Social Media Influences Travel Decisions

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In this day and age, social media is very much a part of consumers' lives, as they are using social media platforms for sharing content, interacting with other consumers, and praising or complaining about brands and experiences. As a result of all of the content that is being shared, social media analytics are only just beginning to understand the importance that social media influence can have.

According to new research, social media also is very influential to consumer travel decisions as well, which serves as a lesson to marketers and travel communications professionals that social media can be a very beneficial outlet to promote travel packages, locations, and especially promotions.

The research firm Redshift Research and the global public relations agency Text 100 recently surveyed 4,600 consumers in 13 countries about their travel decisions. Interestingly, they found out that 87 percent of travelers under the age of 34 use Facebook, among other social media platforms for their travel inspiration.

Not only are social media platforms a source for consumer travel research, but the survey also found that 43 percent of the respondents rely on travel bloggers to advise them where to go, eat, play, and stay.

Since 68 percent of travelers use their mobile devices while on traveling, this is another beneficial lesson to travel communications professionals that they should address travelers concerns, and praise, as quickly as possible, as this market of consumers is very impressionable and can influence the travel decisions of others.

Overall, the results from this survey are further proof that the best brand ambassadors when it comes to making travel decisions are those who have already experienced what marketers, researchers, and communications professionals are selling, and that social media has the power to influence the way consumers spend their money when it comes to selecting a travel destination.

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Cotton's Brilliant Market Research Campaign

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Today, while I was walking to class, a woman who was standing in a group with two other girls approached me. The woman who approached me was carrying a camera, and a clipboard. The two other girls in the group were talking to people, filling out forms with them, and taking pictures of the people they were talking to.

It was a strange situation happening in the middle of the sidewalk. Typically, when marketers and researchers try to intercept people and gather information, they stand corners of intersections with high foot traffic, however the area they were standing at was a side street in a college neighborhood, in the middle of the afternoon.

The girl explained to me that she is a brand representative for Cotton, and they were taking pictures of people wearing "stylish cotton" for their website. By taking my picture, I would be entered to win $1,440 and a trip to Cotton's 24 Hour Runway Show on March 1-2, 2013 in South Beach, and I could be selected to represent my region at the fashion show.

After taking my picture, I signed a waiver that said I agreed to have my picture on the website, and that I was eligible to enter the contest.

I took the promotional card from the girl, and started to do research of my own on Cotton's 24 Hour Runway Show.

What I discovered is that this event is in its second year, and is an absolutely brilliant market research project by Cotton. As part of the contest before the fashion show, "Fashion Influencers" will choose 48 finalists from the street-style photos taken and submitted all across the country. Of those 48, eight people will represent each of the six regions that Cotton has divided the U.S. into, and consumers like you and I, are invited to vote for one of the eight people to represent our specific regions.

Ultimately, when regions vote for their Cotton style representative, in turn it will, launch market segments and advertising campaigns specifically targeted toward the style that each region selects.

Not only is this campaign a great way for consumers to get involved with Cotton's brand, but it also has the consumers place themselves into regional segments, and inadvertently select the advertising that they will see in the future, taking away some of the work from researchers themselves. By using ad-hoc intercept interviews and survey selections via the Cotton website, it enables them to collect research, and essentially helps with their market segmentation. From a marketing and research standpoint, this campaign and event are really great ways to gather information, conduct research about a market, and identify target audiences.

Check out this great campaign!

Autism Linked to Flu During Pregnancy

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I recently saw the following video on The Doctors.

It was an interview with Kelly Preston, stating all of the causes that she believes contributed to her son Jett's autism. Both Kelly and her husband John Travolta feel that the food poisoning, flu, and fever that Kelly had while pregnant with Jett, along with the antibiotics she took while breastfeeding contributed to her son's autism.

Over the last 20 years, autism cases have increased by over 600 percent. It is a huge problem in today's society, and the causes for autism are still being speculated, as nothing is actually known for sure.

A few days ago, a research study was published that suggested that women who had a fever for seven days or more during their pregnancy are three times more likely to have a child with autism.

The problem with this study is in the numbers. Like we discussed in class, sometimes numbers are deceiving; this study is a prime example of that. Although this research "shows" that women who have a fever or certain infections during their pregnancy are three times as likely to have a child with autism, 98 percent of mothers who experienced influenza, or fever, or took antibiotics during pregnancy that were involved in this study did not have a child with autism.

If anything, I think the deceiving nature of this research will only scare pregnant women more during their pregnancy, and may not actually be helpful. Hopefully soon, the cause(s) of autism will be discovered and prevented, and studies such as this one that attempts to correlate based off of two percent of an overall research population will not be so deceiving in nature.

Research: http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/news/20121109/flu-pregnancy-autism

Research Predicts Black Friday Sales

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Amplitude Research, Inc., is a research group that has over 10 years of experience providing mail, telephone, and online surveys, along with data analysis options for several customers and clients all over the world.

Most recently, Amplitude Research conducted a survey that was administered from November 1st through November 4th that targeted a nationwide panel of shoppers who intended to shop on Black Friday in 2012. According to their research, in total, 600 surveys were completed by both men and women ranging from 18-65+ years in age. The results of the survey were compiled into the following infographic.

It is interesting that the majority of shoppers who intended to shop on Black Friday researched sales and deals before they shopped. This likely lead to a greater click through rate for many stores, and their online counterparts. The survey also asked several demographic questions, as there is a complete breakdown of each gender and age. Based on the responses, it is also apparent that several relational questions were asked, since the responses varied based on how much money shoppers intended to pay, and what items they were most likely to buy.

Overall, Black Friday sales are expected to top previous years, and considering the majority of shoppers responded that they intend to shop both online and in stores, Cyber Monday should see great success with online purchases as well.

We will have to see how Black Friday and Cyber Monday unfold! Happy shopping everyone!

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Neurological Research of Athletes' Brains

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Recent neurological researchers have assessed longitudinal studies of famous athletes with brain trauma, and discovered that frequent concussions and brain damage at a young age is the leading cause of cognitive difficulties and premature death later in life.

The research being done by Boston, Harvard, and Pennsylvania universities has looked at former NHL and NFL players ranging from ages 40 to 69 years old who were exposed to a high risk of concussions, along with a further 50 athletes with no recognized head trauma, and compared how their current cognitive function, capabilities, and brain scans match up.

What the research has concluded is that head injuries in young athletes under the age of 14 are more traumatic than initially realized, and neither the brain nor body can fully recover like older athletes may be able to. The research even leads to both researchers and surgeons alike proposing the ban of tackle football, and body checking in hockey for young athletes.

Although people want to believe that rough play in youth sports is preparing athletes for higher level of play and an enhanced level of roughness, the damage may be more harmful than it is worth.

It is very unfortunate that great athletes who are older and are having cognitive problems as a result of brain injury from concussions and playing sports at a young age are the example, but society needs to realize that these injuries and problems later in life can be prevented.

My younger brother now plays hockey at the high school level, but while he was in younger leagues, checking in general, especially back-checking was thankfully not allowed. In fact, on the back of players jerseys they wore a "STOP" patch resembling a stop sign, that reminded players not to back-check or body-check and that it was not allowed.

I think research would be beneficial not only to assess brain scans and injuries of young athletes, but also if visual reminders like stop signs on the back of young athletes jerseys do help eliminate body checking. Essentially, I hope the research by Boston, Harvard, and Pennsylvania universities make sports safer for athletes of all ages.

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http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/Research+backs+bodychecking+peewee+hockey/7568979/story.html

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/surgeon-calls-for-bodychecking-ban-in-youth-hockey/article4897614/

Minnesota Vikings Market Research

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For a while now, the Minnesota Vikings organization has been working hard conducting research about what fans, stakeholders, ticketholders, and Minnesota residents want in the new stadium.

I recently purchased tickets online to the Minnesota Vikings versus Detroit Lions football game at the Metrodome. A few days after the tickets I purchased were sent to my email address, I also got an email with the subject "Minnesota Vikings: New Downtown Stadium--We Want Your Feedback," with a link to their survey asking what I, as a Vikings supporter, wanted in the new stadium.

The survey was 125 questions long, included hypothetical situations, and varied greatly by asking several dichotomous questions, a few multiple-choice questions, and some open-ended questions, followed by questions that asked about my demographic information. Below are screenshots:
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Although I am not actually an avid Minnesota Vikings fan, it was a good tactic for the organization to email me their survey since I did purchase tickets, and I think the way the survey was designed with specific follow-up questions tailored to how I answered previous questions will significantly contribute to a higher response rate.

However, based on this article from MPR, several other people have also taken the survey are not happy with the hypothetical nature of the survey, and models of other stadiums, so hopefully the Vikings use all their feedback both positive and negative to design and construct a great facility.

Overall, I think the intentions of the Vikings to host focus groups and send out surveys is very good, and really makes a good effort to involve the fans and stakeholders in the process of building a new facility.

Fandango Survey & Customer Service

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Last night, some friends and I attended The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 at the AMC Rosedale Theater. We all purchased our tickets separately on Fandango.com. I had never used Fandango to purchase tickets online before, and I was very impressed with the simplicity of its purchasing process.

Upon finalizing my ticket order, I was then informed that I had the option to choose one of three separate coupons for local restaurants, or other online shopping outlets. I chose a $20 coupon towards shoes on Shoebuy.com. Not only was I appreciative of the additional offer, but I also spent a considerable amount of time searching around on Shoebuy.com, and I now know that it is an outlet I could potentially purchase from in the future. From a research standpoint, the strategic partnerships that Fandango has established with these other companies seems to be mutually beneficial, and I would be very interested to know how many people claim additional offers that Fandango provides, along with what the rate of purchases are made based on offers and coupons from Fandango--I think that would be very interesting research to analyze!

Anyway, the movie we saw was at 10:00 p.m. and ended shortly after midnight. Around 1:00 a.m., I received an email from Fandango with a link to a survey that asked me how I liked the movie, along with the opportunity to rate my actual experience with the theater.

I'm not usually one to complete online surveys, however the fun and colorful nature of the email that I got, along with the relevant timing made me much more willing to do so. Perhaps the most important aspect of the survey they sent me was the timeliness of it, and sending me the survey link shortly after the movie, while it, along with my overall experience at the theater was fresh in my mind. I also think that in terms of research, Fandango probably has a very good response rate to their surveys, as they seem to take customer service and correspondence very seriously.

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Influential Voter Demographics

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This post is not intended to be an expression of my political views, it is simply just my a collection of research, and my observations into how President Obama's campaigning helped him connect more with his target audience.

I recently read an article in the November issue of Glamour magazine that highlighted an interview the editor of the magazine had with President Obama, featuring their discussion of his campaign and the issues that he stands for.

This same article also outlined the views of both President Obama and Mitt Romney, and how they aligned with the rights and needs of women voters. After the article, instead of a personal interview with Mitt Romney, the following paragraph was in its place,

"Though the Republican and Democratic candidates for president in 2004 and 2008 all participated in Glamour's election coverage, this year's GOP contender declined repeated requests over a six-month period for a sit-down."

Instead, six women voters were quoted explaining why they were voting for Mitt Romney. However, this got me thinking...why when women were such a huge voter demographic to be won over, did Mitt Romney not do the interview and try harder to connect with them?

http://www.glamour.com/inspired/2012/10/election-2012-6-women-explain-why-theyre-voting-for-mitt-romney-glamour-november-2012#ixzz2DCkqy58F

In addition to women voters, young voters ages 18-24 were also a very influential voter demographic in this election. Through surveys, and ad-hoc intercept interviews, researchers discovered that many young voters in this age bracket get their news and information, especially during the election from "news sources" such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. The satirical nature of both shows pokes fun at both parties, while still informing them of election news.

Although President Obama appeared on both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, Mitt Romney did not. Again, the question must be asked why Mitt Romney did not make the effort to be interviewed, and speak for what he stood for in his election campaign, through outlets that young voters are proven to watch and look for information from?

In addition to Mitt Romney's failure to connect with a younger audience by doing interviews with media outlets of key demographic voter groups, he also failed in his social media efforts.

Social media is how people connect, converse, complain, and express their opinions in today's day and age. Although Mitt Romney's campaign did have a Twitter and Facebook page, his social media websites were not inclusive. "He" did not interact with followers, nor celebrities, and most of the posts were very cold, dry, and to the point. Conversely, President Obama included humorous videos, and interactions with voters.

Overall, although the research might not be able to fully support this idea, I do believe that his use of social media, and the fact that he made himself available to media outlets targeting specific audiences such as women and young voters helped President Obama get reelected.

In future campaigns, I hope that research will be done to help candidates of both political parties better connect with their target voters through social media, television and magazine interviews, and that it will help them be successful.

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=22808489


Violence in Video Games

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Video game can take many forms. The main part of researching involves figuring out what will most attract the target demographic to the game. Specifically, for Call of Duty Black Ops and Black Ops 2, focus groups were held to gather information on what the largest target market, men ages 25-40, wanted content-wise in the game.

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Researchers also sent out partial levels, menus, and feature aspects of the game to many video game magazines, critics, and avid players in certain test markets, to gain feedback.

As culture adapts to violent forms of entertainment such as video games, movies, and television shows, there has been concern, and corresponding research done to find a link between playing violent video games, and violent behavior. However, research to date shows that violence in entertainment does not necessarily apply to "real" life, and that "gamers" are not likely to be more violent even after participating in and playing violent video games such as Call of Duty Black Ops.

These findings of this research surprised me. I think that even if violent behavior is not reflected into actions, communication has changed and language specific to the games becomes translated into every day life.

Although the link to violence in behavior from video games is still being researched, I think it is important to note that video games may have the benefit of expanding cognitive skills such as teamwork and problem solving for players to complete missions. Overall, I hope that soon, research will be able to fully demonstrate positives and negatives that playing video games will have on society as a whole.

My younger brother is an active gamer, and plans to purchase Call of Duty Black Ops 2. So, I will be keeping my eyes out for any further research into the link between violent behavior and violent video games, and observing his behavior to see if there are any noticeable changes.

http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/566035/Black-Ops-II-hits-store-shelves.html?nav=742

Math in Political Polling

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Research has shown that all of the top 15 highest-paid jobs all have one thing in common, math. Recently, political analyst Nate Silver showed that by using calculus to analyze political polls, scarily accurate results could be predicted.

So how will using calculus, statistics, and other math tactics be applied to research outside of politics in the future?

One thing that is certain is that since the election, research states that more students are interested in, and have pursued degrees in statistical analysis.

As a student pursuing a degree that does not necessarily involve math, it will be very interesting to see how math evolves research in all professions and areas of study.

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/trudysteinfeld/2012/11/12/nate-silvers-political-calculus-has-made-math-cool/

http://www.weusemath.org/?q=didyouknow