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

Will the Trade War Kill Retail's Growth?

Posted by MFour on Jul 12, 2018 7:00:00 AM

 NRF Logo

Like everybody else, consumer insights professionals are waiting to see what’s in store for the U.S. retail market as new tariffs on imported goods kick in. But no matter what’s happening in global, national or regional economies, whether positive or negative, brands and researchers need to be plugged in to the best data streams they can access. In tense times for the economy, good, data-driven decision-making becomes all the more important.

In the case of the current tension over tariffs, the conditions businesses must respond to are changing literally by the day. Earlier this week, the National Retail Federation (NRF) had provided some baseline statistics reflecting conditions and key indicators as they had stood before the first round of tariff increases. Based on those, the NRF had predicted that we wouldn’t see significant declines in imports or retail revenues despite the tariffs, because of inelasticity in supply chains and consumer demand. 

“Retailers cannot easily or quickly change their global supply chains, so imports from China and elsewhere are expected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future,” Jonathan Gold, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy, said in the release dated July 9. At retail checkouts and store aisles, he added, the tariffs “will mean higher prices for Americans rather than significant changes to international trade.”

But the NRF adopted a far more alarmed tone just a day later, when President Trump announced a much greater escalation in tariffs on products from China. 

"The threat to the U.S. economy is not a question of ‘if’ and more about ‘when’ and ‘how bad,’' the NRF said in response, in a press release headlined "Retailers Say New Tariffs Against China Will Boomerang Back to Harm U.S. Families and Workers."

The bottom line, the NRF now predicts, is that "tariffs on such a broad scope of products make it inconceivable that American consumers will dodge this tax increase as prices of everyday products will be forced to rise. And the retaliation that will follow will destroy thousands of U.S. jobs and hurt farmers, local businesses and entire communities."

Before the latest announcement of the administration's intent to ratchet up tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, the NRF had forecast an increase of about 4% in retail revenues this year (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) -- down from the 7.8% increase recorded in 2017, but still a year of growth. Now it's hard to predict what might ensue over the coming six months.

In times both calm and nervous -- perhaps especially when times are nervous -- brands need to stay closely in touch with consumers to keep making the best decisions under whatever circumstances prevail. Whether they are exploiting opportunities when conditions favor growth, or defending market share when the going gets difficult, retailers and product marketers need data they can rely on to help drive the right decisions.

One thing that won't be changing is the the accuracy and validation marketers and consumer insights professionals will access from a state-of-the-art mobile app research app that's used by a representative, first-party  panel of mobile consumers. Connecting with respondents with a mobile app opens doors to unique, location-based research possibilities, including collecting passive data showing consumers' journeys along the entire path to purchase. Smartphones' multimedia functions power further capabilities, such as asking for "video selfie" responses in which interviewees provide vivid, in-their-own-words feedback.

Bad data can itself be viewed as a kind of tariff on business success, but it's a tax that no business needs to pay. To learn how app-powered surveys, observational location tracking and other advanced mobile capabilities can meet your specific projects’ needs, you're invited to set up a demo session with a mobile-app research expert from MFour. Just click here.

Topics: mobile research, market research, consumer insights, national retail federation, retail, mobile app research, tariffs

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