Archive for October, 2013

Slaying the “spend-it-or-lose-it” budget dragon

Posted on: October 25th, 2013 by doyle

From the desk of Chris Efken…

When I worked on the client side of the market research world, I often faced the challenge of having more research demands than what my budget (a mid-year reduced budget at that!) could afford.  Or, I would be pleasantly surprised to discover that, after carefully monitoring every dollar in my budget all year long, I had $20,000 remaining and found myself in that spend-it-or-lose-it conundrum.  Perhaps, the more things change, the more things stay the same.  Though I’ve been on the vendor side of the consumer insights business for several years now, I’m hearing similar stories from many of my client-side cohorts.

So, with my clients facing reduced budgets and increased demand for insights from brand and R&D teams, I thought it would be interesting to see what a budget of just $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 could offer them in the way of qualitative research.   It appears a little can go a long way…


I’ll be the first to campaign for requiring that business and research objectives, not the budget, should drive the research design.  I find it refreshing, however, to see that there are a number of qualitative methods that can yield big insights on a limited budget.


Is #hashtag a form of market research?

Posted on: October 7th, 2013 by doyle

From the desk of Andrea Denney

Even the most casual user of social media is aware of the power of the hashtag. Facebook posts and tweets seek ways for us to be known as individuals: our locations, activities, politics and moods. Yet the hashtag at the end is a way to connect to others in a similar scenario. I may tweet (brag) that I just completed a marathon but my hashtag #RunningRocks seeks to align me with all the other runners. My toddler may have just said the most adorable thing but #MommyIsProud reminds me that a whole lot of mommies are proud.

Hashtagging is the individualist seeking to be a part of the larger collection of humanity. Back when I was learning the market research business I was banished to a windowless cubicle that was piled high with quantitative questionnaires #FirstJobWoes #NotAVampire #INeedNaturalLight. My humorless supervisor explained the fine “art” of coding open-ended questions. I was to read through the answers and categorize them into a set of pre-determined categories #IAmBored. In a sample size of 100, rarely did anyone write an opinion outside the established categories. We each have our individual opinions but most likely they are in sync with a whole lot of other people.

This may come as a terrible blow to all those who fancy themselves as completely unique #NobodyUnderstandsMe but in a way it is comforting. It is comforting to know that despite our seemingly enormous differences in politics, religion, and Dancing With the Star favorite couples, we are at our core, part of one collective—all seeking ways to live full lives.

If you think about it hashtagging is the basis for qualitative research. We talk to people in one-on one interviews or as part of focus groups but we always find patterns emerging. Patterns emerge because people are more alike than different #TellThatToCongress. Next time someone is really frustrating you #StopDrivingSlowInTheFastLane, remember there is something with which you can connect with every other human #ButNotTheGuyWhoCutsHisToenailsOnTheTrain.

And for a hilarious view of hashtagging, click on this video spoof by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake: