Behavioral data drives better and more innovative market research

Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona

Market researchers are facing more complexity than ever before to understand consumer behavior. According to a study by the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, behavioral data helps traditional market research to create better insights and a better research experience - at the same time improving the efficiency of research operations.

Online behavior continues to change touchpoints and interactions with brands

The world's biggest brands create great customer experiences, seamlessly integrating offline and online. To make informed decisions on their marketing strategies, brands are looking to better understand the millions of moments in a consumer's life that pass through the screen of a phone, tablet or personal computer. These moments provide brands with an abundance of opportunities in which they can shape the experience of consumers with their brand.

Changing behavior results in changing requirements for market research

Understanding the behaviors, context and motivations that result in these touchpoints and interactions with a brand, poses complex challenges for market researchers. The sheer volume of marketing events require a capacity for collecting data that goes beyond what traditional questionnaires can deliver. Distraction, as a result of information overload, leads to shorter duration of events, turning them into micro moments. Thirdly, events are becoming more fragmented across different devices and non linear as consumers move into different roles and context throughout the day.

Compounding to this, brands realize market research has become a brand touchpoint in itself, requiring a research experience that is positively aligned with the overall customer experience.

Behavioral data provides better context

Market researchers responding effectively to the changing requirements of brands, are looking for ways in which they can innovate their research designs and data collection methodologies. Many have already come to realize the merits of observation. Observation doesn’t rely on human memory. It can help to overcome the obstacle of the lack of capacity to collect the volume of marketing events that occur online.

Observation is best done using passive metering technologies, which yield behavioral data. Behavioral data collection exactly records what people do online. This creates valuable room in the data collection process to probe more deeply or shorten the length of the online interview or survey. Smart research designs use this precious room to gain more understanding of the reasoning behind the actual behavior and help prioritize a set of events relevant to marketers. This is one of the areas where behavioral data collection aids traditional survey based data collection.

Behavioral data drives better research

  • Better collection of online behavior
  • More efficient data collection
  • Improved research experience
  • Same or better data quality

Combining survey data collection with behavioral data collection

The study by the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona identifies new areas. It describes an experiment in which the randomly selected sample was compared with sample that was collected using behavioral data. It intends to compare among others data collection efficiency, research experience and data quality. The experiment uses behavioral data on actual web visits to recruit research participants to complete a simple usage and attitude survey on airline carriers in Spain in February 2016. The same questionnaire was also sent to research participants using a screener question.

Behavioral data makes data collection more efficient

As expected, incidence rate, participation rate and dropout rate were all substantially better in the sample that was recruited using behavioral data as a targeting mechanism. This is to a large extent attributed to the fact that the survey was more relevant to the research participants that were recruited, as the basis for their recruitment stemmed from their actual behavior.

Participation rate better with behavioral data

More efficient targeting promises to decrease research turnaround time. At the same time it provides a future opportunity to lower the costs of recruiting sample. These effects are expected to increase with higher penetration of behavioral data collection in online panels across the world.

Behavioral data improves the research experience

Research participants that were selected based on their actual behavior, experienced overall a higher level of easiness with the survey and were overall more satisfied with the survey. Better targeting and higher survey relevance were important drivers for this result.

Satisfaction with survey better with behavioral data

For a brand this leads to the suggestion that research as a brand touchpoint can be improved when applying behavioral data collection to for instance the market research online community. Or when choosing for a sample provider which also collects behavioral data in addition to survey data.

Better performance without compromising data quality

The study also compares the amount of ‘don’t know’ responses to questions and the precision of answers as measures to assess the quality of the survey data. The sample recruited using behavioral data showed the same or better results compared to the randomly selected sample, even though a clear pattern couldn’t be found in the experiment results.

Combining behavioral data and survey data substantially improves market research

The study indicates that market research is well served when integrating both types of data. Behavioral data granularly describes what people do online, without limitations in self-reporting, memory and recall. And survey data is best at describing opinions and motivations behind consumer behavior.

Further reading

Check out the full research paper or download the presentation that was given at the CASRO Digital Research Conference in Austin, Texas to learn more about how researchers can benefit from behavioral data.

Written by Daan Versteeg

Master degree in Economics, experienced in strategy, marketing, research, advertising and technology. After 15 years at Shell, Heineken, Google and Wakoopa, Daan is now Marketing Director at Netquest.

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