Tag Archives: consumer insights

Infographic of the Week: Boomers Are Embracing The Environment

100,500 words. 34 gigabytes.

That’s the amount of information we consume outside of work on an average day. From that, users only read about 28% of words per visit. Sounds exhausting, right? Well it’s the weekend, so don’t worry, this post is all about infographics.

Infographics change the way analytics are communicated, and qSample is on board. The trendy offspring of the old school PowerPoint image – infographics are the new way to share data and transform it into information by using clever and eye-catching, engaging visuals.

The below infographics are only a couple of our newest, based on proprietary research conducted by qSample. The first highlights the 4 senses of buying decisions, pulled from qSample’s own Director of Business Development, Connor Duffey’s article, How Much Control Do We Really Have Over What We Buy? How much free will do you think you really have? Take a look below.

4 Senses of Buying Decisions (3) (1)

The second is all about one of our specialty niche panels – Baby Boomers. Our research has gained insights into the values and opinions of the largest, most affluent generation in America, identifying important characteristics of the Baby Boomer generation, including their the desire to go green. The right research can make the difference between success and failure for your company in this marketplace.

Baby Boomers Go Green (1) Final

Want more? Check out one of our newest videos.
What’s it about? Just take the Red Pill and see…

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Thor, Free Will and the Manipulation of the American Consumer

Thor in a storm with plastic Starbucks cup in front

In Norse mythology, the idea of free will was widely mocked. Fate was set in cold hard stone, for both god and mortal, and nothing could be done about it. Market researchers would like to see themselves as consumer Vikings—making sure they hand down unmalleable destiny to consumers.

They are not far off from this.

In How Much Control Do We Really Have Over What We Buy?, we revealed how companies manipulate consumers through color, sound, and oceans of eye candy. Now we bring down Thor’s hammer even more by getting into the psychology aspects of consumer influencing.

An article in Help Scout, drawing from various studies, details how subtle modifications in brand marketing can sway decision making, specifically breaking through the notion of “action paralysis” that stifles sales. In an Arizona State study, two questions were asked to a panel:

1. Would you be willing to help by giving a donation?
2. Would you be willing to help by giving a donation? Every penny will help.

Those asked the second variation were almost twice as likely to donate, meaning that individuals are more likely to take action when even minimal parameters are set. The phrase “every penny” provides a clear goal and call to action that is perceived as reasonable and achievable.

This dovetails with the idea of labelling that is so important to companies. People are more apt to take action if they accept a perceived label (in the above case, the label of being a “compassionate human”). It comes down to the magnetic pull of wanting to feel included, and then following a “group” message. Starbuck gold card members may not be saving the poor, but are part of a (perceived) elite assemblage and thus tend to spend more than non-members.

Of course, Starbucks makes sure to inform consumers that it does indeed donate much of it sales to charity. This injects altruism into customers while it lassos them with shared values (the gold card). Gold card members are “compassionate humans” who don’t have to be alone. They can be confident spending their dollars within the Starbucks ecosystem.

It’s like trying to stop a venti Ragnarok, I tell ya.

The piece further states:

In fact, for those who’ve stated that they have a strong relationship with a single brand, over 64% said it was because they had “shared values” with the company in question.

Add these marketing techniques (of course employed by Starbucks), and free will almost seems like something only existing in a dialogue between Neo and Agent Smith:

Framing (“It’s not a 1200 dollars a year, it’s only 100 a month”)

Urgency (“Only five more copies left of the Roadhouse Director’s Cut”)

Instant Gratification (“Our military drone will drop it on your house in two days”)

Create enemies (Odd yes, but what would the world be without a Coke vs Pepsi rivalry, besides a better world).

Honesty (This might be surprising, but consumers appreciate a company that highlights its shortcomings, mistakes, and challenges. Plus, the dialogue remains within the company and not with its competitors; there is nothing like being one’s own Devil’s Advocate).

Is there any hope for humanity? Maybe if we become like monkeys (or eventually are ruled by them, Charleston). A study published in Frontiers in Psychology revealed that capuchin monkeys are more astute at shopping than humans. Specifically, humans continually confuse price with quality (and all the psychological baggage mentioned above that inflates product quality). Not so with certain simians, the study explained:

They taught monkeys to make choices in an experimental “market,” and to buy novel foods at different prices. Control studies amazingly showed that monkeys understood the differences in price between the foods. When the researchers tested whether monkeys preferred the taste of the higher-priced edibles, however, they were surprised to find that the monkeys didn’t show the same bias as humans did.

The lead researcher concluded that:

For humans, higher price tags often signal that other people like a particular good. Our richer social experiences with markets might be the very thing that leads us, and not monkeys, astray in this case.

In other words, our sense of belonging, participating, and contributing is what makes us susceptible to blatant manipulation. This is a quality other animals lack, even as they are ironically accused of having little identity or individuality.

Many might decry these findings, or even the reality that consumers have free will. This only reminds me of a quote from one of history’s greatest market researchers (on a global scale), George Orwell: “The more people chant about their freedom and how free they are, the more loudly I hear their chains rattling.”

But is there any way of combating this manipulation, besides injecting capuchin monkey DNA?

There might be, and it has to do with using the same weapon companies widely employ: knowledge. Knowledge may be power for marketers, but it’s also freedom for consumers. As Carl Jung said: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

In this place of consciousness is where both companies and consumers might meet, and find a measure of free will.

‘Nuff said and ‘nuff playing Devil’s Advocate.

Is Predictive Analytics the Next Minority Report for Businesses?

One of my favorite cultural tropes has to do with one of my favorite writers, Philip K. Dick, and his work Minority Report (also adapted as a blockbuster movie, with Tom Cruise and directed by Stephen Spielberg). The storyline essentially deals with law enforcement having the ability to predict a crime before it happens (and arresting a suspect before he or she becomes a suspect!).

Predicting behavior before it happens: a trope many beyond the authorities would like to see as a reality—certainly in the corporate world where management eternally clamors to market research departments for the ultimate crystal ball.

In our tech era it seems science fiction is regularly an actuality, and predictive analytics is being considered as the (next) ultimate crystal ball.

Is it? What exactly is predictive analytics?

The Matrix and Big Data

I know that you know that I know what you’re going to buy

First, it should be mentioned that in order to be prescient, predictive analytics needs to be paired with big data (a tech buzzword that, like the word “gluten” in the food industry, many still don’t know what it is). Big data is basically information too unwieldy to be addressed by traditional databases and software. Massive data centers that look like the inside of the Death Star are required to store big data. Often the firepower of the Death Star is necessary to process big data.

I like how a tech expert simply defined big data:

It’s all about sorting variables and tracking them, piecing together things that humans can’t. Computers are very good at sifting tremendous quantities of information (with the right software, of course), and that’s the core of big data.

Google data center, where the Arc of the Covenant is also stored

Google data center, where the Arc of the Covenant is also stored

More or less going back to science fiction, in order to understand predictive analytics, picture all the digital numbers cascading down in The Matrix, with the business world attempting to be Neo after his resurrection. So far not many in business have become “The One” in their efforts to corral big data into consumer meaning.

Morpheus might actually represent predictive analytics, though, the carrier of the Red Pill to tap into big data. According one source, predictive analytics is:

Predictive models and analysis are typically used to forecast future probabilities. Applied to business, predictive models are used to analyze current data and historical facts in order to better understand customers, products and partners and to identify potential risks and opportunities for a company. It uses a number of techniques, including data mining, statistical modeling and machine learning to help analysts make future business forecasts.

In essence, it appears this is something close to the ultimate crystal ball. In the Huffington Post’s Can Big Data Save World? the author illustrates the potential in the marriage of big data and predictive analytics:

Online retailers not only know what you bought, they know what you considered buying (viewed); where you came from (prior URL); what path you took through their site; what you finally bought; and how you paid for it. They can even suggest products that appeal to your personal tastes and interests. In other words, they now have the information to create a unique shopping experience just for you.

Seems the Oracle instead of Morpheus might be a better illustration of predictive analytics (and if big data can’t save the world, at least we still have The Avengers). In fact, the company Oracle already provides predictive analytics software (as do Microsoft, IBM, and Microsoft), as well as other smaller companies in what is a blooming market.

Does predictive analytics work

I see dead shopping people

Here are some other ways other major players in the tech world are using predictive analytics to augur your very future:

Google: from trying to finish what you’re typing in the address bar with autocomplete, to selling its proprietary software platform, this company spends a lot of time kissing everyone’s kismet.

Facebook: Not a surprise to see this name as well, for your News Feed is all about knowing what you want to read at before even logging in. As an article in Forbes reported, researchers have concluded that Facebook “could predict our personality more accurately than most of our close family, friends, and maybe even our therapist.”

The Video Game industry: Okay, not surprising either, considering the amount of information that gets injected into the various companies from an industry that is larger than Hollywood. As an example, one source stated that:

EA games generate a whopping 50TB of data per day. This data is in the form of gameplay data, micro-transactions, time stamps, in-game advertising, multi-player information, and much more.

The piece concluded that video game companies “see the huge opportunity to customize gameplay, find new ways of monetizing games, and even enriching the gaming experience by making it social.”

Not leaving the basement, Mom, and I'm busy with important predictive analytics

Not leaving the basement, Mom, as I’m busy with important predictive analytics

All of this may indeed sound futuristic, and perhaps bordering on Orwellian, but the reality is that predictive analytics has been going on since someone told someone not to eat a fruit because they might venture on a fig-leaf shopping spree. Market research has been in the prophecy business for generations, crunching numbers in various capacities to understand consumer conduct.

As one MIT Professor put it, predictive analytics is basically “a way to predict the future using data from the past.”

All of us continually use the past to measure the future of those around us all the time, like during Thanksgiving with our families. The difference is that predictive analytics, along with big data, takes prophesying in a scope never seen before in the far reaches of the internet clouds. Not exactly science fiction, perhaps, but it certainly is a report that is not minor in any way.