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This is one of my favorite (PG rated) some ecards. Current or former iPhone owners can relate. Your apps are in a sense like players on a team. You have your team captain, the most important app. For most this would be either email or Facebook. And then you have the rest of your starting lineup: Alarm Clock, Maps, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Safari. You also keep the second string around for when you’re traveling or killing time: Netflix, Yelp, Flight Tracker, Angry Birds, Draw Something.

How often do you use apps? Would you say you’re addicted? If you’re anything like the 762 smartphone owners surveyed in Apigee’s 2013 Mobile App Behavior survey then I bet you are. Of those surveyed, 82% said there are critical apps they can’t go without — not even for one day. Those include email (57%), Facebook (41%) and alarm clock apps (31%).

Curious about how much time you spend on apps on your phone? There are (of course) app’s out there that will actually monitor your app usage and supply you with all the horrifying details. But meantime, let’s see how smartphone owners across the U.S., UK, Germany, France and Spain use their apps:

2013Apigee_Infographic_02

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Today marks the start of Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 11 – 17). According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, RAK Week encourages people to go above and beyond to make others feel special.

Not sure how to get involved. Needs some ideas? Check out 29 pages worth of ideas here.

Needs some Inspirational Kindness Quotes to help motivate others? Find a great collection here.

Want to see how random acts of kindness can change lives? (Need a tear?) Check out this video highlighting last year’s Extreme Kindness Challenge winner: Peach’s Neet Feet.

“Did you ever notice how grown-ups hate it when kids are having fun?”

According to the new Captain Underpants book and the majority of those kids who read the series, this statement could not be truer. And today, the tenth epic novel by Dav Pilkey is released, Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series, Captain Underpants books are about two kids, George and Harold, who get into trouble for having mischievous fun. A prime example, when George and Harold get busted for leaving ketchup packets under the toilet seat in a prank they call “Squishy” in Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy.

Every book in the Captain Underpants series has made it to the USA Today‘s best-seller list, as well as the American Library Association‘s “Hit List,” the annual top 10 list of most-complained about books. The number one complaint you ask? Pat Scales, chair of the ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, says, “The No. 1 complaint is — this is kind of funny — nudity. I guess because the superhero has on jockey shorts. [Also] vulgar language, and they feel that kids are being taught not to obey authority.” However, it’s not just the “nudity” that had most parents up in arms over the series. Many are frustrated by the misspelled words. “Laugh” is spelled “laff.” “Trouble” is spelled “trubbel.”

So why dedicate a marketing research blog post to a children’s book series? Well, misspelled words, potty humor, mischievous fun and brilliant cartoon drawings align with a ready audience of elementary school boys. The point: knowing your target audience enables you to deliver products that create demand. And in Dav Pilkey’s case, this strategy has proven to be successful not just once, but ten times …and counting.

A recent enlightenment has caused me to take notice to a number of things that had previous not been on my radar. Simple things, really. Like smiling for example. Or the lack of. I find this particularly interesting as we enter the Happy Holiday season. Why? People don’t really seem to be happy at all. If anything, this time of year seems to bring more frowns and stressed-to-the-max looks than ever. This is baffling as we know that by simply putting a smile on your face you will actually feel better. Not rocket science.

Okay, I understand it’s not that simple and there are a number of factors that influence what makes someone happy. JWT’s October trend report took this idea of happiness one step further. Health & Happiness: Hand in Hand, explores the rising notion that a healthier person is a happier person and, in turn, a healthier person is a happier person. I agree with that and can see the correlation.

Now, this idea of health and happiness carries into the workplace as well. JWT Stockholm/SWE Advertising went to the drawing board to develop a new campaign for Adecco, a Swedish staffing firm, with this in mind. The agency used the foundational insight that a lack of praise and flattery in the workplace is one of the biggest contributors to poor health, sick leave and overall dissatisfaction among employees. The agency launched “The Praise Challenge”, a 10-day program activated through an app where both employees and clients were challenged to complete one exercise a day that involves encouragement, positive feedback, appreciation or acknowledgment. The success of the campaign encouraged over 18,000 praises that would have otherwise gone unsaid. A rough translation (via Google) of the campaigns can be found here.

This holiday season I challenge you to make it a Happy Holiday season. SMILE. Make someone else smile. Be the positive attitude in the room. Give a stranger a compliment. Smile some more. Because at the end of the day it’s not about what you get, it’s about what you give. Happy Holidays.

 

Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare…never really my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I have a Facebook account. But, if I had to classify myself I’d say I was a “light” user, checking it maybe two or three times a week. Social media didn’t play a daily role in my life.

That all changed one Sunday afternoon when my Mom convinced me to “just build a board or two” on Pinterest; coaching me through how it worked, the idea behind assembling collections of themed images to a board, how to follow her and so on. I recall the conversations changing to the dangers of social media addiction next. Little did I know how slippery that slope would be.

Since that Sunday I’ve been an avid Piner and find myself ‘selling’ or arguing in Pinterest’s defense from time to time. So, you could imagine my excitement when I stumbled across Clive Thompson’s recent article in Wired, In Defense of Pinterest. The article talks about how a therapist has been using Pinterest with her clients as a way to “paint their internal worlds.” To help express the nature of their depression, clients use Pinterest to collect photos and organized them based on themes to encourage categorical thinking and describe their emotions (and have done so successfully).

Indeed, Pinterest offers users a chance to step out of their world to create virtual worlds – fantasy dream home decor and landscaping, Cinderella weddings, and “oh the place’s we’ll go.” How is this different from other social media sites? As Huffington Post writer Bianca Bosker argued, Facebook and Twitter are inwardly focused (“Look at me!”) while Pinterest is outwardly focused (“Look at this!”). It is the world as seen through not your eyes but your imagination.

At W5, we are using the power of Pinterest to help us understand consumer behavior. Similar to the therapists struggle of helping her clients express their emotions, researchers struggle to capture the unspoken ‘whys’ that drive their behavior. You hear time and time again, “consumer can’t tell you what they want.” But they can Pin it.

Merriam-Webster has released its list of new words being added to the 2012 update of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary. This years list includes 25 new words and their exact definition as defined by Webster. From “brain cramp,” “e-reader,” and “underwater” to “f-bomb” and “sexting,” the list provides a revealing look at American culture.

Who determines which words make the cut? Merriam-webster.com says their editors monitor the changing language and add new terms to the dictionary once those words come into widespread use across a variety of publications. Influences range from the global financial crisis to technologies to Oprah Winfrey and her signature phrase “aha moment” (a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension).

Curious as to what made the list in 2011? Here’s a nice recap:

One year ago, drones dominated the Paris Air Show. Manufactured by major defense contracts, these drones were positioned as the future of warfare (and had a price tag to match in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars). Last month, the Hobby Expo China in Beijing featured similar drone with the same capabilities as the military ones (minus being able to blow stuff up). The difference? Many of these drones came with a price tag of less than a $1000. It’s no wonder open source drones, like the ArduCopter Quad from 3D Robotics, now outnumber military drones in the U.S.

What do drones and market research have in common? Well, nothing…yet. But reading Noah Shachtman article, 5 Drones at Work, there seems to be a common thread or strength if you will, of observation depicted. Drones that inspect oil equipment, conduct police reconnaissance, check on crops, and survey wildlife. In a sense, one could argue this is a form of ethnographic research, as ethnography simply aims to describe the nature of that which is being observed or studied (whether it be consumers, crops or wildlife).

At W5, observational ethnography is used to evaluate consumer behavior in detail, identifying meaningful patterns and themes that emerge through sustained, structured observation of people engaging in activities such as browsing, buying and trying products, or using services. By recognizing such patterns and themes and finding their underlying meaning, W5 ethnographers highlight the points of inflection at which consumers are most susceptible to influence, as well as develop a holistic picture of the market environment. Now, imagine a drone the size of a butterfly doing the observing. Impossible? Impossible like conducting Focus Groups in a virtual, online room? Impossible like collected data via mobile devices? Possibly.

One of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) latest project – a butterfly-shaped drone weighing just 20 grams – the smallest in its range so far – can gather intelligence inside buildings.

There are, of course, existing rules and regulations that address a future where people, companies and police all command tiny aircrafts. (See Rules for Proper Droning for answers to questions like ‘Can I use a drone to spy on my sexy neighbor?’ or ‘Could a police drone look in my window for drugs?’) Chris Anderson, co-founder of 3D Robotics, reminds us “the military created the Internet, but the people colonized it and created the web for their own purposes. The amateur UAV community is hoping to do the same with drones—demilitarize and democratize them so they can find their full potential. There will be good uses and bad ones, but the same is true of any tool, from a crowbar to an ultrasound machine. Ultimately the way society best figures out how to think about a powerful new technology is to set it free and watch where it flies.”

There is no denying social media has transformed the consumer landscape over the past decade. (Whether it has been for better or worse is a conversation for another day.) Companies do not have a choice whether or not they want to be ‘social’ – nor do the industries in which they operate. Market research is no exception as seen on the infographic below, working to uncover brand insights and drive sales in the digital era.