Posts Tagged ‘qualitative’

Qualitative Design: Utilizing Positive Affect Techniques

Posted on: May 8th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid

Positive AffectTraditionally, positive affect techniques have been used in the context of brainstorming sessions, helping to free minds and encourage divergent thinking. Often overlooked however is how inducing positive affect in qualitative design can be beneficial.

Positive affect refers to the extent to which an individual subjectively experiences positive moods such as joy, interest, and alertness. Research shows that by inducing positive affect, one can improve a person’s verbal fluency.1 What’s more, positive affect has been associated with generating increased dopamine levels in the brain, which in turn has been shown to improve cognitive flexibility.2

Practically, inducing positive affect is all about establishing and maintaining an affirming, comfortable environment where respondents feel relaxed and completely free to express their thoughts and opinions. Telling them is not enough. The moderator, the room set-up, and the discussion guide all must contribute. For example:

  • A comfortable, living-room type environment rather than a formal conference table set-up
  • Ease into the discussion more slowly by doing an extra ice breaker, going beyond only respondent introductions
  • Humor! One idea is to find an appropriate yet comical video on YouTube that’s related to the discussion topic as a means of inciting laughter. Humor is one of THE most powerful, efficient ways to induce positive affect.
  • Incorporate movement. Halfway through the group, direct respondents to get up and move around or change seats. This helps literally and figuratively change their perspective, alleviating stale, repetitious responses.
  • Integrate highly engaging, respondent tasks into the discussion guide. Think of creative ways to garner information that require respondents to draw, assemble something, get up and walk to images posted in the room, do brief creative writing exercises, etc.

For research purposes, it’s important to understand that respondents can express negative opinions about a discussion topic without putting a damper on the positive affect. How? Through positive reinforcement from the moderator. Once a respondent has shared information – positive or negative – complimentary encouragement by the moderator (for ALL respondents) is key. In fact, according to Professor Norihiro Sadato, study lead and professor at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan, “To the brain, receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money. We’ve been able to find scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise.”3

While it’s highly unlikely respondents will trade their participation honorarium for compliments, the power of the two together, along with other positive affect influences will certainly assure rich, prolific qualitative results.


1 Science Direct, L.H. Philips, R. Bull, E. Adams, L. Fraser, Positive mood and executive function: Evidence from stroop and fluency tasks

2 Psychological Review, 106 (3) (1999), pp. 529-550, A neuropsychological theory of positive affect and its influence on cognition, F.G. Ashby, A.M. Isen, A.U. Turken

3Forbes Online, November 9, 2012, David DiSalvo

Working from Home, Qualitatively

Posted on: September 29th, 2016 by doyle

image1From the desk of Natanya Rubin

It’s 12:30 in the afternoon on a Wednesday, and my assistant project manager and I are wearing matching XXL Kideation tee shirts and borrowed shorts, waiting for our work clothes to come out of the dryer. This is my first day working out of our temporary Doyle Research headquarters in a private residence in the Chicago suburbs, a stop-over as we transition to a co-working space downtown, and I must say, it’s started with a bang, or rather, a downpour.

Our moderators are used to working in all kinds of locations, and under all kinds of conditions. When they’re on the road, a hotel room, focus group facility, coffee shop, classroom, or living room can all serve as a mobile qualitative office. For the field team, the transition from the office to an offsite location has been full of unexpected benefits. Being caught in a thunderstorm during a lunchtime walk and returning to the office soaking wet would normally be an uncomfortable experience, but not if your office comes equipped with a dryer!

Of course, there are challenges to setting up in temporary quarters as well. Our IT department has been working non-stop to make sure we’re all connected to the resources we need to do our jobs wherever we are. Shared spaces create opportunities for collaboration, but also raise the eternal question, Where am I going to take this 90 minute conference call without making my colleagues want to kill me?

Our sojourn at DRA North will be brief, but I’ll miss it when we move into our new, more traditional office space. This time has been a lesson in flexibility, creative problem solving, and, in nice weather, precisely how many feet of firewire cord is needed to take the conference phone out to the back deck.

Costing Qualitative, Part 3: Hidden or Forgotten Costs

Posted on: July 20th, 2016 by doyle

key-selection-criteria-writing-serviceFrom the desk of Kathy Doyle

This is the 3rd of four blog posts with the goal of de-mystifying the process of obtaining and evaluating a qualitative bid.

Hidden or Forgotten Costs

Before securing a P.O. number for a project, make sure that the project’s cost estimate is all-inclusive.   Services like translation or transcription might not be needed for every project and therefore may not be top of mind.

To avoid surprises, we suggest that you create a checklist to ensure you haven’t forgotten the services that can make a project run smoothly.   Checklist items might include…

•Translation fees
•Video editing fees
•Equipment such as cameras, recording devices
•Car and driver for transportation to/from ethnographic interviews
•Travel-related costs
•Production costs (Development of mood boards, animatics, concept boards, product prototypes, etc.)
•Product purchase costs
•Client/respondent food.

Forgetting any of these line items (some of them with significant costs attached) could put you in a position where the budget approved in your P.O. is not adequate to cover the costs of your project.     And no one wants to deal with the fallout from that situation!

Courtside Lessons: What AAU Basketball Reminds Us about Marketing

Posted on: July 12th, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Chris Efken

As the mother of an AAU high school basketball player, I spend nearly every weekend traveling across the country watching my son play in tournaments.   Yes, it’s a glamorous life!


This past weekend, a fellow parent asked about my career outside of player management and chief chauffer. When I explained how I help my clients make smarter business decisions, I quickly realized that what my son does on court is not all that different from our lives as marketers and researchers.   Like basketball players, we assess the competition, decide to shoot (i.e., take action) or pass and strategize about the next series of plays.

As my son and I traveled home, we talked about additional courtside lessons that he could apply to his future in business. Here are a few other lessons and analogies we discussed:

  • Though we are all watching the same game, there are several different stories unfolding at any one time and great players pay attention to all of them—Similarly, as marketers we need to uncover these different stories and employ both offensive and defensive strategies to build awareness, market share…and to win!
  • And, with so much action taking place at any given moment, we are still likely to miss something—Reviewing the game film (i.e., consumer video and past research reports) and data can uncover additional insights needed to revise strategies, play up our strengths and capitalize on our opponents weaknesses.
  • Follow-through and rebounding are everything—Following the shot (e.g., brand plan) and anticipating where the ball will bounce (e.g., retailers’ reactions), allows you an abundance of opportunities to employ alternate plans to modify and again try to score.
  • Flashy names, uniforms and shoes can only go so far—There must be quality to back up the image created by the packaging. Otherwise, the Young Phenoms or Dynamic Disciples lose their following and are quickly replaced by teams or products that consistently deliver quality.

With just 4 tournaments left in my son’s AAU career, we both look forward to the ultimate lesson: hard work pays off.   I now look forward to learning more lessons watching him play college basketball.   Stay tuned! I’m sensing there will be several updates to this blog post and perhaps even an e-book of Courtside Lessons for Marketing Professionals.

Qualitative Research: From Acid Wash Jeans to Yoga Pants

Posted on: July 8th, 2015 by doyle

From the desk of Kathy Doyle

I was recently asked to run for the QRCA Board of Directors, and it got me to thinking about what the world of qualitative looked like when I last served on the Board, in 1993.   Yep, I’ve been around that long… and longer!

Qualitative Back in the Day

  • No procurement, no preferred vendor list, no payment terms. Proposals were rarely required.Unknown
  • Method discussion was simple – focus groups or IDIs? All in-person. Any discussion revolved around market selection and travel logistics.
  • No online methods (no Internet!) meant lots of travel and visits to many markets.
  • Screeners were typed on carbon paper (and had to be completely re-typed for the smallest change), and administered via phone only – making low incidence studies almost impossible to execute.
  • The standard deliverable was a typed word document, the bigger the better.  3-4 weeks to deliver a report was the norm. That’s because reports were handwritten and sent to a typist, all of which took a LOT of time.

Qualitative Today

  • Unknown-1There is now procurement, preferred vendor lists, and payment terms to negotiate. There is always a proposal. We are almost always in a competitive bidding situation.
  • Timing: research is often needed, well, yesterday.
  • Method discussions are lengthy, as they should be since we have so many methods available. Online, mobile, or in-person?  Real time, or asynchronous? Ethnography? Social Media listening? We can (and do) go on.
  • Travel: there is less of it, given the growth of online methods.
  • Recruiting has gotten sophisticated and precise. Needle in a haystack studies are now feasible. Expensive, but feasible.
  • Deliverable options have become increasingly sophisticated and complex: ranging from a PPT deck to a video report, from Infographics to glossy magazines.   Post research convergence sessions are common.

Does it sound like a case of “the good old days?”   Not at all true!   It IS true that the business climate is much tougher, and if I’d never heard the term procurement I’d be a happy camper.     However, there have been some massive upsides to the changes.     With all the various methods at our disposal, we can now design a study that meets the unique needs of our client and their business question, as well as meets the participants in a way that makes sense for them, and for the research. We can:

  • Reach hard to reach respondents, pretty much anywhere
  • Mix audiences online that we never would’ve put in a focus group together
  • Conduct research around the world without ever leaving our offices
  • Tap the conversations of people all over the world for insights and whitespace opportunities through social media listening
  • Execute research over time, rather than at a single point in time, for a reasonable price.

I have loved being part of the evolution and enhancement of qualitative. Today we conduct qualitative research that is incredibly rich and powerful, far beyond what we could have imagined 30+ years ago.