Archive for May, 2014

Consumer Insights Grads: A Whole New Breed!

Posted on: May 27th, 2014 by doyle

From the desk of Chris Efken

Today’s Marketing Research and Consumer Insights graduates have skills, talents and overflowing toolboxes that reflect the massive changes taking place in our industry.

It’s hard to believe that twenty years ago, I started teaching an Intro to Market Research class at Columbia College Chicago.  Back then I was challenged to find a textbook that covered both quantitative research and the breadth of qualitative research.  Most books either included a short chapter entitled “Focus Groups” or didn’t want to cover qualitative research in any way at all.

Just as the field of Market Research has evolved overtime, so have my courses and marketing research materials.  Hooray for e-books, digital resources and dedicated qualitative textbooks.   Today, my curriculum reflects the shift from “Research”—the attitudes and opinions collected in the past—to “Insights,” those elusive Ah-Ha’s gleaned from observation and conversation that assist in propelling brands forward.  (Even “insights” has been further advanced, and is now further segmented into either “Consumer Insights” vs. “Shopper Insights.”   Not to mention, the means in which we connect with our consumers has also shifted from in-person conversations to now connecting with shoppers via mobile devices, webcams or through social media.

Students’ skill sets have also progressed over time. This year, my Consumer Insights and Account Planning graduates need to possess skills beyond study, screener and discussion guide design.  Today’s insight specialists need to be:

Though the above are not necessarily titles I earned while in college, they are the titles required to address today’s ever-changing business environment and clients’ ongoing need to better understand their consumers.  As seasoned researchers we need to take a good look at our skills, and ask “am I keeping pace, or is it time for a tune up?”


A Key Ingredient for Successful Qualitative Projects: Establishing Rapport

Posted on: May 12th, 2014 by doyle

From the desk of Jo-Ann Ryan

During the course of my lengthy qualitative career, clients and colleagues have told me that one of my strengths is being able to establish rapport with people from all walks of life. So I wanted to share what I have learned about fostering trust and encouraging candid responses:

  1. Setting expectations upfront. This seems basic but it’s important. When the moderator informs respondents about what to expect during a qualitative interview or group discussion (e.g., the length, the topic, the purpose, recording of the research, observers/listeners, etc.), it increases their comfort level and makes them more likely to share their thoughts and feelings. Believe me, it is worth taking the time to do this.
  2. Showing respondents unconditional positive regard. What I mean by that is the moderator should convey to respondents that all perspectives and opinions are welcome and respected. It begins with the moderator’s belief and attitude that everyone has something to offer – an opinion, an idea, or an experience — a potential nugget that could make the entire project worthwhile. During introductions, I set the tone by acknowledging each person by name and thanking them for sharing information about themselves.
  3.  Being genuine. I think respondents are more apt to respond honestly if they sense that the moderator is being open with them, and is being true to their own personality and style.
  4.  Realizing you can’t judge a book by its cover. It is natural to form an initial impression of people based on appearance but the moderator and clients should not let it get in the way of listening to each person and believing that each person represents a unique perspective that has value. I have been pleasantly surprised by what I had initially expected from a respondent versus what they actually were able to contribute.
  5. 021-652x278 Having an open mind. It is not uncommon to begin a qualitative study with client hypotheses about what we will discover during the research (e.g., why customers are dissatisfied, which ad or concept will be most appealing). However, the moderator and clients need to be ready to accept differing ideas and perspectives, that could potentially lead to a complete redo of an ad campaign or a major refinement of a new product concept.

The bottom line – establishing good rapport with qualitative respondents can yield valuable insights for clients, and respondents will feel appreciated for their time and willingness to take a risk and share their honest thoughts and feelings.