Archive for November, 2013

What Stuck with Me from The Market Research Event, Part 2

Posted on: November 21st, 2013 by doyle

From the desk of Kathy Doyle

And, as promised, here are four more sessions that  stuck with me at TMRE:

  • Daniel Pink’s keynote spoke, among other things, to the paradigm shift in sales.   No longer is it “Buyer Beware” with the Seller having all the information and, thus, the power.  It is now “Seller Beware” as buyers have unlimited access to information that helps them make informed purchase decisions.   This puts the burden on the Seller to really understand the needs of their customer, and address them.  Which is what we, as qualitative researchers, do so well.
  •  Malcolm Gladwell was provocative and talked, essentially, about there being a point of diminishing returns and in fact a point where something positive can end up having unanticipated negative consequences.   His example was the “3 strikes” law in CA, and how it’s ended up incarcerating people for years at a time in their life when, statistically, they are unlikely to commit another crime – and who have often left behind family who is now without support, parenting, and community.
  • Google Surveys has entered the market research industry, offering 1-10 question surveys with a limited but representative sample (which they provide) for $.10 per complete.   They argue that long questionnaires reduce response rates and accuracy, and that we are better off getting our questions answered one question at a time.   Honestly, I’m not sure whether to view them as friend or foe.
  • In a session on Client-Supplier relations by Mike Swiontkowsi, Director,  Consumer Insights at Activision, it was reinforced that clients no longer view deliverables as “bigger is better” and they struggle with reports that lack compelling visuals.   So…   we are going to work harder at that than ever before.

From a sales perspective, I walked away with three key takeaways:

  • Deeply understand what the best suppliers in our industry are delivering – and then exceed them
  • Share working documents with clients “in progress” so that the effort is more collaborative, and more likely to deliver against expectations when complete
  • Use either a specialty product, or a relevant syndicated study, to get in a client’s door.    They are bombarded with requests for meetings.   Don’t waste their time.

There were many, many more sessions, and many of them were terrific.   But there’s only so much a human can absorb, and this is what has stuck with me.   What stuck for you?

The zen of qualitative research — embracing joy!

Posted on: November 20th, 2013 by doyle

From the desk of Carole Schmidt

I sit quietly in a Los Angeles Starbucks reflecting on the slew of what have sometimes been grueling qualitative research projects and activities in the past few months. Yet instead of feeling exhausted or relieved by their completion, I feel happy–truly celebratory–to be employed in a business that I still love after all these years, still passionate about the processes and the products big and small. I’ve taken a cue from a dear friend of mine in recent years, creating a small visual icon that represents each qualitative research project. I tack each of these icons to a board, creating a beautiful paper mosaic that serves to remind me of what I learned from each and every project. Sometimes when I’m stuck, and oh yes, that happens, I look to that board and tap my own experiences for clarity and motivation. Delight!

Maybe it’s the start of the holiday season, maybe it’s just getting older, maybe it’s the inspiring green Portland landscape that I see out my office window most days, but I’ve found my self-paradigm shifting (albeit slower than I’d like!) from a state of breathless “catching up” to one of “being present,” allowing me to make time and to find joy even in the everyday trials of life and work. It has required me—let me rephrase that—inspired me to slow down (anyone who knows me knows this is a personal challenge at times!) and to think more. But with this shift I am finding joy in more moments of my days, I am being a more attentive mom and wife and daughter, I’m doing better work. Happiness!

I check my email and attend to the various tasks of the day. It’s Monday, so we Doyle-ites (as we call ourselves) meet online, Brady Bunch style, for our weekly staff meeting.  Previously, I “tolerated” these meetings, participating, but not really appreciating the opportunity to connect.  Now, I study each familiar and beloved face via webcam every week. I am reminded of the ups and downs shared by my colleagues this past year, personal and professional. My, it has been a demanding year!  But just as we collaborate on projects for the most positive outcomes for our clients, we lean on each other to get through the toughest life experiences. We genuinely have each other’s backs. I fully appreciate that there are no better people to work with—and I am motivated by every one of my smart, accomplished, generous colleagues. For that, I am filled with gratitude.

Of course, I haven’t mastered my new philosophy just yet. I see the thank you notes still waiting to be sent, the files to be purged, the reservations to be made, the blogs to be written, the photos to be framed. But I now recognize that taking the time to complete each of these tasks brings with it a small satisfaction by reducing the pesky mind clutter that has overwhelmed me at times in the past.  I am learning that each effort I make to be active in the moment moves me forward with a fresh and motivated attitude toward my next assignment. Fulfillment!

The effort to be more present, to seek out and find more everyday joy hasn’t been easy for me, despite being an optimist. I still become self-absorbed in my experiences, not always in the good way. But I do feel that I’m finally learning to escape the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” mantra that I have succumbed to in previous years as they came to an end. My days no longer begin with endless lists of tasks to complete, leaving me feeling defeated and overwhelmed before I’ve had my morning coffee. Instead, I take a few minutes each morning to consider the progress I’ve made on each project, task, or undertaking. The momentum of recognizing what I’ve already accomplished motivates me to continue with eagerness and true interest. I now consider how far I want to go on each effort. I take the time to review my goal. Wow—I’m telling you, this stuff is powerful!  At the end of each workday, I remain engaged and present in my personal life. I look forward to hearing what the kids, the dog, my husband did that day. I relish hearing about the joys they’ve discovered in the day, too. We smile more, we laugh more. Bliss!

It’s funny to me that as 2013 comes to its end, I am focused not on all there is to do around the holidays, but that I’m already excited about what 2014 will offer. I’ve decided that I’m giving myself two presents to help me continue on this in-the-moment journey. Two hours each day just for me, and an organization expert to help me find better ways to manage the paper and stuff that comes with this full, rich life of work, family, friends, and me. Having already scheduled the planner for January, I am enjoying my skinny gingerbread latte just that much more.  Joy


What Stuck with Me from The Market Research Event (part 1)

Posted on: November 7th, 2013 by doyle

From the desk of Kathy  Doyle

I admit it. I’m an “incubate-r” (a fancy way of saying I take time to process, and I procrastinate when it comes to writing!). I’ve been home from TMRE for two weeks, and I’m just now putting down my thoughts about the event.

First of all, can I just say I love Nashville and a big thanks to TMRE for selecting it as the conference location. Nashville has beautiful scenery, lovely people, a vibrant restaurant scene (Thank you Schlesinger Associates for hosting such a lovely dinner at Husk) and, of course, country music! 2020 Research hosted a fabulous songwriter’s night at The Bluebird Café, a place not to be missed – especially if you are a “Nashville” (as in TV show) fan. Now, back to business.

Here are a few things that have stuck with me since I left the conference (and for those of you who know how bad my memory is, anything that sticks with me for two weeks has made an impression!):

  • A joint presentation by PepsiCo and GfK talked about brand romance, and refocusing on why consumers and shoppers fall in love. A focus on talking to brand LOVERS makes you think about what you are GREAT at rather than on what you are bad at. And that’s how you build deep, emotional brand connections. They cautioned that clients should not confuse heavy users with lovers of their brand; they are often not the same people. How do you know? Lovers don’t focus on your brand’s faults (think Harley Davidson). And they may not actually be a heavy user.
  • The Innovation group at Hershey believes that we are screening out good ideas because our metrics are all wrong–what’s important is not just volume, but also incremental trial. An idea that has high volume but low incremental sales is not as good as an idea that has medium volume but high incremental sales. The speaker challenged all of us to step back and think about whether we are killing hidden winners because our definition of success is flawed.
  • I learned a new word. “Nomophobia” is the fear of leaving your cell phone behind. Why, as a researcher, do you care? Because the phone is ALWAYS with us. Consumers respond faster to survey questions if they receive them via mobile, which means their thoughts are fresher; and with qualitative, we are able to ask respondents to bring an experience to life by having them show and tell us about it as it happens. If I had to put a stake in the ground on what technology will transform our industry most dramatically, it is this one.
  • I admit it. I was not enamored with the idea of gamification (do we really need more video games in our life?) until I heard dynamic keynote speaker, Jane McGonigal. As a market researcher, gamification is about engaging respondents by making the experience fun. As an ordinary citizen with a social conscious, I was thrilled to learn that gamification is also being used to:
    •  Change behaviors: Re-Mission is a video game that was designed to increase treatment compliance among kids with cancer, with impressive study results
    • Solve the unsolvable: Foldit is a videogame that uses crowdsourcing to solve science problems. In 2011 players of Foldit solved an AIDS puzzle in 10 days that had stumped scientists for 15 years!
    • Write the future: The NY Public Library commissioned a game, Find the Future, with the goal of increasing interest in the library and its resources among young adults. The first 500 young adults to sign up were invited to an all-night scavenger hunt of library resources utilizing the game. It was hugely successful, with thousands of kids vying for the 500 coveted spots.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “What Stuck with Me from TMRE”, in which I talk about four more sessions that made an impression. (is it just me, or did I just create two rhymes in a single sentence?)