Category Archives: Blog

Social Intelligence Beyond Monitoring #2: Innovating a new mobile payment product

Welcome to the second edition of our blog series on Social Intelligence Beyond Monitoring, from FACE CEO Job Muscroft

In the second blog in this series I want to look at use cases for social media research which go beyond counting mentions of brands and consumer sentiment. Companies can find big, untapped sources of value if they invest in what we call socially intelligent research. What’s that? It’s research that goes beyond merely narrating what’s happening in social media to answer  the real questions ‘Why?’ and ‘What should we do about it?’  With this deeper level of insight, social media can do a lot more than simply monitor discussion.

Last month I talked about how social media intelligence can guide brand positioning; this month, product innovation.

The Brief

A large global financial services brand with a leading position in the credit card market was looking to develop a new proposition in the emerging area of mobile payment. They were interested in exploring peer-to-peer payments – don’t think Bitcoin decentralised networks (it was before that time!) but simply “consumer-to-consumer” payment between friends and family.

Using mobile phone at dinner table


What we did

We recognised that payment generates high levels of conversation amongst those communities that need to make regular payments such as students, small traders and families.  So we started wide by listening to discussion about the whole category of sending and receiving money. From this we identified thousands of relevant conversations, from which we identified 10 major pain points.

One notable behaviour was the large numbers of conversations started by people checking with their friend or family member that the payment had actually arrived. This showed people using peer-to-peer payment need validation and confirmation built into the systems so they know for sure when the payment has been made and received. An app can’t just offer financial transfer but needs to have a communication layer as well.

The next stage of the project was a co-creation workshop where we used the 10 painpoint areas to ideate the key features of the new P2P product with the target market. Using rapid prototyping methods, we develop a mobile prototype of potential app functionalities,  which we tested with a larger number of consumers for a further two weeks to refine the key product features.

An example of another P2P mobile payment product, Snapcash

An example of another P2P mobile payment product, Snapcash

Why this worked

The client found this use of social intelligence at the beginning of the innovation process had 4 main benefits. This method…

  1. Helped them quickly root ideation in strong observable and quantifiable global needs
  2. Gave the stakeholder team great confidence that the ideas they were generating would solve a real consumer need from the scale and robustness of the data from social intelligence, more than they felt they got from traditional small-scale ethnographic research
  3. Confirmed and brought to life the key target audience for the product
  4. Enabled the client to move to prototyping within four weeks, which is two thirds faster than their usual innovation approach

At FACE we call this ‘augmented research‘, tying together the best of social and qual and emerging and established research methods to get brands closer to their customers – and ultimately making better business decisions.

In the next blog in this series I will be highlighting how we can use social intelligence to help improve a live marketing campaign. Stay tuned!

Connect with Job on LinkedIn or Twitter, or get in touch by email:

What’s new in… the Internet of Things? FACE’s 5 Top Reads

When searching for great content to share on FACE and Pulsar’s social channels, I stumble upon the ‘Internet of Things’ most days. But, it’s a subject that is yet to feature on this blog. And I don’t know why that is – the potential for it to change all our lives is vast.

The Internet of Things is an umbrella term used to describe internet-connected devices, from furniture to coffee-machines, light switches to dishwashers. The concept is that these everyday “objects” will be in constant chatter with larger computer systems and one another in order to make our lives easier.

Imagine this – in the morning your activity wristband will notify your Nespresso that you have woken. By the time you reach the kitchen a grande cappuccino with a sprinkling of cinnamon is waiting for you. Sounds perfect, right?

My aim here is to provide you with five top reads that explain what we can expect from the future of inter-connected devices

How the Internet of Things is revolutionizing the world of sport

Stephen Pritchard, Guardian

“The idea of capturing data during a sporting event is not new but the richness of the data now available and the speed at which it is gathered certainly is.”

Internet of Things revolutionizing world of sport

In this first article Stephen Pritchard discusses how the Internet of Things is changing the sporting landscape: from coaching and spectating to post-game and real-time analysis. The introduction of “smart buildings” means that sensors in an athlete’s shoe, boot or clothing can link up to the stadium’s WiFi network – allowing teams to monitor players whilst in action. Not only this, but allow building software to monitor stadium activity

Sportswear brands such as Adidas and Nike are already exploring opportunities here, such as the Adidas ‘Smart Ball’ and miCoach software for football performance analytics. Brands investing in sports sponsorship may want to consider how they can use sensor data to give fans an exclusive, immersive view of the game.

If we draw our eyes away from the pitch and to closer horizons, what happens to the data (and there will be a lot of it)? This is exactly what the author of our next article, Patrick McFadin, asks:

Internet of Things: Where does the data go?

Patrick McFadin, Wired

“As Internet of Things projects go from concepts to reality, one of the biggest challenges is how the data created by devices will flow through the system. How many devices will be creating information? How will they send that information back? Will you be capturing that data in real time, or in batches? What role will analytics play in future?”

Internet of Things: Where'd the data go?

A technical read on how data flows through IOT systems, with particular focus on the importance of capturing accurate time-series data in order to produce useful, actionable analytics results.

Want to go big with the Internet of things? Think ‘some’ not all

Heather Clancy, Fortune

“Close to 25 billion sensors could be sharing data wirelessly by 2020, attached to everything from LED lights to cars to industrial equipment to doorbells.”

Want to go big with the Internet of things? Think 'some' not all

If the Internet of Things catches on, there will be nothing small about its operations. Heather Clancy notes that in 5 years time the world could play host to 25 billion talking sensors. Yet how are businesses using this technology to better their efficiency and profits right now? Clancy highlights the philosophy that less-is-more by stating it should not be the Internet of Everything, but rather deliberately chosen objects. From implementing this strategy, businesses Deloitte, Verizon and GE are already increasing their profits by driving real revenue.

In our next article Victor White asks what marketing professionals should do to stay ahead of the IoT curve:

Internet of Things can change our daily loves, but without identity it’s just noise

Victor White, Betanews

“By tying all of the data points generated from connected devices back to a user’s identity, businesses will be able to create truly personalized and lifestyle-based experiences for individual consumers.”

Internet of Things can change our daily loves, but without identity it’s just noise

For businesses using  data from connected devices, identifying its origins and the individual owner of the device is key to creating one-to-one experiences. White argues that without identity the Internet of Things is just noise and completely redundant.

What will happen when the Internet of Things becomes artificially intelligent?

Stephen Balkam, the Guardian

If we can resolve the privacy, security and trust issues that both AI and the IoT present, we might make an evolutionary leap of historic proportions

Internet of Things can change our daily loves, but without identity it’s just noise

This article, which articulates the bigger picture of inter-connected AI and the Internet of Things, may not be relevant to businesses right now, but it’s something we should pay attention to nonetheless. Stephen Balkam of the Family Online Safety Institute believes once we’ve solved the issues of trust, privacy and security, then we are in the midst of a breakthrough in technology and consciousness.

That’s the latest from the Internet of Things from me, Ed Hawes.  Join us in a fortnight for another five reads from another sector – share your suggestions with me over at @FaceResearch. 

Introducing SONIC reports: on-demand social media insight

We’re proud to be introducing SONIC – our new social analytics reporting offer that can kick start your social media journey.

Struggling for time to analyse and interpret your social media data?  SONIC is the tool you need to raise visibility and understanding of social media across your business.

Pulsar SONIC image

Get the social media reporting you need

SONIC reports present you with the facts that you need to measure the effectiveness of your social media practices in a clear and engaging format, saving you valuable time in data prep and analysis. Set the pace of reporting, choose between different report lengths, and drive decision-making with minimum investment.

Three levels of reporting are available:

Executive Monthly snapshots to provide you with clear indicators and strategic, actionable insights to evaluate your performance on social media channels

Essential A report bundle delivering key metrics alongside qualitative deep-dives to give you a continuous, holistic view of your brand presence online

Elite An exploratory package giving you a detailed understanding of your online brand equity, based on crucial benchmark figures and contextual analysis.

Prices start from just £1800 per month and we can offer rapid turnaround to help you meet your deadlines – so get in touch with our lead analyst Giuseppe ( to find out more.

Custom options and full-service social media research is also available.  Learn more here, or contact to discuss how we can help you gain smart strategic insight from social data.


Why we’ve developed SONIC social media reports

At FACE and Pulsar, our mission is to make sense of social data so our customers can make faster, smarter decisions about their brands, campaigns and customers. We deliver this through the cutting edge data science, analytics and visualisations on our social media monitoring platform…

…But we know sometimes our clients might not have even have an hour or two spare to dig into their data every week. Lack of resource is  still a major barriers to businesses becoming more socially intelligent, resulting in many social media programs becoming siloed in the digital team and not reaching across the business.

The SONIC concept was developed as we wanted to deliver a cost-effective way of reporting social data insights. We identified that many businesses don’t require full strategic social insight or long reports. Sometimes you just need to measure what’s happening on your own channels, benchmark competitor performance, and check in on customer opinion.

Think of SONIC reports as your outsourced social media insight department. Our reporting can give your social media efforts greater visibility within your organisation, and they’ll give you the ability to  share bite sized social media insights on a large scale.


What makes our social media reporting different?

  1. Expert analysts. Our reports are written by experienced market researchers who also work on major global brands such as Tesco, Mazda and Telefonica
  2. Actionable insights. We don’t just report metrics: our analysts know how to dig insight out of social data and make clear recommendations about what this means for your brand and comms strategy
  3. Full global coverage. Pulsar can track social data in 170 languages and our trusted international network of analysts can deliver social media reporting in any European language plus Arabic, Japanese, Chinese and Korean
  4. Flexible report formats, not rigid, one size fits all templates. We can customise our reporting options to answer your specific business queries
  5. On-demand reporting options that allows you to design a support system that truly works in alignment with your business needs, practices and objectives.

Case study: how Mazda used SONIC reports to drive their social business strategy across Europe

Sonic client Mazda facebook page

CHALLENGE Mazda Motor Europe wanted to introduce social media listening as a new way to gather customer feedback and inform its first brand-led marketing campaign in Europe.

They came to Pulsar for our advanced analytics capacities and the fact our platform integrates social listening (Pulsar TRAC) and CRM (Pulsar FLOW) into a one stop social media management tool.

APPROACH A tailor-made set of SONIC reporting options available to the Central team to assess brand performance and measure the effectiveness of different marketing practices at both local and European level.

RESULTS SONIC reports are playing an instrumental role in raising awareness of social media across Mazda’s 12 key European markets. Mazda is now actively integrating social media in its Europewide marketing planning for 2015 and SONIC reports are being integrated with Mazda’s wider agency roster for consistent and long-lasting performance evaluation

Mazda say, “Since rolling out Pulsar across 12 European countries, we’ve been able to get truly insightful information from our customers in real time”


So that’s our SONIC reporting offer: providing you with the expert resource you need to measure the impact of your activities and prove the value of social media to key stakeholders.

If you want to find out more about SONIC reporting then contact our lead analyst, Giuseppe ( to build a package that’s right for you.

What’s new in… Fashion & Beauty? 5 Reads and 5 opportunities

Welcome to our monthly trends round-up, where we share five fascinating articles on a particular vertical to identify new currents in brand innovation and consumer desires. Last month we spoke about retail innovation and changing consumer trends, which are driving the likes of “showrooming” and third-spaces. This week we move on to fashion and beauty… where Selfridges are responding to increasingly androgynous fashion trends by creating ‘genderless’ sections in its stores

Are gender-neutral stores the future of shopping? Liza Darwin, Refinery 29

“Dubbed the Agender Project, this in-store experience bills itself as “a fashion exploration of the masculine, the feminine, and the interplay…found in between.” Selfridges introduces 'agender' shopping The idea that “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” is pretty old (the self-help book was published in 1992). Some premium skincare brands such as Aesop and Malin + Goetz adopt a similar stance… But can this trend filter down into middle-market beauty? It’s hard to say. Original Source, the niche shower gel brand acquired by PZ Cussons in 2002, has a vibrant, graphic, single ingredient-led position that reads as gender-free… But a few years ago they introduced an ‘Extreme’, highly masculine coded line, presumably to reassure a male consumer who found gender-neutrality a step too far. But not all men, as the next article shows:

Men Add Facials to Their Ever-Expanding Grooming Routines Noel Duran, Yahoo Beauty

From ‘agender’ to male grooming – it’s official; the beauty industry is no longer dominated by women. Society’s acceptance of ‘metrosexuality’ has resulted in male grooming’s rise as one of the biggest growing sectors within the industry. Noel Duran explores Manhatten to find out where men are going to get their deep clean facials: Male-grooming increases as men seek facials “Recently there’s been a major uptick in dudes getting facials, peels, and extractions at spas across the country, enjoying the closer shaves and clearer skin these procedures provide [...] but not every man is willing to walk into a spa decorated with fresh-picked florals and ask for a facial. Luckily, there are men’s salons and spas that cater to these tastes.”

Male grooming is not a trend, it’s a cultural shift in society’s thinking. I could write an essay on masculinity’s so-called “identity crisis”… but there is no “crisis”, just acceptance of individuality. Unlike male grooming, fashion does come and go like the wind, and with Fashion Week just gone, Philip Picardi introduces the “next big” hairstyle – ‘Non-Hair’. A trend that requires minimal upkeep, but nonetheless apparently a big bank balance…

Non-Hair is apparently the beauty trend of the moment Phillip Picardi, Refinery 29

It’s a luxury reserved for the genetically blessed and, well, the ultra-rich, who can afford the upkeep that comes with a low-maintenance daily routine.”

Non-Hair is the next big trend Within this trend, a fascinating tension – “undone done” might be one way to phrase it, aka the art of looking like you haven’t tried… But still getting a chic result. In order to get this desired look, ‘not actually trying’ isn’t an option – instead it’s about finding the right invisible fixes (often sea salt sprays and dry shampoos) that leave hair with a loose, natural texture… But just make it a bit better. We see no signs of a return to ultra-groomed fashions, so this tension between naturalness and chic will continue to inspire innovation in haircare and beauty products.

A topic that is less in the public eye is that of an industry foe – women smoking. The publication Cream International released an article back in October highlighting this irony:

Your future is not pretty Cream International

“As part of the selfie-generation, young women find themselves compelled to project an attractive physical appearance to fit in socially. Yet it is this physical appearance that is heavily impacted by smoking: bags under the eyes, stained teeth, premature ageing, dull skin and even thinning hair.”  Women seeking perfection yet smoke is the big beauty irony. But could all of this change with innovative skincare devices? Nicole Tyrimou evaluates the industry’s latest gadgets:

Are beauty devices changing the rules in skincare? Nicole Tyrimou, Euro Monitor

 “Increasing demand for more sophisticated offerings in skin care in mature markets as well as skin care’s great dependence on the gadget-loving Asia Pacific region has helped beauty devices garner more attention in skin care.” What can beauty devices do for skin care? Innovation in the beauty industry has just got technologically sophisticated – or perhaps skincare has just caught u. Following the rest of retail, devices are taking over and skincare has not got away without a makeover. Nicole Tyrimou reviews this maturing industry in the gadget-loving Asia-Pacific market… And where Korea leads, the West usually follows. Lots of opportunities here in the skincare sector. *

So that’s the latest in beauty and haircare from me, Ed Hawes.  Join us next week for another five reads from another sector – suggestions welcome at @FaceResearch!

Introducing Dive & Buzz – our new integrated qual & social research products

The combination of big social data, our Pulsar social media research platform,  and qualitative insight is what sets us apart from any other market research agency. We’ve now brought this together in two new research products:

  • Dive Digital Immersions for audience understanding
  • Buzz Social Trends for consumer trend monitoring

It’s about time! We’ve been running projects using this thinking for a couple of years, helping O2 understand emerging technologies and letting haircare and beauty companies learn what women want this season.

From these projects we’re confident that we’ve built two research products that answer questions other methodologies can’t. The use of social data means they’re built on real life behaviour – not artificial community tasks. Apply a planning mindset – and, in the case of Dive, the chance to ask consumers questions directly – and you’ve got an ability to understand customer behaviours, need and motivations more effectively and in realer, more inspiring ways than ever before.

Here’s how:


1. Dive Digital Immersion

Answers: Who is your customer in their digital and social media lives? And how can you reach them effectively?

Use it for:  Audience understanding and campaign planning

Methods: A 3-phase combination of social media panels, mobile ethnography & community analysis, in order to understand your audience’s behaviour, motivations and social context.

Dive projects - digital immersions product

The aim of Dive is to target customers through digital immersion. Online behaviours, drivers, likes and dislikes are often different to offline. So Dive uses targeted recruitment followed by both social media and mobile ethnography methods to dig into their digital universe. Observe their social media behaviour using Pulsar – then use real-time mobile to explore the context driving behaviours and decision-making. Insights from Dive will empower you to create content and campaigns that really connect with your audience.

Dive Digital Immersion captures your target customer’s digital behaviour across 3 dimensions:

  1. Pulsar’s social panel tracks content they create on every social channel: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Close qualitative analysis to understand how they interact with brands and use content to represent themselves online.
  2. Mobile ethnography gives us a means to ask direct questions and get at the ‘Why?’ behind their behaviour. Mobile tasks ask people to share content consumption moments, such as seeing a brand advert or a friend recommend a product, as well as what drives them to create social updates.
  3. Social network analysis identifies the communities and influencers relevant to your target audience – and where you should be seeding your campaign content.

Dive takes the guesswork out of digital campaign planning and social media strategy, empowering you to create content and campaigns that really connect with your audience.

2. Buzz Social Trends

Answers: What does my customer think is cool right now? What are the new and emerging behaviours and trends in our category?

Use it for:  Product innovation and NPD – and building more relevant communications

Methods: Social media research

white on white pinterest board

Social media is where trends are born – and where they spread. That makes social media research the best way to get to grips with the emergent consumer passions and behaviours that can provide new opportunities for NPD and communications. Our Buzz trends report combines qualitative insight with cutting-edge analytics from Pulsar – and we don’t just identify trends but explain how your brand can activate them.

Imagery is a huge part of social media – with the likes of Instagram, YouTube Tumblr, Pinterest and blogs – all heavily involve images. Our analysis combines excellent FACE consultancy with cutting edge visual analytics capabilities of Pulsar.

What will you receive from a Buzz trend report:

  • 7-10 trends that are changing the category your brand operates in
  • Strategic guidance on how you can activate these trends in a way that’s compatible with your brands and your target consumer
  • 12-15 key trend influencers who are the people to watch – and potentially reach out to as part of your content marketing plan

Use Buzz reports to stay on top of ever-changing consumer needs and understand where your brand can go next.


If you’re interested in merging social and qualitative research in your customer insight program, or you’d like to learn more about these products, contact our Head of Research, Matt Arnold, on