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Minesights℠: Are you Sitting on a Gold Mine?

  • Have you ever experienced deja vu while working on a new product or R&D initiative?
  • Ever wonder how many great ideas or insights are hidden in your firm’s files, or stuck in the company pipeline, but you have neither the time nor staff to seek them out?
  • Do you think potentially great innovations may have been killed prematurely by those who came before you?
  • Do you sometimes feel you are being asked to re-invent what has already been invented?
  • Think your company may have unknowingly walked away from some excellent ideas, or failed to fully integrate research findings into its marketing efforts due to budget cuts, downsizing, management turnover, a rotating door of consultants and research suppliers, or outsourcing?

If so, you are not alone. I’m willing to wager that most of you reading this article can identify with at least one of these scenarios. Stop and think of the money already spent and all the internal resources available to develop new products and services or to enhance the performance of existing ones:

  • Pipelines full of ideas generated during internal or external ideation sessions
  • Qualitative and quantitative market research findings for new concepts, line extensions, prototypes and new product testing
  • Volumes of secondary research
  • Consumer contact channels like 800 numbers and websites
  • Mounds of internal memos and documents

At what point do you begin to think that there just might be ‘gold in them thar files?’  When do you come to the realization that it may be more cost and time efficient to develop ideas and utilize learning you already own, rather than throw more money into R&D only to end up in the same place you find yourself today?

When marketers come to the realization that they need to seek a new perspective rather than “more research,” one such course of action is Qualitative Meta-Analysis—a process in which a researcher mines, sifts, analyzes and distills existing company records, reports, transcripts and other resources, and emerges with fresh insights and potentially great ideas and direction.

“Meta-analysis refers to the analysis of analyses…the statistical analysis of a large collection of analysis results from individual studies for the purpose of integrating the findings.” (Glass, 1976, p 3).  Analyzing the results from a group of studies can offer a more comprehensive and accurate picture of what has been done and where new areas of opportunity might exist than relying on a single source of information.

Doyle Research Associates, a qualitative research firm, recently introduced a new meta-analysis service, MineSightsTM, which serves the same purpose as the statistical process, but from a qualitative perspective.  The genesis of this service was sparked by listening to clients overwhelmed with a backlog of data, who feared they were overlooking big ideas and critical learning, and by our own experiences of replicating research conducted for the same clients in years past–“Haven’t we been here before?”

This qualitative process provides:

  • A condensed summary of the results of a number of previous studies and other internal resources, saving clients valuable time from having to pore through, absorb and act on each of these reports.
  • Deeper and new knowledge, resulting from researchers reading between the lines, identifying gaps, and drawing connections between studies that either time-starved clients or those too close to a project or brand might miss.
  • A concise analysis on the gaps in the learning, resulting in a snapshot of the current state of knowledge in the area being investigated.
  • Identification of areas of opportunity and next steps to consider for new product and service ideas, or for solutions and enhancements to existing products.

Case Study

Our client sought to introduce the next generation of a successful product to excite and motivate more buyers.  The qualitative meta-analysis involved analysis of research reports, category reviews, output from idea generation sessions, as well as what turned out to be a goldmine of information—transcripts from the company’s 1-800 customer care line and its customer e-mail files.  It was extremely valuable information that had been ignored because there was neither the time nor staff available to review it.

The analysis generated the very types of learning we had hoped for; seemingly small, but critical pieces of learning previously undetected by our client.  As a result, they were able to implement changes immediately…even before our final analysis was completed.  Our independent qualitative investigation revealed significant inconsistencies between their product instruction manual and their web site “help desk,” resulting in considerable confusion and frustration among consumers, and thus angry dealers.  The final deliverable has since been shared across departments within our client’s firm and continues to provide value and insightful direction for the development of the product’s next generation.

This example underscores the benefit of qualitative meta-analysis.  It does not rely on numbers and statistics, but rather, taps the experience and seasoned skills of a qualitative professional to see the big picture through the quagmire of reports, to dive deep below the surface to examine and extract rich insights, and to distill all this “fuzzy” information into clear, actionable direction.

In these lean economic times, a razor thin competitive edge can spell the difference between a brand or product’s success or failure.  Mining the depths of what your firm already owns could prove to be one of the wisest investments you will make.

“I have used Doyle Research on numerous occasions, and have found the team to be knowledgeable, creative in recommending solutions for qualitative that works, able to turn on a dime when we needed it. We’ve had solid results and some highly insightful analysis that opened business partner eyes to some things they didn’t know but needed to.”

Consumer Insights | DeVry University

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