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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Rappers, Researchers, and Realities: Exploring Unconscious Bias in Qualitative Research

Posted By Janet Standen, Thursday, July 30, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Rappers, Researchers, and Realities: Exploring Unconscious Bias in Qualitative Research

Presenter: Cynthia Harris, 8:28 Consulting

cynthia harris

Summary of Conference Session
Cynthia took us on a thought-provoking journey, drawing synergies between rap music and qualitative research. She provided helpful tips that can help us identify our own implicit bias, and specifically referenced tools we could turn to, to help us overcome the impact that our inherent and unavoidable biases may have on our qualitative research practices.

Key Session Takeaways

  • In the same way rap music gives a voice to historically marginalized people, our work can give consumers a voice within the companies we serve.
  • Insights, when delivered well, should have a “stickiness” to them, just like a catchy beat in rap music.
  • An activity reminded us that outside of family, the people we trust most in our life (i.e., those we choose to know), are often “just like us.” They reflect our own bias, defined as “an inclination of temperament or outlook.” They are part of our in-group.
  • We also tend to have greater positive regard, cooperation, and empathy to in-group members over out-group members—dangerous if you are a qualitative researcher.
  • Bias can be a good thing, and we are biologically wired for bias decision-making (such as knowing the difference between a cute, cuddly dog and a wild dog). But it also has the potential to be harmful if it narrows our thinking based on non-factual data points (i.e., based on our perceptions and biases that are in us).
  • We must be careful not to bias our research learning by accidentally asking leading questions that can unintentionally influence the responses we receive. Cynthia provided the example of the Loftus & Palmer Study in 1974, when eyewitness testimony of the estimated speed a car was traveling just before a car accident varied from 40.8mph to 34 mph, depending whether the word “smashed” or “hit” was used when witnesses were asked about what they saw.
  • The language used to deliver our learning to stakeholders can bias our delivery and therefore our audience take-outs.
  • We must analyze recorded data from our research, not use our memory of what we learned, to ensure we better reflect the true content, not our memory of the content (that will likely be influenced by our own biases.)
  • Do not be racist or ageist—by 2050 the majority of the U.S. population will be non-white, and people over 65 will outnumber those younger than 18!

Aha Moment
Stay open-minded and remember to not judge a book by its cover. Our biases are hidden, often even from ourselves, so we must take steps to be more aware of them. One tool is the free Implicit Association Test, which can be found at: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

Never forget we have bias, so plan for it and account for it. As qualitative researchers, we have a huge responsibility not to let our bias impact the validity of our research findings. Our minds are “automatic association-making machines,” so we have to work at not being automated, but must manage our humanity!

janet standenReporter on the Scene: Janet Standen, Scoot Insights

Tags:  avoiding bias in qualitative research  implicit bias  unconscious bias 

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Five Lessons I Learned While Designing My First Customer Journey Map 

Posted By Breyda Ortega, Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Updated: Monday, July 27, 2020

Five Lessons I Learned While Designing My First Customer Journey Map

As a marketing researcher, I help brands develop strategies to attract and retain customers. To that end, I have conducted countless brand positioning studies and concept tests, as well as your typical what-does-this-mean-to-you-personally? qualitative interview, yet never had I ever designed a journey map… until this year. A journey map is the visual representation of the sequence of steps customers take to interact with products or services—from discovering the brand to switching and returning and beyond (Tincher & Newton, 2019). Earlier this year, I leveraged the technique to guide customer communications.   

Now, you may be thinking, “Why would you need a journey map to craft communications?". Here is my answer in the form of another question—have you ever seen different ads from the same company that seem to contradict or compete with each other? When this happens, it is a clear sign that teams, often working in silos, have lost sight of the big picture. However, customers never experience messages as one-offs, but as part of one big interconnected narrative that shapes their perceptions of a brand. Mapping the customer journey is the best way to fully grasp how a brand, as a whole, shows up to the world. 

At its core, journey mapping helps companies identify critical points of friction that cause customers to leave a brand. Effective maps guide efforts toward optimizing high impact moments, thereby unlocking significant revenue potential. As an example, journey mapping allowed T-Mobile to learn that frustration around contracts and data overage fees was pushing customers to switch providers at an alarming rate. By eliminating these frustrations, the company went from losing a million customers a year to adding a million customers per quarter.  

The secret to a successful journey map is simple: show everything from the customer’s vantage point. That is, visualize the journey the way the customer experiences it, not the way you think they experience it. For instance, the start of a journey is definitely not at the moment someone subscribes to a service but way earlier, perhaps while enjoying brunch and suddenly their friend cannot stop raving about the new app they downloaded. 

Here are the five most valuable lessons I learned while designing my first journey map:  

Not a one-size-fits-all  
You should plan on designing multiple maps to represent different types of customers. If your company has a segmentation model, definitely reference it and design one map for each of your high opportunity segments. In the absence of segmentation, you can always use some basic profiling such as first time vs. repeat, regular vs. occasional, or early vs. late adopters.   

Having several maps will reveal key differences across groups. In an era of information overload, people expect solutions that are personalized to their specific needs. Understanding differences in customer preferences will enable your organization to design more targeted approaches to drive retention.  

Get the journey phases right, then add layers 
Journey phases are the building blocks of the maps. They chart the path the customer follows; if these are off, the rest of the components will fall apart. Most categories include research, consideration, purchase, trial, post-trial, etc. Be sure to adapt these to the category you are researching. Then start layering some information, such as:   

  • What problem is this customer trying to solve for?  

  • How and where do they interact with the product or service?  

  • How do they feel before, during, and after each interaction? 

When layering, use diagrams and colors to visually represent the peaks and valleys in customer sentiment. This will make for a more nuanced map that will inspire organizational alignment.  

Credit: Mari Carmen Díaz Pixabay

Ditch the notion of an end 
While on paper you may represent a journey as a linear path, in real life, journeys are in fact loops. The Semisonic song I used to listen to as a teen that goes, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end” rings true in journey mapping. Efforts at later stages should prevent customers from switching, becoming latent, or worse, exiting completely.

Big data has made it possible for companies to expertly curate information, making discovery and trial more effortless than ever before. With the widespread availability of behavioral data and predictive analytics, customer journeys have become much more fluid, continually teetering between active and passive engagement. This gives brands the upper hand to nudge customers into the journey rather than waiting for them to make the first move.  

Design for efficiency and speed  
The simpler the process is for a customer to learn about, select, order, and generally experience a product, the better the company’s chances are at minimizing churn. While a brilliant copywriter may take pride in a quirky and well-articulated, yet long list of instructions, no one will want to fit that type of reading into their weekend plans.  

Today almost everything is digitized, however there are still many occasions when customers carry the onus of initiating contact when they need help. Automating actions to the point of making them invisible (think single sign-ups, syncing information from existing accounts, providing recommendations based on past behavior, resolving issues before they become complaints, etc.) is critical to building the long-lasting habits that drive customer loyalty.  

Challenge the status quo  
The business decisions that stem from journey mapping are just as important as the map itself. Once you have rallied the troops to begin the important work that follows, it is very easy to overcomplicate things by focusing on individual projects rather than the single integrated strategy that will create customer delight. 

Push back on busywork that deviates and distracts from the overall goal of driving retention and keep advocating for holistic solutions that fully enhance the customer experience, not band-aids.

I have always been a big picture kind of thinker; maybe that is why I find journey mapping so alluring. There is something deeply satisfying about placing seemingly disparate pieces of data on a board, taking a step back, and then noticing the patterns that form. 

References
Tincher, Jim, Newton, Nicole (2019). How Hard Is It to Be Your Customer? Paramount Market Publishing, Inc.  

About the Author: Breyda Ortega

A mixed-methods corporate researcher, Breyda Ortega oversees marketing research at Cruise, a self-driving car company in San Francisco. She combines her background in statistics, psychology, and neuroscience along with a natural ability to “read” people to guide strategic business decisions. She currently serves as QRCA’s Qually Award Vice Chair.

Tags:  Customer Journey  Customer Journey Maps  QRCA Digest  Research Methodologies  Research Methodology 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Digital and Human — Not Mutually Exclusive

Posted By Michaela Mora, Relevant Insights, LLC, Thursday, July 16, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Digital and Human — Not Mutually Exclusive

Presenter: Jennifer Cuthill, Clearworks

Summary of Conference Session

Digital ethnography is observational research that's done through self-reported events or responses by people in your study that they then upload to a digital platform. Engaging exercises, experienced recruiters and a platform with features that support the research objectives are needed to successfully conduct digital ethnography.

Key Session Takeaways

Digital ethnography allows us to capture behaviors at times when in-person observation may not be possible (e.g. odd hours into the night, very private spaces such as a bathroom or bedroom, or sensitive topics). Instead of a discussion guide, digital ethnography is driven by a set of exercises with specific objectives in mind.

If you have used online bulletin boards, you will find similarities with this approach. However, there are some differences, mainly about when we give access to the exercises to participants and the absence of activity dependencies.

In digital ethnography, all exercises are made available to participants at once. They are not scheduled on certain days as is standard in online bulletin boards. Participants do the exercises at their own pace. The goal is to capture certain occasions when we don’t know what they are and when they will happen. Exercises are independent activities that don't need to be completed in any particular order.

To be successful in digital ethnography, Cuthill recommends:

  1. Carefully design exercises that elicit the right insights: Create engaging exercises but limit their number (3 to 5) and the questions associated with them. Too many can overwhelm participants and increase mid-study drop rates.
  2. Work with recruiters who can support the project to ensure compliance: Recruiters need to go beyond recruiting participants and provide follow-up services to make sure participants complete the assigned exercises and answer the questions.
  3. Start the analysis and gathering of reporting artifacts when the fieldwork starts: Don't wait until the end to start looking at the data for analysis and reporting. Streamline the process by monitoring results from the beginning and gathering artifacts to support reporting.
  4. Combine this approach with other qualitative research methods, such as IDIs and focus groups, if the limited number of exercises and questions don't allow you to cover all the research objectives.
  5. Choose a platform with the right features for your research objectives.

When choosing a platform for digital ethnography we should consider:

  • Types of exercises and questions the platform supports (e.g. diary/journal, ad/concept testing, community ideation, surveys/polls, live chats, discussion boards) for the research objectives.
  • Types of responses it captures (e.g. text, video, pictures, screen capture).
  • Level of support offered.
  • User experience/design.
  • Devices supported.
  • Pricing and what’s included.

Digital ethnography can be a more cost-effective option than in-person observation, assuming you work with experienced recruiters and streamline the reporting process. Cost also depends on the number of participants and the platform used. Incentives are comparable with in-person observation studies. However, you may need to add more to ensure compliance.

This approach can be used to gather insights needed in the exploratory phase that often precedes many of the quantitative research projects we do related to new product development, pricing research, and market segmentation.

Aha Moment

A big aha moment was realizing we need to find engaged and experienced recruiters to ensure participant compliance. This can really lighten the burden of the research team and give them time to focus on the observation work.

Final Comments

Digital ethnography is an interesting and viable alternative to in-person observation when the latter is not feasible due to the research topic nature, cost, and timing concerns.

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QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Michaela Mora, Relevant Insights, LLC

Tags:  Digital Ethnography  Ethnography  Observational research  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Research Methodologies 

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Online Chat Focus Groups: A First-Timer’s Perspective

Posted By Cheryl Halpern, Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Online Chat Focus GroupsA First-Timer’s Perspective 

Online Chat Focus Groups: A First-Timer’s Perspective 

First-time experiences are both exhilarating and intimidating. COVID-19 has presented us with the opportunity to add to our toolboxes, either because we recognize the seismic shift to online methodologies, or we simply have more time on our hands.

After attending a QRCA webinar about online chat focus groups, I volunteered to conduct a mock session with other professionals who were interested in seeing the platform in action.  

Methodology Description 

Online chat is similar to in-person focus groups in that targeted respondents are recruited to participate in a moderated discussion at a specific point in time for a set duration (typically 60 – 90 minutes), but different in that engagement is entirely text based. 

Online chats typically involve eight to 20 respondents. The moderator can use a whiteboard to display visuals, and backroom observers can communicate with each other directly and with the moderator through an administrator. The administrator also takes care of technical issues and helps prod participants, if needed.   

Objectives and Target Audience 

For this mock chat, my objectives were to let interested researchers experience the platform firsthand and to provide a fun break in these challenging times. I came up with a list of questions to help us explore “The Lighter Side of Quarantine.” 

All who had expressed an interest in the webinar chat room were invited to attend and could opt to be either a participant or an observer. Participants were given screen names based on the adjective they said best described their current emotional state and what they had eaten most recently. Anxious Turkey, Optimistic Beans and Weary Apple were among the favorites. 

Discussion Guide 

I was advised to allow five minutes for every three questions and planned the guide accordingly, with timed sections and detailed questions under each section. 

Once loaded, the discussion guide appears in sequential blocks on the lower righthand side of the moderator’s screen. Six to eight of these blocks can be seen at one time, and all can be seen by scrolling up and down.  

Screen shots to be used on the whiteboard are labeled and appear in a different scroll on the upper righthand side of the moderator’s screen.  

Preparation 

The platform I used had a practice room that I could enter whenever I wanted. It was pre-programmed with fourteen participants submitting random responses at what has been determined to be the typical pace, which is essentially a bell curve over about 90 seconds after a new question is introduced.  

As with any group discussion, the moderator’s task is to guide the discussion, introduce materials, and probe to elicit deeper insight. With synchronous chat discussions, that translates into three distinct but coordinated tasks: 

  1. Sending questions, either from the pre-loaded discussion guide or by typing freehand. 
  2. Sending visual stimuli to the whiteboard. 
  3. Reading the scrolling discussion and immediately probing responses as needed. 

During practice, I learned that I had the flexibility to send pre-loaded questions in any order or skip them altogether if desired.  

Moderation 

I logged in about fifteen minutes before the session started and watched as fourteen participants and thirteen observers entered. 

At the appointed time, I sent instructions to the group chat one sentence at a time, pacing myself by reading the words aloud – just as participants are reading them for the first time. 

I submitted my first screen shot and question and the frantic fun began! After just a few seconds, answers started popping up, each identified by the screen names that had been assigned.  

While I am accustomed to multi‐tasking in live focus groups, I found it rather challenging to type probes while the chat continued to scroll on the screen during the live discussion. Also, because comments were coming in quickly, any probe on a specific comment requires including the screen name of the individual being addressed. While the participant screen names I derived for this exercise were fun, I realized quickly that shorter user names would have been expedient. 

Another interesting aspect of the chat platform is that responses to one question may keep coming in after a new question has been presented. Each respondent is reading, processing, typing and submitting at a different pace. This has implications for both analysis of the transcript and construction of the discussion guide. The resulting output is not a threaded transcript, but a chronological record. 

Consensus Assessment 

We had a Zoom meeting immediately following the chat so that anyone who was interested could participate in a debrief. Virtually all felt the pace was incredibly fast and wished they had more time to read and process each of the responses individually. Nevertheless, the observers agreed that that although the content was generated quickly, it was surprisingly rich and abundant. 

Tips

From my experience moderating an online chat discussion for the first time, I would offer the following tips for others who want to utilize this tool: 

  1. Engage participants from the outset. Without face-to-face interaction, it is especially important to make the respondents feel welcomed and eager to participate.  
  2. Familiarize yourself with all toggles/options available. I did not realize that I could have done more to optimize the respondents’ screens. 
  3. Use the whiteboard judiciously. Juggling the whiteboard and the discussion guide at the same time probably complicates things unnecessarily for a novice. 
  4. Review your discussion guide with an understanding that responses from one question may spill over into the next on the transcript and arrange questions accordingly. 
  5. To facilitate deep dives on key topics, plan multiple, closely related questions and allow respondents 90 seconds to read and respond to each.   
  6. Include time allocations and screen shot reminders in your programmed discussion guide so that all the cues you’ll need are in one place. 
  7. Partner with a trusted administrator, whether that is a colleague or someone from the platform’s staff. They can run interference in the “backroom” so that you can focus on the respondents. 
  8. Practice! Even a skilled moderator needs to take the time to learn the nuances of a new tool.  

cheryl halpernAbout the Author: Cheryl Halpern

Cheryl has 25+ years of executive level marketing professional experience and is the current President of Halpern Research; formerly VP with Dallas Marketing Group and VP of Global Product Marketing with Mary Kay, Inc. 

Tags:  Actionable  Focus Groups  Insights  Market Research Technology  Online Listening  Online Technology  QRCA Digest 

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QRCA Works to Know Better and Do Better

Posted By Susanna Franek, Tuesday, July 7, 2020

QRCA Works to Know Better and Do Better

QRCA DE&I 

Much has transpired since George Floyd was murdered by police on May 25. Protests across America and beyond are committed to fighting racism and inequality against Blacks. In support of the Black community, the Black Lives Matter movement and other offshoot organizations have evolved into a global, collective cross-cultural movement that’s gaining momentum. And no less, the U.S. is experiencing a resurgence in coronavirus across the nation; a pre-COVID world seems light years ago.

The QRCA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force

Many of you have asked about QRCA’s stand on what’s happening. Here’s a quick recap: the DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity) Task Force was formed at the end of 2019 and, with approval from the board, was formally launched at the January 2020 QRCA Annual Conference in Austin, objectives were outlined, and co-chairs (Shannon Danzy, Principal of danzy consults. and me) put in place.

COVID-19 initially slowed our progress, and then the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis flipped America on its head. In response, on June 3, on behalf of QRCA, President Kelly Heatly released a statement committing to anti-racism and condemning the violence and continued discrimination against Blacks. As an added objective, the Task Force since has been busy discussing, planning, and putting together programming to provide members and the industry with opportunities to learn and engage in community discussions on race, racism against Blacks, and white privilege while building needed cultural sensitivity and empathy skills. We will also soon announce several initiatives that we hope will contribute to bringing Black students into the field as well as advance Blacks already well into their careers.

Series on Race & Racism Against Blacks

Listening Circles
The DE&I Task Force hosted its first Listening Circle on June 8 among members, facilitating breakout rooms that allowed everyone to voice their angst, concerns, frustrations, challenges, fears, and opportunities in a safe space in small groups. It was cathartic and healing; everyone agreed that more such sessions are needed. Take-aways from the Listening Circle and informal conversations with members informed how the QRCA could move forward with training and learning opportunities.

On June 24, a listening circle for Black researchers (called #BlackMRX Chat) was held in recognition that Black researchers could use their own private, safe space to talk, support, and uplift each other. It was such a success that additional sessions are currently being scheduled and an online community will be launched.

Education on Black History
DE&I Task Force: PART I: A Primer on Race and Blackness in America on June 29
This two-part series, presented by history professor Dr. Carmen Harris from the University of South Carolina Upstate, will provide an historical overview of the construction of race in the United States and how it has shaped our understanding of both blackness and non-blackness and their continuous deployments across the chronology of U.S. History.
Part II – Friday, July 24,, 12–1:30 p.m. EDT (UTC-4)

Photo by Zoe VandeWater on UnsplashRecognizing Privilege
DE&I Task Force: The Problem with Privilege on Monday, July 13, 12–1:30 p.m. EDT (UTC-4)
Rochelle Newman-Carrasco will lead a lecture/discussion on privilege that is designed to be relevant to individuals from all cultural backgrounds, but especially to a white audience. She will apply her career experience in the advertising industry, and how she served as a bridge between corporate America and consumers of color. She will illuminate the role of the white ally and how self and societal knowledge can lead to perspective shifting—an essential element in cultural and racial conversations. 

DE&I Task Force: Listening Circle: White Privilege, Monday, July 13, 1:45–3 p.m. EDT (UTC-4)
Immediately following the discussion on privilege by Rochelle, we will join other QRCA members to continue the conversation to discuss what we learned and the impact of privilege on our personal and professional lives. The Listening Circles will be a safe space for people to explore their thoughts and feelings. In a smaller group setting, people are nudged to step out of their comfort zones in turns while others listen. It’s a “no judgment” zone.

…And More to Come
Stay tuned for sessions on marketing to and conducting market research with Blacks with the award-winning speaker, Black American expert, and author Pepper Miller of The Hunter-Miller Group as well as a training session on important qualitative research skills such as empathy.

Ongoing Educational Sessions

On a parallel path, driven by our original objectives, we are building learning opportunities to educate members broadly on diversity and inclusion as well as encouraging other QRCA Committees and SIGs (Special Interest Groups) to schedule their own events. Upcoming sessions include:

We’re Here for You

The task force is here to support our members—all of our members. We encourage engagement from everyone, domestic and international. The welcome mat is out for volunteers to come join us! This is not a time to take a back seat. We need to brave some tough conversations. It’s new terrain and it’ll be messy and raw, but necessary. Let’s be patient with each other!

Here’s a comprehensive list of resources so we can start self-educating. If we all commit to reading an article a day, watching a documentary a week, reading a book a month to inform ourselves on the historical backdrop of racism in America, that’s a great start to not only changing the narrative, but creating a saner, more just world. In the meantime, Maya Angelou’s words couldn’t be more appropriate to our purpose:

I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

CONTACT US – LET’S TALK!
qrca.org/Diversity
diversity@qrca.org

About the Author: Susanna Franek

susanna franekCultural Anthropologist, Ethnologix
Co-Chair, Diversity, Equality & Inclusivity Task Force,
Chair of Multicultural SIG

BIO: A bilingual cultural anthropologist, Susanna’s work is grounded in social justice qualitative research methods. Studies include among Latinx, South Asian, Middle Eastern, youth and general market communities within the U.S. and internationally. Susanna is passionate about changing the narrative on race, gender, and immigration to help birth a new inclusion of the underdog. 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susannawhitmore/
https://www.instagram.com/susawhit/
https://twitter.com/susawhit


Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash (BLM signs)
Photo by Zoe VandeWater on Unsplash ("I understand that I will never understand")

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Journey Mapping: Big Picture Thinking

Posted By Aliza Pollack, Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Journey Mapping: Big Picture Thinking


I sit here writing, waiting for inspiration to hit: Where is that pithy line that usually finds its way to my brain? The one that sets up the essay/article/slide so well? This is what I do: I take big ideas and craft them into compelling packages to showcase their meaning. But times are intense. And inspiration isn’t so light and sparkly right now. My mind shifts to the bigger issues at play. As I ponder the pandemic, and the stark lifestyle changes it has brought on—civic uprisings, Black Lives Matter, pain, unemployment—it’s hard to deny how interconnected we are, and how vital it is to consider the context when trying to understand a problem.

This attitude translates to work. Often, before COVID-19, a business problem would reveal itself and one team would own it and the solution-finding process. Collaboration across teams can easily be stymied by the rush of business life, with looming KPIs, clogged calendars, quarterly reports, changing leadership and multiple hashtag and mottoes like, “move fast and break things.” The world, and the people in it, are complex. Thinking and working contextually is fundamental. It encourages collaborative work and holistic solutions. Enter journey mapping: a framework that sheds light on the full customer experience. The behaviors, attitudes, delight, and pain points that the customer encounters on the way to your product/category/service/experience. When executed well, journey mapping can coalesce often siloed consumer-facing teams and inspire a more nuanced marketing and product development road map.

Here are my four steps that might help you make this fit within your organization:

Benchmark: Root the team

As with all fact-finding missions, before starting consumer fieldwork, gather your major stakeholders in any way possible (e.g., individual interviews – face to face, phone, short workshop, Google doc, survey) and build alignment.

  • Download what is known across teams (marketing, product, CX, data science, etc.): ingoing hypotheses, perceptions of the journey, CRM survey open-ends, personas/segments we want to pursue, competitive analysis, data science.
  • Identify what is unknown: What confuses, what are barriers to entry, underlying motivations, who is the real customer, duration of this journey, perceived competition, biases.
  • Agree on what success looks like: How should the final deliverable look, what does it need to achieve, what will this work impact within the organization—communications development, product development/refinement, innovation, all?

Discovery: Center on your respondent

  • Who will you talk to? Think through the key identifying variables of your broad user base: demographics, frequency of usage, awareness of category, awareness of brand, etc.
  • Go into discomfort zones: Journeys capture the full lifecycle which extends beyond purchase. Talk with power/passion users, latent users and rejecters.
  • Focus on the individual: I strive for pristine data, so choose one-on-one interviews (video, F2F) rather than focus groups. Use your analysis to uncover patterns.
  • Kickstart participant memory: We’re asking people to recall experiences, which are inherently flawed (humans forget). Help them shore up memories with real-life artifacts: calendar entries, receipts, credit card slips, social media posts…. these items spark authentic stories and emotions. 

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Analysis and visualization: Show your story

Most likely, you’re sitting on a trove of data (yikes!) with a need to synthesize in both meaningful and compelling ways.

  • Plan ahead: Talk with your client in advance to decide on the best form of deliverable(s). Guide them toward what’s possible. They also might want to validate quantitatively, so talk through how you can be of service to bring it all together without losing the high touch of qual.
  • Sparring partner: It’s likely that you will be lost in the data weeds. Pluck someone from the team, the office (the street?) to share your findings. Relaying the story to a stranger reveals its strengths and weaknesses. If you can’t answer their questions, there’s more work to be done.
  • Bring on the designers: Unless you’re design-gifted, work with a professional. They’ll elevate your product.

Action planning: Move them to the next step

While this isn’t integral to the journey map process, it’s an important part of your client’s path. I try to bake it in to the workflow. You’ve started the project with full team inclusion; now help them all put this valuable information to use.

  • Can you share it to the full team, followed by a Q&A session?
  • Can you conduct a workshop/sprint to inspire some new ideas which they will prioritize?
  • Can you overlay it with jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) framework so the team can see how their respective plans match/meet where users are, and how they feel in that moment.

Through a rigorous process, fed by varied disciplines/teams, journey maps help you pull back to see the sum of all parts.

A picture containing person, indoor, table, ceiling Description automatically generatedAliza Pollack runs research projects to root brand initiatives in real insight. Her work is human-centered, not consumer-oriented. Any brand, no matter how loved, is a fleck of dust in our lives. To resonate, it needs to know how people live, their ambitions, fears, and inspirations. I love digging for those nuggets.

 

 

Tags:  Customer Journey maps  Data visualization  QRCA Digest  qualitative research  research methodologies  research methodology 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Beyond Storytelling: When, Why and How to Work with Stories

Posted By Farnaz Badie, Thursday, June 25, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Beyond Storytelling: When, Why and How to Work with Stories

Presenters: Criscillia Benford and Anna Marie Trester, PIER Consulting Group


Summary of Conference Session

This session's speakers are both social scientists, focused on linguistics and humanities. Their powerful session at the QRCA Conference looked at the use of narrative inquiry and storytelling in order to facilitate workplace conversations and help organizations build better work environments and relationships with their customers.

Key Session Takeaways

There's nothing more deeply human than stories. As long as humans have been able to talk, we’ve been telling stories. We process what’s happening to us and catalogue it in the form of stories. In Silicon Valley, storytelling is now starting to replace traditional methods, such as surveys, in assessing employee satisfaction. The speakers use narrative inquiry to help organizations learn how communication is experienced within their cultures, and how these experiences shape their cultures.

There are three key steps to the process of a narrative inquiry:

Step 1 – collect stories

Step 2 – process stories

Step 3 – look for patterns among the stories

In the case of an organization looking to better understand its current culture, step one involves meetings with stakeholders in order to consider what the experience of a young employee in their organization may be like, and ultimately formulating two to four themes. The speakers then use a story circle whereby 10 employees/peers sitting in a circle share their stories about the organization. An example of a prompt for the story circle: "Think about a time when a supervisor gave you some advice—it may have been in a formal setting, like in their office, or an informal setting, like in a coffee shop. What did the supervisor say and how did you feel about it?"

In step two, a group of 10-30 stakeholders review the stories collected from the employees, and start to make sense of them by considering the emotions, feelings, actions, and dialogues expressed in those stories.

In step three, the stakeholders start to cluster the ideas emerging from the stories and look for repetition and patterns of behavior within their organization.

In summary, narrative inquiry is used to identify what’s working and what’s not working in a culture. From there, the team helps the organization create intervention initiatives. Storytelling can be used in many ways to help our clients better understand a challenge they are facing. For example, storytelling can be used in new product development projects, where moderators can ask respondents to tell us the best and the worst stories they have had with a particular category or brand.

Aha Moment

The presenters emphasized that as facilitators during the narrative inquiry, we have to be as invisible as possible—if you intervene in the stories being told, you won’t hear the details.

Final Comments

Stories contain worlds... but it's just as important to hear what isn't being said (referred to as a Noisy Not), as it is to hear what is being said.

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Farnaz Badie, The Thought Bubble

Tags:  human behavior  humanizing research  listening  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative Methodologies  Qualitative Methods  Research Methodologies  types of research 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Cultivating Connection: Helping Decision-Makers Understand the Humans Behind the Data

Posted By Marta Villanueva, Thursday, June 18, 2020
Updated: Thursday, June 18, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Cultivating Connection: Helping Decision-Makers Understand the Humans Behind the Data

Presenter: Cory Davison, 4Xperience


Summary of Conference Session

At the QRCA Annual Conference presenter Cory Davison of 4Xperience asked attendees, “How do you connect the qualitative findings with the decision makers, to further drive action?”.

One of the biggest challenges for qualitative researchers is to deliver insights to the different audiences and promote a common understanding of who the humans are providing input in the research. Driving action makes our research meaningful. Action starts with “humanizing” the data and connecting with the decision-makers who may interpret the research from many different perspectives.

During her presentation and utilizing real case studies, Cory Davison shared a simple framework with 5 steps (Relate, Speak their Language, Understand their Audience, Walk in their Steps, and Focus on the “So What” which can be the bridge to connect consumers and the humans interpreting the data.

Key Session Takeaways

I really enjoyed Cory’s session and had many “takeaways” including the heart of her presentation which was that as qual professionals we need to find a way to relate to clients through stepping into their world and remembering that they deal with varying thoughts, feelings, emotions, just like us. They are deserving of our empathy.

The boardroom dishes out many challenges including shorter attention spans, dealing with big data, many versions of the truth, etc. By remembering that our clients are human like us, we can make presentations interactive, build bridges from an experience perspective, and use tools like the Insights Discovery Tool to understand what clients know, believe, and do can break down barriers to connection.

On the topic of presentations, we need to make sure that as practitioners we are speaking the same “language” in order to connect with our clients. Focus on what matters to them, including the metrics client uses, emphasizing the story the data creates, developing a process map with interval views (product/brand path from beginning to end), and an experience map (showcases what happens when the human factor is involved). Understand their audience and bring it to life through personas. Most importantly, Cory reminded all of us to “be clear about what you know and don’t know”.

Present the data in a way that can be understood. Researchers and qual professionals need to remember that journey maps are different from process maps.

  • Journey maps are about what customers do vs. what a brand wants them to do.
  • Journey maps answer: what does the persona do, think, say, feel? “So what?”

We must direct clients in what to do with the data. The “so what” must include the persona, company, and solution. Coming up with a mantra or agreement statement can aid understanding - something clients can go do. For example, we can use an action phrase to make the connections for clients: "Therefore we recommend/enabled by/ and if we do this…."

Aha Moment

It’s very easy to get caught up in the research and forget that clients are “human” too. This presentation was a great reminder to take the time to understand the client pain points, their stakeholders, and ways to connect with their preferences using a tool like Insights Discovery.

Final Comments

We forget the power behind the creative techniques used with consumers. Our tools can easily be adapted for relationship-building with clients.

Moving forward, I will be adapting my deep dive techniques developed for consumers to connect with clients.

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Marta Villanueva, NuThinking

Tags:  actionable insights  Humanizing Research  Insights  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative  Research Methodologies 

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The Future of In-Person Market Research

Posted By Chris Hauck, Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Future of In-Person Market Research 

For the first few minutes, I thought the recent QRCA webinarThe Future of In-Person Market Research” was mistitled. I was expecting a panel of futurists talking about whether this old-fashioned approach to research would evolve into some kind of totally invasive biomeasurement product. Plug the respondent in, download the data from their brain and voila! Insights! No moderator needed!

Thankfully, the conversation with four leaders from different focus group facility companies was well thought through and perfectly timed. Prior to the call, I hadn’t even considered going back to a live group in 2020. I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be getting on an airplane, picking up my rental car, driving to a hotel, cleaning up, putting on my focus group uniform, walking over to the facility and then spending six hours talking to people in a closed room, sharing stimuli and collecting exercises from them.

It was clear from the conversation that I won’t be doing exactly that in the near future, but I probably won’t be sitting at home wondering when we will return to facilities either. Our four panelists—Laura Livers, Schlesinger Group; Rick Seale, Shugoll Research; Amy Shields, Nichols Research and Brett Watkins; L&E Research, — inspired confidence in their efforts to open their facilities safely.

What does safely mean?

Given that we don’t fully understand this virus and or how it works, the panel gave me considerable confidence that they are on top of cleanliness in the same way that airlines or hotel chains are maintaining separation and keeping everything clean. I left the panel confident that they are doing everything to protect the moderator, the participants, and any clients who may want to join. They have all purchased a variety of products and tools to make this happen (mostly plexiglass dividers and sophisticated steam cleaning systems). And they have put in place detailed and complex procedures to protect our safety.

We will all wear masks outside the room, scheduling will be closely managed to ensure as few people as possible are in common spaces, food will be individually –packed, and stimuli will not be shared by the respondents. Waivers will also be signed by all participants regarding the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 with extensive discussions happening between the facilities and their lawyers. Given the well thought out measures they have all put in place, I feel confident that I’ll be back in the moderator’s seat before the end of the year.

There are limitations

It will be a long time before the moderator will be able to look in the holding pen (my colloquialism for the waiting room) and see the respondents for a multitude of groups all gathered together sharing a sandwich tray waiting for the start of their 6 p.m. group. You won’t see ten people around a table passing around your stimuli anytime soon. One panelist had a great story about a moderator conducting IDIs over Zoom with the respondent in the room. No sharing of the air, but it did give me that impression of some sci-fi film where the good guy is grilled by a computer screen. The plus, less travel. And less exposure to COVID-19.

Schedules and flexibility

The important thing to realize is that each facility is different, so the conditions under which you will do your in-person group will be different in each market. You won’t be able to tell the facility at what time you want to have your groups; they will likely tell you, based on who else they have conducting research on the same day. You won’t tell them that you want ten people around the table; they will likely tell you what your limit must be. And it will be different for each location, so you will have to be flexible to be successful. There might not be any consistency across the markets where you conduct research, which is something you will have to live with. It won’t be negotiable.

Call ahead and discuss your project with the facility during the bidding process. We are so used to getting our way, that we have often simply sent out our specs and taken the estimate. If we argued, it would only be to get a small reduction. Only in cases where the design required some unique situation at the facility would we check to see if they could accommodate. It won’t work like that anymore. You have to talk to them about your needs. You have to be flexible when they can’t meet those needs due to the constraints of their procedures. There won’t be a lot of wiggle room. The stakes are far too high for the facility. Like the rest of the economy, if someone gets sick at the facility, the whole thing will shut down. They can’t afford to shut back down—and neither can the rest of the industry.

Impact on participation and costs

For the most part, the panelists didn’t discuss costs. But the conversation made it pretty obvious that they are eating a lot of these new costs in order to open again. Participation does not seem to be adversely affected, as many of the respondents have time and availability due to being at home. Response rates may change as markets open up after COVID-19; at this point there is no way to know how much.

Conclusion

I was happy to hear that facilities don’t believe in-person qualitative research is our past. And that makes sense; some projects just have to be in-person. When the stimulus can’t get out or when taste testing is involved, it’s going to be in-person. It’s good to know that the facilities are working hard to make groups a reality sooner rather than later. Maryse Hudon from Quebec left the clearest closing comment for this article in the Q&A: “This has been so helpful to identify all the issues involved and the complexity of finding the ideal solution. Thank you so much for a much-needed discussion.”

About the Author: Chris Hauck, HauckEye

For more than 30 years, Chris Hauck has honed his research skills across a wide variety of categories - from telecom and IT to consumer-packaged goods, hospitality, medical products and consulting. Chris has an BBA and MBA from Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth TX and currently lives in Longmont Colorado. Chris is currently president of his own company dedicated to experiential research, HauckEye.

 

Tags:  In-person research  market research  QRCA Digest  qualitative  qualitative research  remote market research  research methodology 

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“Visual Data” Is NOT Data Visualization

Posted By Michael C Sack, Co-Founder/Owner/Moderator/Interviewer, Friday, June 5, 2020

“Visual Data” Is NOT Data Visualization

An average person is exposed to over 10,000 image-based impressions a day. By contrast, the average person takes in less than a thousand words and a dozen numeric comparisons per day. We receive essentially ten to 100 times more image impressions than other types of information. This balance of information types is consistent with how the human mind works.

The first decision that a human makes is Momma versus NOT Momma. In the first twenty-four hours after birth, a normal baby can tell its own mother’s face from all other faces. The distinction is made on visual clues like eye and hair color, the shape of the face generally and the shape of the nose, mouth, eyes, and other facial features, specifically. The recognition is a visual discrimination.

Momma vs Not Momma
Then think about a child before they form a sentence, generally 2-3 years old, i.e., sometime in their second year. This is over 500 times later than their first visual discrimination. Then consider how long it is before they can do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It is thousands of times later than the first visual discrimination.

If you think this may be a biased comparison, try this experiment. I have a granddaughter who is nine months old (though she was two months premature).  Nonetheless she just said her first word (da-da) and began to crawl in the last two weeks.

I put her in her little play area and placed one cookie at one end of it and four cookies at the other. She went for the four without hesitation. She cannot say four or count to four. She does have a visual construct that allows her to judge MORE versus LESS. We all know more cookies are better, even a 9-month-old. (Note: my daughter only let her nibble on one cookie with her one tooth.)

Our minds are visual, first and foremost, and do not rely on words and numbers to navigate our worlds. If we did, we might not make it to adulthood. Our verbal and numeric skills would come too late. Our visual recognition of threats and opportunities begins far earlier.

Our Industry Has it Backward
The mind operates on visual information more than ninety percent of the time. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), ninety percent of information transmitted to our brain is visual and the human brain processes images in 13 milliseconds—60,000 times faster than text.

The consumer insights industry gathers 99 percent-plus verbal and numeric data. It is even worse than that. We also ask our questions verbally and numerically. Of the three data types, this makes it the hardest for respondents to answer.

What Are Visual Data?
How can we turn the visual messages into measurable data? The answer is simple and complex at the same time. We need to receive and record the visual information in the same way the brain does.

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel Prize winner Prof. Daniel Kahneman identifies System 1 thinking as “the brain’s fast, automatic, intuitive approach…” and that “intuition is nothing more and nothing less than recognition.”  BUT RECOGNITION OF WHAT?

Our Mind Operates on Visual Structure

cabin Here is an image that represented a breakthrough insight in the appliance industry. The research was about stovetops. The study found that consumers wanted a stovetop that took full responsibility for their safety and protected them from heat and harm. This image summarizes that result, really: snow and a stovetop !

The image to the left is how we think we see things, but that is only the conscious (System 2) view that considers the content as image recognition. The brain first sees it as shown below. This is a (partial) System 1 view of the same image.

Neuroscience is the fastest growing segment in the industry, and it observes the process of the brain’s System 1 recognition. Yet it does not tell us what is being recognized. Visual Semiotics does.

Visual Semiotics is the science of Visual Data. In the example, blue and white cause some of the signals in the brain that neuroscience monitors as secure and isolated/safe. Shapes cause some of the signals in the brain neuroscience monitors as separate/protected. Physical context (like distance, dominance, proximity) cause some of the signals in the brain neuroscience monitors as in charge/responsible. We are aware of four other symbol types that complete the System 1 decoding of images.

This Is Not New!
The knowledge of visual constructs shaping our thinking was discovered in the 1960s by psychologists working in the Tavistock Centre (Clinic) in the U.K. They were working to try to develop a better treatment for autism.

They discovered that autistic children broke the world down into fewer symbolic visual structures (“constructs”) than other people. Autistic children also made some constructs totally dominant (being able to see through a window did not differentiate it from a door). Learning how each child decoded the world visually was the key to learning to communicate with them. This also taught the clinicians how the rest of us visually deconstructed the world.

What is relatively new is the language for describing this process, Systems 1 and 2. Dr. Kahneman named it and showed its relative influence on decision-making and economics about fifty years after the process was discovered.

(Note that Construct Psychology is the basis for Behavioral Therapy. Behavioral Therapy is both the most widely used and effective psychological therapeutic method in the world. It is the only therapeutic approach known to help substance abuse, for example.)

The Visual Future

Over ninety percent of the information that helps us through our daily lives is visual. Over ninety percent of the information on the Internet is visual. The visual data available on the Internet makes what we currently call Big Data miniscule by comparison.

At present, we intuitively recognize the meaning of Visual Data. To read and write it, we need to learn a new language, i.e., Visual Semiotics. Visual Data is the future.

Michael C Sack, Co-Founder/Owner/Moderator/InterviewerAuthor: Michael C Sack, Co-Founder/Owner/Moderator/Interviewer
Brand Kinetics is the home of quantified Visual Semiotics and Visual Data. Visual semiotics shows you how the brain processes visual information. Visual Semiotics has been validated in 56 countries and used successfully in 101. Our process has won six major awards and our projects have won over 100.
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Tags:  data visualization  emotional insights  emotional measurement  emotional motivation  QRCA Digest  visual data  visual future  visual structure 

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