In the past 10-12 years, the market research world has been revolutionized by technology. Technology has allowed us to access consumers’ worlds in ways we could never have imagined, and led to consumer insights that were both new and cost or time-effective. But there is a trend I’ve observed that is bothering me, and that is the growing call for “sexy” (which usually means digital) whether or not it makes sense for the project. “What could we do that’s new and sexy? “ “We called you because we don’t want plain old focus groups and interviews.” “Let us know when you have something new to offer.”
Clients are asking for it; I’m hearing calls for it at conferences. Innovation is great. And it’s about time market research embraced it. But is it always appropriate? The saying “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” comes to mind.
We offer a broad range of methods at Doyle. And we are committed to staying abreast of trends, and leading the way with innovative methods. So it’s not sour grapes which inspires this blog post. We can deliver new; we can deliver sexy. But what we want to deliver is RIGHT – the right method for the research objectives at hand.
In selecting the right method(s) for a given study, we take a number of things into account:
- Target consumers: Are they likely to be comfortable communicating via webcam? On a bulletin board? Using a smartphone app? Do they even own a smartphone?
- Product category: is this a high engagement category? If so, digital may work well. If not, it can be harder to engage digitally. And really, research on diapers is just not sexy no matter the method!
- Geography: If geographic diversity is important, or out of the way locations are needed, digital makes that possible, and for a reasonable cost. If your research is going to be conducted in one location, it makes all the sense in the world to talk to your consumers face-to-face.
- Research objectives: Do you want respondents to have a high level of interaction with each other? Would it benefit the research if they could conduct product sorts, or physically handle the product? Yes, there are digital workarounds, but quite frankly nothing replaces a focus group in these circumstances.
- Team engagement: let’s face it, no matter what we’ve tried to keep clients engaged, when the research is being conducted digitally it is often “out of sight, out of mind”. Sometimes not a single client dials in to observe the research.
At Doyle Research, we love “new and sexy” just as much as the next person, but in its time and place!