Archive for July, 2015



Be A Fly on the Wall! 3 Ways to Identify White Space Opportunities

Posted on: July 29th, 2015 by doyle


From the desk of Jo-Ann Ryan

If only it were as easy as asking consumers what they want in order to identify new product opportunities and extensions… but they may not know what they need or want until it’s presented to them. So it’s left to us marketers to identify white space opportunities.    Here are three great ways to get started:

  1. Observe consumers using your product(s) in a real-life setting. Consumers become accustomed to products as they are, and often find workarounds or ways to adapt them to better meet their needs. They may do this without even thinking about it or being aware of it. That’s why watching them use products in a natural setting is so key. DRA conducted in-home observations of Moms actually changing diapers in order to uncover challenges and opportunities. As a result our client, a national diaper manufacturer, enhanced and re-engineered their diapers for greater leakage protection and absorbency.LighteningInBottle
  2. Have consumers document regular routines with your products. If we just asked consumers to tell us how they use products on a regular basis, they may be apt to leave out some details that may not seem important to them and yet could provide us with some valuable nuggets or insights. DRA has used video journals with great success. For example we had women record daily video journals over the course of a week (i.e., mornings, evenings, weekdays and weekends) to capture their facial care routines, skincare problems they have, which products they use and how satisfied they are with them. The journals along with in-home observations uncovered white space opportunities for a major skin care product manufacturer as well as ideas for optimizing current products and enhancing/refining packaging.
  3. Have consumers compare your products to competitors’. By using brands of products that they do not typically use, consumers have a context for making observations about their current products and identifying desirable features that may not be available in their usual products. In a 7-day product trial, DRA had consumers replace their current frozen breakfast food favorite with a competitive brand. They kept journals of their experiences identifying product strengths, weaknesses, competitive advantages and recommended enhancements.

So be a fly on the wall, and use one or more of these approaches that will allow you to get inside consumers’ heads and discover their unmet, unexpressed needs.

Qualitative Research: From Acid Wash Jeans to Yoga Pants

Posted on: July 8th, 2015 by doyle

From the desk of Kathy Doyle

I was recently asked to run for the QRCA Board of Directors, and it got me to thinking about what the world of qualitative looked like when I last served on the Board, in 1993.   Yep, I’ve been around that long… and longer!

Qualitative Back in the Day

  • No procurement, no preferred vendor list, no payment terms. Proposals were rarely required.Unknown
  • Method discussion was simple – focus groups or IDIs? All in-person. Any discussion revolved around market selection and travel logistics.
  • No online methods (no Internet!) meant lots of travel and visits to many markets.
  • Screeners were typed on carbon paper (and had to be completely re-typed for the smallest change), and administered via phone only – making low incidence studies almost impossible to execute.
  • The standard deliverable was a typed word document, the bigger the better.  3-4 weeks to deliver a report was the norm. That’s because reports were handwritten and sent to a typist, all of which took a LOT of time.

Qualitative Today

  • Unknown-1There is now procurement, preferred vendor lists, and payment terms to negotiate. There is always a proposal. We are almost always in a competitive bidding situation.
  • Timing: research is often needed, well, yesterday.
  • Method discussions are lengthy, as they should be since we have so many methods available. Online, mobile, or in-person?  Real time, or asynchronous? Ethnography? Social Media listening? We can (and do) go on.
  • Travel: there is less of it, given the growth of online methods.
  • Recruiting has gotten sophisticated and precise. Needle in a haystack studies are now feasible. Expensive, but feasible.
  • Deliverable options have become increasingly sophisticated and complex: ranging from a PPT deck to a video report, from Infographics to glossy magazines.   Post research convergence sessions are common.

Does it sound like a case of “the good old days?”   Not at all true!   It IS true that the business climate is much tougher, and if I’d never heard the term procurement I’d be a happy camper.     However, there have been some massive upsides to the changes.     With all the various methods at our disposal, we can now design a study that meets the unique needs of our client and their business question, as well as meets the participants in a way that makes sense for them, and for the research. We can:

  • Reach hard to reach respondents, pretty much anywhere
  • Mix audiences online that we never would’ve put in a focus group together
  • Conduct research around the world without ever leaving our offices
  • Tap the conversations of people all over the world for insights and whitespace opportunities through social media listening
  • Execute research over time, rather than at a single point in time, for a reasonable price.

I have loved being part of the evolution and enhancement of qualitative. Today we conduct qualitative research that is incredibly rich and powerful, far beyond what we could have imagined 30+ years ago.