The REAL Problem With Polls

With the Scottish referendum over, the polling post-mortem begins. We’re hearing the usual complaints: they got it wrong, they overestimated one side, and prediction markets were better.

Since we have a very successful research product based on the fact that predictive markets work better than asking intentions, you’d expect us to join in this pile-on.

But a lot of the criticism of polls is based on a misunderstanding about what they actually are. Continue reading

Rip It Up And Start Again?

Tomorrow, Scotland goes to the polls to vote for or against independence. Opinion polls are close – close enough, in fact, that they make pollsters nervous. The slight advantage to the “No” (anti-independence) campaign they show is tight enough that they could be left embarrassed either way.

Scotland’s finest.

If you believe – as most of us now do – that people are poor predictors of their own decisions, voting intention is obviously a great test case. One of our favourite studies, on US elections, showed that whatever the outcome, people were exceptionally poor judges of whether they would vote at all: come the day, half the declared “non-voters” actually turned out. (And a fair number of voters stayed home). Continue reading

Obituary: The Traditional Concept, c.1960 – 2014

The traditional Concept, which passed away earlier this year after a brief illness, will be fondly remembered by the many researchers who spent time with it. It was a reassuring presence in the research industry, its three part structure – Insight-Benefit-Reason To Believe – resonating as a solid, common sense way of developing and testing new products.


Unfailing enthusiasm for lost causes was one of the deceased’s virtues.

The birthplace of the traditional Concept is disputed, but by the 1960s and 1970s it was a prominent fixture on the research scene, though at that point it consisted only of Benefits and RTBs. Even so its enthusiasm for innovation gave it a dynamic air as it introduced products like 1973’s Superfry, “the cooking oil that sets like jelly”. “It sets!” announced the traditional Concept, “It does something no other oil can do.” Continue reading

Reasons To Be Cheerful: 6 Ways Research Has Changed For The Better

Last week BrainJuicer Labs Content Director Tom Ewing presented the opening keynote at the AMSRS (Australian Market And Social Research Society) conference in Melbourne. This is a very edited summary of what he talked about!

Keynotes at market research events often have a rather depressing air – constantly stressing the research industry’s need to change, to become more like consultants, or technicians, or entrepreneurs, or else face extinction. Those doomy prescriptions have one thing in common: they assume that research can’t change, or is slow to do so. But it can. In the fifteen years I’ve been in the industry, research has changed enormously and that change is ongoing.

My AMSRS keynote was a celebration of that change, and of an industry with a marvellous capacity to change and adapt. It’s not about the future of research, but its present – the day-to-day reality of forward-thinking research companies. As Ian Dury put it in his song “Reasons To Be Cheerful”: “Yes yes my dear / perhaps next year / or maybe even now”. Why wait?


I talked about six main changes I saw happening in research. Continue reading

Why Not Use Research To Offer Your Customers LESS?

image1 - fashionToday’s blog post is by Micha Dudley, a Senior Research Associate in our Behaviour Change Unit. Thanks Micha!

Most clients use market research to find areas they can provide more value to their customers. But in some cases, it can be more beneficial to take a look at the areas businesses could stand to reduce some value.

For instance, this week an article was posted in The Wall which shares the excitement we all have about the potential of wearable tech and gives loads of interesting possibilities for wearable tech firms. Can tech companies work with jewellery companies? Can they bring out beautiful smart bracelets? Can they make wearable tech cool by offering more?


Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne would have them offer less instead.

One of the insights from their international bestseller Blue Ocean Strategy is that focussing your value on few attributes at the expense of others, can lead to success. Continue reading

Research Steps Out Of The Playground

If you become a parent, a fair bit of your time is spent boggling at the things that your kids get to enjoy that you didn’t. Take playgrounds, for instance. When I was little, playgrounds involved skinned knees, peeling paint on wood, and skeleton frames of rusted metal we were sent off to climb like chimney sweeps.

1970s playground

These days, everything is bright and gorgeous and my kids get to go in a “Soft Play Area”. This is a paradise: torrents of foam balls, carefully netted walkways, all sorts of squidgy towers to climb and explore. The only bad part is that at some point you grow up and leave the awesome soft play area behind.

But on the other hand that isn’t so bad – there’s more fun to be had in the real world, even if it’s not all quite so simple and colourful. Continue reading

Going with the Gut

Guest post by Ellen Kolsto, VP, Juice Generation, who is responsible for the US and LatAm. For more about qualitative research, feel free to contact Ellen at

The words “Qualitative” and “Analysis” often live in a rather unpeaceful truce when applied to understanding consumers’ relationships with brands. As researchers and marketers, we often want the projectable analytical insights we get from quant research, but we know we don’t want to miss the richness we are accustomed to with traditional qualitative approaches to exploring consumers’ lives. This becomes especially true with “online” qualitative research techniques, which include MROCs, mobile ethnography, and social media research.

blog post pic These new methodologies tend to generate a lot more material (often without asking a consumer a single direct question), evolving from a discussion that can blossom over weeks rather than the few hours allotted to the typical focus group. With so much more rich consumer generated content to review and synthesize in our to tell the consumer story, how do we practically go about analyzing online qualitative results? Continue reading