Every Picture Tells a Story

Social_Media_ReportIn the words of Rod Stewart – every picture tells a story. At MSI we’re constantly bantering about social media, which sites will make it, which ones will die a slow death. So we decided to take a deeper look at a variety of social and technology trends in 2013. And we’re going to tell that story with pictures. Our first foray was a look at the social media sites with the largest followings. And in order to tell the story, we used a tried but true method of having consumers associate “faces” of consumers with the sites. A total of 10 pictures were used to get out the faces and personality of the major social media sites.

And what we found may surprise you…

The Ever Evolving Social Network – Perceptions of Today


In spite of social networks appearing to be new on the scene, they have evolved in dramatic ways. Thinking back to the early days of social networks, they were comprised predominantly of male engineers. Subsequently, a new social network came on the scene, first referred to as The Facebook which was comprised of college students. Fast forward to today and people from all walks of life are on social networks. In fact, they have become part of our fabric. Some may even go as far as expressing that certain social networks have become less cool given that grandmas and grandpas embrace them. Nevertheless, it is through social networking websites that we communicate with others by:

And the winner is…results from our recent Oscar poll.

MSI_Academy_Awards_winnerAnother Hollywood award season culminated Sunday night with the biggest show of the year, the Academy Awards. From the red carpet parade of designer gowns to the over-the-top show production, from the “genuine” heart-felt (if not incoherent) acceptance speeches of the winners to the gracious applause from the losers – and not to mention Jennifer Lawrence’s embarrassing trip up the stairs – the Academy Awards brought its audience a wide range of emotions that only Hollywood can.

For those of us in the market research industry, the Oscars also gave us another chance to see how well the so-called experts could predict the winners. At MSI, we were curious to see how well our audience fared against the Nate Silvers and David Rothschilds of the world. We asked our social media followers a few questions on who they wanted to win, who they thought should win, and who they predicted would win in the Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Picture categories.

With over 100 people responding, MSI followers on average watched 2 out of the 9 movies nominated for Best Picture. Over one-quarter (29%) did not watch a single nominated movie (if The Avengers was nominated that number would be much closer to 100%), but why let that stop people from making predictions or sharing their opinions? Does it matter that so many people did not watch these most of these movies? Would we see a bias towards Silver Linings Playbook, set locally in Philadelphia and starring hometown actor Bradley Cooper?

Let’s find out. Without further ado, here are the results (queue the music as we open the envelope)…

Big Data Scientists – Fact or Fiction An Interview with Dr. Mark Hayward, University of Texas

Big_Data_MSIRecently I have read a number of articles about Big Data Scientists. Actually, they have been about Scientists, Analysts, Researchers, etc. Nobody knows what to call them, so I’ll use the term “Scientists.”

And similarly, no one seems to agree on where they come from (or where they should come from). The arguments range from IT, Business Analysts and Statisticians to Social Scientists. As I read these debates, my gut reaction was to believe the best data scientists will come from the social sciences.

25 Years (and Counting)

ImpressionThis September MSI International will celebrate our 25th anniversary. Hard to believe that we’ve been helping clients for that long. Or as we said at our 10 year anniversary – 10 years of asking better questions. When I started the company I had one goal in mind. That was to create a work environment where we could do great work for our clients and have fun doing it. I think we achieved our mission.

But seriously, 25 years is really a long time. Just to put this in perspective I looked into what else was going on when I founded the company.  Some of this you may find amusing, but it definitely puts the 25 years in perspective.

  • A first class stamp cost $.22.
  • Bobby McFerrin won song of the year with “Don’t worry be happy”.
  • Both the winter and summer Olympics were held in the same year.
  • Popular films included Rain Man, Big, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Die Hard (the first) and my favorite – A Fish Called Wanda.
  • Median price of a new home : $91,600.
  • The democratic convention nominated Michael Dukakis as the presidential candidate. George Bush and Dan Quayle were the winning candidates from the Republican Party (spelling aside).
  • The (first) Iraq war ended.
  • Pan AM flight explodes over Lockerbie Scotland (our first real experience with terrorism).

I don’t know about you, but these events feel like they occurred decades ago, and I guess they did.

I’ve included an article that was in the Philadelphia Daily News just prior to me starting the company.  Look at how young I was (and check out the doo – my hair wasn’t even gray let alone the white it is today). That’s 25 years staring you down right there.


In those 25 years MSI as a company has grown and we’ve grown with each other.  We’ve laughed together and cried together. And we’ve also worked many a late night and weekend together – far too many bad pizzas to count.

And as I reflect on the past 25 years, probably the best testament to what we’ve accomplished is the longevity of our staff. Currently on staff we have:

  • Seven co-workers with over 20 years tenure.
  • And another nine with more than 10 years’ experience.

So as we approach this milestone I thought this would be the perfect time to say thanks. Thanks to our staff who worked so hard for our success, thanks to our families who tolerated our late nights and weekends and thanks to our many clients and friends who have supported us through these 25 years. You don’t achieve 25 years on your own, we did it together.

Corporate Responsibility Continued

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about mid-size corporate citizenship and MSI’s yearlong program go to give back to the community. Since then we completed Movember. MSI raised over $9000 dollars for Prostate and Testicular Cancer. Also our employees adopted a local family and provided a complete holiday experience for them – gifts, clothes and holiday meal. I should add that they did this entirely on their own – sometimes these efforts are far more gratifying than our planned corporate efforts.

This holiday season MSI will again support global children charities. However, we need your input into which charities we should support. You may be receiving a card from us with a QR code and web address where our clients and friends can vote on which charities we should support. Please take a moment to vote on your favorite charity. Or, you can go to www.msimsi.com/holiday and vote now.

And on behalf of MSI, MSI-ACI and all of our employees I wish the very best to you and your families this holiday season and look forward to working with you in the coming year.


Infographics: The Art of Visualizing Research

A few years back, I was invited to attend a webinar designed to help us think about how to express our study results in a more visually appealing manner than the usual bar, line and pie charts and endless tables filled with numbers that one typically sees in a market research report. It sounded like a great idea until I read the synopsis, which made some grand statement about visually displaying data without showing any numbers. At the time I thought ‘Are they crazy? No numbers? They do realize that we need to defend our insights with the actual numbers revealed by the study, don’t they?’

Being a Good Mid-Size Corporate Citizen











We frequently get asked to evaluate the “good corporate citizen” aspect of our clients’ brand image. This has ranged from degree of “greenness” to employee satisfaction and morale. And in some cases our clients have asked us to look at multiple indicators of corporate responsibility, such as greenness, commitment to community, a good place to work, responsible products, etc.

When thinking about this the other day for a client, I asked myself – are we a good corporate citizen? 

Archetypal Analysis: Segmenting on the Extremes

So, I’m one to generally heed the sage advice to not talk about religion or politics with friends and family (though I sometimes cannot help myself :)).  But if you’re like me, you’ve likely been forced to at least think about or possibly even divulge your political affiliation during the current election season here in the U.S.

The simple question we’re asked is:  are you Conservative, Liberal, or Moderate?

Welcome to the MSI Blog: Key Insights Impacting Marketing Research Industry

How things have changed through the years. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, when I first became a market researcher, much of our information was gathered from yearly conferences that were well attended by the thought leaders of our industry.  Although these still exist, blogging has become a primary method to start a dialogue on key trends in today’s environment.