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Archive for the 'Research' Category

Attention Researchers… Any Interest In Pinterest?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Pinterest hasn’t been around that long so some of the readers of this post may not know what Pinterest is so let me start with a definition:

Pinterest is an online pinboard. Users can organize and share things you love.

Today’s question is can we use this as a new research technique? Here are three potential ways that I believe we could use Pinterest in qualitative research:

    1. It seems to me that you could use it as a way to warm-up respondents prior to a focus group.

    2. I also can see it as a follow-up after a focus group as a way to gather additional insight.

    3. In addition, I could see building a community and gathering a ton of insights from all of the respondents.

What do you think?

  • Are you using Pinterest in research projects?
  • How do you think you might use this as a research technique in the future?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Research Industry… Thanks!

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Every time the month of May comes around I get a little more excited than normal, I have a little bit more bounce in my step, and frankly for me it is a time of remembering. Even though May is the month I was born it has little to do with that, and more to do with the fact that I graduated college in May (many, many, many years ago) which means I started in the market research industry many, many years ago.

Like most of you I got into the research industry by accident. During the last (let’s just say) 25+ years I have been involved with some amazing companies, met some very talented people, learned a lot and have been very fortunate to work for a number of great bosses like Jim Fredrickson & the late John Boni to mention a few. In addition I have been very lucky to have a few mentors, including Sandy Schwartz, who in my opinion is brilliant and is always dead on with his comments.

When I look back on my career I have met so many people who mean so much to me. Many of them are my closest friends in the world.

I still recommend this industry to many people and feel so lucky to have been in the research community for 25+ years!

A big thank you to the research industry and all the wonderful companies and people who are in it!

I hope each of you feel as fortunate as I do!

Attention Researchers… These People Are Talented And Looking For A Job

Monday, April 16th, 2012

There are a lot of things I love about my job. One of them, that is very rewarding to me on many levels, is being on the advisory board of the A.C. Nielsen Center at the University of Wisconsin. The passion of the program and the intelligence of the students is amazing. To be in a position to mentor these kids is an honor and something I am very proud of.

Next month the program will graduate another class of amazing students. Here are some of the graduates seeking positions in our great industry.  As a way to assist in their search I wanted to highlight them in this post. Below is a picture of each of them with a little information about them.

I know many of the readers of this blog are in the research industry and I am hoping you will post any tips you have for them and any jobs or websites that you might be aware of that could help in their search. In addition, please let me know if you would like to see their resumes and I would be happy to email them to you right away.

Amanda Decker


Amanda returns to the A.C. Nielsen Center for her second year following a summer internship at Janssen, Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.  At Janssen, Amanda managed both qualitative and quantitative research projects for Janssen’s HIV portfolio, including research for a new product launch.  She found her internship to be a great opportunity to apply both her market research learning from the UW as well as her business expertise from prior work experience.  Prior to attending the UW, Amanda worked for KPMG LLP managing projects and supervising engagement teams for over 30 clients across various industries.  She also has an educational background in business and is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with dual undergraduate degrees in accountancy and business administration.

Amanda is excited to return to Madison where she is very involved outside of the classroom and serves as Vice President of the Graduate Business Association, Treasurer of the MBA Food & Wine Club, and also works on research projects as a project assistant for the A.C. Nielsen Center.  She hopes to take advantage of all Madison has to offer during her second year!

John Faustgen


John Faustgen comes to the A.C. Nielsen Center from Omaha, NE where he was a Technical Project Manager at Gallup. There he found a passion for telling stories with numbers and chose to continue his education in Marketing Research. Wisconsin’s specialized curriculum and fantastic facilities brought him to Madison.

This summer John interned at MeadWestvaco in Marketing Insights.  His other experience includes being a Consultant at International Decision Systems and a Business Analyst at Target. He enjoys participating in most sports, including tennis, running, and squash, traveling, and watching TED Talks. John is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where he majored in Political Science with a Management minor.

Heidi Freund


Heidi comes to the A.C. Nielsen Center from the Milwaukee area with a background in marketing research for higher education.  Although most recently with Cardinal Stritch University, she realized her passion for research while conducting research on media preferences and generational differences for Interact Communications, and further developed her skills while employed with Kaplan Schweser.  Heidi graduated from Viterbo University with both a BM in Vocal Performance and a BBA with specializations in Marketing and Management. She chose the University of Wisconsin-Madison to pursue her MBA in Marketing Research not only because of the program’s strong reputation, but because of its friendly, supportive environment.

Heidi spent the summer interning for the Dial Corporation, a Henkel company, in Scottsdale, Arizona where she not only had the opportunity to work on both qualitative and quantitative projects, but also enjoyed what her new surroundings had to offer.  She’s looking forward to her second year at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, where she will continue serving as Second Year Honor Board Representative and working as a teaching assistant for undergraduate marketing courses.

Soledad Querol


Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Soledad moved to the US in 2006 where she started her marketing research career with Investor Group Services as a Junior Research Associate.  Upon gaining her US Citizenship and moving to Chicago, she joined RS Consulting in 2007 where she continued to develop her experience while implementing her multilingual skills for the resolution of complex business problems in seven different countries. Among others, Soledad led voice of customer, value propositions and competitive analysis projects and trained colleagues in in-depth interviewing.  Throughout her experiences she led numerous projects as manager focusing in qualitative research and market strategy development and became a project leader, motivator, and facilitator of consumer driven initiatives for business growth.

Soledad returns to the Nielsen Center after a fantastic summer internship at Colgate-Palmolive where she led a shopper study and a consolidation project of past 5 years of research that enabled her to apply her research and strategic skills. In her free time, Soledad loves to spend her free time with family and friends.

Hanjin Yu


Hanjin comes to the A.C. Nielsen Center from China, where she got her B.S. in engineering and economics. Driven by passion for marketing and interests in data analysis, Hanjin feels marketing research is the perfect career for her. Prior to her MBA program, she worked at Ipsos China for about six years. Hanjin’s research experience covers from usage and attitude study, advertising, branding, and campaign evaluation, to product, concept and packaging tests. In 2007, Hanjin obtained six-month on-job training in Chicago and Cincinnati, where she fostered her skills on advertising study. Hanjin selected the University of Wisconsin – Madison because of its high reputation in marketing research education. Hanjin works as a project assistant in MBA Career Management Office during her MBA studies. She assisted on Employment Analysis, Alumni Survey, and Company Research of Potential Employers.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

I know the students are anxious to read all of your comments and thoughts that could help them.

Attention Researchers! Are You Going To The ARF This Year?

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Growing up, the place to be in August was always Saratoga, NY, and the place to be in March was the Advertising Research Foundation conference and exhibit hall, which was always at the NY Hilton. Well, the August place to be hasn’t changed at all BUT the March place to be (in my mind) has changed. Re:think 2012 The ARF Annual Convention + Insights Zone is March 25-28 at the NY Marriot Marquis. Over the years, so much has changed about this convention. Gone are the huge crowds and hundreds of exhibits. I have been going to this exhibit for so long I still have pictures with sports stars like Walt Frazier and Charles Oakley, courtesy of Beta Research.

Every year I would really look forward to this event but the event has changed and my desire to go has as well. I now only attend part of the two day conference, and set-up meetings with research partners, clients, and staff, and interview a number of people while I am in NY.

I have attended some of the sessions in the past, but haven’t found the quality of the presentations to be consistently at a high level, or worth the fee.

  • Are you planning on going to the ARF?
  • What do you hope to accomplish?
  • How long do you plan on going for?
  • What is your favorite ARF memory?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Researchers! How Quick Needs To Be Addressed!

Friday, December 9th, 2011

For those of us who grew up in the industry, we are familiar with surveys that had a question that began with, ‘thinking about the last time you shopped at…’ With the technology that is available today, those questions could be asked while you are shopping at the store, just finished shopping or after you drove by the store.

With geo-targeting, smartphones, and thousands of different apps, all of this is pretty easy to set-up.

The question is, how quick should it happen? I want to share two quick experiences. The first one was when I purchased three televisions from Best Buy and I received an email from them thanking me for the order before I was out of the store. In fact, that thank you came before the sales associate had a chance to thank me. The second experience was when a colleague of mine checked-in through foursquare in a fast food restaurant and 5 minutes later got a link to a survey asking him about the experience.

In my mind, both of those interactions with customers were too quick. In fact, both of us were a little offended. I understand big brother but to get an interaction that quick using the latest technology is a little eerie. My colleague felt the same way. Actually, it really turned him off to the point that it left a bad taste (no pun intended) in his mouth regarding the fast food restaurant.

  • How fast is too fast?
  • How quick should a survey link be sent out?
  • Take a second and think of yourself as a consumer and decide, what makes sense?

I think we should wait at least 24 hours. If not, it could really have a negative effect on this great industry.

  • What are your thoughts?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Do I really need to pay attention to Google+? Read on and see what guest blogger Eric Swayne thinks…

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

I must admit I am on Google every day and sometimes every hour. Well Google has a new feature that is called Google+. Since I am not an expert on this and I know someone who knows 10 times more than I do about the social space and world I thought it would be a great time to tap into the brilliant, creative and big brain of Eric Swayne.

With that said, here are a few burning questions I had for Eric…


It’s been reported that Google+ has over 25 million users – is that significant compared to Facebook’s 750 million?

Of course Facebook has the larger total audience right now, but there are a few reasons why Google+’s numbers are captivating:

  • Google+ is far and away the fastest growing social network ever, and could even be the fastest growing website in history: http://www.businessinsider.com/google-plus-growth-25-million-users-2011-8
  • G+ is still in a beta testing phase – meaning Google is throttling the number of invites handed out and limiting new signups.  Meaning, this network isn’t yet growing at the rate it could be
  • Right now, G+ is attracting almost all of the most socially active users on the web – practically everyone any measure would label as an “influencer” is on there.  Now is a great time to learn this platform and interact with these voices.


What’s the coolest feature of G+?

I’d say it’s a tie.  First, G+ is based around Circles, which are groups of friends you create.  If you include me in your “Friends” Circle, and then post content on G+ just for “Friends”, I’ll get to see it but others that aren’t in that circle won’t.  Moreover, you can include me in a Circle without me  doing the same – we can follow each other’s’ content at different levels.  It’s this understanding of the varying levels of friendship we all have that makes G+ really powerful. 

Hangouts is another feature just as fascinating – this enables real-time video chat between up to 10 G+ users at once.  This feature brings some high-end telepresence features to the masses, and all for free through a very light-weight browser plugin.  Facebook has video chat as well, but right now it’s only one-to-one – so there’s no way to invite others to join you.  With G+ you can announce to any of your Circles that you’re in a Hangout, and they can come join at any time.


Is G+ the next Facebook?

G+ has a lot of similarities to both Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t think you’ll see it completely supplant either of those.  I’ve heard many stories from other G+ users that they’ve started spending less time on Facebook or Twitter, but they still see the utility of each.  G+ also offers brands some very different opportunities from Facebook with Circles and Hangouts  – tools that will enable brands to become really effective Community Managers and interact with consumers at a very personal level.  I think you’ll see brand campaigns span multiple platforms, and smart social marketers will take advantage of the best capabilities within each.


I thought I heard that brands weren’t yet allowed on G+ – is that true?

As of this moment, G+ users must be actual people using their actual names – brands are not supposed to use G+ from a personal profile.  This hasn’t prevented some brands from doing it, and Google has left some of these profile/brand hybrids up as “test cases”, such as Breaking News (https://plus.google.com/109610954243983229925/posts), Mashable (https://plus.google.com/101849747879612982297/posts), and Ford Motor Company (https://plus.google.com/114277687548103339609/posts).  Google has said they are working feverishly on a “Brand Page” type of profile, and will release that soon.  In the meantime, Google has actually received some flack for deactivating accounts that appeared to be using pseudonyms or brand names.


How will you use G+ in Marketing Research?  What are the implications of this platform for Researchers?

As with every new social network, G+ offers us new ways to connect with consumers and find out what marketing actions will best influence their behavior.  G+ will allow us to have very intimate and insightful conversations  by letting us limit sample groups through Circles, and interact with them through real-time tools like Hangouts.  I can easily see G+ being a great tool for interacting with a Consumer Advisory Panel on a regular, long-term basis.  G+ is also going to let us see new ethnographic behaviors – since users are coming to the network with a “clean slate,” we can see how users are conducting social actions now that they’ve had some training from Facebook, Twitter, and even MySpace.  For example, photographers have quickly gravitated to G+ over Flickr, because it provides them new (and free) ways to share their art, where Flickr wasn’t innovating. 

I think anyone in the Research field should grab an invite (click here to get one while supplies last: https://plus.google.com/_/notifications/ngemlink?path=%2F%3Fgpinv%3DY916-Gq043E%3A7CIErYxx3ro) and start using this network – and not just because I’m “the social media guy.”  What we have here is a brand new social platform that has a genuine chance of taking off and becoming every bit as relevant as Facebook.  Learning the lessons of what works here before it gets huge is an invaluable education, and the kind you can only learn for yourself.


Thanks Eric – I really appreciate your time, insight and comments.

Now your turn:

  • Have you registered for Google+?
  • What do you think of Google+?
  • Do you agree with what Eric said?
  • Do you have a specific question for Eric?

We look forward to reading your comments.

PS – Eric is Director, Social Analytics and Insights for M/A/R/C® Research

Attention Researchers! Change Is Good – Just Ask The MRA

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Having grown up in the market research industry, there are a few things that I can predict will happen year after year. When you go to the MRA Fall Conference, you will see lots of people from the data collection end of the business, presenters would be from suppliers and the conference would be in November.

However, all those things appear to be in the past!

    • The conference is now in September!
    • The conference is now called The Corporate Researchers Conference!
    • As of the last count, 40% of the attendees are from corporate America!
    • The speaker lineup is a who’s who of big business with companies like: Taco Bell, Kraft, Madison Square Garden, T-Mobile, American Express, Microsoft and Motorola Mobility.

As I type away the MRA Corporate Researchers Conference has over 350 people registered to attend. NICE JOB! I am very impressed with the changes that the MRA has made and wish them only success. I look forward to experiencing firsthand the revamped conference when members of the M/A/R/C team attend next month.

    • What do you think of the changes?
    • Are you planning to attend?
    • What do you think about the speaker lineup?
    • Are you excited about the networking opportunities?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Ok Researchers, What Is The One Thing You Would Like To Fix In This Great Industry?

Friday, May 20th, 2011

There are so many great things about the research industry. I feel strongly the research industry helps companies introduce new product and services. In some ways we also shape the future and minimize mistakes that companies would make if they didn’t have research to help set the direction of what they need to do.

With all that said, you can always make something a little bit better. If you could change one thing about the research industry, what would it be?

  • Is it a maximum length of interview?
  • Is it standard respondent incentives?
  • Is it a worldwide guideline on training?

So I ask you – if you had the power to change one thing in the research industry, what would it be?

I look forward to reading your comments.

It’s The Pilot Not The Plane! By Guest Writer Ben Smithee

Monday, April 11th, 2011

I used to play music professionally when I was in college. I played saxophone and had several jazz, funk and rock cover groups that I played with fairly regularly. One of the things you could always use as a general guide was to avoid the “gear-heads”, meaning those that spent so much time tweaking, talking about, and changing their gear, when they could have obtained much more out of spending that time in the practice room shedding on some new tunes.

This goes along with a ton of other industries or categories, as well. Think about the golfers you know that always have to have the latest and greatest, thinking that it is the magic cure to that dreadful slice or hook. Quit fooling yourself you shank-o-potamus, it’s the pilot, not the plane! I got that saying from one of my great jazz mentors and saxophone professors, Tim Ishii, who could probably pick up a PVC pipe, punch holes in it, add a reed and sound like a million bucks. His point was simple, and something I will never forget. Why do we spend so much time debating and talking about peripherals when the real thing we should focus on (and really the only thing we can truly control) is our own skills and knowledge?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t want to board the Wright brothers’ prototype for my next trip to Chicago. However, I feel that as researchers, we need to step our A-game up, and really be able to “bring-it” across the board.

Social Media, yes!

Focus groups, you bet!

Qual, quant, surveys, online,

One-on-one, ethnos, yes!

Have a commanding knowledge of each of the available methods, or partner up with someone or another brand that does, but then quit debating it. Let’s start thinking and talking about what really matters! ……By the way, did you hear about that cool new video tool??

  • Do you agree with my position?
  • What are you doing to step up your game?
  • What cool new tools are you using?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Ben is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Spych Market Analytics, LLC.

Attention Researchers Check Out These Words That People Are Using To Describe Market Research

Monday, April 4th, 2011

I was having a conversation with a few people and we were discussing the market research industry. For some reason during the discussion my mind wandered a little bit and I became very curious on what words people would use to describe market research and marketing. Quickly I emailed 12 of my contacts to ask them that exact question: Please email me the first three words that come into your mind regarding market research. I then emailed another 12 contacts and asked them to please email me the first three words that came into their mind regarding marketing.

To me the results were very interesting and compelling. There were some common themes and here are the results:

Data Integration
Quality Results
Opinions Branding
Accuracy Targeting
Methodical Positioning
Accurate Strategy
Crazy Critical
Surveys Believable
Inquisitive Relevant
Curious Viral

When I take a step back and look at the list a few things are clear.

  • I like the marketing words BETTER than the words for market research!
  • I believe the words for marketing create MORE value to the end user than the research words do!


  • As a researcher how do you like our words?
  • Which list do you like better?
  • What can and should the research community do to differently moving forward?

I look forward to hearing from you!