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.
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.
Aliza 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.
Customer Journey maps
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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 webinar “The 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.
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.
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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
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.
Author: 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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Posted By Roben Allong and Barbara Hairston,
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Re-Thinking the Rules of Engagement for Virtual Research Theatre
by Roben Allong and Barbara Hairston
(Photo credit: Julia M. Cameron)
Savvy qualitative researchers are not waiting for a “new normal” to emerge. They are re-thinking engagement rules before they step back into the research theatre, post COVID-19. Engaging consumers post-crisis — when experiences across racial, ethnic, employment, and geographic lines are newly imprinted and quite disparate — is an opportunity to re-calibrate the way we conduct qualitative research, whether in-person or online. To state the obvious, no one has been left untouched by the pandemic’s sudden disruption of human behavior and norms; this requires a new look at the rules for qual research interaction.
While participants are available and willing to talk, many are still in crisis physically, mentally, and even financially. Qual researchers should not expect that study participants will be mindfully available or fully cogent in responses, especially given their disparate experiences. Post-COVID-19 study designs will require that we look beyond traditional methodologies and techniques. This post will outline five guidelines that can be deployed to elevate engagement for a more insightful study, whether in-person or virtual. These may already be familiar but are worth revisiting; how we apply them in this new normal may also help us elevate the practice.
First, be as transparent as possible to re-establish trust. Basic trust between people has been severely upended. Transparency is needed now, more than ever; that includes reassuring participants of the protocols that are in place to ensure participants’ physical and mental health before starting your focus group or interview interaction. Meeting vulnerable communities where they are is imperative to rebuild trust. Clearly express participation expectations and also acknowledge that the crisis has had an impact. This is especially important for online video studies where building effective rapport in a virtual environment requires greater specificity and clarity. Transparency helps reduce fear of the unknown and the unexpected that participants may not even realize they are harboring since the advent of COVID-19.
Second, create and enforce a no judgement zone that supports study participants as they share their truth, that may even be new to them. Avoid unconscious bias. Be especially mindful of how you ask questions; choose your words and examples carefully. Tap into unfamiliar emotions that they are feeling and expressing freely without judgement. Don’t assume that what you do in person—the tone, body language and energy you radiate to encourage respondent rapport and engagement—is easily transferred to a video platform. There is distance between you and participants and between participants themselves. Subtle body movements, tones, whispers, eye expressions that we noticed and took for granted can go undetected in a virtual focus room. Paying even closer attention is mandatory. Think about the things you do that work well for you in person and how you can effectively alter and adapt them to the virtual environment.
Third, be authentically empathetic. Don’t assume that this is a participant’s first Zoom “rodeo” of the day nor that they are a pro at video calling. They are still living full lives and despite agreeing to take part in the research study, may not be fully present. Allow yourself to feel how being unemployed or working from home, fielding multiple conference calls, applying for jobs online, managing a team remotely or household with everyone in it simultaneously, or home-schooling children for the first time, informs their attitudes and perceptions. Be patient and build in extra time for them to collect themselves and their thoughts.
In order to get a full understanding of mindset and behavior changes, it important to not only have a good representation but also cultural understanding across all ethnicities in order to uncover the hidden stories that lead to critical insights and innovation. Make it a priority to be mindful that, because of racial, ethnic, gender, disabilities, and economic disparities, the pandemic has had a disparate impact on various segments. Build a strong, sharing, and meaningful connection by better understanding diverse cultures and validating unique experiences.
Fourth, increase pivot-ability. As clients and brands pivot toward quick data insights from quantitative because it’s relatively inexpensive and fast, accelerated qual interviews and even faster analysis and reporting will soon be the norm. However, qual by definition is not fast. Getting to the deep emotional recesses of the mind and memory takes time. As Einstein advised more than 100 years ago, time is relative. Pivoting to nimble online tech tools that combine and speed up parts of the qual methodology (such as fielding hybrid studies, insight gathering, analysis, and reporting) is essential. Our current fast-paced climate does not allow for clients to fully “embrace” the qual process, nor do some want to. To meet those emerging needs, wants, and expectations with more speed and acuity than before, qual researchers need to re-think their process and deliverables.
Fifth, be even more curious. Everything around us is changing. The past, in many cases, is only a reference point. The more we hear from participants, the broader our understanding will be of the evolving impact of COVID 19. That means we have to be more curious and avoid the temptation to make assumptions. Try to really understand that things that were once tried and true may no longer hold that position, in the minds of respondents. Things that they believed were once under their control, no longer are. Where they felt safe before, even to the point of taking things for granted, they don’t anymore. There has been a paradigm shift. Explore ways to better understand and accurately interpret the new context from the eyes, ears, and circumstances of our study participants.
COVID-19 has changed the rules of human interaction — which is the equivalent of a seismic shift in qualitative research. COVID-19’s forced contact deprivation coupled with the accelerated wide acceptance of video calling for both business and personal use has hastened a rethinking of how, when, who, and why we connect virtually. As the frequency of online qual research accelerates, we have a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to adapt what we know and create new best practices to facilitate a different, deeper, more meaningful interaction in a virtual environment. Obviously, the ideas presented here are by no means exhaustive but are designed to spark alternative thinking. As you ruminate on all the possibilities, what approaches are you are re-thinking for this new post-COVID-19 research theater engagement?
Roben Allong considers herself a research “spelunker” focused on exploring what lurks deep in the caverns of the global cultural zeitgeist. As CEO of Lightbeam Communciations, she is an innovative researcher with over a decade of knowledge and trend expertise across a broad spectrum of consumers, brands and industries. She is currently a QRCA Board member and Chair of QRCA New York Metro Chapter.
Barbara Hairston has a broad base of experience and expertise conducting studies for public health education, K-12 education, higher education, and social issues clients. Through her firm Resources International Inc., she conducts research using a variety of online and face-to-face methodologies to deliver the best possible research solutions among adults/seniors, general market and African American segments, physicians and allied health providers, and stakeholders.
Remote Market Research
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Posted By Cynthia Harris ,
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Quarantine Connections: How Virtual Coffees Can "Brew" Renewed Connections
When stay-at-home orders went into place in Ohio, I immediately felt sadness as I had hoped to do more in-person qualitative work and workshops this year. After traveling for the past year and focusing on digital methodologies, I was excited to connect live with consumers and colleagues in-person again in 2020.
As a naturally curious researcher, I began to think through how I could stay connected with consumers and clients while still honoring the mandates to mitigate COVID-19. “I can still deeply connect with consumers and colleagues virtually… After all, that’s solely what I’ve been doing while traveling the world for the past year!” While my Plan A had to be tabled, I had a new, intriguing idea that began to emerge.
Enter Plan B... my idea to have 30 virtual coffees with 30 different people within the next 30 days.
Little did I know I would learn so much from this experience about how to creatively plan research occasions, how to stay in touch with colleagues digitally and how to keep the human spirit alive despite social distancing.
Here are the top five things I learned:
- People are enthusiastic to connect: I was blown away by how many people were eager to catch up. From former colleagues to college friends to mentees I had not caught up with in a while, it was such a joy to reconnect with people who have meant a lot to me over the years. Do not underestimate the fact that we are all looking for connection during this time. People will be enthusiastic to catch up with you!
- Innovative ideas can come through casual conversation: During one of my coffee chats, a client and I tossed around ideas for how to tackle an upcoming research objective. We were not talking through a specific brief. We have not even booked the work (yet). But, I do think we gained a deeper rapport with one another because we entered a deeper “circle of trust”’ Use this time to pursue depth with people. It is mutually appreciated!
- Using a calendar service: Sure, I had heard of calendar services like Calend.ly and you can book me. But it was not until my “30 for 30” quest that I used a calendar service. And, my oh my, it was the point guard to my playbook! I am now convinced that leveraging one of these services is an incredible way to broaden conversations with clients and potential clients in a way that is convenient for you and them.
- Digital rapport-building is a craft: Though I have spent the past year focused primarily on digital research, this experience reaffirmed my belief that engaging authentically online requires skill. Sure, there are lots of articles on “how to design your background and how to have proper lighting,” but truly connecting with audiences via screens takes practice. Spending time with people over virtual coffees can help you build this muscle if digital moderating is something you aspire to given our current working conditions.
- Everyone is learning something new these days: I was amazed that each conversation I had resulted in me taking a note or two to research further. I learned about a community garden in my neighborhood; I learned more about GDPR; and more! My point is, we all are exploring new topics these days and you can learn so much from others. Instead of getting straight to business, find out what your clients might be expanding into these days.
In the book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi states, “Wherever you are in life right now and whatever you know, is a result of the ideas, experiences and people you have interacted with in your life.”
My plan B ended up being a foray into renewed relationships, creative thinking, and potential future business. While we may be quarantined and craving in-person connection, I encourage you to consider a Virtual Coffee quest of your own. You will likely cherish each conversation and perhaps learn something new. Embrace Plan B. Something beautiful might be brewing inside Plan B.
Cynthia Harris is the founder of 8:28 Consulting, a boutique qualitative research and marketing strategy company focused on designing digital and in-person experiences to amplify the voice of consumers. Cynthia’s career spans market research and marketing experiences across many categories ranging from health and beauty to the food industry. She is passionate about advocating for consumers in creative ways. Cynthia has an MBA from the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.
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Posted By Katrina Noelle,
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
The information provided in this blog post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please consult with your own legal counsel on your situation.
What is CCPA?
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a new state privacy law that impacts most market research and data analytics companies, and covers almost all consumer data. The law applies to almost any kind of data, and in any form, not just to electronic/online data.
GDPR vs. CCPA
CCPA’s goal is to give California residents greater control over how organizations collect, use and disclose their personal data. Although there are some similarities with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), CCPA also introduces additional rights for consumers such as the right to opt out from allowing a business to sell their personal data. Certain CCPA requirements overlap with the existing GDPR requirements, but several policies, processes and systems will still need updating to address differences between the two laws.
Who does CCPA apply to?
The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) estimates that the new law “will apply to more than 500,000 U.S. companies, the vast majority of which are small- to medium-sized enterprises.”
Basically, CCPA covers for-profit companies “that collect consumers’ personal information, or on the behalf of which such information is collected and that alone, or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of consumers’ personal information, that does business in the State of California, and that satisfies one or more of the following thresholds:
- Have greater than $25 million in annual gross revenue;
- Annually handle personal information for 50,000 consumers; or
- Derive half of annual revenue from selling consumers’ personal information.
The CCPA only imposes obligations on a business and not on service providers directly. As defined under the CCPA, a “service provider” is a for-profit entity “that processes information on behalf of a business.” If your company does not meet the requirements above to qualify as a business, your company may still be subject to the vendor management obligations that a business is required to impose on its service providers.
EXAMPLE: a company that falls within the scope of the CCPA must require by contract that their suppliers that process information on behalf of the company only retain, use, or disclose such personal information for the specific purpose of performing the services as specified in the contract.
Because many marketing research and data analytics companies (as well as our clients) will be covered by CCPA, it’s something to look into no matter where you are based. The only way to really avoid this law will be for a company to have nothing to do with data on a California resident (including a California employee, independent contractor or participant). That’s hard to avoid when doing nationwide research projects!
It’s tempting to think that your company is “too small to worry.” But while some small companies may not be covered, it still will be hard for them to escape the law’s reach.
EXAMPLE: a small recruiting company that recruits less than 50,000 individuals for other organizations’ studies would be subject to this law if recruitment (the sale of consumers’ personal contact and qualifications for a study to the recruiter’s clients) makes up half or more of its annual revenue.
What do I do to comply?
Businesses that fall under the scope of the CCPA will need to update data practices and procedures in order to comply with certain CCPA disclosure requirements. Businesses that fail to comply with the CCPA may be subject to “monetary penalties, regulatory enforcement actions, and private rights of action.”
Based on conversations with experts I’ve spoken to on the topic, there are a few things you should do/consider to ensure you are CCPA compliant:
- Meet with your lawyer to determine if you need to be CCPA compliant and what steps you need to take in order to do so.
- Consider updating your operating agreements, written information security program (WISP) and/or incident response plan (IRP).
- Review your company’s agreements with service providers to be sure you are up to date with their requirements.
Note that since the law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, there will be updates to it; keep abreast of changes here: https://oag.ca.gov/privacy/ccpa or subscribe to the mailing list here: https://oag.ca.gov/privacy/ccpa/subscribe
Katrina is principal of KNow Research, a full service insights consultancy specializing in designing custom qualitative insights projects for 16+ years to unlock insights about brands and target audiences. She is also co-founder of Scoot Insights, whose trademarked ScootTM Sprint approach helps decision-makers choose the right direction.
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Posted By Ted Kendall,
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Adapting Your Listening Skills to the Online World
By: Ted Kendall
As a successful qually, you intuitively know the importance of listening, how to listen well, and how to show participants that you are listening.
Listening is important because it engenders trust, creates rapport, and opens participants up.
In a physical setting, the key things we do to listen, and to show we are listening, include:
- Asking questions in response to participant’s thoughts
- Using verbal and non-verbal cues to show how you are listening
- Letting participants complete their own sentences
- Maintaining eye contact
- Acknowledging comments in specific ways like boarding or post-it notes
You will have noticed that most involve physicality—you have to be there in real life.
So, how do you listen, and just as importantly, show you are listening, in online qual?
Before we get into this, let me clarify that when I am talking about online qual in this context, I am referring to text-based online qual—primarily bulletin board style. While webcam interviews may be considered online, real life listening skills can be applied to the medium fairly easily.
Set Expectations to Counter Online Research Misperceptions
A unique challenge with online qual is that participants don’t necessarily know the difference between a survey and a qualitative discussion, so they often treat the study as if it were a survey. And they often believe that any interactions will be with a chatbot, not a real person.
It’s critical to counter these widely held beliefs and set the appropriate expectations up front. Tell participants you are listening to what they will say. And let them know it’s not a survey—it’s a conversation.
I can sometimes be pretty blunt about this—even going so far as to tell participants that if they just speed through the answers to my questions, they will not get the incentive. And then, when someone does that, I follow through on the promise and call them on it. Often it changes their interactions. Sometimes it doesn’t. But they definitely know you are listening. And, if the discussion is open to the whole group, others will see that you are listening as well.
Depending on the platform, you can use the messaging tools as well as the landing pages to accomplish this. And if the tools aren’t there, just use email or text, even phone, outside of the application.
I also make it a habit to reply to every participant post in the introductions—much like I do in a traditional focus group setting, or for that matter, in a conversation with a stranger. These replies can often reflect common ground, ” I love spending the day in the mountains with my dog too. What kind of dog do you have?” That’s not a question that will provide rich insights, but it will help open up the participant and really shows you are listening.
It’s critical to establish early in the conversation that you are a living, breathing, listening human being—not some chatbot or AI ghost in the machine. This has a huge impact on how participants approach your conversation.
Avoid AI Tools
Several online platform providers are touting AI generated responses to participants. All I can say is that this is what we get when we let the programmers drive development. Avoid this feature. Yes, it saves you time during the discussion. But it also removes you from the conversation—you are no longer actively listening. You wouldn’t let a robot take over your focus group session just to save time, would you?
Also, AI is not yet perfect. And it needs to be in this case. It’s not a life or death situation, unless you consider the life or death of the research conversation. Even if the AI gets 90% of the interactions correct, there is that 10% that will suck the air right out of your conversation with that participant. If you are using a group setting, other participants will see the mistake and the negative impact becomes exponential.
So just don’t do it. The potential losses greatly outweigh the potential time savings. Besides, actually responding manually forces you to listen and learn—which is what this is all about. Don’t let a robot take your job.
How to Digitally Use “Non-verbal” Cues and Maintain Eye Contact
In the online, text-based world, you certainly can’t maintain eye contact, nor can you provide non-verbal cues to show you are listening. So how do you employ those key principles of listening in an online, text-based world?
Probably the most obvious way is replying to participants’ posts with questions to better understand what they have said or get some clarification on their comment. Yes, I am talking about the same probing questions we lay on participants in focus groups and interviews. These probing questions work just as well online as they do in real life.
To replace those non-verbal cues, I have found it quite effective to comment or ask questions even when there is no need to do so. The idea is that by just saying something, participants recognize that you are there and you are reading what they are posting—you are listening.
Sometimes it is easy to just copy and paste the same general comment to several participants when you do this. If the participants can’t see one another, this is fine and saves you time. But if the participants can see each other, then it just makes you look like a robot.
It’s important when making comments just to show yourself to not require a reply—often this is an option. I like to just thank people for providing quality detail or thank them for an interesting take on the topic. The important thing is to personalize it a bit, to keep it from sounding generic.
Another way to show you are listening is to use the messaging app within the platform to hold meta conversations outside the actual discussion. I make it a point to send reminders at set times as well as thank-yous at the end of the day of discussion.
These messages don’t have to be just logistical in nature. You can also use them to show you are listening. Sometimes I will include a comment about some of the discussion—an insight that came through for the whole group of participants, or sometimes personalizing it to a specific participant.
In the end, listening is important to successful qual, whether you are in the same room as the participant or interacting digitally. It’s just how you listen, and how you show that you are listening, that can take a little adjustment in the digital qual world. But it’s no less important and no less doable.
Ted Kendall is the founder of TripleScoop, a boutique research agency that has a focus on online qualitative. Ted got to this place in his career by being in the right place at the right time to pioneer in early online methods. He was a co-founder of QualTalk that became 20/20 Research’s QualBoards. He learned how to moderate online qual through trial and error and has moderated hundreds of online qual discussions and interviews since that first one in 1997. And he is usually a good listener.
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Posted By Foster Winter,
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Super-qualitative! Using Qual Skills Beyond Market Research
By: Foster Winter
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.
She 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.
“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.
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!
Foster 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.
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Posted By Tom Rich,
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Looking Back – A Year of Change in the World of Qualitative
By: Tom Rich
At this time in the new year, it feels right to look back and see what seems to be different. It certainly has been a time of change in the world of qualitative research. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks communicating with some qualitative luminaries to get their perspectives on developing trends over the past year. Based on those conversations, I think a number of key developments are worthy of mention.
The Tool Bag is Growing
The continued expansion of the tools available for qualitative research is profoundly changing what qualitative is, and how it’s done. A dizzying array of tools and resources can be applied to qualitative. The online research platforms continue to grow in both features and sophistication, use of AI-based tools is growing, video editing software has become easier to use, and biometric tools continue to grow more affordable and user friendly. As a result, we can now provide insights to clients that are based upon more than mere conversation—we can bring multiple data sources to bear on our analysis.
The Lines are Blurring
As more tools become available, and as they become increasingly affordable and user friendly, clients are increasingly interested in mixed method studies. This doesn’t just mean qual/quant approaches; it’s no longer acceptable for qualitative practitioners to say, “I don’t do quant.” It means a greater merging of online and face-to-face approaches as well, as UX and more traditional qualitative studies are starting to look very similar.
Agility is the Word of the Moment
Clients are demanding compressed timetables. Practitioners are increasingly completing research in four or five business days. Also, clients’ priorities seem to be changing. Whereas the question used to be, “what will it take to get exactly the information we need?”, it now seems to be, “we have a week—what can we learn in that time?”. As a result, new approaches to recruiting and fieldwork are becoming more common.
Qualitative Approaches Are Becoming More Important to Understanding Big Data
Research users continue to see the value in using qualitative tools to understand all the data they have available. More and more seem to understand that there is a big difference between information and wisdom, and that actually talking to people–while it doesn’t yield quantifiable information–provides a level of detail and insight that can be acquired no other way.
If you feel like the ground is shifting beneath your feet, you’re not wrong. Whether you’re a researcher or a research user, staying current on new tools, techniques, and priorities is essential to survival and success.
I’d like to extend my thanks to these qualitative luminaries for their perspective on developing trends: David Bauer, Jim Kulevich, Abby Leafe, Joanna Patterson, Steve Schlesinger, and Manny Schrager.
Since founding his business, Thomas M. Rich & Associates, in 1996, Tom Rich has conducted thousands of focus groups, one-on-one interviews and online interactions for clients in nearly every industry. He boasts an extensive background in brand strategy, consumer behavior and shopper insights -- skills he developed while working for companies that include Backer & Spielvogel Advertising, Nabisco, Tambrands, and Unilever. This background gives Tom a unique skill set among qualitative practitioners and allows him to structure research and analysis around the tactical and strategic decisions that will be made as a result of the research. Tom holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree in business administration from the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College.
a year of change
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Posted By Aimée Caffrey ,
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Updated: Monday, December 9, 2019
Practical Messiness Masked by the Qualitative and Quantitative Distinction
By: Aimée Caffrey
This blog post discusses the practical messiness that can be masked by the qualitative/quantitative distinction and offers an approach for thinking about and dealing with that messiness.
Like many anthropologists, I have an abiding interest in the ways in which people construct and reproduce boundaries. During my doctoral work, my primary focus was on boundaries such as ethnicity, caste, and nationality. The professional path I have taken in more recent years has in part shifted my attention toward boundaries of another variety—the boundaries that demarcate scientific knowledge practices in industry, and toward a particular boundary with which the readers of this blog are already quite familiar—that between quantitative and qualitative. In my present role, I conduct and help support research that by most definitions would count as qualitative. At the same time, this work almost always feeds into, or follows on the heels of, research that by most definitions is quantitative. It might entail using IDIs, focus groups, or journaling exercises to better understand terminology or relevant dimensions of experience prior to writing a survey. At the other end of things, it might entail using these data collection formats in an effort to make sense of survey findings—when we have discovered the what but are uncertain of the why.
Working at this intersection instills a perhaps exaggerated awareness of, and sensitivity to, the risks of accepting the quant/qual boundary at face value. Like others of its type, this distinction is a productive shorthand for organizing and talking about a variety of practices; however, it can mask the messiness of reality. A very experienced industry researcher gestured toward this messiness on a recent L&E webinar when he remarked on the "under-powered quant" that can be at work when focus group moderators ask for a show of hands. Alternatively, consider that many of what are generally marketed as mobile ethnography or online qual tools often contain what we otherwise think of as quantitative question types (e.g., multiple choice). To offer another example, I regularly assist fellow researchers with the development of interview and focus group discussion guides, and often this assistance centers in part on rephrasing "how much" (i.e., quantitative) kinds of questions to help us make sure we are in fact collecting qualitative data.
These examples of the messiness relate to a tension between the method deployed and the data gathered. When we think of the boundary between qualitative and quantitative as pertaining to a (reporting) distinction between numbers and words, the lines are similarly blurred—we discover the use of stories and images to help explain the findings of quantitative analysis and the use of quantitative adjectives to convey insights from qualitative analysis. This isn't terribly surprising: If there is "terror in numbers," as Darrell Huff wrote in How to Lie with Statistics, the tensions and nuances at the very human heart of qualitative data can also induce discomfort. But, just as the pictures (e.g., graphs) we draw to quell the disquietude of quant can exaggerate the story that the numbers tell, so too can the words we use to describe our qualitative findings be misleading. What is more important than policing the qualitative/quantitative boundary? It is being watchful for what the messiness around that boundary might signal—that there is a misalignment somewhere among the objectives in mind, the method deployed, the data gathered, and ultimately, the claims that are made.
There may be justifiable and even good reasons to ask for a show of hands in a focus group—for example, as a quick "pulse check", or to help warm up participants at the start of the discussion. But whether we think of our work as quant or qual—and whether we are thinking of our questions, our methods, or our claims in making that determination—let's be deliberate and mindful about the implications of actively inviting that messiness into the picture.
Aimée Caffrey is a cultural anthropologist and UX researcher. Since 2017, she has worked in the Advanced Analytics Group at Bain & Company, where she collaborates with consultants, developers, designers, and fellow researchers to help clients solve some of today’s most exciting business challenges. If you wish to get in touch, please email her at Aimee.Caffrey@Bain.com.
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