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Latest Research Makes It Clear: Most Medical Apps Suck

hand holding smartphone with of snake oil adverstisement

One of qSample’s proprietary online panels is physicians. The panel is vetted and continually engaged, and we feel it serves a crucial role in medical research and beyond. We like to think that our work represents that hallowed point where online and medicine meet for significant benefits on society.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem the case for medical apps, according to the latest research. Medical apps have evolved, sure, but most of them just suck.

These findings are a takeaway from an IMS Institute’s mHealth app report: Patient Adoption of mHealth—as highlighted in a recent MedCity News piece.

According to the article:

Of the 165,000 apps from the iOS and Android app stores that claim a connection with healthcare, IMS Institute focused on the ones with more than 1,000 user ratings — 67, 424 and found only 26,864 consumer oriented health apps were applicable.

The majority of these studied apps would be better classified as fitness apps (the percentage is probably growing with this year’s arrival of the Apple Watch). Only 10% were connected to a device or sensor, though.

Sure, medical apps that monitor the holistic wellbeing of individuals can indeed make an impact. Yet the quality of apps, according to the study, is lacking for such health functions as blood pressure or blood glucose (that’s a nicer, more PC way of saying they suck).

According to the data, patients do tend to follow the suggestions of doctors on medical apps—mostly in the fitness and diet areas—but at the core there are intrinsic issues that stifle the effectiveness many medical apps. These include:

Absence of reimbursement by insurance companies
Lack of HIPAA compliance
 Little clinical validation
Inability to connect to electronic health records

The MedCity News article does note the IMS Institute report needs a larger scope. The research focused primarily on app stores and not on medical apps used exclusively between digital healthcare companies and medical providers—such as those that deal with chronic conditions like diabetes management and congestive heart failure.

Not all is suck, though. 135 apps were involved in clinical trials in 2013 compared with 300 in the most recent report.

There is also another issue that must be dealt with—what exactly is a medical app?  In another report, the IMS Institute called into question the standards for medical apps. It claimed that “of the 43,689 apps it studied from the app store, about 20,000 were either not health apps at all or only loosely affiliated with health.”

What a mess! Some apps that try to pass themselves as healthcare-oriented include:

Veterinarian apps
Fashion and beauty (like salons selling their services)
Gimmick apps with no tangible health benefits (an example would be apps that make the user sound sick or demonstrate how he or she would look obese)
Apps that are peripheral to health issues, such as fertility or pregnancy contraction-timing apps
Product presentation apps for sales representatives/retailers in the medical or pharmaceutical industries
Apps intended for members of specific clubs/universities in the healthcare field
Apps that fall into the “New Age” category, dealing mostly with such notions as body energies, yoga regiments or generalized spirituality

Sorry, but apps that use the smartphone light to disintegrate acne or hypnotize you into losing your fear of clowns should not be considered valid medical apps. Neither should the one I use to monitor my dog’s diet, although it certainly serves an important role.

In the end, genuine medical apps include approximately 7,400 designed for healthcare professionals and 16,275 designed for patients. But again, their evolution compared to other fields is rather measured and their value questionable in many respects.

Therefore, it would be prudent to formalize some standard or oversight to the certification and genuine medical apps. As a recent study by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, both physicians and patients widely support the use of data on smartphones and other devices for medical use. However, when it comes to self-diagnosis and privacy, physicians break away and become resistant.

I understand the point of medical professionals and private data, as well as the herculean notion of policing apps in a market inundated with them. There are over 3 million apps available in 2015 from Google and Apple alone. Yet it’s key to find some authenticating framework for medical apps or at least some clarity for both physicians and patients.

The physician panel qSample manages contains more than 80k respondents. As with our other proprietary panels, it took years to build, nurture and maintain for quality data. It took work. I’m sure this can be duplicated in time with medical apps, at least for less suck and more healthy exhaling in the healthcare industry.

 

3 Aspects of a Valid Online Survey

Woman's hand taking online survey on smartphone

Delivering the perfect online survey. Does it exist or is it as mythical as dragons, fairies or the Cubs winning the World Series?

We can speculate, but as researchers we can also ensure we provide the best possible surveys for respondents. There are many methods to do this, much of it shared on qSample’s blog. One key way is to warrant that an online survey comprises certain aspects that make it valid.

According to Russell Renka, political science professor at Southern Missouri University, there are three aspects to a valid survey/poll. To exclude any of these, in Renka’s view, means the data will be dangerously flawed.

Here they are:

  1. The questions asked must be clear, written in neutral language and provide a range of answers to choose from.

This might be basic for marketers, but often unclear or even subconsciously-driven messages can tilt the survey towards flawed data. For example, a client’s survey utilizing our veterinarian panel once asked: “Do you think microchipping dogs might lead to a safer life for the animal?”

The problem was the obscure “might” in the question. The researcher was in essence vacillating. Therefore, the answer to the question would be compromised. (We made sure to bring this to his attention, of course).

In other words, be clear and concise and short. Furthermore, as we’ve promoted, include opt-out questions like “Don’t Know,” “Not Sure” or “Undecided.”

Your panel will thank you with richer data and not microchip your research with failure.

 

  1. The respondents must be randomly selected.

Yes, more Captain Obvious information, it seems. Still, marketers often penny pinch and end up drowning in river sample (in fact, Renka denounces a market research company in the cited article, the chief reason he detailed the three aspects of valid online surveys).

Detail must be placed on a questionnaire, indeed, but it also must be placed on the quality of the sampling. Beyond a good online survey provider, double-check the persona of your respondents.

We consider qSample a quality sample provider, of course. Yet there are other companies who specialize in niche panels. They will all take care of your efforts, even if it’s slightly more strain on the proverbial budget.

 

  1. The sample involved must be large enough to keep the margin of error fairly small, about 5 percent.

According to Renka, that should be at least 400 respondents. At 300 respondents, the margin of error grows to 5.6%. Obviously, certain respondent demographics and certain budgets necessitate a sample to be under 400 respondents. But all things being equal, keep your respondent numbers at a healthy size.

There are other aspects (or safeguards) to quality good data in online research, and these may include:

Quality of questionnaire
Quality of project execution
Quality of analysis

We agree with Renka in the end that these three simple aspects can go a long way in making sure your market research doesn’t get more complicated that it needs to be. It may not be perfection, but it’s probably closer to it than the Cubs winning the World Series.

Hard to reach audience button

6 Respondent Supervillains That Destroy Your Survey Data

Getting the best possible survey data is a heroic endeavor for anyone performing online research. It makes for a better market and academic world. Sadly, there are those respondents who impede this adventure, spawned from the nether regions of River Sample™ and causing bad survey data. By viewing these respondents through the lenses of archetypal villains, a researcher’s champion task is not only easier but perhaps even entertaining (even the most stoic of us researchers get blurry-eyed glancing at survey data all day).

Get your Data Superhero tights on, because here are the six Survey Supervillains you need to watch for:

The Speeder1. The Speeder: The name says it all, and this Quicksilver or Flash-persona blasts through surveys at rates that defy logic (or more like enforce logic, since they’re obviously not paying attention to questions). The Speeder is easily detected because he or she finishes surveys in less than 30%-50% of the median time. For a more technical way to defeat the Speeder, an article on Research Access recommends:

Check the median time to completion and establish rules that you feel comfortable with – I often flag those taking <1/3 of median time with a “1” (“speeder”), and those taking < 1/4 of the median time with a “2” (“super speeder”).  You might consider removing outliers (at the slow end) before calculating your median.

Yes, there is a Super Speeder too! No superhero saga is complete without reboots and higher-level bosses.

The Flat Liner2. The Flat-Liner: Also known in as the Straight-Liner, the Flat-Liner is the grim reaper of market research, the Thanos of survey methodologies. When reading data, this Survey Supervillain’s death-mark manifests as the same line answered each time. The fiend is just not paying attention or has chosen a specific line in order to quickly complete a survey. The Flat-Liner may take the shape of the Speeder to take you off your superhuman game, but they typically finish at an average rate. One market researcher proposes a solution to defeat (or at least nudge) the dreaded Flat-Line:

For this reason it is important that any multi-numeric list used to measure straight-lining has questions that one would reasonably expect respondents to have varying opinions on (e.g. asking a respondent to agree with both positive and negative statements about the same product).

The Lord of Silence3. The Lord of Silence: Not communicating in surveys is doom for survey research, but easy to remove. However, claptrap or sloppy answers are just as dangerous yet harder to detect. That’s what the Lord of Silence does. A tell-tale sign this Survey Supervillain is invading your research is time discrepancies—such as claiming he/she was born in 1997 but then saying they have been at their current job for 20 years.

A data research blogger further advises: “Scan through open-end responses (and other-specify responses) for gibberish or excessively vague and short answers.”

Bizarro Grinch4. Bizarro Grinch: Yes, some Survey Supervillains hurt you by leaving loot. Bizarro Grinch will leave a Christmas-Tree pattern in the questionnaire multiple choice section. Often, this nemesis gets cuter and leaves other “artwork” shapes in the survey. Unlike his associate, the Flat-Liner, it’s harder to expose this Survey Supervillain when viewing a pattern on an Excel or other spreadsheet. As one researcher explains:

Christmas-Tree responses are a little more difficult to find, however, if you’ve used numeric reporting values, you should be able to easily spot ascending or descending patterns in Excel and remove these responses.

Take this mission with all of your heart, as this is worse than a pair of Old Navy socks under the tree on December 25th!

The Duplicator5. The Duplicator: Similar responses may appear in a survey, and that could mean this Survey Supervillain is committing a heist in your survey data. He or she is the sibling of the Lord of Silence. On the other hand, doppelganger information can frequently be the infamous maxim of “We have met the enemy and the enemy is us.”

In other words, there is a glitch in the software replicating data, or a respondent is taking the survey a second time. Your Spidey Senses should be clear that this replica data needs to be destroyed.

The Revolutionary6. The Revolutionary: Sadly, the Revolutionary is one your own citizens revolting because you didn’t keep the peace as the superhero in your survey neighborhood. Essentially, you didn’t write the best possible questionnaire, and thus unlocked a Zombie Apocalypse of respondent fatigue and respondent bias (Hint: both links grant the kryptonite you need to repeal these uprisings, or at least provide the best survey questions and survey sampling).

As with any responsible champion of good data, your task will be to win them over again.

If you follow these steps (before they autodestruct in five seconds), you will be a Data Superhero. In reality, panel providers these days offer excellent sample. Yet as the Research Access piece stated it’s inevitable that “1 and 5% of survey data from panel sample is garbage.”

It’s just the way it is. Yet a simple gallant inspection and a few Superman techniques can ensure you rout these percentages rather quickly. After all, it’s widely known that 70% of online surveyors clean their data before analyzing.

Afterward, it’s always prudent to inform panel provider of these discrepancies. Then they can make sure to minimize Survey Supervillains or glitches like Duplicators. Forward them the ID’s of the respondents you banished from your study Metropolis. They’ll take action on their side to warn and/or remove these panelists from their database (as we do every week at qSample).

Furthermore, many Survey Supervillains are actually computer bots. It’s just part of the internet to encounter them. Panel providers can tweak software to eliminate the Rise of the Machines.

With that in mind, you can continue with your research to become survey savvy and a true Data Superhero. Your data results will look more like The Avengers and less like The Watchmen.

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6 New Technologies that are Transforming Online Research Methods

Innovative technology is being infused into various online research methods, making the industry not only advanced but an almost virtual reality rewarding to respondents and researchers alike.

I’ll get to them at once, not to appear as tedious as the last phone company provider’s questionnaire or Starbucks online survey for those extra gold stars.

Eye-tracking Technology

 

 

Woman using glasses that follow her gaze to heat spots

 

 

 

 

 

 

Already utilized in tablets and home products by such companies as Samsung, eye-tracking technology can be implemented to online surveys or focus groups, with the assistance of cameras. The technology can support market researchers with issues like respondent bias.

Gauging honesty by eye movement has been widely criticized in scientific circles. However, we reported a recent University of Buffalo research noting how eye movement could indeed measure levels of honesty in individuals:

In their study of 40 videotaped conversations, an automated system analyzing eye movements correctly identified whether subjects were lying or telling the truth 82.5 percent of the time. That’s a better accuracy rate than expert human interrogators typically achieve in lie-detection judgment experiments. (Experienced interrogators average closer to 65 percent.)

Beyond that, eye-tracking technology can capture the focus of respondents’ gazes in order to find preferences in web page design or copy location.

Online Focus Groups

 

 

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It’s no secret that with the popularity of video conferences and chats—widely used with Skype or Google Hangouts—getting acquainted to a group of people in a virtual setting is almost painless. In the online research industry, such enterprise software as our QualStorm can seamlessly execute and manage an online focus group through the entire process—from incentivizing to cross referencing survey data after the research. This can also include inline polling, available chat transcripts and exchangeable audio files.

One consumer research specialist detailed the various advantages of online focus groups for both provider and respondent:

 Excellent in obtaining detailed feedback on copy, marketing concepts, adverts and packaging.
  Relatively easy to convene, especially if participants are engaged in an online community.
  Customers from a broad geographical region (or even different countries) can join together to share their views.
  More convenient for customers to take part – especially significant for groups such as       professionals and those with young families.
  No travelling for researchers or clients.
  Moderators can present visual, audio and video stimuli.
  A degree of anonymity disinhibits participants.
  Transcripts are readily in text format for analysis.
  It’s no surprise focus group facilities are eclipsing.

Mobile Technology

 

 

Advantages of Mobile Surveys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A huge chorus across the world clamors at the dynamic dawn of the mobile age, and the perils and opportunities of this tech sunrise include online research. The opportunities are too many too ignore, though. After all, more Americans use mobile devices to browse the internet than they do PC’s; and already 60% of cell phones are smartphones. As our research shows, the advantages of mobile technology for online surveys include:

  Ability to use GPS technology.
  Easier to administer, and with a more available audience.
  More versatile with video and audio recording endemic to mobile technology.
  Superior real-time input, as respondents are typically close to their tablets or smartphones.

Heat Map Technology

 

 

A copy of an online survey map with heat spots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the online domains, heat map technology offers a visual representation of user activity such as clicks and eye focus on a website. Companies like Crazy Egg already utilize it for marketing. In the online research industry, understanding the focus of attention of a respondent could potentially filter respondent bias, honesty rates and even drop off rates.

A market researcher furthermore explained how heat map technology can integrate with online survey methods:

Here is a theoretical example of a print advertisement displayed through a theoretical online survey screen. A simple question can ask the respondent to click on the first item that catches their eye, second item, third item, etc. The colors show frequency of clicks (dark red represents a higher number of clicks, yellow represents a lower number of clicks, followed by green, and lastly white). Additional follow-up questions can be asked to probe as to why that item caught their eye, what they liked and what they disliked about each zone clicked. Heat maps illuminate what your customers and potential customers are looking at first and their impressions of it. In this instance, this technique helps the business optimize and re-focus the print ad so it stands the best chance of being noticed by customers to generate leads.

Sensory Analysis

 

 

People before screen testing food an inputting their results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is commonly use in facilities—where experimental design and statistical analysis are combined to the use of human senses, all for the purposes of evaluating consumer products. Panels are required for this research, and already companies are using sensory analysis for online panels. The products are mailed to respondents for testing, with data collected acquired via questionnaire, video or even an online focus group. On the other hand, respondents that are known to utilize certain products can be contacted by various means.

Combining sensory analysis to online focus groups, heat map technology and eye-tracking technology could be productive and even save costs in versus fielding a facility for research.

Gamification

 

 

Pepsi using gamification to find user preference of soft drink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a burgeoning method of data collection in online surveys. The word means what it sounds like: the application of game techniques to enhance processes that are not games. For online surveys or focus groups, these may include:

  Leader boards.
  Achievement badges or levels.
  A progress bar to show how close respondents are to completion.
  Virtual currency.
  Respondent challenges.
  Unique rewards.

As with the other technology mentioned, gamification may be a valuable online survey tool, reducing respondent fatigue by making the overall process more enjoyable. Maintaining an online sample is never easy. Gamification is one method that can assure engagement and mitigate drop offs.

These technologies are already being implemented or are in the alpha stages, and just in time. The New York Times reported that the online research industry is booming, a main data collection tool for market research, but many issues like respondent fatigue has caused “declining response rates over the last decade.”

Help is already on the way, and in some instances already here, in the form of innovative methods of data collection that can potentially benefit all sides of the marketing equation. This before or after a Starbucks and its gold stars, as it always should be.

 

Spoiling Spot: Holiday Gifts for Pets

Considering buying a Christmas stocking for your cat/dog? No need to question your sanity, you are far from alone.

The overwhelming majority of pet owners say they treat their dogs and cats like family. Pet owners are projected to spend more than $5.5 billion on pet related gifts this holiday season, which is close to 10 percent of the total amount consumers are projected to spend on their pets.

To gain further insight into such an astounding consumer trend, qSample conducted a survey among more than 350 participants from qSample’s own Pet Owner Panel.

According to the results, 38 percent of respondents plan to spend $21-$50 on their pet this holiday. Nearly 20 percent plan on spending more than $51 on their companion’s gift.

Retailers have certainly taken notice of the increase in spending. With each passing year, owners can choose from more and more pet products and gifts. New trends, highlighted by the American Pet Product Association, include new offerings from retailers that have been focused on human products. Companies like Ralph Lauren (now selling dog sweaters), Omaha Steaks (new steak pet treats), and Paul Mitchell (new pet hygiene products).

The majority of respondents, 37 percent planned to purchase toys and 22 percent will buy a toy that distributes food or treats.  When purchasing food or treats, 37 percent say that the number one factor in their purchasing decision is whether their pet likes the product or not, 28 percent look for organic, all-natural or grain-free options, 13 percent look at brand name as their key determinant and 12 percent consider pricing first.

Most of the survey’s respondents, 49 percent, planned to purchase these gifts at a physical pet specialty store. 19 percent plan to purchase online and 11 percent will purchase from auction sites, veterinary clinics, pet shelters/rescue groups or another venue.

by Connor Duffey

 

PetHolidayGiftographic

 

Cutting Costs on High Tech Gear and Electronics

Consumers desire the latest electronics and high tech gear, but unfortunately cost can be prohibitive. Savvy consumers have blogs, websites and books dedicated to saving money both for the home and business. Here are a few non-traditional and creative ways to save money when it comes time to buy the needed items to outfit an office or the latest technology gadget.

 

Online Auctions

Online auctions claim to save buyers anywhere from 25%-75% on all sorts of items. One online auction generating attention is Quibids It’s free and easy to create an account but in order to bid, one must first purchase 100 bids at 60 cents a bid. Smaller bid packages may be purchased after the initial purchase. Items can be placed on a watch list to track selling prices at certain times. We saw two remote-controlled cars sell for vastly different amounts. In the early afternoon it sold for one bid (60 cents) and later that evening sold for 240 bids.

 

If one loses a bid on an item, QuiBids will sometimes offer the item at a Buy Now price, and will subtract the bids already placed on that item. For instance a $50 gift card that had $40 worth of bids already might be available to purchase at the remaining cost of $10.

 

Auctions are not a guarantee of lower prices, but often a creative way to try to buy high priced items at lower costs. All items on QuiBids are new and items ship for free within the U.S.

 

Use Online Shopping Carts

Another way to save money is to shop on-line at sites like Amazon. Items can be placed in a shopping cart for later and will adjust as the price either drops or rises. Amazon Prime membership will also save money on the item price and get two-day free shipping on Prime items. Overstock.com often offers cheap shipping as well.

 

In addition, if you place items in an online shopping cart but do not complete the purchase, you may receive an email within a couple of days offering you a discount on the items in your shopping cart. It’s the store’s way of following up to close a sale.

HiTechmoney

Planning and Patience

A tried and true way to save money on electronics and high tech gear is to plan ahead. During the year there are times when high priced items are on sale. Televisions, cell phones, iPods, digital cameras, computers and more have yearly sale times, especially when new models come out.

 

It’s good to research before purchasing. Consumer Reports has a list of which items commonly go on sale and when so that you can better plan in advance. For instance, computers are a popular sale item before school starts and TVs in January. You can also avoid spending hundreds at once when you buy an item by pre-buying gift cards in smaller amounts to save up for a particular item. Purchase gift cards at many retail outlets as well as online via Google Play, Apple, Best Buy, Amazon and more.

 

Gift cards can also be used anytime, including during Black Friday sales weekend. Stores advertise specials on everything, including electronics. Long lines may deter consumers from Black Friday sales, but it’s worth researching what items stores are selling at discounted prices as often you can get items for pennies on the dollar. Buying gift cards ahead saves you spending the full amount all at one time.

 

Ask

A great way to have the latest smartphone and save on monthly bills is to ask the phone carrier if there are deals, upgrades or discounts available. Customer service agents work hard to create customer loyalty by offering discounts, deals, and reviewing bills to make sure consumers are getting the best rates. Many big phone companies offer deals and discounts to keep customers happy (this also applies to cable/satellite and internet services) and you will never know-unless you ask. Remember the person on the other end of the phone wants to sign new people up and make sales.

 

Saving money is a strategy that can be applied to every aspect of business, including keeping up on the latest products that help save time, money and manpower. High priced technology and electronics can be made more affordable by research, planning and patience.

Social Media Users Earn Less

A recent study conducted with qSample’s general consumer panel reveals that more than 60% of respondents surveyed access Facebook 3-6 times a day. Results also show those who are logged in that frequently earn an income of $50,000 or less per year.

The survey was conducted during the last week of September, with more than 400 respondents participating.  Among those who completed the survey, their employment status were as followed –  41% are employed full-time by a company other than their own, 17% are retired and 13% are self-employed. Others label themselves as full-time homemakers, full-time students or chose “other” for employment status.

Compared to Facebook usage, respondents use other social media sparingly. They report using other social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pintrest and Instagram only a few times a month. And their main reason for using Facebook? Over 66% say that their primary reason is to connect with friends and family while16% use it for entertainment purposes. Please see the infographic below for additional survey results.

Social Media Users Earn Less400

Originally, Facebook’s enormous user retention success was partly due to the member’s ability to post, share and save pictures. Although some sites originally based on text have since added this capability (with Twitter on board only within the past two years), users seem to spend more time on the platform than any other social media sites.

Twitter has tried to replicate the activities of Facebook in allowing the addition of pictures to updates, changing each user’s homepage to stream updates, making media visible within that stream, and (more recently) tagging pictures with user’s names in hopes of increasing usage of the site.

Results from our survey also indicated that over half (51%) of the respondents use social media between 5:00pm-11:00pm and they are choosing the time brackets of noon-4PM and 9:00am-11:00am as secondary options.

Although several of these stats are not surprising, it’s a great idea to always keep up with what the consumer is thinking, and perhaps sometimes delve into why they think they way that they do. Here’s why:

The more marketers tune into consumers and their target audiences, the better they can hone specific messaging to draw them in. As an example, if 70% of a target audience is made up of moms, they can develop messaging that is attractive to most moms.

If companies know when their audience is logged onto certain sites, they can determine if advertising at certain times is beneficial or not. For digital advertising, there is often a choice of the time of day that ads run and advertising is sometimes more expensive during these prime times. Knowing when an audience in online is key to ensuring that a target market is seeing the message.

As always, things to consider when analyzing survey data include human behavior, personalities, potential reasons for responses, etc.

For this survey, we should consider that people who make under $50,000 a year may have more time on their hands than those who are earning more, giving them more time to connect with friends and family on Facebook. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates are lower in those with a professional or doctoral degree, while they run close to 11% for those with less than a high-school diploma and 7.5% for those with a high-school diploma.

Many of us know people above the $50,000 annual income category who choose activities other than social media. When asked for their reasons for not being social on-line, their answers often have something to do with lack of time (or as one mother-of-five said “I’m afraid it would be a huge time-sucker.”). In fact, 5% of people do not use Facebook at all, 55% don’t use Twitter, 54% don’t touch LinkedIn, 70% of people have no interest in Pintrest and 85% do not use Tumblr.

We should also consider that although people in this response group primarily use social media to connect with others, they may also be using Facebook to network and research potential ways to increase their income. With more education, telecommuting and contracting opportunities accessible via the internet, it is much easier to obtain additional sources of income. And many of the options are available to all who have internet access and not limited to those with a higher education level, who reside in a specific location or have other demographics that are needed for performing off-line jobs.

Why do we use social media so much? It appears that people find true value in it. Surprisingly, only 7% of respondents use it to “pass the time” versus using it for business purposes, connecting with family and friends, entertainment or “other”. On this scale, using it for “other”, whatever that may entail, describes only 2% of our general population consumers.

Consider how modern house plans differ from older house plans. In many regions, large front porches are gone and former “front porch activity” is delegated to the backyard area, which is often fenced off from other people in the neighborhood. Many now sit out in the backyard area with specifically-invited family or friends versus greeting the neighbors on their after-dinner strolls. Is social media a way that people reach out to be social, but to also stay within their comfort zones where life feels safer?

A large majority of people are coming home from work and logging onto social media. And although it appears that the majority of these people earn less than $50,000 annually, they are a market for product and services. Companies who reach the audience where they naturally spend their time will likely see the results in the bottom line.

 

Will Office for iPad Make Tablets the Tool for Work?

Last month, Microsoft shook the tablet world by finally launching its Office for iPad apps, and the reverberations may be felt for years to come.

While tablets have become extremely popular, with many users preferring smaller to bulky and more awkward laptops, they have yet to truly find their niche in the business world. Even with bluetooth keyboards, and writing tools like Google Docs and iWork, many businesses refuse to adopt the device as a serious business tool. In the academic arena, many students prefer tablets for note taking and research, but find it awkward to use for papers and presentations. The launch of Microsoft’s Office for iPad apps is designed to change all that.

We conducted a survey with our general consumer panel to gauge their level in the new Microsoft Office for iPad app. The survey was fielded in less than 2 days during the first week of April, with more than 400 respondents sharing their insights on this new product and what it means to them professionally.

Survey results clearly indicate that tablets are still very popular with the general populaltion. Unsurprisingly, Apple was king among those devices with  almost half (40.45%) of our panel indicated they own a version of the iPad, but a mere 26.18% claim their primary uses for those tablets are for work and school. Confirming our suspicions, we found that entertainment rules the tablet world, with a staggering 69.12% of our panel logging on for fun. As always, internet surfing, watching videos, and updating social network pages continue to be a staple of tablet use.

Clearly this isn’t a hardware issue, and many who own Apple devices, such as the iPad, prefer to use the Microsoft Office software. This suggests that the new apps will be very well received by tablet owners, but there is a lot more involved than ease of use. Our survey showed that there was a strong positive reaction to the Office for iPad apps, as 63.02% said that they plan on using the new apps now that they are available, yet 76.56% didn’t feel that the apps were worth the $99 subscription fee. This is likely due to the abundance of less powerful, but free, programs/apps that will allow users to run similar tasks. Price does seem to play an enormous role, as 64.58% of our panel is considering the free Microsoft Office smartphone apps as a serious alternative. This poses the question of whether or not smartphones may find a place as a document editing tool in the business world as well.

The smartphone apps may be free, but lack many important features that are available on the iPad and laptop versions. In addition to features, portability seems to be a factor. Today’s “on-the-go” lifestyle means that document editing on a smartphone may be preferable to carrying a bulky laptop, or even a tablet. On the down side, small screens and lack of features may discourage users from choosing apps like Office for smartphones, even if they’re free. Our panel was also concerned about storage space on their devices. These apps can take up a considerable amount of space on users’ iPads, and 67.71% claimed that this alone would discourage them from downloading the software.

Cloud services have been available for some time, but there is no question that Microsoft has arrived very late to the game. This may be due to the company’s efforts to streamline their products for unconventional devices, or a simple lack of attention to the tablet market. In either case, this is definitely an interesting move for Microsoft. One pitfall of releasing the apps for the iPad is that this may have a negative effect on the sales of non-Apple tablets, including Microsoft’s own Surface. In addition, the Office for iPad apps are significantly better looking and much more streamlined than other versions. This may influence which tablets businesses buy for their employees, and ultimately hurt Microsoft’s Surface sales as well. Apple will receive a percentage of Office 365 subscription fees sold through iTunes, which will also add to the funding of their competition. All of these factors make the late release of the Office for iPad apps a very interesting decision. Only time will tell if Microsoft’s new launch was a brilliant strategy, or too-little-too-late, but in any case, the world is taking a second look at the tablet as a serious business tool.

Microsoft Office for iPad Infographic (3)

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 sales-team@qsample.com.

infographicRudFinal

Did Limbaugh and Deen’s Advertisers Bail Too Soon?

Turns out, not all press is good press. When public figures like Rush Limbaugh and Paula Deen recently made media waves with sexist and racist words respectively, it caused many of their advertisers to bail. In the case of Paula Dean, her career fell instantly like an imploded soufflé. So why is Limbaugh still on the air over 6 months after his ordeal while Deen’s TV show got canceled right away? We already know a big part of it is ad revenue. But, why do advertisers tend to jump ship long before the storm has the chance to settle? Why did Deen’s words rock the boat worse than Limbaugh’s? What does the public really think about the brands that are advertising on these shows?

Let’s take a closer look at the two stories. Deen publicly admitted to having said the n-word in the past and apologized profusely saying it was “inappropriate,” “hurtful” and “totally unacceptable.” Rush called Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student, a “slut,” repeatedly during his show for speaking at a democratic hearing about the need for contraceptives both as birth control and for broader medical reasons. Limbaugh saw Fluke as an advocate for casual sex. All told, he tallied up approximately 70 personal insults directed toward Fluke on his on-air talk show, making it impossible for anyone to argue his remarks were just a fluke. Like Deen, Rush also apologized publicly. Why is Limbaugh still on the air but not Deen?

There are two main theories bouncing around the media that attempt to explain the difference between Limbaugh’s situation and Deen’s situation. First, we are reminded to consider that the two figures have different audiences with different expectations. Limbaugh built a career on being controversial. He speaks to a niche audience of mostly conservative white males that value him because of his bold opinions. Deen’s audience, on the other hand, seeks controversy-free comfort food and southern hospitality. Even a pinch of racism ruins the Paula Deen recipe of sugar and spice and everything nice.

The second theory is that a little sexism will be tolerated, but racism is never okay. In 2011, Gilbert Gottfried was dropped by Aflac as the voice of the duck after he carelessly tweeted jokes about Japan after the tsunami. Gottfried’s public persona is similar Limbaugh’s in the sense that his audience also expects a certain degree of edginess from him, but his tweets crossed the line. Here’s one example, “I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, “They’ll be another one floating by any minute now.”

Aflac originally hired Gottfried knowing that tact was not his strong suit. Gottfried is considered to be one of the first to make a joke publicly about 9/11. He quipped that he could not get a direct flight because “they said they have to stop at the Empire State Building first.” However, Aflac does a high percentage of its business in Japan, making Gottfried’s jokes deal-breakers.

Limbaugh is still on the air, and he is still at risk for loosing advertisers, ratings and potentially the renewal of his show. QuestionPro and qSample teamed up to take a quick poll of the SurveyGIANTS panel to find out what the public thinks of the brands advertising on his show. Only 13% of respondents said that their opinion would be negatively affected if a brand they trusted advertised on The Rush Limbaugh Show. Forty-seven percent said their opinion of the brand would be unchanged, while 32% said their opinion would actually be positively affected. About 8% didn’t know who Rush Limbaugh is.

Rush_Limbaugh_Chart

For the 32% who responded that they look favorably upon a brand continuing to advertise on Limbaugh’s show, it makes you wonder if the fleeing advertisers have got it all wrong. Perhaps the public is more forgiving than advertisers think. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Spouses say hurtful things, but it’s usually not grounds for immediate divorce. From the advertiser’s perspective though, there are plenty more uncontroversial fish in the sea. In business, there isn’t much loyalty, but the public may not be as quick to view Limbaugh and Deen as just tainted brands. Limbaugh and Deen are people who make mistakes, and they are public figures who are expected to lead by example. While the people might not agree with what Limbaugh and Deen said, they might be ready to forgive.

by Stacy Sherwood