NEW ORLEANS, LA – July 28, 2010
The nation’s largest and most widely-read newspaper, USA Today, prominently featured The Olinger Group on the cover of the publication’s “Money” section Wednesday, July 28, 2010. Marketing reporter Bruce Horovitz’s story explained how The Olinger Group is pioneering the use of Apple’s iPad in the market research industry. Company Founder and CEO Jude Olinger told Horovitz how the firm equipped hundreds of interviews with the new tablet to conduct thousands of surveys at more than 130 shopping malls across the country.
The article also included insight from the Council of American Survey Research Organizations (CASRO) and client General Growth Properties (GGP). Click here for the PDF version of the USA Today article, or read below.
Market researchers get new tool in iPad
By Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY
July 28, 2010
The struggling world of consumer market research appears on the brink of getting a serious shot in the arm from an unexpected new tool: the iPad.
The $20 billion market research industry was hit hard by the economic downturn, but the rectangular tablet computer from Apple (AAPL) is emerging as an unlikely benefactor.
The gadget is luring curious consumers who’ve never seen one to participate in research projects conducted at shopping malls, primarily because they just want to see how it works.
Consumers who never would have considered talking to clipboard-wielding researchers are not only agreeing to take part — in some cases, they’re approaching the survey takers before they’ve been asked.
People “are attracted by the cool factor,” says Jude Olinger, CEO of the Olinger Group, a marketing research firm that conducted surveys at 130 shopping malls for the past two months using 200 iPads. “People who haven’t seen iPads are fascinated.”
At many of the centers, he says, response was so good that survey takers collected the required information in about three weeks instead of the four they’d anticipated.
“Instead of people turning away and saying, ‘I don’t have time,’ the iPad makes it a lot easier to say, ‘Yes,’ ” says Diane Bowers, president of the Council of American Survey Research Organizations, a trade group for survey research business.
The research project that Olinger Group conducted was for General Growth Properties, the nation’s second-largest shopping center developer. The company wanted to do a benchmark study of consumer shopping habits coming out of the recession.
In April, the research firm was asked to interview 52,000 people in 130 malls nationwide. The request was for a pencil-and-paper survey. But Jude Olinger, who says such studies typically have marginal data quality, opted for the iPad — which he knew was about to come out. His firm purchased 300 iPads at $684 each.
The iPad presented its own set of research challenges. Some overheated in direct sunlight and shut down, Olinger says.
In one case, a consumer at a mall in Rhode Island was so enamored with the iPad, he grabbed it from the interviewer and ran off.
Apple declined to comment.
But iPad’s benefits far outweighed the negatives, Olinger says. The iPad lets researchers collect data in real time — and aggregate it.
The 10-hour battery life, he says, lets workers put in long days without needing to plug in.
The data gathered via iPads was top quality, says Keith Maladra, vice president at General Growth Properties. “We’d want to use iPads again when another project like this comes up.”