Big Data & Market Research – Distant Cousins or Siamese Twins?

November 11, 2013

I recently attended a 2 day Big Data Summit conference in Sydney, run by Innovation Enterprise. From the show of hands, I was one of two market researchers among the 150 strong audience.

There a number of roles and opportunities for market researchers to play in this arena as from the quality and content of the presentations, it is clear Big Data is here stay, can only get ‘bigger’.

The retail, banking, and utilities sectors were well represented (fmcg was conspicuous in its absence) as was the Government sector with the Australian Bureau of Statistics, CSIRO, and the State of Queensland. The attendees’ profile, based on skill sets, was similar to an MR audience for a similar event but with a quantitative bias and an average age around 8-10 years younger.
big data 3 needs

Sportsbet’s Tony Greubner’s succinctly described 8 factors that would drive future of Big Data. His first three, the variety of sources, proscriptive analytics, and increased scope of application are perhaps the most pertinent (with no 6 “Geek is the new cool” being a favourite with the audience). Tony also highlighted three skill sets in short supply (see picture above) and here is where those with solid MR expertise could contribute. Read On..>


Instant Noodles in India –Tug of War or Tugging Heartstrings?

July 29, 2013

One of the fascinating things about using Facial Imaging when exposing competitive ads to the same respondents in a single category is that it provides unspoken clues about relative brand positioning issues (as FI does not rely on ‘rational’ recall or post-exposure rating).

 ToW foodles

 A brand with an inherently easy to understand positioning is more likely to get its message across clearly than a brand attempting to make consumers think about the product in a new light. Here, we see an example of an Instant Noodles brand, Horlick’s Foodles, taking on the task of provoking Indian mothers believe that instant noodles can actually be nutritious. It is done in a manner successfully demonstrated in previous posts (telling a story and building towards the main message), but the style of the execution is perhaps a little too dark. So it does not seem to reduce the high level of apprehension when the main ‘nutritious noodles’ idea is brought forward. Maggi, by contrast, takes an easily believable ‘life-saver’ message (that Maggi noodles are there and ready when you really need them) and pushes this in an engaging positive manner connected by a catchy jingle. Clever execution combines with a clear-cut positioning to evoke a strong response that builds positively.

The key lesson is if you are taking on a difficult advertising task such as proposing something that may conflict with common wisdom, the sequence and content of emotions evoked is critical.  Such ads are more likely to lose direction in emotional terms, and need more careful prior assessment. Read the rest of this entry »


Emotional Engagement & the Indonesian Consumer

July 16, 2013

In the second of the AsiaEmotion series, we look at SE Asia’s largest market, Indonesia, and show why we think advertisers have a substantial Opportunity to Improve Emotional Punch. Using nViso’s breakthrough 3D Facial Imaging, AsiaEmotion recorded emotional response to ads directly technology and so is about how people actually felt as they watched, not what they said after.

The study, completed earlier this year with leading Asian research agency Cimigo, covered 150 typical consumers in each of China, India, Vietnam, Hong Kong, & Indonesia across 75 recent and typical day-to-day commercials in high ad spend categories covering: Noodles, Shampoo, Telecom, Beer, CSD, Growing Up/Health Food Milks. The key regional takeouts can be found at 9 Essentials for Advertising in Asia on the AsiaEmotion website.

Today we’ll look at the services sector comparing ads from competitors Telkomsel and Indosat. Click the links to view the ads and some top line analysis – Telkomsel and Indosat

As a general observation based on the AsiaEmotion findings, Indonesian ads show lower emotional response than other large Asian markets. However, compared to Indonesian ads in other day-to-day categories, Telecom ads evoke about average levels of emotional response. For Telkomsel in particular, the type, build, and shape of response were better than most Indonesian ads as whole.Image

The lower “amount” of emotion may well be related to the high level of very direct product/deal promotion content in nearly all ads. Such scenes cause builds in response to plateau (Telkomsel) or drop off (especially for Indosat).

The relatively low levels of emotion evoked represent an opportunity to increase cut-through and engagement.  Telecom advertisers should consider separate distinctive strategies for brand building and product offering in order to generate more focussed executions.

When reviewing the findings, Indirect Style Beats Direct Functional Approach. Telkomsel uses a dialogue between teenage girls to introduce their key message. The ‘teenage girl’ interaction (with a nice girl vs. nasty girl slant), realistic language, and mannerisms build interest among (presumed) key target groups.

Indo Tel 2

Indosat uses a Game show format to introduce its benefits. These are brought in early, very directly and literally “shouted” at the audience. The rapid change of scenes/visuals leads to low, negative emotive response with poor coherence.

Indo Tel 4

Again, Details Matter, the Telkomsel ad seems crafted to focus on specific target groups and their concerns and behaviours. This leads to more clarity in emotional terms.

Indo Tel 3

When and how the key service offer is introduced also appears to matter – overall we find it is better to bring such offers in parallel with the story or after emotion has built.  This approach is taken by Telkomsel and looks to be more effective than in an immediate, direct recitation of the offer (as in the case of Indosat).

Reactions to specific talent can distract or annoy. The MC, or his manner, in the Indosat ad seems to annoy women.  AsiaEmotion results generally show that reactions to talent can vary markedly among sub-groups and celebrities should not be assumed as universal in their appeal.

Indo Tel 5

The Key Lesson is that despite a direct, clear recitation of benefits and brand, Indosat evokes lower and more negative emotion. It is also lower on rational measures than or Telkomsel and other telecom ads. Indonesian consumers are perhaps out-growing the overtly direct “functional” delivery in commercials

Telkomsel – the Emotional Profile

This well targeted ad succeeds at evoking positive response among Females, SES AB and young (which are the presumed target markets). It combines high emotional response with relatively high ‘rational’ ratings, the only concerning issue being that emotion takes a while to build, thus increasing the risk of channel switching

There is a marked spike in Surprise when the offer is introduced, and the combination of Surprise & Happiness at this stage indicates the offer evokes “Delight”. There are some negatives towards the end, but in context of Happiness being maintained, this likely indicates engagement and memorability

Indo Tel 6

Furthermore, there is a peak in Apprehension/Fear during branding, which may show some nervousness about the brand itself, indicating a need for brand research to determine what is driving this.

Indosat – the Emotional Profile

We see low levels of emotive response with no clear pattern and quite high negatives. (Rational responses to traditional MR questions on interest etc were also lower than others.) These erratic response patterns are associated with rapid change of scenes and messages.

The male MC and the drummer seem to particularly annoy women and although Males and SES C show more positive response, it is still not high relative to other ads tested in the market.

Indo Tel 7

Low positive and high negative response during both branding and main message sequences, raise concerns that this ad could negatively impact brand equity.

Overall then, ‘shouting out’ benefits, and getting them out up-front and early, while superficially useful tactics in the crowded media environment of Indonesian Television, may actually be counter-productive.  Subtler approaches to emotional marketing may ultimately pay bigger dividends.

In our next blog we’ll move to India and a food category – but for now if you would like any more information please contact Alastair Gordon or David McCallum. Or visit the Asia Emotion website http://www.asiaemotion.com


Soft Drinks, Soft Sell – Emotional Engagement & the Chinese Consumer

July 2, 2013

Over the next few months we’ll be blogging a special series revealing the findings from AsiaEmotion, a pan-Asia study on everyday advertising in the region’s key markets. AsiaEmotion recorded emotional response to ads directly and scientifically using nViso’s breakthrough 3D Facial Imaging technology and so is about how people actually felt as they watched, not what they said they felt after the event.
The study, completed earlier this year with leading Asian research agency Cimigo, covered 150 typical consumers in each of China, India, Vietnam, Hong Kong, & Indonesia across 75 recent and typical day-to-day commercials in high ad spend categories covering: Noodles, Shampoo, Telecom, Beer, CSD, Growing Up/Health Food Milks. The key regional takeouts can be found at 9 Essentials for Advertising in Asia on the AsiaEmotion website.
Today we’ll compare a couple of soft drink ads from China, promoting iconic brands Coke and Sprite. Click the links to view the ads and some top line analysis – Coca-Cola and Sprite. Read the rest of this entry »


Professional Development – you don’t know what you don’t know!

May 2, 2012

Having recently assumed the chair of the AMSRS’s Professional Development Program, the first thing that struck me was the enormous range and diversity of subject matter one has to command these days to be a truly effective market researcher. The extent of knowledge required makes it even more important to encourage continuous learning if we are to retain the value of MR as a profession in both the commercial and social sphere.

At the risk of over-simplifying, there wasn’t that much to learn in the late 70s to early 80s. If you were capable of questionnaire design, understood stats and a bit of sampling, could analyse data, and maybe present with some coherence you could work in a research company. Read On..>


Watching and Listening – An Alternative to Direct Questioning?

April 10, 2012

In the early 90′s, the ‘tagline’ of a leading Japanese agency’s brochure was ‘the key to understanding was to read between the lines of what was not said’. Two decades later, Shobha Prasad re-visited the issue focusing on the layering and subtleties of Asian languages in ‘Listening to the Sounds of Silence’ at ESOMAR’s APAC Conference.

As Asia grows more healthy, wealthy, and wired, superficially its consumers resemble their Western counterparts. Sometimes even, having leapfrogged technological lifecycles, they appear more advanced. Nevertheless, although these new trappings bring an almost ‘stateless’ vocabulary to the world’s languages, the fundamental challenges of interpreting local cultural nuance and international comparisons remain.

Direct questioning methods is felt to be (even) less effective in Asia due to language structure, cultural norms, and social convention. Asian consumers are often not so forthcoming with opinions than Western ones – although researchers in Mumbai or Manila may well disagree. The real issue, though, is the huge variety of expression, both verbally and visually. As well as vocabulary and sentence structure, different expressions also support communication. Cultures displaying emotion less conservatively usually have the mouth as the main focus; a culture that masks its feelings focuses more subtly on the eyes when determining emotion. So, visual cues can be equally important to gauge underlying sentiments. Read On..>


The Fine Line between Passion and Pride

September 6, 2011

I spoke recently, on separate occasions, to a couple of colleagues now at major research buyers. Interestingly, both commented on what they saw as a ‘decline in passion’ from all but their most specialised (i.e. smaller or niche) suppliers.

Both felt that, as well as the harder times in the market economies generally bringing everyone down, the organisational changes arising from consolidation in the industry may also be playing a part in this emotional change. In particular, the increased prevalence of personnel policies, necessitated by organisational complexity, was thought to be a key factor. The structures imposed by such were driving the ‘star players’ upwards (to staff roles) or outwards at many of the larger companies in favour of safe but not necessarily inspiring performers. Read the rest of this entry »


When Worlds Collide – Surviving M&A and Thriving

April 5, 2011

Arising and even resulting from the GFC, has been the rapid growth of dynamic small and medium sized research agencies. Most have innovative approaches and distinctive cultures, offering exciting workplaces to their staff who repay with high commitment. Yet this very success makes them prime M&A targets and many will, in the next few years, be bought out. Is this bad for their workforce, and how should these loyal employees react when acquisitions happen? A recent article from Asia-Pacific focused of the plight of researchers whose companies were sold on by management. In essence, the hapless researchers were portrayed as helpless victims whose utopian world was dissolved by forces of evil, represented by the faceless conglomerate. Read On..>


Skin in the Game – in Praise of Employee Equity

February 7, 2011

A recent Research blog by my ex-boss, Nick Sparrow, founder of ICM, extolled the virtues of offering equity to agency staff. In fact, it was Nick who taught me in the early 80′s how to sell research based on its benefits not its features (which given my statistician’s focus at the time was a revelation!)

Nick expounded his vision of a business “run solely for all the people employed” where a company is best run, and gives the best service to clients, when the people feel a sense of ownership. It’s interesting to note that two of the UK’s ‘thought’ leading agencies (both of whom have won Agency of the Year) Brainjuicer and Truth appear both to have embarked on similar ownership structures.

Although, ICM was owned by 10 shareholders before its sale, Nick was interested to see research businesses go further and make all employees shareholders. Here the clients benefited as their interests were best served and reinforced by the servicing team who in turn profited from satisfied, returning, regular clients. Read On..>


In Praise of Procurement

December 9, 2010

I recently viewed a YouTube video where a senior director from a sizeable research agency expressed views on the growing presence of procurement professionals in the selection and purchase of market research services. As might be expected, there were the usual concerns and complaints about the difficulty of communicating quality of thought and creativity of design via the procurement process. This was followed up by the fear that, in the long term, research would become a commodity bought merely on price.

Whilst I can sympathise with the extra administrative process this seems to impose on the agency, I don’t agree that it will lead to a price-driven commodity market. Let’s face it, when we buy things for ourselves, services or products, we only want to pay for what we need and what has value for us. Ideally, we don’t want to pay for superfluous extras or for inefficiencies in the providers’ systems, whether they be features on the Blu-ray player we don’t (can’t) use or paying the banks for the privilege of benefiting from our own money. Read On..>


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