Monthly Archives: January 2011

“Doing Good” Is Good Business

Good citizens do good business, but good business is not always about business.

Two years ago, in the spirit of being a good citizen and making a difference in our communities, 20/20 Research began a “Doing Good” initiative in our Nashville, Charlotte and Miami offices. Our folks have turned out to walk for breast cancer, provide clothes to Haitian orphans, socks to the homeless, food to food banks, clothing to families in crisis, support for the Ronald McDonald House and lunch to the homeless, among other things.  I’m extremely proud of our employees.

Now, we are taking “Doing Good” a step further. 20/20 Research is sponsoring The Joseph School, a secondary school for orphans to be built in Haiti.  The school will provide an educational opportunity along with training in leadership and service for 350 orphans when it is built.  As this initiative rolls out, you will hear more about it. We are excited to be involved on the ground floor of this project and hope you will be involved as well.

We invite you to join us as we reach out and focus on “Doing Good” in our communities and around the world.

Tips From a Bulletin Board Focus Group Newbie

It’s easy for us to give tips on all things online qualitative research — we’re the experts, after all! But that expertise might make us just a tiny bit jaded — we’ve been doing this for years, so of course we think it’s easy!

That’s why it was so refreshing to stumble across Michelle Finzel’s blog post detailing her first online qualitative research project. It’s a must-read for anyone considering taking the leap to the online qualitative side.

Finzel, who’s the vice president of full service research at Randallstown, Md.-based Maryland Marketing Source, provides a newbie’s perspective, explaining first what her hesitations were prior to starting the project: “Is three days long enough, or perhaps too long, for a bulletin-board to be open? How much probing is too much?” and the list goes on.

As all good researchers would, she then details her impressions of the bulletin board focus group methodology, explaining what she liked and what she struggled with.

She ends the post with advice for other online qualitative research newbies. Here are a few of our favorites from her suggested tips:

  • Stay tuned in during the study. “The platform might be asynchronous, but the research itself isn’t,” she says. “If you don’t check in often enough, the discussion could get away from you and you could miss key opportunities for following-up and digging deeper.”
  • Be flexible. “Just like when we conduct face-to-face qualitative research, the guide is an ever-changing document, and even though with online bulletin boards the guide is actually programmed, that doesn’t mean it can’t be altered to go with the flow as well,” Finzel explains.

What would you add to this list of tips for online qualitative research newbies? Please respond in the comments below.

Simon Cowell: “I Can’t Bear Research”

No doubt about it, Simon Cowell has been successful. “American Idol,” “Pop Idol” and “The X Factor” have been phenomenal. Yet, quotes the madman of Idol as saying, “I can’t bear research. Research just kills creativity because people lie in research or they say things they think the person wants to hear, or they overthink it.”

Unfortunately, Simon misplaced the blame for poor research.  He blames the consumer for poor research.  This is simply wrong.  The fault for research that kills creativity and/or suppresses divergent thinking lies squarely at the feet of the researcher. 

As researchers, we have the responsibility to delve into the minds of the consumer and help them to overcome their desire to lie or say things they think the person wants to hear. A good researcher recognizes these deathtraps and is constantly on guard to prevent such behavior.

Too often, researchers themselves fall prey to groupthink or to designing research to verify pre-conceived notions or to pure risk reduction. Allowing these forces to dominate our research process leads to jaded research users who recognize the research limitation, even if they don’t recognize the cause. There are too many Simon Cowells in the world who disparage research because of the researchers, not because of the promise of the research art itself.

What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Why It’s a Good Idea to Recruit Participants BEFORE the Research Begins

Though not officially “Internet research,” mobile research has been a very hot topic in the industry. The promise of mobile phones is extraordinary and everyone is anxious for the applications to catch up with the promise. Many online research firms and technology companies are working hard to deliver on the promise of mobile phones. 

For now, online qualitative research practitioners can dream of the day when mobile research is like virtually “being there.” Until then, we can have a little fun with it. Here’s a video that reminds me of a researcher doing a mobile “shop-along.” Enjoy.

Mastering the Art of Engagement in a Bulletin Board Focus Group

We always get all warm and fuzzy inside when we see one of our clients doling out expert advice about engaging participants in a bulletin board focus group. OK, so that doesn’t happen that often, but it did when we saw the cover of this month’s edition of Quirk’s Marketing Research Review featuring an article by 20|20 client Greg Cobb of Psyma International Inc.

In the article, titled “How to Establish and Nurture Online Discussion-Board Conversations,” Greg explains how you can balance having fun and fostering interesting conversation with actually getting the information you need from bulletin board focus group participants. He recognizes the struggle that researchers have engaging participants when they’re sitting across the table from them, let alone 3,000 miles away, which can be the case when you’re conducting online qualitative research.

Definitely read the full article (free registration required), but also check out what tips stood out to us:

  • Send them something: A sure-fire way to engage participants in a bulletin board focus group is to send them “something, anything,” says Greg. You could go high-tech and send respondents a Flip video camera (that they use to shoot video to upload to the bulletin board focus group. Or, just a small notebook and pen to write down their observations would do the trick. Even product samples can be engaging giveaways.
  • Stay involved as an online moderator: Don’t just post your questions and wait for the responses to trickle in. “Frequent, personal interaction with the respondents can create an environment which feels closer to a gathering of friends than a research study populated by strangers with a monetary reward the only motivation to participate,” explains Greg. Also, thank them for their participation often.
  • Rethink the incentive: Depending on the length of the bulletin board focus group, which could last a few days to a few weeks, you may want to offer progressive incentives. Greg explains: “For a multi-week study, we offer a weekly incentive, contingent on completion of all required assignments for that week, and a final bonus incentive for completion of the entire project.”
  • Check out more tips for engaging bulletin board focus group participants in the Resources section of

How Do You Conduct “Fish-Alongs” Online?

We are big fans of online qualitative research because of its flexibility, depth and the opportunity to reach people in new ways. However, from time to time, even our experts struggle to find a good online method to solve a research problem.

Yesterday, such a project came to us. A client wants to do “fish-alongs.”  How do you use technology to conduct research with people who purposely go into the wild to escape technology? Hmmmm…not sure. Any suggestions?

What other types of research defy our creativity to conduct online? Hunt-alongs? How about Hy Mirampolski’s famous “Shower Ethnographies?”

Infographics: Fun to Look at, But Do They Tell the Right Story?

When you wrap up an online qualitative research project, the next step is analyzing and compiling the data—which you want to look as impressive and authoritative as possible, right? Of course you do. And that’s fine, as long as it’s the data that is impressive, and not just the flashy infographics you’ve created to represent the data.

In his 2011 predictions post, Tom Ewing of Kantar Operations reveals his skepticism toward infographics. He
says: “Infographics are generally a compromise between beauty and insight, and one which can end up tilting sharply towards the former. Sometimes the elegance of the infographic can serve to tell a pointed and useful story, sometimes it simply dazzles and makes you feel informed when you’ve actually learned nothing new or substantial.”

He also worries that researchers are going to be using them more and more in their data presentations this year.

In a follow-up post Tom quotes web guru Noah Brier who thinks infographics have “jumped the shark.” Noah says: “I like pretty things as much as the next guy, but (infographics) are presented as having some sort of higher purpose of helping people to better understand some large dataset. Which they hardly ever do, since that would require people spending enough time with them to actually understand the point they’re trying to make.”

This serves as a good reminder. Let the data speak for itself. Infographics should be used to make the data easier to process, not to distract from lackluster research results.

Who’s “Going” to the #MRX Twitterversity?

New to the market research field? Always wanted to try learning from the comfort of your smartphone? Then don’t miss the free Market Research Twitterversity, presented by Research Rockstar on Tuesday, Jan. 11. All you have to do
is follow the #MRXU hashtag on Twitter to receive 117 mini-lessons on market research basics. Here’s the schedule (in EST):

6 a.m.: Basic Concepts & Common Jargon
8 a.m.: Introduction to Market Research Project Planning
10 a.m.: About Survey Projects
Noon: About Qualitative Research
2 p.m.: Emerging Research Methods
4 p.m.: Receiving Research Results
5 p.m.: Delivering Research Results
7 p.m.: Tips for MR Buyers
9 p.m.: Market Research Career Planning

The powers that be behind the online learning event explain it like this: “Market research touches many careers these days. Many types of professionals need to request, receive or even participate in market
research. As a result, many people who are not ‘researchers’ need to have some basic knowledge so they can get the most value from their organizations’ research investments. Let’s make is easy for anyone to
learn the basics; it can only help improve interest in, and perhaps even perceived usefulness of, market research.”

So who’s going? Check back in and tell us what you thought. Maybe it’s been done before, but hosting a conference ON TWITTER seems like a pretty new (and neat!) idea.

Will Today’s Market Research Be Obsolete Tomorrow?

One day my 23-year-old daughter saw a typewriter sitting on a desk. She looked up at me and asked, “What kind of computer is that?”  Technology is moving fast and our world is changing rapidly.  It’s not just the horse and buggy that we know mostly from the history books. Here is an article on the things that became obsolete in the last decade.

The article itself is fun, but its also thought-provoking. It made me think of the impact on research. Here are questions it inspired for me.

  • How do we better utilize the mobile phone for data collection?
  • If everyone has broadband, can a researcher “be there” at virtually any time and any place?
  • If information is nearly perfectly available, what is the implication on marketing?
  • If print ads and television ads are gone, will all ad testing be online?

How does this list inspire you or make you question the future of market research?

The Best of Qualitative Research in 2010

Wrapping up 2010, we went back and took a look at the most read blog posts of 2010. Need a little reading? Want to be sure you are caught up on 2010 before you plunge headlong into 2011? Well, here you go. Drum-roll please.

10. Phone Call Declared Dead.  Online Research Comes Calling

9. 10 Tips for Moderating QualBoards

8. A Better Way to Combine Quantitative and Qualitative Research

7. Going Green with Online Qualitative Research

6. Easy Steps to Conducting Your First Online Qualitative Project

5. 3 Tips for Keeping Clients Engaged in a Bulletin Board

4. Are They Respondents or Participants?

3. Are Focus Group Facilities Dead?

2. Taco Bell Qual:  Fast, Cheap and Internal

1.  Advertising Creative Testing Using Mind Clouds

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