Archive for the ‘Ethnographic Research’ Category

At the Intersection of Improv and Ethnography: Revealing Richer Insights

Posted on: September 15th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid

One of BlogPhoto1the most amazing things I learned as an improv performer is the prolific power of in-the-moment mindfulness. Improv is not about being quick witted on the fly. Rather it’s all about concentrating on the moment at hand and working together to move a conversation forward. The ensuing repartee is the miraculous by-product of being 100 percent present and engaged in the here and now, rather than mentally mired in the past or future.

By experimenting with this technique in the context of qualitative research, I’ve discovered in-the-moment mindfulness paired with ethnography to be a winning combination. Ethnography by design is grounded in real-world interaction, and therefore a step closer to a consumer’s actual, experiential state of being. But you can inspire an even deeper, truer level of revelation about consumer motivations, needs, and emotions by incorporating some in-the-moment moderation techniques:

  • Count Relay Icebreaker: Loosen up your respondents and get them grounded in the here and now with this quick, fun icebreaker. After introductions and sharing of typical upfront information, tell the respondent you two are going to play a quick game to help loosen each other up and set the stage for a great conversation. Then, count to 15 aloud in alternating sequence, as fast as you can, i.e. the moderator starts with “1” then respondent says “2” and so on, back and forth quickly until reaching 15. Then, repeat the exercise counting down backwards from 15. When it’s all said and done, you’ll both be energized, more relaxed due to certain mistakes and ensuing laughter, and fully present and engaged with each other.
  • Maintain Moderator Mental Presence: Whether it’s keeping track of time, thinking about previous or forthcoming questions, or managing stimulus, distraction is an ever-present obstacle for moderators. One way to keep your mind in-the-now – and project that same state of focus on your respondent – is to physically orient yourself once you arrive at the interview. An easy way to do so is once you sit down, be aware of and feel how a specific part of your body is interacting with the environment, e.g. feel your feet on the floor, or your hands on the table, or your upper legs making contact with the chair. If at some point during the interview you are feeling distracted, simply re-orient using the aforementioned technique to get back in-the-moment.
  • Present Tense Talk: When you want a respondent to tell you about something they did in the past, or engage in an activity you want to observe, ask them to talk you through it speaking in the present tense. Doing so literally puts the respondent in-the-moment mentally, thereby aiding recall and greater depth of insight.

These tools work well in traditional focus groups, too. In-the-moment techniques can help bridge the gap between real life and the group room, enhancing respondent recall and articulation. In fact, once respondents are made aware the techniques make it easier for them to express all of their thoughts and opinions, I’ve discovered they participate without hesitation.

Kicking the Tires: The Automotive Path to Purchase

Posted on: May 14th, 2015 by doyle

From the desk of Alice Morgan

What We Did


In the Summer of 2014, Doyle Research and DrivingSales, an automotive dealership consulting and training company, conducted a comprehensive research program to diagnose the automotive path to purchase and enhance the dealership experience.   We used cutting-edge GPS technology to intercept auto shoppers, at the dealership, to get authentic in the moment insights.   In addition, video diaries, ethnographies, dealership shopalongs and webcam interviews were all utilized to uncover the pivotal dealership communication touchpoints at each stage of the buying process.   An online quantitative survey was then conducted with 1,300 new vehicle purchasers.

What We Found

Many new vehicle shoppers find the car-purchasing experience stressful and unpleasant. Over half indicated they would buy new cars more frequently if it weren’t such a difficult, intimidating and unpleasant process.

Game Changers

Dealerships have gotten slightly better over the years. The problem is, other verticals have gotten substantially better. Other categories provide unfiltered reviews, pricing transparency and a low-pressure retail environment. Car dealerships don’t.

Poor Dealership Websites

They’re cluttered, confusing, hard to navigate, and shoppers don’t trust the information provided. Over half of new car shoppers don’t visit dealership websites at all. Shoppers rely on third party sites instead.

Outdated Communication Practices

Nowadays people don’t want to talk to their nearest and dearest, let alone to a car salesperson. Dealership contact forms requiring phone numbers and sales strategies emphasizing personal contact backfire, particularly among Millennials.

Too Little, Too Late

The result of all these barriers is that car shoppers avoid interacting with the dealership until very late in the process. When they do visit they often have a poor experience with a salesperson they just met and don’t trust.

Ripe for Disruption

The system is broken due to lack of trust and changed expectations. Car dealerships need to rethink engagement, provide greater transparency, and forge connections with new car shoppers earlier in the process. Old school car dealerships are ripe for disruption. If they don’t change to meet the needs of today’s car shoppers, they will be replaced.

Want to learn more? Doyle is presenting this research next month at IIeX in Atlanta. Hope to see you there!


Fire the Moderator!

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by doyle

Why You Don’t “have to be there”. Tech-Driven Self-Ethnography

From the desk of Alice Morganalice and hugh car shopping

The dirty little secret of ethnographic qualitative research is that the moderator’s presence in any kind of in-home, onsite or shopalong situation causes bias. Think about it: if you were shopping with a moderator, would you really put all those Pop-Tarts in the shopping cart? Would you buy cigarettes – or feminine hygiene purchases, for that matter? As much as moderators try to downplay their presence, sometimes just being there gums up the works.

Enter the smartphone. Or any other kind of video-enabled technology, for that matter.   We at Doyle Research are all about asking respondents to, well, respond. Using technology. Away from us. By using their smartphone to tell us how a new product looks on the shelf at the grocery store. By recording a webcam video at home when they embark on a home improvement project using a new caulk. By taking a picture of the car they are considering on the dealership lot.

After these experiences have occurred, then we moderate. We follow-up and ask respondents all about the experience, their reactions, the whole shebang. But only after the initial moment of experience has been captured. In a far more authentic manner than if we had been there.

You don’t have to be there. You just have to capture what happens. And then figure out what it all means.

If you’d like to know more about this topic, Doyle Research will be presenting at The Quirk’s Event on February 23-24, 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.  We hope to see you there!

Craft Qualitative: My Weekend with Passionate Consumers at the Great Taste of the Midwest Brewing Festival

Posted on: August 20th, 2014 by doyle

Great TasteFrom the desk of Natanya Rubin

Every year, on the second weekend in August, six thousand beer enthusiasts gather in Madison, WI, to partake in the Great Taste of the Midwest Brewing Festival (fondly referred to as GTMW).  With over 100 breweries represented, and over 600 beers available to taste, GTMW is one of the premier craft brewing festivals in the country, and for the last eight years, I’ve been lucky enough to attend.

What brings me back year after year?  It’s the opportunity to be among others who share my deep passion for this product—both creating and consuming.  Every year, I get a peek at the emerging trends in craft brewing, trends that are often eventually mirrored in the greater marketplace.

What was notable on tap this year?

  • Some things don’t change.  The perennial darlings of the craft beer consumer—rich barrel aged stouts and ales, bold IPAs, and taste-bud challenging sour and wild beers— were all very much in evidence.  A few of my favorites this year included the Barrel Aged Wolpertinger from Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. and New Holland Brewing’s new wild ale, Incorrigible.
  •  Sweet fruit beers are rapidly gaining popularity.  While some, like the Pure Michigan Cherry Lager from Kuhnhenn Brewing, were light and easy-drinking, others, like the Imperial Peaches and Crème from Short’s Brewing, were so decadent and sweet that they immediately had me thinking of an after dinner drink, as a replacement for port or other dessert wines.
  • Ciders are the new belle of the craft brewing ball.   Cider has been a growing trend in craft brewing for a while now.  For example, The Northman, Chicago’s first bar devoted entirely to ciders, with a menu created especially to pair with what’s on tap, will open this fall.  But it was striking to see the explosion of cider options featured at a fest that has traditionally been strongly beer focused.
  • There was also a discernable uptick in spicy beers, utilizing every flavor profile from mild jalapenos to incendiary ghost peppers.

I was happy to spend some time with one of the fest organizers (GTMW is run by the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild), who was conducting in-the-moment qualitative research about the future of the fest.  GTMW’s tremendous success and popularity has naturally led to questions about expansion.  Some of his questions focused on the idea of adding even more breweries to the already massive number represented each year.  Would it make the fest feel too crowded and unmanageable?  Did it feel like they were outgrowing their location?  How could they maintain the intimate vibe that is so important to the organizers and attendees while opening the doors to more participants?

Success is a good problem to have, but I’m glad the organizers are asking questions aimed at preserving what makes GTMW so special, while building for the future.  It makes me confident that I can look forward to many more years of learning, exploring, and of course, tasting!  Cheers!

IHUTnographies: Blurred lines without the twerking

Posted on: March 21st, 2014 by doyle

From the desk of Chris Efken

When I worked on the quant side of the business, I often conducted IHUTs that left me with more questions than answers. Perhaps it was my inner two-year-old voice reverting to the days of asking “Why? Why? Why?” of every key measurable that crossed my path. Perhaps it was my deep-seated yearning to become a qualitative researcher! Or, maybe it was simply that the data from standard structured quantitative questions didn’t yield the insights desired to truly help my marketing partners in enhancing and modifying a soon-to-launch product. All too often, I found myself needing an additional phase of research.

To address this need, the researchers at Doyle developed IHUTnographies. We blurred the lines of traditional quantitative IHUTs with ethnographic and observational research to help our clients maximize the learnings needed to improve products, packaging, and shelf placement. IHUTnographies are observational product-usage interviews, using webcams and/or video uploads, that allow us to tease out the insights needed to optimize products. By observing the IHUTs, we can…


          • See how the product is actually being used to identify whether the directions are clear, and that the product performs as expected
          • Identify and explore product problems and how consumers create work-around solutions to aid in product refinement and optimization
          • Capture the verbal and non-verbal reaction to the product. By seeing the actual reaction to the product and not simply collecting the reported reaction, clients can better gauge the intensity or degree to which an issue is a true barrier to purchase.

IHUTnographies are one way we have blurred the quant/qual lines. I challenge my clients and colleagues to share ways in which you too have methodologically blurred the lines (with or without twerking).