Don't Underestimate what Mobile News Consumption Means to Market Research

Posted by MFour on Aug 23, 2018 7:00:00 AM

Blog mobile news 22Aiug18

Should the news that news consumption is overwhelmingly mobile matter to marketing pros and the market research industry? Should it matter to skiers whether there’s snow on the mountain?

For good reason, news organizations are scrambling to meet consumers on mobile, because that’s where news consumers have gone. Those who’ve been able to offer a great mobile product are gaining readership and revenue, while those who can’t seem to get mobile right continue to fade. Similarly, amid industry-wide malaise in market research caused by falling survey participation and crumbling data quality, it’s past time to go all-in with mobile data-collection and get it right. There’s simply no other way forward.

Pew Research Center’s most recent checkup on the state of news consumption underscores that it’s no longer news that mobile has taken over in nearly every phase of life. Skiers who are trying to stay upright during a downhill run may be among the few identifiable groups who are certain not to be using their smartphones at any moment. Or so one hopes.

As snow is to skiers, mobile is to the job of trying to understand consumers. It’s simply the medium in which information activity occurs. Without snow, there’s no skiing. Without mobile news publication, there’s no audience. Without mobile consumer data, there’s no way to understand consumers. And without a way to understand consumers, the news about market research and the businesses that depend on it for smart decision-making probably won’t be good.

Here are key data points from Pew’s study, which was conducted in 2017.

  • 58% of U.S. adults often consume news on mobile, compared to 39% on personal computers.
  • Mobile news consumption rose 176% from 2013 to 2017, compared to an 11% increase over the four years in news access via laptops and desktops.
  • Younger news audiences are even more heavily invested in mobile: 71% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they often get news on mobile, as do 67% of 30- to 49-year-olds.
  • In fact, among 17 demographic segments Pew focused on in its summary, spanning age, gender, race, income, education and political party, just one group, respondents over 65, said they most often used PCs rather than mobile to get the news.

To make a long story short, consumer insights pros and the decision-makers who depend on them for data they can trust need to focus on three key words: “GET MOBILE RIGHT.”

Start with that as your motivation, and we’ll help you get where you need to go. To set up a productive conversation about how to get mobile right as you seek solutions to your projects’ specific needs (including adding mobile to trackers), just click here.

Topics: mobile research, market research, consumer insights, data quality, surveys, consumer experience

Inconveniencing Consumers Is a Killer for  Market Research, Too

Posted by MFour on Aug 15, 2018 12:22:17 PM

Blog Consumer Inconvenience 14Aug18

Here’s a consumer insight that retailers can etch in stone: if you don't make shopping easy and convenient, consumers will abandon you, and competitors who do it better will swoop in and grab them and their wallets for themselves.

A recent RetailDive mobile commerce newsletter gives further evidence that inconvenience is a killer. It reports a recent study by Splitit, a digital payments solutions company, in which  87% of online shoppers surveyed said they would abandon their shopping carts during checkout if the process was too difficult – with 55% saying they would never return.

Inconvenience also is a killer for consumer research, because consumer research is, in fact, a B2C sell. If this assertion surprises you, it’s time to take a broader view. 

Yes, consumer research is, of course, a B2B transaction between research suppliers and their clients. But what’s being supplied and bought is consumer data. And there will be no consumer data, or at least none worth having, if you fail to sell consumers on providing it in an engaged and thoughtful way. So before it can become a B2B offering, consumer research needs to be a B2C success. 

If you make it inconvenient for consumers to access research experiences and fail to make those experiences easy and enjoyable, you’ll end up with the equivalent of those abandoned online shopping carts – too few consumers, too little reliable data, and, eventually, not enough business to sustain your research enterprise. Unrepresentative data, insufficient data and unreliable data are certainly beyond-inconvenient to the ultimate consumers of consumer research: the business decision-makers who expect reliable guidance grounded in validated consumer reality.

MFour’s value proposition is quality mobile data made possible by an engaging, pain-free, and seamlessly convenient survey experience for the consumers who download our standard-setting mobile research app. More than 100,000 of our Surveys On The Go® (SOTG) app users have spoken for themselves about their experiences by posting comments and ratings in the Apple and Google Play app stores. SOTG perpetually enjoys an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.

Here are other metrics that reflect what our survey-app users' convenience and satisfaction have meant for MFour's clients:

  • 25% response rates within an hour, and 50% within one day.
  • 95% completion rates for surveys with LOI of 20+ minutes.
  • 85% participation in follow-up surveys for consumer diaries and other multi-phase studies.

The takeaway is that the people on our panel are not checked out from consumer research. To learn what that can mean for your specific research projects, just click here.



Topics: mobile research, consumer insights, data quality, retail, consumer experience

It's Fundamental: Know Exactly Where Your Data Comes From - or Else.

Posted by MFour on Aug 7, 2018 9:31:59 AM

First-party Source blog 7Aug18 

The fundamentals of any important subject are always worth revisiting, and they should always be restated with the utmost clarity – especially when the subject is as complex as market research and consumer insights.

With that in mind, here’s Roger D. Peng, Professor of Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University, stating a fundamental principle of data sourcing with perfect clarity. It’s part of an online course, “Managing Data Statistics,” offered by

“You need to be able to tell a story about how the data came from the population and ended up in your lap. If you can’t describe that process, then it’s going to be very hard to understand how valid your inferences are from the data. The better and more clearly you can describe how the data came to you, the stronger your results will be.”

In light of this simple truth, you can see the shortcomings of using foggy data sourcing methods such as river sampling for online surveys. The same goes for inferring who consumers are from massive sets of third-party data collected from myriad sources, without actually studying the real source of consumer data, which is, after all, real consumers.

It’s worth repeating: “The better and more clearly you can describe how the data came to you, the stronger your results will be.”

That truth from Prof. Peng applies not only to the accuracy and relevance of your analysis of the data, but to the story you need to be able to communicate intelligibly to the business decision-makers who are looking to consumer insights pros for guidance. How did the data “end up in your lap?” How are you going to “describe that process?” And what are the chances your data and recommendations will be respected and applied to the decision at hand if you can’t make it perfectly clear what the data is and where it came from?

Does a complex, roundabout approach to data collection help your cause? Are you yourself a bit uncertain about where the survey respondents came from and who they really are? Does the third-party data and the way it’s processed to create inferences about consumer identities and behaviors make total sense to you?  

The best way to meet the fundamental need for clarity and intelligibility is to observe and question validated, real consumers. There’s nothing hidden or complicated about a first-party consumer panel of willing research participants who want to take surveys, and who come from just one, easily identifiable and easily described source. There's no substitute for a research population of validated U.S. consumers who willingly have downloaded a mobile research app and shared various kinds of profiling information about themselves in order to participate. A large majority of app users also consent to a transparent request to enable their phones’ location services, which makes them available for powerful, in-the-moment in-store and after-visit surveys, and allows their movements to be observed and tracked for a powerful understanding of their buying journeys.

As Sherlock Holmes was fond of telling Dr. Watson, “it’s elementary.” Yes, the fundamentals are elementary, but they’re not easy. Clarity is a rare commodity. To learn more about how to achieve the clarity you need about your data’s sourcing, validity, and usefulness in constructing an actionable consumer narrative, just get in touch by clicking here.



Topics: data quality, data integrity

Women of Insight: Meet MFour's Senior Research Consultants

Posted by MFour on Aug 2, 2018 9:20:14 AM

Quirks photo Wehn Martinez Han Aug 2018 issue

L-R: Allyson Wehn, Joan Martinez, Andrea Han

Successful market research delivers accurate, actionable numbers that reliably depict consumer reality, but success really depends on the human factor. At one end are the people who provide a window on reality by participating in research as respondents. At the other are the consumer insights professionals who have the expertise and passion to succeed at the meticulous, exacting work of creating studies that will obtain data that's pertinent and reliable, then interpret what it all means to give clients analysis and recommendations that will help them reach  smart business decisions.

It's only fitting, then, that three key members of MFour's insights team, Senior Research Consultants Andrea Han, Joan Martinez and Allyson Wehn, have a spotlight moment in the August issue of Quirk's, as part of its "Faces of Market Research" feature. You can check out their profile in the magazine itself by clicking here (see pg. 57). Or just read on.

Andrea Han, Joan Martinez and Allyson Wehn have come from widely diverse hometowns – Sao Paulo, Brazil, the village of Ordot on Guam, and Fullerton, CA., respectively -- to share a proud and important job title at MFour: Senior Research Consultant. They also share a passion for consumer insights that, among them, has produced 57 years’ experience in market research. As a team, they analyze data obtained from validated, first-party consumers who participate in research by using MFour’s pioneering mobile app, Surveys on the Go®. That includes drawing insights from location tracking data, photo captures, and real-time “video selfies” that respondents create and submit with their phones.

“My natural curiosity has driven my career,” says Martinez, who has been doing consumer research since her college days at California State University, Los Angeles. “What intrigues me about MFour is the technology. My thinking was, `this is the new frontier, where the world is going.’ I want to be part of that.”

For Wehn, “sometimes I feel like a detective, because clients are asking me to look for answers.” The University of California, Santa Barbara graduate also relishes the populist underpinnings of consumer research. When she’s out shopping, she often finds herself mentally recreating the research behind the merchandise. “When I see the real-life applications, more often than not those decisions come from consumers giving feedback on how they want things to be.”

Han, a graduate of the University of Southern California, says her career satisfaction is tied to her clients’ satisfaction. “They want to know, `what does this data mean to us?’ That’s what we’re here for. The real rewarding part for me is when clients look at the insights in the deck and say, `this is what we needed…and more.’”

You, too, can get what you need...and more. Get in touch and we'll talk about getting you started. Just click here.



Topics: mobile research, market research, consumer insights, data quality, data analysis

6 Key Tips for Avoiding Data Fraud in Consumer Research

Posted by MFour on Jul 17, 2018 6:00:00 AM

Smartphone blog 17July18

Consumer insights professionals are always trying to help businesses stay on top of changes in the marketplace. What determines how we live as consumers? What drives changes in what we want, how we shop, and what we buy?

There were a number of hugely significant change agents in the 20th century, not least the automobile. Even now, after nearly 100 years of dominating personal transportation, autos continue to change in fundamental ways as manufacturers address problems such as emissions, mileage and even the need for a human behind the wheel. Consumers continue to respond to each new advance.

Now, in the 21st Century, the key transformation has been the ability of all to journey online to connect with others and exchange information. Its changes, including smartphones for access and social media for posting and sharing, have been faster and more protean than the automobile’s. Like the automobile, the internet needs to address a serious pollution problem –the persistence of fraud.

Keith Weed, Unilever’s Chief Marketing Officer, summed up the challenges of fraud in social media marketing in a recent interview with the New York Times about Twitter’s decision to remove tens of millions of fraudulent accounts. The fake accounts are believed to have been created by online “influencers” to falsely fatten up the reach of their influence. The victims are brands that pay influencers to promote products to their audiences. If these intermediaries are influencing real consumers, then they’re earning their money. If their audience is manufactured, that’s fraud.

Cleaning up the pollution of fraud and falsity can only benefit social platforms, Weed told the Times.  “People will believe more and read more on Twitter if they know there is less bot activity and more human activity. I would encourage and ask others to follow.” For its own part, Unilever has announced it would no longer pay influencers who have bolstered their followings by creating fake accounts or purchasing followers from brokers.

The consumer insights industry is by now well aware of the predations of fraudsters who impersonate real consumers by launching survey bots or by taking the same survey multiple times. Data collection that fails to safeguard against fraud threatens consumer insights’ ability to be taken seriously by business decision makers. Consequently, data pollution isn’t a tolerable irritant for market research, akin to catching a cold, but an existential threat comparable to catching Zika.

To avoid being stung, researchers should consider the following:

  • Insist that providers be transparent about how they source consumer panels to take your surveys.

  • Realize that first-party consumer panels are vetted and validated with multiple opt-ins to separate real people from bots.

  • Understand that smartphones now reign over laptops and desktops as survey-taking tools.

  • Bone up on how smartphone-specific capabilities such as including requests for “video selfies” in surveys not only elicit especially rich, in-the-moment responses, but certify the respondents as actual human beings.

  • Stay away from online surveys, which take place in an unhealthy, fraud-infested environment.

  • Learn the difference between in-app mobile surveys, which are instantly embedded in respondents phones and are taken in the safe offline space, and “mobile optimized” or “mobile web” surveys, which misuse smartphones by turning them into mere conduits to the hazardous online space.

If this makes sense, take 20 or 30 minutes to learn how in-app mobile solutions will meet your specific research needs with data you can trust. To set up a call, just click here.






Topics: mobile surveys, data quality, national retail federation, data fraud

GreenBook's GRIT Report Speaks the Magic Words that Will Save Market Research

Posted by MFour on Jun 20, 2018 11:45:03 AM

GRIT Report 2018 Q1-Q2

Why is the new GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report different from all others that have come before it?

It’s different because it's the first to include the magic words that will save market research: “Mobile in-app solutions.”

Here’s the full quote, from an anonymous respondent to GreenBook’s survey of 3,930 global respondents (49% of them from the U.S.):

“Mobile in-app solutions provide for more accurate, reliable and representative sample. As market research suppliers start to adopt this gold standard of data collection, sample and the data output will become better.”

It was one of the few confidently positive assertions in a chapter titled “The Future of Sampling.” That future will be bleak, the report says, unless the industry can find answers to the problems that are rapidly eroding trust in survey data. At the heart of the crisis is consumers’ disengagement from participating in survey research. 

Here's how GRIT's authors sum up the situation: “The frustrations from all sides [of the data-quality crisis] are real, and the risks are growing….The traditional model is no longer sustainable and will require painful change up and down the survey ecosystem.”

To quantify the data quality problem:

  • The GRIT survey found that 39% of the clients and researchers who depend on outside sample providers expect the quality of consumer panels to worsen over the coming three years. Only 19% thought it would improve.
  • Tellingly, 23% of sample providers think their product’s quality will worsen, and 37% expect quality to stay the same.
  • That’s a shocking 60% who think the quality of what they sell is moving in the wrong direction. And in  today’s fast-shifting landscape for just about any industry, those who stand still are going to get run over by those who are innovating to move ahead. 

Another quoted GRIT respondent summed it up without mincing words:

“[I am] completely frustrated with the quality of sample now and have no confidence that the panel companies will do anything to improve it. Frankly, it’s a slimy business and if clients knew half of what goes on behind the scenes, a lot of online research would go away.”

Again, GRIT points to mobile surveys as the way forward:

  • “Surveys taken on mobile devices offer many more methods of validating respondent identity and location,” a key defense against the rampant data fraud that is rapidly eroding confidence in traditional online surveys.
  • "[It] will get better only if the medium changes. Mobile-first sample introduces higher quality data at larger scale vs. traditional online panels, because Mobile Ad IDs are harder to ‘dupe’ than online cookies."  An Ad ID is the unique, validating code that identifies each smartphone. 

But remember: the magic words that will redefine consumer data collection are not "mobile solutions." They are "mobile in-app solutions." There's a critical distinction between accessing a universe of first-party consumers who have downloaded an app through which they can participate in market research, versus continuing to conduct online surveys, but trying to make them more palatable to smartphone users. You've seen this less innovative approach described as "mobile optimized," "mobile friendly," "mobile first" or "mobile web."

Only "mobile web" is a legitimate label, because it specifies an actual research technique: fielding online, web-based surveys to consumers on their smartphones. Using the right terminology clarifies the choice market researchers have to make, once they decide they need to emphasize mobile, and realize that they need to get it right. 

When making that choice, here are key points to consider:

  • Apps, rather than mobile web, are the natural, preferred mobile environment.
  • Proof point: U.S. adult smartphone owners’ average daily mobile app usage exceeded mobile web usage by a ratio of nearly 6  to 1 in 2017 – 145 minutes for apps, and 26 minutes for mobile web. (per eMarketer).
  • When the interface is an advanced mobile app, surveys load instantly into the respondents' phones. They can now answer when it's convenient, with no need for the continuous connection to the internet that's necessary for mobile-web methodology.

You've probably experienced the difference between mobile apps and mobile web yourself. To spell it out:

  • Access to any kind of content via a web browser is vulnerable to interruptions due to poor connectivity.
  • Mobile web/mobile browser connections are vulnerable to load times that are far longer than the one or two seconds experts say is all consumers will tolerate before moving on to something else.
  • For surveys, each question and answer requires a back-and-forth exchange between the respondent's phone and the internet-based survey host. 
  • Slow load time performance and dropped connections leave mobile survey-takers frustrated and alienated, perpetuating the mounting problem of consumers refusing to participate in surveys at all.

There’s a lot here to digest, but it comes down to one overarching distinction that consumer insights professionals must keep in mind: 

There’s no such thing as “mobile methodology” because that would suggest there are other meaningful research methodologies. Today, we all live in a mobile ecosystem. And within that ecosystem, you must choose where to live and conduct your work: inside the safety of a mobile app, or out there, exposed, on the hazardous mobile web.

Thanks as always to GreenBook for keeping a steady hand on the pulse of the consumer insights profession and giving us an ongoing reading of its hopes, fears and best ideas about finding ways forward. This time, the report has gone a long way toward clarifying the problem, and pointing specifically to mobile in-app solutions as the way forward.

You’ll find more about in-app mobile on the MFour blog, and you’ll access the largest repository of in-app mobile solutions on the MFour website,. including an archive of webinars. And to set up a discussion about how in-app mobile research will address your specific needs, just get in touch by clicking here.

Topics: data quality, GreenBook, GRIT Report, in-app Mobile surveys, sample quality

Why Consumer Insights Pros Should Follow Marketing Pros' Lead

Posted by MFour on Jun 6, 2018 11:37:21 AM

Laptop Destroyer blog 30May18

Should consumer insights professionals take an investment tip from the marketing departments of the brands they serve?

For brands, the smart money increasingly is on reaching consumers on their smartphones, according to a recently-issued report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) on how brands are dividing their digital ad-spend budgets. Here are key comparative figures for mobile vs. desktop ad revenues for 2017:  

  • Overall spending: Mobile, $50 billion; Desktop, $38 billion.
  • Percentage revenue gain, 2017 over 2016: Mobile, 36%; Desktop, 6%.
  • Share of digital ad spend: Mobile, 57%; Desktop, 43%.
  • The report also notes that in 2017, video ad spending on mobile rose by a whopping 54%, vaulting mobile ahead of desktop’s share of video ad dollars for the first time.

“Smartphones and tablets have become indispensable tools in the hands of consumers, from the moment they wake up to right before they go to sleep,” Anna Bager, the IAB’s Executive Vice President, Industry Initiatives, said in an announcement of the report. “A double-digit uptick in spend on mobile video is testament to both the pull of mobile and consumers’ never-ending demand for sight, sound, and motion—even while on-the-go.”

In the face of facts and business trends such as these, it seems increasingly incongruous that MFour’s solutions executives report pushback against mobile from a surprising number of consumer insights pros who want to stick with familiar, desktop-centric, online methodology. Among other things, last-gen approaches lose the chance to achieve compelling, location-based consumer understanding by accessing proprietary, smartphone-specific technologies such as GeoIntensity® and GeoNotification®

For a research industry that’s all about the numbers and how they’re trending, It just doesn’t add up. The boom in mobile advertising shows where the trend is going and where the smart marketing money already is. Unless we’re missing something, mobile is where the smart market researcher needs to be as well. In both consumer insights and consumer marketing, everything depends on being able to reach consumers, and the latest ad spending figures testify to how that’s best accomplished in the Smartphone Era.

For an informative and productive conversation about how you can invest in state-of-the-art, in-app mobile research to meet the engaged, validated, and representative consumers your own projects demand, just get in touch by clicking here.

Topics: mobile market research, consumer insights, advertising research, data quality, adv

Understanding CPG Non-Buyers with Path-2-Purchase™ Research

Posted by MFour on May 31, 2018 9:30:00 AM

Fast delivery blog image 15May18 

Can the CPG industry speed up its delivery of store inventory to sustain profitability? And can the consumer insights teams for brands and retailers speed up their delivery of CPG data to meet the unavoidably punishing deadlines that come with the breakneck pace of today's on-demand mobile commerce? 

The rising demand for speed, the intensity of deadline pressure, and the huge stakes involved are documented in a recent study by the Grocery Manufacturers’ Assn. (GMA) called “How CPG Supply Chains Are Preparing for Seismic Change.” A key takeaway is that producers of consumer goods face increasingly intense pressure to deliver products faster, and to a more diverse array of outlets, including the warehouses of Amazon and other e-commerce sites as well as traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. Retailers, the report says, are enforcing delivery deadlines by imposing fines when product shipments don’t arrive on time. All for the sake of ensuring that shoppers will be buyers, not non-buyers.

Understanding non-buyers is crucial in any context, and Path-2-Purchase™ Platform gives the consumer insights teams of CPG brands and retailers an unprecedented opportunity for fast insights. Here's how it works:

  • Researchers can track where validated U.S. consumers are now, and where they’ve been in the past, across 12.5 million U.S. locations, including all outlets of the top 1,000 retailers.
  • Immediately target mobile surveys to any relevant consumer profile, with the ability to build custom segments based on who panelists are and where they’ve gone. 
  • Identify and use proprietary mobile GeoIntensity® and GeoNotification®  technologies to approach consumers who sometimes go to your own store, and sometimes to a competitor’s stores.
  • Talk to targeted shoppers instantly in-store or just after they’ve left, while the experience and their emotions are still vivid and unimpeded by recall bias.
  • Identify non-buyers in the exit interview, and explore why they bought nothing, or didn't buy all the items they had intended.
  • How big a factor is unavailability, as opposed to pricing? Did the shopper ask for help finding the product? Does the data point toward delayed or incomplete product delivery? Answer these questions and you'll give your decision-making research stakeholders a road map to reducing non-buyers and the lost sales they represent. 

For a productive conversation about Path-2-Purchase™ and how to use it for insights into non-buying behavior, just get in touch by clicking here. And to see the GMA’s report on CPG supply-chain issues, just click here.

Topics: consumer insights, data quality, cpg

GDPR Is Good for Market Research Because it’s Good for Consumers

Posted by Vardan Kirakosyan on May 24, 2018 4:07:20 PM

GDPR Blog 10May18


May 25, the day the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect in the European Union, is the day the consumer insights industry finally is being forced to become absolutely serious about data sourcing and data quality. At last, consumers who provide the data are being accorded the respect and fair and honest treatment they’ve always deserved. And that's good news for all consumer insights professionals who care about quality, and not just about filling quotas. 

GDPR’s impact on market research providers and buyers will be felt beyond the EU, because companies that collect data from consumers in EU countries must comply, regardless where they are based. Apple isn’t waiting: 9to5Mac reports that it's banning apps from its App Store if they don’t comply with a policy prohibiting publishers of iOS apps from providing consumers’ location data to third parties “without explicit consent from the user."

(For the detailed rundown you need on GDPR’s significant implications for the market research industry, attend the upcoming webinar, "The GDPR Survival Checklist for Market Researchers." It's happening May 31 at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern; to sign up, just click here.)

Meanwhile, U.S.-specific regulations similar to GDPR are in the pipeline, notably the California Consumer Right to Privacy Act of 2018, which will be put to a vote on the November ballot. The new law requires any company that collects data from consumers in California to disclose what’s being collected or sold, while giving each individual the right to opt out.

These new consumer rights are not a burden, but an opportunity for market research – and here’s why:

  • It has long been obvious that data quality can't be achieved unless researchers are truthful and transparent with the consumers they rely on to provide the data.
  • Treat consumers well, which most definitely means obtaining their informed consent to be surveyed or have their physical and digital journeys passively tracked, and they will reward you by upholding their end of the bargain with willing engagement and thoughtful survey responses.

Market research should have happily embraced this fundamental principle long ago, as soon as research methodology began its migration to digital space after having previously engaged consumers primarily by telephone call and face-to-face interview.

Instead, it has become commonplace for data providers and buyers alike to sacrifice quality for quantity in the race to keep completes coming from a public that’s increasingly reluctant to participate knowingly in online consumer research. Third-party, questionably sourced data can be a tempting short-cut for researchers who are desperate to make their projects feasible. But the industry has to do better than that, not just to respect the consumer, but to know precisely where the data is coming from. If you aren't in command of your data's sourcing, you're less likely to command respect as a fully credible and authoritative contributor to the process of making informed business decisions.

The beauty of GDPR for consumer insights is that it signals the end of cutting corners on data validation and data quality. GDPR means having to engage honestly and directly with first-party consumers, who now will have the explicit right to be treated as they’ve always deserved: as informed and willing research partners instead of mere “targets” for data extraction. 

What does this mean to the actual task of performing consumer research, and serving the clients who rely on it?

  • First, the flow of passively-tracked data is likely to be severely constricted for many suppliers and their customers. Consumers are becoming more aware that their locations and behaviors are being observed, and that they have a right to opt out.
  • Second, companies that purchase third-party  data will need to pay closer attention to how it’s being sourced. They’ll need assurances that the consumers providing it have received disclosures and have given consent, as required by the privacy laws. And if those assurances and verifications are lacking, the responsible, GDPR-compliant approach will be to shun data from those sources.
  • Third, brands and companies that need consumer data will now have to focus on the quality of research participants’ survey experiences. Industry resource GreenBook has repeatedly documented, and with rising concern, how panelists’ experience has been a secondary consideration, at best, for many consumer insights professionals. Now, in keeping with the consumer-first spirit of GDPR,  it’s time for the industry to truly earn consumers’ cooperation and consent by guaranteeing the good experiences and fair rewards that will make them want to opt in instead of tuning out. 

MFour welcomes the new privacy and consent laws because they’re the same rules under which we’ve always operated. We’ve recognized from the start that in research, as in retail, the consumer must come first. A quality experience for our research participants translates into quality data for our clients.

Transparency is built into our dealings with the more than 2 million U.S. consumers who have downloaded Surveys On The Go®, the pioneering mobile app MFour launched in 2011 to bring consumer research into the Smartphone Era.

  • For example, rather than track consumers' movements surreptitiously, or obtain merely technical, legalistic consent via fine print in the app’s terms of use, our policy is to give our app-users regular reminders that we would like them to turn on their devices’ location features. 
  • We make sure they understand that, in return for letting us keep track of their whereabouts, they are more likely to qualify for location-based surveys whose cash rewards are especially attractive.
  • The proposition is clearly stated, and the decision is theirs to make. It's what fair-dealing with consumers in the research realm demands: always making it clear that they have agency over their data and participation.
  • If a consumer who uses Surveys On The Go® would rather not be tracked by location, that’s fine; that person remains an app-user in good standing, and is still eligible for studies that are not location-sensitive. Personally identifiable information is always kept confidential and not shared with clients or anybody else.

To see what it takes to win consumers' trust in the research experience and gain their informed consent, you can visit the iOS App Store and Google Play, then search for Surveys On The Go®. Many consumers have left comments about their experiences with the app, and more than 70,000 have quantified their opinions by giving SOTG a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.

So the days of dubiously sourced, catch-as-catch-can data acquisition are dwindling. Now the Digital Era is edging closer to maturity, and the Wild West mentality that has allowed some data collectors to play fast and loose with transparency and consent has nearly run its course.

Like it or not, market research, too, will be forced to focus on how data is sourced, while emphasizing the consumers' right to transparency about how and why their data is being collected. The realization will spread industry-wide that data quality comes first, that it doesn’t come dirt cheap, and that it doesn’t come from just anywhere, but from reliable, validated, first-party consumers who are being treated fairly and transparently, and having quality research experiences.  

Vardan Kirakosyan is MFour's Vice President of Research Solutions.

To go deeper into GDPR and its implications for the insights industry, remember to sign up for our webinar, "The GDPR Survival Checklist for Market Researchers," presented by Vardan Kirakosyan of MFour. It's happening May 31 at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern. To register, just click here. 

Topics: mobile research, surveys on the go, market research, consumer insights, GDPR, data quality

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