The Global Explosion of Programmatic Sampling

Sample Never Sleeps

I used to say that “Sample never sleeps” because I never did. Given the 24/7 nature of the business, there was always another bid, another project, or another quota cell that wasn’t closing out fast enough. I had to wait up for a project manager in another time zone or get up early to call a supplier another country. “Hurry up and wait” became the norm as someone I needed was always sleeping in some other time zone.

Now “Sample never sleeps” because automated buying and selling of sample has made the process so seamless. Launching a project with 30 suppliers across 30 countries has become as simple as clicking a button. Delivery on the East Coast of the US is the same as delivery in Australia or China now that buyers and sellers are integrated into a common marketplace. As JD Deitch pointed out in his recent piece, ”the industry is now headed full speed into programmatic execution” — Disrupting Market Research: An Update.

The sampling world has indeed become smaller.

We see this in the numbers: 25% of the $100 million in sample managed on Fulcrum in 2015 will be in markets outside the US which is up from $16 million in 2014. 65 different countries have been served in the first four months of the year; up from 47 last year. Here’s a nice graph showing overall growth in non-US completes:

Ranking the top 25 markets (2011–2015)

Not only are the number of countries increasing but the volumes are shifting as buyers change focus of their research. Over the past five years we’ve seen significant changes in the top 25 markets:

The chart to the left shows the relative rank of each country in the first 4 months of each year along with the five year CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) based on volume of interviews in Fulcrum. Canada and the United Kingdom have swapped places several times. Some markets have grown in popularity, most especially Australia which has been a darling the past two years. Mexico and Russia (which did slip due to the situation in the Ukraine but has stabilized) have also improved dramatically while Italy continues its slide. Given the concentration of Fulcrum clients in the US, we suspect that we weight more heavily in Canada and Mexico than EMEA or APAC clients. Additionally, we’ve found that suppliers in the US tend to naturally expand first in other English speaking countries which may also explain the size of Canada, Australia, UK, and India. The growth of non-US markets is very exciting and we see 16 markets that have a higher 5 year CAGR than the United States.

Sampling in your pajamas

We also have taken a look as to when sampling occurs. Historically, 70% of interviews were conducted between 8AM and 7PM: essentially daylight hours. Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen an 150% increase in interviews after 7PM and on the weekends with the largest increase in non-US markets. It’s getting easier to manage sampling any day, any hour. Project managers no longer have to wait for their counter-parties in other markets to get into the office nor does the ability to go into field end once the business day is over. In the theatrical business in the US, sample suppliers had to wait up late on Friday nights for trailers to be loaded and studies launched. Now the research firm can launch a study whenever they want and feel confident that the fielding will start immediately.

Penetration rates within the Fulcrum top 25 markets rise

Researchers and brands are getting more comfortable with online research in more markets — Why? Technology penetration rates are rapidly increasing. Within the top 25 Fulcrum markets, we see large populations and penetration of both internet and mobile use. In fact, within most top markets, the Internet penetration rates are above 60%, with India and Indonesia driving the average down.

Transparency & Quality control

Exchange allows for centralized quality control and vetting of the supply chain. In the beginning, we facilitated transactions only and due diligence on supplier quality fell to buyers. With such rapid growth, Fulcrum has shifted its role to facilitators of information distribution leading to higher quality transactions.Fulcrum’s Exchange Quality Program is a transparent source evaluation of Fulcrum Exchange suppliers that provides partners with objective and consistent quality measurements. With access to independently verified information and technology enabled connections, industry buyers now have the tools to optimize their supply chain management.

Transparency and trust are paramount when building a marketplace. As the number of buyers and sellers in the Exchange rapidly scales, we must foster a safe environment for all members. By providing a standardized methodology that produces objective and consistent quality measurements, we are bolstering our partners’ confidence in purchasing decisions.

More supply in more countries

Global supply chain is getting more sophisticated — local partners and global firms are getting into the act. We also see a trend of suppliers adding more panels in more countries quickly in order to keep up with demand. Of the top 25 suppliers, we see two that deliver automatically in 63 and 58 countries respectively. The fewest number of markets covered is 6. This means that the supply side of the market is very broad and very dynamic.

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”

- James Cash Penney, Founder of JCPenney

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