Monthly Archives: March 2015

Smart Watches Poised to Become Another Tool for Online Market Research

As new technology is introduced to the marketplace, consumers adopt new products and shuffle them into their daily routines. This is increasingly true for smart watches, which have significantly grown in usefulness and popularity over the last few years. New features that allow people to receive notifications, and track exercise performance and sleep cycles all help to provide greater depth of information for researchers. When combined with follow-up interviews or in-depth discussions, smart watches are extremely valuable tools when conducting online market research. Understanding the growing trend of consumers tracking and sharing personal data with smart watches will help organizations make the most out of these new opportunities.

Gathering Quantitative Data on Consumers

Although still in their early stages of development, smart watches are already doing a lot for companies in the fitness, health, and pharmaceutical industries. The positive about smart watches is that there is a wide variety of options available and a range of price points to appeal to all consumers. According to, the market for these watches is expected to explode in 2015. Even more smart watches are expected to find their way onto the wrists of even more customers when the Apple Watch hits shelves later this year.

Currently, smart watches measure a number of vital signs that users want to track. These include the following health metrics:

  • Changes in weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Sleep patterns
  • Diet plans

In addition, runners and fitness enthusiasts can log miles run and weights lifted so they can follow along with an exercise routine. All of this information is displayed and easily accessed on a smart watch, making it much simpler and appealing for people to use the watch and companion apps on their phone or tablet. When companies make apps for a smart watch, the information collected connects to apps or mobile sites on Android or IOS devices. As a result, researchers get the quantitative information they need in a way that is most convenient for all parties.

Following Up for Qualitative Information

After information is collected, researchers can gain greater insight by reviewing the data with consumers. An online market research plan that includes one-on-one online interviews, online focus groups, online diaries or multi-day online bulletin-board discussions helps go beyond numbers and connects organizations with their consumers on a deeper level. These convenient research methods build off of the data gathered by smart watches and mobile apps, and help researchers understand the causes behind certain consumer behaviors.

For example, a medical company may see that research subjects wearing smart watches to bed log erratic sleep schedules. In order to see why this is the case, they can use online interviews and focus groups to learn if a person’s lifestyle, such as having to work late, or getting up early to exercise, has an effect in any way.

Connecting with consumers, and using the most advanced and relevant market research tools available, helps companies and organizations get the highest quality and greatest level of accuracy in qualitative and quantitative data. To learn more about online research methods for your company, contact a representative at e-FocusGroups today at (707) 585-7363.

A man is working

In-Home Ethnographic Research Using Smartphones

Conducting ethnographic research on your consumer base gives your organization a much deeper understanding of who your customers are and what is important to them. With this information, your business is able to better anticipate consumer needs, and provide everything from products and services to company information and customer support, in the way that is most effective for building lasting relationships. In order to gain this insight into how your target audience thinks and feels, it is necessary to complete online market research that captures customers’ attention in the moment, so you get real-time information that leads to actionable intelligence. Using smartphones, research firms are able to conduct in-home ethnographic research for less money and in a shorter timeframe than other methodologies. In the past, ethnographic research has entailed sending a whole team of people to the consumer’s home to observe the specifics of their home environment and, perhaps, the ways in which they use certain products or services. This meant sending the moderator, a videographer, and one or more of the client team to the consumer’s home. It’s expensive, time, consuming and intrusive. The smart phone, with it’s video and audio capabilities, gives the researcher and client team a non-intrusive way to be in the consumer’s home. The consumer can even give them a tour of their entire home environment and even introduce them to other members of the family and so on.

Phone in hand

The Benefits of In-Home Research Using Smartphones

In order to get the qualitative and quantitative data your organization is looking for, it is necessary to reach consumers where they are most comfortable. At home, consumers can participate in research studies at a time that is most convenient for them. This creates an environment in which participants can open up freely and allows greater access for researchers to achieve their objectives.

The benefit of using smartphones during the research process is that a team can reach consumers no matter where they are. Whereas telephone surveys or in-person interviews require consumers to be in a specific place at a specific time, smartphone data can be accessed by researchers at any time. Participants can record videos using their phone or take photos as part of an assignment, and then upload them for the study in order to provide a more detailed picture into their lives. For example, a study gauging how consumers use a new home appliance will be more substantive when participants can show researchers, rather than providing only oral or written responses to questions.

Following Up with Focus Groups and Multi-Day Interviews

It is important to gather all of the qualitative and quantitative data possible during a research study so that an organization can have useful information about its target audience moving forward. After collecting data via a participant’s smartphone, it is highly beneficial to conduct follow-up online market research with in-depth individual interviews, focus groups, or multi-day discussions.

Additionally, by assigning participants small projects to complete using their smartphone over the course of a focus group session, businesses open up new opportunities to connect with their audience and learn more about each and every customer. This helps build profiles that can be used when projecting how a new product or service will be received by the market, and how individuals can be reached through public relations and marketing efforts.

Smartphone videos, photos, and audio recordings give insight into how a consumer feels about a product or topic in the moment. This gives a clearer picture to researchers and overcomes the obstacle of people having to recall specific emotions, sometimes days after an event. To learn more about using smartphones when conducting ethnographic studies, contact an expert at e-FocusGroups today, at (707) 585-7363.

Mobile Shop-Alongs and Online Market Research

Understanding what goes through your customers’ minds is a key objective when it comes to conducting online market research. Essentially, the thought/feeling process of a customer leads him or her through the entire purchase cycle, and it is the job of the research team to find out if and how that can be influenced in order to help a business achieve its objectives and complete more sales. However, traditional market research requires participants to recall their thought processes and emotions while in a store or when shopping online. The only truly candid time a moderator or researcher gets is when gauging reactions in the moment. Mobile shop-alongs, like other digital innovations have been a game changer.

Credit card payment

How Do Mobile Shop-Alongs Work?

In the past, the only way to observe a shopper in his or her own element was to send a researcher along to a store to follow the customer around to observe and perhaps ask follow-up questions. There is also the option to use hidden cameras to track shoppers and record their comments, but that opens up privacy concerns, and a consumer may not be as candid as desired.

Mobile shop-alongs help solve these challenges by connecting researchers with willing participants who will share their shopping process, moment by monent. By recording themselves with audio and video while at the store, a customer gives direct access to his or her in-store behaviors. This research technique takes the physical researcher out of the equation so that a participant is uninterrupted. Doing so helps to remove influence bias and keeps shoppers from feeling as self-conscious as they otherwise might during the process.

Capitalizing on Mobile Shop-Along Data

Although you can gain tremendous insight into someone’s shopping habits with the help of a mobile shop-along, it is often desirable to dig deeper to gain as much understanding about the data as possible. Conducting follow-up interviews, either individually at length or through a focus group, supplements an organization’s online market research. This gives researchers the opportunity to ask further questions about the reasons behind a particular response to a product, its price, shelf placement, visual impact, or the overall shopping atmosphere, for example.

Mobile shop-alongs can also be integrated into a research strategy for multi-day discussions with a group of participants. Consumers can take a day to go to a retail outlet and record audio or video of their thoughts, to report on with the group the next day. By allowing consumers to join a discussion from the comfort of their homes, researchers remove some of the barriers to communication and, in turn, get participants that are more engaged and active.

Video and audio notes make it easier for shoppers to convey their thoughts in the moment, without needing to write them down or recall them in front of the group, later, after hours have gone by. Instead, the research team gets an immediate snapshot that provides actionable information that can be used when building new strategies in the future. Learn more about how to take advantage of mobile shop-alongs and online focus groups by contacting a professional at e-FocusGroups today at (707) 585-7363.

Automated Facial Coding for Online Market Research

Quantitative and qualitative online market research, conducted through focus groups and individual in-depth interviews, gives your organization valuable information about how your target audience perceives your company and its products. However, the fact remains that focus group participants still find it difficult or uncomfortable to open up completely and express how they feel when communicating with others or with a moderator. Beyond this, research suggests that often their reactions are unconscious and therefore they can’t really articulate them. Automated facial coding helps market researchers overcome these obstacles by giving deeper insight into a participant’s emotional state, as well as reactions to materials presented in audio and video formats. Understanding this technology and how it relates to your market research strategy will allow you to gather the high quality data your organization needs to improve operations and customer satisfaction moving forward.

Online Market Research

How Does Automated Facial Coding Work?

Automated facial coding works by scanning the facial features of a participant in an online focus group or interview. After the software is integrated into a study, it records the reactions and expressions of the participant and detects whether that person is smiling, concentrating, surprised, or disgusted. It does this by recognizing the human face and setting anchor points for reference in such places as the nose, eyebrows, mouth, and eyes. As a person’s expression changes, the system recognizes this and determines if their emotion fits into one of the four categories.

As a result, the researcher is able to see in real time how a participant is feeling during a discussion, in addition to getting the verbal and written responses desired. Researchers can then see all of their participants’ data and compare it to the group average responses to see the emotions that a particular advertisement or product evokes.

How Do Organizations Benefit from Automated Facial Coding?

Automated facial coding is being touted as the hottest new thing connecting neuroscience to market research. Since it benefits both quantitative and qualitative research, this technolgoy can be used to supplement online focus groups and online individual in-depth interviews. In addition to measuring emotional responses to conversations or various questions, facial coding is especially useful for applications where a moderator isn’t directly involved with the process, because this can be the time when a participant is most candid.

Playing commercials or prepared promotional videos and gauging how a person reacts in real time gives researchers unparalleled insight into what makes someone feel a certain way. When organizations are able to get data in reports and analyze them, they are able to see which aspects of their marketing strategy influence their target audience the most. This knowledge is extremely helpful for clients and for online market research providers.

The president of e-FocusGroups, David Van Nuys Ph.D., says this is but one example of the new technical tools that are increasingly available to us at e-FocusGroups to help our clients probe more deeply and creatively into respondent reactions.

Learn how your company can access even more information about your target market by using automated facial coding in your next online focus group campaign. Contact a representative at e-FocusGroups today to get started at (707) 585-7363.