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Are You (Like Everyone Else) Overwhelmed by Big Data?

By Becky Wu
Senior Vice President of Luth Research

The promise of big data is real. From healthcare to public sector, the practice of using big data to drive business decisions is unmistakably compelling. A Mckinsey global study in 2011 concludes the potential yield of $300 billion annual value to U.S. healthcare, $600 million in annual consumer surplus, and 60% increase in retailers’ operating margins all from leveraging big data.

However, let’s face it. Big data means different things to different people. What does it mean in the realm of consumer insights and market research? There is a multitude of answers but with one thing in common – big data is beyond surveys alone. As a term, big data is intentionally undefined. It implies a wealth of knowledge often masked by the sheer data size and its unstructured nature.

One increasingly critical area of big data is consumer behaviors tracked across computer and mobile devices by using metering technologies like that of Luth Research’s ZQ Intelligence™ platform. This type of data matters a lot because consumers’ life is deeply intertwined with digital technologies and media.  In every minute:

  • 2 million search queries take place via Google
  • 571 new websites are launched
  • 47,000 mobile apps are downloaded from Apple App Store
  • $272,000 is spent by consumers with online retailers

(Source: www.investor.com, 2011).

These mind-boggling numbers aside, what is noteworthy is all of these activities are trackable and in fact being tracked. We are living and breathing a “quantified self” era.

This data, existing outside of traditional research methods, creates unique value to market research in a few notable ways:

  • The behavior-centric data frees surveys or interviewing from having to do the job of recording what consumers do. Instead, surveys and other research methods can focus on their true mission – getting to the why behind behaviors.
  • It comes with precise metadata including time stamp and geo-location (in the case of mobile tracking). This distinct benefit provides contextual understanding of when and where behaviors and decisions take place, which has been long missing from traditional market research.
  • Passive tracking generates a vast amount of continuous data. The resulting data rigor surpasses what surveys can provide without over-burdening respondents.

The above unique value begs the question – how do market researchers capture the promise of this big data? Luth Research’s ZQ Intelligence provides three easy services that equip market researchers in various needs with the appropriate tools to embrace digital big data.

  1. Many researchers may wish to maintain their current survey practices as core solutions, but are open to adding digital data to survey based insights. The best place to start is to use ZQ’s +Digital (sound: plus digital) service. With +Digital, we can simply administer a survey among Luth’s ZQ panel, which is tracked continuously online. Upon completion of the survey project, digital behaviors will be integrated with the survey data by matching unique respondent IDs. The digital data from the survey respondents include social media activities, shopping behaviors, news and media consumption and a wide variety of other data points. +Digital requires no new learning of different software, drastic changes to research design, or significant cost investment.
  2. For researchers wanting to gain digital insights right away, tapping into the most recent one month or three months of digital data collected from Luth’s ZQ Panel is the right solution. This approach starts with determining the most relevant audience by either targeting specific online behaviors (e.g., purchased online via Amazon.com) or conducting a screening survey (e.g., consumer segments based on a client segmentation algorithm). Next, digital behavior data in the designated time frame are extracted based on what is needed to address the research objectives. Additional surveys can be administered to the identified respondents to further delve into attitudes and motivations.
  3. ZQ Digital Tribe™ is optimal for researchers who need to study niche and harder-to-find segments. A ZQ Digital Tribe is a group of respondents recruited based on specific qualifications who agree to be tracked for a period of time, allowing researchers to observe non-intrusively. The term is borrowed from anthropology to illustrate the value for researchers to immerse in their target respondents’ life, digitally. During the tracking, surveys are typically conducted to garner insights about offline behaviors as well as reasons behind what consumers do.

Big data is not a trivial decision. However, it doesn’t need to be intimidating. ZQ Intelligence services are designed to provide researchers with an accessible path to use big digital data in market research. With the right tools in your hand, you can reap the benefits of big data today.




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