Qualitative Insights: From the Client Side

The Story of … the Client Side

What we did: In August, DRA conducted a two day online bulletin board with client-side qualitative researchers to understand how qualitative vendors are selected, what they seek from qualitative research consultants, and how social media is defined and used within their companies. We interviewed 18 client-side researchers, and boy did we learn a bundle!

What you seek: Client-side researchers have high expectations, as they should. They seek strategic, experienced consultants; good moderators who can answer the research objectives. They seek QRCs who are flexible, personable, and dedicated. They want a QRC to be cost competitive. And they want a QRC to deliver a clear, concise story.

How you decide: To get in the door, clients seek a strong proposal, a solid method, and a competitive price. A unique skill set helps, as does knowledge of newer methods. And above all, clients seek firms who demonstrate knowledge of their approach and passion for the project at hand.

Old school: We were surprised to learn that a large number of client side researchers still rely on traditional qualitative methods – in-person focus groups and IDIs – out of habit, comfort, and greater trust in traditional methods.

Newfangled: Feedback on online qualitative methods varied depending on whether participants had experience with these methods. Clients who have used online methods like the speed, geographic diversity, and increased candor which often results online. Drawbacks of online methods include missing visual cues, technology mishaps, and challenges conducting group activities. Another challenge comes with asynchronous methods such as online bulletin boards – often clients don’t have time to follow the research!

Even more newfangled: Although Social Media is seen as useful, many clients don’t exactly know what to do with it. Social Media is lauded for providing a pulse on brand buzz, can drive consumer engagement, is unsolicited and spontaneous, and enables clients to identify trends, themes, topics or products that can be researched. Perceived drawbacks are similar to what we have been hearing about qualitative for years – that it is a subset of customers, not representative of general population!