Tag Archives: Research Live

What is Proper Research? #MRX

5 test tubes with different concentrations of ...

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Proper English, proper attire, proper format. Everything needs to be proper. At the recent Research Live social media research conference in London, I kept hearing a phrase that sounded something like this: “we didn’t do proper research.”

So what is proper research? Is it test and control groups? Large sample sizes? Quantitative data and probability based statistics? Surveys and randomized groups? It made me wonder what was improper about the research, why their research was so bad that it needed special caveats.

Research isn’t test-tubes and skinner boxes. Research is a living, breathing process by which people discover relationships among variables. Research comes in all forms from qual to quant, from covert to overt, from 1 group to 51 groups, from surveys to n=1 case studies, from exploratory to confirmatory.

The only form of proper research I know is this: a scientific approach to discovering answers to questions. This process involves knowing the risks, the pros and cons, the biases and skews of the method you’ve chosen. It involves knowing how to handle the resulting data properly, without preconceived biases, without expectancy effects. Proper research isn’t a specific type of research. It’s simply smart research.

A Sampling of London Chocolate Bars

london chocolate bars

What are holidays for? Holidays are your chance to experience life from an entirely new perspective. As a market researcher, it means I get to combine a couple of things that are extremely important to me: research and chocolate.

So, in this n=1 research (I am only a sample of 1), my recent trip to speak on a panel at the Research Live social media research conference in London meant that I had an additional important task ahead of me. I took the opportunity to carefully evaluate a number of chocolate bars found in London with which I am unfamiliar. From nougat to nuts, and grastolicious to gross, I hope these ratings will help you in your future chocolate decisions.

For each of the following brands of candy bars, please indicate your overall level of satisfaction on a scale from 1 (Very Dissatisfied) to 5 (Very Satisfied).

Brand Very Dissatisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Neutral Somewhat Satisfied Very Satisfied
Boost X
Caramac  X
Cote X
Daim X
Double Decker X
Flyte X
Galaxy Caramel X
Galaxy Chocolate X
Galaxy Cookie X
Galaxy Orange X
Milka X
Milky Bar X
Munchies X
My Purple Bar X
Riesen X
Ripple X
Snack X
Starbar X
Toffee Crisp X
Topic Melted goo
Vanilla Fudge X
Wispa X

Mumsnet Engagement #SoMeMR #li #mrx

A mother holds up her child.

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16.30  Carrie Longton on what Mumsnet has taught her about the risks and rewards of engaging with people in social media

Carrie Longton co-founded Mumsnet in 2000 with Justine Roberts after the pair met in antenatal classes. The site, designed as a way for parents to share knowledge and support, quickly took on a life of its own. It now gets more than 30 million page impressions every month from more than 1.5 million unique visitors, and its influence has been felt by politicians and businesses through its high-profile campaigns and boycotts. Among Longton’s responsibilities is leading Mumsnet’s insight team, which includes running a research panel and organising product tests for manufacturers. Before starting Mumsnet she worked as a TV producer, working with the likes of Clive James and Cilla Black.

Carrie Longton, Co-Founder, Mumsnet.com

  • Mumsnet – By parents, for parents. Peer to peer online advice.
  • They learned that people didn’t necessarily value advice from experts, but advice from other people in their shoes – moms.
  • It grew by word of mouth, mumsnetters was what users called themselves
  • Now they have a panel of moms and grandparents
  • Average user session is 15 minutes and they visit 11 pages. They are high income, high-educated, wide age spread, and they take holidays. They are women, not ‘just’ moms.
  • Research as a way of marketing to people. [That’s a big no no for researchers but they aren’t a research company and so aren’t bound by research rules]
  • What moms want? Make lives easier, save time and effort, transparent, don’t stereotype, listen to opinions. I’m not a slummy mummy or yummy mummy, i’m a real unique person.
  • 90% of traffic heads to talk boards. “Am i being unreasonable” is the most popular topic and it’s not kids related. Chat is popular. Relationships is popular. Style and beauty is popular. 79% have bought a product after a recommendation from mumsnet.
  • This is the power of targeted advice. Many think this site is better than google.
  • Tools of engagement – Bespoke advertising. surveys, groups, tests. Bloggers network. Events. User videos. Webchats.
  • Online communication – DO respect, consult early, target serial networkers, think user-generated, engage, enfranchise, empathize, endear, entertain
  • DON’T think celebrity equals success, expect people to do something you wouldn’t do, try to force viral buzz, be afraid of criticism or debate
  • Bernard Matthews – change your meat not your menu. Mumsnet told people it was for Bernard. They invited moms to watch him cook. Process convined people to change their minds about turkey.
  • Pizza Express – want family friendly restaurant of future. Started with an unbranded survey. Worked with mumsnet to ask what did they really want from a family restaurant. Created a service charter to help the staff better understand how to serve food to kids.
  • Ford – Invited whole family to test drive. Sent them to the drive in theatre. Took moms to the race track which they loved because they weren’t being stereotyped. 


The Gap between brands and consumers by Adams and Hallums #SoMeMR #li #mrx

A Wispa bar in a wrapper from 2007.

Image via Wikipedia

16.00 Harnessing the power of social media, bridging the gap between brands and consumers

  • How to harness the power of social media platforms for research
  • Best practice for recruiting and retaining customers to an online community
  • How to get the most out of your online panel community and show ROI
  • The power of the panel community compared to other research methodologies

Rachel Adams, Marketing Director, Toluna
Mark Hallums, Director of Product Technology, Toluna

  • [Harness the power! I’m already having fun. 🙂 ]
  • “Bring back Wispa” campaign caused Cadbury to bring back a brand. [I bought one. Watch for my chocolate bar rating blog post.]
  • Gap logo was changed, and then changed back due to social media chatter. Gap admitted they failed to engage the online community to redo the logo correctly.
  • Dell IdeaStorm was an online commuity of 12 000 members, 84 000 comments, 900 000 votes, 1-5% of ideas were usable. Research, sales, marketing teams all used the data.
  • They have a research social network which was a challenge to low response rates and recruitment challenges. Aimed to increase engagement with memers. Included profiles, polls, results, rating and following, external polls to twitter or facebook.
  • Benefits to brands – brand advocacy, co-creation, pre-screen customers, engaged product testers, reduce new product development cycle
  • Panel allows for DIY online surveys, up to 15 questions, launched immediately, with real-time results [Not gen pop but we know how to handle that]
  • [What I’ve learned – always describe the brand you’re talking about because there will be people in your audience who don’t know what it is. i am missing ALL the jokes today. 🙂 ]
  • Next – Turn facebook fans into fully profiled respondents, facebook likes don’t come with demographic profiles, use the opt-in process

Will Communities Kill the 6 Group Project by Nick Priestley #SoMeMR #li #mrx

15.30 PANEL: Will communities kill the 6 group project?

  • The future for research communities in generating insight
  • How online communities fit into the overall market research mix
  • Evaluating cost efficiencies and quality trade-offs

Nick Priestley, Managing Director, Tuned In

  • Are communities mainstream now? We are approaching mass market in terms of awareness. People still have concerns about blurring boundaries but there are more and more success stories. Barrier is internal stake holders.
  • Is it research? should we call it research? It’s more about collaboration and getting input in at the beginning. Forward thinking clients are open to it. Does it replace traditional focus group?
  • is 6 group project under threat? It will never die. It is still relevant. But there are many benefits to online approach. Start with hypotheses, develop over time. You can do this in two hour. Vast geography, you can’t do focus groups in hard to reach areas.
  • What kind of people work best in communities? 1% are super users, 9% are active, 90% don’t do anything. We want more people to be active. Now, people are more familiar with the idea. We need to show the process more to interest more people.
  • Segment communities so you can identify the creative people and the strict people and use each group to their strengths. Find tasks that are creative as possible to encourage people. People often don’t realize they were capable of expressing themselves in that way.
  • Audience – it’s important to listen to people who know nothing and these people aren’ t in communities.
  • Online doesn’t necessarily mean cheaper. You get more value from community. More people, less geography issues, less time of day issues, more natural setting, technology gives you more creative options.
  • Is it the shiny object effect? Do groups need a fresh spark? There is absolutely room for both. [Ah yes, the dichotomy must always be there, qual vs quant, online vs offline, MY favourite must always win. Can we just all use one big tool box with all the shiny tools in it?]
  • Are communities a safe haven with fewer ethics issues? Are communities fake social media? Communities are no different from people in real life.
  • Audience – Will facebook put an end to parties? Same as will communities put an end to groups. The two must work together. [ha, yeah. no more parties for me.]
  • Communities when used properly will replace parts of panel and parts of focus groups. [Because it is a better tool for various objectives. Use the RIGHT tool from your toolbox.]
  • Audience – Are focus groups more boring than they need to be? Can we incorporate fun of communities back into focus group.
  • Audience – What about finding pre-existing communities, that aren’t created by MR. This area is littered with huge fails because of lack of transparency, researchers failing to identify themselves. Perhaps use those areas for recruitment. [remember patientslikeme]
  • Audience – 6 groups aren’t under threat, the creative brainstorming groups are under threat. Communities let you do it over a longer period of time.
  • Audience – Are communities at risk because anyone can do them, even if you aren’t trained? Well, the client can read the entire transcript and confirm it all.

Community Approach by Bester and Dunn, #SoMeMR #li #mrx

Flag of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution

Image via Wikipedia

14.30 Using a Community Approach to Inspire Creative Development

How communities can play a role in each stage of the creative development process
How we can overcome many of the issues with traditional creative development research
Explaining the power of iterative development
Doug Dunn, CEO, Tuned In
Debi Bester, Director of Creativity & Innovation, The Reinvention Works

  • Research is the creative and the creative is the research.
  • RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Association) – Youth who had never heard of them now knew them because of mystery packages sent to influential youth bloggers. got 1 million responses/comments/videos/views. #1 most viewed in numerous countries. Reached 15% of youth in Britain. “supporters of tomorrow”
  • Where did it come from?
  • Strategy – generate insights; Create – inspire ideas: Crafting = generate content; Evaluate – refine and validate.
  • The brief – get young people to lead the word in adopting a sustainable lifestyle by creating a longterm generational behaviour changing campaign.
  • Projective technique – Imagine it’s 2050, climate change is halted, rainforests have regrown, ice caps have reformed. Now, imagine who caused this, how did it happen. Answer – Older people won’t do anything, I need to do something. We don’t need us and them campaigns.
  • Role playing – How did you start your movement? How did you inspire others to join in? Researchers learned a series of small changes better than big stunts and gestures.
  • Use social game theory and make the serious part fun. Make recycling fun to interactive with.
  • Make it financially rewarding to participate. Like Volkswagon, fine people who speed to pay people who don’t.
  • Create a measurement tool to show people how green their lifestyle is.
  • Use the visual language of the generation. Maybe originality is over-rated. Familiar is effective.
  • Give the participants special offers, discounts, freebies when they choose eco-friendly. Let them preview, test, and try new products.

Mum knows best by Child and Boreham, #SoMeMR #li #mrx

Charity by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Image via Wikipedia

14.00 Mum knows best: How a community approach helped Mothercare connect with mums and mums-to-be

  • How Mothercare used a community approach to extract personal and emotional insights into motherhood in 2011
  • How to optimise long-term engagement to encourage respondents to share their innermost tensions and trepidations
  • Building a strong sense of community with a clear purpose to get the most out of interactions
  • Sharing key learnings from managing and running a community
  • Using insights to understand how Mothercare can respond and cater to the changing needs of mums

Paul Child, Associate Director, Join the Dots
John Boreham, Group Insights and Planning Manager, Mothercare

  • Real people telling real stories is the best part of the community approach
  • Mothercare catalogue study – 150 moms, 5000 comments, 12 months
  • Pramrage – like road rage, but with baby buggies 🙂
  • Wanted to take people to safe place for sharing and collaboration, where mom’s can benefit as well. Moms like the closed circle, not having to give the ‘right’ answer.
  • Brave and patient – Try things and see what works and doesn’t work. It was experimental development of the tool.
  • Hard working – For clients to get buy-in, and moderating/responding/developing relationships/becoming friends. Don’t still stick to ask and answer, become friends.
  • Bite sized – If you don’t get it right, you can always go back. Start with a question or a task and gradually get to a bigger picture.
  • In your hands – It’s in your control. set the agenda, what’s important, where it goes, who you respond to. Or go with what people want to talk about.
  • Techniques – community newsletter with new births and actioned results, match mom to baby photo games, share videos
  • How do you get business stakeholders excited in the business? Most clients haven’t had children. Tell them stories about individual mothers. “Let’s go and ask Julie” was code for we need to ask a real mom. Why is this photo of a pregnant mom showing her NOT wearing our pregnancy clothing but rather a plus sized dress?
  • Get people interested doing “day in the life of”. Gives design team an idea of everything that happens during day and what products might be needed.
  • Let community members post their own question.
  • Members wanted team to celebrate with her, reassure her, advise her
  • Replicate the role of friend and trusted advisor


Behavioural Economics by Ken Parker, #SoMeMR #Li #fb

Cover of "Predictably Irrational: The Hid...

Cover via Amazon

11.45 Behavioural Economics & Online Qual – Made for each other?

  • Moving behavioural economics from the theoretical to the practical
  • Illustrating how the pillars of BE can be addressed by different qual research data collection techniques
  • Highlighting the benefits of online qual research techniques to evaluate many of the BE heuristics
  • Recognising the benefits of traditional qual techniques to address many of the BE biases

Ken Parker, Chairman, Discovery

  • 50% of US qual as an online component
  • Tor Norretranders – we process 16 of 11 millions bits of information our senses pass to our brain. The conscious part receives much less info than the unconscious part.
  • John Wanamaker – half the money i spend on advertising is wasted but i don’t know which half
  • AIDA – awareness, interest, desire, action
  • Now – behavioural economics, Read “Predictably Irrational
  • We do not consciously consider all the the possible options. We only consider from those perceived to be available. But people think they have the full choice.
  • Antonio Damasio – “I have emotions, therefore I am rational”
  • Rory Sutherland – MR asks the wrong questions and money is spend investigating hair splitting distinctions that have little relation to context in which people actually make choices
  • Behavioural economics – Behaviour is King. Forget intentions, attitudes and focus on what people actually do. [The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour]
  • Pillars of BE are Heuristics and Biases. Heuristics are shortcuts you use, rules of thumb, educated guesses, common sense, it’s rare that we buy the best product. We buy something that’s good enough, that does the job, but this one is pretty good. Biases are usually based on unfair negatives. (All turnips are gross.)
  • We can answer who, how, where, what when, but we can’t really answer why. We can make up answers but they may not be the right answer. We are poor witnesses of our own behaviour. We are excellent witness of our emotions though.
    Qual gives us the here and now. Don’t like how it relies on recall though.  [what is chivvying?]
  • Heuristics good for online qual. Biases good for traditional qual.
  • Watch for authority bias, effort bias, fairness bias, anchoring, social proof, badwagon, herding, framing, brand heuristic (Campbell’s means quality as opposed to beans). [These heuristics and biases aren’t limited to HE. These are generic human behaviour.]

Brand Together by Meyassed and Koch, #SoMeMR #MRX #li

Image representing Promise Communities as depi...

Image via CrunchBase

11.15 Brand together: The social media experience from the consumer perspective

  • Examining the key findings from Promise’s private community of social media research and co-creation participants.
  • How participants have found the experience
  • What could be improved to get more of respondents’ time, commitment and dedication
  • How social media research has compared to other research tools they have participated in
  • What their ideal engagement with researchers would be like

Doron Meyassed, Director & Founder, Promise Communities
Felix Koch, Consultancy Director, Promise Communities

  • 5 things about co-creation we didn’t know before we created our community
  • What do consumers love and hate about online co-creation; Why do they take part; What would they change
  • 230 people, 14000 contributions, 11 comments every hour, 150 characters per comment, 8 pound incentive voucher at Amazon; Participants were top contributors from other communities and so not rep of average community. Opinions from people who actually move opinions and create new products.
  • First thing – interacting with brand is more important than interacting with peers. We are often told to make brand behind the scenes and this seems wrong for co-creation. They want to share with the brand, THEN meet other like-minded people, THEN get rewards. Unless confidentially is a huge issue, don’t run unbranded communities. It will introduce bias but it gets the most out of the community.
  • Second – sharing back the impact they had on the company is the single biggest driver of Sustained Participation. Strong impact on decisions is top reason, THEN rewards, THEN social status and peer recognition. Feedback correlates highly with participation.  Therefore tell people what the brand is doing or not doing to keep people motivated. Show a picture of the research team working with a messy conference room.
  • Third – communities make people more creative and able to express themselves. Why? Platform to express themselves simply (millions of images, videos, text available to use online). Longitudinal method allows them to develop skills and confidence over time. Feel safe and not judged. The ‘bar’ for results has been lowered – what is classified as creative isn’t so hard to reach. Create WITH consumers not FOR consumers.
  • Fourth – Every community has two entities. Members become slightly biased over time but it’s marginal. In their example, 22% of members feel close to the brand before the community, a number that doubled after joining the community.  Cherish fans and acknowledge them, they are totally biased, use for co-creaton. Larger community is less engaged, refresh them and use for refinement and evaluation. Don’t throw out the biased fans.
  • Fifth – Participants can develop 8 new propositions in 8 weeks. Good quality in short time frame. Turn responders into researcchers. Give respondent tools to do research, cameras. Create collaborative units that compete over time.
  • Sixth – they hate the term co-creation. don’t call it insight or cocreation. Don’t be swanky with the wording.

Ethical Framework for SMR, Panel #SoMeMR #MRX #li

10.15 PANEL: Establishing an ethical framework for social media research

  • Tracking developments towards new standards for social media research in Europe and the US
  • Dealing with privacy issues: Assessing attitudes towards privacy in online environments
  • Evaluating ethical guidelines for blog and buzz mining
  • When is engagement with commenters necessary?
  • Evaluating appropriate codes of conduct for qualitative approaches to harvesting data via social media channels

Barry Ryan, Standards & Policy Manager, MRS
Jillian Williams, External Relations Team Leader, Highways Agency
Pete Comley, Chairman, Join the Dots (formerly Virtual Surveys)
Simon McDonald, Business Director, Insites Consulting

  • Barry – Data protection, there is identifiable data that must be protected. Copyright – blogposts, photos, videos, all covered under copyright act. Terms and service – of individual sites must be respected. Internal issue – how MR codes are constructed – participation is based on voluntary informed consent, that is our heritage.  (I’m waiting to hear about the stance on observational research, and qualitative researchers abilities to summarize text.)
  • Simon – Does research industry need rules?  We know it’s a work in progress. We don’t want to be restricted from doing things that other companies are able to do. (e.g., buzz companies don’t have to listen to MR ethics)
  • Pete – Believes in guidelines. Was part of ESOMAR guidelines committee.  Not happy with MRS stance. Bodies should be forward looking and represent us. Tone of consultation document does not do that. Document is like Pope and Catholic church. Applying to the letter. MRS won’t stop us from doing SMR. Seriously risks splitting entire MR industry in the UK. It is that serious. Solutions? We must be more inclusive and representative. Must be provisions for MR to do SMR. Long term, MRS code of conduct is the problem. Informed consent is the problem. We are NOT interviewing people here. This is analyzing public data. Concept of informed consent does not apply. We need to relook at code of conduct.
  • Jillian – As a research client, anonymity is important. Masking isn’t satisfactory.  Client does not want to be on the front page of the Daily Mail. Client will take the flack, not the industry. Clients want to comply with guidelines. Clients pay the bill.
  • Barry – Data Protection Act is the problem. Informed Consent is the first thing in it. There is no distinction between public and private. The MRS Code reflects rules of legislation. MRS made it easy for researchers to comply with data protection act. “This data is accessible” is not sufficient but you can work with the data provider directly and then it’s ok. “Subject to data protection rules” is important. If MRS interpeted law incorrectly, please tell them. [Call to MR company internal legal counsel – does anyone see if there have been misinterpretations of Data Protection Act?]
  • Pete – Data Protection Act is pre-internet. How do we survive as industry until and if there are changes?
  • Barry – Whatever comes next will not be better. “The legislator knows best.”  People want the right to be forgotten (drunken photos should be deleted if the person wants them deleted).
  • Simon – Self-regulation is important. Dialogue with respondents means better qulaity data. Consent is important but best research is also important. Their company had a problem where they friended people for research purposes, with multiple layers of consent, but then of course Facebook lets you see friends of friends, and those friends hadn’t given consent.
  • Jillian – SMR is not necessarily representative.
  • Annie – I asked a question about whether observational research is not research since it’s not informed consent and whether masking is an assault on qualitative researchers who mask for a living.
  • Barry – This is not an assault on qualitative research. There is a separate guidelines for qual research. Maybe the MRS heard nothing back from qualitative researchers and it’s not reflected in the paper. In the online space, everything is data, video, photo. Under the data Proection Act, processing data is engagement. Masking is good for privacy, but it doesn’t rectify the potential unlawfullness of the act of taking the data.
  • Pete – Does everything really need to be masked? “I love McDonalds” maybe not.  Anything Pete says here, he risks it being written down and shared. (Hmmmm….. watch out!) Going out of your way to NOT quote something written in the online public space seems odd. What do you do with gray area of semi-private. Inconsequential “This hotel is lovely” doesn’t need masking but someone’s sexual preference does need masking. It is a minefield.
  • Jillian – Doesn’t like masking at all. We want the insight from the quote as opposed to masked verbatims that aren’t exactly correct and could be misunderstood.
  • Question – why are companies doing this if it’s all illegal under data protection act? [Great question – are we waiting for someone to get sued and go to court before we get an update to the legislation?]
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