Posts Tagged ‘Listening’


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.


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?

“Dude, Your Ride is Tope.”* Your Customers are Talking. Are You Listening?

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by doyle

From the desk of Carole Schmidt

73% of U.S. Americans now have a social network profile, a 6% growth over just last year. Social media engagementshoes image among 18-49 year olds averages 85%! And who’s “talking” in social media on mobile? Young people, African-Americans, Hispanics, the highly educated, and those with a higher annual household income are more likely to use social networking sites on their smartphones than other groups, making it easier than ever to add to the conversation.

Why should we insights people care?

The volume of unaided, qualitative commentary available is unrivaled by any other marketing research method. The world’s largest focus group exists at your fingertips!

What should you do about it?

  • Move social media monitoring and analysis out of PR and into your Research or Insights department.
  • Require social media involvement in screening criteria when seeking “average” Americans. If they’re not Tweeting, they’re not average.
  • Investigate what’s actually driving the trendlines around your brand, your competitors’ brands, or the category as a whole.
  • Tap qualitative social media analysis to identify audiences not previously on your radar. Can you say, “lumbersexuals?”
  • Speak your customers’ language before designing a survey to encourage more accurate responses. “Basic” is NOT a compliment.
  • Surface discussion topics or “red flag” issues to explore further with other methods.
  • Understand the competitive landscape to determine how to deploy limited resources. Should we compete in “gamer food?”

Doyle makes it happen by digging deep into the posts driving the trendlines to see what customers are actually saying. Our social media analysis certification and expert qualitative skills allow us to identify sentiment, buzz, language, geography, domains, even authors that matter to your brand. We tell you where your brand is talked about and what’s being said. Just ask if you’d like a demo!

BTW: “Dude, your ride is tope?”* Your sneakers are somewhere in the stratosphere of utter coolness.


Dear (Mom), are you even listening to me?

Posted on: February 11th, 2015 by doyle

Dog-listeningFrom the desk of Chris Efken

As the mother of a teen, listening has heightened stakes. If I don’t listen carefully I miss the subtle insights into my son’s world — what his plans are on a Friday night, the due date of the next dreaded English paper, or the latest college he plans to attend (the one that likely has annual tuition in excess of $50,000!).

As marketers, listening also has heightened stakes. We seek to hear the voice of the consumer so our marketing efforts can be grounded in these insights.   Yet, whether we are focusing on consumer or shopper insights, we can inadvertently miss hearing, seeing (or perhaps even misinterpret) the information as a result of not fully listening to what consumers are both verbally and non-verbally communicating.

With so many distractions, all too often “fake listening” occurs. Whether listening for comprehension, empathy or judgment, we need to ensure that we don’t miss out on those elusive “Ah-has” or the key insights needed for product innovation and marketing plans.   To avoid some of the pitfalls associated with selective, biased listening or simply partial listening, let’s consider a listening tune-up by paying closer attention to the following when working with participants…

  • Listen with Unconditional Positive Regard—Strive to eliminate passing judgment by focusing on what’s being said rather than risking dismissing the learning based on a participant’s appearance or mannerisms.
  • Listen for critical content–Focus on the content of what’s being said, by stripping away and ignoring a consumer’s ums and ah’s.
  • Listen to both verbal and non-verbal communication to identify contradictions and/or understand the intensity of their feelings.
  • Be patient, listen for the complete story making decisions based on responses to a single question.
  • Listen to the answer you are receiving, rather than thinking about what you would like the moderator to ask next.
  • Listen to a comment in its entirety—Let a respondent finish his/her comment before reacting and jumping to a quick decision.
  • Be fully present when listening—Multi-tasking and distractions prevent us from hearing consumers’ entire product stories, keen insights and even potential new product ideas. Be fully present when listening to consumers or reading their online posts.

Great listening helps ensure we won’t miss that next big insight or product idea.