Socratic Technologies has reached a remarkable milestone, celebrating 30 years of excellence in the field of marketing research.

In 1994, our journey began with a bold vision and a pioneering spirit. Socratic was among the first marketing research firms to embrace cutting-edge technology, replacing traditional paper surveys with the revolutionary floppy disks. This innovation marked the first step on a path that would see our company evolve, adapt, and flourish in tandem with the ever-changing global economy.

Throughout these three decades, we have continuously pushed the boundaries of our industry, contributing numerous innovative methodologies and tools that are now industry standards. It is a testament to our team's collective dedication and creativity that we stand at the forefront of our field today.

More importantly, our team of research professionals has played an integral role in our journey. They are the heart and soul of Socratic Technologies, the talented individuals steering our ship towards success. Their unwavering commitment to delivering valuable insights to leading organizations has made all the difference.

As Socratic celebrates this significant milestone this year, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has contributed to this success. Their hard work, passion, and dedication have been instrumental in shaping our company's history, and without these contributions, we would not have achieved what we have today.

To all our former and current clients, we thank you for the opportunity to help with your research challenges. We deeply value the relationships and trust that each one of you has placed in us, allowing us to partner with you in fostering growth and developing better strategies. We look forward to continuing to deliver outstanding research and insights that propel your organization forward.

Once again, thank you to everyone who has been part of our success over the last 30 years.

In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, mobile banking has emerged as a transformative force, reshaping the way individuals and businesses manage their finances. As smartphones become ubiquitous and internet access expands, the adoption of mobile banking continues to skyrocket, presenting tremendous opportunities and challenges for financial institutions. Socratic Technologies leveraged access to consumers to explore attitudes and perceptions of mobile banking and understand the preferences and behaviors of consumers.

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Hindsight, they say, is 20/20.

Capably looking backwards with the clarity to see missed opportunities can be a great learning tool to both avoid the same pitfalls as well as better prepare moving forward.

Every year provides many learning opportunities for business leaders and academics to study into the foreseeable future. How we use those learnings or experiences can vary widely by organizations, but it is critical to employ some level of change to a strategy or tactics influenced by the recent events.

The CMO Survey, whose mission is to collect and disseminate the opinions of top marketers in order to predict the future of the marketplace, track marketing excellence, and improve the value of marketing in firms and in society, surveyed almost 300 CMOs in conjunction with Deloitte, Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, and the American Marketing Association. In the March 2023 Survey, the focus on marketing spending and hiring growth due to economic uncertainty was the key takeaways.

However, marketing research continues to play a significant role. Reviewing some of the findings, CMOs rate the quality of their internal marketing research at 4.2 on a 1 to 7 scale. Additionally, 72% of CMOs indicated that they include research as part of their budget. But the good news is that since 2017 the investment in marketing research has grown from 3.4% to 10.5% which translates into a 209% increase in research investment.

Consumer and Shopping Change All The Time

One topic area that was especially interesting was the fact that marketers are keenly focused on product quality as the shrinkflation and price increases have occurred in many B2C sectors. Changes in consumer behavior shifts due to price conscious buying and the proliferation of skipping or seeking less expensive options. Additionally, the use of partnerships to extend into new markets and build relationships continues.  Resources towards seeking new segments and avenues for sales increased in 2023 again as it did during the pandemic.

The 2023 report shows that marketing research is part of 69% of the reporting companies. The takeaway from the CMOs surveyed is their companies continue to prioritize research to make marketing decisions for customer acquisition and consumer facing communication decisions.

Market Research and Strategy Creation Going Forward

The current economic and recent pandemic influences have caused a fast shift of consumer behaviors, leaving businesses needing to understand how behavior changes impact their products and services. These shifts are shuffling the priority order of what consumers value in a brand when making buying decisions. Along with the changes is a contraction of competition in some sectors where consumers are searching for new brands and options.

Even with some CMOs mentioning their intentions to increase market research, the expectation is that planned and existing research will undergo a healthy review. Among the areas market research should be used as companies are planning for the next year are the following:

Trust signals by target audiences – The expectation is that consumers will rely on trusted brands and services.  This is an outcome of the heightened awareness of a corporation’s social responsibility, supply chains and how organizations treat employees.  Consumers are expected to be more discerning in these areas.

Use and growth of social media – Companies will need to recognize and engage their audiences on social channels to both build trust but also to listen and respond to their targeted segments.  Additionally, this is where the greatest access to new customers and options to grow the brand exist with new buyers.  A new facet to marketing success is the use of influencers on different platforms as advocates and promoters of different products.

Ecommerce and online access – Consumers have become more comfortable shopping online, leaving many companies to believe this will not change but only continue to grow.  The requirement is to understand and capitalize on digital marketing to inform and attract buyers who are now looking for online offers and new options to replace unavailable brands.

Know the value you deliver – Companies recognized they were unprepared for the impacts of the pandemic. A reset to pursue insights that provide guidance around newly prioritized areas is needed. This reset should revolve around the goal of understanding what loyal customers value in your product and brand.  This will help build a strategy that will capitalize on those strengths and the attributes that are producing the desired outcomes.

Marketing organizations have been challenged unlike any time during the modern era due to the pandemic. Businesses need to consider creative solutions to unknowns, adapt quickly to changes, and consider unproven approaches to ensure they successfully connect with and respond to their audiences. As the CMO Survey indicates, Marketing leaders are glad they weathered the changes but will not be as unprepared for the next disruption.

The holiday travel season annually places airlines in the spotlight, emphasizing their ability to manage the surge in passenger volume. The performance, costs, and quality of the passenger experience offered by these airlines are scrutinized every holiday season as they endeavor to transport people between cities safely and efficiently, aiming to minimize significant issues.

As long lines at TSA checkpoints and weather-related delays dominate the news, Socratic's omnibus survey assessed various airlines and gathered opinions from participants about their experiences. The infographic highlights the key findings from our study.

Equipping Young Minds: Unveiling the Trends and Choices for the Academic Year Ahead

Parents across the nation every year must navigate the world of school supplies, clothing, and essentials when the new school year begins. Socratic's omnibus investigated parents' preferences when it comes to preparing their children for the current academic year.
Some of the areas that were explored in the omnibus include the spending expectations for supplies and where parents were looking to do their back-to-school shopping. The infographic also includes insights into factors influencing store preferences when considering back-to-school purchases. Additionally, the study looked into the new option of purchasing supplies directly from the school.



Learn What Insights You Can Get Today For Next Year And Why You Need Them

Many organizations receive the “Use it or lose it” message from the finance department on unspent budgets at the end of the year. Often, the unused budget returned to the company will also factor into a lower budget allocation the following year. This exercise creates a scramble to either complete funded projects or find other ways to use the unused budget to ensure next year does not start with a lower amount. A good investment and a way to get ahead for next year is to conduct different market research efforts before the end of the year.

Conducting market research before year-end will give departments the insights needed to have a more informed next-year strategy. Market research will data to the opportunities to improve specific areas about their brand, customers, and products. And because market research can be conducted across all areas of a business, the opportunity to reduce knowledge gaps can be achieved before next year when planning is done.

To help identify how best to conduct market research at the end of the year, here are five market research projects that every business can invest in before the calendar runs out.  All can be launched and completed with minimal turnaround time and, most importantly, deliver valuable, strategy-supporting insights.

Concept testing –  Start learning what audiences like about next year’s products or services

By putting your concept in front of target audiences before launch, critical learnings in what attributes make the product attractive for purchase and find the weaknesses in the concept where adjustments might improve the overall reception of the concept.  Because concept testing can include many different aspects from colors, feature sets, and packaging, the opportunity to test multiple variants of the concept before launch can help position a concept for success starting day one.

Why now?  Get insights to guide next year’s product introductions.  Get initial feedback or last-minute guidance on features or packaging.

How soon?  Concept tests can deliver insights in as fast as seven days from start to finish Iterating on the concept with additional testing pulses, the concept can undergo several rounds of insights before the end of the year.

Message testing – Refine your outbound marketing and advertising to be more effective

Content and communications campaigns to educate and inform customers can improve how a message is received by an intended audience with market research.  Testing key messaging and themes in different content pieces can ensure that a brand remains consistent across all segments and audiences.  Market research on messaging can also bring forward sentiments and underlying motivations the audience has on a given message which can validate the expected outcomes of the messaging.

Why now?  Ensure the Q1 campaigns to customers are persuasive and promote wanted activities.  Having confidence that the message is correct will help free up time to work on the distribution and promotion of the message.

How soon?  Like concept testing, message testing can have a quick turnaround and include different research approaches like a TURF Analysis, Perceptometer, and MaxDiff to help distill the impact and effectiveness of the messaging.  These approaches can be applied and provide insights in as quickly as ten days from start to finish.

Insight Calibration - Organize, refine and find unknown insights you already have from completed research.

Already completed research may have underlying insights or learnings that were not considered when the project was first concluded.  By revisiting existing research to extract new insights, raw data from previous research projects can be combined and reviewed with updated approaches to glean new information applicable to upcoming strategic efforts.  Doing insight calibration on existing research will save you from running research to find already available insights.

Why now?  Take a moment to review and organize the existing research.  By refreshing the data at hand, you can develop a better understanding of what research and insights are missing from your strategic planning moving forward.

How soon?  Within two weeks, you can have legacy research and data reviewed and reset to obtain potentially untapped insights without needing a new research project.

Qualitative Research - Reduce the knowledge gap in critical areas

Market Research offers the path towards making data-supported decisions about a business.  Applying a qualitative market research survey on ongoing issues or possibly an emerging theme in customer feedback that can not be easily answered will help a company obtain the insights required to eliminate the knowledge gap.  Because qualitative research is very specific and might only need a small group of customers, the opportunity to quickly resolve unknowns can be a powerful tool in strategy development.

Why now?  Use the time to answer those questions that have been asked (and never answered) in the meetings this year.  Confirm assumptions with supportive data so it can be part of the strategy.  Take the time to review strategy documents and customer feedback to find insight gaps.

How soon?  Addressing a specific issue might take several days, while a deeper or more comprehensive approach to the root of a wider issue could require several weeks.  When using text science on open text responses or even audio and video responses, the insights can include many different areas of opportunity and provide a deeper understanding of the drivers and motivations of the audience that quantitative research may not uncover.

Brand Tracking - Begin harnessing your brand equity

One of the largest investments an organization can make is around the brand. Everything from the colors and logo of a brand down to the internal ethos and mission statement will create a reaction from customers. More importantly, how your brand compares to your competition will influence the decision process of both new and existing customers. Without formal brand tracking, this investment is untapped into what you need to promote more as your strengths and what areas you can focus to compete better.

Why now?  To evaluate where and how your target audiences engage and recognize your brand can begin at any time. At the close of a year, an organization can have the start of a benchmark to carry into the new year. This can prepare for any upcoming events and brand changes forecasted so the change (both positive and negative) is realized and quantified.

How soon?  A typical brand tracking project is done as a monthly or quarterly study so marketing and advertising campaigns are captured. Conducting a tracking study before the end of the current year will typically require at least several weeks to prepare the study and frame the needed research tools, such as a Perceptometer℠ that can gauge your brand's advertising. To learn more about brand tracking, you can read more here.

Market Research completed today instead of tomorrow

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” and is very appropriate when thinking about market research projects.  The end of the year, when budgets might have available funds to be used, investing in market research projects is wise.  Additionally, having the market research completed before the end of the year can potentially eliminate a cost next year that would require approval amongst competing investments and can provide insights that will influence decisions beyond the upcoming year.

Conducting Concept Testing Benefits More Than Just The Product

For B2B businesses, concept testing can help remain ahead of the competition, deliver on innovation, and ensure your strategy delivers. For organizations whose clients are other businesses, delivering on product expectations and services is critical due to smaller audience segments and sometimes hyper-competitive marketplace scenarios. That is why B2B businesses must evaluate and refine their ideas before investing significant resources, whether in a new product or a marketing campaign. In this article, you will learn about three areas where concept testing can greatly support B2B businesses when embarking on the development of a new concept. Here are the 3 ways concept testing helps B2B businesses.

The Concept: Minimize Risk Before You Launch and Enhance Decision Making

Concept testing provides insights into the viability and potential success of new ideas, products, or services. Collecting feedback from the target market can identify potential flaws, gaps, or areas that require improvement while still in concept phase. As concepts can sometimes have a long timeline of development, testing and validating the product's purpose and expectations with external audiences allows the business to remain on the right path toward success. Using a MaxDiff Analysis to identify the concept’s optimal product sets and features is one common approach. This can help make the new product more attractive to your target audience. Additionally, using a Concept Highlighter will help bring the strongest messaging and keywords to the forefront of your concept, allowing your marketing copy to connect more closely with customers.

A concept's inception often begins with a strategy or product meeting where the opportunity presented itself for the new concept. The validation of the concept internally is typically financial as well as sales-focused. But the data to support the decision from an audience, segment, or marketplace viewpoint can be achieved with concept testing. Companies can compare and contrast varying concepts' potential success rates by conducting multiple tests on them, revealing the most promising option. This will also avoid biased decision-making and increases the likelihood of launching a successful product or service. Conducting multiple concept tests is made easier by using a Concept Dashboard, where all concept iterations are compared and contrasted to identify the most compelling attributes in order to hone the concept.

The Development Process: Optimize The Product While Saving Costs and Time

Effective concept testing enables B2B businesses to optimize the product development process. By gaining early feedback from potential customers, companies identify potential shortcomings that require improvement. The data from the concept testing gives developers the confirmation that the final product meets the expectations of the target market as well as the organizations. This also reduces the chances of costly revisions or product failures.

The development process also benefits by identifying potential issues early on, avoiding expenditures on unsuccessful ventures, and allocates resources more efficiently. Concept testing allows companies to streamline the product development process by reducing time-to-market and gaining a competitive advantage. The costs of launching a product that misses the mark with clients can be devastating to an organization. The loss of business and the expense to pull the product and correct the flaws after launch can wreak havoc on sales cycles and revenue forecasts. Taking the steps pre-launch to assess internally and externally the concept's purpose and goals may slightly extend the launch timeframe but will preemptively ensure it is the best concept. One example of a quick deployment initiated without concept testing is the recent icon graphic created for Amazon's app whereby the graphic had to be redesigned post-launch, causing a great deal of negative publicity for the brand.

The Customer: Create A Customer-Centric Approach For A Competitive Advantage

Many companies mention a customer-centric approach for product development where the customer actually weighs in prior to launch. Their opinions and feedback give valuable insights into client needs, preferences, and pain points for the product to meet those expectations. The results is higher customer satisfaction, loyalty, and long-term relationships. One of the most important pieces to a successful concept test is the use of the right audience and segment for participation. Feedback from the wrong group can derail the concept's true goals, while bad actors and poor-quality respondents will mask or diminish a concept's true potential. The sample quality used for research needs to be a priority and it’s highly recommended to have provisions that reduce or eliminate poor quality respondents from the data during the research effort.

Another important consideration is to keep your competitive edge in the market. Companies can create innovative products or services that address unmet needs or outperform existing solutions by thoroughly evaluating and refining ideas. Applying a competitive review allows the respondent to differentiate you from competition so you can strategically position offerings, in turn creating value propositions that  extend beyond the concept into branding and overall marketing efforts. Because your product might actually compete with your existing products, the ability to gauge not only your direct competitors but also your current product lineup, the NCURA methodology can help identify what cannibalization could occur along with market share against the competition.

Concept Test For Long-Term Success

Concept testing plays a pivotal role in the successful launch of any new product, service, or campaign. B2B businesses that aim to stay competitive need to make informed decisions, optimize product development, and leveraging new products. These 3 ways that concept testing helps B2B Businesses through minimizing risk, saving costs and time while delivering a customer-centric approach can be a good starting point for a research program. Additionally, concept testing empowers companies to create innovative offerings that address market demand and customer expectations. When a B2B business embraces concept testing as a regular practice, it significantly enhances the likelihood of success and maximizes the return on investment. If you would like to learn more about how to get started with a concept test for your upcoming project, contact us, and we will be happy to assist you in getting started.

Our habits when consuming food are unique to each of us. Our ability to eat healthy or unhealthy is seeded in our understanding of what exactly is a healthy or unhealthy diet. Socratic's new infographic delivers the findings from our omnibus study surrounding our preferences and habits related to our nutrition. From our belief and usage of vitamins to our sweeter preferences and how we consume fast food, the findings provide some interesting insights into how we keep our bodies fueled, hydrated and able to function each day.

Concept testing plays a crucial role in product development and marketing strategies, serving as a vital tool to assess consumer perceptions and preferences when deciding on buying a product or service. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) interfaces like CHAT GPT and others, concept testing has started to see signs of of broader adoption of AI, bringing advantages and challenges to the concept testing process. As with any innovation, opportunities, and potential pitfalls are ahead for the research industry as they contend with wider use of AI processes in various research processes. This post will explore the role of AI in concept testing including the advantages, challenges, and implications it can pose going forward.

Advantages: Harness the speed and efficiency of AI for concept testing cycles

Concept testing requires feedback from segments of the population that will lead to insights on the direction of the concept regarding things like features, colors, and packaging. AI-powered algorithms can enable the rapid processing of vast amounts of data and facilitating faster concept testing cycles. Machine learning can model and analyze consumer feedback, sentiments, and patterns from diverse sources, including social media, surveys, and online forums. This accelerated process allows stakeholders to identify trends, gather insights, and refine concepts swiftly and, in many cases, relaunch the next concept test with revised features allowing them to dial in the best concept for production. These faster, deeper insights into consumers' reactions and preferences allow businesses the benefit of fine-tuning their concepts, enabling more precise decision-making and further reducing the risk of launching unsuccessful products.
Applying AI to factors such as demographics, psychographics, and behavior patterns can provide new opportunities by understanding consumer segments and identifying niche segments. Businesses can tailor their concepts to these specific target groups, increasing the likelihood of resonance and acceptance. This also leads to AI's advantage in providing concept testing as a predictive modeling solution. Predictive modeling enables organizations to forecast a concept's potential success or failure by leveraging historical data, market trends, and consumer behavior patterns. The AI interface can generate predictive insights, estimating demand faster and with multiple data sources to model analytic feedback. The creation of AI-supported analytics with which an organization can make such enhanced data-driven decisions may likely be a powerful guide in mitigating risks associated with concept failures and optimizing ever-precious resource allocation.

Disadvantages: AI will still require an experienced researcher and management for the foreseeable future

The counter to the efficiency and speed that AI can deliver to concept testing is that AI still heavily relies on the upfront design and programming of the AI systems. Biases that may occur in the training data can lead to skewed results and misinterpretation of consumer preferences. Moreover, unrepresentative or low-quality data may generate inaccurate insights, potentially compromising the validity of concept testing. Organizations must ensure data quality and address biases to mitigate these risks. This upfront work and design require tenured researchers plus time to engineer and test before using any AI program.
Additionally, any AI program or process will lack human judgment and contextual understanding. Concepts involving complex emotions, cultural nuances, or subjective interpretations will be challenging for any AI system to evaluate accurately at this time. The absence of human review or evaluation can result in misinterpretation or oversimplification of sentiments and drivers of buyer interest or intent to purchase. This would ultimately derail the impact and effectiveness of the concept test. An experienced researcher has an unmatched advantage using a trained eye to spot potential bias and errors in the output, ultimately using their analytical expertise to employ the best insights possible.

AI and the ethical boundaries and opportunity cost

Concept testing often involves collecting personal data and consumer feedback, requiring the ability to validate and confirm the feedback from a survey participant is critical. Depending on the level of AI involvement in a concept test, the legal and ethical data privacy and consent requirements present questions about whether an AI interface can limit, understand, and protect participant information when necessary. Organizations must ensure transparency and adhere to mandated guidelines when using AI technologies for concept testing. Respecting privacy rights and maintaining data security is critical to building trust with consumers and avoiding potential backlash. We already see political debates worldwide on the guidelines and boundaries governments seek to protect citizens from potential issues that may carry over into the research industry before long.
Implementing a fully AI-powered concept testing platform will require significant investment in technology infrastructure, software development, and expertise. The appetite to utilize such a new innovation is undoubtedly being investigated by internal research teams and research consultancies that will explore adopting and leveraging AI in multiple ways within the scope of marketing research, especially in concept testing. The longer-term impacts will require staff throughout the research industry to receive training and upskilling to work with the AI systems, leading to yet more costs and process changes.

Looking Forward: AI is only going to increase and grow in adoption and use

As AI evolves, we will see its application in both complex and mundane tasks in the business world. The market research usage of AI in concept testing will continue to see advancements and opportunities develop. Collaboration between AI systems and research experts will improve the research output over time, enabling more robust and accurate concept testing processes. As the use and applications grow, so will the efforts to address biases, improve data quality, and incorporate ethical considerations to ensure AI's responsible and effective use in concept testing.
The recent leaps in functional uses of AI for the masses present significant potential to improve concept testing for organizations. Over time, AI will likely enhance the speed, accuracy, and insights but challenges related to bias, lack of human judgment, ethical concerns, and resources required will remain barriers to any full-scale adoption of AI for concept testing for the time being.

Meaningful Concept Testing Insights Requires Quality Data and Participants

Data quality’s importance to concept testing is vital in determining the viability and success of new product ideas or marketing strategies. The accuracy and reliability of the insights derived from concept testing research depend largely on the quality of the underlying data from the research respondents. This is why your study’s participants should be paramount in ensuring an effective concept test, as it will directly impact your decision-making process. This article will outline four reasons why data quality is crucial in concept testing research, highlighting its influence on accurate interpretation, informed decision-making, and the success of new product introductions.

Minimizing Risk and Cost

Introducing new products or concepts involves significant time, money, and resource investments. If targeted participants for your concept test are not from the right segment, have a low understanding of the concept of your products, or simply should not have been allowed to participate, the research will have poor data quality. This will result in concept testing research having erroneous assumptions, inadequate market understanding, or misjudgments, leading to an increased risk of failure and unnecessary costs. Prioritizing data quality prior to starting the research allows organizations to minimize these risks by having the correct respondents and the controls in place to eliminate poor or bad participants throughout the data collection process.

Validity of Insights

Gathering consumers’ perceptions, preferences, and attitudes towards new concepts requires your audience to be familiar at some level with the concept or product. The validity of the insights counts on whether the respondents can properly respond to questions about the concept’s purpose, function, and goal. The respondent’s higher knowledge or understanding of the concept will enable researchers to make accurate conclusions about potential consumer behavior. This is why the pool of respondents should not include those with minimal or low screening scores. Otherwise, the data has the potential of being low quality; it may introduce biases, errors, or inconsistencies that distort the accurate representation of consumers’ opinions.

Accurate Market Assessment

If respondent quality is high and their concept insights produce a good understanding of consumer attitudes and preferences, the accuracy of the market potential can be understood. Starting with robust data quality will allow a better delivery of an accurate market assessment for product launch.    Organizations will be able to assess market potential, identify market gaps, and refine the concept to match the audiences’ interests best and buying behavior. This ultimately leads to an effective marketing strategy by allowing resources to be correctly allocated and communicating product messaging and value correctly.

Data quality is a cornerstone for the success of concept testing. It ensures insights’ validity and reliability, informs decision-making, enables accurate market assessments, and minimizes risks and costs associated with new concept introductions. By prioritizing data quality throughout the research process, organizations can increase their chances of success by obtaining actionable insights that reflect their target audience’s true perceptions and preferences. Investing in high-quality data collection methods, rigorous analysis, and comprehensive validation techniques is essential for deriving accurate and reliable insights, leading to effective decisions.

Learn How To Improve Data Quality With The Next Concept Test

The 2023 GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report  highlighted how over several years, data quality has been a top priority when selecting a research partner. Socratic ensures the highest level of data quality for their clients. From the Fraud Risk Score™ and The Pane Fraud Index™ to the automated and manual checks and reviews, Socratic’s ability to reduce bad actors from research exceeds what others are capable of achieving and produces better insights for clients and their concepts. Learn more about how Socratic delivers better insights through data quality