Talking to consumers + blog mining = the new market research

Financial Times: When Procter & Gamble is deciding whether to put its advertisements on television or elsewhere, it puts a call in to Nicosia, Cyprus. The same holds true for Nissan and dozens of other leading corporations and marketing-services agencies.

The calls are requests for help and go to Nicosia because the city is the home of Integration, a small consultancy that has gained prominence by taking on one of the biggest questions facing advertisers: how to pick the best medium for a particular marketing message.

This interesting report in the FT last month focuses on the work of Integration and its founder and CEO, Oscar Jamhouri, a former executive of the BBDO ad agency. It discusses in some length Jamhouri’s approach to market research.

For example:

For a measurement guru, Mr Jamhouri’s methods are surprising. Rather than use the hard data of advertising and sales figures, he bases his findings on meetings with consumers. He tries to get round the limits of question-and-answer sessions by prodding them to behave as they would in a sales situation. Then he listens. […] Based on this interaction, Integration rates the impact of each contact in a category – its “contact clout factor” – and produces a score, or “brand experience share”, that advertisers can use to decide between media.

This kind of measurement will only grow in importance, Mr Jamhouri argues, because consumers are getting more difficult to reach through television advertising. A new, more furtive generation of consumers is emerging and the big task facing advertisers will be to find them, he says.

“Ninety per cent of the success of a brand (in the past) was built on the mass media,” he says. “P&G was the king of mass media. They knew how to manage it and that made them a success.” Now, “there has been an explosion of media and contact consumption and the challenge is where do we get these guys. How do we reach them? How do we engage?”

Financial Times | How to make contact with the consumer (paid subscription required)

For the answer to Jamhouri’s questions – How do we reach them? How do we engage? – take a look at the ideas contained in a report in the Wall Street Journal, also last month, reporting on how some companies are now paying close attention to blogs as part of their market research:

The growing popularity of blogs and other online forums has prompted companies to pay more attention to what is being said about them on the Internet, and has given rise to a new kind of market research aimed at finding useful information in the sea of online chatter.

The Journal quotes the (now well-known) case study of the Kryptonite bike lock fiasco and what can happen when a company doesn’t pay attention to what its consumers are saying in a medium where news, good or bad, travels very fast.

Wall Street Journal | Companies Mine Blogs For Market Research (free access)

Add these two things together and you have an effective market research method.