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SurveyMonkey announces local expansion, signals challenge to market research firms

Survey Monkey CEO: 'Marketers' guts aren't that good to make every decision'

Lurie: “We have definitely cannibalised some of the high-end research”

The world’s largest survey platform SurveyMonkey is ramping up its local operations in Australia and the APAC region in attempt to grab market share from existing research firms.

Speaking with Mumbrella, ahead of the formal opening of the new APAC office in Sydney, global CEO of SurveyMonkey, Zander Lurie, conceded they were “cannibalising” many of the local research firms marketers have traditionally relied on, but argued his firm was competing with local research companies who increasingly needed fast turn around market research.

“Marketers’ guts aren’t that good to make every decision,” said Lurie. “We have definitely cannibalised some of the high-end research where marketers were paying very expensive prices for things they can get by utilising SurveyMonkey.” 

SurveyMonkey has had an Australian presence for the past two years, with Australian managing director Tony Ward having been in the role for the past year or so, but this week it opened its first Australian office with a staff of 15 people.

“We have been here a couple of years but this launch of the office is important for regionally,” said Lurie. “We are fortunate enough to have customer base globally and we want to make sure we put people on the ground to be in a position to market to, cater to and service those customers.

“This will be the hub for our Asian strategy. Australia is one of our strongest markets, where we have great leadership, and we have a global business.”

Survey Monkey already has offices in the US and Europe but Lurie noted that Australia along with Singapore and Hong Kong were not key growth priorities.

“This part of the world is super important to us,” he said. “It has taken us a long time to get here but we want to be sure that we are well represented in the region.

“The key markets for us are Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore where we are seeing significant growth in those markets. From a business perspective, the number of business users across the platform in Australia, alone, has doubled in the last year.

“The basic (free) platform in Australia has grown 45%, year-on-year. We continue to have exceptional growth, Australia really gets cloud based products and to be honest a lot of them can’t afford traditional research firms.”

WebThe high cost and time involved in traditional market research is what SurveyMonkey argues is its strongest competitive advantage.

“We are the largest survey platform in the world,” Lurie explains. “We have tens of millions of people who ask and answer questions every month, we collect 3m responses a day.

“Now there is a role for high end, super expensive marketing research but our brand is associated with high quality, accessible, real time research that allows you to make decisions in days.

“And you don’t need to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to do that.”

Ward: 'Our advantage is speed and cost.'

Ward: ‘Our advantage is speed and cost.’

Australian managing director Tony Ward cites the experiences of Realestate.com.au and Lindt as examples of major brands already shifting their market research to the firm.

“RealEstate.com.au were literally going to test for their upcoming marketing campaign,” said Ward. “They were going spend significant amounts of money on this campaign.

“They had three ideas they wanted to test and need the results really quickly. They were about to brief the creatives and they weren’t sure which ad to do and they used us because they needed the turn around in days.

“They could have done that with a traditional research firm but wouldn’t have got it in time or for the price we did it. That is super valuable for marketers.”

Lurie has only been in the role for two months, and comes to the role after the sudden death of previous CEO David Goldberg last year.

A long term board member of SurveyMonkey, Lurie says his long term aim is to broaden the suite of products SurveyMonkey is offering business.

The company is in the midst of rolling out new products like content automation platform TechValidate to its suite of local products and Lurie notes there will be more to come.

“It is still early days for SurveyMonkey in terms of getting everyone one into the platform and then having more solutions like Tech Validate to sell into businesses,” he said.

“I would hope to grow and expand in APAC. There is a long road ahead.  We enable people to have a conversation with consumers and that’s the essence of what we do.”

Nic Christensen

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