connections chapter news

August 2014
Vol. 13, Number 6

Remember to check out the QRCA calendar of events
for upcoming Chapter events

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
SIG News
Member News


Minnesota Chapter: Summer Finally Arrives in Minnesota!

Rosemary Sundin,

After one of the longest, coldest and snowiest winters in the area’s history, the Minnesota Chapter held its annual summer picnic on June 18.

Finally, a lovely summer evening! Gracious hosts Jeff Walkowski and Jeff Wyant gave us all a chance to enjoy the true meaning of "picnic”, which is “the ...gatherings of the intelligentsia at which all attendees are expected to perform or in some other way contribute to the success of the evening”.  

Our group applied this traditional definition to the events of the evening. Nancy Brown tended the salmon and hot dogs on the grill, while Valerie Esqueda performed as chef extraordinaire in the kitchen. Delicious morsels and alfresco dining in the “The Jeffs'” park-like setting made the experience one of summer's most savory. The overall dining experience was elevated to extra-special heights by the presence of new Minnesota Chapter members Kristen Gupta-Turnbull and Shayla Stern. Here’s to a perfect Minnesota summer evening!

Upper left: Nancy Brown at the Grill; Dick Krueger and John Cashmore to the left.

Upper right: Ed Perry, Doug Johnson

Left: (Seated Left to right clockwise) Paul Tuchman, Dick Krueger, John Cashmore, Judy Cook, Mary Ann Casey, Jeff Wyant, Shayla Stern. Nancy Brown and Rosemary Sundin at the grill.

Not pictured: Valerie Esqueda, Elaine Gingold, Kristen Gupta-Turnbull, Jeff Walkowski, Rebecca Carlson.

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Philadelphia Chapter Enjoys Summer Dinner in Beer Garden

Abby Leafe,

On July 24, members of the Philadelphia chapter got together for the annual summer dinner in Center City Philly. This year we capitalized on a growing trend by checking out Morgan’s Pier, an outdoor beer garden right on the Delaware River nestled next to the Ben Franklin Bridge. Members enjoyed good food and good conversation while watching watched the boats go by. Occasionally the members talked about programming wants and needs for the coming year. Oh, and they had some cocktails too. 

Pictured in the photo: Melanie Cosgrove, Jeff Dubin, Abby Leafe, Laurie Tema-Lyn, Karen Zimmerman, Caroline Volpe, Pam Blake, Carolyn Marconi, Deanna Manfredi, Barry Davis, Ron Cosgrove.

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So. Cal. Chapter Mini-Conference Takes Reports to the Next Level

Jay Zaltzman,

We had a wonderful So. Cal. chapter mini-conference on July 19, on the theme, “Stepping up Reporting.” The day started with Nancy Hardwick’s presentation, “A Visual Upgrade: Design Reports that Inform, Persuade, and Entertain.” Thanks, Nancy, for flying in from Seattle! 

Chapter co-chairs Caryn Goldsmith and Lauren Goldberg McCluskey then presented “Beyond Powerpoint,” with a wealth of information about using infographics, video and more. Next, the chapter enjoyed a demo of the 24tru platform. And, finally, Michele Zwillinger facilitated a panel discussion with Cris Bain-Borrego, Jeff Anderson, and Nancy Hardwick, “We Know It’s Not All About Style – Challenging Conventional Approaches to Reporting Content.” It was a full day!

Susanna Whitmore, Cultural Anthropologist at Ethnologix, had the following to say about her experience:

“I have always loved the open sharing that is part of QRCA’s DNA, but somehow let membership fall by the wayside these past four or five years while going solo and getting my own business off the ground. No doubt the timely mini-conference (“Taking Reports to the Next Level”) offered last Saturday by the QRCA So Cal chapter was a welcome oasis after such a long hiatus, and a definite reason to rejoin. Thanks to my buddy and colleague Cris Bain-Borrego who has been after me for years to join, and who brought the conference to my attention; and, I’m back in the groove.

“I write a lot of reports, so this particular conference was a great opportunity to refresh my skills, gather up some new ideas, and, especially, stay current with the latest technology to meet ongoing client needs and demands. The immense information and resources presented were beyond my expectation; everything from how to make a report more visual, to streamlining video presentations, to the great dialogue throughout the day highlighting the different approaches and styles. I was delighted to be among so many experts and came away refreshed. I’ve already implemented many of the take-away recommendations, and definitely look forward to the next So Cal gathering, and New Orleans. What a great group!”

(From left to right) Standing: Maria Cedillo, Stephen Heffernan, Jighuan Liu, Joanne Gordon, Lauren Goldberg McCluskey, Caryn Goldsmith, Dean Stephens, Jay Zaltzman, Connie Starr-Kier, Huafu Jiang, Jonathan Bravin, Susanna Whitmore, George Sloan, Helena Ottoson
Seated: Monica Zinchiak, Michele Zwillinger, Nancy Hardwick, Jeff Anderson, Cris Bain-Borrego

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Virtual Chapter: When Smart People Get Together….Wow!!!

Astrid Velasquez,

I don’t dwell on what I have done or not done in my life, but after watching the presentations at the last QRCA Virtual Chapter meeting, I did regret not going to the AQR/QRCA Conference in Budapest. Beyond the fun of seeing friends and drinking wine with them, I missed out on my clever friends sharing their bright ideas.

One of the brightest ideas they shared in Budapest was shared again during our most recent virtual chapter meeting. It was a great approach to summarizing key information called “Posters:” just one slide contains summarized content that would normally appear on 20-30 PowerPoint slides. Think of it as an updated version of the “cheat sheets” you used to sneak into your high school history tests.

The first speaker was Susan Abbott from Customer Insight in Toronto, Canada. (twitter @susanabbott #aqrqrca) Her presentation was entitled, “Finding the High Ground: Metrics to Compare Research Methods.” In just 1 slide, Susan was able to summarize and explain the main differences and advantages between commonly used qualitative methods: focus groups/IDIs, vs. chat groups, vs discussion forums, vs. individual diaries.

There are now multiple methodologies, so it can be confusing to decide which method to choose when planning a research project. As new methodologies for recruiting and conducting research appear and change, researchers (and clients) need a basis to compare their value.

As a first check, just let’s look at the number of words and other research output that can be generated by one respondent using any of several different methodologies that cost the same. [Note: this example is based on one of Susan’s actual projects.]


Traditional F2F  FG

Text chat group

Discussion forum

Individual online diaries / blogs


2 hours

90 minutes

1 week

5 days


15 respondents in 2 groups

18 respondents  in 1 group

60 respondents  in 5 groups

10 respondents

Transcript words per participant




15,000 + 79 photos + 46 videos

Of course, you may already be thinking about the trouble of analyzing the greater volume of information gathered with online methods. This is a new consideration that clients will definitely care about; researchers need to learn to charge for this extra time and analysis. Eventually, it’s likely there will be software and tools to assist in the process.

Another likely consideration is, “Can the same depth of insight be generated by online vs. traditional research (FGs, IDIs, ethno, etc)? In my experience, online methodologies have allowed me to probe more, ask more questions, and to better-challenge respondents to think about their answers. Spontaneous reactions are certainly useful, but it can also be useful for respondents to have the time and motivation to really think about their habits or preferences and express them honestly.

And what about the role and value of active moderation and expert analysis?

“Talking” to respondents in a multi-day discussion forum or blog certainly establishes a closer relationship and allows the researcher to get to know the respondents more completely than traditional methods. In fact, we’ve had respondents that keep writing and sending us information weeks after the project closed: “I thought you would be interested in knowing that I saw an ad for xxx and I think this is even better than the concepts we evaluated for product %%, because….”.

For a similar investment and the same number of recruits, an online methodology offers a larger volume of data…which equals more chances to find the critical nugget. Of course, clients need to understand the “cost per insight” using different methodologies. As tools keep evolving, we need to keep improving our metrics.

David Wiesenfeld, VP Insights and Innovation, The Nielsen Company commented,

“The emerging practice of listening online allows marketers to observe naturally-occurring conversations between consumers about products, brands and companies. It’s no surprise that a technique anchored in actual conversations captures context and emotion better than traditional methods. What is surprising is that listening can be essential to finding the real story. In such cases, it may be more correct to think of traditional ‘asking’ methods as a complement to listening. The bottom line: both are required to develop an accurate, robust understanding of the marketplace”

The last presentation of the QRCA’s Virtual Chapter featured another QRCA member, Ilka Kuhagen, Director of IK Marketing in Munich, Germany. Her presentation, which was also presented as a “Poster” slide, was entitled, “Exploring the Mini World for Maxi Insight.” In her presentation, Ilka walked through the timeline of a project she conducted over 13 months using a mix of online and creative F2F methodologies to keep her respondents engaged and entertained. Her talk demonstrated the ease with which methodologies can be mixed to allow greater depth exploration of consumers’ attitudes that results in more and more valuable insights.

This is a brief description of the project. Between each stage the client reworked their materials based on the feedback then fed back it to the respondents to re-check.

  1. Ilka built a mini-community of 20 core target respondents, all of whom were busy young professionals who regularly use mobile devices and computers.

    IDEA: How to engage the respondents? Allow for this “online” generation to connect in an “offline” environment. 

    They met for a fun and casual evening for drinks.

    Mobile 1-on-1 task: Documentation of the evening out

  2. Online discussion during first week:
    • Check draft website
    • Acceptance of concept
    • Get friend’s feedback (interview friends, etc.)

  3. Online discussion during two days:
    • Usability, test registration to website, perceived differences on newly designed website, appeal, understanding, etc.

  4. Product Test followed by Diary + Discussion – lasting eight weeks (!!)
    • Feedback via mobile app
    • Creative groups to discuss website performance, price, recommendations, etc.

  5. Final Disaster check: online discussion over three days
    • Logo evaluations, missing or unclear information, website evaluation.

Ilka explained that keeping respondents engaged was a huge challenge, but the depth of the information was invaluable. They became “experts” on the research topic, cared about the brand and product, enjoyed the company of others in the community, and felt that their time and effort was appreciated and valued. To walk away from the community would have meant leaving behind part of their identity. This is how profoundly the moderator was able to link respondents to the research tasks.

We believe that online communities will become even more common as research tools in the future. And as Ilka demonstrated in her presentation, they don’t need to be huge, massively expensive exercises. For greatest success, start by identifying a specific activity that people enjoy that is related to the research topic and build a community around it. 

When smart people get together, great things can happen, so be sure to join the QRCA Virtual Chapter for future presentations. The group is waiting to hear what you have to say!

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