Thwack! Someone, somewhere, has just crushed a bed bug, a much-loathed critter that hides in bedclothes and the crevices of worn mattresses, and is responsible for a spate of economic growth that most Americans probably would rather do without.
Citing figures from Pest Control Magazine, Bloomberg reports that America’s pest control industry is raking in increasing revenues from bed bug calls from residences and businesses – with $611.2 million grossed in 2016, up 6.6% from the previous year, and rising. Specialty Consultants, which tracks the pest control industry, estimates that there were 908,000 calls for professional bed bug eradication or prevention in 2016, up more than 11%, and that it won’t be long before Americans are spending $1 billion yearly on bed bug control.
The only thing in dispute is where bed bug infestations are worst: Bloomberg noted that two leading pest control companies give conflicting accounts. Orkin ranks Baltimore as the bed bug capital, based on the number of commercial and residential jobs it handles there, followed by Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio. A competitor, Terminix, put out its own list of the cities where it’s busiest with bed bugs, and came up with a completely different worst-five of Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Las Vegas and Denver.
If this adds up to a growing, nationwide opportunity for pest control experts, it’s clearly also a big worry for the hospitality industry. Google the terms “bed bugs hotels” and you’ll find websites that ask travelers to report their own experiences with the bitty biters. Since bed bugs can be brought in by guests themselves, infestations are a tenacious problem that often is not the hotelier’s fault, but requires perpetual vigilance nonetheless. Bloomberg cites a survey of 100 hotels by Orkin, in which respondents overwhelmingly said they are investing in preventive measures rather than waiting for complaints.
When bad luck does bite a brand, it’s important to have a game plan in place that includes getting an extremely fast but thorough read on how a publicized mishap is impacting brand health. That includes probing consumers’ emotional responses to understand both the good and the bad: fears generated by the bad news, but also underlying goodwill the brand can rely on to maintain consumers’ confidence. And that requires consumer research that’s fast and capable of homing in on consumers’ emotions in real time.
Tylenol, one of the nation’s signature brands, might have become a footnote in the history of pain relief if Johnson & Johnson hadn’t deployed smart, fast consumer research when news broke in 1982 that several Chicago-era residents had been murdered by a sociopath who’d injected poison into Tylenol capsules and put them back on store shelves, where unsuspecting shoppers then bought them. It’s a classic case of crisis management guided by fast consumer insights, and you can read about it here.
The takeaway is that when businesses are bitten by little bugs, or by major malefactors, they need to find and survey their customers and other consumers without delay, and without sacrificing data reliability for speed. Advanced mobile-app research solutions include a DIY survey platform that lets you design and field a project in a matter of minutes. You’ll reach the right consumers at the right moment on the right devices – the same smartphones on which consumers get their news about brands and investigate products. You can count on response rates of 25% in an hour and 50% in a day from research fielded to an engaged, demographically representative U.S. panel. Mobile-app research that combines the most advanced smartphone technology and the most carefully cultivated and validated, proprietary panel is at your disposal – both in the good times when you’re pushing to maximize your most lucrative opportunities, and for the bumpy patches when reality bites. For a productive conversation on how mobile-app solutions can meet your projects’ specific needs, just click here.