Does influence exist, or is it homophily?

Posted by Ray Poynter, 7 February 2014 One of the growth areas over the last few years has been in the interest in influence marketing, with books such as “The Influentials: One American in Ten Tells the Other Nine How to Vote, Where to Eat, and What to Buy”, metrics such as Klout and Kred, and marketing services such as Klout’s Perks. The appeal of the influencer model is mostly common sense and has been popularised by writers such as Malcolm Gladwell in his book Tipping Point. New ideas are picked up by key people, people with extensive networks and who tend to be trend leaders, they adopt something and influence the people around them. Looking at social data it is easy to find, for any given trend, people who were in at the start and how the trend flows into the rest of the network. The concept of influence dates back to Paul Lazarsfeld in the 1940s, who suggested that the media were intermediated by influencers. Homophily However, there are alternatives to the influencer model, and the key one you are going to be hearing about more and more is homophily. Homophily is the tendency of people with similar […]

Non-Market Research Options for the Mobile Ecosystem

The material below is an excerpt from a book I am writing with Navin Williams and Sue York on Mobile Market Research, but its implications are much wider and I would love to hear people’s thoughts and suggestions. Most commercial fields have methods of gaining and assessing insight other than market research, for example testing products against standards or legal parameters, test launching, and crowd-funding. There are also a variety of approaches that although used by market researchers are not seen by the market place as exclusively (or even in some cases predominantly) the domain of market research, such as big data, usability testing, and A/B testing. The mobile ecosystem (e.g. telcos, handset manufacturers, app providers, mobile services, mobile advertising and marketing, mobile shopping etc) employs a wide range of these non-market research techniques, and market researchers working in the field need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches. Market researchers need to understand how they can use the non-market research techniques and how to use market research to complement what they offer. The list below cover techniques frequently used in the mobile ecosystem which are either not typically offered by market researchers or which are […]

An illustration of what happens when evidence, marketing, and customers are ignored

Marketers and market researchers are always looking for stories that provide evidence for the value of what they do. Sometimes we get the evidence in the form of stories where people implement the research and the campaign and there is a positive outcome. But it is rare for the other story to be told, what happens when marketers, market research, indeed the whole principle of evidence based decision making, is ignored. However, the New York Times has a very clear expose of what happens when evidence is ignored, the story of Ronald B Johnson’s 17 months at the top of US retailer JC Penney. It would not be fair of me to steal all of the story, and I would not write it as well as Stephanie Clifford has written it, so please read it here. However, a few of the key points are: Johnson arrived with a stellar reputation after helping build the Apple stores. “many of his ideas were not tested and soon backfired” “he was pretty sarcastic about our marketing and how ridiculous it was” “He ignored a study Penney had just completed on customer preferences, and gave merchants a one-sheet grid explaining what prices they could […]

Think inside out, not outside in

One of the things that marketers, researchers, and administrators are often encouraged to do is to try to see things from the point of view of the insider, for example the customer, the respondent, or the user. Last week I came across a really clear example of the difference of between the insider and outsider view, and the consequences of using the wrong view. On this occasion the example came, perhaps surprisingly, from the world of lingerie. My daughter owns and runs a multi-channel lingerie business and needs to ensure that she addresses search engine optimisation for her website, MishOnline. Whilst we were discussing SEO strategies, she showed me the difference between bras and bra. Evidently, many retailers optimise for the word bras, but optimising for bra attracts many more hits. The Google Trend chart, below, shows these two terms, for the UK, for the 12 months to April 2013, and makes the point very clearly. The difference is outside-in thinking and inside-out thinking. Retailers sell bras, so they think ‘bras’ when they are looking at the web. However, most shoppers are looking to buy or research a bra. This difference between outside in, and inside out, thinking applies in […]