End of the road for old school research methods

Traditional market research methods are under increasing pressure as the next generation of firms like Streetbees fully utilises technology to strip out people’s claims and aspirations and deliver results based purely on reality.

The company has recruited one million people around the world who can be called upon by brand owners, retailers and food service companies to record (via voice and video) how they use certain products and services and visually describe their experiences.

By typically working with sample sizes of around 1,000 people – comprising their videos, transcripts, and photos Streetbees can quickly collate a rich batch of behavioural data from anywhere in the world. Tugce Bulut, founder & CEO of Streetbees, says: “We can show how people do their laundry with photos and videos that reveal the drivers of human behaviour.”

This shows the actual reality versus how people typically answer questions for traditional research methods, according to Bulut, who says: “The data those companies have is not the reality. These are the claims and aspirations of people. When asked about snacking they’ll not mention the crisps they eat! What people think they do is a bad predictor of what they actually do.”

Tugce Bulut, founder & CEO, Streetbees

Proof of Streetbees’ success can be seen in the fact the company is working with nine out of 10 of the world’s largest FMCG companies including frequent user of its service Unilever. Such has been the impact that Streetbees has dislodged Kantar in providing the mainstream food and beverage research for the FMCG giant.

Bulut says it would not be possible to watch and analyse 1,000 videos in a sample and so Streetbees employs machine learning for network analysis to recognise “visual clusters and constellations of meanings”. However, the key element of its black box at the moment is its natural language processing that uses machine learning to find meaningful blocks from the transcriptions.

Along with the large FMCG companies Streetbees derives as much as 50% of its work from food and beverage companies including major coffee chains, food delivery businesses and fast food providers that are not interested in views about the food but want to know about the customers’ experiences.

What these businesses – and the FMCG companies – find particularly useful is the ability of Streetbees to undertake rich and meaningful research ahead of them making moves into potential new markets.

“The reason why people do not launch products in say Nigeria is because they do not understand the market. Traditional research methods in those markets do not work – the findings are not good. We can open up these new markets for them,” says Bulut,

With three years of operating under its belt and a model that has been proven to be scaleable (with some months profitable), the recent fundraising of $12 million from venture capital companies including Atomico, will see Streetbees bulk up its technology team and further develop its capabilities.

Against this backdrop the traditional research firms, and some of their outdated methods, look set to face even more pressure from the new breed of technology firms like Streetbees that are a honeypot of insight.

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider