI provided a fascinating window into how they’re segmenting consumers by decision pathways. So here we’re taking an approach that ‘traditionally’ focuses on demographics, psychographics and/or behavior, and flipping it to trace the decision-making process in order to get at that critical ‘why’ behind the choices we make. Heady stuff.

I had the opportunity to interview Christina and Mike later (the video will be available on this blog, so stay tuned) and here’s the kicker: I asked them what’s next as they refine this technique and they said they’re planning to weave in social media. I suppose we can’t escape this topic!

Next in the segmentation track, we were treated to the tale of how Ameriprise with its research partner Chadwick Martin Bailey undertook the daunting task of shifting the former’s segmentation focus from exclusively financial advisors to looking at consumers, too. Sounds simple enough, but this was a serious challenge.

The surprise here was that the presentation turned out to be less about the technical aspects of the segmentation ‘ although ample insights were provided ‘ and more about the process by which the research team was able to effect a major change in the way the organization thought about its business. Outstanding blueprint for how research can drive strategic thinking.

I capped the morning with a one-two punch from none other than PepsiCo’s Stan Turek and Target’s Mark Johnson on how the research and insights functions in both organizations have transformed and where they’re headed.

Both speakers made it abundantly clear that the background, skill set and responsibilities of tomorrow’s researcher will look radically different from those of today’s researcher. In fact, at both organizations, the journey is well underway and research is evolving from a consumer focus to a meld of shopper/consumer ‘ from user to chooser ‘ that is infinitely more complex, with enough moving parts to make your head spin.

In the afternoon, I relied on the mobile track to revive me from my midday food coma, and the first presentation by Katherine Ephlin and Greg Heist of Gongos definitely delivered. Via a series of case studies with clients like VISA, GM and Blue Bunny Ice Cream, the speakers shared smart phone research-on-research they’re conducting. Btw, smart phones will probably be ubiquitous sooner than most people realize.

Among other things, Gongos is finding that smart phone research respondents are actually more engaged than their counterparts in ‘traditional’ research communities and that, surprisingly, their text responses to open-ended questions are so rich that they’re almost indistinguishable from those of non-mobile respondents.

What really excited me was to see that some respondents didn’t even bother answering questions via keypad; they just turned the device on themselves, answered the question and uploaded the video response. It’s easier for the respondent, and it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to envision what a researcher could do with AV responses to a text question.

Next, I dropped in on the media measurement track to hear Unilever’s Tom Emmers, who talked about the challenges of conducting research in the digital age amidst continuous, rapid channel proliferation and also provided a good deal of information about how Unilever is coping.

A key research strategy has been to lead off with insights into the consumer’s mindset according to time/place (e.g., receptivity to advertising depending upon the context) and feed that knowledge into channel insights (e.g., creative testing, cross-channel media impact, etc.).

Emmers explained Unilever’s approach to marketing in this evolving mediascape also entails several layers, starting with immersing the organization in the target market, followed by campaign development and finally undertaking ‘dynamic optimization’ activities during the first few weeks of campaign launch. Unilever and its partners have become so proficient at this last step that banners, video and other web properties and online campaign collateral can now be optimized within a week.

While the research function has adapted remarkably to this constantly changing environment, their success is all the more astonishing when one considers that budget and headcount for digital research have not increased despite the fact that Unilever now executes a new digital campaign roughly every two days!

Emmers admitted he wonders whether or not this pace can be sustained. What will it take to measure an almost infinite number of touchpoints to achieve a holistic understanding (i.e., reality)? ‘How much more complex can it get before we just throw up our hands and say we simply can’t manage this’? Emmers asked. ‘Nobody has the answer, because there isn’t one’I will say this much, research has innovated more in the last two years than in the five to ten years prior, and I’ve had more fun in the last two years than ever before.’

The final symposium of the day proved to be one of the most practical and compelling sessions for me. I’ve heard Dr. Randall Brandt of Maritz speak several times over the years, and he never disappoints. The topic on this occasion was how to integrate and analyze multiple, disparate VOC data sources.

Brandt laid out a marvelous blueprint for creating a consistent, uniform set of customer experience categories that can ultimately facilitate convergence mapping. So for example, this approach could tell us whether or not inbound feedback ‘ say, complaints ‘ from a website jibes with issues identified via survey data.

Once these data are standardized, the sources and what they say may be plotted on a graph in four quadrants, the top right in this case indicating points where the data agree/converge; the bottom left quadrant indicating contradictions/divergence. A case can then be made that those items that converge constitute key drivers of customer satisfaction/loyalty and should be prioritized by the organization.

But what about those items that diverge? Well, Brandt said these cases should command the same attention because they also can be a valuable insight source. As an example, a complaint that surfaced in call centers but was not echoed in survey responses could well indicate an opportunity to adjust and prioritize how certain complaints are handled by the call center.

A fringe benefit to this approach, Brandt quipped, is that when a researcher is confronted with a skeptical client, they can’t exactly dismiss the results because they don’t ‘believe’ in surveys, since the data come from multiple sources.

Day One of TMRE concluded with a keynote to kick off the general conference program by Michael Tchong, trend analyst and founder of Ubercool, Inc.

In a spectacular presentation largely about technology, multitasking and our culture’s increasingly short attention span ‘ designed specifically for people with short attention spans who multitask ‘ Tchong flew through a litany of statistics and trends at breakneck speed with wit, acuity and exuberance.

In between fidgeting with my blackberry, I learned that we have more in common with computers than I realized: we both perform multiple functions simultaneously, we’re both prone to crashing and we both could use more memory’

Call for Guest Bloggers for TMRE 2010

Earn a complimentary All-Access pass to one of the world’s largest market research events by serving as a guest-blogger. As a guest blogger at The Market Research Event, you’ll have access to the amazing visionaries, authors, academics PLUS retailers, manufacturers, industry authorities and explorers. With six track sessions, networking hours and innovative sessions ‘ you’ll learn and have a great time and this premier event.

Responsibilities will include attending specifically assigned sessions and blogging live or same day. You must have industry experience within the market research field. In exchange for guest blogging, you will receive an all-access pass to the event $3,000+ value. Guest bloggers are responsible for their travel and lodging.

Apply today by sending your name, company, biography and links to your blog directly to TMRE Media Marketer, Jennifer Pereira. Deadline for submissions is Friday, October 15, 2010 at 12pm EST. Early submissions encouraged.

Call for Guest Bloggers for TMRE 2010

Earn a complimentary All-Access pass to one of the world’s largest market research events by serving as a guest-blogger. As a guest blogger at The Market Research Event, you’ll have access to the amazing visionaries, authors, academics PLUS retailers, manufacturers, industry authorities and explorers. With six track sessions, networking hours and innovative sessions ‘ you’ll learn and have a great time and this premier event.

Responsibilities will include attending specifically assigned sessions and blogging live or same day. You must have industry experience within the market research field. In exchange for guest blogging, you will receive an all-access pass to the event $3,000+ value. Guest bloggers are responsible for their travel and lodging.

Apply today by sending your name, company, biography and links to your blog directly to TMRE Media Marketer, Jennifer Pereira. Deadline for submissions is Friday, October 15, 2010 at 12pm EST. Early submissions encouraged.

Changing Mobile Advertising

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google, Apple, Best Buy and Volkswagen and more are looking to revamp their mobile advertising. Until now, mobile advertising mainly consisted of small banner ads tucked into the corner of a mobile Web page or text-message ads that often resembled spam. As a result, the mobile-advertising market remained relatively small, even as mobile phones proliferated.

Marketers are carefully watching the iPad, which can run software applications similar to iPhone apps, along with other new products, as they look to broaden their strategies beyond first-generation mobile ads, such as text-messages ad

Learn more: Giving Mobile Ads a Makeover

As we look at these changes with mobile advertising, what sort of predictions can you make on the success of these efforts?

Social Media Marketers Declare Success

eMarketer.com reports that The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has followed up on its 2007 and 2008 studies of social media usage by the Inc. 500. Adoption and awareness continue to trend upward, with 91% of firms using at least one social media tool in 2009 and three-quarters describing themselves as ‘very familiar’ with social networking.

Social networking and blogging have seen the most growth in adoption, while other technologies have flattened or even declined in use, including wikis and online video. Twitter usage, of course, has caught on quickly’more than one-half of businesses reported tweeting in 2009. This was the first year respondents were polled about Twitter.

Social Media Marketers Declare Success

We’ve seen the success of social media marketing in market research; but how about you? Are you seeing success with this new marketing medium?

WSJ: Marketers Find Web Chat Can Be Inspiring

Emily Steel of The Wall Street Journal reports that many market researchers are now looking to web chats and alternative new media methods for their research. Steel writes, for decades, advertisers have relied heavily on sometimes-dated consumer surveys and focus groups to provide grist for their ads. Now, some are using new technologies to scan the Web for key words to find out what consumers are’and aren’t’saying about their brands. Then, they are incorporating those findings into their more-conventional research and using them not only to choose the overall themes of their marketing campaigns, but also specific text and photos for their ads.

Have you used any of these tactics in your research? What successes or failures have you experienced?

Marketers Find Web Chat Can Be Inspiring

Front End of Innovation Europe 2010

The Front End of Innovation Europe 2010 Event is the world’s only unbiased platform for Front End of Innovation best practices. Along with the multi-national, cross-functional advisory board, we’ve matched best in class speakers recognized for making strides in the Front End with topics that address your current innovation challenges.

February 8-10, 2009
Amsterdam Hilton, Netherlands

New for 2010! Along with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, we are happy to announce a collaborative session – VISION 2050. Explore.

The 2010 Front End of Innovation team has identified unique Critical Factors that your organization requires for Balancing Short-term Profitability with Long-term Sustainability. There is no other European program with a similar event format. You will explore each factor throughout the event including:

MEET CUSTOMER DEMANDS Tap into unfulfilled needs
FOSTER ORGANIC GROWTH Continue long term strategies
DESIGN THINKING In Order to Solve Business Problems
AVOID COMMODITIZATION Move Beyond Product Innovation
GENERATE PARTNERSHIPS Make Open Innovation & External Collaboration Work
LEARN FROM THOUGHT LEADERS On Moving from Today to Tomorrow

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Generator Research predicts iPhone will overtake Nokia in 2012

Jason Hiner of ZDNet posts that, Generator Research, a small firm focused on digital media and the Internet, has released a new report predicting that the Apple iPhone’s current growth trajectory will enable it to catch and surpass Nokia for the top spot in the global smartphone market within three years. The report sees iPhone growth accelerating due to a combination of the rapid multiplication of apps and the price drop of $99 for the lowest-priced iPhone. Meanwhile, Generator Research also predicts that Nokia will stumble and see its market share cut in half from 40% in 2008 to just 20% in 2013.For more information about this market research, please visit Hiner’s post here:Generator Research predicts iPhone will overtake Nokia in 2012