Archive for January, 2014

Stop and Smell the Insights in Qualitative Research

Posted on: January 23rd, 2014 by doyle

From the desk of Carole Schmidt  


A client complained that management is pushing for new products on shelf in 6 months “so we have to get research done ASAP and move this along.” Yet, that same management bellyaches when launches fall short ofprojected forecasting. We jointly observed that with the increased speed to market, qualitative research is sometimes treated as another “check off” on the long list of deadlines. Key stakeholders witness only a portion of the interviews or attend other meetings while “participating” in research, distracted from getting close to the customer.


So, in the pressure-cooker of new product development, how do you increase the value of and engagement in the research without adding steps? How do you possibly find time to stop and smell the insights?  Integrate incubation and reflection. 

Step-up the up-front. Invest in a professionally facilitated “Wonder Session.” Bring your team physically together to explore the business challenge before research is scheduled. One half-day together on the front side of research will improve design, fuse the team, and ensure greater success on the back end. Many of us at DRA are certified in facilitating creative problem solving (CPS). We can help you identify the targets whose opinions matter most. Explore methods to determine which customer interface will yield the best learning. Review every team member’s objectives to discover the more compelling “problem” underneath. Discovering the team’s real needs is where research value begins. And now the team is vested in the outcome.

Dial up the debriefings. After three days of online ethnography, too many concrete aisles of Costco shopalongs, or 12 hours in the dark behind a focus group mirror, and team viewers slink out one-by-one before the lightscome on, “uh, because I have an early morning meeting with management.” Squelch the desertion! As a research buyer, demand a no-holds-barred, candid recap of the voice of the customer. DRA has it down—give us 20 minutes post research (or over breakfast the next morning), we’ll grab an easel and you’ll leave with 5 pages: Key findings. Hypotheses. Risks. Emergent opportunities. Next steps. Heck, we’ll even buy breakfast.

Deliberate the deliverable. Decision in a hurry? Maybe a work session with the full team (ending in specific action step assignments) is more effective than a written report! Bring the research to life? We can deliver a terrific video that captures customers showing and telling the research insights themselves!  Need the research to inspire long-term efforts? Dedicate an office wall for our visually-compelling, oversize posters that graphically tell the research story.

Bottom line: Incubation and reflection will strengthen the study and your team, leading to more thoughtful design, richer insights, and ultimately, smarter business decisions.

Qualitative Research Resolutions

Posted on: January 8th, 2014 by doyle

From the desk of Natanya Rubin

The start of a new year is a perfect time to dream about our hopes, examine our successes, and learn from the things that challenged us. What are your qualitative research resolutions for 2014?  In 2014, we resolve to:

…OBSERVE consumers, as they talk about the products and services that make a difference in their lives. This year we’ll watch consumers sample new food products and puzzle their way through drafts of marketing materials. We’ll draw them out, in focus group rooms, in homes, and in stores, about their lives, and engage with their passions, understand their needs, and encourage them to express their ideas.

…MONITOR the voices of consumers in social media. There is so much rich material out there on social media, but it takes time and expertise to separate the good stuff from the noise. Hearing what consumers have to say outside of the realm of formal research can be of tremendous benefit, and our tools for listening have never been more sophisticated. Last year we mined social media posts to uncover consumer attitudes toward the healthcare of the future and consumer reactions to new competitive launches, among others. This year, we hope to do even more social media listening!

…EXPLORE new trends in qualitative research. Market research is changing fast! One of our favorite projects in 2013 involved watching consumers open and use a new kitchen product via live webcam, directly from their homes. We saw their struggles and their discoveries in real time, which resulted in learning that ultimately guided how the product was packaged. It’s exciting to imagine the new methods that we can create and deploy in the new year, and all the ways we can gather findings to serve our clients better.

…HARNESS new technologies. All indicators point to 2014 being the year that mobile research finally comes into its own, with technologies and techniques that would have been impossible just a few years ago. This year, we’ll be able to catch a respondent right in the moment of decision making, and to receive their feedback and track their responses, all through their mobile devices. We’ve been dreaming of these in-the-moment tools for years, but now we can put those dreams into action!

It’s an exciting time to be qualitative researchers, and we can’t wait to see what the brand new year has in store for us, for our clients, and for market research itself. Wishing you a very Happy New Year, and happy research in 2014!new-year