Posts Tagged ‘Qualitative Research Strategies’

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.

Advertising Communication Checks: Valuable or a Necessary Evil?

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by doyle

adcommchecksFrom the desk of Kathy Doyle

I’ve been conducting advertising communication checks for over 30 years, and one thing has not changed…   most of the parties involved dread them. The agency doesn’t like seeing their creative work questioned based on input from a small number of research participants in an artificial setting.  The client does not like navigating the politics of getting the job done, all the while knowing the agency is less than thrilled. And no one really likes sitting in a back room, or in front of a computer screen, for hours on end listening to the same questions being asked every 20-30 minutes.

Yet there are some very compelling reasons why we continue to conduct communication checks:

  • To make sure we haven’t lost sight of who the target is, keeping our finger on the pulse of how best to communicate with them, and mitigate coming across as pandering or tone deaf
  • To make sure we haven’t missed the mark on messaging, and mistaking what we thought was crystal clear for a totally unintended meaning
  • To make sure the visuals support the message, rather than conflict with it
  • To make sure that brand/product recall is strong. It’s great if people love the ad, but if they don’t know what it’s advertising, what’s the point?
  • To optimize (or eliminate) executions prior to quantitative testing and/or final production. Why not find out if there are ways the execution can be tweaked to strengthen it before spending large sums of money?

Clearly, I’m coming out on the side of considering communication checks valuable.   To maximize their value, here are Six Tips for More Productive Communication Checks:

  1. Limit exposure to three executions per respondent, to prevent fatigue from clouding candid feedback
  2. Video storyboards with audio are acceptable; a complete video (albeit rough cut) is better; don’t make the consumer work too hard to see the idea
  3. Consider exposing the ads in a clutter reel to more closely simulate a real viewing experience and more accurately assess breakthrough
  4. Keep them 1:1 for the most honest commentary. People rarely watch programs or web surf with others, let alone strangers!
  5. Keep them short (20-30 minutes) to prevent over-thinking and to be efficient. We often do 12-18 interviews per day!
  6. Consider conducting the interviews online rather than in-person. When people are at home, they are more relaxed and more likely to provide candid feedback.  Use a platform built for research for the most problem-free experience.

One rule to keep in mind: Avoid using communication checks to kill a creative concept. Not only is the sample size too small, but the research is designed to assess communication not the core concept, so elimination is incongruous in this research context. Follow this one simple rule, incorporate some of the tips above, and the needle can easily be moved from “necessary evil” to truly advantageous!

Building Rapport: A Key Ingredient of Successful Qualitative Projects

Posted on: January 17th, 2017 by doyle

rapportFrom the desk of Jo-Ann Ryan

During the course of my qualitative career, clients and colleagues have told me that one of my strengths is being able to establish rapport with people from all walks of life. So I would like to share what I have learned about fostering trust and encouraging candid responses:

Setting expectations upfront. This seems basic but it’s important. When the moderator informs respondents about what to expect during a qualitative interview or group discussion (e.g., the length, the topic, the purpose, recording of the research, observers/listeners, etc.), it increases their comfort level and makes them more likely to share their thoughts and feelings.

Showing respondents unconditional positive regard (UPR). A good moderator should convey to respondents that all perspectives and opinions are welcome and respected. It begins with the moderator’s belief and attitude that everyone has something to offer – an opinion, an idea, or an experience — a potential nugget that could make the entire project worthwhile. During introductions, set the tone by acknowledging each person by name and thanking them for sharing information about themselves.

Being genuine. I think respondents are more apt to respond honestly if they sense that the moderator is being open with them, and is being true to their own personality and style.

Realizing you can’t judge a book by its cover. It is natural to form an initial impression of people based on appearance, but the moderator and clients should not let it get in the way of listening to each person and believing that each person represents a unique perspective that has value. I have been pleasantly surprised by what I had initially expected from a respondent versus what they actually were able to contribute.

Having an open mind. It is not uncommon to begin a qualitative study with client hypotheses about what we will discover during the research (e.g., why customers are dissatisfied, which ad or concept will be most appealing). However, the moderator and clients need to be ready to accept differing ideas and perspectives that could potentially lead to a complete redo of an ad campaign or a major refinement of a new product concept.

The bottom line – establishing good rapport with qualitative respondents can yield valuable insights for clients, and respondents will feel appreciated for their time and willingness to take a risk and share their honest thoughts and feelings.

ZOOM! 6 ways to cultivate attitudinal and behavioral insights faster

Posted on: March 23rd, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Carole Schmidt

At the recent Quirk’s Event and in subsequent workshops, one recurring message for research practitioners was loud and clear—brand managers and marketing directors want SPEED SPEED SPEED! Decisions need to be made yesterday. Pressure to get to market sooner is stronger than ever. Can we really produce valuable and actionable insights, faster? And just because we can, should we?

Admittedly, the tendency among us qualitative strategist types is to balk at such a notion. Isn’t real insight–that latent gem or “aha”—discovered through distillation, incubation, reflection, analysis, and consideration?

Speed-of-LightIn truth, real behavioral or attitudinal insight can be expedited with an agile moderator and a collaborative team spirit. Here are 6 ways you can gain rich, actionable insight in a hurry:

Be laser focused: Instead of the conventional “narrowing funnel” approach to discussion, generate 3 specific hypotheses (not questions) before the research to optimize the recruit and focus the discussion on specifics first, to get to that revealing understanding sooner.

Go small: Individual interviews or mini-groups readily enable “laddering” or the use of projective techniques for higher order understanding, and reduce/eliminate respondent posturing.

Embrace the iterative approach: Question the need to mechanically repeat content from interview-to-interview in favor of debriefing after each mini-group to identify remaining gaps in learning, then, narrow the discussion scope in subsequent groups to gain clarity and richness.

Divide and conquer: Splitting your research design into two methods conducted simultaneously (e.g., an online community and a series of depth interviews) taps into different perspectives tackling the same hypotheses. Following up fieldwork with a robust, joint debrief leverages the contrasts for introspective insights.

Do your homework: Put your target respondent (and your team!) to work before you engage with them. Even the simplest exercises (an image representing everyday YOU and where-you’re-going YOU) captures emotional depth that grounds responses (and your team’s perceptions) in your target’s reality.

Look beyond the obvious: Examine social media first to observe conversations that surface language, imagery, and pertinent topics on which to probe further. Check out “dark social” too: peruse fans’ profiles and their “liked” sites/brands. Post a key question in your own social media channels and follow the positive and negative buzz to round out–or challenge–the insights gained in primary research.

There is no doubt that thoughtful design + incubation + comprehensive analysis = insights. But, to say that valued insights cannot be obtained through speedier approaches is hogwash. I’ve witnessed (and led) 4-days-to-the-finish-line projects. Admittedly, these projects take passion, energy, and rigor to focus narrowly — “go deep or go home.” Yet these sessions produce! And we all know that the cost of not doing research always exceeds the cost of doing it. So whether it’s 4 days or 4 weeks, with real insights come smarter business decisions.

Shots Fired: Market Researchers Suck at Communicating Research Results

Posted on: November 22nd, 2015 by doyle 1 Comment

From the desk of Alice Morgan

I have a challenge for you. How do you define these terms?

  • Findings
  • Insights
  • ImplicationsShots fired jpeg
  • Recommendations

At a conference I recently attended, these results-related words were used indiscriminately. Bandied about, willy-nilly. They have become “buzzwords,” so diluted and blended over time that they lost their meaning.

How “Insights” differs from “Implications” is not a small thing. How we communicate, what we communicate, and the words we use to identify and explain our research results impact the validity and integrity of the market research profession. How are Findings, Insights, Implications and Recommendations distinct from one another? Which are fact-based – and which are not? Are we all on the same page here? In my humble opinion, absolutely not.

Insights, in fact, are so important that people in the biz are now in “Consumer Insights” instead of “Market Research.” So I think it is safe to say that Insights are a pretty big deal.

Here, without further ado, is Doyle’s stake in the ground, our point of view on results communication.

Findings

Findings are derived from observation and investigation. Findings are facts.

Sample Finding: When consumers shop online for cars, they avoid dealership websites.

Insights

Insights are discoveries derived from findings. Insights explain the emotional drivers of human behavior.

Sample Insight: Consumers don’t trust dealership websites because they think they are biased and hard to navigate. Today’s consumers turn to independent sites containing user-generated content.

Implications

Implications explain why Findings and Insights are important to our clients’ businesses. They tell our clients what it all means. Implications link Insights to Recommendations.

Sample Implication: Dealerships need to create websites consumers trust. As the initial touchpoint to the path to purchase, dealerships are squandering a critical engagement opportunity.

Recommendations

Recommendations are the actions clients should take to make smarter business decisions given the prior Findings, Insights, and Implications.

Sample Recommendation: Car dealerships need to optimize their websites by offering greater usability, transparent pricing, real-time vehicle inventory information, and unfiltered user reviews.

So – back to my challenge. What do you think of these definitions? Do you have a different take? An enhancement? I’d love to hear from you. When market researchers consistently and precisely communicate research results, everybody wins. Our clients understand the big picture. They know what they need to do going forward. And after all, isn’t that why they hired us to begin with?