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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Using the Power of Podcasts

Posted By Karen Lynch, Thursday, February 7, 2019

Casey Bernard

Casey Bernard of Nimble MR, kicked off her presentation “Using the Power of Podcasts to Explore, Collect, and Deliver Insights” with a stunning fact: “50% of all US homes are "podcast fans", even more shocking is that podcasts are more popular than blogs right now!” From there, she took us on an audio adventure by sharing clips of some of her favorite podcasts and explaining to us all she gets out of the ones she listens to.

Key Takeaways:
As researchers, we can listen to Podcasts to (1) grow our knowledge of ANYTHING if we just look for topics we are researching and (2) glean tips for telling stories by listening to storytelling podcasts and (3) learn from expert interviewers how to hone our own craft and how we question others. There's also an opportunity for all of us to deliver findings via podcast, ensuring a different way for clients to digest information (audibly) by delivering executive summaries or full reports in this format.

Putting it into practice:
I've already subscribed to at least half a dozen of the podcasts Casey referenced in her presentation, including: This American Life, Radio Diaries, Story Corps, Beautiful/Anonymous, Take It From Me, and Everything is Alive and I recommend you do too!

A-ha moment:
How raw emotion can be heard in people's voices, delivering empathy without showcasing "the ugly cry" :-)

I loved Casey’s presentation and honestly, I can't wait to continue my learning and "charting my best course" after the conference by listening to a few episodes on the airplane, notebook in hand to capture insights.

Karen Lynch

QRCA Reporter on the Scene:

Karen Lynch
Insights Now, Inc.
Twitter: @KarenMLynch
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karenmlynch/

Tags:  Podcast  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative research  Storytelling 

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Be a Consultant, Not an Order-Taker

Posted By Jay Zaltzman, Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Updated: Monday, February 4, 2019

Blog QualPowerI know it’s tempting, when a client — whether it be a company or an internal client — says they want four focus groups in Chicago, to answer “coming right up!” But it’s important to remember that, as qualitative researchers, our job isn’t only to conduct discussions or interviews, but rather to design research that will be most effective in answering our clients’ research questions.

We need to remind those clients about the value we can bring to the table. Remember, they may be considering “John in Marketing — he’s good with people, let’s have him ask the questions in the focus group.” But “John in Marketing” doesn’t necessarily know about designing research methodology. And he doesn’t realize that there’s more to a discussion guide than just “asking the questions.”

So, when clients ask if I can do four focus groups in Chicago, I say I can; but then I ask them to give me the background to the project. What are their objectives? How will the results be used? Do they have a budget? Why were they thinking of four focus groups in Chicago, specifically?

In my proposal, I’ll provide a cost for the four focus groups they requested, but based on what I learned, I might also suggest some alternatives. Let’s say it turns out they wanted the four groups in Chicago because that’s local, and they don’t have the budget for executives to travel to view groups. I might suggest two mini-groups in Chicago and four online mini-groups via webcam. Or depending on the topic, perhaps to two groups in Chicago and some online journaling nationwide. And of course, I’ll explain the reasoning behind those suggestions. Even if the clients say “thanks, but we’ll stick with the four groups in Chicago,” they will be impressed by the thinking... and you’ll be more likely to be hired than the competitor who had not included those kinds of options!

And don’t forget to offer to help the clients digest the research results. I try to always include the option of running a workshop with the stakeholders after the research is completed, to discuss the findings and how they might be utilized. It’s fulfilling to see the impact of the research, and it provides more value to your clients... and that’s the name of the game!

Jay zaltzman

By: Jay Zaltzman

Jay Zaltzman believes that qualitative researchers can offer true value to clients by combining empathy with creative methodology and analytical rigor.  Jay has been president of Bureau West Market Research/Voice of the Customer for the past twenty years.  He is an active member and past president of the QRCA. 

Website: http://bureauwest.com/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jayzaltzman/
Twitter: @zaltzman

Tags:  Focus Groups  QRCA Digest  Qualitative Research  Research Methodology 

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Minimize the Unpredictable: 3 Tips for Great Ethnos

Posted By Rob Volpe, Ignite 360, Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2019
QRCA 2018 Conference Attendees

“Expect the unexpected” is what I recently said to a client who was about to embark on her first in-home ethnography visit. Out in the real world, away from controlled environs like a facility or online platform, almost anything can happen. That’s the beauty of ethnography. You get to see life as it’s really lived instead of having it explained to you. It’s also the challenge of ethnographies. Like life, an ethnographic project can be unpredictable. While that appeals to some personality types, it doesn’t sit well with everyone, especially clients who don’t do ethnos very often.

Here are 3 ethnographic tips to transform the unpredictable into a certainty:

  1. Pre Field Work Final Prep- QRCA Get to Know Your Participants Ahead of Time – If you think it’s daunting walking into a stranger’s home, try having a group of 4-5 strangers over to your house to “put you under the microscope.” To help respondents feel more at ease, make sure they are a great fit with your recruiting criteria. To help advance the conversation upon arrival, get to know the participants before you visit them.

    This orientation can be completed through “screendowns”—phone or video calls with potential respondents recruited by the field house but not yet booked.  That conversation allows you to verify and validate what was said in the recruit as well as their comfort engaging in conversation. Or you can engage participants in an online or video activity prior to fielding and use that to help select your final participants. Both approaches enable you to get to know the respondent and, just as importantly, they get to know you. When I walk into a respondent’s home and I’m able to mention the names of my colleagues who have talked to them, I always see a glimmer of recognition and the respondent starts to relax as they’ve already made a connection with us through these earlier interactions.

    While these steps add time and dollars to the budget, they help to lower the risk that a session will be a dud. In a focus group or online community with numerous respondents, you can get beyond a quiet respondent or one or two recruits that aren’t quite the right fit. In an ethno, each respondent is the “star” of their own show. If they aren’t spot on and comfortable, it will be a loooooong session that your clients have paid a lot of money to sit through. It’s time you won’t get back, but your clients might ask for their money back. 

  2. QRCA Clients in the Field Prep Your Clients on What to Expect – If clients are joining you in the field (and hopefully they are), help them understand what it’s going to be like. Remember, your clients don’t do ethnos as often as you do. It’s even more important when you have an extended client team joining you in the field.

    We put together pre-field briefing calls and documents explaining what to expect. It aligns everyone and answers the questions they have, big and small. Can they ask questions? What should they do during the session (see tip #3 below)? Can they use the bathroom in a respondent’s house? What should they wear? When will they eat? Can they use their phone?

    The briefing is also the best time to make sure everyone is aligned on the key questions, flow of the conversation, and other points you want to make. At our company we coach clients on the 5 Steps to Building and Applying Empathy. That little bit of coaching can make a big difference in how they engage and ultimately absorb what they experience.

    The risk of not doing this? A big, disorganized mess when you get into the session. Uncomfortable clients will make the respondent uncomfortable and will lead to an unproductive session.

  3. Put Your Clients to Work for You– Ethnographies are a juggling act. Yes, you are moderating, but you are also doing things like taking notes and pictures. If clients are with you, have them help you out. Give them notebooks and ask them to take notes on their observations and what they hear. Those come in handy during debriefs in the car right after the session. You can even incorporate them into your analysis.

    Need pictures from the session? Designate one of your client attendees as the official photographer. Give them direction on what pictures you need (a nice face pic of the respondent for sure). Think ahead about what other images you might need for your report. How might images from the in-home visit help advance the story you will tell? When we have clients take pictures, we try to set a minimum — maybe 30 — so they realize they should take a lot of pictures, not just one or two. You may end up with 18… but it’s a lot better than none.

    Engaging the clients empowers them; they’re immediately more invested and at ease, which helps them get more out of the session. And it reduces your own cognitive load so you can focus on what you are really there to do – moderate the best conversation possible!

It’s unrealistic to try to solve for every variable that could possibly come up on an in-home.  I was in the middle of an in-home during the East Coast earthquake in 2011. You can’t plan for that, but you can give your clients tips on what to do to keep themselves safe. The more you make an investment upfront, the better prepared you’ll be to fully engage and get the most out of each session as the moderator.

What tips do you have for a better ethno? What challenges do you have with ethnos that you’d like to resolve? Ask away!

Rob Volpe By: Rob Volpe

Rob Volpe is CEO and Chief Catalyst of Ignite 360, an insights and strategy firm. When he’s not traveling the globe in search of the answer to the question “why,” he’s at work on his first book, Everyday Americans, his journey to understanding empathy told through his adventures in ethnography.


Sign up today for the 2019 QRCA conference.

Tags:  ethnography  QRCA Digest  qualitative research 

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Why I Never Miss a QRCA Conference

Posted By Jeff Walkowski, Thursday, January 10, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2019
QRCA 2018 Conference Attendees

I’ve missed only one QRCA conference. since I joined the organization in 1996. Since 1998, I’ve attended every annual conference. 2019 in Savannah will be no exception.

So why do I keep on going year after year after year?

I’m a big believer in professional development. I believe in the concept of education being a never-ending process — a lifelong endeavor.

Before I became an independent QRC, I had worked for a large corporate marketing research supplier that firmly espoused the idea of continuing education. I was encouraged and paid to attend relevant conferences and other educational events each year. When I went independent, I wanted to continue that tradition, and I was easily able to do so through QRCA.

Attending the QRCA conference is like getting a flu shot every year. Immersion in the conference experience (even as a passive listener) offers a form of protection. It reminds me of things I already know (but can easily forget), it allows me to learn about new techniques, and it exposes me to what’s looming on the horizon. And of course, the conference allows me to hob-nob (in-person!) with my peers — whether they are independents like me or are part of larger firms. That protective “shot” eventually wears off, so I make sure I get inoculated again by returning the next year.

In my early conference-going years, I studied the program diligently to evaluate whether it was worth my while … whether I’d get anything out of attending that year’s conference. The listed program never came up short, so I always attended.

Over the years, I stopped worrying about the program content, because I knew deep in my bones that I would come away with at least one new valuable insight about myself and my practice, or that I’d get a spark to pursue something that I’d never thought of before. It happens at every conference. The expense of attending has always been outweighed by what I returned home with.

It’s a never-ending process. The learnings from a conference will enable me to climb a rung (or two!), but once I’ve reached that rung, another one always comes into sight. So I am compelled to attend again and again and again.

I also look at QRCA conference attendance as a reward to stay in the profession. Sure, some years are better than others. And in those down years, it seems like it may be an unaffordable luxury to attend. But even in those down years, I always find others in the same boat as me at the conference, and we support each other emotionally to carry on and continue.

So, until I retire, I see myself attending every QRCA conference. For the inspiration. For the camaraderie. For helping me to be the best QRC I can be.

Jeff Walkowski

By: Jeff Walkowski

Jeff Walkowski is the principal of QualCore.com Inc., a consulting firm providing traditional and online qualitative research services to a wide range of industries including health care, financial services, automotive, and information services. He was schooled as a quantitative specialist and entered the industry in the 1980s as a statistician. He later discovered his talents as a moderator and evolved into a qualitative specialist by the mid-1990s.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-walkowski-7042551/

Web: www.QualCore.com, www.OnlineModerator.com

Sign up today for the 2019 QRCA conference.

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  Qualitative Conference  Qualitative Research 

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Applying the Design Thinking Process in Qualitative Research

Posted By Joe Sharlip, Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2019
Untitled Document applying design

Design Thinking (DT) is a methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It’s extremely useful in tackling complex problems that are ill-defined or unknown. This is accomplished by understanding the human needs involved, re-framing the problem in human-centric ways, creating multiple ideas in brainstorming sessions, and adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing.

The DT mindset is a natural fit with qualitative research. As Qualitative Researchers (QRs), we are experts at delivering customer experience-based insights. As a sister discipline, DT grapples with the conundrum of how to inspire design, stirring the pot enough to generate fresh new approaches. When QRs integrate DT processes into qualitative research, we reach whole new levels of insight generation.

As a way of educating researchers on DT methodology – and its correlation to qualitative research – it’s helpful to focus on the five-stage Design Thinking model proposed by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University.

Stage One: Empathize
In this phase  the DT process aims to gain an empathic understanding of the issue or problem at hand. Empathy is crucial to a human-centered design process, and empathy allows design thinkers to set aside their own assumptions about the world in order to gain insight into consumer-users and their needs.

Stage Two: Define
Now you can put together the information you have created and gathered during the empathize stage. You will analyze your observations and synthesize them in order to define the core problems or issues you and your team have identified to this point – stated in a problem statement that is human-centered in nature.

Stage Three: Ideation
Now designers are ready to start generating ideas. You’ve grown to understand your users and their needs, and you’ve analyzed and synthesized your information to end up with a human-centered problem statement. With this solid background, you can start to ‘think outside the box’ to identify new solutions to the problem statement you’ve created, and you can start to look for alternative ways of viewing the problem.

Stage Four: Prototype
We are now in position to produce a number of inexpensive, scaled down versions of the product or specific features found within the product, so we can investigate the problem solutions generated in the previous stage. Prototypes may be shared and tested within the team itself, in other departments, or on a small group of people outside the design team.

applying designStage Five: Testing
Designers or evaluators are now able to rigorously try out the complete product using the best solutions identified during the prototyping phase. This is the final stage of the five stage-model, but it is also an iterative process where the results generated during the testing phase are often used to redefine one or more problems and inform the understanding of the users, conditions of use, how people think, behave, and feel. In this phase, alterations and refinements can be made in order to rule out impractical problem solutions and deepen our understanding of the product and its users.


Essentially, qualitative research – as DT – is dedicated to a core principal referred to as ‘Stretching.’ Successful facilitation of stretching reaches deep beneath the surface with participants, encourages each of us to become an observer, and challenges the thinking of client-observers. There are a number of powerful benefits stretching can bring to qualitative research and the insights it can reveal:

  • Helping to support and foster creative potential within each person, honoring the leader and the learner in each individual.
  • Bringing disparate voices and teams together, trying out all perspectives and viewpoints.
  • Remaining curious and empathic about stories.
  • Embracing inspiration and ‘gut feelings’ as an equal partner to analytical thinking.
  • Opening doors to creatively imagining ideas, then pulling out all the stops in the search for new views, drawing on limitless possibilities.
  • Not being afraid to fail, and, with this in mind, constantly experimenting in courageous, resourceful, and optimistic ways.

As QR practitioners we must endeavor to be more thoughtful and deliberate about how we embrace the process of exploration. Insight and empathy are critical elements of both qualitative research and DT. The intention of both is to integrate visceral or empathic connections into the process of observing, exploring, coming up with new views, and then taking that next step into designing solutions. The goal is to trigger the imaginations of all involved.  To do this, we can introduce an additional step into the qualitative phases of research in which we engage respondents in the process of designing prototypes, product ideation, or even strategic development.” We can infuse DT tools all the way through our work. The process is iterative, flexible and focused on collaboration between designers and users  with an emphasis on bringing ideas to life based on how real users think, feel and behave. Now, doesn’t this thought capture the essence of what qualitative research is all about?

Sources:
QRCA Views Magazine: Spring 2016 - Toolbox - Villanueva & Koronet - Design Thinking Tools for Qualitative Researchers

Interactive Design Foundation – Article By Rikke Dam and Teo Siang
https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/5-stages-in-the-design-thinking-process


joe sharlip

Joe Sharlip, QRCA Brand Manager
Joe has served in corporate, agency and consulting roles as Director of Marketing and Research, Branding Strategist and Account Planning Director for companies like American Electric Power, Pan American, and Bates Worldwide. He was recognized with a Gold EFFIE, and holds a MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut.  You can reach Joe on LinkedIn.


Tags:  design thinking  QRCA Digest  qualitative research 

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The AQR/QRCA Worldwide Conference: Experiences & Learnings from a First-Timer

Posted By Shannon Danzy, danzy consults., Tuesday, June 19, 2018

This post was written by Jessica Fennell, a 2018 QRCA Young Professionals Grant recipient. Jessica works at Northstar Research Partners. First launched in 2014, the Young Professionals Grant recognizes promising qualitative researchers aged 35 and younger with free passes to the QRCA’s Annual Conference. The application deadline to attend January’s 2019 QRCA Annual Conference: Charting Your Best Course in Savannah, GA is September 24. Visit qrca.org/YPG to learn more.

As a lucky recipient of the QRCA’s Young Professionals Grant, I was extremely pleased to hear that the theme for this year’s Worldwide Conference was ‘Stay Curious’. This topic felt like it had a wide scope and, for me personally, harked back to the reason I first entered qualitative research — pure curiosity about people.

What to Expect

This was also my first international conference and I flew to Spain with a very open mindset on what I would discover over two-and-a-half jam-packed days. So, what can you expect when you attend your first AQR/QRCA Worldwide Conference?

Collaboration and Open Dialogues
One thing that immediately struck me about the Worldwide Conference was the level of collaboration among attendees. This was the first conference I had been to that specifically focused on agency-side researchers attending rather than clients. Perhaps it was this, coupled with an excellent structure (which allowed for ample opportunities to meet other attendees), that fostered a general culture of openness. I found myself networking with a whole range of practitioners, sharing our experiences on how we design our projects and swapping inspiration.

Networking Made Easy
Ah, networking! I will freely admit that walking into a roomful of 100 complete strangers with the aim of making contacts is not something that has ever filled me with joy. However, as a first-timer, the reception I was given by AQR and QRCA made it easy to start conversations. For other conference first-timers, I would highly recommend stepping off the networking cliff and just giving it a go. Bring stacks of business cards and be prepared to start sharing your ideas and research practices with others. Do so and you’ll get so much back in return.

The Findings

But what about the presentations themselves? They provided a myriad of different interpretations of the conference theme ‘Stay Curious’. Standout presentations came from qual-at-scale platform Remesh and Acacia Avenue (both of which won the Sabena McLean Best Presentation Award). The speakers demonstrated a variety of approaches to the topic. These ranged from practical tips which I could see being implemented in my own research straight away, to more thought-provoking ideas and concepts.

Here are some of the standout ideas for me:

Borrowing from Surrounding Disciplines
Some of the most thought-provoking research ideas and approaches were borrowed from different disciplines. This is particularly true with regards to the communication and presentation of research ideas. Relish Research shared inspiring and practical tips about the principles of Method Acting. The technique, used by actors as diverse as Daniel Day-Lewis to James Dean, relies on the practitioner ‘becoming’ a character and completely immersing themselves in their emotions. Relish showed how adapting this method for research purposes could be used to bring clients closer to their audiences. First by setting clients a brief with the characteristics and practical limitations of their audience (budget, childcare etc.), they could be briefed to do anything from role play scenarios in workshops or shopping as their customer. The real benefit of this approach is that your clients can discover their own insights by becoming their target customer.

Prioritise Culture
Alex Gordon from Sign Salad called for cultural understanding to hold a more central role in research. To borrow the words of the writer Toni Morrison, the job of a culture expert is: “to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar." Culturally driven brand thinking allows researchers to identify and interpret where it will sit in the changing cultural future. Gordon highlighted Grant McCracken’s book, Chief Culture Officer, which calls for big organisations to create a position for a "person who knows culture, both its fads and fashions, and its deep, enduring structures."

Roben Allong at Lightbeam Communications highlighted how cultural bias or blindness towards questions of identity and culture need to be addressed by researchers as a matter of urgency. Cases like H&M’s Monkey sweatshirt PR disaster show how cultural blindness can have serious implications for both brand trust and profits. As researchers, we should always be considering the context and background of our interactions and analysis. For example, in the increasingly important new language of emojis, the Princess icon has a completely different meaning to African American women vs. Caucasian women. This is important because it is a qualitative researcher’s task to gain an intimate understanding of the target audience’s culture and language trends. Becoming culturally literate is of vital importance if we are to truly help our clients.

Thinking Critically about Your Biases
The age-old problem of avoiding bias in our fieldwork through the ‘research effect’ is still prevalent. In South Africa, Lesley Croskery of In Focus Qualitative Research talked about the potential negative implications of observing or moderating as a white researcher in black households. She advised being constantly aware of the effect your presence has on fieldwork. This could be as simple as minimising the number of observing clients to properly managing expectations about the research with participants. There are also extra considerations in a bilingual country like South Africa. Appraise not just whether conducting fieldwork in English will make research easier but whether moderating in the language they use at home would make participants feel more comfortable and open to discussion.

Both in the structure of the conference and the range of topics covered, my experience in Valencia truly embodied the topic of Stay Curious. Come with an open mind and prepared to be inspired!

Visit qrca.org/YPG to learn more about the Young Professionals Grant.

Tags:  AQR  QRCA  QRCA Young Professional Grant  qualitative research  Worldwide Conference on Qualitative Research 

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Can your business pass the “unplugged” challenge?

Posted By María Rosa Puras, Insights Marketing Touch, Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Survey Blog Post

Years ago, many of us enjoyed listening to “unplugged” music events or recordings. But could we do the same with the technology that is a part of our daily lives and businesses? How long could you live in an “unplugged” society, for instance, without wireless and wired communications/data services and electricity? Is your business prepared to be “unplugged”? To gain a global perspective, fill out the following short survey by Thursday, May 17th 21:00 (Spain Time) and you could win the grand prize of a premium Puerto Rican coffee.

I will be honest and say that I never thought of this question before two of nature’s ladies visited our island paradise and gave us the experience of “unplugged” living. On Friday, I will be sharing our experience from a qualitative perspective including insights from other QRCs, recruiters, facilities and marketing business firms in Puerto Rico.  

Here is the link to the survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/UnpluggedQual

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5 ½ Reasons Why I’m Addicted to the Worldwide Conference on Qualitative Research

Posted By Susan Abbott, ARC Strategy Ltd / Think Global Qualitative, Monday, March 26, 2018

Valencia will be my 4th Worldwide Conference — I was strong-armed to apply to speak at the Prague conference, the start of my habit. After Budapest, I was a card-carrying member of the fan club. I began to actively recruit new addicts as co-chair of Vienna in 2016. It’s an escalating condition, as you can see. I’ll be feeding my addiction to great ideas, as well as great coffee, in Valencia. Here’s why.

1. Fantastic networking

I’ve met great people at every event, and heard people speak that I have never heard speak before, and from all over the world. Speakers have to have a strong idea to make it onto the program – there are always too many applications for a limited number of spots. It always feels like the best and brightest to me, and a treat to be among them.

2. Reconnecting

Once you start going to global conferences, you will grow your global network. Eventually, you will know these people well enough that you really want to break bread with them from time to time. This conference has lots of talk time, and is a great place for connecting and reconnecting. Hence the addictive factor I mentioned, but I am a happy addict.

3. No-pitch environment

The speakers really dish up their best stuff from a posture of sharing, contributing, and mutual learning. Do they simultaneously build their brand? No doubt about it. But I have found this event to be educational with no lingering sales aftertaste, and I love that.

4. From stretch ideas to utter bafflement

I am still thinking about a presentation about collective culture in India that I heard at least five years ago. At the same conference, there was a semiotics session about clouds that totally went over my head. I’m not kidding, I still know nothing about the semiotics of clouds. I’m hoping to fare better with the semiotics of toy soldiers from the same speaker this year. The speakers have always given me ample brain food, and I love that.

5. Collective experience

Conversations at this event never start with “what session did you attend” because this is all plenary. Instead, you can walk up to people at the next table and dive right in, knowing they heard the same thing you did. Or maybe they didn’t… And therein is the start of a great conversation.

5 ½ Cava

There will be cava. And I’ll be enjoying it along with smart people I don’t get to see very often. Maybe you’ll be one them. Cheers!

The photo was taken of the author and Ilka Kuhagen at a previous Worldwide Conference.

Tags:  #WWQual  qualitative research  Valencia  Worldwide Conference on Qualitative Research 

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QRCA’s Elevate & Cultivate: The Experience & The Learnings

Posted By Amye Parker, Northstar Research Partners, Friday, February 9, 2018

Amye Parker is a 2018 QRCA Young Professionals Grant recipient. First launched in 2014, the Young Professionals Grant recognizes promising qualitative researchers aged 35 and younger with free passes to the QRCA’s Annual Conference.

Upon receiving the news that I was one of 15 people to receive a Young Professionals Grant from the QRCA to attend the annual conference ‘Elevate & Cultivate’ I was immediately excited — because I never win anything! However, the qualitative researcher inside me began to ask questions:

  • How should I prepare for Elevate & Cultivate?
  • What would the conference involve?
  • How would I avoid awkward networking situations?
  • What would I learn? 

Preparing for Elevate & Cultivate
Every first-timer gets paired with a seasoned conference goer who helps prepare for the conference. I quickly received an email introducing me to my ‘ambassador’, Kate Wagenlander Watson. She sent me lots of tips, answered all my questions, and even met me at 8 am on the first day of the conference. Kate was genuinely invested in making sure I had a good time.

The Conference
The conference contained the perfect balance of big-thinking seminars, participatory round-table discussions, and practical frameworks with highly applicable tips. The biggest surprise I had was how collaborative everyone was. Despite theoretically being competitors, everyone was forthcoming in offering advice and best practices.

Avoiding Awkward Networking
Everyone at the conference was welcoming and several social events also helped me meet others. A ‘speed dating’ session for all 55 First-Timers and their ambassadors was a great way to connect with people quickly. The dinner sponsored by the YP SIG attracted 30+ young researchers, resulting in fun times with great people. I left Phoenix with new friends, and renewed excitement about research.

The Learnings
The conference gave me a lot of inspiring thoughts and practical tips that I could apply right away. Here are six key things that stood out to me from Elevate & Cultivate:

  • Recruit Via Social Media

Recruiting high-quality research participants is becoming harder due to overly targeted criteria and professional participants. Tony Gentes of The Palmerston Group demonstrated the value of using social media outlets like Instagram, Meetup.com and Tinder. Using these outlets, recruitment is based on behavioural data and participants are less saturated with research.

  • Tri-angulate Insight Streams

Our research doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and our clients are inundated with information. Tamara Kenworthy of On Point Strategies showed the value of using secondary and quant data to complement qual in designing buyer personas. The Qually Award finalists also included expert insight in their proposals to complement consumer findings. By looking beyond our own primary research, we gain a holistic view, and can thus provide more strategic and nuanced insight.

  • Leverage Behavioural Economics Frameworks

A well-planned methodology is critical but insights can fall flat without the right questions. Lauren McCrae of Lux Insights shared a case study on using the COM-B framework to generate hypotheses and research questions. Behavioural Economic approaches can even be used in client workshops and ideation sessions. These frameworks offer great value in unpacking the sub-conscious drivers of behaviour and can help us understand the barriers

  • Lose Yourself in Moderation

We hear from people how ‘easy’ moderation seems, but anyone who’s in the job knows better. Naomi Henderson of RIVA Market Research engaged us in a highly relatable keynote speech on this topic, revisiting fundamentals and sharing encouraging (and hilarious) anecdotes. The power of System 1 thinking was another hot topic, and there were many sessions on projective methods offering case studies on activities like personification, deprivation and visual sorting exercises.

  • Create Experiences, Not Projects

In our overly-stimulated, attention-starved society, we are researchers and entertainers. Qually Award winners Lauren McCrae and Nicole Aleong of Lux Insights stood out by injecting videos and personality into their pitch. Daniel Berkal of The Palmerston Group inspired us to look beyond our industry for inspiration to elevate our research. For example, could we emulate the high-energy fun experienced at amusement parks? Crafting research that people want to be part of allows participants to open up, researchers to gain richer insight, and clients to be more engaged in the research.

  • Socialising Insight & Delivering Compelling Results

Clients are time-strapped and attention-poor. Therefore, our research needs to work hard to find longevity. Jennifer Spainhour and Martha Gordon led a heavily attended session on analysis and report writing hacks full of practical tips. In his masterclass, Berkal advised on the importance of keeping output top-of-mind throughout research design to ensure you deliver compelling insights. As a socialising tool, video cannot be under-estimated – it’s quick, visual and immersive, which drives results more deeply into our clients’ minds.

Visit qrca.org/YPG to learn more about the Young Professionals Grant.

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Young Professional Grant  qualitative research 

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Change is the New Normal: Insights from the 2018 QRCA Conference

Posted By Kathleen Doyle, Doyle Research Associates, Inc, Thursday, February 8, 2018

If you are a qualitative researcher and have not attended a QRCA Conference, you owe it to yourself to add it to your list. QRCA members are hands-down the most generous, forward-thinking and collegial people you will ever meet, and the conference itself is unlike any other.

As usual, this year’s conference was full of educational and inspirational sessions, great exhibitors, and some excellent and thought-provoking roundtable discussions.

Here is a recap of my key takeaways:

  1. Social media and AI technology are rapidly becoming the next generation tool for qualitative recruiting and data collection. Shapiro & Raj discussed their social adaptive recruiting, which accesses forums, online communities, and public social networks to “find the hard-to-find”; and Tory Gentes discussed some decidedly non-traditional techniques for using tools in our socially connected world (some sites this Boomer had never heard of before!) as a means to find quality recruits.
  2. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are poised to explode as a qualitative tool. David Bauer, of Hemisphere Insights, led a great session on this topic. As home VR equipment becomes ubiquitous, and programming costs are reduced, the ability to create more engaging experiences will become a reality. Use VR/AR to test concepts in-home; to simulate an in-store shopping experience; to create truly engaging virtual ethnography; to facilitate co-creation; and to allow stakeholders to understand the customer experience in a way not possible before.
  3. The traditional qualitative report is slowly but surely going the way of the dinosaur. The momentum continues to grow for shorter, more visual, non-traditional reports that tell a story that can persuade and influence decision making. While PPT is still most common, reports may also take the form of podcasts, photo books, full video reports, magazine reports, talk shows, or any number of other creative deliverables.
  4. The line between qualitative and quantitative is continuing to blur. Any survey can now be combined with qualitative feedback via video open-ends or qualitative “pull outs” — where a select number of respondents (based on their survey responses) are asked to participate in follow up qualitative interviews, to expand upon the learning from the survey and address the “why’s” behind their responses. Where once qualitative and quantitative were distinctly different beasts, hybrid projects are becoming increasingly common.

It’s an exciting time to be in the market research industry. Hold on, and enjoy the ride!

“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.”

― Taylor Swift

“The pace of change and the threat of disruption creates tremendous opportunities…”

― Steve Case

Sign up today for the 2019 QRCA conference.

Tags:  conference recap  QRCA  QRCA Annual Conference  qualitative market research  qualitative research 

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