Mobile News Mix

Just How Big Was Black Friday? We Followed Shoppers from Store to Store to Find Out.

Posted by MFour on Dec 5, 2018 12:13:32 PM

Black -1

Retailers’ and product manufacturers’ bottom lines hang in the balance on Black Friday. We followed validated, first-party consumers from store to store during their buying journeys on the big day, and here’s some of what we discovered:

  • Consumers did their part for retailers by going bargain-hunting instead of going to the gym.
  • With their refrigerators stuffed with Thanksgiving leftovers, they understandably avoided grocery aisles.
  • Faced with those leftovers at home, they were not entirely averse to eating out, especially at chains commonly located in shopping malls.
  • However, as KFC can attest, quick-serve meals featuring poultry with biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy can be a hard sell the day after Thanksgiving.

Here are some highlights that can be observed on MFour’s consumer-journey visualization tool, Path-2-Purchase® Platform. It continuously tracks the daily location visits of 2.5 million first-party U.S. consumers who have downloaded the Surveys On The Go® mobile research app. Members doubly opt in to allow location tracking via their smartphones across 12.5 million locations, enabling them to receive in-store and after-visit survey opportunities for location-based research.

The figures compare observed retail visits on Black Friday, Nov. 23, with the average number of visits to each retailer or restaurant over the five previous Fridays from Oct. 19 to Nov. 16.

  • About those absences from the gym: top fitness chains experienced drop-offs of 20% (at Anytime Fitness) to 66% (at Equinox). LA Fitness was in the middle with a 38% decrease in foot traffic.

Instead, shoppers flocked to the stores en masse, and many retailers saw foot traffic soar by factors of two, three, four and five over their recent Friday averages. However, to see those results you will have to wait for in our 2018 Black Friday Study webinar on December 12th at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern (which you can register for below). In the meantime, here are some other insights we gleaned from Black Friday:

  • It was a more normal Friday at club stores: Costco saw a 12% increase and Sam’s Club a 10% boost.
  • If working off calories in a gym wasn’t on most consumers’ agendas, they were certainly thinking about getting active in the future: Dick’s Sporting Goods boosted its foot traffic 483% above recent Friday norms, and Bass Pro Shops enjoyed a 474% upsurge.
  • It was generally a down Friday for quick-serve restaurants, with Taco Bell, McDonald’s and Subway off 13% to 19% from their recent norms.
  • But some restaurants that typically are inside or in close proximity to malls succeeded in refilling stomachs that had gotten over their Thanksgiving heroics. Johnny Rockets (278%), Cinnabon (147%), Sbarro (89%) and The Cheesecake Factory (55%) were busier than their usual Friday.
  • And chicken didn’t seem quite so alluring as usual after a day of poultry overload. KFC’s foot traffic was down 41% and Chick-fil-A was off 19% from recent Friday averages.
  • Grocery stores were down, with Albertsons, Kroger and Winn-Dixie stores averaging an aggregate slacking off of 31% from their recent Friday norms.

While it’s well worth targeting, tracking and observing demographically profiled consumers’ visitation patterns, there’s more to be done to understand their motivations and their shopping experiences. The key is being able to locate and survey them in real time, during or just after a shopping visit. That will be the subject of “Black Friday Consumer Study – the `Why’ Behind the Buy,” a webinar MFour is offering Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern. To sign up, just complete the form below.

 

Topics: mobile research, black friday, geolocation, Path-2-Purchase™ Platform, mobile data

Is Market Research Fated To Go the Way of Video Stores?

Posted by MFour on Nov 29, 2018 6:00:00 AM

Blog Video Stores 20Nov18

How important is it to collect fast, accurate data about customer experiences? In one history-making case, a single bad customer experience may have destroyed an industry. 

According to Netflix’s origin myth, company founder Reed Hastings first conceived the idea of a mail-order subscription video service after being slammed with a large late fee because he was tardy in returning a videocassette of the movie, “Apollo 13” to the store he’d rented it from.

You can read this Quartz.com report about how Netflix came to be. While it’s possible that the late-fee incident has been embellished somewhat in its frequent retelling, there’s no question that Hastings wasn’t satisfied with his own video rental experiences and took them as a cue for groundbreaking entrepreneurship. The result has had immense consequences for the distribution and consumption (and more recently, the creation) of video entertainment.

According to estimates from the Digital Entertainment Group, brick-and-mortar video rental stores grossed $393 million in 2017, compared to $11.5 billion for streaming services and video on demand. Meanwhile, the number of video stores fell from nearly 30,000 in 2000 to just over 2,000 in 2017, according to a USA Today feature on America’s fastest-dying industries.

While industries typically can’t trace their collapse to a single failure to provide a satisfying customer experience, poor encounters with brands and retailers inevitably erode their earnings and chase consumers to their competitors. Negative sentiment takes wing in an instant on the internet, and if those perceptions take hold they will threaten revenues and profits.

So staying continually on top of what consumers think and feel about a brand should be a day-by-day priority, verging on an obsession, for market research. Now, thanks to GPS location studies conducted through a mobile research app, it’s an obsession that’s easy to satisfy.

The best time to assess the quality of consumers’ shopping experiences is while the experiences are actually happening, or just after. In-store and after-visit mobile geolocation studies get that job done. Store atmosphere, service quality, pricing, the ease or difficulty shoppers have in navigating the aisles to find the products they want – all can be best assessed at the Point-of-Emotion®. It’s the spot on the place/time continuum where responses from consumers are most vivid and come closest to the whole truth about what they are experiencing, how they feel about it, and how those experiences influence their buying decisions and overall satisfaction.

Of course, GPS location studies will only be as good as who you’re locating and how engaged they are with your research. Unless you want heaps of well-documented trouble associated with the quality of online consumer surveys, the crucial “who” has to be a first-party, single-source consumer panel of validated actual shoppers. MFour’s consumers are gathered around Surveys On The Go®, the most highly-developed, highest-rated mobile research app.

The satisfaction of 2.5 million U.S. consumers who have downloaded SOTG is the big difference maker. They’re engaged, carefully profiled mobile research participants who doubly opt in to have their location journeys tracked, in exchange for increased opportunities to receive surveys they complete quickly on their smartphones. That’s how you’ll identify them in-store and survey them when it matters most.

Expect 25% response rates within an hour, and 50% within 24 hours. And if you want to follow them beyond the moments of shopping and purchasing, and understand their satisfaction at the moment they’re actually using or consuming a product, that’s also an easy “get” for in-app mobile. Expect response rates of 85% for In-Home User Tests conducted up to two weeks after a purchase.

Reed Hastings realized he could transform the movie-rental experience (and the future of rental revenues) by using technology to make it easy on the consumer. You can do the same for yourself. Market research conducted with the state-of-the-art GPS location and consumer-panel quality unique to in-app mobile research will be more satisfying to you as a consumer of market research tools. If the online consumer data you’ve been collecting isn’t giving you what you need, maybe it’s time for some innovative thinking and action of your own.  

 

Topics: consumer survey, mobile research, geolocation, market research, mobile tracking

Cold, Hard Survey Data Isn’t Cold or Hard when it Reveals Consumers’ Emotions

Posted by MFour on Nov 15, 2018 7:00:00 AM

Blog Empathy 1Oct18

Empathy is indispensable to strong friendships, marriages, and any other rewarding human interaction. For brands, forging empathetic bonds is the essence of winning customer loyalty. Consumer insights pros have a pivotal role to play in empathy building, since they are the observing eyes and attentive ears who collect the data that leads to understanding, without which there can be no emotion-based connection.

A recent article posted online by the Harvard Business Review explores new ways of training employees to understand and empathize with the customers they serve. It lays out a four-step process that, significantly, begins with “Gathering insights. What is broken, frustrating, surprising or uncomfortable for your customer?”

The article, “To Get Employees To Empathize with Customers, Get them To Think Like Customers,” proposes a bit of unusual game-playing to put employees in customers’ shoes. Authors Erin Henkel and Adam Grant suggest that managers identify a business in an unrelated industry that interacts with customers in ways comparable to the one trying to up its customer-empathy game. Then it sends employees to have a customer experience with the mirror brand, and see how it feels to need service and see where it succeeds or falls short. The idea is that there will be more freedom for discussion if their own company’s policies and execution are not the direct subject of a customer-empathy discussion.

“It takes time and energy to design these experiences,” the authors write, “….but we’ve found them to be a powerful way to ensure that the people in your organization truly understand their customers.”

The challenge for any brand as it tries to understand “what is broken, frustrating, surprising or uncomfortable for your customer” is to strike while the emotions and experiences are hot.

Too often, the data harvested via consumer surveys reflects stale memories, and little, if any emotion, because emotion often flares during and directly after an experience, but quickly subsides.

In an act of empathy for marketers and market researchers, we’ll lay out the bones of our solution, which we call survey research at the Point-of-Emotion®.

First comes the not-so-secret ingredient: a first-party consumer panel of representative U.S. consumers.

Next comes the unique, proprietary ingredient: Surveys On The Go® (SOTG), the research industry’s most advanced and reliable mobile app for locating and surveying consumers during their buying journeys. We’ve empathized with our app-users by giving them great mobile experiences that satisfy their demand for smooth-functioning, fun experiences on their smartphones

Since its debut in 2011, SOTG has received consistent ratings of 4.5-stars out of 5 at the Apple and Google Play stores. Our users’ satisfaction gets you the engagement you need for fast, accurate data.

The right people, engaged by the right technology, gets you the right-now, right-place data you need to uncork emotions and experiences before they’ve gone flat due to the passage of time. You can field surveys while your audience is still in a store, or wait until they exit for a post-visit survey that captures their entire experience.

For an empathetic discussion of how mobile-app location studies can meet your projects’ specific needs, just get in touch by clicking here.

 

Topics: point of emotion, geolocation, market research, consumer insights, in-app Mobile surveys, consumer experience

See How We Watched Consumers Flock to Starbucks for a Holiday Cup Giveaway

Posted by MFour on Nov 7, 2018 11:47:33 AM

Blog P2P Starbucks giveaway 6Nov18

Three weeks ahead of Black Friday, Starbucks Coffee found itself with its own unique doorbuster on its hands. The coffeehouse giant was offering a free, reusable cup with cheerful holiday designs featuring the Starbucks logo to any customer who came in on Friday, Nov. 2 and ordered one of Starbucks’ special seasonal coffee drinks.

The result? A whopping 41% spike in foot traffic over the average Friday. There was even an apparent echo effect: on Saturday, Nov. 3, the day after the one-day offer, foot traffic was 16% greater than the average Saturday.

Market researchers interested in gaining insights into coffeehouse chains and quick-serve restaurants can see the spike in foot traffic for themselves in chart form on MFour’s Path-2-Purchase® Platform. Plug in “Starbucks” on the free Path-2-Purchase tracking tool, and you’ll see the big surge that occurred on Nov. 2-3, and how visits on the day of the cup giveaway compared to every other day in the preceding three months.

Path-2-Purchase is unique in its ability to track validated, representative U.S. consumers’ visits to 12.5 million locations, including all of the top 1,000 retail and restaurant chains. On the technology side it’s powered by advanced GPS location technology and MFour’s unrivaled Surveys On The Go® (SOTG) mobile research app. On the people side, SOTG gives researchers the ability to connect with the 2.5 million first-party consumers who have downloaded the app.

SOTG users give double opt-in consent to have their movements tracked using their smartphones’ GPS features, in exchange for opportunities to receive location-specific surveys that earn them cash rewards. It’s these demographically profiled consumers’ engagement with SOTG that makes it possible for marketers and market researchers to see where they go, when and how often – and to gain otherwise unobtainable insights into events such as the Starbucks cup giveaway.

Tracking is only a means to the most productive research end: connecting with the consumers you’ve tracked to survey them about the experiences they’ve had at any stop along their paths to purchase. For example, a researcher interested in the competition in coffee could use Path-2-Purchase data to identify validated Starbucks customers and send them surveys. You also could overlay Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts locations to compare visitation and identify important consumer segments. Segments might include coffee-agnostics who go to both Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, or loyalists who are customers of one but never the other.

Once you've identified your segments, you can survey those consumers to understand the all-import “why” behind their coffee buy.

We know there's no shortage of GPS visitation tracking providers, but all the rest are only capable of counting footprints and spitting out numbers. The location data they give you ends there, leaving the actual consumers who've left those footprints all but invisible.

But when you conduct location-based mobile research using Surveys On The Go, the validated, first-party consumers you track are profiled, real and reachable, so you can connect with them for the "why" behind the buy.

As it turned out, Dunkin’ Donuts managed to hold its own during Starbucks’ big Friday cup giveaway: nationwide, its traffic fell just 1% below the Friday average.  

In fact, Starbucks’ cup giveaway actually turned out to be a little too successful. The Today Show reported on its website that supplies quickly ran out at some locations, leaving customers disappointed. 

If you’re so inclined, we can identify and put you in touch with members of the SOTG consumer panel who went to a Starbucks on Nov. 2 (or on any other day). Ask them about their experiences with the special giveaway. Are they in love with their free cups? Are they miffed because the Starbucks they went to had run out? Did they try one of the special holiday brews? Was it delish or just so-so? And how did the cup giveaway impact their overall satisfaction with the Starbucks brand?

When it comes to coffee, or anything else in the consumer realm, Path-2-Purchase® Platform gives you a heaping, caffeinated cup of quick-turnaround research you can’t accomplish anywhere else.

Topics: geolocation, market research, Path-2-Purchase™ Platform, consumer panel, mobile tracking, foot traffic

Why Is `Why?' the Market Research Question Your Geolocation Provider Can't Answer?

Posted by MFour on Nov 6, 2018 7:00:00 AM

Blog Toddler Why 2Nov18

Toddlers do it incessantly. So why can’t virtually all of the location-research providers who’ve been trying to sell the market research industry on their ability to track consumers’ store visits?

We’re talking about being able to ask the fundamental question, “why?” As anyone who’s spent much time with little kids can attest, it’s never far from their tongues.

Why?

Because “for children, `why’ questions help them make sense of the world around them….These `why’ questions also help spur and accelerate learning,” says Rebecca Palacios, one of America’s most respected experts on early childhood education, in a Huffington Post article titled “Why Do Children Ask Why?”

So here’s our own “why” question of the day:

Why can’t those location-research tech and analytics providers let you do as a consumer insights pro what you did almost nonstop when you were knee high to a Great Dane?

Why won’t they let you ask the “why” behind the buy?

Here’s why: technology and data analytics providers don’t really know market research.

They know how to find undifferentiated people, and tell you how many of them have gone to a given location. They’re able to collect footprints, but they can’t help you connect with the actual human beings who are leaving them. They can’t help you ask “why,” the most important question when it comes to understanding and influencing consumer behavior.

Yes, footprint data can be illuminating to an extent as a standalone, but its most advanced use is to point you in the right direction in your quest to truly connect with consumers and understand the many whys behind where they go – and what they think, feel, see and do while they’re there.

MFour creates location technology, but we do it in the specific context of perfecting it for the sake of market research. We pioneered building location capabilities for market research, and we’re the only company to have simultaneously built an all-mobile, validated first-party panel for that technology to track.  (with their double opt-in informed consent).

You’re in the business of obtaining a 360-degree view of consumer behavior, and so are we. Not just the “where,” but the “why.”

  • Why did a consumer we located as he passed in view of a billboard for Target visit a Target store three days later? 
  • Was it attributable to the ad exposure, or just a coincidence?
  • Why do some consumers alternate frequently between Target and Walmart – as reflected in their location footprints?
  • Why are some big box shoppers loyal to one while completely rejecting the other?

The moral of this post is that you should never let any market research provider sell you short by not permitting you to unleash your inner three-year-old. Don’t settle for footprints and algorithmic models that can’t begin to give you the “why” to questions like the ones above.

Always insist on the “the why” behind the buy.

Why?  Because you can’t afford not to.

To learn more about how to target, track and survey mobile consumers by using MFour's Path-2-Purchase® Platform, just click here

 

Topics: consumer survey, mobile research, geolocation, market research, Path-2-Purchase™ Platform, surveys, mobile app research, in-store surveys, consumer panel, mobile consumer panel

Halloween Shopper Survey Reveals the "Why" Behind the Candy Buy

Posted by MFour on Oct 17, 2018 5:48:12 PM

 Blog Halloween Survey 16Oct18

It comes as little surprise that candy is the topmost item on Halloween shoppers’ lists. But it takes the right kind of mobile market research to get to the “why” behind the buy, and MFour’s recent survey of 1,800 U.S. consumers who plan to celebrate Halloween illuminates what really counts: even when the candy is presumably for little trick-or-treaters, adults are most likely to buy what tickles their own palates.

Fielded in mid-October, with the Halloween shopping season surging toward its Oct. 31 climax, the study located demographically representative natural shoppers in big box stores. All belong to the only all-mobile, first-party consumer panel, whose members participate via their smartphones, using the pioneering mobile research app, Surveys On the Go®.  

Results showed that 71% of respondents had bought Halloween candy within the previous 48 hours. But for many, candy-shopping was hardly over: 36% of respondents said they expected to buy more candy before the holiday arrived. As to the "why" behind the buy:

  • Among all respondents, 29% said their own personal preference is the most important factor in deciding which kind of candy to buy.
  • Other leading factors were “price,” cited as most important by 24% of respondents, and “value,” cited by 19%.
  • 16% said quality was most important.
  • Among parents, 20% said they primarily select their own favorite candy, and 20% said their kids’ tastes come first, and they pick the Halloween candy their children like best.
  • Among respondents who are not parents, 40% said they went for their personal favorite. Such are the sacrifices of parenthood, and the little indulgences that come with not having to placate one’s own little angels and monsters.

In all, 64% of the mid-October respondents said they still had some Halloween shopping to do in the remaining days before Oct. 31. That presents bountiful opportunities across several product categories – and a continuing advantage for retailers and brands that can quickly grab consumer insights that speak to Halloween shoppers’ preferences and motivations.

Among the most useful quick-turnaround approaches are mobile in-store surveys, such as the one MFour conducted to get those 1,800 fast completes over a single mid-October weekend.

In addition to the kinds of data exemplified by this study, marketers and consumer insights professionals can get a uniquely rich understanding of holiday shoppers and product-intenders by locating them in-store and then following them through the aisles.

Let them be your brand’s or your store's auditors, telling and showing you whether your products are shelved in the right places to maximize sales. Also, are in-store displays set up properly and having the desired impact? Are these validated shoppers satisfied with the store's layout, cleanliness and service?

Smartphone photo and video capabilities give you ironclad validation of what shoppers are encountering in the aisles. And by asking respondents to make “video selfies,” you’ll get the most vivid, in-their-own-words testimony to reveal the emotional context behind the “why.”

Mobile-app location studies are also your best safeguard against the recall decay that erodes the quality of online consumer research. Questions that begin with phrases such as  “thinking back on your last visit to a store…” are inherently at risk of failure due to distorted memories. The answers are far more reliable when you know exactly where and when that visit occurred, and gather responses during or just after the visit, before recall bias sets in.

In our Halloween survey, respondents received push notifications of a survey opportunity after they had been located as they entered a Target or Walmart store. They were required to answer within 48 hours to ensure against recall bias.

Among respondents who said they still had Halloween shopping to do during the coming two weeks:

  • As noted, 36% expected to buy candy.
  • 30% were still looking for costumes.
  • 24% intended to shop for pumpkins.
  • 22% were still shopping for decorations.
  • 16% were looking to buy materials for homemade decorations.
  • 10% were going to buy materials needed to make their own costumes.
  • 13% intended to buy alcoholic beverages for their Halloween celebrations.

Consumers in this group are not necessarily procrastinators. 84% of those who said they still had more holiday shopping to do also said they had, in fact, made a Halloween purchase during the same store visit in which they received the survey invitation. 70% said they had bought candy during that visit, 49% had bought decorations, 33% had bought costumes, and 31% had purchased pumpkins. Again, by requiring responses within 48 hours, the study decisively minimized recall bias. Typically, mobile surveys fielded via SOTG have a 25% response rate within an hour, and 50% within 24 hours. The result is data you can trust.

Asked where they intend to shop for those upcoming Halloween purchases, most favored big box retailers across the major Halloween product categories. 60% said they would shop big boxes such as Target or Walmart for candy, 58% for decorations, and 34% for costumes. 

The next most-favored stores were grocery stores for candy (12%), party stores for decorations (13%), and Halloween specialty stores for costumes (22%). Online shopping figured prominently for costumes (20% of respondents), but less so for decorations (6%). Only 3% of respondents said they most often buy Halloween candy from an online store.

We’ll throw in a few more fun facts from the survey:

  • About half of the survey participants said they planned to wear a costume as part of their Halloween celebration.
  • Witches of various kinds were the most popular (5%).
  • Next came cats (3.6%) and characters from the “Batman” franchise – Batman, the Joker, the Riddler and Cat Woman (3.5%).
  • Other favorites were vampires, zombies and pirates (2.4% each), and skeletons (2.2%).

Ten respondents said they would dress as current celebrities, including two each for Donald Trump and Britney Spears. Taylor Swift, Cher, Tom Cruise, Conor McGregor, Mike Ditka and children’s TV stars the Kratt Brothers also can expect to have doppelgangers moving about on Halloween.

To learn more about how to dress your research for success and end your reliance on data that's just masquerading as reality, just get in touch by clicking here

 

 

Topics: mobile surveys, point of emotion, geolocation, market research, consumer insights, mobile app research, in-store surveys

A Survey of Restaurant Customers Shows How Data Can Capture Emotions

Posted by MFour on Oct 2, 2018 6:00:00 AM

Blog fast food 28Sept18

Here’s a consumer insights finding from the world of quick-service restaurants (QSRs) that should resonate with marketers and researchers in other industries as well: it’s not just their wallets or taste buds that are driving consumers' choices. It's their emotions.

MFour fielded a mobile geolocation study and collected survey data from more than 2,000 GeoValidated® QSR customers of seven leading national brands. The results underscore how important it is for brands to understand the role emotion plays in propelling buying decisions.

Located and surveyed just after they'd left a QSR, respondents were asked their single most important reason for choosing that brand on that day. They were given 18 possible motivations, and picked just one. Having a “craving” for their choice's offerings – a completely emotional experience – was the highest-ranking answer. 

  • 23% chose “I was craving” [the brand].
  • 18% chose “it was the most convenient for me today.”
  • 15% chose “[the brand] is affordable.”

Respondents had been drawn almost equally from among the seven QSR brands, and were geolocated at a store. They were required to complete the questionnaire within 24 hours. 

Unlocking the emotional component of buying decisions – the cravings, sense of excitement, urgency, or other feelings that loom so large – requires these three indispensable inputs:

  • GPS-powered mobile geolocation technology that’s a unique capability of smartphones
  • An all-mobile, first-party consumer panel whose members can be located in the right places at the right time so they can respond to mobile surveys while emotions are still fresh.
  • A state-of-the art mobile survey app.

The Surveys On The Go® app gives you all three. If you’re ready right now to talk about how in-app mobile research capabilities can put you in touch with shoppers' emotions to gain the fullest understanding and achieve your brands' business goals, just click here. And if you'd like to take a deeper-dive into how it works, read on. 

A validated, representative mobile consumer panel is paramount.  More than 2.5 million U.S. consumers have download Surveys On The Go® (SOTG), motivated by the opportunity to take part in research while earning cash rewards. In-app mobile surveys gratify respondents' entrenched desire to have seamlessly engaging experiences on their smartphones.

  • Once they’ve downloaded SOTG, users give their informed permission to let the app access to their phones’ location services, so they can be tracked through all their buying journeys and qualify for location-specific studies.
  • Location studies such as the QSR survey track consumers' natural store visits and identify them as soon as they have arrived at a place that’s relevant to the research project at hand. 
  • Once detected in a desired location, consumers receive an in-app push notification alerting them to a survey opportunity.
  • The push can arrive while they're still in the store, or just after they've left; in-store surveys document the shopping experience prior to purchase, and after-visit surveys also capture the purchase itself.
  • Either way, researchers are reaching respondents at the Point of Emotion® at which buying decisions come to a head.
  • Expect response rates of 25% within an hour, and 50% within 24 hours -- compared to the industry norm of 1% to 5%. The differentiator is the unique mobile-app experience.

In the case of the QSR preferences study, respondents were required to complete the survey within 24 hours of their visit. There’s little point in asking a QSR customer the most important reason for his or her visit more than 24 hours after the fact. By then, the Point of Emotion® is long gone, and any response will be rife with recall bias. Ask yourself whether you can remember your most recent visit to a QSR, and state your most important reason for choosing it. If you're not an extremely loyal, extremely frequent customer of a particular brand, you might struggle to answer.

To sum up:

The only way to get a fully-recalled, emotionally-informed understanding of consumers’ preferences and motivations is in-app mobile research with an engaged, first-party mobile panel.

If you have a craving for this kind of data, let's talk. Just click here.

Topics: mobile surveys, geolocation, market research, consumer insights, consumer experience, quick serve restaurants

Competitive Retail Insights from Margaritaville: Who's Winning Florida's Alcoholic Beverage Battle?

Posted by MFour on Sep 25, 2018 6:00:00 AM

Every consumer insights study should tell a story, and there’s quite a story market researchers could tell about a classic retail competition between two beer, wine and spirits chains that are fighting it out in Florida.

It’s the story of ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, which was founded in 1935 and operates only in the Sunshine State, versus Total Wine & More, which opened its first store in Delaware in 1991 and now operates in 23 states.

Telling this or any other consumer insights story requires the right tools. And the only one that really can do the job for competitive research is Path-2-Purchase® Platform. Created by MFour, it gives marketers and market research pros unprecedented, day-by-day, at-a-glance data on which validated consumers are visiting which retail locations. One of its most important uses is visualizing and understanding how competition in a given business category is playing out among retailers across the United States.

The battle between ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and Total Wine & More is particularly intriguing because of the two companies’ differences.

  • One is home-grown and indigenous to Florida, while the other treats Florida as an important market, but only part of a nationwide growth strategy.
  • ABC’s stores tend to be smaller, averaging 8,000 to 12,000 square feet and carrying 3,000 wines, 1,000 beers, and 2,900 spirits, according to the company’s website.
  • Total Wine & Spirits calls its locations "superstores," typically stocking 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits, and 2,500 brands of beer. It advises prospective real estate partners that the “optimal” store size is 20,000 to 25,000 square feet.

Users of Path-2-Purchase® can get a quick overview of this and any other retail competition by calling up a visualization of all visits made by real, first-party members of the world's largest all-mobile consumer panel. Depending on your needs, you can look at nationwide totals, or break data down by state or DMA. In an instant you'll see visitation patterns segmented by age, gender, income, education, ethnicity and dozens of other variables.

So how did this summer's battle for alcoholic beverage shoppers go between ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and Total Wine & Spirits? Let's look at the Path-2-Purchase® data. 

  • ABC had one of its busiest day of the summer on July 4, while at Total Wine it was just another Wednesday.
  • Having discovered that data point on Path-2-Purchase®, an interested researcher could have quickly fielded a survey to ABC’s validated July 4 visitors to ask what had brought them in.
  • A quick look at the Path-2-Purchase® dashboard shows that over a 90-day period through Sept. 17, ABC drew 61% of the two chains' combined foot traffic, to 39% for Total Wine & More.
  • But looking at weekends only (Fridays through Sundays), Total Wine & More raised its share of combined foot traffic to 43%.

Path-2-Purchase® also reveals that something happened in mid-summer that shifted the competitive dynamic.

  • From late June through July, the battle for weekend foot traffic was closely fought. ABC accounted for 53% of weekend visits, to 47% for Total Wine.

  • But from August through mid-September, ABC gained 7 percentage points, increasing its share of combined visits to 60%, while Total Wine's share slipped to 40%. 

Having observed this shift on Path-2-Purchase® Platform, a researcher could target and survey validated store visitors to discover the "why" behind this observed reality. Did ABC Fine Wine & Spirits introduce special discounts that led to the August-September boost in traffic? You'd be able to ask the exact consumers who could tell you the story. For example:

  • ABC shoppers who had visited earlier in the summer, but visited more frequently after August 1.
  • Total Wine shoppers whose Path-2-Purchase®  journeys showed they had switched to ABC.
  • ABC customers who hadn't shopped at either store before August 1. 
Here are some additional at-a-glance Path-2-Purchase® data points that researchers could use to visualize the competition between the brands:  
  • ABC’s average weekend visitation rose 9% after Aug. 1, while Total Wine’s traffic didn’t budge from earlier in the summer. Again, what had ABC done to boost its performance?
  • Because Total Wine saw neither a gain nor a loss during weekends after Aug. 1, was it keeping its customers while ABC grabbed market share from other alcoholic beverage retailers, such as C-stores, groceries, and smaller, independent liquor stores?
  • When it came to per-store foot traffic, Total Wine’s “superstore” model gave it an advantage. It attracted  slightly more than twice as many visits per store as ABC. But ABC had strength in numbers, with more than three times as many Florida locations as Total Wine.
  • For ABC, 55% of visits were from customers with incomes under $50,000, compared to 49% for Total Wine (the 104% visitation total includes brand-agnostics who shopped at both stores – a group you can identify, track and survey with Path-2-Purchase®).
  • The most pronounced income differential between the two brands' visitors was among shoppers earning $25,000 to $34,999. ABC received 21% of its visits from that group, compared to 11% for Total Wine.
  • Total Wine received 15% of its visits from consumers earning $100,000 or more, compared to 10% for ABC. 
  • There was little racial/ethnic difference between the two brands' clientele. Whites made up 64% of ABC’s consumers, and 60% for Total Wine. Hispanics accounted for 14% of ABC’s foot traffic, and 18% at Total Wine. And 14% of customers were African American at both retailers.

The thing to remember is that Path-2-Purchase® Platform truly is a platform – a comprehensive, constantly updated database that captures the observed purchasing journeys of a validated, first-party consumer panel. By visualizing journey patterns, some researchers will identify important new consumer segments they may not have been aware of before. Many will design and field surveys that will efficiently capture responses from precisely the consumers they most need to understand. And still others will append observational data from Path-2-Purchase® to existing survey results, providing the context they need to bring their reports and presentations alive with the most compelling storytelling.

For a productive discussion about how Path-2-Purchase® can meet your projects’ specific needs (and perhaps earn you a special, congratulatory champagne toast from your colleagues and stakeholders), just click here. Until then, Salud!

Topics: geolocation, market research, Path-2-Purchase™ Platform, competitive insights, in-store, data visualization, passive data

Your Competitive Intelligence Goldmine: Know What The Other Guy's Customers Are Feeling Before They're Done Shopping

Posted by MFour on Sep 24, 2018 3:14:25 PM

Blog Consumer Emotions 24Sept18

“An understanding of consumer purchase behavior must be based on knowledge of human emotion and include the paramount influence that emotions have on decision-making.”

That’s the fundamental takeaway from “How Emotions Influence How We Buy,” an article in Psychology Today. It carries direct significance for consumer insights pros, especially those who gather competitive intelligence. To understand why people buy one brand over another, or shop one store over another, you have to connect with them while their feelings about a shopping experience are still running high. We call it the Point-of-Emotion®. To accomplish this you don't need to stand with them physically, side-by-side. Instead, you join them by leveraging advanced mobile market research technology that lets you find and survey shoppers through their smartphones.

Here's how it works:

When your targeted consumers naturally enter a store – yours or a competitor’s – they automatically receive a survey invitation on their phones, via an in-app push notification. Invitees respond far more quickly and attentively to pushes than to the old method of requiring them to check their email for a link to an online survey.

  • You can ask shoppers to take a survey while they’re still in a competitor's store, for feedback on experiences they’re having right now with product placement, selection, promotions, service and overall shopping atmosphere. You’re meeting them at the crucial Point-of-Emotion®.
  • Or you can hold off while they're still inside the store, and invite them just after they've left. Within minutes, survey responses will start streaming in, telling you what your competitors' customers experienced in the aisles and at checkout, while it's still fresh in mind. 
  • After-visit surveys get response rates of 25% within one hour of notification, and 50% within 24 hours. Nothing else gets you as close to the moment of purchase and the Point-of-Emotion®.
  • To get the most intense emotional feedback, you can ask respondents to make “video selfies” on their phones, in which you’ll see the emotional impact of their experiences on their faces, hear it in their voices, and listen as they put their experiences into their own words. 
  • When it’s time to present your findings and recommendations to decision-making stakeholders, mobile video puts them, too, at the customers' Point-of-Emotion®. Seeing and hearing opinions  from actual consumers grabs their attention and makes the consumer story you're telling more real.
  • Smartphone capabilities also give you reliable validation of purchases. Just ask respondents to photograph or make screen shots of receipts, or take pictures of the products.

Follow Consumers All Along the Path-2-Purchase®

In competitive intelligence, as in other forms of consumer insights research, you can't afford to ask people about shopping experiences they had more than a day or two after the fact. By then, recall has faded and answers turn unreliable. Commonplace screener questions such as “Have you shopped at Target in the past 90 days?” or “Recalling the last time you bought toothpaste, which of these brands did you consider?” will get you recall-biased data that is mainly just guesswork on the respondents' part.

Until now, the research industry has settled for guesswork instead of data because there was no better alternative. But thanks to Point-of-Emotion® mobile geolocation research, the guessing game is over.

Now you can start your competitive intelligence projects by instantly visualizing your targeted consumers’ actual journeys to more than 12.5 million commercial locations in the U.S., including the top 1,000 retailers.

You’ll see their validated visitation data on Path-2-Purchase® Platform, a unique tool that identifies who shops at your competitors’ stores, how often, on what days of the week and times of day, and for how long.

Path-2-Purchase® tracks members of a demographically and geographically representative, first-party consumer panel of more than 2.5 million U.S. smartphone owners, ages 13 and up.

They’re all strictly validated, because they’re all being tracked on mobile. Every member has joined by downloading Surveys On The Go® (SOTG), the definitive mobile research app, to his or her phone. All research activity, including location tracking, takes place via the app. Consumers have opted in to allow tracking, in exchange for the location-specific survey opportunities you'll be sending their way.

It’s been said that a big part of success lies in just showing up. By applying in-app mobile solutions to competitor insights, you'll show up when and where it matters the most -- standing next to your competitors' customers, asking questions at the Point-of-Emotion®. To learn more about how to connect at the right place and time for the most accurate, most revealing competitive intelligence insights, just complete the form below.


Topics: location based survey, point of emotion, geolocation, market research, competitive intelligence

4 Mobile Data Points Reveal How Income Impacts Gasoline Preferences

Posted by MFour on Sep 6, 2018 11:35:13 AM

Blog gas pump 6Sept18 

Gas stations are perhaps the most common ground for American consumers. The U.S. was home to 222 million licensed drivers as of 2016, according to the Census Bureau. They all need to buy gas, and any brand on the market will take them where they need to go.

However, gasoline consumers’ income can have a big impact on where they buy. There is a gap between ARCO, known for low prices and for not accepting credit cards, and Costco, which also features low prices, but requires a $60 membership fee.

  • During the 90-day stretch from early June through Labor Day, consumers who earned less than $35,000 per year accounted for 49% of ARCO stations’ traffic.
  • The same income bracket made up just 27% of Costco’s gasoline business.
  • At the other end of the income spectrum, Costco drew 37% of its gasoline business from consumers earning $75,000 or more.
  • Only 18% of ARCO’s visits during the summer driving season came from people whose household incomes topped $75,000.

It’s not just a matter of price differential. According to a report from Business Insider, Costco was the least expensive gasoline option, per gallon, in 17 states. And in California, which has the greatest number of ARCO stations, anecdotal evidence suggests that Costco competes well on price, although there are far more ARCO stations – six times as many in the Los Angeles DMA, for example.

  • How heavily does that $60 membership fee figure into Costco’s consumer profiles?
  • Is the membership fee the biggest hurdle keeping lower-income drivers from making Costco their brand?
  • Or, for drivers in DMAs where ARCO and Costco compete, is the convenience of having more stations available a stronger factor in lower-income drivers' preference for ARCO?

The data on gas station visits, and on who those visitors are based on income, age and many more demographic characteristics, comes instantly into view for users of MFour’s Path-2-Purchase® Platform. You’ll observe and track the daily journeys of validated, first-party consumer panel members who have opted in to participate in location-based research.

Knowing precisely who they are, and exactly where they go, gives you unprecedented opportunities to identify in an instant the population segments you need to study and understand.

But Path-2-Purchase® isn’t just for collecting data from known audiences. It takes you a step further by arming you with instant data visualizations that help you identify new, research-relevant audiences to approach, and new questions to ask.

Studies based on Path-2-Purchase® segmentation and targeting will get you fast responses from real consumers whose characteristics you’ll know before you even field your survey. You’ll come away with a real understanding based on observing and talking to real people who'll tell you the "why" behind the observational data you already have.

With the launch of Path-2-Purchase® you finally have a choice. You can continue to depend on third-party data and settle for inferences and assumptions rather than direct knowledge as to who consumers actually are and what really motivates them. Or step up to validated, first-party opinions that reveal the motivations and emotions of actual, carefully-profiled mobile consumers. 

There’s lots more to explore on your way to premium data and high-octane consumer insights that dispense with inferences and put you in touch with direct reality.  To check out the Path-2-Purchase® dashboard, just click here. And for a productive discussion about how the platform can power your projects’ specific needs, get in touch by clicking here.

Topics: geolocation, market research, Path-2-Purchase™ Platform, consumer insights, GeoValidation, data visualization

Post a comment

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all