Segmentation Research: Why is it so Important?
18 Sep 2019

Where did segmentation begin?

From the 1920s to the 1960s, mass marketing was a popular technique used to increase brand awareness. It coincided with the invention of the radio and television. At the time, there were only a few radio and TV channels available, so it was a common tactic to market to the most significant number of people as possible. Segmentation was not something in use.

However, this technique fell to the wayside as it is no longer cost-effective. There several ways to listen, watch, and consume media today (internet, social media, etc.) and our country is much more diverse than it once was. We now recognize that Americans have different beliefs, ethnicities, sexualities, and psychographic behaviors. As a result, smart marketing means targeting the appropriate audience for your brand. Marketing should not be one-size-fits-all.

A more efficient method to target consumers is to identify buyers who have a higher propensity to purchase your offering. The key is to determine how this group looks or acts similarly to advertise to them with the best message and media channel.  Segmentation divides consumers into distinct groups by these types of attributes: purchase propensity, demographics, psychographics, geography, and media habits. When creating segments, the key is to have a manageable number of groups. Also, each cohort should be large enough to warrant the investment.

How do you segment a market?

Market research can help you divide your prospects into the appropriate number of segments, as well as determine which groups have the highest market potential. Surveying your population of prospects is a vital way to understand your potential target audience better. It provides a method to map out the brand position and develop a deeper understanding of segments.

The value of segmentation research is that it directly ties into the usability of the findings. Proper research provides direction on how to bring the segmentation alive and off the page. The end game is to ensure that all segments are “actionable,” meaning a brand can easily target these prospects. The research will survey interest in yours and competitor’s brands, buying attitudes and behaviors, as well as media habits.

Using advanced analytics, you can cluster the respondents into these meaningful segments. Often, a segmentation study can project the actual market share size and the group’s potential sales. A segmentation study can even be used to segment your own customer/prospect database.

Once the segmentation study is complete, you will know which audience warrants investment and how to best advertise to them.

When the priority segments are determined, developing personas is also an essential way to bring your audience to life. Creating segment names, visually displaying the priority segments, and writing stories about these cohorts makes them more relatable. It allows you to understand why and how customers connect with your brand.

Want to learn more about Market Research? Here are some blog posts to check out!

  1. Sampling: The Importance of Good Sample
  2. I’m Just Not That Into You: Exclusivity or Bad Marketing?
  3. Is Your Research Stuck in the 1980s? Update Your Brand Tracker!
  4. Market Research Doesn’t Need to Be Boring – Improve Data Visualization

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Sampling: The Importance of Good Sample
11 Sep 2019

What is Survey Sample? 

A sample is a subset of a population selected for a research study. A population is the total number of people in a group that researchers are interested in examining. For example, if you want to understand the attitudes of people who invest in the stock market in the United States, it would be too difficult and costly to question every person who trades this asset. As a result, quantitative research only takes a “sample” of the full population. 


The quality of your sample determines the quality of your results. As researchers and brands try to interpret insights, they must never compromise the quality of their methodology. We know that errors can come from poor survey writing. A good researcher also knows that a “bad sample” leads to inaccurate and misleading results.

Sample Size

So, how much sample is needed to project the attitudes of all US investors accurately? The key is to reduce the number of errors when mirroring your ideal population. The more respondents you have taking the survey minimizes the margin of error (confidence interval). However, at a certain point, increasing the number of respondents only reduces the margin of error slightly and means it is not worth adding the additional respondents. 

When there are too few respondents, there is a higher likelihood that outliers will impact the survey result, and your conclusions will be inaccurate. 

What is that magic number of respondents? Every ideal sample size is different because not all populations are the same. The best way to figure out the sample is to calculate the margin error.  Click here to use a margin of error calculator. 


It is also crucial to make sure that your sample is unbiased. Sampling bias occurs when the respondents selected are not representative of the population. The best way to avoid any discrepancies is to choose your sample randomly. 

Bias could also come in the form of a “bad respondent.” Someone might fit the population demographics, but fill out their surveys incorrectly to finish the study as quickly as possible or not be paying attention. As a result, it is pertinent to monitor your sample in the field and carefully review it after finishing the research study. 

Monitoring Sample

For online surveys, there are a couple of ways that you can check the quality of a respondent:

  1. Review individual survey results for patterns like straight lines and diagonal/patterned lines. These patterns indicate inadequate responses. 
  2. Make sure to monitor open-ended questions for gibberish or irrelevant answers. If respondents are not taking the survey seriously, they aren’t accurately portraying the population’s views and thus muddying the results. 
  3. How quickly a respondent finishes, the study is another indicator if the respondent was speeding through and took the survey accurately. 


Given that you may be targeting a specific audience, screeners are necessary to determine that the appropriate people are coming into your survey. If you want your results to reflect the views of the population you are seeking, it is essential to impose restrictions on who is taking the questionnaire. For example, you need to make sure a study among stock traders does not include those who do not invest. Add questions to your survey that confirm that the consumer trades stocks.

If your audience is supposed to reflect a specific population in regards to certain criteria (e.g., gender, age, etc.), it is critical to monitor these attributes. A great way to control this is by implementing quotas. Putting these criteria questions in the screener will allow you to quickly determine if you need more sample for a quota or screen out full quotas.

Want to learn more about Market Research? Here are some blog posts to check out!

  1. Blockchain & the Market Research Industry
  2. I’m Just Not That Into You: Exclusivity or Bad Marketing?
  3. Is Your Research Stuck in the 1980s? Update Your Brand Tracker!
  4. Market Research Doesn’t Need to Be Boring – Improve Data Visualization

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Blockchain & the Market Research Industry
04 Sep 2019

Industries Evolving with Technology

You might be thinking ‘What does Blockchain have to do with the Market Research industry?’ Well, the Market Research industry is maturing. It has evolved exponentially since its inception. While it is excellent news for the industry, it means that the companies involved need to keep up. As mentioned in a recent blog, marketing and advertising are advancing too. Now, companies can target their audiences down to their age, marital status, and geo-location all through social media. This means companies want to narrow down the criteria for the respondents from whom they want to gather insights. 

As these industries mature, so do consumers. Reaching the correct audience is becoming harder and harder as they are inundated with more and more content. Also, getting the right consumers to complete a research study is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Consumers are more sophisticated and do not trust brands or research companies as quickly as they once did. 

Trust in the Market Research Industry

Apparently, the general population trusts the market research industry more than social media companies and the government. But confidence is still low in the space! And the increase of notable cyber attacks (such as Facebook/Cambridge Analytica) in recent years has caused the general public to become more concerned than ever about their privacy. This heightened awareness means that transparency is crucial. While it has always been important, market research companies need to be upfront about how they use and store respondent information, and when they will delete it. To keep trust, it is paramount that research companies limit the amount of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) they request. 

Is Blockchain the Answer To The Market Research Industry’s Questions?

There has been much buzz about Blockchain in every industry, but it turns out that it may be able to help solve the growing pains that the Market Research industry is experiencing. What is Blockchain? It is a system that maintains a record or transaction across several computers that link in a peer-to-peer network. This could mean that data would be safer, and market research companies could stop asking the same questions over and over again.

Could a Blockchain solution improve trust among research participants? This new technology could increase confidence among respondents by encrypting their information and allowing market research companies to get to the point instead of repeatedly asking the same PII of respondents. 

For Blockchain to succeed in the Market Research industry, there are a few factors that we need to account for:

  1. Communication: There needs to be clear communication among industry professionals and research participants. For Blockchain to improve standards in Market Research, all companies will need to agree, and it will have to become the industry norm. 
  2. Education: Market Research professionals, as well as research participants, will need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the technology entirely. 
  3. Transparency: This goes without saying, without openness, research respondents will not adopt the technology. 

The introduction of Blockchain could improve participation rates in research studies – people will trust the companies conducting the research more, and they will not be bored by filling out the same information time and time again. 

Ironically, for this technology to take the research industry by storm, more research is needed. It is crucial that for Blockchain to succeed, it needs to be commercially viable. 

Check out our other blogs!

Have a look at the way other technologies are affecting the market research industry: Virtual Reality and Qualitative Research: Fad or Here to Stay?

Read about market research for tech companies themselves: Tech Companies: Have You Thought About Your Marketing Strategy?


I’m Just Not That Into You: Exclusivity or Bad Marketing?
28 Aug 2019

Traditional Product Adoption vs. Targeting the Masses

Apple, Google, and many large tech brands have decided that the traditional product adoption curve is outdated and that the best bet is to target straight to the masses. Further, these large brands have the money to market to the general population. In addition, advertising to the masses allows them to beat the competitors in the adoption of their product. However, should your brand stick with exclusivity or target the general population?

In some cases this mass adoption works, such as in the case of Apple’s iPhone. However, in other scenarios, it becomes an epic fail, such as Google Glass. Above all, the product fell short due to the lack of clarity on why the product existed. Moreover, the general population did not need any of the functions that the glasses provided. However, warehouse workers and surgeons found the technology behind Google Glass beneficial to their jobs. For instance, warehouse workers could easily see and access information about a package by merely looking at a container with the glasses on. Similarly, doctors, when operating, can be better informed by wearing the glasses. This product is now marketed to niche audiences and it has a better chance of survival. 

Niche Targeting

Several brands target a niche audience. For example, a backpack company may target hiker enthusiasts or an expensive shoe brand will communicate to women who live in an area with an average household income of $200K+. Many of these brands fear that broadening their target audience will isolate their core audience and ultimately, hurt brand equity. The exclusive feeling that the brand portrays may dwindle if promoted to everyone. 

How to Expand Targeting

For example, brands such as Ralph Lauren, BMW, and W Hotels have sub-brands or different models with lower price points to generate additional sales. However, does this methodology hurt the parent brand? If a brand wants to abandon exclusivity and expand its target audience and start targeting the general population, here are the key questions to ask:

  • Who is your current audience?  
  • How does this audience differ from the new target in regards to demographics, psychographics, and media habits?
  • Where is it acceptable for your brand to be distributed?  
  • Are there new retailers in which you are looking to sell? How does this differ from your current distribution method? Is this retailer acceptable to your core target? 
  • What price is seen as too inexpensive that the product’s core audience will begin to question the quality? What pricing is acceptable for a broader audience to pay?
  • Will you sell a different product line to this new market?

Market research such as surveys, focus groups, and secondary research are essential to help find the answers to these crucial questions. So, the risk is too high not to research before making such a critical business decision. Maybe it’s time to consider exclusivity or targeting the general population. 

Check out some of our most recent posts from our strategy and advertising research blog here:

  1. Blockchain & the Markest Research Industry
  2. Is Your Research Stuck in the 1980s: Update Your Brand Tracker!
  3. Market Research Doesn’t Need to Be Boring: Improve Data Visualization
  4. Tips For Building Brand Strategy for a Successful Brand
  5. What’s the Difference Between Quantitative and Qualitative?

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Check out our most recent features in the news media:

September 11th, 2019: 40% of U.S. Millennials prefer crypto investments in the event of a recession: eToro Survey

July 31st, 2019: Jewelry Is About to Get its Own ‘Got Milk’ Ads

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Provoke Insights is a full-service market research firm. We help build and grow brands using multiple market research methodologies including qualitative, quantitative, and secondary research. We hope to work with you in the future.

Is Your Research Stuck in the 1980s? Update Your Brand Tracker!
21 Aug 2019

It is time to update your brand tracker. In 1988, my TV only had seven channels. There was no social media, internet, or email. Cable and satellite TV was a luxury that most people did not have. As a result, a commercial could dominate the airwaves and print ad would take over the major magazines and newspapers. In the 1980s, it was easier to be seen and heard. 

The following thirty years brought a shift in the way people consume media. As internet providers such as AOL became more popular in the 1990s, consumers began surfing the web and sending emails. By the 2000s, traditional media outlets such as magazines, newspapers, direct mail, and radio have all suffered a hit from the digital revolution.  

In 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone and media was truly accessible anywhere and anytime. Today, waking up in the morning, the first thing many people do is grab their iPhone to check the weather, news, social media, text, or email. 

Changing With the Times – Brand Tracker Makeover

Given the change in the way that consumers absorb media, awareness of brands is no longer driven simply by a TV commercial or a print ad. The consumer journey has become fragmented. The traditional shopping behavior is transformed into a labyrinth of multi-channel interactions that influence the customer decision process. 

There are more media channels and content than ever before. Also, consumers are now viewing media from multiple devices simultaneously. The amount of time spent online has quadrupled between 2007 and 2016, with total internet usage coming close to the amount of time spent watching TV (IPA Media in Focus, 2018).

However, long-term sales and brand equity are still crucial regardless of the media mix, and it is important to track this data needs. Current brand tracking surveys often miss the boat when it comes to understanding the new consumer journey. 

While building a brand that consumers love still needs to include measuring a brand’s fame, emotional association, and what drive sales. Brand building in the digital age also includes tracking how prospects, current users of a brand, and the competition utilize media channels (e.g., search, YouTube, banner ads, TV commercials). It is critical to see how this multi-channel behavior of buying a product or service impacts brand relevance, experience, and if visitors want to return to these sites. 

Successful Brand Tracking Yields Actionable Results

Advertisement placement, messaging, and brand promise analyzed by how consumers are shopping will yield more actionable results than a standard brand tracker. It also allows a company to measure the impact of a brand and its competitors during the purchasing decision.

Brand tracking surveys need to break down the decision journey. Identify critical points of influence regardless of if it is online or offline. Content is widespread in ways that nobody in the 1980’s and before could foresee. Who knew that there would be computers, phones, and tablets in every home in the country? Your brand tracker needs to account for all technology use to help you determine where to place your products effectively and efficiently.

Most importantly given that the consumer journey is constantly shifting a brand tracker needs to be flexible. While tracking and measuring key data points are critical, adding or subtracting questions should not be seen as a negative. You can update your brand tracker without the world ending but if you want to stay in the 80’s – feel free!

Check out our other blogs on tracking:

The Benefits & Boundaries of Ad Tracking Surveys

The Importance of Ad Tracking

Check out some of our other recent blog posts:

I’m Just Not That Into You: Exclusivity or Bad Marketing?

Blockchain & the Market Research Industry

Market Research Doesn’t Need to Be Boring: Improve Data Visualization

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Market Research Doesn’t Need to Be Boring – Improve Data Visualization
08 Aug 2019

Market research reports can many times become overwhelming with endless charts, tables, and lists of quotes. However, telling the story is as important as the data that is gathered. Exceptional visualizations of survey data help show the data in a digestible manner as well as convey a better picture of findings. 

Visualizing data and synthesizing information is a difficult task. To quote statistician Edward Tufte, “To envision information–and what bright and splendid visions can result–is to work at the intersection of image, word, number, art. The instruments are those of writing and typography, of managing large data sets and statistical analysis, of line and layout and color.” Data visualization lies somewhere between math and art. Here are four things to keep in mind when visualizing your open ends and survey data.

1. Visualize Comparisons

Show comparisons, contrasts, differences.  

Useful visualizations show differences between items. Include significant differences between groups on bar graphs to emphasize where contrast lies in the data. Above all, the point of visualizing data is to learn through comparisons. Therefore, an effective visualization reveals a found difference within a dataset.


Show multivariate data; graphs, word clouds, location, and more.

Visualizing as much data in as many different ways is key to making the most out of your surveys. Surveys include a few types of data. There are simple bar graphs to visualize multiple choice answers, but there are more creative ways that might bring out something new in the data. Think about showing data based on location on a map (i.e., What state are you from?). If there are ways to create networks connecting answers, a network graph could be informative. 

For open-ended responses, word clouds to display the most common words and topics that appeared. There are simple word clouds which present the most frequent words in a text set. Then there are more involved methods like topic modeling and sentiment analysis. In short, you should consider both when displaying open-ended responses.

3. Documentation in Market research

Thoroughly describe the evidence. Provide a full title, indicate the authors and sponsors, document the data sources, show complete measurement scales, point out relevant issues.

It’s most important to describe your data. By giving titles, pairing your graphics with question data, and even explaining the results of your visualizations, you are presenting your information correctly and giving your viewers as much information as possible.

4. Quality Above All when working on visualization

Analytical presentations ultimately stand or fall on the quality, relevance, and integrity of the content.

Most important is the integrity of the data. Today, it’s important to show data that is correct, cleaned, and accurately described. A misleading visualization is a lousy visualization. As a result, everything else is out the window if the content is inaccurate and of poor quality.

It’s important to be vigilant yet creative in your data visualizations. It is essential to keep these four methods in mind when visualizing your survey responses. In other words, don’t let shoddy visualization methods affect your interpretation of the survey’s results.

Most importantly, the goal of every survey is to collect useful information that is both accurate and easy to analyze. Make sure you are correctly and creatively visualizing that information.

Want to learn more about Market Research? Here are some blog posts to check out!

  1. What’s the Difference Between Quantitative vs. Qualitative?
  2. Virtual Reality & Qualitative Research: Fad or Here to Stay?
  3. 6 Things to Watch Out for When Writing a Survey
  4. Marketing Strategies for Generation Alpha: the Newest Generation

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Keep on the lookout for more blog posts from us!