MRA 2014 Corporate Researchers Conference — How Groupon MR Fuels Smart Products and Programs

The following are notes taken from the session “How Groupon MR Fuels Products and Programs ”, by Eric Rasmussen (Groupon) at the MRA 2014 Corporate Researchers Conference in Chicago.  This post had limited editing and likely contains typographical and grammatical errors.

A video interview with Eric is below:

  • Almost everyone in the audience is a Groupon user.
  • One of Eric’s pet peeves is calling it a “coupon site”, sees it as buying gift cards, to introduce customers to businesses, so customers can try something without the risk.
  • Expanded to national brands, deals, goods, travel.
  • Groupon is the Global Leader in Local Commerce
  • Worldwide:  200 million + subscribers, 51 million active customers, 500+ markets, 600M + deals sold, $5b+ in annual billings, 12,000+ global employees.

Why did he join?

  • When he was at Shutterfly, Eric’s manager wanted him to research whether to go on Groupon would make sense.
  • Most of the Shutterfly promotions would be selling to regular customers, did little to attract new and lapsed users.
  • But for Groupon, pie split fairly evenly between new, current and lapsed users.  Eric’s conclusion was that Shutterfly should continue using Groupon.
  • Was helping a friend who ran a Yoga Studio in Palo Alto.  He was teaching a 6:30 am class, but was only getting one or two people — thought it would not last very much.  Owner used Groupon, went from one to 30 per class.  After Groupon was over, levelled off to about 17 per class, and she ended up opening up two other studios.
  • As a result he was convinced about their business model, and went to Groupon when he was called by a headhunter.

At Groupon:

  • Using MR as internal education (who and why people use Groupon)
  • External education (spreading the word)

Usually Groupon has about 12 research studies going on at any one time.


  • Merchants #1 wish — new customers, want affluent, social, influencer, adventurous, repeat visitor
  • Group demo profile — educated, affluent, social, influencer, adventurous, repeat visitor
  • Perfect match


  • While the discount is important — Discovery and Supporting local businesses are very important for 2/3 of Groupon buyers
  • Groupon has become the “discovery engine”, delighting consumers and supporting local businesses

Groupon users are:

  • Spontaneous
  • Explorer
  • Adventurous
  • Influencer,
  • Mobile

Incremental Purchases:

  • 83% were motivated by Groupon to visit and purchase
  • 54% of respondents brought companions
  • 4 out of 10 of companions made a purchase
  • 61% report improvement in merchant perception

Saks’ Off Fifth:

  • 64% of users of the promotion had improved perceptions of brand, 1% had worse impressions
  • 15% would have bought anyway
  • 50% brought a companion, who spent on average of $150

Game Industry:

  • Now selling platforms
  • Seems odd, because profile of gamers does not really align with Groupon’s users
  • Wanted to see if lift was incremental or selling to same users
  • Research:  57% bought as gift – sales they wouldn’t have had otherwise

Travel Study:

  • industry has changed, become commoditized with online sales, as people now go to the discount sites and not the hotel site
  • Result:  hotels have to pay a fee to sites, and margin shrinks

Groupon study

  • Most of the travel sites are used for price comparison
  • Most online bookings are booked by people who were planning to go there anyway
  • For people who book vacations on Groupon, only 18% would have booked it anyway, for the rest travel purchase is unplanned

Satisfaction Benchmarks

  • In B2B, tools that help you with your business benchmark is 64, whereas Groupon merchants number is 74.
  • With Groupon consumers, benchmark is very close to Apple
  • With Merchant Satisfaction, the more that people track Groupon results, the more they tend to like it

Gave a credit card swiper to some of their merchants — most didn’t like their payment system.  Made it cheaper for merchants, Gnome acted as a clearance for campaigns, point of sale, payments with Groupon.

Marketing Funnel

-traditional moves from awareness to consideration to conversion to loyalty to advocacy


  • brand impressions
  • consideration
  • in-store over-spend
  • customer list
  • comparing spend, repeat & recommend
  • lapsers regained

Leads to:  

  • Repeat customers
  • Overspend
  • Recommendations

Lessons Learned:

1.  Focus on research that can make a difference

  • what are the decisions that will be made from the research
  • will the research be done in time

2.    Anticipate questions so you have answers

  • Think about the upcoming initiatives and be proactive
  • Ask the “evergreen” questions regular (core user attitudes, comp landscape, ext)

3.   Set timing expectations early

  • Think globally — use smaller markets as test areas



MRA 2014 Corporate Researchers Conference — Defining Innovation for Marketing Research

The following are notes taken from the session “Defining Innovation in Market Research”, by Amy Shields (MRA) and  Garrett McGuire (Quester) at the MRA 2014 Corporate Researchers Conference in Chicago.  This post had limited editing and likely contains typographical and grammatical errors.

A video interview with Garrett McGuire is below:

Q:  How should innovation be defined for marketing research?

Are the top innovative companies being defined by people who are seeking innovation?

Simply put:  if innovation is not defined and used to better inform decisions….it’s not living up to it’s potential.

Conducting Research:

  • Qualitative/hybrid
  • Market research professionals
  • n=145
  • Online in-depth interviews
  • LOI: 20 minutes


  • Evenly split between Males and Females
  • 46% Corporate, 54% Research Suppliers
  • Number of employees fell as it would be expect

Innovation is a messy topic, because it can be defined many ways:

  • Improve simply an improvement on the existing
  • Impact affecting the back end reporting and providing deeper more meaningful insight
  • Transform something that has never been done before

Why do people say they are open to innovation?

  • Otherwise i will be stagnate or die out
  • To really understand how customers think and behave
  • No one wants to sit through 200 page deck

10% Say they are not open — reasons why

  • New methods are untested
  • Market researchers know what works
  • Can be difficult to understand
  • Limited budget
  • Just rehashed tried and true methods

Quotes of why not to use

  • It goes back to risk/reward
  • I know what works
  • Have to get executives onside

Challenges to applying innovative methods

  • learning curve
  • acceptance
  • risky
  • lack of resources
  • costly

Two sides of innovation


  • better way to engage with the consumer
  • cheaper and faster
  • more efficient


  • deeper understanding
  • better insights

Another way of looking at it

  • Logistics:  Alleviating the pains of research — focused on data collection, ways to collecting with target audiences and efficiences
  • Outcomes:  Making better informed decisions — Deeper understanding, better insights, solving business issues, making research more valuable

Problem:  68% of respondents in the study mentioned alleviating the pains of research, 38% said focused on better outcomes

Method=A means to an end

  • How does it save time?
  • How does it save money?
  • How is it different or unique?
  • Why should I trust it?
  • How does it work?

Innovations in recruiting is a must:

  • it allows for an improved quality of responses
  • reaches more respondents via smartphone, tablet, PC, online bulletin boards
  • faster turnaround of data
  • helps the respondents be more engaged

But that’s the baseline, should not define innovation

Innovation should improve insights for the researcher to impact the business

Prove it — Proven, Unique and Trustworthy

  • Demonstrate
  • How product works and makes MR better
  • Unique situations

I’m unique

  • Thought leadership
  • Traditional can’t match
  • Have seen before

You can trust me

  • Customization
  • Supported by reputable researchers/organizations
  • Considerate


MRA 2014 Corporate Researchers Conference — Once Upon A Time With Sherlock Holmes

The following are notes taken from the session “Once Upon a Time With Sherlock Holmes:  How to Tell a Research Story With Impact”, by Susan Lloyd (Boise Paper) at the MRA 2014 Corporate Researchers Conference in Chicago.  This post had limited editing and likely contains typographical and grammatical errors.

A video interview with Susan is below:

Susan is a mystery fan, and grew up in a story-telling household, so she sees market research through the lens of mystery

Steps in process, just like a Sherlock Holmes mystery:

  • The game is afoot (introduction/prologue)
  • It’s elementary my dear Watson (character/plot development), Case Study — Satisfaction and Loyalty
  • The ending

The game is afoot

Researcher in the middle, working to determine the target market and competitors, and along with the client and other stakeholders.

Prologue or Introduction

First step in storytelling is to set the context and fully scoping project

Scope is a written document that describes the research question and explains how it will be address:

  • Do create a formal internal scoping document for each “substantial” project
  • Do use the scoping process as an opportunity to learn about your clients’ business, strategies, etc.
  • Do included one primary client and a set of stakeholders
  • Do sync with all clients before you press the GO button (expend time and resources)
  • Do reviews and redistribute the scope each time the project parameters change
  • Don’t assume you know what the client means….ASK
  • Don’t scope by email

Parts of Scope:


  • Date and Project Title
  • Client & Other Stakeholders

The Body

  • Objectives
  • Background
  • Decisions to be made to be made and decision date
  • Project description (recommended approach)
  • Fit with Division Strategy (level and how)
  • Budget
  • Requested Start Date
  • Requested Completion Date

Scope is the heart of the project — it is the internal contract between you and your client, the basic outline for research report “story” and base for research partner “RFP”

It’s Elementary My Dear Watson

  • “I abhor the dull routine of existence” — don’t use the cookie cutter approach
  • “It’s my business to know what others do not” — You are the research expert, so bring that to bear on the project
  • “The science of deduction, there is nothing like first hand evidence” — data is important
  • “My method is based on the observation of truffles” — look for the big and small nuggets
  • “Nothing is more deceptive than the obvious fact”  – want to look at things from all angles
  • “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains is the truth” — feel confident in telling the story that may be unique

Character Development and Plot

  • After collating data, the research needs to uncover, then tell, the story
  • The best way to do this is to “play” with the data

Case #1:  Satisfaction and Loyalty


  • to verify desired corrugated packaging benefits and determine the importance of these benefits for protective packaging (PP) applications (overall and by product segment)
  • to understand how well each CPP product performs against these benefits compared to other competitive PP substrates


  • Develop baseline Metrics (1) for how well Boise performance on each of these compared to competitors (2) measuring Boise loyalty
  • Method:  VOC interviews, online survey
  • Decisions to make:  Value proposition, Product focus messaging, operations and programs investments


  • over half would feel negative if the corrugated packaging , were no longer included with product,
  • Comparison with competitors — price not a huge driver:  cushioning, customizable, portability and right support are of the most important
  • Determined which corrugated product performed best in research and then focused on that one

Loyalty data: conventional “combo-box” analysis

  • Boise version of net promoter score provides a relative, trend-friendly loyalty measure. Do the loyalty results jive with the satisfaction data
  • According to HBR the median NPS score of more than 400 companies is 28

What Can You Make People Believe You’ve Done

Every project is a new opportunity to establish credibility and build a partnership

Final Thoughts

  • Burn the candle at both ends
  • Create linkages by organizing info in new ways
  • look for anomalies and ask why


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