Posts Tagged ‘qualitative research’

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.

Tackling Tight Timelines, Tough Specs: Is Online Recruiting for Qualitative an Option?

Posted on: June 26th, 2017 by doyle

finger-with-peopleFrom the desk of Natanya Rubin

In a world where the pace of business continues to increase but the demand for actionable, dependable results remains the same, the question in qualitative research becomes, how to deliver?  In the field department, we’re often asked to reconcile a tight timeline with challenging specs, and it’s up to us, with the help of a strong recruiting partner, to accomplish the seemingly impossible.  One option that we sometimes employ is to embrace the online recruit.

Prior to the explosion of online resources, a tough recruit was accomplished mainly by phone.  This was a dependable, but slow, method of finding qualified respondents.  Today, our most common approach to reaching a difficult target quickly is a hybrid of online and telephone recruitment.  Potential respondents are emailed (or even texted!) a preliminary screening survey, containing the study’s foundational specs.  If the respondent qualifies via the survey, they move on to a phone screening to ensure that they truly meet the requirements, and are engaged and articulate.  The online survey saves time and costs, while the telephone screen ensures quality.

Although it’s rare, in the face of a truly compressed timeline we might consider an online only recruit, where respondents complete the entire screener online, and never speak directly with a recruiter.  In that case, embracing the over-recruit is critical to the success of the study.  Although eliminating the hours and manpower that phone screening requires might save some dollars in the budget, an extremely generous over-recruit is needed, sometimes as much as 50% or more.  This ensures enough completes and enough high quality responses to generate reliable findings.  It’s never our preference to recruit this way, but in the face of an urgent need for results, this compromise can deliver.

The challenges of locating hard-to-find respondents are steep enough without adding a compressed timeline to the mix.  But thanks to the possibility of online screening, the chances of success are better than ever.  By deploying a hybrid recruiting method or even an online only method (always being aware of the additional steps needed, in that case, to assure quality completes), a tough timeline can be conquered!

Garbage in. Garbage out. The Need for Concept Optimization.

Posted on: June 1st, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Carole Schmidtsusana-fernandez-56313

I’m just going to say it. We see a lot of bad concepts.

Look, we fully understand that it’s not easy to create a compelling new product and seemingly impossible to carve out real brand distinction in crowded categories. And rocket speed-to-market means you’ve got six months to get this thing on shelf!  But, sheesh, too often we are handed concepts that are still being written as we’re performing participant introductions during the research.  In other real world scenarios, waves of team review, and legal’s approval, have created some real concept doozers, delivered to us researchers either diluted to mush, with the core idea buried in euphemisms, or wholly lacking a reason for being.

I’m just going to say it. Spending time getting the “test” concepts right is worth its weight in gold.

Checking in with your customer along the way, while you’re crafting those concepts, reduces the misses on the back end, saving valuable time and money. Several “presearch” avenues are inexpensive and fast and they will help you get to great concepts, faster.

Relate to a need: The most successful concepts address a real customer’s unmet need or compensating behavior. How do you discover those? Get out of the office to observe your customer in situ by going in-home or in-car.  Tap mobile journals or geofenced intercept interviews to capture and understand the customer experience at the point-of-purchase or use.

Reflect the language of the target to increase relevance: Yogurt eaters are particular about thick vs. Greek. Gearheads know what a four-banger is. Tap qualitative social media analysis to get a handle on the language your customers speak.

Understand concept-product fit: When you have a product in mind as well as a concept, go both ways. Explore your concept first among some and probe for product expectations. Investigate your product first among others, then probe how to communicate about it.  This is where your internal employees/staff can be of great help, formally, with a series of moderated on-site or webcam interviews, or informally, discussed around the water cooler or lunchroom at the office.

 Consider exposing the concept unbranded, too: Probe, “Is there an idea here?” independently of revealing the brand behind that idea to better assess the concept’s strength and the power of your brand as part of that concept. Branded and unbranded concepts can be rotated in online boards just as readily as they can be in focus groups.

Communicate as intended: “Gives you energy to take on the day” was meant to be a sustaining and satiety benefit, but in research it was also incorrectly perceived as a telltale sign of high carbs or sugar to many. Communication checks for concept clarity are efficient and inexpensive; they can be done in a day, in–person or online.

 I’m just going to say it again. Take your concepts as seriously as you do the rest of your research spend. Get your customer involved in optimizing your concepts before testing them. We look forward to your future successful concepts!

Will the Trend Toward Urbanized Seniors Affect Your Brand’s Future? Four Factors to Consider.

Posted on: April 12th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Carole Schmidt

If you’re not an urban dweller today, you will likely become one–within 15 years. In 1800, only 2% of the world’s population was urban. By 2014, 180,000 people were added to the urban population each day!  In 2030, 84% of the population in developed countries will be living in urban areas.  While economic powerhouse “megacities” have doubled from 14 in 1995 to 29 in 2015, the fastest-growing urban centers are small and medium cities — already accounting for 59 percent of the world’s population!

So, who makes up the fastest-growing population? As it turns out, that’s people age 60 and over, a group that is growing at nearly 3.7 percent a year globally—one quarter of each of the world’s urban regions is expected to be 60 or over by 2050!

Urban SeniorsWhat is happening in response to the emergence of the urban senior? What should you be thinking about for your brand? Are your brands positioned for success with this trend?

If you’re not exploring how urban populations might help or hurt your brand or business, you should be.  Here are four things to consider:

  1. More seniors are walking, biking, using public transit: This means there are increasing numbers of small businesses, local retailers and delivery services designed to meet the needs of this segment. E-commerce will continue to grow because it brings products and services to this population. Is your product’s packaging easily transported? Is your e-commerce strategy optimized? Are you looking at geo-located smartphone and kiosk advertising to replace freeway outdoor spends and conventional TV?
  2. Packaging that reduces waste is critical for urban living: Fast growing cities are aggressive about reducing future trash. San Francisco leads the U.S. with an 80% success rate at keeping discards out of landfills.  Keurig cups were just banned in Hamburg Germany. If you aren’t looking at reduced packaging by now, you’re already behind as urban restrictions increase.
  3. Personalized healthcare will influence CPG development: Medical needs of urban seniors will influence product successes and failures. Just as local “minute clinics” and home-based care are increasing, so are wearable medical monitors that will soon respond to product ingredients and features, warning users, for example, “no, too much salt or high in cholesterol,” or “reviews say this vehicle’s seat design yields poor back support.” How will your products fare as medical care, customer reviews, and products intersect more directly? 
  4. As urbanization increases, senior will favor more hedonistic pleasures and unique physical experiences as antidotes to the stress of dense environments. Global travel is expected to increase fourfold in the next ten years to help urban dwellers recharge. How and where will seniors engage with your products? As a replenishing snack after their local spin yoga class? Can your appliances be redesigned to promote a pleasurable experience, not just a functional one? Will urban dwellers find your product wherever they travel, reinforcing their loyalty to your brand?

Urbanization will produce economic, social, and environmental improvements. Don’t let doomsayers distract you from the opportunities before us. Prepare your brand strategy to work with the growth in urbanization. Giving thought to how you can engage and nurture today’s customers as they become urban seniors over the next decade may result in increased loyalists for a healthy brand future!

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!