Posts Tagged ‘qualitative research’

ROACHES AND WET SOCKS. WHAT I DID FOR LOVE…of Qualitative Research

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.

 

The Quirks Event Brooklyn: An Esprit de Corps Experience

Posted on: March 2nd, 2018 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid

This week I attended my first Quirks Event. Having submitted an application and been accepted to speak at the event in Brooklyn, NY, my emotions prior were a mix of nervousness and excitement. Of course, as we all know, work doesn’t stop when we decide to attend these gatherings. And, if your job is anything like mine, project work has a tendency to multiply the closer the conference date – and the planned time away from the office – gets. To this end, I began to ask myself, “Should I still go?” “What to do?!” (Everyone has those moments, right?)

Well, of course I didn’t bail. I was proud to have been invited to speak, and certainly wanted to fulfill my commitment. So off I went, from Chicago to New York for two days – and it was wonderful! The exhibitors and session speakers were all abuzz about innovative tools, platforms and approaches – mostly digital – that raise the results bar in the research game. I felt immersed in the future and it looked fantastic!

But the thing that stands out most about my experience at the Quirks Event Brooklyn was the sense of camaraderie I felt that transcended industry relationships. Exhibitors, marketing researchers, insights directors and managers, academics, and ad execs – just to name a few – had all gathered for a common goal: exploring how to achieve new heights in top quality research. Refreshingly, I found the tone of the event to be more like a great big information share instead of all about networking. It was an inspiring experience that served to remind me we’re all on the same team and have the same goal: to produce insightful, actionable information at the highest level.

And speaking of the highest level, what conference would be complete without a swag bag? The Quirks Event Brooklyn did not disappoint. Here’s a closing story that reveals some of the goody bag highlights:

Sitting at one of the high-top tables in the exhibit hall, I use my jar opener to uncap a fresh bottle of water. I slip the bottle into my new coozie to keep it chilled and scan the speaker schedule with a magnifying glass so as not to miss any important details. I circle several options with my puzzle pen. I have a bit of time before the first speaker, so I indulge in some levity and read a book of witticisms. Time’s up so I pack my notebook and head to the conference room. The speaker is wonderful – informative and engaging. But wait! My turn to speak is just around the corner! I pop a piece of gum into my mouth and grab the stress ball to tame my nerves as I dash to Conference Room One. Up at the podium I use the lens cloth to wipe down the laptop screen. With two minutes to go I apply a swipe of lip balm to assure the words come out smoothly. And three…two…one…show time: Emotional Engagement Through Customer Empathy—Tapping the Power of Live Streaming Mobile Interviewing.

 

 

 

(Qualitative) Research Resolutions

Posted on: December 28th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Natanya Rubin

With 2017 nearly over, the team at DRA has been taking stock of the past year in qualitative research.  The start of a new year is a perfect time to dream about our hopes, examine our successes, and learn from the things that challenged us. In 2018, we resolve to:

…OBSERVE consumers, as they talk about the products and services that make a difference in their lives. In the new year we’ll watch consumers sample new food products and puzzle their way through drafts of marketing materials. We’ll draw them out–in focus group rooms, in homes, and in stores–and engage with their passions, understand their needs, and encourage them to express their ideas.

…EXPLORE new trends in qualitative research. This year, advances in mobile research have opened doors to us in exciting ways. Hearing what consumers have to say outside of the confines of a formal research set-up can be of tremendous benefit, and our tools for connecting have never been more sophisticated. This year, respondents shared struggles and discoveries with us in real time through streaming mobile interviews, which resulted in learning that ultimately guided product development. We’ve been dreaming of these in-the-moment tools for years, but now we can put those dreams into action!

…CONNECT our tools in new ways. This year has also seen us exploring ways to join the statistical breadth of quantitative data with the rich depth of qualitative interviews, using online tools to marry the two methodologies.  It’s a great replacement for the kind of research that used to be accomplished in person with dial-pads and a lot of logistical heavy lifting.  Now, thanks to our ability to link various online tools together, we can expand the possibilities of a hybrid approach that provides quantitative input and qualitative insights.

It’s an exciting time to be qualitative researchers, and we can’t wait to see what the new year has in store for us, for our clients, and for market research itself. Wishing you a very Happy New Year, and happy research in 2018!

 

Five Key Factors That Impact Qualitative Costs

Posted on: December 18th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Kathy Doyle

When you ask your qualitative partners to provide a cost estimate for your research project, do you know what the key factors are that impact the price they provide? Knowing that information could help you save money, avoid surprises, and provide you with a better idea of how to evaluate competing bids.

In any qualitative bid, there are five key factors that impact price:

1. Screening criteria: The more difficult the screening criteria, and the more questions that need to be asked of respondents during the screening process (which impacts cooperation rates) the greater the cost. For that reason, focus on the “need to know” questions, such as key demographics/psychographics, and category/brand usage. “Nice to know” information can be covered in the research.

2. Size of the recruit: The more participants you recruit, the greater the cost. Because qualitative is designed to provide direction rather than to be projectable to a larger population, be conservative with your sample size. Tip: don’t forget to account for last minute cancellations, no shows and respondents who don’t pass a re-screen. We recommend over-recruiting by 20% to ensure that you end up with the number of respondents requested. When comparing bids, make sure to ask whether the cost estimate includes the cost for over-recruits.

3. Incentives: There are three things that influence how much respondents are paid: the difficulty of the recruit, the location of the research, and the amount of work a respondent is being asked to do. The difficulty of the recruit goes without saying: the harder it is to find respondents (very low incidence, consumers vs. professionals), the more you need to pay to make sure they agree to participate. And if your research is being conducted digitally vs. in-person, incentives will most likely be lower because respondents are able to participate from the convenience of their home or office. Finally, the more you ask respondents to do, the greater the incentive. Do you need them for 30-minutes, 2 hours, 2 weeks? Be realistic about how much time you need to accomplish your research objectives, so that you are not paying more in incentives than is necessary.

4. Facility Rental or Platform License Fees: Time is king. The more time you spend in a facility, or licensing a technology platform, the greater the cost. Know how much time you’ll need to accomplish your goals, and set the length of the research sessions accordingly. Padding, because you haven’t adequately scoped out the research, can cost you. And conversely, not allowing enough time can shortchange results.

5. Deliverables: The type of deliverable required can dramatically impact your costs, easily increasing professional fees by 50% or more. Do you need a detailed report, an executive summary, or just a post-research debriefing session? A multi-media PPT presentation, or a professionally edited video report? Be realistic: contract only for what you know your team will use.

Armed with this information, you can be confident that you have designed your research to maximize results and minimize costs.

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.