Contrary to the spelling of its name, the Ratufa isn’t a “rat”, it’s a squirrel, a “very large tree
squirrel”, according to the ultimate authority on squirrels, Wikipedia. There are four species of the genus Ratufa living in Southeast Asia…and that’s about as exciting as it gets. If you want to see a Ratufa, also known as an Oriental Giant Squirrel, in action, watch this video of one eating a cookie. (The logic of how this “exciting” video has over 16,000 views escapes me).
In the Branding World, Ratufa is something different. Each letter, R.A.T.U.F.A., stands for one of six fundamental components that I believe are critical to a solid branding strategy: Relationship, Anchor Belief, Trust, Unique Selling Position, Focus, and Authority.
Relationship. Branding is about relationships. The relationship you have with your target audience. Just like in real life, relationships take time and patience. And just like in real life, this relationship must be worked on….constantly. Regular communication with your target audience lets them know how much they are valued. This connection is critical in order for them to feel comfortable and have trust in your brand, but also in order for you to understand them, their likes and dislikes, preferences, satisfaction, etc.
Anchor Belief. This is your brand’s “big idea”. The center of you brands universe. Everything revolves around, focuses on, and refers back to your brand’s anchor belief.
Gatorade is one of the more well-known brands in the world. When I mentioned it you instantly associated it with sports, likely football, track, or basketball, along with images of highly skilled and determined athletes drinking colorful Gatorade and the lightning bolt on the side of the bottle. But you have probably never heard of Gatorade’s anchor belief/big idea; “The will to win in a bottle”. Now that you know it, it’s clear how everything the brand does revolves around that single idea. It’s not a very catchy tag line, so it never flashes across the screen at the end of a commercial, but its message is communicated perfectly to the target audience. Once your target audience connects with your anchor belief, it becomes much easier to get them to buy whatever it is you are selling.
Trust. The marketing world has literally shot itself in the foot on trust. The myriad of unsubstantiated claims makes it simply impossible to believe what any company says about its brand. That is until they have earned your trust. Trust is about being authentic and real. Social media has made brands more transparent than ever. Try and pull a fast one and your toast. Try to hide your brands flaws and they will be found. Want to be seen as more authentic? Don’t try to be something you aren’t, don’t be afraid to admit a weakness, genuinely support a cause your target audience believes in, and most important, deliver on your promises. Nobody‘s perfect. No brand is perfect. No one expects perfection. Everyone appreciates honesty and authenticity. Sync your brands values with the values of your target audience and you will build trust.
Unique Selling Position. There is perhaps no better measure of a brand’s strength than its Unique Selling Position (USP). Closely related to an Anchor Belief, your brands USP is what sets it apart from the competition. It is a claim that is yours alone. No other brand can offer it. It is your Anchor Belief put into action. Your USP communicates to your target audience the primary benefit of choosing your product or service over that of the competition. It positions you in such a way that your target audience sees you as both different and better than the competition.
Focus. Focusing your brand’s message gives it clarity and strength. It also means not going after absolutely everyone who might possibly use your product or service. When you go after everyone, you weaken your connection and relationship with your core target audience (your best customers). They feel ignored. People respond when the message your brand sends resonates with them. Exercising a measure of restraint by not trying to be everything to everyone creates focus. If you need to have two or three different USP’s than maybe you need two or three different brands.
Focus also creates consistency. Consistency builds confidence. Everything about your company right down to the color of the tile on the floor of the janitor’s closet must be a consistent reflection of your brand. When everything is consistent, your brand, and everyone in your company, is focused on its anchor belief.
Authority. Authority is about proof. Repeat customers may not need proof but attracting new ones requires it. Authority is earned. Often slowly. But bit-by-bit it builds through customer recommendations, likes, posts, awards, etc. Once established as an authority, everything a brand does is instantly credible. People pay attention and sales happen.
Brands develop over time, like taking care of a vegetable garden. Brand development is more a process of working hard at nurturing and cultivating a healthy environment for your brand to grow than trying to force quick results. Sure there’s much more to branding than the six core components discussed here, but get these six right, and your brand will develop into something extraordinary.
Kevan Oswald; Market Research Account Executive
We’ve come up with a list of 10 things that you can use focus groups for to ensure that your company has great success in your everyday activities, product launches, and brand developments. Any regular user of focus groups can tell you that they’re effective, but have you considered just how versatile they can be for your business?
1. Determining Brand Image
In a focus group, what you’re doing is figuring out what people think about your product, brand, or company. That’s the macro level ultimate goal and is an exceptional use of part of your research budget. Finding out what people have to say about your brand, and where it should head, is one of the most effective ways to use a focus group as it shows you what you’re doing well and what you need to improve on to succeed.
2. Evaluating Your Advertising’s Effectiveness
In a focus group, you can ask any questions you like. So, if you’ve developed what you think is a clever, cute, and catchy advertising campaign for your product but you’re unsure of how it’s going to go over with your consumers, a focus group is a great place to ask. You can even show examples and have commentary in real-time!
3. Internal Assessments Of Your Company
If you run a large company (or even a medium size one), a focus group is a great place to gather employee feedback to find out what’s going on at any level of your company. It’s a safe space run by an independent moderator, so you can get more honest feedback about how things are going.
4. Solution Generation
Say you’re dealing with a problem, whether it’s with your product itself, a problem within the company that doesn’t seem to have an obvious solution, or with your brand image. You can use a focus group to ask the questions needed to find those solutions and solve the problem rather than stabbing at it in the dark. Knowledge is power, after all.
5. Discover Customers’ Purchasing Habits
You might know that you have a great product, and often surveys can gather a lot of information about the consumer relationship with your product. However, asking pointed questions and having an interactive environment can elicit information on how a customer spends their money and what factors into those decisions—which you can then engineer into the product itself.
6. Learn How Certain Demographics Think
One of the big things that a lot of people miss is that different demographics of people might have different thoughts on the same topic—and different approaches to a solution. If you’re aiming your product to be national and good for various demographics, it’s best to find out how they think with good questions and good listening skills.
7. Evaluating New Products
Getting a group of people together to discuss a product works awfully well—just ask Tupperware or Mary Kay! But it’s not just a great sales technique, it's a great research technique. By getting people together and finding out their feelings on a product category and on prototypes of a product, you can determine how they would feel about it—and whether or not they’d buy it. But be careful, NEVER mix research and sales (sugging - or selling under the guise of research is never appropriate). It will bias the results of your research process and places good research practices at risk for heavy legislation and legal risk.
8. Testing Your Own Assumptions
We all assume, thanks to our collective experiences. There’s not a person on Earth who isn’t guilty of it. But, are those assumptions correct? You might have the knowledge base to make an educated assumption, but you might not. Wouldn’t you rather know if your assumption is right rather than guessing (and possibly being wrong)?
9. Find New Applications For Old Products
Sometimes, even the best-designed product that sold well and performed wonders for your industry gets outmoded. That’s the nature of progress, after all! But that doesn’t mean that your product is useless. Focus groups can enlighten you as to what your product can do that you didn’t think of—which could mean more sales over the long run without development costs!
10. Increase Your Company’s Effectiveness
Sometimes, it’s the company itself that needs more information. Perhaps you’re looking to overhaul how the company works, or need input as to what is ineffective about your company. Whether you glean that information from your employees or a focus group made up of customers, finding that information is invaluable!
If You Need Help, Call Us!
We’re here to assist you in your market research. No matter what kind of information you’re looking for, focus groups can help you solve your problems. Call us today for more information!
Recently one of my neighbors shared a funny story about how one of their teenage kids just encountered a busy signal for the first time - and had absolutely NO idea what was happening! This got me thinking about how rapidly the way we communicate with each other is evolving – and the implications this will no doubt have on our industry in the not-so-distant future.
So after looking into my crystal ball, here are my predictions about what marketing research will look like in, let’s say twenty years. In the year 2033:
Surveys conducted over-the-phone will largely disappear. As we know, the coming generation has little interest in talking on the phone, and certainly not for extended durations. Remember twenty-five years ago when teenagers would tie up the house phone endlessly talking to their friends? Not anymore. Kids today (a.k.a. “future adults”) vastly prefer texting over talking, even with people who are in the same room as them. (My teenage son’s current cell phone plan has unlimited texting, but does not even include a voice component – and he hasn’t complained once.)
Phones will no longer be called “phones”, since already the ability to make a phone call using a mobile device ranks somewhere around #47 on the list of features for which these so-called “phones” are used. It would be sort of like calling your car a radio just because in addition to everything else, it can play music. I don’t know what our mobile devices will eventually be called - possibly “port-o-brain”- but I presume they will be embedded directly onto our bodies in some way.
There will be no mall intercept surveys, since there will be no malls. Already we see that online shopping has begun to surpass traditional in-store shopping. Brick-and-mortar stores will be almost completely replaced by a web-based virtual shopping experience, which will eventually include the capabilities to “virtually touch” products, “try on” clothing, and even “smell” cologne and perfume.
Focus-groups will be virtual-based. Using the same enhanced experience technology mentioned above, the new focus groups would allow individuals from anywhere to interact together, but without the need for anyone to travel to a specific location. To some extent this is already being done now through online focus groups of course, but with the new technologies the level of interaction will be much more realistic and natural.
Online survey research will continue to increase - but will look different. Since respondents will be exclusively using their “port-o-brains” for communication, surveys will tend to be shorter and will rely more on video interaction and less on text-based questions. Rather than sending out email invitations (how quaint!), relevant survey requests will be given automatically at the point of sale, as one is walking out of the movie theater, restaurant, etc. Artificial-Intelligence based survey programs will also have the ability to probe and clarify based on individual responses given.
Analyzing social media content and conversation will be a major component of marketing research. Facebook and Twitter are really just the tip of the iceberg. Many new avenues will be created which allow individuals to express instantaneous ideas, opinions, and feedback. The availability and sheer volume of unstructured content on every topic imaginable will continue to skyrocket - however only those organizations who understand how to cut through the avalanche of chatter and tweeze out actionable insights from these massive amounts of data will achieve results for their clients.
Then again…I could be wrong. The only certainty is that even as the methods inevitably evolve, the need for organizations to understand their customers (and potential customers), and to make informed decisions, will continue to be as important as ever.
What are your thoughts/predictions?
Derek Borsky; VP Strategic Development
Have you ever had the feeling that you’re stuck in a rut? As if you’re going about your day in the same way you go about every other day. You do what you’ve done before. You do what has to be done. You get your work done, and you do it well. But it’s always the same. Nothing changes. Which isn’t really a bad outcome….it’s just the same.
One of my favorite quotes helps me get out of my ‘rut cycle’, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Sounds odd, but it’s true. This is the very definition of a rut. So how do you break away from complacency with the familiar? You need to have and understand your mission and vision.
Every company has a Mission Statement proudly displayed in the reception area of their office. This statement is how the organization states its core purpose and lists the aims of the organization and long-term objectives. They are meant to inspire employees, executives, and stakeholders with what the company could be and should become. And that’s great. Every company should have a mission. The question is ‘Why?’ Do you know the mission of your company? And do you know the driving force behind the mission of your company? A mission statement is only effective if everyone in your organization is aspiring towards it and sometimes that takes more than just a mission.
There is a piece missing. We need to have something driving the mission – a call to action. We need Vision. Vision is the driving force of an organization. It is the picture of future success. Vision forms when we think far enough ahead to realize there will be important challenges that can be prepared for now. It is the energy that helps move a company forward and the inspiration that fuels change.
How does a vision move your company’s mission forward? It engages employees to work together and move toward a worthwhile goal by giving meaning to the efforts they are putting into their work. It is simple, it is attainable, and it can help to produce results that have not been seen by the company before.
Everyone recognizes that the world is changing daily with new technologies, consumer habits, marketplace competition, etc. And companies need to change as well. Having a clear vision of where you want to go in the future will help keep your eye on the prize of obtaining your end mission. This involves stepping out of what is comfortable and utilizing new techniques to obtain different results. Even the littlest of changes can help an organization obtain a new outlook and garner new results.
So what does this have to do with market research? Well, in my opinion everything. Market research provides the insights a company needs to help them make sound business decisions to move the company forward. Research and knowledge are the backbone of a company’s vision. There are a many research methodologies, all of which have sound reasoning and rationale to support how they can be good for a project. Some methodologies like telephone surveys and polling have been used over and over by companies to gain information. Do these methodologies provide the best insights to help your company and help you move forward? Maybe yes and maybe no. Just because you’ve always done it, doesn’t mean it’s the only approach. This can even be considered your ‘research rut’. Go ahead and try a new methodology to help break the rut and perhaps gain new insights. Try online surveys. Online surveys provide conversations from your customers about your products and services. Using a mix of quantitative and qualitative insights (open-ended questions and scaled questions) your company could gain an understanding from your customers that you have never received by blending text analysis and statistical evaluation. They’ll produce valuable insights to help you move your company forward. That’s vision. And that’s the point.
Understand your mission and vision, and step out of the ordinary to gain new understanding and knowledge. That is how a company moves forward and achieves success. The other option is to get what you’ve always got by doing what you’ve always done. And there is no moving forward when you’re in a rut.
Traci Wood; Market Research Account Executive
You've heard of the PDA (public display of affection). Now we have the PDT (public display of technology). A recent PEW survey (September 2012) reported that "Nearly half of all American adults (45%), and two-thirds of all young adults now own a smartphone." Their data suggests that 85% of Americans own a cellphone and 55% of adults now go online using their cellphone. That's a lot of room for mobile misuse or PDT.
In my daily interactions on the webosphere, I ran across the results of a survey sponsored by Intel that addressed "Mobile Etiquette". The survey reported that almost all of us (91%) see inappropriate uses of technology frequently. My guess is that the remaining 9% are using the technology inappropriately themselves, don't even realize they're seeing it because everyone is looking at them PDT.
Aside from the inappropriate uses that are becoming socially unacceptable, like:
- Texting while driving (or talking while swerving in and out of traffic)
- Checking your smartphone while your significant other is speaking to you
- Texting at the dinner table or being CONSTANTLY connected (my children's favorite)
- Or, talking on the phone loudly in public places
There are other PDT's that are taking, in my mind, misuse of your mobile phone, to a whole new level. For example:
- NEVER call me and talk while you are using the bathroom...I can wait even if you can't
- Drunk texting (or texting under the influence of cough medicine for those of us that don't drink)...When you do this...it's out there and you can't get it back don't do it and don't embarrass yourself.
- The phantom vibration syndrome. This is as Pavlovian as it gets. These are the people that think their phone is ringing, or vibrating, and check their phone in the middle of your conversation. Annoying!
- Hidden connectivity. Acting like a middle-school student and hiding your constant checks of your phone...ESPECIALLY IN THE MOVIE THEATER. We can ALL see it and it really bugs.
- Bluetooth users that look like they're talking to themselves. I've often gotten on an elevator and thought someone was speaking to me, only to figure out that they have a Bluetooth device in their ear and are ignoring me completely.
People are almost CONSTANTLY connected to their mobile phones. The connectivity to your device likely isn't going to stop anytime soon (and it will likely continue to grow). It's no wonder that market research is continuing to quickly evolve online at the expense of all other methods. Here are some online market research methods that will see growth year on year:
From the online qualitative research world:
From the online survey research world:
These lists can go on and on. I remember the day when people had philosophical research conversations on whether phone surveys were sufficient instead of talking to someone face to face. Online takes this question of scientific reliability and validity to a whole new level. And, much like the transition from face to face to telephone research, the transition from telephone research to online research is happening whether you want it to or not...so find good, high quality ways to execute.
The dichotomy between qualitative and quantitative research is getting smaller. In my opinion, qualitative researchers have historically been slower to adapt to new research methods. The market research industry has hit a point where I believe that qualitative providers are going to have to adapt and adapt quickly to stay relevant long term. When the Greenbook's Research Industry Trends survey asked respondents if they were going to start a research company today what would its focus be, the top mention was Mobile Surveys, followed by Online Research in general, then Online Communities. Online market research allows the researcher to bridge the gap between qualitative and quantitative research techniques. I guess we've been siloed for too long.
The next time that your friend answers her/his mobile phone in the middle of your conversation, replies to a text, or jumps online to look something up, connect the dots on how you as a market research approach your research techniques. If they aren't online...consider it...quickly. And, by the way, anything bug you about mobile phone use that I didn't cover?
Recently, I was invited to be a part of a planning group to plan a Spring Party for families in our neighborhood. At our first meeting we were talking about the area and the number of households, families, etc. that we would include in the festivities. One of the members of the planning group took out his laptop, and, with the assistance of Google Maps, began demonstrating how one could zoom out to a full blown view of mother earth, then zoom in to a view of North America, then to our state, etc, until lastly he zoomed in to a street view of the home in which we, as a planning committee, had congregated for the meeting.
“Zoom In, Zoom Out” is a phrase I became familiar with as one working in the area of Organizational Development. “Rosabeth Kanter published an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review called “Zoom in, Zoom Out: The best leaders know when to focus in and when to pull back.” Zooming Out refers to focusing on the external environment and “selling yourself, your products and services. Zooming In refers to focusing on the internal pieces and parts of the organization or business.
“To zoom-out and zoom-in underlies the ability to inspire and lead transformative change,
develop high participation teams, and collaborate with others to develop creative, high-leverage solutions to difficult business and organizational issues (Kantar 2011),” thus developing the capacity and capabilities of “walking the talk” or demonstrating that you have the ability to do what you have told others (stake holders, stock holders, customers, etc.) you will do, and that you really can and will do what you say you'll do.
As we consider the strategic focus of “zooming in” it is interesting to contemplate the value of including employees attitudes, perception, satisfaction, etc. as factors in the success equation. Peter Senge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology - once named ‘Strategist of the Century’ by the Journal of Business Strategy, focuses much of his work on the creation of learning environments as part of the specific business culture. Accord to Senge, “ learning organizations are: …organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.”
One thing to consider is how employee satisfaction fits into the paradigm of a learning organization. There is a plethora of evidence that employee satisfaction is positively correlated with customer satisfaction and retaining premium employees, along with higher company revenues.
A short time ago I was an observer in a meeting where the suggestion to gather employees together in a company sponsored group setting with the intent of orchestrating a process designed to better understand employee perceptions, attitudes, and, their level of “employee satisfaction” was met with an gaffawing echo! I have since wondered whether it was the suggested group process method or the real interest of the meeting participants that created the reaction. Zooming in on employee satisfaction certainly was not endorsed – especially using a group meeting for gathering the information.
While the group process may not be an elective for some, there are other strategies that may be considered. One strategy used by some companies is conducting regular employee satisfaction studies using online surveys. Two primary challenges to using an online survey to measure employee satisfaction are the employee’s confidence in the anonymity of his/ her input and formulating the “right” questions.
These challenges can be effectively addressed by contracting with an independent professional research organization, one with experience in constructing employee satisfaction instruments/questionnaires that address the productive issues by asking the right questions and implementing the survey questionnaires in a way that ensures the anonymity of the individual employee
If you are (or are becoming) a believer in the “Zoom In Zoom Out” model, with all its attendant proclaimed benefits (specifically the value of employee satisfaction), you may be interested to know or have confirmed that Discovery Research Group has a professional seasoned staff that can assist with the details associated with formulating and implementing high quality online employee satisfaction surveys, followed by an appropriate analysis and the reporting of actionable results from these online employee satisfaction surveys.
Bob Higginson; VP Business Development and Client Relations
I've had a fascination with psychology and sociology for as long as I've known what they were (sometime in high school). It started out with some sort of internal subconscious mindset that drives me to save the world (or at least the people around me). I don't mean this in the least bit selfishly, but in an attempt to just plain help others...sometimes to my own detriment. You can psychoanalyze me all you want for that one...
My educational background, as a result, focused on these two disciplines. I have a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in sociology. Overall, I consider myself a social psychologist. In any case, I had a couple of really interesting experiences during college that apply to the market research I'm involved with.
As an undergraduate, I jumped back and forth between my major studies (psychology) and my minor studies (sociology). As you'd guess, a major point of emphasis in my psychology program was Sigmund Freud. I was not a Freudian (Skinnerian...go B.F. Skinner), but knew his theories fairly well. One day, in one of my sociological theories classes, the professor started talking about Freud and how his theories were sociological. After about 20 minutes of this presentation, I raised my hand and challenged the professor's thesis (boy I thought I was smart...what I lacked in brilliance I made up for in youth). I questioned whether this information on Freud was just being taken out of context to serve the presentation agenda and to prove a point. The professor was so befuddled by the question that she threw down her notes, her book, and told the entire class to leave (eventually this professor became one of my favorites - she really took no offense to my calling her out and we laughed about it later...type A personality at work). In retrospect, I later realized that she was right and I was wrong.
Flash forward two years and I was in a graduate program in sociology. This undergraduate
experience stuck with me and it still does to this day (but I'll get to that). I took a multi-discipline class that covered theories in economics, sociology, psychology, and political theory. It was a semester class where the grade was based on two things...a mid-term paper...and the final test. Though I was in a sociology program, I couldn't get away from my psychology background (social psychology). For the mid-term paper, I decided to write a paper on how B.F. Skinner's theories could be applied to sociology. I applied the same type of thesis that my undergraduate professor covered with Freud, only with Skinner. I wish that Wikipedia had existed at the time because if it had, these professors could have seen that Wikipedia calls Skinner a "social philosopher." At the time, I knew more about Skinner than did anyone in the room...they failed my paper (actually they gave me a "C" which in graduate school was the kiss of death and pretty much an "F"). They made the same mistake with me and my paper that I made with my own professor as an undergraduate. Though the class was "interdisciplinary" the professors were extremely siloed (as had I been) in their beliefs about how a specific practitioner applied to any other discipline but their own.
Flash forward twenty-two years or so and I am a market researcher who has some responsibility for "getting the word out" about the research techniques we use in our business. Yesterday, I had a very interesting experience that paralleled my college experience in some ways, only in actual application of market research. As many of you do, we send out e-mail blasts with some regularity. Yesterday's e-mail focused on some of the limitations of traditional focus groups and how they are overcome with online solutions. Almost immediately after sending out the e-mail, I received a response from a traditional focus group moderator who mentioned that she found what I'd said "offensive to qualitative moderators." Funny thing is, I meant no offense by what I'd said, I actually employ a focus group moderator, and we have a traditional focus group facility (along with conducting online qualitative). This individual was so siloed in her approach (as was I...and as were my professors) that she couldn't see her own potential (moderating online qualitative research) outside of her current limited realm of existence (moderating traditional focus groups). Online qualitative research serves a very real opportunity for those moderators and market research companies that can embrace it as a method, use it effectively, and implement it accurately. And, it doesn't diminish the need for traditional focus groups at all.
The point is, when products are built, or when practitioners speak or write, they all focus on...something. That doesn't mean that the thing it was originally intended for is the only thing it can be used for. For example, though this is not our approach, I learned yesterday that some organizations are using web-conferencing software (like Web-Ex, ClickMeeting, GoToMeeting, etc.) as a platform for executing their online focus groups...and why not? If it's functional for them and their clients, and it works, go for it. I don't think any of these companies ever intended for their platform to be a research tool. But if it becomes one, so it is. When Freud wrote about psychoanalysis, and sociologists found meaning in what he was saying, Freud became a sociologist. We should all look for ways to expand our research tool-kit and expanding on what we use our current tools for.
Last week, I spent a few days in our corporate Focalytic booth at the ARF Re:Think 2013 conference. A friend (thanks M.C.) pointed me in the direction of this article by Charlene Weisler that really applies to what I knew I'd write about this morning. It's called "Getting In The Flow State At The ARF Re:Think 2013." It's well worth the read. It gives a recap of the conference but also has an underlying theme that focuses on something very important, expanding your area of understanding by combining traditional research with new research techniques so that you can become an "insights alchemist: someone who combines raw materials together to create gold."
As I did, my professors did, and the moderator I mentioned also did, it's very easy to silo ourselves into one view, one approach, or one technique at the expense of most other things around us. There's a real risk in that for our own careers, the businesses that we work for, and the clients we represent. The next time you sit down with those same research methodologies, using that same technique that you've always used, try to mix it up a little. Try a new technique, a new method, or ask questions in a new way and see if a whole new world of rich insights open up to you as a result.
Vaughn Mordecai; President
Two years ago three-time NBA All-Star and three-time gold medalist Deron Williams was traded from the Utah Jazz to the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) mid-season. Since that time, the Jazz have fallen into mediocrity, and like last year the Jazz risk not making the play-offs. Whether it was the trade of Deron Williams, or retirement of head coach Jerry Sloan (which occurred almost simultaneously), that has caused the Jazz to fall from one of the better teams in the NBA to a very mediocre team is debatable. Regardless, the fact that Deron Williams is one of the best point guards in the NBA is undisputable.
So when after three consecutive years as an All-Star, Deron Williams was left out of the 2013 party, I was disappointed. Yes, he did make a public statement saying that he didn’t think he deserved to be an All-Star this year. However, I disagree. His numbers may be down a little, but he’s still a high-quality player and is doing much better recently under new head coach P.J. Carlesimo’s style of offense.
Although he no longer plays for my home team, the Utah Jazz, I’m a Deron Williams fan. I have a reason for this. About three weeks before Deron was traded to the Nets, Deron, his wife Amy, and their three children (they now have four) stopped by my house for an evening.
My wife is a gifted photographer with her own photography business, and after finding my wife’s website, Amy Williams booked an appointment online. When Deron Williams and his family showed up, my wife, unfamiliar with who he was, simply ushered them to her basement studio and started their photography session. After about 10 minutes she began to connect the dots and excused herself for a minute to come upstairs and tell me that D-Will was literally “in the house” (she almost casually asked him what he does for a living before realizing who he was). As a Jazz fan I eagerly went downstairs to “help” her.
Deron, his wife, and three children were nice, fun, friendly, and personable. They didn’t seem put-off by the fact that they were in a small basement studio of a middle-class family’s home with our five noisy children clomping around upstairs, instead of a high-end dedicated photography studio run by some artsy guy with a funny accent named Sergio. I was impressed with the fact that in spite of his fame and multi-millions that he and his family were very down to earth people.
Anyway, back to my point of why D-Will should be an All-Star. The way All-Star voting works is that fans vote for the starting line-up for each All-Star game with head coaches choosing the reserves. But what if the system were different? What if each All-Star was selected based off positive versus negative online sentiment? By this I mean positive and negative tweets, blog posts, comments on Facebook, etc. For example, if a fan tweets how “awesome” they think Kevin Durant is then that would be counted as a positive comment. If a fan comments on Facebook that they think Kevin Durant “stinks” then that would be counted as a negative comment. Take the relative percentage of positive comments, subtract the relative percentage of negative comments, and rank the players. Very simplistic, but also a pretty accurate way of gaging what fans really think about each players current performance, or at least how much their performance is “liked” by the NBA fan base.
Analyzing online conversations and big data is something we do all the time for our clients. Whether it’s a product, brand, company, or NBA All-Star, we have the ability to measure, quantify, and analyze millions of online conversations and data. Typically we go much more in-depth then simply measuring positive and negative sentiment, but in this case a simple position analysis was all that was needed to determine how Deron Williams compares to this years All-Stars.
Below is a chart showing the All-Star line-up for both the Eastern and Western Conferences and the total positive or negative online sentiment associated with each player:
*Data based on Twitter and Facebook content: February 7th, 8th, 9th 2013.
Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan, and Blake Griffin top the list with the most positive online sentiment, while Rajon Rondo, Kobe Bryant, and Zach Randolph have the most negative online sentiment associated with their names. For Deron Williams, negative sentiment outweighs positive sentiment, but he does finish ahead of two other players in the East, including Rajon Rondo, another point guard.
Looking exclusively at Deron Williams, we see that fan opinions are fairly polarized, with most online sentiment associated with him being either “excellent” or “poor” in nature.
Conclusion, take away the votes and run the selection based purely off of unsolicited, unfiltered tweets and Facebook comments and Deron Williams deserves to be an All-Star for the fourth year in a row. Yes I’m not taking into account all NBA players in this analysis, which would have been the way to do it if this really was a selection method. And yes, how could Kobe Bryant not be an All-Star, in spite of the fact that the Lakers are having a poor season (which is likely the reason for most of the negative sentiment associated with Kobe). But to my earlier point, D-Will is an All-Star caliber player who probably should have been counted among this year’s reserves, at least if you go off of my method of analyzing the number of times someone tweeted how “awesome”, “outstanding”, “great”, “amazing”, etc. he is in relation to some of the other players who made the cut.
Kevan Oswald; Market Research Account Executive
Just paused for a moment and looked out the window of my office at those magnificent snow covered Wasatch mountains - “yes , if I were a crow and flew east from my office I would probably be over those mountains and in Park City, Utah (home of the 2002 US Winter Olympics) and on the slopes in 15 to 20 minutes.
There is 20”-24” of snow in my backyard here in the valley – and many of our employees have chosen to work from home instead of spending literally hours traveling to work on the icy snow covered highways.
Thinking to myself what if each of the drops of water in each of those snowflakes out there were likened unto a piece of information – something written about or spoken about regarding your company.
Yesterday in our FOCALYTIC meeting we conversed about streams of data (made up of water drops - opps! - my bad) - structured data (e.g. market share) or unstructured (e.g. written text or social conversation) data.
I’ve been here in SLC for decades. I don’t have to guess, I know when the temperatures rise this Spring, water is going to be “running” everywhere. It will run down rivers, creeks, streams, ditches, and canals; it will flood the mountain side and wash some of those multimillion dollar houses off of the “benches,” it will flood highways, byways, fields, and basements.
The rampant water will be channeled into reservoirs, lakes, ponds & aquifers ; it will be collected in storage tanks and other types of storage facilities; and may even be streamed off into fields of crops; etc. In other words some of the water will be “stored” to be used in very useful ways, however a good portion of the water will flow (by various means) into the Great Salt Lake and be turned into salt, brine, and sludge.
Incidentally, I know of a commercial project whereby natural water is stored in huge high volume containers, it is then processed to remove the “contaminates,” and then the water is being used in experimental projects. The hypothesis is that this Nano water will decrease the growth cycle of vegetable plants, while at the same time increasing the yield – and it is working.
So what is the metaphorical point?
Let’s start by talking about “BIG DATA” challenges, having a storehouse of data (and more coming in everyday)and not knowing how to make it useful. Now consider the drops of information about your company that may have puddled up in the big data storage databases (e.g. Profit and Loss statements, results from customer satisfaction surveys, recorded comments of conversations with dissatisfied customers from your customer hotline, results from employee satisfaction surveys, production line reports, specific product sales and service data, revenue reports, completed employee exit interview forms, lost customer reports, SEO resultant information – and the list goes on and on.
And then there are the drops of data that flow through various channels to a “a great salt lake” to be turned to salt, brine, and sludge that could have/should have been channeled in receptacles and used to enhance ones business options and opportunities. Maybe this needs to be taken into consideration.
Is it within reason to develop a system and take the quindecillion drops of water, or pieces of information from our BD sources and make sense of it? I suggest that the information from the data bases, both physical and virtual, can be used to create an “irrigation system” (henceforth referenced as IS) that will stream the data into the fields of our businesses that will potentially shorten the cycles (e.g. production, sales, innovation) and increase the revenue yield tremendously.
This IS might well include filters that could cleanse and organize the drops of information prior to them being streamed into the decision making forums in our organization. For example, using text analytics to organize social media conversations, converting unstructured text to numeric data (e.g recordings from focus groups), the funneling of data from traditional business data bases (e.g. P&L statements, results of customer measurement and engagement, etc.) through the IS in combination with other “drops of information” from other big data sources into vats in preparation for analysis.
At this stage statistical models can be used to understand the relationships between data coming from various data sources, as the results of the analysis provides opportunity to integrate this synthesized data in a conceptual whole that can easily be visually represented on a dashboard. This visual representation provides a “picture” that can potentially expedite the decision making process related to the type and kind of corporate decision making necessitated by the changing marketplace in which we are doing business. In the “West” water is a most valuable resource and water management is critical, in the marketplace information is a most valuable resource and information management is imperative.
Bob Higginson; VP Business Development & Client Relations
Over the past several weeks, my 5th-grade daughter has been working on her project for the Science Fair. The main purpose of this assignment is to help kids learn about the “Scientific Method”, which as we know is a highly applicable process that is used for all kinds of really important things, like molecular chemistry, nuclear physics, or understanding the phenomenon known as “Bieber-Fever”.
As marketing research professionals, we apply principles of the scientific method all the time – or at least we should. The process begins with a determination of the general subject or question that needs to be answered, or a hypothesis to be tested. We then develop an experiment (typically a survey) which is used to collect data. The data is then sorted and analyzed, and conclusions are made, and these findings are then reported to the client (ideally accompanied with strategic recommendations).
Knowing which questions to ask is obviously a critical step which largely drives the entire process. Businesses will frequently come to us with a pre-determined idea of what they want to find out – in fact it’s often why they came to us in the first place. They might want to gauge the effectiveness of a new advertising campaign, or see how they measure up compared to their competitors.
But what if the client isn’t asking all the right questions to begin with? I believe one of the greatest added values we can provide is to help them broaden their view by figuring out the questions they ought to be asking in order to get the most meaningful results. There are a number of ways to do this. Focus groups and in-depth one-on-one interviews can certainly be effective ways of tweezing out the themes and issues that could contribute to the overall research strategy.
More recently developed methods that can help bring the right themes into focus include the use of MROCs (Market Research Online Communities), wherein a group of individuals (often customers) are able to interact with the moderator and each other in a Facebook-style environment and the individuals are given research tasks to complete. Another powerful and cost-effective option is using a conversation analysis service such as focalytic to uncover relevant topics from any number of already existing data sources, such as social media generated content or even from the client’s own (often underutilized) stores of customer feedback comments. It’s amazing what insights can be found among the weeds of all of that unstructured content if you have the right tool.
Incidentally, the topic my daughter chose for her science project involves comparing how long it takes for a candy-cane to dissolve in various types of liquids. Anyone for some candy-cane flavored soda?
Derek Borsky; VP Strategic Development