Monthly Archives: February 2011

Predictions Point to Future for Online Qualitative, DIY Research

Research Rockstar’s Kathryn Korstoff launched a crowd-sourcing project late last year about predictions for market research in 2011. She created an MR Predictions site and invited readers to add their predictions, which she then opened up for voting. Thirty-five predictions and more than 700 votes later, the results are in. Here are the top 5 predictions and a few thoughts on them:

1. Combined and alternative modes of collection actually see traction. Read: Hybrid research is becoming increasingly popular and easier to do. As Kathryn says, “By combining different methods, we can maximize research’s effectiveness by overcoming the challenges that any single mode of research has.”

2. Market research reports will move online. We’d also add to that “And, thanks to online research software, become more interactive and multi-media.”

3. Panel demand increasingly driven by client-side organizations. Folks are predicting a shift to DIY and in-house research.

4. Research will be increasingly “always on” to allow fast response. The future will be less about limited snapshots and more about continuous feedback.

5. In-house research to expand dramatically. This goes back to a trend in DIY research. Whether it’s a good idea depends on a lot of things.

So what does this list tell us about the future of market research? Maybe nothing, but I’m definitely seeing two common threads — online qual and DIY research. What do you think? Anyone have other thoughts about the report?

Is the Internet Representative Enough for Online Qualitative Research?

“BUT, does the Internet really provide a representative sample?”

Ten years ago, this was a constant criticism of online research. Today it is a mere echo, but Internet accessibility remains a concern for some researchers. According to a new Census Bureau report 90-95% of Americans have access to broadband Internet that is fast enough to “handle downloads of Web pages, photos and video or simple video conferencing services.” Also, 68% of households with access to broadband actually subscribe. Therefore, according to the Census Bureau, 61% to 65% of all households have broadband access. (See map of broadband access at right). Clearly, this percentage should continue to rise.

As one would expect, broadband availability is correlated to income. Therefore, online qualitative is less representative for lower income households but is very representative for median income households and above. Indeed, most of the households without access to broadband are poor and/or rural. Otherwise, broadband Internet penetration is strong and samples can be, and are, representative of most populations.

The Obama administration has announced a new initiative to increase broadband penetration. This initiative will only improve the ability of online qualitative research to reach the right respondents.

Let’s Discuss: Why Don’t Research Firms Take Their Own Advice?

Earlier this month, Steve Quirk posted about a back-and-forth he had with a couple of research firms that he wanted as advertisers. In putting the pitch on them, Steve cited research studies highlighting the effectiveness of advertising (in one case, he even presented the potential advertiser’s own research on the topic!), but in all three cases, their answers were the same: We’re not going to advertise with you. One even said, “Advertising doesn’t work!”

Now, maybe Steve wasn’t a very good salesman, or maybe he rubbed them the wrong way, but doesn’t it seem a little peculiar that, when presented with research clearly showing the benefits of advertising in his magazine, research firms still shake their heads? Doesn’t that sort of go against what they want their clients to buy into? Steve writes:

“Client companies spend vast sums investigating how to market and promote their products and services more effectively. How do their research vendors look them in the face and tell them how to allocate their marketing and research dollars when they themselves appear not to believe such expenditures are worthwhile?”

This week, Bill Guerin of Cambiar also tackled the issue of contradictions in the market research industry on GreenBook. He wonders:

“How can we routinely give exquisite advice to our clients on ways to uniquely position their brands in targeted markets, yet so many of us try to be all things to all people, struggle with defining our target markets and lack an original and compelling value proposition?”

Or how about, “What do our end clients think about us promoting to them the necessity of collecting, processing and acting on customer feedback, yet so few of us do the same with our clients?”

He’s got a point, doesn’t he? So why don’t research firms take their own advice? I have two thoughts: 1) They’re making these decisions as business owners, not professional researchers; and 2) It’s a matter of resources — there simply isn’t enough time, people and/or money to do all of the things the recommend to their clients.

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Your Customers Can Make Your Reports Come Alive

Have you ever struggled to stay awake during a research presentation as bar chart after bar chart flashed across the screen? Have you ever struggled to make survey findings compelling so someone would actually notice and do something meaningful with the data?

I’m really excited about a new opportunity to make the reporting of quantitative data come alive.  Last week, 20/20 Technology unveiled a webcam response feature on its QualBoard bulletin board focus group platform. There are a lot of ways to use this feature. However, in my opinion, one of the most powerful is to drive home the most important points in a quantitative research presentation.

How compelling would it be to have real consumers explaining the bar charts to marketing executives?  A lot more compelling than a simple bar chart.

Here is how it can be done simply and inexpensively. Several months ago, 20/20 Technology introduced QualLink, which creates an opportunity for survey participants to opt in to a QualBoard after the survey. Once they opt in, respondents can answer qualitative questions, including webcam response questions. Collect those answers, develop a montage of the best responses, embed them in the research report. Voila! Consumers provide the reality behind the numbers.  It makes an impact.

The cost is very low and it requires no additional time in the research design. So, the value is high.

The key to good reporting is telling a compelling story.  Who better to communicate key points than the customers themselves?

MR Heretic Isn’t All Gloom and Doom: Some Lessons on Qualitative Research From the Masked Cynic

Not every industry has its very own masked cynic — but we do! Followers of the market research industry online have likely come across the MR Heretic, who posts his (or is it her? or its?!) complaints about the market research industry over at the Market Research Death Watch blog. But before you waste too much time rolling your eyes (It’s OK — we spent several hours doing so), know that the MR Heretic actually makes some valid points. It’s not ALL “the end is near” and “market researchers are stupid.”

The shrouded cynic “sat down” recently with Tom Anderson of Next Gen Market Research for an “EXCLUSIVE” interview. Once you get past the feeling of “This is ridiculous…why is there such thing as the MR Heretic?” and “Is Tom just sitting there with a mirror in his hand?” there are a few good takeaways for those of you in the qualitative research industry. Such as:

  • One of the first pet peeves mentioned by the MR Heretic is that research companies have stopped (or never did?) treat respondents like human beings. We think that’s a touch dramatic, but it serves as a good reminder nevertheless: Treat your respondents well, respect what they say and appreciate the time they’ve given you. Doing that can only result in better data and insight. He boils it down: “Create a better respondent experience and you will gain the keys to the data kingdom.”
  • When asked what he thinks the industry will look like in 10 years, he responded: “Think back to the music industry in the days of vinyl records, tapes and CDs; now fast-forward to iTunes…this is going to be a bit like that.” More online qualitative research, anyone?

Webcam Response With Bulletin Board Focus Group: A Game Changer?

Though this blog focuses generally on online qualitative research, we don’t blatantly brag on our new products.  This week, we make an exception. The new webcam response capability in QualBoard truly takes the bulletin board focus group to another level entirely. Webcam response with QualBoard is a game-changer.

The bulletin board focus group is one of the oldest forms of online qualitative research. There have been various innovations such as group tags, content tags, QuickView and others that make the bulletin board focus group easier to use and analyze. However, no single innovation gives bulletin boards the sheer power that a simple webcam response does.

The webcam-bulletin board combination creates a platform that is incredibly flexible for many uses and the visual connection so many qualitative researchers crave. Imagine the possibilities of connecting with respondents by leaving moderators instructions via webcam. Imagine a discussion of something like hand lotion then asking respondents to show their hand lotion on their webcam, tell why it is their favorite brand and even demonstrate applying it. Imagine simply seeing the respondent’s facial expressions as they describe their favorite restaurant. The possibilities for text and video insight combinations are endless. Check out 5 Great Uses for Webcam Response in a Bulletin Board Focus Group for more ideas. 

Estimates are that 35 percent of computer users have a webcam. As this number grows, webcam integration to other platforms will become the norm.  By themselves, webcams are interesting and helpful; combined with a full featured bulletin board focus group platform like QualBoard, they are incredibly powerful.

Expert Advice: Should You Do DIY Research?

A buzzword circling the qualitative research industry right now is DIY research. If you’re not familiar with the term, it basically refers to research done by the client-side researcher, not a research firm. Advancements in technology and easy-to-use online research software have made DIY research possible, but that doesn’t mean research firms are going to become obsolete. To get to the bottom of this issue, we talked to Paul Ponsford, market research analyst at Delta Faucet Company. Paul does some of his own research in-house, but he still outsources the vast majority to dedicated research firms, so we thought he’d be a good person to talk to about this new trend in DIY research. We interviewed him for an article “Questions to Ask Before Considering a DIY Research Project.” Here’s a sample of what he had to say:

  • To succeed with DIY research, you have to have the resources (read: manpower) and the knowledge to pull it off. Make sure you have both in place before starting a DIY project, unless, of course, you want low-quality results.
  • DIY research is great when you need maximum control and want to stay close to your customers. If your research project involves these things, a client-side researcher might consider taking the project in-house — but ONLY if the resources and knowledge are there (see his first point).
  • Don’t go DIY if you’re worried about bias — even if it’s just the perception of bias. “We’re at a point where we’re pretty good when it comes to avoiding bias, but there are still some projects that I definitely want an objective third-party researcher,” he explains of the research he and his team conduct for Delta.

What do you think about DIY research? We would love to hear both from professional researchers and those of you on the client side.

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