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Super-qualitative! Using Qual Skills Beyond Market Research

Posted By Foster Winter, Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Super-qualitative! Using Qual Skills Beyond Market Research

By: Foster Winter

Looking Back – A Year of Change in the World of Qualitative

Please be assured, my qualitative colleagues, this subject is not intended to demean the discipline of market research. We love MR. However, over time we found that our qualitative universe was expanding. Now before you delve into astrophysics, we promise to keep our discussion more earthbound.

Whether you are in the early stages of your qualitative career, having mid-career reflections or thinking of winding down your MR-based practice, we’ve found some examples of adjacencies that may serve as thought provoking for you.

The Operating Theatre

One of our colleagues has used her qualitative background to help in a most important aspect of the world of medicine. Many of you will remember Lauren Woodiwiss as an active member of QRCA for many years. As an avocation, Lauren had been involved in community theatre. As she moved into the next phase of her career, Lauren continued to hone her acting skills, becoming a professional actor.

Lauren WoodiwissShe says that one of her most rewarding roles is that of a patient interacting with medical professionals at all levels, from first-year med students to physicians, nurses, and other medical personnel. Nearly all medical schools now employ patient/health care provider role-playing as a valuable communication and physical exam training technique.

Lauren has found that her qualitative skills, such as reading body language coupled with rapid-fire, in-the-moment, relevant, and ad-libbed response allow her to realistically portray the patient and then provide both written and oral feedback to the learner and to the training institution. This feedback can include direction on what helped her — as a patient — to feel cared for and respected, as well as more concrete feedback of multiple aspects of taking a complete history, asking relevant questions and follow-up probes and correctly executing the physical exam.

The feedback questionnaire can have as many at 40 different elements of evaluation. These must be rated based on the “patient’s” memory of the encounter which just took place and, as mentioned, the evaluation encompasses all aspects of communication from the time the learner enters to the time of exit.

A qualitative researcher has the ability to have many thought “balls” in the air at once, such as:

What is the respondent saying?
Does that answer the question I just asked? If not, is it a point I should explore?
Does it fit the client’s objectives for the research?
How am I doing on time?

It is these skills that exquisitely prepare medical professionals for this job.

Working with Underserved Populations

As a recently retired QRC, Barbara Rugen and her husband joined the Peace Corps and were sent for two years to the African country of Namibia.

Barbara Rugen“Never once did I think I would be called upon to use my qualitative background. To my surprise, I found that my skills could make a significant difference there.”

Barbara worked largely with the Nama, who constitute the marginalized communities of the south. The first thing she learned about the Nama was the disillusionment of foreign agencies that had tried to help them: “They just don’t care!” was a common complaint. The second realization was the local prejudice against them, particularly by the white Afrikaaners: “I don’t hire Nama. The Nama are too lazy.”

A small number of Nama were in positions of influence who wanted to uplift their people but were unsure how. Barbara conducted IDIs with the leaders and focus groups with the Nama people. The qualitative sessions explored Nama attitudes and behavior, and the research provided insights to help leaders frame recommendations for Nama capacity building and develop an action plan for the capacity building of these marginalized people.

If you are interested in learning more about this adventure in qualitative, you can hear an interview with Barbara on a VIEWS podcast at https://qrcaviews.org/2019/03/11/spring-podcast-using-qualitative-techniques-within-marginalized-populations/

Business Consulting and Talent Recruiting

My journey into the adjacent qualitative universe began with a small strategy project for a company I call a re-startup. The company had reorganized and was now on a growth path. The task at hand was where to start rebuilding the organization.

Enter strategic qualitative. We began with in-person depth interviews with members of the senior management team. From the knowledge gained, we recommended that the first personnel hole that needed to be plugged was that of a MarCom director. The client agreed, and then said, “find us one.”I looked around to see if they were talking to me. But then, I realized that many organizations, particularly those in startup mode, do not – in fact should not – have their key management people getting into the weeds of going through the hiring process.

We did find our client a suitable candidate for that position — if I do say so — she’s been there for nearly 3 years, and is doing a great job with a five-person department reporting to her. And we learned and developed a process that allows the supervisory/management team to do their primary jobs and still bring in the proper new talent.

Now, I admit my bias – and my client concurs with this view – that a primary reason the process works is that the foundation of the search is based on interviews treated as qualitative investigations. The nuances of the conversations also keep an ear on cues to the candidate’s compatibility with the culture of the organization, a very important aspect to a growing company.

Super-qualitative

While the three examples above illustrate later-career direction shifts, as we noted at the outset, qualitative expertise might offer new trajectories at any point in this rapidly changing research universe. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Author Bio:

Foster WinterFoster Winter is Managing Director of Sigma Research & Management Group. His experience as a business owner and researcher has contributed to his capabilities as a management and organizational consultant. Foster has served on the QRCA Board of Directors, co-chaired the Worldwide Qualitative Conference in Budapest and is the host of the QRCA VIEWS Conversations in Depth podcasts.

Tags:  Consulting  Market Research  QRCA Digest  Qualitative 

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Let’s Work Together: The Consumer Co-Creation Camp

Posted By Isabel Aneyba, Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Updated: Monday, June 24, 2019

Let’s Work Together: The Consumer Co-Creation Camp

 

While focus groups have long been a part of the innovation process, many clients have voiced their frustration about the limitations of traditional focus groups. To respond to this and other client needs, we created a methodology called Consumer Co-creation Camp. It is designed to expedite the research process while making it fun and provide a more direct connection between the client and consumers.

 

We had a client that decided it was time for his company to start an innovative process. This is how he requested the research: “I do not want boring focus groups, I want a fun process like a reality show, where we are looking to discover new things. I do not want to listen to top-of-mind responses, I want a deeper understanding. We want to achieve a year’s worth of research in one comprehensive study: understand the target, create product/brand concepts and evaluate those concepts

 

To address this client’s broad request, we facilitated three groups simultaneously in three days to create products and brands with consumers. This process involved multiple stakeholders: the client team, the advertising agency and the consumers. We called this engaging process: The Consumer Co-creation Camp.

 

At the end of the fieldwork, the client stated: “We clearly know what we need to know to make this product a success in the marketplace”. How did this project provide such clarity and confidence to the client team and agency? In my view, it was the co-creation of compelling consumer-ready ideas. Three successive stages lead them to:

Stage One: Storytelling Turns Participants into Friends 

 

We wanted the participants to get to know one another first, so we asked Millennial participants to introduce themselves using a collage they created prior to the Camp. This set the stage that this process was about the Millennials and about being together. They felt appreciated while they found new friends and were free to use their own colloquial language.

 

During this process, our clients moved from feeling “I want to hear this and that” to “These people are interesting”” to “This is going to be big”. There was a perception shift because it was the first-time clients had a chance to see how these Millennials saw themselves. 

 

Stage Two: Concept-Generation Exercises Produce Meaningful Product and Brand Ideas 

 

Millennials created new concepts after testing the product. Collages helped participants to articulate their feelings because many times participants do not know how to describe their feelings and emotions. Collages were a springboard to show their feelings and it was a great equalizer, giving them all the opportunity to adapt the product and the brand to themselves. Our clients witnessed how the brand concepts matched Millennials’ needs and personal styles.

  

Stage Three: An Open Forum Motivates Clients to Truly Listen to Consumers' Ideas 

 

This stage motivated the clients the most. The Millennials presented their ideas directly to them, in the same room. The client team and Millennial teams had a vigorous conversation. There was ‘one voice in the room’. Consumers and clients worked in tandem focused on the unifying goal, with no barriers, mirrors or attitudes. After the final presentation, all the clients knew what the final output of the research was! 

 

Three Key Outcomes

 At the end of the process, three key outcomes would significantly impact product management, the brand vision, and consumer engagement.

Product Management. The global R&D and Marketing team became aligned and felt empowered to make necessary product and packaging changes.

Brand Vision. The client and ad agency gained a deeper understanding of Millennials, their needs, and shared this with the entire corporation. This understanding inspired them to create a new brand vision.

Engagement. The marketing teams learned how Millennials made friends, and this insight helped them to better engage with this target – utilizing a relevant marketing platform.

Even after the camp, the participants’ ideas were referred to constantly by the clients and the agency. Their vivid experiences allowed for crisper memories. The co-creation experience anchored the clients’ understanding on this target audience through a human connection. It was clear how the Co-Creation Camp streamlined the research process, and in the end, saved the client money and time while enhancing their understanding.

 

Do you believe your corporate clients would value working together with the consumers in a fun, engaging process that yields high quality insights and speedier outcomes?

 

 If so, how can you streamline your next research project to generate compelling consumer -ready ideas? Consumer Co-creation Camp is a great alternative. When empowered and enabled by the research process our experience has shown that Millennials and Clients are happy to embrace the challenge of creating new products and services.

 

Isabel Aneyba is president and chief insight generator of COMARKA, an Austin, Texas research firm. COMARKA empowers marketers to develop meaningful product and brand ideas with their customers through dialogue. www.comarka.com

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/isabelaneyba/ 

Twitter: @IsabelAneyba

 

Tags:  Co-creation  focus groups  Innovation  market research  Millennials  QRCA Digest  qualitative research  Research Methodologies  Research Methodology 

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How To Create Effective Screeners

Posted By Jeff Walkowski, Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Updated: Friday, May 24, 2019

How To Create Effective Screeners

Whether you’re experienced or just breaking into qualitative research, it never hurts to review what makes a screener effective in finding just the right people for a research project. It is a questionnaire that recruiters will use to find qualified participants for the study. It is called a “screener” because it is like panning for gold—we have to sift through many people to find the nuggets (qualified people) to be invited to participate. Screeners are used by telephone recruiters, or they may be online surveys as a way to automate the recruitment process. Automation helps reduce expense by eliminating the human effort of dialing phones and talking to potential participants. Keep in mind that automated screeners still have costs associated with them – most notably programming costs which may include quota control, skip patterns, and conditional questions (all of which are typical of any online survey).

All the rules/guidelines about questionnaire construction apply to qualitative research screeners. The most effective screeners have the following characteristics:

They Are Short

If a screener is too long, participants may hang up the phone with a recruiter or simply decide to discontinue completing an online survey. Ideally, screeners have no more than 10-15 questions, or they take no longer than 5 minutes to administer (online or offline).

 

They Are Clear about the Purpose at the Beginning

Tell participants that it is not a sales call. Explain that we are looking for people to participate in a market research interview, but we must spend some time asking some questions to determine if they qualify.

 

They Do Not Provide Hints that Encourage Cheating

They include an intentionally general description of the nature of the research so as to not tip off participants to answer a particular way so that they can be invited. For example, say, “We are putting together a focus group on beverages,” instead of “We are putting together a focus group to determine what consumers think of Starbucks.”

 

They Include Questions Up Front that Are Easy to Answer and that Quickly Eliminate People Without Taking too Much Time

For example, if we are looking for millennial females, we will first ask about gender and age so that non-millennial males are quickly excused.

 

They Include Need-to-Know Questions – Not Nice-to-Know Questions

Asking nice-to-know questions lengthens the screener, can be frustrating to potential participants going through the screening process, and makes the recruitment process less efficient and possibly more expensive. Keeping the focus on questions that help determine whether a person should be invited or not is best.

 

They Include Intriguing Questions

Interesting questions keep survey-takers engaged. The objective is to not lose them along the way due to boredom.

 

They Feature Mostly Closed-End Questions

Again, this is designed to help the prospective recruit move through the process as quickly as possible. Closed-end responses also make the task easier for the recruiter (no judgment required).

 

They Often Include One or More of the Following Question Types

  • Product/service category use
  • If they are not users of a particular product or service, they are unlikely to be useful.
  • Brand(s) used more often and/or brands they would never use
  • If the project is about a particular brand, we probably do not want individuals who reject the brand outright (unless, of course, the purpose is to attract those who reject the brand).
  • Past participation in market research surveys, focus groups, and interviews
  • Preference is given to those who are not considered “professional” participants, so that they approach the research experience with a fresh attitude.
  • Employment in certain industries
  • We typically do not want those who are employed in advertising, public relations, or market research. In addition, we tend to rule out those who are employed in the industry that the project is about, because they may “know too much” and not represent the typical customer for the product/service.

 

They May Include an “Articulation” Question

Such open-end questions are used to help ensure that a participant will be able to make a meaningful contribution to the discussion. Sometimes questions are asked that pose a creativity challenge to the potential participant (e.g., “List 10 ways in which rubber bands might be used”). Ideally, however, a question that is related to the product category will be more relevant (e.g., in a study of high-end golfing equipment, potential participants might be asked to demonstrate some core knowledge of current equipment). In markets where participants may have differing levels of proficiency with the language to be used in the group (e.g., English), the recruiter may be asked to judge the ability of the potential participant to be clearly understood. This serves as an additional articulation assessment.

 

Author Bio

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.

Tags:  market research  outreach  QRCA Digest  qualitative research  Recruiting  Research Methodology 

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Millennials and Video Ethnography: So Happy Together!

Posted By Isabelle Albanese, Consumer Truth Ltd., Thursday, October 26, 2017

Using video ethnography with Millennials is a big win for researchers and marketers. Lately Consumer Truth has done a few video ethnography projects among Millennials in three different categories. They've all yielded tremendous insight and in-depth discoveries. An interesting finding about the "marriage" of the target and the methodology is that Millennials are more than willing to share their lives via autonomous video capture and perceived self-direction. What researchers and marketers can potentially get in return is a wonderful glimpse into their homes, their personalities, relationships, interaction with friends, family members and pets—and ultimately, their truths—who they are, what matters to them and why, which is our ultimate end game.

In fact, I've found this group much more willing to share feelings, concerns, wishes and desires via self-made video stories than they are in more traditional qualitative settings. And why not? Screens are a second-nature connection to them. Screens have been their preferred conduit to communication most of their lives. Screens are familiar, controllable—their friends! And what we as marketers get back are well-crafted, casually communicated stories about how they interact with products and services—and importantly, how they feel about brands. What's real. Their truths.

In a recent project we did with Millennials, one person—after having completed the assignment—contacted us and asked what more we wanted her to do. Are we satisfied with her feedback? Did we get what we were looking for? Was there anything else we wanted her to capture on video? While I appreciated the over-achieving effort, like any qualitative researcher, I asked why she was so willing to continue contributing beyond our initial "ask." The answer shed a lot of light on the relationship this demographic has with screens, video and technology overall—and what we as marketers can learn relative to successful methodologies.

"It seemed too easy! Like I should be doing more for the money you paid me!" Understand, this was after having her complete a three-pronged exercise spanning 3 days and submitting 15 minutes of self-made video. In 17 years of researching consumer behavior, I've never once had someone contact me after an in-person ethnography (or any other methodology, for that matter) to ask if there was something else I needed to ask them or for them to do. No. That did not happen. Ever.

"It's ...easy!" And if it's "easy," isn't it also more authentic, more natural and real?

Read the full blog post, and join me at my presentation at the QRCA Annual Conference in January 2018!

Tags:  market research  Millennials  QRCA Annual Conference  video ethnography 

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