Water and Market Research: WaterTAP Ontario’s “How Can Market Research Increase Your Sales?”

Last Thursday I attended a WaterTAP Ontario event entitled “Market Insight: How Can Market Research Increase Your Sales?” WaterTAP is a Toronto based non-profit organization that works with technology entrepreneurs and companies in the water sector to help them market their products with potential customers. In total the organization helps approximately 900 companies in the water technology sector.

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WaterTAP Ontario’s Jon Grant, opening the day.  Photo courtesy Eric Meliton (@EricMeliton).

Guests attending the event were from a wide range of companies: water filtration, water pumps and pipeline monitoring, among others.

The day started with keynote speaker Jodi Glover, CEO of Whitby, Ontario based Real Tech, speaking on the topic of “How a Growing Company Uses Market Intelligence”.

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Jodi Glover of Real Tech during her keynote.  Photo courtesy Eric Meliton (@EricMeliton).

This was followed by a panel discussion “What and Where? Taking Advantage of Data in the Water Sector” moderated by Usha Srinivasan, VP Education of MaRS Discovery District, which helps emerging technology companies with revenues of less than $1,000,000. Panelists Tyler Algeo of BlueTech Research, Ahmed Bahruddin of WatrHub and Eric Melton of Partners in Project Green.

The morning ended with a presentation by Kevin Li of Idio Platform, a software technology that allows companies to determine what content on their websites is viewed frequently, and what is not. This allows users to adjust popular topic areas if they do not appear to be covered adequately, and conversely consider whether they are provide too much information on content that does not seem to be generation very much interest.

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Kevin Li of Idio Platform during his presentation.  Photo courtesy Eric Meliton (@EricMeliton).

In the afternoon I took part in a panel discussion titled “What Can Your Company Do With Market Research?” The panel was moderated by WaterTAP market researcher Jon Grant, and included fellow market researchers Susan Abbott of Abbott Research and Stephen Popiel of GFK Canada as panelists. Susan spoke on the role that qualitative research can play to assist companies, while Stephen spoke on quantitative research. I spoke from a client-side perspective and mentioned things to consider in conducting research such as situations to use DIY research, and hazards in doing so, as well as things to keep in mind when choosing a research supplier.

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Afternoon panel, left to right participants are:  me, Stephen Popiel of GFK Canada and Susan Abbott of Abbott Research.  Photo courtesy Eric Meliton (@EricMeliton).

The day ended with Lynda O’Malley, a market researcher for MaRS, talking about how to use market research, and what was available for companies in the water technology sector.

MRIA Net Gain 2015 – Stephen Popiel: What New Technical Skills are Required for Future Talent?

The following are notes taken from the session “What New Technical Skills are Required for Future Talent?”, by Stephen Popiel (GFK Canada) at the MRIA Net Gain 2015 conference in Toronto.

Note: Since the following notes have been live-blogged with limited editing, there may be typos and other errors in the posting.

A video interview with Stephen Popiel about this presentations is below:

Today’s Research Realities:

  1. Notion of market research as “empty calories” — skills that are needed to be learned — social media, mobile research, gamification, co-creation, crowdsourcing, Big Data, text analytics, MROCs, biometrics, mixed mode analysis and passive data are all clear and necessary technical skills for future MR talent
  2. Demand to integrate relevant external information streams — success for research in general and future talent in specific will be the ability to integrate the data from all of these and other methods and data sources into actionable business insights
  3. Desire for shortened and visually telegraphic insights
  4. Need for value creation — future talent must be able to take data from multiple sources, be they survey, client or internet and integrate the data from these disparate sources into a single coherent set of actions that can drive the client’s business forward

Other:

  • Stephen has heard of clients that have received 90 page topline reports, scared to think of how large the actual reports would be.
  • Storytelling is an important skill to learn
  • You have to know your clients business to be able to give them appropriate recommendations
  • It is not the business of MRII, MRIA, ESOMAR etc to teach different industries, but perhaps to explain how to be able to consult to different industries
  • Employers cannot teach skills to employers themselves, also need educational organizations, professional MR organizations

Moving the industry forward:

Today — Tomorrow

  • Engagement to eco-system
  • Platform-centric to information stream agnosticism
  • Data processing to data mining
  • “PowerPoint it” to Visualization for insight discovery
  • data engineers to insight architects
  • deductive to inductive
  • analysis to relationship mapping
  • researcher to business partner

 

MRIA Net Gain 2015 – Dan Foreman: ESOMAR Talent Survey Results, What can be done to attract more professionals into our industry?

The following are notes taken from the session “ESOMAR Talent Survey Results, What can be done to attract more professionals into our industry?”, by Dan Foreman (ESOMAR) at the MRIA Net Gain 2015 conference in Toronto.

Note: Since the following notes have been live-blogged with limited editing, there may be typos and other errors in the posting.

Results of an ESOMAR study with 683 members of their views on MR as a career

  • 64% fell into it (75% in North America)
  • 22% considered the industry (17%)
  • 14% actively chose the profession (8%)

Massive task to try to make this profession more compelling for people to enter the industry.

What can be done?

  • Develop role models/industry mentorship
  • Promote impact of research
  • Work with colleges and universities
  • Training/new skills
  • Raise profile and awareness of industry
  • Better structured career paths

 

MRIA Net Gain 2015 – Reg Baker: Plus c’est la même chose, The Future of Market Research Education

The following are notes taken from the session “Plus c’est la même chose, The Future of Market Research Education”, by Reg Baker (MRII) at the MRIA Net Gain 2015 conference in Toronto.

Note: Since the following notes have been live-blogged with limited editing, there may be typos and other errors in the posting.

A video interview with Reg Baker about this presentation is below:

Most people who are in this business, are in it by accident.

Einstein quote is relevant:  “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research.”

Researchers learn from their employer how to do what they need to do, but don’t know what.  This is fine as long as times don’t change.  But they do and they are.

Forces shaping Future of Market Research

  • Data scarcity to abundance
  • Asking and Analyzing to observing/listening

The argument

  • There is a set of principles that distinguish good research from bad research regardless of method.
  • MR education is focused too much on training people to do certain things and not on teaching them these principles so they can be taught across methodologies.
  • Training is the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies
  • Education is a form of learning in which the knowledge, skills, values, beliefs and habits of one group of people are transferred to another through storytelling discussion, teaching and training.

MR Education ecosystem

  • Employers
  • Continuing education
  • Universities
  • Associations

The questions that a working group Reg looked into came up with

  • What is the future of market research
  • What talent will we need
  • How do we attract engage and develop that talent

Skills we will need:

  • Predictive analytics
  • Social media analytics
  • Customer experience
  • Consumer research
  • Big data
  • Management consulting

Three types of people that will be needed:

  • Specialists
  • Business consultants — need to move from talking about tactics to talking about strategy
  • Polymaths — can look at a business problem and figure out which are the best ways to tackle it

Important skills for business consultants:

Joan Lewis quote “We need to be methodology agnostic”

LBJ quote “I may not know much, but I know chicken shit from chicken salad”

Synthesis:

The combination of parts, or elements, in order to form a more complete view or system.  The coherent whole that results is considered to show the truth more completely than would a mere collection of parts.

Market research is easy, but you have to:

  • Understand the business problem
  • Know the full range of potential methods and data sources
  • Gather the data
  • Understand the strengths and weakness of each
  • Resolve the inconsistencies
  • Create a narrative that is actionable

Where next?

  • Expand the ground we cover
  • Focus on principles
  • Teach synthesis

MRIA Net Gain 2015 – Frances M. Barlas: Mobility Enabled Effects of Mobile Platform on Non-response and Substantive Measures

The following are notes taken from the session “Mobility Enabled Effects of Mobile Platform on Non-response and Substantive Measures”, by Frances M. Barlas (GFK Canada) at the MRIA Net Gain 2015 conference in Toronto.

Note: Since the following notes have been live-blogged with limited editing, there may be typos and other errors in the posting.

A brief video interview with Frances, summarizing her presentation, is below:

 

Screen Size — Diversity of Screen Real Estate — 221 unique screen resolutions

Considering mobile respondents when designing our online surveys will help to:

  • increase data quality
  • decrease measurement error
  • decrease sample and coverage error
  • increase response and completion rates
  • improve survey experience and panel retention

Research on Research

This study used GfK’s KnowledgePanel the largest probability-based online panel in the US with approx 50k members with average co-operation rates of 60%

three sample groups, all with access to a desktop/laptop

to control for selection bias, participants were randomly assigned to completion device

Invited 10,672

7,837 responded

4,555 used assigned device

Results:

Recommendation 1 — Test your survey extensively on different devices, browsers and different versions.  Use an emulator to see how it will look on different devices and browsers.

Recommendation 2  — A mobile-first questionnaire design is a must.  Two factors that can be controlled:  survey software and survey design.  Need to use a responsive template, that adjusts for type of device used.  Split respondents to be assigned to either a mobile un-friendly survey and a mobile friendly survey (impacted length of questions and number of possible scale responses).  Were able to shave time off completions if used a responsive, mobile friendly design.  Also, dropoff rates declined over 50% when using a responsive, mobile friendly design.

Recommendation 3 — Keep grids short, shorter item stories.  Even with responsive design, it’s possible that not all response options be visable in a grid on a mobile device without scrolling or zooming.

Test survey extensively

  • Implement a responsive template to allow for diversity of screen sizes
  • Software is not enough
  • Keep grids short