What is unique about market research techniques at Look-Look?
You can't always believe what you hear, particularly in the fast-moving world of youth trends, That is, unless you listen to Sharon Lee and DeeDee Gordon, founders of Look-Look, the most accurate information resource on the global youth culture. The pair founded the company in 1999, determined to find whatever makes the cultural spider-sense tingle-music, shoes, clothes, games, makeup, food, and technology. Lee and Gordon took Look-Look online in 2000, and the company has since risen to be the paragon of trend forecasting in the youth market. How?
When Sharon Lee needs to know what's cool, she taps into a network of experts the CIA would envy. It's a Web-linked weave of over 35,000 volunteers and part-timers, aged 14 to 35, recruited over several years at clubs and hangouts around the country,from New York to Los Angeles and points in between, to report on their world.
Look-Look's human database brims with youthful hipsters from allover the planet who log in to the company's Web site to answer surveys and polls, register opinions, and communicate ideas. Some of the recruits communicate through Look-Look-supplied digitalor video cameras, from which they upload pictures, document reports, and post content
to the firm's intranet message boards.
Some, such as Portland, Oregon's Emily Galash, receive small monthly sums Emily's is $125 per month-for capturing and sharing the moments of their personal lives. Gordon and Lee welcome images from anything as private as underground partiesto simple adornments like posters on bedroom walls.
Look-Look relies on "early adopters" and "influencers" to provide depth to information that traditional research practices only skim. For Look-Look, focus groups are strictly passe; such conventional tactics would not have raised its clients' awareness of incoming trends such as under-a-dollar stores, fold-up scooters, or over-the-shoulder bags. Strangely enough, however, Gordon and Lee and counterparts, such as Jane Buckingham's Intelligence Group, Irma Zandl's Zandl Group, and Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve, now run the risk of being out of date themselves.
Once known as "cool seekers or "cool hunters," they now prefer to refer to themselves as "futurists" and "planners," The Web-connected reality of instant digital feedback and content generation through blogs, text messages, and music, photo, and
video hosting sites such as MySpace,com causes trends to flash before us and dissipate before most know they existed in the first place.
"Cool" isn't even cool anymore, and marketers to this age group must spot what's going to be "in" before or as it develops. Look-Look's success is well documented, however, and that's the reason companies like Telemundo, Procter & Gamble, Nike,
Kellogg's, and Coca-Cola rely on its help to stay in the running for the $175 billion wielded by teen consumers.
Recently, look-look began working with Microsoft to tap into the culture of the twenty-first-century teenager. On a project designed to help the software giant's PC gaming unit connect with the growing female presence in the video gaming market, look-look selected 30 teens from its database and asked them to keep blogs about their experiences with Microsoft PCgames. Lisa Sikora, group product manager for Windows gaming, acknowledged look-look's relevance, noting that companies like hers need to "start talking to this audience in their way, not our way."
But look-look doesn't stop there. In addition to finding the future, look-look is defining it, too. Working with Virgin Mobile, an extremely youth-oriented marketer, look-look came up with two unique ideas. The first was to hold an art contest among members ofits human database to devise cell phone covers. The top five designs, from artists aged 17 to 20 years old, are now officially sold in stores as covers for the Kyocera K10 Royale.
Remember Emily Galash? The money she earns is for the 30 to 40 pictures she sends to look-look every month. Instead of attempting to interpret her pictures for the sake of reporting on trends, look-look bolts select shots directly to the pages of VirginMobile's internationally viewable Web site because they are trends. Amateur work like Emily's and that of the artists who designed the Kyocera face plates is valued because it maintains its authenticity, individuality, and credibility with its target audience.
Clients also ask look-look to identify which products are the hottest in a given market. After a small army is canvassed through online polls and surveys, the results are arranged into categories. "The turnaround," says lee, "can be as little as 48 hours."
Look-Look categorizes information into ten channels: fashion, entertainment, technology, activities, eating and drinking, health and beauty, mood of culture (how kids feel about life), spirituality, city guide, and look Out (a "best of" findings in a snapshot). The information is put through rigorous paces. "Methodology is crucial, especially with the quantity and quality of the sample," says lee. "We can take a sample of 300 or thousands. That's up to Gallup standards."
Still, cool is as hard to pin down as a weather forecast for next week. But the real arbiters of cool are those who can afford to lead. "Ultimately," says Que Gaskins, chief marketing officer of the avant-garde, multicultural marketing Ad*itive, "the future of cool belongs to whoever has the most buying power:"
It seems that the business of providing market research information is highly affected by changes in Internet and computer technology. For example, participants - whether paid or not - interact with Look-Look and upload information on the company's network through Internet linked gadgets such as digital camera. However, as the ICT environment ...
What a unique about market research techniques at Look-Look is determined.