After months of uncertainty, many Americans are cautiously optimistic about saying farewell to COVID-19. Mask mandates have either expired or are set to expire soon, and vaccines are available to anyone ages 12 and older who wants one. Slowly, the country is starting to awaken, and with it, sample companies are assessing where we go from here. For 15 months, the online sample industry adapted its business strategy to the pandemic reality. Traditional in-person focus groups shifted online, and online surveys were the gold standard.
The concept of “do-it-yourself” may bring to mind images of re-tiling the bathroom floor or reseeding the lawn. But DIY goes far beyond home improvement projects. About five years ago, online do-it-yourself sample tools began trending. Sample companies would create these tools for clients at little to no charge to facilitate sample buying. However, it wasn’t long before clients realized, like many of us who’ve tried to tile a floor, it may look easy, but looks can be deceiving.
A few years ago, the concept of autonomous vehicles captivated consumers. While the technology has progressed tremendously, most self-driving experiences are still limited to driver assistance, partial automation, or conditional automation. Innovation develops over time. Compare that to the emergence of mobile sample. Ten years ago, it was the most significant innovation in the online sample industry. Mobile sample was discussed in every conference from 2010 to 2016. Despite the buzz, however, mobile sample didn’t immediately catch on. The technology existed, but brands resisted the change in survey methodology. But that started to change in 2017.
Bitcoin was introduced to the world in 2009 and has since seeped its way into the mainstream media. It’s grown into the world’s largest cryptocurrency despite a history of volatility. Among those in the know, investors and brands alike, the Bitcoin market is booming right now. Tesla recently purchased $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin and announced that it would start taking Bitcoin as payments for its cars. In partnership with BlockFi, Visa released the first Bitcoin Rewards credit card and plans to offer additional cryptocurrency products in the future. Not to be outdone, Amazon announced they are in the early stages of developing their own cryptocurrency that consumers can use to purchase products and services on their platform.
Last year around this time, I published “The State of the Union – Privacy Law’s Impact on the Sample Industry” sharing my views on how privacy legislation impacted the sample industry in 2019. Since then, the world has radically changed. A worldwide pandemic sparked a global health crisis. Social and political unrest upended the status-quo, and Joe Biden was elected the 46th President of the United States. The election was so bitterly contested that it resulted in a violent attack by extremists on the U.S. Capitol. Many are wondering how we can collectively move forward.
Spotify, Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon are some of the world's most successful tech companies. They all share a common denominator – a subscription-based business model that requires users to input personal information to opt-in. Once connected, users can stream their favorite music and movies, buy and sell in the online marketplace, and engage on social media. Each interaction creates data points that feed algorithms and appeal to advertisers. Similarly, today’s online sampling platforms are constructed from the data provided by subscriptions. Due to the high quantity of customer impressions available online, the insights gathered far surpass older, manual sourcing methods like cold calls and government-sourced lists. As technology continues to evolve, online sample providers will need to incorporate these platforms and other innovative web-based methods into their toolkits to stay competitive amid the uncertainty of a rapidly changing market. However, in my experience, there are a few essentials needed when building an online sampling platform that will not change no matter how much technology advances (at least for the next few decades). In Subscription-Based Models, Email is King. Email has endured the test of time and is almost always required when subscribing to any platform. While some marketers blast the masses via email, savvy marketers leverage email’s personalization capabilities to facilitate more individualized experiences. We see this play out as more companies shift away from transactional customer relationships to value-based ones that come with a monthly commitment and customized content. This is excellent news for the sample industry, which has come to rely on data from the tech giants (Google and Facebook) for panel recruitment. When creating an online panel, always give the person the option to subscribe with an email address. People are more
Despite an unprecedented health crisis and economic and social unrest, over 140 million Americans cast their ballot in the 2020 Presidential Election, marking the highest voter turnout in American history. Americans held their breath for four days as votes were tabulated, keeping an eye on battleground states where the race would be won or lost. On November 7, 2020, Pennsylvania officially went “blue,” securing the win for Democrat Joe Biden, now the 46th President of the United States. But many Americans weren’t rejoicing. Two weeks after the official declaration of the Biden presidency, the country finds itself, once again, embroiled in a heated debate about voter fraud.
Multicultural consumers are poised to become the majority in the next twenty years. One of the largest demographics in the multicultural ecosystem is U.S. Hispanics, who account for about half the population growth in the country. With slowing immigration, most of that growth is supported by U.S. births. The burgeoning numbers are driving a 1.2 trillion dollar Hispanic/Latino consumer market, making them an attractive target for companies and brands. Traditionally, brands market to U.S. Hispanics with ads translated into Spanish and distributed through Spanish speaking mediums.
September 15th marks the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month. During this month-long celebration, the contributions and culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans are thrust into the national spotlight and inspire a steady flow of well-intended marketing campaigns. U.S. Hispanics, however, are often treated as a homogenous group by media, leading to poorly executed campaigns that miss the mark and squander opportunities for brands. Far from fitting the one-size-fits-all formula, the 60 million Americans of Latino/Hispanic origin represent over 20 Latin American countries. Each with their unique heritage and cultural backgrounds.
Over the past six months, economic instability has sent shockwaves through the global marketplace, causing some industries to crumble and others to thrive as e-commerce and digital interactions increase during the pandemic. For example, technology companies like Amazon and Facebook have seen massive spikes in their stock market prices, advertising revenue, and the number of users. While more traditional brands like Hertz and Royal Dutch Shell, as well as most brick and mortar companies, were not so lucky. They suffered massive profit losses as a result of people sheltering in place and abandoning their normal routines.