Archive for the ‘Emma Flood’ Category
Emma Flood’s latest Business Surgery looks at differing strategies for success and how market research can play a part
I recently read an article on mckinseyquarterly.com which discussed the different strategies of two global companies. One of the companies followed the same investment pattern of allocating capital to each business unit every year, whilst the other evaluated the performance and potential of each business unit, and shared budgets accordingly…
Although the author is discussing the strategy based on internal factors, the strategies of these two companies immediately took my mind to thinking about segmentation research, and the value this has in both assigning budgets and informing strategy. Segmentation research is all about maximising opportunities, through identifying and evaluating the segments of the market which offer the most potential (and the most profit) to the business. Although the McKinsey article focused on the internal aspects of the business (i.e. the SBUs), there are interesting parallels between the two companies mentioned, and that of our approach to segmentation…
At B2B International, we consider another key value of segmentation research is to inform or create a strategy which differentiates your business in the eyes of customers; therefore giving your business a competitive advantage. When we think of using segmentation research to differentiate our business, we are striving towards a needs-based segmentation.
A segmentation could be based on firmographics (i.e. company size, geographic location, etc), behaviour (i.e. frequency of purchase, products/services purchased, channel), or the third (and most challenging) option, a needs-based segmentation. The needs-based segmentation understands the precise needs by customer group i.e. the need to choose suppliers that offer quality products, suppliers that are committed to the market, and suppliers that can be trusted, etc. Understanding the needs of the market, and segmenting by these, provides knowledge that only your business has access to and, as such, it is not as easily copied as firmographic- or behaviour-based segmentations. Using a needs-based segmentation can therefore provide a differential, and competitive advantage to your business.
Drawing on the point in the second excerpt above, that the vast majority of companies behave in the way that Company A behaves, it is easy to see why using a strategy based on evaluation, rather than tradition, allows the business to better invest its capital, and reaps the benefits of business growth and profit.
To read more about how B2B International can help your business using segmentation research, please visit: http://www.b2binternational.com/research-and-intelligence/segmentation/
Emma Flood’s latest Business Surgery assesses the potential of ‘m-research’
As a regular visitor to the MRS’s news website, research-live.com, I was interested to read further about some of the prominent developments in technology, and how this is evolving aspects of market research, such as methods of data collection. One area which struck me as having future potential in both B2C and B2B markets was that of mobile research.
For those not privy to mobile research, or m-research as I’ll abbreviate, this is most easily explained as a (dare I say it) “traditional” online survey, but using the respondents’ mobile phone as the medium rather than their laptop or desktop. Respondents can be asked to participate either through their smartphone (for web-based surveys for mobile browsers) or standard mobile phone (using SMS/WAP surveys); accessing surveys through SMS invitations, email invitations, QR codes and social media promotions.
Indeed, we at B2B International have already conducted a proportion of our online surveys via respondents’ mobile phones, where the respondent has chosen to do it via their smartphone. However, m-research potentially offers much more than just a different modality for collecting online research data, which is worth exploration and evaluation.
Many argue that it offers a richer experience, and adds extra layers. In addition to surveys, respondents can share creative feedback via photos, videos, texts and more. It also allows real-time connection with respondents, whereby the researcher can “watch” respondents interact with products in their home and gain insights where and when purchase decisions are made.
These benefits appear more akin to B2C research, in evaluating shopper experience and ethnographic research such as shopper diaries. However as m-research evolves, it is likely that these applications will begin to also bring benefit to B2B market research.
Still in its infancy, m-research take-up has so far been limited with just 2% of market research data collected via the mobile phone (1% through telephone interviewing via respondents’ mobile phone, and 1% via data collection inputted into respondents’ mobile phone). However, given that current mobile phone penetration is estimated at more than 80% globally, compared to 25% for internet access, I would certainly expect this to be a growth area over the next few years and something not to be ignored by the market researcher. Indeed, upon reading Reineke Reitsma’s 2011 closing article for research-live.com, she describes how m-research gained traction in 2011…
Given that m-research is still in its infancy and we are yet to see its full application for market research, we still have questions over how this can best be implemented for B2B and B2C research – but watch this space…
*To read the full article click here.
Emma Flood this week weighs up the merits of brand partnerships.
On a recent lunchtime browse through research-live.com I stumbled across an article by Lyndsay Peck (click here to read the full article) discussing the benefits of brand partnerships:
Stirring my interest in brand partnerships, or co-branding as they may also be known, I dug a little deeper to find out more about why organisations enter brand partnerships, and what the potential benefits could be.
Although the author of the article recounts recent examples (such as McDonald’s Flurry and Smarties as well as Apple iPod and Nike), it would appear that co-branding has been in existence for some time, seemingly dating back to 1956 when Renault had Jacques Arpels of jewellers Van Cleef and Arpels turn the dashboard of one of their newly introduced Dauphine’s into a work of art.
So, if brand partnerships have a fairly long history dating back over 50 years, there must be some significant advantages – reducing costs through shared advertising/promotion, increasing sales revenue through broadening your reach and targeting new audiences, further increases through positive association with another brand…?
In returning to the perhaps unlikely brand partnership between Heineken and i, it draws us to think about what we would be looking for in a brand partnership. Would we want to go for an unusual partnership to stir up interest in our own brand and raise questions on our motive, or would we stick to the traditional approach of synergy and brand fit, which is summed up in the article:
What the article does not cover is the potential detriment of a brand partnership. What if the brand you have partnered with and invested alongside suddenly, for example, becomes embroiled in a scandal? How easily could you be disentangled from the partnership, and would you exit unscathed? Perhaps there is an argument for conducting due diligence into whether the company’s mission, objectives and ethics are congruent with your own company. Or is there a safer method yet; that of same-company co-branding? This offers merit in providing economies of scale, etc. and Proctor & Gamble offer an example of this in their marketing of Gillette M3 Power shaving equipment (which require batteries) with Duracell batteries, where both brands are owned by P&G.
In closing my thoughts on this article, I am mindful that the author did not explore how brand partnerships are measured in order to understand whether they have truly been successful or whether there was no significant benefit. Given that activities such as brand partnerships require significant investment to deploy, any branding activity should be well evaluated before investment is made. B2B International is an expert in branding research and has written multiple white papers on the subject. To read these white papers and learn more about our experience in branding, click here
This week, Emma Flood discusses the advantages of making your brand standing out from the crowd
Earlier this month, I was walking through a large garden centre, when I saw a collection of meerkat statues dressed as various characters, and retailing for around £20. Not in the least bit interested in purchasing one of the bespectacled fluffy mammals, but having seen them on sale in various other outlets, I pondered the sudden interest.
If you’re a UK dweller, you will probably recall an ongoing advertising campaign for a financial comparison website, comparethemarket.com, who, in a bid to differentiate themselves from their comparison site rivals, launched a sister website, comparethemeerkat.com. The meerkat story follows Aleksandr Orlov, a talking meerkat and face of comparethemeerkat.com, on his travels across Russia. Such has been the success of this advertising campaign, Aleksandr Orlov’s autobiography reached number one in The Sunday Times Bestseller Chart over Christmas 2010, and meerkat lovers have also downloaded his iPhone app, bought his ringtone, and followed him on Twitter. Presumably this meerkat love affair is also driving demand for these fluffy meerkat statues I see so frequently…
You are probably wondering, as I did, what on earth meerkats have to do with financial comparison websites? Let me take you back to the inception of the UK’s first comparison website – confused.com. Part of the Admiral Group, confused.com was launched back in 2002 focusing initially on comparing car insurance quotes, and growing to now run comparisons for most consumer insurance types, as well as for products such as credit cards, savings accounts and mortgages.
Not long after confused.com was established, others jumped on the bandwagon, offering very much a “me too” service. After a while, I myself became confused by the plethora of comparison sites available, and struggled to remember the names of the websites, given the similar sounding domains such as: comparethemarket.com, gocompare.com, moneysupermarket.com etc. I speculate that around this time some research was conducted to understand awareness and usage of these comparison sites, and how or if consumers were able to differentiate between them and remember the particular domain names. If I’m right in thinking that research was carried out, then I might also be right in assuming that the research concluded with the view that consumers were baffled by the array of sites and similar sounding domains, leading to a recommendation for the commissioner of the research to find a way of differentiating either their offering or their message.
Thus, we understand the concept behind Aleksandr Orlov and his meerkat family. Brainchild of the VCCP Agency, and with a concept so far removed from financial comparison websites, we can’t help but remember the meerkat family and even simply typing “meerkat” into Google leads us directly to their comparison site.
Threatened by the success of this advertising campaign, the other comparison sites had to carve out their own niche – regardless of how unbearable it might be for consumers to watch. Enter gocompare.com. Welsh tenor Wynne Evans sings “Go Compare!” at the top of his voice. Annoying? Yes. Memorable? Unfortunately so.
Moneysupermarket.com haven’t quite managed to create such a memorable advertising concept, relying on the faces of Dragon’s Den’s Peter Jones, Iranian Comic Omid Djalili and most recently “Jedward” from X Factor and their matching bouffants.
The founders of the original comparison site, confused.com, seem as unable as moneysupermarket.com to carve out a unique and memorable theme, moving from adverts portraying customer testimonials to the current singing cartoon characters. Although they proclaim a following of “20 million users” (I can only assume this means the amount who have registered since 2002), the success of their campaign falls far behind that of Aleksandr Orlov and his meerkat family.
The story of these comparison websites’ successes and failures leads me to think about the importance of ensuring that your business has a strong and distinguishable position in the marketplace. In the case of these websites, it was difficult to differentiate between each, until one stepped forward with a unique “offer”, albeit unlikely. If your offer is not seen as different or better than your competitors, what reason do customers have to choose you, or remain with you? And what is stopping them from switching to a competitor who is positioning themselves as unique or superior to you? Often businesses are not aware of how they are perceived in the market, either by their customers or potential customers. At B2B International, we pride ourselves on providing market research with results that are strategic in nature in order for you to implement improvement and grow your business. To see our full range of services and understand how B2B International can improve your position in the market, visit: http://www.b2binternational.com/research-and-intelligence/
In her Thursday Night Insight this week, Emma Flood warns us what market researchers can learn from the ongoing handling of the swine flu epidemic.
Have you heard of swine flu? No doubt, like the rest of us, you have been poring over the alarmist messages in the newspapers about how deadly the virus is and how we’re all going to contract it.
The alarm caused by the reportage of this strain of flu no doubt caused a rise in hypochondriasis and a serious peak in sick days. So how did the government and the media help the general public on this, and try to avoid the panic which exacerbated these circumstances? Did they carefully communicate a number of select messages to those most in danger? And did they ensure that their messages were consistent? No. We were faced with a series of conflicting advice and information – some of us were told to stay indoors, others to avoid public transport. Some commuters took to extreme measures of wearing face masks, whilst others (like myself!) stocked up on antibacterial hand foam to ward off any potential infection.
Suffice to say, thankfully neither I nor any of my family have been struck down with this illness. This caused me to think, however, about our choices when presented with new information and data – what does it mean? What do we do with it? Who is it relevant to? How do we interpret it?
In this instance, journalists were provided with a series of often conflicting and misleading “facts and figures” from the government and associated bodies, and of course this was reported in an alarmist fashion – to generate interest and sell more column inches. What I find interesting is the selective reporting of facts. We were provided with a daily update on the number of deaths which had tragically occurred, and this was often reported in true scaremongering fashion with the headlines “swine flu death toll rises again” and “fears of pandemic”. Very little emphasis was placed on the prior underlying health concerns of these victims, and we were all herded into the same risk group, thus further heightening our concern and attempts to avoid contracting the virus. Had the media helped in communicating that those most at risk were those with existing health concerns, we might have avoided such a swine flu frenzy.
As researchers, it is our duty to effectively interrogate and deconstruct data, in order to communicate the real findings back to our client. We have to be skilled in drawing out the real facts, and confident that the picture we are portraying is a true reflection and communicates the right messages. We know that our recommendations can lead to strategic change for an organisation, and behind that is often a significant budget.
To put your business in the hands of experienced research professionals, get in touch with B2B International’s Research Team, or read on to find out more click here.