The real face of research firms on how they mock the ecosystem by fabricating a company’s standing
In the corporate world, research reports are a strong reference point for any strategic decision, internal or external. We lay our blind faith in these reports to channelize growth funds, investment decisions and mobilize company’s key resources. Especially in the startup ecosystem, a third party research report can make or break a company’s perception, given that investors, media and business partners rely heavily on these reports. All of us read them to make our daily strategies and next marketing move.
Given this background, I was really shocked to realize the reality of one of the most trusted research firms in the world. This past one month, I was taken aback by Nielsen’s callous and inaccurate approach towards the ‘Nielsen Informate Mobile Insights’, that claim to track growth for the entire mobile wallet industry in India. The statistics of this report always favour ‘one company’ and are released at regular intervals in the media.
In December 2015, Nielsen released data claiming the skyrocketing rise of one wallet company, which was launched 3 months back. Flabbergasted by this information, we reached out to Nielsen team to understand the mechanism of collating this data. Our initial interactions confirmed our inhibitions on the report. Nielsen had tailor made the data to showcase one organisation in positive light, without understanding the impact this may have on the ecosystem. The survey was released again in May 2016 with same objective to favour the said organisation.
I would like to highlight the following loopholes from the report –
- The survey claims facts about the mobile wallet industry that caters to more than 100 million Indians by tracking just 6000 smartphone users!!! – How can a SAMPLE SIZE OF 6000 be even statistically relevant for a burgeoning country like ours?
- A mobile wallet is not just a recharge app. Its a complete ecosystem where it can be used for recharge or bill payments within the app, money transfers, usage on online merchants as well as offline merchants like BigBazaar etc. This fact was conveniently ignored by the researchers and they used app usage and time spent on app as a proxy for wallet usage. This methodology suited only one company which had a handful of merchants in total. – No effort was made by Nielsen to clarify this in their report or later publicly when we pointed it out to them.
- Even the timeframe of this is questionable. For this particular comparison, Nielsen took timeframe for the data point between May – July 2015 while Freecharge wallet was officially launched in Sep’15. Isn’t it baffling that such a so called research institution will make this blunder?
- Finally, Freecharge misled media by not disclosing that this was a paid custom report (and not a neutral third party research) where they controlled how the research was done. This is admitted by Nielsen themselves.
Before taking this issue here, I reached out to Nielsen to clarify the above raised concerns. To my surprise, the people who’ve written the report did not even know what a wallet app is and what all it does! Further, they compared a recharge platform to mobile wallets, and couldn’t tell the difference. I am aghast at the lack of responsibility/casual approach taken by Nielsen for this industry.
To substantiate further, I have to put forward an email exchange with the firm that affirms their failure to follow an unbiased approach in creating these surveys. After this, would you now trust any data coming from Nielsen?
And this is not the first time that the credibility of a Nielsen research is being questioned. In the past, even the CEO of Unilever has raised his doubts over their methodology.
Even after Neilsen confirming to us that Freecharge has taken the blog down, the blog created from the custom paid report is still there, surely and surreptitiously creating a false perception in user’s mind. And no public clarification has been issued by Nielsen even after repeated requests.