Monthly Archives: January 2010

MROCs: Wave of the future or signpost along the way?

There has been a lot of discussion in the industry about whether Market Research Online Communities (MROCs) are the future of the industry or simply a fad that will pass. 

Communities and community-like research is here to stay. The past couple of years have been an inflection point in our
industry. “Standard” qualitative is changing dramatically. Therefore,
expectations are changing and communities are a reflection of that.

No longer will “8-10 people in a conference room talking about your
product in a project that requires 2 weeks of recruiting, followed by
travel to four cities and two weeks for the final report” be the
“standard” of qualitative research. Qualitative research has fragmented
so that the method fits the project objectives, which often include a
tighter schedule and budget.

Toss into this mix the rising world concern about privacy and the
industry concern about data quality and you get a situation tailor-made
for something like communities. As we have seen over the past couple of
years, communities have evolved. They are not just for the Fortune 50
any more. They will continue to evolve. But other options will evolve
along with them that also make research faster, better and cheaper.
Much research will be online but F2F will continue to be valuable, but
the old “standard” focus group project will lose share dramatically.

Generally, communities are here to stay but they are not the total
answer. They are an example of the new ways of thinking in research as
we pass through this inflection point into a new (dare I say it?)
paradigm in research methodology.

Brainstorming with Word Clouds

Last week, I received my 2010 prediction issue of Research Business Review.  There were 12 pages of predictions from all corners of the research industry.  It was overwhelming. I wondered what would happen if I created a word cloud of the entire predictions issue to easily assess the common themes?  I scanned the entire issue and loaded the text into Wordle to create a typical word frequency word cloud (below).

2010 Predictions.png

Then I began to consider the business implications of this compilation.  My mind instinctively began to combine words in an attempt to decipher meaning from this jumble of words.  Suddenly new concepts began to form around those word combinations.  I quickly realized that I was brainstorming trends and opportunities for 2010 from this jumbled mass of relevant words.  The word cloud and the resulting word combinations became an unexpected tool that stimulated brainstorming.  
Look at this word cloud and allow combinations of words to form.  What are their implications?  How do those combinations lead you to insights?  Here are some combinations that pop at me:
  • New Media Companies
  • Media Insights Communities
  • New Social Consumers
  • Consumer Insights Communities
  • Marketing Less Media
  • Continue Technology Promises
  • Understand Traditional Listening
  • See New Consumers
The beauty of using word clouds in this way is that the word cloud prioritizes the concepts (at least the words) that the experts are using but presents them in such a way that the brain has to work to make some sense of it.  That is the process that leads to brainstorming.
As a qual researcher, my mind is spinning on two levels.  First, how can I tactically use Word Clouds in my qualitative research brainstorming?  Second, how can I use Word Cloud Brainstorming in my business planning to tap the wisdom of the crowds of experts to better plan and strategize?

“Bryson Household” ceases to exist for phone researchers

family-silhouette.jpgFor several months I have been threatening to disconnect our home land line.  All 6 members of the Bryson household have a cell phone and I found myself answering the “home phone” on a regular basis when the call was not for me.  Finally, in December, the Bryson’s became a wireless-only family.  Now we save the monthly cost of our telephone bill and I don’t have to answer the phone unless someone wants to reach me personally.  

Apparently, the Brysons are part of a massive trend that will change the face of the research industry. The National Center for Health Statistics reported that another 2.5% of American households are now without land lines making 22.7% of all American households wireless only.  At this rate, in 11 years less than 50% of American households will have a “home phone” land line.  My guess is that this trend will accelerate and we are more like 5 years away from that reality.  
As we enter this next decade, the research industry must resolve this problem.  Will we depend on mobile phone panels to fulfill our research needs?  Will we migrate all research to online or in-person and abandon the concept of telephone interviews altogether?  Before you say “no way” consider the plight of door-to-door interviewing which was a research staple in the 1950s and 1960s.  Or, will we find a “third way?”  
The telephone we know as a research tool is becoming extinct.  Individuals now carry personal communications and information devices with them 24/7.  No longer do we simply call a publicly-listed household and ask for the decision marker.  We must have an individual’s personal number, have permission to use it and have a relationship with that individual that leads to engagement.  
In 2010, you can no longer reach the “Bryson household.”  You may call any of us…but you have to find our number first and give us a reason to talk to you.  For telephone researchers, the “Bryson Household” ceased to exist in 2009.
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