Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Two-Four Tuesday (v.1)

Here's a fun activity I'm giving our readers every Tuesday. Hopefully the appealing lure of this game will actually FORCE you to comment on this post! Welcome to the 1st edition of "Two-Four Tuesday"!

I will post the "Top Five" items in a list, except that I'm leaving out the 2nd and the 4th items. Your mission -- comment with your guesses (or "answers", if you're that confident) as to what the missing items are.

Since this is the pilot test of this game, I'm picking a more universal topic -- music. That should make it fairly easy for you to at least attempt some educated guesses. Don't cheat by looking up the info on the web -- just have fun and take your own guess. I'll give the correct answers the following Tuesday.

Top Five music recording artists as measured by cumulative U.S. album sales totals (according to the RIAA Gold & Platinum list).

1. The Beatles (166.5 million sold)
2. ? ? (117.5 M)
3. Led Zeppelin (106 M)
4. ? ? ? ? (105 M)
5. The Eagles (88 M)

Monday, May 30, 2005

Other market research blogs

Why did I launch Inside Market Research? One of the reasons was because I myself was looking for a blog to subscribe to as a reader, within the general field of marketing research and public opinion polling -- but I couldn't find one!

Granted, once I got underway with my own publication, I began to find more ways to find blogs, and only then did a few germane publications come to light. However, I am still left with the impression that the blog you're currently reading is the only one in the blogosphere that meets all of the following criteria:
  • Prepared to cover the entire realm of all facets of marketing research and public opinion polling
  • Written by an individual, independent of his/her corporate affiliation
  • Allows readers to comment on posts

That said, here is a short list of the most relevant other market research blogs I have found, even if they don't meet all three of the above criteria:

http://weblog.cheskin.net/ -- Obviously endorsed by the corporate sponsor (Cheskin), and they rarely allow readers to comment on posts.

http://weblogs.jupiterresearch.com/toplevel/ -- Ditto, although readers are encouraged to e-mail the corporate authors of posts.

http://www.perseus.com/weblogs/survey_mentor_posts.html -- Alan Farius answers questions that readers e-mail him about market research surveys. Looks like he posts his comments once per week.

http://www.perseus.com/blogsurvey/blogsurvey.html -- Another offering from Perseus Development Corp., this one by Jeffrey Henning. It's all about the blog phenomenon itself, with a little bit of a market research angle. There's a neat quadrant map that suggests our own BlogSpot is a blogging software leader in both momentum and longevity.

http://perceptionanalyzer.typepad.com/ -- This is a blog that comes awfully close to fulfilling the three criteria I laid out above. Other than a headline graphic similar to an ad banner for the writer's employer, David Paull's blog emphasizes non-partisan wit and commentary. It therefore is hardly an advertisement for MSI and their Perception Analyzer device.

http://www.mysterypollster.com/ -- Mark Blumenthal's noteworthly blog about the tricky specialty of political polling.

http://www.livejournal.com/community/phone_survey/ -- an online community specifically for employees of the phone survey industry. Lots of moaning and complaining here, and all of it justified.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Google Sets

There's a neat tool that the folks at Google have developed as a product of the "Google Labs". It's called Google Sets. It is a linguistic device that will automatically create larger sets of items from a short list of examples that you provide. For example, if you type in orange, banana, pear . . . it will spit back pear, banana, orange, apple, grapefruit, sweet potato, kiwi fruit, carrots, pineapple, grape, dates, cherries, figs, and strawberries.

You might say, "Nifty, but what's the real-world use of this gizmo?" Indeed, the Google Sets discussion board over at Google Labs is loaded with users complaining that they don't see the actual value of Google Sets, and their level of emotional frustration over this problem is actually kind of entertaining to me. It's a FREE APPLICATION, PEOPLE -- if you don't see a use for it, move on with your life and go outside and play kickball!

I, however, have found a very appropriate use for this tool, in the practice of market research survey design. Oftentimes, a questionnaire will contain a question that, while we don't know the specific answers we're going to get, we can surmise that 90%-95% of all the responses will fall into a set of maybe 5, 6, 7, or 8 predictable answers. The remaining 5%-10% can be captured with an "Other" response code (which may or may not include an interviewer instruction to have the respondent "specify" the response). Setting up a question this way has three main benefits:
  • By forgoing a fully open-ended question (free response), it reduces the interviewer's time spent typing in the text of the respondent's answer
  • It reduces the amount of back-end coding effort, because the vast majority of your response data has been captured immediately into 5 to 8 or so numeric punches
  • It allows the opportunity of basing skip patterns off the coded numeric responses, rather than losing that opportunity due to an open-end not having any programming "intelligence"

So, how might I use Google Sets? Suppose I am writing a questionnaire about overnight cruise lines that travelers may have boarded within the past 2 years. Since I've never been on a cruise, I'm probably not an expert at developing a pre-coded list of cruise lines for my survey -- after all, I can only think (off the top of my head) of Carnival, Holland America, and the Disney Cruise Line. This is hardly a complete list of possible cruise brands that our respondent travelers might mention. Enter Google Sets! By typing in the three brands I know, I get a beautiful automated set of the following brands in return:

  • Carnival
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Holland America
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Celebrity
  • Norwegian
  • Cunard Line
  • Princess
  • Windjammer Barefoot

Now I have what seems to be a reliable list of 9 major cruise lines that I can be fairly sure will capture at least 90% of the response data for that question. I just need to alphabetize them (to help the interviewers), add my "Other-specify" stub, and we're ready to go on the phones!

Of course, since we're diligent and meticulous market researchers, we will also check our "Other-specifies" after the first night or two of interviewing. If any multiple responses are showing up en masse, we will add them to our pre-listed codes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Blog statistics

Now that we're blogging about market research and public opinion polling, we might as well take a look at some recent opinion research survey data about the awareness of blogs and prevalence of participants. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project report released in January 2005:

  • 38 percent of all Internet users in the United States "have a good idea of what the term Internet 'blog' means.
  • 27 percent of Internet users take the time to read blogs.
  • 12 percent have ever posted comments on someone else's blog.
  • And 7 percent of Internet users said in November 2004 that they create a blog that others can read. That's 8 million Americans!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Stump the PR panel

I had the pleasure today of attending a networking/workshop hosted by the Public Relations Council of Greater Atlantic City. The gist of the program was to put 4 "experts" in front of the room to field difficult questions related to public relations. In all, I got the sense that the PR quandaries of the Council's members (Atlantic City is only a medium-sized city, and if you take away the casinos, it would be a palpably small-town market) don't stack up to those of my clients at Manning Selvage & Lee, Euro RSCG, Ogilvy, and Ruder Finn.

Nonetheless, I still got a lot out of the dialogues, and I was also able to communicate ICR's own recent internally-funded effort in "research for PR": a regional public opinion poll about the proposed New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act. ICR has put out its own press release and mini-report on the findings. We are hoping that the study gets picked up by the media and is noticed by the NJ state legislature, the anti-smoking lobby, and by restaurant owners and the casinos (who largely oppose the measure). So far, only one newspaper has carried a story featuring our study -- the Press of Atlantic City.

Anyhow, to summarize some of the interesting points I noted at the "stump the panel" session:

  • Several of the experts strongly advocate talk radio as an excellent way to get your client's message out to influential people.
  • Yet, a couple of the attendees noted that a 10-minute interview spot on talk radio will only reach a fraction of the audience that traditional print newspaper and wire services will typically afford.
  • Getting your client's message encapsulated in a press release is only the easy, partial aspect of the public relations expert's job. The real dirty work comes in following up on that release with editors, newscasters, and key influencers. This also means choosing when to "do battle" with opposing positions that may arise, and when engaging the enemy is the best option -- do it with tact, but with sufficient force.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Audio welcome mat

this is an audio post - click to play

What is "Inside Market Research"?

Inside Market Research is my blog about being a practitioner in the marketing research and/or public opinion polling field. Our business is immanently interesting to me -- mainly because we're exposed (through our clients) to many different industries, many different problem sets, and many different solutions or remedies to those problems . . . all on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Unless you exclusively work with just one or two clients in one industry, the opportunity for exposure to numerous business arenas is limitless!

I have some experience with writing an online periodical, having authored the American Cynic newsletter for a number of years (1996-2003), before closing shop out of frustration over our stagnant subscriber numbers [we maxed out at about 2,000 valid e-mail addresses]. Then, of course, blogging really took off. Maybe there's a future in the "New" American Cynic one day.

Anyway, we'll see how far this blog goes. I'm looking forward to posting my thoughts-worth-sharing in the field of marketing research!

-- Gregory Kohs

Tags: , , , , , ,