Article in The Pump category.
The Pump: MESH’s Experience Tracker Adds a New Twist to Market Research
While most office employees gather around the water cooler, we prefer our libations to be of the unleaded and premium petrol variety. “The Pump” is our weekly…
While most office employees gather around the water cooler, we prefer our libations to be of the unleaded and premium petrol variety. “The Pump” is our weekly look at a key member of the Fueled Collective, Fueled’s new shared work space just south of Houston in New York City.
Ever try to relate a story to someone but couldn’t remember all the details? It happens to all of us; and just gets harder as time passes. That’s because our perceptions often evolve and memories become fuzzy. In addition, our feelings are constantly changing due to our own experiences and exposure to various stimuli.
All this makes market research very difficult. It’s tough to give objective feedback on a product or service you might have experienced a month or more ago. (Remember what you had for breakfast five weeks ago?) Trying to get that information – in a timely and accurate manner – from imperfect human beings is a balance of art and science.
It is these inherent challenges that inspired Fiona Blades, a former account planner with a major London advertising agency, to develop the Real-Time Experience Tracker (RET). Her vision saw people sharing their brand experiences the moment they occur using SMS technology. These texts would build a rich database that would enable companies to gain valuable insights that were unfettered by the foibles of poor memory or outside influences. RET would do nothing less than revolutionize consumer marketing research.
In 2006, Blades took this concept and started MESH. Founded in London, the company focuses mainly on consumer goods and services but applies the real-time tracking across a wide spectrum of products and services. In one instance a client was able to directly assess the impact of their advertising by taking “the pulse” of consumers right after the ads aired. The input allowed them to fine-tune their messaging to optimize the results. Another client was able to determine which channels of communication were most effective in boosting short-term sales. In both cases, RET provided important information in these times of tight budgets.
The RET process queries consumers to share their shopping and purchasing experiences as they happen. People are recruited online and opt into taking part in the research studies. Participants share real-time experiences via SMS, which captures the quality of branded touch-points. A second online survey, taken after real-time experience, measures the change in brand perceptions and attitudes. Analytical tools can then attribute this change to specific touch-points.
A major leap forward
MESH’s RET technology is changing how marketers think and act as they shine light on how consumers think and act. As explained by Nathan Evans, head of MESH in the US, “We’re about capturing experiences and understanding them; that’s a different approach to research than how our competitors work. Most consumer marketing research is passive and post-facto. We’ve created a whole new way of capturing this important information through experience-based input in real time.”
“Prior to opening an office in New York City, one third of our business was along the East Coast of the US. It only made sense for us to plant a flag in the Big Apple,” said Evans. MESH recently opened a third office in São Paulo and has plans for a fourth office in Singapore.
About MESH's experience at the Fueled Collective in New York, Evans stated, "Everybody is trying really hard to create something new and different – that energy is absent from previous offices that we have worked in. The best feature about this space is the restless enthusiasm within the office. We fit in with that passionate vibe here."
In each country the office is staffed by nationals. “It’s about having local offices – with local knowledge – rather than having British offices abroad,” said Evans. “The offices will be completely localized.” Although each office will have its own culture, they will all have something in common: a mission to completely change the way consumer marketing research is conducted.