Archive for the ‘Musing’ Category

What do Millennials, Procurement, and Mobile Qualitative Have in Common?

Posted on: March 28th, 2017 by doyle

5 Micro-Trends We Are Noticing at Doyle Research

From the desk of Kathy Doyle

It all started with a question from a marketing consultant we hired to work with us on targeting and positioning.   “What’s happening in the market research industry that could have an impact on your business, and why?”trends

As I began trying to answer that question, I noticed some “micro-trends” emerging.   Not the biggies, like automation and big data, but some smaller ones with a day-to-day impact.  Here are five I noted:

  • The Millennial effect. As Millennials become a greater proportion of our clients, we have noticed two trends emerging:  1) they are far more likely to find us via an internet search than a referral from a friend or colleague.    This is completely opposite of what business looked like 10-15 years ago.  And necessitates changes in how we market and sell our services; and 2) “bigger is decidedly NOT better” when it comes to deliverables.    The days of 100-page reports being a tangible sign that a client has gotten their money’s worth are long gone.    Millennial clients are far more likely to want a handful of slides that are clear, concise, and highly visual.  I can’t blame them.   Information is coming at us all at top speed.  But as a researcher, this is difficult to accept much less deliver!
  • The resurgence of qualitative research.  For a while, clients were reporting that they were relying more on big data, social media research, and desk research.   Now we are hearing that there is simply no substitute for observing and engaging with customers first hand.   The pendulum has swung again.  And “why” is where it’s at.
  • The dominance of mobile research. Almost any method or technique we’ve used over the past 30 years is now being “mobile-ized”.   And should be.  It’s the way our customers are communicating in 2017.   We are using mobile for virtual shopalongs, virtual ethnography, in-the-moment intercepts (incorporating geofencing technology), mobile diaries, mobile homework assignments.    Mobile allows us to get closer to our customers when and where behaviors are occurring and decisions are being made.
  • The rise of procurement. As procurement departments become more common, they are impacting us in two ways:  1) delaying the start of projects, just when the trend is toward faster turnaround; but also 2) challenging us to better explain our value, since apples to apples pricing comparisons are difficult to achieve in qualitative research. Learning to understand the procurement mindset, and how best to work with them to achieve mutually acceptable outcomes, is of increasing importance.
  • The need to deliver faster, cheaper AND better. I wrote a blog post about this a year ago.   It used to be standard wisdom that you could only deliver two of the three, but never all three.   That is rapidly changing.  The emergence of machine translations, text analytics, video management software, DIY recruiting, automated incentive payments, among others, are making it not only possible, but imperative, that we strive to achieve all three.

The times, they are a changin’.    And we are learning to change with them!

Working from Home, Qualitatively

Posted on: September 29th, 2016 by doyle

image1From the desk of Natanya Rubin

It’s 12:30 in the afternoon on a Wednesday, and my assistant project manager and I are wearing matching XXL Kideation tee shirts and borrowed shorts, waiting for our work clothes to come out of the dryer. This is my first day working out of our temporary Doyle Research headquarters in a private residence in the Chicago suburbs, a stop-over as we transition to a co-working space downtown, and I must say, it’s started with a bang, or rather, a downpour.

Our moderators are used to working in all kinds of locations, and under all kinds of conditions. When they’re on the road, a hotel room, focus group facility, coffee shop, classroom, or living room can all serve as a mobile qualitative office. For the field team, the transition from the office to an offsite location has been full of unexpected benefits. Being caught in a thunderstorm during a lunchtime walk and returning to the office soaking wet would normally be an uncomfortable experience, but not if your office comes equipped with a dryer!

Of course, there are challenges to setting up in temporary quarters as well. Our IT department has been working non-stop to make sure we’re all connected to the resources we need to do our jobs wherever we are. Shared spaces create opportunities for collaboration, but also raise the eternal question, Where am I going to take this 90 minute conference call without making my colleagues want to kill me?

Our sojourn at DRA North will be brief, but I’ll miss it when we move into our new, more traditional office space. This time has been a lesson in flexibility, creative problem solving, and, in nice weather, precisely how many feet of firewire cord is needed to take the conference phone out to the back deck.

Courtside Lessons: What AAU Basketball Reminds Us about Marketing

Posted on: July 12th, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Chris Efken

As the mother of an AAU high school basketball player, I spend nearly every weekend traveling across the country watching my son play in tournaments.   Yes, it’s a glamorous life!


This past weekend, a fellow parent asked about my career outside of player management and chief chauffer. When I explained how I help my clients make smarter business decisions, I quickly realized that what my son does on court is not all that different from our lives as marketers and researchers.   Like basketball players, we assess the competition, decide to shoot (i.e., take action) or pass and strategize about the next series of plays.

As my son and I traveled home, we talked about additional courtside lessons that he could apply to his future in business. Here are a few other lessons and analogies we discussed:

  • Though we are all watching the same game, there are several different stories unfolding at any one time and great players pay attention to all of them—Similarly, as marketers we need to uncover these different stories and employ both offensive and defensive strategies to build awareness, market share…and to win!
  • And, with so much action taking place at any given moment, we are still likely to miss something—Reviewing the game film (i.e., consumer video and past research reports) and data can uncover additional insights needed to revise strategies, play up our strengths and capitalize on our opponents weaknesses.
  • Follow-through and rebounding are everything—Following the shot (e.g., brand plan) and anticipating where the ball will bounce (e.g., retailers’ reactions), allows you an abundance of opportunities to employ alternate plans to modify and again try to score.
  • Flashy names, uniforms and shoes can only go so far—There must be quality to back up the image created by the packaging. Otherwise, the Young Phenoms or Dynamic Disciples lose their following and are quickly replaced by teams or products that consistently deliver quality.

With just 4 tournaments left in my son’s AAU career, we both look forward to the ultimate lesson: hard work pays off.   I now look forward to learning more lessons watching him play college basketball.   Stay tuned! I’m sensing there will be several updates to this blog post and perhaps even an e-book of Courtside Lessons for Marketing Professionals.

Can Market Research Be Delivered Cheaper, Faster AND Better?

Posted on: June 28th, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Kathy Doyle

I had the pleasure of attending IIeX North America in Atlanta June 13-15.   It has become a “go to” market research conference for me, always providing a window into the future of our industry, from bothgoodfastcheap1 the client’s and research partner’s perspective.

This year, what I heard over and over was that clients expect their research partners to provide results cheaper, faster AND better.     For years, standard wisdom has been that clients could expect two of three, but never all three.   If you wanted the research to be better, you would have to sacrifice either cost or speed.   That is about to change.

Taking a peek into the (not so distant) future, the market research industry is beginning to embrace automation.   It is now possible to get machine translation of a multitude of languages almost instantly, and a human translation within 24 hours.   Audio and video clips can be instantly transcribed, allowing researchers to quickly search for and clip highlights to incorporate into a final deliverable. Text analytics is getting so robust that I actually heard clients say, in effect, “ if a machine can write the report, let it.   I am hiring you for study design, and for finding the insights and translating them into a story that helps us make decisions.”

DIY recruiting, DIY mobile surveys, automated incentive payments… exhibitors offering each of these was present at the conference, and their offerings were impressive.

So, while I still believe you get what you pay for, it is in our best interests as research partners to automate any activities that are repetitive, and that hinder us from being thinkers vs. doers.

Are YOU a Gold Star Client?

Posted on: May 23rd, 2016 by doyle


From the desk of Natanya Rubin

Are YOU a Gold Star Client?

Don’t get us wrong. At Doyle Research, we love all of our clients. We’re excited every time a new project comes our way, giving us a chance to deliver insights that guide a product or concept. But there are some clients whose calls we’re extra happy to take. Here’s what sets them apart from the rest!


Our favorite clients come to us with clarity of purpose and knowledge of the desired outcome of the study. They know how the study findings will be used, the business needs driving the research, and the key questions that they want answered.


Sometimes we hang up the phone after a kick off call practically bouncing with excitement and extra eager to start. When a client comes to a project ready to share ideas and to build the best possible execution of a study, that spark can drive the whole project forward. Building on each other’s insights, exploring objectives together, and committing to a shared path leads to great results down the road.


We live in a world of constant meetings, phone calls, and full inboxes. The sheer volume of demands on our clients’ time can be an obstacle, especially given the increasing pace of research. When time is of the essence, our favorite clients prioritize clear communication, making sure that they have consensus internally before providing direction to us. They know that often, one three-minute call can accomplish more than five individual e-mails. They give us what we need to go ahead, and in turn, we are able to provide results faster.


When inevitable hurdles emerge during the course of the study, our favorite clients are ready to course correct. Like us, they see obstacles as opportunities to learn, explore, and adapt to new information. If, during the course of the recruit, we discover that the target respondent is not who we thought she was? That’s a learning! It’s tempting to see a surprising finding as a problem, but it can also be an opening into new insights.

When we embark on a new study, we become a part of the client’s team. The best teams work together with focus, collaboration, communication, and the ability to adapt to challenges. Joining together with the goal of providing the very best results makes for great research and great outcomes!