connections chapter news

October 2014
Vol. 13, Number 8

Remember to check out the QRCA calendar of events
for upcoming Chapter events

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
Member News


DC Chapter Learns Eye Tracking & Usability at September Meeting

The DC Metro Chapter held a lunch seminar on September 26th at Shugoll Research in Bethesda.  Remote viewers attended via FocusVision.

Bill Killam, Human Factors Engineer, presented “Eye Tracking & Usability” to an engaged audience, eager to develop or enhance eye-tracking skills and expertise.  He presented eye-tracking as an area where qualitative and quantitative disciplines collide, making the data analyses complex.

In the workshop, Mr. Killam explained and demonstrated factors that make adding eye-tracking to your practice a little more complicated.  He showed how, when, and reasons eye-tracking can provide extreme value.  Attendees enjoyed experiencing the eye-tracking technology firsthand.

Feedback from attendee Peggy Moulton-Abbott (Virginia Beach, VA):
“Just a quick note to say what a great presentation we had last Friday from Bill Killam of User-Centered Design.  I thought I knew a good deal about eye tracking, but he really ‘opened my eyes’ to a great deal more.  Kudos to Barbara Gassaway and the DC Chapter team, as well as Shugoll Research for hosting us.”

Attendees at the DC Chapter September meeting experience eye-tracking technology with presenter Bill Killam, pictured on right.

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Michigan Chapter’s Tweet Tweet

Alice Morgan,

Mary AvilesMary Aviles has got Twitter down. In early September, members of the nascent Michigan QRCA chapter assembled at GfK in Ann Arbor to attend Mary’s presentation on how to leverage Twitter.

Celebrities. Drivel. Oversharing.

This is what many of us thought Twitter offered before Mary’s presentation.

Industry/category updates. Keeping up-to-date on the information that matters to us, from sources we trust.  Getting out there as a thought leader.
This is what we learned Twitter offers after Mary’s presentation.

Some of us were relatively new to Twitter. Mary started from the beginning. She explained that Twitter is the “fire hose,” of information and as such is disorganized and unwieldy. The key to Twitter, she explained, is in the apps, particularly Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck is a Chrome-enabled interface that allows the user (Twitterer?) to organize people they follow by category, such that each column is a topic/category of interest.  Mary showed us how to create lists and even better, just appropriate someone else’s list, as a Tweetdeck column.

Other useful applications Mary reviewed include,,,,,, and instapaper.

Mary’s compelling presentation, fascinating material, and snazzy outfit thoroughly entranced the Michigan QRCA members. Mary (@connect4mary) is a Twitter rock star. We thank her, as well as Terah Farness (@pearlMRC), who founded and organizes the Michigan QRCA chapter.

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“How to Inspire Ideation” -- MN Chapter Meeting, September 22

Jean Nordgren,

Dan Sutton is one of us – he’s a qual guy and is RIVA trained. Now he leads Roundpeg Consulting, a strategic firm that helps clients create new avenues for growth. Dan recently spoke to the Minnesota Chapter on “How to Inspire Ideation.”  The meeting was held at his office which is specially laid out and furnished in a way that is conducive to ideation sessions, and was live-streamed to others via Focus Vision.

Dan shared his views on the differences between facilitation and ideation. He explained that he views facilitation as “grounding and aligning.”  In other words, exploring insights on the current reality.  On the other hand, he described ideation as “elevating and inspiring”, or exploring innovation for tomorrow. Dan cautioned that it’s impossible to do ideation without first understanding the grounding insights. If a client only has a limited budget and must choose between insights and ideation, Dan strongly supported understanding insights first.

A nugget that I picked up during the conversation was a question Dan poses to clients when he’s sharing insights. Dan asks, “If this were true, what would that mean that you would have to do differently?”

Dan shared that ideation sessions are intentionally focused on change. Acknowledging that change is risky, Dan advised that in order to ask people to change, you must first give them an idea of what they’re changing to. He explained that a compelling possibility will often stir the courage to change.

When it comes to selecting ideation participants, Dan looks for individuals who are confident, articulate, able to participate and able to be open to ideas. Dan stresses that he typically doesn’t want all “creative” thinkers in the group – as some participants need to be people involved in the actual experience being ideated.

Dan shared some of the following ideation techniques—and I think these would also be appropriate in qualitative research:

  • Celebrity shift - ask what a celebrity like Johnny Depp or Oprah Winfrey would do in a specific situation
  • Place/time shift – explore the situation from the perspective of a different place (such as the Congo) or time (such as a different time of day or a different era – like the Jetsons!)
  • Money is no object – explore how the situation would be addressed if money was no object – or on the other hand, how could the situation be addressed if there was absolutely no money?
  • Category convention – explore all of the known “conventions” of the category such as products, marketing and business model, and then disrupt those conventions by doing the exact opposite.

Dan shared his expertise on ideation and much of his wisdom can also be applied to qualitative research. Another nugget I picked up from him was his use of this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote when he meets with clients:  “What has become clear to you since we last met?”

Attendees ideating at a special white wall
Speaker Dan Sutton and attendees

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MO Chapter Meeting: Using Behavioral Economic Theory to Understand Consumer Decisions with All its Flaws

Cynthia Cluff,

MO chapter qrcaMy most distinct memory from the Microeconomics class I took in graduate school in the summer of 1983 (why do I remember these details!) was MORE IS ALWAYS BETTER. I can picture the professor with his graph on the old chalkboard, and his line going up at a perfect angle, “The more you have the better is the basis for our calculations,” he would say. It was classic economic theory based on rational consumer thinking and fit into a tidy mathematical model of consumer behavior.

Switch to the present. Behavioral economics takes into account the irrational aspect of consumer behavior.  It assumes consumer behavior is not an exact science or a tidy mathematical model but can be driven by emotions, psychological biases and prior experiences – among other things.

Jay Zaltzman, of Bureau West Marketing & Research and a QRCA Board member, shared his insights recently into how to use behavioral economic theory to strengthen our qualitative research and thereby give our clients valuable insights.

The basic tools to incorporate behavioral economics into our qualitative research, as described by Jay, are the tools of INDIRECT QUESTIONING.

Beginning with the most common and going to the less common ways that consumer behavior can be irrational, here are some indirect questioning techniques to consider in your qualitative research.

  1. Frame of reference
    Description: Consumers use information that is communicated to them, say on features and price, as their frame of reference. When new information is communicated, this can change their frame of reference and not always in a rational way.
    Qualitative application: Rather than asking consumers directly, “How likely would you be to buy this product?” present a variety of brand choices with prices and features and ask which do you buy. Do perceptual maps, have consumers describe brands as people at a party, do a shop-along, or have consumers allocate dollars based on various features.

  2. Emotional state
    Description: The consumer’s emotional state, if they are happy, upset, calm, or stressed out impacts their decision making behavior.
    Qualitative application: To go past rational decision making and tell us how they feel, give participants permission to consider emotions by using some of the following techniques:  word bubbles around a stick figure for ‘I feel,’ ‘I say,’ ‘I think.’ Have them write a love letter to a brand. Have them choose among photos showing different emotions; have them choose from among pictures and describe one that tells a story of how they feel; have them ladder up vs. ladder down; and ask why people feel this way vs. asking why they feel this way, so they can go beyond their self and logical thinking and talk about people in general, leading to more irrational insights.

  3. Power of default
    Description: If there is a default choice and the decision is fairly complex, consumers will go with the default. It is not the default aspect, but the fact that the more difficult the decision is, the more consumers go with the default answer.
    Qualitative application: Marketers want to change consumer preferences and habits and consumers want to stay with their already-made choices and habits. Ask consumers to imagine themselves using this product. Ask consumers to describe the typical customer and then compare this to themselves. Ask consumers what are the barriers to using this product and what are ways to overcome these barriers.

  4. Loss aversion
    Description: Consumers are very afraid of losing something. Consumers fall in love with what they have and inflate the worth of what they already own.
    Qualitative application: Ask consumers, “Imagine you did not have x…” Use current customers that are in love with the product to be a brand evangelist for the product. Use phrasing that emphasizes what the consumer will get – a discount – vs. phrasing that emphasizes what the consumer will lose – a price increase, a surcharge.

  5. Availability heuristic
    Description:  Consumers look at how easily they can come up with examples, say improvements and, based on that, they make judgments of how good the product or service must be.
    Qualitative application: By probing deeply and asking for reasons and explanations with the ‘tell me 10 ways to improve this product,” you can find weaknesses in their assertions that may lead to insights as to how to change consumers’ minds.

  6. Denominator neglect
    Description: This involves the impact of how a quantitative ratio is communicated.
    Saying that the risk is .0001% of children will have a negative reaction to a vaccine is not as powerful as saying one in 100,000 children receiving this vaccine will have a permanent disability.
    Qualitative application: With concept or positioning statements use relative frequencies to emphasize positives (1 in 10 people will be cured) and use abstract probabilities to soften negatives (the side effect is .01%). Be consistent across testing concept statements with how the quantitative numbers are communicated.

  7. Overconfidence
    Description: This is focusing on what we know and ignoring what we don’t know.
    Qualitative application: Approach opinion leader research with caution because they may be overly confident in their beliefs. Work with clients to get them to consider the downside of a new product. Gather the new product team and conduct a “pre-mortem” session. Ask the team to imagine that the new product is rolled out and it becomes a disaster. Ask them to write down and then discuss why it was a disaster.  This allows for the team to point out flaws in the new product and this gets over the hurdle of a culture of overconfidence that blocks negative comments. 

  8. Duration neglect
    Description: Consumers don’t remember details as much as they remember a story.
    Qualitative application: Consider ethnographic in-the-moment methods. Or consider a hybrid approach with in-the-moment feedback followed by a discussion where recall is used. You can then look for any differences between actual behavior and recalled behavior to help guide how to promote a product or service.

  9. Cognitive dissonance
    Description: This is when sequential conflicting stories force consumers to engage rational thinking rather than snap judgments.
    Qualitative application: Here we try to force consumers to be rational rather than getting them out of the rational side. Techniques could include: role playing between two different viewpoints of a brand; what would you tell the developers about this product, what would you throw away with this product; what would you tweet about this product, explain to your grandmother or mother what this product is; and what makes it good or what makes it not so good.

Gaining insight into the irrational aspects of consumer behavior by using indirect questioning techniques brings more context, more consideration to potential negatives, a better understanding of the positives, and may counterbalance a quantitative study that asks rational and direct measures (such as “how likely will you be to buy this product?”).

Thank you, Jay Zaltzman, for sharing these qualitative techniques with us and thank you to Hatch/L&E Research for hosting our QRCA Missouri Chapter meeting.

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Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter Looks to the Future of Qualitative Research

Anya Zadrozny,

What are you passionate about? How do you find the time to stay current in this industry when you are very busy? What is New Qualitative Research? On September 19th, the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter tackled these questions and more at the Reckner Associates’ offices in Mount Laurel, NJ. We were in the very capable hands of industry experts Lynn Greenberg, Liz Van Patten and Laurie Tema-Lyn as we ventured into the future of Qualitative Research. 

Lynn Greenberg, marketing research consultant and chief collaborator at DigitalQual, kicked off the meeting, delivering a captivating presentation jam-packed with information about how to thrive in the current climate of qualitative research. Lynn has had an impressive and varied career and talked with us about the importance of being able to self-evaluate, adapt, innovate, and collaborate, as we continue on our career paths. She challenged us to be honest with ourselves about our own abilities, weaknesses, goals, and realistic work opportunities. 

Extra information from the talk:

  • You can no longer be a generalist in qualitative research; you’ll have an easier time if you specialize.
  • Be more specific when you ask your clients what they want from your report and what they think the results of your research will be. Go beyond your normal contacts at the company and ask those questions of people from other departments.
  • Look for collaborators who are experts in their field. They can add value to your business and help you diversify.
  • Analyze and learn from your mistakes, but don’t get bogged down by focusing on your failures.

Next, Liz Van Patten, online research expert and head of Van Patten Research, treated us to a preview of her upcoming presentation for October’s QRCA National Conference. Her presentation is called “The New Qualitative Research: Finding the Pony.” To find out what “New Qual” is, Liz asked people of varying backgrounds, expertise and experience, what they thought the term New Qualitative Research meant. One respondent’s definition stuck out to her; “New Qual is anything that happens outside the focus room.”  During her presentation, Liz underscored the need for people to embrace technology, or at least know enough about it to make it work for them. However, New Qualitative Research is not all about technology; it’s about using the best approach during projects to get the richest insights. It seems new qualitative researchers may want to include the use of technology and gadgets in their projects, but will most certainly also need to include more unplugged, low-tech tools like imagination and creativity in their work. Liz’s full presentation will surely be a must-see event at QRCA’s National Conference in New Orleans.

Extra information from the talk:

  • Look for ways to increase the value of what you do.
  • Be very clear about what you don’t want to do, and look for collaborators who are good at the things you need to do, but don’t want to. 
  • You must stay current in your field. Go to conferences, take courses, and talk to experts in different fields.
  • Be able to find the positive within a situation.

Armed with all of this information, the Chapter concluded the meeting with a brainstorming session about how to apply it. Led by Laurie Tema-Lyn, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter Co-Chair and founder of Practical Imagination Enterprises, each attendee thought about a business challenge that they wanted to discuss with the group. Of those, two main questions were chosen and addressed - how can you spice up your report? And how can you stay relevant in the field when you have no time? The exercise was such a success, due in large part to Laurie’s facilitation, that several members suggested she repeat this format at an upcoming conference. Below are some highlights from our brainstorming sessions.

How to spice up your report:

  • Don’t call it a moderator report. Stay up to date on the industry’s current language and use it when pitching to prospective clients and writing reports.
  • Keep your report concise. Don’t just stick to a linear narrative. Lead with your most important findings. 
  • Don’t use clip art. Visuals should be used to enrich your report, so make sure they aren’t just there to take up space or look pretty.
  • Be focused on key actionable insights.
  • Figure out what your clients expect from your report, before you create it.

How to stay relevant when you have no time:

  • Cultivate a set of quick reference resources that you can refer to, from online references like the QRCA Forum, LinkedIn groups, and TED talks, to books and mentors.
  • Set a goal for how you want to keep relevant. Then budget in time on your calendar and track your progress.
  • Team up with people who have the same goal, and meet on a regular basis.
  • Know when to cut your losses and focus your time and energy on something different.

Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter meeting presenters and attendees. Back row, left to right: Irene Forssen, Beth Pesson, Anya Zadrozny, Mindy Richards, Betsy Sicher, Karen King, Karen Zimmerman, Mark Wheeler, Jeff Dubin.  Front row, left to right: Lynn Greenberg, Liz Van Patten, Laurie Tema-Lyn, Bonnie Perry.

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Rocky Mountain Chapter Upcoming Meeting: Conference Recap and Sharing

Sidney Clewe,

Photo courtesy of John Clewe

The next Rocky Mountain Chapter meeting will be a fascinating time for those who are going to the Annual Conference to share what they learned with those who are unable to attend.

We are very lucky to have two of our chapter members be presenters (Carol Kauder and Ted Kendall) at the conference this year so we'll be able to ask questions directly of the experts!

You can look forward to getting your brain juices flowing with discussion (and food and some post-meeting social beer drinking time of course - we are the Rocky Mountain Chapter after all!).

More details and information to come, so keep an eye out for an email blast and info on the Rocky Mountain Chapter page on the QRCA website. It looks like the meeting will be held during the second week in November, so pencil it in!

Anyone in the Rocky Mountain region is welcome. If you are interested in getting involved with this chapter or would like to hear more information about our events, please contact Sidney at Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Texas & Friends Chapter “Wears” Technology at September Meeting

Kelly Heatly

The Texas & Friends Chapter's Meeting on September 26 in Dallas dazzled and amazed attendees who were not familiar with the latest consumer tracking devices available to qualitative researchers. 

Member Mike Courtney and Carl Ott of Aperio Insights presented "Sensors, Wearable Technology & Other New Tools” at Schlesinger Associates Dallas, streamed by FocusVision.  Mike and Carl showed attendees, firsthand, a variety of cutting edge measurement technologies used to track consumer behavior in various settings: retail, home, or any other venue of interest to marketing researchers. 

To follow is a snapshot of technologies presented:

BEACONS: Uses Bluetooth to identify device location to trigger an action such as a coupon offer pushed to a smart phone.  Beacons could be used to determine the frequency of visits to a particular retailer or location within a store.
HEAT MAPPING: Measures crowd density at designated locations over a specific period of time. This could be used to evaluate the effectiveness of store layout, shelf design, and visual merchandising.
PATH MAPS: Tracks the path people take through a retail space and answers such questions as: What do consumers see first? What do they miss?
WI-FI ANALYTICS: Identifies unique and repeat visitor traffic based on wireless device usage. By tracking the unique identifiers of smart phones via Wi-Fi, a special device determines how frequently customers visit (or don’t visit) a specific retail area.

The presentation offered attendees first glimpse at technologies that could very well shape the future of qualitative research.  Everyone enjoyed “sampling” the devices, including the new Google Glass that offers many mobile research applications.

Thank you to Nancy Ashmore and her team at Schlesinger Associates Dallas for hosting us.  And thank you to Monika Orr for providing FocusVision live streaming.

tx chapter
Texas Chapter members and guests showing tracking devices, sensors, and wearable technology. (Left to right) Michael Selz, James Burke, Anthony Dominguez, Danelia Argueta, Cheryl Halpern, Myungjin Chung, Kelly Heatly, Mike Courtney, and Carl Ott.

Attendees trying out Google Glass:

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Eastern Canada Chapter’s “5 à 7” in Montreal

Pascal Patenaude,

On Wednesday, September 17, the Marketing Research Intelligence Association Quebec Chapter organized a cocktail/presentation at an Italian Pub in the trendy Griffintown district of Montreal.  In an effort to bring together both organizations, the QRCA Eastern Canada Chapter took advantage of this event to invite their members to meet.

During this ‘5 à 7’—a French expression referring to the after work time, 5pm to 7pm, where one would have a drink and chat before dinner—several QRCA members got to catch up about their summer vacations and discuss the upcoming conference in NOLA.  While a few will not be able to join us, excitement towards this upcoming event is palpable.

Stéphane Mailhiot from the local LG2 agency presented the importance of a brand’s origin and how the halo of a famous place or celebrity could be transferred to a brand thereby increasing its perceived value. 

Our next chapter meeting will be held in New Orleans with six members in attendance so far. 

The Eastern Canada Chapter members are very much looking forward to seeing you all there to let ‘les bons temps rouler’!!

Daniel Brousseau (MRIA Quebec Chapter Chair) is presenting Stephane Mailhiot, our guest speaker for the event.

Left to right: Anne-Marie Filion, Pascal Patenaude (current Eastern-Canada co-chair) and our former chapter chair Guylaine Bakerdjian (from behind). Present but not appearing: Stéphane Rivard (taking the picture) and Cedrick Hached.

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