Tag Archives: Market research

Questioning The Questioners

Today is one of those screeds in which I point out a problem but don’t offer a real solution. I apologize in advance. Maybe just ringing the alarm bell a bit is enough of a help but you’ll be the judge.

The questionnaire we used to select patients.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like you, I read a lot articles published in trades. Most of what I see comes to me in the form of emailed articles and/or newsletters. There’s a lot of research cited in these pieces and many of them offer opinions with respect to a good course of action one should take to avoid a problem or improve performance. What I find interesting is how often I’ll finish the piece, look at the author’s bio, and realize that I just spent a couple of minutes reading a self-serving puff piece. For example, a nice article citing research on how content marketing can drive sales was offered by a guy who runs a content marketing company, which also commissioned the research.  Funny how often the research conducted by “independent” firms says great things about the company that commissioned it, isn’t it?

That’s the problem I offer up today.  It’s hard to know how meaningful research is when those who pay to have it done have a vested interest in the outcome.  We saw this during the last political season.  There were “Republican” polls that showed the presidential race one way, “Democratic” polls that had it the other way, and “independent” polls that were a mixed bag.  Usually, the party-sponsored polls had their guy winning, and you’re probably familiar that the only entity that called the race almost perfectly was Nate Silver of The New York Times who uses a “poll of polls” methodology that wiped out the inherent biases.

We need to question those who ask the questions.  That doesn’t mean ignore or even discount the research.  What it does mean is to think about what vested interest the sponsor of any research has in the outcome and look for places where a question can be phrased in such a way as to twist the outcome.  All reputable research will show you how the question was asked.  It’s up to you to consider the inherent bias before taking anything as gospel.  Even the blather put out in this space!

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Filed under Consulting, Helpful Hints

The Price-Value Experience Thing

Yet another edition of “Interesting Research That Proves What Common Sense Told You.”

Image representing Forrester Research as depic...

Image via CrunchBase

In this case, however, the results are actually surprising in that they do confirm one’s own thinking.  The study comes from Forrester, who tested the relationship between customers’ perceptions of their experience, their perceptions of price-value, and their loyalty. This report shows how customer experience trumps price-value perception as a loyalty driver.  In other words, we don’t mind paying a couple of dollars more for a better customer experience.

Media Post summed it up this way:

New research from Forrester finds that when it comes to building loyalty, people respond more to the experience they have with the retailer than with their perception of price.

They went on to quote Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian, the analyst who wrote the report:

In order to move the needle, she says, stores need to focus on the core components of positive experiences, including:

* Meet customer needs. “If the product or service is wrong, price becomes irrelevant,” she writes.

* Make it easy. That can include anything from keeping store aisles clear to making it possible to start shopping online, and then still find the items in your cart when you switch to mobile. “Amazon’s two-day shipping and one-click ordering continue to make a strong impact on shoppers,” she says.

* Make it enjoyable. “That comes down to basics, like making sure dressing rooms aren’t messy and that it’s not a hassle to use your coupons.” And stores like Trader Joe’s, QuikTrip, and Costco may be low-cost, she says, but the amount they spend training their employees to be more knowledgeable makes the experience more pleasurable.

Well, yeah!  Businesses often spend way too much time trying to shave costs while persevering margins.  Intuitively, getting customers to pay a bit more can more than amortize the costs of excellent service, particularly when that service doesn’t involve any more staff, but better training and higher responsiveness.

Maybe this isn’t learning something new today but I think it’s always good when we get reminded of things we probably already felt.  What do you think?

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The Business And The Binge

The folks at Harris Interactive released some new information about TV consumption and it doesn’t bode well for the traditional business models – not even for the dual revenue model that empowered cable and which traditional broadcast is mimicking these days.  While I think any of us who pay attention to viewing research both via the boob tube and via other platforms are aware that things have changed, these numbers show that they’ve done so to a far greater extent than one might think.  Let’s see if you agree.

Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can read the data from Harris here but in brief what it shows is that younger people stream more stuff and set their own viewing times.  They also tend to “binge” view – they’ll watch all the episodes from a season of a show straight through over several hours.  If you’re over 55, there’s a 2 out of 3 chance you’re being your own program scheduler.  If you’re under 40, that becomes a 9 out of 10 chance.  Most of the way that on-demand viewing is done is NOT via a system controlled by the cable operators among younger demos.  While the older audience tends to use the services the operators make available via their set-top box or DVR, younger people have wandered well off the ranch.

As Harris points out:

Self-scheduled and binge television viewing trends suggest implications for the television industry at large, potentially impacting both advertisers and content producers.  For advertisers, the clearest impact is that some of these viewers will be taking in contact on platforms beyond their reach, such as Netflix and Amazon’s VOD services.

Content producers, meanwhile, have both positive and negative implications to explore. On the upside, the ability to quickly catch up on past seasons of existing shows, particularly ones with complex storylines, could give more viewers the opportunity to jump into new episodes without confusion. On the downside, viewers watching when they choose, not when it airs, can play havoc with ratings.

Taking that to next the step, when the traditional currency of TV – ratings – suffers through a huge deflation, the basic underpinning of the business will follow.  Yikes!

I don’t know that the above research is huge news – look at how your own media habits have changed.  What is surprising is the extent to which these changes are now a way of life.  Let’s see how the business follows the audience – nothing like “interesting” times!

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Filed under digital media, What's Going On