online focus group

20|20 Launches QualBoard™ Plus

20|20 Technology, a division of 20|20 Research, Inc., today announced the launch of QualBoard™ Plus, a bundled set of tools, services and dedicated project support that relieves researchers of the myriad details necessary to complete a bulletin board focus group project.

According to Isaac Rogers, Director of Innovation for 20|20, “Every bulletin board focus group project has a lot of details necessary for the project to be successful – discussion guides, participant lists, stimuli and reporting. With QualBoard™ Plus researchers don’t have to worry about those anymore. QualBoard™ Plus is a new bundled package that includes access to an advanced reporting system, discounts on commonly used services, and a dedicated project assistant that will be the researcher’s “hands-on” for the entire study – for a low flat fee. Our clients can just focus on moderating, knowing that everything else is taken care of.”

QualBoard™ 3.0, 20|20’s industry-leading bulletin board focus group platform, is used by research agencies and client-side researchers around the world. The current version of QualBoard™ offers numerous features not found in any other bulletin board platform: the ability to embed webcam responses from participants, file archiving at no charge, QuickView™ – the easiest way ever to manage bulletin boards, and QualLink™ for true quant-to-qual hybrid studies and more.

The Storyline at the QRCA Symposium

Thursday, QRCA hosted their biennial QRCA Symposium featuring researchers and their clients presenting actual research projects, complete with impact on the business.  It was a great “feel good” day for consultants who sometimes wonder if their work makes much of a difference at the decision-makers level.

The common thread running through the presentations was the need to develop the customer’s story.  From Patricia Martin’s story about the Renaissance Generation to AARPs presentation on reaching the Millennial Generation, presenters focused on the importance of the story.  To fully engage their customers, marketers must understand them holistically.  They must understand their “story,” not just their impression of the product.

Qualitative researchers and qualitative techniques are uniquely qualified to explore and reveal the customer’s story. We have more qualitative techniques than ever before.  Presenters uncovered stories using traditional focus group methodologies and online qualitative research methodologies.  The techniques are simply tools that we match to the need to provide the richest and most revealing stories.

Out of the story come the deep insights into the “why.”  In conference after conference, research buyers say they want insights.  They want more than just regurgitation of the facts or the research events.  They want insights that inform decisions.  These insights don’t come from a cursory glance; they come from a focused experience that reveals the customer’s story with all the twists, turns and inconsistencies that makes us human.

The 2011 QRCA Symposium told a lot of stories that informed a lot of decisions that improved a lot of products/services that improved a lot of lives.  It was a good day.

Are Focus Group Facilities Dead?

“No more viewing studios. Clients can either come out from behind the mirror, or not attend groups at all,” says Andy Cooper in a recent online issue of research. His article, “Hear me out: Let’s get rid of viewing studios” argues that viewing clients too often use it as a crutch. He says viewing groups is not worth giving up an evening of “The Apprentice.” Mr. Cooper seems to believe that viewing studios (focus group facilities in the United States) are unnecessary and actually can be counter-productive. Why not just shut them down?

Since October is Conference month, I have spent a lot of time discussing the fate of focus group facilities recently. As online qualitative research has exploded, researchers are beginning to wonder about the fate of the facility with the mirrored window. Most people, including me, believe that qualitative research will grow.  However, with the proliferation of online qualitative research techniques and the new-found freedom researchers have to conduct qualitative research online have led to valid questions about in-facility research.

My personal opinion is that qualitative research will grow as a percent of total research spending. However, I believe the bulletin board focus group, webcam focus group, mobile qualitative research and other techniques will draw significant share of the work traditionally sent to facilities. Therefore, the facility business has matured and is not likely to grow significantly.

Are focus group facilities dead? I don’t think so. But I don’t see them growing significantly as a category.  Also, though I sympathize with Mr. Cooper’s desire to get clients out from behind the mirror, the method is helpful–and a well-run, interesting focus group sure beats a night with “The Apprentice.”

Is the “Online Focus Group” Changing?

Have you noticed that the meaning of the term “online focus group” is changing?
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When we started doing online qualitative research in 2000, there were two basic types — the bulletin board focus group and the online focus group. At that time, the online focus group was clearly defined as real-time, text-chat focus groups. The definition was clear and unambiguous.

Today, the term is evolving and creating confusion. Though one online moderator might use the term online focus group in the context of a text-chat focus group, another online moderator might use the term to refer to a webcam focus group. 

Today, the only consistency in the term “online focus group” is that the speaker is referring to a virtual focus group in real time. So, the next time someone asks you about an online focus group, you might want to ask for a bit more information before moving forward.

QualLink Helps Client Integrate Quantitative Survey and Online Focus Group

Longtime 20|20 client Pat Snyder of What They Think Research was in a bind when she contacted us about a month ago. Faced with a client’s tight deadline and tiny budget, Pat needed to do a quantitative survey and an in-depth bulletin board focus group ASAP.
We introduced her to QualLink, our patent-pending technology that seamlessly integrates a quantitative survey with our online focus group software, QualBoard. QualLink automatically recruits for the online focus group using data from the quantitative survey, so there’s no downtime (or extra cost) for re-recruiting.

Pat was sold on QualLink, which works with the majority of survey software platforms.

What would have taken two months to complete took just two weeks, and Pat reports that the responses she got from the QualBoard were some of the most in-depth ones she’s ever seen in her 14-year career. She was thrilled, her client was thrilled, and we were thrilled–so much so that we wrote a case study about it.

Read more about this online research software solution and how it can help you.

3 Benefits of a Bulletin Board Focus Group

Moving focus groups online is a lot like taking other disciplines to the Internet–it’s often faster, cheaper and easier. But there’s more to using a bulletin board focus group than just those basic benefits. The technology has added new capabilities that were previously too difficult to execute–or just flat out not available. In addition to the time and money you can save, here are three more benefits of using an online focus group:

  1. Removes space/time barriers: Online qualitative research removes the geographic barrier, so your participants can truly represent an entire market–not just the city where your focus group facility is. And because a bulletin board focus group is asynchronous, time-strapped participants, like CEOs and physicians, or participants in different time zones can log in on their schedules.
  2. Supports longitudinal qualitative studies: Want to follow a group of participants over time for product or acceptance testing? Online focus groups have high participation rates (you can thank the natural setting), which make them a great tool for longer engagements. Plus, if panelists move or their schedules change, they can still participate in the bulletin board focus group (see benefit No. 1).
  3. Can be anonymous: Researching a sensitive topic? A virtual focus group can provide the protection participants need to be frank about sensitive topics. There’s no face-to-face interaction, and responses can be anonymous, both of which can help increase the participant’s level of self-disclosure.

Clear Objectives Key to Online Qualitative Research Success

It may seem like Market Research 101 all over again, but Bonnie Eisenfeld makes some great points in the current issue of Quirk’s about the importance of clear objectives when conducting online qualitative research (free registration required).

Online research software can help speed up the process, but that doesn’t mean you should rush through it–due diligence is still necessary to lead your project to success.

Here’s a roundup of some of her key points:

Limit your objectives: There’s no right answer to how many objectives an online qualitative research study should have, but a good gauge is time. “If an interview is too long, respondents will become fatigued, rush through their responses and/or terminate early,” Eisenfeld says. This also applies to an online focus group. Eisenfeld suggests prioritizing objectives and maybe omitting the less important ones.

Write objective-based questions: A common mistake researchers make is including questions that don’t meet any of the research objectives, which is prone to happening “when a questionnaire is heavily edited by multiple people within an organization,” she says. To avoid this mistake, Eisenfeld suggests heading each series of questions with the corresponding objective, and keeping those headers in place to help the online moderator.

Keep objectives top of mind: Research objectives aren’t just created in the beginning and met at the end. They need to be top of mind throughout the online qualitative research process. Use the objectives to guide your analysis plan, and write the report to meet the objectives.

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