Pooling in customer insights: the way forward for market research
By : Kanika Jain
Senior Manager - Product Management
Many enterprises today rely on market research companies to gain knowledge about consumers, competitors and the overall market. Organizations spend 1-2 % of their revenues on Market Research (MR) surveys and Point of Sale (POS) studies. However, despite the exorbitant spending, insights are often limited in nature to support strong business decisions. The author lays down the inherent challenges in the market research area specifically on the data front and how MR industry can reinvent its practices by pooling insights from various digital sources, one of the major one being the Telco data.
Physical surveys and other scattered data sources, which are currently the primary sources of market research, have issues with regard to authenticity and reliability, quality of interpretation and turnaround times. Other problems include lack of interest from the subject respondents, biased response and incorrect information recorded due to the privacy concerns of the respondents. Surveys are done over a sample size of a few thousand people which often fails to capture the actual variations in the population leading to skewed, inaccurate and imprecise insights impacting overall quality of the research.
The ‘mobile’ advantage
With enterprises across the world embracing digitalisation, even customer engagement is undergoing subsequent change. Telcos, being the enablers and chief conduit of this digital world, amass huge amounts of consumer data related to customer behaviour and transaction patterns as they engage more in the digital channels. By virtue of this, Telcos are capable of providing highly valuable accurate, granular and timely consumer insights encompassing demographics, location, behavior and context.
Pooling in of ‘customer insights’
The advancements in technologies for data storage and analytics makes it possible for now bringing in all these varieties of data coming to Telcos because of consumer engagement at different ‘digital’ enterprises to transform the way how market research is done especially around consumer behavior.
Telco provided consumer insights provide a unique adavtange that they are based on empirical sources of data gathered from different industries by recording the actual activity and transactions done by the consumers in digital channels, ruling out scope for biases. These insights can be presented to market research companies in anonymised aggregated format without revealing any personally identifiable information (PII) information.
These aggregated insights are captured over a base of millions of people and thus present a more accurate picture of the variations. Most importantly, once the data analytics infrastructure is in place at the Telcos, these insights can be updated more frequently say daily, weekly, monthly and yearly format facilitating time critical business decisions with better responsiveness to competition and market.
In traditional forms of market research, while it has been possible to measure the reach of the medium and response, Telco data also has location advantage. With Telco data, it is now possible to know where consumers are at different points of time, in what directions they are moving and what activities on mobile are they engaged in at different locations and times.
Though conventional MR practices continue to hold relevance, the digital insights captured by Telcoswill add immense value to the data that forms the core of all MR activities. In a nutshell, Telco enabled digital insights add value in the following ways:
- Faster access to a variety of data from customer interactions and transactions in digital form
- Aggregated and anonymised insights – so consumer privacy is maintained
- Accuracy of data is significantly high – free of different biases- based on empirical sources of data
- More Diverse and comprehensive insights coming from transactions from different enterprises
- Cost of acquiring data is much less and involves mostly single time investments to set up systems to capture and process insights
Market Research 2.0: lot more to offer across industries
Telco-obtained consumer insights have the potential to add value in many more industries than can be reached by traditional MR. The variety and the novelty of the use cases that can be achieved by pooling in digital insights far supersedes the insights that can be obtained through traditional surveys. Handsets/device manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, public infrastructure, banking, media measurement, App analytics are just some of the industries where a lot more value can be added by using Telco provided insights in combination with MR insights. Some of the examples of how market research can benefit from insights drawn from Telco data have been mentioned below:
Research done by market research companies for handsets are often very broad level and based on shipment and sales data available from their POS systems. Telco data has the ability to redefine this research by providing highly granular device insights like market share movements and migration trends for new as well as existing handsets, persona of the users using different devices, their distribution across various parameters like demographics, usage, psychographics, location etc. The spending patterns from credit card companies or banks can further help in deriving a more accurate affordability matrix for consumer segments.
The rich and diverse Telco data can provide great value to app developers with access to App Usage behavior of consumers and even a comparative usage analysis of various Apps. These App Usage insights are highly valuable for App Developers looking to optimise their App strategy and understand their consumers. These insights could also be valuable for App publishers to leverage their inventory to its maximum potential by understanding the profile of such people.
Infrastructure & Urban Planning
Using location stitching on insights, Telcos can add a lot of value to this sector in numerous ways. The data can be put to use for better traffic management, new infrastructure development like roads, stores, shopping areas, restaurants and offices and developing new regions by analysing the profile of citizens.
In the end, Telco and other enterprise data definitely gives an edge over traditional survey based data for advancing the market research practice. It all boils down to how efficiently we can pull in variety of enterprise data, transform it to deeper actionable insights and make these insights available for enterprises to aid in their strategic and tactical decision making.