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New Trends and Methods In Market Research

John Cashmore
St. Paul, MN

July 22, 2010

PowerPoint Version (654 kb)

John Cashmore is VP, Senior Research Director for Ascendancy research based in St. Louis Park, MN. His expertise lies in both qualitative and quantitative research within the building materials and agriculture industries.

Slide 1

New Trends in Market Research

  • Stated objectives to define how the research is to be used – not stored on a shelf
  • Requirements to identify additional uses of identical data collection set
  • Increased Electronic adaption to standard data collection methods

More involvement of subjects being studied

Much has changed with how market research is conducted over the past several years, but even more has changed with how it is utilized.  Clients are encouraged to think more clearly relative to the uses for the research before it is concluded, and to also understand how data collected for one study may also be utilized with data collected from previous studies, which may or may not have had a similar objective.

Most people are aware electronic data collection has augmented traditional data collection methods, but researchers also know electronic has not replaced out-bound telephone, mail, traditional focus groups, etc.  They must be used in concert in most cases.

Each method of research as it has evolved over the years has concentrated on having participants more involved in the process.  This has helped research evolve more from one of memory into increasingly developing data collection in a real-time sense.  Studies have proven, real-time data collection is both more efficient and more accurate than recall data collection.  Additionally recall tends to focus on the last experience with a project, not the current or an average experience of many interactions over the years.

Slide 2

New Trends in Market Research

  • Resulting feedback to target audience of results
  • Faster project turn around
  • Less expense
  • Do-It-Yourself
    • Survey Monkey;  Others

Zoomerang logo

More and more users of market research are using research not only as a defense to public or target audience questions, but to develop an offense to help answer questions about or to the audience in advance.  Clearly demonstrating the concern for the audience in advance with the use of facts gathered from that same audience can readily break-down barriers and misconceptions about a project.

While researchers are constantly striving to use methods for faster turn around and cutting costs for data collection, they are leery of using so called Do-It-Yourself survey methods which limit the amount of analysis which can be conducted, and when administered by non-trained individuals into proper question development and overall questionnaire development can yield misleading results, even though cost may be dramatically reduced.

Slide 3

New Trends in Market Research

  • Use of Hybrid Methods –Combines more than one method to seek information
  • Secondary
  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative One method doesn’t fit all

Like automobiles and other machinery, researchers are increasing using Hybrid methods for data collection and analysis.  They may use a combination of secondary (what is already published and available); with qualitative (methods to delve deeper into participants notions / experience relative to a topic and often used to determine the proper questions to ask in a projectable quantitative study); or quantitative (methods used to project results to an entire population set or sub-set).

Slide 4

New Trends in Market Research

  • Subliminal Focus
  • Eye Tracking
  • Galvanic Response
  • Geodemographics
  • Larger use of social media Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Researchers increasing attempt to limit bias by using methods (Subliminal Focus) so respondents are less able to try and favor an answer one way or another as they wish to help or detract from the results.  An example of this is conducting a taste test for crackers, when one is really trying to understand the acceptance of soft drinks or different favored waters that go along with the crackers during the test.  The crackers act to cleanse the palette between tasting the different drinks.

Eye tracking, galvanic response and the like; monitoring physical reactions to stimulus are playing an increasingly larger role, especially in hybrid methods.

Geodemographics, studying the demographics and the effects of change upon neighborhoods, cities, etc., are having an increased role with planning departments and those responsible for changes designed to effect those most concerned with the change.

And finally the most use of social media, such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook and others help researcher understand true thoughts in a real-time sense of audience opinions relative to almost anything.  Chris McMahon of MNDOT will be speaking about how their department is using this approach, with great success in Minnesota later in this webinar.

Slide 5

New Trends in Market Research


Community Blogs

Courtesy Channel M2

But briefly, community blogs can be set up for monitoring a project or program real-time. Participants can either be recruited previously and asked to participate or can opt-in from hearing an invitation via media to visit and offer their opinions.. By pre-recruiting, age, gender, racial, physical ability and other demographics can be preselected in advance assuring a more accurate projection to an entire population through specified quotas. These blogs are then monitored 2/4/7 by trained moderators who can probe deeper with any participant on any subject which both the participant and moderator feel are germane to the topic or where participant contributions are unclear.

Slide 6

New Trends in Market Research

Slide 7:New Trends in Market Research

We are going to talk about how we have used info from these studies and maybe 1 or 2 others that ended in pivotal decisions. However, I will address the last right here and not come back to it.

  • I know that at the Fed. Level you are interested in this topic and I believe you are callling it "Liveability" ? Our "QOL" project is a 3-phased one, and the pilot was simply a few focus groups to help us nail down language and get our brains around how to approach the topic, get the public focused and then take it out to the whole state in a second phase of 20-30 groups.
  • What we will end up with is verbiage to apply to a quant –study: One that will tell us how transportation INTERSECTS with quality of life. So that is the only way we are using the Pilot findings. I don't want to get hung up on this one, so to move on…
Slide 7

Newer Market Research Methods

Image of a handhelf device

Smart Phones – Instant Feedback

Recruiting specific individuals to participate in daily data collection after experiencing a construction zone or the like through using Twitter or other programs delivering real-time information on their Smart Phones has been increasingly used.  It only takes seconds and provides researchers with data which can be utilized to make changes if necessary rather quickly.  I.e. a detour route is not clear, or a sign has been knocked down.  Over time this method provides an experience satisfaction level from gathering bits of real-time data.

Slide 8

New Trends in Market Research

Poster: Gorillas in the Mist

I want to speak about ethnography for a moment and the power of observation.  Most of us remember or know the story of Jane Goodall, and her observations of the great apes, played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist.  Through Ms. Goodall’s work much was learned, merely through observation, with subjects with which she did not communicate.  How many ways can we think about this process in our everyday formulation of projects new products, procedures and programs?

Slide 9


  • Peanuts used to come only in containers.
  • Now they come as easy-to-open containersand dispensers.

Planters Peanut Package

Planters research and development personnel created the portable peanut snack pack years ago which we all saw on airplanes and in corner stores. Through the use of ethnography, market researchers were able to determine that opening these older packs was problematic. In fact, the public avoided the product as to not have to put their mouth on an exterior package some one else may have handled and use their teeth to open it. Now Planters presents the same snack in an easy to open, easy, mouth sized tube to help purchasers ingest the product. I suspect Planters charges more for the same contents, but are able to increase the volume sold, since they observed how the original product was really used in the field. I would suspect when marketing went to manufacturing and asked them to put a slit in the top of every small container one could hear the screams from NJ to CA, but marketing had the data to back up their hypothesis that more product could be sold.

Slide 10



Not the easiest slide to read, but gives you a sense of how Maint. has been using this Omnibus study to track for Performance measures.

  • Note that mowing's mean score on a 1-10 scale came out just above the target for performance; (the jagged line between 06 and 08 just indicates we skipped a year for the Omnibus.)
  • More importantly, we asked all of those who rated mowing a 7 or less, if Mn/DOT was doing just the right amount, not enough or too much. Less than 10% thought we should mow more: letting us tell Maint. that YES…the calls WERE coming from the 'vocal few' - - nearly all in the 6 and below range thought we were mowing just enough on state hwy's and frwy's
Slide 11

Uses & Benefits Can Include

  • New product development or service research
  • Determination of informational “Hot Points” for feedback to audience
  • Attitudinal understanding  - market back, not just DOT forward
  • Subliminal Focus – top-line articulation is difficult for many audiences

Market research plays an important role in any new product or procedure development, communications development or assurance of customer satisfaction, but one must know the “Hot Point” before one can satisfy them.  Then feed-back to the audience is key critical to their understanding and ultimate acceptance of the situation or project.  Real-time information works most effectively for concrete and projectable results.

Slide 12

Uses & Benefits Can Include

  • Increased Community Acceptance of DOT efforts through –Communications containing “Hot Points” based on facts –Public Relations – “We are listening, we care.” Increased community acceptance of efforts – they were a part of the planning & implementation

As Chris McMahon of MNDOT will show next how using market research has many benefits, but using it as a public relations tool.  Market research can be invaluable for increased community acceptance and having members of the community feel they were and will continue to be part of the project. 

Slide 13

Thank you – John Cashmore can be reached at 800-795-3056 if you have any questions relative to this presentation.

Slide 14

More Information



Scott Wolf
Center for Accelerating Innovation

PowerPoint files can be viewed with the PowerPoint Viewer
Updated: 04/04/2011

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