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.

Jan 022013

There are currently a wide range of discussions and blog posts talking about 2013 and beyond (you can join an interesting example in the #NewMR Linked group).

In my opinion (and the opinion of plenty of other people too), 2013 is going to be a big year for Asia. This will partly be in comparison to the poor state of the European economy and the challenges in the USA. However, Asia is making its own future. Many of the economies in Asia Pacific are growing strongly, the pool of talented researchers and research users is growing, and there is a tremendous energy about the way people do business in the Asia Pacific market in general, and in South-East Asia in particular.


From a personal point of view I am certainly putting my time where my mouth is. In October/November I was in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. In 2013 I am going to be in Asia Pacific more than any other region (other than home). In terms of meetings and sessions already booked in January to April 2013 I am going to be running workshops in India, Australia, and Hong Kong, and giving presentations in Australia, India, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam – I hope to add mainland China, probably Shanghai to that list.

NewMR is going to be increasing its focus on Asia in 2013, so stay tuned for more information – for example we are a media partner of the MRMW conference in Kuala Lumpur, in January, where I will be chairing one of the two days. My work colleagues at Vision Critical have clearly come to the same view about Asia Pacific, with offices in Australia, Hong Kong, and Japan, and with new offices just about to open in Singapore and Shanghai.

Of course, it can’t all be work, so I spent (part of) New Year’s day in the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) viewing their 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT7), which is where the picture comes from – after all there is a chance that there is more to life than market research!

What are your thoughts? Is 2013 going to be a big year for Asia? Is the term Asia or Asia Pacific meaningful, or should we be talking about China more than the rest?

Nov 292012
Click here to read in Japanese – 日本語 Picture of Hong Kong

Most market researchers are familiar with the Rogers Adoption Curve, which divides the adoption of a successful new technology in to Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards.

In a typical version of the curve, the proportions tend to be:

  • Innovators 2.5%
  • Early Adopters 13.5%
  • Early majority 34%
  • And the slower two categories make up 50%.

However, in Japan, in market research and perhaps beyond, I think the proportions in the Rogers Adoption Curve need re-visiting. Data presented by Mr Hagihara (author of ‘Next Generation Market Research’) at a meeting of JMRX in Tokyo this week, showing the adoption of CATI in the 80s and 90s, suggests that Japan was slow to innovate in market research. More recently the data presented by Mr Hagihara show that Japan was very slow to start to adopt online surveys. However, by 2011 Japan had the highest percentage of online research in the World. In Japan 40% of research in 2011, by value, was conducted online, according to JMRA and ESOMAR.

Talking with leading opinion formers in Tokyo this week, I formed the opinion that the Adoption Curve has a different shape in Japan. The Innovators are quite rare everywhere and this is particularly true in Japan. A key difference appears to be that there are fewer Early Adopters in Japan, much less than the 13.5% in the classic curve.

However, and in contrast, Japan seems to have more people in the Early Majority. The picture appears to be that initially Japanese market research suppliers and buyers are more conservative than their counterparts in USA and Europe. But, once a technique reaches a tipping point, Japanese companies seem to move faster enabling them to catch-up and over-take more traditional countries, as they have done with online surveys. For me the interesting question will be whether the same picture is true of research communities. These have been slower to take off in Japan, but there are signs that a tipping point is being reached, which might partly explain why almost 300 people turned up at three events in Tokyo this week to hear me speak about the future of research and role of communities.

Below is a translation of this article into Japanese by Mr. Ryota Sano, Chief Executive Officer, TALKEYE INC, ESOMAR Representative for JAPAN


マーケットリサーチャーの皆さんはロジャースの普及カーブ(Rogers Adoption Curve)、成功する新しい技術の普及の段階を「イノベーター」、「アーリーアドプター」、「アーリーマジョリティ」、「レイトマジョリティ」および「ラガード」に分類したもの、をよくご存じだと思う。一般的なカーブでは、それらの割合はそれぞれ、

  • イノベーター 2.5%
  • アーリーアドプター 13.5%
  • アーリーマジョリティ 34%
  • 普及の遅い二つのカテゴリ(レイトマジョリティおよびラガード ) 50%

しかしながら日本では、マーケットリサーチ、そしておそらくそれ以外の分野においても、ロジャースの普及カーブの割合について検討し直さなければならないと考えている。今週東京で開催されたJMRXのミーティングで、萩原氏(「次世代マーケティングリサーチ」の著者)が提示したデータによると、1980,90年代におけるCATI(Computer Assisted Telephone Interview)の普及度は、日本のマーケットリサーチ産業がイノベーションを受け入れるスピードが遅かったという傾向を示唆している。さらに、萩原氏提供のより最近のデータは日本のオンラインサーベイ普及の立ち上がりが非常に遅かったという事実を示している。しかし、2011年までに、日本は世界の中でもっともオンライン調査の比率が高い国になった。JMRAおよびESOMARによると、2011年における日本の調査売上高の40%はオンライン調査によるものである。



Nov 272012
Click here to read in Japanese – 日本語

Yesterday in Tokyo I attended two events (one run by the JMA and one by JMRX – sponsored by GMO Research) and a client meeting, and one specific question arose at all three. The background to the question lies in Japan’s experience with MROCs (in particularly short-term, qualitative research communities). Although some companies have been very successful, several others have not, and some clients are beginning to be worried about MROCs.

So, the question I was asked three times was “How do you create a good MROC in Japan?” By the time I had spoken to three audiences I had refined my answer down to three clear points:

  1. Good recruitment. A short-term, qualitative MROC (e.g. one month, 60 people) needs to be based on the right people. These people need to be informed about what they will be expected to do, they need to understand how to access the MROC, they need to be engaged with the topic (they might love the topic, hate the topic, be curious about the topic, have recently started using it, or perhaps have given it as a gift – but they need to be engaged).
  2. Good moderation is essential. Conversations do not just happen, they are the result of good introductions, good questions, good probing, and interesting tasks. Too many clients want to get onto the serious questions too quickly. But, just like in a focus group, trust and understanding has to be built first. The moderator should agree with the client a clear community plan, showing how the research needs will be met during the project.
  3. Good analysis. Some research agencies simply tell the client what the people in the MROC said – this is not helpful, the client can read that themselves. Listing out and counting what was said in an MROC is not analysis. Analysis looks at a) what did respondents mean, and b) what should the client do.

I was very pleased to see at the meetings copies of my book (The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research) in Japanese (translated by GMO Research). Hopefully, the meetings we are having here and the book will help make all of the Japanese MROCs as good as the best ones.

It was very helpful to be accompanied to all of my meetings by Shigeru Kishikawa, the head of the newly opened Vision Critical Japan office and a great expert in MROCs in Japan.

Of course, the answer to the question how to run a good MROC in Japan, is also true in London, New York, Singapore, Helsinki, and everywhere else.

For more information on new research techniques, people can also check out the online conference happening next week, The Festival of NewMR.

Below is a translation of this article into Japanese by Mr. Ryota Sano, Chief Executive Officer, TALKEYE INC, ESOMAR Representative for JAPAN


1.リクルートが大事 短期間かつ定性的MROC(例えば、1ヶ月、60人規模)は「正しい」対象者から構成されている必要がある。対象者は「彼、彼女らが何をすることを期待されているか」をよく聞かされている必要があり、MROCへのアクセス方法を理解している必要があり、テーマに関与している(engaged)必要がある(彼・彼女らはその話題が好きかもしれないし、嫌いかもしれないし、興味を持っているかもしれないし、その商品・サービスを最近使い始めたかもしれないし、プレゼントとして送ったかもしれないが、いずれにしても彼・彼女らはテーマと結びついていなければならない)。
2.うまいモデレーションが必須 会話は自然には始まらない。会話はよい導入、よい質問、よいプロ−ビング、面白い課題の産物である。多くのクライアントは小難しい質問に始めから入りたがるが、グループインタビューと同様に、まずお互いの信頼関係と理解を得ることから始めなければならない。モデレータは、リサーチプロジェクトにおいてなにが知りたいのかを確認しながら、明確なコミュニティ運営プランについて事前にクライアントと同意しておくべきである。
3.価値ある分析 リサーチ会社の中には、単純にMROCで対象者が何を発言したか、だけを報告する会社もあるようだ。しかしこれではクライアントの助けにはならない。なぜなら単なる発言録ならクライアントも読めるからである。MROCでの発言された単語をリスト化して、それを数えるのは分析とは言えない。分析とは、イ)対象者の発言が意味するところを捉え、ロ)クライアントがどうすべきなのかを考察することである。
イベントで私の本(The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research)の日本語版(GMO社翻訳)を見ることができたのはたいへんうれしいことであった。東京でのミーティングおよび私の本が、日本のすべてのMROCが世界の最高水準に近づく手助けになることを願ってやまない。
新規開設されたVision Critical東京オフィス代表であり、日本のMROCのエキスパートである岸川茂氏にすべてのミーティングに同行いただいたことはたいへん心強かった。
もちろん、日本でよいMROCを運営する心得は、ロンドンでも、ニューヨークでも、シンガポールでも、ヘルシンキその他世界のどこでも通用するものである。 新しいリサーチ手法に関する情報がもっと欲しい方は、来週開かれるオンライン会議The Festival of NewMRもチェックしてみて欲しい。

Nov 252012
Picture of Hong Kong

I am about half way through my current tour of Asia, I have been in Singapore and Hong Kong and fly to Tokyo tonight. During my time here I have split my time between events and one-on-one meetings with clients and agencies. I am convinced that the next leaps forward for NewMR will come from Asia.

There are several reasons why I think that Asia will be the next factor in accelerating change:

  1. Hunger for change. One theme I am hearing from agencies and clients from China, Korea, Singapore, etc is a real desire to move forward, to get away from the static idea of surveys and focus groups and to embrace better alternatives. The interest in ethnography, semiotics, Big Data, neuroscience, social media, and communities is immense. Most of the sessions I have been booked for have been sold out.
  2. The complexity of the market. In Asia the languages are more complex (more complex for computers that is), and the variations within are greater (for example in China the gulf between what is possible in a Tier 1 city like Guangzhou and a Tier 3 like Weihai, or a Tier 4 city like Chaozhou is immense – but even Tier 4 cities have more than one million people). In tackling these problems, with greater software flexibility, with more emphasis on mobile, and by reaching into areas where the internet is more likely to be via an internet café – the platforms are going to take the next leap forward.
  3. The structure of markets. In Asia many markets are relatively small by European and North American standards. In the West the typical way to start a new project is to start in USA, or UK, or Germany, and then roll it out to more countries as it proves its worth. In Asia many of the requests we get are to start with, say, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong – because between them they have a big enough budget. But this means being innovative in terms of costing, project management, and project deliverables. This innovation is going to help market research globally.

I am convinced that Asia will be the fulcrum for the next advance in MR and I intend to be here to be involved and to learn from it. I will be back in January for Merlien’s Insights Valley conference in Malaysia and for ESOMAR’s APAC conference in Vietnam in April, and I suspect pretty regularly for the foreseeable future.

At the Festival of NewMR we have some great papers from Asia, most of which have global relevance – it is time for the world to, once again, start learning from Asia.