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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: FG BnB!

Posted By Brooke Bower, Thursday, May 21, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: FG BnB!

Presenters: Abby Leafe, New Leafe Research and Laurie Tema-Lyn, Practical Imagination Enterprises

Summary

At the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference, presenters Abby Leafe and Laurie Tema-Lyn asked all of us “What happens when you bring the sharing economy to the world of research?” Turns out, a lot of exciting things! Throughout the session, Abby and Laurie creatively (and practically!) presented how we can use alternative venues for conducting qualitative research such as AirBnB and Peerspace and how to ensure that a project is a success once the right space is identified.

The engaging session provided real world instances of this method. Both Abby and Laurie utilized their own experiences using unique spaces to conduct qualitative research throughout, including an instance where an LA mansion proved to be the ideal setting for three days of focus groups and client innovation sessions for a start-up client on a budget, leading to development of a pipeline of new product ideas, some of which are now in the marketplace. As they pointed out, not everything is sunshine and roses when utilizing these spaces. Both Abby and Laurie highlighted some hard-earned learnings about how to avoid problems and ensure our sanity when working in a new space that may not be set up for our research.

Key Takeaways

Non-traditional locations can be great for the right project. The project should have a very specific reason for choosing a non-traditional venue and all logistics associated with the venue need to be explored and planned for. The general elements to consider include:

  • How to get there: for clients, respondents, and the researchers.
  • Comfort: what is needed to make the research comfortable and is there enough privacy for the structure of the research.
  • Technology needed: can be the biggest factor to consider.
  • Budget: sometimes non-traditional locations can be a cost saver, but researchers must think through everything you need to bring that might be in a traditional facility,  i.e. multiple types of creamer, buying easels/office supplies, bringing in snacks and meals, staffing the location to have a facility manager.
  • The intangibles: the ambiance fit for the project, your gut feeling.

If all of these are considered and it is a fit for the project, the right place can help stimulate creativity and engage the mind in different activities, communicating to clients and respondents it is not business as usual!

A key tip from both Abby and Laurie was to thoroughly prepare the clients and respondents for the venue. Overcommunicate about it. Write a letter to the respondents introducing yourself as the moderator, telling them about the purpose of the research and why it is being held in the non-traditional location, and how to get there with special parking instructions.

Aha Moment

The fun, non-traditional location can strengthen the depth of your connection with your client as it takes you out of the standard business setting (i.e. debriefing in a luxury LA mansion by the pool after the respondents have left!). This presentation really broadened my mind and encouraged me to think more creatively when I am looking for research venues!

Final Comments

The topic of this presentation was creative and provided fresh ideas to re-energize research projects!

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Brooke Bower, Independent Research Consultant

Tags:  focus groups  human behavior  Humanizing Research  market research  marketing research  mobile research  Moderating  outreach  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative Methodologies  Research Methodologies  research methodology 

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Re-Thinking the Rules of Engagement for Virtual Research Theatre

Posted By Roben Allong and Barbara Hairston, Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Re-Thinking the Rules of Engagement for Virtual Research Theatre

by Roben Allong and Barbara Hairston

 (Photo credit: Julia M. Cameron)
(Photo credit: Julia M. Cameron)

 

Savvy qualitative researchers are not waiting for new normal to emerge. They are re-thinking engagement rules before they step back into the research theatre, post COVID-19. Engaging consumers post-crisis — when experiences across racial, ethnic, employment, and geographic lines are newly imprinted and quite disparate — is an opportunity to re-calibrate the way we conduct qualitative research, whether in-person or online. To state the obvious, no one has been left untouched by the pandemic’s sudden disruption of human behavior and norms; this requires a new look at the rules for qual research interaction. 

While participants are available and willing to talk, many are still in crisis physically, mentally, and even financially. Qual researchers should not expect that study participants will be mindfully available or fully cogent in responses, especially given their disparate experiences. Post-COVID-19 study designs will require that we look beyond traditional methodologies and techniques. This post will outline five guidelines that can be deployed to elevate engagement for a more insightful studywhether in-person or virtual. These may already be familiar but are worth revisiting; how we apply them in this new normal may also help us elevate the practice.  

Firstbe as transparent as possible to re-establish trustBasic trust between people has been severely upendedTransparency is needed now, more than ever; that includes reassuring participants of the protocols that are in place to ensure participants’ physical and mental health before starting your focus group or interview interactionMeeting vulnerable communities where they are is imperative to rebuild trust. Clearly express participation expectations and also acknowledge that the crisis has had an impact. This is especially important for online video studies where building effective rapport in a virtual environment requires greater specificity and clarity. Transparency helps reduce fear of the unknown and the unexpected that participants may not even realize they are harboring since the advent of COVID-19.  

Second, create and enforce no judgement zone that supports study participants as they share their truth, that may even be new to them. Avoid unconscious bias. Be especially mindful of how you ask questions; choose your words and examples carefully. Tap into unfamiliar emotions that they are feeling and expressing freely without judgement. Don’t assume that what you do in personthe tone, body language and energy you radiate to encourage respondent rapport and engagementis easily transferred to a video platform. There is distance between you and participants and between participants themselves. Subtle body movements, tones, whispers, eye expressions that we noticed and took for granted can go undetected in a virtual focus room. Paying even closer attention is mandatory. Think about the things you do that work well for you in person and how you can effectively alter and adapt them to the virtual environment.  

Thirdbe authentically empatheticDon’t assume that this is participant’s first Zoom “rodeo of the day nor that they are a pro at video callingThey are still living full lives and despite agreeing to take part in the research study, may not be fully present. Allow yourself to feel how being unemployed or working from home, fielding multiple conference calls, applying for jobs online, managing team remotely or household with everyone in it simultaneously, or home-schooling children for the first time, informs their attitudes and perceptions. Be patient and build in extra time for them to collect themselves and their thoughts.  

In order to get a full understanding of mindset and behavior changes, it important to not only have a good representation but also cultural understanding across all ethnicities in order to uncover the hidden stories that lead to critical insights and innovation. Make it a priority to be mindful that, because of racial, ethnic, gender, disabilities, and economic disparities, the pandemic has had a disparate impact on various segments. Build a strong, sharing, and meaningful connection by better understanding diverse cultures and validating unique experiences. 

Fourthincrease pivot-ability. As clients and brands pivot toward quick data insights from quantitative because itrelatively inexpensive and fast, accelerated qual interviews and even faster analysis and reporting will soon be the norm. However, qual by definition is not fast. Getting to the deep emotional recesses of the mind and memory takes time. As Einstein advised more than 100 years ago, time is relative. Pivoting to nimble online tech tools that combine and speed up parts of the qual methodology (such as fielding hybrid studies, insight gathering, analysis, and reporting) is essentialOur current fast-paced climate does not allow for clients to fully “embrace” the qual process, nor do some want toTo meet those emerging needswants, and expectations with more speed and acuity than before, qual researchers need to re-think their process and deliverables.  

Fifthbe even more curious. Everything around us is changing. The past, in many cases, is only a reference point. The more we hear from participants, the broader our understanding will be of the evolving impact of COVID 19. That means we have to be more curious and avoid the temptation to make assumptions. Try to really understand that things that were once tried and true may no longer hold that position, in the minds of respondents. Things that they believed were once under their control, no longer are. Where they felt safe before, even to the point of taking things for granted, they don’t anymore. There has been a paradigm shift. Explore ways to better understand and accurately interpret the new context from the eyes, ears, and circumstances of our study participants. 

COVID-19 has changed the rules of human interaction — which is the equivalent of a seismic shift in qualitative research. COVID-19’s forced contact deprivation coupled with the accelerated wide acceptance of video calling for both business and personal use has hastened a rethinking of how, when, who, and why we connect virtuallyAs the frequency of online qual research accelerates, we have a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to adapt what we know and create new best practices to facilitate a different, deeper, more meaningful interaction in a virtual environment. Obviously, the ideas presented here are by no means exhaustive but are designed to spark alternative thinkingAs you ruminate on all the possibilities, what approaches are you are re-thinking for this new post-COVID-19 research theater engagement? 

Roben AllongRoben Allong considers herself a research spelunker focused on exploring what lurks deep in the caverns of the global cultural zeitgeist. As CEO of Lightbeam Communciations, she is an innovative researcher with over a decade of knowledge and trend expertise across a broad spectrum of consumers, brands and industries. She is currently QRCA Board member and Chair of QRCA New York Metro Chapter. 

linkedin.com/in/robenallong 
twitter.com/trendiwendii 
IG @roben_the_researcher 

Barbara HairstonBarbara Hairston has a broad base of experience and expertise conducting studies for public health education, K-12 education, higher education, and social issues clients. Through her firm Resources International Inc., she conducts research using a variety of online and face-to-face methodologies to deliver the best possible research solutions among adults/seniors, general market and African American segments, physicians and allied health providers, and stakeholders.  

Linkedin.com/in/Barbara-kinlaw-hairston-32761a7 
Twitter.com/KinLawBH 

Tags:  communication  mobile research  QRCA Digest  Qualitative Methodologies  Qualitative Methods  Remote Market Research 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Street Research: Learning from Humans at the Intersection of Authenticity and Insights

Posted By Aimee Caffrey, Thursday, May 14, 2020
Updated: Thursday, May 14, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Street Research: Learning from Humans at the Intersection of Authenticity and Insights

Presenters: Kelly Heatly, Heatly Custom Research, LLC and Jill Matthews, Bright Cactus, LLC

Summary

In the session on Street Research at the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference, Kelly Heatly and Jill Matthews introduced place-based or street research. Discussion centered around effective applications for place-based research and best practices for successful execution, including low- and high-tech tools for on-site data collection and analysis/reporting. Utilizing a series of case study examples, Kelly and Jill demonstrated the unique value of its inclusion in the qualitative researcher’s toolkit.

Key Takeaways

With applications ranging from understanding the consumer purchase journey or shopper experience to visual merchandising, signage testing, sensory testing, or simply meeting hard-to-reach participants where they are, street research is about identifying opportunities to capture meaningful customer feedback in the moments that matter. Some key points I took away from this engaging and informative presentation are:

  • Street research is often one of three types:
  • Live, interactive, in-person (the most traditional)
  • Synchronous, tech-mediated (virtual moderation via video conferencing software or a research-specific platform while a participant is in-store, at the shelf, etc.)
  • Asynchronous, tech-mediated (participation via mobile app or browser).
  • Regardless of whether one is leveraging an in-person approach, a wholly tech-mediated approach, or something in-between, it is crucial to plan with the end in mind and align with your client as early as possible on the following:
  • Objectives
  • Participation/responsibilities in the field
  • Reporting and deliverables
  • Timing
  • Inclusion and quality of video recording
  • While traditional, in-person research is often the most logistically complicated, each approach requires deliberate design and preparation. This entails thinking carefully about where the research will/should unfold, relevant legalities, issues of permission and recruitment, staffing on-site, and technological preparedness (e.g. packing chargers, having a plan for storing videos, etc.). Entertaining as many “what if’s” as possible and devising contingency plans accordingly is essential.
  • When it comes to in-person research with pre-recruited participants, clearly communicate an exact meeting place and, for any in-person street research, always dress appropriately for the environment.
  • Successful street researchers accept that the chaos of the real world is a double-edged sword. It can serve as both the greatest evidence of authenticity and the greatest interference to the best-laid research plans. Remaining flexible and prepared to improvise can mean the difference between being thwarted by the unexpected and using it to propel one toward meaningful insights.

Aha Moment

#1: Having participants wear Snapchat Spectacles to collect in-the-moment data?! LOVE it!

#2 Reminder: Always consider local laws around capturing video/photo without permission.

Final Comments

In addition to helping me think through some of the fundamental considerations to be made when conducting street research, Kelly and Jill offered some great tips on the fly that I will definitely keep in mind the next time I’m involved in or supporting this kind of research! These include having a pre-paid phone just for research purposes (e.g. calling/texting with participants) and finding simple but meaningful ways (e.g. bring in a box of donuts!) to build rapport with front-line staff whose work the research may be disrupting.

As expected, an informative and fascinating presentation by two inspiring Quallies. Thank you, Kelly Heatly and Jill Matthews!

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Aimee Caffrey, Bain & Company, Inc.

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Reporter on the Scene  Research technology  Research Methodologies  research methodology 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: WhatsApp, the Front Row Seat to Consumer Engagement

Posted By Allyson Sovinsky, Thursday, May 7, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: WhatsApp, the Front Row Seat to Consumer Engagement

Presenter: Mpho Mpofu, Masutane Consulting Services

Summary

With an eager desire to connect with, feel and understand the lives of consumers in South Africa, Mpho Mpofu set out to find a way to gain a front row seat to their world. In a county confronted with a host of limitations – low levels of education, unstable connectivity, limited access to and use of computers, the intimidation of technology, high cost of data, and language barriers – “traditional methods” of conducting qualitative research would prove to be unviable. So, what was the answer? WhatsApp.

Her quest led her to a platform that would offer a multidimensional but non-intrusive lens to consumers’ lives using text, audio and video connections. WhatsApp has become the preferred form of communication in emerging markets around the world with individuals using it on a daily basis to share all the different moments of their lives. Compared to traditional research platforms, this is something these consumers already relate to, making them feel comfortable and in control, setting the stage for a greater willingness to share. WhatsApp is an agile, intimate and affordable method that allows us to be a part of a consumer’s day from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed. It allows us to experience in real-time the influences and circumstances that shape their decision-making, capture consumer emotion and provide a degree of anonymity for consumers. While it is limited to exploratory research, it offers a greater geographic reach and remote engagement capabilities for unlimited insight gathering.

Key Takeaways

In order to step inside the lives of humans around the world, we must leverage the familiarity and relevance of the current methods they are using to engage in their everyday lives. WhatsApp is always there, especially when computers are not. It’s not without its limitations, but it is a step in the right direction in our efforts to keep qual human and engage with our responds in their own context.

In a time where unique ways of doing research are becoming more relevant, WhatsApp is a current, agile, familiar and affordable method of research that we should all be adding to our repertoire of methodologies.

Aha Moment

What I learned in Mpho Mpofu's session has opened my eyes to the world of possibilities that are out there for qualitative research. I will keep the WhatsApp method in mind, as well as search for others, for when we need familiar, accessible and affordable means of reaching key consumer targets. While we don't do a ton of global research currently within my company, this method may open doors to making it more possible than ever.

In the world of qualitative research, we don't have to be confined to the people or places we can reach in person. With advancement in technology, we can get to the places we never thought we could reach.

Final Comments

In our quest to keep qual human, we must make take conscious efforts to meet people in their own context, in the depths of their world, in their everyday moments. WhatsApp is just one of many tools that we can use to reach the places we never thought possible.


QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Allyson Sovinsky, MarketVision Research

Tags:  Market Research Technology  marketing research  marketing technology  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Research Methodologies  research methodology  technology solutions 

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Quarantine Connections: How Virtual Coffees Can ‘Brew’ Renewed Connections

Posted By Cynthia Harris , Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Quarantine Connections: How Virtual Coffees Can "Brew" Renewed Connections

When stay-at-home orders went into place in Ohio, I immediately felt sadness as I had hoped to do more in-person qualitative work and workshops this year. After traveling for the past year and focusing on digital methodologies, I was excited to connect live with consumers and colleagues in-person again in 2020.

As a naturally curious researcher, I began to think through how I could stay connected with consumers and clients while still honoring the mandates to mitigate COVID-19. “I can still deeply connect with consumers and colleagues virtually… After all, that’s solely what I’ve been doing while traveling the world for the past year!” While my Plan A had to be tabled, I had a new, intriguing idea that began to emerge.

Enter Plan B... my idea to have 30 virtual coffees with 30 different people within the next 30 days.

Little did I know I would learn so much from this experience about how to creatively plan research occasions, how to stay in touch with colleagues digitally and how to keep the human spirit alive despite social distancing.

Here are the top five things I learned:

  1. People are enthusiastic to connect: I was blown away by how many people were eager to catch up. From former colleagues to college friends to mentees I had not caught up with in a while, it was such a joy to reconnect with people who have meant a lot to me over the years. Do not underestimate the fact that we are all looking for connection during this time. People will be enthusiastic to catch up with you!
  2. Innovative ideas can come through casual conversation: During one of my coffee chats, a client and I tossed around ideas for how to tackle an upcoming research objective. We were not talking through a specific brief. We have not even booked the work (yet). But, I do think we gained a deeper rapport with one another because we entered a deeper “circle of trust”’ Use this time to pursue depth with people. It is mutually appreciated!
  3. Using a calendar service: Sure, I had heard of calendar services like Calend.ly and you can book me. But it was not until my “30 for 30” quest that I used a calendar service. And, my oh my, it was the point guard to my playbook! I am now convinced that leveraging one of these services is an incredible way to broaden conversations with clients and potential clients in a way that is convenient for you and them.
  4. Digital rapport-building is a craft: Though I have spent the past year focused primarily on digital research, this experience reaffirmed my belief that engaging authentically online requires skill. Sure, there are lots of articles on “how to design your background and how to have proper lighting,” but truly connecting with audiences via screens takes practice. Spending time with people over virtual coffees can help you build this muscle if digital moderating is something you aspire to given our current working conditions.
  5. Everyone is learning something new these days: I was amazed that each conversation I had resulted in me taking a note or two to research further. I learned about a community garden in my neighborhood; I learned more about GDPR; and more! My point is, we all are exploring new topics these days and you can learn so much from others. Instead of getting straight to business, find out what your clients might be expanding into these days.

In the book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi states, “Wherever you are in life right now and whatever you know, is a result of the ideas, experiences and people you have interacted with in your life.”

My plan B ended up being a foray into renewed relationships, creative thinking, and potential future business. While we may be quarantined and craving in-person connection, I encourage you to consider a Virtual Coffee quest of your own. You will likely cherish each conversation and perhaps learn something new. Embrace Plan B. Something beautiful might be brewing inside Plan B.

Author Bio:
Cynthia Harris is the founder of 8:28 Consulting, a boutique qualitative research and marketing strategy company focused on designing digital and in-person experiences to amplify the voice of consumers. Cynthia’s career spans market research and marketing experiences across many categories ranging from health and beauty to the food industry. She is passionate about advocating for consumers in creative ways. Cynthia has an MBA from the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.

Email: cynthia@the828firm.com

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/cdharris

Instagram: @hello828consulting

Tags:  digital research  human behavior  humanizing research  QRCA Digest  qualitative research 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: 2020 Qually Award Final Presentations

Posted By Rodrigo dos Reis, Thursday, April 16, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: 2020 Qually Award Final Presentations

Finalist Presenters:

Barb Paszyn and Mike D’Abramo, Sklar Wilton & Associates

Jillian Domin and Leah Lowe, Hypothesis Group

Maria Virobik, ResearchScribe

Summary of Conference Session

Since 2011, QRCA has found a way to honor fellow creative problem solvers with a unique industry award affectionately known as the “Qually” Award. At the 2020 Annual Conference all in attendance had the excellent chance to hear from the finalists for the 2020 Qually Award.

Centered on the theme of alleviating traffic congestion in the world’s busiest cities, the three presenting groups presented three great takes on how qualitative practices can be leveraged to improve quality of life for many while overcoming stakeholder barriers and ultimately generating behavioural change. This session gave all attendees great perspectives and tools that they can utilize in their own practice.

Key Session Takeaways

While there were many takeaways from the three sessions, some of the key highlights for me included:

  • Technology, even hardware, as a better way to connect clients to consumer needs and real pain point.
  • Find the real decision makers and understand real world solutions and barriers so premature death of ideas can be prevented.
  • Exploring big ideas like luxury on a conceptual level so they can be leveraged to me more enticing.
  • Mixing demographic, behavioural and attitudinal segmentation — a complex combination of barriers calls for a more thorough approach.
  • Leveraging longer term data collection through communities so participants have time to reflect on the subject after repeated experiences, giving them second and third chances to provide further insight.

I personally liked how utilizing recent technology (but hardware rather than a new platform) was considered as a better way to connect clients to consumer needs and real pain points.

One of the presentations highlighted how important it can be to involve the real decision makers and specialists and having an in-depth, technical perspective of what has been tried and what can really be done in order to avoid ideas being killed too early on. I also enjoyed the idea of exploring wide concepts like luxury, so they can be leveraged to be more enticing for those interacting with future products and services and drive how these will be designed.

For complex subjects with a lot of nuance, it's a great idea to mix demographic, behavioural and attitudinal subgroups — a more thorough approach can cover more particular pain points more effectively. For some issues, it's a great idea to leverage longer term data collection through communities so participants have time to reflect on the subject after repeated experiences, so they potentially offer more insight.

Putting it into Practice

While the presenters were competing for the Qually Award, their takeaways were key and had me thinking about how I can elevate my own qualitative practice. I intend to combine more of my own experience with consumers' — simultaneous ethnographic and observation. I value the approach one presenter took of taking longer on data collection for subjects involving repeating, daily experiences so participants have longer to reflect. This was also the most relevant use of 360 cameras applied to qual I have seen until now.

Aha Moment

There were many “aha moments” throughout the presentations, but my favorite was that a great way to immerse clients in the user's context is using 360 cameras through the commuting journey.

Final Comments

All three presentations were great in their own ways and each had a fresh perspective for taking on the transit issue. I appreciate all the time each group took to put together their presentations. I can’t wait to see what the 2021 Qually Award challenge is!

Read more about the Qually Awards: https://www.qrca.org/page/qually_award

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Rodrigo dos Reis, Zeitgeist

Tags:  market research  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative Methods  Qually Award  Qually Award Winners  research methodology 

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Deep Listening: 10 ways to strengthen connection while social distancing

Posted By Marta Villanueva, Friday, April 10, 2020

Deep Listening: 10 ways to strengthen connection while social distancing

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Standing on a busy corner in Los Angeles with a “free listening” sign was a humbling experience. This was not an experiment in rejection—though I experienced much of that. It was an experiment to engage in conversation with perfect strangers on the street with no other goal than to listen deeply. This required stretching my listening muscles into uncertainty and ambiguity.

This experiment was led by Urban Confessional as part of a QRCA Conference. I have conducted thousands of sessions as a qualitative researcher, which have made me an expert at listening and asking thoughtful questions. My frequent “free listening” via phone or video call to meet the global need for connection these past weeks has further flexed my listening muscles.

COVID-19 has caused a collision of our business and personal worlds in myriad ways. The slurry of emotions being stirred up by this crisis is spilling over into our work. Deep listening on the job is now more important than ever, because our emotions carry a powerful weight. Left unchecked, they can negatively impact our interactions. Compound that with social distancing and we find ourselves in a situation ripe for negativity.

  1. The Good News: Deep Listening Can Overcome the Negative Impact of Social Distancing
    Overcoming the hardships of social distancing requires deliberate connection with those around us. Deep listening can form a bridge to compassion and empathy—much needed gifts in our current reality. Communication with those around you must reflect an understanding which stems from deep listening. This is especially critical for anyone in a leadership role.

  2. The Hurdle: Deep Listening Doesn’t Just Happen; It Requires You to Deliberately Follow a Set of Key Steps
    The following guidelines will provide direction to strengthen your relationships through the practice of deep listening, especially while social distancing.

  3. Bring awareness to the situation.
    Check in with yourself before engaging in deep listening and throughout the conversation. Acknowledge and process any biases toward the person or situation; writing them down can be helpful. Bring awareness to these biases and focus on releasing them as best you can. Ensure you are not engaging in deep listening with the goal of fixing the person’s situation. Focus only on authentic listening.

  4. Set the stage for listening.
    Put aside any distractions. Pretend this conversation is the only thing happening in the whole world. That is how intentional you need to be. Check your body language, even if your listening is on the phone. Your body language can impact your engagement level. When the person can see you, your body language needs to communicate support, encouragement, and active listening. Set your intention for deep listening. Are you listening to connect, understand, or for a different purpose? Decide and commit to staying with that intention.

  5. Monitor your listening.
    Be intentional in regarding the other person’s experience over your own. If your mind starts to wander, redirect it. This can be done with a clarifying question (“How did that make you feel?” “What else is going on?”) or through the use of supportive body language (nodding, eye contact).

  6. Explore and clarify.
    Your questions need to be open and free from judgment. Sometimes a simple, “Say more about that” can be enough to achieve full understanding. Clarifying questions seek to authentically understand further. Make sure that what you are taking in matches what they are saying. Your clarifying questions will help you understand the situation deeply.

  7. Allow space for full-out venting.
    After the person has finished talking, you want to make sure they got everything out that needed to be said. Ask: “Is there anything else?” If there is, you need to go back to listening while deferring judgment. Continue asking if there is anything else until the answer is “no;” you can use this as an indicator to turn your focus to the emotion.

  8. Uncover the emotion.
    To gain complete understanding, you need to get at the emotion behind the situation. Ask: “How does this make you feel?” Once the emotion is expressed, your job is to validate it. Suppose the emotion expressed is sadness; you need to think about a situation that elicited the same emotion (a shared situation is the most impactful). Ask: “Is the sadness you feel similar to the time your son broke his ankle or closer to when you were taken off the new business project?” “On a scale of 1 to 10, how sad do you feel?” “What color would you associate with your sadness?” Ask exploratory questions until you truly understand the emotion associated with the situation. This step is key in not only validating the emotion, but also ensuring the person feels completely heard.

  9. Be open to silence.
    While deep listening, you will talk less and listen more. Pauses may seem interminably long. You may feel uncomfortable, awkward, or even like you want to run. Stay with it. Honor the person by holding yourself in deep listening mode. Search their body language for cues when it is OK to talk or listen for the pauses.

  10. Lead with empathy.
    Show the person you are listening, asking clarifying questions, and rephrasing. Stay focused on “seeing” the person’s heart. Allowing them the opportunity to have their say without judgment communicates acceptance. And don’t we all need to feel real acceptance right now?

Employ deep listening to connect with those around you. Wherever you may find yourself, people desperately need deep listening. We are all going through a very difficult situation. Nobody is immune. Companies/teams/colleagues/parents all need to be sensitive to the unique needs emerging during this time. If someone shares something that requires professional support, help them find the right resource.

Deep listening will strengthen your relationships when they need a little bolstering. If you need help in implementing these best practices or could use some “free listening,” please reach out. We can all help each other emerge stronger from this pandemic.

 

Marta Villanueva is a Bicultural/Bilingual qualitative researcher/strategist with experience across categories and methodologies (online, in-person, telephone). She has a M.Sc. in Creativity and Change Leadership which adds a rich dimension to every engagement. Marta is the co-chair for the 2021 QRCA conference and the QRCA 2015 Maryanne Pflug Award Winner.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/martavillanueva/  

www.nuthinking.net

@nuthinkinginc

 

Tags:  communication  human behavior  Humanizing Research  humans  market research  marketing research  mobile research  outreach  qualitative  qualitative market research  qualitative research  research methodology 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: The Humanity of Board Games: Getting to those Nooks & Crannies that Technology Cannot Reach

Posted By Meena Aier, Thursday, April 2, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: The Humanity of Board Games: Getting to those Nooks & Crannies that Technology Cannot Reach

Presenter: Oana Popa Rengle, Anamnesis

Summary of Conference Session

In this engaging session at the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference, Oana Popa Rengle carefully built a framework around how board games can be used to generate (and not just communicate) insights.

Oana identified four main ways in which board games very naturally create an environment that can be conducive to unearthing real insights:

  1. Intimacy and connections – we tend to play board games with friends and family, so there can typically be a circle of trust around board game players.
  2. They encourage bluffing, deceit, creativity, etc. which are all elements that can be leveraged as strong tools to generate insight.
  3. There is a certain element of physicality about board games. In this highly digitized world, board games can bring back a fresh approach – players must either roll the dice or move pieces while playing board games. It could implicitly grant them more freedom in expressing themselves, which could result in richer insights.
  4. There is a level of ownership that comes with board games. Players can bend (or even break!) rules, they can create their own “house rules”.

Board games gives us a potentially novel way to give respondents control over the research process. They can tell their stories in their own ways, which can be quite powerful. Drawing on these four characteristics, researchers can transform a traditional focus group session into an engaging board game.

Key Session Takeaways

This was a session rich in content and lessons, and as such, there were many takeaways. Here are some of the critical ones:

  1. Oana was advocating for game-based research, and not gamification. This means that for board games to work, researchers need to have a mental model of the subject of inquiry – or at the very least, a mental model of how human motivation works. This mental model then needs to lend itself to a game-based format. Researchers will need to have a strong narrative underpinning the game and may find themselves needing to rethink their approach to posing questions and getting answers.
  2. Any board game needs to be competitive. This means participants "earn" points and they need to go through conditions that require them to "spend" their points to advance to the next stage. This creates a powerful "pain of payment" moment and forces them to make real choices about what they really need, and what they can live without – a tactic that can certainly be helpful when trying to determine what features are important in a product.
  3. Researchers can also take this opportunity to have their clients play against the players, especially in cases where in order to proceed to the next stage, or earn resources, players are required to highlight things that frustrate them about client products. This can create a powerful moment of empathy, where clients can firsthand experience the voice of their customer and see what it feels like to be a consumer of their products.
  4. There can potentially be limitations – a focus group format can provide opportunities for the moderator to dig deep into a participant observation/opinion, until it turns into insight. In a board game, a participant might make an interesting (or a highly promising) observation, but the chance to dive deeper into that observation may be very limited. One potential way around this limitation may be to create a "bonus" card or a bonus choice, where participants are able to earn additional resources for elaborating further on that observation.
  5. Board games are a great opportunity to bring fun. Laughter can break the ice, and in building a shared, trusting environment, can create a pathway to insight.

 

Aha Moment

I really enjoyed Oana’s unique presentation, so much so that I couldn’t limit my “aha-moment” to just one.

  1. Oana’s simple yet deeply powerful understanding of the insight generation process made this session one of the best at this year’s QRCA conference. This quote in particular, will always be something I come back to – "Insight isn't always buried in depths. Sometimes, it is just at the surface, waiting for someone to find that connection."
  2.  It was absolutely ingenious the way in which Oana brought in an element of play into the presentation itself – using red and green glowsticks to make the audience indicate their preferences. It brought laugher, a certain level of excitement, and was a live demonstration of how that element of play made a 50+ strong audience communicate their real preference (i.e, they would much rather hear Oana talk about board games than engage in an activity – which goes against most presenters’ initial hypotheses about engaging audiences).

Final Comments

This session really had me thinking through how a board game format can potentially be used to test messages. It truly was an incredible session that took the exact opposite route of digitization – and instead focused on something so fundamentally human – play!

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Meena Aier, Crestview Strategy

Tags:  Focus Groups  QRCA Annual Conference  Reporter on the Scene  Research  Research Methodologies 

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Remote Research in the Time of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Posted By LaiYee Ho, Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Remote Research in the Time of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

With offices mandating employees to work from home, and people across the world hunkering down, researchers everywhere are scrambling to figure out how to make it all work from their home offices. 

I’ve been doing remote research out of my home for years, so I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks from my own remote-research arsenal!

In-office conversations with colleagues: Try Slack

For all conversations, whether it’s discussions about business strategy, sharing ideas on research plans, or sharing random funny articles online, we use Slack. Slack enables us to have many fluid conversations at once, and to organize conversations by topic (such as #customer-discussions, #finance-accounting, #strategy).

Communication with participant recruits: Try Intercom

Rather than using email or a group email, consider using a CRM to communicate with research participants. I have used Intercom as a CRM and have found it incredibly helpful as a way to keep track who we reached out to for which study, and to keep a log of all the communication we’ve had so far with each recruit. It allows my team members to see the previous conversations and take over for me if necessary (something that’s nearly impossible in email). If Intercom doesn’t work for your particular client, consider checking out other group CRMs to solve the same problem.

Scheduling interviews: Try Calendly

Calendly is an incredible streamlined way to have participants schedule time for studies. It syncs directly with your calendar (for us, it’s Google calendar), and you can set parameters for when someone can schedule time. Just send them a link and they can instantly book a time with you.

In-depth interviews: Try Zoom

Zoom is an online video chat service with great video quality that is super easy to use. It can also support video chats with large groups of people if you’re running a study with more than one participant. You can also record the session (make sure to always ask for consent first!)

Compensating participants: Send digital gift cards

Compensate participants by sending digital Amazon gift cards. These will get emailed straight to them. As an additional tip, if you have international recruits in other countries that want a gift card for their local Amazon branch, purchase the gift card from that country’s Amazon site. (For instance, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/ to send someone an Amazon UK gift card. Amazon gift cards aren’t transferable between countries once purchased.

Writing documents: Try Google Docs

If you were using Microsoft Word and emailing them around, or printing them out for colleagues to review, it’s time to switch to Google Docs. Google Docs is online and fully collaborative. Colleagues can comment directly in your document and collaboratively write with you in real time.

Transcript analysis and coding: Try DelveTool

If you were printing out transcripts and highlighting them using Post-it notes or using desktop based tools like NVivo or ATLAS.ti without online capabilities, consider switching to DelveTool. (Full disclosure, I’m the co-founder so I designed and created this tool out of my own pain points). Now that your research team is working remotely from their homes, DelveTool offers a way for your team to code and analyze a single project together from wherever they are.

Creating presentation decks: Try Paste by WeTransfer

If you were using Microsoft PowerPoint, it’s time to consider using Paste. It’s online, fully collaborative, and makes your decks absolutely beautiful with very little effort. It doesn’t have all the power features of PowerPoint, but that’s precisely the benefit. You can create gorgeous slides with just a quote on a single page or drop in a video clip from a research session. You’ll spend significantly less time making the deck and it will look 1000% better than a standard PowerPoint.

Streamlining and automating your process: Try Zapier

Zapier takes a bit of tech tinkering, but is a great way to automate any repetitive, manual tasks that you’re already doing. For example, if you’re keeping track of participant recruitment status in a Google Sheet, you can use Zapier to automatically update that spreadsheet when participants schedule an interview using Calendly.

Best of luck setting up your remote research workspace. If you have any questions or have recommendations that you want to share, please reach out to me!

 

LaiYee Ho is the co-founder of DelveTool, where she pours her years of experience as a UX researcher and designer into creating tools for researchers. Before beginning her entrepreneurial journey, she was one of the first UX designers of the Amazon Fire TV, where she learned about the importance of simplicity in design. She then went on to build the first UX research team at a smart home automation startup, where she learned how to uncover human motivations. She has a degree in Information Science from Cornell and lives in New York City.

Tags:  Market Research Technology  Marketing Technology  Remote Market Research  Remote Work  Research Methodologies  Research Methodology  Solopreneur 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Keeping Austin Weird - Authentic Insight from Texas Creative

Posted By Laurie Bredenfoerder, BValley Communications, Thursday, March 12, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene:
Keeping Austin Weird - Authentic Insight from Texas Creative

Presenter: Daniel Berkal, The Palmerston Group

 QualPower Blog
Left to right) Professor Ryan Romero; #Texascreative students Rocio Santiago, Esther Shin, Cailyn Wesstrom, Joel Linkewer, Nick Gonzales, and presenter Daniel Berkal

Summary of Conference Session
A unique session at the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference was the “Keeping Austin Weird - Authentic Insight from Texas Creative” panel presentation led by Daniel Berkal.

Art directors and copywriters-to-be enrolled in the #Texas Creative program at UT-Austin share big-picture insights they've gained while completing class assignments. For those QRCs that work in communications, these people will become future clients. But the world has rapidly changed. Different tools are available. The age of creative-test focus groups may be over! The panel focused on questions like “What are the people looking for in their qualitative research?”, “What kinds of methodologies and approaches are most valuable to them?”, and  “What are the needs of the modern creative industry?”

Key Session Takeaways
Personally, I had so many takeaways from this presentation. Gaining this kind of insight was absolutely invaluable to my work. A few highlights from the discussion are:

  • That we, as qualitative professionals, need to "look for the human truth", "use insights to describe how people do things or how things actually function”, and “be out where the people are".
  • To deal with challenges to your creative idea:
    • "I try to think through what the rationale behind the idea is."
    • "There's always water in the well and we need to keep coming back to it."
  • What does the creative process look like for you?
    • "At the beginning, you try to get the 'walls' out of the way. The human truths blow through any personal bias."
    • "Being a great communicator is saying things very simply and clearly."
  • How do you know when a creative idea is good?
    • "People laugh."
    •  "They nod their heads."
    • "Good ideas bring more ideas. Bad ideas stop the conversation."

Aha Moment
Advice from the students' professor, Ryan Romero, on how to accept criticism: "If five people tell you you're drunk, you probably should sit down on the curb."

Final Comments
Try to look out beyond the process and focus on keeping research human. Dan Berkal brought students and QRCA members in a room without giving either group any explanation of what was "supposed to happen" or "why."  It did, and we gained from it. Thanks, Dan and #Texas Creative!"

 

Laurie BredenfoerderQRCA Reporter on the Scene:
Laurie Bredenfoerder, BValley Communications

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative  Qualitative Careers  Texas Creative 

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