Fabric Recruits Unique Respondents at Lightning Speed

Fabric Recruits Unique Respondents at Lightning Speed

Fabric Customer Testimonial: Gwen Sullivan

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Innovation consulting firm sparks+sullivan, set out to conduct market research on consumers fitting a highly specific set of demographic, psychographic, and category-related criteria to inform the development of a new brand strategy for a well-known American-made manufacturing client. 

But there was one problem: she had to fill the unicorn recruit AND collect all the data in one week.

Enter Fabric’s do-it-yourself video ethnography platform, which includes the feature of having the platform recruit for her.

Fabric: A Simple Solution for Research Recruitment

The user experience for researchers recruiting on the Fabric platform is radically simple. 

To recruit for her study, all Gwen had to do was enter her list of requirements in an open text field, and submit it to the Fabric team. Her desired recruit spec was approved within one hour because Fabric has a proprietary database of over 300,000 consumers globally.

According to Gwen, “The real magic of the tool is in Fabric’s respondent database….they could find the exact types of people I was hoping to have conversations with. And did at a velocity that matched the demands of our project timeline.”

From there, Gwen’s recruits appeared in her study dashboard, having each self-recorded 10 video responses to the questions she had entered herself in the study builder. 

As Gwen puts it, “I can enter in who I want to talk to, the questions that I want answered, go to sleep, wake up, next morning I get to go to my dashboard and see it populated with all of these people and their responses.”

Researchers also have the option to bring in their own recruits if they have a pre-existing list of participants they would like to use in their study. They can be uploaded manually, or via CSV file.



The recruitment cost of using our Fabric respondent database begins at $250 per person (including the recruitment fee of $150, platform fee of $50, and incentive of $50). With this comes access to the Fabric study dashboard which includes:

    • A 10-question grid of 60-second video responses per participant
    • Transcripts (machine, and/or premium human transcripts available on demand)
    • The ability to download respondent videos
    • Comment field on each video
    • Tagging to help code themes
    • Sharing capabilities with customizable levels of permission

With access to the Fabric study dashboard, Gwen was able to “dig into specific clips and videos and really get to know people, get to understand their responses in a way that’s so immersive.”


In the end, sparks+sullivan was able to meet its highly specific recruitment specs and was able to make a recommendation to the client on the key strategic issue at hand, all within the compressed time frame.

Gwen’s final report included sparks+sullivan’s recommendations, supported by verbatims, images of the respondents, and short video clips to bring the findings to life. According to Gwen, “I really couldn’t ask for a smoother experience working with Fabric.” 


5 Advantages of Mobile Video Over In-Person Ethnography

Leslie Stone, director of strategic services for Ogilvy NYC, cites 5 advantages of mobile video over in person ethnography (watch her video interview here): liberating respondents to speak freely, saving time and money, seeing contextfirst-hand, hearing first person accounts, and getting teams up to speed quickly on a topic.

Following a recent mindswarms project with Leslie Stone, director of strategic services for Ogilvy NYC, mindswarms sat down with her in Brooklyn to talk about her perspective on using mobile video ethnography. You can watch that video here.

In our conversation, she raised a number of great points about the advantages of mobile video ethnography over in-person ethnography, and I’d like to take a closer look at a couple of them:

1. Liberating participants to speak freely

In no other methodology are people so self-directed.

Leslie Stone

Moderator bias and group-think are two common factors in live interview sessions. Mobile video surveys invoke the online disinhibition effect, whereby people communicate more openly and honestly without another person present because they feel less afraid of conflict or disappointing the interviewer. You can read more about this in my LinkedIn article, 5 lessons in Mobile Video Study Design for Emotional Results, about our study of Millennials & Home Cleaning.

In the study we did with Leslie and the Ogilvy team, we were asking people about their homes. Therefore, we had people answer questions from inside their homes and even give us a narrated Show + Tell tour of their favorite room. From a study design standpoint, because people are typically very comfortable at home, they’re more relaxed and natural in their responses than they would be in another setting. Additionally, getting people moving and doing something unscripted helps people speak more freely because they’re not the focus of attention.

2. Saving time and money finding customer truth

Leslie says she used to travel all the time, conducting in-depth interviews (IDIs) and ethnographic studies. Today, her responsibilities at Ogilvy mean she has less time for field research. Nevertheless, for the world-class, award-winning work that Ogilvy does, she still needs to achieve a deep understanding of consumers—and there’s no substitute for hearing from and observing people directly.

One huge benefit [of mindswarms] is that I don’t have the time or resource to go do this myself. It’s amazing to go home, come back in the next day and just watch videos. It saves a gigantic amount of operational time

Leslie Stone

Despite the fast turnarounds made possible by online research tools, you don’t want to sacrifice quality for speed. (People want good sushi, fast; not just fast sushi.) That’s where totally DIY video survey platforms sometimes fall short.

With mobile video ethnography, it’s especially important to ask the right questions in the right ways. For that reason, at mindswarms we collaborate with researchers to design studies, closely screen participants, and curate the resulting video responses to keep quality high. We view our platform as an effective technology enabler of the fundamentally human-to-human act of ethnography.

3. Seeing context first-hand

One of the great strengths of mobile video ethnography is being able to see what’s in the periphery as people answer questions and to peer into people’s lives and environments.

Some of the richest insights came back from what we saw. And sometimes, that’s the richest and the biggest point.

Leslie Stone

That’s why mobile video is a great fit for in-home qualitative research. As Leslie said, “It’s a no-brainer for anything in the home. And ‘anything in the home’ could be any consumer goods or any food or anything in your closet or shopping.

4. Hearing first-person accounts

There’s tremendous power in hearing directly from consumers in their own words. Mobile video ethnography is a great tool for collecting first-person stories rich in detail and emotion. It helps you understand the language actual customers use to talk about a brand, product or experience. It also helps you confirm you’re not making assumptions based on false familiarity.

Brand decks can be beautifully written and clearly articulated, but seeing and hearing how those ideas, platforms or concepts are manifested in the lives of real consumers helps bring teams closer to the people they are trying to reach.

5. Getting colleagues up to speed quickly in an engaging way

I think it’s fair to say a lot of business presentations are…anesthetic. Uninspired and unengaging. Video, however, has become the new language of the world, as you’ve seen in the explosive growth and volume of online video. Bringing that rich, vivid cultural element into the world of business is a highly effective way to get a point across in an compelling way.

For the ad campaign Ogilvy was developing, Leslie needed to bring a broad array of stakeholders up to speed, quickly. So she selected clips from our mobile video study to share with the client, her creative team, PR and others involved in the ad campaign.

Even if you had already had your brief but you just wanted to pump it up with extra insight or give people thoughts to react to, [mindswarms] would be great. Or in the middle of a pitch to show clients people talking about your strategy, it helps to engage them. mindswarms can also be helpful when you’re stuck.

Leslie Stone

The richly visual content and first-person stories were powerful for validating ad campaign strategy and building empathy for the campaign audience. This helped the Ogilvy team develop a unique and compelling ad campaign that connected with people in a genuine way.

You have to find a human connection to your audience if you want to elicit a human response.

Leslie Stone

You can watch watch our video interview with Leslie here.

On our website, you can also download several case studies showcasing the effective use of mobile video surveys for ad campaign testing and business pitches.


Special thanks to Leslie Stone for sharing her insights about the experience of using mobile video for qualitative research


From Rolex to Iphone: Millennials and the Meaning of Luxury

How do Millennials view Luxury? We wanted to know. So we launched a study on our platform, and the responses we received were illuminating, capturing the sophistication of this generation and the tech world they know deeply. In many ways, Millennials haven’t redefined Luxury, they’ve expanded the experience.

Research Objective

To understand how Millennials define Luxury versus previous generations.

Target Audience

National US sample

23 cities

Ages 19 – 30

Even Male/Female ratio

HH income > national average

1/3rd had HH incomes > $100,000

Mix of ethnicities

socioeconomic backgrounds

We Learned

Millennials recognize two types of luxury:

Old-Fashioned Luxury or “True Luxury”

  • Millennials equate this with things like private jets, mansions and Rolex watches, which they acknowledge haven’t changed in generations.
  • Highest quality materials are key.

Modern, Millennial Luxury or “My Luxury”

  • They think of this as inclusive personalized experiences, delivered through high-tech digital means that are constantly evolving.
  • Highest quality user experiences/ user interfaces are key

Technology (especially smartphones) changed the Luxury game in 3 ways:

  • From limited access to inclusive & always available.
  • From narrow definition to more expansive, more sophisticated notion.
  • From static, offline products to digitally-connected, ever-evolving experiences.
I think luxury still has the same general meaning. Like people look at it for something that makes them happy, something that relaxes you but now it’s a little more technological.

Alexandra R.

So my parent’s generation seem to feel like if their house was the biggest on the block, if their car was [the] newest car…that was luxury for them. But our generation is more like, if our technology is the newest, our smartphone…we are showing that off as luxury…it’s not so much the houses anymore. It’s the technology.

Lisa T.

Every generation over time has gotten progressively richer and more sophisticated…for example my parents’ parents may have thought that…a standard car would have been a luxury…But in this day and age, I don’t believe things like a car, or…cell phone (are) considered luxurious in themselves…our (Millennials) definition of luxury differs from previous generations in that it’s (an) evolution.

Daniel D.

Let’s dive into each of the ways that luxury has evolved from “True Luxury” to “My Luxury”…

From limited access to inclusive & always available:

  • Millennials see the internet as the equalizer, where it’s not just the 1% who can gain access to Luxury goods.
  • Millennials describe Luxury as having access to anything they want at their fingertips…smartphones have raised their expectations of “Luxury on demand.”
  • Millennials say that many experiences that were once considered Luxury are now attainable in a new way. Town car services like Uber and spa days through Groupon can be obtained seamlessly and effortlessly…where great UX/UI can be a valuable brand equity.
  • An experiential and tech-centric definition of Luxury lends itself to include others, often through social media.
Technology helps us get things, and you can get luxurious things discounted with Living Social, Groupon, these kinds of websites. So I think for me [luxury is] accessible, it’s available.

Darcy S.

Feel like my definition of luxury has been changed because of the ease of communication that we have nowadays. Back then you kind of heard stories in the newspaper about luxurious items, maybe like a town car or products that your favorite celebrity wore.Nowadays it’s a matter of this…you look at something on Twitter or Instagram and you kind of get a sense of what people consider to be top items or top brand clothing or devices.

George A.

Western brands used to be very exclusive to a select few. Companies like Gucci, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, used to design clothes, bags, leather goods only for the elite class, and it was the norm for this same class to dress in one brand from head to toe.But now, so many fashion brands have merged, and these fashion brands have redefined their marketing strategy to reflect a luxurious appeal of the mass class, such that these fashion brands are now known as luxury fashion brands.Nowadays, it is common to see a celebrity wearing jeans from H&M, a shirt from Sala, earrings from Chanel, or a bag from Louis Vuitton. Luxurious brands now are more diversified and have become more reachable.

Mariane V.

Luxury sort of has changed in that a lot of things that are luxurious are more accessible. For instance in the electronics world everyone has an iPhone or an equivalent smartphone. Those are affordable for a whole great mass of people.Certain things that are ultra luxurious always have been like a Rolls Royce that hasn’t changed. But in general things that are considered in the past, say like travel to destinations… a lot of that is more accessible to more people now, to the masses.

Andrew K.

We live in a world now where it’s easier to travel than different generations. The cost of flights isn’t as much as different generations. So, we’re able to do different luxurious things, eat out to luxurious restaurants in a way that it’s not such a rich and poor. It’s accessible to everyone.

Darcy S.

From narrow definition to more expansive, more sophisticated notion:

  • Luxury is no longer confined to specific status symbols like an ultra-expensive car or a watch. In fact, Luxury has permeated almost all facets of people’s lives – from luxury cupcakes to luxury computers to luxury dog spas and everything else in-between.
  • It’s as if the whole idea of what is Luxury has become more elastic than in years past. Given this, Luxury is open to a broader interpretation – i.e., Luxury is less grounded in concrete examples of wealth, excess and status and more to do with the “luxification” or making of experiences across a wide spectrum of interests and activities more Luxurious.
When they (other generations) think of luxury (it is) like the core luxury brands such as Gucci or Fendi or Channel. The way we’re defining luxury in this generation…it’s more of a broader scale. There’s more brand name designers that are actually available…such as going to Barney’s or Bloomingdale’s.

Tiffany C.

And to me, luxury is a matter of a mix of practicality and expense…I consider this phone a little bit luxurious because I went a little bit out of my budget to get it, but at the same time I consider it very useful to myself. Other people consider luxury to be…something completely out of their budget. Not necessarily as practical, but something that is an unneeded expense, but they still buy it.

George A.

My definition of luxury…is the idea of less is more given that much more of the world has been explored now and a lot of the things that were luxurious in the past to earlier generations are not really quite so much now. So, a lot of it comes down to finding that kind of Zen “less is more” attitude about finding luxury in simple things and sustainability (e.g., spa treatments that use basic ingredients over chemicals and complex concoctions).

Jonathan M.

Previous generations really defined luxury by a price point. Something that was expensive was luxurious whether it was a watch or whether it was a vehicle or a vacation or something like that. I think my generation, which is definitely in kind of the ‘me generation,’ I think really defines luxury by experiences and how personalized something is for us.

Jesse G.

From static, offline products to digitally connected, ever-evolving experiences:

  • Seamless, personalized experiences resonate powerfully with Millennials (vs. off-the-grid analog products). No longer about people conforming to luxury products and brands. Now Luxury conforms to Millennials’ needs and desires.
  • Smartphone integration is at the core of personalized experiences, which allows Millennials to create bespoke experiences for themselves that previous generations did not engage in.
  • Millennials see Luxury in experiences that minimize the hassles and barriers in between them and the achievement of what they want.
I think of luxury as more of a service-based experience. It’s more about the experience to me, where I think in the past I just — my perception of what it might have been in the past is that it’s more regarding wealth and your home and how much money you make. And while that’s true, you can make no money but still experience luxury services such as going to a nightclub and receiving bottle services. It’s how the whole experience is so much different than someone who’s coming in general admission. Or if you happen to be invited on a private charter jet, even though you can’t afford it, you’re still getting that luxury experience. It’s service-based, it’s the luxury to not be working all the time and to have time to yourself and time to experience what you want to experience.

Cait M.

I think my definition is a lot more personalized…people are trying to individualize themselves as opposed to trying to be something that they see…people want experiences that are closer to them and whatever they feel they need; and it’s less so about wealth and extravagance as opposed to something that has meaning.

Sharik A.

My definition of luxury is having…a richness of experience, so being able to find out something very quickly. Like what concerts are going on, being able to go there, being able to do everything from your phone…not having to worry about all the logistics, but being able to go do it and share the experience with your friends. I guess it differs from that of previous generations, because there’s not necessarily one material good that is a status thing, like a Rolex…(that) once you have it, you’ve made it. It’s more…to have a nice meal or go to a concert…where it’s seamless…to have the experience.

Eugene P.

At the end of the day: Millennials are investing heavily in “making things their own” to have enriched experiences.

  • They’re investing time in personalizing their smartphones (e.g., individually customized interfaces and unique app configurations).
  • This investment of time has created a strong bond with not only their smartphones, but the enriched experiences that result from being digitally connected to an ever-evolving experience.
  • They’re invested emotionally in the positive feelings they get from pampering themselves with luxurious features and experiences across all aspects of their lives.

These enriched experiences are so embedded into their lives that Millennials now have an “Expectation of Luxury.”

Well luxury twenty years ago is a lot different than what it is today…just everything from little things inside of houses like faucets and different technologies as far as the types of TV’s, gaming systems, even cable providers…now it’s just a lot more luxurious than more people had back in the day.

Corey L.

The difference is (i.e., the difference between her definition of luxury and luxury as defined by previous generations), is that ease of technology and life…I have a lot of luxuries that I take for granted, like I expect my phone to be fast. I expect to have the newest phone. I want cable to be free because I stream all my TV on my iPad. Those are luxuries that I take for granted…I can watch television wherever I am or this phone tells me how to get somewhere with directions…Also I just took Uber this week and I think that is an ultimate, awesome luxury and I don’t think my parents would even really understand or be interested in it.

Vanessa L.

Conclusions & Implications

  • Despite high student debt, high unemployment rates and fewer prospects to “one-up” their parents materially, Millennials are finding luxury on their own terms and not feeling sorry for themselves.
  • In fact, Millennials think of themselves as living more luxurious lives than their parents, largely based on the ease of everyday living enhanced through technology.
  • While quality materials or ingredients are still important, things like seamless digital experiences can dramatically enhance Millennials’ perceptions of a brand’s Luxury status.
  • The Internet of Things will create opportunities for brands (that have historically not been digital) to forge new relationships with Millennials.
  • This new version of luxury may seem at odds with the old version but it isn’t: technology has added dimension to the concept of Luxury, rather than completely redefining it.
  • Although Millennials acknowledge that many signifiers of Luxury remain unchanged from the past, experiences form a bigger top-of-mind part of Luxury for them than products.
  • If Luxury itself were a brand, it has been repositioned as more malleable, where Millennials can play an active role in shaping it to their liking (very simply acquiring it).
  • We have entered a new era, where the core tenets of Luxury have shifted; this creates opportunities for brands to literally and emotionally connect with Millennials in profoundly different ways from past generations.


Rent, Own or Borrow: The Sharing Economy for Millennials

Given the rise of the Sharing Economy through companies like Airbnb and Zipcar, Fabric wanted to uncover Millennials’ attitudes and brand relationships within this new economy. Would they have similar attitudes to their parents? Or, has the omnipresence of tech changed things? What we found challenges the very definition of the American Dream.

Research Objective

To understand Millennials’ attitudes about the Sharing Economy versus their parents.

Target Audience

National US sample

17 states

24 cities

Ages 19-34

Even Male/Female ratio

> 40% had HH incomes $100K+

Mix of ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds

We Learned

Millennials feel that the Sharing Economy has enabled an evolution of the American Dream for their generation

My Parents’ American Dream:

  • Success through individual effort
  • Work hard to improve life standing
  • Life-long accumulation of “my things”

My American Dream:

  • Success through a combination of individual and collaborative effort
  • Work smart, always open to new opportunities and experiences to enhance life
  • Enjoying “my access” to things and experiences when I want/need them
I’m willing to pursue housing through a website like Airbnb, rent a car through Zipcar, but my parents don’t want any of that. They want to own those things. It has something to do with their American Dream. For my younger generation, I don’t think that’s either desirable or even possible. With the rise of the sharing economy, I see truly a reflection of a national economy for people like myself.

Bishoy N.

I think my parents and I disagree about the sharing programs because my parents are baby boomers and everything with them was about being a self-made person…not accepting help from other people.

Matt S.

So my parents feel a higher sense of satisfaction saving up, buying that new car and having a nice thing that they can call their own, whereas I see more value in just being able to open up an app on my phone and find the car that I could use or a ride that I could get.

Ryan C.

There are 3 key factors shaping the strong connection between Millennials & “Sharing” brands & fueling the Sharing Economy

  • Sharing brands enable a new definition of prosperity for Millennials within a sluggish economy.
  • Millennials’ comfort with technology and their trust of social media allows them to leverage Sharing brand connections/benefits.
  • Sharing brands provide Millennials with a sense of savviness and opportunity.

Sharing brands provide more attainable possibilities for prosperity within this economy.

  • Millennials recognize that their parents’ definition of success and prosperity isn’t as possible for their generation.
  • They see the sharing economy as a way for them to achieve some of their goals within their “American Dream.”
  • Sharing brands not only provide access, but also can alleviate the worry associated with not having enough money for purchase.
I don’t feel stable enough to own a home, also a bicycle or a car. I do own my car but living in a city, if I could share or rent one instead of owning one, I would definitely be interested in that.

~ Carly S.

I’m sure my parents very much disagree and think that I should be owning an apartment, but right now the most financially feasible thing is to keep renting. I think that really is just a generation gap of having a bit of uncertainty.

~ Matthew F

I rent my apartment and at my age my parents owned their first home…The economy has changed all that…I can’t afford, as a single female, to purchase my own home so I choose to rent because it’s something that I can do without having to worry about how much money I have.

~ Erin D.

Millennials’ trust of online brands and relationships allows them to more fully enjoy the benefits

Online experience and trust allows Millennials to be more:

  • experimental, excited to try new brands and services that they may have little or no previous history with
  • open, willing to enter into a rental or share relationship with a stranger
  • fearless, able to look at the possibilities associated with outsourcing a task or embarking on a new adventure based on an online reputation
  • spontaneous, able to enjoy share relationships when they want and not be bogged down with longer-term commitments
  • fulfilled, by the reward of the experience
They are OK with borrowing someone else’s things…but if it comes to participating as someone who lends these thing out, they wouldn’t be able to trust….where as I’m able to say OK, this person has a good online reputation, so let’s go for it.

~ Jen S.

For me, I like the flexibility of being able to leave – going to a different place and I think that kind of resonates through a lot of people my age.

~ Matthew F

There’s a lot of things that I would probably be okay with in terms of renting and sharing that my parents wouldn’t and I feel it’s because they grew up in a different time and they worked really hard for a lot of the things that they’ve accumulated over the years. I think we’re in a different society with technology and sharing.

~ Marisa M.

Sharing brands provide Millennials with opportunities to feel they are “working smarter”

Although some did admit that their parents view “sharing” as a way for them to dodge adult responsibilities, Millennials overall recognize the potential that sharing brands offer them:

  • profitability, able to better leverage current “assets” for extra income
  • frugality, able to reduce expenses associated with owning
  • “waste reduction,” able to avoid unnecessary duplication and/or over accumulation of “stuff”
  • time/resource leverage, able to better leverage their own time, skills and “assets”
I think it’s wasteful for everybody to own a car and be a single-serve driver, so I’m really into the car share programs…my parents have this idea that if you don’t go by yourself that somehow you are ripping off the system or gleaning every little bit you can…not taking responsibility…just a way of doing the bare minimum.For them owning things is a symbol of prosperity and has been for a long time and for me it seems like a wasteful choice.

~ Kelsie C

For me, I think it’s kind of exciting that I can meet new people from all over the place and be making extra money without really having to do too much. For me I need the extra income and for older people like my parents, they don’t.

~ Nolan D.

I’m willing to rent appliances, rent rooms, make my furniture, anything to earn a few extra dollars, especially if it’s a trustworthy person… why not earn some money for something?

~ Ryan G.

The thing with my parents is that their generation thought that there’s a lot of value in holding onto stuff, but I think nowadays, we realize that things, just because you hold on to them, doesn’t mean they are going to make you a profit later, so why tie yourself into something by owning it when you can just rent it?

~ Chalita A.

Sharing brands are truly shaping the lives of Millennials – providing them with a sense of opportunity and re-defining prosperity for their generation.

Millennials feel certain that technology will continue to fuel the growth of strong Sharing Brands and the Sharing Economy.

With the rise of mobile technology and the omni-presence of the web, people can make known what sorts of things that they have that maybe isn’t getting maximally utilized…and people can create ways to share that amongst themselves with neighbors locally and through a searchable database of that stuff. So that is why it’s more convenient and prevalent these days.

~ Eugene P.

With the rise of social media, this made it so easy for us to connect with each other. It’s no longer difficult for me to find housing down the street …for this reason, I think the sharing economy is on the rise.

~ Bishoy N.

Conclusions & Implications

  • As the American Dream shifts for Millennials within a challenging economy, the sharing economy, at the most basic level, allows them access to products and services that they may not otherwise be able to afford.
  • At a higher level, sharing brands support Millennials’ desire for convenience, flexibility and unique experiences. Millennials are forming strong, lasting relationships with sharing brands, relationships that are as relevant and meaningful to their lives as traditional brands.
  • The trust that Millennials have built through their social/online experiences allows them to be fearless and open to new sharing brands.
  • Although some Millennials did admit that their ultimate desire for ownership may not be different than their parents when resources allow, the sharing economy does allow them to be fulfilled – as the reward of the experience often is as valuable as owning it.
  • Millennials’ positive sharing experiences can be the bridge for trial within their parents’ “social network” and will likely help build trust for these older generations.
  • A broader positioning for “Share Economy brands” beyond simple cost-savings will connect with Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and a maturing Millennial generation. Sharing brands have the ability to deliver both rational and emotional benefits, allowing consumers to feel frugal, savvy, resourceful and adventurous.


Us and Them: The Double Standard of Online Reputation

While consumers demand transparency from corporations, a new online reputation study conducted by Fabric uncovered a double standard when it comes to managing their personal reputation. So, what accounts for this discrepancy? We dug deep to discover the truth.

Research Objective

To understand how the notion of online reputation has impacted consumer behavior on two axes: how they consume content related to reputation, and how they think about their own reputation.

Target Audience

National US sample

17 states, 27 cities

Ages 18-53

Even Male/Female ratio

Mix of ethnicities

Mix of socio-economic backgrounds

We Learned

Consumers expect transparency from corporations, but their behaviors show that they hold themselves to a different bar of “honesty.”

My expectations: Corporate brands:

  • A complete disclosure of all reviews and opinions
  • Transparent, honest “voice”
  • Open access

My behaviors: “My” brands

  • A post of positive/“liked” comments only
  • A constant censoring of “voice” for reputation management
  • Controlled access

Three emerging consumer “recognitions” have led to this double standard

  • They acknowledge the permanence of their online actions.
  • They increasingly realize their brand reputations can be tracked as carefully as corporate brands.
  • They know they can now take active steps to “manage” their personal brands online.
I find myself censoring a lot of the things that I would normally just say… and I’ll take photos down if they don’t get enough likes.And then on the side of buying things online, I rely on the reputation of a company solely by the reviews. If they have a bad review, it reflects really badly.

~ Mariana

When I think about online reputation on a personal level, I know that I am far more aware of what I put out there because potential employers and clients can see what I’m saying and I prefer their first impression to be positive.When it comes to where I go, it’s rare that I go somewhere without having checked on Twitter to see if they suck.

~ Taylor S.

I don’t want others to meet me a minute in person and then go try to look me up online to try to learn more about me and find all of these crazy, bad, wild stories about me!

~ Laura H.

Current Perspectives Regarding Their Online Reputations Higher level of consciousness about the permanence of their actions online.

  • Consumers admit that they have changed their behaviors over the last 2 to 3 years.
  • Concern about permanence of online reputation sometimes at paranoia intensity.
  • Boomers especially aware and fearful for the “younger” generation.
Yes, I have changed my behavior on the Internet over the past two to three years. I tend to watch what I say and what I post on social media because you don’t want that as a permanent record which people can Google and then attribute to you.For example, you don’t want potential employers finding dirt on you.

~ Don V

have become more aware that people know what I do on the Internet. So I have to make sure that all the things that I put do not hang over my head, so no one can use it against me.

~ Bianca M

I think, being a parent, I have to be aware of what I put up there and that I am not giving the wrong signals to my children, their friends, their friends’ parents, etc. I worry that the teens and 20-somethings have no idea how much this is going to come back to haunt them for years.I think it’s very important that people be aware that once it’s out there, it’s out there forever.

~ Laurie P

Increasingly realize personal online reputation may be tracked as easily as corporate reputations

  • Consumers now realize that the freedom of speech originally enabled by the Internet may not be so “free”
  • As the early social media users mature, they realize the shift in their audience from friends to employers
  • Consumer sense a greater use of “monitoring” tools in use by corporate employers
I try to think twice before I tweet something or post something on Facebook or Instagram…because it not only affects the amount of followers I have, but it also affects my Klout score or my online reputation scores which in turn dictates how much of an authority I have on certain topics on Twitter.

~ Aman B.

I started on Facebook in 2004 when I was still in school and that’s just sort of what it was for at the time. Now, everyone is on and it’s very easy for employees or just my company in general to see what I’m posting online.

~ Amanda W.

Potential employers are now screening social media and doing background checks based on social networking sites. So definitely leaving a positive digital imprint on the Internet is important to me. There are actually tools out there for monitoring people so it’s becoming very easy now.

~ Tyler M.

Expecting complete transparency from corporate brand v.s. actively varnishing their own reputations.

  • Professional/employment concerns are often the rationalization
  • Some frequently Google themselves as a “brand check”
  • Others even go so far as to change their names or “delete themselves” entirely for peace of mind
I’ve noticed that a lot of employers start looking online now to see how you react towards others’ posts and to see if you’re respectful toward others’ opinions. I’ve tried to show how I would work well with others in an organization by showing what I like…posting about places I’ve visited.

~ Nefra I..

Reputation online has changed my behavior because for instance, like on a Facebook forum, I will say more stuff on secret groups than I would on my timeline or my personal page.

~ Shelton Y.

When I was looking for a job, I had to change my last name on Facebook so that I wouldn’t be found. Even though I’m very good about what I post publicly, I just know that there’s a trail everywhere and everyone will always be able to find it no matter what I do… even if I delete it.

~ Melissa P.

Consumers still place a high value on honest corporate reputation content and expect complete transparency

I’ve become a lot more aggressive and diligent in finding different reviews to research…to find why somebody says this or that about a product. I try to be as honest as I can when commenting and I would hope that organizations themselves would do the same.

~ Craig A.

I think it’s very important for organizations to have a strong online reputation. It’s important to have a good reputation on websites like Glassdoor. You can now easily do a Google search for a company name and see the complaints…see what kind of online reputation they have.

~ Jennifer S.

04. But when it comes to their online reputation, consumers, like corporations, recognize the importance of a positive “brand standing” to their overall success, with honesty and transparency a much lower priority.

Online my reputation will definitely change because it’s important to be able to get along with people that I normally wouldn’t have liked or even tried to do business with. It helps to be able to hide behind that online reputation and image.

~ Rob K.

I think that an online reputation is something that you have to take care of. You have to be very conscious when you go online and very careful of what you say and do.

~ Maria J.

Conclusions & Implications

  • A double standard is emerging as consumers actively sanitize their online reputation while expecting corporations to provide complete transparency
  • Oddly, individuals are starting to act like the corporations they historically have mistrusted by scrubbing anything that isn’t positive
  • As consumers become increasingly more serious about their online reputations, they are becoming more savvy in their investigations/ evaluations of corporate reputations as well.
  • Corporations must be mindful of the rising anxiety regarding “employer tracking” etc., as they strive to maintain healthy, positive relationships with their consumers
  • Social media brands must obviously strive to remain relevant, thriving destinations for the increasingly more guarded consumers as consumer sensitivities about privacy and security policies continue to increase
  • Corporate/social media forums should seek ways to provide consumers with both the “freedom” and “control” they desire