Market Research Companies – An Overview

Most large to big businesses have their own market research teams. These teams not only conduct research themselves, but most often outsource the requests to specialised companies. In the UK alone there are well over 250 market research companies, some operating in small niche markets. This article focusses on some of the most well known market research companies that operate across the globe.

ACNielsen

is a global marketing research firm and part of The Nielsen Company. One of ACNielsen’s best known creations is the Nielsen ratings, which measure television, radio and newspaper audiences in their respective media markets. Another market research tool is Homescan where sample members track and report all grocery and retail purchases, allowing purchasing patterns to be related to household demographics.

One of the most common used products is Retail Measurement, a tool that provides continuous tracking of product sales to consumers, based on information gathered at the retail point-of-sale (EPOS data)

Other well known ACN Businesses are BASES, Nielsen Consumer, Nielsen Business Media and Nielsen Online.

Forrester Research is an independent technology and market research company that provides its clients with advice about technology’s impact on business and consumers. It offers a variety of services including syndicated research on technology, quantitative market research on consumer technology adoption and business IT spending, research-based consulting and advisory services. On its website you can find a wide range of free research, options to be alerted on new conducted research as well as of the shelf surveys.

GfK SE is a worldwide market research organisation providing services in five business divisions: Custom Research, Retail and Technology, Consumer Tracking, Media and Healthcare. The Custom Research sector supplies information and consulting services for operational and strategic marketing decisions. Retailer POS data is the source for the Retail and Technology sector. The sector supplies clients with information and consulting services based on retail data from continuous surveys and analyses of sales of technical consumer goods and services in the retail sector. The Media Sector delivers information services on range, intensity and nature of media usage and acceptance. The data source for the Media sector stems from the media (point of media).

Ipsos MORI is the second largest survey research organisation in the UK. The organisation has a freely available archive of opinion polls and public attitude research from 1970 onwards, including trends on its UK website. Ipsos MORI’s Social Research Institute works extensively for UK government and public services, looking at public attitudes to key public services which formed a key part of the UK Government’s domestic agenda in 1997-2005. Social policy, and issues such as identity, social cohesion, physical capital and the impact of place on attitudes are all key themes of the Institute’s work. The company also specialises in Media, Loyalty and Marketing and Advertising Research.

Mintel International Group Ltd is a privately owned, London-based market research firm. Mintel databases, analysis, and forecasts are accessible only to subscribing clients and to students in participating university libraries. Some of its products are: Mintel Beauty Innovation (monitors mass media beauty introductions), Mintel Comperemedia (tracks direct mail and print advertising), Mintel Food & Drink (combines 5 products to deliver actionable market intelligence) and Mintel Menu Insights (tracks items on US restaurant menus). Mintel is mostly known for its reports, which are published online and contain consumer research and analysis.

SymphonyIRI Group (formerly Information Resources, Inc.) is a market research company which provides clients with consumer, shopper, and retail market intelligence and analysis focused on the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. They offer services in the following areas: Market Content (Retail tracking data, convenience store tracking data and consumer panel-based data), Predictive Analytics (Decomposition of the drivers of current business trends and simulation of the effects of changes on future brand plans), Enterprise Performance Management Software (Tools to support faster analysis of market content) and Professional Services / Consulting.

WPP is is the world’s largest communications services group in terms of revenue. Kantar, based in London, was founded in 1993 as the Market Research, Information and Consultancy Division of WPP. It is a network of 13 specialist companies, including:

Research International specialises in qualitative and quantitative custom market research. It has experience in most major sectors, particularly consumer packaged goods, retail, new media, financial services, energy and utilities, technology, the postal sector and telecommunications.

Millward Brown provides qualitative, quantitative and consulting services with respect to brands, marketing communications, media and marketing effectiveness. Millward Brown works across a range of industries and categories, including brand strategy and experience, creative development and campaign evaluation, consumer needs and values, media planning and strategy, return on investment (ROI) and forecasting, and investment management, brand valuation and analytics through its MB Optimor unit. In the UK, Millward Brown currently compiles the Music and Video Charts on behalf of The Official Charts Company.

Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) is a leading market research and market information group with focus on the areas Automotive, Consumer, Finance, Political and Social, and Technology.

Do Alt and Title Attributes Help With SEO?

A highly talked about topic is the SEO world is, “Do Alt and Title Attributes Help with SEO?” Well to help shed a little light on this topic, I did some research and came up with a few good conclusions. I’m not suggesting these are 100% accurate but from my initial research they seem to be right on target. I welcome all other SEO experts to share their opinions on this topic by posting their comments – because as we all know, every little bit of information can help us all.

Well to start, I want to provide a brief introduction of each attribute to help you understand their “intended” purpose.

The alt attribute is, popularly and incorrectly referred to as an alt tag and is commonly misunderstood to provide a tool-tip for an image. Both of these are incorrect. First of all, the alt attribute is an attribute and not a tag. The alt attribute was always intended to provide alternative information about an element and is generally required for image and image maps and is not meant to be used to display a tool-tip. The alt attribute, can be used for the img, area, and input elements to help provide alternative information to users who cannot display that element in their browser. As an example, here is how you would define an alt attribute for an image: <img src=”imagepath.gif” alt=”this is our company logo”>. If the image is not displayed the text, “this is our company logo” will be displayed in the place of the image.

The title attribute, on the other hand, is meant to provide additional information about an element, which is displayed as a tool-tip by most graphical browsers. The title attribute can be used to describe any HTML element except for base, basefont, head, html, meta, param, script, and title.

An excellent use for the title attribute is to provide descriptive text within an anchor tag to let the users know where the link will direct them if they click on it. When the user places their mouse over the link, it will display a small tool-tip displaying the title text that you’ve provided. An example would be

So as you can see the alt and title attributes have different purposes but how do they affect SEO? This is the true question we all want to know and understand. Do they help with SEO or are they simply ignored by the search engines? I tested several different scenarios, all in Google, and after my research I’ve come to the following conclusions.

Alt attributes seem to be picked up by Google, whether or not there was a link within that element. Some SEO experts have mentioned that if there is no link, then the alt attribute would not be indexed… from my research I’ve found this to be false.

Going further, I noticed in one testing scenario, if there was an image with an alt attribute and a link to a completely other site, that other site was also indexed by Google when searching for the text within the alt attribute. It was difficult for me to verify this multiple times but I definitely verified it in one testing scenario.

I also took this one step further and analyzed my results with what Google Images was displaying. I immediately noticed that Google sometimes takes the alt attribute text and provides this text as the description for the image in Google Images, something that is very valuable to know and understand when doing SEO for your website.

In all of my testing scenarios, the title attribute do not seem to be picked up by Google and adding a link to that element did not seem to affect this result at all. If you really think about it, this makes complete sense. Since you can place title attributes in almost every element of a website, it would be very easy for a user to affect the search engines by keyword stuffing throughout their web pages, something that Google and the other major players do not want, hence why title attributes do not help with SEO.

In my opinion, you should use the title attribute to help with your user’s experience and not with SEO. Since tool-tips provide more useful information to the user about images, links, fields and much more, you will help your users to understand what is happening around the web page.

So from my testing I’ve determined that a title attribute is meant to provide tool-tips to the user for user experience, whereas the alt attribute is helpful in terms of providing alternative information to the user when their browser cannot display an image or input element and helping to increase the SEO of a website. My recommendation is to pay close attention to when, where and how you are using your alt attributes. If they help with SEO, then you should pay close attention to what you are adding.

When adding images always be sure to add an alt attribute to the code of each image. If you do not have one, then just specify a blank one, such as alt=”". Also, be sure to add alternative text that is relevant to that image, the content on that page and be sure not to specify an alt attribute greater than 100 characters in length, as this may be perceived as spamming.

I hope you find my brief overview on the topic of, “Do Alt and Title Attributes Help with SEO?” to be beneficial for you and your business. I’m sure one could dive deep into this topic, spending weeks determining the differences between how Google, Yahoo! and the other major search engines handle title and alt attributes with regards to SEO for a website.

I welcome all comments and/or feedback.

3PL Logistics Solutions for Better Warehousing and Distribution

What is 3PL Logistics?

The term 3PL stands for third party logistics. It is a process that refers to the outsourcing of supply chain functions and logistics functions to a third-party provider. When one engages in a product manufacturing business, the process of shipping logistics becomes vital. There are many businesses that have ties with contract warehousing, commercial carriers, government postal services and various airlines to get their products shipped from the manufacturing facility all the way to the end customer. However, when the product is ready to ship, the 3PL logistics collect the package and conveniently deliver it to the end customer. The total shipping costs is billed by the service carrier to the business handling department. The third party logistics specializes in transportation and shipping, in turn saving the overall costs of the business and their need to invest in trucks, planes or employees to transport the goods or packages.

In brief, 3PL is a platform in logistics that manages and outsources goods of one company to another company. In the international business market, companies offering third-party logistics have gained a lot of popularity. They are becoming dominant in the field of supply chain management. The support and services that is provided by a third-party company normally include consolidation services, freight, delivery of freight and warehousing and distribution. 3PL services offer logistics solutions to domestic as well as international transactions.

Warehousing

Contract warehousing or also widely known as warehousing and distribution is another method that conveniently outsources to third party logistics. This facility is useful for those businesses that want to efficiently devote their time and efforts to other important priorities like sales, manufacturing and designing of the products. Basically, a third-party warehousing service reduces the number of employees needed and also the amount of space needed for a business to function smoothly.

Advantages of 3PL Logistics

The main advantage of 3PL system is the transportation of goods and products along the supply chain. This logistics includes the proper shipping of items along with handling of paperwork that is related with the shipments.

Another advantage is the concept of third-party outsourcing. When a company hires another logistics organization to manage the shipping and distribution part of the business, the company saves its costs on many aspects. It also improves the quality of the products that are designed and manufactured. Most of the companies believe that 3PL service providers offer quality supply chain services instead of running some functions internally.

3PL logistics system brings many other advantages like less manpower and fewer business headaches. Having a self-business and being an owner of a company, one needs to do everything possible to ensure the profit margin remains intact and profitable. Third-party logistics definitely scrutinizes every problem and provides a solution to everyone’s needs.

How Business Cards Can Help In Advertising/Marketing

The modern business environment is increasingly challenging. Companies are now forced to become more innovative to stay afloat in a highly competitive landscape. With a globalized marketplace, competition is stiffer and this comes against a backdrop of increased cost of operations. As an entrepreneur, you have to think outside the box when building your advertising strategy.

Which techniques do you use to be more effective? While digital marketing tools are all the rage, recent studies have shown that business cards still remain a versatile advertising strategy even in the contemporary world of commerce. This is a tool that helps connect easily with new prospects. If you have been wondering whether this tool still retains any importance in your advertising strategy, keep reading.

Advantages of Using a Business Card

Some of the reasons to invest in this old school advertising technique include:

  1. It is a personal method of swapping contacts and hence it is more effective than digital techniques. Through eye contact and actual engagement, you have a better chance of creating a new relationship.
  2. This is an effective direct marketing tool: Compared to other methods such as email and paid ads, a well-designed business card is part of direct marketing strategy. An in-person meeting and exchange of information leads to success.
  3. Continued marketing: Even after parting with a prospective lead, your information will be easy to share and will continue promoting your brand. It can be exchanged or stored for future reference.
  4. First impressions: If you want to make a good impression with your leads, then talk to an established printing products company in your city.

Getting the Most Out of a Business Card

There is only so much you can achieve by sharing your company’s information on a printed format. Therefore, to get the most out of this promotional tool, consider the following:

  • Add a logo and tagline for more effectiveness and easier identification.
  • Name and job title for credibility.
  • Make sure there is direct contact information for easier communication.
  • Add your website and send them to a relevant page.
  • Add social media profiles for faster connection.
  • Avoid cluttering a lot of information and instead use white space so that important information is read easily.
  • Leverage creativity such that your presentation stands out and catches the eye instantly.

Of course you must have received many business cards, many of which ended up in the waste basket. To avoid the same fate for your printed promotional materials, make sure you give it a purpose. You can also use a QR code to track its effectiveness. By supporting a worthy cause in your community and showing it on a printed product, you will easily captivate the attention of prospective leads.

When handing it out, ensure that the occasion is memorable. The recipient will remember it later and pull it out to read further. Go on and contact a reputable printer in your city to start leveraging this important advertising technique.