Does anyone actually think that sticking 12 people in a conference room with a one-way mirror, promising them pizza and asking them a series of canned questions is really going to elicit mind-blowing, game-changing consumer insights?
I didn’t think so.
But I do 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.
In fact, if social media has taught us anything, it’s that consumers desperately want to be heard. They have great ideas and they know how your products can be better.
Qualitative research, done well, can provide consumers with the opportunity to show us, and provide us the opportunity to learn.
At InsightFarm, we’ve been creating and using a variety of methods that go beyond the traditional focus group. These methods orbit a central theme – borrowing from the power of ethnography and integrating behavior-based thinking into everything we do, in whatever environment we find ourselves.
To be successful, they also require:
Stronger moderator leadership;
- Greater sensitivity to the consumer;
- Increased efforts to gain consumer trust;
- More work to incorporate the consumer into the process;
- More stringent selection processes;
- Smaller, more intimate groups;
- A flexible interviewing style, to shift with the consumer where she wants to go;
- And often, pre-work to stimulate deeper, more considered consumer thoughts about the product being studied.
There are five methods we’ve used often with great results that span a spectrum, starting with those best for use early in the innovation process (offering more discovery) to those best used as prototypes are finalized (narrowing selections and confirming earlier hypotheses). They are:
- Observing with Impact
- Co-Creation Workshops
- Consumer Usability Labs
- Expandable-Base Qualitative
- Rapid Iteration
In upcoming posts, I’ll go into more detail on each of these methods and some examples of how different organizations have used them.
What are your thoughts on the state of qualitative research today?
Note: This is the first 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.”