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The Nimble Elephant: Big Data and Agile Marketing

On Monday September 9, 2013, the qSample team attended the American Marketing Association “Evening with Experts at 1871: The Age of Agile Marketing.” The speakers were Justin Massa, CEO of Food Genius and Chris Young, Senior Director Global Menu Services at McDonald’s. The presenters showed us how big data can be leveraged to facilitate agile marketing.

What is agile marketing? No, it’s not practicing yoga postures while drafting a marketing plan. According to agilemarketing.net the goals “are to improve the speed, predictability, transparency, and adaptability to change of the marketing function.” Agile marketing is inspired by the values of agile development:

Agile Marketing

Responding to change over following a plan
Rapid iterations over Big-Bang campaigns
Testing and data over opinions and conventions
Numerous small experiments over a few large bets
Individual interactions over target markets
Collaboration over silos and hierarchy i

Agile-Marketing-Series-What-is-Agile-Marketing

Basing marketing decisions on data rather than instinct was the theme of the night. Justin Massa emphasized that Food Genius is, above all, a technology company that extracts insights from an enormous amount of restaurant menu data from numerous sources such as GrubHub and presents them in such a way that a client can understand. Massa works with what is known as big data, which he describes in layman’s terms as data that you can’t download in an Excel file. He referenced the 5 V’s of big data to illustrate its core functions.

The Five V’s of Big Data

Volume: The most obvious of the 5, there’s lots of data!
Velocity: The data grows and changes quickly.
Variety: Data comes in a variety of structures, creating complexity.
Veracity: “Dirty” data may need to be cleaned up.
Value: All that data is only useful if you can extract value.

big-data-elephant-dreamstime_xs_27975666

Massa implored marketers armed with valuable data to stop asking “why?” and to be satisfied with just the “what.” He argues that identifying the trend is enough. For example, wraps are one of the fasted growing menu items in the United States. You don’t need to know why wraps are so popular. Is it the low carb craze, the gluten-free trend, the salad-sandwich hybrid appeal? Doesn’t matter. Just identify the “what” and forget about the “why.” The “why” he says, will just slow you down and decrease your agility. Of course, this may be because big data alone typically can’t give you the “why,” even if you needed it. Big data plays a very important role in agile marketing, but for most marketers, it will not be the only source of data.

The truth is that there are many segments that simply don’t yet have an accessible data infrastructure, let alone a specialty company like Food Genius tracking and making sense of the data. If you’ve got a niche audience, sometimes the easiest thing to do is ask your exact target the exact questions you need answered, and you can just as easily ask “what” and “why” while you’re at it. For example, if you need a group of gamers to tell you what they think of your new product prototype, big data isn’t going to help.

qSample specializes in sample group acquisition and specialty panel management and recruitment. With 10 specialty panels including Homeowners, Baby Boomers, Campus Universe, Wine Opinions, Voters, Contractors, Gamers, Mobile, Small Biz Opinions and Travelers, plus a suite of survey software you can get the exact insights you need from the exact group you need to reach. The qSample mobile reporting app allows you to see your data in real time in vivid easy-to-understand charts and graphs. With quick turnaround and real-time data, survey research will enhance, not impair, your agility.

Remember agile value #5, “numerous small experiments over a few large bets”? To be an agile marketer, Massa tells us to eat the elephant one bite at a time. His slideshow image of elephant soup got some awws from the audience.

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McDonald’s knows better to bite off more than they can chew. Chris Young, Senior Director Global Menu Services at McDonald’s piggybacked off of Massa’s wrap example and explained that wraps were introduced country by country in European markets before introducing to U.S. restaurants.

In another example, Young pointed out that even McDonald’s didn’t dive headfirst into offering fruit smoothies. The company had big ambitions for their beverage line-up, but started first with perfecting their coffee recipe before moving into Frappes. With growing beverage success, they then introduced fruit smoothies which could be made using the existing Frappe machines. Young also pointed out that it’s often logistically imperative for McDonald’s to make small, market-by-market change simply because of the volume at which the company operates. There simply wouldn’t be enough strawberries on the planet to suddenly begin selling smoothies at every McDonald’s overnight.

Listening to Massa and Young share similar philosophies on agile marketing reinforces the universal value of the concept. Each company has put the principles of agile marketing into practice in different ways, as they each face different challenges. Traditional market researchers have had to become more nimble as well, as online and mobile surveys promising quick results have become the standard. The overall message is to utilize data to make decisions and to move quickly but make small changes, treating each move as an experiment that will guide future growth.

i http://agilemarketing.net/what-is-agile-marketing/

by Stacy Sherwood

Student Debt: The Good, the Bad and the Plastic

We’ve all seen the headlines about college students graduating with unprecedented debt, but not all debt is created equal, and not all student debt is insurmountable or even a bad thing. Debt is a more complex subject than mainstream media has the time or resources to tackle because of factors such as multiple types of debt, from loans to credit card debt, combined with varying interest rates, costs of living, employment status, wages and how all these factors change over time.

Tuition and fees for 2012-2013 at public 4-year colleges cost students on average $8,655.00 per semester, an increase of 104% since just one decade ago. So, why does tuition continue to increase faster than inflation? States have cut the amount the money they give to colleges by about 17% in the last 5 years. At the same time student enrollment continues to rise, indicating that young adults still view a college education as a worthy investment despite the rising costs. i

Two-thirds of American students will graduate with some debt. And, the average borrower will graduate with $26,600 of debt. ii

Still, student loan debt is often referred to as “good debt”. A college degree is an investment in the future, required in some fields and providing a competitive edge in others. Over the course of a lifetime, associate’s degree recipients will earn $500,000 more than those with only high school diplomas, and those with bachelor’s degrees will earn $500,000 more than those with associate’s degrees. iii

Student loans aren’t the whole debt picture. Some students will graduate with credit card debt or other types of loan debt. While credit card debt is often labeled as “bad debt” it is really more about why the individual has the debt, not what form it takes. For example, a laptop for school might be a good investment (good debt), while spring break in Mexico might be poor investment (bad debt).

qSample wanted to find out how credit card debt factored into the big debt picture for students. A recent survey of qSample’s Campus Universe panel revealed that most participants (99%) own at least 1 major credit card. Participants’ top reasons for having major credit card(s) tended to be responsible with over 60% indicating that “build my credit rating” and “in case of emergency” are very important reasons to have a credit card. Almost half of participants (46%) reported having no credit card debt at all, while about 25% have over $1,000 in credit card debt. Student loan debt was much more prevalent in the group with over 50% owing $10,000+.

Most participants with credit card debt (82%) planned to have their credit card debt paid off in 2 years or less. Only 15% of participants with student loans planned to have them paid off in 2 years or less. Thirty-one percent planned to have their student loans paid off within 3 to 5 years and 28% planned to be done within 5 to 10 years. Nine percent believed it will take closer to 20 to 30 years to pay off their student loans.

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Given the typical ratio of load-to-card debt, it is no surprise that the Campus Universe panelists said that they worry more about their loans than their credit card bills. Over 50% of participants only rarely or occasionally worry about credit card debt, while 21% worry often or all the time. When it comes to student loans, 37% rarely or occasionally worry about their debt, and 40% worry often or all of the time.

2

The federal government depends heavily on student loan programs for funding and is expected to make a record $50 billion in profits this year. The good news is that measures are being taken to help keep student debt within reason. In August of 2013, President Obama signed a new law that dictates Federal Student loans will now move with the financial markets. This will lower interest rates for now but could mean higher interest rates as the economy improves. However the loans do have a cap. With the new law, federal student loan interest rates now range from 3.4% to 6.41% depending on the type of loan. iv

The U.S Government has also been looking out for its youngest cardholders. Gone are the days of credit card companies giving away t-shirts on the quad. The 2009 Credit Card Act requires the card companies to stay 1,000 feet away from campus if offering free giveaways. Plus, anyone under 21 needs either an adult co-signer or proof of adequate income to repay the debt. v

Student debt in all its forms is typically not that scary. Yes, there are extreme cases that rack up to six figures and take decades to pay down. But most of the time, an education is a sound investment in the future. By and large, students are staying away from overspending on credit cards, which could lead to a larger debt problem with higher interest rates. With the Credit Card Act of 2009 and the recent student loan relief, the federal government is taking measures to protect young adults from accumulating too much debt too early in life. For most college students, the future is brighter and shiner than the plastic in their wallets.

i http://money.cnn.com/2012/10/24/pf/college/public-college-tuition/index.html
ii http://www.forbes.com/sites/specialfeatures/2013/08/07/how-the-college-debt-is-crippling-students-parents-and-the-economy/
iii http://money.cnn.com/2013/02/26/pf/college/community-college-earnings/index.html
iv http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-500395_162-57597680/6-things-to-know-about-the-new-student-loan-rates/
v http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/help/what-the-new-credit-card-rules-mean-6000.php

Campus Universe is an online community of on and off campus college students who have opted-in to participate in a variety of research studies. The panel is developed and managed by qSample, a Chicago based research and data collection firm.

by Stacy Sherwood

Louisiana Statewide Survey

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

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

la

by Rudly Raphael

A Glance Into the World of Pet Owners and Vets

This month’s infographic report features qSample’s veterinarian panel. We surveyed 300 Vets to get a glance into their world. The results of the survey are displayed in the infographic below.

In the past few years, trends have emerged such as “pet parents”(pet owners who tend to treat their pets like their own children), giving the impression that these pet owners are spending an incredible amount on pet care. However, results from our veterinarian survey indicate that this may not be the case after all. 66% of vet respondents see the same amount of patients or less. Furthermore, the large majority of surveyed veterinarians report that less than half of their patients are covered by an insurance plan.

vets

by Rudly Raphael

Pulse Report: April Spotlight on General Contractors

Following the success of the first Pulse Report, qSample is proud to release its April infographic. This month it decided to highlight one of its specialty panels comprised of general contractors. During the beginning of April, 340 individuals were surveyed to gain insight into currents trends and ideas in this industry. The results of the study are displayed in the infographic below.

Contractors are reporting price increases across the board for supplies, most notably for lumber, hardware, and hand tools. These price increases are affecting the way contractors run their business, with the majority seeing affects to their pricing models. However, on a positive note, these contractors are reporting that business is beginning to pick back up. About 43% of respondents indicated that in light of the recent economic conditions, business is increasing and about 9% indicated that business has increased but in new areas.

Contractors are hopping on the mobile bandwagon, as they are pulling out their smart phones while purchasing supplies. Almost 60% of respondents use their smart phone in some way while making purchasing decisions regarding materials and supplies. The most popular use is to check to see if they can get better pricing elsewhere.

contractorss

by Rudly Raphael

Florida Survey Report: Gun Control

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

This past month, we tapped our Likely Voter panel to gauge their perception and attitude toward the much controversial Gun Control issue. The survey was deployed to our Florida Panel with more than 400 respondents who completed the survey. The data was collected during the first week of March.

gun control

by Rudly Raphael

State of the College Student Infographic

Infographics change the way analytics are communicated, and qSample is onboard. The trendy offspring of the old school PowerpPoint image – infographics are the new way to share data and transform it into information by using clever and engaging visuals. An infographic has an eye-catching and relevant visual coupled with the numbers being conveyed in order to reinforce the meaning behind the statistics.

The infographic below depicts how college students are faring in the current economic climate. The data is derived from a survey conducted by Campus Universe – an online panel of college students developed and managed by qSample.

college student

by Rudly Raphael

College Students Worried About Debt

With college costs skyrocketing, a new survey conducted by Campus Universe shows that 62% of students surveyed have student loans or aid to repay in some form. The survey was conducted between October 18-23rd, with a sample size of 500 respondents. This year, in the United States, outstanding student loan debt will reach $1 trillion dollars.

The survey reveals that these students are also getting help from their parents 22.3%, working full or part-time 18% and relying on scholarships 16.5% to help supplement their college bills in addition to loans and aid. Of those surveyed with qSample’s CampusUniverse research panel, 82% indicates their loans are provided by the federal (59%) and state (23%) government entities with the majority of money owed per student ranging between $0 – $29,999.

Some of these students, over 30%, anticipated their loan to be paid off in 5-10 years, while 27% are not sure how long it will take to pay back their loans in this uncertain economy. It is estimated that only half of recent college graduates are working in full time jobs.

This survey was conducted with students in each grade level, and 67% consider their amount of debt manageable, with the remaining students worried that their debt is an unmanageable amount.

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In fact, 31% of participants indicated that they worry “all the time” about the amount of debt they have incurred in pursuit of higher education. Forty-eight percent of the students worry “sometimes” and the remaining 21% “never” worried or are “not really” worried about their ability to repay their student loans.
Most people who could relive their college days would make different decisions on a variety of topics. This survey indicated that 44% of students would make different choices to incur a smaller loan amount. That is a big life lesson to learn the hard way from your college experience.

Campus Universe is an online community of on and off campus college students who have opted-in to participate in various college research studies. The panel is developed and managed by qSample, in partnership with Campus Entertainment. To learn more about the college student panel, go to www.campusuniverse.com.

by Rudly Raphael

Online Poll: Debate Has Little Impact on Florida Voters

Only three percent of survey participants believe the October 22 showdown changed how they will vote on November 6th, according to a survey conducted with Florida Voter’s Voice, an online research panel of likely voters developed and managed by qSample.

This unique survey was deployed immediately after the debate and indicates the state’s voters are skewing towards Barack Obama, but with 23% still undecided.

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Of note – 64% of panel participants indicated the foreign policy topics debated are important to them in this election. When asked whom they think won the debate, 52% choose President Obama versus 31% for Governor Romney. Also, 42% of respondents confirmed that they consider themselves a Democrat versus 35% of the survey population that declared themselves Republican.

In fact, 99% of voters who consider themselves “strong” Democrats believe Obama won the debate last night and 72% of “strong” Republicans considered Romney the winner.
These party affiliation numbers are not as tight as those forecasted in the nation-wide presidential race, but it confirms how influential the Independent voters are in this key campaign state.

Florida has 29 electoral-college votes to be won, and when asking these Independent voters who won Monday night’s debate, 55% gave the nod to Obama, while 30% sided with Romney and 15% called it a draw.

Florida Voter’s Voice participants are highly committed to this election, with 98% of respondents planning to vote in next month’s election and the remaining 2% indicating they had voted early. Other majority characteristics of this survey include: 70 % of the respondents are Caucasian, 93% are over 35 years old and gender evenly represented.

Florida Voter’s Voice is part of VoterFeedback.com – a robust online panel of likely voters nationwide, developed by qsample. For firms that are in need of a quality sample of likely voters, VoterFeedback provides access to millions of respondents who are highly profiled and recruited to participate in a variety of research initiatives.

by Rudly Raphael

What Is Driving the Growth in Medical Tourism?

Medical tourism, also referred to as international medical migration, patient migration and medical travel, is a new term but not a new idea. A market driven industry, Medical Tourism is shaped by the complex interactions of myriad medical, economic, social and political forces. Medical tourists embark on worldwide journeys for health care to lower costs, decrease wait times, and access medical services that aren’t available in their home country.

For patients from countries where a governmental health care system regulates access to health care, the reason to leave the local market is the desire to have timely treatment, circumventing delays associated with long waiting lists. Because national health programs and some insurance programs do not fund cosmetic surgery and similar types of services, patients seeking these services are driven to pursue medical tourism. Patients also travel to medical tourism destinations for procedures that are not available in their own countries. For example, stem cell therapy, unobtainable by many patients in industrialized countries, is available in the medical tourism marketplace. The now deceased Charlie’s Angels star, Farah Fawcett, struggled to find a cure for cancer three years ago, which ultimately took her to Germany for a unique procedure that was not available in the United States.

Resources are insufficient for people to comfortably purchase care in their local market, but adequate for them to buy care in lower-cost foreign facilities. An additional benefit is that another country provides privacy and confidentiality for patients undergoing plastic surgery, sex change procedures and drug rehabilitation; their medical records cannot be viewed by the myriad parties who can access these documents in the United States.

While much has been written about medical tourism and its impacts and ethics, little research has been conducted to quantify the reasons that consumers participate in it.

qSample conducted a study to target a wide range of global consumers on their experiences and consideration of medical tourism. The study used an international sample of potential medical tourists with an estimated 575 participants. Download the full white paper here.

by Rudly Raphael