Thursday, July 1, 2010

Post-Reaching Curacao 2010.

It was a while ago, but Reaching Curacao 2010- the Event, exceeded my expectations. More than 126 marketing people attended. Someone said: "all of marketing Curacao has come to a complete stop." And the comments were very encouraging.

I do have pictures, but technology is not cooperating.

After that, and a short illness, I worked hard on the report. We sold more reports than expected.

Thank you all for your support.

Planning the next thing, while I work on engagements that really allow me to pay the bills.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Reaching Curacao 2010 Looking Good

Reaching Curacao 2010 is looking good, like we envisioned.

Almost 100 participants have registered already, representing the following companies:

Fatum, ENNIA, DAE, Curacao Beverage Bottling Company, HUCOR NV Holding Company, Selikor N.V., Freeport Jewelers, Insel Air, Distribier, Maduro & Curiel's Bank N.V., Fun Miles Antilles N.V., Kooyman BV, Building Depot, Hector Henriquez N.V., Curacao Laboratories & Senior & Co, Janssen de Jong Project Development, McDonalds Aruba & Curacao, SFT, EJPEG, DEZ, Chamber of Commerce, Curacao Mobile BV, ActionCoach, Manrique Capriles, Licores Maduro, OBNA, Epiphany BV, NAOC, DirecTV, El Tributo, Martijn Trading, Securitas Antias, Gosucon NV, ACTS, Regina Pacis VSBO, PRGV 100% Creatie, BAKEN Management Consultancy, Mosaic Marketing & Coordination, FEFFIK, SIAC NV, Axum Caribbean, Jonckheer Advertising and Marketing Cons. BV, Artutrust N.V., VMA (Varia Marketing & Advertising), Noort Advies, Rao & Co. N.V., Kleinmoedig & Partners Attorneys at Law, Curacao Financial Advisory Services BV, Plantijn Secure Advice BV, DENKENenDOEN, Tera Group Advertising and Public Relations, Dragonfly Media Chatlein Notaries, COR Antilles, SaBiCa NV, Openbaar SBO Ban Bria, In Zaken, MIXmarketing, Stradius, Hagen Advertising, TexPic.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Reaching Curacao 2010 - Why do we do it?

MarkStra Caribbean is not an advertising or media placing agency. We do not make advertisements. We do research, advise on competitive strategy, new products, prices, distribution channels, innovation, etc. But, once in a while we have to make media recommendations to clients, or assess in which medium good or bad publicity has the most impact, and thus warrants action.

I can never give a firm recommendation, and the advertising or media-buying agency we are working with cannot either. Our work is more complicated because of the extreme media proliferation in Curacao: 20something radio stations and almost 10 daily newspapers? When I had my first media job, in 1983, the landscape was quite different.

Yes, my colleague Disrael Orphelin did media surveys many years ago, mostly as a hobby. And yes, there is a media survey sold quite exclusively to a number of large advertisers. But the rest of our clients?

No matter how you turn it, in 2010, with so many highly educated marketing and advertising professionals working in Curacao this is simply not possible. It is also not possible because foreign companies do have the information, putting our local companies at a competitive disadvantage.

So why are we where we are with regards to media, while we do have lots of ongoing research with regards to other products and services?

I don't know the answer. Do you?

Meanwhile, learn more about Reaching Curacao 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Reaching Curacao 2010 - The Report

But how many people are we talking about? what media is best to place this particular advertisement in?

It is obvious that we need (more) hard data on Curacao for good strategic and marketing decision-making.

At MarkStra Caribbean we are on a mission to make a difference by collecting market related data for Curacao (doing surveys) and making this available in a report to selected parties or via presentations.

The first report is Reaching Curacao 2010, containing:

  • Size of Curacao market segments
  • Our total combined spending on different product categories
  • Our use of radio, television and newspaper and new media in Curacao by age, sex and social-economic class (SEC), and time most watched or listened
  • Where we shop and roads most travelled by age, sex and SEC
  • Global trends regarding media attitudes and generations! Yes, the generations are different.

Reaching Curacao 2010 - The Report is available at the special introductory price of ANG 1.500 if bought before June 1, 2010.

How is the Report different from the Event? It provides more detailed data:

  • readership and audience by age, sex and SEC for all media
  • more detailed data about spending on product categories
  • more detailed information about media attitudes

Worried that you will have paid for the information while everybody else copies it?

  • Valid concern. We will select the companies who can buy the report.
Thinking about ROI? If the report helps you:
  • place two 3colx25cm ads better, you will have made your money back
  • make a better decision about sponsoring radio newscasts for two months you will have made your money back
  • reduce the one debate about market potential or guesswork about market size, you will have made your money back


Reaching Curacao 2010 - The Event

You can see the quality of our work and to enable small businesses to get at least some info. We hope to see you and your business development and marketing staff there!

To reserve your copy, please contact us at or call 767-3085.

Reaching Curacao 2010 - Media Survey Methodology and FAQ

Methodology and frequently asked questions before the event.

  • March 2010 was the 2nd time we conducted a survey about media usage as part of a Caribbean wide effort. The first was time was February 2009.
  • The same survey has been done in at least 10 Caribbean countries at the same time.
  • It's a telephone survey, among 320 respondents, representative of Curacao. We have made sure that each age group, sex and educational status is represented in roughly the same proportion as in Curacao. In addition, we have tried to make each group large enough so that we can base some realistic conclusion on the findings. If you only have the responses of 10 males between the age of 18-24, you cannot base much of a conclusion on that.
  • Respondents were selected from our database (panel) and from random telephone listings. Why not just telephone listings? Because increasingly people do not want to answer questions from 'strangers'. Increasingly, around the world, market researchers are moving towards 'panels'.

What did we ask?
  • newspapers most read the past month
  • radio and tv stations listened to/watched each time of day
  • ownership of several items, including computers, internet, cellphones, BlackBerry/Iphone
  • use of internet
  • use of Facebook and frequency
  • most visited local website and frequency
  • roads most travelled (2009)
  • mode of transportation (2009)
  • geographic areas most shopped (2009)
  • demographics: age, sex, education, economic status (working, retired, student, etc.), profession, size of household
What can we report?
  • all of the issues above by age group, sex and education. We have developed a system to determine Social-Economic-Class (SEC) based on some of the demographics above. We report that, instead of education.
How exact is the data?
  • At a sample size of 320, the margin of error is around 5%. That means, if we find that 35% of all respondents reads newspaper Z, you can be 95% certain that the exact number is between 30% and 40%. Not exact enough? Consider what you are basing your media placement decisions on now...
Why didn't we use a larger sample size to provide more exact numbers?
  • Cost. After Reaching Curacao 2010 The Event and The Report, we will see what the appetite is for this type of studies. If it is big, we will do larger surveys. We certainly hope it will be!
  • ROI. When a research agency puts 1000 radio&tv monitoring boxes in households in Holland, advertisers stand to gain 100x more from the exact data these produce, than they would in Curacao. Why? Because the Dutch market is 100x larger and conducting a survey in Curacao is not 100x cheaper than in Holland. We can let ourselves be demotivated by the limitations of a small market or we can try to make the best out of it.
  • For more information on this subject: Survey sample sizes in small markets

Reaching Curacao 2010 - The Event

Probably the first event on Curacao for Strategy and Marketing professionals, accessible to all business owners, CEO's, CMO's, other strategy, marketing and advertising professionals

And probably the first seminar most of us will attend at the brand new Hyatt Regency Curacao.

Yes, I am excited that this will be in partial celebration of MarkStra Caribbean's 15th anniversary!

Save the date!

Tuesday May 18th,
4pm-5:30pm, followed by networking
Hyatt Regency Curacao Arrawak Ballroom
Fee: ANG 95 or USD55

Some people asked if there is an international speaker.
No! This will be the first time we will be discussing primarily Curacao strategy and marketing hard data, all together. Gezellig!

I promise it will be a unique and fun presentation, by myself, in English. But above all the data will be useful! Heads up for the preview

Please help us: if you are coming please try to register by May 10th.
We must indicate the number of attendants wayyyyy in advance.

Reaching Curacao 2010 - An introduction

A frequent cry: “There is no data on Curacao”. Often followed by the realization of the acute need for hard data for good strategic and marketing decisions

At MarkStra Caribbean we would like to bring a difference by collecting market related data for Curacao (doing surveys) and offering this for sale in a report or via presentations.

Our first one is Reaching Curacao 2010. It provides:

  • A compilation of the important demographics in Curacao, including the size of different market segments, to help you or your client determine how attractive a consumer segment really is
  • Our combined spending on some important product categories
  • Our use of radio, television and newspaper and new media in Curacao by age, gender and social-economic class
  • Where we shop and roads most travelled. Ever wonder where the best places are to put billboards, without having to revert to "you-say-I-say"?
  • Global trends regarding media attitudes and generations! Yes, the generations are different.

Friday, March 12, 2010

9 issues to consider when deciding between Telephone or Door-to-door surveys in small markets?

The source for this post is the textbook Marketing Research by Aaker, Kumar and Day, supplemented by our own experience in the small markets of the Caribbean.

When trying to decide between a telephone or door-to-door (face-to-face) survey, these are some issues to consider:
  1. turn-around time - Because it is faster to call someone than to drive or walk to them, the turn around time for a telephone survey is shorter than for a face-to-face survey. In our experience, 400 telephone interviews can easily be done in less than 80 man-hours. Not so with face-to-face interviews
  2. length of the questionnaire - If the questionnaire is long or complex, it is often not desirable to conduct the interview over the phone. We have found that sometimes respondents are more willing to reveal certain personal information over the phone than in person and vice versa.
  3. distance to travel to respondents. If respondents live far apart, a telephone survey might be more cost-effective because of the cost and time of travel.
  4. level of supervision. It is easier (and more cost effective) to duly supervise interviewers from a centralized call area, than on the road. Mistakes are also easier caught and corrected, especially if data input happens at the same time, as we do at MarkStra.
  5. accessibility to respondents. Not all people have a telephone; interviewers can often not gain access to gated residential communities or apartments; interviewer safety may preclude visits to certain neighborhoods or during certain times of the day. Other groups are systematically inaccessible because of lifestyle or unwillingness to cooperate. Young men are often not home. When they are not, they are likely to be engaging in a group activity and cannot participate, even when called on a mobile phone. Workers in hospitality and health care often work shifts and may not be accessible during "regular" interviewing hours. In Curacao, we find that European Dutch people are systematically unavailable during dinner hours when interviewers are most likely to call or visit.
  6. product category. If the survey is about Ringtones, a phone is a pre-requisite. Hence a telephone survey is highly appropriate. If the survey is about a basic necessity (such as water or electricity), some respondents are likely to not have a phone, while their opinion is not only important, but possibly varies significantly from people with phones. If someone has an issue with the electricity company and has a phone, the road to a solution is probably much different than if he doesn't have a phone.
  7. sampling method used. Random sampling can be more effectively executed with a telephone survey. It is easier to call and call-back the chosen respondents, than to drive to their house with the risk of not finding them home or the risk of them not qualifying for the survey (f.i. because they are not a user of the product).
  8. the number of phones available at the call center
  9. budget- total cost is determined among others by the issues above
I started writing this post to explain the limitations of telephone surveys, but have realized that face-to-face interviews have at least as many limitations. Point 5, not being able to enter gated communities and apartments and interviewer safety issues are especially telling.

In the Caribbean, ROI and budget issues are especially important.Telephone surveys probably fit the budget better. Don't dismiss them as being less-than-ideal. Door-to-door surveys have at least as many limitations.

Survey sample sizes in small markets

Earlier this week I had a FB discussion with a fellow researcher about appropriate sample sizes (steekproefgroottes, muestras) in market research. It prompted me to write a post I always want to write each time that discussion comes up in Curacao.

As I write, I realize that the discussion might arise from the different goals of business research versus scientific research. In business (and other organizations) information is gathered to assist in decision-making. It has to make business sense. Scientific research often merely seeks to describe a condition. The findings are not necessarily used to aid in decision-making.

The research field allows for all sample sizes. Researcher just have to indicate the accuracy of the findings.

The larger the sample size, the more accurate the result, i.e. the more likely it is that the result of the study is closer to the reality. What is the error?

Sample (rounded)

Error (rounded)











This means that if you interview 400 people and 60% says they like your product, the reality is that between 55% and 65% like your product. If you interview 2.500 people, and 60% says they like your product, the real answer is likely to lie between 58% and 62%.

So, why would a market research not choose to work with the most accurate (large) sample size?

1. ROI reasons. Let’s say that a mass market research study with a sample size of 2.500 costs the same in Curacao, Holland and the USA, e.g. USD 10.000. All else equal, if the accurate answer on which you will base a decision yields you USD 1million extra profit in Holland, it will yield you USD 10.000 extra profit in Curacao – a BREAKEVEN -, just because our market is 100 times smaller (16 million vs 150.000). Why bother? What are the chances that you will sell this research proposal to your US boss, who is accustomed to a market where the same investment can yield 2.000 times more profit?

2. Maybe the ROI is good, but there is just no budget.

3. There are not enough qualified respondents in the market. There are 2000 babies born in Curacao every year. If a survey with 2% margin of error is desired, you need to interview all the new moms, and then some. How much it will cost in money and time to get to ALL of them? We were recently asked to interview 100 regular users of a minor cigarette brand in a certain age group. How difficult is that? How large is the risk that interviewers or respondents will fake interviews or come up with unqualified respondents?

4. There is not enough time. See point 3

5. Often a high level of accuracy is not necessary. For strategy and marketing purposes we are usually more interested in understanding and exploiting the top 3-4 alternatives, than in making an accurate top 20-ranking. We are interested in the top 3-4 reasons people buy a product, the top 3-4 media vehicles they use, the 3-4 advertising or product enhancing concepts that most appeal to them, the 3-4 closest competitors. All the other reasons, media vehicles, advertising or new product concepts and competitors become irrelevant. Why only the top 3-4? Because those are the ones we will duly consider in strategy development and/or marketing.

6. Borderline cases always mean that your work as a strategist is not done. If 52% like the product concept and 48% dislike, it is imperative to continue working on a better concept, regardless of the margin of error of the study. The risk of the product flopping in the market is simply much too great. What if further enhancement is not possible and a clear winner is not obvious? Well, if budget and time permit and the client wants to assume the risk of a product flopping, you can continue interviewing (making the sample size larger) until the desired accuracy level is reached. I.e. you can start with 400 and work your way up to a sample size of 1000 or more.

7. Segmentation is not very detailed. If the intention is to analyze and develop strategy for different segments, then you need enough respondents in each segment (subgroup) to properly analyze it (there is a formula for that). But, in small markets it is often not profitable to divide the market in many different segments, each with a different strategy. The most we might segment a small market by is 2 or 3 demographic and/or lifestyle variables. The best approach is to first decide which segments you want to study (because you can and intend to develop a separate strategy for them) and decide on minimum sample size later.

Why then have some studies with a sample size of 400 yielded vastly different results from the reality?

There are many reasons other than sample size, that could lead to the “wrong” answer. Following are some of the reasons listed by Aaker, Kumar and Day in Marketing Research (the quintessential marketing research textbook):

1. Interviewers might have phrased questions wrongly

2. Respondents might have intentionally or unintentionally given inaccurate answers

3. The answers might have been recorded, coded, processed or interpreted wronglyNumbered List

4. Interviewers might have faked the interview. Unsupervised and without validation (i.e. call backs) that is a big risk. Our company asks the name and telephone number of respondents so we can call them back and check (validate). Either that or interviewers are duly supervised.

5. Certain segments (ages, gender, social economic class) might have been over- or underrepresented. Perhaps they could not be found (as young men often are), they were not willing to participate, or participated but systematically refused to answer certain questions. Personally I always participate in surveys but systematically refuse to answer questions about income, politics, religion, sex, etc. That’s one of the reasons we don’t include them in our surveys: never ask a question you would not want to answer.

Sample sizes in the Caribbean

Sample sizes of around 400 are the norm rather than the exception in the small markets of the Caribbean. The constant discussion about sample size inhibits the further development of the research industry. Researchers are afraid to propose small sample sizes, clients are afraid to accept them since they have been led to believe that small sample sizes provide useless answers. Yet, there is no money to pay for more. So, research is forgone, decisions are made on no data at all, while we all know that some data is better than no data at all.

Further reading

Margin of error, Market Research World, Marketing Research by Aaker, Kumar, Day or google the topic.