My Top 5 Takeaways from Marketing and Research!

There are literally hundreds of things you could think of writing when considering what you learned most from a course like this. This class offers new learning opportunities in the subject of marketing and market research that only graze the surface, so picking a top five takeaways from this class can become difficult. They follow:

  1. How to build a good survey: In the past, I would take surveys for fun, for a bit of extra cash, and because I was required to for a class. They usually would bore me to tears and I would barely get through them. However this class has taught me how to ask questions that probe the surveyor, and make the surveys interesting.
  2. The difference between qualitative and quantitative: I could sit here and write out the definition of both, but that would be uninteresting. This class has taught me the difference in how to look at data, find that data and use that data to turn it in to valuable insight.
  3. Big Data: This was arguably the most interesting point I took away from the course. We watched a video about big data and it just blew me away what researchers are capable of doing in regards to analyzing and collecting data with the use of technology.
  4. The focus group: What I learned from the conducting of the focus group was very interesting. The breakdown, how to lead one, the questions, and the feedback. Understanding how a focus group actually works and how you can apply that to actually gaining insight on the topic at hand.
  5. Groupthink: This wasn’t actually a topic covered in class, but it was apparent in the class we had. We were constantly working in groups and in general, you could look around and just see groups going through the motions, and agreeing on topics just to waste time. However, our group was different. For the times we met, each individual offered different insights and they were discussed. I think groupthink is something that each group should generally try to avoid, as it can become easy to get used to doing these things. This class taught me the importance of straying away from it.

So, to conclude, this class taught me hundreds of things, but the most important are listed and explained above. Would definitely recommend this class for those who would like a better understanding of marketing research!

Expanding on Golf Club Research

Recently, I saw a post by one of my colleagues about the ethical research methods regarding his local golf club and I found some interesting points that could be elaborated on. The main topic in his article was that there was an apparent inequality regarding the gender mix between males and females within the golf club, and that when the club tried to expand, they surveyed and interviewed current members and demographically targeted customers that were mainly male.

The concern here is that female golf club members and individuals who wanted to join the golf club did not receive the same treatment as male members and future male members. This is naturally unethical as the sport itself is unisex, and both males and females show general interest in joining clubs like this one. What is interesting is that for the club officials to change their approach, they had to have their hands forced by the females who felt unequal segmented, to eventually have a more gender-equal segmentation and promotional offering.

Why is it so? Being the the club is more than likely private, they can choose who becomes a member, and which members can stay or must leave. However this in today’s views, is considered unethical. I find it interesting that had it been age inequality this problem would not have occurred. Had their been a limit to the age of a member, it wouldn’t be considered unethical. However, to expand on the topic, it is refreshing to see clubs like this one taking a larger step towards unisex segmentation in the expansion of groups and clubs.

Effective Research: Limitations and Boundaries

It is important to understand that in all aspects of a project, there may be times when it contains restrictions that lead to inherent flaws. The difference between a good researcher and just your average “Joe” is that a good researcher will be able to assess and describe the flaws and restrictions presented in the project.

For the project that we conducted, we found a minimum of three apparent flaws. The first being our concerns with truthful responding. Yes, we can ask all the questions we want, and yes we can make them as simple or as easy as possible to understand, but we also know that our respondents can not give us a truthful answer. This restriction can alter our data collection greatly, and is a risk for any group or organization that has a project that depends upon the response of other entities.

Next, we found an apparent flaw or restriction with our actual access to our participants. We hoped to gain access to many of the students here at Wesleyan. However, it is difficult to reach them successfully. We hoped that the use of a switchboard in a traffic – heavy area during meal times would attract the most interest. Hopefully this strategy can work, but naturally there is always going to be a risk of how many students actually stop to fill out the questionnaire or survey. Providing participants with some sort of reward seems like our best option in gaining access to the highest amount of users.

Lastly, we found that our actual survey instruments would have many different limitations and restrictions. Based on the fact that we virtually have no budgeting or capital to perform our survey, this limits us with the amount of questions, types of questions, and types of technology we can use to offer our survey instrument. We planned at first to use paper format for our survey, but this proved to be too time consuming when we held a focus group. Thus, leaving us with the only option of doing a survey online. Considering we would have to use a template from a selected online web panel. Many web panels offer free survey templates, but the number of questions we can ask is limited to a rather small amount, and we are also limited to the types of questions we can ask. Considering this, we can not probe our participants just as we would like, and we are forced to keep a simple format that may or may not give us the information we seek for the project we have at hand.

In the end, we do still feel we can effectively perform the research we need. It is more of a matter of presenting the limitations we do have prior to concluding our project. If we effectively explain that our findings are based on limitations, however our results do hold value, we still can finish the project with relative ease and efficiency.

Evaluative Surveys – Why they are better..

According to studies that have been done in recent years, researchers have found that Evaluative surveys; surveys in which describe how a consumer feels towards a certain brand or company, using positive or negative experiences, might be more beneficial to companies.

Typically, companies will use surveys that describe in general terms their characteristics and behaviors. Evaluative surveys however are much more specific and in-depth. Most of us know that there are many benefits for companies to use surveys. They are easy and cost efficient ways to compare segments of consumers, and reveal certain desired distinctions among groups of various people.

But naturally, there are some big gaps that leave companies hanging when it comes to the use of surveys. Often, the survey will tell a company “what” but not “why”. And most of the time, surveys become repetitive and do not differ greatly from interviews, which often leaves too much room for bias.

Evaluative surveys are great however. They give companies the ability to analyze the information collected from the surveys that sheds light onto the notions and characteristics surrounding their respective brands and products. Most surveys are intended to give general feedback on an item or brand, but evaluative surveys give companies feedback from customers based on their experience with a product, and how they feel towards the brand as a whole.

In college, I’ve been asked to do countless amounts of surveys and course evaluations at the end of class. For the survey taker, it can be a dreaded experience. Most of the time the course evaluations were pointless for both the taker, and the market recipient mainly because the information that was obtained from the survey wasn’t viable, or correct. Most people will not honestly fill out these course evaluations seriously unless their is some sort of incentive or reward. The reasoning behind this is basic human instinct. If someone is not going to receive something for their efforts, then their efforts will more than likely be minimal.

Instead, however, when the professor would assign the course evaluation as an assignment or even offer bonus / extra credit opportunities for completing the survey, the information obtained from the survey was much more beneficial to the recipient. The taker, would answer the questions asked promptly and honestly, and the recipient in turn would receive viable information that gives them proper feedback on their performance, what they can improve, and what they already excel in. This type of survey also lets students or takers reflect on the class they have just completed, and let them really think about how well they learned or obtained information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Qualitative Research, Focus Groups, and Trump.. Apparently he did “well”

When understanding the qualitative method of research, it is important to understand why it is used. The main reason qualitative research is useful in general is because it relates how good something is, or shows the relation of data to the quality of something.

This is done by collecting, analyzing, and interpreting unstructured forms of data by basically observing what people do or say regarding a certain topic or issue. This type of data collection is rather broad, and is mainly used when considering the opinion of many, some and new consumers or followers.

This methodology allows data collectors the opportunity to probe consumers or followers by providing them with feelings and getting these individuals to express what is important to them regarding the topic. As said before, qualitative research is only needed when speaking in general terms. If only some consumers feel a certain way, this type of data collection is not beneficial. When many consumers feel a certain way, qualitative data has something to offer.

What can we conclude or draw from qualitative data? Well, in general, qualitative data is basically the collection of data based on studying people, and their reasoning or behaviors. It can be assumed then, that qualitative data offers those who seek it a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of the consumer and their behaviors. Studying things like trends, personal habits, lifestyle factors and effects on social or cultural context of behavior are all offered through the extensive research of qualitative data.

We’re going to look at an article recently published in the Business Insider that showcases the use of qualitative data research. Oliver Darcy, who is a writer for the Business Insider recently posted a piece regarding a Focus Group that came to the conclusion that President Trump exceeded expectations during his joint address to Congress earlier this week.

Pollster Frank Luntz, who led the discussion, asked a group of 21 individuals who were part of this focus group how they think President Trump performed during his lengthy speech. To Luntz’s surprise, 19/21 members were quoted saying that the President’s speech was, “better than expected”.

What is interesting about this data is that 9 of those members who said that the President fared well in front of Congress actually voted for Hillary Clinton in the most recent Presidential Election.

Trump’s speech this past week was the first time he had addressed Congress since taking the oath to office earlier last month. According to sources, the “America’s First” theme was in full force, and President Trump touched on many of the issues that led his campaign earlier this year. Some of these issues include; trade, immigration, the war against terrorism and even the repeal / replacement of Obamacare.

Considering the article presented above, the implications of qualitative research are actually quite interesting. According to the author, even though there is a large sum of the population that is angered with the election of President Trump, the majority of individuals in this Focus Group considered Trump as doing an above average job in his opening speech to Congress. Apparently, according to the study, Luntz finalized the meeting with a closing question. He asked participants if Trump had done well, and once again, the majority of participants were found stating that he had in fact exceeded their expectations.

Naturally, there will always be a group or segment of the population that will never accept President Trump as exceptional, but the qualitative research that was conducted indicates that even those who voted against Trump were pleased with his address. This is ground-breaking data for President Trump and his foundation. They in turn could use this data to stimulate larger and larger segments of people who still are opposed to his election to office.

 

 

 

 

The Key to Successfully Moderating a Focus Group

Many people may ask the question, “How do you moderate a focus group?”

What makes this task seem so complex?

Once the steps are broken down, it really isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

First, the moderator must identify the problem or issue that is to be discussed. Once the moderator has established this, it is their responsibility to segment a proper group of participants who can give relevant feedback to the questions that have been formulated specifically for this problem.

Prior to the focus group meeting actually taking place, the moderator, and their staff have already planned how the discussion is going to flow, and what the main topics of choice are to be. Once these are established, the real fun begins.

The moderator and their staff arrive early to the questioning site, and set up the conference or discussion room. In most circumstances, this involves setting up recording equipment, assigning seats based on talking frequency, and checking that the sound quality of the room is sufficient. Normally, refreshments or meals are placed in the back of the room, so that the participants have the freedom to grab them when the feel the urge.

When it is time for the participants to arrive, they are usually greeted at the doorway, and are immediately offered lunch, drinks and snacks. After initial introductions, participants are ushered to their assigned seats, and the moderator can begin the introductory address.

The initial address by the moderator is generally sort and to the point. Normally, they will offer a warm welcome, give a brief background of the topics and companies involved, lay the ground rules, and state the opening question.

To successfully obtain proper results, it is important that the moderator expresses to the participants the positive and negative aspects of the situation, which in turn offers two or more variables to the issue at hand. Remember, the participants have been hand selected and segmented based on the questions at hand, and they are implored to speak freely. The ground rules seem to be overly important. Explaining to participants that there are no wrong answers is key in obtaining the best results.

The main job of the moderator is to guide the conversation, based on the allotted topics. Normally, the opening question is a type of ice-breaker. This allows the individuals to introduce themselves, and get comfortable speaking within the group. Initially, it is normal for most comments to be directed to the moderator. It is the moderator’s job thus, to direct the conversation in a way to make it more of a discussion.

The first technique a moderator could use to open up the conversation is to allow for pauses. This gives the participants the time to think, and reflect on their opening comments. As the conversation begins, the moderator will notice the talking frequencies of certain individuals. Some individuals will seemingly talk for ages, whereas some will seem to never say a word. The moderator can use certain strategies to change the point of conversation and allow for more group-think, allowing a broader amount of people to offer insight. One of these strategies is redirection. The moderator can redirect a question asked to one individual to another through a gaze, without interrupting the rambler.

Another strategy for involving others is simply calling on those who do not share freely as much as some. Normally, when someone who doesn’t say much speaks, it will encourage others to add to their comments. This in turn, creates a conversation across the table. This is exactly what the moderator wants.

Involving multiple participants is important for focus groups. Moderators in general want to gain the insights from all parties present. One way to do this effectively is by creating scenarios based on issues through role-playing. Allowing more than one individual to be involved in a scenario not only grasps the attention of the whole group, but it allows the moderator to see the stigmas of more than one individual at a time. This is usually followed by asking the rest of the group to comment on the exercise.

Other strategies to gain rapid feedback from the group involve using lists, which is helpful in identifying a large number of items which are relevant. Or rather, the use of rating sheets. These sheets are basically mini questionnaires in which the participants rate issues based on their personal experience. This strategy is optimal in seeing frequencies among common answers.

The moderator has the job of overseeing the conversation, but lets not forget, they were hired to gain insight on common issues. Finding underlying causes for certain behaviors of consumers is like finding gold for moderators. The best way to do this is by using the show of fingers, or thumbs up / down technique. The moderator will speak the responses they receive out loud, and this will appear on the audiotape. Lastly, the moderator could use a technique called Projection. This strategy basically allows participants to describe objects, animals, etc. to represent what something might mean in regards to the conversation. What is important in this area is that the moderator will need to hear the reason why a participant chose that object or animal to describe the issue.

As the focus group comes to a conclusion, the moderator will usually ask the participants to reflect on the conversation that they had. Most of the time, the moderator will ask each participant what the most important part of the discussion was for them. Once this is done and the answers are recorded, the moderator will typically ask their assistant or staff to summarize the meeting and to ask any follow-up questions that may have been briefly overlooked.

Lastly, the recorder, which is typically the assistant to the moderator, will ask for confirmation of answers. This is mainly done because the company who will receive this research will want the most reliable and true data. After confirmation of answers, the participants are thanked for their participation, offered additional refreshments, and are finally dismissed.

Focus groups can offer a great deal of insight for a company that has many customers that are displeased with current company output. What is most interesting about focus groups is that it is so personal. The company can gain automated insight from current and frequent consumers, and have the ability to turn this insight into usable data to improve current business policies. The use of focus groups is extremely beneficial to companies that have a large group of consumers that are unhappy with how the company or industry handles certain situations. The problems that are evident with focus groups are that they require a trained interviewer or moderator to gain the most amount of insight in the time allotted. Additionally, there seems to be a lack of structure in the process. The feedback is deep and rich, and allows interviewers to probe additional questions, but this can be very tricky to do when considering specific problems for a company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Big Data the New Revolutions?

It is actually crazy to think that in the next few decades, every single object on earth will generate some sort of data. If you actually think about it, data surrounds your everyday life in ways we never thought possible. The average human today processes more information and data due to the advancement of technology in one single day, than a person in the 15th Century would have processed in a lifetime. Holy cow. A lifetime. You’d think that they would have been bored. I couldn’t imagine.

Think about it. Today, everything you do is based on some sort of data. The device that captures your attention with its constant updates of people all around the world, which is your smartphone if you haven’t grasped that yet, was the technology of sci-fi fairy tales just half a century ago. You are just swipes, clicks and scrolls away from an incredible amount of information. For some, that seems scary. For others, it seems normal. Its surprising to see how many people who do not realize the astonishing technology that they are encompassed with. Those who are scared, or worrisome usually are well-aware that all data is somehow recorded, listened to, or analyzed. In all honesty, it could be inferred that everything you do, such as go to the store, or go for a run, and play online video games, somehow leaves a digital trace that can be turned into useful information.

I firmly believe that this makes people nervous. Any type of active measurement can produce some sort of data, and can leave footprints for organizations, governments and societies to categorize you and your actions to their benefit. In many ways, I could see how this sort of investigative gathering of data by organizations can make people feel insecure about what information they choose to publish on the web. However, its information like this that allows certain organizations the ability to make breakthroughs on possible solutions to health and disaster outbreaks.

For example, scientists and health professionals wanted to find a way to predict when the next flu outbreak was going to happen, and where it was going to happen. The web is a great source for these people to collect data. Considering that the majority of people will search online through search engines something about the flu, these researchers were able to take this raw data, and directly correlate it in real time. Thus, leading them to find when the next flu outbreak was going to happen, and where it would happen. This is extremely beneficial, as it allows organizations to become better prepared for when these things take place. However, there are some flaws when it comes to correlated data. We can thank the media for this. When media coverage is involved with the likes of search engines and the web, the results of the raw data are flawed, in that searches for the media coverage rather than flu symptoms occur. These will lead to faulty data.

Another benefit of the Data Revolution that many people do not realize is the power of social media. We all know that for most, social media is a booming industry where people can create profiles and interact, share and upload content for anyone to see. The development of social media has heavily influenced the lives of individuals, and created great sources of marketing for businesses and political organizations. However, many people have been unnerved about the recent discoveries of data collected from social media accounts. Governmental agencies, businesses and researching firms have all expressed to the population that they have the ability to track, visualize and collect information about individuals, seemingly for their benefit. Many have expressed that this could be a violation of civil rights, as citizens should have the right to privacy.

BUT WHAT IF YOU’RE HELPING?

You might ask how. Let me show you. Not too long ago, there was a terrible disaster in Haiti. Haiti, which is a very poor country, was hit with what can only be described as one of the most horrid natural disasters to happen this century. The already unstable country was sent into disarray the storm took out the nation. However, researchers were able to crowd map certain locations that needed immediate aid during the disaster by using social media. Basically, mobile phone applications such as Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat served as artificial intelligence tools for emergency response. Disaster witnesses were able to communicate the exact locations of victims, which allowed emergency response teams to come to aid immediately. This encompasses the massive importance of social media. This type of technology allows news, ideas and raw information to spread instantly, for our benefit.

Naturally, people will always find the dark side of collecting data. Individuals have voiced their issues about certain sites and how their privacy is not insured. In fact, Facebook officials have been honest enough to disclose to the public that they are selling your personal information in a seemingly information based transaction. The public pays for this transaction by allowing Facebook access to our information, and they in turn, give this data to other companies and organizations who can segment the population based on your likes, trends and interests. Thus, confirming the advertisements on your screen when scrolling through Facebook. These ads have been placed on your screen specifically because certain companies have reason to believe that you may be interested in their product. Crazy to think about isn’t it?

That’s not the only thing people are upset about. As mentioned previously, data collection via personal devices is something that governments worldwide have been doing for some time now. Basically, Federal Governments and other third party organizations use cyberspace to identify individuals. Some argue that this is done without probable cause, and is a violation of their civil liberties. Some go even as far as to say that we are moving towards a future where humans will completely lose the right to privacy.

This could prove to be very true, but in reality, we have to understand the big picture here. The Data Revolution has allowed cultures who have never experienced this type of technology to connect with the advanced cultures in society today. This can allow people in these less fortunate areas to mass amounts of information, and educational opportunities. Imagine, you had the unfortunate opportunity to swap lives with someone who lived in extreme poverty in middle Africa. Then one day, a relief program gave you a device that allowed you access to all the information you could possibly want, at the touch of a button. Prior to this, you were confined to a life where wondering where your next meal was going to come from, or where you could find shelter to sleep that night. Those who think that the advancement of technology and the collection of data will be our downfall fail to see the other side of the spectrum. The amount of benefit from this advancement heavily outweighs the issues surrounding the collection of personal information. The Data Revolution marks a movement in human history, where in which technology really did change everything, for the good.

All said and done, what do you think? Clearly you can see where I stand. I think that this advancement in technology is tremendously beneficial to our generation. The amount of aid, resources and opportunities for people, businesses and organizations to have just a click away is amazing. I can tell you that at first, it was disappointing to hear that large corporation had access to my personal information. However I didn’t see the big picture. Collection of data isn’t really based around the idea that its sole purpose is to spy on the everyday individual. It is designed to offer greater opportunities to cultures all across the world. Technology will not only save lives, but it will enhance the world we live in. It will give those who never had the chance to be successful that one opportunity they couldn’t even fathom. That is the ultimate benefit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me tell you about me..

Hi! You may have noticed that this blog is called Leo’s Corner. Well let me start by telling you that my name is not Leo, and in fact, this is not a corner.

My name is Nick Ranieri, and I am a college student coming towards the end of my educational career at West Virginia Wesleyan College. The reasoning behind the name of my blog is actually due to my middle name. It’s Leonardo, as you may have guessed. I’m from Italian descent, and am quite proud of it actually. Sometimes I wish it would have been my first name, but life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, unfortunately.

This blog is just a place for me to express myself and my opinions, based on common themes and topics that surround the culture of today. I find that the web is such an amazing discovery and allows anyone in the world access to expressing how they feel about certain topics. I figured I might as well give it a go. I don’t plan on offending anyone with my content, but if I do, don’t take it personally. I love an argument, so feel free to share with me your thoughts and opinions as well. Information is always welcomed.

Like I said, I am a novice, so naturally this is bound to have mistakes left and right. Hopefully the grammar is sufficient, but a man can only dream. Looking forward to seeing what you all think of my opinions, and be on the look out for new posts from time to time. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you want to follow me on social media, which would be bold. See below:

IG: @ranieri_nicolas_

Twitter: @nickranieri557