Want to Find Out What’s in a Woman’s Purse?

Woman's purse, overflowing with personal items

A woman’s handbag is the Swiss Army knife of womanhood and a fertile ground for product innovation, according to Kelley Styring.

We tracked the purse to its natural habitat – the shopping mall – and asked women if we could look inside their beloved bags and share what was inside them with the world. For Science. And they said YES.

We found old gum wrappers, crumbs, lipsticks without caps, used tissues, cellphones, keys, loyalty cards –  and billions (yes, that’s billions with a “b”) of dollars in untapped marketing opportunities across 25 consumer product categories.

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The Value of Being There: Expandable Base Qualitative

Note: This is the fifth 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.”

If social media has taught those of us in the insights business 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.

Sometimes, it only takes a small number of broad-based, in-depth interviews to identify a problem and the reasons behind it, and then you would separately quantify what you discovered in the qualitative research by doing a quantitative study.

Expandable Base Qualitative provides you with both the depth of qualitative and the verification of quantitative. It works because a good experiment is repeatable and, once you’ve narrowed down your key measures, the answers become repetitive. It’s a great central location or even in-store technique.

In one study, a company recruited respondents for a soap study and interviewed them in-store to capture their descriptions of their shopping decisions in detail. After a dozen in-depth interviews, researchers collected enough information to frame hypotheses regarding the consumer’s path to purchase.

Researchers were then posted in the store aisle to intercept about 50 additional shoppers and ask them a few key questions about their purchasing decisions. These later interviews were used to verify the hypotheses developed during the in-depth interviews.

For other techniques that make the most of in-person research, check out these other posts:

The Value of Being There: Consumer Usability Labs

Note: This is the fourth 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.”

The traditional focus group has struggled to remain relevant. But walking away from the richness of personal encounters and consumer intimacy insight isn’t the answer.

One of the big drawbacks to ethnographic research is the time and the expense of going into consumers’ homes. When studying a short, limited task that takes place in a single space, a Consumer Usability Lab offers an ideal replacement.

For a consumer usability lab, a simulated environment, like a fully functional kitchen is created.

When studying a short, limited task that takes place in a single space, a Consumer Usability Lab offers an ideal replacement.

A simulated environment is created, such as a fully functional kitchen, and equipped with closed-circuit video to allow the team to observe. Consumers are recruited to enter the lab, which is stocked with the product being studied and a large variety of other supplies from which they can choose to help them complete their task. While the environment is controlled, the consumer’s task is not.

For example, in one study of resealable plastic containers, we asked consumers to fill each of three containers with leftover spaghetti sauce as if they were at home.

In addition to a crock-pot full of room-temperature spaghetti sauce, a selection of ladles, spoons, measuring cups and other utensils were available for use.

If they chose, they could label the containers using a collection of labels, tape and writing instruments. Likewise, any spills could be cleaned up using paper towels, cloth washcloths and towels, sponges and so on.

The consumer did not know what we were testing: sauce, containers, ladles, labels, markers, or paper towels.  This ambiguity is part of creating a behavior-based learning environment.

After completing the task three times, the consumers were asked to empty the containers down the sink and wash them. They could put the containers in the dishwasher, or choose to wash them by hand in the sink. Following the completion of the task, we then asked the consumers questions about the entire process, step by step.

The Usability Lab provides a convenient environment in which 30-50 realistic observations can take place over the course of a day.

For other techniques that make the most of in-person research, check out these other posts:

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