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..>

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Facial Imaging: The “Big-Data” Solution for Emotion Research?

September 2, 2013

We are entering an era where, thanks to technology like facial imaging, “soft-data” on emotions – traditionally the province of qualitative studies or smaller scale specialised surveys –  will become “big-data” that provides very hard results.

Facial Imaging Embeded & Automatic: nViso API in Cinemax site - 1 million views and counting

Facial Imaging Embedded & Automatic: nViso API in Cinemax site – 1 million visitors and counting

At first glance facial imaging (or “facial coding”) seems like just another variant of Neuroscience testing, but in fact it has some very different features. In earlier posts we’ve written extensively on the results obtained from this technology (e.g. see “Soft-Drinks, Soft-Sell“), but in this post I want to get across the point that the really big news is not so much how well facial imaging measures emotion, but how many people and how much emotion can be measured.  This makes it fundamentally different from hardware dependent methodologies like EEG or conventional survey based methods. Two thought experiments for market researchers might illustrate: Read the rest of this entry »


Men & Women Watching Ads – Different Markets or Different Species?

June 22, 2012

The more I look at the patterns of response to advertising revealed by facial imaging the more I’m convinced that the old “Men are from Mars, Women from Venus” chestnut has validity. (Facial Imaging is the direct measurement of emotion via webcams – see www.nviso.ch if you want to know how it works).  In essence major contrasts in reaction are the norm in the ads we’ve studied and this seems to hold across cultures and is not confined to the obvious categories like cars or alcohol. Yes, MR studies have often noted gender differences, but I’m not referring merely to broad reaction to the ad but the fact that the level, pattern and type of emotional reaction to specific elements of the commercial can differ wildly.

Women (pink line) React To An Ad With Lots of Baby Shots. OK for a while, but get it wrong and you lose them.

Even when the overall  response of males and females is pretty similar (e.g. as measured by self-reported liking, impact etc.) the norm is that you’ll find that the build of emotion and reaction to specific scenes diverges markedly. While I’d be the first to admit we need to do a lot more systematic analysis to back up my initial assessments, I’m increasingly of the view that this has huge implications for advertising and research. Read the rest of this entry »


Emotionally Preaching To The Converted

January 16, 2012

New Year, new start. As some of you who know us will realise, one of the reasons our blog postings have stuttered in recent months is that we’ve been far too emotional. Or at least far too involved in telling clients, MR and ad agencies about why emotional marketing matters, and why it’s not quite what they thought it was.

Preaching To The Converted: More Useful Than You Think?

We thought therefore, we’d start 2012 with a series of posts on what we think is the most important development in modern market research: our increasingly accurate ability to tap into consumer emotions.

In particular, we want to do our bit to move discussion of emotion measurement from methods and applications towards the more important area of marketing implications. Why measuring emotion accurately really matters.
Read the rest of this entry »


A Market Research Dream – Or is it a Nightmare?

April 14, 2011
Rhizome awardophilia . .

Tomorrows MR Gurus? All Question Answered, No Need For Survey or FGD! (Image by jef safi via Flickr)

Market Researchers are perpetually speculating on the future of MR; at times it is said, as a defence mechanism to save thinking about what needs doing today. In my view, this speculation falls between two extremes – expecting too much change (generally we under-rate institutional inertia in ourselves and our clients), or not anticipating enough (there will be some developments we cannot even begin to imagine).

Yet, there are stirrings in our profession of some genuinely revolutionary changes that will transform the lives of research’s next generation. These are not so much based in the oft heard predictions on new ways to access people’s thoughts (neuroscience, social media research etc.), but on the application of theory and modelling to understand and make sense of such thoughts. What then, might the future look like? Read the rest of this entry »


7 Apps For 7 CMOs: Why Emotion Research Needs Focus

February 24, 2011
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (film)

Polygamy is Out: You've Got to Marry The MR Solution To A Specific Business Need.

I wrote earlier how I believed marketers and market researchers needed a more rational approach to that seemingly irrational subject, the measurement and analysis of emotions. As we better measure these “soft aspects” of human response, we risk losing sight of the fact that an understanding of emotion is not an end in itself: it has to be applied to specific business issues. I have to declare an interest here –  we’ve recently tied up with a company that has created a very clever method of directly recording and analyzing emotional response (more about that later). Even so, I do not think that emotional research of any sort, no matter how science-based, stands up on its own. We all need to start thinking a lot harder about applications, not merely methods.

Fundamentally I think there are seven key areas where understanding emotion better can transform marketing. This is a subject I’ve tackled in a chapter on Emotional Research in a book to be published next year called “Leading Edge Marketing Research” (edited by Bob Kaden and Gerry Linda of  “More Guerrilla Marketing Research” fame).

1.    Emotions act as triggers and create change. Strong emotional response is more likely to create a ‘moment of change’ for consumers than any rational evaluation of benefits. Marketing is becoming increasingly granular as Point of Sales and Guerrilla Marketing tactics supplant top-line advertising. Understanding and describing precise emotional tipping points is vital. We need to get better at understanding how emotions operate in very specific real-world choice situations, so emotional research needs to move beyond both “general purpose survey” and “laboratory” settings. Read the rest of this entry »


It’s The Journey, Not The Destination. ‘Shopper Insights’ and the Value of Holistic Research

August 31, 2010

One of the growth areas of market research in recent years has been in the area of “shopper insights”.  It’s an area I’m interested in and believe can claim some expertise in, but it’s also an area where I think we risk misleading clients by pretending the issues are unique to a certain group of consumers (in this case FMCG/CPG shoppers) or can be solved by focus on a certain aspect of the purchase process (e.g. “point of sale”). Shopper Insights as a focus area is indicative of  a  pressing issue in research, where clients have become dissatisfied with “generalised” research reports and seek ever more specific and granular information. This makes research that promises to reveal a “moment of truth” or “nano-second of purchase” very attractive.

Don't Get Lost In The Landscape

Lots to see in the valley, but at some stage you need to climb up and look around... (c) I .Gordon, 2009

Nothing wrong with more focus on key points like that, and it can certainly be helpful in producing actionable research.

But we should be aware that this is an artificial construction. The reality is that these “aha moments” for consumers are seldom as decisive and isolated from other influences as it appears on the surface.

Read the rest of this entry »