This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

March 21, 2007

Find Virtual Market Research Subjects in Second Life

By now, most of us are familiar with the Internet virtual world, Second Life. If not, you owe it to yourself to visit A digital construct, like Second Life allows the "player" to meet new "people", really other personae online. Each player chooses an avatar and a screen name. Living in this virtual world is similar to the real world, except without some of the physical limitations dictated by gravity and other immutable laws of physics.

The real news is that when Second Life participants were given the opportunity to sign up for a research panel to express their opinions, without any compensation whatsoever, within three weeks over five hundred people had stepped forward and expressed their willingness to participate.

This fact is significant for two reasons. First, millions of people are "paid" everyday for their feedback and opinions in research panels, like e-Rewards and Lightspeed Research. (Even the airlines, notably U.S. Airways are getting into this business.) And second, the numbers of people enrolling themselves in this panel are growing exponentially.

The Social Research Foundation, headed by creative entrepreneur Andrew Mallon, has launched this first-ever market research panel in virtual cyberspace. Mallon calls it the First OpinionsTM Panel. Mallon wanted to filter out people who were less interested than others, so he added the requirement that each respondent spend five to ten minutes reading his orientation material and another five to ten minutes completing their 33-question personal attribute survey.

In a preliminary poll of these first participants. . . ninety-nine percent of them are in Second Life on a daily basis. About half hail from the United States, though many other countries are represented. Gender breakdown of the population is exactly 50/50. The age distribution is as expected with the most populous segment being those ages 30 to 35.

Our forecast is that Second Life and other virtual cyberspaces will not only be used for market research and advertising, but for virtual conferences as well. Those of us who are professional speakers will need to learn to speak on the virtual platform, as well as the real one.

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