All posts by 347553kz

A new era in market research?

Technology has allowed us to stay in contact with each other 24 hours a day. At any point in time you can use email, Whatsapp and an endless amount of social media to get in touch with your friends and family. It takes almost no effort and it allows you to have a response within seconds. In the field of market research, the technology that allows fast communication is for a big part yet undiscovered. Something almost all of the market research tools (e.g. surveys, focus groups, telephone interviews, etc.) have in common is that it costs a lot of time, effort and money. One simple but very clever app might change the area of market research completely.

The app Upinion allows companies to do their market research completely differently compared to how they did it before. Upinion allows companies to ask real-time questions towards their customers using mobile technology. It works really simple: A company creates a specific marketing related question in the Upinion app. Then the question is send to all the relevant and targeted consumers which make use of the app. They fill in their answer and send it back, through the app, towards the company. All the results are then automatically collected and statistics and reports can be created within minutes after the company asked the question. It is also possible to set very detailed filters so that companies can specifically reach the people who belong to the research target group. So the market research turned from a multiple days or even multiple weeks process into a several minute process, all with the help of modern-day technology and this clever app! Intensive market research is not something just for the big companies with large marketing budgets, even small and local companies can easily receive interesting and useful information through this app.

So what’s in it for customers?
Customers get tired from traditional marketing research tools. “Can you please fill in this survey?”, “Can I ask you a few questions?”, consumers are asked these questions quite often in either supermarkets or through the telephone. In my experience, 9 out of 10 people do not want to answer these questions because it costs them valuable time and they do not get anything in return. With Upinion that seems to be completely different. Only people who installed the app receive questions, and by installing the app, people already give away that they are willing to contribute to market research. But the most interesting part of this app in my opinion is that people who provide answers, in return receive credits and vouchers which they can spend at the brands they just answered a question from. In this way, companies not only receive useful market data, but they can also increase their sales by attracting additional customers through these offers.

So both sides of the market have benefit from the Upinion app. Consumers can receive credits and nice discounts and companies receive fast and real-time data, and additionally they attract additional customers. I think this app is a form of real-time crowdsourcing in the field of marketing and it therefore elaborates on the trend of consumer value creation. I am really curious about how the app works so I will start using it right away, what about you?

Sources:, Retrieved April 27, 2015, Retrieved April 27, 2015, Retrieved April 27, 2015

Reputation and uncertainty in online markets

One of the main problems which occurs in electronic markets is the information asymmetry between buyers and sellers. Buyers do not have the same information about the products as sellers do. The most important part of information advantage sellers have, has to do with the quality of the product. Sellers know the real quality, while buyers must rely on the description text provided by the seller. A well-known concept in the context of information asymmetry is moral hazard, which occurs when one party carries more risk than the other party. This happens in electronic markets when the buyer needs to complete the payment before the seller sends the product. In this way, the seller carries more risk. One of the most common types of internet fraud has to do with non-existing sellers or sellers who deliver unrepresented goods or even no goods at all. One way to overcome this information asymmetry is to build a relation with the other party. The problem is that for offline transactions this seems to be feasible, but for online transactions building a relationship seems to be harder. Therefore, the online reputation systems are introduced. In this way buyers can rate the behavior of the sellers, so that the more reliable sellers stand out against the unreliable sellers. Rating sellers may help other buyers in their decision process, so the online reputation system is a good example of consumer value creation.

In the article by Rice (2012) reputation and uncertainty in online markets are tested in a game setting. The game setting is as follows:

Game sequence

In this game setting there are two groups: buyers and sellers. Buyers have an amount of money which they ‘invest’ in the seller. The seller decides on how much of that investment he will return. Therefore the ‘investment’ can be seen as a price, and the ‘return’ can be seen as a delivered good. Initially the sellers announces how much he will return (e.g. quality of a good). Then, the buyer chooses how much he wants to invest in the seller (e.g. how much does the buyer wants to pay for the product). After that, the seller chooses how much of that money which was invested by the buyer he will return to the buyer (e.g. what quality will he deliver). Finally, the buyer has the opportunity to rate the seller. There is also an uncertainty factor included in the game setting. This provides the uncertainty that the returned amount can be intercepted by the researchers with a chance of 30%. The findings suggest that the occurrence of reputation systems stimulates people to take part in a transaction. Buyers who don’t meet expectations receive poorer ratings, while buyers who exceed expectations receive higher ratings. But when the buyers doubt whether the unmeet expectations are not caused by the seller, fewer poor ratings occur. This is related to the uncertainty factor. It seems that the higher the uncertainty factor, the more the buyers tend to trust the other party. Also, sellers’ positive ratings result in a higher investment of buyers. In some cases, a poor rating is weighted more heavily than a good rating.

I think the article highlights some very interesting aspects of online reputation systems, but I still have one question on my mind after reading this article. Nowadays, a lot of these online reputation systems are extended with visual text instead of just a scale rating. These text boxes mostly have much more details about the transaction experience with a specific seller and have therefore more value. I am wondering whether the findings of this article are also relevant in reputation systems with boxes of text, because these text-based reputation systems seemed to be more popular in the recent years. What do you think?


Sarah C. Rice, (2012) Reputation and Uncertainty in Online Markets: An Experimental Study. Information Systems Research. 23(2):436-452., retrieved 22 April, 2015, retrieved 22 April, 2015

Controversial Yik Yak

It seems like a simple idea: create a platform which allows users to anonymously create posts which are linked to specific locations. Still, this idea from Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington received investments equal to $73 million. These investments result in a company valuation between $300 million and $400 million, all within one year after launch. The whole idea is captured in a very interesting, but controversial app: Yik Yak.

The app Yik Yak was founded in 2013 by Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, who directly created the app after they graduated from Furman University in South Carolina. The app had a Facebook like start, since it used the networks as they exist on university and college campuses to spread the app across many students with the help of word of mouth. Soon after the Furman University was added to the app, other neighboring colleges picked up the app. In this way the app spread across the United States and within one year after launch, over 1500 colleges were on the app.

So what is it all about? Yik Yak allows users to anonymously create posts which can only be read by other users which are within a specific area. So based on your location the app divides you into a specific group of users which are within a specific distance from each other. All the users within that specific group can post, read and like the messages, which are called yaks. These yaks can be up-voted or down-voted by other users, so that the yaks get ranked according to popularity. Users can also comment on yaks, to enable the possibility of a conversation between different users. As I explained above, the app is mostly used on colleges across the United States. Tyler Droll, one of the founders of Yik Yak, described his app as follows: “it’s like a bulletin board for your local area.” But although the intentions for this app are well-meant, it turns out that the app is not always used in the way it is supposed to be…

Downside of Yik Yak
One of the negative aspects of the Yik Yak app is that it brings along cyber-bullying. Of course, due to the fact that everyone who is using the app is completely anonymous, users can say anything they want. All kind of forms of cyber-bullying occur through the app like violation threats, sexual assault and racism. Several counter measures were taken towards these negative features of the app. The two founders allowed to geo-fence the app, so that the app cannot be used in specific areas. Due to this measure, the app cannot be used in and around many primary and secondary schools in the United States. If students open the app in the geo-fenced areas, a message pops up saying that the app cannot be used in this area. Besides this, the founders increased the minimal age to download the app to 17 years. Finally, a lot of school across the United States took action to ban the app in and around their campuses.

I think this app is a very interesting example, since it shows two sides of a story. On the one hand, the app raises a lot of money through investments and gets an enormous valuation within a small time period. But on the other hand it struggles a lot with the social aspects of the app. This app is a good example of how users can create and destroy the value of an app. Some users create value for the app by creating interesting messages, while other users destroy value of the app by using it for cyber-bullying.