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"Numbers and Narratives" Build a Bridge, Fill in the Blanks

Posted By Laurie Pumper, Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The following post was written by Alice Greene of Campos, Inc. Alice is one of our speakers at the 2018 QRCA Annual Conference in Phoenix, Jan. 24-26; her presentation is titled, Using Data Visualization to Overcome the Customer Experience (CX) Memory Barrier. Alice's presentation is just one of many reasons to attend the conference! Register now: http://bit.ly/QRCA2018

As consumers, employees, students, and Fitbit-wearing human beings, we are being provided with more and more information every day about ourselves and how we benchmark against others—seemingly to no avail. We all know why: Data alone is never enough. But I have been obsessing about how data, in combination with an individual’s own interpretation of, or story about, that data, has the potential to unlock significant personal growth and societal change.

Let’s take the state of education in the United States, which continues to decline despite measurement of every kind. These days, there is particular panic about kids needing to develop the hard skills that will be needed to prepare them for the jobs and technology of the future, as well as the soft skills, like problem solving and leadership, that often depend on self-awareness and confidence.

A friend of mine who is a local elementary school principal sees a solution to these challenges in not only sharing students’ data with them, but in asking them to explain it, also. Knowing that students often learn best when they can relate a topic to their own experiences (known as constructivist learning theory), what kind of self-actualization could come from learning about themselves by relating their own data to their experiences? Rather than sharing discrete data points with students—test scores, attendance and awards numbers, detention and extra-curricular engagement statistics—what if we present these data back to students in a visual, time-series format and asked them to describe their journeys? How would they tell their story, and what could we learn that the data simply can’t say? What was happening at home, for example, or with friends, with teachers, with their health? Imagine if we could aggregate that unstructured data into actionable, system-wide insights—with benchmarks!

Consider the case of one boy (we'll call him Danny) at my friend's school, whose data was showing fantastic performance in his words-per-minute reading score. It wasn't until reviewing Danny's results with him that she learned he was developing a speech impediment–which was bad for Danny and producing a misleading measurement. In a powerful testament to asking kids about their view of benchmarks, as well, Danny was shown different types of stuttering and immediately identified his own. He covers his stuttering by avoiding the "Sh" sound, which he can say correctly, but it makes him anxious. He was able to articulate all of this which, the principal noted, was "pretty amazing." She added: "He is now enrolled in speech and his reading is much better." 

So, we all know that data can’t tell us everything we need, but we don’t all appreciate how it can be used to trigger memories or sharing that can, in collaboration with the person whom the data represents, fill in a much more complete story.

This idea of “numbers and narratives” holds equivalent power in the healthcare arena. What happens when we show patients a visualization of all their touchpoints with doctors, pharmacists, and facilities over the past ten years? What will they remember? How will they fill in the blanks? And how can these insights start to solve some of the biggest challenges facing healthcare today?



Tags:  customer experience  data visualization  QRCA Annual Conference 

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The Future Is Virtually Here: Virtual Reality and Research

Posted By David Bauer, Hemispheres, Monday, December 11, 2017

Researchers spend much of their time exploring the future in collaboration with consumers and idea creators. From product concepts to environmental experiences to communication ideas, we work to understand how people react to these new creations and how to improve upon them.

With the advent of virtual reality, we now have the ability to send people into worlds where they can experience these new ideas in more realistic settings. In #VR, consumers can more authentically interact with these ideas, modify them, and explore how they would use them in their own lives.

Virtual reality, along with augmented reality and mixed reality, will soon have a powerful effect on many aspects of the research field. Researchers will be able to share experiences with consumers even though one may be at home in one country while the other is in her office in another country. Consumers will be able to manipulate and build concepts in collaboration with researchers and design teams. Clients will be more engaged as they observe and interact with their consumers in these virtual experiences.

Watch David's video

I will be speaking about research and VR at #QRCA2018, the Qualitative Research Consultants Association annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona, on January 26. You can learn more about the conference at the link below or reach out to me if you would like to discuss the possibilities of VR and research.

More details about the conference: http://www.qrca.org/event/annconf2018

Tags:  augmented reality  mixed reality  QRCA Annual Conference  qualitative research  virtual reality 

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#steampunk and Qualitative Research: The Future Is Now

Posted By Michelle Finzel, Maryland Marketing Source, Inc., Wednesday, December 6, 2017

steampunk imageI am loving the theme of the upcoming QRCA Conference: Elevate and Cultivate. The promise of a consortium of professionals – each representing different phases and ways in to their qualitative research careers – eager to share their varied experiences and knowledge. It immediately brought to mind imagery of sophistication and refinement, enlightenment and growth, artistry and execution, all grounded in hard work, solid skills development, and a willingness to get one’s hands dirty.

It immediately made me think: steampunk.

Steampunk is an aesthetic portrayal of retro-yet-futuristic stories, fashion, and ideas. A “subgenre of speculative fiction...It could be described by the definition: What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner” (urbandictionary.com).

Blade Runner image
Movie still from original Blade Runner

What would the past look like if it were happening now? What would the present look like if it were in the future? What does any of this have to do with qualitative research?

Pretty much everything.

Qualitative market research is also a sub-culture within a sub-culture. It boasts its own language, its own unique sets of tools and techniques, its own artisans and inventors. Qualitative researchers access the past and join it with the present as a means to craft a variety of possible futures. And we do it with our own flair and personal style.

Hugo movie still
Movie still from Hugo

And if we are to be the leaders of our industry and for our clients, then we definitely need to make sure that we are getting our education from all different directions and decades. Our more tenured researchers have seen and done it (almost) all – they planted the seeds of what we do so that we can benefit from their fruits. We must learn from them. Millennials look at society and seek to humanize our automated methods. We must learn from them. Our younger professionals are masters of life at our fingertips and simplifying what used to be convoluted and complex. We must learn from them.

This is why I am so excited to attend the QRCA Annual Conference. These three days in Phoenix, AZ, have been artfully designed so that anyone who still has something to learn about qualitative research (namely, all of us) will have the opportunity to benefit from what happens when qualitative vets engage with qualitative next. All to elevate and cultivate us into the gritty elegance of qualitative now.

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Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  qualitative research  steampunk 

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I Underestimated the QRCA Annual Conference

Posted By Maria Virobik, ResearchScribe, Monday, November 13, 2017

I was a first-time attendee at the 2017 QRCA Conference in Los Angeles. Although I have been an independent QRC for 20 years, it wasn’t until the QRCA bylaws changed last year that I was finally (finally!) able to join the organization. I joined QRCA the day the expanded membership guidelines were announced and signed up for the conference soon after. The fact that it was taking place practically next door to me (I live in Pasadena) was just gravy.

Although it was my first QRCA conference, I was pretty certain what to expect: There would be interesting speakers and presentations, I would meet other QRCs, I would learn new things, and, of course, there would be dine-arounds. (Even though I had spent the preceding years being QRCA-adjacent, I knew about dine-arounds!)

I certainly wasn't wrong, but I definitely underestimated the magnitude. I expected “good,” even “great,” but the conference was AMAZING.

I attended presentations that filled my brain with tons of fantastic information, given by QRCs whose names I recognized as rock stars in qualitative research.

I learned new techniques and approaches and ideas. We were encouraged to approach and think about qualitative research in novel and surprising ways, and it all made me more excited about a field that I am already pretty darned excited about.

Perhaps the best part for me was connecting faces with familiar names as I finally met the colleagues “IRL” with whom I have worked with for years via phone and email. I also met many more QRCs that I only knew by name and reputation. In many cases, all I had to say was, “Wait, you’re So-and So?” and a fun and energetic conversation would take off from there.

And yes, I “dined around” and that was fabulous too – another opportunity to connect with colleagues and talk about anything and everything. Not just qualitative research or business or client issues or “work stuff,” but everything else under the sun. Dogs, favorite travel destinations, restaurant recommendations, you name it.

I came home every night too excited to sleep and couldn’t wait to get back the next morning. At the end of the conference, I had collected a stack of business cards from all the people I met, and had heard so much to inspire me and make me a better QRC. But the best part by far was the feeling throughout the entire three days that I had found “my people.” Working independently can be isolating and leave QRCs feeling like we are on our own with no backup or support, even just to commiserate about difficult projects or clients or respondents. For me, the conference was three solid days surrounded by nothing but support, collaboration, commiseration, and conversation with smart, friendly, interesting people who “get” what I do. I went expecting to meet colleagues but left with a lot of new friends as well. Needless to say, I am already booked for Phoenix in January 2018 and I can’t wait!

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  qualitative research 

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QRCA Annual Conference: Not Your Typical Event

Posted By Jennifer Dale, InsideHeads, LLC, Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Every year, all members of the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) are invited to convene at the annual conference. With so many research industry conferences to choose from, why is the annual QRCA event always top of my list?

Because it’s worth it.

The cost of my annual membership and the one-time conference fee is nominal compared to the value I derive from the experience, both personally and professionally.

Since becoming a member of QRCA in 2006, I’ve missed only one annual conference and have no plans to miss another. Each year, I joyfully eject myself from the office and immerse myself in a pool of peeps whose interest in how people think is equally piqued.

The QRCA conference is not your typical annual bash, with a slew of pushy sales presentations. Instead, topics and speakers are heavily vetted, ensuring each conference includes the most relevant, useful, and inspiring learning sessions. Dedicated vendors support the conference by displaying and demonstrating the newest tools and technology for qualitative research. And members open their arms to welcome friendly hugs and share life stories.

For all who are QRCA, see you in Phoenix this January!

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Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  qualitative research 

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Millennials and Video Ethnography: So Happy Together!

Posted By Isabelle Albanese, Consumer Truth Ltd., Thursday, October 26, 2017

Using video ethnography with Millennials is a big win for researchers and marketers. Lately Consumer Truth has done a few video ethnography projects among Millennials in three different categories. They've all yielded tremendous insight and in-depth discoveries. An interesting finding about the "marriage" of the target and the methodology is that Millennials are more than willing to share their lives via autonomous video capture and perceived self-direction. What researchers and marketers can potentially get in return is a wonderful glimpse into their homes, their personalities, relationships, interaction with friends, family members and pets—and ultimately, their truths—who they are, what matters to them and why, which is our ultimate end game.

In fact, I've found this group much more willing to share feelings, concerns, wishes and desires via self-made video stories than they are in more traditional qualitative settings. And why not? Screens are a second-nature connection to them. Screens have been their preferred conduit to communication most of their lives. Screens are familiar, controllable—their friends! And what we as marketers get back are well-crafted, casually communicated stories about how they interact with products and services—and importantly, how they feel about brands. What's real. Their truths.

In a recent project we did with Millennials, one person—after having completed the assignment—contacted us and asked what more we wanted her to do. Are we satisfied with her feedback? Did we get what we were looking for? Was there anything else we wanted her to capture on video? While I appreciated the over-achieving effort, like any qualitative researcher, I asked why she was so willing to continue contributing beyond our initial "ask." The answer shed a lot of light on the relationship this demographic has with screens, video and technology overall—and what we as marketers can learn relative to successful methodologies.

"It seemed too easy! Like I should be doing more for the money you paid me!" Understand, this was after having her complete a three-pronged exercise spanning 3 days and submitting 15 minutes of self-made video. In 17 years of researching consumer behavior, I've never once had someone contact me after an in-person ethnography (or any other methodology, for that matter) to ask if there was something else I needed to ask them or for them to do. No. That did not happen. Ever.

"It's ...easy!" And if it's "easy," isn't it also more authentic, more natural and real?

Read the full blog post, and join me at my presentation at the QRCA Annual Conference in January 2018!

Tags:  market research  Millennials  QRCA Annual Conference  video ethnography 

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The Best Conference Value Available

Posted By Janet Standen, Scoot Insights, Tuesday, October 24, 2017
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After 30 years on both the client side and the agency/consultancy side, I've been to more conferences than I care to remember, but the QRCA Annual Conference coming up in January 2018 in Phoenix is one that I will not miss. Each year, it is simply the most fun, the most welcoming, open and friendly, and the most informative of them all — that is, if you have anything to do with qualitative research and you want to remain or become one of the best qualitative practitioners out there!

It's a great chance to meet up with those I've met before, and connect with many I've worked with as a result of being a fellow QRCA member... and I always have a chance to meet a good few new QRCA members too. For the amount I get out of it in terms of business opportunities from working with other QRCA members, the amount I learn from the speakers, and the opportunity it provides to connect with all the different vendors (in a fantastically efficient way) who are part of the fabric of being able to deliver great results for my clients — it works out as the best value conference I can attend every year. I have never been disappointed.

Sometimes what I learn just helps me have the confidence that what we are offering at Scoot Insights is meeting a real need out there, but I also always walk away with things I can implement immediately (a new mobile provider, a new use for journals, a way to sharpen up share out presentations) and some things that get my brain fired up thinking about things in a new way, such as imagining myself as a "news reporter" when investigating my topic and writing up my findings! If anything, it is an over-stimulating experience — but one that's hard to beat!

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  qualitative research 

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