Archive for March, 2018


Posted on: March 26th, 2018 by doyle

From the desk of Carole Schmidt

One of the coolest things about being a qualitative practitioner and strategist is to observe humans in all their idiosyncratic quirks (often unbeknownst to the respondent) and to carefully listen to the unique and impactful stories that led to those behaviors.  One of the coolest things about being part of Doyle is our unparalleled commitment to doing what is needed to surface those latent, below-the-surface motivations and beliefs. We are willing to get our feet wet–and literally have done just that—to develop the critical empathy for our customers that leads to impactful insight.

Sometimes these “deep dive” experiences are amusing.

In one case, we all removed our shoes as was the norm in our consumer’s home. Our ethnographic teams crammed into the tiniest bathroom to observe and listen to consumers show their cosmetic stockpiles and to tell their stories. Did you know that most women who wear makeup have three levels of cosmetic sets? “What I’m wearing now” (10-15 products), “what I was wearing that I’m bored with” (often 30-40 products), and “what-I-used-to-wear-but-don’t-like-anymore-but-can’t-bear-to-part-with-just-in-case” (dozens to hundreds of products). Interestingly, the inventory of that revealed that consumers heavily favored only three brands. Why so many products? Insights! Self-blame: “I must have chosen wrong.” And, Familiar + Foreign = Hope. Smart brands constantly promote twists on versions of the same products, leveraging that exact belief and behavior into strong sales. It wasn’t until we returned to the car that someone mentioned our collective soaking wet socks; our consumer had just showered and her bathroom floor was still puddled.

Sometimes our commitment to rich behavioral understanding takes us to heavy, emotional places.

The one-on-one intimacy of online interviews can be extraordinarily revealing.  One late evening we listened as a consumer described her painful feelings of romantic rejection, these deep-seated emotions driving her consideration of –but not action for–dermatologic procedures and skin care products. We had designed time and daypart into projects like this to create a productive environment for sensitive discussions. Yes, it’s hard working the guide topics through the tears and emotional tensions. Exhausting, yes, but through our fastidious listening, emerge patterns. Insight! A take-charge, self-worth positioning that motivates action.

Sometimes our commitment to discovering those rich insights has meant some outrageous experiences along the way!

On a lighter note, we have taped off rooms to observe consumers’ roach-killing solutions, chased down elusive car dealers for 4 weeks to complete 9 interviews, performed 24 interviews about the nuances of successful global currency exchange, followed the granular paper trail in engineers’ workflows, and noted specific consumer needs behind what we’ll call the results of “poor knife skills.”

We know that real insight comes from immersion into the experiences we seek to understand. So, even when it is discussing cat litter cleaning preferences, ahem, in the moment, we will go the extra mile to observe and probe the emotions and influences affecting customer decision making. Because we truly love what we do–yes, even getting our feet wet–to help YOU make smarter business decisions.


The Quirks Event Brooklyn: An Esprit de Corps Experience

Posted on: March 2nd, 2018 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid

This week I attended my first Quirks Event. Having submitted an application and been accepted to speak at the event in Brooklyn, NY, my emotions prior were a mix of nervousness and excitement. Of course, as we all know, work doesn’t stop when we decide to attend these gatherings. And, if your job is anything like mine, project work has a tendency to multiply the closer the conference date – and the planned time away from the office – gets. To this end, I began to ask myself, “Should I still go?” “What to do?!” (Everyone has those moments, right?)

Well, of course I didn’t bail. I was proud to have been invited to speak, and certainly wanted to fulfill my commitment. So off I went, from Chicago to New York for two days – and it was wonderful! The exhibitors and session speakers were all abuzz about innovative tools, platforms and approaches – mostly digital – that raise the results bar in the research game. I felt immersed in the future and it looked fantastic!

But the thing that stands out most about my experience at the Quirks Event Brooklyn was the sense of camaraderie I felt that transcended industry relationships. Exhibitors, marketing researchers, insights directors and managers, academics, and ad execs – just to name a few – had all gathered for a common goal: exploring how to achieve new heights in top quality research. Refreshingly, I found the tone of the event to be more like a great big information share instead of all about networking. It was an inspiring experience that served to remind me we’re all on the same team and have the same goal: to produce insightful, actionable information at the highest level.

And speaking of the highest level, what conference would be complete without a swag bag? The Quirks Event Brooklyn did not disappoint. Here’s a closing story that reveals some of the goody bag highlights:

Sitting at one of the high-top tables in the exhibit hall, I use my jar opener to uncap a fresh bottle of water. I slip the bottle into my new coozie to keep it chilled and scan the speaker schedule with a magnifying glass so as not to miss any important details. I circle several options with my puzzle pen. I have a bit of time before the first speaker, so I indulge in some levity and read a book of witticisms. Time’s up so I pack my notebook and head to the conference room. The speaker is wonderful – informative and engaging. But wait! My turn to speak is just around the corner! I pop a piece of gum into my mouth and grab the stress ball to tame my nerves as I dash to Conference Room One. Up at the podium I use the lens cloth to wipe down the laptop screen. With two minutes to go I apply a swipe of lip balm to assure the words come out smoothly. And three…two…one…show time: Emotional Engagement Through Customer Empathy—Tapping the Power of Live Streaming Mobile Interviewing.