Findyr at Smart Cities NYC 2017

Last week, Findyr participated in the Smart Cities NYC 2017 conference.  Thought leaders and practitioners across the fields of Technology and Urbanization met to discuss how innovative ideas can help revitalize cities and help support responsible urbanization.

image (1)Findyr’s business stands at the intersection of two important trends that ran through the conference: data and crowdsourcing. By allowing local peoples to leverage their knowledge, Findyr turns the city into a treasure trove for locals. Each data point provided results in a cash reward for the collector, monetizing ground truth for those who have access to it. This information offers experts the opportunity to analyze data, both more qualitative, like public opinion surveys and quantitative, like pricing data to make informed decisions about planning and implementation for cities and programs.

Over the course of the 3 day conference, there were several workshops led by Smart Cities and partners. One such event, entitled Data-driven Insights on Urban Water Infrastructure, powered by Zofnass at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, focused on using data, like photos that Findyrs collect globally, to validate the ongoing cleanup and bolster the sustainability of the Gowanus Canal in New York. Another workshop focused on the role of startups in problem-solving challenges that cities face. Working with a lean methodology and valuing outside of the box thinking that is often stifled at large corporations and government agencies, startups have a huge role in servicing many of the problems that urbanization poses.

At the center of most conversations throughout the Smart Cities NYC 2017 conference was the need for good data to make informed decisions and create metrics for success. As the world continues to urbanize, policy and trends on not just the city level, but also the neighborhood level, become ever more important. As a result granular, local data becomes ever more valuable, and Findyr serves those who need access to hyper-local, bespoke data sets.

Tax Day or Pay Day?

The process of filing taxes requires an intimate knowledge of the tax system in order to ensure receiving the maximum in tax refunds. With today being tax day in the United States, we wondered how common it is for US citizens to engage with tax professionals to do their taxes as opposed to doing them themselves.

We polled Findyrs across the United States to see if they pay for help with taxes. Of the respondents surveyed, 36% hire a tax professional. While 64% of respondents go it without paying a professional, they do engage with free services like TurboTax, which attempts to democratize tax rule knowledge.

Others took advantage of free tax help at work or as part of their investment and retirement programs. The average price paid for professional help was $1,998, with some respondents paying as much as $12,500 for the service!

Respondents often referred to confidence in the professionals they engaged with as their reason for shelling out for the help. One respondent said “I have protection against mistakes made and also to have the best possible chance of getting it done right.” While another said “We have too many deductions and credits to deal with ourselves.” For those with investments like homes, the price was well worth the stress saved and money refunded.

To learn more about our Tax Day survey and to collect your own consumer insights, contact Findyr here

World Health Day Snapshot – Fitness and the Findyr Network

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression tops the list of causes of ill health. One surefire remedy to battle depression is exercise, which aids physical as well as mental health.  Given that today is World Health Day, and exercise plays such an vital role in improving health, Findyr surveyed its network to learn more about prevailing exercise habits.

Here is what we found:

Capture

30% of respondents reported that they do not exercise, but of that group 18% belong to a gym and spend an average of $40 a month on their membership. Clearly, having a gym membership does not ensure a healthy exercise regime.  The percentage of respondents who exercise 4 times a week drops to 8%; however, gym membership increases to 25% with an average cost of $100. people who spend time in the gym are willing to shell out big bucks for their exercise. Serious exercise fanatics, reporting 5 or more times a week was reported at 30% of respondents. Of this group, 23% belong to a gym with average spending at an average of $67 a month proving it is possible to commit to exercise without having to empty your pockets.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that adults commit to 30 minutes of exercise a day.  With 70% of respondents reporting that they exercise at least once a week, the Findyr network, while it still has some work to do, is on it’s way to a successful World Health Day!

Learn more about our Exercise Survey and how to collect your own custom data sets by contacting us here.

Does #Freeconeday Build Customer Loyalty?

April 4th marks Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry’s, with the ice-cream giant inviting patrons to their retail locations for a free sweet treat. Between 12 pm and 8 pm, Ben and Jerry’s hands out its cones as part of  customer appreciation, but the benefits go beyond saying thank you.

The viral hashtag #freeconeday is promoted by the brand to create a grassroots marketing campaign with high visibility on social media. Fans snap a pictures of their free cones and note their flavor of preference. The event is no small feat with Ben and Jerry’s expecting to give out about 1 million scoops throughout the day. Ben and Jerry’s is not alone, Haagen-Dazs celebrates its own free cone day. But do events like this really encourage customer loyalty and help to build brands? We asked the Findyr network to tell us about their favorite ice cream brands and flavors to learn more about their sweet treat preferences.

In terms of flavor preference, Chocolate is the clear winner with 22% of respondents reporting this as their favorite. Mint Chocolate Chip was second with 13% of respondents choosing the refreshing flavor. Other popular responses included Coffee and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Some brand specific flavors also made the list including Ben and Jerry’s own Chunky Monkey and Haagen-Dazs’ Caramel Cone.

Speaking of brand specific preferences, both Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen-Dazs received mentions in our brand preference poll. However, Ben and Jerry’s reigned supreme with 16% of respondents reporting it as their favorite brand while Haagen-Dazs only received 6% of votes. Among the favorite brands, Blue Bell and Breyer’s both tied with Ben and Jerry’s at 16%. Interestingly, local brands made a strong presence with brands like Kemps, Salt and Straw and Humphry Slocombe earning mentions.

Though both Haagen-Dazs and Ben and Jerry’s participate in their own #freeconeday, local brands like Kemps command loyalty without massive marketing campaigns  In fact, 16% of respondents reported a local or regional brand as their brand of preference, tying the group with Ben and Berry’s.  Local brands garner consumer favor due to their products and ties to their community. Similarly, Ben and Jerry’s prides itself on its community and values, often taking a political stance as a company and making opinions clear through flavor names like “Yes Pecan” to commemorate the 2009 Obama campaign and more recently, “Empower Mint”, the 2016 flavor shining a light on American wealth inequality. Perhaps it is this personality that keeps Ben and Jerry’s relevant during the rise of the regional creameries. Though we’re sure the free cones don’t hurt either.icecreamimage_720

To learn more about our Ice Cream Preference survey our to collect your own bespoke customer preference data sets, contact Findyr at kbuchbinder@findyr.com

Tracking the Impact of International Development Initiatives

International Development projects often aim to be impactful in a variety of ways. While acting on the grassroots level, for example, a project may be built around increasing community access to water or education.  The outcomes of a program can have global effects, reinvigorating economies and increasing GDP. In order to understand and build upon the success of a program, there must be benchmarks to track the impact of international development projects across all areas they touch.

Impact of International Development

The Importance of Monitoring and Evaluation

Quantitative and qualitative forms of monitoring and evaluation are central to understanding what works and what doesn’t in development initiatives. Most programs rely on a multifaceted approach to reach successful outcomes. For instance, reducing the number of malaria cases could include efforts to reduce the number of mosquitoes which carry malaria or it could involve medical intervention to prevent infectious diseases. It might also include improved education on the subject of prevention or improved treatment options. Whatever the focus, the company or organization’s understanding of specific cause and effect is critical in creating repeatable and scalable programs.

How Monitoring and Evaluation Is Typically Conducted

Monitoring and evaluation is accomplished by cataloging government census data, taking photos of a specific geographic location or surveying the residents of a specific area.  This establishes a baseline at the start of programs, and then further assessments are conducted periodically. In this way, the company or organization undertaking the development can track its effectiveness. Evaluation can only be as accurate as the data available and more often than not development professionals are limited by the accuracy and availability of that data.

Technology and Tracking Development

Many companies face difficulties in accessing relevant data in emerging markets because the infrastructure for appropriately collecting data simply does not exist.  Collecting data in far away countries with language barriers makes the process of data collection arduous and costly. In recent years, researchers, consultants and other development professionals have turned to new technology that solve these issues. Apps connect development professionals to the people and places they seek to better understand, allowing them to create unique data sets that answer questions around projects with unprecedented frequency and hyper locality. Findyr, being an industry leader in this data collection space utilizes a robust network of human data sensors dispersed across the globe. These human sensors mine hyperlocal observable data more quickly and affordably than using traditional data collection processes.

Findyr in Action

Technology like Findyr offers help to remedy the host of issues associated with tracking development initiatives. By providing development professionals with a way to collect photos, videos and survey data in developing markets, Findyr connects locals with unique access to data on the ground to the professionals who serve them.

Sourcing local data is simple with Findyr, making it easy to obtain a large pool of responses. The app makes connecting with affected parties simple, so companies and organizations working in international development for whatever aim can make more informed decisions and, in turn, create more impact.

Guinness Around The Globe

It’s St. Patty’s Day, and the day wouldn’t be complete without a tall pint of Guinness! We asked our network to let us know how much Guinness costs in their cities. On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone’s a little bit Irish, so not surprisingly, we received responses from all over the globe. A can of Guinness will cost you the most in Ashdod, Israel with our user recording the price at 15 Shekels or approximately $4.13. If you are looking for Guinness on the cheap, head to Lagos, Nigeria, where a can was priced at 300 Nigerian Naira, the equivalent of 96 cents. The price doubles in Indonesia, a Findyr reporting the price at 27200 Indonesian Rupiah, approximately $2. Back in Europe, you can score a can of Guinness for 1.27 Euros, or $1.37.


Here at the Findyr Headquarters in New York we will be enjoying our Guinness watching the world famous St. Patty’s Day parade. To access our full pricing index for beers or to start building your own custom price index contact Findyr at kbuchbinder@findyr.com

Bread Riots Rock Egypt

Egypt map_v2Riots have broken out across Egypt as cuts to government subsidies have resulted in local vendors refusing to accept paper subsidy cards. Many poor Egyptians rely on the cards to receive government ration bread. This comes after the news that the number of subsidized loaves bakers were allowed to sell per day would be cut by two thirds.

Over the course of the past two years, Findyr has been collecting the prices of a variety of breads across 5 MENA markets in 21 cities on a weekly basis. This includes the cities of Alexandria, Cairo, Giza, Shubra and Suez in Egypt. This type of data could be used for a multitude of

2

purposes. For example, access to product availability and changes in pricing would be useful for forecasting political risk, and serve as valuable information for those in the business of supply chain management, allowing them to monitor the production chain from factory to shelf.

When assessing risk, it is important to understand the relationships between news, weather and politics and prices in countries. This type of discrete hyper-local data is not readily available on the internet and is extremely 1(1)important when predicting and forecasting economic, political and social trends. By engaging with Findyr, our clients are able to track changes, like bread prices in North Africa, as they happen, giving them unique insights to stay ahead of the curve.

For more information on our MENA Bread Price Index and to collect your own bespoke price indexes, contact kbuchbinder@findyr.com.

A Day Without Women

March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a call for a “more inclusive, gender equal world.” International Women’s Day was started in 2016 to celebrate the achievements of women across society, culture and politics. Recognizing the progress that has occurred, the focus of the campaign for this year is #BeBoldForChange, encouraging people around the globe to look forward to what still must be done to achieve gender equality globally.

Hot on the heels of the extremely successful worldwide Women’s Marches, organizers have called for women in the United States to boycott all paid and unpaid work for the day, participating instead in the “Day Without Women” protest. The march is highly politicized, a direct protest of the Trump administration.

The “Day Without Women” strike has been highly criticized, satirically referred to as a Day Without Privileged Women. This is in reference to the level of monetary and political stability required for one to participate in the strike.

We asked our Findyr network if they planned to participate in the protest and only 28% of respondents said they would. When asked why they would be participating, answers reflected anger around inequality in the workplace, with one respondent saying “I want to show that women are vital to society and the economy.”

Of the overwhelming majority who said they would not participate in the march, a sense of responsibility prevailed. One Findyr said “I don’t feel a need to support these activities; there are other ways.” While another told us “I am a nurse. I cannot abandon my patients.” It should be noted, many of the respondents who said they would not be participating in the march, did plan to show their solidarity through acts of activism like wearing red and donating time and money to organizations that support women’s issues.

WD
A Findyr reports a new addition to Wall Street to commemorate Women’s Day; a girl squaring off against the infamous Wall Street Charging Bull

Famine and Prices in North Africa

Extreme levels of food insecurity are sweeping the Northern Africa region, which includes Somalia and Yemen. It is estimated that over 20 million people are affected by the crisis. The famine was officially declared last month in February of 2017 and continues to ravage the region as aid organization like the United Nations struggle to provide humanitarian relief.

With estimates that 5.8 million people will be in urgent need of food assistance by June 2017, we sought to understand the situation on the ground by working with locals to collect price indexes for a group of food and lifestyle products and services. This basket of goods includes items like gasoline, water, flour, cassava, painkillers, cigarettes and even rent. In addition, we collected the going rate for services in retail. This holistic view of the economy, provided by locals, allows for unprecedented access to the situation as it unfolds.

Over the course of 15 weeks, we have collected price indicators in Hargeisa, Mogadishu, and San’a to name a few cities. This granular pricing data offers unique insight into the situation on the ground.

While we haven’t seen any drastic changes in our consumer price indexes so far, partly due to government controls over items like gasoline prices, we are closely watching to see if the food insecurity shakes the markets in months to come. Collected weekly, we have access to information as it changes.

Not only do our efforts in these countries provide governments, aid organizations, and NGOs with valuable information around scarcity and pricing, Findyr data collectors have the opportunity to earn money to help support themselves in these trying times.

To access our full CPI in Yemen, Somalia and other countries worldwide, contact us at kbuchbinder@findyr.com

 

The Evolution of Market Research Surveys

As technology changes, market research has evolved dramatically. It’s possible to use completely new technologies to survey geographic areas that were difficult to reach ten years ago.

Findyr Market Research Surveys

At the same time, changes in technology usage among the general population have meant some market research survey techniques that were once in wide use, like telephone surveys, have become viewed by the research community as unreliable. Meanwhile, technologies like Findyr have created a renaissance in older survey techniques, like face-to-face surveys.

How have market research surveys changed over time, and what can researchers expect to see in coming years?

Reliability and Methodology

While technology has changed, the underlying principles of data science have not. For instance, researchers need to ensure they have a large enough sample of the population they’re examining, and they need to make sure the sample is representative. No developments in marketing or technology will change that.

However, one of the most promising developments in survey methodology has been the use of big data. Big data is the collection of large amounts of identifying information about various populations, which is then organized and interpreted in ways that provide new insights.

By harvesting and using big data, researchers can identify demographics they may not have known existed before. They can easily understand broader trends in the market, which they can then drill into to derive greater insights by targeting smaller markets for more granular surveys.

Developments in Survey Administration

Researchers administer surveys in person, by phone or on the internet.  Widely accepted as the most reliable method, in-person surveys fell out of favor for decades as researchers moved towards telephone and then the internet to collect data.

However, more recently, the pendulum has swung back in favor of face-to-face interviews. While surveys conducted by telephone were once the gold standard for getting the opinions of large numbers of people across a geographic market, the quality of data has long been suspect.  In fact, many companies sold phone lists to researchers to represent select demographics, creating a sizable bias issue.

Furthermore, the advent of cell phones changed the survey landscape. Most cell phone numbers are unlisted, so researchers can’t get ahold of them so easily. What’s more, many households have completely abandoned landlines in favor of one or more cell phones. Targeting people — especially young demographics — by phone has become much more difficult and requires much larger sample sizes.

Even though phone surveys are fraught with problems, internet surveys are in many ways worse. While internet surveys seemed to hold a lot of promise for researchers twenty years ago, they’re largely held to be an unreliable source of data. Results are colored by self-sampling, and it’s easy for respondents to spoof IP addresses or find other ways to answer surveys multiple times.

Face-to-Face Interviews

Many interviewers are moving back to face-to-face interviews to gather information. Face-to-face interviews are typically longer than a phone or internet survey, and they’re usually conducted one-on-one, either via consumer intercepts, going household to household or by selecting individuals from a focus group.

Face-to-face interviews are so valuable because they allow intimate, in-depth discussion of topics. Their open-ended format allows researchers to ask follow-up questions that are impractical or impossible with other survey formats, and this rapport and depth makes them one of the most reliable survey methods.

In-person surveys used to only be possible in close physical proximity. Researchers had to conduct surveys locally, outsource them to local vendor or employ teams to travel out to survey people. As a result, face-to-face interviews have typically been very expensive and time consuming.

But now, technology platforms like Findyr include trained data collectors on the platform who can administer surveys through making face-to-face surveys far quicker and less expensive to complete, while improving the quality of the data.

New technology has brought exciting new developments to the world of market research surveys, with the pendulum swinging back towards face-to-face interviews, which are experiencing a renaissance, and which are by far the most reliable source of survey data. Phone surveys have lost credibility, and internet surveys remain dubious. Meanwhile, big data is making it easier to pinpoint demographics, allowing more granular surveys. Researchers will undoubtedly uncover more insights by leveraging big data along with Findyr’s technology platform and trained data collectors.