All posts by Rudly Raphael

Thawing Out? How Contractors are Dealing with the Weather

Every year since the end of the recession, the U.S. economy has faced new challenges: spending cuts, increases in taxes, partisan squabbles, the debt ceiling, etc.


This year’s culprate of the economy’s freeze is the winter. The extraordinarily cold weather this winter is hammering a number of industries stymying economic growth.


No industry has been hit harder than construction according to a study economists at Goldman Sachs published earlier this week. The study measured the impact of the weather on Goldman’s Current Activity Indicator, which is a proprietary index measuring economic activity.


qSample surveyed more than 500 respondents from its contractor panel to see what impact the weather was having on their livelihood as well as gauge their perceptions and attitudes about various industry related topics.


More than 34 percent of respondents claimed their business has been adversely affected by this record-breaking winter. Eight percent report they have even had to suspend some work indefinitely.


To combat the scarcity of new projects, more than 46 percent of respondents said they’ve had to scale back labor.


To help increase revenue, 20 percent have had to scale back money towards marketing efforts and 15 percent have had to increase quoting prices on project bids.

However, the majority of the respondents believed as long as you prepare yourself before winter arrives, you can ensure that business continues steadily through the winter. With the right precautions and proper equipment, most construction work can be carried on in winter and at no great difference in cost. With these precautions in place, more than 52 percent of participants claim their business has not been affected.


Seven percent of participants reported purchasing extra equipment needed for protection and artificial heat in winter construction. This obviously requires some additional expense and there may be an increase in overhead on the job due to delays from winter storms, these items often may be offset by the saving in salaries and the reduction in the contractor’s general overhead.

Labor in general tends to be more efficient in winter as skilled workmen can be more easily obtained. More than 18 percent of respondents have actually reported an increase in business. Although relative unit costs of labor in winter and summer vary with the class of work, the cost in winter, especially under first-class management, may be actually less than the cost at other seasons.

Additionally, industry trends have shown building materials sometimes can be obtained at somewhat reduced prices because of the smaller demand during the winter months as well.


Not surprisingly, Home Depot (30 percent) and Lowes (26 percent) are the top two stores respondents went to for building materials and tools. Ace Hardware came in a distant third at slightly more than 13 percent.


Most respondents, 35 percent, cited “Location” as their primary reason for choosing which home improvement store they frequented. “Bigger Selection” and “Better Prices” were the second most important factors for the respondents at 17 percent each.


Another noteworthy finding from the study were the feelings respondents had toward bigger home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot. More than 40 percent described their relationship with the larger stores as, “I use them because their prices and selection cannot be beat, but I’d go elsewhere if it made sense.”


28 percent said they felt indifferent toward the bigger stores and only 16 percent reporting they liked shopping from them. (RW)


Contractors will probably always rely on word-of-mouth marketing to obtain new business, but it seems some contractors are starting to see the value in a new form of word of mouth.


According to the study, nearly 42 percent of the respondents, the overwhelming majority, rely primarily on word of mouth marketing. 12 percent of respondents are relying primarily on social media for their marketing efforts, four percent more than paid advertisements.


New technology is being innovated to make contractors jobs easier. New apps for smart phones are making it easier for contractors to shop for materials, check availability, create bids, estimate, design, market, etc.
The majority of respondents have yet to adopt this new wave of technology. More than 37 percent reported either not owning a smartphone or utilizing any industry related applications. The most popular app among panelists was the Home Depot Pro App, which launched this past November. Other popular apps included: Lowe’s Mobile, AutoCAD WS, iHandy Level, EverNote, and Construction Master Pro.


Technology Affecting the “Moviegoing Experience”

More than 43 million viewers tuned into Sunday night’s 86th Annual Academy Awards to watch “12 Years a Slave” take home the Oscar for best picture.

In the days leading up to Hollywood’s biggest evening, qSample surveyed more than 400 panelists to get the pulse on not only who they believed would take home the iconic statues, but also about how they planned to interact with the broadcast and how they supplement technology with their moviegoing experiences.

The ways consumers view movies continues to be shaped by technology. 63 percent of respondents use smartphone apps to enhance their moviegoing/renting experience. 7 percent of respondents used Moviefone or Fandango to check movie times, buy tickets, find theaters, etc. Others reported using Flixster (8 percent) or Rotten Tomatoes (5 percent) to find movie reviews to determine if a movie was worth seeing.

According to a recent Harris Poll, people now prefer to see movies in the comfort of their homes rather than in the theaters. More than 68 percent of qSample respondents use streaming providers to watch movies or television shows. Almost 25 percent of respondents use Netflix Streaming.

The most popular app among respondents was IMDB (internet movie database). More than 14 percent of respondents planned on using IMDB during the broadcast to study up on nominees and help decide whether to watch nominated films they might have missed.

According to a Harris Poll released in January, people now prefer to see movies in the comfort of their homes rather than in the theaters. More than 68 percent of qSample respondents use streaming providers to watch movies or television shows. Almost 25 percent of respondents use Netflix Streaming.

Academy Awards Infographic

2014 Super Bowl Survey Results

On Sunday, over 100 million viewers are expected to tune in for Super Bowl XLVIII. While many of those viewers are die-hard football fans who can’t wait to see the Denver Broncos and their No. 1 offense take the field against the Seattle Seahawks’ No. 1 defense (the first Super Bowl in 24 years featuring the NFL’s best offense vs. the best defense), some just want to watch the ads.

With the unofficial holiday just a New York minute away, qSample surveyed more than 300 panelists who planned to watch the broadcast to better understand how viewers plan to interact with the media and each other during the game. Respondents identify themselves as either die hard or casual fans or those who plan to watch simply for the occasion, as illustrated by the infographic below.

2014 Super Bowl copy

Social media and new technology continues to change the Super Bowl viewing experience. Nearly 32 percent of respondents are planning to follow the event on social media or discuss the game via text or IM. More than 20 percent plan on following the game on some sports media outlets in addition to the broadcast.

In 2014, it is estimated that a 30-second Ad spot will cost the advertiser around $4 million, up from $3.8 million in 2013. Many advertisers wonder if a coveted Super Bowl spot will lead to elevated product sales. More than 23 percent of respondents indicated that the ads were their favorite part of the Super Bowl. 22 percent of the respondents surveyed claim that they plan to watch ads again after seeing them on the just minutes earlier on the broadcast.

A good return on investment (ROI) indicator for advertisers, more than 60 percent of respondents said they typically took some sort of action after viewing a Super Bowl ad. For example, nearly 12 percent of those polled said they search for a particular product after viewing a Super Bowl ad. Nearly 10 percent claim to have visited the advertiser’s web site. Almost 10 percent said they plan to visit the advertiser’s Facebook page. Additionally, a whooping 70 percent stated that their level of attention/focus on the Super Bowl ads will not dissipate as the game gets well into the second half.

When asked about the type of ads they’re looking forward to seeing this year,  Anheuser-Busch (13.48 percent), Doritos (13.63 percent) and Coca Cola’s (12.25 percent) were the top favorites among panelists.

Budweiser’s “Whassup?” commercial beat out the competion for the most iconic Super Bowl ad, beating out Coke’s “Mean Joe Green” and Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” by eight percent.

Most of the participants plan on spending less than $60 on festivities but 36 percent plan on making purchases to enhance their Super Bowl viewing experience before kickoff on Sunday. For example, subscribing to cable, purchasing a new TV, new Tablet, faster internet, new Laptop, new Smartphone, etc.

The overwhelming majority of respondents plan to stay home to watch the Super Bowl. 51 percent said they’re planning on staying home, 28 percent plan on watching at a friend or family member’s house, 6 percent plan to watch from a local bar, everyone else had yet to decide

Controversy regarding the weather has plagued the build up to Super Bowl 48. This will be the first Super Bowl to be played outdoors in cold weather. Forecasts have continued to be more optimistic but contingency plans were put in place in case the weather was too frigid.

We asked our respondents in what climate should the Super Bowl be played in. More than 45 percent said the Super Bowl should be played in a warm climate, 15 percent preferred the game to be played in the cold, and 40 percent believed it shouldn’t matter what climate the game is played in.

Lastly, the respondents’ game predictions mirrored that of Las Vegas oddsmakers. The Broncos are currently three-point favorites. 58 percent of respondents predict the Broncos will walk away with the Lombardi Trophy come Sunday night.

PlayStation 4 The Clear Choice For Holiday Shoppers

With the latest generation of gaming consoles hot off the assembly line, qSample surveyed more than 500 respondents from its consumer panel who planned to purchase video gaming systems in the days leading up to Christmas. The Infographic below illustrates the results of the survey.

The survey revealed that Sony’s PlayStation 4 is the clear choice for holiday shoppers, beating the closest competitor by 22 percent. PS4 is also the overwhelming choice for those who were looking to upgrade their current system.

More than 37 percent of the respondents indicated they had planned to purchase a PS4. Of those who planned to purchase PS4s, 47 percent were upgrading their current video game console.

Coming in second with a little more than 15 percent was not Microsoft’s Xbox One, which launched one week after PS4 in late November, but its previous generation’s model Xbox 360 (released in 2005). Slightly more than 13 percent of respondents planned to buy an Xbox One. Xbox 360 was more attractive than Xbox One to first-time buyers.

Nintendo’s Wii U is having a hard time keeping pace with PS4 and Xbox One with only seven percent of gamers polled planning to purchase them. However, first time buyers are more likely to buy Nintendo’s Wii. This might be correlated with first-time buyers valuing price more than those planning to upgrade their video game console. The Wii sells for $129 compared to $299 for the Wii U, PS4 for $399 and Xbox One for $499.

While brand name seems to be a factor when considering a video game console, more than 44 percent said their purchasing decision was based on game quality offered. PS4 also beat the competition among gamers who indicated that they value game quality when it comes to making decisions on upgrading their video game console.

Nearly half of the respondents said they were upgrading their video game console compared to almost 25 percent first-time buyers.

Respondents are all part of qSample’s General population and Video Gamer Panel. All have been carefully recruited to target true gamers and light gamers while taking into account key industry tendencies.


An Ivy League Of Their Own

What do 5 of the last 7 presidents and 100% of the Supreme Court Justices have in common?  They graduated from Ivy League universities.  Ivy League graduates are truly in a league of their own.  With a median household income of over $190,000 and a median net worth of $900,000, Ivies are a uniquely influential and affluent demographic, making them particularly appealing to marketers.

This November, the Ivy League Magazine Network and qSample teamed up to survey readers from the eight Ivy League Magazines. Partial results from the survey is depicted in the infographic below. The online study consists of data collected from more than 1500 survey participants. Each reader panel is comprised entirely of graduates from Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania and Yale.

Readers of the Ivy League Magazines find real value in the alumni publication, with over 85% indicating that the magazine has helped them to become successful.  The relationship of mutual respect between panelists and publication fosters high response rates and honest responses from participants.

Over 75% of respondents are active on social media.  Facebook and LinkedIn are the 2 most popular social media sites among participants, with 60% on Facebook and 56% on LinkedIn.  However, usage of social media varied from panel-to-panel with Brown Alumni more like to use Facebook 69%.

Giving back is important to the Ivy League Panel participants with 77% indicating that they volunteer in their community, while 43% do so on a regular basis.

Ivy League Magazine Panel respondents are both affluent and influential among peers in consumer spending categories such as personal technology, automobiles, travel and financial services.

Over the next 12 months, 76% of participants own or plan to purchase a smartphone and 70% own or plan to purchase a tablet computer.  Among smartphone users, iPhone and Android operating systems are the most popular operating systems with 63% of respondents using iPhones and 20% Android.

Ivy League Magazine Panel respondents have the real spending power to make luxury purchases such as high-end vehicles and international travel.  Over the next 12 months, 21% of respondents own or plan to purchase a hybrid or electric vehicle and 34% own or plan to purchase a luxury automobile.

Panelists are frequent travelers with 99% of respondents planning to travel for either business or leisure within the United States this year.  Fifty-eight percent plan to travel to Europe, 17% to Asia and 20% plan to take a cruise.

With a median net worth of over $900,000, Ivy League Magazine readers strategically invest and protect their finances.  Over the next 12 months, 84% of respondents own or plan to invest in mutual funds, 80% own or plan to invest in stocks, 73% own or plan to purchase money market accounts and 71% own or plan to purchase life insurance.

In an Ivy League of their own, Ivy League Magazine Panel men and women have a uniquely affluent profile, difficult to find in any research panel.  The Ivy League survey is part of qSample’s EDU Intelligence series on educational research. The survey consists of more than 30 questions ranging from smart phone usage, financial investment, travel, philanthropy, social media, etc. To learn more about the EDU Intelligence series, email


Louisiana Statewide Survey

qSample’s pulse report is a collection of short research studies conducted each month, using one of the ten specialty panels currently owned and managed by qSample. We believe the survey results from these studies are of interest and we want to share them with you. The reports will be presented in an infographic, depicting research results on various topics. The monthly infographics will always reflect current events and topics of interest.

This past month, we tapped our Likely Voter panel to gauge Louisiana residents’ attitudes towards topics that affect them. The survey was deployed to our Louisiana Panel.


by Rudly Raphael