Archive for the ‘Insights’ Category



The Importance of Conversational Intimacy for Qualitative Insight

Posted on: November 29th, 2017 by doyle


From the desk of Carole Schmidt

Observations and insights are not the same thing. Observations provide us with behavioral thematic “buckets” of potentially meaningful fodder. Observations can be visual, auditory, tactile, and even latent in form, e.g., witnessing compensating behaviors.  Envision multiple customers each unconsciously biting open a package and spilling the contents because they didn’t understand they were holding the packaging upside down.

Genuine insights, on the other hand, don’t roll off the customer’s tongue. Insights emerge from thoughtful review, deep analysis, creativity, and persistence.  We love supporting brand teams by discovering those underlying, emotion- and value-driven motivations and barriers, those personal, deep-seated beliefs that consciously—or, more often, subconsciously–influence customers’ decision-making. Where do her confused beliefs about hygiene come from? Why is he so focused on fuel economy? What makes the association with “professional” so compelling in this category? Why doesn’t she trust our brand like she does our competitor’s?

Just like the developing romance of a couple, you can’t get a full sense of either partner’s underlying motives from simply observing them or reading texts. Insights are realized by creating an environment conducive to intimate conversation with the customer–whether at home, in the car, or on the worksite. Then, the participant has to be nurtured, sensitively guided using active listening and precise, skilled probing. This tango of comfort and trust is essential for a rich and revealing exchange.

So, how do you achieve conversational intimacy in qualitative research?

Champion the value of quality time with your customer. Latent beliefs, perceptions, and values do not surface in 20 minutes, nor on a mobile survey. The “why’s” that exist below-the-surface require hours with each participant to explore for underlying emotions and covert beliefs. Yes, it’s labor intensive, but there is good news: all of that time doesn’t have to come in the form of a single long interview.

  • Best practice: Implement a series of three touchpoints with each participant, to encourage a speedier development of a moderator-participant partnership. Three touchpoints can provide a surprising level of comfort to the participant because of the accumulated familiarity and trust with the moderator, leading to evocative dialogue.
    1. Conduct a 10 to15 minute pre-call for introductions, Q&A, establishing legitimacy, setting expectations, and calming fears
    2. Assign the participant a brief but relevant activity, then discuss it together by phone before the home interview
    3. Conduct the main interview at home (whether online or in person) at the easiest time of day for the participant (often mid evening), which further makes the conversation feel like old friends reconnecting.

Avoid the fishbowl. Just because research participants may permit a 4-5 person research team to come inside and chat doesn’t mean we should. Could you share your cleaning idiosyncrasies, the struggles in your family relationships, or bare your honest financial picture for buying a new car–with 4 to 5 faces staring at you? Social anxiety may not always be visible to the research team excited to see “real customers,” but we certainly can tell when it blocks intimacy and inhibits emotionally charged conversation.

  • Best practice: Research has shown that respondents feel most accepted, flaws and all, when engaged in one-on-one conversations. We suggest including only those members of the research team who are truly vested in the customer’s experience. We also suggest that you limit viewers at each interview–to one team member. Simply rotate team members across interviews. We’ll optimize that team member’s role so they’ll blend into the background enabling intimacy to bloom. As the only viewer, your team member will be fully engrossed as the sole interview witness, keener to identifying insight territories as they surface.

Surrender to the quiet. Closeness is the ability to let down the inner barriers that allow the moderator and viewer to see the customer as s/he truly is. When you feel close to another person, you don’t mind if that person sees you without your normal defenses—psychological and otherwise. This is where meaningful insights are born. According to the developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, “even the most autonomous of individuals needs the kind of human contact that intimacy can bring.” This intimacy sometimes calls for patience and silent, contemplative moments that lead to participants exposing important emotional vulnerabilities. These silences feel unfamiliar and even uncomfortable to some team observers, who tend to fill these audible vacuums with the impediment of small talk.

  • Best practice: We are trained to communicate positively in an intimate relationship by being both active and empathic in probing our participants’ experiences. But we also practice being comfortable with silence. This is important for in depth exploration. For example, we may encourage a participant to wander into another room as s/he thinks about a particular query before answering. We find that many times, that momentary “silence” causes a participant to return to the discussion “dance” with an even richer, more revealing story to tell!

Strategize the seating. We request in our pre-talk conversations with participants that our chats and meetings occur from the most physically-comfortable hang-out spots at home, leveraging what already makes our participant feel relaxed and naturally contributory.

  • Best practice: Encourage participants to sit where they typically do. Create an “intimacy triangle” by sitting 90-degrees from the participant, with the observer at the far end of the triangle, observing from afar. This encourages one-on-one dialogue with the moderator, allowing the team observer to discreetly take notes or photos.

As your moderator, it is my job to carefully guide conversation with skilled, active listening and gentle probing. Your commitment to an environment of intimacy will optimize the participant’s psychological comfort and trust, making the qualitative exchange ever more productive and valuable, money well spent.

Craft Beer: Qualitative Insight into Emerging Trends

Posted on: August 16th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Natanya RubinBeer 2

Every year, on the second weekend in August, 6,000 beer enthusiasts gather in Madison, WI, to partake in the Great Taste of the Midwest Brewing Festival (fondly referred to as GTMW).  With close to 200 breweries represented, and over 1,200 beers available to taste, GTMW is one of the premier craft brewing festivals in the country, and for the last ten 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.  And every year, I get a peek at the emerging trends in craft brewing, trends that are often mirrored in the greater marketplace.

What notable trends were on tap this year?

  • Low ABV beers make a resurgence. After years of craft breweries competing to provide the highest alcohol content per glass, this year’s fest provided a refreshing range of low-alcohol or “session” beers to a somewhat relieved audience.  Light and refreshing pilsners and pale ales harken back to the Midwestern roots of craft brewing, when breweries like Pabst and Coors, now enormous national brands, delivered easy-drinking but full flavored beers to the local populace.
  • Wild flavors tantalize and delight. With an audience increasingly open to palate-challenging flavors (witness the increasing popularity of fermented drinks like kombucha and tangy condiments like kimchi) this year’s fest was rife with wild and sour ales, whose pungent, distinctive and downright funky flavors are starting to challenge prestige favorites like IPAs and barrel-aged stouts in sheer numbers.
  • Boutique brands lend authenticity to their corporate parents. Although GTMW started as a celebration of home brewing, there were a striking number of breweries that have been purchased in recent years by multinational conglomerates.  These well-considered craft breweries have continued to turn out creative beers under the umbrella of much larger corporations.  But in an industry that values individuality, there is a perceptible tension to the question of which companies belong in the craft category.  However, the long lines at the Goose Island booth (purchased in 2011 by Anheuser-Busch InBev) seem to indicate that consumers will, in general, continue to enjoy familiar local brands even after they’ve been acquired by larger entities, echoing movement in the larger market.

The creativity, growth, and surprises to be found at GTMW every year make me confident that I can look forward to many more years of learning, exploring, and of course, tasting!  Cheers!

GO DEEP OR GO HOME. Why digging behind social media trendlines matters.

Posted on: August 15th, 2017 by doyle

pos-negFrom the desk of Carole Schmidt

We’ve discovered two common practices in social media strategy: most companies receive some type of a social media data feed (monitoring), and most researchers have no idea what’s driving the conversation indicated by that data feed, leaving them unaware of the treasure of insights and opportunities that lie below the surface of this valuable research channel (listening).

Social media listening should, by now, be an indispensable research tool to you as an Insights professional, because it provides a vast quantity of unsolicited voice of the customer data that can be utilized to inform important business decisions.  At Doyle, we chuckle at calling social media listening “the world’s largest focus group,” but there’s a terrific, simple and useful truth there. In fact, we tap those same trained anthropologic and analytic skills to proactively listen to and analyze your customers’ voices in social media—the sentiment, the context, the intent, the impact—that we use in webcam interviews and mobile journals and focus groups. In our analysis we carefully examine context-dependent opinions, implicit subjects, and implicit product features/issues since people communicate in a more familiar manner in social media. It’s powerful and revealing because, just like rich ethnographic interviews, we can see beyond what people say (capture) into what people mean by what they say (intent).

Three great applications for qualitative social media analysis that will help you make smarter business decisions:

FOUNDATION  What language does your customer speak? Who does your customer perceive as competition, whether you do or not? Where and with whom is your customer talking about your category and your brand? What are they saying that is behind that brand decline or a spike in category sales?

Example: celebYoung people increased usage of the same brand of rideshare after popular celebrities tweeted about their rides. Potential company response: free ride policy among select, relevant celebs may go a long way toward expanding the client’s brand awareness and usage!

IDENTIFICATION Who is your customer? What elements of the customer experience (CX) matters most? Who or what influences them? Investigating the real meaning or intent behind innocuous data feeds can better inform how your brand (or PR team) needs to respond. Exploring the domains they use, the forums on which they post, and learning who your customer is influenced by tells you a lot about who they are!

Example: A recent emergent trendline related to a rideshare topic revealed a “scared” sentimenPicture2t echoed among consumers. Qualitative research revealed that it wasn’t aggressive post 1or dangerous driving skills consumers were questioning in social media conversation, but rather, the aggressive personalities of the drivers, overstepping professional driver boundaries. To increase customer satisfaction, the more meaningful change in rideshare driver training is to include customer service and professionalism skill building, not just road tests.

DISCOVERY What are new uses for your product? Who are your unexpected users? What are customers’ compensating behaviors in their user experience (UX)?  What are the emerging territories of future opportunity and growth? One client surfaced a new daypart for their center-of-plate food products that they had never considered before, adding an additional revenue stream. Anotheruber dinner found a peculiar new niche adult audience for their collectibles that were originally targeted to youth.  Yes, we dig far beyond the graphs, into the posts, to find those elusive and often surprising insights.

Example: Having your Uber or Lyft driver stop for food or drink is a rapidly growing trend that has led to innovative new services and marketing partnerships!

Our fresh eyes and “outsider” perspective often reveals stories in the data that our clients’ data feeds cannot expose without that qualitative lens.

Want to try it out? Give us a holler and Doyle Research will provide you—gratis!–with a qualitative peek into the social media buzz around your brand or category!

Sesexyxy driving. An emerging trend? Who knew?

Garbage in. Garbage out. The Need for Concept Optimization.

Posted on: June 1st, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Carole Schmidtsusana-fernandez-56313

I’m just going to say it. We see a lot of bad concepts.

Look, we fully understand that it’s not easy to create a compelling new product and seemingly impossible to carve out real brand distinction in crowded categories. And rocket speed-to-market means you’ve got six months to get this thing on shelf!  But, sheesh, too often we are handed concepts that are still being written as we’re performing participant introductions during the research.  In other real world scenarios, waves of team review, and legal’s approval, have created some real concept doozers, delivered to us researchers either diluted to mush, with the core idea buried in euphemisms, or wholly lacking a reason for being.

I’m just going to say it. Spending time getting the “test” concepts right is worth its weight in gold.

Checking in with your customer along the way, while you’re crafting those concepts, reduces the misses on the back end, saving valuable time and money. Several “presearch” avenues are inexpensive and fast and they will help you get to great concepts, faster.

Relate to a need: The most successful concepts address a real customer’s unmet need or compensating behavior. How do you discover those? Get out of the office to observe your customer in situ by going in-home or in-car.  Tap mobile journals or geofenced intercept interviews to capture and understand the customer experience at the point-of-purchase or use.

Reflect the language of the target to increase relevance: Yogurt eaters are particular about thick vs. Greek. Gearheads know what a four-banger is. Tap qualitative social media analysis to get a handle on the language your customers speak.

Understand concept-product fit: When you have a product in mind as well as a concept, go both ways. Explore your concept first among some and probe for product expectations. Investigate your product first among others, then probe how to communicate about it.  This is where your internal employees/staff can be of great help, formally, with a series of moderated on-site or webcam interviews, or informally, discussed around the water cooler or lunchroom at the office.

 Consider exposing the concept unbranded, too: Probe, “Is there an idea here?” independently of revealing the brand behind that idea to better assess the concept’s strength and the power of your brand as part of that concept. Branded and unbranded concepts can be rotated in online boards just as readily as they can be in focus groups.

Communicate as intended: “Gives you energy to take on the day” was meant to be a sustaining and satiety benefit, but in research it was also incorrectly perceived as a telltale sign of high carbs or sugar to many. Communication checks for concept clarity are efficient and inexpensive; they can be done in a day, in–person or online.

 I’m just going to say it again. Take your concepts as seriously as you do the rest of your research spend. Get your customer involved in optimizing your concepts before testing them. We look forward to your future successful concepts!

Qualitative Design: Utilizing Positive Affect Techniques

Posted on: May 8th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid

Positive AffectTraditionally, positive affect techniques have been used in the context of brainstorming sessions, helping to free minds and encourage divergent thinking. Often overlooked however is how inducing positive affect in qualitative design can be beneficial.

Positive affect refers to the extent to which an individual subjectively experiences positive moods such as joy, interest, and alertness. Research shows that by inducing positive affect, one can improve a person’s verbal fluency.1 What’s more, positive affect has been associated with generating increased dopamine levels in the brain, which in turn has been shown to improve cognitive flexibility.2

Practically, inducing positive affect is all about establishing and maintaining an affirming, comfortable environment where respondents feel relaxed and completely free to express their thoughts and opinions. Telling them is not enough. The moderator, the room set-up, and the discussion guide all must contribute. For example:

  • A comfortable, living-room type environment rather than a formal conference table set-up
  • Ease into the discussion more slowly by doing an extra ice breaker, going beyond only respondent introductions
  • Humor! One idea is to find an appropriate yet comical video on YouTube that’s related to the discussion topic as a means of inciting laughter. Humor is one of THE most powerful, efficient ways to induce positive affect.
  • Incorporate movement. Halfway through the group, direct respondents to get up and move around or change seats. This helps literally and figuratively change their perspective, alleviating stale, repetitious responses.
  • Integrate highly engaging, respondent tasks into the discussion guide. Think of creative ways to garner information that require respondents to draw, assemble something, get up and walk to images posted in the room, do brief creative writing exercises, etc.

For research purposes, it’s important to understand that respondents can express negative opinions about a discussion topic without putting a damper on the positive affect. How? Through positive reinforcement from the moderator. Once a respondent has shared information – positive or negative – complimentary encouragement by the moderator (for ALL respondents) is key. In fact, according to Professor Norihiro Sadato, study lead and professor at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan, “To the brain, receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money. We’ve been able to find scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise.”3

While it’s highly unlikely respondents will trade their participation honorarium for compliments, the power of the two together, along with other positive affect influences will certainly assure rich, prolific qualitative results.

 

1 Science Direct, L.H. Philips, R. Bull, E. Adams, L. Fraser, Positive mood and executive function: Evidence from stroop and fluency tasks

2 Psychological Review, 106 (3) (1999), pp. 529-550, A neuropsychological theory of positive affect and its influence on cognition, F.G. Ashby, A.M. Isen, A.U. Turken

3Forbes Online, November 9, 2012, David DiSalvo