EmergeSmarter Blog

Do Not Let Your Research Suffer from Decision Fatigue

Posted on Thu, Sep 22, 2011

By Robert Relihan, Senior Vice President

If you have conducted focus groups, or even observed them, you have probably noticed that the energy level can vary over the course of a day.  I have always taken this as the normal course of events. But, it turns out there is a rather interesting explanation for this ebb and flow — decision fatigue.  A recent article by John Tierney in the New York Times, “Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?,” describes the research surrounding this phenomenon in great detail.Online Qualitative

I had always thought people simply get tired during the course of the day, but Tierney demonstrates that the mere act of making decisions wears us down, making us less able make additional choices.  He points to a study in which individuals who simply review material were better able to make choices about it at the end than those who were forced to repeat incremental choices. 

He also notes that those who receive food make better decisions.  And, it is not the psychological reward of the food that works.  Tasteless, but sugared grub will have more effect than a sugar-free sundae.

What is the impact of decision fatigued?  One makes poor decisions, of course.  But, what is a poor decision?  The fatigued person defaults to the familiar, the usual, the expected.  In other words, he or she avoids making the hard choices — just those choices we would like research participants to make.

So, what is the lesson here for researchers?  Well, I am going to take the cans of Pepsi and cookies on the table much more seriously than I have in the past.  I might even ban water and diet beverages.  On a more fundamental level, it has caused me to re-think the number and nature of exercises I ask people to perform in a focus group.  Let them create a collage at home rather than force them to select pictures for a collage during the interview.  Might there be implications for questionnaire design?

Concerns about decision fatigue also make on-line qualitative and MROCs look all the more promising.  Participants can respond to our tasks at the times they are freshest and best able to evaluate whatever it is we wish them to judge.

There is another troubling issue Tierney raises.  “Decision fatigue is a major — and hitherto ignored — factor in trapping people in poverty. Because their financial situation forces them to make so many trade-offs, they have less willpower to devote to school, work and other activities that might get them into the middle class….  A trip to the supermarket induces more decision fatigue in the poor than in the rich — because each purchase requires more mental trade-offs.” At first this seems like an important, but a political concern.  Yet, it has implications for those who wish to understand the behavior of consumers.

Dan Peck’ Atlantic article, “Can the Middle Class be Saved?” described what he calls the “hollowing out” of the American middle class.  His economic arguments are familiar. Over the past several decades, a larger proportion of the nation’s wealth has accrued to a smaller proportion of individuals at the top.  But, in the process, the middle class has fractured.  Now, the non-professional middle class are more likely to resemble in behavior and attitudes the “high school drop-out poor” than the “college educated members” of the middle class.

The sub-text — many more of those whom we survey or wish to have in our MROCs and focus groups are likely to be in a semi-permanent state of decision fatigue.  Our methods and approaches will need to be much more sensitive to this fact.

Tags: MROCs, market research tools, qualitative research, Online qualitative research

Hispanic Market Research – Don’t Get Lost in Translation

Posted on Wed, Sep 14, 2011

By Juan Ruiz, Senior Research Analyst

Caution! What you said, what you meant to say, and what the other understood may not always be the same thing…

At C+R Research, we have a diverse group. Last week, it was the birthday of a Polish colleague. A few emails started going back and forth to see where we would take him for lunch. Then, one of our Hispanic colleagues sent an email that read “Szczęśliwy dzień urodzenia.” Clever as she is, she had used an online site to translate “Happy Birthday” to Polish. That email triggered a chain of emails – all in Polish, although no one other than the birthday boy spoke Polish. Later he mentioned that many messages sounded funny because computer translations can be excessively literal.hispanic

This made me think about the challenges we face every day translating questionnaires. Our Hispanic division, LatinoEyes® specializes in the U.S. Hispanic market where most of our studies require conducting fieldwork in the respondent’s language of choice (English or Spanish). Paying special attention to our translations is crucial. If respondents answering questions in English understand the questions differently than the respondents answering in Spanish, our data and our findings will suffer.

Now, making sure that nothing is lost in translation is not an easy task.  There are words that have different meanings in different Spanish-speaking countries, and even some expressions can vary significantly by length in different dialects.  All of this adds complexity to the translation process.

How do we do it at LatinoEyes®? Through lots of communication! It is key that the person responsible for the translation is on the same page with the person who wrote the English version. The translator needs to be a speaker of the target dialect. We debate; we come to consensus.  We have Spanish speakers from different countries of origin, and they have different levels of acculturation. They all share their point of view when needed.

How are you doing it?

Tags: Market Research, market research tools, Hispanic Research, Latino Research

Wizardry of MROCs: A Meaningful Journey

Posted on Wed, Sep 7, 2011

By Shaili Bhatt, Senior Analyst

It never fails to fascinate me how much people will share about themselves online—especially for longer market research studies where typical time constraints are a non-issue and participation is at one’s convenience.  People can be endlessly interested to complete interactive discussions and creative challenges, even if the rewards are not immediately tangible! As qualitative or hybrid qual-quant researchers, we can foster and utilize human curiosity to the fullest in market research online communities (MROCs).

The combination of a longer MROC timeframe and our innate curiosity allows the moderator and the accompanying backroom to set off on a meaningful journey with consumers.  Many of the questions in MROC studies are pre-structured by the researcher, clients (and sometimes an agency or two), yet we make it a habit to leave plenty of room to play, revise, and add new topics.

With MROCs, process-driven adventures excel when they are led with experienced online moderation, including large spoonfuls of strategy, analysis and fun. (Calling Mary Poppins…)Wizardry Online Research

Blossoming the conversation in a visually appealing, fun and organic fashion, with posts ranging from the serious to even silly, is more of a creative endeavor than a task.

Every day, our backroom insights are shaped by the individuals in the community as much as the group at large.  Over time, consumers share and develop the most interesting points of reference, and as researchers, we identify each clue and investigate it.  At any given time, the data is as granular or “big picture” as we need it to be.

What if you could lead a newly formed community on an adventure to explore products they use every day or on special occasions?  What if you could explore their lives to conceptualize products that don’t currently exist?  What if you could craft questions to be so engaging and educational that the community members have fun on this journey (and forget that they are communicating with technology or are in a market research study to get paid)?  What if they could  journal their experiences in real-time every day of the study and follow how other members may be experiencing similar issues, motivations, desires, or loss, communicating these thoughts and feelings with each other?

Imagine the ideas they could share, the products and product substitutes they could seek, and the roller coaster of emotions that we can feel with them, neatly captured online or on mobile devices—in text, pictures, collages and video—day by day. We get to know who they are, individually and as a group, and by the end of it, we are celebrating new insights and Aha! moments along with birthdays, anniversaries, storm survival, holiday survival, new friendships and team accomplishments.

This is the reality at the heart of today’s MROC studiesMROC Online Research Wizard of Oz—resulting in more meaningful journeys, with more individuals coming together to form fully committed, vibrant communities that are brimming with insights and co-creation, with depth beyond anything most capture from a traditional focus group.  At times it can feel like stepping into the land of OZ and emerging with the key to the city.

Are MROCs part of your toolbox? If you’re working with MROCs, please share your story here, and if you’re not MROC-ing and/or if you’re not particularly enthused about this methodology, please share your side of the story too.

Tags: focus groups, MROCs, Online qualitative research

Mobile Device Research Illuminates Teen Shopping and Spending Behavior

Posted on Thu, Sep 1, 2011

Teens and Their Money – November 7th at 1:30 p.m. –The Market Research Event – Orlando, FL


Get 25% discount on this event by using C+R’s code TMRE11C&R

Mobile device research and social media technology are hot these days, and with good reason. As C+R’s Executive VP, Walt Dickie, succinctly put it in a recent blog post, The Inevitability of Mobile Research, “Every model we’ve ever had about consumers interacting with brands is now inadequate if it doesn’t include smartphones. All of the research we do simply has to be cognizant of this massive, immovable fact.”

As a result of this smartphone revolution, the research world is frantically grappling with various ways to harness this technology while distilling the most valuable insights from real-time purchase data, mobile payment technology, store finder Apps and QR coded brand drivers.

So what better group for marketers to set their sights on than teens, the first generation of consumers to grow up in today’s social media-rich culture. This has been one of the most anticipated and popular presentations on so timely a topic.  C+R Research’s energetic duo, Mary McIlrath, Senior VP, and Darren Breese, Research Director, share some profound insights drawn from a select group of C+R Research’s teen panel, TeensEyes.com.  The teens used a new App specifically designed for mobile research created by the online research provider RevelationGlobal. The latest data on teen shopping and spending may surprise, challenge and even have you rethink your strategy for marketing to today’s teens.

Tags: Market Research Conference, teenage market research, youth market research

Cell Phones and the Future of Market Research

Posted on Thu, Aug 25, 2011

ByWalt Dickie, Executive Vice President

Many of you may have probably seen the recent announcement of a new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project on cell phone usage.  Reporting of the findings has been a bit hyperventilated, focusing on odd behavior, such as turning phones off to get a break from using it (between 26% and 32% for all age groups under 65) and pretending to talk on the phone to avoid talking directly to someone (30% of 18-29 year-olds in past month).  More about this last one later.

The report, however, highlights some genuinely interesting trends.

  • The increasing dominance of cell phone use generally, but especially for text messaging and photography.
  • The fact that African Americans, Latinos, and to a lesser degree those with college educations, urban- and suburbanites, and parents over-index on cell usage.
  • The enormous difference between “Smartphone” users and other “Cell/Feature Phone” users.
  • The diminishing differences between the ways different age groups under 65 use smart phones.

With 83% of adults owning cell phones, and ¾ of them using their phones for text messaging and photography, it is clear that research techniques based on text messaging and/or picture-taking should be considered as fitting quite nicely into “normal life.”  While text messaging can be seen as roughly Mobile Market Researchanalogous to writing or typing answers to traditional survey instruments, “picture taking” now has a place primarily in specialized methods such as ethnographies and MROCs.  But, as research becomes increasing mobile, might not the normal way to answer many typical questions be with a picture?  What groceries did you buy this week?  What do you use to clean the floor?  What snacks do you eat regularly?  There will be no forgetting key parts of the answer when it is a picture.

It seems equally clear that Smartphone Owners (35%) are a distinct segment of the population whose use of phones for messaging, internet access, games and entertainment, and retrieval of information needed “right away” index over Cell/Feature Phone Owners by anywhere from two to five times or more.  It seems likely that we will need a new survey grammar when we create mobile instruments directed at this more impatient target who craves immediacy.  It may not be the place to ask questions about the restaurants visited six months in the past.

Smartphone owners have a distinctive demographic profile, but age is clearly becoming a salient variable – although the youngest age segments over-index on pretty much everything, all Smartphone Owners under about 50 clearly share a core set of behaviors that is distinct from the behavioral set of Cell/Feature Phone Users.

By the way, if Smartphone Users are a distinct population, how will we talk to people about cell phones vs. smartphones?  Pew doesn’t seem to have a term for devices that aren’t smartphones. When they screen, they use awkward questions like, “As I read the following list of items, please tell me if you happen to have each one, or not. Do you have...a cell phone or a Blackberry or iPhone or other device that is also a cell phone?” The industry sometimes uses “feature phone,” but I’ve never heard a normal person use that term. “Dumb phone?” My son had a pretty nice phone with a touchscreen that wasn’t an iPhone, Android, or any other obvious “Smartphone” type.  He called it “a wannabe phone.”

Back to people who pretend to make cell phone calls to avoid contact with others.  Instead of wringing our hands about the end of civilization, we need to recognize what it truly indicates.  It is interesting that this is behavior of young adults, those most at home with all things mobile.  But, also no surprise.  Cell phones truly have become rooted among young adults.  The gestures of their usage have generally accepted meanings within the “culture.”  And, nothing demonstrates this more powerfully than the fact that faking a call works.

Tags: mobile research, Market Research, market research tools

Market Research Reporting - Getting to the Heart of It…

Posted on Thu, Aug 18, 2011

By Lynne Bartos, Vice President

There is nothing more embarrassing for a researcher than to hear a client say “…this doesn’t really address the business questions that we set out to answer.” This is more common an occurrence in research reporting than most of us would care to admit. But unfortunately, much report writing these days falls short of expectations for those on the client side.  This is likely due to more emphasis on methodology or analytic technique at the expense of clear graphics, creative story-telling and actionable direction.

What often happens during the report-writing process is that market researchers have their direct research client in mind.  They neglect the fact that their direct contact must present these findings to the ultimate stakeholder in the process — someone in senior management or the head of marketing who does not function in the research realm. 

We need to take conscious steps to break out of our little bubble to avoid some of the lingo that is prevalent in research circles. You know what I mean if you’ve ever found yourself presenting your findings to marketing folks.  While peppering them with terms such as “mean,” “monadic,” “DK/NS,” “latent class,” and the like, you suddenly notice the deer-in-the-headlights reaction.  Worse yet, your audience’s eyes glaze over completely.  These terms are foreign to many marketers and, frankly, most of them couldn’t care less about such things.  They simply want a viable solution to the particular business need they set out to address.          Market Research Reporting

So, when writing a research report for my clients it helps me to keep a few things in mind….

Speak to Marketers in Their Language

Focus on what marketers care most about — getting customers, keeping customers, and increasing their share of the customer’s wallet.  So tell them what is meaningful to them….

  • How to position their brand
  • How best to price it 
  • Who their best prospects are and how to reach them
  • What message should they be communicating 
  • Who are their most loyal and valuable customers
  • How do they keep them loyal to their service or brand 

Net, net — put some Marketing-Speak into your report, and leave out the Research-speak.

Tell a good story

A good report tells a good story.  So, how do you tell a compelling story?  Start by getting organized!

  • Develop an analytic plan that focuses on business issues and objectives — the questions that need to be answered. 
  • Outline how the questions will be. 
  • Once the data is in, all team members should know how the data relates to those question, and they can craft the best story together.

Remember, every page in the report should contribute to the story!  If something doesn’t contour well with your story, stick it in the Appendix.  How many hundred-page reports have you been subjected to where the charts are all in the same order as the questionnaire?  Where is the story?  

It’s also important to stick closely to your analytic plan when crafting your story. The analytic plan is what helps to keep everyone focused on why the research was conducted in the first place.

Insightful Headlines and Bullets

What I also find helpful in getting my arms around the story is to write effective bullets and headlines for the data presented.  Too many people think an insight is reiterating the numbers that are in the charts.  Remember, anyone can read the numbers on a chart – our job, as researchers, is to pull the deeper insights from seemingly obvious data.

Be Creative and Have a Llittle Fun

Creativity also comes into play!  Package the story in a creative way. No one wants to see rows and rows of data. Make the report visually appealing so you don’t intimidate those who are going to be using the findings to help drive strategy.  Avoid too much text and too many numbers.

And, don’t be afraid to insert some humor here and there. It reminds your clients that you are human and helps to lighten the tone and keep things relaxed.   

Get to the Heart of It

And finally, probably the hardest part of the report process for any researcher is to get straight to the heart of it… what is the story – conclusions, implications, and recommendations.  Go to the next step to tell them what the data MEANS, and what they might consider doing to maximize their investment.

And there is nothing sweeter to a market researcher’s ears than to hear a client voice saying, “Thanks, this really addresses the business questions that we set out to answer!”

Tags: Market Research Reporting, Market Research, market research tools, Misc

Understanding Millenials at The Shopper Insights in Action Conference

Posted on Wed, Aug 10, 2011

By Hillary Stifler, Research Director

As someone who is on the upper-edge of the Millennial’s age group, I identify more with Generation X, but find Millennials fascinating. They are truly of a different mindset. This is the largest generation since the Baby Boomers, and, so as co-workers, parents, peers and marketers, it is important for us to understand them.

This generation has grown up with convenience at their fingertips. They didn't have to go to a library and flip through an encyclopedia to find information. They didn't have to ride their bikes down the street to see friends. And, they didn't have to leave their homes to go shopping. Everything they’ve needed, all their lives, was literally at their fingertips. However, for them, experience trumps convenience. For them, convenience is expected.Shopper Insights in Action

Michelle Fenstermaker, Executive Director, Consumer Insights from WD offered a glimpse into the future of grocery, as driven by Millennials. She reminded us that the grocery format is really no different today than it was 50 years ago. Yet, technology has changed the way we shop, and Millennials' desire for convenience and an experience eventually will too.

Two grocery chains that are doing it "right" are Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Visiting the Whole Foods in Chicago is like an adventure. Recently, my friend from California who used to live in Chicago was visiting. In addition to seeing her friends and visiting a few of her old favorite restaurants, a trip to Whole Foods was on her weekend agenda. "A place where I can get lunch, and then get some groceries while sipping a glass of wine? I can't wait." Trader Joe's doesn't offer this same experience, but it does offer shoppers a culinary trip around the world, and at an affordable price. You can find food inspired by every corner of the globe, and the employees are always helpful and very friendly. On top of the experiences these stores offer, they offer personalization (you can always find something that suits your tastes), healthy choices and fresh foods. All of which, in addition to convenience, are important to Millennials.

It would appear that Millennials, who have become so used to using the internet and their mobile devices to research and discuss purchases, look to the actual store for something else.  The store is no longer the “library” where we research and find items, but it is a “playground” where we find and interact with experiences.

Millennials are a huge market, and as such they have the power to influence change in the well-established grocery industry. How will they impact your industry? Knowing Millennials and keeping up with them will ensure your brand keeps up. You must know them because they're a generation who has the technology to find a solution to meet their specific needs, and they are not afraid to go after what they want. After all, they expect instant gratification. Providing a consistent presence across digital and physical that is an experience and gives them the information they need when they want it is a start to stay ahead of the curve!

Tags: Shopper Insights, Market Research, Market Research Conference

Are Emotions Less Emotional?

Posted on Mon, Aug 1, 2011

By Robert Relihan, Senior Vice President

I am staring at a series of collages I had participants create for a project I just completed.  I have always loved this sort of creative exercise.  It helps (forces?) people to stretch their right brains.  They make more connections and associations when they create the collages and discuss them than they would in almost any other exercise I use in a focus group.  Also, I discover symbols and metaphors reflected on the collages and in the responses of their creators than with almost any other analytic approach.Market Research Collage

I was surprised to read an article in the New York Times recently that seemed to suggest something novel in the technique.  I have been using it for years.  One of my approaches is to have participants create collages out of whatever pictures and objects they have around the house.

As I looked as those collages, I realized they said much about the ways a group of young men and women felt about one of their favorite activities, which shall remain nameless.  I could see changes that had taken place in the way creativity is expressed by people who are not specifically trained to be creative.

  • Fifteen years ago a typical collage would contain pictures from a range of magazines.  And, they would also be taken from both the advertising and the articles.  Now, it seems that people’s image frame of reference is much more restricted. It is not unusual to see the same pictures repeated in several collages.  It is evidence that magazines are much less a part of everyone’s daily life.  When I conduct ethnogaphies, many houses I visit have no evidence of magazines.

    It was commonplace for collages created by men to have pictures from the sports page of the local newspaper or from Sports Illustrated.  No more.  All sports news is on-line.  And, as more and more people use smart phones, they are getting their sports news in such a way they can’t even print a picture.

    And, the images that do appear on the collages are almost exclusively from advertising. This change is a bit more difficult to explain.  What qualities do the images from advertising possess that other images do not?  As I listen to men and women discuss their collages, the answer becomes obvious.  Advertising magnifies and simplifies the representation of emotions.  Its images are designed so that consumers “get it.”  I can only conclude that generations raised on the media can understand their own emotions only through the intensifying lens of advertising.
  • The collages also reveal what is a complementary trend.  The Internet, in effect, has short-circuited creative thinking.  I used to see collage creation as a serendipitous process in which my participants wandered through magazines or their homes and happened upon pictures and objects that triggered a response they might not otherwise have felt.

    Now, however, collages have become more logical and literal.  I see a trophy in a collage, and I ask its creator to explain it.  Oh, he says, I felt successful, so I Googled “trophy” and printed the first picture I found.  So the search for images had become less about metaphorical and and more interpretation.

    I can’t help but feel that this presents a problem for my collage exercise.  The Internet enables consumers to get THE answer, and that answer more often than not is verbal and logical.  The emotional dimension is lost.

What this all suggests is that in the age of the Internet, with Millennials as targets, we need new ways to tap into the emotions of consumers.  Or, we ourselves need new metaphors for that emotional response.

Tags: market research tools, qualitative research, Online qualitative research

The Key to Reporting Discovered?

Posted on Fri, Jul 22, 2011

By Walt Dickie, Executive Vice President

Marketing research reports tend toward data-laden step-by-step arguments. Detailed discussion about specific data may – or, to the frustration of clients, may not – lead to a conclusion about the overall business implications of the analysis. 

This traditional narrative approach is under pressure from many quarters: a sound bite culture; the sometimes cryptic style of text messaging, Twitter, and email; an increasing reliance on visual display over written exposition; and a general disinterest in, and even distrust of, data and evidence.

How should a report be structured that has the power to change minds and generate consensus?

Many believe that the key lies in more and better graphics and everyone seems to call upon Tufte as a guide to graphic design. His The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (1983), Minard’s famous graph of Napoleon’s march to Moscow and its aftermath, and Tufte’s later books can be found, I think, in every MR industry office, and his influence has been largely responsible for the industry’s infatuation with graphing data.

Yet the more we try to create engaging representations of our data with novel graphical treatments, the more we run the risk of confusing those we hope to excite with our results.Market Research Rsporting

This seems to be an impasse. To grab the attention of an audience that may not already be involved deeply requires novelty, but novelty impairs communication. Now what?

The Poynter Institute is a journalism school in St. Petersburg, and they’ve been conducting studies on the impact of layout and design on newspaper reading since 1990. In 2006, they used three different formats to set up the same news story about bird flu, and then tested the effects of the designs. The information in all three versions was identical. (The three prototypes have apparently been removed from the Poynter web site, which indicates that they have been published in book form.)

The Institute describes them this way (emphasis added): "Prototype 1 was conventional, with headline, narrative and photograph … Prototype 2 contained a narrative story with some of the information broken out in a map and some in a fact box. Prototype 3 was very visual with no traditional narrative. It featured . . . a map, a Q&A, a numbers chart and other graphic storytelling."

The Poynter study used eye tracking to follow what people were looking at and for how long, and they also tested recall of the stories. Miner again: “Readers read the prototypes for five minutes and then were quizzed on bird flu. Readers of Prototype 3, the one that did away with narrative, got the most answers right. What's more, these readers came away most interested in the subject of bird flu and most open to learning more.”

This is an amazing result: a non-narrative presentation of the disjointed components of a story generated more reader involvement and better recall of the facts.

This has several implications for MR reporting:

  • It isn’t novelty, “creative” graphics, or bright colors that compel attention; it’s a clear presentation of all of the elements of the story.
  • We are shooting ourselves in the foot by trying to lead an audience through our arguments in step-by-step fashion. This is yet another indictment of PowerPoint, with its bullet-pointed lists on slide after slide. We need to develop a “collage” mentality and present the parts of the story simultaneously.
  • Our reports should encourage a kind of do-it-yourself involvement with the story we want to tell, encouraging the reader to impose order on them. Discussion is likely to be more powerful than exposition. Anything that encourages the audience to work things out for themselves will generate involvement and recall. This means laying out all the steps to the conclusion, but letting the conclusion itself be discovered.
  • We needn’t constantly come up with new graphic formats to present the data we include; in fact, we can rely on the familiarity of standard graphic forms to enhance the clarity of the presentation. This doesn’t mean we can’t use more creative graphics; only that we don’t need to rely on them to do the job alone.
  • When we use the “infographics” approach, we should avoid a linear narrative, and, instead, strive for a presentation that gives each story element space to breathe and encourages the eye to wander from one to the other.

I’ll let Miner have the final word: “Enjoyable as it may be, linear narrative is nowhere near as predictably efficient as is deconstruction of a story into its…components…the reader creates the narrative rather than having the writer impose it on him or her.”

PS: It is either ironic or pathetic that this post is in the form of an essay.

Tags: Market Research, market research tools, Misc

Driving Down Your Smartphone Screen

Posted on Mon, Jul 11, 2011

By Robert Relihan, Senior Vice President

A little while ago I noted that technology, principally Smartphone technology, was changing the way we interacted with brick-and-mortar stores.  Technology is altering the shopping experience and, consequently, the discipline of shopper insights.  I am back with more evidence.

Recent research has asked the question, “Why do consumers ‘friend’ companies on Facebook?”  A good question.  The answer is obvious; they do it to get deals and offers.  They do it because they are customers. Are brands buying love?  We will see.  But, buried in the data was an interesting tidbit.  23% of those surveyed had downloaded a brand-specific App to their Smartphones.

Apps are another way to get offers, but they have another feature — a store finder — that can alter the way consumers shop.  I have often asked consumers, “Say you are driving down the street and you see a McDonald’s on your left and a Burger King on right.  Which do you choose and why?”

But, now, when I find myself in an unfamiliar neighborhood or on the road and the uncontrollable urge for a burger comes over me, I swipe across my Smartphone screen, hit the McDonald’s App, find the nearest Golden Arches, and head for it like a laser.  No scanning the signs, no getting waylaid by a Burger King.  I am there.

When I want a cup of coffee, I do the same thing.  I tap on the Starbuck’s App, and I am there.Smartphone Apps

These Apps are that nirvana of marketers, something that short circuits the consumer’s normal behavior and puts a single brand squarely before her eyes to the exclusion of all others.  In the future, I may have to ask consumers, “Say you are looking at (driving down?) your Smartphone screen and you see Apps for McDonald’s and Burger King.  Which do you tap?” This example is hypothetical as there appears to be no Burger King App at the moment.

Another way that Smortphones can alter the shopping experience is by blurring the line between on-line and off-line.  Tesco has driven up sales at its Home Plus stores in South Korea by plastering the walls of subway stations with full-size representations of grocery store aisles.  Each item is accompanied by a QR code.  All busy commuters have to do is scan the items they want with the Home Plus App on their Smartphones, and it is delivered to their home that day.  Is this on-line shopping?  Is it brick-and-mortar shopping?  Thanks to the Smartphone, Tesco has converted bricks-and-mortar to paper-and-paste.

Shopping in the future is going to be very interesting and exceptionally varied.

Tags: Shopper Insights, mobile research, Market Research, market research tools