Introducing Rival, an insights platform for the mobile and messaging era

23 April 2019 | 7 min read | Written by Niamh Cunningham

If you want to outpace your rivals, then you need to prioritize and invest in insights. According to Forrester, insights-driven companies are growing 30% annually, easily outpacing the global economy 7 to 10 times. This is just one stat, but it’s an important one—it reiterates the need to really understand consumer attitudes, opinions and emotions.

At Rival Technologies, many of us built our careers out of the business need for insights. In the 2000s, as technologists and researchers, we helped introduce the concept of insight communities—a technology that disrupted research and now dominates the industry, according to GreenBook’s latest GRIT study.

We love market research—we believe customer feedback and experience data provide a competitive advantage to companies that know how to use it. We are passionate about amplifying the voice of the customer and giving consumers a seat at the table.

We believe it’s time for a change.

There is a growing gap between how people live their digital lives and how companies connect and learn from their customers. The most common way companies invite people to surveys—through email—has become saturated. Surveys have become too long, clunky and formal.

By the numbers: Email overload 😱 and the rise of messaging

🔘 244 billion emails are sent and received every day 😳
🔘 74% of consumers say they are overwhelmed by email overload
🔘 More than 2 billion people worldwide use mobile messaging apps Messaging has broad appeal: 75% of Gen Zs prefer text and messaging over email and phone calls; more than 60% of millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers feel the same way


And while many companies still rely on desktop-optimized surveys to receive feedback, consumers have moved on to texting and messaging platforms. As an industry, market research needs to re-examine the methods we built decades ago and join consumers in the mobile age.

An insights platform for the mobile-first generation

Today we are excited to officially launch the Rival platform, an end-to-end insights and chat survey platform from Rival Technologies.

Built on the foundations of sound market research methodologies and practices, Rival is 100% focused on the needs of today’s mobile-first consumers. It’s an engagement platform that takes advantage of chat, voice and video—pervasive technologies that consumers use seamlessly every day.

Everything about Rival's mobile research platform is engineered to address the problems with traditional market research.

Respondent first: Delivering a great experience to research participants is critical as it allows you to continuously talk to an engaged community of customers. If the respondent experience is clunky, your customers will refuse to participate and it becomes hard to get insights you can be confident about.

To that end, we made sure that the respondent experience comes first. Engagement activities in Rival (we call them “chats” or "chat surveys") feel more like a conversation than a survey. It’s a reimagining of the survey experience optimized for mobile.

The numbers speak for themselves: The average response rates for chats are up to 70%, whereas most surveys only see a 20% response rate. Subscription rates (that is, the percentage of people who agree to be contacted again for future engagements) are in the neighbourhood of 80%. A study conducted in 2018 found that 88% of people found chat surveys more enjoyable than traditional online surveys.

Agile and in the moment: As an industry, market research has become reliant on tools that ask people to remember what they did. For instance, sports organizations send surveys about the in-stadium experience a day or two after the game. Similarly, many retailers ask for feedback a few days after a customer visit. This over-reliance on recall means the feedback you’re getting may not be as accurate, as detailed or as candid as it could be.

Chats allow you to engage consumers while they’re in the midst of the activities you’d like to examine.

The Rival platform addresses this problem by taking advantage of the fact that people bring their phones everywhere. Chats allow you to engage consumers while they’re in the midst of the activities you’d like to examine, whether that’s attending a hockey game, watching a TV show or visiting a fast-food chain. As a result, you get feedback faster. In one recent example, the Vancouver Canucks saw a 30% response rate in just 6 minutes.

Inherently social: Billions of people use social media every day, but the market research industry hasn’t figured out how to take advantage of these channels. Chats are mobile-first and work seamlessly on social media. People go from seeing an ad in the News Feed to completing the chat in Messenger.

Richer insights: The real power of market research is in revealing the “why” of customer behavior and humanizing the people behind the data. With Rival, it’s easy to capture videos, photos and audio clips—media that provides richer qualitative color than text alone.

Every smartphone today has a camera—a big reason why visual communication apps and networks like Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube have become very popular. Consumers have become comfortable taking selfies and taking videos. Market research hasn’t fully taken advantage of these trends yet—mostly because many solutions aren’t mobile-first. We’re aiming to change that with our platform.

Combining classic research tools with modern innovations

While the Rival platform is engineered with the mobile consumer in mind, it also includes the core market research functionalities you can expect from a classic research tool. Here’s a brief look at how it works.

Survey authoring

On Rival, everything starts with chats—conversational surveys that leverage chatbot technology deployed via SMS, Facebook Messenger and other messaging platforms.

When designing your chats, you can use single-choice, multi-choice and open-ended questions. Rival can handle randomization and skip logic.

ChatLab-question-card-skip-logic-1Randomization and skip logic

When people are chatting with their friends and family, they use emojis, animated gifs and videos—so why shouldn’t you? On Rival, you can use these tools in both your questions and responses to create a more conversational experience for respondents.

By the numbers: The power of emojis 😍

🔘 In one study, push notifications with emojis saw an 85% increase in open rates.
🔘 Another study found that Instagram posts that featured emojis get significantly more interactions.

ChatLab-compose-chat-emojiUse emojis, animated GIFs and other visuals

You can also publish media-rich answer lists—a handy tool for concept testing or if you’d like to make your chats more visually interesting.

ChatLab-compose-chat-gallery (2)Create multi-media galleries in Rival's mobile market research platform

At the end of your chats, you can invite people to subscribe to future engagements. Once people opt-in, they become part of your community—an always-on, agile network of customers, employees or fans you can engage in the future for ongoing feedback and insights. People who join your online community are notified via Messenger or SMS (whichever channel they chose) when you invite them to new chats.

Once people opt-in, they become part of your community.

Notifications are powerful as they allow you to drive engagement. Given that people have their phones at all times, you can reach people with relevant chats while they’re still in the midst of the activities you are examining. This less reliance on recall leads to more participation, higher response rates and better insights.

Data collection

Despite their popularity among consumers, videos are still an under-utilized tool in market research. For the most part, this is because traditional online surveys are optimized for desktop, a device where people don’t frequently record videos.

“For researchers, not only is video easily consumable, but it also helps seamlessly socialize great insights within the organization,” Kristopher Arcand, Data Analyst from Forrester, recently pointed out. “Professionals at all levels can see and hear consumers in their own words as well as pick up on cues that text alone doesn’t capture.”

People complete chats through mobile devices which allows them to easily share video. In fact, through Rival, participants can answer open-ended questions with videos, images, text or audio—whatever their preference is.

For researchers, not only is video easily consumable, but it also helps seamlessly socialize great insights within the organization.

To make qualitative analysis easy, Rival automatically transcribes videos and audio clips. A bulk media export functionality is available so you can take all your videos and upload them to a tool like Animoto to create a reel for your internal presentations.




As they are mobile-first, chats lend themselves well to next-gen recruitment techniques, including social media, influencer partnerships and online advertising. That said, chats also work with classic recruitment methods (email, market panels, etc.)


To make it easy to recruit people, chat surveys come with a dedicated landing page and vanity URL. You can deploy your chats right away or schedule them for the future.

ChatLab-landing-pageCreate attractive landing pages for your chat surveys

Reporting and analysis

In talking with our customers, we know that researchers like the ability to take their data into tools they already use: Tableau, DisplayR,  SPSS, etc.. With Rival, it is easy to export your data in CSV and continue using these data analysis tools.

Rival is also equipped with datasets—an easy way to keep a memory of all your chat responses. This feature allows you to merge data from multiple chats and make analysis much simpler and faster. It doesn’t matter when you asked a question in a chat—you can always have that data point available to you for future analysis.

Backed by a world-class customer success team

We realize that conversational insights are something new to many companies. Subscription to Rival's mobile research platform comes with support from our customer success team, which is made up of seasoned professionals in market research. From recruitment to reporting, our team will help ensure that your projects are a success.

Voice surveys, innovations in incentives and more

The exciting thing with our platform is that we’re really just getting started. This quarter, we are doing pilot projects for voice-enabled surveys via Google Assistant.

An innovative scratch ‘n’ win functionality is also something we’re piloting now—a more fun way of incentivizing your respondents for participating in your chats.

Topline reporting, as well as one-click integrations with external analysis tools, are coming very soon.

If you’re interested in hearing about new Rival innovations, please subscribe to our blog.

Be part of the next big thing in market research

We are excited to bring Rival to market and help companies get the insights they need to really become customer-centric. If you’d like to learn more, please get in touch with our team.

author image
Written by Niamh Cunningham

Niamh Cunningham is Rival's COO

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