Archive for June, 2013

Little Nuggets of Advice for your Foray into Consumer Insights

Posted on: June 25th, 2013 by doyle

It’s the time of year when recent college graduates enter the world of marketing research and begin to apply their research knowledge. Congratulations, and welcome to the fascinating world of Consumer Insights!  For many grads, this may be an eye-opening journey as they seek to apply research theory and disciplined knowledge to practical, real-world research requests. So, to help these rising stars of research achieve success, we offer the following nuggets of advice:

Listen. Listen to everything, whether it’s news programs to hear about the latest trends, to mothers in stores negotiating with their children on which cereals are acceptable, to what consumers say—verbally, non-verbally and digitally (on social media)—about a product, to what clients are saying about their research needs and overall business objectives. All of these messages provide insights that help drive smarter business decisions.

Know that one size doesn’t not fit all. Rarely are two research projects the same. Take advertising research with its different business issues, varying marketing issues, and even differing project stimulus at hand: a method that worked for one advertising research study may not work for another. Learning and mastering a variety of designs and methods helps researchers stay on the top of their game and avoid becoming a niche “method researcher.”

Learn from those who have been around the block. Junior researchers tend to be super smart at conducting research using social media but may lack the business savvy and strategic thinking that comes from years in the business. Senior researchers may not be as expert with newer platforms, but they are great resources for screener and discussion guide development, designing ideal projective and/or homework exercises, not to mention calming nervous clients. Collaboration is the key to their success.

Tell report readers why the learnings matter. Today’s clients rely on research partners to help simplify their lives by delivering reports that present the learnings succinctly, convey why they matter, and recommend how to act upon the insights. Simply playing back the learnings is not enough. When analyzing the research findings and crafting the research story, always answer the questions: So, what? Why does this matter? What’s the benefit from this learning?

Be able to talk the talk. Fully immerse yourself in your clients’ products and categories. Use their products, watch the advertising (e. g., YouTube), read what consumers are saying (e.g., blog posts and social media), and know how the industry perceives these brands and clients (e.g., Ad Age, Adweek, etc.). The more you know, the more you will contribute to the design and analysis of the research.

Consumer insights are becoming more important than ever. To those new to our industry—and to those mentoring these future researchers and brand strategists—Doyle Research wishes you all the best.

Chris Efken


Qualitative Research: Dead (Asynchronous) or Alive?

Posted on: June 11th, 2013 by doyle

Designing Women

Great research results start with great research design.  At Doyle Research Associates, we take research design seriously, often carefully reviewing many methods and approaches to devise the optimal research solution.  One element of research design that (in our humble opinion) gets too little buzz is the issue of whether the research should be “Real Time” (live) or “Asynchronous” (over time).  Below is a short primer on the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Real Time/Live

Real Time research occurs when participants are interviewed or observed, well, live.  This can be done in-person, online, or on the phone.  With this method, the moderator actively facilitates or observes throughout the session.  Traditional qualitative methods such as focus groups and in-person ethnographies are Real Time.  Real Time is Old School, albeit in a good way.

  • Advantages are greater engagement – both on the part of the respondent and the client.  Participants being actively interviewed or observed by a moderator often yield sparky, fun, creative insights.  And clients usually watch Real Time research as it occurs, leading to greater learnings and buy-in.  Real Time allows for greater flexibility – since everyone is participating/watching together, it’s easy to shift gears if the discussion topics need adjustment.
  • Disadvantages relate to reduced depth, and moderator or other participant bias.  Real Time research is of limited duration, which narrows the amount of content that can be covered.  For certain kinds of research engagements (shopalongs, ethnographies, etc.) the moderator’s very presence can alter participant behavior.  And we’ve all seen focus groups in which the “squeaky wheel” respondent influences groupthink, no matter how skillfully the moderator tries to curtail this.

Asynchronous/Longitudinal/Over Time

Asynchronous research occurs when respondents provide feedback that is not Real Time.  The research usually takes place over time, often from home, when most convenient.  This feedback can be captured via a variety of methods that include online bulletin boards, video journals, communities, and self-ethnographies.

  • Advantages to Asynchronous research include greater breadth and depth.  “Talk time” is unlimited, resulting in more information.   Activities are often designed to assess feedback over time, ranging from several days to several weeks.
  • Disadvantages to Asynchronous research relate mostly to reduced engagement.  Most Asynchronous methods allow clients to continuously monitor the research for the duration of the fieldwork.  Although clients can view fieldwork, they are often so busy that the research goes unseen.  Respondents can also be less engaged, as they are probed less continuously.  For great-quality recruits, feedback is comparable to a Real Time method.  However, with less loquacious recruits, feedback may not be as rich.

Method to the Madness?

Which to choose?  Now we go back to square one:  artful research design.  Whether to conduct Real Time or Asynchronous research depends upon a host of factors.  At Doyle, it is our job to take those factors into consideration and identify the right method, or combination of methods, to address your business questions.

I’m Back. Here’s Why. (from the desk of Alice Morgan)

Posted on: June 4th, 2013 by doyle

There’s No Place Like Home Doyle

What was I thinking? Here’s what I was thinking.

You learn from your mistakes. I feel like Dorothy who went to Oz only to discover she belonged at home, or Carrie Bradshaw when she moved to Paris for two weeks before returning to New York. Not to say that The Wizard of Oz and Sex and the City are comparable artistic works, but they both deal with embarking on a big adventure, and then returning home. I am thrilled to announce that I have returned home, to Doyle, where I belong.

I left in large part because I wanted to work with actual, as opposed to virtual, colleagues. I joined an institute that promotes employment in the state of Michigan. Suffice it to say it was not a good fit. I have had too many years of job autonomy – not only at Doyle, but at prior research agencies also – to be happy in a highly-structured and more traditional work environment. I am used to what I now realize is an unusual amount of professional independence. I treasure the individual, direct, strategic contact I have with my clients. I like to do my own thing. All things considered, for a midlife crisis, this is small potatoes.

I am a big fan of theater and was in New York several weeks ago seeing some of Broadway’s finest. The best show I saw was the Pippin revival: ( In the show, Pippin is on a quest to find the meaning of life. Adventures ensue. He concludes that life is less about seeking fame and fortune, and more about finding happiness doing your small part in the world, tilling your garden. When I returned to Michigan, I decided to follow Pippin’s lead: grab a spade and dig in.

I like to “dig in” to what makes people tick. During my month-long sojourn, I kept interviewing – most recently this past week at Lowe’s when I quizzed an employee about a new bathing system material. This had absolutely nothing to do with why I was in Lowe’s! Whenever I was at my grocery superstore, I felt a pang that I didn’t have some project in the hopper to think about as I powered through the aisles.

So I have returned to Doyle Research Associates grateful, happy, and ready to work. I have joined a coworking space in Ann Arbor to avoid the alienation I have occasionally experienced working at home. I am thrilled to be back. I realized what I love about being a qualitative research consultant: 1) interviewing, 2) figuring out What It All Means, 3) writing short, strategic, and fun reports, and 4) working with my beloved clients, colleagues, and research partners.