Dec 28, 2012

South Korea Year-End Celebrations

Ringing In 2013 South Korea Style

Written by: Geunjin Kim (from RPA's Seoul, South Korea Office)

How do you spend the last month of 2012? While December is always very busy with appointments, meeting friends and having parties (as we shared in our last RPA blog post about Bonenkai in Japan), in South Korea, we have our own diverse year-end party celebrations.

Enjoying concerts, theatre and musical events is very popular – especially among the women in their 20s here, with many restaurants satisfying both EYE and MOUTH with performances and wonderful meals. Great with me – killing two birds with one stone!

Apart from crowded downtown Seoul, more and more people are leaving the big city to venture countryside. Renting guest houses or cottages (also known as “pensions”) is popular among people who prefer staying with family or friends very quietly, often without alcohol!

And finally, as in many parts of the world now, Apps are often helpful to check what kinds of foods are served – and at what price – before booking a restaurant reservation during this busy celebration period. Below are typical meals for year-end party celebrations in South Korea. If you get the chance to try any, I’m sure you’d love them!

*Kimchi Sam-kyup-sal (Pork Belly with Kimchi) 
Sam-kyup-sal (pork belly) has been rated as the most delicious Korean food among foreigners … followed closely by Kimchi. So, with this dish, the best foods meet each other! Can you imagine how it tastes?

Pork Belly (with Kimchi to support it!)
Korean Pancake and Makgeolli
Makgeolli, known as “Korean rice wine”, is a milky-colored alcoholic beverage with a touch of sweetness. Rainy days this time of year make Korean people recall Makgeolli with Korean pancakes. Easy to prepare, you can cook Korean pancakes yourself (personally, I recommend adding ingredients like seafood, oysters or Kimchi). This dish is really healthy and a good late-night meal option.

Korean Pancake
Jokbal, tender and chewy, is a dish made of pigs’ feet. It tastes very good with soy or spicy sauce – as well as chilled vegetables. Jokbal is a perfect food to share as it tastes different, depending on which part people try. For added convenience, Jokbal is also available by delivery.  

So, while you may not be able to get to the South Korean countryside or take in some theatre in Seoul, you may want to consider some Korean food as options for celebrating your own year-end!

Dec 21, 2012

Musical Holiday Greetings From RPA Philippines

Philippines Office Music Video Shows How RPA Has Fun

Written by: Diane Wagner (from RPA's Los Angeles Regional Headquarters Office)

One of RPA's Core Values is Fun.  Yes, lots of companies say that these days.  But, not every company can SHOW you why.  

This holiday season, our Operations Team in the Philippines did just that ... by creating this musical tribute to one of the most popular Christmas videos in the Philippines, "Star ng Pasko" or "Star of Christmas"!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone from RPA Philippines and the entire global RPA Team.

Dec 20, 2012

Just Forget About It (Year-End Party Culture in Japan)

Bonenkai Wraps Up Old Year, Welcomes New One in Japan 

Written by: Misa Kajikawa

After shots of sake under gorgeous cherry blossom trees in the Spring, chilling out with beer on the beach in the Summer, and trying the latest Beaujolais Nouveau in the Fall, people in Japan still long for one of the biggest party events of the year: Bonenkai

Literally meaning “forget the year party,” Bonenkai is rooted in the spirit of wrapping up the old year (tough periods and all) so that one may have a good memory of the year and be ready to welcome and celebrate a holy new year.

Most often, Bonenkai is a dinner event which some (especially those in the urban areas of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya) enjoy as nonstop parties Monday - Friday. Because public transit is so good in these areas, there’s no need to worry about the effects of “the bottle”. It’s easy to pick up the last train of the night or just wait for the first train in the morning from late open bars, karaoke or internet cafes.  It’s so popular, in fact, that restaurants, bistros and pubs are almost fully booked all December long.

Bonenkai Konpai! (Photo: Misa Kajikawa)
In business, people have year-end parties with their small group or the entire company – sometimes including clients and partners. These events often include overviews of the company’s growth, awards for valuable employees, and very frank discussions to share friendships not just business. It is a kind of the wrap-up before entering the most important holiday in Japan, Oshogatsu (the New Year). 

The Bonenkai atmosphere can vary from casual standing to dining “Tatami Room style” where there’s privacy for fun developments such as someone showing up in a batman costume or guests screaming for the raffle prizes. The menu often includes winter specialties such as hot pots or oysters. Some go with wine, others with Virgin Margaritas, but the most important thing is that everyone is having a great time so that they forget the pain of their daily work for sure.

Bonenkai Oysters (Photo: Misa Kajikawa)
Our local panel in Japan, Research Panel, did a quick poll with our Japan panelists, asking them how much they budget for Bonenkai. Most (76%) think less than $60 (5,000JPY) is ideal since there are so many parties for weeks! There are a few gender gaps, however, with men tending to budget more while women, likely to think they eat and drink less, allocating less.

And, finally, in case you’re concerned about the consequences of the potential drinking, worry not!  “Anti-Hangover Supplements” abound. 

So grab your colleagues or friends, prepare a great meal (with lots of beverages!), and let the things that happened in 2012 go out with a smile. Now, finally, you are ready for the coming 2013.

RPA wishes all a happy and prosperous New Year!

Dec 14, 2012

Company Celebrations Across Borders

Birthdays Are Extra Special When Celebrated Globally

Written by: Diane Wagner (from RPA's Los Angeles Regional Headquarters Office)

Many times, people ask me what it’s like to work for a Japanese-owned company which has offices around the globe.  I have to say that it’s definitely one of the best things about working here for me – every day I learn something new it seems about Japanese and/or other Asian cultures.

Recently, in fact, on my birthday, it was awesome to work here!  Why?  Because birthdays are celebrated both locally – and globally – at RPA.

A Perfect Birthday Card: Animal Print Shoes
How?  Well, first, my colleague, Rie, surprised me with an amazing pie from Clementine’s here in LA next to our Century City office.  Clementine’s can do no wrong in my mind and their banana crème pie did not disappoint.  Then, she had another of my colleagues on Skype to sing “Happy Birthday” while handing me a birthday card which included photos of our team from around the world … can’t say I’ve ever had a global celebration for my birthday before!

From the Japan Team (modeling after my Linked In photo!)
From the Korea Team
From our Operations Team in Manila
Thank you Team RPA! Even though we're oceans apart, it feels like we're all right here together.

Dec 12, 2012

Highlights from the 2012 TMRE Conference

Written by: Diane Wagner

Having recently attended and exhibited at TMRE in Boca Raton, FL (November 12 – 14), we always like to share highlights of our experiences here on the RPA Blog.  

With Rie Nagai at our TMRE Booth
Of course, networking is always key.  In this case, we met lots of cool folks.  For me, just two of them were Katie Clark of Diversified Business Communications (aka @InsightsGal) and running into Kristin Luck, an undisputed MR leader.  

I met Katie by chance in the elevator going down to The Research Club Event held on the Kathleen Windridge Yacht. Then, while mingling, I heard someone explain, “Insights Gal!” at which point I realized that she’s been who I’ve been following for #mrx tweets for several years now.  Kristin, meantime, moderated a Panel Discussion on “Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Tools and Techniques for Getting in the Game.”  Fitting, she talked about how she founded a networking group called Women in Research (WIRe) for just for that purpose – to help women in MR network and find mentors for their careers. I’ve since joined the LA Chapter of Wire and went to my first event on December 3rd at the House of Blues on Sunset (cool venue!).

And while networking is always important, I have to say that one of the presenters really made a lasting impact on me: Guy Kawasaki (former chief evangelist of Apple, co-founder of and best-selling author).  His speech was based on his recent book (his tenth!) called Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.

So how can YOU be enchanting? Smiling throughout, Guy shared many tips – here, my Top 5:
  1. Likability! Think Sir Richard Branson.  Smile like you mean it – crow’s feet and all. 
  2. Trustworthiness.  Trust others first.  Like Amazon does with Kindle books (they give you a week to return any eBook even though, in theory, you could read it in that time), Zappos does with shoes, and, of course, Nordstrom does with returns.  Bake, don’t eat.  Eaters think of life as a zero sum game (life is limited).  Bakers think of it as unlimited (“I can always bake more”).  Bakers are more trusting.
  3. Tell a story!  Stop using “paradigm shifting” stuff and use words that matter.  Calories versus miles (tell people how many miles they have to run to burn off that Snickers and you get their attention versus showing them the calories on the bag).  Sell your dream by telling people what it means – to them.
  4. Want to see the Best. Marketing. Movie. Ever?  Rent Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” … this movie has it all: Marketing, WOMA, Mentoring, Social, and Delighting the Customer.
  5. And maybe, most importantly, for those of us in MR, let’s rein in the PowerPoint, people!  10 slides maximum!!!  In 20 minutes max!!!  Using 30 point font!!!  Hallelujah, Guy.
And, finally, while I can try to share the experience here, I think no one else perhaps can tell the TMRE story better than my fellow Asian sample specialist (and friendly competitor), Nelson Davis, via his photos.  Here, enjoy his 910 photos in 5 links.  Bravo Nelson!

Nov 7, 2012

RPA to Exhibit at The Market Research Event

Written by: Diane Wagner

Wrapping up the MR Conference Season for RPA’s US Team this year will be The Market Research Event.  We will be exhibiting at TMRE – this year, to be held November 11 – 14 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton.

Caption:  Photos of TMRE 2011 (Source:

Without a doubt, TMRE has been one of my favorite MR events over the years.  This year’s conference certainly has a lofty goal of “Transforming Insight Partners Into Strategic Consultative Leaders” and promising to be an event where “the world’s most influential big thinkers explore the intersection of Information and behavior.”  Based on my past experience, I’m confident they can deliver on those promises – especially given:

Excellent Speakers – including:
  • Guy Kawasaki, former Chief Evangelist of Apple and co-founder of (speaking on how to influence people’s hearts, minds and actions);
  • Robert Kozinets, Professor of Marketing at York University (on Netnography for social media insight); and
  • Author Mark Johnson (on “Seizing the White Space” and Innovation).

Compelling Topics – including many new tracks at TMRE this year:
  •  Social Media Listening;
  •  Mobile & Technology; and
  •  Trends with Hispanics and Millennialse;

Fantastic Networking – with one of the strongest rosters of Fortune 500 companies and MR firms around.

And, if we can get away from the sure-to-be-packed conference schedule, what looks to be a lovely setting. Boca Resort & Club (a Waldorf Astoria Resort) has been deemed an “icon of elegance” for more than 80 years – clearly not an overstatement based on their promo video:

So, with about a week to go, we’re looking forward to being there. And, if you’re there, please be sure to stop by our Booth (#515) to say hello!  Meantime, if not, be sure to follow me (@DianeTweeting) as well as @TMRE for live tweets “from the scene.” 

Oct 22, 2012

Highlights from the 37th Annual CASRO Conference

Written by: Diane Wagner

RPA recently attended and exhibited at CASRO’s 37th Annual Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona (October 8 – 11, 2012). As members of CASRO, we attend this event every year.

First off, as usual for this conference, it was fantastic seeing a variety of C-suite executives and company heads from within the Market Research Industry – from companies such as Toluna, SSI, Paradigm Sample, Harris Interactive, Vision Critical (and many, many more).

Then, there was the gorgeous setting of the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale.  What’s not to love about the Four Seasons – frankly anywhere – let alone in such a beautiful setting, high in the Sonoran Desert?

Four Seasons Resort, Scottsdale, at Troon North

Equally stimulating were the sessions.  Below, we’ve summarized just three that stood out to us.

1.Shelley Zalis – Chief Executive Officer, Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange

A 20-year veteran of the Market Research industry, Shelley carries a big stick with any MR crowd – including the one at CASRO.  When she strongly admonished the audience for thinking that they understood social media (but really didn’t), you could hear a pin drop.  While Shelley’s a compelling speaker, it’s her passion for social media – and its implications for the industry – that’s truly riveting.

Of particular note, Shelley referenced Andrew Robertson from BBDO who compared learning social media with learning a new language – essentially, that there are 3 phases:
  1. I can understand you but I can’t talk (you can’t speak the language – for example: Spanish);
  2. I can understand you and I can talk (ex: you can now speak Spanish); and
  3. Oh my gosh!  I just had a dream in {Spanish}!  The trick, he believes, is to get everyone to dream in digital.

In Shelley’s mind, we’re still in phase 1 and need to get out – fast!

No doubt, Eric’s credentials (and credibility) is impressive – currently Vice-Dean and Director, Wharton Doctoral Programs, The K.P. Chao Professor, Professor of Marketing, Statistics and Education and Co-Director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  Whew – I’ve got to take a break after all that typing.

Sorry, I’m back.  Eric talked about “The Golden Age of Market Research is Now – And I’ve Only Said That to Myself 5 Times Over My Career”.  He covered the evolution of the MR Industry from the 1950s onward focusing on how each era seemed to be the Golden Age but wasn’t (including today).  In order to get to that truly Golden Age, he feels MR needs to do three key things:

  • Better incorporate the use of new technologies and  tools (including web scraping, user generated content, sentiment analysis) with traditional approaches;
  • Better converge data from multiple sources (big data and traditional data) – in real time – with more automation; and
  • Balance the need to leverage technologies for research with the need to protect privacy (to do that, Eric is focusing on data aggregation).

3. Carol Haney (VP, Global Product Marketing, Toluna) & Mihkel Jaatma (Founder/CEO, Realeyes)

Together, they presented a case study on a new method for copy testing using a tool to read emotional expressions from faces.  Based on the fact that only a tiny bit of human’s brains are actually conscious, Mihkel from Realeyes introduced a new tool for research which captures and analyzes facial expressions in real-time.  Their case study showed how ads from the London Olympics were tested by equating different facial expressions with various emotions such as “happy,” “angry,” and “surprised.”  This appears to be an innovational methodology that just may help the industry to consider neuroscience-related methods easier to understand and more within reach from a cost perspective. 

So, once again, a great, thought-provoking conference – and one which we look forward to attending next year without doubt.

Oct 5, 2012

RPA to Attend CASRO 37th Annual Conference

Written by: Diane Wagner

Scottsdale, Here We Come! 

RPA’s US Team continues on with a very busy conference season.  Less than a week after the AMA Research & Strategy Summit in Las Vegas, we will exhibiting at CASRO’s 37th Annual Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.  As members of CASRO, RPA attends this event every year.

Entitled, “Taking Control: Strategies for Transformative Times,” this year’s conference should have something for everyone – lessons from Wharton and Stanford, nuggets from social networking giants Facebook and Google, and a dive into Social CRM from Gartner.
So, when we’re not at the Booth, what will we be trying to check out?  There’s a lot to choose from, including:

  • Google’s entrée into DIY surveys (Paul McDonald from Google will share how Google plans to make custom market research easy);
  • Facebook’s Sean Bruich (Head of Measurement Platforms & Standards) will discuss how MR firms can best integrate data from a multitude of new sources; and
  • Exploring social behavior with Mark Earls, author of I’ll Have What She’s Having (the title alone makes me want to check this out).

Troon North Golf Club 

Besides the intellectual fodder, the CASRO Annual always has great recreational activities to enjoy.  This year, we can choose from:

  1. A golf outing at the renowned Troon North Golf Club (I don’t play golf but, depending on who’s going, maybe I’ll caddie?)
  2. A scenic river tour (with no rapids!) to introduce guests to the beauty of the Sonoran Desert.
  3. An excursion to Old Town Scottsdale to discover the heart and soul of the city.  Boutiques, art galleries, restaurants – oh my!  This may be the ticket for me ...
So, if you’ll be attending, we hope to see you – at the RPA Booth, a session and/or an outing!  

Oct 4, 2012

Research Panel Asia Turns 3 and Wins 2012 Red Herring Asia 100

Written by: Diane Wagner

This Award Signifies RPA Is Poised for Tremendous Growth

This is an exciting time for us at Research Panel Asia.  On October 1st, we celebrated our three-year anniversary.  And, just prior to that, on September 12th, winning a place on the 2012 Red Herring Asia 100! 

Since 1996, technology industry executives, investors, and strategists have valued the Red Herring Top 100 lists for discovering and advocating the most promising private ventures from around the world.  The Red Herring 100 Asia celebrates the exceptional accomplishment of Asian technology companies and entrepreneurs, recognizing those companies best positioned for explosive growth.  For the 2012 awards, Red Herring editors selected a short list of the most innovative and promising companies from a pool of hundreds across Asia.

To win, our CEO, Toshiki Sano, presented at the Red Herring 100 Asia Event in Hong Kong, China held September 10 – 12, 2012.  The event brought together 200 C-level technology entrepreneurs, corporate strategists, and venture financiers from across Asia to present their companies in the final stage of judging.  Sano-san presented a compelling case for why RPA is positioned for tremendous financial performance and growth, including:

  • A client base that includes more than 70 of the world’s largest market research and online research firms from around the globe;
  • An unparalleled ability to meet demands in emerging markets through a combination of RPA’s local insight, 24/7 operations, high quality and low cost; and
  • A very aggressive growth strategy to expand throughout APAC – and beyond.

CEO Toshiki Sano Winning Red Herring Asia 100

Everyone at RPA is thrilled to be a 2012 Red Herring Asia 100 winner!  And we’re looking forward to much more industry recognition in the future as we move forward. 

Sep 30, 2012

RPA to Attend AMA Research & Strategy Summit

Written by: Diane Wagner

Las Vegas, Here We Come!

It’s no secret by now that RPA is pro-conference.  So far this year, we’ve been to Market Research in the Mobile World (MRMW) in Cincinnati as well as ESOMAR Congress in Atlanta.  Next up for the US Team?  The AMA Research & Strategy Summit (RSS) in Vegas set for Oct. 1 – 3.

What caught our eye about this one?  Besides the great venue (Bellagio in Vegas), it was word of mouth.  Many of our clients have been mentioning they were going so we decided to check into it.  Turns out, there are lots of really interesting speakers.  And since we will only be attending (and not exhibiting), we will have ample opportunity to enjoy them.
Client side speakers such as:
  1. Jeff Diskin – Global Head of Customer Marketing, Hilton;
  2. Paul McDonald – Product Manager, Google (whom we saw speak to a packed ballroom at MRMW in Cincinnati);
  3. Barry Jennings – legendary market researcher from Dell; and
  4. Kelley Styring – from InsightFarm (who I’ve seen speak about her book, In Your Purse: Archaeology of the American Handbag, and who always enthralls a crowd).
And a roster of impressive supplier side speakers as well including:
  1. Mary Ann Packo – CEO, Millward Brown North America;
  2. Marc Litvinoff – President & CEO, ORC;
  3. David Krajicek – CEO, GfK Consumer Experiences North America;
  4. Mike Gettle – COO, TNS; and
  5. Gian Fulgoni – Co-Founder & Chairman, comScore.
So, add that speaker list to a city like Las Vegas, where client entertaining at an almost endless list of fine dining options exists, and you’ve got a recipe for a great conference.  Let us know if you’ll be there – we’d love to see you! And if you’re not planning to attend, consider attending virtually by watching my live tweeting from the event @DianeTweeting.

Sep 23, 2012

RPA China Panel Achieves Active Panel Size of 300,000

As the demand for online research in China continues to grow, so, too, does RPA’s China Panel,  Launched October 2009, our China panel is now leading the industry with the highest active user proportion in mainland China, the highest visitation , and the highest Alexa ranking of any site of its kind:
  • Over 300,000 active panelists (with approximately 700,000 total);
  • Approximately 35,000 daily unique visitors; and
  • 7,000 Alexa ranking globally.

So, how have we grown this panel?  Best-in-class sample management practices.  Daily, we check newly registered panelists as well as the last login of existing members – deleting any poor quality panelists regularly. 

Another reason for our panel growth is likely the 91wenwen iPhone and Android app for the China market.  Panelists there may participate in quick surveys and receive new survey notifications in real time  – all from the convenience of their smart phones.  These apps have helped us to greatly improve the response rate of our panelists in China. 

Going forward, 91wenwen will continue to grow, focused on increasing recruitment for in-demand groups such as car owners, parents, affluent groups and more.  And always, as with our panels in Japan and Korea, with an eye on maintaining industry setting panel management and user experience.

Aug 29, 2012

RPA’s a Finalist for the 2012 Red Herring Asia 100

Written by: Diane Wagner

Hong Kong, Here We Come!

It’s always nice to be recognized – especially for when your company is being considered as one of the most exceptional technology companies out there. Such is the case with RPA recently having been nominated to be one of the Finalists for the 2012 Red Herring Asia 100 Award

We are honored to be considered for the Red Herring Asia 100 as this award celebrates exceptional accomplishment of Asian technology companies best positioned for explosive growth.  We definitely feel that “explosive growth” is likely for RPA as we’re well positioned to make Asian online research easy – anywhere in the world – with our global HQ in Tokyo and Regional HQ offices in Shanghai, Seoul, Manila and, recently, in Los Angeles.

For the 2012 awards, RPA has been selected along with a short list of innovative companies chosen from a pool of hundreds across Asia.  The Top 100 Asia winners will be decided at the Red Herring Asia Forum September 10 – 12, 2012.  Our CEO, Toshiki Sano, will be there in Hong Kong presenting RPA to the judges, with the winners being announced at a special award dinner on September 12th.

In case you haven’t already, Red Herring is a company worth checking out.  Since 1996, their Top 100 lists have discovered some of the most promising private ventures from around the world including Google, Skype, Baidu, and many more.