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Work in the media? Struggle with statistics? Stan's irreverent (and often irrelevant) review of the latest media reports, news and gossip may not help at all... Stan the Statistician

Stan # 99: How to navigate by cow September 2013

< The subject, ‘market research’, is a bit of a misnomer.

The word, ‘market’ describes a place where people meet to buy, sell or exchange goods and services. They have existed as long as man has traded. Today, many people seem to have forgotten that this is still the case.

When the stock market opened or is up by so many points, it is merely a reflection of what people are prepared to buy and sell and for how much. Markets are just people.

In times gone by, buyers and sellers actually met each other to discuss the products and services so ‘manufacturers’ knew what people liked and didn’t like.

As mass production came to pass, it became increasingly difficult to meet and discuss your products with the end users because there could be millions of them - and so the ‘research’ bit came into being.

It is just a substitute for the sellers to find out directly what the buyers want. The definition has expanded a little over time but the idea remains the same.

I am grateful to GfK, Wired magazine, Google and Research-live.com for the following:

  • American Express analysed customer behaviour and found that people racking up large bills on their cards and then registering a forwarding address were likely to declare bankruptcy.

  • Academic researchers used Google Earth to develop a theory that cows have a magnetic sixth sense. Satellite images showed that two-thirds of cows around the World align their bodies with magnetic north. I guess that the others don’t see the point or maybe they are wandering across fields so that they can start their grazing facing north again. But why? What is the point?

  • US retailer Target analysed shopping baskets to identify pregnant women based on the purchase of items like unscented body lotions and vitamin supplements. One pregnant high-schooler in Minneapolis started receiving offers for baby clothes before she’d even told her parents. It’s good to get in early.

  • Google tracks the use of certain search terms around the World to monitor the spread of the ‘flu’ virus. Its data closely matches the official data but is available much more quickly.

  • I have always wondered why football fans get so excited when their team ‘wins’ a corner or a free kick. There seems to be a high expectation that a goal will follow.

    Last season, 1,250 corners were taken in the Champions’ League but only 27 goals were scored from them. On average 46 corners were needed for each goal - the same as the previous season. Out of 345 goals in the 2011/2012 season, eight were scored directly from free kicks - two each from Christiano Ronaldo and Hulk (not the green chappy). Indirect free kicks resulted in 11 goals.

    I have noticed that a surprising number of corners result in the ball going past the goal and continuing in the same direction whether it had been aided by a player or not, and there is rarely anyone in that area and it usually results in two of the furthest players from the corner taker scrambling after the ball.

    Maybe I should apply for a job in football management. I wouldn’t mind being sacked after half a season and receiving a handsome payoff.

    Invasions remain popular pastimes amongst the aggressive. The earliest recorded invasion of a country by Great Britain was of Gaul in the second century, according to a book by Stuart Klaycock. Only a few countries escaped our attention. The uninvaded are:

      Andorra
      Belarus
      Bolivia
      Burundi
      Central African Republic
      Chad
      Congo, Republic of
      Guatemala
      Ivory Coast
      Kyrgyzstan
      Liechtenstein
      Luxembourg
      Mali
      Marshall Islands
      Monaco
      Mongolia
      Paraguay
      Sao Tome and Principe
      Sweden
      Tajikistan
      Uzbekistan
      Vatican City

    I guess some countries were too small and so we missed them and some mustn’t have seemed very interesting.

    If you fancy invading a country and funds are bit stretched, we would recommend Vatican City as it’s the smallest and you don’t really want to take on too much for your first invasion. There’s only the Swiss Guard to worry about and they still carry weapons from the 16th century. They haven’t done any fighting for hundreds of years so are a bit out of practice. In fact, none of the present Swiss Guard were around several hundred years ago so won’t have any serious combat experience. The inhabitants of Vatican City are reputed to be pacifists so this is a good country to practise your invasion technique on. They have lots of nice buildings and a good tourist trade. There are also numerous reports of shenanigans taking place which could be a good source of revenue as well as stamps, candles, postcards, entrance fees to various art galleries and collecting boxes where tourists will hand over money for absolutely nothing which is pretty much the same as we do with the UK’s Inland Revenue.

     

    Check in again at my desk soon!
    stan@adweb.co.uk

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