Author Archives: Beth Surowiec

One Size Does Not Fit All! Choosing the Best Satisfaction Metric for Your Business

Choosing the Best Satisfaction Metric for Your Business

Choosing the Best Satisfaction Metric for Your Business

When Net Promoter Score (NPS) burst onto the business management scene in 2003, Harvard Business Review author Fred Reichheld touted it as “The One Number You Need to Grow.” Businesses large and small, consumer and B2B, jumped on the NPS bandwagon, perhaps seduced by the apparent simplicity of the approach. After all, what CEO wouldn’t want to have to only look at one metric to get and keep their business running on the right track?

While NPS is an important metric for some businesses, it is not the ONLY metric needed to manage growth in any business. Indeed, for many businesses, it may not be important at all.

What makes a good business metric? Ben Yoskovitz, the co-author of Lean Analytics, gives these characteristics of a good business metric:

  • Tracking. A good metric can be compared (over time, among subgroups, against competition) to show the direction of movement. The statement “Revenue is up 10% over last quarter” is a better metric than “Revenue is $20 million.” Corollary: good metrics are often ratios or rates, which are intrinsically comparisons.
  • Succinct. A good metric is instantly and easily understandable and directly relates to your business goals. If you must explain it and why it is important, it is not a good metric.
  • Behavior-changing. The metric should immediately communicate how behavior must change to drive results.

The ability to drive behavior change is by far the most important characteristic of a good metric because it tells you what to focus on, and what actions to take to drive results. And most businesses are complex organisms: you will need more than one metric to drive change across different functions.

While NPS may be one of the metrics you choose to use in your scorecard, here are several others you should consider:

  • Customer Satisfaction Score. Frequently referred to as C-SAT or O-SAT (for Overall Satisfaction), the satisfaction score has been around a long time in the annals of business metrics. Common sense tells us that if customers are not satisfied, they will defect, and our business will not grow. There are many ways to measure customer satisfaction, including immediately after a transaction vs. a more long-term, relationship approach. Think about your market structure, competition, and corporate strategy to determine which type of C-SAT metric is right for your business. While it has long been recognized that satisfaction alone is not sufficient to understand your customers, it remains important as one of the key metrics for many businesses.
  • Loyalty. Another important aspect of customer satisfaction is loyalty, which may translate into intent to renew, or repurchase, depending on your business. Think about what’s most important: getting a customer to purchase again, to increase the size or frequency of their order, or to purchase other products and services from your business. That will help you structure the appropriate loyalty metric.
  • Exceeding Expectations. The foundation of customer satisfaction is meeting their expectations. But true customer advocacy, you must go beyond meeting their expectations – you must exceed (or “delight”) them. This metric may also be a good choice for your business, depending on your industry and market dynamic.
  • Comparison to Competitors. If you are in a very competitive market with little-perceived differentiation between players, you might consider a metric that evaluates how you rank against your competitive set. Are you better, much better, about the same? If so, you may have a competitive advantage you want to exploit. And clearly, if you are worse or much worse, you have some work to do!

There are two additional metrics that are coming into business use that you might want to consider:

  • Customer Effort Score. The Customer Effort Score is a relative newcomer to the business metric scene but is very relevant for certain industries. If your product is a big-ticket, long-term process (for example, manufacturing airliners), the customer will expend much effort in the purchasing process. On the other hand, if your company should be easy to work with, and customers believe it takes a lot of effort to purchase from you, you have your marching orders!
  • The Net Value Score. Like the customer effort score, some companies are beginning to use a Net Value Score to determine whether the cost and effort of being a customer are less than or greater than the benefit delivered by your company.

These metrics are all big-picture, “overall” indicators and, while they might signal corrective action should be taken, they will not tell you what action is required. So, in addition to whatever overall metrics you choose, you should also evaluate how you are doing on specific important business factors, such as customer service, delivery, product quality, etc.

If you are an NPS fan, we are not suggesting that you stop using it. Any metric is driving customer experience enhancing behavior is a good metric for you. However, most customer satisfaction programs no longer rely on a single metric. Developing a program of the right metrics for your customers and your business may take a little trial and error, but will deliver improved customer satisfaction for the long-term.  To learn more about our approaches to customer experience and customer satisfaction, register with us today.

Strategic Market Research Planning for 2017: Get Ahead of the Game

Strategic Market Research Planning for 2017

Strategic Market Research Planning for 2017

Hopefully, you took our advice and did some long-range planning a few months back Finish Strong: 5 Things You MUST DO Before the End of 2016. Whether you did or did not, now is the time to plan for the research that will support your longer-term strategic planning efforts next year.

One of the most important – and most often overlooked – uses of marketing research is to provide information for long-term planning efforts. Especially in B2B companies that may not have a tradition of researching every question that pops up, there may be questions that have persisted for several years – or even forever – that we tend to live with until it comes time for our strategic planning sessions. “What do our customers like about our competitors’ brands and how can we compete with them?” “What is the role of our customers’ purchasing department and how can we influence it?” “How many of our customers are planning to make major capital investments in the next three years?”

Then, we want those questions answered fast and, usually, there is no longer time or budget to get the research done properly to produce the answers we need. Research takes time to do correctly, especially in B2B companies. B2B samples are smaller, and respondents are very busy and time-constrained. It often takes weeks to collect responses to a B2B survey, unlike consumer research that can now be completed in a matter of days.

As a result, we make our “best guesstimate” about those unanswered questions and muddle through. And then we forget about them until Strategic Planning time rolls around again the following year.

This year, plan ahead to get those questions answered for your executives:

  • Determine the Questions. If you are not part of the planning process, interview executives who are and ask them what information was needed and not available? Do it now while memories are still fresh! This will also give you an opportunity to demonstrate how marketing research can be an important resource for all types of business questions.
  • Plan for the Budget. Figure out how you will get the answers to those questions, and what that will cost. Keep in mind there may be secondary research that can help you get this information cost effectively (link to Clear Market Trends).
  • Get Approvals. Communicate with those involved in Strategic Planning and let them know you’ll get them the information they need. Take this opportunity to confirm the information that is needed, and ask them for their support though the budget process.
  • Plan the Work. Keep in touch with the Strategic Planners so that you ensure you have the research results well in advance of the planning process start dates. Often, getting these questions answered before the planning process can influence how planning proceeds, so make sure you deliver in a timely fashion. And that is usually well before the fourth quarter!

This is the perfect application of marketing research in a B2B setting. By leading your company in providing information needed to answer key strategic questions, you showcase your organization’s ability to assist in other business decisions, both large and small.

Learn more today at reports.clearseasresearch.com

7 Tips for International B2B Marketing Research

7 Tips for International B2B Marketing Research

7 Tips for International B2B Marketing Research

Globalization allows companies to compete in markets that they would have never contemplated. For B2B companies globalization has created countless opportunities. So, it is no wonder that B2B companies are looking to conduct marketing research around these international opportunities. And if B2B marketing research was challenging, international B2B marketing research brings an entirely new level of complexity.

Accurate translation is important, but there are other equally important aspects that can make or break your international B2B marketing research. You must take cultural context, technological access, local customs, and even data and privacy laws into account.

Here are seven tips to help you successfully conduct international B2B marketing research.

  1. Match Your Methodology to the Culture. The methodology that you choose for the project must fit the local business culture and environment. It may surprise you to learn that many seemingly developed countries have very weak technological infrastructures. So, no online surveys in Brazil! In other countries, individuals are comfortable giving one-on-one feedback, but not in group settings. No focus groups here!
  2. Lost in Translation. While it might be possible – and tempting – to conduct your research in English, that can also introduce a bias in the results. Research has shown that non-native speakers tend to use middle-of-the-scale ratings when being interviewed or surveyed in English, while they are much more likely to give higher or lower ratings in their native language. And ironically, labeled scales (excellent, good, fair, poor) tend to be more accurate than numeric scales.
  3. Question Design Matters. In any research, unbiased and easily understood questions are key. They are even more important in B2B research, where highly technical topics may be introduced. International B2B research then ratchets the importance even higher, because the questions will be translated. Clear and unambiguous the questions leave less room for translator interpretation error.
  4. Write Once, Translate Twice. Anyone who has ever read anything in translation will tell you that translation is an imprecise art. It is critical that the nuance of the question be the same for all languages used. You must translate the survey, then have native speakers translate the survey back into English. It may be even better if your translators have familiarity with any technical terms you might be using in your survey. And finally, survey questionnaires must be proof-read by native speakers as well.
  5. Follow the rules. In the U.S., marketing research is covered by many laws and regulations, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (regulating online surveys with children), the Telephone Caller Protection Act (rules about calling cell phones for surveys), and many others. It’s no different in other countries. Be aware of and comply with the laws and regulations for that country.
  6. Context is Key. People around the globe answer survey questions differently. Some countries are known as “hard markers.” Others are known for more lenient responses. The key is to understand the relative position you hold in each country. Make comparisons between countries with the greatest caution.
  7. It’s Who You Know. When conducting B2B marketing research globally, local experts are essential to your success. They have the knowledge and resources to help you design the survey, effectively reach the target audience, collect the data, and interpret the resulting information. Make sure you are working with the people who know the right people.

While entering new international markets is challenging, it becomes easier when you have the right information. Marketing researchers with global project experience can bring the resources you will need to complete your research – and achieve the information you need for global success. Register today to learn more about Clear Seas Research’s international reach!

Enhance Your Customer Journey with Marketing Research

 

Enhance Your Customer's B-to-B Journey

Enhance Your Customer’s B-to-B Journey

The environment of business is changing to make the customer experience more important. According to Tom Knighton, EVP at Conversant, “Customers are getting smarter. And because customers have so much choice, they’re starting to distinguish the companies that they will do business with, not just based on service, but based on the entire experience. Customer experience is the next competitive battleground. It’s where business is going to be won or lost.”

And this applies not just to B2C markets. B2B marketers also agree that building a strong overall customer experience is a strategic priority for business success.

Delivering a strong customer experience requires accurate information and insight into your customers. That is what builds the foundation of knowledge that lets you view your business from a customer-centric perspective. Here are five ways marketing research can inform your customer experience management:

  1. Map the customer journey. The B2B customer journey is much more convoluted and complex than most B2C journeys. You have your hypotheses about how your customers come to the buying decision, but that is not enough. You need to know what their journey looks like, and what information they require to move to the next step. Qualitative marketing research (in-depth, one-on-one interviews) with customers can help you test your hypotheses, and identify what information will help your customers make the buying decision.
  2. Understand customer engagement. How engaged are your customers in general and at various points in the customer journey? Are you keeping them engaged once you have made the sale? Engaged customers are more likely to become repeat customers, so use marketing research to make sure your customer engagement levels are high – and stay there.
  3. Understand the desired experience. What do customers want and need from you? Are you delivering on those requirements? How do your competitors compare? What would put you “over the top”? You may think you’re doing everything you need to be doing, but you need marketing research to make sure your customers agree.
  4. Deliver the desired experience. Use marketing research to evaluate customer satisfaction across all of the various important touchpoints in the customer journey. One of the key drivers of superior customer experience is consistency. Marketing research about sales, about marketing, customer support, invoicing can make sure that all of your touchpoints are aligned to deliver a consistent brand experience.
  5. Understand vulnerable and lost accounts. No one wants to lose an account, and marketing research can help prevent this. As Microsoft’s Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Surveying customers at key decision points (including just after service delivery, prior to renewal, and after they have left) can deliver important information that allows you to course-correct before losing the customer, as well as to implement tactics and initiatives to prevent lost customers.

Understanding your customers will help you design and deliver a customer experience that creates loyalty and builds sales. Using marketing research strategically to inform the process and unify your team will help you in designing the right customer experience, as well as in continually improving it to delight your customers. Your strong customer experience will be a competitive advantage – just one more way your company will benefit.

Register with us today to learn more about our Customer Experience Research solutions.

 

5 Things Market Research Professionals Must Do

Finish Strong: 5 Things You MUST DO To Prepare For 2017

Finish Strong: 5 Things You MUST DO To Prepare For 2017

Hard to believe, but the end of 2016 is a little more than three months away. Take time off for Thanksgiving and the Winter holidays, and you’d better be working on your end of year goals NOW, or it will be too late.

But in addition to just meeting this year’s goals, you need to be thinking ahead and preparing yourself and your team for the future. Yes, preparing for next year, but also for the next three or even five years. What you do now will pay dividends in the future.

Here are 5 things you MUST DO before the end of 2016 to finish strong:

  1. Skip the trees, Check out the forest. In the day-to-day operations of any company, it’s easy to be consumed by shorter-term goals and accomplishments that drive business. So it’s important now to step back and take a long view. Over the past three years, how have you been doing? Are your rates of increase slowing down? Have you gotten new competitors? Qualitative research, such as in-depth interviews, could help you understand how your clients are changing how they purchase and use your products. Syndicated research can help you evaluate how you’re doing against your industry. Taking a longer perspective will help you take corrective action in advance of a downturn.
  2. Stop re-inventing the wheel. How efficient is your operation? Are you taking advantage of all the latest and greatest advances in management thinking? Again, it’s easy to get complacent about processes that work “just okay.” Or to live with those small inefficiencies that take time and resources, but just never enough to demand attention. Now is the time to look for processes that work better.
  3. Answer those nagging questions. Every business seems to have them. Those questions that always come up during planning and budgeting that no one has an answer to (but everyone has an opinion about!). Stop guessing. Answer those questions. Do the research, get the facts, and put those questions to bed, once and for all. If you need to do some survey research to get information to answer those questions, now is a perfect time. You have plenty of time to conduct the research properly and use the results in your planning for next year.
  4. Look ahead. Just as you looked into the past, now you need to look into your future. And, no, you don’t need a crystal ball. Industry analysts and futurists often predict industry changes long before you see them. What do they see for your company and industry? Are your customers’ needs changing? Are there emerging competitors getting ready to steal your customers? You can also use syndicated research to help you see into the future. Thinking about what might happen is just as important as understanding what has
  5. Learn from your mistakes. As long as you’re taking a good hard look at your business past and present, this is also the time to admit that maybe – just maybe – things didn’t always go the way you wanted. Now is a great opportunity to look at those under-performances and to figure out what went wrong and why they happened. And most importantly, what you’re going to do to prevent them from happening again. You don’t have to spend a fortune on consultants – sometimes just talking to your team and your customers will help.

By conducting a thorough business review now, you can easily address any potential weaknesses that might keep you from meeting your goals this year. And, as a bonus, you’ll be well positioned to create exceptional plans for 2017. Stop fighting fires for a few days and give yourself the luxury of perspective. Your business results will benefit!

Register today with Clear Seas Research to learn more about our B-to-B market research reports and solutions.

How Mobile Market Research Affects B-to-B

Quick! Where's Your Cell Phone?

Quick! Where’s Your Cell Phone?

Did you know where your phone was? If you didn’t, did that question leave you feeling just a bit anxious? Cell phone dependency – while a subject of some controversy – has created a terrific opportunity for marketing research.

Consider this:

  • Over 90% of American adults have a cell phone; 68% have a smartphone.
  • Americans spend between 4 and 5 hours per day on their phones, checking them an average of 46 times per day – nearly three times each waking hour.
  • Cell phone penetration has led to a new social phenomenon: FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
  • And recent research reports that nearly 60% of cell phone users believe they are “addicted” to their phones.

And while cell phone dependence has not yet become a medical or psychiatric diagnosis, it is undeniable that consumers view their phones as an extension of themselves. We are completely comfortable with this technology, integrating it fully into our daily lives. And because respondents have their phones with them any time of day, in their homes, in their cars, in stores, or at work, we can achieve higher participation rates and greater respondent engagement. And that comfort level is the source of opportunity for marketing research.

Conducting mobile research – either quantitatively or qualitatively – gives marketing researchers many benefits over traditional methodologies:

  • We can observe and record consumer behavior in a real-world context, when and where behaviors occur. No more waiting for the consumer to get back to their phone or computer to recall what happened. We’re getting information as it happens.
  • Sometimes, the presence or an interviewer or moderator causes respondents to modify their behavior or responses to make them more acceptable. Remove the moderator and replace them with in-the-moment data recording and observation, and you are much more likely to get “real” insight into your customer.
  • Mobile research eliminates geographic constraints (especially for qualitative research): mobile respondents can be reached anywhere in the world, whether that means multiple countries, multiple cities, or multiple stores in one city. In fact, it is now possible to contact your customer by text as they are entering your store or restaurant to recruit them to participate in a research project.
  • Mobile phones (plus mobile-optimized marketing research software) make it easy for participants to take and upload photos and videos as part of your research. Videos of the how a task is tackled by consumers or business people and photos of which products are being used for what purposes can be easily uploaded, analyzed, and then added to illustrate your report for additional richness, variety and insights.

We can adapt most traditional marketing research methodologies to mobile research. In fact, it is now considered best practice to include cell-phone sample in telephone interview projects as well as to optimize online surveys for completion on mobile devices. (Nearly 40% of all online surveys are completed on mobile devices.) Ethnographies, focus groups, in-depth interviews can all be completed by mobile devices, or you can enhance traditional methodologies by adding a mobile element or phase. For example, before coming to a focus group, ask respondents to create a video journey of their grocery shopping or to visit a certain restaurant. Or start with a telephone interview to create rapport with respondents, followed by text messages reminding them to record their in-the-moment behavior, and then follow-up interviews or focus groups to get additional detail, brainstorm solutions to identified challenges, or to react to potential messaging.

Mobile research is especially effective in business-to-business research. Have you ever tried to reach contractors, purchasing agents, ingredient buyers for marketing research? These people are not sitting in offices, in front of a computer or a landline telephone. They are out on the job site, in the warehouse, at the distribution center. But you can be sure they have their mobile phones with them! We have to design shorter surveys to get their participation, but that is better than trying to reach them in their offices.

Mobile research adds an exciting element to marketing research that overcomes many of the challenges we have struggled with in traditional methodologies. The additional flexibility, respondent engagement, and accessibility give us a new freedom for creativity in designing the optimal research approach. While mobile dependency may not be all upside for us as a society, as marketing researchers we have to hope there is no cure!

Register today to learn more about our B-to-B Custom & Syndicated Research solutions.  Also, myCLEAROpinion Panel has the B-to-B respondents you need for mobile research, check it out here!

Once is Not Enough: The Case for Recurring Marketing Research

The Importance of Recurring Research

The Importance of Recurring Research

You may have seen that television commercial for a vaccination that begins with the premise that most of the things you do to keep healthy have to be done more than once. You can’t eat one blueberry, or one piece of kale, do one sit-up, or one Downward Dog, and expect instant results. So why do businesses think they can be successful with only one marketing research study?

Marketing research is invaluable in answering short-term tactical questions. But that is perhaps the low-hanging fruit for businesses when it comes to marketing research. The much higher-value results of marketing research are achieved by institutionalizing marketing research within your business operations and planning. Marketing research is the food that grows and strengthens your knowledge culture and that supports the development of effective strategy.

Information from recurring marketing research helps businesses in several ways:

  • Track change. It happens time and again in business. We think we have a problem, so we do a survey, a focus group, or some other type of marketing research. That information confirms the problem. So we take action. But did that action solve the problem? Did customer satisfaction and loyalty increase? Did brand perceptions move in the desired direction? Without repeating that research over time, you’ll never know.
  • Maintain improvements. Typically, we want to change a negative situation. But more important is making sure that improvement continues, and even, hopefully, builds on itself. The only way to understand whether the improvement is permanent or fleeting is to do recurring marketing research.
  • See the future. By looking at information over time, you can identify themes and emerging trends. These trends and themes are essential to keeping ahead of the market. By conducting marketing research over time, you can see your results change and put together the story of the future.
  • Integrate information. Recurring marketing research allows you to combine research data with other sources of business information. By understanding changing consumer attitudes, and combining those changes with your sales trends, you can learn to project and understand behavior. Without recurring information, however, you don’t have the whole picture.
  • Ask the right questions. Vijay Mahajan and Jerry Wind write, “Marketing research needs to be recognized as part of the organization’s knowledge-creation process. In a dramatically changing global environment, business leaders need constant contact with the market to make the best decisions. … For example, companies that measure market share often neglect to ask the deeper questions such as: What is the market? Should the company look at global market share, and if so, should it focus on dollars or units, and at what exchange rates? Within that market, should the company look at the share of the total market or the “share of wallet” of its current customers? How can the company get more from its total spending?” Better and more frequent information leads to better questions.

Marketing research is not a perfect tool, and it will probably cost money. But just as you wouldn’t deprive your body of food, how can you deprive your management processes of information? Introducing recurring marketing research projects into your management knowledge base won’t improve conditions overnight, but it will have an immediate impact on how your managers think about your business, leading to better decisions and more success.

Register today to learn more about our recurring research solutions.

Omnichannel – Delivering An Enhanced Shopper Experience

Omnichannel – Delivering An Enhanced Shopper Experience

Omnichannel – Delivering An Enhanced Shopper Experience

The Real Miracle on 34th Street: Omnichannel

In the holiday classic, Miracle on 34th Street, Ed Gwynn as Santa Claus sends Macy’s shoppers to other stores to fulfill children’s holiday dreams. Instead of condemning this heresy, Macy’s embraces it as the greatest sales gimmick ever: “We’ll be known as ‘The Helpful Store.’ ‘The Friendly Store.’ ‘The Store with a Heart.’ The store that places public service ahead of profits. And consequently, we’ll make more profits than ever before.” And of course, it didn’t take long before arch-rival Gimbel’s was doing the same thing.

It made for a great movie, but could it happen?

As more and more retailers embrace omnichannel technology, it could be just around the corner.

Omnichannel is – roughly – combining bricks and clicks to deliver an enhanced shopper experience, increasing sales and building loyalty. In essence, omnichannel combines the capabilities of both in-store and online purchasing. Order online and pick-up in the store. Buy in the store and have it shipped to your home. Can’t find it in your store? No worries – the salesperson checks inventory, finds it at another store and has it shipped to you at any store or to your home. And then do everything in reverse if there is a return.

So why not help the consumer by finding what they want at a competitor? They are checking on their phones, anyway. If you can’t beat them, join them!

While omnichannel sounds like a shopper’s dream, it is currently a huge challenge for retailers. Many brick-and-mortar retailers start their e-commerce or online shopping efforts as a completely separate division. There was no need for integration between traditional merchandising and “those internet people.” But now, to create the seamless shopper experience enabled by technology (and delivered by pure e-commerce players like Amazon and Zappos), traditional retailers are struggling to catch up.

Here are five key challenges for retailers seeking to win at omnichannel:

That said, the following are 5 of the top Omnichannel logistics challenges retail business face today:

  1. Lack of real-time, cross-channel inventory visibility. In omnichannel retailing, it is crucial that everyone know to the second where each piece of inventory is located and its status. Is someone trying on that shirt in San Francisco while some other customer is looking at it online? Many traditional retailers have legacy inventory systems that make omnichannel retailing difficult to impossible.
  2. Segmented Supply Chain Processes. Large, traditional retailers have many distribution centers, managed by different in-house and outsourced operators, running on different systems – and therefore, they employ different tactics to ensure their supply chain runs smoothly. Consolidating supply chain processes is key to omnichannel capabilities.
  3. Sustainability of a Speedy Delivery. Consumers’ expectations of “speedy delivery” – and how much they should pay for it, if at all – are being influenced by competing online retailers. Bricks-and-mortar retailers may have a challenge to meet those delivery requirements because of their physical and technology infrastructure.
  4. Transportation Innovation. Traditional retailers did not worry about getting the product from the store to the consumers’ house. The consumer took care of that for them. So, to deliver products in a way that meets consumer expectations, retailers must develop a new competence in innovating transportation to keep costs low and service high. (Can you say, “drone?!”)
  5. Ease of Return. As important as delivery is in the omnichannel world, taking an unwanted product away (returns) are just as important in the shopper experience. Making returning a product as easy as buying it is key.

Progressive Insurance has built their offering around presenting you with three quotes – even if they are not the lowest. So will there be a day when your Macy’s salesperson sends you down the mall or to another website so you can purchase what you want from a different retailer at a better price? Not in the near term. But an improved cross-channel shopper experience is an imperative for retailer success: IDC estimates that cross-channel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than shoppers who only use one channel. What retailer can afford to risk that?

Register today to learn more about Clear Seas Research.

Virtual Reality: The Next Big Thing in Marketing Research

Using Virtual Reality to Enhance Market Research

Using Virtual Reality to Enhance Market Research

While our grandparents were entertained by Stereopticons and we enjoyed ViewMasters, the multi-dimensional entertainment landscape has come a long way, and is progressing at an increasing rate. In fact, hardly a week goes by without another major announcement.

Consider these milestones:

  • Atari launches VR Lab in 1982
  • Sega launches VR headset in 1991
  • Virtual I/O launches I-Glasses in 1995
  • SAS Cube Room launched in 2001
  • Facebook acquires Oculus for $2B in March 2014
  • Google Launches Cardboard VR in May 2014
  • Samsung announces Gear VR in September 2014
  • Sony Project Morpheus is launched as PlayStation VR in 1Q2016
  • Oculus launches as Rift in 1Q2016

VR 101

There are three types of virtual reality:

  1. VR = Virtual Reality. Immersive experience in stereoscopic 360 degree video, animation, or a combination of the world. The viewer “leaves the world.”
  2. AR = Augmented Reality. Virtual elements and information are overlaid onto your normal field of vision. This can include VR experiences. The leaders in this space are Microsoft Hololens, MetaVision, and
  3. MR = Mixed Reality. A combination of the two. Magic Leap is one of the leading companies in this space, and because they have been extremely secretive in terms of their plans, the industry is eagerly awaiting their launch. Some rumors suggest that they may use contact lenses that actual project the image onto the user’s retina!

Generally, VR approaches are divided into:

  • Mobile experiences. Powered by a smartphone using stereoscopic lenses. Usually lower end resolution and less expensive. Google Cardboard ($10 per device) and Samsung Gear ($99) are examples. Even at the lowest end, the experience is impressive.
  • Desktop experiences. Powered by a high end PC or – more often – gaming system, these experiences are high resolution and more expensive. Oculus Rift ($600 headset, $1200 total system), HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR. These experience are usually more immersive games.

Market Growth and Adoption

Globally this year, 6 to 7 million VR devices will be in consumers’ hands. Of these, 55% will be mobile and 45% desktop. By the end of 2017, 9 to 10 million VR devices will be in consumers’ hands, and of those 5 – 6 million will be in the US alone. (Source: Deutsche Bank Virtual Reality Report, 9/10/15) And 8% of all US smartphone users say they already regularly consume VR content. (Source: Frank N. Magid Associates, 2016.)

While Gaming is the low-hanging fruit for VR, Marketing is perhaps the next large user of VR, to create immersive experiences between consumers and brands. VR is being used in tourism, for marketing cruise ships and hotels. Architects, engineers and homebuilders are using VR to help design commercial and residential spaces. Virtual shopping, virtual dressing rooms, and virtual showrooms facilitate online shopping experiences. Sponsored content, advertorials and experiential VR applications are also being used. There has already been extensive use of branded Cardboards; for example, McDonalds and Coke’s Cardboard Happy Meals that can be turned into VR viewers with smartphone content. And of course, whatever can be experienced through VR can be tested with marketing research as well.

Summary

For marketers, VR is a reality. If you’re not working in it now, you will be soon. Keep tabs on the VR market to evaluate when you need to play. Samsung, Google, and Facebook are not making these investments because it’s fun and cool (well, maybe just a little); their end game is to make money by meeting consumer demand for enhanced experiences. You should too!

Learn more about CLEAR[vr], marketing research using virtual reality.

Are you Agile? Keeping Up with Marketing Research Best Practices

Agile Marketing Research

Agile Marketing Research

Agile Marketing Research is an important development in the marketing research industry, creating tremendous buzz, controversy, and discussion. Often put forth as a solution to all of the drawbacks of traditional marketing research methods, Agile Marketing Research is modeled on Agile Software Development, an industry movement that started back in the 1980s. While still evolving, Agile Software development is identified by four main differences over traditional software development:

  • Individuals and interactions take precedence over process and tools.
  • Working software is more useful than documents about the software.
  • Continuous customer or stakeholder collaboration is critical.
  • Quick responses to change are the foundation for continuous development.

Why Agile?

Like Agile Software Development, Agile Marketing Research shares these tenets and provides fast, less expensive, marketing research feedback. Because it is much quicker and less costly than traditional marketing research, Agile Marketing Research is especially valuable in those business situations requiring multiple sessions of research feedback for developing the optimal solution. Additionally, Agile Marketing Research tools are also being used in place of traditional marketing research just to respond to the increased pace of today’s business.

Agile Marketing Research is not a total replacement for traditional marketing research practices. However, leveraging the availability of new technologies, and new communications and sales channels combined with the proliferation of information and data, Agile Marketing Research techniques are particularly effective:

  • When there is a need to address time-critical questions or respond to crises by producing insights quickly (often in only a few days) and more affordably than traditional marketing research techniques, while also achieving an acceptable and appropriate level of quality.
  • When developing new product and marketing initiatives, to funnel and refine concepts and improve the likelihood of success by iterating on multiple concepts simultaneously, with larger samples than traditional methods, faster and for the same or less budget.

Additionally, Agile Marketing Research techniques are becoming more popular whenever marketers need a quick read on their consumer. For example, when sales fall short of projections. Or when a senior executive has a last-minute question. When concepts fail validation without an obvious reason. In other words, any time marketers are looking for information that can quickly and cost-effectively reduce anxiety, get them unstuck and moving forward again.

What’s Next?

There is a huge opportunity for companies to improve decision-making with data. In fact, CMO magazine reports that marketers at the average Fortune 1000 company depend on data for only 11% of customer-related decisions. Part of the reason for this is a lack of resources, a problem which is superbly answered by Agile Marketing Research. And, again, while we won’t see all research problems solved with Agile Marketing Research, these new techniques certainly deserve consideration when traditional marketing research takes too long or costs too much.

Register today to learn more about our agile marketing research solutions.