Note: This is the third in a series of six posts. They originally appeared as one article in the December 2014 issue of Quirk’s Marketing Research Review under the title: “The Value of Being There: Five ways to Breathe New Life into Qualitative Research.”
I think that predictions of the demise of qualitative research are exaggerated. And, while technology solutions to qualitative offer exciting potential, I still believe that face-to-face, visceral consumer qualitative is the best way to reach deep, rich, meaningful insights in many cases.
Consumers are smarter than we think, but they definitely think differently than researchers or designers or marketers.
That’s why a Co-Creation Workshop is a great method for upstream thinking, like new product ideation, defining innovation platforms or establishing product R&D or design criteria. It provides a window into the consumer’s thought processes – how they shop, how they make decisions, what excites them – and brings the consumer directly into the process of ideation.
While directly engaging product teams with consumers can result in rich insights and new opportunities, it is imperative that the consumers be carefully screened and pre-interviewed for this method to be effective. They must be confident, outgoing, and able to stand up to the pressure of interacting with what are often very strong, very Type A professionals.
For the professionals, this method provides a greater emotional connection to the client participants than simply sitting behind the glass, observing. They can ask questions themselves as their thoughts unfold. I find that when marketers are honest with consumers about who they are and what they are doing, consumers respond with honesty in return, resulting in more intimate consumer understanding.
In one study, a consumer product company wanted to create a fashionable line of products. In order to better understand what defined and characterized a “fashionable” or “beautiful” product, teams made up of a consumer and company professionals were sent to high-end retail stores and design centers. They collected information, took pictures, bought products and then created large collages using science fair tri-fold displays illustrating their findings. The consumers on each team then presented their findings to all the participants. Afterward, the entire group participated in ideation exercises, developing fresh ideas for this new line.
For other techniques that make the most of in-person research, check out these other posts: