News Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’
“…if universities were to open their own Weibo accounts and post regular updates on things such as application dates, how to apply, details of any available scholarships, any events that departments are running, even details about accommodation, I believe that increasing numbers would follow the university that they are applying to, as well as using Weibo to assist in choosing Universities.” (PhD student, University of Edinburgh)
The influence of social media on our daily lives is now something that we almost take for granted. We are increasingly reliant on the Internet when it comes to accessing the opinions of our peers in regard to quality and value for money when making purchasing decisions and we seek peer recommendations for significant items of spending, whether choosing a holiday destination or buying a car.
This is especially true for China; the extent to which social media is used to research almost every aspect of a person’s day-to-day existence cannot be over-emphasised. Where and what clothes to buy, which restaurants to eat in, how to apply to certain companies – using social media to access this information is second nature to the Chinese consumer, in a country where traditional media is so tightly controlled that the degree of trust invested in word-of-mouth information is relatively high.
To the Chinese student, deciding which university to attend can be just as much of a financial consideration as an academic one and with foreign students paying a higher and higher proportion of tuition fees, the decision about where you spend your (parents’) hard-earned RMB is an important one. Information about course details, contact hours, quality of teaching, accommodation as well as a general feel for the ethos and reputation of the University are all things for which prospective students appreciate ‘customer feedback’, at the very least to supplement university websites and information booklets. Social media (Weibo especially provides a perfect platform for universities to engage with prospective students directly, and could have a very positive effect on the perception of a university.
What gets Universities Noticed on Weibo?
As we can see in Fig. 1, there is a peak in posts regarding King’s College London between the 24th and 26th December 2013. SpectrumInsight also has the ability to access the emotional content of the posts driving online coverage, and as a result we can see that during this period posts about King’s College are mostly driven by the emotions ‘Joy’ and ‘Love’ (see Fig. 2)
Understanding what drives the peaks is fundamental when considering how the university can improve its online visibility and reputation – if the University can ascertain the type of post that is of interest to students and key influencers in the education field, they can ensure maximum visibility. Analysis of the posts about King’s College over the period reveals that many are being generated by a piece of research reported in the Chinese language edition of the Financial Times (see below), which was produced by Professor Friedman in the War Studies department:
Using social media insight, universities can better understand what is getting them noticed in China and learn how to enhance their reputations in an increasingly competitive market. For more information about how SpectrumInsight can help, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Understanding consumer interest in brands using online and social media can help to increase footfall in the most competitive of retail environments – the store itself. ProfitMiner from SpectrumInsight allows you to see what is really driving sales at the national, regional and even individual store level, so you can maximise margins through targeted marketing and enhanced logistics management. To read our ProfitMiner overview, click here
Marks & Spencer’s Christmas TV advertising has generated the most positive response from consumers as the build-up to Christmas gets underway, compared to the festive advertising of other food retailers.
Research from SpectrumInsight reveals that levels of Happiness expressed in consumer comments on Twitter put Marks and Spencer’s TV campaign slightly ahead of Morrisons, with advertisements from the Co-op and Waitrose creating the least favourable response (fig 1).
Marks and Spencer’s success can be attributed to the Wonderland / Wizard of Oz theme which consumers agree reflects the brand’s ‘Sparkle and Magic’ positioning and in particular to the attractiveness of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and David Gandy. On the other hand, there are early indications that Waitrose may have miscalculated with its selection of a turkey farm setting, which is slated by some consumers as ‘morbid’, ‘depressing’ and ‘horrific’.
Celebrities who star in the new campaigns feature strongly in consumer word-of-mouth (fig 2), with Ant and Dec (Morrisons) generating the largest share of voice compared to Michael Bublé (Iceland), Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Helena Bonham-Carter (both Marks & Spencer).
Lagging behind in the celebrity stakes is Heston Blumenthal (Waitrose), the chef’s low share of consumer comment indicating perhaps that this choice was too predictable following last year’s Christmas campaign.
Less encouraging for Ant and Dec is the fact that they are significantly up-staged by their co-star, the Gingerbread Man, when it comes to creating consumer Happiness (fig 3). The Gingerbread Man also created twice as much positive emotion as Bublé, as consumers expressed mixed emotions at Iceland’s decision to drop Kerry Katona from their advertising.
As with all TV advertising, the choice of music is a key talking point. Lidl’s use of the song ‘Little Things’ amuses some and irritates others; partly down to its association with One Direction. Meanwhile, low-cost competitor Aldi is accused by some of portraying a ‘lazy’ Father Christmas, yearning for a holiday in Barbados after only one day of work per year. Negative emotion for Tesco includes observations that the inclusion of a puppy is ‘irresponsible’, however this is balanced by positive response to the emphasis on a family Christmas.
Consumer feedback also sounds a warning note for food retailers and potentially for other seasonal advertisers, according to SpectrumInsight Director, Mark Westaby. “Many consumers reacted extremely negatively to the fact that many of these adverts were launched so early in November. Our analysis pinpoints strong levels of Anger, Disgust and Contempt directed at retailers for introducing Christmas ‘too early’ to our screens. In the case of the Co-op, it is this criticism which means that the retailer generates almost as much negative feedback as positive feedback.” By contrast, Sainsbury’s received consumer praise and respect for its decision to unveil its advertising only after Remembrance Day.
Among 1.9 million Tweets about leading UK supermarkets (Asda, Sainsbury’s Tesco Morrisons and Waitrose), negative consumer comments increased by an average of 36% in 2012.
SpectrumInsight tracked extremely negative customer opinions for leading supermarkets over the course of 2012 and found that the worst performing supermarket was Morrisons, with extremely negative customer opinion increasing by 56%.
Here’s how the major supermarkets compare when we look at the trend for extremely negative consumer comments:
Customer complaints about supermarkets are widespread, originating from all regions of the UK:
Our research shows that – contrary to recent reports that poor sales performance is linked to a lack of online shopping and convenience stores – the retailer’s problems are more likely to be linked to the quality of its own-brand grocery products and stores:
It is likely that Morrisons’ traditional market research is not revealing the real underlying cause of their issues, due to traditional sampling techniques which focus on finding the ‘average’ consumer view. Tracking extremes of consumer opinion using Twitter allows us to see important trends as they develop – trends which traditional research techniques often miss.
Facebook’s dominion now extends to 1 billion users worldwide, a much-anticipated landmark. It’s interesting to see that, like the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors hundreds of years before him; Mark Zuckerberg has captured a fair slice of South America and converted its people to the god of social networking. Almost 34% of that region’s population now uses Facebook regularly.
There’s another fascinating parallel with the colonial powers – Facebook’s success in acquiring overseas territories helps to divert attention from deep troubles on the home front; in this case distracting nicely from a tumbling share price. Yet there are parts of the world, historical empires in their own right, which remain obdurate in their resistance to the invader. In Asia less than 7% of the population has been conquered. Chinese consumers are still loyal to its four major networks including Renren and Sina Weibo; Russia prefers instead its local VKontakte platform, plus a range of other well-used, in-country social media.
Forbes has an optimistic view of Facebook’s ability to increase its presence in these markets. We think it might be harder than they imagine. Working regularly with Russian and Chinese media, we see first-hand how entrenched are these platforms, among cultures which are far more defensive of their independence. It’s going to be a long, uphill campaign for Zuckerberg and his missionaries to reach beyond the educated, westernised elite to gain critical mass. Social media has helped the US to become a colonial power, exporting its values and knowledge, not on the high seas but on the information super-highway. Facebook executives, however, from their high school history classes, should be fully aware of the historical facts about proud nations opting for self-determination (think 1783!)
While recently taking a brief from an insight manager we asked what it was that had led her to use Spectrum to carry out online and social media insight for her brand. The answer was both shocking and exhilarating. Shocking because she “no longer trusted the findings of ‘traditional’ market research”. Exhilarating because she had turned to Spectrum as an alternative.
Now let’s be clear on two very important points from the outset. The first is that we have nothing against ‘traditional’ market research, which has played and will continue to play a major role in producing brand insight. The second is the word ‘trusted’ that our client used. She was not saying she did not like the findings of market research but that she did not trust them; and while this was not the case for everything it was for a significant—and important – part of her work.
An obvious question is how she might know whether to trust the market research findings or not? The answer – yes, we did ask – was that the findings simply did not ring true with what was happening in the marketplace. Coming from an inexperienced person this might be open to question but from a highly experienced and respected insight professional it deserves serious consideration.
At around the same time this was happening we were also pitching for an important international market research project. As one of three companies we considered ourselves as a bit of a wild-card. After all, this brief was for international market research and our competitors were both market research firms. Believing passionately in what we do we knew we had a strong case but the question was whether the prospective client would agree. In fact they did and we won the business. You can see the press release announcing our appointment by Cranfield University by clicking here.
So why are insight – and brand and marketing – professionals turning to online and social media insight and evaluation as an alternative to traditional market research? Are you one of these professionals; and, if not, should you be? In order to answer this we have to consider why people are challenging the validity of traditional market research in the first place.
We believe this is partly down to an over-reliance on panels, especially in smaller markets where the same people can be paid to participate on a broad range of topics, which can lead to ‘survey fatigue’. In addition, even with panels, it can be prohibitively expensive to generate a sample size big enough to make results meaningful, especially in small markets unless researching household names. This is an area where online and social media can score heavily against traditional methods by enabling significant volumes of data across multiple markets and languages to be gathered where traditional market research sample sizes would be too small.
There are other arguments, some of which are controversial in market research circles. One is that online and social media provide data “as it is”, ie they don’t rely on people offering an opinion, which though useful does not necessarily reflect actual behaviour. We, on the other hand, can collect massive volumes of data on a time series basis, which we can correlate directly with consumer-driven outcomes ranging from web analytics and search to actual sales.
Whatever your view, there is no question that a major benefit of online and social media insight and evaluation is the cost model. At Spectrum we gather all of our own data and charge nothing for it. Yes, you read that correctly, we charge nothing for our data. Zip. Nowt. Nothing. As a result, unlike traditional market research where a great deal of time and cost is spent on gathering data, all of our time is spent on generating insight.
Welcome to the new world of online insight and evaluation!