The 4 Killer Stats from the ESOMAR 3D Conference




In catching up on market research reading, we stumbled on this little gem from Question Science BlogspotIn this article, Jon Puleston tells us about some surprising statistics he overheard while attending the ESOMAR 3D conference at the end of 2012:

350 out of 36,000Porsche culled through 36,000 social media responses and found that only 350 were “useful”. Significantly, all of the comments were processed manually. This suggests that deciphering data from social media could be a poor investment.  So, can text analytics software accurately decipher social media comments, and are the comments even worth deciphering?   Clearly, this is going to vary by topic, brand in question and scope. Some brands/keywords get a lot more “garbage” than others.  What we have found here at Research Rockstar is that you have to do some serious testing of your topic/brand name/keywords of interest before you invest significantly in social media analysis.

240 hours– The amount of time spent by a market research firm analyzing text from 1000 Facebook users.

.18—A survey by Jannie Hofmyer and Alice Louw from market research company TNS, showed a surprising lack of correlation between “aided awareness of a brand & purchase activity”. Their research revealed that surveys are routinely constructed incorrectly and contain questions that are incapable of measuring behavior. Customers and non-customers of products should take different surveys to create relevant survey data results.

50%Peit Hein van Dam, from digital tracking company Wakoopa, tracked a 50% variation between the claimed readership level of a Dutch newspaper and the readership level tracked on mobile devices and computers. “Cookie” tracking proves to be largely inaccurate in counting unique visitors and web traffic.


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An Open Letter to Market Research Software Companies

Market Research SoftwareIdea voting. Prediction markets. Online surveys. Crosstab analysis. Text analytics. Social media research. What type of market research software do you sell?

We teach our students about lots of cool market research options, and whenever possible we like to include demonstrations. In fact, these demonstrations are so loved by our students, that many have asked us to add more to our market research training classes’ content.

So to those of you selling market research software and tools, consider this an opportunity to get exposure with a group of career-minded professionals, as they take part in our market research training classes. These are people who are spending time on professional development, and who work for companies that are investing in their training. Our client base is diverse, and includes both market research agency and client-side professionals. Some are newer in their career paths, others have 15+ years’ of experience and come to us for a “refresher” or skills extension. All are engaged learners.

To have your product considered for use in one of our classes, please email a note to Demos@ResearchRockstar.com.



Survey Template: Gauging Brand Perception

What does your target market think of your brand?

How does your target market perceive your brand as compared to your competitors’ brands?

While brand research can be a very complex, exhaustive exercise, in many cases a simple approach may suffice. 

If you plan to do your own brand perception research using online surveys, here are some tips.

How your brand is perceived

For brand perceptions, a quick and easy way to collect data is to ask, “Which of the following words would you use to describe our company?” Then give them a list of varying words and allow them to pick up to three. It’s a simple format for the respondents, and gives you very useful insights.  Do people think of your brand as “smart” and “fun” or “stable” and “safe”? Are your competitors perceived as “friendly” and “creative” or “slow” and “boring”?

Other perceptions that we commonly seek to measure in research:

  • This is a company that values its customers
  • This is an innovative company
  • This is a company that offers products or services that are a good value (or a good value for the dollar)

These types of brand questions are going to vary by product category and target market. B2B companies will have very different questions than B2C, and so on.

Brand Perception Research, Realistically

In an ideal world, a company would do very comprehensive brand perception research. But that type of time, and budget, is not always an option. With some careful planning, many companies can learn quite a lot from a short, online survey approach.

If you’d like to receive more free Market Research tips, click HERE to sign up for Research Rockstar’s Market Research Newsletter.


What If?

Man With Head In SandAs the ancient proverb I just invented says, “Person with head buried in sand may well get kicked in butt.” So I’ve come up with a few scenarios that could result if online surveys with non-customer populations became impossible tomorrow. Imagine: you can still reach your customers for research, but what about the rest of the world? What if you could no longer reach qualified, non-customer groups in a quantitative way? If the lists and panels were no longer available or the response rates dropped to .0005 percent, what would the impact be on your market research needs and investments?


Your quantitative research may simply be restricted to current customers. For non-customer populations, you’ll use observational or listening techniques like social media monitoring and ethnography, or qualitative techniques like focus groups and interviews. Recruiting for those qualitative methods will be hard, but finding 50 or 60 non-customers is easier than finding hundreds or more.


In-person surveys resurge. Intercept customers, at stores if you sell that way, through online shopping sites if not. If you’re in the B2B space, find non-customers at trade shows, conferences and other brand-neutral territories. Yes, it takes serious manpower, and there are limitations, but it works.


Collecting feedback from your salespeople, outbound call center staff, and sales channels will become more critical than ever before. They may be your only conduit for reaching non-customer populations. Training these folks in how to ask questions (yes, really) and how to record feedback will be key.


You can try to force online surveys by using ad-based recruiting (survey ads posted to social media groups, banner ads on trade association sites, or ads in relevant online or print magazines). This is an expensive option, because response rates will be dismal….but better than nothing, you hope.


There are plenty of lists available for postal mail—and if online surveys flounder, why not test it? We just may see a resurgence in paper-based surveys. The twist is that we may not have to mail actual surveys, just survey invitations.


This will vary greatly by application. Here are two examples:

  • For product concept testing, it may mean putting actual mock products on your web site with different configurations and price levels to test market response.
  • For brand perception and awareness research, it could be posting one-question polls on social networking sites (like Facebook). Of course, such sites don’t gather perfect information about demographics. And how do we interpret poll results that lack precise geographic information? Still, it’s an option.

I’d love your feedback. What do you think? If online surveys with non-customers became logistically impossible, what would your best option be? The future will belong to those with an arsenal of creative ideas ready to roll out.

[Have you seen the Research Rockstar paper on Market Research industry predictions? Get it here.]


4 More Cool Ways to Use Market Research

Get Crazy

In a crowded marketplace, how can market research help your company stand out? By doing things your competitors aren’t daring enough to try. So let’s have some fun.


Got a sample of something that you want your customers to try?  Samples can be great incentive items. Survey incentives are typically along the lines of a few bucks, a free magazine subscription, or reward points. Why not a free sample of Product X?

Caution: Product X, whether it is a breakfast cereal, a subscription of some sort, the first chapter of a book or some other freebie, must be a no-strings-attached gift. Anything else is called selling under the guise of research. Not cool.

Of course, using your own products as a survey incentive should only be done if it won’t skew the survey results. For example, offering a product sample as an incentive to a customer satisfaction survey isn’t a good idea; only people who like your company enough to want its products would respond.


Who are your partners? Retail outlets, consultants, value-added resellers, manufacturers’ reps?  Maybe market research isn’t in their budget, but they sure would like to do some. Build in a partner incentive. Sponsor a survey and give them real estate, sort of a timeshare project. In exchange, you might have them promote the survey link to their customers (if suitable for the project) or you might simply do this to help them be successful selling your product. In the B‑to‑B world, you might go to your top ten channel partners and offer each the opportunity to submit three questions to a questionnaire. You may receive a few that overlap, but you can condense and organize the questions as needed, and voila—data that you and your channel partners find very helpful.


Who are the consultants, analysts, columnists, bloggers and podcasters that influence your customers? You might be surprised. You might also find that their information needs aren’t being met. What if they’re dissatisfied with the sources out there? Can you fill that void?  A nice, short survey can help you discover the thought leaders you should be engaging with, and which ones you can skip.


Fresh research is excellent fodder for press releases (the media has a thing for pretty charts and graphs, especially when they come with a catchy hook), blogs, and podcasts. Conduct a sharp survey, and then bring in someone to interview about their take on the results. Maybe a consultant, a business partner; maybe your own CEO. Then package the results as a news release, podcast, blog posts, newsletter fodder or YouTube video. Do be careful, of course. There is always some skepticism about research sponsored by a company with a stake in the outcome, so be impeccable. Hire an outside firm (for objectivity), and keep your methods above reproach.