Archive for June, 2010

Twitter can be useful and fun…

June 23, 2010

I have been using twitter for sometime now, but am still not sure what I actually make of it. Is it worth the effort I wonder? Ok I know it does not take much effort to actually tweet about something, but I mean as a whole, what do I get out of it I ask myself? Apparently there are 106 million accounts on twitter, and this is going up on average by 300,000 every day, that is a heck of a lot of twits. However, about 24% of twitter users have zero, yes zero, followers (or ‘friends’ to those of you who prefer facebook speak). With 198 followers I am in the 3% of users that have more than 100 followers, but that is paltry compared to Ashton Kutcher’s 4,815,727 he being the No1 user, where does he find the time to make films I wonder?

You are only allowed to use 140 characters when tweeting, so no long rambling speeches, which is a good thing. When I first started using it I randomly followed anyone, it seemed rude not to follow someone if they were following you. But then I started getting all these annoying “make millions from your twitter account” messages and people following me that would clearly be very at odds with my personal views if they took a minute to actually look at my blog (I got heaps of right wing American Christians following me for some reason). So all this prompted me to cull a heck of a lot and suggested to several of those Christians that they check out my blog, they all stopped following me (thank you Jesus). I am now a lot more selective of who I follow and as a result I find twitter more engaging and worthwhile.

I have come to realise that it can and does play different roles for me:

From a professional perspective, I get to see some great articles (via links users post) that I might not be exposed to otherwise. Brand Channel for example is a good source in this regards

From an aesthetic point of view aussieBum never fails, their daily tweets invariably have a link to some nice eye candy that always cheers me up on a rainy day

I love a bit of sarcasm, and as such The Onion always provides an interesting and funny twist on news and current affairs

And in terms of celebrities, I do follow a few and the two I find most interesting and funny are Stephen Fry and Russel Brand

Going Organic

June 16, 2010

People chose organic foods for a variety of reasons, and apparently the aspect of feeling that you are “benefiting nutritionally” is the most common. However, that was not why I chose to go organic, mine was based on something The All Knowing I said that really struck a cord with me.

He had just been to see the movie Food Inc and we were discussing the content and my natural cynicism made me ask the question “it is all well and good people making these films about the corporatisation of the world, but what can we do as individuals, apart from feel guilty post seeing the movies because there is little or nothing we can do?”

Ok, I know that was almost more of a statement really than a question.

Anyway, his argument was that we don’t need to make grand gestures but instead we can make small yet significant choices that culminate in making a difference. His first small gesture was to only buy organic milk. You don’t have to suddenly only buy everything organic, if you did the price of your weekly grocery shop would certainly go up and the comparison may put you off committing to shopping organic in the future. Not only that, but it’s actually bloody hard (in Australia) to buy only organic, so start with a few items and build from there.

My first step in going organic was to make sure all the ingredients I used for baking my first ever cake were organic:

Next on my list was fruit, now the kiwis I got were not as green as the non-organic variety, but my god they have more taste, and yes organic apples are a bit smaller than non-organic but my god they actually taste of something and maybe organic bananas don’t stay as yellow for as long as the non variety but again they have more taste (and smell) than the others.

I am spending a ‘little’ bit more than I might have done buying non organic, but it’s a small price difference for what ultimately might make a big difference. If retailers see a demand they will deliver to it, as consumers, here in Australia at least, we have been a little lax in demonstrating that demand.

So next time you are shopping, be it for milk, fruit, veg or even cake making ingredients, take a moment to consider organic.

Some other good reasons to go organic:

  • Buying organic is better for the environment.
  • Organic foods are generally grown without pesticides, artificial fertilisers, hormones or antibiotics.
  • Organic farmers utilise techniques that promote environmentally sustainable farming and animal welfare is also regarded as a high priority.
  • It is a well known fact that vegetables grown in season taste better and most organic foods are grown in season.
  • Apparently some people choose organic food because it makes them feel good, emotionally. Now I don’t have any of those so I can’t comment on that.

By Colin MacArthur

Is the “Consumer Focus Group” Dead?

June 9, 2010

Ok so sometimes it feels like some of my respondents were dead, but does that really mean that as an approach to research that the focus group is dead?

I don’t think so, I know there are other ways and means by which to get out there and “explore the world and minds” of the consumer, but focus groups still offer us an invaluable tool to gather insights.

I know there is trend is to explore other research avenues, and that’s great, it helps feed the evolution of how we gather information, but lets not throw the baby out with the bath water. Sometimes it’s just not suitable to do a more ‘ethnographic’ approach (and indeed sometimes it is not even required). Although I do miss the days of being able to run groups in a respondents home, having a sit round the living room with a bunch of women, drinking tea, eating biscuits and talking about what they but from the supermarket and why was always good fun, but alas health and safety regulation won’t allow it.

Clients are looking for more “sexy and exciting” ways of conducting qualitative projects, and that’s great, but the process should not be at the expense of the desired outcomes.

I’m all ears for WHY the focus groups is dead, but all I hear is the phrase with little or no evidence to back it up….