Einstein was WRONG, the universe is shrinking. The effect of REACH on Market Research.

For years these physics boffins have been going on about the big bang and the ever expanding universe, well after nearly several minutes of thought, I’ve decided physics is wrong and I can prove it.

Ok, so my theory doesn’t actually apply to the whole physical universe(s), but within the world of market research it’s very easy to shrink your universe and therefore the representativeness (is that a really word? it looks so wrong) of your study without really trying.

In the ‘olden days’ (pre-www), when MR data was represented by holes in computer punch cards and computers needed their own electricity sub stations, and tabulations were delivered on fan-fold paper via a dot matrix printer. A lot of research relied on a good old fashioned postal address and a penny black stamp to deliver your questionnaire.

And it is the contact method that has power to reduce the size of your universe and ultimately the representativeness of your work.

Post is a total contact route – that is, almost everyone has an address and is generally happy to provide it during transactions, moreover in most established research markets, postal services are excellent and can be relied upon; well mostly.

In this perfect world, you could design your study, post it, wait a few weeks for the reply paid envelope, punch the data, book processing time, tabulate the data, deliver the results and hey presto in less than 3 or 4 months you know what the favourite flavour of chewing gum in the UK was.
Moreover because of the nature of the contact method – the REACH for the want of a better word, you could pretty much rely on the information collected.

But times have changed, genuinely for the better but there is a but….

Technology has had a massive influence on the world of MR, opening new routes to reach out to your universe, reducing lead times and delivering information in readily consumable, understandable format.

E-mail is a perfect example, it’s easy, quick and cheap but is it the same?

Putting response format completely aside (paper vs. online – I’ll deal with this next week).

• Not everyone has an e-mail address but everyone has a postal address.
• Not everyone gives an ‘active’ e-mail address but a postal address is generally are in use because people accept that providing your postal address it is part of life – admit it you have an e-mail account to avoid contact – go on….
• Not everyone checks their e-mail but everyone gets their letters.

post_email

Effectively, e-mail is a subset of a postal universe. Your reach when using e-mail is slightly lower than post, therefore the representation will be less. The results will represent the favourite flavour of chewing gum of e-mail respondents – this isn’t earth shattering news, you are all familiar with this. And in most cases the impact is small.
However contact methodology or REACH is an important research design consideration.
Limit your reach and you can limit your responses making the representation potentially less insightful.
So the next time you look up at the night sky, don’t expect the stars to come hurtling towards you like a scene from a Bruce Willis film but just make sure your contact methodology reaches the respondents you need to hear from.

Help my connected fridge is cheating on me!

In my previous post click to view I began to discuss the concept of a connected world and what it may mean to me.

So with a light hearted approach let’s give one of those scenarios a closer look.

I’ve been out and purchased a variable temperature zone connected perishable storage and delivery solution or as some would say a fridge.

It’s connected to the internet, talks, connected to the water supply, composts the out of date food for use on the flower beds, is the size of my first flat and looks amazing – although – the only drawback is I don’t like the way it addresses me as fatty each time I open the door.

One of the ‘connected’ features of my new fridge is that in partnership with my favourite supermarket it orders all my essentials automatically, which is wonderful, I never need to worry that tomorrow my favourite little treat will not be there.

It syncs to my phone, collecting the amount of exercise I’ve completed that day and recommends a meal based on calories consumed, age, height, weight, dietary needs and what’s in stock. It even prints out a recipe and logs all of this to a summary on the net that I can share with my friends to prove how virtuous I have been – or not.

Great you say! Well maybe not, let’s consider what is being shared and how it could be used:-

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Sex
  • Level of exercise
  • Diet (how much fat, sugar, red meat)
  • Where I shop
  • How much I spend on food
  • Type of phone
  • Speed of internet

What appears to be relatively innocuous data is being sent here there and everywhere and it does take a huge amount of information to start performing a little bit of analysis.

Age, Weight, Sex, Exercise and Diet are pretty great indicators of life expectancy I should imagine and couple that with shopping habits, brand allegiance, expenditure, device preferences and internet speed and I bet you can match my ABC1 demographic status pretty reliably.

What about if my fridge manufacturer passed this data on to my life insurance company or my health insurance company? Would my premiums rise if I had a penchant for paté?

Sounds a little farfetched I agree but in the news today Google seem to be in a bit of bother with the ICO about very private data read here and LG had an investigation regarding their TV’s back in 2013 read here

What’s my point? Err… Well… it appears that with almost any purchase comes a level of acceptance that data will ‘leak’ from my control and for the most part I really don’t mind, too much. I think. But should I?

Complex analysis tools are free (R, RStudio, Weka) and it doesn’t take a data scientist to take very simple data and turn it into a real commodity. And with so much data now being made available form so many devices and services is there a risk that several innocent items of data can be joined to give too much away? Think of the trend for fusion recently.

I think my biggest concern is what if I no longer wish to share? With so many devices and services how can I possibly exercise my new ‘right to be forgotten’? (GDPR)

What if the data has been ‘anonymised’ and sold but the anonymisation was weak and I can be identified using another open dataset or index? How can I pursue this data through the second or third transaction – I simply can’t.

This will cause a headache in the future, and it’s all yours!

I’m going off grid to whittle spoons in the woods and barter them for a decent duck’s liver paté that will have to be eaten on the day of purchase because I’m leaving that cheating abusive fridge behind.

What does connected really mean?

‘Connected’ is one of those words, it’s used a lot but what does it mean to me?

Well I’m going to put on my evil developer’s hat and tell you what it means to me after you have installed my evil app. I can see everything, the lot, all of it.

You gave me access to your call data – I can take that.
You gave me access to your web history – I can take that.
You gave me access to your location – I can take that.

And while I’m at it I’ll charge you an in-app fee for by-passing that awkward level where you just can’t quite kill the evil developer who’s trying to take over the world.

OK, so not all completely accurate (utterly fictitious actually) but food for thought eh?

Now let’s consider what a connected car can record: –
•Number of seats occupied.
•Average distance travelled.
•Where travelled and how often.
•Driving style – derived from acceleration and fuel consumption – are you a rule breaker – do you speed? Should you automatically be fined?
•Favourite radio station, burger joint, fuel station…
•Number of calls made and to whom.

It’s pretty endless and comprehensive, isn’t it? And probably all possible.

I won’t even begin to mention the connected fridge (predicts your life expectancy based on fat consumption).

‘Connected’ clearly means different things to different devices and it will no doubt make our lives ‘easier’ on both sides of the consumer / producer divide.

Over the next few weeks I am going to take a few of these utterly made up scenarios and discuss them in greater detail but in the meantime – perhaps the next time you see a list of what your new ‘evil app’ has access to, maybe you should think before clicking ‘agree’ – mind you if you want to defeat the evil developer and prevent him from taking over the world – you have to click ‘agree’ to start……

Chinese Manufacturers

Just been looking at my list of car manufacturers, there’s a lot about nowadays.

Abarth
Acura
Alfa Romeo
Anchi
Aoluka
ARO
Aston Martin
Audi
Autobianchi
BAIC
BAIC BAW
BAIC Huansu
Baoding Great Wall
Baojun
Baolong
BAW
Bentley
BJEV
BMW
Brabus
Brilliance
Brilliance-Jinbei
Brilliance-Zhonghua
Buick
BYD
Cadillac
Changan Auto
Changfeng
Changfeng Yangzi
Changhe
Chenggong
Chery
Chevrolet
Chrysler
Ciimo
Citroen
Dacia
Dadi
Daewoo
Daihatsu
Datsun
Dayun
Denza
DFAC
DF-Aeolus
DF-Chenglong
DF-Fengxing
DF-Junfeng
DF-Tezhongqiche
DF-Xiaokang
DF-Zhengzhou
Dodge
Dongfeng
Dongfeng Yulong
DS
Emgrand
Englon
Enranger
Everus (Linian)
Faw
FAW – Besturn
FAW – Haima
FAW – Huali
FAW – Jia Bao
FAW – Jilin
FAW – Red Flag
FAW – Tianjin
FAW-Besturn
FAW-Gm
FAW-Hongqi
FAW-Hongta
FAW-Huali
FAW-Jiefang
FAW-Jilin
FAW-Oley
FAW-Tianjin
Feidie
Ferrari
Fiat
Foday
Ford
Forland
Foton
FSO
Fuqi
Fuqi Qiteng
Futian
Fuyuan
Gacbus
GAZ
Geely
Gleagle
GM
Golden Dragon
Gonow
Great Wall
Hafei
Haima
Hangtian
Haval
Hawtai
Heibao
Higer
Honda
Huanghai
Huasong
Huatai
Huizhong
Hummer
Hyundai
Infiniti
Innocenti
Iran Khodro
Isuzu
Iveco
JAC
Jaguar
Jeep
Jianghuai Auto
Jiangling (JMC)
Jiangnan Auto
Jincheng
JMC
Jonway
Joylong
Kama
Karry
Kawei
Kia
King Long
KTM
Lada
Lamborghini
Lancia
Land Rover
Landwind
Lexus
Lifan
Lincoln
Longma
Lotus
Luxgen
Mahindra
Maple
Maruti Suzuki
Maserati
Maxus
Maybach
Mazda
Mclaren
Mercedes
Mercury
MG China
MG Rover
Mini
Mitsubishi
Morgan
Moskvich
MVM
Nanjing Yuejin
Nanjun
Nanya
Nissan
Opel
Perodua
Peugeot
Polarsun
Pontiac
Porsche
Proton
Qoros
Ravon
Rely
Renault
Renault Samsung
Riich
Roewe
Rolls-Royce
Saab
Sabre
Saipa
Santana
Sate
Seat
SG Automotive
Shanghai Wanfeng
Shifeng
Shuanghuan
Shuanghuan
Shuanghuan Hongxing
Shuguang
Sinotruk
Sinotruk Cdw
Skoda
Skylark
SMA (Shanghai Maple Auto.)
Smart
Soueast
Soyat
Speranza
Ssang Yong
Subaru
Suzuki
Talbot
Tata
Tesla
Tianma
Tianqi Meiya
Tianqi Meiya
TKNG
Tongjia
Tongtian
Toyota
Trumpchi
UAZ
Vauxhall
VAZ
Venucia
Volkswagen
Volvo
Wanfeng
Weiwang
Wuling
Xinkai
Xinxiang Junhua
Yema
Youngman
Youyi
Yu Tong
Yue Loong
Yuejin
Yugo
Zamyad
ZAZ
Zhiguli
Zhongtong Bus
Zhongxing
Zotye

An interesting thing happened on my way to the survey..

Are online surveys really all they are cracked up to be?

I’m not sure.

Fine you have the speed of return but do you have the reach?

Lets take a real world example, say you have a 30% response rate using the good old fashioned pen and paper and you’re using addresses in a developed postal market. So you could, if you wanted, write to every man, woman and child in the market – pretty much universal reach.

Now consider using online instead….

Not everyone clicks on a facebook / twitter (yes twitter!) link. Not everyone says “Oooh I must fill in that pop-up that just appeared”.

And not everyone has an e-mail. Some have several accounts including the old gmail account used as a graveyard for unwanted gibberish.

Also not everyone acts on e-mail once it’s been initially viewed, once it’s sunk down a little in your inbox do you really go hunting for that latest survey?…. I thought not.

So we send them a letter as well – there’s some of your savings gone…..

So we finally find a respondent, they come on site, start clicking away…. How much is curiosity? How much is because they are trying to look busy at 4.30 PM on a Friday and the boss is lurking on the 3rd floor chatting to Betty from Accounts.

So do you promise an incentive, well that’s the rest of your savings gone….

How about a panel to source your respondents? But panels are full of students, the near dead and pro-form fillers – aren’t they?

I don’t know, well I kind of do because I do them from time to time and I lie all the time, that 0.32 for 5 minutes work always helps to pay the bills and saves me from having to make polite conversation.

Online research is tough.

What we need is a better way, that doesn’t cost much but gives good old honest reliable data – just like paper used to.

Now where the heck do you find that…..

The art of online research

There are two type of people – those that will respond and those that will not.

Of those that will respond, some are simply curious and some want to respond.

Most of the information will be good but a significant proportion will be tosh.

Unless you voisit…..

“I’d like to report my car hacked”

A recent article on the BBC website refers the possibility of your car spying on you.

BBC – Is your car spying on you?

A decent enough article but if you’ve been driving with your phone in your pocket for the last 6 years then whats the bloody difference?

I like the concept of iOS and Android in the car, even with sand boxing it’s going to be really interesting.

My only worry is that the two systems will be cumbersome – if I change my phone – do I need to change my car?

What happens if the other half is a iOS purist and you borrow the car and you have a One Plus One running cyanogen that wont connect? – Ye Gads – NO TUNES IN THE MOTOR – it’s grounds for divorce.

But seriously, the level of connection within vehicles will increase and the amount of opportunity to ‘misbehave’ as an application developer will also increase (see iOS troubles in China this week with WireLurker).

So what do we do? Refuse to evolve?

Or choose to evolve, accept the risks and deliver high quality apps in to environments (car, home, phone, etc.) where people would like them?

voisit use apps for research purposes and make apps for our other needs – so we are going for the delivery of apps where people need them – and most importantly are going to use them.

So until I have to call the rozzers and report my car hacked, I’m going with this tack, digging deep into iOS8 and Lollipop and having a great time doing it (I’m freakishly boring but devilishly handsome).

Love and Kisses

The dogs body himself

Brownlist

John McAfee’s latest creation is the brownlist.com.

A place where us simple folk can go and have a rant, demand that the world should change and get $65 for a parking ticket story (if we are one of the lucky 5 selected).

It’s nice to let off steam  but I think it would have been so much better if it was called the shitlist.

Ho Hum.

your voice