Category Archives: Behind the Numbers

Behind the Numbers: Market Research Isn’t a Tightrope Walk

Unlike tightrope walking, this post will dispel the suspense right away: market research differs from tightrope walking in that it’s actually a good idea to look down.


Not brave enough to conduct market research

As I’ve said previously, I enjoy reading the eMarketer newsletter every morning because it usually has an interesting chart or two.  Usually, the headline summarizes the charts like so:

Most Mobile Banking Users Check Balances, Statements

Indeed, according to the survey, 85% check balances and/or statements.  End of story.

Except that’s not where the story ends.  Enter the tyranny of the top two box.

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RT, RU kidding me?

Oh, Vladimir Vladimirovich, what shall we do with you, you latter-day Ivan the Terrible?

Here’s a headline from Russia Today (RT) last year:

20% of American workers have lost their job during last 5 years

That sounds terrible!  Rough times all around, but still…wait, what’s this?  There’s a link to the original study?  By the decidedly non-Red (OK, Scarlet) Rutgers University (RU)?  Whatever does it say?

20 percent of workers laid off five years are still unemployed, seeking jobs

I’ve written extensively about why you should always look for an original source.  I’m just going to point to this article now.

Behind the Numbers: Fixing Citibike’s Woman Problem

Recently, our city’s Newspaper of Record (TM) reported that women use the bike sharing service Citibike far less often than men do.  According to the article, women account for one-third of all members (that is, people with a one-year pass to use the bikes at any time for up to 45 minutes per trip) and about a quarter of all trips.

Assuming that we want more women on bikes, let’s see if the numbers can help of find a solution.

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Behind the Data: Dubious Stat of the Day

According to a Northwestern University study announced today in the New York Times, four-fifths of teens look for health-related information online, but they don’t always trust what they find.

Seems legit.

At least until this tidbit: “Forty-three percent said they had seen pornography online.”  At the time of this writing, the full study wasn’t available, so I can’t evaluate the breakdowns of that 43%, but at the very least, it means that some boys have not looked at porn online.

Uh huh.

This study takes on some important topics, such as how teens address mental health problems such as depression or anorexia as well as physical ailments.  Educators, physicians, lawmakers and especially parents should have an idea of how kids are handling very difficult topics.  For this effort, Northwestern deserves praise.

However, if the study writers want me to believe that most teens have not looked at naked people online, I am, if you’ll excuse the expression, leery of it.  Men my age can joke about how they used to go at great lengths to secure Playboy and other fine periodicals while today’s kids just need a computer and a little privacy.



I have seen the Golden Palace of the Himalayas!

I’d like to see the study as a whole to see if they address this seemingly low number.  Maybe they define pornography in a very limited way.  After all, as Potter Stewart said, I know it when I see it.

And you know what?  When I see reliable stats on how teens consume health information, I’ll know that, too.

Behind the Numbers: 39% of us Totally <3 Big Brother!

I, for one, welcome our new wearable overlords!


In my case, I think I could put several brands to sleep with my “lifestyle”

Accent Marketing Services recently shared a survey with eMarketer about consumers’ interest in wearables.  As the market evolves, I’m sure these will change, but one figure really stood out: nearly four out of ten respondents interested in wearables (smart watches, fitness bands, glasses, codpieces, etc.) said they wanted to give “brands more insight into [their] lifestyle.”

Come again?


Wear the Apple Watch for your Protection, Please

The one thing that most of my friends of all political stripes can agree on is that they don’t want private companies or the government collecting more information than they need to collect.  Interestingly, the number doesn’t decline much with age (see chart above).

However, the deeper story really underlines what we generally know: people will exchange data if they get value in return.  A little additional information from the survey provides some context: nearly three quarters of respondents “think wearable tech will change how they engage with fitness providers and 22% say in-store and online shopping.”  [emphasis mine]

So, as I let my blood pressure drop to a reasonably healthy level, I think the numbers make more sense. People don’t mind (or even like) tracking when they see a direct benefit.  So:

  • Exchange data for better fitness: YES
  • Exchange data so you can buzz my wrist when I walk past a Starbucks: NO

On the other hand, The Ministry of Truth would like to have a word with the one-in-five of you who want retailers to have wearable data.

Behind the Numbers: Google “near me” up 34x

Here’s an eye-popping stat: since 2011, Google searches including the phrase “near me” have increased 34 times.  Not 34 percent, but 34 times.   I read this figure as a nail in the coffin of distinct and discrete mobile and local strategies.  Put another way, your brand has a mobile and a local strategy whether you’ve planned it or not.  Brands need to prepare for the inevitable “gotta have it now” factor across channels.

Some other tasty stats from the article:

  • 50% of people who conduct a local search on their phone visit a store that day
  • Roughly a third of those searchers buy that day as well
  • About half of people searching for a restaurant do so within 30 minutes of going out

Searches differ by day and time of day as well:


I wonder, do people search for liquor stores before or after hotels on a Saturday night?




What does this mean for marketers?

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Behind the Numbers: 7% of Americans Are Smartphone-Dependents

Those of us who pay attention to international markets have come to understand that in growing markets like China, many people access the Internet via mobile alone.  The proverbial chicken has come home to roost.  The Pew Internet Project has identified 7% of Americans as smartphone-dependent according to their recent survey.

That is, seven of every 100 Americans accesses the Internet via his or her phone and does not have broadband at home or at work or school.


This smartphone-only group included 15% of all respondents aged 18-29, 13% of all respondents with a household income of less than $30,000 per year , 12% of all African-Americans and 13% of all Latinos.  As the lower incomes would suggest, costs loom large over their smartphone experience: about half of all smartphone-dependents have had to cancel service because they couldn’t afford it or have frequently hit data caps

These findings have two broad and challenging implications for marketers.

1. Have a mobile-only communications segment/strategy

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