In the early years of the 20th Century, US carmakers had it good. As quickly as they could manufacture cars, people bought them.

By 1914, that was changing. In higher price brackets especially, purchasers and dealerships were becoming choosier. One commentator warned that the retailer "could no longer sell what his own judgement dictated". Instead, "he must sell what the consumer wanted".

That commentator was Charles Coolidge Parlin, widely recognised as the world's first professional market researcher and, indeed, the man who invented the very idea of market research.

A century later, the market research profession is huge: in the United States alone, it employs about 500,000 people.


 

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Parlin was tasked with taking the pulse of the US automobile market. He travelled tens of thousands of miles, and interviewed hundreds of car dealers.

After months of work, he presented his employer with what he modestly described as "2,500 typewritten sheets, charts, maps, statistics, tables etc".

Better adverts?

You might wonder which carmaker employed Parlin to conduct this research. Was it, perhaps, Henry Ford, who at the time was busy gaining an edge on his rivals with another innovation - the assembly line?

But no: Ford didn't have a market research department to gauge what customers wanted.

Perhaps that's no surprise. Henry Ford is widely supposed to have quipped that people could have a Model T in "any colour they like, as long as it's black".

In fact, no carmakers employed market researchers.

Charles Parlin
Image captionCharles Parlin was charged with investigating markets to facilitate more effective advertising

Parlin had been hired by a magazine publisher.

The Curtis Publishing Company was responsible for some of the most widely read periodicals of the time: the Saturday Evening Post, The Ladies' Home Journal, The Country Gentleman.

The magazines depended on advertising revenue.

The company's founder thought he'd be able to sell more advertising space if advertising were perceived as more effective, and wondered if researching markets might make it possible to devise better adverts.

'Constructive service'

In 1911, he set up a new division of his company to explore this vaguely conceived idea, headed by Charles Parlin. It wasn't an obvious career move for a 39-year-old high school principal from Wisconsin - but then, being the world's first market researcher wouldn't have been an obvious career move for anyone.

Parlin started by immersing himself in agricultural machinery, then tackled department stores. Not everyone saw value in his activities, at first.

The crowded street outside Selfridges Store in Oxford Street, London, on its opening day, 15 March 1909
Image captionDepartment stores such as Selfridges also had a massive influence on the way people shopped

Even as he introduced his pamphlet The Merchandising of Automobiles: An Address to Retailers, he still felt the need to include a diffident justification of his job's existence.

He hoped to be "of constructive service to the industry as a whole," he wrote, explaining that carmakers spent heavily on advertising, and his employers wanted to "ascertain whether this important source of business was one which would continue". They needn't have worried.

'Consumer-led' approach

The invention of market research marks an early step in a broader shift from a "producer-led" to "consumer-led" approach to business - from making something then trying to persuade people to buy it, to trying to find out what people might buy, and then making it.

The producer-led mindset is exemplified by Henry Ford's "any colour, as long as it's black".

From 1914 to 1926, only black Model Ts rolled off Ford's production line: it was simpler to assemble cars of a single colour, and black paint was cheap and durable.

Henry Ford with one of his Model T cars, pictured in the 1930s
Image captionHenry Ford famously began by selling one type of car available in one colour

All that remained was to persuade customers that what they really wanted was a black Model T. To be fair, Ford excelled at this.

Few companies today would simply produce what's convenient, then hope to sell it.

A panoply of market research techniques helps determine what might sell: surveys, focus groups, beta testing. If metallic paint and go-faster stripes will sell more cars, that's what will get made.

Where Parlin led, others eventually followed.

By the late 1910s, not long after Parlin's report on automobiles, companies had started setting up their own market research departments. Over the next decade, US advertising budgets almost doubled.

George Gallup
Image captionGeorge Gallup pioneered opinion polls in the 1930s

Approaches to market research became more scientific. In the 1930s, George Gallup pioneered opinion polls. The first focus group was conducted in 1941 by an academic sociologist, Robert K Merton.

He later wished he could have patented the idea and collected royalties.

But systematically investigating consumer preferences was only part of the story. Marketers also realised it was possible systematically to change them.

Robert K Merton coined a phrase to describe the kind of successful, cool or savvy individual who routinely features in marketing campaigns: the "role model".

Manufacturing desire

The nature of advertising was changing: no longer merely providing information, but trying to manufacture desire.

Sigmund Freud's nephew Edward Bernays pioneered the fields of public relations and propaganda.

In 1929, he helped the American Tobacco Company to persuade women that smoking in public was an act of female liberation. Cigarettes, he said, were "torches of freedom".

An advert for Lucky Strike cigarettes
Image captionAdverts began to portray smoking and smokers as liberated and modern

Today, attempts to discern and direct public preferences shape every corner of the economy.

Any viral marketer will tell you that creating buzz remains more of an art than a science, but with ever more data available, investigations of consumer psychology can get ever more detailed.

Where Ford offered cars in a single shade of black, Google famously tested the effect on click-through rates of 41 slightly different shades of blue.

Google's logo
Image captionGoogle carried out exhaustive tests on which precise shade of blue performed best

Should we worry about the reach and sophistication of corporate efforts to probe and manipulate our consumer psyches?

The evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller takes a more optimistic view.

"Like chivalrous lovers," Miller writes, "the best marketing-oriented companies help us discover desires we never knew we had, and ways of fulfilling them we never imagined." Perhaps.

Conspicuous consumption

Miller sees humans showing off through our consumer purchases much as peacocks impress peahens with their tails.

Such ideas hark back to an economist and sociologist named Thorstein Veblen, who invented the concept of conspicuous consumption back in 1899.

Charles Coolidge Parlin had read his Veblen. He understood the signalling power of consumer purchases.

"The pleasure car," he wrote in his address to retailers, "is the travelling representative of a man's taste or refinement."

"A dilapidated pleasure car," he added, "like a decrepit horse, advertises that the driver is lacking in funds, or lacking in pride."


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In other words, perhaps not someone you should trust as a business associate - or a husband.

Signalling these days is much more complex than merely displaying wealth: we might choose a Prius if we want to display our green credentials, or a Volvo if we want to be seen as safety-conscious.

These signals carry meaning only because brands have spent decades consciously trying to understand and respond to consumer desires - and to shape them.

By contrast with today's adverts, those of 1914 were delightfully unsophisticated.

The tagline of one, for a Model T, said: "Buy it because it's a better car." Isn't that advertisement, in its own way, perfect? But it couldn't last.

Charles Coolidge Parlin was in the process of ushering us towards a very different world.

Source: This article was published bbc.com By Tim Harford

Categorized in Market Research

With Black Friday coming up at the end of this week, there’s no more opportune time to reveal shopping data with insights into what to expect during the biggest retail season of the year.Google has done just that, providing an inside look into what the search giant expects to see this year.

Mobile Shopping Takes the Lead

In 2015, mobile shopping surpassed desktop shopping for the first time during Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Google expects that trend to continue this year, which can be looked at as a good thing whether you’re an online retailer or physical retailer. Why? According to Google, Seventy-six percent of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day.

 Women Purchase Early, Men Wait it Out

Google says women are the driving force behind the mobile web searching for and buying products at twice the rate of men throughout the holiday season. On the other hand, men are more likely to wait until the week of Christmas to complete their purchases.

Most Wanted Gifts This Season

Top trending product searches for the first two weeks of November include the Nintendo Entertainment System and Hatchimals. Here is a full list of the top trending products this year:

  • Hatchimals
  • Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Baby alive
  • Trolls
  • Dji phantom 3 + 4
  • Sony ps4 pro
  • Cozmo
  • Pokemon
  • Num Noms
  • RC cars

Busiest Shopping Times

Think everyone lines up and gets all their shopping done as soon as stores open on Black Friday? Well, not exactly. In fact, Google’s data shows that stores do not reach their busiest point in the day until well into the afternoon.When it comes to online shopping, customers are consistently shopping throughout the day, with as many as 59% of mobile shopping searches completed last year before stores even opened.For more data about mobile search trends and shopper foot traffic on Black Friday, check out Google’s complete infographic below:

Infographic- Google Black Friday Data

Author:  Matt Southern

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com

Categorized in Search Engine

Researchers list the most and least secure online retailers, warn about vulnerabilities in WordPress e-commerce plugins and warn that crooks are cashing in on top store brands and "Black Friday" to scam consumers.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday nearly upon us, here are three different reports about shopping online.

Amazon and Walmart listed among the “least secure” online retailers

The first ranks the best and worst security of top online retailers. LastPass used a set of six criteria and then ranked each e-retailer on a scale of 0 to 10 points on that password criteria. For example, does a site offer two-factor authentication? That answer is “no” to all of the online retailers in this study.

The online stores were judged to be more secure for things such as if they had a password strength meter, if the password allowed special characters and if passwords with 20 characters were allowed. The results posted by LastPass are surprising, given that Amazon and Walmart – two of the biggest online retailers – were ranked among the “least secure” of online stores.

The five “most secure” online retailers were listed in this order: QVC, Apple, Victoria’s Secret, Neiman Marcus and Best Buy. The “least secure” e-retailers were listed in this order: Amazon, Walmart, Wayfair, Nike and Sears.

Severe vulnerabilities in WordPress e-commerce plugins

So while LastPass ranked the best and worst security of e-retailers, Checkmarx looked at 12 popular WordPress e-commerce plugins and found “severe” vulnerabilities in a third of them. The company reported that over 26 percent of websites globally use WordPress and hundreds of thousands of those sites use e-commerce plugins. If vulnerable plugins are exploited by criminals, “users of over 135,000 websites could find their personal data threatened;” – yes, that includes credit card data.

Four of the 12 WordPress plugins contained “high-risk vulnerabilities” such as SQL injection (SQLi), reflected cross-site scripting (XSS), second order SQL injection and a plugin vulnerable to file manipulation.

Unfortunately, Checkmarx did not provide the list of vulnerable plugins at this time; that’s because responsible disclosure means giving developers time to fix the flaws before naming names which would help bad actors find additional ways to harm consumers.

If you add items to your cart, Checkmarx advised that before checking out you should make certain the SSL certificate is good. On an HTTPS site on Chrome, users can click the green lock to get the scoop on the certificate, connections and secure resources on a page.

Spammy scammers cashing in on store brands and “Black Friday”

Have you been making a list and checking it twice, looking for the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals for items on your loved one’s wish lists? That seems smart, but you need to be security-wise and not get suckered by some spammy scammer.

Just as online retailers are counting on another booming year, cyber crooks are counting on another booming year as well by scamming as many people as possible. RiskIQ researchers issued a warning (pdf) without naming names, claiming that cyber thugs have honed in on the top five leading brands in e-commerce.

The company ran a keyword search, looking for five online retailers “branded terms” along with “Black Friday” that appear in blacklisted URLs – ones which are linked to phishing, malware or spam. RiskIQ said its blacklists are collected by crawling over 300 million mobile devices, 1.8 billion HTTP sessions, 783 global locations across 100 countries, 16 million mobile apps and 300 million domain records.

While the stats are interesting, if you are trying to warn people to be aware, to be careful, why not give the silly keywords used instead of reporting that the unnamed “brand” one through five had a combined total of over one million blacklisted apps? It’s good info to have, but it seems like it would be better for the announcement to provide the actual research to the public – at the very least the keyword brands in this study – so as not to scare people about leading brands.

Nevertheless, RiskIQ’s advice is sound. Users are advised against downloading apps from unofficial sources, to be wary about apps that want too many permissions such as accessing passwords or credit card info, and not to be fooled by good reviews that can be easily faked.

Overall when considering these three reports, shopping online for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sounds like a crapshoot…but it sure sounds better to me than being out in the crowds. Just be wise about shopping.

Source : http://www.computerworld.com

Author : Darlene Storm

Categorized in Social

Performance marketing platform Criteo, best known for its programmatic display product ad retargeting capabilities, is expanding into search. The new product, Criteo Predictive Search, is aimed at bringing predictive optimization to Google Shopping campaigns.

Google Shopping continues to grow, with same-store sales increasing between 30 and 50 percent over the past year, according to Channel Advisor. Recent research by Engel Research Partners, commissioned by Criteo, found Google Shopping now accounts for 21 percent of the average retailer’s digital marketing budget. While there has been significant innovation on the engine side, Jason Lehmbeck, general manager of search at Criteo, said in an interview that retailers are looking for partners to help turn the added complexity that’s come with this innovation into more sales. A lot of the tools just haven’t kept up, he said.

Criteo Predictive Search is designed to automate the entire optimization process for Google Shopping campaigns without increasing the retailer’s cost per order. It uses machine learning to identify opportunities for better matching and bidding opportunities down to the product level. Every aspect of the campaign from structure to remarketing to bids is modified automatically through the system. The predicitive technology, in part, learns from Criteo’s existing access to and analysis of over 1.2 billion users it delivers advertising to per month for over four billion SKUs.

Criteo

 

Roughly 30 retailers, including Telefora, Camping World and Revolve, have been testing the product in closed beta. Criteo says early testers have seen as much as a 22–49 percent lift in revenue at constant cost. The product is priced on a revenue share model, and there are no annual contracts or charges as a percentage of spend.

Criteo Predictive Search is launching in the US on Tuesday, with more markets to follow in 2017. It does not encompass Local Inventory Ads at this time.

Source:  searchengineland.com

Categorized in Search Engine

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