Given the time of year (the holiday season), we decided it would be interesting to do some research on charitable giving in America. This article gives a summary of some social media analysis we conducted of the Philanthropic efforts of the thirty largest companies in America according to Fortune magazine’s list of the 500 top revenue-producing companies for 2013. For this research, online conversations were harvested from various social media sources for content related to philanthropy. The data was extracted using proprietary linguistic technologies developed by Discovery Research Group’s Focalytic brand. A full-blown white paper is being developed around this topic and will be available in the next week or two. We will also cover additional findings here.
Initially, this particular blog post is a preliminary analysis using data harvested primarily from Twitter. The more in-depth analysis following this article will include a more robust social media data set including Facebook and a number of other online sources.
Discovery Research walked into this interesting subject with one overarching hypotheses. Namely, the idea that companies with an above average amount of online conversation related to philanthropy/charitable giving would also have an above average amount of online conversation (generally) that is positive in nature. Plainly spoken, increased charitable giving leads to increased sentiment.
Using our collection techniques, Discovery Research Group harvested thousands of online conversations associated with each of the 30 companies listed below and then analyzed the content of these conversations by searching for key words that indicated if the conversation about the company was positive. For example, if someone tweeted “Verizon is just awesome”, the conversation is counted as positive sentiment.
We then harvested conversations associated with each company and searched for key words associated with philanthropy. For example if someone tweeted “Just saw that Verizon donated 1,000 phones to help low income families”, the conversation would be counted as one associated with philanthropy.
Discovery Research Group then calculated an index for each company based on the amount of conversation associated with positive sentiment and philanthropy compared to the other 30 companies. Companies with an above average index (over 100) are considered above average for that metric. Companies with a below average index (below 100) are considered below average for that metric. These two indices were evaluated against each other to test our hypothesis. The findings might surprise you.
As can be visually observed from this graph, surprisingly, there is no relationship between the two indices. A correlation analysis between the two was in fact found to be slightly negatively related (-.14). In essence, there appears to be very little direct correlation between positive online sentiment and increases in online conversation associated with philanthropy. How can that be?
Here's some other interesting visualizations:
Basically, this shows the relative position plotted for each company based off of the Positive Sentiment Index and Philanthropic Index. The scattered nature of the graph further illustrates the lack of correlation between the two indices. In fact the highest sentiment index, is actually one of the lower scores on the philanthropic index. Our hypothesis continues to breakdown as you look at things even more closely.
Comparing the Positive Sentiment Index to the percentage of profits each company gives away to charitable causes we also find virtually no correlation (.02). At 9.2% Kroger gives a considerable percent of its profits to charitable causes; however an index of 103 indicates that the company has only an average amount of online conversation associated with both it and topics related to philanthropy compared to the other 30 companies. So, what's the value in giving all of this money away? Is it for tax purposes? What's the upside to these donations if virtually no one knows about them?
We found something VERY interesting when we went past the sentiment analysis into a deeper dive on emotions expressed around charitable giving. We found that, though positive sentiment isn't necessarily expressed around charitable giving, the emotion of trust is. There is a relationship between the amount of trust people have in a company and the company’s philanthropic index score.
Eight key emotions were examined as part of this particular analysis: trust, optimism, admiration, joy, doubt, pessimism, annoyance and anger.
For most emotions very little positive or negative correlation to philanthropy was found. However, the one exception, the emotion “trust”, was related and is quite a fascinating finding. The correlation between the amount of emotional conversation associated with trust and the philanthropic index score was found to be positive and moderately significant at (+.4).
The graph below provides a clearer view, it appears to be the case that philanthropic efforts have an impact on the level of trust people have in a company.
Although little direct correlation was found with regard to positive online sentiment and online conversation associated with philanthropy for each company. There does appear to be a positive relationship between the trust people have in a company and the amount of conversation associated with philanthropy. So while the volume of positive conversation does not appear to increase significantly with philanthropic efforts, there does appear to be some change in the nature of the conversation with regard to the amount of trust one has toward a company. If trust is an issue for a company, increasing its philanthropic efforts and publicizing those efforts should have an impact on the level of trust people have in that company. More to come as we analyze this subject of charitable giving in the upcoming weeks.
Kevan Oswald; Research Director
Not my song. Not my generation. I’m one removed from the rock and roll of the self-centered “me” generation. I grew up way back in the day when MTV actually showed videos and I don’t recall seeing anything much from The Who. The point is I know the song, but I can’t identify with it, it doesn’t resonate with me. There’s no need for me to live in someone else’s past. Use that song in a commercial and I probably tune it out. Grab a song from the 80’s that I like and I might take notice. Pull something else into the ad like people my age, activities I like, an environment I can relate to, maybe a well know actor or line from an 80’s movie that Boomers and Millennials won’t get, make it entertaining, and I’ll pay attention.
It’s a fairly basic concept; simply show your target market using your product, and they’ll take notice because they can project themselves into the circumstance. But to really resonate your marketing needs to do more than just create a mental picture or association; it needs to communicate a level of understanding so that your target market says “yea…they get me”. So how do you do that? Your best guess? Trial and error? To borrow a word from a much much older generation, that’s “tomfoolery”. (I don’t think I resonated with anyone with that word choice). But to my point, research is how you get there, in particular segmentation research.
As marketers we love segmentation. Several years ago, I don’t know when, sociologists started segmenting society into generational cohorts and named them. It’s still largely a work in progress. Prior to writing this post I researched multiple sources to find a solid definition of the start and stop years for each generation and learned that not only are the names different, but that nearly every credible source disagrees on the established dates for every generation after the Baby Boomers.
While useful, generational segmentation is only a start. The “one-size-fits-all” characterization doesn’t really work for a sizable percentage of each generation. Some even say generations should be defined by attitudes rather than years since attitudes change over time and people from older generations sometimes adopt the characteristics of younger generations and vice-versa.
There is a need to go well beyond generational segmentation in order to truly create a marketing campaign that resonates. This is where surveys, focus groups (in person or online), MROCs and other marketing research methodologies come into play. Once the research has been done we can move away from general assumptions and into data that more accurately defines who your customers are. If the data is quantifiable we can even perform cluster analysis and develop detailed profiles of each customer segment.
Understanding generational differences is an important element of marketing. Multiple books have been written on how to effectively market to the attitudes of each generation. And while there is a lot of value in knowing these differences, there is far more value in knowing and understanding your customers, your potential customers, and how to speak their language. Good segmentation research accomplishes this.
Kevan Oswald; Research Director
The upcoming holidays always makes me reflect on what I personally am thankful for in my life. One of those things is actually this fine industry that we work in (believe it or not).
I was one of the few, the proud, the naive, who strategically planned to do market research for a living. I started my education many years ago studying Social Psychology. When I wrapped up my Bachelor's degree, I asked myself the important question...what do I do with this? I couldn't think of anything so I went back to school. I was much more conscientious of such things like starting a career (mature?) when considering graduate school and looked around for what I was actually interested in doing. My graduate university was conducting some really interesting research out of their Sociology department and I was particularly good at Sociology so I applied to the department and started doing as much research as I could (content analysis of comments on storage of spent nuclear waste at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory; Suicide - in depth interviews with miners in Northern Idaho who at the time were prone to Suicide; Demographic Research; research on religious affiliation's impact on health; etc.). The net out was that I became a fairly adept social science researcher; social psychologist; and somewhat of a linguist (as it pertains to social science research). I was finally, equipped to enter my career and I went straight for market research. Salt Lake City was the closest "big" city to where I lived so I headed south and started looking for a job. I've been in market research ever since, and it's been good to me.
I really enjoy our industry. Here are seven things that I'm particularly appreciative of when it comes to conducting research and the market research industry:
- There are mostly great people in our industry. I'm sure that you can find the same trait in many other trades, however there seems to be an inordinate number of people here who are friendly, genuinely want the best for those around them, and are willing to talk with you, give advice, and help you in moving your best interest, and that of your organization forward. That's not to say that we don't have our great manipulators and deviants, and I've seen my share of them, but for the most part the people I meet are genuine, moral, ethical humans who try to do what's right for them, their clients, and those that benefit from the research we conduct.
- There's a really great blend of "creative types" and the "analytical types" within our industry. Many (including the psychologists) refer to this as right brain/left brain. It's interesting to see how different industries become so saturated with one or the other of these types of people. For example, I don't think I've ever met a right brain accountant, or a truly successful left brained graphic artist. The market research industry seems to have the best of all worlds, right, left, and whole-brained thinkers that will always push the envelope and help you to think outside of the box. One of my best friends in the industry is about as right brained as they come (Hi MP!). I personally fall around the center (with some leanings toward the left). She constantly helps me think outside of the analytical box.
- The Statistics and the Science is fascinating. At the end of the day, I'm a bit of a numbers geek. Even my interest in linguistics is really just math tied to language. The idea that you can go through a very specifically defined process, and find the answer to really whatever you want constantly peaks my curiosity. Watching the scientific method applied to social action, meaning, and decision making is one of the most fascinating things on earth. I'm constantly amazed by how illogically people make decisions, and that science can, with some degree of accuracy, predict these "illogical" decisions, provides meaning to the madness. I'm a believer that emotion drives decision more than logic. The fact that science can understand emotion and use it to predict future behavior is just plain cool.
- The market(ing) research industry studies just about anything you can imagine. We study some of the most boring things you could ever run across (30 minute surveys on server usage); to some of the most fascinating things (new consumer products, sporting events, art, advertising, etc.) The subjects, even when they're boring, are still fascinating (a bit of an enigma) because you begin to understand where it all fits and where <insert your industry> is headed. I find it particularly entertaining when interviewers have to (get to) conduct telephone interviews on highly sensitive subject matter (Male ED, Feminine hygiene products, health & injury issues, etc.). Sometimes the stuff we study just breaks cultural norms, is highly embarrassing, but the research question still needs to be answered. Fun.
- I'm an Innovation(phile) and it's really cool to watch how much innovation goes on in the market research space. I'm enamored with launching new ways to do things with developing technology that's available to consumers. Our product Focalytic, and the data visualization that we do is an extension of that leaning. We feel like we've done some really great innovation in the last few years. There are others in our space that are doing some really fascinating things. I'm fascinated by geo-fencing. Though we don't do it ourselves, the technology is just amazing. Some really great things are being done in the mobile space, the medicalization of market research space (biometrics, neural testing, etc.), conversion of traditional qualitative to online methods, etc. It's always really interesting, and fun, to watch. I'm constantly looking at new developments and wondering "How'd they do that?" Love to watch it.
- It's all fine and good to be involved with something cool, but the real viability becomes whether you can support yourself (or your family) doing it for a living. This industry has provided for the needs of my family, I enjoy it, and I'm thankful for the chance to be here and contribute. I've been able to center my career on market research and I don't intend to leave the industry. It's provided for unimaginable opportunities and I'm blessed to be a part of it.
- Finally, I've always wanted to be a part of something that adds to the betterment of the society that I live in. Market research allows me to feel like I contribute to the greater good, even if it's in some small way.
What are your thoughts about this? Have you found your "home" in the industry, what do you like best about it? I look forward to your responses.
Vaughn Mordecai; President
Shouldn't there be some sort of standard (and affordable) compliance process, document, audit, or level of minimum "acceptability" for conducting market research while at the same time adhering to all of the "Acts" around protecting personably identifiable information? I have to tell you, as this process currently stands in the market research flowchart, it thoroughly bugs me to a level that just about knocks my socks off or makes me want to jab myself in the eye with a fork.
Here's an example. We spend a large amount of IT human resource (and monetary resource) addressing data security compliance. And, every time that we think we have it to a place where we don't need to immediately evolve it, a new client or legal expert within a current client organization comes up with a different way to interpret compliance, aka establishing their own particular slant on HIPAA, GLB, COPPA, European General Data Protection Regulation, ISO, COBIT, ISACA (name a million other compliance or documentation levels or guidelines). Do you ever experience this?
I'd like to sound a market research industry call for a standardized data compliance process. A process that our clients can buy in to, that is standardized for our industry, and that meets the standard practice for the Fortune 500; primarily so that we can bring our research companies to an acceptable level, maintain that level (maybe with annual revisions), and walk away (at least for 5 minutes); instead of dealing with security compliance documentation every day, week, month, of our lives (at the expense of EVERYTHING ELSE WE DO). Currently, the lack of "real" regulation guidelines makes those of us that pay significant attention to this matter feel as though we never quite find ourselves "up to snuff" (even though our primary IT budgets - human and monetary - are spent almost entirely on this initiative.) It is mind numbing.
Each of the industry associations, MRA, AMA, ESOMAR, CASRO, AAPOR, etc. has a code of ethics or best practices document that you agree to when you join the association. They always have some documentation about protecting PII. But, they don't really ever give any guidance on how to accomplish it or really what that means. It's very likely they don't know themselves. Instead, they promote the fallacy that there is some standard, or that you can reach a standard that theoretically exists out there (but really doesn't). It's one of these quasi-regulatory associations that should spearhead the standard. Hopefully you hear me.
Data security is the wild, wild, west of the online world. Every organization you work with explains their compliance expectations differently and requires different elements for compliance, all of which changes the operational attributes of what it means to be compliant...basically only establishing compliance on a "case by case" or "organization by organization" level. And, if you aren't careful, comply with demands, or outright lie, you will not be allowed to provide market research for that organization you've worked so hard to engage with. All because the security compliance part of your potential client's organization (IT Guys that rarely know anything about market research) "failed" your market research company on a point in their documentation that you "passed" in another company's similar documentation. It's a large moving target that you can never seem to hit with your first shot. But, can you ignore it? NO, not if you want to be a viable market research organization. If you don't do something about security compliance, it'll eventually catch up with you.
Many organizations like ours spend significant time, and resources, bringing ourselves to high levels of compliance, while other competitors in our industry, sign legal documentation that say they'll uphold the respective "Acts" but in some cases don't even know what that compliance entails. Those documents become like the best practices mentioned in the associations. On some level, knowing about this information, what it actually means, and the sheer amount of time, and money, spent on it becomes a disadvantage to those of us that feel like we understand what's being required and feel as though we need to adhere. For those corporate researchers out there, please make sure that you are doing a thorough check on data security compliance before you engage with a potential vendor. At least test their level of understanding on the compliance documentation. If you are going to put the documentation in place, put it out there; don't ignore it because some of us are taking it very seriously.
For example, here's a statement from a recent MSA I evaluated:
"Personally Identifiable Information" means any information that is "nonpublic personal information" for purposes of the GLB Act, including information that is characterized as a "personal identifier" in regulations issued under the GLB Act (see, e.g., 12 CFR Section 40.3(o)(2)(ii)(B)). Information that can be associated with Personally Identifiable Information shall also be Personally Identifiable Information.
Got it? That's one paragraph of thirty pages like this. I'm sure that you all understand this statement thoroughly right? And each time you are executing an MSA you are looking up CFR Section 40.3 to make certain that your company is completely in compliance with that Section (or at least you have it memorized). If you're a supplier of market research services, pressured to do more for less, I'm sure that you have a legal expert on staff who spends every waking moment reading these contracts and working with your dedicated compliance officer on altering every item listed to comply, though the cost implementation often spans tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars...am I making a correct assumption?
I (will) rarely make a call for increased regulation. But, what about an even playing field? For those association types in our industry; for the sake of all things good, please standardize the expectation, market it to both the supplier of research and the corporate researcher so that it is considered acceptable practice; and let us all walk away from the inordinate number of hours...and significant ongoing financial investment...required to adhere to the different compliance levels of our 300 different clients.
And... That's my rant for the day...
As a parent, one of the more interesting things for me to observe is the affection that little kids have for a gigantic box. Creatively, the things they can do with them is just amazing. For my kids, they've been castles, dungeons, jails, airplanes, cars, forts, boats, the list goes on and on. The reason it's interesting is that for me, I was much more fond of using cardboard boxes as a "means to an end" than I was fond of using them as boundaries for my creative play. I was constantly looking for ways to use the box for its slick surface rather than the putting myself inside of the box.
Here are a couple of examples:
I am very, very, very embarrassed to admit that in the '80's as a young teenager, my cardboard box was used for breakdancing. I could do a mean backspin (probably still can). A big box was the perfect surface to hone my kickin' breakdancing skills. I wasn't very good but I can remember throwing on my parachute pants, sleeveless t-shirt, a "Rad" breakdancing song on my "ghetto blaster" and throwing down some moves in the front yard of my Idaho home (yes Idaho was the mecca of breakdancing activity). My friend and I even "breakdanced" at a talent show at our church. The girls loved it and it was all very entertaining I'm sure (those were cheers not jeers...right MS?). I was SO skilled because I had access to the box.
Flash to a few years earlier. My family lived in a rambler. We had a fairly steep, fairly long - but straight, set of stairs going down from the main floor to bedrooms and a family room in the basement. The box was used for stair surfing. What is that, you might ask? We'd open up the box, spread the box down all of the stairs (to produce a slick surface), and grab a cusion off our couch (or a beanbag chair, or any soft-flat cusion). We'd start at the top of the stairs, stand on the cushion, and "catch the wave" down the stairs. The box was the perfect slippery surface for the beginning of my affinity for the surfer culture and love for all board sports (skateboarding, snowboarding & surfing). My parents were very patient...
I still enjoy punching through boxes. There seems to be something satisfying about punching a box to break it down flat. Rather than carefully tearing the tape, or cutting it with sicorrs, it's much more fun to crush it, rip it, tear it, etc. until it's knocked flat (for recycling purposes of course. Because I'm so green.)
Flash forward 25 years and we have many types of metaphysical boxes (more than just cardboard boxes). We have the metaphysical boxes we put ourselves into for security purposes (when I'm in the box I know where my borders are and what's expected of me in the outside world). We have boxes that are defined by others we interact with that tell me about who and what "I" am. We have boxes that are defined by the "insert company name...way..." which are tied to our cultural norms. And, in business, we have boxes that our vendors and providers put us in that relate to "who we are" or how we accomplish things.
A few years ago, Discovery Research Group started creating market research dashboards. When we started doing this, we looked around at many different software packages, solutions, and ways of accomplishing this data visualization technique. We saw a wave of important technology that we knew we had to address for the future. In our evaluation, we found a common thread. The available dashboard providers were either A) VERY EXPENSIVE or B) VERY INFLEXIBLE. The custom solutions required investments of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars per year (depending on complexity). The prepackaged solutions would allow for very little customization and users were required to provide data in very specific formats. How would these solutions ever work for market research companies (our market research studies) that don't have budgets at the CEO level for business intelligence dashboards, or that have a million disparate data streams from hundreds of surveys that they complete each year, all with different data formats. That's where the box comes in. We were boxed in by our possible suppliers. Providers of these services require you to adhere, play around in, and experiment within the confines of the box they provided...and you should be happy doing it just like you were when you were a kid...right?
That's just not the way we like to operate. For Discovery Research, we started building our own dashboards for ourselves, for our current clients, and for others in the market research space. We built them from scratch, we built them in ways that allow for the disparate data streams, and we built them the way we wanted them to look, feel and operate. For us, we decided to blow up the box and use it as a way to surf the data streams available to us. We called this Compassvision and we have a blast doing it.
When you get involved with market research dashboards, consider two things before you jump in to the box of a supplier. Do I need flexibility...and does the supplier provide it? And, can I do this in an affordable way? For us, those were two of the biggest considerations and must be answered before you proceed with any solution, otherwise you'll be left...wanting...in some form or another. My thoughts...for whatever they're worth.
Discovery Research Group, more specifically our Focalytic brand, recently attended the Market Research Event in Nashville, TN (10/21/13 - 10/23/13). When we realized the amount of Twitter "chatter" that was surrounding the speakers and presenters at the event, we decided to measure what they were talking about to see if we could pull some key insights from the conference. Below, is a brief summary of the conference insights we found compelling.
Cutting through the chatter to discover the trends and major themes from more than 2,250 tweets with the hashtag #TMRE13, Discovery Research Group uncovered a few interesting insights.
Not surprisingly, most conversations focused on the simple, with exhibitors encouraging people to stop by their booth or attendees commenting on the conference speakers or location. Some of the more rich insights came from attendees tweeting and re-tweeting quotes or points of interest they gained from attending a conference session. Below is a word cloud around that conversation.
This word cloud begins to tell us part of the story, but honing in on “why” particular words occur in high frequency we learn what conference attendees found most interesting.
One of the first words to stand out among the content is around the word “brand”. Conversation associated with “brand” came largely out of Keynote speaker Jeremy Sack’s presentation on “The Pragmatic Brain”. Below are some of the comments and quotes that many attendees considered to be worth tweeting about on the subject of branding:
- Avoid gen pop research when crafting your brand's identity; your brand's most passionate consumers matter most!
- If you're (a brand) simply talking AT tweens, prepare to be eclipsed by a competitor.
- Don't mix up heavy brand users with brand lovers.
- Focus on only why your brand needs to be consumed. That's how brands dominate!
- Heavy users are not always the "lovers" of your brand. It's the deep emotional connection with your brand that makes a lover a "lover".
- Your customers are having an experience with your brand, even if you aren't managing the experience.
- Brand relationships fall into 4 categories - beat friends, colleagues, star-groupies, and love-hate.
- Brand stereotypes create reality. Brands resist change, but CAN change, and are part of who we are.
- By addressing the non-conscious first, you can change your brand stereotype for the better.
- To improve brand stereotypes, the change effort must feel authentic and the interaction cooperative.
- Brand trackers should track identity. This is the relationship brands most want.
- Product testing should always be branded. The brand inherently changes the consumers' experience.
- Embrace the fact that brands create reality - and think of how this affects your research.
- Mere pleasant contact with a brand cannot always drive change in brand perception.
The word “curve” also stands out as being somewhat unusual. There were two reasons why this word was prominently featured, the first is multiple re-tweets of a quote by Keynote Jeffrey Cole with regard to his advice to brands on the future of the internet, “Your learning curve must be steeper than your action curve”. This quote was re-tweeted more than any other single Tweet from the conference. The second is Keynote Malcolm Gladwell’s talk on the application of “inverted U curves” in society.
Although not especially prominent, the word “Millennials” also stands out as a word worth further investigation. Several attendees tweeted insights about Mellennials that they gained from the conference:
- Don't make new products for Millennials, but seek strategies to tap into the ethos - it's a generation that cares and shares.
- First Wave Millennials think they are smarter than any other generation.
- Millennials are heavy binge TV viewers because they get hooked on character, start-to-finish. They catch-up.
- By the age of 18 almost 50% of Millennials have already decided what career they want.
- Millennials: are raised to ask questions, empowered by tech & connect with inspiring brands. Give them a story to believe in.
Finally, it’s also interesting to not only note what is being tweeted and re-tweeted, but who is doing it. While most people who tweeted sent only a handful of tweets or less, there were some conference attendees who clearly dominated the conversation on #TMRE13 as seen on the chart below of the Top 20 Tweeters.
We found the content of this conference extremely interesting and met a lot of new friends and associates at the conference. Hope to see you there next year!
Recently we conducted a market research online community (MROC) with the sole intent of producing content that could be placed into a whitepaper or eBook so that companies considering this market research method would have a better idea of what their output could look like. As a general subject matter, we decided to conduct the MROC on pet products, specifically products that centered on dogs.
For this research we used social media techniques and e-mails to recruit participants to an online survey that measured the participants "commitment" to their dog (and that they actually had a dog). Specifically, we selected participants who were dog owners that consider their dog to be an “integral part of their life” and who devote an “extensive amount of time and resources” toward caring for their dog. Four states were represented, namely: Utah, California, New Jersey, and New York. Of the participants, we selected 14 to participate in the MROC and paid them $25 to participate in a one-week engagement.
For this research study, participants completed a total of two qualitative discussions and five research activities. The discussions followed a format similar to a Focus Group where participants interacted with the moderator, and each other, as they respond to questions that were posed. For the research activities, participants were required to do specific tasks like upload photos and video or respond to a survey.
Similar to any other market research method, Discovery Research had specific research objectives for this online community. They included:
- Testing of different advertising styles and messages for the purpose of generating ideas for an effective print advertising campaign.
- Identifying eating habits and health issues that dog owners encounter with their dogs in order to determine the health benefits the treat should communicate in its advertising, if any.
- Developing a better understanding of the target market and how the participants interact with their dog, in order to aid in the production of an advertising message that resonates with dog owners.
- Identifying the position of several brands relative to other brands in order to determine if it would be advantageous to market the treat with an existing umbrella brand name or if a specific dog treat should be marketed as a standalone brand.
- Incorporate the findings into the development of a follow-up research study focused exclusively on dog treats.
Engagement for this research initiative was quite good. There were 70 total activities (14 participants X 5 activities). Of the total number of activities, research participants completed 65 of them (or 92.9%). The two discussion threads generated 52 posts that were analyzed for content. Participants rated and commented on products 41 times. All in all, the participants were engaged and willing to get involved in the research process.
MROC's are a VERY good source of research information. They have elements of ethnography, can include both qualitative and quantitative information, are mobile enabled (in our case) and are a good forum to test new products and services, and develop new insights and innovation. This particular MROC evaluated a number of advertisements that generated a significant amount of detailed information that would be helpful to any advertiser or company sponsoring the ad.
The full scope of this market research online community, along with our conversational based research analysis of the content, can be found in this free eBook. For sake of time, we won't go into the results of the MROC in this blog, but it is included in detail in the eBook.
Feel free to peruse at your convenience. We're sure it will give you a better understanding of what an MROC is and how it can benefit your organization. MROCs truly are a technique that every consumer of market research information should have in their arsenal. Hope you Enjoy!
Vaughn Mordecai; President
I’m a regular user of the Chrome browser. Earlier this week they changed something on the browser that I didn’t like at all. In the past, when you click to open a new tab, you have the option to send the new tab to a few different places (home page, where you left off, and the one I use for my settings – my most frequented websites). When Chrome updated itself, it altered the way the browser used this third setting. This new page now provides users with a big…VERY BIG…Google search bar right in the middle of the page (my page). The most frequented websites are still there, but they are located below that (almost off the page), and are identified by much smaller boxes. This whole page is dwarfed by the REALLY BIG Google search bar.
In this update, Google did add something that I like a lot, a colorful box that allows me to quickly get to my “Apps” page, but the benefit of this small box is almost entirely dwarfed by the GIGANTIC Google search bar, which incidentally is not needed at all because one of the beautiful things about Chrome is that all you have to do to conduct a search is type the search term in the box that shows the URL. This new search bar feature is both redundant, adds clutter (which I’m very adverse to), and cannot be disabled (I’ve tried). It was ALMOST enough to send me to another browser entirely. It WAS enough for me to bring it up in this public setting.
It makes me wonder what sort of market research was put into this decision. I know that Google can do marketing research. I’ve met several of their researchers through the years. Was this a decision that was made at the developer’s level, a marketing level, or a decision that was driven by consumer usability testing? I’d really like to know because it seems almost entirely a marketing ploy at the expense of usability. Now, it’s very possible that I’m an anomaly on the subject and that the lion’s share of Chrome users could care less about the matter, but here’s the point.
There are many ways that this seemingly minor change could have been tested. Many companies do usability testing, a small test group could have been gathered very inexpensively and qualitative information gathered, or even a quick survey could have been collected (which I know Google performs) that provides a screen shot and asks participants what they think of this new search box. The point is, that before you change something about your organization that may seem very insignificant to you, but that changes how the user or customer experience your organization, test what the customer opinion will be to this switch. Though it may not mean much to you, it may mean the world to someone who is using your products and services. It'll probably mean more than you think. Now...Google...please get rid of that search box...or at least let me disable it.
Vaughn Mordecai; President
In this modern world of social media, communication is as simple as clicking an app on your phone, or hitting the “share” button. Links can be formed across the world, binding together friendships, families, and businesses. But other connections can be structured through social media as well: the connection between the consumer and the business. Through social media analysis, businesses can understand consumers in ways that businesses have never before experienced. Interaction can start with a simple status update on Facebook. From there, an entire collection can be made of statuses, updates, tweets, forum comments, and the like relating to your business to map out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Together, they can be analyzed to pinpoint company SWOT lists, and together they can help you make choices for the future of your company.
Julie Doe posts a status on Facebook: “I love this particular brand of soda! It’s delicious and so bubbly!” Your soda business can gather the positive sentiment of her status and add it to an analysis to discover the overall amount of positivity that your business receives through various social media platforms. Through social media listening and analysis, your business can be sure that your customers enjoy your specific product and understand the elements that help them enjoy what your product brings to the table.
Every business wants to know the strengths of their company, and customers are the direct links to that knowledge. What do the customers enjoy? Which product is a consumer favorite? These questions are answered, which reinstates the path of the company and ensures that your business is continuing the path of success.
Julie Doe’s friend, Jack Smith, comments on Julie’s status: “I once tried that particular brand of soda and I had an allergic reaction! I think it was the coloring they used.” Through social media analysis, the inclusion of this comment portrays the company’s weakness. In this case, the weakness is that while the product is loved by some, like Julie, the product contains ingredients that some may be allergic to, like Jack. Upon seeing the weakness in the social media analysis, the company has a decision to make: create a new product that is hypo-allergenic? Continue business as usual and keep the product as is? Or something else entirely?
Seeing the weak spots of a company can help the company decide the path it wants to take. Decisions like these are not always as drastic as making or breaking the company, but every little decision counts, and social media analysis is the first step in helping your company decide on what to do next.
Julie Doe posts a tweet on Twitter: “I love this particular brand of soda, though I really wish they had a diet option!” Social media analysis can then add this tweet to the group of opportunities that your business can pursue. Would it be worth adding a diet version of that particular soda? Would it be worth creating a diet version of all the sodas your company has to offer? These are the types of questions that help make a better business and a better profit. Hearing what consumers have to say about your product can go a long way in where you want your company to go in the future. This creates opportunities for your company to grow.
One day, social media analysis reports that a Facebook group exists titled: “We hate this particular soda brand!” This group is reported to have at least a hundred followers. Social media listening, research, and analysis can help determine what exactly they hate about your product. Can your company change for these specific consumers? What would it change? What exactly do they dislike? Threats like these can trigger changes in the company if you so wish, proving that even threats can be beneficial to your company. At the least they provide you with the ability to understand consumer concern that could gain traction in the future.
It is through social media analysis that companies can find the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Through SWOT, companies can discover the current path of the company, and they can determine where they want to go in the future. Social media analysis helps companies make important decisions about changes, products, and results. For your social media analysis needs, do not hesitate to contact Focalytic today. We have programs that can utilize social media analysis for you and your business.
First, in case you’re not familiar with what an MROC is, it stands for Marketing Research Online Community. The format and interaction is somewhat similar to that of Facebook. A little like a focus group and a little like a survey panel, the platform provides for interaction and sharing between a moderator and participants. The moderator asks questions or assigns tasks and the participants respond. The insights gained from this research tool are rich and powerful. Below are six reasons why this is the case.
Deeper Insights. Like a focus group an MROC provides an opportunity for the moderator to ask follow-up questions and for participants to comment on what others in the group have said. It is from this type of interaction that the deepest insights are often obtained and unanticipated discoveries come about. The ability for participants to share pictures, video, and interact with other media in an MROC adds to the level of insight that goes beyond what most other research methodologies offer.
Eagerness to Share. Take a moment to think back a few years, maybe a lot of years, like way back to when you were in kindergarten. One of the first lessons you reluctantly learned was sharing. Fast forward a few decades and sharing has become a necessary part of life. We share a lot, sometimes still reluctantly, but we do it. However, when it comes to sharing our opinions we are eager to do so, especially online. We like this type of sharing. In fact we seek out opportunities to let people know exactly what we think, what we saw at the store, if we like what they shared with us or not, and to post cool photos of our pets, children, or our most recent vacation. If the participants are genuinely interested in the subject at hand, they will be more than eager to share their opinion and become actively involved in the study. The result is better responses, jam-packed insights, and possibly a lower incentive required to get people to participate.
More Realistic Insights. I love focus groups, I’ve moderated many myself and firmly believe in their value. However, focus groups aren’t always reflective of reality. With a focus group we throw together a group of strangers who have never met and then ask them to make snap judgments about a product or service they likely have never seen before. The situation is unnatural. I’d like to think that everything focus group participants say is what they truly believe, but I know that that isn’t always the case. With an MROC participants are given time to think. Sometimes feedback from quick first impressions is preferred, but in life, unless you are buying a package of gum at the checkout stand, more often than not we take time to think about our decisions. MROCs allow participants the ability to think at their own pace before giving responses.
Greater Anonymity = True Opinions. I recently completed an MROC where only about twenty percent of the participants chose to upload their profile picture. The use of your real name is typically optional. The ability to hide behind the anonymity of the internet is one of the reasons people readily share their true opinions online. For example, the music video by sixteen year old high school student Rebecca Black titled “Friday” has gathered over 57 million views on YouTube. From that statistic it would be easy to assume that most everyone likes her video, but take a closer look and you will see an 80% thumbs down. With lyrics like “Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards” it’s not hard to see why. Personally, the video is not my cup of tea, but kudos to her for being bold enough to try. The song is catchy and like it or not you will sing it in your head after watching it. I’m going to guess that if Rebecca Black was to personally ask people if they liked her video, most everyone would politely reply that they did, even strangers, because of the social pressure that the situation creates to be polite. However on YouTube it’s a different story. The internet allows us to be anonymous. The social pressure to conform is mostly negated and consequently people more easily express their true opinions then in focus groups.
Committed Participants = Better Insights. The number of people who participate in an MROC can vary in size from a dozen to upwards of 1000 or more, but in my opinion MROCs that are on the smaller end of the spectrum provide deeper insights. When someone is part of a small group that is asked for their opinion they feel like an insider, they feel influential, they think more carefully about their responses because they feel that their opinion counts more than if they were part of a large group or survey.
Backroom Interaction. If you have ever observed a focus group you know that participants sometimes make a comment that you want explored further. Sometimes the moderator follows up on these comments, but not always. Of course with surveys there is no chance for follow up. Because an MROC takes place over several days, weeks, or even months, there is ample time for the client to review responses and ask the moderator to probe further or open a new discussion on any fresh insights.
Kevan Oswald; Research Director