Monthly Archives: April 2009

Researchers “tweeting” their day away

twitter.pngTwitter, a booming fad…or revealing trend?  Regardless of your view, Twitter is undoubtedly the talk of the net.  It seems as if everyone is “tweeting.”  Tweeting has expanded into the professional sectors with professionals of all shapes and stripes (including the President of the US) tweeting their day away.  So, maybe its time to talk about tweeting as knowledge sharing.

The folks at FreshNetworks ( have done a little research and suggest that the very best researchers to follow on Twitter are:

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NSF speaks on qualitative research

Rarely do you find an academic science foundation producing a serious paper on qualitative research.  While browsing the internet, I came across a paper that the National Science Foundation published following a 2003 workshop.  The paper titled “Workshop on Scientific Foundations of Qualitative Research” is an academic paper that laid out a roadmap for the NSF to begin awarding grants for qualitative research. 

The paper is not terribly long. The actual paper is only about 10 pages though the appendix balloons the entire document to 147.  As a practitioner, I found it somewhat helpful if I applied a “qualitative” eye to it as I read.  For me, I gained the most by keeping the question, “How might this concept be applied to my practice?” rather than reading it for literal knowledge. 

Here is the link to the entire paper

Click the link below to read two paragraphs from the paper’s Executive Summary about the organization of the paper.

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Why Weird Words Make Great Brand Names

Naming.  We do it all the time in focus groups.  Frankly, sometimes I wonder if we are doing the name justice by tossing it out in a focus group to get “top of mind” responses.  Does a name make a brand?  Probably not.  The brand support goes farther than the actual name.  There are too many “good” names that have failed and too many “bad” names that have thrive.  Here is some food for thought the next time the client asks for some quick “name research.”


Why Weird Words Make Great Brand Names

Written by Phillip Davis

When creating a truly great company name, the number one consideration should be the level of engagement.

Engagement? you ask incredulously.

Yes … engagement.

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A Strategist’s Case for Qualitative Research

As qualitative researchers we sometimes “know” we are getting the answers but we don’t have the statistical precision of a quant methodologist to prove our point.  Subjective arguments just don’t carry the same gravitas as objective, quantitative ones.  With that frustration in mind, I have lifted a portion of a post by Victoria Else from her blog, “Behind the Two Way Mirror.”  The entire post can be found at


The mirage of quantitative messaging

So here’s my plea. First, if you haven’t already, read The Black Swan; it’s both necessary and delightful. Second, ask yourself some serious questions about quantitative research. It may be–heresy though this is–that qualitative is nearly always a much better basis for the development of marketing messages.

I am not completely anti-quant. Segmentation and behavioral models can lift your results if they are narrative-free (i.e., reflect no assumptions), easy to validate in real-time, and frequently refreshed. However, quantitative messaging studies over-complicate and even distort our understanding of human attitudes and behaviors.

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Brand Creative Testing Using Mind Clouds

All moderators have asked themselves whether to introduce advertising creative early in the focus group to minimize bias or later in the group to better understand context.  Emiel Van Wegen offers the following specific advice on how to conduct a focus group on new advertising creative.  Emiel writes a blog, Research Reinvented, that can be found at:

7 April 2009

Mind Cloud to clarify the picture in qualitative research

This time a qualitatively focused post – pinpointing at a new approach for creative concept testing. How can we get a more systematic and objective way of delivering this insight? Let’s explore…:
The use of qualitative research for creative evaluation was developed in the 1960s. To better understand the reactions to advertising ideas companies needed a clear “read” on the ads. Almost 50 years later and the standard way of researching creatives the qualitative way still stands unchanged; warm-up, show the creative, ask questions and close.

So having shown the ad during the qualitative session, moderators ask about how the ad fits with, or changes the brand. the “ad first” method causes two problems: Without prior measure, we cannot know what the effect of the creative is, because we need a benchmark from which to base our findings about what has changed. The other problem is the false presumption of the communication that affects the brand in the mind, but the reality is that the brands affects perception of the ad far more than the ad affects perception of the brand!
Deep interpretation of an execution arises for the chemistry between the pre-existing relationship with the brand and the content of the communication.

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Case Study: Logitech uses qual to go beyond analytics

In advance of the Web Strategy Summit coming up May 4-5 in Calgary, Matthew Nish-Lapidus sat down with one of the presenters, Dianne Howie to get a preview of her presentation.  In this interview, she shows how Logitech used qualitative research to dig deeper into issues highlighted by Logitech’s web analytics and how the qualiative actually allowed Logitech to identify and solve specific consumer problems. 

2009 Web Strategy Summit – A word with Dianne Howie

by Matthew Nish-Lapidus
April 1, 2009

At the upcoming Web Strategy Summit Dianne Howie and Heather Searl will speak about the role of research in their session “Going Beyond Web Analytics to Dig into the Minds of Your Users.” I was lucky enough to get a few minutes of Dianne’s time to ask her a few questions about her session.

Matt: In your Web Strategy Summit session you are going to talk about using qualitative research to back up web analytics quantitative data. When was the first time you used this technique, and what kind of benefits have you seen?

Dianne: Both Heather and I have used qualitative research for years. The Logitech remote controls division began using qualitative research web research when Heather joined the company in 2006. Logitech’s Harmony remote controls have web based setup software, allowing the company to collect a lot of quantitative data including: the time to set up devices, which pages they visited, and where people quit the setup process. Previous projects had tried to improve the setup process based on this information, but it didn’t work was well as they hoped. In addition, the quantitative data and marketing data didn’t match. They had high return rates. They could tell when a returned remote wasn’t fully set up and where people dropped off. But that wasn’t enough to know how to improve the design.

It makes a world of difference to see someone struggling with the setup process in person. You see things that could never be revealed by web analytics. For example, people tried to use the remote with the (very realistic) store sticker still on top of the LCD display. It wasn’t obvious that the sticker had to be peeled off! Another example… People didn’t know where to look on their devices for the model numbers. Just providing some simple tips and pictures during the setup made a huge difference.

The qualitative research made a compelling case to get the funding to do redesign of the setup process properly. Videos from visits made the points well: for example one person spent 12 minutes going around and around trying to fix a mistake and not understanding what he had done wrong. After applying the findings from the qualitative research, Logitech measured significant improvements in customer satisfaction for remote setup.

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Marketing Spending: From the bottom looking up?

From our friends at Mr. Web (, here is a survey that says we may have hit bottom and are about to begin climbing out of this spending hole we are in.  At least the rate of decline seems to be slowing.  I’ll continue to watch for other reports to see if they agree.  Here is hoping the glass is half full.
Bellwether Predicts Turning Point for Marketing Spend
April 6 2009


The rate of decline in spend on marketing slowed during the first quarter of 2009, suggesting budget cutting may have reached its peak in quarter four 2008, according to the IPA’s latest Bellwether survey.

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Massachusetts Acts to Quash Medical Incentives

I serve on the Government Affairs Committee for MRA/CMOR and one of the issues we have been dealing with for months is the intent of state legislatures to stop any payments by pharma to doctors.  Research is getting caught in the middle.  Several states have already established research reporting requirements and some are considering bans on any payments to physicians from healthcare companies directly or through third parties (research firms).  The latest state to act is Massachusetts which has recently enacted a regulation requiring reporting of all payments to physicians.  For more information on how you can let your voice be heard go to  Here is the opening of the MRA’s “action page.” 

Help Save Research in Massachusetts!

New regulations in Massachusetts could cripple research with health care practitioners. By requiring the public reporting of market research incentives for practitioners that originate from pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, the new Marketing Code of Conduct will make practitioners less likely to participate in vital marketing research that provides enormous benefit to the public and significant income for the research profession. Read this MRA Shield article for more on the new regulation, and see MRA’s public position paper.

As an individual, YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the fight to protect this vital vein of research and to get this regulation changed. Even if you are not a state resident, you can still ask your employees, co-workers, colleagues, friends and family to take action.

Massachusetts Residents: Take Action!

ARF Show Reveals Trends

ARF Logo.gifI spent two days this week at the ARF Conference hanging around the exhibit halls to learn about new research products, catch up with friends and look for potential partners.  Although I was able to make headway on each of these fronts, the volume and variety was disappointing.  I’m sure the economy impacted the attendance and exhibitors alike.  Whatever the reason, its not the ARF show of a few years ago.

Two years ago, “communities” and “panels” were all the rage with every other booth at each trade show manned by “community organizers” (sorry I couldn’t resist that one) and panel developers.  That trend has diminished considerably. 

This year, the trend seemed to be biologic testing and social media.  The biologic testing included technologies that have been developing for several years, such as eye tracking, in addition to neurologic technologies that, frankly, I don’t understand. 

From a qualitative perspective, I was interested in the social media companies.  There were two companies I talked with that do analytics from keyword searches on social media (facebook, myspace, etc.) and user developed content (blogs, bulletin boards, etc.).  The two companies I talked with were Converseon ( and Radian6 (  The analytics themselves were interesting and helpful to understand the “buzz” an advertising or PR campaign might generate.  It can also be useful in pinpointing problems so they can be solved before they become widespread.  Longitudinal tracking of such data might also highlight trends before they actually hit the mainstream.

These social media tracking companies can also deliver the quotes that contain the keywords and allow the client access to the actual person who posted that quote via Twitter, a blog or a social media outlet.  This seems to have a tremendous use for qualitative.  Wouldn’t it be great to find people who are disgruntled about a product and invite them to participate in some sort of online research to delve deeper into the experience to understand more about their concerns (or maybe their excitement over the product)?  This seems to be the tip of the iceberg.  What else can be done? 

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