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A New View Of Online Sampling
The Foodservice Shuffle
Upcoming Events
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April 2010
ADM logoQuarter Two 
It is hard to believe that the first quarter of 2010 is completed. I hope it met your expectations.
We were quite busy last month, and it's now time to clear the decks for new business. We did some interesting things with technology, foodservice, and the ever-popular Baby Boomers. And now it's time to move on to other things.
We ended the month with a vacation to a resort with an indoor water park--what fun! And a nice interlude after a frenzied quarter.
Hope your Easter and Passover were/are pleasant and rewarding!
A New View Of Online Sampling
New Technology, Same ChallengeMouse on $$ 

Frequent readers of this newsletter will be aware that I have written a few times on sampling (a subject that is near and dear to me), especially the representativeness of online sampling. A recent article by Daniel Lyons in Newsweek magazine caught my attention for a couple of reasons. The title of the article is "Money For Nothing," and is about people who buy virtual products on Facebook. Yes, that's right. In this economic environment, people are spending real money on unreal products. That is surely worth a hearty "HUH??"

Aside from that hard-to-grasp "industry," the article went on to describe how these activities are further being used by esteemed economists and academics to study consumer behavior, price sensitivities, and social factors that influence decision-making. The cool thing is that they can actually test different price points and conditions in real time (unlike the products!), rather than retrospectively, as is the case in most marketing research. However, the question Lyons poses at the end of his article is the core of this issue for me: how representative is the population on whom these tests are performed?

Which leads me to my usual rant about online sampling. While it is true that the Internet is fairly ubiquitous in the U.S., and even Facebook now spans at least 3 generations, this segment of people buying virtual products in virtual "worlds" seems like a fairly distinctive niche. In order to convince me that their behavior and decision-making is generalizable, these business and economic geniuses (I mean it-they are selling NOTHING to hundreds of thousands of people!) need to do companion research among people who are buying REAL things. It would have to be online purchasing (for reasons of comparison and data collection techniques), but at least that population would be more diverse. And even then, the results would apply only to online purchasing-though that is becoming much more common anyway.

The Foodservice Shuffle
The Pace May Be Triple-Time
When you go into a restaurant, or eat in a corporate dining room, did you ever wonder what is going on in the kitchen while you are waiting [im]patiently for your meal? It is very likely to be a good deal more frenetic than on your side of the swinging door.
Last month, we did focus groups with chefs who work in a variety of settings: restaurants, nursing homes, corporate dining rooms, and even soup kitchens for the poor. We were testing a new kind of packaging for food and ingredients used in commercial kitchens. What struck me is their need to work quickly and efficiently, and what that requires. Containers of food and ingredients must be easily accessible from a storage room or walk-in refrigerator; and they must be easy to close as well. Chefs are concerned, not only with the meals they are preparing, but with cleanliness, waste, spillage, and ecology, too. Therefore, containers must be stackable, they must close tightly (when they grab something from a shelf, it cannot open and spill), open easily, and re-close quickly. They must also be easy to keep clean.
Materials are important, too, as more and more communities enact "green" laws and regulations. Plastics must be recyclable and/or reusable. Glass can be dangerous in a busy kitchen, and recycling is an issue there, as well.
With this information, the client can design packaging that will meet these various needs. The perspective from "real world" usage is critical to devising a successful product. Ignoring the needs of the population with whom you want to do business is highly risky.
Upcoming Events
April 5
This is your last chance to submit a nomination for IABC-LI's Achievement In Communications Award, to be presented at their June meeting. Nominate your boss, your client, or even yourself! Go to to download the form (it's easy!) and get some good publicity for that great communicator in your [work] life!
April 14, 11:30am-1:30pm
The International Association of Business Communicators is back to its usual luncheon meetings, with "Improving Marketing Performance With Better ROI Measurements." This topic is important for any business, and is being presented by Dawn Lego, a Senior Consultant with The Lenskold Group, a marketing consulting firm.  The luncheon meeting will be held at Blackstone's Restaurant on Pinelawn Road in Melville.  Visit for more information; or, you can register at I look forward to seeing you there!
April 7, 8:00-10:00am   
SMPS-LI presents a program originally scheduled in February, but foiled by the weather. If you have anything to do with engineering, architecture, or construction, you will want to attend "Getting Business From Public Agencies." This informative program features a panel of public agency procurement officers--the people you need to meet. The meeting will be held at Milleridge Inn, Broadway and Jericho Turnpike, Jericho. Go to for more information and to register.
April 19, WICI Matrix Awards
Women In Communications, Inc. is holding its annual Matrix Awards at the Waldorf Astoria, featuring a panel of interesting and famous women--real movers and shakers. This is an annual event not to miss. Go to to register. Also note, while you are there, two other programs earlier in the month, featuring Geena Davis (April 5th) and Kate White (April 13th).
Adrian's Network
Don't forget to check out both real and virtual networking on . Adrian always gets an interesting, diverse, and outgoing group together, whether it is a conference call at 8am or a pre-dinner in-person meeting at 6pm. And now she has expanded to Phoenix!
This practice is dedicated to helping companies become knowledge-driven, rather than assumption driven about strategic and tactical decisions concerning lines of business, branding, communications, and various marketing activities. For more information about how we do this, case studies, frequently asked questions about marketing research, and testimonials, please visit our web site:

Ann Middleman