Last week I blogged about a book proposal I am putting together for a leading publisher. I have been really encouraged by the response I have received so far and I have moved the proposal on quite a bit. Below is the latest draft. I would love hear your thoughts, suggestions, and contributions.
Market research in a collaborative, socially networked, Internet enabled age
An introduction to all that’s new in market research, including online communities, e-ethnography, and blog mining.
Who is it for?
The book will be of general appeal to market researchers and research buyers, especially those wanting to understand and utilise the new techniques and tools that the digital revolution has enabled.
At the moment, the only way to stay in touch with the new developments in market research is to attend a wide variety of conferences and to chase down white papers from a range of sources. This option is not available to most market researchers and research buyers, for reasons of time, money, and lack of knowledge about where to look. These researchers and research buyers will value the chance to have a single resource that introduces them to the world of New Market Research.
New market research is here! From online communities, to blog mining, to e-ethnography there is a new collection of techniques that allow the brands and organisations to engage with the authentic voice of the consumer and citizen.
For the last couple of years, conference platforms have been dominated by papers and case studies showing how these new techniques are being put into use. From Sydney to Rome, from Montreal to Beijing, from New York to London, new market research is making its mark. Organisations are using Facebook, Twitter, blogging, mobile phones, and communities to connect with people and generate the sort of insight they were not getting from traditional research.
This book draws together these new techniques into a single reference and shows, via the use of cases studies, how these innovations are being used by the leaders in the field. Each technique is reviewed in turn, exploring its methodologies, illustrated via case studies, and then assessed in terms of benefits and pitfalls.
The book includes chapters on online research communities, community panels, blog mining, social networks, mobile research, e-ethnography, predictive markets, and DIY research. The book also explores why traditional research is broken, both in theory and practice.
The proposed chapters for the book are:
What is new market research? How is it different from traditional research? Why do researchers need to learn new methods? What are the implications for research users and providers?
- Online Research Communities
Online Research Communities are the hottest topic in market research today. No self-respecting conference is complete without at least a session, and often a day, devoted to research communities. Blending the authentic voice of the consumer with great ROI, online communities are providing a new way for brands and organisations to get in touch with customers and citizens.
Online research communities come in many forms, from closed to open, from short-term to ongoing, from branded to themed, from agency-run to client-run. This diversity reflects the newness and dynamism of the technique and also the many different needs communities are being used to address. This chapter looks at leading examples of online communities to draw lessons for both users and providers.
- Community Enhanced Panels
Community enhanced panels have many of the characteristics of online communities but give these characteristics a very different spin. Online communities tend to be small and intense, community panels tend to be large and more ad hoc. This section looks at how online access panels are morphing into something new, something less like traditional research and something with a different locus of power, with owners and users ceding some of their power to the members.
- Listening to the Buzz and Mining the Blogs
People are talking about brands and organisations every day and all around the globe. The challenge for managers and researchers is to tune into the relevant conversations and to extract the key messages. Traditional brand and advertising tracking has become increasingly disappointing, blog mining and searching the buzz hold out the prospect of replacing surveys, with a few customers, with the chance to listen to millions of them. This chapter looks at the approaches, the benefits, the pitfalls, and trade-offs?
- Social Networks and Market Research
Social networks, such as Facebook and more recently Twitter, have been the prime engine of the Web 2.0 revolution for most ordinary Internet users. From five year olds in Club Penguin through to 103 year old Ivy Bean on Facebook, people are becoming increasingly networked. Researchers have been probing the ways they can join in this revolution and producing some innovative results. Different uses include sample sourcing, polling, and running surveys inside Facebook. The cases in this chapter show the promise and the problems of this genre.
- Mobile Research
Landlines are in decline. Between do not call, call screening, and the rise of cell only households, the world of telephone research is undergoing a radical change. In the past a phone was something that two people talked to each other on and which was available in most homes in the developed economies. However, talking is only a small fraction of what an iPhone is used for, the world has changed. Researchers are utilising the ubiquitousness and personal nature of the mobile phone to push the boundaries of what can be done with ‘moment of truth’ research, hard to find samples, and geographical targeting. This chapter looks at what is being achieved and draws up a score card of pluses and minuses.
Ethnography has been of growing interest for the last decade, hampered only by its cost and the shortage of skilled practitioners. The growth of webcams, phones with video facilities, and powerful tools such as the popular Flip video camera has resulted in e-ethnography, where the respondent/subject becomes the collaborator/co-creator. This chapter explores how companies are using e-ethnography to explore lives, journeys, and product experiences.
- Predictive Markets
Drawing on the writing of James Surowiecki and the example of the Iowa Electronic Markets, predictive markets are being used to create research that does not depend on assumptions of random probability sampling. This chapter looks at the results of using predictive markets and gives feedback from both users and providers, giving guidance on when and how to use this approach.
- DIY Research
“Doing the monkey” is how one brand manager describes conducting market research. What he means is using Survey Monkey to conduct his own surveys, disintermediating the research agency. From Google Analytics through to a range of free and nearly free tools the options for research buyers to conduct their own research are exploding. This chapter explores how the approach can work and shows how some researchers and vendors are adapting to this new option.
- Postscript, Why traditional market research is broken
The final chapter looks at three key reasons what traditional market research is broken and in need of a revolution
The first reason is that research buyers and users are finding that it increasingly fails to deliver what they need. It is often too slow, lacking insight, and too expensive.
The second reason is that there is a growing body of evidence (for example Buyology, Herd, and Predictably Irrational) that the ‘rational mind’ model that much of market research is based on is simply wrong.
Finally, traditional market research is based on assumptions about using random probability sampling to generate findings that can be projected onto a population. However, this is simply not true in a world of declining response rates, and is fundamentally untrue when using access panels.
Market research is undergoing disruptive changes which are casting doubt on traditional techniques and at the same time throwing up a large number of new approaches. Although traditional research is well catered for in terms books and courses, the new approaches are, as yet, unsupported by reference books and the only courses (from the likes of trade organisations such as MRS and ESOMAR) are at an introductory level.
The only body of knowledge that exists is in the form of conference papers and white papers. However, most of this material is not available to most market researchers and research buyers, who are not in a position to attend conferences and are often unaware of the white papers.
I have already secured a number of offers of case studies, for which many thanks. If you would like to suggest a case study, please feel free to email me. What we are looking for is cases where we can identify the client, and ideally talk about the pluses and the negatives.
Is the book is needed?
The main reason the book is needed is that there is no book that currently covers this area, and it is an area of fast growth within the market research profession. Although there are many conference papers on the topic, and a growing number of webinars, these only reach a small fraction of the industry.
What the research providers and buyers need is a single point of reference where they can find out about these new techniques, getting a clear understanding of how these new techniques work, what the benefits and pitfalls are, and how to set about using them.
The main USP of the book is that it will be the only book on this topic. The second is that the author is one of the most widely known and respected voices on this topic within the market research industry. However, the main strength of the book is that it will use case studies drawn from the key players in this space and who represent a broad, global perspective.
My ambition for the book is that it becomes the key reference point for research practitioners and buyers as they move from their security blanket of traditional research, with its outdated notions of science and reliability, into the maelstrom that is unfolding in the post Web 2.0 world of Twitter, community panels, Facebook, and YouTube.
What sort of people will read it (ideally buy it)?
I envisage that readers will be drawn from all sections of the market research business. Younger researchers will be keen to learn about things they aren’t being taught in the standard textbooks (and which will marry what they are doing in their private life to what they do at work). More senior researchers will see the need to embrace (or at least understand) the change that is going on all around them. Research buyers are aware of the declining ROI on traditional research and are acutely sensitive to the way marketing and NPD departments are forming new, direct relationships with customers and are looking for techniques that will allow them to continue to add value to the process.
People in academia will be looking for a way to introduce students to material that goes beyond statistical sampling and focus groups.
There are no similar books within market research. Research practitioners who want to get ahead in this area have been reading and referring to the following books:
- Wisdom of Crowds
- Predictably Irrational
- The Long Tail
- Here Comes Everybody
The key difference between all of these books and the proposed book is that none of them are market research focused. These books create challenges, they show how markets are changing, they show how assumptions of how decisions are made are wrong, but they don’t provide insight into how new market research should be conducted.
One of the things my potential publisher has asked for are testimonials. If you would like to say anything positive about why they might want to commission me to write this book, please feel free to add it here as a comment, or email me. If you want to say anything negative, that is fine, but I probably won't pass it on!