Thursday, July 26, 2012

Quantifying Evangelism

How should we look at mobile research?

A recent MediaPost article reported research sponsored by Greystripe that suggested mobile shoppers are more likely to be evangelists (as well as naysayers) than their traditional counterparts.   This conclusion was based on the number of people who posted reviews about their experience - 49% vs. 31%.  In addition, the results suggest that mobile shoppers are less price sensitive because fewer of them reported the use of retailer coupons - 71% vs. 94%.

I grew up in the market research industry so tend to think in terms of the validity of the results.
  • Who does the sample represent?
  • Do the conclusions reflect the data?
  • Can we extrapolate beyond the sample?
This research came from a self-selected audience who responded to an inquiry to participate from the sponsor's mobile ad serving system.  So, the 'traditional counterparts' are still engaged mobile users leaving us looking at only one segment of the shopping market.

The jump from 'write reviews' to 'better evangelist' equates an action with a mental state without understanding the reasons behind it.   Sharing opinions can be considered an aspect of evangelism, but it could also simply reflect the basic need for self-expression: "I post, therefore I am". 

The results do pose some good food for thought, but only within the context of who responded.  There is other evidence that suggest that 50% of US population has written at least one review; if that figure is correct then this sample is 'below average'.   On the other hand, Forrester's "Social Technographics" suggests that 37% of the US Adult population are 'Critics' (those who write reviews). 

In an example of the importance of the reviews Olery created an infographic on the hotel industry.  And because the data came primarily from TripAdvisor it isn't surprising to see the purpose of the trip to be for 'fun' rather than for 'work'.

And these issues are things the whole mobile research industry faces.   A recent conference sponsor on the topic posted a number of key take-a-ways.  Some of the key ones:
  • The industry is too young to have standards established yet and the likely leaders aren't necessarily interested in setting them
  • There is a thirst for innovation but there remains an addiction to what we've measured before
  • Entrants will have to prove the ROI while at the same time breaking traditional models 
It is a good time to be in market research....

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