Technology empowers business to gain market insight - Business Works
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Technology empowers business to gain market insight

Martijn Nijhuis, co-founder, Roamler One of the most challenging aspects of being a business owner is to accept that, as you grow, you are increasingly going to have to rely on third parties as it is simply not possible to be in control of every aspect. This not only means trusting staff to speak on your behalf, but, in many cases, applies to others further down in the distribution channel, such as retailers selling your products, call centre staff providing a service on your behalf or caterers serving your food and drink. But how can you be sure that they are acting appropriately and presenting your brand as you see it should be? To date, many companies have focused on training to up-skill third parties and paying individuals through 'mystery shopping' to provide feedback.

I felt there must be a more efficient, cost effective and timely way for organisations to obtain feedback. I had noticed the huge growth in individuals using smart phones when out and about in their local areas, taking photographs, accessing social media and communicating with friends, and hence the idea for Roamler was born. Roamler is essentially a smartphone app that allows brands to quickly assemble a mobile workforce to act on their behalf. The users Ė or 'Roamlers' as we call them, are in return incentivised by being rewarded points and badges, indulging their competitive streak and, in some cases, are even compensated for their feedback with cash.

So, how does this work in practice? We launched in the UK eight months ago and have worked with a number of companies, big and small, so far. One of these was Red Bull, who wanted to check how its drinks were being presented within bars across the UK, so partnered with Roamler to find out if certain venues met the brandís high standards. Users were tasked with entering a specific local on-trade venue, ordering a single vodka Red Bull drink, taking a photograph, monitoring timings and assessing the level of service received, in return for a fee of "7.50. This was fed back to Red Bull who could then analyse where good and bad service was occurring and address the issue with the evidence to back it up.

We also work with satellite navigation company, TomTom who assign tasks to Roamlers to check whether road-works are still in place in particular hotspots and take a photograph. This allows the company to update its software without having to attribute significant budget to sending a team out on the road. The opportunities for businesses are endless. If a company is concerned about falling sales, what easier way to find out why than by asking their target audience? This can help an ailing brand to reinvigorate its offering to provide its customers with an adapted product that suits their evolved needs.

The beauty of Roamler is that it isnít just for brands and retailers, but is increasingly being used to obtain intelligence in a number of broader areas. We have worked with a council who wanted to obtain local opinions regarding a prison building that was due for closure and what facilities and shops these residents would ideally desire to be put in its place following regeneration. The tool means local and borough councils can find out exactly what their constituents think of their town or region and how they would like it to be improved. The app can also be used for a company looking to expand into a new town. Although first hand research will provide an overview, the opinions of the current residents will be substantially more accurate and indicate whether there is an appetite for their offering.

As the global economic turndown continues to bite and competition is more fierce than ever, it is essential that brands are always on the front foot in terms of how they being presented to their audience and as such, how they are perceived. Technology affords us with the tools to undertake consumer insight at the touch of a button and products such as Roamler should be embraced by businesses to ensure they are giving customers what they want, and therefore have significantly more chance of longevity.



Martijn Nijhuis is co-founder of Roamler, a location-based, crowd-sourcing iPhone app that allows brands to assemble their own mobile workforces to undertake insight on their behalf. For further information please visit: www.roamler.co.uk



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