Sep 112014
 

Guest Post by Betty Adamou of Research Through Gaming, who was a keynote speaker at this year’s AMSRS Conference in Melbourne.


Let’s face it, Market Research conferences aren’t a place we normally associate with a few laughs (from the stage, it’s different off stage!), but not only did the AMSRS provide delegates with two comedians (one of which was a Market Researcher) but we also had presenters using humour to make some valid points.

These giggle-inducing moments were in the opening talks; Tom Ewing of BrainJuicer keynoted about Reasons to be Cheerful with his ever-present-on-Twitter co-presenter buddy ‘Old Man CrossTabs’ (@OldSchoolMRX on Twitter, if you’re interested in following) who would chime in every now and then during Toms talk with some words of wisdom, but was used to provide a stark contrast between the expectations of ‘Old MR’ (personified by Old Man CrossTabs) and ‘New MR’, brought to life through BrainJuicer case-studies and examples.

The next talk included a flying lettuce through the slides, meant to highlight to power of subliminal messaging and subconscious decisions. Interestingly, the presentation which included a flying lettuce in Leigh Caldwell’s talk didn’t make me want to choose lettuce for lunch, but did act as a trigger so that when I saw lettuce, I thought of Leigh’s talk, and subsequently, the Irrational Agency (where Leigh is a partner).

One of the stand-out presentations for me was by Daniel Bluzer-Fry presenting a case-study carried out with Betfair using mobile and, for the first time, focussed on user experience. However, this wasn’t testing the respondents’ experience of the mobile research methodology, no, it was to improve the experience users had of the BetFair mobile site, however the logic behind user centred design resonates strongly with why design is so important in research applications, be it online surveys, mobile surveys or online communities. During the panel discussion, I referenced this talk as a highlight and why savvy design-thinking for surveys is so important.

Conference talks aside, we were all absolutely spoiled in a perfectly paced conference program; as a delegate, I had enough time to hear the details I needed to calm my curiosity in all talks, without feeling rushed about.

And I know all conference committees care about their conference program and speakers, but the AMSRS had clearly placed a huge amount of effort into ensuring that varied, relevant, innovative and robust talks where chosen for presentation over the two days.

The other highlights I had were not actually talks; I enjoyed hearing about the Better Surveys Project spoken about by Peter Harris from Vision Critical. The project is a three-year study which aims to publicise a series of experiments to evidence the need of particular best practices to educate the industry on better survey design and execution. It is fantastic to see this kind of initiative in our industry and well done to all involved in that project!

The other non-talk highlight was a tribute to a researcher who had sadly passed away; John Young from Colmar Brunton. I know this may sound terribly morbid of me to add this as a highlight, but please hear me out: we so often hear about innovative methodologies, great case-studies and new technology which helps us help clients do things better, cheaper and faster, but this tribute reminded us that at the heart of all these developments and great work are researchers with passion, spirit and who genuinely care about other people, and their jobs as market researchers. It really brought the humanness of what we all do back home for me.

Another highlight was the award ceremony, presented by the researcher-turned-comedian, Sam McCool and a huge congratulations goes out to all the winners.

As a regular conference speaker, I always hope to hear and see great things on the stage and off the stage; AMSRS didn’t disappoint and I would definitely go back, even as a non-speaker. Thanks AMSRS for a fab event!


 

Aug 132014
 
Sue Cardwell 2

Guest post by Sue Cardwell, marketing manager at Infotools Sue is a keen proponent of effective data visualization for business success. Sue has 10 years of experience in the consumer insight field across several countries. She now lives in Auckland, New Zealand and works for Infotools. Sue is an inveterate blogger and self-confessed chart geek who loves creating new vizzes in her spare time. You can see more by Sue Cardwell here.

Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series. If you would like to contribute a post to this series contact admin@newmr.com.


“Do you want to allow this app to post to Facebook?”

No, I did not! I felt each new socially-connected service was an invasion of my private life. I was a classic lurker: someone who watches what other people post on social, but is shy about sharing.

But I’m also a marketer. We get excited about the shiny new toys of social media. Gradually I found my barriers being broken down in favour of the benefits I gained.

Time for a major attitude shift. As I gained confidence with social sharing, I made the decision to embrace transparency. I am who I am, and I’m happy for you to see that. If you wished, you could find out that I’m a data viz fan who loves hiking and cooks a mean pizza. I made and still make plenty of mistakes (over-sharing, anyone?). But being authentic means making mistakes sometimes.

My activity got me noticed. People recognised me when they saw me at market research events, and strangers were happy to talk to me. (I found out later that what was happening is called the Mere Exposure Effect. People like and trust something more when they are exposed to it more times.) I had more meaningful conversations and I felt more connected to my market research community.

Later I became the marketing manager of Infotools, a company that makes brilliant market research analysis and visualization tools. I was keen to spread my positive experience of social sharing with people there. It’s especially great for Infotools because we’re head-quartered in New Zealand so it’s not always handy to catch up with our clients and peers at events in the 100 countries we deal with. Social media erases borders and time zones.

But not everyone was as keen as I was to be visible on social media! Often, my enthusiasm met with resistance, fear and scepticism.

My theory on this is that market research attracts analytical minds. As researchers, we’re cautious observers, who love to explore lots of information before acting – if we ever get around to acting. Compared to say the advertising industry, we aren’t natural soapbox shouters.

However, we do love a good debate. We adore analysing research techniques and approaches to find the best solutions for delivering insight and business results. LinkedIn and Twitter are ideal places to do just that. Social conversations advance our industry by exchanging and developing ideas, and also by building community and culture.

So I challenge market researchers: feel the fear and do it anyway! You have everything to gain.


 

Aug 122014
 
Maya Middlemiss 2014

Guest post by Maya Middlemiss, Managing Director of Saros Research, a UK-based company specialising in market research recruitment.

Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series. If you would like to contribute a post to this series contact admin@newmr.com.


This post focuses on what social media means to Saros Research. Research participant recruitment is all about connecting with people, reaching out to potential new audiences – and the social media revolution of recent years has given us an amazing array of new tools with which to do this. Our social media and content creation strategy is at the heart of our database development process, alongside a range of powerful offline tools which will always be needed as well.

We create and curate extensive content to introduce the idea of research participation to people, and encourage them to register as potential participants – via our own blog and also guest blogging (such as a resident slot at Birds-on-the-Blog). Having pioneered database-driven recruitment in the UK since the turn of the millennium we are aware that there is still a vast potential audience out there who simply don’t know they can get paid to share their views in qualitative research – and we are continually on the look-out for ways to engage with them. Our analytics help us decide where to put our efforts, to reach out to different audiences, based on the demand coming from our research clients.

We use our Facebook Page to disseminate our content, and also to place teasers for projects we want people to apply for – as well as to recruit to our database. As our main B2C channel, we find it a good way to get feedback from members and participants as well.

Similarly with Twitter, where we also curate a range of industry and related news several times a day. Twitter is becoming an increasingly important client and participant communications channel for us, and a good way to get urgent shouts-out rapidly to a wide audience. Twitter is also a great monitoring and listening tool, to find out relevant conversations are going on which we can engage with appropriately.

We use LinkedIn to build authority, distribute our own and others’ industry and business-related content, and to engage in relevant groups. We are still evaluating the impact of the new LinkedIn publishing platform, which seems to function so far as a useful B2B guest-blogging tool… But, one we are using without losing sight of the importance of owning one’s own content: anything you publish on someone else’s site costs you in overall control and traffic.

Anything else? Well are Pinning of course –isn’t everybody? It’s not going to big for us I don’t think. And our Youtube channel is important, for sharing user feedback as well as illustrating exactly what we do, not least because of it’s close connection to Google+.

Of course, participant recruitment is a specific niche within market research where it remains vital to be continually communicating with public audiences. It is resource-intensive to do it the way we do, but makes sense for database-driven recruitment. It might make less sense for other research companies, or those operating in different niches – it helps that I have a personal passion for social media, and write and blog and consult on it anyway…

As with any marketing activity, you need to know what your intention is, and how you will measure whether you have been successful with it, before you can decide what exactly to do. This direction needs to take place at a strategic level, even if the execution happens at a junior one – and I believe this is where many organisations slip up. Perhaps it’s simply down to not having anyone senior enough to create and implement the social media strategy, but a lot of quite large companies seem to bolt-on social media as an afterthought or leave it in the wrong hands, then wonder why it hasn’t worked out for them.

Things change very rapidly in the social media world, there are a great many shiny things to go chasing after, and measuring ROI can be challenging. Even identifying what to measure is difficult, it’s easy to get distracted by vanity metrics – so many people like and follow us! But how does that impact the bottom line? You can waste a great deal of time on the wrong things if you don’t identify your objectives very clearly at the outset. Also if you screw up you will do so very publicly – as many brands have learned to their cost.

For most of the research companies we recruit for, use of social media will tend to be driven by different factors to our own – prioritising authority building over reach, for example. And managing what we do remains part of a process under continual review, we can never assume we’ve finally got it nailed because the landscape keeps changing.

But we love social media here at Saros and will continue to use it for all the right reasons.


 

Aug 112014
 
Mary Aviles

Guest post from Mary Aviles of Bauman Research. Mary has 16+ years experience in strategic marketing, competitive intelligence, trends analysis, market research, product management, content management and now social media listening.

Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series. If you would like to contribute a post to this series contact admin@newmr.com.


In his recent Greenbook blog post, Ray Poynter–someone we consider one of the rock stars of market research (#MRX)–discussed the current limitations of social media monitoring and listening for market research applications. From a quantitative focus, we totally agree with the challenges he cites and we very much appreciate his raising these issues. In fact, in working with the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) Social Media Research (#SMR) Special Interest Group (SIG), we’ve struggled with many of these same issues: poor quality sentiment analysis, the inability to export social media comment streams, the challenge of analyzing items like retweets, shares and the contents of those links. Certainly, there are significant hurdles to overcome in social media research. These can be extremely difficult if we’re talking about quantitative research. Several remain challenging if we’re talking about qualitative research as well, but as a supplement to qualitative research we see a lot of potential for SMR and we’ve been having some success.

The good thing about SMR with a qualitative focus is that we are interested in directional information. We don’t need to be overly worried about big data and sentiment analysis at the qualitative stage of the project. QRCs absolutely can use social media to answer questions AND uncover questions/issues we hadn’t considered. Social media is ideal for many of the foundational activities that we perform, like identifying lexicon and developing relevant “buckets” or project-oriented categories. While we realize that Mr. Poynter’s focus in this post was not qualitative, he suggests that social media research cannot be used to “map or understand the space” and that “brands can’t use it to test new products and services, or almost any future plan.”

But we have had success using social media to help establish a foundation for our client work that we then use to inform our qualitative research process. We absolutely depend on social media to round out our secondary competitive analysis which we use to develop market landscapes and trend analysis. We find that analysis of social media can provide valuable insights on positioning, reputation, engagement, responsiveness, influence, marketing and communication strategies, industry lexicon and significant content/categories of importance to key target communities. Social media commentary offers unique visibility into relevance, appeal and consideration. In this way, on our projects SMR contributes in a unique way. It doesn’t duplicate other findings and it provides added value to our overall qual–allowing us to ask better questions, use better lexicon or recruit better respondents. It’s also an extremely efficient way to become familiar with a particular space or industry.

I’d like to offer the following business-to-business (B2B) client example. Recently, during work for a company in the identity theft space, social media research led me to review the ample online media coverage of the Target data breach. In doing so, I familiarized myself with several key data breach and identity theft influencers. I was able to analyze aspects of their Twitter streams as well as commentary on mainstream media outlets such as 60 Minutes and USA Today and more topical industry sources like KrebsOnSecurity. Yes, the analysis was largely manual. I had to cut and paste and hand cleanse the verbatims. Yes, it had to be shared anonymously and could not be attributed to specific demographics. Yes, it is highly biased due to the nature of the topic and the propensity for security “enthusiasts” to follow and comment on these topics. However, this analysis provided very valuable directional information to our client both about attitudes and associations with their competitors as well as guidance on a specific service and the companies that provide it–which was one of the client’s questions that our larger research engagement sought to answer. Beyond delighting the client with our initial findings, we have incorporated this analysis into the crafting of our qualitative research instrument for our next phase which includes both focus groups and in-depth interviews (IDIs).

We also agree with Mr. Poynter that–like PR, marketing and sales–QRCs do sometimes have a different focus than quantitative market researchers. As such, we find SMR a highly effective supplement (and perhaps eventually an alternative option) to some of our more established MRX methodologies. We look forward to a project where we might attempt to, for example, put a client question (or message or creative or concept) out before the appropriate TweetChat audience and build on those results. And, analysis-wise–since we often take a quali-quant approach–in the near future:

  • I am anxious for more access to more accessible visualization tools and technology
  • I’d like the ability to better manipulate tools like Revelation Word Trees and utilize more shareable results with clients ala Wordle
  • And, speaking of Wordle, I’d love the chance to show creator Jonathan Feinberg what we can do with a word cloud and get his thoughts/help furthering that technology

At any rate, we are excited about what the future holds! What’s on your wish list?


 

Jun 092014
 

Guest post from Kristin Luck, President and CMO at Decipher, USA.

Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series.


After spending my childhood on a farm in rural Oregon without television or even a touch tone phone, I was determined to spend my early adult/post University years as an ‘early adopter’. I spent much of the late 90’s proudly sporting a Palm Pilot (then a Blackberry, then an iPhone) and becoming the go-to person in my circle of friends and colleagues for information about all things tech related. I mastered LinkedIn. I thought I had this whole social media thing nailed. And then there was Facebook. And Twitter. And Instagram. And Pinterest. If you’ve ever tried to use all six (and these are just the six I’m active on) for personal use…or business use….or (even more challenging) both, what I’m going to say next may resonate with you- I absolutely flailed. My social media presence was a disorganized time suck and I backed away from the whole mess of it. When colleagues asked why I wasn’t active on Twitter and Facebook I said I didn’t have the time. Or that I just wasn’t interested. Or that I didn’t think social media worked for my business. The truth is that I did, I was and it could. I just needed the right strategy.

Today I’m a social media junkie. I use LinkedIn daily to connect with prospective clients and colleagues. With over 3,400 Twitter followers I was recently named one of the site’s top 100 branding experts. I launched a Market Research group on Facebook that today is the largest in the industry with over 4,500 members. I’ve mastered using both Instagram and Pinterest.

At Decipher, we’re looking at social media as our primary marketing tool moving into 2015. We’re engaging with our clients and partners on social media more than ever before. We’ve learned that you CAN effectively market B2B on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – it’s all about creating a strategy. It’s simply not enough to have a personal social media presence or a few social media sites up for your business. Without a clear social media strategy, you’ll struggle to increase customer engagement and, ultimately, sales.

To get the most out of your social media efforts, your strategy should include:

  • Determining which sites are most beneficial to post to and when to post to them
  • The types of content you can reasonably create and effectively promote (what’s sticky about you or your brand?)
  • Creation of a native storytelling experience
  • How to engage with current and potential clients online
  • Identifying the right metrics to use to measure your progress toward social media goals

Still stumped? We’re researchers- storytellers by trade. Think of social media as a storytelling platform for you and/or your brand. Talk to your audience. Don’t interrupt. Leverage pop-culture. Cultivate your brand personality. Have a sense of humor. And above all else, be consistent and self-aware.

And follow me. @kristinluck @deciphertweets


Jun 032014
 

We at NewMR are keen to hear the different ways that market researchers approach social media. We are interested in the private use, the brand building use, and the research use. We have invited a variety of people to share their thoughts and you can read them by accessing the links below.

‘What social media means to me’
Click on the names below to visit other posts in the series.

Would you like to share your take on social media via a blog post on NewMR? We are happy to review suggested posts, ideally about 300 to 600 words. Send you suggested copy to admin@thefutureplace.com.

Would you like to share your take on social media? If so, please email your suggested contribution (perhaps 300 to 800 words) to admin@newmr.org. Please also include your name, photo, and description.

 

Jun 012014
 

Guest post from Sue Bell, principal Susan Bell Research, Australia.

Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series.


Over the last few months, we have been conducting a bit of an experiment (using the term in its everyday sense) with the Susan Bell Research Facebook page. At least twice a week, we post links to a recent blog, or a tip or quote about the kind of research we conduct. We also regularly share other people’s content there. For example, we have shared 3rd party content from ESOMAR such as the recent article on Qualitative Research and Flex MR’s article about nurturing your consumer panels.

Why are we doing this? We are putting into practice a core belief about communication which is that to communicate clearly you should ‘show’ not ‘tell’. As Mark Twain put it:

  • ‘Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.’ (Mark Twain)
  • Creative or very visual agencies can use website design to convey a creative image, but it is more difficult for specialist service agencies like ours to use websites to demonstrate what we do. Efforts to explain tend to become words, words and more words – all telling and no showing.

    Unlike websites, Facebook is a ‘show’ sort of place which allows us to show what we specialise by posting content about qualitative research, communications research, sensory research, semiotics and language.

    Although it has its limitations, Facebook is my preferred ‘show not tell’ platform because it is easy to post links to our blogs, and to tips and quotes that appeal to us, in a reasonably consistent manner. We plan several weeks ahead and only post on certain topics, making sure that any personal stuff stays on personal pages.

    Being active on social media is also the best way – bar none – to teach yourself how to advise clients about using social media. Sharing content also helps us to build a network of like-minded agencies internationally, and it encourages other people to share and comment on our stuff, which helps get our message out.

    To use it well you have to remember that social media is exactly that: social. It is not a platform to only broadcast information, updates and content from your own business; that is for your website. Social media is about connecting, sharing and starting conversations about our industry and interests. Is it successful? That depends on the success measure you use. In our case, this is not about reach because reach is not what we are after. Image perceptions are more relevant. Any agency thinking of doing what we are doing needs to ask questions like:

    • Do you want to position yourself as an expert in your field?
    • Do you want to connect with like-minded professionals?
    • Do you want to gain more fans or sales leads for your business?

    Chances are there is a social media platform out there that will facilitate those needs, so long as you approach it in a realistic and strategic manner.

    Would you like to share your take on social media via a blog post on NewMR? We are happy to review suggested posts, ideally about 300 to 600 words. Send you suggested copy to admin@thefutureplace.com.


    May 302014
     

    Guest post from Peter Harris, EVP & Managing Director, Asia Pacific at Vision Critical, Australia.

    Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series.


    I am not sure when it started but social media has completely revolutionised how I consume information, connect with friends and family, research topics within the industry and keep on top of who is doing what. That is not new news for anyone but when I think back even 3-4 years, I see it has all changed.

    I no longer carry industry magazines to and from work trying to keep up with who is doing what, I rarely talk to recruiters and use linked in to keep track of people’s movement, to advertise positions and to see what my clients and competitors are up to. I can also see which of my competitors and prospective clients are researching us!

    For me, social media has not been a distraction to work but a big aid. We have used @VC_APAC and @visioncritical to help build our presence in Australia and now across the Asia Pacific region. It’s so much easier to offer thought leadership on niche subjects now via social media and also to research what’s hot and what’s not across the profession. I also think it’s easier now just to post a paragraph or two on a topic vs waiting to be asked or submitting a long article which may or may not be accepted by an editor. For me, social media really has allowed our brands voice to be heard in the marketplace and the amount of content is not limited by an editorial committee or peers.

    I see people managing their social media in different ways. I personally tend to use Facebook for personal stuff and everything else for business but often the two blend in together. It probably says something interesting about me that compared to many work colleagues I am not very social media savvy but to my friends and family see me as a social media addict.

    The only way social media has been a negative for me personally is that I read a lot less non-work books these days as there is always so much to read/keep updating with. By the way, I don’t blame SM for that, it’s up to me to manage my time, but it’s just so tempting, AND ALWAYS ON.

    Would you like to share your take on social media via a blog post on NewMR? We are happy to review suggested posts, ideally about 300 to 600 words. Send you suggested copy to admin@thefutureplace.com.


    Jan 222014
     

    Almost every week there is a key discussion in the NewMR LinkedIn group, tackling a specific topic of interest. This week I asked “In 3 years, what % of adults will have a mobile phone, how many will be smartphones, and how many will be connected to the internet?” and broke this down into three questions:

    1. In January 2017, what percentage of the world’s adults do you think will have a mobile phone? By which I mean the percentage of people who have at least one phone (or phablet).
    2. What percentage of the world’s population will have a smartphone?
    3. What percentage of the world’s population will have a 3G, 4G or similar connection to the internet?

    There are lots of interesting replies from people such as: Siim Teller, Etienne Zervaas, and Thomas Ball, and I encourage you to check the discussion out.

    But, I thought I would share my replies with this blog as well as the discussion.

    What percentage of the world’s adult population will have a mobile phone in 2017?
    The ITU estimate that there are about 7 billion phones in use, allowing about 1.8 per actual user, deduct about 1.5 billion people as children, some of whom have phones and we are currently at about 65% of global adults with a mobile phone. So, in three years my guess is that we’ll be in the range 80% to 85%. However, if we were talking about adults of working age, with any form of income, I think it would be 95% by 2017.

    What percentage of the world’s population will have a smartphone?
    About 55% of phones being sold at the moment are smartphones according to IDC. Many people replace their phones in 3 or fewer years, and the rate will increase from 55%, so I am going to say 70% of people with phones in 2017 will have a smartphone (they may also have an older phone in many cases) – so about 60% of the global adult population.

    How many will have mobile connections to the internet?
    The ITU publish mobile phones subscriptions and mobile internet subscriptions, so we can see the ratio. In 2007 mobile internet subs were 8% of mobile phone subs, and it climbed steadily until 2011, when it was 19%. Then it jumped and 2012 was 24% and 2013 31% – so by 2017 I expect the ratio to be 50% – i.e. half of mobile phones having a subscription to something like 3G or 4G or something that approximates to it. So my guess is about 40%-45% of adults will be using the mobile web, or about 50% of the world’s adults of working age with some sort of income.

    Wow!
    My estimate is lower than most of the others so far, but even it is awesome in its implications – half the world connected to the internet, via mobiles. If you have not started getting ready for 2017, it may be already too late to get ready in time?

     

    Jan 142014
     
    Navin Headshot Square

    Posted by Navin Wlliams, CEO MobileMeasure Consultancy Ltd, Shanghai, China.

    Editors note: Navin is known as a leading expert of mobile market research and has been posting his forecasts for a few years and kindly shared his 2014 forecast with us.

    2013 was a year of consolidation of the market in the mobile space. With Android settling into its leadership position and Apple’s iOS having a relatively good year too. The other operating systems have largely fallen by the wayside. With mobile finally settling the fight with online and finally being recognized as a tour de force too, it’s a good time to put on my soothsayer hat and share my vision of how 2014 is going to pan out.

    OS sales shares

    Source: Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, via CNET: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57616679-37/iphone-market-share-shrinks-as-android-windows-phone-grow/

    Winner Takes All – Android

    In last year’s post I talked about Android dominating the mobile landscape and eventually by getting prices down to a sub US$100 mark make analysts relook at the Feature phone and Smartphone definition by the end of 2013. This has not really happened as we still have these definitions widely in use. However no one is obsessing over these definitions as it is well recognized that the formerly dominant Feature phones are a dying breed. From a competing set point of view the only recognized feature phone is Nokia’s S40 series which are now restricted to just the existing installed base, can only lose from here on as Nokia by adopting and then being sold to Microsoft becomes a Windows phone led platform. Other than the S-40 feature phones, the other feature phones in the market, dominated by the proprietary systems built by Chinese manufacturers disappeared overnight as they didn’t need to develop their own OS to save license costs, but could adopt an established OS in the form of the Android. So not only did Android eat into shrinking Nokia OS share, but the other feature phone OSs and the other dying OSs like Blackberry as well.

    Android closed 2012 as the No. 1 player and in 2013 they helped grow the Phablet phenomena. And though in 2013 the Android Tablet share did grow, it’s their Phablets that got much more airplay. In 2014 expect to see Android phablets to dominate the landscape and in turn help them grow the share of Android Tablets as well.

    Too Big to Fail Still ? – Apple & iOS

    Considering the market dynamics in 2013, Apple and its iOS did admirably well. They didn’t :

    • grow their screen size significantly;
    • deliver a true low cost phone to take on the bottom half of the mobile handset pyramid;
    • come up with any serious ground breaking innovations.
    Screen size: Apple has long maintained that the size of their screen was optimum and anything bigger will get too big to handle. They did however reduce the frame area and grow the screen diagonally larger. This however paled in comparison with the competing phone manufacturers churning out significantly larger screens and bringing to the fore a whole new category in “Phablets”.

    Low Cost Phone: to be fair, Apple did bring out the 5C, which is US$649, which for most of the world is not exactly “C for Cheap” and still keeps it in the premium smart phone bracket. This phone though did not set the market on fire, it definitely went a long way in keep its Smartphone share up.

    Innovation: Apple built its persona around product innovation, however in 2013 we haven’t seen much of it. Though wearable technology which syncs to your iphone has been talked about for a while now, the iwatch never materialized.

    In 2012, Apple was a dominant force in the Smartphone market, in 2013 they fought valiantly and maintained their position in key markets but also lost share to a rampaging Android in 2013. In 2014, they will have to address all three issues of Screen size, Low Cost and Innovation or will it be the year that they lose a lot of the shine they have built around themselves. Will Apple play by the conventional rules or look to reinvent themselves and the industry as they often have in the past?

    Mend and Grow year – Nokia & Windows Mobile

    While 2013 was labeled as the make or break year for Nokia and Windows, 2014 is going to be mend and grow. If you take away the declining numbers of the final years of Nokia and look only at Windows as a Greenfield entry they have done admirably well in 2013. With the buying out of Nokia by Microsoft, it becomes the second non hardware technology company after Google –Motorola to enter the mobile hardware arena.

    Though currently in the Smartphone market, Windows has done admirably well by being the third player often edging out Blackberry or a close forth behind Blackberry. 2014 is when we can truly evaluate its performance. In 2014 we can expect a flurry of launches of new models at multiple price points and screen sizes. Coupled with the formidable marketing arm of Microsoft and the former Nokia teams, expect them to at least double their market share across markets.

    The New King – Samsung

    A couple of years ago, Samsung was the challenger. Today, they are dominating the manufacturer’s sweepstakes trying to keep the other manufacturers at bay. After having introduced the Phablet with the Note phone series, they have grown the category exponentially and dominated it as well. In 2013 they showed that they are not just riding on Android and large screens to dominate the market place. They introduced the Galaxy Gear which included a watch phone with the top end Samsung Galaxy phones purchased. The much talked about iWatch in the blogsphere seems to have been missed by Apple and was picked up and dished out by Samsung instead. So Samsung is looking to take the lead in the innovation stakes to create a persona all its own. The Samsung Galaxy gear smart watch may turn out to be more of an interesting gimmick than a serious utility tool, but it’s too early to call.

    In 2014 we can expect Samsung to continue to dominate the Smartphones especially the Phablets, larger screens and with their Galaxy Gear added to their arsenal, they also have a serious differentiator. On the not so bright side, of all the manufacturers Samsung has the most to lose as they like Nokia before them play across the price and product spectrum. They should have a tough year but hold onto their leadership position.

    The Dead Dead – Blackberry

    The highlight of 2013 for BB was the announcement of its all new Blackberry 10 OS which was delayed constantly and when it finally got launched was a little to late and didn’t introduce anything innovative to retain anyone’s attention. So from living dead to dead dead, is where BB finds itself.

    Though to be fair to them they still have a large corporate business stuck at the hip and for many of these corporates wanting to migrate their secure mobile systems moving to another system is a tough choice. Something like self-amputation vs. rebuilding the Pyramids – both tough decisions. Many have bitten the bullet and others are still building plans. So there’s still an opportunity for BB to revive itself.

    Out of the Shadows – Made in China

    If we saw the Chinese manufacturers coming of age in 2013, expect 2014 to be their graduation party. The biggest impact is going to be from the Chinese manufacturers with the likes of Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE all making both affordable and top end Smartphones for the global market. Taiwanese manufacturer HTC is a fallen star hoping to revive their fortunes. And there are the Indian manufacturers who until now were content with the Indian market are getting ambitious and looking for foreign shores as well.

    Expect at least 2-3 of the top 5 manufacturers to be Chinese manufacturers in 2014. It would be pretty safe to assume all 5 will be “made in China”.

    Market Research and Mobile Market Research

    Accidents Happen: If 2012 was for probing and experimenting, 2013 saw the term accidental mobile research being coined. Accidental mobile research is research which takes place from a mobile phone but is meant to happen online. And enough of these accidents happened for online survey providers to take notice and tweak their online surveys to identify if a user was indeed trying to fill out the survey from a mobile phone and therefore should see a more mobile friendly mobile rendered survey. However this did not really help as these may have been rendered for mobile but were not designed for mobile. They were designed for online and force fed on mobile, though it was within the confines and legible on the mobile screen. This is borne out of the bench mark tests done across online survey providers showing a consistent pattern of mobile exceeding online survey completion times by 50%. So while this number makes me very unhappy, from an industry point of view maybe it’s a point to rejoice as it’s a step ahead from “mobile is too small” to acknowledging that surveys need to be rendered appropriately for the mobile phone. In 2014, expect to see surveys designs to be mobile specific. A question is asked, which is answered via a drag and drop online, while the same question is answered using taps and selections on mobile enabling the times to be close or match when done either on the mobile or online by the survey respondent.

    More Than a Talking Point: I was recently at a Qualitative conference (not a Mobile Market Research Conference) in Singapore and I noticed that only 2 speakers in the entire 2 days could get through without referring to Mobile in their presentations. Many like myself, presented specific mobile cases and examples. I actually spoke on the first day and a lot of what I was presenting was mentioned or covered before I came into speak later in the day. And often on most conferences I speak at, either I am the lone speaker (or niche) on a mobile topic be it a mobile or any other Research conference. Expect more informed discussion on the same in 2014.

    Norms: One of the biggest barriers to entry often for research products and services is norms. Expect this to be re-evaluated across providers, as mobile is another animal. We will get different results as the context for mobile data makes the data different. So it’s not that the consumer is lying or the world has changed so much, just that mobile can contextualize a survey and give results that also differ. For instance when we do a pantry check survey on mobile, we request they go to the pantry and upload a picture as well and then fill the survey giving added insights from the mobile picture as well. The same survey done online though it had the option to take a photo and upload, no one did it as it was too cumbersome. Most in fact didn’t even visit the pantry and reported on memory. So eventually at the broad level (key brands) we got the same results, however it was the things that got left out in the responses of the online survey were the most revealing in the study. One of the additional insights was that some product packaging (like cereal boxes) was too big for standard pantries of the target group we were seeing a lot of when conducting the research.

    Wearable Tech: 2013 saw Google Glass and other wearable tech like Samsung Galaxy Gear Smart Watch make headlines and showcased across the world. In 2014 expect both these technologies and other similar ones to penetrate more and more lives of consumers. As researchers we will get a ring side seat to the numerous market research applications and how the smartest (or fools) of us dives into it to extract the insightful gems that we all seek.

    Messaging Apps: SMS is in decline, that was the big story of 2013. This came as Messaging Apps like WeChat and WhatsApp thrived. Though WhatsApp was the pioneer, it has taken a back seat to the innovative copy cat being WeChat. Not only did WeChat copy WhatsApp (or can you call building another messaging app as truly copying?), either way they didn’t stop there. They made it bigger and better, growing to 700+ million globally at last count. In 2014, expect more and more market researchers to dive in enhance the power of market research via mobile messaging Apps.

    And finally a word of advice …

    Youth: While the benefit of grey cells is never in doubt, especially in a knowledge industry like market research. In Mobile Market Research youth is a huge scoring point, with even non technical kids wield a mobile like it were putty in their hands. In 2014, go engage and learn from the young who are using the mobile intuitively as an extension of themselves and not as a device to be used – it’s part of them.

    Go forth and mobilize. Enjoy your 2014!


    Navin Willams CEO, MOBILEMEASURE CONSULTANCY LTD
    Navin has close to two decades of experience spread across Market Research, Technology, Media & Telecom sectors. Having worked with the top global agencies spread over 4 countries and 2 continents; he’s had the opportunity to be part of MR technological adoptions over the years in diverse developing environments. Navin has spent the better part of the last decade on new media technology and his quest to drive Mobile adoption in Market Research led him to form MOBILEMEASURE CONSULTANCY.

    A pioneer in mobile enabled MR, Navin is widely regarded as a thought-leader in the evolution of digital technology in MR, he has written a number of Whitepapers and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. Recently he was involved in the designing and writing of the curriculum for University of Georgia’s Mobile Marketing Research course and is currently working on a book on Mobile MR.

    Navin is based in Shanghai, China with his wife and two Children. He can be reached at navin@mobile-measure.com