Quirk's Blog

Photo recap from Cocktails with Quirk’s in New York!

We’ve been having a blast hosting Cocktails with Quirk’s, a series of free networking events for researchers to network with their peers in a casual, comfortable environment. Our next party is coming up on Monday, May 19th, at the Karl Strauss Brewing Company Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles from 8-11 p.m., in conjunction with IIR’s Future of Consumer Intelligence Conference. If you’ll be in the area, feel free to join us! Register now!

We also thought this would be a great opportunity to share some photos of our New York event, which took place at The Latitude Bar in New York on March 24th, in conjuction with the Advertising Research Foundation’s annual conference.

Many thanks to Nelson Davis of AIP for photographing the event. Click here to view the rest of the photos.

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Posted in Market Research Best Practices, The Business of Research | Comments Off

Digital execs see wearable devices going mass-market in 3 years

An overwhelming majority (89 percent) of digital executives questioned by San Francisco research firm AnswerLab believe that wearables – those futuristic devices beginning to adorn the wrists and spectacles of some early tech adopters – will gain mass-market adoption in the next three years. And, while more than half (52 percent) of that same group saw relevant applications for wearable devices in their own business in the same time period, only 27 percent said their companies were integrating wearables in the short-term, underscoring a need for a range of industries to better prepare for how wearables could impact their own businesses.

478461335Devices thought to have the most staying power were led by fitness monitors, with 89 percent of those questioned pointing to Nike+ FuelBand and FitBit Flex (78 percent) as most likely to gain mass-market traction. In addition, 67 percent of participants envisioned Google Glass as gaining broad adoption, followed by the Samsung smartwatch (41 percent).

In the survey, AnswerLab queried digital executives who are driving product development, marketing and research at companies – ranging from well-known Fortune 500 brands to start-ups – about the future for wearables (defined in the query as “always-on, sensor-based or interactive digital devices” that some early adopters of technology are beginning to make part of their everyday lives).

“Many top digital business minds seem to agree: wearables are quickly evolving from a niche to mass-market. Whether they’re designed as bracelets or eyewear, these devices are a major trend to watch and something to inform future digital plans,” said AnswerLab CEO Amy Buckner Chowdhry in a press statement. “But as we listen to the marketplace, it appears there is a big gap in what businesses see as a growth category versus actual investment in a strategy to meet demand or opportunities provided by what is expected to be a boom in wearables. Ultimately, the devices that offer the best customer experience will win hearts, minds and dollars. With broader market penetration right around the corner, it’s time for businesses to develop strategies that anticipate and support the wearables market.”

More than half of the executives (52 percent) who participated believe that wearables will be relevant to their own business within a three-year time frame. Respondents felt that wearables have the most potential in the fitness (96 percent), medical (85 percent), gaming (56 percent), entertainment (56 percent) and lifestyle (52 percent) arenas. But only 27 percent were aware of plans to integrate wearables into their own businesses.

According to those questioned, current challenges in the wearable category today include the need to improve battery life, a high price point, data accuracy and addressing consumer concern about privacy and security.

More details about the survey are available here.

The findings are based on an online survey conducted in February of senior-level professionals who are directly involved in the strategy, design, development or marketing of digital products or services.

Posted in Apparel, Health Care Research, Lifecycle/Lifestyle Research | Comments Off

Version updates and price changes boost apps’ iTunes list rankings

New York-based The Loadown, a marketing optimization platform for mobile apps, released a new report, Using Version Updates and Price Changes to Improve Mobile App Discovery, showing that, based on U.S. market data collected by The Loadown in 2013, iOS app publishers and developers making version updates and price changes improve their positioning on iTunes’ Top Paid, Top Free and Top Grossing lists.

“When a paid or free app is updated to a new version, the developer can change the name, icon, description, screenshots and keywords of the app as well as force users to notice the new update,” said David Renard, CEO of The Loadown, in a press statement. For price changes, “sales get featured on an Apple RSS feed that is distributed to thousands of sites and Twitter feeds focused on promoting apps that have gone on sale or have recently become free,” he said.

The Loadown’s data (see graph) indicates that free apps making version changes increased the number of days they were ranked by an average of 45 percent in Apple’s Top Free list and 73 percent in Top Grossing (19 more days), compared to apps that never updated their versions. In terms of rank, these free apps improved by about 17 percent in Top Paid and 21 percent in Top Grossing (45 rank positions).

loaddown_imageSimilarly, compared to apps that never changed their prices and never updated their versions, paid apps that did had an average increase of 36 percent in the number of days they were ranked in Top Paid and 96 percent in Top Grossing (22 more days) along with a 23 percent improvement in their Top Paid rank and 21 percent in Top Grossing (50 rank positions).

The Loadown’s data provides supporting evidence that active involvement by apps in their positioning on Apple’s App Store through version updates and price changes significantly improves their discoverability, downloads and sales.

Posted in Market Studies, Smartphones | Comments Off

Lily Allen deems MR ‘totally unhelpful’

RecordThough she may not have the late Steve Jobs’ clout, British singer Lily Allen is yet another celebrity who’s spoken out to publicly criticize the value – and validity – of marketing research.

According to an April 24th interview (warning: explicit language) with Popjustice’s Peter Robinson, Allen says that she was accidentally copied on an e-mail containing market research results for her work and that reading it was one of the most horrible moments of her life.

Allen goes on:

The thing is, people who take part in market research: Are they really representative of the marketplace? Probably not. I find it totally unhelpful. My mom’s a film producer and they do these market research screenings and more often than not, it’s just like school: People don’t have opinions but because they’re asked for them, they come up with something and then it becomes a statistic. It’s like, he didn’t actually think that, he was just trying to impress the bored-looking girl in row three and he thought this could be his in with her. I’ve yet to see an example of market research where it’s actually good.

Ouch! It’s possible that Allen simply didn’t like what the research yielded and if the results had skewed more in her favor, she’d be singing a different tune. It’s also possible, however, that she has a point. Does marketing research force opinions out of consumers who would otherwise be apathetic or oblivious? How much of consumer feedback is the result of grandstanding, posturing and trying to impress? Is this more likely to happen in certain industries, such as entertainment, where hipness very much matters, or health care, where doctors try to impress each other in focus groups? How about with different demographics? Are younger respondents more prone to this type of behavior?

Aside from Allen’s unfairly black-and-white assessment, does her argument hold?

Posted in Brand and Image Research, Consumer Research, Focus Groups, Market Research in the News, Qualitative Research | 9 Comments

What needs are driving the 55-plus car owner?

80404231The age of new-auto purchasers is rising and that will have implications on many related areas, including service, according to Foresight Research, Rochester Hills, Mich. “In the past few years we have seen a dramatic trend in the age of new auto purchasers, where adults aged 55 or older were one-quarter of that group in 2008 and now represent almost one-half,” said Nancy Walter, vice president of business development at Foresight Research, in a press statement. “This shift has a big impact on the purchase influences and processes of buying cars. But what we didn’t expect was the implications for car service expectations.”

Foresight surveys weekly in markets across the U.S. from September-April. Recently the firm included some specific questions about service and got strong responses from the 55-plus car owners. For instance, when asked where they go for routine service, over one-third of this group take their cars to their dealership and another quarter take them to an independent local repair shop, both of which are significantly higher than the total population.

“It is the ‘whys’ that are really interesting,” said Walter. “When asked why they chose the place they go for service, the 55-and-older owners value quality and convenience.” Specifically, senior adults list convenient location, quality of service and good customer service as their top three factors in going where they go for auto service. They also value skill/training/expertise of technicians, use of genuine parts, and loaner cars/shuttles at a rate of 20 percent to 50 percent more than the total population.

“Price is just lower on the list for the mature adults. It ranks fourth on why they go where they go for service, while for 18-to-34-year-olds, price is a definitive No. 1. In fact, adults 55 or older were significantly less likely than the total population to cite ‘price matching/same price as other maintenance shops’ as something that would encourage them to take their vehicle to a dealership for routine maintenance if they currently were going somewhere else,” Walter said.


Posted in Automotive Research, Customer Satisfaction, Seniors/Mature | Comments Off

Chinese luxury consumers putting a premium on craftsmanship

455659727While high-earning Chinese consumers are known for their love of luxury items and the status they can confer, new research from Mintel reveals there is a new characteristic these consumers are looking for: craftsmanship. Indeed, according to Mintel, “craftsmanship” was claimed by 64 percent of urban Chinese consumers as the word most defining luxury – ahead of “expensive” at 58 percent and “status” at 53 percent.

Furthermore, 71 percent of those with household income over RMB 25,000 per month define luxury as craftsmanship, a full 10 percent more than those with household income between RMB 20,000 and 25,000 per month (61 percent). In addition, a massive 94 percent agreed that they identify luxury brands as those providing craftsmanship in production and design.

“It’s no secret that Chinese consumers are becoming more mature in their outlook toward luxury goods,” said Matthew Crabbe, director of research Asia Pacific at Mintel, in a press release. “What’s especially compelling about this research is that they show the true extent to which this attitude has penetrated the market, in addition to clarifying what a ‘mature’ attitude to luxury looks like in China. Though status is still important to the Chinese luxury consumer, the trend toward luxury consumption for one’s own enjoyment is clear.”

Conversely, 48 percent of consumers with household income over RMB 25,000 per month say status is a consideration when they purchase luxury goods. This figure rises to 53 percent at incomes between RMB 20,000 and 25,000 per month. “This research highlights that the wealthier a consumer is, the more likely he or she is to appreciate luxury goods for their innate quality and value – and the less likely he or she is to define luxury in terms of external factors such as the status or extravagance of a luxury product,” Crabbe said.

In addition, 46 percent of urban Chinese consumers with monthly household income above RMB 20,000 noted extravagance as being central to the definition of a luxury good, whereas this number rose to 51 percent of those with monthly household incomes between RMB 18,000 and 19,000, and again to 53 percent of those with monthly household incomes of between RMB 12,000 and 18,000.

In tandem with this greater appreciation of quality and more mature outlook on luxury products, Mintel’s data also shows a willingness to explore new brands, as Chinese brands begin to win over consumers in some categories. Indeed, while some categories such as watches and cosmetics are still dominated by foreign brands (79 percent of urban Chinese consumers said foreign watches are superior to Chinese brands; while 69 percent said foreign cosmetics are superior to Chinese brands), 43 percent believe Chinese and foreign luxury clothing brands provide the same quality product, and 15 percent believe Chinese brands are better. Similarly, 40 percent believe Chinese and foreign luxury shoe brands provide the same quality shoes, and 16 percent believe Chinese brands are better.

“Though the trend is still in its infancy, Chinese brands are beginning to make inroads with Chinese luxury consumers,” said Crabbe. “There is a growing consciousness that, in many cases, Chinese brands are able to offer craftsmanship and design to a level that is on par with or above foreign brands. Also, these brands are in some cases more able to tailor their offerings directly to Chinese consumer tastes, so we expect to see a growing segment of the Chinese luxury shoe and clothing markets in particular to be occupied by Chinese brands in the coming years.”

Posted in Apparel, Brand and Image Research, Chinese Consumers, International Research, Luxury/Wealthy Markets | Comments Off

Studies seek to measure impact of social media on TV viewing

91204693Nineteen percent of online Americans ages 15-to-54 say they are reached by social media at least once a day regarding prime-time TV, according to a study from the New York-based industry group Council for Research Excellence (CRE). For example, someone who saw something or posted something about a prime-time TV show on Facebook or Twitter would fall within this category.

Sixteen percent of prime-time TV viewing occasions involve some interaction with social media. During nearly half of these occasions (7.3 percent of prime-time TV viewing instances), the viewer is engaging with social media specifically about the show being viewed. These viewing occasions constitute the study’s definition of “socially-connected viewing” – occasions when people engage in social media about a TV show while watching that show.

Socially-connected TV viewing is most evident with new TV shows, which indexed at 142, and sports programming, which indexed at 129.

On 11.4 percent of prime-time TV viewing occasions, viewers are using Facebook; on 3.3 percent of viewing occasions, they’re using Twitter. On 3.8 percent of prime-time viewing occasions, viewers are using Facebook regarding the show they are watching – making them socially-connected viewers. This compares to 1.8 percent for Twitter. Therefore, Facebook’s socially-connected viewing occasions were 33 percent of its total TV viewing occasions (3.8 percent/11.4 percent) while Twitter’s were 55 percent (1.8 percent/3.3 percent).

These are among additional findings from the CRE’s recently completed study, Talking Social TV 2, a follow-up to the CRE’s 2012-2013 Talking Social TV study. Both can be found on the Social Media Committee page.

“A key question we sought to address is how social media usage relates to new viewing platforms and behaviors – for example tablet usage or binge-viewing,” said Beth Rockwood, senior vice president, market resources, of Discovery Communications, who chairs the CRE’s Social Media Committee. “The majority of viewing remains live and on traditional TV sets but we do see that social media use has a stronger relationship with the newer platforms and behaviors. This is evidence that social media is an important part of the new ways that people are consuming television content.”

Socially-connected viewing is led by viewing via a channel app or Web site (152 index to total) and on-demand TV (137 index).

Social media influence is closely linked to viewing on non-traditional screens. Tablets and phones index at 287 percent and 241 percent, respectively, among all screens watched by those influenced by social media.

Socially-connected viewing is closely linked to binge-viewing: Viewing multiple episodes indexed at 146, compared to 104 for current episodes.

The Super Connectors – those most engaged with social media in relation to their TV viewing – represented 22 percent of participants and are distinguished by their daily use of social media to follow TV shows, or actors and personalities, or to communicate about TV characters. A newer category, Sports Super Connectors, represented 17 percent of study participants. TV Super Connectors and Sports Super Connectors each are twice as likely to be socially connected on Facebook and on Twitter than the average.

TV Super Connectors skew 62 percent female, Sports Super Connectors skew 57 percent male, both are in their mid-30s (median age 34 for TV Super Connectors and 35 for Sports Super Connectors) and both are above-average in multicultural representation.

The study was conducted for the CRE by a team from Keller Fay Group with fieldwork conducted by Nielsen. The findings were gleaned from more than 78,000 mobile-app diary entries submitted by nearly 1,700 study participants representative of the online population ages 15-to-54, permitting case studies on some 1,600 shows. Fieldwork for the study was conducted from September 16 to October 6, 2013, dates selected to coincide with the launch of the fall TV season.

Posted in Advertising Research, Media Research, Social Media and Marketing Research, Television Research | Comments Off

Versatility makes ranch the granddaddy of today’s flavors

KranchupBack in 2002, a friend and I were having lunch at a TGI Friday’s in Wisconsin. We’d both ordered burgers and when they arrived, my friend asked the server for a side of ranch dressing. Having seen people use ranch as a dipping sauce for french fries before, I didn’t think much of it . . . until it arrived at the table and she mixed it around with her ketchup. I was equal parts repulsed and intrigued. This “kranchup,” as she called it, was a revolting shade of orangey-pink but tasted . . . not that bad. OK, fine, it was even kind of delicious.

Since the early-2000s, ranch has only grown in its popularity and its use. According to a press release from Port Washington, N.Y., research company The NPD Group, ranch holds double the share of dollars and units shipped than blue cheese dressing, which holds the No. 2 spot in the ready-to-use salad dressing category.

Ranch flavor is the Swiss Army knife of salad dressings. It dresses salads, gets kids to eat their vegetables and adds oomph as an ingredient; all reasons why it is the top ready-to-use dressing flavor shipped to food-service outlets.

“Salad dressing is a good example of how a staple item can extend beyond its traditional use. Ranch dressing has become a mainstay not just for salads but also for wings and other dishes as well,” says Annie Roberts, vice president, NPD SupplyTrack.

It’s now totally commonplace to see ranch-flavored everything: potato chips, pretzels, pork chops, etc. It seems like nearly every item on a chain restaurant’s menu comes complete with a side of ranch. I’ve also seen ranch mixed with Frank’s Red Hot as a dipping sauce at a diner and I am 99.9 percent sure that I tasted “kranchup” at the Minnesota State Fair under a different name.

Ranch will no doubt continue delighting palates for many years to come but I wonder what the next big flavor or sauce to take over will be. From the looks of things it could very well be sriracha. (Might there be a “sri-ranch­-a” in our future?) NPD recognized honey Dijon dressing, Asian peanut dressing and several vinaigrette flavors as ones that are gaining steam.

What’s your prediction? Can ranch further improve its position? Can other flavors and dressings? Are flavor-makers paying attention to what consumers are doing to make their products even more exciting?

Posted in Consumer Research, Food/Sensory Research | Comments Off

Kroger’s QueVision fuses data points to shorten checkout lines

As reported by RetailWire’s Bernice Hurst, the top retail innovation in InformationWeek’s Elite 100 recently went to Kroger Co.’s QueVision system, which is designed to ensure that customers never have more than one person in line ahead of them.

Now in more than 2,400 stores, QueVision has reduced checkout times on average from four minutes to less than 30 seconds. (The technology was first tested in Toledo-area Kroger stores in 2009.) “Every day, we are returning precious minutes to our time-strapped customers by shortening the time they wait to check out,” said Marnette Perry, Kroger’s SVP of strategic initiatives and operations, in a statement.

According to a profile in InformationWeek, QueVision uses infrared sensors to count customers entering the store and at checkout lanes. Combining those counts with factors such as store layout, staffing levels for cashiers and baggers, and historical transaction logs, store managers use a simulator to access the number of registers that need to be open in real time. Estimates are also made on how many should be open in 15 and 30 minutes.

A large part of the system’s success is being attributed to a suggestion by a store manager to put wait-time data on screens for both employees and customers to see. The information was initially intended to only be seen by employees and managers via handhelds. (Read an overview of the process here.)

Customer satisfaction has improved with shorter lines and Kroger’s companywide cashier-friendliness metric, measured in customer surveys, has improved 24 percent since 2011, according to InformationWeek, though a quick scan of Kroger employee forums – do a Google search for “Kroger QueVision” – shows that not all employees are on-board with the technology.

Posted in Customer Satisfaction, Employee Studies, Predictive Analytics, Shopper Insights | Comments Off

Software execs like social media but rely on face-to-face for marketing

151604896The use of social media in corporate marketing remains high and mobile marketing is gaining significant ground, according to an annual survey of marketing executives released by the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), a trade association for the software and digital content industries. At the same time, marketing executives appear to have a stronger grasp on the ROI of their overall marketing efforts, allowing them to direct resources more efficiently.

SIIA’s annual Marketing Industry Report surveys marketing executives on their companies’ use of social media, e-mail, mobile, Web and traditional marketing tactics. The findings of the third annual survey show that 92 percent of marketing executives are using social media to promote their companies and while that result represents a slight decline compared to last year’s survey, in which 98 percent reported using social media, it is an increase from 89 percent in 2012.

The survey also finds that mobile marketing took a significant step forward in the last year. Thirty-seven percent of respondents say they use mobile in their marketing efforts – up from 25 percent in last year’s survey. In addition, a quarter of respondents report that mobile has increased product usage for their companies. When asked how mobile has changed their relationship with customers, 30 percent say it has expanded the range of customer segments and the same number say it has led to more one-to-one contact.

Another key finding is that more executives (64 percent) now feel they can effectively measure the ROI from their online marketing efforts, compared to 55 percent in last year’s survey. With greater confidence in the return they’re getting, marketers can more efficiently dedicate resources to both traditional and online efforts. As part of this, marketing executives appear to have identified the best use for social media as a marketing platform – an overwhelming majority (78 percent) say social media is somewhat, very or highly effective in raising brand awareness.

Further evidence that marketers are becoming more efficient is that only 22 percent of respondents say social media increased their overall annual marketing costs – a significant drop from 2012, in which 30 percent said it increased their costs. In fact, just 38 percent of respondents plan to allocate more money to their social media budgets during 2014. While use of social media marketing remains extremely high, this figure – which has steadily declined from 58 percent in 2013 and 65 percent in 2012 – likely indicates that marketers are becoming more efficient in their implementation of social media marketing.

The survey also indicates that mobile will likely continue to lag behind other forms of marketing in the year ahead. Just 16 percent of respondents said they will increase their mobile marketing budget in the next year.

“While usage may vary somewhat from year-to-year, social media marketing appears to be close to its peak with near-universal use among the marketing executives we surveyed,” said Rhianna Collier, vice president of SIIA’s software division, in a press statement. “It also appears that as marketers continue to assess how to best use social media, they are increasingly focusing on implementing it as a brand-awareness tool. This focus on efficiency is something we’re clearly seeing from marketing executives. They tell us that they are better able to determine ROI and that’s allowing them to more efficiently and cost-effectively implement both traditional and digital marketing efforts.”

“Another interesting finding is the significant increase in mobile marketing usage,” Collier said. “In addition to the big jump, mobile also appears to be changing the relationship between companies and customers. It’s expanding the customer base and actually facilitating greater one-on-one contact. Even still, marketers appear somewhat skeptical, as mobile ranks well behind all other marketing initiatives when it comes to corporate budgets for the year ahead.”

In other study findings:

Conferences and trade shows are key priorities: 43 percent of respondents said they plan to increase spending on conferences and trade shows. By comparison, 40 percent said they plan to increase spending on paid search, while 39 percent plan to spend more on search engine optimization and 38 percent plan to spend more on social media.

Traditional marketing tools are still the most valuable: 35 percent of respondents identified events, trade shows and Webinars as their top lead generators. The next-highest lead generator was Web search (18 percent). The highest concentration of respondents – about 42 percent – also said events, trade shows and Webinars deliver the highest-quality leads.

Marketing executives feel stretched: Respondents said their biggest challenges are lack of resources and personnel (37 percent) and lack of budget (34 percent).

“Despite the overwhelming use of social media and digital marketing tools, our survey demonstrates that there is still no replacement for face-to-face contact,” said Collier. “Conferences and events still yield the most return for the marketing executives we surveyed and that’s where they will be putting most of their money in 2014.”

The 2014 survey, which was conducted between October and December 2013, asked questions of more than 100 marketing executives who work for companies ranging in size, including those employing one to 99 people (60 percent), those employing between 100 and 999 (33 percent) and those employing more than 1,000 people (7 percent).

Posted in Business-To-Business Research, Marketing Best Practices, Social Media and Marketing Research | Comments Off