Friday, May. 29, 2009

New Ways to Get Consumer Data

Collecting data on what people think about products or services is among the most expensive activities for large companies that rely on consumers for their sales. Market research, product development and research techniques like focus groups can take months to organize and execute. Large corporations from Sprint (S) to Procter & Gamble (PG) could find quick feedback on the quality of their products and services, especially ones that have been recently launched on Twitter. Sprint would give a lot to get thousand of responses to the Palm (PALM) Pre handset the first day it hits the market.

Twitter is a nearly ideal platform for tapping opinions about customer views of products. Twitter users have the capacity to segment themselves into discrete demographic groups, if they have an incentive to do so. Procter & Gamble could arrange to have only women between ages 18 and 40 react to a new bleach product with instant positive or negative opinion. Because Twitter and the Twitter community encourage users to post biographical information and personal tastes, many of the demographic aspects of Twitter are already built in. People tweeting about their daily habits are a free focus group on a massive scale, not unlike the Nielsen in-home surveys that have been used as market research in the television industry for years. The risk is that users may begin to see Twitter as Big Brother and remove personal information.

Douglas A. McIntyre

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