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uSamp’s Karyn Hall Featured in
Economist’s Lean Back:
Is Predictive Mobile Marketing Creepy or Cool?

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By The Editors


“What makes sharing personal information worth it?” uSamp’s Vice President of Karyn Hall ponders in her new article for The Economist Group’s Lean Back, a blog for top thinkers in marketing. As we move into an increasingly mobile-driven world, Karyn asks how comfortable consumers are with receiving real-time coupon alerts in exchange for giving up personal information. Will they allow their purchases to be tracked and geolocated if it means time and/or money saved? She shares results from a recent uSamp study that polled consumers on whether they were interested in receiving some real-time mobile coupon alerts or were comfortable with the idea of their purchases being tracked. And the results are surprising, especially for those of us intimate with the world of mobile marketing.

Bottom line, Karyn emphasizes quality over quantity: As long as companies use mobile marketing to improve consumer shopping experiences, she reasons that people will be open to sharing their personal information.

Click here to read Karyn’s article and add your own thoughts on the issue.

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April 8th, 2014 at 12:23 am

Hazelnut Wars:
Hershey’s and Jif Joust with Nutella

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Until recently, Nutella held a monopoly over the hazelnut-spread market. There really wasn’t anything remotely comparable to the distinctly Italian substance that people enjoy for breakfast, dessert, or with a spoon straight from the jar. Now, nearly 70 years after Mr. Ferrero introduced hazelnuts to the world (in order to make the most of the chocolate shortage during WWII), America’s favorite chocolate factory, Hershey’s, has entered the market with a remake of the classic. Not to be left out, peanut sweetheart Jif threw their hats in the ring. The result: a lot of chatter over whether these American copycats could eat into the territory long occupied by Italy.

This was fodder enough to inspire the uSamp Mobile team to test out the emerging product concepts. Anything for an excuse to run an In Home Usage Test (IHUT). So we nerded out.

Over the weekend, we sent our Mobile Army out to the grocery store to conduct a side-by-side comparison of the three products in this market. Over 175 people actively participated in just under 48 hours, resulting in a rich compendium of consumer testimonials rich with flavor that rivaled the nutty spread.

Overall findings suggest that the brand’s equity had influence over taste. Some findings:

  • We also learned that new entrants had succeeded in creating quite the buzz. More than half of the consumers were more excited to try the Jif or Hershey’s brands over Nutella.
  • Overall, we found the hazelnut-spread bar is low: 56% reported that the spreads exceeded their expectations, Jif being a particular standout.
  • 66% don’t like the price/value of these spreads, even when it came to their favorite.
  • Several testimonials suggested that the hazelnut spread might even cannibalize the Herhsey’s and Jif brands’ core products (chocolate and peanut butter).

This video testimonial captures the essence of our findings:

What can the brand guys can take away?

This is not just a study of taste buds. This study showcases the key benefits of mobile market research story-telling. It reveals brand equity, provides competitive analysis, evaluates new concepts, and reexamines the old.

Written by lsozio

February 24th, 2014 at 10:36 pm

4 Things You Didn’t Know You
Could Do With Mobile

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By Jared Smith, Content Marketing Manager

1. Collect video narratives about consumer experiences.

Most people like telling stories, but hate to write open-ended responses. Many can’t be bothered to put forth the time and energy that writing requires. This is part of the reason open-ended questions can yield lackluster answers. People are naturally oral storytellers, and mobile video or audio diaries give people them the chance to do just that. Plus, in-the-moment storytelling encourages honest, authentic feedback.

2. Identify patterns in product usage among customers.

Consumers have all types of different needs and reasons for purchasing products. Consider a recent study of electric vehicle owners in which a client learned how and why their users chose different battery recharging models for their homes. Cost, automobile use, and home electrical setup were just some of the factors that impacted their decisions. But each consumer’s story was unique. See for yourself in the Morpace video.

3. Reach consumers at the moment they are interfacing with a product.

PCs don’t travel well. But mobile is a different story. According to Nielsen, smartphones now make up 64 percent of mobile usage in the U.S., which means it’s easier than ever to reach consumers wherever they are located. By setting up a virtual parameter around a specific location—a technique known as geofencing—we can now send surveys to consumers when they are shopping, waiting in line for coffee, or right after grabbing lunch. This helps researchers learn what consumers are thinking, when they are thinking it. In other words, with mobile, consumer feedback is not filtered or obscured by the passage of time and limitations of memory. You get pure, uninhibited first impressions.

4. Learn where your product’s weak points are and why.

You threw hours of research, testing, and dollars at a new enclosure system on your shredded cheese packaging. Well, guess what? Consumers are taking the scissors to it. You could poll consumers to find out why, but the reasoning might be difficult to articulate. Mobile research could allow you to collect hundreds of videos of people opening the product, so you get down to the small nuances in product interface that could be contributing to the problem. That kind of intimate knowledge could take months upon months to gather in person. With mobile, only a few weeks.

Jared Smith has worked as an editor and content strategist in both the publishing and marketing industries for nearly a decade. His writing has appeared in Rangefinder, AfterCapture, and Orbit. Follow him on Twitter @jared_usamp.

Written by lsozio

February 24th, 2014 at 4:12 pm

2013 Year-in-Review:
Ben Leet’s Reflections for Research Magazine

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In this interview for Research Magazine, Ben Leet reflects on the market research industry in 2013.

Looking Back

What has been the biggest development of 2013?

Without question for me it’s the use of mobile as a methodology. The technology has, to a certain extent, been here for a while.

What was 2013’s biggest buzzword?

As above, mobile! now (although development is ongoing of course!), but the industry is beginning to adopt mobile as an accepted additional methodology, and this is very encouraging.

What was, in your opinion, the best campaign (ad/brand/political/social) of 2013, and why?

I thought the out-of-home interactive advertising by Google in the UK was very clever, and probably a sign of things to come as advertisers look to customise ads to their audience across all channels.

What has/have been the year’s biggest success story?

I attended a presentation recently where AIMIA talked about correlating data across Nectar users and Facebook users for specific product promotions in Sainsbury’s; they looked at understanding the monetary value of having a Facebook presence for the first time, and I thought it was a great approach by them as they get more involved in the research industry.

What has been the year’s biggest disappointment/ anti-climax, and why?

I don’t think that the research industry has fully gotten to grips with big data, and our role to play within the wider marketing space which is looking at big data much more already (with the exception of the aforementioned AIMIA of course!). We have a great opportunity to embed ourselves as the context behind the numbers and answer the “why,” and I think we can do more in that area.


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December 30th, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Holiday Shoppers Opt In: 59 Percent Receive Email Offers

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December 23rd, 2013 at 2:37 pm

An App Alternative: How The Mobile Web Expands Reach

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By Allen Vartazarian, Director of Product, Mobile

As Market Researchers, we are no longer faced with whether mobile is a viable option, but rather how we are going to optimize it. We started planting the app seed early on, refining it to work across operating system and device, with the given assumption that consumers would go to the app store, download, install and play.

Apps like iPoll that leverage geolocation and rich media features on smartphones have provided deep and actionable insights by allowing panelists to submit photo, video and audio responses while verifying that they are on-location at a retailer. Naturally, there has been a land grab in the industry to get these apps installed onto as many people’s phones as possible; this approach, however, has presented two notable challenges:

  • Getting their Attention: With over 1,000,000 apps available just in the iTunes App Store alone, a huge obstacle is getting consumer’s attention. Once you have their attention, you need to hold it long enough to convey the value the app provides.
  • Improving Retention: Congratulations if you’ve achieved an app install, but that’s just the first phase – now you need to keep users engaged! People like to keep their phones free of clutter and tend to delete apps they don’t find them valuable, which helps explain why 90-day retention rates for some app categories are as low as 10 percent.

As a panel company that depends on respondent engagement to drive our insight platform, addressing these hurdles are our number one priority. While app downloads are voluntary, most smartphones have web browsers readily baked into them. uSamp has developed a mobile web technology that allows respondents to provide photo and video responses via their mobile web browser without having to install an app.

So what does this mean for market research?

First, it promises a broader audience reach. The mobile web has the potential to significantly widen the respondent pool that can take advantage of mobile capabilities. Not every smartphone owner has our app installed, but everyone does have a mobile web browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.). With almost half of emails now being opened on mobile devices, this adds a layer in which surveys that contain mobile-only response options can be delivered. Issues such as feasibility and sample size, that have made market researchers hesitant to use mobile in the past, can now be minimized. Coupled with the app, this has positive implications for expanding the audience that can take advantage of mobile features.

Second, it offers more distribution channels. Previously, if we wanted respondents to submit photo/video responses, we could only send survey invitations through push notifications in our app. Now panelists can be reached via numerous distribution channels including email, text message, and QR codes with a link to the mobile survey.

While the mobile app currently offers more robust features like geofencing and audio capture, this innovative mobile web enhancement is an attractive option to leverage for many projects that need greater flexibility. Regardless of outlet, it’s imperative that we don’t lose sight of the importance of designing mobile-specific surveys. The mobile web has seen a history of abuse by researchers cramming lengthy, online surveys into a small screen. We want to change all this by mimicking app capabilities and experience – auto-rendering and UX are critical components of making the mobile web a success. So why does it matter how we gather responses via app or web? It’s the potential for reach, and the promise of an alternative that keeps us motivated to continuously improve the way that mobile market research is done.

Written by lsozio

December 4th, 2013 at 5:57 pm

What Motorola’s Low-Cost Smartphone Means for MR in Emerging Markets

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By Ben Leet (as published on The GreenBook Blog)

Moto G, Courtesy of The New York Times

Fresh off the back of Nokia’s mobile business absorption into Microsoft, and with Blackberry continuing to seek a buyer for its ailing mobile arm, Motorola can smell blood as it launches its latest series of low end Smartphones aimed to drive a stake through the remains of those once glorious mobile hardware providers. Called Moto G, Motorola’s strategy is clear: Tap into the “500 million people who will buy a Smartphone for $200”, according to their CEO Dennis Woodside. And it makes sense; at the Moto G launch, Woodside went on to say that until now those customers only had the choice of a phone with last year’s tech or a second hand phone, so providing brand new technology to an audience hungry to keep up with Western trends could be a masterstroke. However, will Nokia or Blackberry take this lying down? They simply cannot afford to, and so the probability of the Smartphone war making its way to emerging markets just increased exponentially.

The relevance to the market research industry is that, for some time now, it’s been obvious that mobile research will become the methodology of choice for much of our work in emerging markets. Internet penetration is already higher via mobile versus desktop devices in countries like India, which means that mobile is already more representative than online in many instances. This is not new. I, and many others in the industry, have been preaching this for some time, but until now mobile surveys in those countries have been largely restricted to simple text-based surveys, or very light, simple and easy-to-load mobile web surveys. But that could all be about to change, and it will happen fast.

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Written by lsozio

November 20th, 2013 at 6:55 pm

MRMW North America [VIDEO]: Mobile Maturity, Passive Data Collection & Privacy Concerns

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The following video was taken at MRMW North America in Minneapolis in July 2013.  Lisa Wilding-Brown, uSamp’s SVP of Mobile Business Solutions, shares her thoughts below.


Lisa Wilding-Brown, VP, Panel Operations, uSamp from Merlien Institute on Vimeo.

Lisa Wilding-Brown: They industry is really moving forward. If you look back historically, folks were feeling a little reluctant about mobile. They knew they needed to pursue it, and that it was going to be a part of our future from a research standpoint. Change is scary, but the more people I speak to, the more I learn about people embracing it. It’s exciting to leverage all of the different technology and really see what other companies are doing. It’s reinforcing what uSamp has always been very focused on — being progressive, innovative and really pushing the envelope. Talking with others, it seems we’re headed in the right direction and maturing mobile so that more clients can leverage it for all different types of research.

MRMW:  Of the presentations throughout the day, what’s jumped out as “Wow! That’s interesting. I hadn’t really thought about it that way before.”? Has there been anything that’s been really intriguing for you in that way?

LWB: I just finished Dan Hill’s presentation on emotions, motivations, and facial coding and that’s something that we’ve been talking a lot about internally as well. So that was really great to hear from his perspective. I really enjoyed his presentation. I thought it was fantastic.

I also really enjoyed the panel earlier today [that] talked about best practices and standards…seems like a common theme that I’ve been hearing. It’s about respondent privacy and maintaining an ethical approach to how we collect data in the passive sense. I think that’s going to be a big concern moving forward. [Companies] like uSamp are going to stay at the forefront of that and engage with legal counsel and ensure that we are collecting not just an opt-in, but capturing that informed consent from respondents. [Making] it easy for them to understand exactly what is being captured, how it’s being captured and how it’s being used, because quite frankly, a seven to eight page privacy policy is not really going to do the trick from a consumer standpoint.

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November 12th, 2013 at 6:46 pm

uSamp’s CTO on Why Mobile, Big Data and Real Time Are Here to Stay

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uSamp's CTO, Carl Trudel

Recently, uSamp published a Q & A with CTO, Carl Trudel, who is pushing his team to think outside the box and anticipate client demand before it happens. Here he shares the challenges of recruiting, iterating and the importance of being device agnostic.

Q: How are you developing technology to keep up with clients’ needs?

A: It’s all about platform and flexibility. When you think in terms of platform, you don’t build custom development for clients. Instead, you configure features for specific client’s needs. This is much more powerful and allows us to move much faster. This is key to staying on top of the competition.

Q: What is different today than five years ago?

A: A lot! My top three would be mobile, big data and real time. Mobile is not the next cool thing anymore… it is our way, our basis, our framework. Big data is not about lots of data anymore; it is about the right data. And finally, real time is not just a nice thing to have – everyone expects real time information for anything we do. At uSamp, we understand all this and that puts us ahead of anyone else.

Q: How fast can you bring product to market?

A: At uSamp, we move fast. We follow Kanban agile methodology, which optimizes the flow from product ideation to production release. Our highly customizable platform offers flexibility and allows us to deliver new product very fast.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Unfortunately, everything. I always want more and to do better. I am very hard on myself and on the team. There is so much potential for what we can achieve – I wish I did not have to sleep at night!

Mobile is not the next cool thing anymore… it is our way, our basis, our framework. Big data is not about lots of data anymore; it is about the right data. And finally, real time is not just a nice thing to have – everyone expects real time information for anything we do. At uSamp, we understand all this and that puts us ahead of anyone else.

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Written by lsozio

October 2nd, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Mobile Apps & Data Privacy: How Much Information Are You Willing to Share? [Infographic]

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uSamp recently surveyed 850 members of its all mobile panel, iPoll to find out how they felt about smartphone apps and data privacy. What types of information are they willing to share and what do they keep close to their vests? Is big brother more to blame than a social networking giant? Do millennials trust mobile more than yuppies? The psyches of smartphone users across the country unveiled below…

The survey, which represents the opinions of a representative sample of American mobile users, found that only 17 percent of respondents claim to be “very concerned” with mobile privacy, while 53 percent portray themselves as “neutral” to “not-at-all-concerned”.

However, Americans are not without concerns.  Most were concerned about someone being able to track their physical location (58 percent) or listening/ tracking their phone calls (52 percent).  Overall, people were least worried about companies tracking their Web searches (9 percent).  These results suggest that while consumers deeply value their physical privacy, they are less concerned about how marketers may be targeting them based on their web usage.

The study also looked at the type of information consumers would share with a mobile app—people were most reticent about sharing credit card info (86 percent would not share) and least reticent about sharing their birth date (only 24 percent would not share).

Written by lsozio

September 19th, 2013 at 5:44 pm