Tag Archives: market research

Top 5 Healthcare Trends Impacting Market Research in 2017

The healthcare industry is always evolving based on changes in the public landscape. The sensitivity to consumers’ needs and perceptions is quintessential to the success of new develops in healthcare. The new year introduces a new set of trending topics that yearn to be explored through market research. Therefore we have compiled the top five trends that will impact market research strategies in 2017.

1.Emerging Technologies

As emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and drones become more common, the healthcare industry will be adopting these new technologies. These developments will have a direct impact on business models, operations, and cybersecurity. Healthcare organizations will have an increased need to understand the outcomes and potential risks that these emerging technologies will have on their operations and consequently their patients. In order to target this new business venture, market researchers need to employ strategies that will directly answer the implications of these new technologies.

2. Nutrition and Population Health

Health organizations are now focusing on nutrition as a way to prevent costly medical problems and improve the overall health of the population. The start of a new year presents an opportunity for individuals to get back in shape and an avenue for healthcare organizations to fuel innovation in the nutrition sector. Market researchers have another avenue to focus on healthcare providers’ perception and promotion of new methods and practices among individuals. The research that is conducted on this topic will need to be creative and induce innovative ways to find solutions to the matter at hand.

3.Consumer Skepticism and the Rise in Non-Traditional Methods

Consumers are having an increased lack of trust in traditional health system due to the more side effects and potentially toxic ingredients found in traditional methods. The increase competition and lack of trust from consumers have encouraged healthcare organizations to provide high-quality services that meet consumers demands.

This new trend associated with lack of consumer trust and increase use of non-traditional methods is a profitable avenue to adjust market research strategies and target those organizations looking to increase their brand loyalty. A good way to approach this trend is by providing healthcare organizations research objectives that will provide a solution to increase consumers’ trust.

4.Patient-Centric Health Systems

There has been a shift from fragmented health care models to integrated approaches. Now organizations, communities, and social care providers have united their efforts to provide integrated services to patients.

In order to provide integrated services, healthcare organizations need to create sustainable business models and integrate technologies that enhance interconnectivity. This is another avenue where  organizations can change their existing market research strategies and provide a methodology that will allow potential clients to find solutions to their business needs.

5.Aging Population

The increase of technological advances have provided means to increase life expectancy across the globe. As generations grow older, long-term care and chronic diseases services will be in higher demand. Research is necessary in order to understand the implications and needs of this aging population. Therefore, this presents an excellent opportunity to adjust market research strategies that will increase the knowledge base of the Baby Boomer population.

In sum, the healthcare industry will see a great amount of changes in 2017, with the emerge of new technologies, innovations, and transformative business models. The new trends in the healthcare industry will provide several opportunities for market researchers to explore the professional and public perception in regards to these developments and trends. Market research conducted with research panels will provide ample insights that can propel and refine new findings within the healthcare industry.

In an Evolving Research Landscape, Giving is a Two-way Street

One phrase we often hear repeatedly from research practitioners is that: “Survey participation is declining and online data quality continues to plague the industry.” After investing a great deal of time, resources, and effort, they are often unsatisfied with the quality of data collected for their research. After all, the research is meaningless if the survey results are inadequate. “How can I effectively increase survey participation and data quality,” they want to know, “without extensive data scrub?”

The first area of focus is often the data collection methodology. The next area of focus, naturally, is the instrument – the actual language used in the survey, particularly for online, direct mail, or mobile surveys where no other guidance is available. Survey incentive is usually the last variable that companies look at as a means to boost response rate or to address data quality issues. Given consumers exist in a culture driven by rewards, it should be natural for survey respondents to expect an attractive incentive in exchange for their time – and rightfully so.

Unfortunately, research practitioners and panel companies alike undermine the significant role that incentives play when it comes to data collection. In fact, some researchers view survey incentives as something that could potentially create bias in their data collection efforts, based on the assumption that respondents will not provide honest answers to survey questions and are only driven by the reward.  Although this is not completely incorrect for a small number of research participants, it is, however, not the norm.

As stated earlier, our society is already reward driven. Just look around – in business, in commerce, in our day-to-day life. They are passed off to staff and packaged in wellness programs that encourage pedometer steps and healthy eating habits. They are plaques presented to sales reps reaching quotas. They are the points we earn, the loyalty cards we shuffle in our wallets and the frequent flier miles we stockpile. Even our bonuses and raises are forms of reward and incentive.

In marketing, rewards are indispensable tools. We donate portions of proceeds to causes. We employ games, contests, points, and loyalty cards – all to motivate specific behaviors. Incentives help us broaden word of mouth marketing, increase revenue, shrink advertising cost, expand into new markets, and keep customers coming back for more. Marketers use incentives because they work. So why should this be any different for market research?

Without data, there is no research; without respondents, there is no data; Panel providers must incentivize their respondents fairly and act as good ambassadors for their panelists. Research practitioners, on the other hand, must be realistic and understand that the world has changed. Volunteer survey participants are almost extinct. High earning CEOs or influential individuals receive monetary incentives to give lectures, speeches, or to provide their expert opinions to various organizations. Their opinion is never questioned due to the value of their speaking fees. Survey participation and data quality will continue to plague the research industry until research practitioners understand the value that rewards play in our daily lives. It may be too late for them to realize that without incentives, there are no respondents.

 

 

AI: The Future is Now

 

Comedian TJ Miller, of HBO’s Silicon Valley, performs a standup in which he tells of an entertaining, yet extremely terrifying time in which he suffered a life-threatening brain malformation. He was in the middle of pitching a movie idea when he collapsed to the floor while seizing, and was rushed to the hospital. His story continues, he explains that he suffered from an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) hemorrhage, which is essentially an abnormal connection between the veins and arteries.

When Miller awoke from his coma in the Cedars-Sinai ICU neurology ward, he found a nurse standing over him saying, “Your doctor cannot be here, but a proxy will be here in just a bit.” He then explains how he was given little to no information about his condition. Next thing he knew, what looked like an iPad on a Segway rolled in the room and on the screen, was his doctor, who was video calling from a different location. This robot-doctor then began explaining Miller’s condition and how lucky he was to be alive. Miller, who at this point is more shocked about a robot wheeling into his room and diagnosing him, asks his doctor the humorous yet, understandable question of “…Am I in the future?”

While TJ Miller had only been in a coma for a few days, his question of “Am I in the future?” is certainly one that most of us would wonder. The idea of autonomous Segway-like robots wheeling around hospitals, video-calling to doctors across the country or around the globe sounds like something out of Star Trek or a Kubrick film. These proxies that Miller mentioned are known as telehealth robots and are being integrated into all aspects of hospitals. NBC’s, Julia Boorstin, describes how they can allow a stroke victim to be assessed by a specialist when every minute counts and there isn’t a specialist at the hospital. Telehealth robots increase the standard of care and allow more patients to be seen in less time, thus cutting down on the over-crowding and potentially saving money.

Additionally, robots are seeing an increase in popularity in rural hospitals for more than just improved patient care. For instance, Hamilton County Hospital in Kansas was very close to shutting down when telehealth robotics were brought onto the scene. Their chief executive, Bryan Coffey explained that “we brought in a telemedicine robot and started seeing an 180 (degree change). There’s been a 40 percent increase in (patient) volume and we’re consistently, month over month, 15 percent in growth.” Their investment of $36,000 for the robot yielded a substantial return on their investment leading to greater patient throughput.

These robotics are also being utilized by graduate nursing students at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). UAH and other universities that have introduced similar programs are leading the way in terms of telehealth education. They are utilizing this technology to train students from off-site facilities as well as providing online students more of a presence in classrooms and hospitals. The nursing dean at UAH, Marsha Howell Adams explains, “It will allow our graduate students in our nurse practitioner pathways to actually be responsible for the management of the patient care in a simulation scenario.”

The full benefit of the telehealth industry has yet to be seen. In Miller’s case, while he awoke confused to what seemed to be a futuristic robot-doctor, there’s no doubt that the rapid care offered by telehealth robots quite likely saved his life. Telehealth allowed his AVM hemorrhage to be discovered in a timely manner as opposed to being discovered on the autopsy table. Through the advent of technology, a hospital visit can offer immediate care from a specialist on the other side of the country, allowing top-rate care in less time, all with the help of an autonomous robot on wheels – perhaps this is the future.

However, in many ways, it seems natural for robotics, science, and healthcare to merge and progress in this manner. A more noteworthy display of futurism emerges when seemingly far off technology leaves the scientific sphere and spreads into the social and political sphere.

Though perhaps not as visually shocking as a free-roaming robot on wheels that Skypes to doctors in remote locations, the artificial intelligence system known as MogAI is a game changer with far-reaching effects.

MogAI was created by Sanjiv Rai in 2004 and has accurately predicted the past three Presidential elections. According to a CNBC report, it gathers data from over 20 million points from around the internet, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, in order to create its predictions. MogAI works by monitoring social media and internet user engagements to anonymously gather information. It not only accurately predicted the election results, but also noted the fact that Trump would surpass the number of engagements that Obama had in his peak of the 2008 election, long before anyone could have made that prediction.

It’s important to note that these results were not expected. MogAI was not simply going along with media trends or regurgitating expert opinion. This is something different.

So why is MogAI more effective than traditional methods of prediction? It is not limited by human bias or the hesitancy attached to telling a stranger who you are voting for. MogAI monitors social media platforms, uses algorithms and improves with time. This program’s name is referencing Rudyard Kipling’s character, Mowgli, from The Jungle Book. MogAI, like Mowgli learns from interacting with its ever-changing environment.

Per CNBC, Rai explained that, “While most algorithms suffer from programmers/developer’s biases, MoglA aims at learning from her environment, developing her own rules at the policy layer and develop expert systems without discarding any data.” In other words, MogAI is not limited by the human error – it finds the best way of gathering data and does so without interruption. MogAI sifted through reactions of videos of the election process on Facebook and YouTube. It monitors likes and dislikes. It analysis metadata. It considers the opinions of those who only speak up only when hidden behind their online cloak of anonymity. Artificial intelligence systems like this display the pulse of our nation in a way that we have never been able to do before and this form of tech innovation will eventually affect our day-to -day activities in areas that we possibly can’t imagine.

Artificial Intelligence has enormous growth potential and a number of companies in various industries are already adding AI to their playbooks – manufacturing, retail, healthcare, technology, transportation and more. Even in market research, an industry that is often driven by empathy and emotional intelligence, is giving AI some strong attention. Of course, AI is not yet able to address the human aspect of research but some companies are looking beyond these challenges. QuestionPro, a Research Software provider, has recently launched “Locus” – An Artificial Intelligence bot that can help understand what type of survey the user is interested in to help them develop the survey instrument. While “Locus” is still in Beta, it’s a testament to the growing adoption of AI, to improve customer experience. Vivek Bhaskaran, CEO of QuestionPro, explains that “Much like a conversation, Locus will continuously be “trained” to become increasingly effective at communicating with users and maximizing both the quality and efficiency of their QuestionPro experience. Eventually, the Artificial Intelligence Bot will boast even more capabilities within the product.”

The applications for this and other AI prediction systems are staggering. By analyzing data from places such as Facebook Live conversation feeds or Google analytics and then completely anonymizing this information, data predictions can offer fewer privacy violations and more accuracy than ever before in history. It is estimated that the Artificial Intelligence market will be worth $16.2 billion dollars, by 2022. If this estimate is accurate, this 62% compound annual growth rate from 2016 to 2022 is staggering. While a major part of this growth is from the healthcare industry, AI is already making its presence felt in other sectors, as evident by the use of SIRI and Google Assistant in mobile technology. The reality is that AI is already here and its future looks bright. Whether it can take us where no human has gone before remains to be seen.

Market Research is the Key Ingredient

As usual, Amazon is on the move and presenting even more great ideas. In 2017, we have plenty to look forward to when it comes to shopping. Amazon will be opening the Amazon Go store to the public in early portion of the new year. The store will be like no other grocery store. There will be no cashiers, instead shoppers will use a mobile app to enter the store, gather what they need, and walk out. This takes artificial intelligence to the next level as innovative  “walk out technology” will track what  customers placed in their shopping bags and charge their Amazon accounts for those items. They are also making strides in their drone delivery system as well . The company’s first commercial drone delivery was announced last week. As large companies like Amazon strives towards creating an easy and fast shopping platform for users, these concepts leave room to be explored through market research. Amazon is accelerating technology and influencing consumer behavior. To complete these tasks effectively and keep the momentum going, an intense amount of market research is necessary.

With every new technological update or product release, there is a sense of unpredictability with how the consumer will react. This is where market research becomes pivotal. Conducting research before, during, and after the update can help understand the consumers’ mindset and the market conditions that affect their habits. Market research can also help shape and mold product revamps. Amazon is currently conducting research internally with their employee base. The Amazon Go store is currently open to Amazon employees, this a way to test the store before it opens to the public. Once the store is open to the general population, it would be helpful to gather a diversified sample of people who have been to the store and people who have not. Collecting their thoughts and opinions through an online platform could be beneficial in understanding what would draw more people to become customers.

 

Consumers’ behavior is also being influenced by Amazon’s innovations. This behavior is always changing due to what is made available in the marketplace. We have seen the preference of visiting brick and mortar facilities ebb and flow as online shopping has made great advancements. Amazon has ventures in both of these avenues and because of their impact on the market, it directs consumers towards their products. For example, the drone delivery service fuels the consumer’s’ need for immediacy. Although consumers are constantly shopping online, they still want the sense of immediacy achieved when they are shopping in-store. The drone delivery system marries the comfort and ease of online shopping with the sense of immediate access. However, Amazon will still need to conduct more market research to understand how consumers perceive their idea. With mixed emotions regarding the use of drones, market research could be conducted with a sample of the general population to gather public opinion. Amazon could also gather information to establish a price point for the service that  consumers would find acceptable, whether than the consumer resulting to other delivery methods.

 

Ultimately, market research is the key ingredient for a company to be successful. When new products or services are  introduced into the marketplace, in-depth market research offers insights into the consumers’ mindset and predictions on how the product or service will be perceived. Market research can help a company make changes or updates that fit the consumers’ lifestyle as well as show how much they are willing to pay for it. Companies like Amazon who are constantly releasing new innovations can benefit from collecting information through on-line sample.

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For more information on how to conduct market research with online sample, reach out to sales-team@qsample.com

Upgrade You: In-flight Services and Brand Loyalty

 

One of the busiest travel times of the year has finally arrived. Millions of families across the country are preparing to travel during the holidays to be reunited with their loved ones. With more than 100 million Americans traveling this holiday season, traveling can be an arduous task. In order to best accommodate travelers, airlines offer several additional services where travelers can upgrade their seats, access airline exclusive lounges, and purchase in-flight food and entertainment. This gives airlines the perfect opportunity to boost their end-of-year sales numbers. Moreover, a variety of opportunities exist to engage with travelers. Airlines need to identify new avenues to market to a tech-savvy audience and what better way to do it than understanding their spending habits. qSample conducted a study with its general consumer panel to understand travelers’ spending habits. The survey was deployed to more than 400 respondents and showed travelers’ spending habits during flights and in airports.

The data shows that 40% of travelers spend little to nothing on in-flight food and beverages. Not a surprising number since most airlines offer complimentary drinks and snacks on flights over 2.5 hours. However, airlines are losing the opportunity to extend loyalty programs through food and beverage services. Most airlines such as United Airlines and American Airlines offer snack boxes for purchase. The price of these boxes ranges from $4-$10, quite an elevated cost but sometimes these are convenient choices for busy travelers. The cost of purchasing food and beverages could be translated into mile points towards travelers’ reward accounts. Several credit card companies offer travel rewards, which are designated for airline tickets and baggage fees. This could be an excellent opportunity for airlines and credit card companies to build brand awareness and loyalty through an in-flight food and beverage reward programs.

In-flight entertainment is another service commonly offered by airlines that could be expanded to increase customer loyalty. The majority of the respondents (53%) indicated that they purchase in-flight entertainment services when traveling. On the other hand, (48%) of respondents indicated that they do not spend any money for in-flight entertainment services. The savvy travelers are planning ahead to make sure they have the latest music or movies for their flight, but the data shows that there is a large pool of travelers purchasing in-flight services. Early this fall American Airlines announced free unrestricted access to in-flight entertainment for all passengers. American Airlines is continuing to elevate the customers’ experience by adding complimentary premium movies and TV shows. Unfortunately not all airlines are able to offer free services, but they still have the opportunity to enhance the customer’s’ experience and brand loyalty by creating reward programs geared towards in-flight purchases.

Travelers are a highly valuable audience, but notoriously a difficult audience to build brand loyalty due to several factors. Most of the time travelers are looking for the best flight options in terms of price and comfort. As airfare prices increase during the holiday season, travelers are trying to find the best cost alternative. This often translates to flying with any airline that has better ticket prices, schedules, and fewer baggage fees. The majority of the respondents (70%) indicated that they pay baggage fees when traveling. A situation that might be an inconvenience for some since baggage fees represent an extra expense for frugal travelers. While is true that some airlines offer points to be redeemed towards baggage fees, this has not prevented travelers from booking their flights with other airlines.

Brand loyalty programs have been implemented to engage with new and existing consumers and create long-term relationships. As the competition increases during the holiday season, airlines are trying to capture the customers’ attention through rewards and flash deals. However, with the increased access to price information and reviews, brand loyalty has diminished. Travelers that are part of loyalty programs and redeemed their points or miles are more likely to come back to earn more miles. If airlines include in-flight purchases as part of their reward programs they could increase their brand awareness, loyalty, and revenue from additional flight amenities.

 

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Pink Tax: Building The Gender Price Gap?

 

When it comes to marketing for the female consumer there are endless possibilities. Major industries such as the fashion and beauty industry have honed in on the buying power of women and are making significant profits; more than 460 billion USD a year.  Female consumers are eager to experiment with new gadgets while staying on top of the latest trends in the industry, this why industries often release a wider variety of product offerings for women. Consequently, this has created a significant increase in consumer spending. According to the Harvard Business Review, 85 percent of all consumer spending in the US is influenced by women. With women driving most of the consumer spending, companies have taken the opportunity to add a premium price to personal care products such as razors and shampoo. This increase in price on the female version of these items has created a gender price gap known as “The Pink Tax”.

The Pink Tax is most commonly found on personal female hygiene products but has also been implemented in some service industries. According to a study conducted by The New York Department of Consumer Affairs, shampoos and conditioners marketed towards women cost an average of 48% more than those targeted for their male counterparts. Overall the study found that items advertised for females cost 42% more than those marketed towards men. Additional research done by the state of California, shows that women spend $1351 more on items and services that are not specifically women-oriented. For example, dry cleaner’s charge more to clean a woman’s shirt than a man’s shirt due to size and fabric. The premium price added to female products and the gender price gap women face have stirred the conversation on how manufacturers and marketers can reduce the pink tax phenomenon.

There are some logical reasons why women’s products cost more than men’s, even when those items look similar. For instance, manufacturers have expressed that most of women garments require more workmanships than their male equivalent. Also, the increase competition between brands in the female category justifies manufacturers increasing the price on female items; due to the high cost associated with marketing to women. In the digital era that we live today where consumers are experiencing content shock, marketers need to increase their efforts to stand out in a pool of brand pictures and names. However, this leaves the female consumer paying for the industries’ extra marketing efforts. Women are spending a significant amount for personal care needs and services just because marketers want to capitalize on gender based products.

While is true that companies have seen major avenues to target female consumers, this should not be synonymous with higher prices on basic female care products.  Congresswoman Jackie Speier has aimed to put an end to gender product pricing.Speier introduced the Pink Tax Repeal Act—a bill that prohibits companies from charging different prices for similar products or services simply based on gender. Women have also taken their opinion to social media calling for an end to the gender price gap under the hashtags #pinktax, #genderpricing, and #gendertax. A step needed since not all female consumers are aware of the so called pink tax. Also, under this campaign conscious buyers have vowed to not  purchase female care products that have a male alternative.

Marketing towards the female consumer represents several challenges for today’s marketers. Since competition in the fashion and beauty industry is fierce, company’s need to increase their marketing efforts in order to make an impact on their consumers. However, through this process, the female consumer’s wallet has been negatively impacted by the introduction of higher prices in basic care products and services.

In sum, both women and men want the same result out of most personal care products. They both want shampoo that keeps their hair conditioned and razor that offers a close shave. Lifting the gender binary on these products and simply selling the products based on product results could add a sense of neutrality in price. The reduction of the Pink Tax relies on understanding where in the supply chain is the pink tax being incurred and how can it be reduced. The introduction of new marketing strategies is also imperative, in order to diminish the cost associated with marketing towards women.

Millennials vs. Insurance: How Millennials are Changing the Insurance Industry

The importance of insurance was emphasized to the older generations, but millennials are entering the workforce and insurance is being considered a luxury.  According to a recent study conducted by pewresearch.org, by 2030 millennials are expected to make up 75% of the workforce. As this generation continuous to evolve, they will continue to influence purchasing decisions as well as how companies conduct business. The insurance industry is worth over $1.2 trillion dollars, making it one of the most profitable industries in the world. Despite this financial success, the industry has faced significant challenges when targeting their services towards millennials. Some insurance companies are still using the same marketing tactics such as telemarketing and direct mail to target potential consumers. However, these tactics have not been very effective with the newer generation. Insurance companies need to jump on the millennial bandwagon and implement marketing tactics geared towards the digital natives.

Millennials have shown that they have the purchasing power to dictate new marketing tactics. We have seen the evolution of several companies that have changed their marketing strategies to reach a larger pool of millennial consumers. These companies are not selling products or services- they are selling lifestyles. The millennial generation values experience over tangible assets. They want to travel, see the world, and have access to products without the burden of ownership. Millennials have come of age during a time of innovation, globalization, and economic hardships.  These factors have given millennials a different set of behaviors and experiences than their parents. Millennials are accustomed to inter-connectivity and the immediacy of technological devices. Therefore, millennials do not want the same insurance offerings as their parents. Fewer millennials are purchasing life, auto, travel, and homeowner’s insurance. Insurance companies need to adjust their strategies to enter the millennial mindset. They need to provide personalize products, technology friendly services, and a stellar customer experience.

Insurance companies need to improve on the personalization of their core offerings, since millennials want products that support their lifestyles. For example, when receiving a quote regarding auto insurance, millennials do not want something targeted towards a family of five. They want to feel like an individual and the service offering to be directly targeted towards them. Millennials also expect the pricing to reflect the demands of their lifestyle. Factors such as frequency of driving and mileage could be emphasized more in the pricing than the number of drivers in a household. Insurance companies such as Metromile have built their company on a pay-per-mile pricing system, which allows customers flexibility on pricing depending on how much they drive. This can be a profitable business opportunity for other insurance companies to introduce new services and target a demographic that rewards personalization.

Insurances companies will need to allocate resources to study millennials’ habits and employ effective marketing strategies to sell multiple strands of insurance. According to the Gallup’s panel web study, “Insurance Companies Have a Big Problem With Millennials,” about 69% percent of millennials are either actively disengaged or indifferent with their insurance carriers. Insurance companies will need to increase product awareness to engage this tech-savvy generation. In order to build engagement, insurance companies need to have continuous conversations with millennials on social media platforms. Engagement is key to maintaining loyal customers and attracting new ones. Millennials value companies’ interactions through social media posts asking for feedback on their services. The most successful business are the ones that value customers’ feedback in order to provide a stellar customer experience. However, millennials can be brutally honest on these platforms so companies will have to be prepared to manage criticism as well.

Undoubtedly, millennials have different purchasing behaviors than non-millennials. Consequently, insurance companies have been slow to adapt marketing tactics tailored towards millennial consumers. As the largest generation of Americans enters the workforce, insurance companies have a gold mine in their hands; to succeed, they need to understand how to target their products to the digital natives. Millennials are looking for companies that offer innovation and inter-connectivity within their products. If insurance companies are able to create a story, adapt their online platforms, and keep engaging with the millennial consumers, these companies will continue to succeed in today’s globalized market.

 

Whose Poll is Right?

 

As the presidential race draws to a close, there are numerous polls from diverse sources available to the public.  However, there is a lack of consistency between many of the polls. Is Hillary up by 3 points in Florida or is Trump up by 2 points?  Whose poll is right and whose is wrong?  Like many questions in politics, it depends.

All political polls are based upon some assumptions about who is actually going to vote.  This is called a model of the electorate. Having a correct or incorrect model will determine how accurately a poll will predict the outcome.  Social scientists who argue for a pure random sample can really mispredict an election if they do not take into consideration data collection methodologies. One example is the recent U.S.C. Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak poll, which has been getting a lot of slack by pollsters, due to its outlying poll results. Some make the argument on how the data was weighted; others blame a 19 year-old Trump supporter for skewing the poll results. While those are both legitimate points and probably contributed to the skewed poll result, sample and data collection probably played an even more significant role in this issue.

Dr. Jim Kitchens, a research practitioner with over 30 years experience in political polling suggests that “ Weighting works as well as setting quotas, within a reasonable limit. If the sampling source (list, panel, etc.) is good, you should be close to your quotas and it may require some weighting.” In other words, weighting alone is not the issue nor is that 19 year-old Trump supporter. By applying quotas in the sample, this would ensure that enough Republicans and Democrats were represented. Thus, minimizing the risk of working with a toxic sample.

The Romney campaign failed to call Ohio (the entire 2012 election for that matter) correctly because they were dependent upon telephone-based data collection.  Even merging in cell phones, this methodology will skew a sample toward older voters, white voters, and Republicans. They assumed many of the younger voters and minority voters who supported President Obama in 2008 were not going to vote because they did not find them on the telephone. This was a mistaken assumption. However, if a pure random sample is taken from an internet panel, it may skew the sample toward younger people. This, again, boils down to data collection and sample.

The key is to set quotas from two or three critical groups based upon past elections of a similar nature. The most critical factors for politics are party affiliation, race, age, and gender.  According to Dr. Kitchens, “there are two ways to construct a model: (1) quotas during the data collection or (2) mathematical weighting based upon the assumed turnout.  Either method is methodologically sound and will work.”

The problem for political polls is that no one knows whose model is right until the election is over.  Even Nate Silver, who is regarded as a god among pollsters now because he accurately predicted the winner in the 2012 Presidential election for every 50 states, including the District of Columbia, has had his critics.

This year, several assumption pollsters have to consider include:

Will the minority voters turn out for Hillary Clinton at the sample level they turned out for Barack Obama?

Will Donald Trump be perceived in such a negative way by Republican women that they will either vote for Hillary Clinton or stay home?

With both candidates having a majority of voters view them unfavorably, will turnout among all voters decline?  Low turnout usually means an older, more conservative electorate.

Will the outrage from Hispanic leaders toward Donald Trump actually drive a significant percentage of new Hispanic voters into the electorate?

Every poll has to be built upon the assumed correct answer to these questions.  So, it will be election day before the argument about whose polls are correct can be answered.

While we may not know whose poll is right or wrong until after the 2016 Presidential Election, I’m sure Mitt Romney would agree with the following statement: Get your sample and data collection methodology right!

E-books: The End Of An Era?

 

It’s been almost a decade since the first e-book reader was introduced to the marketplace, sending publishers into a panic over the future of print. Readers transitioned to new digital devices; e-book sales escalated, and bookstores struggled to stay open. Now, the digital landscape for books has shifted from e-Books back to print. For the first time in history, e-book sales are declining. The Association of American Publishers released a report in June of 2016 that shows e-book sales declining by nearly 25% from January 2015 to January 2016. While the digital landscape continues to evolve, some things are just not catching on. Digital book sales are losing their momentum and the digital trend is not transcending when it comes to how millennials are reading. Unexpectedly, the most technologically savvy generation in the United States is returning to print.

 

Digital reading devices such the Kindle once tried to convert book lovers to digital binge readers. However, digital natives like college students still prefer reading on paper. According to a recent study conducted by American University linguistics professor Noami S. Baron, the study shows that 92% of college students would rather do their reading the old-fashioned way –  with pages and not tablets. The question remains, why have students made such a notorious shift from digital to print? Despite the mobility of the e-book, which would seem appealing to college students, they are still opting to carry around heavy textbooks even with their on-the-go lifestyles. Millennials spend more time in front of screens than previous generations, so e-books would seemingly fit right in; However, numerous studies have shown that when reading digitally, some content is lost due to skimming from screen to screen.  This is where comprehension suffers, since distraction on electronic devices is practically inevitable.

Aside from the increasing distraction on devices, students are relying on paper books because they are less delicate than tablets. Water spills or accidental drops can severely damage devices, or in some cases ruin them forever.The cost of replacing an e-reader like a Kindle or an iPad is much higher than replacing a book.  Print books provide students with the flexibility of having information at hand without constantly worrying about  technological malfunctions. Some students prefer print books because they are able to turn the page in a book; this makes reading more enjoyable for them.

For a moment, e-books provided cost effective alternatives for struggling college students. The minimal discounts on e-book prices in comparison to their print versions have students opting for the paperback version, which can be resold or lent from other students. Another benefit is that students are able to rent textbooks from their campus bookstores that are already highlighted and have notes in the margins. These provide students with additional tools that cannot be found in e-book versions.Unfortunately, technological advances have influenced faculty and publishing houses to push students into digital devices. Around the country, educational institutions are buying millions of digital devices promising lower costs, more textbook updates, and less back pain from heavy backpacks. Despite the versatility and interactivity e-books provide, there has been little considerations for educational consequences.

Nine years later, the technological revolution has decreased in the e-book market. It is interesting to see how e-readers almost changed the publishing landscape and how the introduction of a new device almost vanished the earliest form of mass communication – print. The decline in e-book sales portrays how technological advances follow a product life cycle. A trend can come or go but if there is something substantial it can succeed in the market. It is still early to predict what the future holds for e-books,  but as the digital landscape continues to evolve, the complete end of e-books is not yet to come.

Pet Food Trends: Humanizing or Jeopardizing the Health of Your Pets? [Infographic]

Without a doubt, the pet food industry is part of a booming economic market. According to the American Pet Product Association , in 2015, pet food sales reached $23.05 billion. This notable increase in sales is due to a major trend in the industry – pet food humanization. Pet food companies have identified a highly profitable market, by offering products influenced by human food trends such as: organic, natural and non-GMO. These food labels resonate with consumers since they are generally linked to healthier food choices. Millennials are driving the pet food market by acquiring loyal companions and putting an emphasis on their pets’ health, which subsequently makes these labeled pet products top sellers.

The two largest pet food manufacturers – Mars Petcare Inc. and Nestle Purina Petcare, dominate the pet food industry and gross more than $29 billion in pet food revenues worldwide, according to a report from PetFoodIndustry.com. Over the past few years, these two pet food giants have seen several problems in the manufacturing of their products, such as a string of recalls. In  2007, both Mars and Nestle Purina issued a major recall after discovering that wheat and rice ingredients imported from China contained melamine, a highly toxic chemical that caused kidney failure in animals. This chemical was eventually linked to thousands of pet deaths. Since this recall, food companies have focused on offering products that are considered 100% grain free, natural, gluten free, organic and non-GMO. In addition, some non-traditional product offerings have emerged such as: raw, vegan, paleo and holistic.

Due to the wide variety of pet related products on the market, qSample conducted a survey with its veterinarian panel to truly understand if these trending pet foods are providing better quality ingredients or jeopardizing the health of pets. The survey was deployed to more than 130 veterinarian professionals with specialties ranging from: general practitioners to internal medicine. The veterinarians indicated that on average, they see 86 patients weekly with the most frequent species being canines and felines. The increase of pet owners who are trying to find better diet alternatives for their furry friends have influenced veterinarians to offer special diets and premium ingredients for sale in their clinics. About 83% of respondents indicated that they sell food supplies in their clinics. The veterinarians were also asked what factors they considered when choosing a brand to sell in their establishments. Roughly 35% considered  the quality of the ingredients as a decisive factor, while 24% indicated that brand affiliations dictated their product offerings.  The increasing presence of health trends in the pet food industry illustrates that many consumers are interested in adopting better health practices in their pets diets.

Another important factor in veterinarians pet food recommendations is related to where the pet food is being manufactured.  About 95% of respondents indicated that they would only recommend pet food manufactured in the US. The main reason for this is to avoid low quality manufacturing standards since some countries lack regulatory agencies such as the FDA and AFFC. This was problematic before as pet food companies had to recall ingredients manufactured overseas.

Despite emerging pet food trends, veterinarians still recommend pet food with basic nutritional principles. Scientifically formulated foods are regarded as the most beneficial for pets’ health.  However, many consumers have a big misconception of what the scientifically formulated label means. Scientifically formulated does not mean the food is unnatural, it simply means that natural ingredients have been carefully chosen to increase nutritional content. Despite these misconceptions, consumers seem to gravitate towards labels that mirror human food trends. This is evident as more than half of respondents (60%) indicated that the main trend is “all free from: wheat and grains.”  Respondents were also asked the likelihood of recommending pet foods that are branded as vegan, vegetarian, organic, paleo, holistic and raw. More than 45% indicated that it will be extremely unlikely for them to recommend pet foods branded as such.

Marketing pet food through the guides of human food trends has been profitable for the companies but misleading for pet owners. Consumers are purchasing food that aligns more with human dietary trends than with pets’ nutritional needs. Marketing tactics that can link consumers understanding of their pets’ nutritional needs with language that can sell the product would be an optimum opportunity for both companies and consumers.

For more information about our key finding or to learn more about our veterinarian panel  please contact: andrea.sanchez@qsample.com

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