Monthly Archives: May 2010

Benefits of a Qualitative Panel

Qualitative research is changing dramatically with new ideas being floated virtually every day.  Recently Quirks carried an article by Sharon Seidler from C&R Research about the value of longer term qualitative panels.  Sharon was kind enough to summarize her article for posting here. 

Taking a cue from custom online panels used for quantitative research, Qualitative Research Panels offer the same efficiencies and worthwhile payoffs.
The basic structure: Establish one or more groups of qualified, targeted respondents. Bring them in once a month or so for a 2-hour discussion. In my experience, 2-3 groups per month, all conducted in one day works well. Four to six months is a reasonable length of time for the life of the panel.
The approach is simple and efficient: invest in a single recruitment and leverage the same respondents for a number of projects. (It helps to “weight” the financial incentive toward the back-end to ensure cooperation throughout, until the last interview.)
Benefits over traditional focus groups include:

  • Cost savings of 20-30%
  • A written topline report, turned around within 72 hours, works best, to keep the process moving, thus contributing to the savings to the client
  • Companies appreciate the discipline the Panel imposes on them, knowing that they need to identify new topics each month and produce stimuli
  • The menu of topics can be varied and broad; it just needs to be relevant to the respondents as they were originally screened. Thus, for a CPG company, for example, panels can address new concepts, refine existing products, consider advertising, packaging, etc.
  • Respondents actually are more, not less, invested in the process as they bond with the topics and with each other. And, cutting it off at 6 months or less has shown that they remain motivated (possibly because they feel “special” for having been chosen) and do not lose their ability to react to ideas in a fresh way.

Sharon Seidler is Senior Vice President of C&R Research (, one of the nation’s largest, independent full-service research firms. Since 1959, it has provided custom-designed qualitative and quantitative research for a wide variety of business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients. Their specialty research expertise includes youth, boomers, parents and shoppers. In addition, C&R offers a syndicated youth report, YouthBeat (

Market research enters the “golden age” of something

The Future of Insight blog posted a very interesting hypothesis that we are moving into the “golden age of research” but that we might not recognize it as research.  Here are a couple of paragraphs that were of particular interest.  For the remainder of the article go to:

My view is that we are in the midst of a very rapid evolutionary
change in market research and that this change will be a step change,
not incremental. Market research as we know it today may not exist in
ten years, but elements of the current era will persist. For example,
the days of the long survey are now very short. We know even long
surveys among online convenience samples are now tenuous at best. Will
surveys cease to exist entirely? I don’t think so, but I do think they
will look very different from today. They will be very short and are
likely to be heavily open ended and therefore reliant on our ability to
analyze text (which is improving very rapidly.). I have also contended
that surveys will morph into “survulations” – video game silmulations
used like surveys to better understand consumer behavior. This seems to
make sense given the facility GenXers and younger have with gaming
today. I also believe that the traditional tracking survey will slowly
begin to meld with MROCs and that today’s “project director” will be
tomorrow’s “community insights manager”. In time, MROCs combined with
social media monitoring will yield realtime tracking data that will make
the traditional quarterly trackers relatively quaint.

But, if some of the older forms of market research will be in
decline, some will endure. I happen to believe that IDIs,
ethnographies, shop-alongs and co-creative focus groups will persist and
perhaps thrive. We have a basic human need for human contact, and at
some level decisionmakers and researchers want to engage consumers at a
very granular, eye to eye level.

Social Media “Scraping” has hurdles to clear

Social media is everywhere.  MySpace then Facebook then Twitter, not to mention millions of blogs on everything from foreign affairs to banana pudding.  People are talking on the internet about EVERYTHING.  For researchers, the internet and social media is a data bonanza.  We can “scrape” sites to gather enormous volumes of data on a particular brand. 

All of this data is helpful and can serve as a “thermometer” to monitor the brand’s temperature in the market.  This can be very valuable to spot potential problems before they become widespread or to monitor reactions to marketing initiatives.  The question is, “How do researchers the “thermometer” monitoring to mine the mountain of data and produce real, actionable information?”

As research in social media matures, it will have to answer specific questions such as:

  • What are the drivers behind the changes in brand “temperature.”
  • Are the changes only among specific user groups or in specific regions, etc.?
  • Are the changes significant or just “noise?” 
  • How does the brand team respond to the findings without affecting the entire market?
  • How can the brand team respond and respect individual privacy?

20|20 Research Inc.


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Social media mining or “scraping” is here to stay.  However, a lot of hurdles need to be cleared before it becomes a widespread and effective tool for researchers and marketers.

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