Market Research and the Invisible Men

December 10, 2013

The latest Recap on the Insight on Insight Breakfast Speaker Series Event.

by Bruce Nickson

So, you want to talk to a couple of kids, maybe a teenager, and mum and a dad and maybe a grandparent or two. You’ve got yourself a nuclear family. Oh, wait… There’s someone missing. Younger guys. As a father of a 20-year-old son, I find it hard enough to get his attention and engage in person, let alone do what a market researcher has to go through to do the same thing.

And, it seems, according to Dave Pierzchala of Ipsos Reid, every brand seems to want to talk to 18- to 34-year-old guys, and most online panels can’t reach these guys. Why is that? Because both demographics aren’t talking: too busy, not interested, don’t bother me,  “I hate marketing”, none of your blinking business, etc., etc. Though the 18- to 34-year-old male demographics constitutes 15.7% of the population, only 4.9% of those guys participate in any kind of online survey. The math is fairly rudimentary, and you can see the fraction of engagement is pretty minimal. In contrast, 16.9% of women in the same age group are talking.

KRT_9283What’s wrong with these guys? Or, coming from another angle, why are women so over-represented? Dave Pierzchala SVP and Managing Director of Ipsos Reid West had no specific answer to the “why” question. However, he did suggest a solution or two for market researchers in their stubborn efforts to reach out and touch a key and influential demographic.

Basically, abandon the traditional approaches. I personally had experience with a reach-out at Old Navy today. After the usual banter with the sales guy about the weather, last weekend’s doings, etc.,  he handed me my receipt, and said “Snd you can get cool deals if you do the survey. The address is on one of those pieces of paper. Check it”. Basically, non-automated person-to-person conversation. Don’t forget the bro factor.

Dave suggested that online panels are like getting married – it’s OK for some people, but not for 18- to 34-year-old males. They’re not ready to commit. Online research is becoming “less relevant, less reflective of people’s opinions”. Plus, humans have a tendency to respond with what seems like the most correct answer. They’re not lying exactly; although people say they’d prefer healthy veggies as a snack, they’re actually consuming Pringles in huge amounts.

Dave suggests the “balanced panel” approach as a solution: reach out with a mixture of devices: personally, and offer reward (see above), through the usual social media suspects, and through other techniques like ad hoc panels etc. Don’t just use your online bank of respondents. Be creative. Be flexible. And don’t forget the bro factor.

The next Breakfast Speaker Event will be on January 30th, bright and early. It will be our annual agency review. Always a popular little item in the annual agenda.