June 12th, 2013

Sort of, dunno, nothin

By: Margie Lane, Research Director

Don’t you love the one word answers you get from teenagers when you ask them how their day at school was today.  I’ve learned with my daughter that it’s far more productive to wait until we have our quiet times together cooking, knitting, walking the dog, and let her raise issues that she wants to talk about.

It struck me moderating a group discussion recently that it’s exactly the same with participants.  Sure they may have more to say when I ask them a direct question than the average teen, but the real gems come when they are given the space and time to raise issues they have on their minds.

By spending time establishing rapport, giving participants the confidence to speak about issues that are top of mind and allowing the conversation to flow rather than moving on to the next scheduled task on the discussion guide, it is possible to uncover a whole host of issues that would have been buried by asking a rational question like ‘what’s important to you’.

And it’s the same in our online communities, we learn most about consumers real behaviour when we set the scene for open, free flowing conversations and can then more accurately project their future behaviour.

Take a look at this light-hearted take on the typical teenager and while you do, think about how much goes on in the life of a teenager beyond their monosyllabic replies and how we, as researchers, can access their reality.


February 14th, 2013

Blurring the lines

By: Marcail Arbuthnot

Within the retail world, we often hear talk of online stores as distinctly different to and separate from the more traditional physical bricks and mortar stores.

However it seems premium retailer Burberry may be blurring the lines between the two, with the opening of their new high-tech Regent Street store in London.

In the video below, Burberry’s Christopher Bailey describes the merging of the burberry.com website with a physical experience to create their new flagship store…

Burberry’s new digital store concept, which has been 2 years in the making, focuses on bringing the best elements of the retailer’s website into the physical store, to create a richer experience for their customers.

Via the use of large web-enabled screens, RFID tags, ‘smart mirrors’ and iPad equipped staff, Burberry have provided an example of how two previously separate retail channels (online and B&M) can be brought together, to offer shoppers a seamless, engaging and exciting experience.

Burberry’s new store reflects a significant shift in customer expectations – online stores have raised the bar in terms of the opportunities for rich content delivery, customised shopping and a high level of convenience. Shoppers are now increasingly extending these expectations to the physical store environment as well.

The next 12 months will be an interesting period within the industry. Which retailers will respond to this shift in expectations? How will they respond? Who will get it right? What are the implications for those that do not?

January 7th, 2013

When the people type…

By Victoria Parr, Managing Director, Latitude Insights Sydney office 

At the last AMSRS conference I presented a paper on the research to develop the design of plain packaging for tobacco products (yes, that colour…… Pantone 448C). During the questions that followed, an audience member highlighted that even though the emphasis of the conference had been on new methodologies and digital data collection, most of the papers dealing with significant social or community impact had used very traditional methods, including mine.  He was questioning the tension between the ‘new’ methodologies and the need for delivery of robust and evidence based research that is required for government research.

This is an issue that I believe many in the audience of that last conference were grappling with, especially those of us that work within the social and government sphere. Our government clients are similar to commercial clients in that they too need to do everything cheaper and faster. They are also aware of that ‘new fangled’ thing called the internet, and they know that  people now have 100′s of friends and followers whose profile pictures they see on a daily basis, and who they converse with in 140 characters or less.

How our government clients differ is that the research they do is funded by all Australian taxpayers, so all of us in the community who are relevant to the problem need to be represented in the research. It is a critical part of the democratic model of government that all have chance to express their views and opinions on matters that affect them,  and that means the research we do must be representative of the population in question.

And here lies the crux of the issue.

As I said at the conference, government needs to be accountable and need to  ensure reliability of rigorous and robust research methods to achieve this. But at the same time, the world is changing and we all know that the way people are communicating is now different. We type to communicate almost as much, if not more, than we verbalise our thoughts. As AMSRS committee member Victoria Gamble gamely said when called out to take the roving microphone at the conference ‘I don’t like to speak in front of so many people, that’s why I use twitter’.

So my question is, if we don’t start to talk to people using the same way they communicate with each other, are we in fact losing some of the rigour of the research? Not only do we miss representation of the people who will not elect to do face-to-face qual, are we also not missing a vital part of capturing their views and opinions by not communicating with them in the way they are accustomed to?

Fishkin[1] wrote about deliberative democracy and public consultation under the title ‘When the People Speak’. My question is about recognizing that how people are speaking is now, in fact, different and we in the social and government side of research need to explore this issue more, both clients and suppliers alike. All methodologies, both the tried and tested and the ‘new’ have their faults. What we really need to consider as we look at each new project or problem is what method is going to really give a voice to those whose views and opinions we are trying to represent?


[1] James S Fishkin, Center for Deliberative Democracy, Stanford University

November 29th, 2012

Online research – the ideal partner for sensitive topics

by Anna Clowry, Research Director at Latitude Insights

We often talk about the benefits of depth and breadth achieved by online research. From online surveys, to panels and communities, it’s about helping us get closer to people that other methods might miss.

From farmers in remote cattle stations, to housewives from the Gold Coast, online communities have brought people together in virtual spaces to help companies and organisations understand the bigger picture. Now anyone with an internet connection can have a say, not just those who can come and meet us face to face.

As well as who we reach, we sometimes overlook the impact of how powerful the anonymity of an online community can be. A recent project we conducted with Australians with a range of Anxiety Disorders really brought this point home.

Most of the online community members would have found it impossible or challenging to attend a focus group with a group of strangers, in an unfamiliar environment.

But more importantly, if they had, the level of intense personal detail shared would have been nothing compared to what was shared online.

We were privileged to shape and guide conversations covering extremely sensitive and challenging topics, and were thrilled when our community members fed back to us on the positive experience of sharing their thoughts, with both us and with the other community members.

The combination of a safe and anonymous discussion space, connecting with others with similar experience, and the freedom to share when and where it suited them, in as much or little detail as they liked, made the online community an ideal approach.

So, for marketers and other clients who need to understand topics that are sensitive in nature, from health care, social issues, taboo topics etc, we fully support harnessing the power of an online community.

November 15th, 2012

6 things you need to know about gamification

Margie LaneGamification is surfacing in all corners of life from education and training to physiotherapy, improving your health with health monitor, communicating a social cause, soliciting friends for moral support with nike+ and even driving the new Ford Focus. Market research is one of the more obvious and advantageous applications.

Here’s my beginner’s guide to gamification…

1. Gamification is the concept of creating a fun, engaging experience to encourage users to participate in what otherwise would be a relatively boring task.

2. Worldwide, a staggering 500 million people spend an hour each day playing games online and on mobile devices and by 2016 corporations are expected to spend $2.8 billion on gamification.

3. Brands and organisations are discovering that interacting with people in a fun way produces positive results. Meanwhile traditional methods of marketing, education and other activities are failing as people seek out and receive new, more engaging ways of doing things.

4. The key benefit of gamification is the enhanced level of involvement and engagement. When an interaction is gamified, it creates a more intimate connection through the positive experience, rewards and recognition that build affinity and loyalty.

5. With gamification there is enormous potential for word of mouth recommendation through the sites like fanzy that reward fans
for spreading the word about your brand via social networks.

6. The success of the activity can be easily monitored through the use of metrics to track users who share content and friends who track back to the brand.

Surveys have traditionally been gap fillers, but these days, the prospect of completing a questionnaire is much less attractive than doing something like honing one’s investing skills in the carefully tailored Commonwealth’s Investorville, helping bring back rare creatures to the sea through theblu app or earning points while saving the planet on recyclebank. These are the calibre of activities with which our surveys compete making it increasingly more difficult to attract participation and a quality, considered response.

I’ll leave you with this short film, an entertaining perspective on where we may be heading with gamification and virtual reality. Enjoy!

October 22nd, 2012

Virtual shopping is on its way!

by Kate Reardon | Tags: , , , | Category: Retail , Technology


    Ever dreamed of having a virtual supermarket shopping experience from the comfort of your own home? No, neither have I…but UK retailer Tesco seems to think this may be the way of the future.

    Tesco is working towards a three-dimensional virtual store that shoppers can walk through and buy from using a smart TV. Shoppers would move about the virtual store using motion sensor controls to turn and progress down aisles, and could purchase products by reaching out and touching them on the virtual shelves.

    Software developers Keytree have built a demo store for Xbox Kinect that shows a little of what the virtual shopping experience might be like. See the video below:

    There’s no doubt this is an innovative idea, but I struggle to see many valuable benefits from this method of shopping. The experience is expected to merge the best of online and offline shopping. The implication is that online shopping lacks the rich immersive experience – which the virtual store can now deliver.

    While the 3D virtual store may feel more familiar to a real shopping experience, there is none of the hustle and bustle of a real supermarket, there’s no chance of bumping into friends from the area, and quite tragically, there’s no opportunity to steal a sneaky grape! So it really is very far from a realistic shopping experience. Plus, if you’re truly missing the full ‘shopping experience’ – you could always get up off the couch and go to the supermarket – the old fashioned way!

    However, there is at least one foreseeable benefit to virtual shopping; it looks like fun! If you look at the video above, you’ll see that you select a product using a target – much like the way you select your unsuspecting victim in a game of Golden Eye! (Well, that’s what comes to mind for me!) Who doesn’t love a good game? And with all the talk about gamification at the moment, there’s every chance that Tesco will incorporate further gamification elements into the virtual shopping experience – now that could give it an edge! You heard it here first!

    I’m sure many will want to try virtual shopping purely for the novelty factor, but I don’t think bricks and mortar supermarkets need to worry about closing their doors just yet…

    What do you think? Will virtual shopping take off?

    October 21st, 2011

    A tweet from a King?

    by Monica Greenwood | Tags: , , | Category: Comment , Social Media , Technology

      Queen's birthday card

      My grandfather-in-law, who lives in England, recently turned 100. I was very excited for him, greatly anticipating the obligatory telegram from the Queen.

      “No”, my father-in-law said. “We have to write to them to request one.”


      My local video store knows my date of birth, along with my local pharmacist, my local library, my hairdresser, my beautician and just about all the major retailers with whom I have a loyalty card. But the Queen’s Anniversaries Office, can’t find out when I turn 100? I thought digital technology was making it easier to find out such information!

      OK. So we get over that hurdle and request a telegram.

      “No”, my father-in-law said. “He got a birthday card.”


      I was disappointed. It’s not the quaint, old fashioned telegram that I was expecting and I’d never seen a real telegram before so I was looking forward to checking out this traditional form of communication. But neither was it a new and innovative way to send your wishes like a tweet or a Facebook message (don’t you just love it when your Facebook page gets filled with birthday messages? – but I digress). No, it’s somewhere in that grey area of being almost – dare I say it – common.

      I wonder if when it’s my time to turn 100, I’ll be receiving a tweet from King William? Or perhaps that will be considered too “quaint”, “old fashioned”, “traditional” or “common” by then. I can just hear my daughter now…. “Oh Mum, tweeting is so yesterday!”

      July 4th, 2011

      It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s supermedia!

      Screen shot 2011-07-04 at 5.01.47 PM

      It’s incredible to think so much has changed over the past three years. As Charleni Li points out in her recent blog Groundswell Paperback: A Look Back Three Years Later, it was only back in May 2008 that Facebook and Twitter were still emerging trends. Even more incredible, the iPhone had no apps! Can any of us now imagine a world without our iPhone, without Facebook or without Twitter? I know I can’t!

      And marketers and researchers alike are embracing these technologies to reach their different audiences.

      This then led to me on to a bit of a tangent, wondering whether MROCs (market research online communities) or insight communities have yet fully ‘emerged’. It seems the world of marketing research may be lagging a little?  There are still many who are wedded to the idea of focus groups sufficing for all qualitative research.  Which continues to amaze me, because once the richness, depth of information and honesty online research community members reveal, there’s really no going back.