Q1. Rakuten is a well-known brand in Japan. Tell us what Rakuten does.
A1. Rakuten is basically a membership company where we strive to empower our members through cross use of our various businesses. Our largest driver is the e-commerce market place but our members also use our bank, securities trading, travel agency, credit card, telecommunications, videostreaming service, etc., which feed back into our loyalty points program. This gives us access to an unprecedented amount of consumer memberships, technology platforms and big data for a market research company to have proprietary access to.
Q2. How does market research fit into the Rakuten membership system?
A2. Simply put, members participate in consumer research and are paid with our loyalty rewards, Rakuten Super points, but I think what we offer to participants goes beyond this simple monetary reward. One of our core corporate principles that steers us as a company is empowerment of society. Rakuten Insight is able to empower research participants by allowing their actions to shape the future – be it future consumer products, services or even government services. We are in a unique position to do this as we have so many touchpoints with our members as they go about their daily lives.
Q3. What will change with the combination of the existing Rakuten AIP and Rakuten Research brands into Rakuten Insight?
A3. Both AIP and Rakuten Research have long and proud histories of offering world-class service and consumer panels to clients in Japan and around the world. The branding alignment allows us to work even closer within the Rakuten ecosystem utilizing the Rakuten membership base to offer access to a broad cross-section group of consumers.
Q4. In an ever-competitive environment, how does Rakuten Insight differentiate itself?
A4. When you consider that the Rakuten membership is 1.2 billion people globally, with our members using services as varied as consumer banking to messaging with services like Viber, we are recruiting from a source that by nature is unique. Thus, we are able to offer access to a distinctly unique cross-section of society – which I think is unrivalled in our industry. In addition to the membership advantage, Rakuten has developed cutting-edge technology, including data-related solutions for its own big data as well as its own advertising and commerce solutions. We start from Japan to utilize this advantage to develop distinct solutions which use both research data and big data. In our next phase, we intend to transfer know-how and technology to other regions. Lastly, we want to emphasize the quality of our service. Both Rakuten AIP and Rakuten Research have been known as high-quality service and value add providers and we not only keep the tradition but also enhance with the talent that the Rakuten brand can attract.
Q5. What are the main challenges you see facing the industry?
A5. I think there are several current or upcoming issues that the industry needs to come to terms with. Supply chain trust is a key issue – clients knowing and trusting where research participants are sourced will be key. As systems become easier and easier to connect, access to respondents becomes easier – but this raises several questions. I think that the key question is, “Exactly who is this person?” This is directly related to quality of research and trustworthiness of the industry. Rakuten Insight places priority on quality and we utilize our advantage; we understand people better as they use various services within Rakuten.