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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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QRCA Annual Conference Preview: Using a Behavioral Economics Lens to Research Behavior

Posted By Lauren McCrae, Lux Insights, Inc., Wednesday, October 25, 2017
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Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler have both won the Nobel Prize in Economics for their work on behavioural economics, and since Thinking, Fast & Slow was published in 2011, discussion of the systematic biases in how humans think has become mainstream in the market research field. But is being aware of these biases the only thing market researchers need to do in order to obtain better insights?

I argue that we need to understand all the influences on human behaviour, beyond just what goes on in people’s heads, in order to structure our research so that we can truly understand decision-making. This includes the physical and social context in which decisions are made, the skills and capabilities individuals have, as well as their internal motivations, whether those are conscious or subconscious. How can we understand all of this through our research?

Here are a few approaches to help get a more complete picture of what drives behaviour, without introducing bias by asking participants directly:

§ Spend more time on introductions understanding how participants see themselves in general, probing on areas you want to know more about. It’s amazing how much you can learn from asking in an open-ended way for someone to describe themselves.

§ Ask family or friends about participants’ personalities. Spouses, parents and friends can all provide a different context, and reveal important traits of participants about which participants themselves may be unaware.

§ Ask about experiences that are similar to, but not exactly the behaviour you are researching. For example, if you want to understand online purchasing behaviour, find out about what participants do online in general, and why.

I will be talking more about the factors that influence behaviour, and how to create a discussion guide that will help you uncover the major influencers, at the QRCA annual conference in Phoenix taking place January 24-26, 2018. Please join me in Phoenix to learn more: www.qrca.org/2018


Tags:  behavioral economics  Daniel Kahneman  human behavior  qualitative research  Richard Thaler 

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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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Under 35? Applying for a Young Professional Grant Is a Must

Posted By Elizabeth Marconi, Catapult Marketing Group, LLC, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
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Applications are now open for the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) Young Professionals Grant (YPG). Fifteen grants will be awarded to young professional qualitative researchers 35 years and younger to attend the QRCA’s 2018 Annual Conference: Elevate & Cultivate, to be held January 24-26 in Phoenix, AZ, a USD $1,300 value, funded by partners Schlesinger Associates, M/A/R/C Research and FocusVision.

Receiving the QRCA’s Young Professionals Grant was a distinct honor that came at the perfect time in my career. I had been working for four years at a large marketing research supplier and had been seriously considering joining my mother’s small qualitative consulting firm. At the 2015 conference in Orlando, I was able to speak with other independent consultants who offered encouragement and concrete advice. I also met a number of other parent-child MR pairings that really made me feel like part of a well-worn tradition. I made the career transition soon after the conference and haven’t looked back.

From the first activity – the “speed dating” between first-timers and mentors – I felt energized by the collective enthusiasm and vitality that filled the grand hall. Everyone was eager to learn about my background, interests and career goals – not surprising given that qualitative researchers are a naturally inquisitive breed. It was immediately apparent that QRCA members are genuinely vested in everyone’s professional success and personal happiness.

The sessions at the conference struck the perfect balance for me between practical and theoretical subject areas. As a former academic nerd in college, I appreciated the high-level presentations on more abstract topics like consumer behavior. In addition, the numerous sessions on everyday tips and tricks helped me leave with a significantly expanded market research toolkit.

I officially joined QRCA after the conference and have enjoyed deepening my involvement with the national group and my local Philadelphia chapter. The leadership team at the conference made it clear that there is opportunity for any member to actively contribute to QRCA, regardless of experience level. During my first year in QRCA, I contributed to VIEWS magazine and participated in the YPG committee. Over the past year, I became Treasurer of the Philly chapter, co-chair of the Membership Committee and participated in both the Conference and Young Professionals Committees.

I highly recommend that young professionals take advantage of this unique program. You will assuredly come away with a few new connections and a renewed excitement for qualitative research.

Visit qrca.org/YPG to apply or learn more.  Applications are due November 1, 2017.

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Tags:  QRCA  qualitative research  young professionals grant 

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Design Thinking Tools for Qualitative Researchers

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 17, 2016
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Qualitative research consultants (QRCs) are experts at delivering customer experience-based insight. A sister discipline, Design Thinking (DT) grapples with the conundrum of how to inspire design, stirring the pot enough to generate fresh new approaches. QRCA members Marta Villanueva and Ellen Koronet write that when QRCs integrate DT processes into qualitative research, we reach whole new levels of insight. In their article in the Spring 2016 issue of QRCA VIEWS magazine, Marta and Ellen talked to Ela Ben-Ur, a DT expert and former IDEO team leader, to explain more.

They note that insight and empathy are critical elements of qualitative research and design thinking. The intention of both is to integrate visceral or empathic connections into the process of observing, exploring, coming up with new views, and then taking the next step into designing solutions. This requires tapping into three main modes of expression: Visual, Verbal and Physical.

Read the full article here.

Tags:  design thinking  expression  physical  qrca views  qualitative research  thinking tools  verbal  views article  visual 

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Exploring whether we need humans to do qualitative research

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Exploring whether we need humans to do qualitative research

In a thought-provoking article published in the QRCA VIEWS magazine, Cynthia W. Jacobs explores whether we still need humans to do qualitative research. There’s a growing focus on “listening” to social media, and – in part forced by the volume of data generated this way – we see automated methods replacing human-powered analysis. There are two questions to consider here. First, who are we hearing and not hearing when we “listen” to social media? Second, what are we missing or misinterpreting when we rely on automated analysis?

The high-volume, free insights generated by social media will go to waste if we don’t use caution in interpretation. Regardless of the tool, it is critical that we don’t rely on the overall summary. Read the article for more details on the role of human-powered analysis vs. automated social listening methods and why the role of the qualitative researcher has a great new importance.

Tags:  analysis  cynthia jacobs  data  human-powered  humans  qrca views  qualitative research  social media 

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