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2 Simple Steps To Understand Complex Consumers: Observe Closely, Then Survey Effectively

Posted by MFour on Apr 30, 2019 11:49:36 AM

 

The constant proliferation of new research products, technologies and methodologies for market research is making life increasingly complex for research-users.

But it doesn't have to be. To remove clutter and gain clarity on the available data-collection options, the simple rule to remember is “observe, then survey.” 

MFour handles data-collection simplification like this:

Observe who? Members of the large, representative first-party consumer panel that’s gathered around Surveys On The Go® (SOTG), the original, most-advanced mobile market research app.

Observe when? Observe endlessly. Always-on GPS location tracking of consenting SOTG users makes it possible. They allow the app to access their phones' location features so they can receive location-triggered surveys.

Observe where? Across all locations of the top 1,000 U.S. retailers, and millions of other places of commercial interest.

Survey who? Whichever segment you need, based on observed location visits combined with detailed demographic pre-profiling. See who's making the observed visits without having to ask.  

Survey when? At the Point Of Emotion®, the window in which the consumer experiences and attitudes you need to understand remain vivid and recall is at its highest.

Survey where?

  • Inside a store if you want to understand what the consumer is thinking and experiencing right now (example: which package stands out on a shelf full of similar products?).
  • Or just after observed visitors have left the store, so you can ask about the entire experience, including what they purchased, and why.  

Consumer journeys are more complex than ever, but that doesn't mean the tools for understanding them have to be burdened with complex moving parts such as multi-sourced consumer panels, third-party data and algorithmic analysis that makes inferences instead of seeking out actual consumer feedback.

If you observe closely, then survey intelligently, you can trust that your data captures reality. You'll play a key role in guiding your business to the right decisions, and you'll be able to explain clearly to yourself and understandably to anybody else in your organization how you collected your data and interpreted it to confront the business problems you all need to address.

 

Topics: point of emotion, surveys on the go, consumer panel, mobile geolocation, mobile market research panel, location-triggered surveys, event-triggered surveys

ExperienceCheck™  Identifies Shoppers' In-Store Pain Points, Guiding Restaurants and Retailers to Customer Satisfaction

Posted by MFour on Apr 17, 2019 9:42:45 AM

MFour Mobile Research announces ExperienceCheck™, a new market research product built expressly to help retail and restaurant brands quickly identify and eliminate shoppers’ in-store pain points, clearing the way to greater customer satisfaction and growing revenue and market share.

ExperienceCheck™ captures the in-store shopping experiences of actual consumers to give brand executives and marketers a fast read on what needs to be improved or optimized, from product placement to staff performance, store ambiance and checkout experience.  

Using GPS-enabled, location-triggered surveys, ExperienceCheck™ obtains feedback from opted-in, first-party consumers, just after they have exited a store or restaurant. The combination of observed natural location journeys and event-triggered surveys takes researchers to the Point-Of-Emotion® – the brief window in which validated shoppers’ responses are vivid, immediate, and least vulnerable to recall bias.

“ExperienceCheck™ gives customer experience teams and brand marketers the data they need to understand complex in-store realities quickly, and make persuasive, effective recommendations for fixing problems and maximizing advantages,” said Chris St. Hilaire, MFour’s CEO and co-founder.

With ExperienceCheck™, retail and restaurant clients gain insights into the entire customer experience:

  • Determine whether interactions with store or restaurant staff are meeting expectations for service, information, courtesy and a human touch. 
  • Gain an understanding of how product placement is impacting sales and whether problems are surfacing that cause customers to feel frustrated.
  • Learn whether the checkout experience is smooth and giving customers a final touchpoint that leaves them with a positive impression of their visit.

ExperienceCheck™ surveys are powered by the large, demographically representative, first-party consumer panel that uses MFour’s advanced mobile research app, Surveys On The Go®. Retail and restaurant researchers quickly achieve key demographic quotas to represent a diverse public, including Millennials, Gen Z, Hispanics and African-Americans.

ExperienceCheck™ is available in Full-Service and Self-Service options. Both include readymade, templated questionnaires designed for either General Retail or Restaurant research. All users get fast insights into the reasons behind consumers’ validated visits, their shopping experiences and purchasing motivations, and whether they intend to visit again.


 

Topics: retail research, location-triggered surveys, ExperienceCheck, restaurant research

Don't Let Young Adults Go Under-represented in Your Consumer Surveys

Posted by MFour on Apr 2, 2019 6:00:00 AM

All market research consumer panels are not created equal. Only those that reliably represent the segments most relevant to a brand’s success are worth using. 

Less understood is the decisive role research technology and survey methodology play in determining whether a given study will include enough of the right respondents to reflect consumer reality.

Here’s a brief summary of recently published results from an online market research study that illustrates how online methodology is falling short when it comes to demographic representation of key Millennial and Gen Z consumers.

Project: A trade association that represents producers of a food that’s a staple of grocery stores’ fresh-produce departments sought data on U.S. consumers' attitudes, purchase frequency and purchase-drivers for the fresh-food item.

Methodology: A quantitative, nationwide survey that collected about 2,000 completes over the course of about two weeks, obtained from an online panel. Qualifiers were consumers who stated that they play a role in shopping for their household’s groceries.

Segmentation: Using screening questions, the study identified respondents by a variety of demographic categories, including age, sex, race/ethnicity, household income and education.

Shortfall: Only 2% of respondents in the produce-shopping study were ages 18-24. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 9.4% of Americans are ages 18 to 24 – nearly five times as many as were represented in the survey.

Meanwhile, 40% of the study's respondents were 55 and older, when they actually make up 29% of the U.S. adult population. 

The numbers don't align with reality because online research approach is increasingly incapable of fully including the key younger age groups. Pew Research Center reports that 94% of Americans ages 18 to 29 own smartphones, and 28% in that group are “smartphone dependent,” the term for consumers who rely solely on their phones to access the internet. That means more than a quarter of younger Millennials and Gen Z consumers in their late teens and early 20s are off the radar for online studies.

In-app mobile research is much more efficient and capable of representing younger consumers. Here's why:

  • Mobile-app surveys are  congruent with their lifestyles: smartphones and mobile apps are Millennials' and Gen Z's preferred portals for receiving information and expressing ideas and opinions.
  • They are naturally more inclined to take surveys on their phones, as long as the experience is technologically smooth and problem-free.
  • Mobile-app methodology also is a gateway to GPS location-tracking of consumers who give informed consent to have their movements observed from store to store.
  • These known, first-party consumers can then be surveyed inside the store or just after they've left. The researcher gets firm validation that they are actually shopping for groceries, and the ultimate payoff is the rich, reliable data captured at the Point Of Emotion® where buying decisions are made and recall is most reliable.

The key advantage of advanced, in-app mobile research is its ability to combine always-on observational data with survey data to give researchers a rich understanding of validated, first-party consumers. It's the only way to reach them in their natural, mobile-app environment for peak engagement and top-quality survey data.

For an example of in-app mobile's ability to reach younger adults, read about MFour’s 2016 Millennials project, which documented that generation’s opinions about entertainment, money and technology. It demonstrates  the ease and speed with which in-app mobile research can access representative numbers of adults in their mid-thirties and younger.

Another project, on validated shoppers’ experiences on Black Friday, 2018, illustrates the benefits of mobile GeoLocation studies. In that case, consumers were located inside one of five top retailers on Black Friday, then received a survey via their Surveys On The Go® app as soon as they were observed leaving the store. Click here for an infographic on the Black Friday findings.

To sum up: researchers seeking insights from grocery shoppers or consumers who are shopping in-store for any other product category can now use mobile location-journey data to find validated, first-party research participants who meet their demographic criteria, with young adults well within reach. There's no need to settle for a non-representative fraction of the young consumers whose preferences are already shaping the product and retail landscape and will continue to dominate for decades to come.

Topics: in-app Mobile surveys, mobile consumer panel, always-on data, observational data, retail research, mobile geolocation

Nearly 30% of Americans Ages 21-64 Say They've Filled in NCAA Basketball Tournament Brackets, and One in Seven Has Placed a Bet

Posted by MFour on Mar 27, 2019 11:08:35 AM

Nearly 30% of 21- to 64-year-olds who responded to a survey by MFour Mobile Research said they have filled in a tournament bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball championships, and 14% are betting on the annual March sports ritual.

The study surveyed 4,200 U.S. residents nationwide, including 1,800 NCAA basketball tournament fans and 2,400 non-fans. Fans were defined as those who said they’re planning to watch the tournament.

Betting Behavior

  • Among those watching the tournament, 32% said they’re also betting.
  • Among those who said they’re betting, 26% reported using online betting services.
  • 14% of bettors said they’ll place wagers in person at a casino sports books.
  • 56% of those making bets said they were informal wagers with family or friends.
  • 68% of people watching the games said they had filled out a tournament bracket.
  • But 53% of bracket-players said it was just for fun, no money involved.

 Amounts Wagered

  • 18% of bettors surveyed expected to wager $100 or more.
  • 21% said they would bet $50 to $99.
  • 25% planned to wager $20 to $49.
  • 37% said they would wager less than $20.

Viewing characteristics:

  • 17% of tournament-watchers said they’d be watching at work.
  • 67% of at-work watchers said it’s OK with their supervisors.
  • 33% said it’s against the rules, but they’ll watch at work anyway and try not to get caught.
  • Of those with permission to watch in the workplace, 56% will do it on a shared office TV screen.

Methodology:

The eight-question survey was fielded March 21-24 to U.S. consumers ages 21 to 64. All respondents use Surveys On The Go®, MFour’s mobile market research app, to take surveys on their smartphones or tablets. MFour received initial responses from 4,214 consumers who were representative by region. To indicate interest in the tournament, they were initially asked whether they planned to watch tournament games. The 1,810 respondents who indicated they were watching the tournament went on to complete the survey, providing answers about their plans for wagering and viewing.

mfour-2019-ncaa-basketball-survey-on-betting-infographic

 

Topics: market research, surveys, market research panel, sports betting, NCAA basketball tournament

MFour Announces ProductCheck™ for Validated, Colorful In-Store Insights into Product Placement, Packaging and Preferences

Posted by MFour on Mar 20, 2019 5:39:00 PM

MFour Mobile Research introduces ProductCheck™, a new offering that captures mobile market research panel members' opinions and feelings about products and displays at the exact moment they are standing in store aisles looking at them.

By locating and then surveying validated, first-party mobile consumers, brands and researchers get immediate, trustworthy data on product placement and visibility, whether packaging stands out and attracts, and whether the product’s in-the-moment shelf appeal is sufficient to influence intent to purchase. Clients also gain in-depth intelligence on how shoppers perceive competing products and brands. Researchers come away with a confident understanding of how well the product stands out when surrounded by other products in the same category.

“ProductCheck™ helps brands position themselves for greater market share by combining observed location data with event-triggered surveys that measure products’ on-shelf visibility and appeal,” said Chris St. Hilaire, MFour’s CEO and co-founder. “Now researchers can color store-visitation data with survey opinions, and validate survey opinions with mobile visitation data.”

Until now, in-store product evaluations have been subject to inherent bias because standard “mission” and “mystery shopper” methods call for recruiting consumers who in the real world might not even shop for the product that’s being studied, nor shop at the stores they’re sent to.

ProductCheck™ focuses on natural shoppers, not recruits. It connects you with validated, first-party consumers who’ve gone to the store naturally, without prompting. In-store surveys fielded through MFour’s Surveys On The Go® mobile research app screen for natural category intenders, who are then prompted to go to that category’s aisle and continue answering the in-store survey.

Researchers collect data at the Point-of-Emotion® – the precise moment when respondents are encountering and evaluating the product, so that their answers are colored by the immediacy of the experience. You can also ask respondents to take photos and videos of products on-shelf to give you the clearest visualization and understanding of in-store reality. These images and videos are captured in our survey app and are perfect for adding color and story-telling impact to reports, presentations and business recommendations.

A full-service version of ProductCheck™ lists at $18,000 and includes expert, in-house survey design and programming consultation and analysis. Self-Service ProductCheck™ via MFourDIY® lists at $9,000 and includes a templated suggested questionnaire.

 

Topics: mobile market research, purchase path, always-on data, retail research, ProductCheck™

Major Retailers Will Shutter 3,500 Stores in 2019. Here's How Retail Research Can Understand What Comes Next.

Posted by MFour on Mar 19, 2019 6:00:00 AM

“Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” was a hit ballad for Whitney Houston. “Where do disenfranchised shoppers go?” is an increasingly important question for retail-sector market research as store closures continue to disrupt consumers’ familiar purchase paths. Each round of closures is an inflection point that puts displaced shoppers’ spending and brand loyalty up for grabs.

To win the battle to retain or pry away disenfranchised shoppers after a location closes, brands need fast, reliable data and insights into exactly who has been displaced, where they’re going now, and why they’ve taken that path. The stakes are high, with 3,500 store closings expected this year, according to RetailTouchPoints.

To find, connect with and understand these displaced customers, your best way forward is to combine observational mobile location-visitation data and mobile survey data.

Start with a validated, first-party market research panel that’s large and diverse enough to represent relevant populations of the disenfranchised. Once you’ve taken that crucial step, here are tips on how to proceed.

First challenge: Identify the displaced consumers.

  • Solution: Always-on mobile location tracking records and archives 500,000 daily visits by opted-in consumers to the top 1,000 U.S. retailers, plus an additional 250,000 daily visits to other commercially-significant locations such as entertainment venues and transportation hubs.
  • Result: Researchers quickly identify consumers who have made past visits to now-closed stores and can continue to observe their movements for changes in path-to-purchase patterns. 

Second challenge: Understand where displaced consumers are landing.

  • Solution: Continue always-on tracking of validated disenfranchised shoppers in the weeks or months after a store closure, closely observing for any changes in their brick-and-mortar store-visitation patterns.
  • Result: Obtain location insights into what they do next. 
  • Insights Opportunities:
    • Who remains loyal by switching to another store in the same retail chain?
    • See who’s in play by comparing pre-closure and post-closure visitation patterns. Those who are shopping around are important targets for further inquiry into how they can be influenced.
    • Identify shoppers who have switched loyalties as a result of a store closure and are now shopping mainly or exclusively at a competing store that’s a short distance from the one that closed.
    • See which displaced shoppers have stopped visiting any store in the category. Are they shopping online instead? And at whose eCommerce site?
Third challenge: What’s the “why” behind affected consumers’ observed post-closure visitation patterns? 
  • Solution: Mobile surveys targeted specifically to validated consumers in each behavioral segment - new store, same retailer/switched to a competitor's store after closure/trying different stores/stopped shopping at brick-and-mortar stores in the category. 
  • Result: Useful consumer understanding that helps drive actions and decisions on a number of fronts.
  • Insights Opportunities:
    • The data and insights could inform a variety of marketing efforts, including advertising, discount offers, upgrades of retailers’ apps and online-stores’ attractiveness and functionality to capture dropouts from brick-and-mortar stores.
    • Retailers also can inquire and gain insights into which products and product categories are most important to disenfranchised shoppers as they decide where to go now.

Many other retail problems and opportunities that require fast, trustworthy data will benefit from advanced mobile research solutions. The key inputs that power all these research situations are a large, top-quality, first-party consumer panel that’s engaged and willingly opted in for behavioral tracking as well as surveys.

By coloring observed location data with surveys, and validating the surveys with location data, researchers can gain insights they need to help their brands and clients succeed amid the disruptive changes impacting the retail industry.

Topics: mobile tracking, mobile data, survey data, market research panel, purchase path, always-on data, observational data, retail research

MFour's Partnership with IRI Results in New Insights on Cannabis Users

Posted by MFour on Mar 13, 2019 9:44:59 AM

MFour partnered with leading research firm IRI for IRI’s “New Cannabis Attitude and Usage Study,” surveying legal adult cannabis users to understand their attitudes and motivations, and what further legalization might mean in the marketplace. Among the key findings:

  • Cannabis consumers defy stereotypes.
  • Cannabis products replace purchases of over-the-counter medications.
  • But snack-food manufacturers stand to benefit as legalization spreads.

To read IRI’s press release announcing the cannabis study’s results, click here.

Related: IRI and MFour Partner To Launch IRI OnSights™

Topics: consumer survey, mobile market research, market research panel, IRI Partnership

Use These 3 Easy Tools To Make Sense of Connected Consumers' Complex Shopping Journeys

Posted by MFour on Mar 7, 2019 6:00:00 AM

Thanks to smartphones' impact on shopping behavior, today's purchase paths are markedly more complex than the traditional model that sufficed before the world became mobile and consumers became continuously connected to it.

A recent report from Digiday illustrates how complex retail shopping is becoming. The article focuses on the proliferation of dynamic pricing, which has introduced a new level of uncertainty, ephemerality and risk to attempts to adjust prices to maximize revenue and market share.  

“The notion of `everyday low prices,’ trumpeted by retailers like Walmart and Target, is being turned on its head,” writes Digiday reporter Suman Bhattacharyya. “In its place, pricing algorithms spit out different figures based on factors that could include time of day, demand, location, competition, and customer buying patterns.” For example, someone using a retailer's app to search for products might see different prices than a shopper in the same retailer’s brick and mortar stores.

The article says that Amazon's algorithm-driven powers of flexible pricing have prompted competitors to introduce dynamic pricing strategies of their own. But there are pitfalls: “While retailers recognize that dynamic pricing is necessary to stay competitive, it comes with the risk of undermining customer trust due to perceptions of price gouging or price discrimination.”

As consumer reality becomes more complex and difficult to pin down in this era of constant consumer connection, a first-party mobile consumer panel whose validated, demographically profiled members can be observed as well as surveyed will bring much-needed stability, reliability and utility to market research. Here are a few examples:

  • You can use always-on behavioral data that doubly opted-in mobile consumer panel members authorize MFour to collect, whether it's to focus on their physical journeys in-the-moment, or track them or over weeks and months for insights into their visitation patterns.
  • Combining observed location visits with event-triggered surveys lets you communicate with validated shoppers while they’re still in a store, or just after they’ve left. You’ll collect feedback at the Point-of-Emotion®, avoiding the gaps in time between store experience and data collection that allow recall bias to seep in.
  • Identify shoppers by the mobile apps they use, allowing you to target surveys to them with 100% accuracy. Ask about their experiences with the app itself, or use mobile app tracking as an identification tool for targeting digital shoppers whose app use validates their interest in the brand.

But remember: no research technology will help you understand connected consumers if your participants are not fully engaged, representative and validated as accurately-profiled real people. 

Neither observed data nor survey data will yield quality insights if you’re not observing and surveying the people who are most  relevant to the business problem at hand. It may sound counterintuitive, but the solution for understanding a world that presents consumers with complex, multi-channel opportunities to shop and be influenced is to activate research that springs from a single source: an all-mobile panel, organized around a standard-setting mobile research app. Only a demographically diverse market research panel that's consistent with today's always-on, app-dominated information flow can provide the validated representation and proven engagement you need to observe, survey and understand. 

Topics: consumer data, purchase path, always-on data, connected consumers

What Does Digital Advertising Need Most? Effectiveness Metrics from a Mobile Consumer Panel

Posted by MFour on Feb 28, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Digital is dominating the advertising industry, and ad effectiveness measurement with an all-mobile consumer panel gathered around a mobile market research app is the necessary solution for understanding how well $129 billion in projected 2019 spending is performing as brands try to influence smartphone-centric consumers.

eMarketer predicts 2019 will be the milestone year in which U.S. advertisers for the first time spend more on digital ads ($129 billion) than on television, radio and all other “traditional” advertising channels combined ($109 billion) as they seek to exert influence all along the purchase path. Mobile digital ads will account for $87 billion – 67% of all digital spending, and 36% of all ad-spend dollars across all channels.

It goes without saying that documenting the effectiveness of all those digital advertising dollars is a crucial job for market research. But that task has been deeply problematic, with standard  measurement methods unable to collect reliable metrics in the digital realm. With that in mind, MFour recently announced a comprehensive solution driven by feedback from validated digital ad recipients from the 2.5 million member, all-mobile U.S. consumer panel that uses the Surveys On The Go® mobile market research app.

As Chris St. Hilaire, MFour’s co-founder and CEO has framed it, “until now, digital ad measurement has been directional at best, focused on desktops rather than smartphones despite consumers' massive shift to mobile. Brands are shifting ad spend to mobile because they know that’s where consumers are. Digital Brand Studies don't just guess. They provide accurate, validated metrics. Measuring ad effectiveness doesn’t have to be like reading tea leaves any more.”

For more on Digital Brand Studies, just click here.

 

Topics: mobile market research, digital advertising, mobile consumer panel, Digital Brand Studies, market research panel

5 Key Questions To Ask Consumer Panel Vendors

Posted by MFour on Feb 26, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Here are five intensely important questions to ask when you’re deciding how to do consumer market research in today’s always-on data environment.

  • How can I get data I can trust, from a consumer panel that’s worth trusting?
  • Given the drastic changes in consumers’ purchase paths, how can I identify all the key touchpoints to collect market research data when and where it truly matters?
  • When confronted with Big Data and its sources, how can I tell what’s gold from what’s fool’s gold?
  • How can I get research projects done fast enough to satisfy my clients or stakeholders?
  • With so many providers launching so many products, how can I tell which ones really work?

Now here are five simple responses that will point you toward the answers. 

Related: Market Research for Consumer Products

Trusting the consumer panel/trusting the data:

  • Just ask specific questions about where your data is coming from. If the answer is not clear and simple, look elsewhere. Recruiting a quality, representative market research panel is widely seen as a Herculean task. MFour’s solution is simple: people love their phones. They especially love using apps on their phones. Partner with a mobile market research provider who has a great market research app that attracts a quality, reliable engaged first-party all-mobile consumer panel.  MFour’s app, Surveys On The Go® (SOTG) has been proving its mettle since 2011 and has attracted more than 2.5 million U.S. users. They’ve validated their engagement by giving SOTG a 4.5-star rating on both the Apple and Google app-download sites.

Staying in touch with changing consumer purchase paths:

  • It’s a long and winding road that leads consumers to your door, and today that door is often a retail website or a brand’s app instead of, or in addition to, the door to a physical store. The common denominator is the smartphone, which consumers use to go online and keep in their hands, pockets or handbags when they’re offline.

The online/offline distinction is becoming less clear because there’s so much toggling back and forth, as in checking prices on the web while shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. You need to find research tools and products that can take you everywhere there’s relevant, insights-rich data. It may be online or offline, it may be observational or survey-based, it may be event-triggered or not specific to a moment or a place. But it has to be always on, and it has to take you everywhere your consumers are going along the new purchase paths their smartphones are carving for them.

Big Data Tsunami

  • Just stick to the fundamentals: who are the actual consumers who are providing the data, when did they provide it, and where were they in online or offline space when they generated it? Big Data will confuse you if you don’t have a clear and simple understanding of its sources. It becomes an extremely useful tool for consumer segmentation and other research purposes if you do have the clear and simple understanding of your data sources. Who, exactly , is generating the data you’re observing or actively eliciting, and how have they been recruited?

Fast and faster research

  • It comes down to whether you can connect quickly with known consumers, and how quickly they respond. Waiting for panel aggregators to fill your quotas is slow and leaves a lot to chance. Gathering a first-party consumer panel around a market research app gives you a unified, consistent, always-on data source that’s both validated and fast. You can expect MFour’s SOTG app-users to give you response rates of 25% within one hour and 50% within 24 hours.

Wading through the research product glut

  • Keep it simple. If the consumer panel is reliably representative and quick to respond, the under-the-hood technology and methodology that wins their participation and obtains their data is by definition working smoothly and effectively. If you can get everything you need from a single source – the consumers, the technology, versatile use cases and in-house project support steeped in market research know-how from survey design, programming and fielding through analysis and data reporting, then so much the better.

If one-stop shopping sounds appealing, just scroll to the menu at the top of this page and dive in for details on how mobile app research will drive success with your current projects.

 

 

 

Topics: mobile market research, surveys on the go, in-app Mobile surveys, mobile app research, consumer data

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