immersive research

Qualitative Research Needed to Understand Social Buying

Several interesting articles recently have focused on social media effects on purchasing. It’s an ongoing discussion among marketers, and qualitative research is a critical part of the discussion.

A recent post by Tony Zambito at his blog, Buyer Persona Insights, The Research Methods of Social Buyerology notes that understanding buyers who use social media requires “multiple qualitative approaches,” including field buyer research, ethnographic immersion, contextual buyer interviews and grounded theory interviews.

“What we do know today is that traditional methods of structured customer, buyer, and market research that are quantitative based cannot address the social and cultural changes taking place in our business society. This includes the severely hindering structured methods typically associated with focus groups and surveys. It is not to say that quantitative structured approaches are worse but to say that qualitative approaches are specifically needed to understand behavioral and interaction changes in situational settings, says Zambito in another article at Business to Community on the same topic.

At 20/20, we concur. qualitative approaches to understanding buyers and purchasing are specifically needed in our social media era.  Kathy Doyle of Doyle Research Associates as been particularly vocal about the need for qualitative research techniques in evaluating social media.  Her presentation to at the QRCA Conference last year served as a wake-up call to the industry that qualitative should be the analysis of choice if users are to get the most out of social media.

Real-World Ways to Use Online Journaling

The beauty of online journaling is the ability to follow a participant’s interactions, thoughts and feelings over a period of time. There are many, many uses, including these unique ones that some of our clients have used with QualJournal, our easy-to-use, flexible and cost-effective online journaling platform.

Product Testing: One client, a diaper company, used online journaling to compare the day-to-day use of two different products. One week, moms were asked to journal their experience using one diaper; the next week, they switched to the different diaper. What the client got was rich feedback, including images showing how the diapers stood up to wear.

Exploratory: In one QualJournal project, participants were asked to keep a ‘sports journal’ split into four categories: watching, listening, reading and talking. Anytime the participant did any of these things related to sports, they would journal about it. In a sense, this method was a “spot ethnography” — an ethnography related to a particular subject at different times.

Check out three more real-word ways to use online journaling in the full article, posted at

A Beginner’s Guide to Online Journaling

When you think about online qualitative research, what comes to mind? Probably a bulletin board focus group or webcam focus group, which are among the most common online tools researchers are utilizing. While these methodologies can provide rich, in-depth data for your clients, there’s another one you should consider adding to your toolbox—online journaling.

What Is Online Journaling?
Online journaling projects most often consist of longer-term, immersive research studies that allow researchers to understand consumer behaviors as they occur. Projects can last a week or longer and generally involve 20-40 participants who use blogs to post their thoughts—and photos and videos—about a particular research topic. They might post once a day for a one-to-two week project or a few times a week for longer projects. Participants answer moderator assignments and respond to stimuli.

In addition to being convenient for the participants, who can log in whenever they’re ready to post something, being online makes the entire process easier for the researchers and clients, as well, as they can log in whenever they’d like to view the responses.

Using Online Research Software
While anyone can set up a free blog using a service like WordPress or TypePad, there are limitations. For starters, blogs aren’t private – even password-protected ones can be accessed publicly. The biggest obstacle is that there’s no easy way to compile the responses from the 20-40 individual blogs. That’s why we created QualJournal, online research software that offers complete security, comprehensive backend reporting and more.

Read more about online journaling and the features of QualJournal at

Has technology been good for the market research industry?

The following was a post I made in response to the above question on the Linkedin Groups forum called The Market Research Event.

advancements in the past 10 years have been terrific for the MR
industry. Years ago, there were a few accepted methods of collecting
data and the industry generally followed those methods without a lot of
creativity. Technology has created an explosion in at least three

New techniques. No one can argue the fact that we have seen an
explosion of research techniques and methods related to technology.

New capabilities. Social media, longitudinal qualitative (e.g., bulletin
board focus group
), biometric analysis, etc, have given us capabilities
to research people as never before. We are getting closer and closer
to truly immersive research that is a 360 degree 24/7 understanding of
our customers because of the techniques technology makes available to

New understanding. The capabilities mentioned above give us a deeper
understanding of people, how they relate to our products and services
and how those relationships are inter-related.

Any research team that is not getting deeper understanding than ever
before is not utilizing the new research tools at their disposal.

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