online qualitative reserach

Focus Group Fingers All Over Super Bowl Commercials

Super Bowl commercials generate more conversation in Monday morning meetings today than almost anything else. With social media, the conversation following a Super Bowl ad is immediate. Last year, you may remember Groupon’s commercial about the troubles in Tibet resulted in a backlash on Twitter, and a formal apology. It will be studied in business schools as a marketing misstep.

One of the lessons from that failed 2011 commercial was the alleged lack of testing that preceded its airing. Marketers weren’t going to make that mistake with 2012 Super Bowl commercials. According to a Wall Street Journal article, focus group feedback resulted in the adjustment of creative for one Hyundai commercial, removing sexist comments from the older man in the commercial and replacing them with comments about how to be successful in business.

A Chevy Sonic commercial from yesterday’s Super Bowl was met with skepticism from focus groups, who didn’t believe the stunts to be real. Chevy’s spot ended up with a text treatment at the beginning of the ad noting “100% Real Stunts. Don’t Attempt. Please.”

Of course, focus groups don’t always predict success, or what may get a marketer in trouble. Some commercials were released ahead of time, or the trailers were so extensive. Marketers weren’t willing to risk something blowing up in their face. Marvel released trailers of its Super Bowl commercial to gather input from social media viewers.

Many groups are doing in-game focus group testing, like USAToday/Facebook’s AdMeter. Groups, and events like this were held around the country.

What were the results of your Monday Morning Focus Group’s judgment on this year’s crop of commercials?

Simple Ways to Stretch Your Research Dollars

Sure the market research industry is rebounding, but companies—including your clients—are still going to be looking for ways to run leaner. Make working with you a no-brainer with these simple ways to stretch your research dollars. The original article by Ken Zeldis and Amy Rey of Pennington, N.J.-based Zeldis Research Associates appeared in a recent issue of Quirk’s email newsletter. Here we highlight some of their ideas:

  • Consider online qualitative research: Would a bulletin board focus group work just as well as (or better than) an in-person focus group? You bet. You’ll save on travel costs—and time—and you’ll be impressed with richer, more in-depth responses from your participants. Before going the traditional route, check to see if your research can be conducted online with a bulletin board focus group, webcam focus group, online journaling or other online research software.
  • Reduce cost at the margin: You’ve probably noticed that participation is higher in slower economic times—that’s because those incentives mean more to your participants. Zeldis and Rey suggest looking for the low-hanging costs—like participants. If you think you’ll get 100 percent participation, recruit 12 instead of 15. Which leads us to the next tip…
  • Increase response rates: Zeldis and Rey say they see participation increase 50 percent when the study is sponsored by the client. Consider going this route, provided you don’t think it will create biased results. They also say touching base with participants beforehand and letting them know you’re looking forward to the study can increase response rates.

Find more tips to increase response rates and engagement in the Resources section at

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.

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