The Future of Strat Comm Research with Mobile Technology

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Juniper Research conducted some research on the lack of Near Field Communciation, (the ability to bump phones and transfer data) in the new Apple iPhone 5 to determine what effect this missing feature had on the mobile market. Apple is the dominant force in market share for mobile phone technology and the research has made such forecast predictions that other companies will not see the value of the technology, retailers are set back in offering payment services with mobile phones and the potential economic benefits that are being set back. I find this research particularly interesting. Were NFC technology to be widely adopted throughout the mobile industry, especially if Apple were to lead it, strategic communications research would be presented with an entirely new arena to begin measuring and analyzing.

Market Research: The Award Winning Series?

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How the people at Blue Research portray market research: Pressured Manager Spoof

There are exciting television portrayals for advertising, broadcasting, news reporting, and public relations. Maybe this is the time for a hit series on market research practitioners?

Also, some of her strategy seems a bit iffy to me...

Evaluating A Paddle Sports Participation Report

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I spent some time reading a survey report done on paddling participation by the Outdoor Industry Association and decided to do a light evaluation. The 41,500 interviews were carried out online from a nationwide sample from a Synovate panel holding over one million respondents maintained to be representative of the US population. The survey was conducted in January and February. I wonder how asking questions about paddling participation during the coldest months of the year compares to asking during the warmest months? Is it easy to remember how often and how long your trips were from last season? Does sentiment towards the activity change when you are not able to participate for another several months? For a sport whose participatin is 5% of the US population, the survey had a confidence interval of +/- .21% at a 95% percent confidence level. This is pretty good for a sample that requires pretty serious weighting and extrapolation.

I was scrolling through the intriguingly angled Market Research Deathwatch blog, writing about an industry where "the status quo is obsolete, and we face a choice between extinction and evolution". I came across the post, Panels have an image problem. The cry was that images on research sites of survey panel participants -unnaturally happy, unnaturally diverse - are destroying credibility of the firms. It reminded me of an idea I had to take four of my best friends and fraternity brothers, a ridiculously diverse of multicultural millenials, including one Caucasian from Minneapolis, one Hispanic from San Diego, one African American from Kansas City, one Persian born in Ecuador, and a Japanese guy. We could attempt to offer ourselves up for paid focus groups or product and event sponsorships. Pretty ridiculous, maybe unethical, ironically it would likely be unbelievable - but how cool would it be for a client to ask their request of their research firm, "We'd like as diverse a group of male multicultural millenials as we can find", and the response they receive, "We know just the guys..." Could at least make a difference in the war against kitschy survey panel photos.

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I found myself in a very interesting conversation about saving cost on animal testing research with a roommate of mine who interned with a medical device company (name must remain confidential) last year. Part of his job was to study trends, research industries, conduct audits and ultimately decide whether the company should pay to conduct certain animal testing research in its own facilities or outsource the studies to other laboratories. The world of animal testing is a lot more specific, complicated and organized than I had imagined. Currently, in the pig testing industry, a popular trend is the use of the Yucatan mini pig from breeders in Central America. Pigs, at a certain size, between 40 - 60 kg have a very high physiological resemblance to the human body and therefore are extremely useful in obtaining accurate research results. Currently, most researchers contact a breeder of research subjects who raise these animals in controlled, closely monitored and uniform environments in order to create greater control of the experiment. They request pigs and attempt to order them in the correct weight, but after the time it takes to construct the experiment, order, transport and prep the subjects for testing, they can grow out of this optimal weight and ruin the control of the experiment. In come the mini pigs. These Yucatan mini pigs grow into these prime weight interval and remain there for the remainder of their lives. The catch is that each of these pigs has a $2,000 price tag attached to them, while the local selections cost only $200. The question becomes: how valuable is near complete control for the experiments of this major medical company?

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Taemin's presentation on developing the global brand identity for LG brought me back to the experience I had with Moneygram's development of an international advertising campaign. I noticed the first major difference between these strategic communication initiatives was that LG developed three ads that would not change as they were aired around the world, a global campaign, and that Moneygram placements ran into several cultural issues where the print placements were modified in several markets, an international campaign. For "The Power Is In Your Hands" campaign, the overall sentiment was that the consumer had the opportunity to rise up and take advantage of Moneygram's lower rates and better products, revolt against the market leaders, "give choice a voice". The print spots featured close ups of raised fists and reaching hands, smooth and wrinkled, delicate and worn together. In China especially the raised fists over a red background (the brand color) print ads were seen as too uncomfortable for a country having experienced violent Communist revolution. In Middle Eastern countries the left hand is reserved for bodily hygiene and is seen as unclean. No left hands were raised in any of that market's print ads. Henna tattoos were applied to feminine hands in Indian markets and wrist watches to masculine hands in American cities. I wonder what similar challenges were faced in LG's brand identity construction?

The Power of Personal Interviews

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Before heading to class this morning I went through the usual morning routine of consuming the national news headlines along with my coffee. My roommates usually join. During one of the commercial breaks a spot for Duluth Trading Company ran and my buddy matter of factly told me that he would enjoy wearing socks from this brand. I couldn't help but proceed to personally interview him. Questions included, "How expensive do you think these socks are? What would you wear them for? Do you own any other products from this brand? Would you be proud of wearing them if someone asked you where you bought those socks?" This particular roommate is a spendthrift. There are not many things in life he takes more pride in than saving money. What I discovered however that he is incredibly fond of the road trips we and our best friends would take up to various family cabins on the North Shore, the adventures we had amidst the shops and miles of wooded beaches on Park Point and the generally worry free summer weeks we would spend up there. While the socks were above his preferred price point, he would not necessarily wear them for any outdoor activities, and he does not think he would purchase any other products other than the occasional flannel shirt these socks are a purchase he would be willing to make, and after being questioned believes it is because of his attitude towards his positive experiences with the city of Duluth.

Inspiration for New Website Monetization Strategies

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Still thinking about some of what Danielson presented a few days ago. His discussion of web analytics, particularly in measuring how consumers interact with advertisements sparked a bit of brainstorm in how I could better optimize my site for commercialization. While I have these ideas before I have begun measuring audience interaction with traditional placements on the site I still feel that I am gathering insights and making decisions based on research already done within the field. Here are some strategies I am thinking of employing and consequently measuring in search of increased impressions and CTR:
- when mentioning a piece of gear in the narrative for a specific sporting venue, I link it to the most recommended and most appropriate product on a retailer site
- when posting images to the websites social media pages I can tag the brand or use tags to link retailers who provide the product in the picture
- develop wishlists of the perfect assortment of gear that new users to the site need to begin participating in a specific sport, suggest specific products, brands, and retailers and include an action that uploads our list directly to Amazon
- crowdsource our users to recommend the best products for Minnesota sporting environments
- have brands sponsor our trips to different venues and the content we produce from it

Andrew Danielson's presentation on analytics was incredibly beneficial in developing my personal projects and increasing my effectiveness with my current job. I was familiar with most of the platform specific analytics tools Danielson shared, and use them when managing social media strategies for clients. Facebook and Twitter insights, Tweetreach, Hootsuite and Quantcast are the major tools I'm equipped with. The cross property tools, Netbase and Radian 6 I am excited to experiment with. I was not incredibly surprised with Danielson's overall sentiment towards the purpose and usefulness of social media analytics: it is new, growing fast and no one can actually promise they know exactly how to measure or how to promise clients incredible ROI for their efforts. This is the zeitgeist of any professional; client, analyst, platform creator alike. I very much agree with Danielson that as clients are scrambling to have any kind of social media presence the bulk of what analysts and social media managers can provide is volume measurements, sentiment and influence insights. The most touted purpose of social media I have been hearing is consumer engagement with the brand and convincing followers to post content in the hopes of gaining new customers and repeat business. I agree this is important but I have found in working with my own clients that social media is best used as a customer service tool and as another tool of marketing promotions - events, sales, coupons.

Insights from Social Media Analytics Seminar

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I participated in viewing the social media analytics seminar that was recommended. This arrived at a very coincidental moment. A good friend of mine and I are paid to manage social media strategies and have decided to merge our accounts, develop a brand for our own social media marketing agency (Mountain Jay Marketing) and use our combined force to attract another couple clients. Currently I manage two restaurants in Chicago - Rivers and Rittergut Wine Bar - and he manages the official and affiliated pages for Copper Mountain Ski Resort in Colorado. Ironically the only client we have in our own state is our fraternity's social media property, which is some of our favorite work but we do it for free. This is an interesting testament to the changing work environment of social media: there are no geographic boundaries. The entire web connected world has become a qualified sales prospect. The three major uses of social media according to the presenter were communication & collaboration, consumer engagement and analytics. The first two, for my partner and for our clients are generally the only thing we pay attention to. You would think our clients would ask about analytics more but even they are generally only concerned with volume of likes, interactions, followers and hoping it translates into more dinners sold and lift tickets scanned. The presenter continued by saying that there are still no definite key performance indicators for measuring consumer sentiment towards a brand. Based on minor experience, I agreed. What became really exciting was his discussion of research showing that online sentiments & financial performance of brands and products. He went on the describe sentiment polarity as measured by units called sents, and how it still complex to analyze this on social media, this specific indicator is of ever growing importance in increasing the ROI on social media strategies.