Feb 262013

There is a growing trend for researchers to recruit customers/consumers/citizens to collaborate in the research process. One example is where smartphones are used to facilitate people capturing slices of their own lives, in pictures, videos, and comments. Another example was the Mass Observation project that utilised hundreds of people in the UK, between the 1930s and the 1960s, to capture their own story and the stories of the people around them.

I think it would be useful to be able to refer generically to these forms of qualitative research, but there seems to already a wide range of terms, including:

  • Mass anthropology
  • Mass ethnography
  • Auto-anthropology
  • Auto-ethnography
  • Auto-qual
  • Crowdsourced qual
  • We-research
  • We-qual

What are your thoughts? Would an umbrella term for these participative/collaborative qual approaches be useful? If so, what would your choice be?

Feb 222013

I was interviewed yesterday for an article that will appear in the new quarterly MRS magazine (now that the monthly magazine has gone entirely online). Although my bit of the article will be very small (if used at all) the interview did get me thinking about one key aspect of the interest in neuroscience. How much of our thinking, memories, and decisions happen within our own heads, and how much is determined elsewhere? I am struck by three strands of thinking that suggest that a large part of what we think of as being inside our own heads might not be, context, social copying and/or discursive psychology.

The collected works of the behavioural economists are suggesting that a very large part of what we say, feel, do is context driven. This in turn suggests that what is inside our heads during a survey, brain scan, facial coding session might be entirely irrelevant to what happens when we are in the situation. Which is why there is a growing amount of interest in observational research and in techniques that speak to people ‘in the moment’, for example some mobile research.

Social Copying
For, at least, the last five years Mark Earls has been highlighting that much of human behaviour can be accounted for by copying, first in his book “Herd” and in a more refined version in “I’ll have what she’s having”. At last year’s Festival of NewMR, Mark presented the map shown here and put forward the case that the role of the individual mind was limited to some situations and some choices. This raises the question, if somebody’s future behaviour is going to be determined by copying, what is the point of asking them about their plans and intentions. Equally, what is the point about examining somebody’s biometrics today (fMRI scans, facial coding, implicit association etc) if the answer to what they are going to do is dependent on events they are yet to experience.

Discursive Psychology
Discursive psychology is a branch of discourse analysis that suggests that a large portion of what we think of as ‘our attitudes’ or ‘our memories’ are actually created and conveyed socially, in terms of language. For example, consider how memories of a night out, or our school days, are created by pictures, discussions, and ‘stories’. Again, if a portion of ‘our’ memories and attitudes are constructed socially, the benefits of investigating the individual is limited.

The consequences for market research
The three threads in this blog, context, social copying, and discursive psychology all suggest that researchers need to determine, for each project, topic, and category, what is determined socially and what is determined by the individual. Having made that decision the researcher needs to adopt tools that are suitable for social behaviour or individualism.

Yes, there will be cases where surveys will be the right tools, there will be niches where neuro-techniques will add something (especially within ad testing), but there is a need for many more tools in the areas where behaviour is not determined by what is in individual minds.

Feb 152013

I have just finished running several training sessions on quant research, social media, statistics and presenting and I received several requests for recommended further reading, so here are a few of my favourite blogs.

The Survey Geek – Reg Baker. Reg utilises his extensive knowledge of market research to cast a sceptical eye over the latest trends and fads. Reg has a lovely, dry style, he is well informed and is frequently to be found shouting that the emperor has no clothes.

The GreenBookBlog – multiple authors. Curated by Lenny Murphy, the GreenBookBlog attracts a wide range of posts from innovators, challengers, and pundits – usually focusing on the new in NewMR.

BlackBeard Blog – Tom Ewing. Tom is another blogger with a dry style and a broad hinterland, Tom is enthusiastic about the new, but not blind to its traps and hyperbole.

The LoveStats Blog – Annie Pettit. Annie is one of the global leaders in social media research and is in popular demand as a trainer and speaker. Annie is passionate about the new, but highly critical of the hype and the snake oil.

Vision Critical Blog – multiple authors. Although the VC blog centres on research communities, it covers a wider range, focusing on best practice advice and case studies.

Research and Reflect – Edward Appleton. Edward is worth reading on two counts in that he posts provocative thoughts about market research AND he is one of the very few client researchers who blog.

So, there are a few blogs from me, which blogs would you add to my list?

Research communities in APAC?

 Posted by on February 7, 2013  Asia, Community Panels, MROC, NewMR  Comments Off
Feb 072013

Randomised ListI am just about to submit my paper to ESOMAR on research communities in Asia Pacific, and I would love to bounce my key points off the NewMR crowd.

Globally it looks as though about 50% of researchers interested in New market research are in an organisation which is either buying or selling research communities (e.g. MROCs, Community Panels etc). And this figure is the same in APAC as in Europe and North America?

Globally about 6% market research agencies are offering research communities, and this is similar in APAC?

In APAC, excluding Japan, Australia, New Zealand, communities have developed more slowly than in Europe and North America?

In APAC, excluding Australia and New Zealand, the majority of community projects have been MROCs (i.e. qual and relatively small) rather than Community Panels (larger, quant + qual)?

In APAC, excluding Australia and New Zealand, the majority of community projects have been short-term (weeks rather than years)?

One of the key factors that limits large scale community projects in APAC is the absolute size of the research market (often $100million or less per year)?

The relatively small size of research markets in much of Asia often requires projects to be multi-country, multi-ethnic, multi-language from the start?

I would love to hear support or opposition, and I am looking for a few key quotes to include in the paper and the presentation.

This part of the post has been updated to reflect the tremendous amount of help and suggestions I have received. What is clear is that there are a wide variety of approaches, and the picture is an evolving one with new partners and offices opening on a regular basis.

Western community specialists with offices in APAC include:

  • Vision Critical (Japan, Hong Kong, Australia)
  • Face (Singapore and Hong Kong)
  • BrainJuicer (China and India)
  • Communispace (China)

International, general or field-focused, companies offering communities in APAC include:

  • Ipsos
  • ToLuna
  • Lightspeed/TNS
  • Pulse

Many Western companies are offering research communities in APAC from their Western locations, some with local partners, some with local moderators.

APAC based companies offering communities include*:

  • ABN Impact (Thailand and Hong Kong)
  • Cimigo (China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Singapore, Vietnam)
  • Colmar Brunton (Australia)
  • Lucid360 (China)
  • Buzz Channel (New Zealand)
  • Camorra Research (New Zealand)
  • Index-I (Japan)
  • Latitude (Australia)
  • Control A (Japan)
  • Mitsubishi Research Institute (Japan)
  • Direction First (Australia)

* All lists tend to be partial. However, the list of APAC based companies is likely to have missed most APAC based agencies who are not actively engaged with English-speaking social media or English-focused organisations such as ESOMAR – and some that are. If you feel you have been missed, please contact us as we will add you to the list.

If you know of others, please add them via a comment or email me, and we will update this page. On another occasion we will look at platforms and software solutions.

Feb 022013

I spent Wednesday last week chairing the first day of the MRMW conference in Kuala Lumpur, a well-attended event with participants and contributors from around the globe. The conference highlighted a number of key trends about mobile market research (MMR), including:

  1. Mobile is still, and perhaps increasingly, a hot topic for a wide cross-section of buyers, users, and providers of research.
  2. One key trend from the conference was that although smartphones are great for qual, and whilst some interesting work is happening on tablets, and despite the need to use feature phones at the moment, the future of most MMR (by volume and value) will be via smartphones and will relate to quantitative research.
  3. Several of the presentations highlighted that a key challenge, with MMR, is sourcing an appropriate sample. However, this problem is being reduced by the growing number of mobile panels that are springing up around the world, and the adoption of mobile-enabled research communities.
  4. Another challenge for MMR is the issue of how to fit a mode that focuses on short surveys (2, 3, 5, or perhaps 10 minutes) into a market where surveys have been getting longer and longer (30, 40, and even 60 minutes). The general agreement is that MMR is not a replacement technology for doing long surveys, it has its own strengths and these are the key to what it should be used for.
  5. In the future, indeed now, passive data, questionnaires, and social media need to be integrated – mobile will be key to this integration, but the integration will require a big data competence (which in turn implies utilising people like data scientists).
The feeling from the audience at MRMW was that what the research industry needs now are more case studies, more RoR, and more ‘best practice’ guides.

I am particularly keen on this area as I am working with Navin Williams to put together an online learning course for MMR and after that a book – more on both soon. If you have material that you’d like to contribute to the course or the book, please drop me an email, or LinkedIn message, or Twitter DM.