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  • The 1rst survey from Reperes Second Life

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    Today we are communicating the main research findings of our 1st exploratory study conducted with residents from Second Life and dealing with their perception of this universe. 137 residents from our panel have completed our survey.

    These results reinforced our perception of Second Life as a deeply humain universe. According to its residents, Second Life is first at all :

    The largest community ever created, offering opportunities for exchanges with other people ranging far beyond that of the simple chat room,

    A step forward for humanity with :
    . more athenticity and access to the real self,
    . the opportunity to develop and even surpass oneself via apprenticeships and the use and unexploited skills,
    . an infinite potentiel for discovery and creativity.

    I invite you to read the main research findings of the analysis. For more details about this survey, do not hesitate to contact Emilie Labidoire, Reperes Second Life project manager.

  • The Home Use Blog or the Blog at the Service of Innovation

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    In January 2006, during the National Marketing Day organised by Adetem, Romain Moronzier from Danone Research told me about a problem his team was tackling: How to evaluate the relevance of disruptive technology with consumers, namely when it implies new habits or gestures.

    The problem of testing disruptive innovation is indeed a recurring problem in market research: confronted with innovation, the consumer can turn out to be a poor evaluator and to give arbitrary answers that say nothing about the future success or failure of the innovation being tested.

    The question raised by Danone Research reminds me of a conversation I had a few months earlier with Christophe Rebours, the founder of the management and innovation agency In Process. Christophe mentioned the launch of the talking rabbit Nabaztag and explained to me that with such an atypical product the approach adopted had consisted of not conducting a test with consumers but of launching the product on a small scale to observe whether or not it would find its place within the community of first users.

    The best way to find out whether an innovation is going to work, is to make it live. However, our customers can’t afford to repeat launches “just to see”. With Danone Research we looked for an approach which, with a reduced cost and in a short time, would enable us to test innovations by integrating two dimensions which seem essential to the relevance of the innovation test: experience and exchange.

    It is a fact that in the absence of concrete experience consumers find it hard to anticipate:
    . they find themselves locked up within their perceptive frameworks based on a past experience and one probably not relevant to the innovation being tested,
    . in addition when the concept is being tested they tend to call upon rational thoughts, whereas the body, sensations and emotions are insufficiently relied on.
    At the same time, the manufacturer also ignores how the innovation will be appropriated or used by the future consumer (concerning this François Laurent was telling me how surprised clients who had commissioned an experiment with television on mobile phones were: the majority of uses were not outside the home, as expected, but in bed)

    The dimension of exchange is another component we believe to be essential for testing innovations: the importance of the impact of word-to-mouth between consumers is growing. Today, the asymmetric relation between a communicating brand and the consumer as a simple receiver is no longer accepted. Consumers refer more to their peers, namely via the Blogosphere which provides them with a new realm of expression, exchange, reference and will soon help them in their decisions too.

    Our research protocol therefore had to respect these two conditions of experience and exchange:
    . a prototype tested in the conditions of actual use,
    . with communication between users and namely a dissemination of uses and perceptions.

    That is how we came to launch Home Use Blog: a community of consumers who test a product and share their experiences on a Blog. At the same time as the consumer Blog, a discussion forum enables exchanges within the project team (client company, market research institute…).

    The Home Use Blog protocol is simple:
    . we recruit 10 to 15 consumers,
    . each participant is interviewed separately and is instructed on how to use the community Blog. Participants are given a product to test during a given period, 10 days to a fortnight in the studies already conducted,
    . during this test period respondents share on a daily basis their experiences on the Blog, via texts, images, emoticons, etc. Thus generating an effect of amplification and acceleration (one use test generates x tests with immediate validation or invalidation) and an effect of regulating and testing the duration of opinions and practises.

    The findings gathered are extremely instructive especially thanks to the special aspects of the Blog as a communication tool, it being at the same time private and social. And unlike focus groups where the effects of leading may perturb the reliability of the information, the experiences or the opinions of the other participants are taken onboard and reinterpreted but without altering their individuality.

    In the end, the Home Use Blog is a wonderful, adaptable and quick experimental tool, in line with clients’ timing, an impressive tool for exchange (between consumers, between consumers and manufacturers and between the members of the project team) and for getting close to consumers. This protocol is perfectly in synch with the strategy adopted by brands of placing the consumer at the heart of the innovation process.

    The use of the Blog as an information gathering tool in innovation tests has a promising future before it. We would like to conduct experiments with larger samples of consumers soon.

    This method was the object of a joint Danone Research / Repères presentation at SEMO, the market research exhibition which was held on 7th and 8th November 2006.

  • Repères Second Life in the Media

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    The announcement of the opening of our offices aroused definite interest, confirming the current appeal of Second Life and the relevance of our approach.

    In the press, we had the pleasure of being interviewed by:
    . Sophie Peters for Les Echos
    . Jean Bernard Litzier for Le Figaro
    . Tanguy Leclerc for CB News
    . other interviews have been or will be done (articles not yet published) with LeMonde2, Télérama, VSD, Le Journal du Dimanche…

    Our Press Communiqué also featured in different on-line newsletters: emarketing.fr, strategies.fr, Influencia, Neteconomie

    Lastly, we would like to thank bloggers who mentioned the launch: SLObserver, of course, but also David Castera, Jerome Boutelier, Wangxiang Tuxing.

    Lastly, during the SEMO, the French annual market research exhibition which was held on 7 and 8 November, on our stand we set up an access terminal to Second Life: our clients and colleagues, many of whom were discovering Second Life for the first time, were enthusiastic and were won over by Repères’ initiative and especially by the fascinating aspect of this new universe.

    What is more, we may have found a first client for a future Repères Second Life study! This would be for a company set up in Second Life who wishes to interview its visitors. At best I expected to find a first client in 6 months or a year…

    This initial feedback is particularly encouraging. It is now up to us to fulfil the expectations aroused. To do so we will dedicate more human resources to the Second Life Repères team.

    The first study (self-financed by Repères) conducted among residents who have joined our panel will take place in the next few days. It will concern a first exploratory approach, the findings of which will be published.

    This of course is only a beginning: the prospects in terms of studies are extraordinarily promising (access to a creative international and avant-garde community, innovation tests, visits of virtual shops…).

  • Species Odyssey – 4th Episode

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    Just recently I saw again the superb documentary Jacques Malaterre made under the scientific direction of Yves Coppens, entitled “A Species Odyssey”, which retraces the key stages in the evolution of humanity: learning to walk on our hind legs, the creation of the first tools, controlling fire…

    We have just experienced another key step.

    Undoubtedly, when in the future scientists look back upon the odyssey of our species, they will note as one of the turning points in our history the day when the first economic transaction concerning a so-called “virtual” object occurred (it was probably a transaction on Ebay of a weapon from the game World of Warcraft, I don’t know the nature or the date of this transaction. Can anyone tell me?)

    When the first commercial exchange of a “virtual” object occurred our reality underwent a fundamental change: a new layer was added to and introduced within the reality we had known so far. The virtual dimension took on its full meaning from the moment that it could be the object of a transaction between individuals, thus going beyond the confines of the world of games.

    Our universe gained a new dimension tending towards the infinite, a new space for exchange, work, creativity, socialising, and of course new discoveries. It is certain that our society is going to be fundamentally affected by this.

    The first transaction concerning a virtual object will certainly affect our history more than man’s first step on the moon: in the end, three people were sent to the moon 37 years ago, and one of them remained in the space craft while the others just walked about on the surface a little, planted a flag and left. Nine others followed between 1969 and 1972, and we haven’t returned since… That space is empty and cold, and robots are more at home there than human beings are. However, the new space born of the interlocking of our former reality with that of the virtual world is profoundly human.

    To end this note, I would like to give two concrete examples seen from my angle as an entrepreneur:
    . work in a virtual environment is going to develop, for example via meetings in which avatars will meet in more appropriate places (a little sexier than our drab video-conferences), cf the announcement of the arrival of Leo Burnett in Second Life in the SLObserver blog,
    . pupils in secondary school interested in architecture today should really ask themselves whether instead of focusing on traditional architecture in which the resistance of materials plays an important role they might not study the architecture of living and working spaces in virtual environments. (The ideal thing would be for architecture courses to very quickly acknowledge an architecture free of the constraints of “First Life” and to include it in the curriculum).

    P.S.: Another key date, even if it remains more technical, would be November the 14th 2003, the day when Linden Lab, the creator of the virtual universe of Second Life, decided to assign to players the intellectual property of all the objects they created in this universe. Concerning the sale of virtual objects, see the very complete article by Aurélien Pfeffer on the jeuxonline site.

  • The First Market Survey Company in Second Life

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    A new adventure is beginning for my company: Repères has just established itself in Second Life.

    Repères Second Life is the 1st market survey company in this world, but not the first company to have started doing business there. Brands such as Nike, Adidas and Toyota, communication agencies such as Leo Burnett, a press agency with a permanent correspondent (Reuters) and design studios are already in Second Life…

    Our presence in Second Life is therefore a necessity:

    . our signature “passion for research” takes on all of its meaning there: Second Life is a new world where practically everything remains to be discovered and built,

    . as its name suggests, Second Life is not just a game but it is also a true extension of reality. The avatars that explore it and live there are not virtual but are the real expressions of a part of our humanity and gaining knowledge of this is an inherent part of our research work.

    As an added bonus, by creating Repères Second Life, we take full advantage of the pleasures of Second Life: discovering new things, flying, exchanging and creating new ideas and having the feeling that we are pioneers…

    Attached is our press communiqué concerning Repères Second Life (This text was drafted by Marie Juan Lallier, who is my life partner and takes an active part in the development of the methodologies of Repères whilst running her own practise as a psychologist).