DIY Tools for Market Research by Scott Worthge, uSamp
DIY is not only here to stay in the MR industry, but it’s a growing resource forresearchers and especially for “end users”, the companies who need theanswers that MR brings. Like the berry bushes we see all across the PacificNW, DIY tools are proliferating, and once rooted, will not be going away.
Innovation as a disruptive force historically - any industry that sees significantchange occur rapidly has at the heart of that change some “new thing”, anadvancement that is different than what’s come before. Look at whatrevolutionized some previously huge industries in the US into boom or bust,seemingly overnight:
Cotton pickers – the mechanization of spinning in England created a greatsurge in demand for American cotton, and a need to remove cotton seeds fromthe raw fibre, which was a manual process of combing them out, incrediblytime-consuming. This need led to…..
The cotton gin (1794) – the processing of cotton was increased many timesover vs. the previous method to meet rapidly growing demand.
The buggy whip industry as a major economic entity ceased to exist with theintroduction of…….
……the introduction of the automobile; brothers Charles and Frank Duryeafounded the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in 1893, becoming the firstAmerican automobile manufacturing company, and there was no looking backfor buggy whips.
Every home in the US needed one of these – an icebox, which required ice tobe delivered weekly (or more) to keep food from spoiling. But innovationbrought about…
…..the invention of the self-contained refrigerator, with a compressor on thebottom of the cabinet and no need for ice to come to the home anymore.Invented by Alfred Mellowes in 1916, was bought out by William C. Durant in1918, who started the Frigidaire Company in order to begin the first mass-production of refrigerators, and where do you ever see an icebox today?
What’s the point of these disruptions for us? Our industry has seen similarshifts in the existing paradigm that have turned research on its head a fewtimes. The latest, as I see it, are DIY tools – definitely a new direction fromwhat’s been done in the US historically, first with in-person and mail surveys,then phone, to online, into social media and now DIY. More/better/faster, andthe pace of change accelerates all the time!
To the “professional MR provider”, the growing wave of DIY tools can be abenefit, or a threat, to their way of life, to the “traditional” methods by whichresearch has been developed and delivered. I view myself, and my colleaguesin the industry, you here in this room, as professionals in our industry who offerexpertise to companies facing risk, where we act as partners to employ ourhard-learned and practiced skills to the benefit of our clients and theirobjectives in working with us. Pick your analogy, but I like to think of my role aspart detective, and some of cowboy, while occasionally being a traffic cop. Butif clients can use the type of tools I use, and achieve the results I achieve,what am I to do? How will my role change?
Not all doom and gloom, I think. In my previous examples, industries weretransformed with the advent and adoption of new methods, new technologies,and the inevitable evolution of how they delivered value to their customers,and as many “winners” as “losers” emerged. Whether you think the comingwave will threaten to wash over you…..
…..or move you faster toward your goals, I want to explore some of the latestdevelopments and directions in this landscape.
Let’s take a look, before we think about how the trend will affect people like us,the professional MR folks at supplier companies of all types or within anorganization, at what some of the very recent developments are. Start withcategories, and some key points to keep in mind about what’s being offered ineach relevant to the thought of clients using these tools: Survey authoring tools – SurveyMonkey, the first really recognized DIY survey authoring system, and its descendants (nod to Beacon, SurveyBuilder, zoomerang, Qualtrics, SurveyGizmo). Considerations: different capabilities and offerings, from true simple DIY to much more complex pseudo-programming. User-friendly interface Backup customer service for users How quickly can surveys be developed and launched Basic design questions – everything from appropriate scale and wording to flow and structure
Self-serve/DIY sampling solutions – flip side of the survey-buildingexperience, where you have the survey ready, but just need theaudience. Two solutions on the market today for DIY sampling and they depend on your sampling preferences. SampleMarket by uSamp provides a professional grade solution for market research professionals to gain on- demand access to uSamp survey panelists. Cint offers a solution that allows you to log on and purchase access to panel databases owned by 3 rd parties who are looking to monetize the database asset. Find out what types of controls you have for quota managements, exclusion rules, targeting, international support, and customer service --and how easy the software is to use.
Integrating survey building and access to on-demand respondents –fairly new, and adding the capability to take a client-built survey, andmove directly to a sampling system to provide respondents. Look for the ability to build surveys easily, find the right audience for your study and obtain real-time results that can be manipulated and output in a variety of ways and formats. Some of the solutions allow you to reach out to your followers directly to survey from social media or your own lists, in addition to accessing on-demand targeted audiences from the software. The solutions here include SurveyBuilder by uSamp (tied to a system called SampleMarket, QuickSurveys by Toluna, Crowdvi.be by ResearchNow, QuickTake by SSI
Further out there from just online surveys and build-your-own panels:qualitative DIY solutions that allow you to communicate withrespondents both via online chat or online video recorded sessions One on one – GutCheck, only player in the DIY qualitative market that allows for you to do synchronous, one-on-one, chat- based interviews in real time. They utilize SampleMarket API technology to drive participants into these studies. Because of the deep integration, they can typically get them a qualified respondent in a matter of minutes Focus groups – For video-based solutions, QualVu has a platform in this area, and have some DIY capabilities. For bulletin-board based solutions, there are several including 20/20 Research and iTracks. Usability – Loop 11– just got wind of this from a large client, looking to replace geo-based focus groups for in-development work where they want a diversity of comment very quickly from a small group of consumers, then “back to the dev engineers); also Solidify (Steve Krug’s book available through this app)
Google Consumer Surveys – a special case, given the sheer size of thecompany and its ability, it seems, to do anything it wants related to data.But it has a lot of limits now, despite the appearance (discussion offeatures, costs, recent IIR Tech mtg in Vegas where next developmentswere announced). In its infancy, but definitely something to watch.
Directions and impact – so, as you can see, there are a variety of solutions.How any client selects a specific provider is naturally dependent on theirneeds. But the purpose of outlining each of these specific and diversesolutions is not only my attempt to sketch out the landscape of DIY, but toillustrate how powerful these solutions are for customers.Against this landscape, how are we, professional researchers, to view whereall this is headed? Are we going to surf, or drown? What are the outcomes offurther growth, adoption, and penetration of DIY tools into “our” space? Disintermediation – the elephant in the room; MR professionals no longer as the gatekeepers of research information and insights between the audience (B2C or B2B) and those using the information (end clients). The earthquake that we fear can crumble our business. Decrease in the services needed by clients – if they can “do it themselves”, why do they need us? Lack of “proper” expertise being applied to research issues and problems – aren’t we the experts, and that’s why we do what we do?
That’s the scary, uncertain part for us, with loss of clients, loss of revenue, andmaybe loss of our livelihoods at stake. Can you get a taste of those fears?But what about the benefits this change could bring? We’re not just buggywhips and iceboxes today, thank you very much. What benefits could this shiftprovide for the professional market researcher? Greater transparency in communications with clients – they demand to see what’s happening, not content with the periodic updates through email. But they can also get information much more readily and gain efficiencies in the research process with increasing independence. Which of us needs more emails and calls over time?Greater involvement in the research process by clients – if they do more of theresearch themselves, they’ll see more of the real value we’ve been bringing tothe table all along.A re-focusing of MR professionals on more-value-added, expert services – thisis my personal prediction, and it will cause some fallout in the marketplace.But compare the emerging DIY MR landscape to automotive repair. Do youneed to pay a mechanic his hourly rates to change your oil, and replace yourwindshield wipers? Many people do, out of convenience. But isn’t the realvalue of a good mechanic in his being able to diagnose, explain, and then fixwhat I need done for my car when the experience level and tools needed arewell beyond what I know how, or care to learn? I value him for the tough stuff,
Although these solutions have challenged the foundation of Market Research,I believe that the availability of such tools has changed it for the better. DIYhas empowered clients to participate in the process, which has in turnsolidified the relationship between MR professionals and their clients. DIYadoption rates will rise with education and application. Are you going to drownin this latest wave of change…..